‘All the wishes of a person who possesses merit will be accomplished and no demonic obstacles can cause them any harm. They will quickly attain the state of liberation.’
“Until the two-fold accumulations have been completed, one will not realize the true meaning of emptiness.’
–scriptural quotations cited by 8th Garchen Rinpoche (April 2022)
“So this suffering that we witness in the world it all has to unfold because of karma. If you understand that, the mind will be so much lighter.”
“Basically, wherever you go there is a way to accumulate merit, it’s just that people don’t recognize that. Actually, there is merit everywhere….Here it doesn’t matter whether one is a Buddhist or not, everyone possesses this nature and that nature is the inherent merit within us.”
–8th Garchen Rinpoche (April 2022)
Although I have not been able to watch it live online, for the forthcoming long-life offering (from 19th to 25th April 2022) starting today, as well as the 86th (yes, an amazing 86 years old) birthday of HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche, I offer a write-up of Rinpoche’s recent teachings (for Rinpoche, his students and followers) on Accumulating Merit and Spinning a Prayer Wheel (for videos see here and here). The teaching was predominantly about what merit is and why and how it plays a role in karma, cause and effect. As well as understanding that karmic cause and effect are why sentient beings have different experiences, even in the same situation.
As anyone who knows of Garchen Rinpoche, one of his signature features is his spinning a hand-held prayer wheel. Prayer wheels are often placed around monasteries, temples and stupas and are filled with millions of mantras written on paper. The example of Garchen Rinpoche not only encourages others to practice this simple, merit-laden action but also in understanding why it is considered to be a method to gather merit. As he said in his teaching on this practice in 2017, it contains all the virtues of body, speech and mind.
In this teaching, Rinpoche explained why merit is not necessarily some huge action but could be something simple, such as spinning prayer wheels or wearing liberating mantras. He explained why he wears T-shirts and wristbands bearing the ‘liberation on seeing’ and ‘liberation on touch’ mantras and encourages others to do so too. These objects can all be purchased from the Garchen Institute store. What a great way to earn merit by purchasing and using these objects and at the same time helping Rinpoche’s Dharma centre!
During the teachings (Episodes 1 and 2), Rinpoche spoke about the following topics:
- WHAT IS MERIT?
- MERIT AND BUDDHA NATURE
- WHY AND HOW ANIMALS SUFFER
- KARMA IS NOT ONLY A BUDDHIST CONCEPT IT IS REALITY
- THE EYES OF KARMA ARE BETTER TO HAVE THAN ORDINARY EYES
- INNER AND OUTER KARMA – PERSONAL EXPERIENCES AND REFLECTIONS
- OPPORTUNITIES TO ACCUMULATE KARMA ARE EVERYWHERE
- THE BENEFIT OF SPINNING PRAYER WHEELS AND WEARING MANTRAS
- LOVE/BUDDHA NATURE AS THE BASIS OF ALL MERIT
Music? All is Full of Love by Bjork and Love is All Around by Wet, Wet, Wet. Also, this lovely video and song Holes by Mercury Rev, which shows how karmic results often happen in mysterious and magical ways. Like a boy with a popped balloon being showered with balloons, we never know when the karmic results might blossom or pop!
Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 19th April 2022.
TEACHING ON MERIT, KARMA AND SPINNING PRAYER WHEELS (APRIL 2022)
TRANSCRIPT (ESPISODES 1 and 2)
WHAT IS MERIT?
“Today we are speaking about merit. Generally, people always speak about merit and they say you have to accumulate merit. We also say that whatever virtues Buddhists have created is called merit. However, due to thinking this lofty way some people don’t actually recognize what merit actually is. People think it’s only when somebody’s doing something really significant, like really practising the six paramitas and so on that is merit and they say that all our worldly samsaric activities are just totally meaningless.
What actually is merit inherently? It is Buddha nature and Buddha nature possesses an aspect of intelligence wisdom, and from this intelligence compassion arises naturally. The nature of this compassion is like water. Whatever it connects with, it will pervade that just like water. Whatever water connects with, it will pervade that space. For example, when water pervades the earth, the flowers and plants will naturally grow. That is just the nature of water. The presence of water also naturally leads to well-being for sentient beings with a body, and also without a body.
