Easter Retreat 2015 - Talk 1

Good morning everybody.

I feel so happy to see so many joyful people here.  I want to welcome all of you here to Samye Ling.   And it must be our collective karma because somehow this weekend seems much warmer than we experienced just a few days ago.  I came back from such a warm country as South Africa, and coming here it was so cold with the snow and the wind, I was thinking ‘what am I doing here?’ 

Today it is my pleasure to talk about how we can actually make our life more meaningful.  And we do have a choice!  I want all of you to get the message, ‘We have a choice.’  Then once you have that in your mind, I know where you come from, your background is collecting a lot of knowledge, but your super-highway is already jammed with information.  And how much information is going to help you?  Nothing is going to help you.  It’s already over-crowded, over-loaded. 

First we really need to check the motivation.  There must be a good motivation.  If you simply say to yourself, ‘I’m going to meditate.’  And if your only idea about meditation is having tranquil mind, there is no seed, it hasn’t been planted.  What is useful about having a tranquil mind?  If you’re really going to learn meditation you need to plant the right seeds.  First is motivation, and after having a good motivation, then plant the right seeds. 

I’ve spent so much of my life in this part of the world, and mainly what I can see is everybody always thinks about ‘me’.  ‘Me’ comes first.  Buddhists say that we are enslaved by this ignorant ‘I’.  If you just manage to think a little bit about others, that’s a big change, isn’t it?  Not always thinking ‘what can I get out of it?’  What I want, what I need.  But how about others?  The Buddhism I talk about is what is relevant now in the 21st century.  I talk in language, which is very childish language, that’s all I know.  Not your super English language.  Because I never managed to learn it.  But what makes a difference?  Quality of life.  All of us are trying to do our very best, how you are brought up, thinking you want to enhance your quality of life. 

But what is missing is, in Buddha’s teaching it’s called impermanence.  Changing, constantly, always.  Did you ever think about changing?  Maybe not, but the easiest way to think about your ever-changing wishes and wantings, is through mind.  It’s constantly changing in here see?  Your own goal posts.  You don’t need to look out there to see it changing.  Is the world the same as before?  Or are people the same as before?  No!  You watch your own mind.  You can see it is constantly changing.  You’re constantly moving your goal posts.  Then how can we ever have 100% fulfilment?  Success?  You don’t give any opportunity to get fulfilment. 

So, that is why in Buddha’s teachings we say that constantly everything is changing.  That means nobody wants to be old but we are all getting old see?  But I rejoice in getting old.  You people don’t even want to be asked how old you are.  You do your very best to hide it.  But that won’t do you any good.  Buddha’s teaching is wisdom, see?  Getting old means you should be rejoicing.  I’m so lucky to have the chance to become old, or do you want to die first?  If we keep on feeding the wrong information, we get the wrong result.  Think that getting old means becoming wise.  What wisdom means is: how many times in our lives have we to keep on making same mistakes again, and again? If we’re not learning from them then it’s not worthwhile to be getting old.  As human beings, we don’t have to keep making the same mistake again and again.  Once is enough.  Twice is more than enough.  Third time, then absolutely that’s the end!  Don’t make any wrong mistake of thinking or doing, for a third or fourth time and expect that something is going to change.  Nothing is going to change. 

If you are able to change your own state of mind, then everything changes.  Until then, just looking for the outside to change is irrelevant, like the weather.  You have a nice day, and you have no expectation for it not be raining.  But it could be raining, so that is why we shouldn’t rely on other people, or the whole civilisation to change.  You learn to change yourself. 

That is the beauty about Buddhadharma.  I appreciate Buddhadharma more and more because it makes all of us responsible human beings.  It teaches us how to become wise.  It helps us by saying it is useless to keep filing up more and more information if nothing is useful for you.  Information in book is not useful.  If you are going to write a book, then it’s ok.  But you need information you can use in your own life so then change takes place. 

Buddhadharma is so beautiful.  There is no discrimination about race, religion, belief.  Buddhadharma is all about helping us to become a better human being.  Whether you are young or middle aged or old, we need a very, very stable foundation.  That is our stable mind.  If we don’t manage to have that stable foundation, then everything we do is becoming harder and harder to achieve.  Because we are not always 100% certain what we want.  To be confident, trustworthy, reliable.  Isn’t that your language? 

