Understanding how and why you ask Questions – 12 Jan 2017

Dharma Teaching by Singha Thekchen Namdrol Rinpoche

A summary by Anne-Marie Wagonis

Rinpoche begins by addressing the question we all ask…..”Why?” Asking this question is not necessarily right or wrong. Curiosity is not right or wrong. Asking is not a mistake, but to ask only to fulfil one’s own desire or need is a mistake. What is more important than asking Rinpoche explains, is how you ask and why you ask. So we must be mindful. Are we asking questions in order to genuinely attain some knowledge and some understanding or are we asking in order to challenge or put one another down? Are we asking in order to prove our own points or to flaunt our own abilities?

The way we use our speech is of great importance. But we should not allow ourselves to become just “all talk, and no action”. When we are reciting sutras for example, reciting the words of the sutra, but not putting those words into action by practicing what is being taught in the sutra, is like having a blind faith attitude. When we practice dharma, we practice dharma in order to transform our minds. So when we recite sutras and mantras, or when we make offerings it really does have an impact upon changing our conditions because these practices change the conditions of our own minds. Rinpoche shares an experience with us. He tells us that he had a student come to him questioning whether he should practice reciting the sutras well or put into practice what was being taught in the sutras. Rinpoche advised him that in his situation, he should be doing both. The student told Rinpoche that he did not believe that by reciting the sutras he could possibly change any of his current conditions. But in our current human form we do create many different kinds of transformations everyday through both our speech and through our actions. Rinpoche explains, “When you paint a room, for example, you change the appearance of that room. The room becomes cleaner and brighter. When you add lighting, you are creating ambience and there is now warmth and glow. Placing flowers adds fragrance. Fruit adds further to the elegance and grace of the space and gives it the feeling of having plenty. Externally and internally you can feel a difference.”

“The words of the sutras are powerful in themselves. By reciting the sutras, because they are the words that the Buddha himself has spoken, even if you are reciting them without faith, you will accumulate merits. So by reciting them but not putting those words into practice it would be very unfortunate for you. To speak the words without following through with action is short changing yourself.”

“It is important to not over intellectualize, but to understand the deeper meaning of the sutra. And it is also very important to always recite the sutras for the benefit of all beings.”

The practice of reciting sutras out loud is in order to receive the benefit of humility and for the purpose of enabling us to connect to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in a way that through this connection we will also be creating both the causes and the connections to benefit ourselves and others in our future lifetimes. “So we are creating the conditions for what we wish to obtain in this life and in future lives as well. Just as the right type of fruit can only be grown and successfully harvested under the right conditions, our practice is what we use to condition our internal world and recondition our external world; to understand how, through the workings of nature, we can create these suitable conditions for ourselves.”

“The main thing in cultivating dharma is not to continuously point out each other’s faults. It is about creating the suitable conditions for dharma cultivation. This means growing the heart; having more space in your heart and being more relaxed in your heart. Our heart and mind need to become more spacious because dharma cultivation is not only a practice to fulfill just our own needs.” Rinpoche uses the practice of Dzambhala as an example; “Take Dzambhala practice for example. The main purpose is to learn generosity, along with compassion, non-judgementalism, equanimity, loving kindness and charity. It’s not for personal attainment or for greed. Miserliness creates the causes for poverty. And not only material miserliness; but miserliness of time, of attention, of space and of accommodation. We talk about love, compassion and kindness but these need to be put into practice. We need to reflect upon and practice becoming more accommodating toward others. So, how can we let our hearts and our minds grow to accommodate one another? Through creating serenity in your heart and exuding that type of energy, people will be naturally attracted to you because true inner peace and serenity can be felt. But then you must learn how to react to this; how to communicate. To be able to accommodate others, we must learn to communicate instead of just making remarks.”

Rinpoche further explains that accommodating others goes beyond living a life focused upon our own best interests and our own set of expectations about how things should be. It requires acceptance and putting the focus upon the needs, not the wants. It requires acknowledging that we all carry karmic debts of varying degrees, so what works for us may not work for others. It means we must learn to condition ourselves to be sensitive to others, before just making remarks to them or about them. “Learn to communicate in ways where you can understand and be able to offer your help. Communication is mentioned in so many of the sutras but we don’t seem to realize this. If you really want to be understood by others, work on having effective communication. Effective communication is a choice and it is all in your power to make it happen. So don’t just pray and hope for the best.”

“Many in search of dharma are lunatics, Rinpoche relates. When I say lunatics, I include myself, because we present only the aspect we want you to see; the rest is hidden away, just like the phases of the moon. But really, it’s best to be more like the whole sky.”

“The dharma should reshape the way we are in this world. We all belong to the human realm. We are human beings. We are all suffering but also we all have our enjoyments. We all have choice. So always be responsible for your own choices.”

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