We always say ‘may beings have happiness and the causes of happiness’. This cause of happiness is what we call merit. Some people may think that merit is only bodhichitta. It is only if you have bodhichitta. If you don’t have bodhichitta then you also have no merit but it’s actually not quite just like that. We need to really recognize and identify what actually is merit. Merit actually arises in anywhere in any circumstance there can be merit, that can be the cause of merit. Anything can become a cause of merit if you really understand what it what it is logic said therefore in whatever you do, if you practice virtue in whatever you do that is the perfection of skillful means. The skillful means, or the method, is to possess great compassion in general.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF MERIT?
What is the actual method, the actual skillful means? All skillful means are the cause of creating merit and we need to identify what is the cause of merit and then hold on to it and kind of condense it into an essence so that we can really hold on to it. That is a skillful way of turning a small merit into a great merit so the Buddhas basically taught the skillful means to create merit.
First of all beings possess the quality of wisdom or intelligence and because they possess this aspect of intelligence, from that compassion arises naturally. This compassion is the cause of merit. For example, in an ordinary sense, when two people live together and they love each other they will both naturally be happy but if there is no real love then they won’t be able to stay together and even if their bodies are together, their minds really are separated. So the essence of this aspect of intelligence, is compassion and the nature of compassion is pervasiveness. It’s like water that pervades or permeates.
That is what we’re going to talk about today. I’m going to introduce you to the real cause of merit and in relation to that also can potentially rumble helped me to find some quotations from the scriptures and so I saved a few of these quotations to mention to you. Anyway, when we speak about merit the first thing to understand is that merit when you understand its cause then you see it everywhere. There is merit to create it everywhere, in no matter what you do, whether you practice the dharma or you engage in a mundane activity. In brief, merit is anything that leads to the benefit and happiness of sentient beings.
THE THREE POWERS OF INTENTION, COMPASSION AND BUDDHA NATURE
“We need to first of all identify what is the actual cause of merit. Once you know that you will always recognize ‘oh here is a cause of merit I must hold on to that. I must increase that more and more.’ Also in this way if you increase it then, first you have developed the power of your own intention which is your own intention of love and compassion. It means that you understand that love and compassion are very precious so you develop this power and then you habituate to that you create the causes of merit. In this way, you connect to the second power, which is the power of all the buddha’s great compassion and once you have connected to that, you connect to the third power which is the power of the dharmadatu. That is your own Buddha nature which actually is Buddha. The mind of all sentient beings is Buddha it is just temporarily their mind has become like ice blocks. The mind of the buddhas great love is like an ocean and the mind of sentient beings is like the ice blocks floating on that ocean but when the ice melts it will also connect to the water and one attains enlightenment.
Today, I’m going to introduce you to what merit actually is and also encourage you to discuss the meaning of merit with each other. There are two quotations from the scriptures I would like to reference, the first one comes from the Vinaya scriptures. It says:
‘All the wishes of a person who possesses merit will be accomplished and no demonic obstacles can cause them any harm. They will quickly attain the state of liberation.’
That’s the first quote and that quote shows the relative truth or the relative merit. The relative bodhichitta that leads to birth in the higher realms and the attainment of the happiness in the higher realms.
The second quote shows the ultimate truth or the ultimate merit, and that quote comes from the condensed Prajnaparamitas and it says:
“Until the two-fold accumulations have been completed, one will not realize the true meaning of emptiness.’
That is the second quotation. This is the ultimate truth. So regarding this realization of emptiness untilopam actually said when he explained what is the meaning of emptiness so now presently we perceive this duality, we think there is self and other . Realizing emptiness means that when one realizes that self and other actually do not exist in a separate way, that realization is the realization of emptiness according to lupa.
For example, if there are two people, ordinarily we think there are two people. There is myself and then there’s the other person. That’s how we usually think because we see the body of the other person. However, somebody who has seen the true nature of mind will not see them as two separate individuals. For example, it’s like having many different hand phones but all these phones are powered by one electric current. There’s only one electric current. There are phones all over the world in different places, they all seem separate but they all are powered by one and the same electric energy. This is how it is when one understands the nature of the mind, when you understand the nature of electricity, or light, then you come very close to understanding the true nature of your mind, which is the ultimate reality. When you see that all concepts of an I that truly exists, all dualistic perceptions will completely collapse when you realize that self and other do not exist separately. You see the ultimate truth.
