Lo Jong
Teaching by Lama Zasep Tulku Rinpoche
January 10, 2000, Vancouver, BC, Canada

It says here, "Having gained stability, receive the secret teachings." So all these words have very deep meanings. "Having gained stability," which means after meditating some times, then you have to see have you gained stability or not? Or have we gained stability or not? For example, some of you been practicing Dharma meditation for ten years, some of you practicing five years, some people practice twenty years, and some are fairly new. So whatever practice you have done, you kind of examine yourself, "How's my Dharma practice? Is it stable? Or worldly? Or lopsided? [Laughter.] Or upside-down? Where is my Dharma practice? Am I a pretending Buddhist? Am I having fantasizing or I have some kind of romantic idea? Romantic Buddhist. [Laughter.] Or what is my practice? What kind of Dharma practitioner am I? Have I really achieved stability or not?" So you check your Dharma practice, try to understand.

So "having gained stability" actually means that you gain some knowledge from this Dharma practice, from meditation. You gain confidence; you gain confidence in the meditation. You say to yourself, "I have been meditating for number of years, now I'm not going backward. I'm not going backward. I know the Dharma practice, I know the meditation is helping me. It works me, although I'm a slow practitioner. I'm like the turtle. I'm like the slug -- very slow and lazy. But I do know Dharma is, meditation is, really help my mind. And it makes my mind peaceful and calm and happy -- gives me strength and clarity and so forth. It is like the fresh air, and it's nice, nice thing. It is very nice thing to do. It helps me I have no doubt. I'm not going backwards now. I know the value of Dharma practice." So you decided that you are going to keep practicing. It doesn't matter how long it will take to become Buddha.

Lot of times we don't even think about becoming Buddha or not becoming Buddha. Just do the practice. Sometimes we don't think, "When I become Buddha," because it seems like so far away. But the most important thing is just do the practice. That helps. So when you have that kind of feeling, then your Dharma practice is quite stable.

And when you have that stability, then it says, "receive the secret teachings." So here we're talking about, when we say "secret teachings," we're not talking about some kind of tantric teaching. You go and take this maha… from the mahaguru and take this long initiation for, you know, like sixteen hours or something. Go through this, and then your head is kind of numb, you know. You don't know which initiation you're receiving now or not. All you think about your knees and washroom, or cup of coffee, or think about your bed. [Laughter.] We're not talking about that kind of a long procedure or that kind of initiation. "Secret teaching" actually means you should receive the Lo Jong teaching. Actually Lo Jong is considered a secret teaching. Here "secret" actually means special teaching, very special kind of teaching.

So then Lo Jong goes on. It says consider now how do we practice the secret teachings? It says, "Consider all phenomena as a dream." "Consider all phenomena as a dream." And this is one translation. Another translation says, "Regard all dharmas as a dream." All phenomena as a dream. So that means actually it is talking about the ultimate bodhicitta, and meditate on emptiness. So this means whatever we experience in our lives -- pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, grossness, refinedness, sophistication, crudeness, heat or cold, whatever -- whatever we experience in this life, everyday life. And the teaching says we should consider they're like a dream. Whatever occurs as a phantom, like phantom or mirage. And this is the meditation. Meditation we should cultivate. We should cultivate.

Now when these things happening -- for example, pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, grossness, and heat and cold, all these -- it is not like a phantom or it is not like a mirage. It is not like a dream. It is a real thing, right? It is real thing. And we cannot say, "Oh, it's not happening." And if somebody is hitting you, like a police or somebody's hitting you with stick, club, you can't say, "Oh, this is a dream. This is a phantom. [Laughter.] This is a mirage." And when you have this cold, bad flu, you are in the bed for two weeks, coughing and suffering so much, you can't say, "This is a phantom. This is a mirage." This is a real, physical dukka. This is just dukka, pure dukka. [Laughter.]

But at the same time these things actually pass; these things actually don't stay very long. Why do we say these things are like a phantom, or mirage, or like a rainbow or like a cloud that pass by in the sky? Why do we say that, why do we say we should meditate like that? Because these things actually is like that, they don't last very long. They do go away very quickly. And pain goes away quickly, pleasure goes away quickly, happiness goes away, and sadness also goes away. But when we're struck with sadness, it feels like it's not going to go away. It's going to stay with me forever and ever. But it does go away very quickly. It does. Especially if we meditate, if we think, "Ok, these things are like dream. These things are like phantom."

So what we do is, the most important thing in the Lo Jong is to live in the present moment, in this very present moment. Whatever happened in the past, let them go. And whatever might happen in the future, we don't know. Don't worry so much. Don't worry. And the most important thing is to be in the present moment, because the past is gone. It's only memory, never come back again, whatever happened in the past. And the future is not known. We don't know what will happen, and there is no point of worrying. And we think that terrible things might happen, but we find out wonderful things happened.

And when suffering and obscurations, obstacles happening to us, and it turn out blessings. It turn into blessings. Lot of times obstacles turn into blessings. Lot of times suffering becomes cause of, most of the time, become cause of strength, cause of encouragement. So this is the Lo Jong, this is the thought transformation. So this is how we transform our thoughts, change our attitude. When we're suffering, we shouldn't think, "This is just suffering, just dukka." But it's not really just dukka, if we do something with it, transform it. If we stay positive, cultivate positiveness, then we can transform. It gives us strength. The suffering becomes object of meditation, gives us chance to meditate. And the suffering becomes cause of enlightenment.

For example, when you read the story of Milarepa, how much he suffered. He did a black magic and killed so many people, and because of that suffering he suffer so much. He went and looked, looked and looked, and he found the perfect master, Marpa. And he then practiced, went through so much training. And Marpa gave him this very heavy training, and nearly killed him. And then he become one of the greatest yogi, enlightened being, in the Tibetan history, because of the suffering. Similar stories we have, many similar stories like that. So many stories like that. So suffering becomes cause of strength and courage, if we do something with it.

So this is the Lo Jong. Obstacles becomes teaching, becomes blessing. So therefore being in the present moment and cultivating mindfulness and awareness is the most important practice. Past is memory. Like Buddha said in the sutras, it says, "Love in the past is only memory. Love in the future is fantasy. But true love is being in the present moment. Practice mindfulness, awareness, contentment." All this love we're talking about -- love, love, love of the past -- is fantasy. It's a memory; it's gone. Now we have these expectations of love for the future, and it's a fantasy. Love doesn't last very long. So the true love, true love, to love yourself… How do you love yourself? To practice meditation, being in the present moment. Cultivate mindfulness and awareness every moment. That is loving yourself, way of loving yourself. This is also same way, same teaching, this will help us to cultivate love and loving-kindness, real love, genuine love towards others.

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