In this series of posts, I have done my best to explain my understanding of how we generate a reliable basis for generating self-confidence and then how we actually practice cultivating self-confidence. In this last post, I will try explain what helps me overcome my laziness and indeed light a fire in my heart.
The first thing to do is to meditate again and again upon dying full of regrets. Imagine that you arrive at your deathbed and your spiritual guide shows you what all you could have accomplished if only you had been motivated enough. You could have accomplished all spiritual goals and lead countless others to the same state. You could have caused your local center to flourish and enabled countless people to make contact with the Dharma – actually engaging in a Bodhisattva’s actions. But instead you listened to and followed your laziness and attachment and anger, and accomplished nothing. You have used up all the Dharma karma and now will fall into the lower realms where you will remain for aeons once again saving up your spiritual pennies. Use this meditation to arrive at the conclusion that you will not let this happen to you.
Second, we need to realize that this moment is the one in which we can fulfil our spiritual destiny. We wouldn’t go to school for years and years only to at the last minute not finish. We wouldn’t run for political office our whole career and win the election to presidency and then not show up for the job. Allow yourself to really feel this epic opportunity. Meditate again and again on the opportunity you now have and that you have everything in front of you to accomplish everything. The only thing you have to do is pick up what Geshe-la has given you. The only thing standing in your way is the strength and purity of your motivation. If you work on that, then you will have everything.
Third, we should appreciate the high stakes for the success of your practice, our local center and our tradition. If you don’t attain enlightenment, everyone you know and love will fall into samsara and be lost for as long as it takes you to get out. All the people who are depending upon your future students are also depending upon you, and so forth. There are literally countless beings whose fate depends upon your actions in this life. Our local Dharma centers are like an Embassy for all the Buddhas in our area. It is our job to make it happen for the people of our respective areas. If we don’t make it happen, it won’t happen for them at all. When you see others you should think, ‘this person is depending upon me.’
On this basis, we should cherish our local Dharma center. Through our local Dharma center we can accomplish everything. Geshe-la has put everything at our feet. We simply need to pick it up and use it. We can accomplish with our local center what Geshe-la has accomplished with Manjushri center. And we will have it much easier than he did because he has already written all the books and practices, established the study programmes, etc. We just need to use it. Venerable Tharchin says every person who walks into the center he views as the future saviour of all. This is true. This is a very literal statement. We need to adopt this view, and cherish others accordingly. The karma we accumulate working for the center continues to accumulate for as long as the center exists.
At a personal level, we need to quit hedging and holding ourself back. Normally we have one foot in our practice and one foot in samsara – hedging our bets. What are we hedging on samsara for. We already know enough Dharma to know it is a dead end and has no prospect for giving us anything. Do something different with your life. Really make a decision to go for it with all you’ve got. Burn all the bridges to samsara and never look back.
With our relationship to our tradition, we need to allow ourself to be influenced by the three jewels and especially Shantideva. We need to be careful about what we allow to influence us, so we need to check carefully that these things are of quality and value. But once we have done that, then we need to make the decision to allow them to influence us. Allow them to change us. Yes, this will mean changes which are sometimes difficult, but this is a small price to pay for unspeakably fantastic goals. In particular, you need to allow yourself to be influenced by Shantideva. He pulls no punches and if you allow yourself to be influenced by him nothing will ever be the same. You will leave behind your meaningless worldly life and embark upon a spiritual journey beyond your wildest dreams.
The choice is yours.
I dedicate any merit I may have collected from doing this series of posts so that all Kadampas may generate a vajra-like confidence in themselves, their practice, their tradition and our larger purpose. Our tradition has been reborn into the modern world. We have been reborn into our vajra family. Now let us go do what we came here for.