The omniscient Longchen Rabjam said there is no higher learning than to see the true nature of your mind. There are some scholars who study him their entire life. They study the scriptures for many years the sutras, the various scriptures, the tantras and so on. Why do they do that? It is only for the purpose of seeing the ultimate truth. Seeing the ultimate truth is means to see what really is, without any doubts in the mind. When you see it, then you become a Buddha and that is an unchanging state.
In the Kagyu tradition, we say that this state is realized by cultivating devotion to the guru. In this way, this is a skillful means to recognize that the guru’s mind, the Buddha’s mind and my own mind are all one. Jamgon Kongtrul said in Calling the Guru from Afar, ‘I have not recognized my own mind to be the Buddha’. That is my own Buddha nature. Also, Gampopa said something similar in the Jewel Ornament of Liberation, he said that the cause is Buddha nature, and the support is the precious human body. So the cause that is Buddha nature is all pervasive it pervades all sentient beings. Buddha nature is everywhere and on the basis of this we can understand that there is no separation, no duality between Buddhas and sentient beings.
The mind is like space, when that is realized then you realize emptiness but emptiness is not just a state of nothingness, it also possesses a quality of clarity, a clear knowing awareness and that is what we call this unity of clarity and emptiness. There is a clear mind that understands for instance, this is the cause of merit and then there is this clarity. This clear mind is empty of self-nature and it’s like space and that is emptiness. That is what is referred to as the union a unity of clarity and emptiness.
For the view, which is like the sun, when one sees the nature of the mind, your true nature then one attains the state of Buddhahood. In brief, first of all, in order to exhaust all our fixations to seeing a self, we must first cultivate an altruistic mind. The altruistic mind is what we refer to as merit and when it is directed toward higher beings, it becomes devotion or faith and when it is directed toward sentient beings, it becomes compassion. Also, somebody who understands karma, somebody who is clear about the workings of karma, they also possess the cause of merit which is basically the cause of happiness. The cause of suffering is self-grasping and the afflictive emotions.
Beings possess Buddha nature and the quality of this nature is intelligence or wisdom and the quality of that is compassion. From wisdom arises compassion and it arises anywhere in the six realms of samsara. Even the slightest happiness that beings experience comes from this innate merit. For example, even the smallest animal experiences some happiness. There are some who experience more happiness and some who experience more suffering. Why is it that? Some animals for example have an opportunity to experience more happiness and some experience more suffering? If we really think about this carefully, Jigten Sumgon also said:
‘Karma, cause and effect is the natural manifestation of one’s moment-to-moment thoughts’
I myself have not really studied much but this is one thing that I have really reflected upon very carefully in all activities. These words by Jigten Sumgon and my own guru, the siddha jimmy he always and only mentioned mainly just this one quotation by Jigten Sumgon. So, I really held that in mind and always reflected on that continuously. As a result, I have some understanding of it, so I’m just sharing whatever I understand with you.”
WHY AND HOW ANIMALS SUFFER? THROUGH PRIOR KARMA
KARMA IS NOT ONLY A BUDDHIST CONCEPT IT IS REALITY
“If you think about this carefully, you will see that it’s all mind. If you have wisdom, then you will have compassion. That’s the nature of wisdom, they are connected. If you understand that you will see causes of merit, large and small, all over the place. For example, karma is a concept we speak about in Buddhism. Therefore, some people say that karma is what belongs to the Buddha dharma and so we don’t need that. However, even if you say you don’t need karma you what you do need is happiness and right now you do experience happiness but you also experience suffering. Those who mainly experience suffering suffer because they do not understand karma. If you do not understand karma you think that I don’t need the dharma, I can do whatever I want, if you have this mindset you will naturally always create only the causes of suffering. For example, if you’re casting a rock in the in the air it is natural for it there’s no other way for it to fall back down it just that’s the nature of it.
