You are on page 1of 14

Sparkling Puddles

The last of the four thoughts that turn the mind to practice, is
'contemplation on the unsatisfactoriness of samsara'. This is often
given as 'contemplation on the suffering of samsara', which is an
unfortunate phrase, as it may cause us to miss the profound subtlety of
the teaching. We may find it obvious that we should feel compassion
for those who suffer through hunger, loss, illness, or catastrophe, but
believe that the rich and famous, the well-fed and comfortable, do not
need a second thought. Dharma however, aspires to free all sentient
beings from their suffering including the rich, famous, well-fed, and
comfortable. We need to understand the elusive nature of the suffering
of those whose lives are apparently happy and successful. This
suffering is the subtle sense of dissatisfaction that is ever-present,
even at times of joy and happiness. Through yearning for such
happiness and satisfaction to abide as a permanent and continuous
eperience, we actually create unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Through grasping at happiness, and attempting to prevent its
dissolving into emptiness, we undermine the present moment.
Through fear of loss of happiness we fail to enjoy and appreciate
happiness in the present moment, and project this duality into the net
moment, preventing the continuing empty dance of happiness.
'Du' means worthless, and 'kha' means hollow. !o 'dukkha'
encompasses more than pain it includes 'life simply being different
to how " would prefer it to be' and indicates the illusory nature of
du##ha. The Tibetan word which e$uates with du##ha is dug-ngal
%sDug bsNgal& which means 'unsatisfactoriness'. "t combines the word
'sDug' which means 'frustration' with the word 'bsNgal' which
means 'weariness'.
'ga#'chang (inpoche says of dug-ngal)
*Du#ha or dug-ngal does not really mean 'suffering' per se. Dug-
ngal is a term which contains suffering as part of a broad specrtum
of e$uisite dualistic inconveniences which range from mild
displeasure to utter agony. '+nsatisfactoriness' is therefore a
preferable term in respect of translating dug-ngal.,
'Worthlessness' and 'hollowness' hint that we ourselves create
dissatisfaction. "t is not self-eistent. !amsara is dualism it is the
process of grasping at form and retracting from emptiness in which we
engage moment by moment, day by day, throughout our lives.
!amsara is the process of attempting to succeed at duality because we
believe success is possible. !amsara is the process of ac$uiring
wealth, relationships, occupations because we believe their apparent
form will ma#e us safe and secure.
The eperience of samsara is the base of !utrayana. The teachings of
!utrayana arise in response to our eperience of samsara as
unsatisfactory. The idea of samsara eperienced as dissatisfaction
implies the eistence of nirvana as a fulfilling eperience. 'irvana
may mista#enly be thought of as an 'other-worldly state', a pure land,
heaven, or paradise. This is a misconception. !amsara is nirvana.
'irvana is samsara. They are the same environment. They are eactly
the same circumstances. "t is our relationship with environment and
circumstance which changes our eperience. When we gain
realisation, we will not suddenly find ourselves reborn into a totally
new physical eistence. (ather, we will discover ourselves reborn in
the reality of our present eistence with awa#ened view.
-ur bodies and our world are perfect as they are. There is nothing that
we need to get rid of or purify in order to discover nirvana. We simply
need to clarify our view. The belief that liberation re$uires us to
discover another concrete realm where everything is perfect will not
help us discover the perfection of where we are. The eperience of
pure happiness and pleasure is available to us in this life. We can
eperience the spar#le of enlightenment in a moment of loving or
laughter. Then we may start to wonder why we lose these moments.
"t is not actually possible to grasp the subtlety of our eperience of the
unsatisfactoriness of samsara if we are suffering too greatly. "f my
whole life has been deprivation, aggression, loneliness, aniety, and
painful confusion, then it would be easy merely to view bad luc#,
parental abuse, or societal injustice as the cause of my unhappiness. "n
order to actually perceive the hollowness of du##ha, we have to have
some measure of success and pleasure in our lives. " have to be able to
maintain healthy relationships with friends and family, and ma#e my
own way in the world. "t is when " find the feeling of dissatisfaction
remains, even though my life is successful in samsaric terms, that "
start to be suspicious that there might be a problem with my view. "t is
only then that " can begin to understand that duality is the source of
dissatisfaction. .y fear of the emptiness of pleasure because it ends/
my fear of the form of pain because it happens/ causes me to
separate emptiness and form. When " realise that there is also the form
of happiness and the emptiness of pain, " can begin to let go of my
need to see# form and avoid emptiness.