Every human being’s quality must be reliability, to be trustworthy.  A person who has tolerance, compassion, forgiveness, but if you don’t make that your habit, then it only remains in your vocabulary.  So, that is why many people say, ‘I know, but it doesn’t work.’  Then your knowledge is only in your vocabulary, not in your habitual thinking.  I’m just thinking, how come human beings are supposed to be the most intelligent, if we allow our minds to be filled up with garbage.  And we are never able to pick up one good quality, if all of you are able to listen to me and bring one of these into your habitual thinking, it will have a major, major effect on your life.  A good change. 

I’m thinking, it is always the same language.  You know diamonds, or these precious stones are very, very precious, and very rare, isn’t it?  So, when we are trying to pick up a good habit, it becomes so difficult.  If you are naïve young people, then, my young people say to me, ‘some people do wrong things, and I follow them’.  They say they couldn’t do what I am asking them to do, because someone is messing around and they are following.  Bad things mean you don’t have to put in any effort.  It’s like it lands on you.  It’s because it is of no valuable quality, it only makes your life miserable.  Failure, no effort.  That’s called bad quality, isn’t it? 

A good quality requires constantly watching your motivation.  A constant need to put effort to become that good person.  And of course, if you learn to meditate, meditation is not all about sitting there and hoping to have an empty mind.  Because if you are Buddhist, mind is already empty, so you can’t empty it!  That is why a lot of you don’t learn to meditate because you think it is no longer empty anymore, it’s so busy, it’s jammed!  Properly learning to meditate means never to become judgemental.  Not to become judgemental about whatever arises. 

But we always need to remember, when people say I am trying to follow a spiritual path, it means it has to become like the supreme vehicle.  It means to have the special quality of unconditional compassion, of not having discrimination.  Unconditional means you are able to feel sorry for those who are suffering.  You feel sorry for those who are giving suffering.  Every human being should have that, see?  If you have unconditional compassion, then forgiveness comes very easily.

Unforgiveness means human beings have certain expectations from your closest friends.  When they or you don’t agree, then you blame them, or you manage to let a lot of negative thoughts arise.  But if you were to think, no human being is ever willing and happy to give suffering or pain to your closest friends.  So unconditional compassion is the most valuable thing you can ever achieve in your life. 

When you are learning to meditate, or you are following Dharma, when you manage to change, to think more about others than yourself, that is the beginning of being free from your own suffering.  Because if you are really wise, the minute ‘how about me?’ arises in your mind, you know that suffering comes with that.  Because me becomes such a big deal.  And then the suffering follows.  But if you were able, to think, ‘how about others?’  If you have a joy, if you have a happiness, if you are able to engage for the benefit of humanity, it is the most beautiful thing you will ever do. 

And my method, Buddha’s method for almost 2,600 years, means we must learn to teach our self how to have gratitude.  It is absolutely essential to have a gratitude, appreciation of what we have.  If you really reflect, when have you ever thought about everything you have?  Mostly, everyone is thinking about what you don’t have.  You are chasing after what you don’t have.  But did you ever think of all the things you have? 

When I see the news, what is going on around in the world, there is not one bit of good news.  If you look into all the killing that’s based on religion, colour, or race, it is miserable.  If all this killing depends on what religion you follow, what religion is that?  Because normally a spiritual vehicle means give life, instead of taking life.  Do the healing.  We are all here right now, so if every one of you go out there and help to do inner healing - that means first find peace and harmony in your everyday life.  With that, I assure you, your whole family will get on much better than you ever have before.  There will be appreciation of what you are trying to do once you are no longer blaming everybody else for whatever is going wrong. 

Really sort out your responsibilities.  That means you be a trustworthy human being.  You be a reliable human being.  You practise this compassionate part.  You follow this forgiveness part.  A few words I’ve been mentioning again and again.  If you can make that your everyday habit, I assure you, you will have a big, major, major change in your life. 