One affliction leads to the other. First you have attachment and that leads to stinginess or greed that leads to anger, that leads to jealousy and ultimately we end up with ignorance and when you arrive at ignorance there is no more wisdom, no more intelligence left behind so gradually one affliction obscures more. So they increasingly obscure the mind until there is just ignorance and then all you do is engage in negative action, then negative action just unfold on their own really and you can understand that by just looking at all the different animals and the differences and see the cause behind those differences.
THE EYES OF KARMA ARE BETTER TO HAVE THAN ORDINARY EYES
UNDERSTANDING INNER KARMA AND NICKNAME GIVEN BY HIS FATHER
“There’s an outer, inner and secret karma. First, I myself reflected on the inner workings of karma, which means the karma from the perspective of my own personal inner experience, then based on my own inner experience I reflected on the outer workings of karma, and how everything in samsara and nirvana follows the law of karma. It is said that karma is infallible. So based on reflecting on that, a certainty arose in me. First, it comes from an inner experience of karma, how I processed karma myself in my own mind, and then on the basis of that, I understood the outer workings of karma.
THE KARMA OF BEING GIVEN LOTS OF FOOD IN PRISON WHEN OTHERS WERE STARVING
“Another personal example is during the cultural revolution in 1959. At that time, I was arrested and put into prison. I didn’t really have an opportunity to engage in activities to uphold the Buddhist teachings at that time. When I was in prison, there was a lot of misery. People were hungry or starving and some people were so desperate that they would pick up the excrement and the urine of others and then feed on that. Then some would have diarrhea and others would pick that up and eat that, That was the desperation. It was so harsh that people would go to such measures just to eat something. People would starve to death, many people died.
THE KARMA OF SURVIVING MANY BULLETS WHILE FIGHTING IN THE RESISTANCE
“Before that, there was an inner experience of karma that was before ’59, one of us was still fighting in the resistance army at that time when we were fighting we were bombarded with weapons from all directions. There were no bombs dropping from the airplane, so there were bullets and arrows chucking down like rain. Like a mala string, one after the other.
During the daytime, we had to hide in the forest under the leaves and this entire time it was so dangerous and so many people had died. Yet, I did not get hit by any of these weapons. I found that was strange and again, I reflected on karma. I reflected that there are so many people who have been hit by all these weapons and who died and even though I was showered from all directions, from the earth and from the sky with rain showers of arrows and bullets, I still did not die. That was very strange to me because so many other people had died.
The other time later was when I received all that food in prison, whereas many other people died of starvation. So why does that keep happening? It’s all because of karma, so one receives things if one has practiced generosity toward higher beings or compassion towards lower being sentient beings and has made offerings to the higher beings. I feel that this was also my karma that protected me from the shower of weapons and also illnesses and so forth.
This is how I reflected on the shortcomings the faults of the ten non-virtuous actions and the benefits of the ten virtuous actions, in this way, I found that the cause of merit is first and foremost, having received a precious human body which in itself already is a cause of merit. Then, I understood within that the workings of karma and the benefits of practicing virtue like generosity and so forth, of patience and discipline. So when all of these things happened, I felt that karma is really strange, how it all falls into place and I developed a really great trust in karma. This is how I reflected on karma first on the inner level and how it came from my own personal experience.
Now as I you know as I overcame the war, famine and disease and so forth. Then through my own personal experience, I understood the outer karma which is when I looked around in the world and saw what is happening I think about karma in a similar way. This is a certainty that I have gained and so this is basically my own personal experience I’m passing on to others. In this way, I began to reflect on the workings of karma through my own personal experience in prison, I gained the experience of how I became liberated from the threat of weapons and of starvation and so on, and that led me to understand the outer workings of karma. So the root of all it is the inner karma, the inner experience in the mind.”