We are all trying to be happy. We all want to be free of the eperience
of loss, pain, sorrow, and fear, and wish to only eperience pleasure
and happiness. This is universal. -ur inability to achieve happiness in
any lasting and meaningful way epresses the universal eperience of
dissatisfaction within dualistic eperience. This is the unsatisfactory
$uality of the continually cycling patterns of perception and response
in which no permanent happiness can ever be found. When "
intelligently perceive this underlying sense of dissatisfaction, there is
the danger that it may undermine every achievement. Without an
understanding of duality, " may becgin to doubt and lose appreciation
of the moments of happiness " do eperience. Dharma offers a way to
harness the recognition of dissatsifaction to the tas# of changing it into
satisfaction.
Through feeling the suspicion that arises when " have proved myself
to be a capable, competent, functional person within the bounds of
what is possible within samsara " become aware of the underlying
sensation of unsatisfactoriness.
Through the arising of the niggling feeling that the whole thing is
vaguely hollow and that nothing is $uite what it seems " become
aware of the underlying sensation of unsatisfactoriness.
Through having wor#ed for the good things " own and by living in a
reasonable degree of comfort " become aware of the underlying
sensation of unsatisfactoriness.
" find that " can achieve almost whatever " set out to achieve in terms
of what the world offers/ yet " come to realise that these achievements
are at best a pastime0. This suspicion is an opening of view. "t is an
opportunity. "t can be the start of my life as a Dharma practitioner. "t
can be the beginning of awa#ening.
0pastime an activity which ma#es time pass pleasantly
The declaration that samsara is ultimately unsatisfactory is not a
statement that denigrates the body and the world. "t is not the body or
the world that are in themselves unsatisfactory. "t is simply that our
eperience is characterised as unsatisfactory. "n the Vimalakirti Sutra,
in answer to a $uestion about the imperfection of human life and
conditions, !ha#yamuni 1uddha says) 2" see no unsatisfactory life or
unsatisfactory conditions. They are illusory. The world is perfect as it
is.,
3ence we can understand that it is the distortion of our perception as
human beings dwelling in duality that causes us to eperience
dissatisfaction. "t is not our bodies and our world in themselves that
are unsatisfactory. 'ga#'chang (inpoche once eplained to me that
the idea that samsara is the body and the world of form, owes its
origin to the Tirthi#a philosophies. "t is not that 1uddhism is a body
negative or life negative religion. 1uddhism arose within the contet
of "ndian monism and therefore certain ideas prevalent within
modern-day 3induism have become confused with 1uddhism. This
confusion especially arises because !utric 1uddhism does teach
renunciation detachment from form. That !utric 1uddhism teaches
detachment from form however, is not a statement that defines form as
duality. "t is merely our referential relationship that is dualistic.
!ha#yamuni 1uddha discovered the hollowness of success
eperientially. 4s the prince, the son of the #ing, he had to ecel in
every field. 3e had to be the greatest archer, wrestler, poet, artist, and
musician. 3e had to surpass others in everything, because to be
second-best or to fail would undermine his position as the future #ing.
The D5ogchen view of this familiar story as presented in the
Ulukhamukha Sutra, states that it was thus through his success that
he came to view 'accomplishment' with suspicion. 4ll he had left was
to find what lay both beyond and within the issue of hollowness. 3is
path is based on the unsatisfactoriness of 'success as a reference point'.
The traditional !utric view presents the sights of sic#ness, old age and
death as being the cause of !iddhartha turning away from his
privileged and luurious life to follow a spiritual path. 6rom the
perspective of D5ogchen, it is not that sic#ness, old age, and death fail
as issues to turn one7s attention to spiritual en$uiry/ it is rather that
there is a more subtle level of unsatisfactoriness which needs to be
perceived.
8erceiving the referentiality of success means that even if we were
immortal, the cyclic nature of serial successes would still leave us
with a sense of unsatisfactoriness. 4ccording to this interpretation of
the teachings, sic#ness, old age, and death cannot actually be
described as unsatisfactory. They are simply the play of form the
arising, abiding and dissolving of aspects of our lives. "f we are born
as a human being, then it is inevitable that we will eperience sic#ness
at times, that we will grow old, and that we will die one day.
