Atisha’s Advice from the Heart: Part 11

Being under the influence of wrong views you do not realize the ultimate nature of things, therefore investigate correct meanings.

This refers to the wisdom realizing emptiness. We have already established that everything is just a dream.  Now, I want to talk about the implications of this.

While there are many many different benefits of this sort of analysis, it seems to me there are two main ideas which stand out:  By understanding that it is our mind that is the creator of all we realize that we are uniquely responsible for everything that happens in this world of suffering.  It is very easy, due to our grasping, to think that some of the things that happen in this world or that happen to the people of this world, while sad, are not really our responsibility.  These are ‘events taking place’ in the world, and we feel as if our own mind has no role in their creation.  When we go this deep into emptiness we realize that there is absolutely nothing that happens to anybody that we are not responsible for.  It is our own mind that has created this world of suffering and all the beings within it.   When I look at the world I have created, I realize that I have imprisoned everyone I know into contaminated aggregates and trapped them in a cycle of uncontrolled rebirth.    When I see emptiness, I realize that I am responsible for everything that happens to everyone in my dream.  I realize that if I don’t save the beings of my dream, nobody else can; after all, they are the beings of MY dream.  Why are beings trapped in the lower realms or caught in the spell of samsara?  Because I, due to my self-cherishing and self-grasping, have been neglecting them.  When I think that their suffering has nothing to do with me, then I can perhaps say a few prayers, but I don’t really take any personal responsibility. But when I realize that all this suffering is caused by nobody and nothing else than my OWN mind, then I immediately feel a strong sense of responsibility for everything that happens.  In this way, the deeper we understand emptiness, the more effortless our superior intention and bodhichitta becomes.

By understanding that it is our mind that is the creator of all we realize that by changing and purifying our own mind we can actually free all those we know and love from the terrible dream we have created for them.  When I think that their suffering and their experiences have nothing to do with my own mind, then I think, even if I change my mind it won’t really change anything.  Others will continue to suffer, etc., and my efforts aimed at changing my mind will change little to nothing.  But when I understand that it is because I still have an ordinary, deluded mind that I perceive a world filled with ordinary, deluded beings I simultaneously understand that if I purify and perfect my mind I will naturally perceive a world filled with pure and perfect beings.  While of course there will be a ‘karmic lag’ between when I generate this view and when it becomes a living reality for the beings of my dream, I understand that if I am persistent in maintaining this view it will just be a matter of time before I have transformed this world of suffering into a completely pure world.  I will have freed all those I have, by ignorance and self-cherishing, imprisoned.

Neither of these two observations requires even one iota of faith.  Emptiness is something that does not require a leap of faith to believe, but it is something that we can verify and confirm beyond any doubt for ourselves.  We have been given tools for establishing that everything is the dream of our self-centered mind, and when we go and check we come to the simultaneously horrifying and liberating realization that it is true.  It is horrifying in the sense we realize what our self-centered mind has done since beginningless time (created and world of suffering in which all beings have been tortured endlessly) But it is liberating in the sense that we realize the solution to all of this suffering lies within our own hands (or our own mind, to be more precise).

When I understand this emptiness we have been discussing, a ‘real’ solution to all the suffering of all living beings becomes something ‘perfectly feasible.’  I see the feasibility of the bodhichitta task.  Instead of it being some insurmountable problem, it becomes a rather limited issue of purifying my own mind.  Gen Tharchin said that we cannot take on spiritual goals unless we see them as being feasible.  But when we see that they are feasible (we know what to do and we know that it is doable) then effort becomes, well, effortless.  We easily and joyfully take such spiritual challenges on board and with the confidence of conviction grounded in fact, not blind faith, we go about the business of building a whole new world for ourselves and all beings.  I think when we see the teachings on emptiness in this light, we start to glimpse the unimaginable and we are filled with an enormous energy and confidence in what we are doing and why we are doing it.

Friends, there is no happiness in this swamp of samsara, so move to the firm ground of liberation.

The main point of renunciation is we need to wake up.  We recognize that this dream is created by a contaminated source, so everything in it will necessarily be contaminated.  The mind of renunciation realizes that it is impossible to find any happiness anywhere in samsara, so the only thing that remains to do is wake up.  Samsara is like a Rubik’s cube without a solution.  No matter how long we play, we will never get the pieces lined up.  So we should just stop playing.

Meditate according to the advice of your Spiritual Guide and dry up the river of samsaric suffering.

Samsara is just a contaminated dream.  If we meditate on the mahamudra, we dissolve all contaminated appearances of ourself and others into the Dharmakaya.  This concentration functions to purify the contaminated karma giving rise to the dream of samsara.  When all this contaminated karma is purified, the dream ceases and everyone is freed.

You should consider this well because it is not just words from the mouth, but sincere advice from the heart.

If you practise like this you will delight me, and you will bring happiness to yourself and others.

I who am ignorant request you to take this advice to heart.

He is offering us this advice as a friend because he wants us to become freed from our contamianted dream.  We should take his advice to heart.


I dedicate any merit I have accumulated from doing this series of posts so that all Kadampas can easily follow Atisha’s advice and come to live their life in accordance with it.  By doing so, may they set an immaculate example for others inspring countless millions to enter into the Kadampa path themselves.  Through continuing in this way, generation after generation, may all living beings eventually be led to freedom.

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