WHY ‘BAD THINGS’ HAPPEN – THE AFFLICTIVE EMOTIONS
“At that time when I was in prison I reflected on the teachings of the Buddha so what is what is it that protects one from the threat of starvation? It is the karma of generosity or specifically the wish to give and that is why I did not die from starvation. So there is the wish to give and this wish to give is the antidote to self-grasping. This wish to give that we referred to as that perfection of generosity is to give with great joy and delight. Then I reflected on how did I become free from the threat of weapons and being harmed by weapons it is because of a mind that wants to a disciplined. A mind that wants to guard the vows. So, in essence, discipline is a mind that wishes not to cause any harm toward others. The Buddha said do not cause any harm toward others that is the mind of discipline. This is what had protected me from the threat of disease of weapons and starvation.
Mainly, it is the wish to give to others and a wish not to harm others. Then also on top of that, the third one is that not for example while I was in prison because I was thinking about karma, I began to see everyone as my parent. I developed great love for them and thinking in this way the mind became peaceful and relaxed. There was no one I was angry at, I saw them all as my parents. So I developed a mind of love that’s the third one. I was kind to everyone, everyone in prison was my friend. Maybe there were a couple of people who didn’t like me but I was really friends with about almost everyone also including the prison guards. That is because in my mind I had pure love for them all and saw them all as a friend and that is why even the prison guards really liked me, Again it comes down to the mind and the mind of love that wishes to benefit others. It is a mental experience that then helps me to understand the outer world. So when I then think about the outer world on the basis of my own personal experience. For example, nowadays in the world we can see all the harm that’s happening. There is disease, wars , a lot of misery and suffering and people endure many hardships. All of this always comes back to karma and karma begins in the mind.
So the afflictions of greed, anger and jealousy lead the body and speech to action and then others cause harm to one another and if we hurt each other, then this karma will naturally ripen now.”
BUDDHA EXPERIENCING A HEADACHE AND NOT HAVING HIS HEAD CHOPPED OFF
“Another personal example is during the cultural revolution in 1959. At that time I was arrested and put into prison. I didn’t really have an opportunity to engage in activities to uphold the Buddhist teachings at that time. When I was in prison, there was a lot of misery. People were hungry or starving and some people were so desperate that they would pick up the excrement and the urine of others and then feed on that. Then some would have diarrhea and others would pick that up and eat that, That was the desperation. It was so harsh that people would go to such measures just to eat something. People would starve to death, many people died.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOW ORDINARY AND REALISED BEINGS SEE NEGATIVE SITUATIONS
“When karma matures into suffering, ordinary people see this as something negative and bad. However, someone who actually understands karma will not see it as something negative, not see it as a fault, but actually see it as a good thing. Just like having surgery in a hospital, so whatever suffering you encounter you know it has a cause and since I have created the cause, one way or the other, it is karma and it has to become purified in this or another lifetime. Beyond this life the mind will not die so the result will come to fruition sooner or later. So it’s better to purify it now, when I am still alive in this life because I have a precious human body. and the Buddha had said that even this headache of a human being can purify the negative karma that would lead otherwise to birth in the three lower realms. When we have surgery, there is pain but also we see it as a necessity.
So this is really the suffering that we witness in the world it all has to unfold because of karma. If you understand that, the mind will be so much lighter. If you do not understand that if you just focus on the suffering, then you will be crushed by the heavy load of suffering and you will think how you suffer so much. Then because you can’t bear the suffering it makes you angry. Then you blame others for it. So when you understand karma, all of that will go away, and the mind will be much lighter.
For example, when I was in prison I was sincerely very happy all of the time because I met the guru in prison and I received the dharma. I was able to cultivate love and compassion for my friends. Also, even when it came to the hard labor I had to do, I saw it as something beneficial that would benefit the country. So every brick I had to cut and and arrange on a pile, I did it perfectly, always thinking that it will help the general public. This is also what I always told my other companions and so the way I performed my labor in prison was voluntarily and with great joy and happiness. This is how it is when you really understand karma, you can transform all suffering into an opportunity for accumulating merit. That is why it’s so important to understand karma.