!ha#yamuni 1uddha said that where there is dualism change is
perceived as du##ha. We do not want to lose the good things in our
life, but everything changes always. The apparent eistence of all
phenomena slips away from us, especially if we try to grasp at
permanence.
" eperienced it as something of a relief to discover that a feeling of
dissatisfaction is universal. " felt that " could let go of depression and
#now that the niggling feeling of 'surely there has to be more to it than
this9' or 'what is the point of getting washed and dressed again, going
to wor# again, eating another meal97 didn't mean " was going cra5y. "
could get washed and dressed #nowing that there was no ultimate
purpose in these actions. " could go to wor# #nowing that in the grand
scale of things it was pointless. " could enjoy eating the meal #nowing
that it was a transient satisfaction. " could let go of wondering whether
" was socially acceptable in the way " dressed and behaved, because
social norms are ultimately hollow. " could let go of wondering
whether it was alright to really li#e a particular type of music, because
" understood that all opinions are ultimately empty. 'o-one else's
dress-sense, behaviour, li#es and disli#es, and opinions had any more
value than mine. " was free to be eactly who " was.
:nowing that there is nothing in the relative world that we can do that
will ma#e any real difference in an ultimate sense, gives us permission
to dedicate time to practice. This can be an energy boost for engaging
in a spiritual path. 8ractice will ma#e a difference because it will
enable us to move beyond the relative eistence of samsara. We can
be successful at #nowing we can never be successful at samsara. We
can celebrate that our bodies and our world are actually perfect.
Death, impermanence, things going wrong, laughter, colour, autumn
leaves, light spar#ling in puddles, cars brea#ing down, relationships
ending, falling in love all are the play of eistence, the movement
and change that is reality. "t is only eperienced as unsatisfactory
when we try to stop movement and change, or see movement and
change as painful. -nce we have a real understanding of the cause of
our eperience of samsara as unsatisfactory, we can engage with it in
a light-hearted manner. We can play with our life eperience, rather
than feeling li#e a victim of our circumstances.
3owever, it could be argued that such an understanding of the nature
of dissatisfaction could lead us to become uncaring) if the world is
perfect and it is only view that is distorted, then there is no purpose in
trying to help people. Their unhappiness is their problem. The Dharma
practice, though, is to regard samsara as illusory from our own
perspective. 4s spiritual practitioners we have developed a clear
understanding of the root of our eperience of dissatisfaction.
3owever, as our practice is also rooted in compassion, we relate to
others7 eperience of dissatisfaction as real from their perspective
;
.
We engage with other people's perception as if samsara can be made
to wor#. We do not undermine others' sense of meaning and purpose
in life.
;
The only eception to this would be other practitioners within our sangha.
!angha are the community of practitioners %gend<n, dGe dun&. This could be
the red sangha of mon#s and nuns, or the white sangha of non-celibate
ordained practitioners the nga#pas and nga#mas %sNgags pa and sNgags
ma&. The white sangha is also called the g= #ar chang lo7i d> %gos dKar
lCang loi sDe& which means white s#irt?long hair. 4nother name is the
'ga#7phang @end<n %sNgags phang dGe dun& literally meaning Amantra
wielding7 and refers to the Tantric community of practitioners. With fellow
practitioners we refrain from indulging their addiction to duality and
encourage them to awa#en to the reality of the nature of the eperience of
dissatisfaction.
.ost people do believe that samsara will wor# eventually if " just
shuffle the pieces of the pu55le carefully enough and conscientiously
enough, one day it will all wor# out perfectly. We would li#e to
complete the jigsaw so that we can eperience that moment of
satisfaction, but at the same time without letting go of the fun of
moving the pieces around. We live in hope that things will continue to
run smoothly or that one day it will all clic# into place and we will be
happy forever. -nce we realise that the pieces of our jigsaw will never
miraculously clic# into place, we are freed from the effort of
attempting to ma#e it happen. We can rela into the realisation of the
reality of what is, and enjoy the energy that is liberated. We can then
help those who still hold this view to be comfortable and successful in
their terms. We understand that it is etremely difficult to perceive the
subtle unsatisfactory $uality of samsara from a perspective of
suffering, so our compassionate activity is to help others achieve
relative success within samsara, and free them from gross suffering.
-nly then will they too have the chance of realising the hollowness of
success.
