I have been away for sometime because of school and then a retreat in the lovely Tashi Choling Retreat Center in Nelson, BC. Thanks to Zasep Rinpoche and his dedicated student Lama Gelek; many are able to intensively practice the profound teaching of Lama Tsongkhapa. Here are some personal thoughts I have after receiving some teachings. Should my thoughts be contradictory to the Buddha‘s teaching let me know…
(Nice view at the retreat center; behind is Copper Mountain)
The retreat is mainly purification with Vajrasattva practice to cleanse negative deeds we committed and broken commitments we promised in front of the Buddhas. It was conceivable how precious the teaching was if we become mindful of the thoughts and actions that happened every second within our body, speech, and mind.
Mindfulness is the key word here. Look at beings of the lower realm like a cat. It does not check her mind moment; never scan her mind stream; never try restraining her vocalization; never control her bodily action. As Lama Gelek said “A cat does what a cat does”. It develops jealousy toward other pets, kill mice, and fight for sex.
This is the reason why beings like animals, spirits, and hell beings have no chance to attain enlightenment. As it was said in the Lamrim (Stages of the Path to Enlightenment) that its more difficult for lower realm being to gain human rebirth than a human becoming Buddha.
Now that we have a human rebirth we should not be like a cat. But are we? Sadly enough by looking at the mundane life of many individuals; I see many animals, hungry spirits, and hell beings walking in human skin, which is a sign of lacking mindfulness. This include myself!
(The gompa (shrine) up the road from retreat facility)
The precious teaching that Lama Gelek gave was mindfulness. In order to become aware of the need of purification and to keep future restrain, we spend 2 – 3 hours in the morning meditating on the mind and our physical action. The time was divided into sessions of sitting and walking meditation. We are to concentrate on the breathe and our action; while being aware of the mind but not being caught in any mental conversation. Just notice it and let go. Stay with the object of meditation “breathing action in the belly” and “the sole of your feet lifting, moving, placing”. This allow us to maintain our spiritual goals (or even mundane goal) without being distracted all the time like animals by delusions.
(A special thangka in the room where a Mongolian geshe (accomplished Buddhist scholar) stayed before our retreat; I had the honor to clean the bed)
Here is a prayer by the Seventh Dalai Lama, which could reflects our remorse when we become mindful of our minds.
” My past indulgence in one hundred shortcomings of the three doors (body, speech, and mind) has resulted in evil action which now bears fruit in a galaxy of erroneous and hideous appearances, like the terrifying portents of the callous Lord of Death. Upon their arrival to whom can I turn?
Bemoaning my plight for such reasons as these I seek refuge in the Master, a fountain of compassion, and the three jewels (Buddha, Teaching of Buddha, and Assembly of Buddhists) from this moment on. Please enable me to purify my host of black actions by means of confession and future unfailing restraint, even should that require the cost of my life.”
At the very beginning we will be purifying our non-virtues like hatred, stealing, etc but ultimately the “black actions” to be purify is the our ignorance. It is the root of all evils. The wisdom opposing ignorance is not technical knowledge of biology, physics, or chemistry nor remembering many religious texts. Wisdom can only be gradually attained by realizing the Buddha’s teachings through meditation.