We may like to think that we know what the mind is – we speak of it so casually, but how well do we really know this mind of ours? For some of us at times, our inner state can change, and moods can appear as if out of nowhere, but is it destined to be as random as that? What control can we have over our own experience? When it comes to the mind, I’m thinking now, some things should not be a complete mystery.
This story from one of the previous lives of His Holiness Rangjung Rikpé Dorjé, the XVIth Gyalwang Karmapa, was told in 1976, while his party drove through Jalandhara, a place in Himachal Pradesh. It was raining very slightly and peacocks were singing softly. His Holiness had the car stopped and said to his attendants, “I have come back to my motherland”. He then told the following wondrous story.
Touch is such an important element in healing and also in our daily life. But how do we touch? One of the most important elements to touch in the right way is our mind, because if our mind is not in the right space, touch can become very different, even hurtful. Let’s look first at touching ourselves because if we do not know how to touch ourselves, then how can we touch others in the right way?
Where there is suffering, either in ourselves or in our world, it is because there has been a lack of attention, love, and understanding. Now, each breath, each look, each thought we direct towards ourselves can be brimming with love, Each step, and every attentive moment can be like a gentle caress.
At the onset of the after-death experience, phenomena have no structure and no recognizable features whatsoever, but are a tremendous display, the ultimate acid trip. It’s unlike wide open space on a cloudless day: something happens within that space, called sounds, colors and lights. The sounds are, Tulku Urgyen said, like 100.000 simultaneous thunder cracks, from all directions, above, below, everywhere. The colors are all colors of the rainbow, but much more intense than we normally see in this life. The rays of light are like sharp needles or swords, piercing through everything.
We have the incredibly great fortune to have encountered the precious teachings of the Buddha as well as living teachers who offer us the opportunity to study those teachings and assist us in training in them. Such a situation is a source of rejoicing that fills my heart with gratitude. It doesn’t matter that the path is long and difficult; it is the journey itself that is important.
We trade one rigid, constricting way of being for another rigid, constricting way of being. And because we call the new way spiritual practice, we may tell ourselves and others that this is great, this is better, this is how and who we want to be in our practice and in our life.
We usually find our orientation exclusively among designations and objects, considering that as reality, but eventually discover that such interaction doesn’t hold the key to real realization. It is the greatest paradox, because it is the mystery itself, as if moving, dancing, projecting light through a liquid. There is nothing that we have ever known, or ever been that is other that this mystery.
Where despair feels like surrender, compassion has no quit in it. The doubting mind is also closely tied to fear, and it is a small and contracted state, but the mind of compassion is broad and clear and fearless. It imagines great things, such as clean water, and people being fed and housed, and gets to work to get them done.
I journeyed upstate to ask with my head bowed and palpable taste of angst: “Rinpoche, I really would like to become a monk and there seems a lot of obstacles to that”. With very happy air Rinpoche bowing his head in approval again and again spoke smiling, telling me that I should not worry, for it is clear to him that over time, slowly, slowly all the obstacles will be resolved and everything will be better.