In Joyful Path, Geshe-la says one of the most important minds in the Lamrim is superior intention, taking personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of others. Each one of us has a responsibility for part of the lineage. Our part of the lineage is the specific understanding of Dharma that transforms our life into the path to enlightenment. Other people in future generations will have lives similar to ours. We learn how to transform a life like ours into the path and then we share what we have learned in the hope it proves beneficial to others with similar lives.
Our responsibility is towards all the beings of future generations who have the same type of life as ourselves. Our job is to learn how to make a life like ours into the quick path. We need to learn how to use everything for the accomplishment of our training. Ven. Tharchin says we need to design our own enlightenment. What kind of Buddha am I going to be? If we learn how to transform our life into the quick path with a bodhichitta motivation for the sake of those with a similar life, then we will become a Buddha who has that specific power. Then, situations where we can help will naturally arise and we just share our experience. I have a very close friend who has been in a psychiatric hospital for about 15 years now. He is a very pure Dharma practitioner, but the tendencies that ripen in his mind are horrific. He says, “I am training to be a Buddha of extremely degenerate times. In the future, all beings will have tendencies of mind like I do. I am training to be a Buddha for such time.” This attitude is perfect.
Very often we think we cannot transform our life into the quick path because our life isn’t conducive to that. But because everything is equally empty, everything can equally function for us as the quick path. Because we grasp at some things as being inherently better, we conceive of things as obstacles and when we can’t overcome them, we make excuses for not practicing or we develop aversion for our life. Geshe-la explains in Universal Compassion that obstacles are created when we grasp at certain situations as being better than others. Assenting to this is laziness and an ignorance. Sometimes we think our obstacles are particularly difficult. Actually, there is no situation that can prevent us from practicing Dharma. All lives are equally good for practice because everything is equally empty. No matter what our situation nothing can prevent us from loving others and training our mind.
We need to optimize on the two forms of practice, formal and informal. From one perspective, it is easier to only practice Dharma when all day we are only practicing Dharma directly and formally. This is important and if we have such a life, we should be very happy. For the rest of us, our job is to learn to equally practice Dharma regardless of where we are and what we are doing. We need to learn how to ‘attain enlightenment where we stand.’ We need to optimize between these two, formal and informal ways of practicing, for maximum transformation of our mind. We need to alternative between these two, between our meditation sessions and our meditation break; between our teachings and working in the field; between our retreat and our daily life.
What matters is not how we practice, rather that we dedicate our entire life to the practicing of Dharma and to the destruction of delusions in the minds of living beings in this world. Shantideva says we are at war. How we specifically wage that war depends on our karma and everyone is different. When we grasp that one way of doing things (formal, ordained or informal, lay) IS best, it blocks the mind to creatively see how to make any life a quick path. This leads to suffering in minds of those who do not have the karma to lead such a life and causes them to impute obstacle on everything that prevents them from doing so.
How do we actually transform every aspect of our life into the quick path? Practically speaking, we need to look at everything in life and see how it can be part of our practice. Every situation gives us an opportunity to overcome delusions. With training, we can get to the point where we can go anywhere with anybody doing anything and be free from delusion. Wherever we can’t currently do so is our samsara because we are unfree. Liberation is complete freedom.
We need to request Dorje Shugden, “please forge me in the fires of my karma into the Buddha that I need to become / into a fully qualified Kadampa Spiritual Guide.” Then, every situation should be viewed through the lens of the opportunity it provides us to train our mind in abandoning delusion and cultivating virtues. One of the most important things for being able to do this is to maintain pure view of others. Geshe-la explained at the Spring Festival many years ago that Buddha Vajradhara intentionally appears in the aspect of ordinary beings for us to act normally with them, and by doing so, we will create the causes to become a Buddha ourself. Because we conceive of all beings engaging in enlightened actions, it karmically reconstructs others into Buddhas and we receive maximum benefit.
Our ability to maintain this pure view arises in dependence upon first and foremost our Bodhichitta intention. The function of an object is determined by our intention. By wanting to become a Buddha, it changes the function of every object to be a cause of our enlightenment. When we are unsure how something is perfect for our practice, we can ask ourselves specific questions: What delusions does this situation provoke? What does this situation give me an opportunity to practice? What spiritual lessons can I learn from this/does this teach me? What does this situation teach me about the truth of Dharma? When we have answers to these questions, we will understand how the situation can be viewed as emanated. These questions will give us valid reasons for believing it to be true that everything is emanated for our practice. On the basis of this, we practice the believing faith that others are Buddhas intentionally doing whatever they are doing to give us an opportunity to practice something or to teach us something about the truth of Dharma. It doesn’t matter if this is objectively true – nothing is – what matters is that it is very beneficial to believe.
In terms of how to respond to the various situations we encounter, Geshe-la gave us a powerful and simple practice at the Spring Festival many years ago called “integrating Lamrim into our daily appearance.” Whenever we experience suffering, we view it as a reminder of the far worse suffering we will experience in countless future lives if we don’t attain liberation. So this appearance is encouraging us to attain liberation. Whenever we see others experiencing suffering, we view it as a reminder that all our mothers will experience far worse suffering in all their future lives if we do not become a Buddha and free them. So this appearance is encouraging us to attain enlightenment for their benefit. Whenever we see any attractive, unattractive or neutral appearance, we view it as a reminder that the things we normally see do not exist at all. These are just dream like appearances within our mind. So the appearance of inherently existent forms reminds us that they are empty of such existence. Geshe-la said by practicing in this way, we can enter the pure land. He then said something amazing: he said the mind of Lamrim itself is Sukavati pure land.