The 29th of every month is Protector Day. This is part 2 of a 12-part series aimed at helping us remember our Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden and increase our faith in him on these special days.
We can learn to be happy all the time, regardless of our external circumstances. Normally, we are happy when things go well, but unhappy when things go badly. When we are a spiritual being, all situations, good or bad, equally provide us with an opportunity to train our mind and create good causes for the future, so we are equally happy with whatever happens. In this way, we can develop a real equanimity with respect to whatever happens in our life.
We have the power to free all the beings we know and love from this world of suffering. We have the opportunity to become a fully enlightened Buddha who has the power to lead each and every living being to full enlightenment. So eventually we can save everyone we know and love. We can understand this at a deeper level by understanding that we are dreaming a world of suffering. By purifying our own mind, we dream a different dream, a pure dream, and thereby free all these beings.
With this background in mind, in this series of posts I will explain a special practice we can do to make the most out of our precious human life, namely surrendering our life completely to the protection and guidance of the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden.
Normally we explain what to do in the meditation session first, but I wanted to explain how we rely upon Dorje Shugden in the meditation break first because this is where we first gain experience of him and see how useful he is. Then, we naturally want to deepen our practice of him in the meditation session.
I would like to explain two key practices for the meditation break: taking personal responsibility to remove the faults we perceive in others and viewing our life as a training ground for becoming the Buddha we need to become. I will explain these over the next two posts.
Taking personal responsibility for removing the faults you perceive in others
Normally, we think it is the responsibility of others to remove the faults we perceive in them, but if we think about this carefully, we will realize that actually we are uniquely responsible for all the faults we perceive in others. At a simple level, we can say that the world we experience is the world we pay attention to. If we pay 90% of our attention on the 10% of faults in the other person, then it will seem to us that the person is 90% faulty. This is how we will experience the other person. This is how we make ‘enemies,’ ‘friends,’ ‘sangha,’ and even ‘Buddhas.’ In the same way, we ‘make’ faulty people.
We can also understand this by considering emptiness. If we consider emptiness according to Sutra, we understand that everything is just a dream-like projection of our mind. Where does this faulty person come from? Our own projections of mind. There is no other person other than emptiness. Are we responsible for the appearance of faults in the people of our dreams? If yes, then we are likewise responsible for the faults in the people of the dream of our gross mind. If we consider karma and emptiness together, we realize that others are mere appearances arising from our own karma. We engaged in actions in the past which are now creating the appearance of a ‘faulty’ person. So it is our own past faulty actions which created this appearance of a faulty person.
If we consider emptiness according to Tantra, we understand that these faulty people are actually different aspects, or parts, of our own mind. We consider our right and left hands to be aspects or parts of our body. In the same way, when we understand emptiness according to Tantra, we realize that others are merely aspects or parts of our mind. Just as I am an appearance in my mind, so too is the ‘faulty’ person. Both are equally appearances to my mind inside my mind. They are different aspects of my mind. So this is the ‘me’ part of me and that is the ‘faulty’ part of me. When we meditate deeply on these things, we will come to the clear realization that there is no ‘other person’ other than the one created by my mind, so we are uniquely responsible for all the faults we perceive in others.
Given this, how do we actually remove the faults we perceive in others? There are several things we can do. First, we should make a distinction between the person and their delusion. Just as a cancer patient is not their cancer, so too somebody sick with delusions is not their delusions. By making a separation between the person and their delusions, we no longer see faulty people, rather we see pure people sick with delusions. We see faulty delusions, but pure beings.
Second, we need to develop a mind of patient acceptance that can transform everything. The mind of patient acceptance is a special wisdom that has the power to transform anything into the spiritual path. This wisdom enables practitioners to ‘accept’ everything without resistance because the bodhisattva can ‘use’ everything. When we have this mind, what would otherwise be a fault is considered to us to be perfect because it gives us a great opportunity to further train our mind. If we can learn to use whatever others do for our spiritual development, then their otherwise ‘faulty’ actions for us will be perfect.
Third, it is also very helpful to create a space of 100% freedom and non-judgment of others, and in that space, set a good example. A bodhisattva does not try or need to change others. When people feel controlled or judged, they become defensive. If they are defensive, then it blocks them from changing because they are engaging in a process of self-justification. For change to take place, it has to take place from the side of the person. Internal change can only come from the inside. Therefore, in the space of not controlling or judging others, we set a good example. This will naturally inspire people to change from their own side.
Fourth, Venerable Tharchin once explained to me that we need to “own other’s faults as our own.” Since the faults of others are projections of our own mind, the only reason why others appear to have any faults is because we possess those faults ourself. Our job then is to find these faults in ourselves and purge them like bad blood. We take the time to find where we have these same faults, and then we use the Dharma to eliminate them from ourself with a bodhichitta intention to be able to help the other person, and anyone else, who appears to have this fault. If we practice like this, there are many different benefits. We will gain the realizations we need to be able to help the other person overcome their problem because we have personal experience of having done that ourselves. We will show the perfect example for the other person of somebody striving to overcome and eventually becoming free from what troubles them the most. Our example often helps much more than our words. More profoundly, the problem will actually disappear in the other person because it is coming from our own mind anyways. And at the very least, we ourselves will have one less fault.
Finally, we can adopt a pure view of others as emanations of Dorje Shugden. I will explain this is greater detail in the next post.