Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Heart is Noble by His Holiness The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

I only learned about his name around last two weeks ago when my friend who messaged me through We Chat recommended me to meet His Holiness the 17th Karmapa, if I happen to visit Dharamsala. I browsed his name through Google to find out more about who he is.

The Heart is Noble by HH The Karmapa

Funnily, when I browsed the books in the library just the weekend after that, I found his book on the shelf, as if it’s my fate and destiny to find out more about his teaching and his thinking, which was pretty much related to our daily lives as human being. The book is still very new, nicely wrapped in transparent plastic, printed only this year. Inside my heart, I felt very much grateful because despite being far away from those Gurus, I was still able to read or hear their teaching from their books or from their website. But I am still hoping that one day I will be able to meet them in person :)

Ogyen Trinley Dorje was born in Lhatok Township, Qamdo County in Tibet on 26th June 1986. At the age of 14, he escaped to India through Nepal and currently resides in Gyuto Monastery in Sidhbari, near Dharamsala.

Recently I’ve heard many about those Gurus, who have been reincarnated as human being from their previous life. But they all have specific purposes, which are to continue the Buddha’s teaching from one generation to another, which is true enough that we need them to pass on the Dharma, to guide us, to teach us, and how to find the meaning and purposes in our lives.

Lately I’ve been thinking and wondering, why are we here for? What are our purposes in this life? How to have a meaningful life? And so on. It is either I think too much, or I get lost. Sometimes I feel that I am in deep need of having a teacher to teach me all these, also to meditate. I also have a feeling that there is a need for me to go out to society, to contribute something to them. I feel that I am too self-centered, only think about what I want, need, love to do, do what I love, but there is extremely lacking of sharing my time and effort to those who need it.

You know what? Whenever I had those questions in mind, somehow, I could find the answers from the book that I read, from the video that I watched, as if they knew what I was thinking and helped me with the answers.

Wise words from HH the 17th Karmapa

From this book, there are many topics described by the Karmapa that are useful for me. E.g.: Healthy Relationships: Orienting Ourselves toward Others. He wrote about the Hook of Attachment – it awoke me the difference between love and attachment and realized that somehow we, as human being, might fell into this problem unknowingly, which was quite a serious problem.

“When you truly love someone, they are extremely precious to you – as valuable to you as your own life. You cherish them even more than yourself. But when you are attached to people, you see them as existing in your life to fill your needs or to make you happy."

He also mentioned, “Love is a huge and expansive practice, a great and noble practice. It is like a tree, needs to grow continually, yielding fresh cycles of leaves and flowers and fruit. If this stops, the tree stagnates and eventually dies.”

It is interesting to read this: “I have observed a strange idea of love that many people seem to have: they see love as a kind of gift that has to be given back. Someone says, “I love you,” and if the other person does not reply with an “I love you, too,” the first person gets upset. But love doesn’t always have to be reciprocated. We can just love. If love doesn’t come back to you, it is still love that you give and that you feel. We do not always have to look to get something back for what we give, do we?

Those who have heart broken, the above sentence may be helpful, to think from the other point of view. It is kinda hurt and hard to accept, but however, if we are willing to learn, accept and change our thinking, we will be able to love in different way, with no attachment but just let the loved one be happy with their lives. “When it is a separation or breakup that ends a relationship, you can reflect that this too is simply the natural outcome of impermanence. You shouldn’t be shocked or surprised at all, even if you feel pain for some time. Change is an integral and inevitable part of life. You can acknowledge that fact, and reflect that change is not necessarily always bad, even if you yourself did not choose it.”

Other chapter he wrote about is Consumerism and Greed: We are the agent of the change in consumerism. We should understand at the first place about greed and how dangerous it is if we are blinded by it. We need to distinguish between wants and needs and buy only what we need - “In the end, it is up to each of us to determine what money and the things that money buys are really worth to us. It is up to us to decide how much energy to devote to the pursuit of money and possessions, as opposed to the pursuit of real happiness.”

Here is what I love most: “Do you want to let yourself be defined by your possessions or by your job? I mean this as a serious question, because you could identify yourself with your job or your money or your possessions. Or you could identify yourself with your inner qualities and with happiness. It really is up to you.” In real life, we often find people define themselves by their possession and their status, like how much they earn yearly, what post they are holding, and so on. How many would identify themselves with their inner qualities and happiness? Hopefully we too, do not judge people solely and blindly by their possession and status. There are much more important things than what you can see from the outside, including their appearance.

The Karmapa started to be vegetarian in year 2007. In his book – Food Justice, he wrote on why he did that and why he encouraged others to do the same. Most people are unable to become vegetarian due to two things, which are: desire and habit.  Hmm… I admit that I am one of those who still can’t do it. No matter I know what the reasons and why it’s better if we do that, I still can’t do it in practice.