The understanding of the unsatisfactoriness of samsara is the first of a
four-fold teaching given by !ha#yamuni 1uddha called the
Dharmachakra-parvatana Sutra, the first turning of the Wheel of
Dharma. This teaching is usually called the 6our 'oble Truths. The
6irst 'oble Truth is the suffering of samsara. The second is that this
suffering has a cause that can be identified and understood. The third
is the possibility of the cessation of the eperience of suffering, and
the last 'oble Truth is that there is a path which can be followed to
realise the cessation of suffering. This path is called the 'oble
Bightfold 8ath. When approached from the perspective of the play of
emptiness and form, this fundamental teaching can be viewed in some
depth and with some subtlety. When 'suffering' is understood in the
more subtle sense of the eperience of dissatisfaction, as an illusion
created by duality, the three truths that follow can be understood at a
deeper level as well. !ha#yamuni 1uddha pointed out that if we have
true understanding, each truth suggests the subse$uent truth to us. "f
we are able to gain a sense of the hollowness of success and the
illusory nature of satisfaction in the dualistic, relative terms of cyclic
eistence, we can discover the !econd 'oble Truth as a natural
outcome. "t will naturally occur to us that there must be a cause for
this feeling of dissatisfaction. Bach truth will naturally progress on
from the other in this way.
There is a tremendously powerful message within the 6our 'oble
Truths and the Bightfold 8ath, which the Ulukhamukha Upadesha
Dakini Sutra presents as a pointing-out instruction. (eflecting on this
ta#es us far beyond the victimised sense of suffering and the way
which passes beyond suffering. The 6our 'oble Truths can be
commonly misunderstood as indicating that release from du##ha lies
beyond the body and the physical world/ but the Ulukhamukha Sutra
completely reverses this misconception, and lays open the vast
possibility that is inherent in every aspect of every moment of
eistence.
The truth of the cause of the eperience of unsatisfactoriness is
suggested to us through understanding the form and emptiness of
satisfaction. We see that satisfaction is short-lived and dependent on
view and circumstances, and therefore empty as well as having form.
We realise that there is something about the way in which we view
and eperience phenomena that causes our eperience of
unsatisfactoriness.
"n the !utric tets, the causes of the eperience of unsatisfactoriness
are said to be #arma and #l>sha %Tib) nyon-mong nyon mongs&.
:arma was discussed in detail in the previous chapter. We remember
here that it is described as cause and effect, which means that through
distorted perception our response creates the cyclic patterns of our
neurotic conditioning. :l>sha are the perceptual distortions of
attraction, aversion, and indifference which maintain the cyclic
patterns of our neuroses. :l>sha is the grasping of form and rejection
of emptiness. We eperience du##ha because we divide form and
emptiness. -nce we realise that we create our own unsatisfactoriness
through dualistic preconception, the possibility suggests itself of
allowing our view to change. We realise that we can let go of creating
dissatisfaction.
The cessation of the eperience of unsatisfactoriness is the Third
'oble Truth. "t is the truth that if there is a cause of du##ha, then there
must be a way to stop creating the cause of du##ha. We can cut the
cause at the root. We actively create samsara by continually defining
our eistence according to our need for form. We refuse to let the ebb
and flow of our eistence be 'as it is'. -nce we understand the cause of
dissatisfaction, we realise we can simply stop 'doing' samsara. We
discover we can allow a view and eperience to emerge in which form
and emptiness define each other. This completely alters our perception
of pleasure. Within the non-dual perspective of D5ogchen, the
temporary nature of pleasure ceases to be regarded as problematic. "ts
temporary nature is simply its empty $uality. We do not have to
renounce appreciation of pleasure simply because it manifests as form
and emptiness. !imilarly, we recognise that our eperience of pain is
referential and also empty. 8ain does not need to be feared because of
its form $uality.
+nderstanding the possibility of this view and eperience inspires
confidence that there is a state which can be attained where we are
able to eist without the distorted perceptions of dualism. We can
eist as happy and satisfied beings. We may be fortunate enough to
meet Camas who appear to eperience their lives as satisfactory
whatever occurs/ and who direct us toward the fact that our own
enlightenment spar#les through the fabric of our self-created
conditioning. We are all beginninglessly enlightened, and because of
this, our own non-dual state points to itself through the eperience of
du##ha. Through understanding that unsatisfactoriness is something
we create, we can undermine our own creation. We can discover the
function and value of spiritual practice. "n fact not to practice becomes
madness. "f you realised you were drowning would you refuse to
accept a lifeline9 "f you realised you were sic# would you reject life-
saving medicine9
The 6ourth 'oble Truth is the path that leads to the cessation of the
eperience of unsatisfactoriness. 3aving recognised our eperience of
dissatisfaction, having understood that we create the cause through
duality, and having realised we can cease to create this cause, we can
approach the method of practice. The method of practice described in
the 6our 'oble Truths is the 'oble Bightfold 8ath.