Each time we come here you will not escape from doing meditation, because that’s my speciality.  So, I thought this morning that all of you understood I teach meditation because none of you walked out!  So, it’s clear you came here to meditate with Lama Yeshe, and that gives me a lot of pleasure.  But what happens is you can’t meditate, then your inner chattering comes, and you think you can escape.  You can change your location.  You can go out on holiday.  But your neurotic mind will always be with you.  It doesn’t matter wherever you go.  So isn’t this the best place to sort it out rather than you take it around on your holiday? 

You won’t have a chance to solve it in your home, because there are so many things going wrong.  So, this is the place where you should be really sorting it out, or weeding it out.  So, when I teach you meditation, I will teach you a certain technique, and then if you can’t follow and your mind wants to engage, then I want you to think, ‘OK, why is this certain information coming again, and again?’  And ‘it causes me so much pain and suffering, so why do I submit myself to this emotional thinking?’  See?  It is certain emotions.  People say, ‘Oh, my emotion is so real.’  But according to Buddhism, there is nothing real.  So, if we are able to understand this, so called ‘real’ as not being real, we may be in a better position to start to work and improve our everyday life. 

We call it right view.  There is nothing wrong in being a joyful person.  There is nothing wrong in being a happy person.  There is no need for all of us to be miserable and unhappy human beings.  We have to think, we are a human being, we are intelligent.  We learn so many things in our life.  Why do we give into this tendency?  Many times people try again and again.  Again and again.  It doesn’t matter how much pain it causes, you are always thinking, it will be better next time.  If you have that feeling, work on your mind.  Stabilise the mind.  When you have a very forgiving mind, when you have a very tolerant mind, when you have a very compassionate mind, you will be able to cope with any situation.  You will be able to deal with anything, whatever arises.  

I talk with many people who don’t even have any belief systems.  But they say, ‘if I have to believe something, I really like what Buddha’s teaching,’ because Buddha is not dictating, saying you have to be Buddhist, he never encouraged you to be Buddhist.  A good Buddhist is good, but for bad Buddhists it is not worthwhile to be Buddhist.  Any human beings who are kind, tolerant, compassionate, and who care about humanity, are the very best of human beings.  Whether you have the belief or not, it matters no more, because you have a certain value in life.  Dignity.  You know what you don’t like.  If you don’t like something, you would not want that to happen to other people.  That’s called caring

If a mother has a child, you are meant to hold the child and feed from your breast.  But you change your goal posts again, you prefer to give a bottle feeding.  When I was in South Africa four years ago, in Cape Town, I asked someone in my organisation, to help the coloured people or black people, the young people who have no home, no future, but they end up having a baby.  And then, it is a premature baby, comes out like this size.  So, there is a (Maternity) Hospital where they go.  So, I asked our organisation to engage in helping there.  When our group did that, they found out that most of these young girls didn’t even have enough food in their belly to be examined.  Then when the doctor checks they don’t get the right diagnosis. 

So, our organisation decided that, they will go out there and feed those young girls who are waiting in hospital.  And then they found out that also the staff members’ stomach is not full, so they have to feed the nurses. I think they end up giving food to all the people who are helping them.  Then gradually they found out, that even you feed them, help them, if they go home, they have no home to go to.  They have nothing to wrap up the baby.  So, now our organisation are giving like a packet with a small blanket, wash cloth, and nappies.  And then they found out there are 1,000 children a month born there and many who are premature.  They are this size in the machine.  But it takes a long time for them to grow.  Then they started to do like the ancient civilisation, like the kangaroo in Australia.  They tie up the baby on the mother’s chest.  And make sure the baby’s mouth is almost direct to the breast to feed the baby.  I think where we went I didn’t look, but there was this one woman with twin babies.  Ani Lhamo and Lama Zangmo went with the doctor and they saw a demonstration of this method like a kangaroo.  So, the babies are tied up like this.  They found that this way the babies’ growth is double.  They couldn’t believe it.  It is the best thing they have ever done.  South Africa is pioneering, see?  

