Dharma Teaching by Singha Thekchen Namdrol Rinpoche
A summary by Anne-Marie Wagonis
“Today is the first teaching of the new year according to the Chinese calendar. Therefore, it is deemed to be a very auspicious teaching to attend. It is also important today to fix your motivation for attending these teachings. One should really start now to reflect upon the meaning of our life. First, our life should have essence. Life essence here means living a life which is of meaningful benefit to others. This is not just a short term benefit but a permanent shift. So in reflecting today we should look honestly and carefully and ask ourselves if we have allowed for ourselves to become permanently shifted. If not, then our lives will only remain at a level of doing and not truly at a level of feeling.”
“Dharma practice has two levels. Many of us like to practice on a level of …. What to do, how to do, where to do and when to do. This level is considered our outer practice. It really needs to become more of a question of ….Why to do. If our practice is only serving ourselves and our own ego then we are not necessarily wrong but we’re still on a beginner’s level. We should progress on to a secondary level of answering why and for whom we are practicing. We should be opening up our hearts and beginning to feel for all beings. It should not be a choice between ourselves OR others because when we practice we should do so for the benefit of both ourselves and others.”
Acceptance is the first step of reaching into our inner spirituality. An important thing to remember is that the Buddha’s teachings are really here for the benefit of all beings. The rituals which exist within our practice are there for the purpose of training our minds. We are all now operating at a level of exchange. I give you something, I get something in return. But our minds must be trained to give more freely, without always the expectation of receiving something in return. It needs to become an unconditional giving.
In samsara, we are always going through so many ups and downs because we are always on guard. We are always protecting ourselves from what we feel we might lose. Rinpoche shared how surprised he was when he visited the U.S. “I was surprised to hear so many stories from people who were afraid of being sued. You invite someone into your home and they get hurt, and they can sue you!”
Rinpoche is right. And this really made me think and reflect too about my own behaviour and how and why we are always so afraid. We hold back out of fear. Rather than allowing ourselves to open up our hearts and our lives to others as our practice calls upon us to do, we spend so much of our lives cultivating and clinging to a climate of fear and loss.
“Guru yoga is practiced for the purpose of being able to see the “Guru-ness” in all beings and in all situations. It is meant to awaken the inner guru within ourselves. Then we can become truly in oneness with our guru.” Rinpoche points out that there is a distinction between having many gurus and teachers in your life and that of your principle root Guru. Rinpoche explains, “Your root Guru is the one who planted you, nurtured you, prayed for you and watered you. This Guru is the basis of your spiritual life. Your root Guru knows, cultivates and understands you. He teaches, trims, holds and supports you so that you will receive all of the benefits of his kindness. But like a tree, once you have grown and matured you should also be doing this same thing for others.” We should appreciate and truly be able to feel the depth of this experience. We should be able to feel this kind connectedness to our root Guru. If we feel separate then we have established a very weak link.
Separation and segregation are due to our own insecurities. Therefore we should strive to become in oneness with all beings. We are all sharing the same space. We are all breathing the same air.
“The purpose of the commitments’ we make and the prayers we recite is to truly benefit ourselves. When you arise as your meditation deity there is a direct benefit to you and to your own self esteem. In fact, it is the antidote to curing a low self-esteem. If you say you are too busy for these practices then you are so very busy enjoying your own samsara. In order to grow up and out be willing to approach what you detest, accept what you don’t like and cultivate what you reject. Then you will attain the siddhi.” (*Siddhi is a Sanskrit noun which can be translated as “perfection”, “accomplishment”, “attainment” or “success”.)
“Live your life meaningfully and by your own choice. Be a responsible practitioner who is mindful and aware. Most of us only specialize in ignorance and shirking of responsibility. We want everything given to us and done for us but also without taking on any responsibility.”
Rinpoche ends today’s teaching with some suggestions to begin this New Year:
Always be encouraging to those who are insecure. Share your life and your experiences. Return to the child-like nature of unconditional giving. Use your practice to benefit everyone. Develop divine pride. Don’t dwell in the “poor baby syndrome.” Remember that the best way to counteract an “I” is to infuse it with a “We”. Communicate, support and never give up on yourself. Continue to volunteer. Realize that if you cannot get along with people on the same path as yourself, how do you expect to get along with anyone else. Attend more teachings. Make your decision to practice for yourself and for all beings. Be willing to make a tiny, permanent shift.