The 'oble Bightfold 8ath is a deep and detailed teaching that can be
viewed in many ways. "t is a discourse on method. The eight steps are)
right view or understanding/ right intention or motivation/ right
speech or communication/ right action or conduct/ right vocation or
livelihood/ right effort/ right attention or mindfulness/ right presence
or concentration. To fully discuss this path would be a boo# in itself,
but " will describe it in a little detail in the net chapter. "t will be
viewed from the perspective of engaging in practice because of the
understanding of the need for spiritual activity gained through an
understanding of the 6our Thoughts.
!amsara is cyclic eistence the continual manipulation of form in an
attempt to achieve lasting success and satisfaction. We eperience
samsara as unsatisfying, because success and satisfaction can only
eist in the moment. There can be no lasting and continuous
satisfaction that abides independent of its cause and perceiver. The
very meaning of 'success' is open to interpretation. -ne person7s
success may be another7s failure. -ne person's pride of
accomplishment may be regarded as a waste of time by another. -ur
achievements are relative and transient. When " was five " thought the
most enjoyable way to occupy my time was dressing my doll in her
beautiful bride7s outfit. " would not regard this occupation as
satisfying todayD !ome people love to lie in the sun for hours on end
and regard ac$uiring a tan as a success, while others regard this as a
waste of of time or even as foolishly dangerous. Bvery occupation has
its own purpose and potential for satisfaction in the moment
dependent upon the perceiver. Dissatisfaction arises when we re$uire
the verification of others as to the value of our eperience, and when
we see# to define ourselves through satisfaction.
"n this chapter we have loo#ed at the cause of our eperience of
dissatisfaction, and discovered that it is self-created. (ealising that
dissatisfaction is self created/ it occurs to us that we could cease this
creation. -nce we truly comprehend at a gut level that this is the
essence of samsara that continuing to shuffle the pieces of our lives
is hollow, and that the transient achievements of samsara are
ultimately worthless we can decide to stop. We can decide that we
wish to discover purpose and meaning. We can wish to engage with
our lives in a way that will bring complete and lasting satisfaction.
This is practice engagement with a spiritual path that brings purpose
and satisfaction to our lives. The methods offered by 1uddhism
provide opportunities to discover, through spar#ling presence, that
each moment naturally has its own purpose of itself, that arises and
dissolves in the moment. The methods of 1uddhism can teach us to
dwell in presence, understanding the empty $uality of form and the
form $uality of emptiness in the present moment. Then all moments
can be realised as moments of utter blissful satisfaction.
"n these last four chapters we have loo#ed at the 6our Thoughts that
turn the mind to practice. We have eamined the precious nature of
our being that our eistence is in itself an opportunity. We have
loo#ed at the impermanent nature of our eistence, and understood
that death and birth are a continuing moment-by-moment dance of
being. We have eplored #arma and seen that it is fuelled by the
patterning of perception and response. We have seen that our inability
to let go of addiction to form, and our fear of emptiness, create
continual dissatisfaction. 8erhaps we are attracted to the idea of
awa#ening, but feel the process is too challenging or beyond our
ability. "n fact what would be ideal would be to watch ourselves
awa#en to attain enlightenment, but retain our relationship with
form as well. Cetting go of form addiction feels li#e cutting the cords
of our parachute when we are E,FFF feet above the ground if we
could just see a video of us doing it first, to be sure it was safe. "f we
could taste the nectar without actually having to place it on our
tongue. "f we could only arrive at our desired destination without the
rigours and delights of the journey.
4s :handro D>chen said)
*There are many '4rmchair 1uddhists' particularly those
interested in Gajrayana. They love to read about advanced
practices. They love to read about wrathful Camas and the Hra5y
Wisdom .aster but they would not want to find themselves in a
real relationship with such a master or to be authentically engaged
in such practices. To be an 'armchair' anything is relatively
harmless but to be an 'armchair 1uddhist' usually leads to
unpleasantness, to antisocial behaviour, and to gossip mongering0.
Those who pretend to be practitioners give a bad name to
Gajrayana. They are people who would often be better served by
emulating the #indness of decent ordinary people who have no
aspiration to spirituality.*
0 to monger to deal in a specific commodity/ to promote something
undesirable or discreditable.
What we need to comprehend is that the rigours and delights of the
journey are the path and the destination. We have the ability to discern
and appreciate/ we have the intelligence to understand the importance
of the present moment/ we can recognise the distortion we inflict on
perception and response/ we can see that even through the successes
of our life there is still dissatisfaction. Through this s#ilful opening of
view, we #now that our current view and approach to our lives will
not bring true happiness for ourselves or others. 4t this point we have
the choice to actively retract into ignorance, or to engage with
Dharma. We can settle for eternal dissatisfaction, or practice and
learn to dwell in the spar#lingly infinite, vividly present continuity of
now-moments. We can decide to go bac# to sleep and ignore our
understanding of the 6our Thoughts, or we can ta#e this understanding
further and continue to wa#e up.
Iuestioner) 3ow does finding the emptiness of pain happen in our
eperience9
'ga#ma 'or'd5in) We are potently aware of the form $uality of pain
it hurts. 8ain is pain because we are human beings. "t has a necessary
physiological function. "f we did not feel pain we would be in great
danger of damaging ourselves continually. 1ut even if we are unluc#y
enough to be in physical pain, we do not have to let it define us in any
way. We can have a happy mind and a painful body. Towards the end
of his life :yabj> Hhhi-mJd (ig7d5in (inpoche's body was $uite
obviously failing, but he just carried on teaching. 3e loo#ed
completely at ease in his frail body, and as powerful and imposing as
ever. 3is frailty did not mean that he was not a happy human being.
I) 1ut what about psychological pain9
'') 8sychological pain is eperienced because we relate to the world
through pattern and projection rather than as it is. We eist in dualism.
"f we did not attempt to split emptiness and form, we would not
eperience this as pain.
IK) !ome people cope with bad eperiences better than others. They
don't seem to let it colour how they relate to others.
'') True. !ome people are better at being concave in their
relationship with their circumstances. 1y that " mean that they allow
themselves to fle with circumstances rather than forcing their
definition of themselves onto circumstances. We don't need to latch on
to what happens to us A" am ill therefore " must be unhappy7.
I) Do we need eperience of more subtle forms of dissatisfaction to
understand this teaching9
'') Les and no . . . These teachings concern the subtle nature of
dissatisfaction, and this cannot be comprehended if we are always
eperiencing gross pain and failure. We need to be relatively
successful and we need to be relatively happy before we can become
suspicious of its hollowness. !o from this point of view the answer is
'yes'. We must gain eperience of emptiness through eperiencing the
hollowness of the success of our lives, to arrive at the base of the path
of Tantra which is emptiness. 3owever, if we have devotion to the
Cama, we can bypass the need to eperience emptiness in this way.
We can enter the path of Tantra through the empty eperience of our
devotion. "f we can enter the sphere of the Cama wholeheartedly and
openly, then that is our base of emptiness. This is not to say that it will
not still be epedient to engage in practices to develop our eperience
of emptiness or that it is no longer important to ma#e our lives
functional and useful in an ordinary sense. 1ut we can begin from the
base of devotion.
I) There have been plenty of times when " have wanted this or that,
but " have never felt that any of these things was going to be AThe
4nswer7.
'') 6or you it might be the other way round rather than believing
that having things will ma#e you happy, you believe that not having
things will ma#e you happy. Lou thin# you would be unhappy if you
wore a shirt and tie and lived in a house and had a mortgage. We all
define the things in our life that will ma#e us happy and are all
continually adjusting those definitions.
I) " guess "7m too cynical. " can see the emotional thing, but not the
conceptual thing of thin#ing that something will be the answer to
everything.
'') Well you have been practising for $uite a long time now. This
teaching is intended for the entry-level practitioner, or to open the
view of a non-practitioner. This understanding may have become so
much the ground of your practice that you do not even see it anymore.
I) When we have achieved the goals that we have set ourselves and
found this unsatisfactory, is there a danger of inactivity9
'') Les, you can enter into a sort of void when there does not seem
to be any point to anything.
I) !o is there a way of acting that does not include a wish for success
the actions are still done but without the aim of personal
satisfaction9
'') This sounds as though you might be getting confused. There is
nothing wrong with finding the things we achieve satisfying. There is
no problem with having goals and ambitions and reaching them. What
is being said here is that you cannot shuffle the pieces of samsara in
any way that is going to bring ultimate, lasting, 'this is itD' satisfaction.