They are now going back to the old traditions.  If you have it like this when you feed, then when they are grown, they have no insecurity problems, see?  Because of this, mothers are holding babies like this instead of in an incubator machine.  They are tying up to mother’s chest and then the babies really double the growth.  They say it is most joyful to see the mother have connection, and the baby grows faster.  So, Samye Ling, or Rokpa Trust, is engaging in many ways, see?  So, when you look into it, many say, ‘I don’t know how to communicate with human beings. Or, I don’t have a good connection to my mother.’  But how can you have a good connection to your mother?  Your mother fed you only with a bottle!  If you think you really want to have a child, or to have a good, good relationship, better start to feed the proper way.  Not with the bottle.  This is going back to the old civilisation, or habit.  Not always is it that something new is better. 

This idea that whatever is new is better, whatever is old is bad, is totally wrong.  We are losing a lot of wisdom.  We are losing a lot of good quality things in our life.  Caring for other people is a human being’s job.  If you look into what future the world has, if we all start to kill each other because we believe in different religions or we are different colours, and then each colour tries to clean out the other, that is not useful.  The Earth is small and sharing the Earth, preserving the Earth, means if you have a very joyful mind, a very good quality of mind, we can look after the planet Earth easily.  If your mind is very distorted, how do we know what is good anymore?  How do we know how to take care of the climate change?  How do we know that we have a responsibility to look after the Mother Earth?

So, when you invest time in meditation, always remember, I am learning meditation because number one, I want to have a stable mind.  This is the seed you’re planting.  If you meditate without planting the right seeds, then actually most meditators become very intolerable human beings.  Then you start to blame everybody else, because you can’t learn to meditate.  If you are learning to meditate at home, you can blame your family, your children, because they are making noise.  We didn’t go there to listen to noise, we are supposed to accept noise.  So, a meditator must not become such an impatient, intolerant, and blaming meditator.  Because then it’s better not even to learn to meditate.  Because then, you become so judgemental thinking, ‘how, in the world can I ever meditate because there is no peace and tranquillity outside?’  But that is not true.  If you lock yourself in a chamber, your chattering mind will still be bothering you, so, then you have no cause to complain to everybody else, except your mind, you can’t run away from that.  So, dealing with your mind is learning to remember, ‘I learned to meditate because it will deliver me a full satisfaction.’  None of you can say that to me.  But I can tell you that. I never went to one school.  I don’t have your degree.  I don’t have a university paper.  But, I’m so grateful.  I truly follow the Buddha’s teaching. 

I can tell you, I can never even have one negative thought.  Whether I sleep or whether I wake up, whatever I do, I am aware of my mind.  When I say mind, it means thought.  I am doing everything I can to bring a positive thought.  Everything is how to engage and how to help other human beings.  And some of you will be very shocked to hear me shouting at my people, but I do this like acting in the theatre.  Yes.  Because I do everything I can to help my young people.  Using every method to help them be a kind person.  But then if it doesn’t work then I am very happy to shout.  But if you see me next moment, I am happily laughing and giggling.  Because deep down in my mind, I am never angry, how could I be angry?  But because I know these people could make some effort to be a better person.  And if only shouting makes them a better person, then I should be willing to do that.  I don’t mind whatever you people think of me. 

Yes, I did do that once, there was a South African guy, his son was under me and he wanted to stay here but then one day I was shouting at one of my monks, he was so shocked.  He thought, Lamas, are meant to be holy, why is this Lama shouting?  But this Lama is called truth.  That means if we have a sickness, we have pain, sometimes there is no quick solution, like cutting or chopping, or giving you medical treatment.  How much pain do you go through?  Sometimes it seems to me It is like no pain, no gain.  Sometimes shouting brings the right result, see?  I look for the result.   I don’t mind using whatever method it takes.  Because, from the bottom of my heart I want to help these people.  That means anybody.  It doesn’t matter whoever you are, my motivation is I want to help you, though I am not saying I am such a big deal. 

There is no such thing as a completely bad person but you could have a very bad habit of thinking or doing things.  But you can change, see?  When you have the right motivation, the right teacher, the right path, when you put effort, you can change.  So I would like to give all of you hope - none of you could be worse than me. 