“Each person must find his or her own path. Nonetheless, seek guidance from wise and compassionate people and listen to them earnestly. This will help you find the best way to proceed – now and in the future.” - Karmapa on Guidance

The other interesting chapter is Spiritual Paths: Integrating Life and Spirituality. Here, he led us on how to integrate our lives in spiritual ways, e.g.: to find a spiritual teacher that you can trust, which can come from elders or from books; Join in the community – friends who share your spiritual interest; Keep it simple in discovering what already exists within us; Go ahead and doubt – one that is useful for spiritual growth; Staying mindful of happiness – as our primary aim of a spiritual path is true happiness. We could create authentic, real happiness, simply because we have a noble heart and human intelligence. We use these two essences to discover the meaning of our life.

Spirituality is a process of self-discovery. You cannot discover what is not within your own experience. Your spirituality has to be developed within you. One of our most important challenges in life is to remain mindful of who we are and what we are doing. To keep this awareness present all the time is a great support for spiritual growth. One aspect of a spiritual life is to live consciously. For that, we need to be as fully aware as possible. Without mindfulness, we end up sleepwalking through life. We act without realizing what we are doing.”

“Just simply relax and rest in your own natural state is all that you need to do. When you give yourself that opportunity, you’ll find that presence extends to the other parts of your life.” - Karmapa on Meditation

His Holiness Karmapa also put an emphasis on Embracing Diversity as we are living in a society with a diversity of religious beliefs around the world by putting our own tolerance, respect, and love into practice.

In Chapter 12, Sustainable Compassion – Grounding Ourselves in Courage and Joy, he wrote about Our Noble Heart of Compassion. “Compassion is not something new that we need to acquire or engineer for ourselves. It is already present within each one of us. No matter how seemingly bad a person is, they still have compassion as a fundamental, integral part of their nature. We all do. For that reason, our compassion will never be depleted. It has a sustaining power in and of itself. 

However, although we all have compassion as part of our nature, there are differences in how we develop and apply it. People have different aptitudes and aspirations that shape how their compassion manifests. When our compassion has grown past our personal limitations, it can become a limitless wish to benefit all beings – each and every being, everywhere.”

Coloring Life with Compassion – “We can color our whole life with kindness, transforming our everyday activities and suffusing our everyday ways of being with human warmth. This can happen. Our life can be translated into love.” 

He said, “We can work out the compassion in two directions: outward and inward. Inward, in Buddhism called renunciation, is the wish to turn away from everything that causes suffering. We are not rejecting things themselves, but we are rejecting our attachment to those things, whatever things that causes us pain and dissatisfaction and this includes the endless pursuit of empty sense pleasures. It is a wise way of caring for ourselves. When compassion is turn outward, this is what we call compassion, as we want others to be free from suffering as well as everything that causes their suffering.”

“Human beings are the most intelligent and resourceful species on earth. If we use our intelligence to cause more suffering, rather than to bring some real benefit to others and ourselves, we are no better than beasts.” - Karmapa on Intelligence

At the last chapter, The Karmapa leaves us to continue cultivating the habit of extending our love and compassion outward to all being by increasing our awareness of our own noble heart in our everyday activities. He again mentioned the interconnection and interdependence on all issues he discussed in his book, that all things are inseparable. For that reason, our inner growth and goodness that we contribute to the world can truly help make the world good and all of us can change the world this way, from the inside out.

“Interdependence has many implications – practical, emotional, spiritual, and ethical. Interdependence means that your happiness and mine are connected. Practically and emotionally, your happiness is bound up with the welfare of all those you are connected to or depend on. Spiritually, your happiness comes from finding the right balance of caring for others and caring for yourself. Ethically, it is right for you to respond with gratitude and kindness to those who have given you everything that you require to live and to be happy. Because you rely on others for everything you need to flourish or even just to survive, you have a responsibility to care for them. It also means you are in a position to fulfill that responsibility, because your actions affect others deeply, too. Your awareness of interdependence is essential for the kind of positive change you want – and need – to make in the world. 

The other condition needed in order to allow you to change the world for the good is your sustained attitude of caring. Your compassionate outlook cannot merely be based on being in a supportive environment. Your loving concern for others and your commitment to act must rooted deep within you. Live and act in the fullness of your love and affection for all beings. Take them with you wherever you go.”

As part for closing words, I love the way he said it, “Although we may not have met in person, we need not be distant from each other mentally. Our affection for each other can keep us close. We can remain united through the goodness of our hearts. We can always see the stars twinkling in the sky. In the same way, wherever you are in the world, you can be a lamp brightening the space around you. You will always have your own light to shine. You can be a lamp dispelling not only any darkness in your own outlook, but radiating enough light to brighten the world around you as well.”

It is as if he knows I will one day read his book when I need guidance on where to go, and to find the meaning of life. Thank you for the good karma given. Your book has opened my heart and mind. I may not be able to do all that you wish for, but hopefully I do the best I can starting with changing my own self and walking into the right direction.

“Remember: there is no fixed starting point for you to begin from to accomplish whatever you aspire to achieve. Changing the world for the good can start from right where you are, right now. I hope you will remember this, always." - HH The Karmapa

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