Commentary on Heart Spoon (I of II)
By Geshe Lama Konchog

(January & February 2002 Newsletter)

Perfect Human Rebirth
To enter the Mahayana path, we need to have a human rebirth with all the richnesses and endowments, faith and the blessing of the spiritual guide. Until yesterday, we still have not died. While having such a perfect opportunity, we should make a determination not to waste even one year, one month, one week or even one day, but to take full advantage of this life.

The Dharma that we practise should be for removing the thought of seeking pleasures of this life, the thought of clinging to the attainment of personal liberation, and the thought of merely freeing ourselves from the three levels of sufferings. Supposedly, most of us are Mahayana practitioners, have received initiations and have been engaging in tantric practices, but every Dharma practice on the Mahayana path should be conjoined with spontaneous bodhicitta, if not, created bodhicitta, and we should progressively improve our body, speech and mind.

What is bodhicitta? This has two aspirations. Among these two, the most important one is to benefit others, both temporarily and ultimately. This has to be preceded by the extraordinary attitude. Temporarily we have to establish all beings in the states of human and god, while ultimately the peerless state of enlightenment.

In order to achieve this, we ought to have compassion first, otherwise real bodhicitta will not come about; and for developing such a great compassion, we have to generate loving kindness for all sentient beings, wishing all of them to be happy.

To have loving kindness for all sentient beings, we have to train ourselves to see all beings as our closest and dearest ones. If not, the thought of loving kindness cannot be generated. When we say we have to hold all mother sentient beings as very precious, it seems that we are merely thinking of a group of beings who are very distant from us, and that we are not taking into account those whom we have contact with everyday. If we exclude those people that are very close to us, it is impossible to cultivate such kind of loving kindness since achieving enlightenment means we cannot disregard even one sentient being. All mother sentient beings have to be included in the practice of the path. When we do our sessions, supposedly we are subduing and cleansing our mind, but generally when we meet our friends, we develop attachment; when we see our enemies, we generate hatred. This shows that our practice is not on the right track.

Why do we have two separate attitudes between session time and post session time? This is because we have not fully trained ourselves on the Middle Scope practice. We have not abandoned hatred and attachment. But if we see the Middle Scope practice as worthwhile, and that we train ourselves on that path, our practice of the higher level of the path will become effective. If we cannot recognise this problem, this means that we have not trained sufficiently on the Middle Scope.

If we have the right view, we can remove our hatred and attachment; if we have trained ourselves well in bodhicitta, we can remove our self-cherishing thought, otherwise we will generate three kinds of emotions to three different kinds of beings. We will show a "white" face to our friends; a "black" face to our enemies and a "grey" face to strangers.

When we speak of worldly Dharma, it refers to the attitude of cherishing our friends and relatives and subduing our enemies. But if our Dharma practice is used to achieve this purpose, it becomes wrong Dharma practice. From a spiritual perspective, we have to see all beings as our friends and relatives, and see all our delusions as our enemies. All 84,000 doctrines expounded by the Buddha are meant to subdue our own delusions and not for defeating other enemies.

In terms of the words of the teaching, there is nothing new. The teaching have been explained for many years, and we have heard that for a long time. What we should do now is to extract some meanings from it for our practice.

To the Buddhas, there is no such a division as enemy and friend. Such a division is created by our self-cherishing and self-grasping attitude. Because of this, Buddha expounded the 84,000 teachings to counteract our 84,000 delusions. For example, when we read the Heart Sutra, we come across every time at the end "Well said! Well said!" This signifies that we have to do something good on our part and transform our mind into a virtuous state.

In speaking of Lamrim, it is something that we ought to put into practice right away. Hearing it while neglecting it, leaving all the instructions in the text, will not benefit us in its study.

To summarise, since beginningless time, we have been seeking benefits for ourselves, yet we have been unable to get something solid out of our self-interest. Not only do we fail to gain what we want, but we have also been thrown into samsara, experiencing different kinds of terrible sufferings for different period of time.

When we regard someone as a bodhisattva, we refer to a person who prefers to be the loser and offers all the victories to others. Through the wish to suffer for others, the bodhisattva wins by ignoring himself and gain the realisation of the path, and subsequently, enlightenment. Like the bodhisattva, when we renounce ourselves, we will be the winner, who will succeed in practising the entire path; by renouncing ourselves, we only seek victory and happiness for others. Therefore we should train our mind in bodhicitta, and with this motivation, we listen to the teaching on Heart Spoon by Pabongkha Rinpoche, whose title has very deep meaning. It refers to the food for meditation that we ourselves have to take every day.

Holy Dharma
Normally, we will regard those practitioners who have achieved the five clairvoyances as fantastic and amazing, but merely to have those qualities is nothing to be surprised. If we have the five clairvoyances but without the right view, those clairvoyances will not lead ourselves out of samsara or achieve liberation. Besides, there are some deity practitioners who have direct visions of the deity after a long period of practice. Generally speaking, it is something very amazing, but it is not surprising. There were some practitioners of Hevajra or Yamantaka who were able to have visions of the deities but fell to the lower path and failed to achieve liberation. Similarly, there are some who accumulated mantra recitation of billions and billions of times - it is better than nothing and generally it can be regarded as something good. Additionally, beings like Brahma and Ishvara are in a higher state, and wheel-turning king rules different world systems, but eventually they all fall to the lowest level in samsara. Thus the most essential thing to do is to practise the holy Dharma.

When we say the holy Dharma, we refer to a path which contains the entire teaching from guru devotion up to the unification. It is marvellous if we can practise many times a day, but at least we should do glance-meditation of the path once a day. In such a way we are taking the essence of our perfect human rebirth.

If we are doing just a partial practice but not the entire path, we will not reach the right goal. For example, when we stay in a particular country, we need to have a complete set of costumes for meeting people from different social stratum. When we say one partial practice will never do, it is just like a person who only wears many shoes but neglecting other clothes. He cannot go anywhere he likes! Whatever practice we do, it must contain the entire path. For example, both rich and poor people need to wear clothes. Though the clothes of the poor will be of lower quality, it contains a full set of costumes; though the rich have many sets, they probably cannot wear all of them in one time. So no matter how poor the quality of our meditation is, we have to practise the entire path. We should not miss any technique, and we should try to do our practice on a regular basis. This is what we mean by taking the essence of our perfect human rebirth.

Yet, by having a glance of the words of the entire path alone is not good enough. Anyway we do not need to memorise all the words! To take the essence of our perfect human rebirth, first we need to reflect on the meaning, and then produce the experience and carry it within our mind. This is the technique of glance meditation. If we are able to reflect on the meaning, our mind will gradually become the experience itself and we will then complete our aim to take the essence of our life. Heart Spoon means to take the most precious essence from this heart practice. (To be continued.)

Teaching given in Hong Kong in September 1999.