This series of posts combines together much of my understanding of what it means to be a Kadampa and how that serves as the basis for an infinite self-confidence. In the first few posts we learned how to construct a reliable basis for self-confidence: our virtuous actions, our overcoming of our delusions and our pure potential. In the subsequent posts, we learned how to practice self-confidence by learning how to wholeheartedly accept everything and everyone, how to embark upon the Bodhisattva’s path by making a vajra commitment to others and how to become a qualified member of the vajra family.
In the next two posts we will talk about where to go from here. What do we do with all of this? To answer this question, I will first try explain how all our past spiritual practices over countless previous lives have ripened in the form of this one moment. Then, in the final post of this series, I will talk about how to fully seize the opportunity we now have.
Understanding how all our past spiritual practices over countless previous lives have ripened in the form of this one moment
How can we understand this? We currently have everything: We have a precious human life. We were not born a hell being, we were not born a hungry ghost, we were not born an animal, we were not born a demi-god, we were not born a god, we have all our mental and physical faculties, we live in a country where religion is tolerated, we live in a country where there is the pure Dharma, we live at a time when Tantra is being taught, we have a strong interest in spiritual matters, we have the resources necessary to practice. We have access to Dharma centers. We have found a pure spiritual tradition with a robust spiritual community and pure instructions, we have the opportunity ourselves to work to cause the Dharma to flourish and engage in a bodhisattva’s actions. We have all the books, all the sadhanas, the study programs, a qualified spiritual guide, everything.
None of this happens without a cause. Essentially all the karma on our mind is negative. We have spent 99% of our previous lives in the lower realms where we engaged almost exclusively in negative actions. When we were in the upper realms we rarely if ever engaged in virtue, but instead just burned up our merit. It is extremely difficult for us to engage in virtue. Look how easy it is for us to get angry versus how hard it is to love somebody else unconditionally without expecting anything in return. Psychologists estimate that for most humans, it is 9 times easier to generate a negative thought than a positive one. To create the cause for just a human rebirth, you need to engage in a pure action of moral discipline together with stainless prayer for an upper rebirth. How often do we do that? And we are Dharma practitioners. I did the math once, and karmically speaking a life like this happens roughly only once every 475 trillion lives!
But look at all that we have. We have created the cause for every single thing we are currently experiencing. We have been saving up our spiritual pennies for countless lives, and they have all ripened in this life. Dorje Shugden has caused it all to ripen in this one opportunity. It is, for all practical purposes, now or never. Essentially all of our Dharma karma is ripening right now. If we waste this opportunity, the causes which created it will exhaust themselves and then we will have nothing left. This should cause our heart to crack open with fear. If, however, we use this opportunity to the fullest, then we will create the causes to continue and eventually get out. It is as if we are in a line hundreds of billions of people long, and we are third in line. Now is not the time to get out of line because we see some shiny object of attachment.
For all practical purposes, our choice at the end of this life is the pure land or hell. These are basically our only two options at the end of this life. Why? If negative karma ripens at the time of our death, we will fall. What activates negative karma at the time of our death? If we respond to the death process with delusion and a negative mind, it will activate negative seeds and we will fall. Right now, when we encounter just the smallest of inconvenience or discomfort we respond with negative minds. Death is the loss of everything. Everything will be taken away from us. We will realize how almost everything we worked for in this life was for naught. Our body will likely be in pain perhaps from cancer. Our mental faculties will be dulled, whether it is from old age or all the medicine we will be on. As we die, there is a good possibility we will feel as if we are suffocating. If we can’t deal with the check out line at the grocery story without delusion, how will we manage death?
We must not allow the laziness of indolence to cause us to waste this precious opportunity. We must actively seek out and destroy our delusions, like a resistance fighter living under occupation. I know a practitioner who calls delusions warlords who have seized control of the field of our mind. We must not allow objects of attachment to distract us. Spirits can give you everything to keep you distracted and then at the time of death they reveal themselves saying ‘gotcha’ as you fall into hell having wasted this opportunity.
We need to realize what all you can accomplish with this life. We can solve all the problems of this life, we can prevent ourself from ever having to fall into the lower realms again, we can permanently wake up from the nightmare of samsara, we can gain all the abilities of a Buddha. We have a local Dharma center with which right now we can engage in a bodhisattva’s actions. Through the center we can cause the Dharma to flourish and directly engage in a bodhisattva’s actions. If all of this didn’t exist, we could only intellectualize about the Dharma. So what are we going to do with the opportunity we have?