I came from Tibet, where I never saw anything that I have seen now.  So I wanted to follow all the things you have been following.  But then I found them meaningless.  There’s nothing you can say, ‘I achieved something,’ and then you’re content, you’re happy, you’re joyful.  That’s why I came back to Buddhism.  That is why I practise the true Dharma, and that means that when I’m teaching, I am not talking about what is in a Buddhist text, I don’t even read them any more.  I am teaching about my own experience.  What benefit I gained by truly, truly wanting to be this better human being.  If there is no satisfaction in the job you have been chasing, if there is no fulfilment or total satisfaction in your relationships, even getting along with family and parents, then you should start to ask yourself.  This world, these things you have been chasing, that are supposed to fulfil you, give you everything you need, why is it not happening?  The reason it is not happening is that it is changing, all the time.  Never having reliability. 

It’s like we say everything is oneness.  But this mind is not getting there, it’s not getting it.  Jumping everywhere.  So, we should really focus, thinking, ‘OK. I’ve done this, I’ve done that, but it didn’t bring me lasting satisfaction, fulfilment.  So then, how many times do I have to try this failure path again, and again?’  What you should have is more faith in your true nature.  Actually, that is yourself.  Your potential to be this better person.  And, when I look into it, if you don’t have absolute confidence in your ability to change, if your idea is that the civilisation, the government, race, everybody else going to dictate, that is totally wrong.  Nobody can give that, except yourself.  Government, other people, institutions, they can make your life more difficult, or they can make your life more easy.  But true change, true fulfilment, you, and you alone have to do that, to find this inner confidence.  If you don’t have the confidence, if you never think that you are worthwhile, or you are worthy of anything, then, there is nothing to work on.  So you meditate saying, ‘Everything is possible.  I have a choice.  Either I should follow the path of failure or I should follow something that could bring me fulfilment, joy, happiness’.  But I’ve said enough. 

So, 15 minutes is being given for meditation, but this time I will give you a short instruction, next session we will have question and answer, because I don’t want to keep talking, talking, no useful purpose will come.  But if you want to ask anything to do with meditation, mind, body posture, I know these things very well.  And anything else, don’t ask me!  This is clear, don’t ask me how many Buddha’s and the lights and energy, that’s useless.  So, what I would like you to do right now, is number one, physically completely relax, mentally relax, then you just have to say, ‘mediation is just learning to be completely relaxed’.  And when your mind starts to bring the past, it means your thought is involved in the past, so bring it to the present, now.  So, do not follow past thoughts.  Then your mind will lead into the future.  Do not lead into the future, because it is a floodgate.  When you start to think what you are going to do, there will be non-stop thinking.  So, this idea is simple.  If it is in the past, not following, if it’s future, don’t lead into the future means, don’t bring thoughts about the future.  You sit in the present.  Then if you really want to, if your mind can’t be in that way, then instead of judging and letting your neurosis to take over, I want all of you to think what did you do wrong, why you don’t have absolute satisfaction and joy in your life?  How many mistakes you’ve made.  How many wrong things or wrong doings, you have to follow?  It is like analysing, it’s like sorting out the garbage.  You leave one which is not useful on one side, and you put on the other side what you consider useful.  Then maybe next session you can bring what was useful into your life.  And you don’t have to think I have to get rid of or destroy or do anything to what is not useful, but just not to participate. 

So we have less than 15 minutes to do this meditation.  Totally, physically relax.  Mentally relax.  No need to do or think anything else than being in the present, in the moment.  That’s what you do, meditation.          




The Buddhist principle is to be everybody's friend, not to have any enemy.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Meditation means simple acceptance.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Only the impossible is worth doing.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, we should do it.
Chamgon Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Freedom is not something you look for outside of yourself. Freedom is within you.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Hasten slowly, you will soon arrive.
Jetsun Milarepa
It doesn’t matter whatever comes, stop judging and it won’t bother you.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Whatever obstacles arise, if you deal with them through kindness without trying to escape then you have real freedom.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
To tame ourselves is the only way we can change and improve the world.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Strive always to be as kind, gentle and caring as possible towards all forms of sentient life.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Every sentient being is equal to the Buddha.
Chamgon Kentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Wherever and whenever we can, we should develop compassion at once.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Reminding ourselves of how others suffer and mentally putting ourselves in their place, will help awaken our compassion.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche