Atisha’s Advice from the Heart: Part 10

Distracting enjoyments have no essence, therefore sincerely practise giving.

We can understand the perfection of giving from a couple of different angles:  From the perspective of consuming merit, if we consider something to be ‘ours’ we burn up merit for as long as we consider it to be ours.  If we consider something to belong to ‘others’ we accumulate merit for as long as we maintain this view.  From the perspective of exchanging self with others, when we have completed exchanging self with others, we have the feeling that all beings are cells in a single body, and so just as our right hand gives to our left, we give to other parts of ourself.  Finally, from the perspective of karma and emptiness, karmically speaking, others are future emanations of ourself.  So by giving to others now, we are giving to ourself in the future.

Always keep pure moral discipline for it leads to beauty in this life and happiness hereafter.

Moral discipline is quite simply trying to have all of our actions move us in the direction of enlightenment.  The main point is no matter what appears to our mind, we should respond by trying to send our mind in the direction of enlightenment.  When we have a negative tendency and we resist assenting to it, we purify that negative tendency and we practice moral discipline.  This greatly simplifies our life into two things:  appearance – response.  That is all we need to know.  In terms of moral discipline making us beautiful, we can see this when we look at the monks and nuns.  They are all gorgeous people.  Moral discpline leads to happiness in future lives because it results in higher rebirth.

Since hatred is rife in these impure times, don the armour of patience, free from anger.

Getting angry at others is completely illogical.  Others harm us because we have created the karma to have the appearance of somebody harming us.  This is the karmic echo of our own past actions.  The other person was compelled to harm us by the force of our karma.  Likewise, if we get angry at others, karmically speaking we are getting angry at ourself in the future.  Everything we do to others we can correctly view as us doing to ourself in the future.  If instead we learn to accept others and respect their freedom to choose, then we likewise are doing the same thing for ourself in the future.  In short, karmically speaking, everything others do to us is our previous selves doing it to us, and everything we do to others is us doing something to our future selves.  If we keep this in mind, there will be no basis for anger or harmful actions.

You remain in samsara through the power of laziness, therefore ignite the fire of the effort of application.

The bottom line is this:  we are dreaming.  If we don’t do what it takes to wake up, we will remain forever asleep.  Since we have a (rudimentary) understanding of emptiness, we can liken right now to being in a dream, but realizing that we are dreaming.  We all know that this moment will quickly pass and we will forget we are dreaming and think it is all real again.  If this happens, there is no way we can wake up, because unless we wake ourselves up, we will remain forever asleep.  Effort in its simplest form is delighting in engaging in virtue.  The source of our pleasure is engaging in virtue.  What we enjoy is creating good causes.  We can generate this effort with the confidence that knows that if we never give up trying, nothing can prevent us from waking up and accomplishing all our spiritual goals.

Since this human life is wasted by indulging in distractions, now is the time to practise concentration.

Ultimately, a distraction is allowing ourselves to forget that we are dreaming.  When we develop attachment for things, we are necessarily grasping at things being real and not being just appearances in a dream.  As a result of this, we can easily get swept away and forget that it is a dream.  If it crosses a certain threshold, then there is no turning back and we lose this opportunity forever.

What does it mean to concentrate?  It means to not forget.  We try to maintain the continuum of not forgetting our Dharma understanding.  In general, Dharma is a process of familiarizing ourselves with the truth of how things are and how things work so that we don’t make mistakes.  The reason why we make mistakes is we forget our wisdom and believe our old deluded ways of viewing things.  We need to put to our mind again and again, ‘I am dreaming.  This is all a dream.’  ‘This is the contaminated dream of my self-cherishing mind.’  We keep doing this until we never forget it.  On the basis of that, we will naturally start changing our actions.


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