There is satisfaction in the moment, but we tend to concretise this into
a definition. To give an eample) " must not fabricate a reality around
successfully losing a lot of weight " am a thin person now and
therefore more valuable/ now that " am thin my life will be perfect7-
that sort of attitude. Dharma is not about turning our lives into
porridge a sort of gruel of acceptance and humourless compromise.
"f you want the Camborghini, go for itD @et it. Cove it. Bnjoy it. 1ut
don7t delude yourself into thin#ing that you7re better than someone
who can only afford a cheap vehicle, or that it will never brea# down.
I) "f you are continually successful at something then failure is a
shoc#.
'') "ndeed. 1ut in non-duality we cannot tal# about success or
failure. These imply opposition and contradiction. 'ga#'chang
(inpoche tal#s about the 'play of phenomena'. "f there is no sense of
success or failure it is just playful. -ne person7s success is to live a
simple life, in a yurt, with few possessions. To others that might seem
li#e failure. This is why it7s so important not to judge and fi people.
We must also not fi our perception of ourselves and our lifestyle. The
minute we fi things there is no possibility of eperiencing non-
duality. 'on-duality is open and fluid.
IK) Does that hold true if someone's view is damaging9
'') "f that means they treat people badly, it's not a good idea, and
perhaps you could try to influence them. 3owever, unless they have
great respect for you and value your view and opinion in some way,
challenging them may just cause them to entrench and solidify their
view. @enerally it is best to loo# to our own intention and motivation
and allow who we are to be the manner of influence rather than trying
to ta#e direct action.
I;) 6rom my eperience there7s another danger that all opinions are
e$ually meaningful or meaningless, and " become unfeeling of other7s
opinions.
'') Where there are human beings there are problemsD D5ogchen
view can also be misinterpreted as 'it doesn7t matter what " do'. "t is
important to remember that D5ogchen does not deny the other
vehicles and the importance of #indness. 4lthough it is ultimately true
that their opinion is irrelevant, we would not act from that view.
D5ogchen is not a cold and dispassionate path. We respond to the
needs of others and do not constantly unsettle people by challenging
the rigidity of their view and opinion. We might do this occasionally
with people we #now well, or with other practitioners, but generally
we have no right to be anything other than #ind. Bven though
D5ogchen view is direct and piercing, there is the underlying
motivation of #indness and acting appropriately.
IE) !o morality is the response to people7s condition9
'') We have to be careful of the word morality as it generally implies
a code of behaviour. 4 code of conduct may not allow room for direct
perception and understanding. D5ogchen tal#s of pure
appropriateness. "t7s a $uestion of responding appropriately in the
moment. -ur response is based in the non-duality of wisdom and
#indness. There is no judgement from a moral base of 'good or bad', or
fitting into a moral code of what is 'good' or 'bad'. There is the
response that moves in the direction of realisation, and the response
that moves away from it.
IK) "t7s difficult to have a compassionate view if the situation is
hurting us.
'') Les, we have to apply common sense and be aware of our
limitations and capacity.
IK) This view of lac# of satisfaction seems to suggest there is no point
in trying to help people who are starving or homeless.
'') There is always a point in helping people who are in need. We
are not undermining the good intentions of people who help on the
soup run or wor# in a charity shop. 3owever if your whole sense of
who you are and the point of your eistence is bound up in achieving
world peace or an end to hunger you are li#ely to be in for a
devastating disappointment at some point. "t may be that your peace
wor# will achieve small successes in certain areas, and this is to be
valued, but to epect total worldwide, everlasting success is
unrealistic. !uccess has to be appreciated in the moment, but not
grasped at as a concrete, achievable, eternal aim.
IK) "s there a possibility of thin#ing that practice will bring you
ultimate satisfaction9
'') "f you practise it will bring you happiness the happiness of
enjoying each present moment as rich, spar#ling, passionate,
unconstrained and beyond definition. "t will bring you a lasting sense
of contentment even when your life is turned upside down and there is
sadness and worry, and more than that) a sense of epansiveness, of
the present moment being all time and no time.
IK) !o does it not matter if " enter into practice with that view of
wishing to be happy9
'') -ur motivation is always mied. We always have dualistic
motivation.
IK) !o it still might wor#9
'') @uaranteedD MlaughterN