L a m a . J i g m e . R i n p o c h e

Part 2


We also need to be able to perceive the true nature of the mind. There is an all-base consciousness that underlies all the sense consciousnesses and ego grasping called the alaya vinyana or tathagatagarba. We obscure this all-base consciousness by both our habitual tendencies and our dualistic mode of perception. We can only work on ourselves, but unfortunately, we don't have access to these levels of consciousness. It is precisely in the alaya vinyana that all the karmic imprints are stored. The effects of negative actions generate suffering while at the same time increasing the two veils of habitual tendencies and tainted modes of perception. Positive actions, on the contrary, enhance our progress on the path to enlightenment and provide the much needed relief of immediate suffering.

To practice the Dharma (Buddha's teachings), we don't necessarily have to become Buddhists. It can be just as effective if we learn to take control of our lives by using the methods discussed above. What is ordinarily referred to as virtue becomes transcendental virtue, or paramita (2). Ordinary qualities enable us to go beyond suffering. One of the six paramitas is ethics. Positive behavior is deemed positive depending on personal experience and these positive acts always help to remove the veils that obscure consciousness. There are no external rules to follow. Everyday we need to keep a watchful eye on what we do. In time, our awareness during meditation will gradually become more clear, and in our daily lives, we will be able to perceive the positive results in our actions. This positive improvement will spread to our relationships with others. Our awareness will guide us to minimize suffering for others and ourselves. When we behave wrongly, we will realize our responsibility and no longer make excuses. We will correct and adjust ourselves, and eventually we will act appropriately.

The spiritual path demands a sharp awareness of negative action because recognizing the character of what we do is crucial. We need to feel regret for our bad actions as if we have swallowed poison. It is important to think that, "If I could go back into the past, I would not do it again." It is also important to note that we do not necessarily need to feel guilty. The benefit of regret is that it urges us not to do wrong again. We can then engage in practices that purify the negativity and spur us on to do what is right. All this can happen if we feel real regret. The process of self-correction can start at a mundane level and can eventually evolve into a superior path of practice where we employ more powerful tools and means to remove our mental veils. We can form new habits, such as reflecting every night on the activities of the day. This awareness helps us create a habit of performing more positive acts because we can see that we can create our experiences and results every day.

The path of Dharma is based on the infallible axiom of karma, that all causes and all actions have results. This does not just stop at the gross and outer levels but also permeates our whole being. The emotions of jealousy and anger for example not only generate consequences, but also leave imprints in the all-base consciousness. These imprints will condition our perceptions that are the fruit of previous actions and explain why we are as we are now. We realize with caution that any anger, however small, will leave imprints in our base consciousness and this will have an impact on our future existence. A positive example, on the other hand, is the Chenrezig practice of compassion. It strengthens the positive imprints in the consciousness which will in turn condition our perception of the universe.

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