Cultivating true self-confidence: Unity born from being part of the same entity.

What is the unity born from being part of the same entity?  Here, we realize that we are all ultimately the same entity.

The correct meaning is we don’t say everything everyone does in the NKT  is perfect, rather we say I can transform everything they do, the good, the bad and the ugly, into something that is perfect for my own practice.  We can learn much more from people’s mistakes than their successes because people generally make many more mistakes than they do things right.  Each mistake we observe teaches us something, so even though it is a mistake in a conventional sense, for us it is perfect for our practice.  When we extend this understanding, we start to see the guru as the synthesis of all three jewels.  We see the Deities of our tradition as our personal Buddha Jewels, we see the books and teachings of our tradition as our family Dharma Jewels, and we will see the teachers and practitioners of our tradition as our close Sangha Jewels.  Since we are teachers and practitioners of the Kadam Dharma, it is correct to say that we are the same entity as the guru.  He gave birth to us and everything we have comes from him.  To see our Sangha as the spiritual guide appearing in the aspect of all Sangha Jewels means to make no distinction between Sangha and Geshe-la.  When we think Geshe-la, we think our Sangha.  When we think our Sangha, we think Geshe-la.  Our relationship with our Sangha is our relationship with Geshe-la, and vice versa.  If our relationship with even one member of the Sangha is not good, then our relationship with one aspect/part of our spiritual guide is not good.  The same logic applies to our relationship with each instruction in the tradition and each deity in our pantheon.  If we extend this view deeply, we come to feel our bodies as being Geshe-la’s body in this world.  Our speech will become Geshe-la’s speech in this world.  Our thoughts will become Geshe-la’s mind in this world.  We are all part of the same entity.   If we have unity born from same entity, we will naturally have unity born from a common view and from this common purpose and being polite and considerate to one another.  In my view, unity born from the same entity is our final goal and what Geshe-la is encouraging us to arrive at.

So what should we do concretely?  We shouldn’t keep our focus just our local center or teacher, but we should try understand how they fit within the larger picture of the tradition (we act locally, but we think globally).  We should try develop relationships with members of our extended vajra family.  For me, for example, my main teachers have been Gen Lekma, Gen Lhamo, Kadam Bjorn, Venerable Tharchin, Gen-la Samden (when he was Gen-la), Gen-la Khyenrab, and Gen-la Dekyong.  I likewise feel very closely connected with Kadam Lucy, Kadam Morten and my dear friend Kadam Olivier.  Spiritually speaking, these people have been my principal spiritual influences.  My home Sangha will always be the Sangha of Santa Barbara in the mid-1990s because that is where I spent my spiritual childhood.  We are almost all still around somewhere.  It was a great group.  The Sangha where I was really a member of a spiritual home is the Sangha of the Suisse Romande (French-speaking Switzerland).  This is when I was with my spiritual family of my own.  They are all each practicing in their own way now.  What I find is I naturally seem to form easy friendships with students of my main influences.  I think we should actively seek to build bridges across the entire vajra family by meeting and developing relationships with those in other parts of the vajra family.  This is why those who go to the festivals year after year feel like they are going back to a family reunion.  Our center, teachers, our courses and our Sangha are simply microcosms of the larger universe of our tradition which we should rely upon entirely as inseparable from the guru Geshe-la, who himself is nothing more than how Je Tsongkhapa is appearing in this world for us.  Because our center is a microcosm we lack nothing and have all we need, but because it is a reflection of a bigger picture, we can have so much more…


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