Therefore, again if someone were to ask me what would you prefer, eyes or karma? Then I would definitely say I prefer to understand karma because if I only have eyes then all I see with these eyes in this world is just misery and suffering and then I just carry this misery in my own mind. For example, in prison due to that kind of perception, many people actually committed suicide and yet, for myself let alone committing suicide I actually was very joyful and I felt that I that is good and I am purifying my negative karma. I observed that it was just like going to the hospital and having an operation. Actually I’m speaking of going to a hospital and having an operation that also can become a cause of great merit. For example, normally we think that I don’t want to go to hospital because it’s too expensive I can’t afford it. I don’t want to pay the bill but if you think about it if you are in that hospital there are thousands of people who are being treated for their illnesses. So if I’m able to contribute some money to the hospital then that is a great merit because many thousands of people can be cured and treated in this way and then the people who are working there have food to eat and so on. So I would give with great happiness and joy. It is the same for a school.”
OPPORTUNITIES FOR MERIT ARE EVERYWHERE
“Basically, wherever you go there is a way to accumulate merit, it’s just that people don’t recognize that but actually there is merit everywhere. Whatever you do, do it with joy and delight. For example, the generosity is not the giving but it’s the wish to give, the wish to make offerings to the higher beings and to give to sentient beings and then when you have that wish you will actually then give with great happiness and joy. So that is what happens when you understand karma. Then because of the joy, the act of giving becomes an actual offering.
So, for example, today if I’m going to a hospital and paying the bill at the hospital then with that money the staff can be paid so they have food to eat, the hospital improves and many people can be healed in the hospital. Therefore, I’m giving with great happiness and joy. So that is an example, an opportunity to accumulate great merit. That is what the Buddha had taught as the method for creating the cause of merit and that’s why all the Buddhas have made that prayer ‘may beings be happy and have the cause of happiness’. That ensures that the merit created is also dedicated. The Buddha taught a method to dedicate the merit so that it does not become destroyed.
First, people often don’t recognize even that they can accumulate merit. There is an opportunity to accumulate merit basically in everything that you do. Even if they do recognize it, often they do it and they recognize it but then they forget to dedicate it. If we do not dedicate our merit then it will become wasted at some point. it will disintegrate eventually. There will still be a small result ripening but there will be no great result ripening.”
SPARKLING, GOLDEN BUDDHA NATURE – THE INHERENT CAUSE OF VIRTUE
“Also, the inherent virtue that you always possess is your own Buddha nature. However, even though you possess Buddha nature, we often don’t have the wisdom to recognize the opportunities of merit everywhere.
Also, there is another question Khenpo Tenzin asked about and which comes from a story that my father also told me how you know when you look at a certain kind of rock you can see that it’s sparkling like stars and sparkling you can see the sun reflected in it. Actually that’s a good example of this innate cause of merit, or cause of virtue which is the wisdom intelligence aspect of your Buddha nature. Only if you look closely can you see that actually it sparkles everywhere and that is the like the Buddha nature and that pervades everything. So, therefore if you understand the scriptures and the workings on karma, cause and effect you will understand that all sentient beings naturally possess the cause of merit because they possess Buddha nature.
When they begin to recognize that then the intelligence inherent within their mind will dawn or will awaken, then they develop faith and an aspiration the dharma. For example , Buddha nature is like some gold inherent within oneself and as the mind matures it becomes more and more apparent. As with the gold the sparkle reveals itself and it is said that as it reveals itself you realize that it’s not something new that has arisen in you and it’s also nothing that you found elsewhere but it’s a quality that’s already inherent within your mind. You already have that quality of Buddha nature and the quality of intelligence or wisdom and compassion. It is just now it becomes awakened and it rises and it reveals itself.
Here it doesn’t matter whether one is a Buddhist or not, everyone possesses this nature and that nature is the inherent merit within us. So if you recognize it and never separate from love and compassion, then it will completely mature and the ice block of self-grasping will melt. So the point is to recognize the merit that is present at all times and in whatever you do merit pervades everywhere. So at all times there is a way to practice generosity, discipline patience. As I said before, discipline is the mind that wishes not to cause any harm towards others. Whe when that arises in your mind then you will feel no matter what, I will not cause any harm towards others and that is what accomplishes the state of enlightenment.”
INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY CAN BE A METHOD OF ACCUMULATING MERIT
“Khenpo Jigme Phuntsog said just that, he said ‘hold your awareness/mind with stability and do not cause harm to others, do not disturb others’. So everything is really encapsulated within that statement. Also in science, for example there’s merit to be accumulated. For example, scientists have developed cars and how convenient is that? We can travel anywhere and it is really what causes also great benefit and happiness for others. So if you really think about it you can see that even that kind of creation can become a cause of accumulating great merit. If you know how to dedicate and recognize it, then you will attain the state of enlightenment if you do not recognize it and do not dedicate it then there will be just a temporary result. So there is a result cost called the result corresponding to the cause. There are some individuals who have the merit to travel very fast like on an airplane. Then there are others who have no opportunity to fly and who can’t go that fast. They can’t run away from the larger animals for example who catch up and then eat them. Then there are others who can’t even move at all. That’s all due to karma and so. This arises when this certainty in karma arises, when you reflect on that and this certainty must arise in the mind it’s very important.
So again remember this quote by Jigten Sumgon who said: ‘karma, cause and effect is the natural manifestation of one’s moment-to-moment thoughts’. Think about that whenever you encounter any being, like a little animal for example, if you reflect on that then you will be able to see their suffering and want to dispel their suffering. You will see that they suffer from hunger and thirst and from heat and cold and you will do whatever you can to protect those around you. Even if you can’t protect every single animal you will do whatever you can to help those around you. So that is a skillful means to accumulate great merit, when you see the suffering of others and you think about you know since it is in front of you ‘what can I do to help them?’ In this way again there’s a way to accumulate great merit.
In brief, merit ultimately is the mind of love. When there is love then the ice block of self-grasping will melt just like the sun melting in the eyes so merit is compassion, which is like the sunlight that melts the eyes of self-grasping and the cause of merit is everywhere in any circumstance. For example, even when you go and pee and use the toilet that can be a cause of merit too because there are actually many animals who are feeding on excrement/poo and are drinking urine. Also, in the poo there are already many animals or the poo turns into animals. I’ve seen this happening in prison. First you have the poo and then slowly there are little maggots and bugs growing in that poo, but then the poo actually becomes very beneficial because it could be used as fertilizer too. So anything can become very beneficial. Think about it in this way and that’s really a skillful way for you to never separate from merit. You can always accumulate merit. Once you have recognized that you also must dedicate the merit that you created and so Buddha taught the method for doing that.
As I spoke much about karma, it is according to how it is explained in the Seven Verses of Supplication to Tara for protection. Khenpo Rinpoche has given commentary on. In there it says beings are blinded not knowing the interdependence of cause and effect. Actually, everything in the world follows karma. For example, a flower that grows from its seed all the qualities of the flower are already in inside that seed. The colour of the flower and the shape and the scent of the flower and so forth. Everything follows some karma it’s all the same in this world. That is the relative truth of karma. Basically as long as there is a perception, a dualistic perception of self and other, karma rules, the workings of cause and effect. Everything is determined by karma it is unfailing. Every happiness, every suffering, everything in the world in the dharma no matter where you go there’s you will always end up with karma. Everything follows karma and that is whether we believe in it or not. If we believe in it is good if we don’t believe it is in it is just our own loss really. So in this world where we see a duality of people and individuals, a dualistic existence, karma is predominant or rules over that. So if you understand that then you have a way to avoid suffering and to gain freedom over your own happiness. If you don’t know that, you will be blind as to how to create happiness and avoid suffering. You will have no choice over it. So it all depends on your own knowledge of it. So karma, cause and effect is whether it works or not is a choice of yours or not, is up to you it works whether you believe in it or not.”
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN APPEARANCES ON THE OUTER AND INNER LEVEL
GIVING TO THE DIVINE TREASURE HOUSE
“Actually, in Christianity, Jesus also spoke about that. In the Bible it says ‘the worldly treasure houses, the earthly treasure houses are empty. You should invest in the treasure house of the heavens’. That is very significant when it comes to treasures, when we it comes to spending money on something. Then with a wish to give we do it happily whatever it is. Whatever we have to pay for anyway, whether it’s for a hospital bill or you’re paying your taxes and so on. Anything or any expenses that you have to pay, you can think that this is my act of generosity and do it with happiness and this is really how you’re investing in the treasure house of heaven. Again it all comes down to the mind that wishes to give and to benefit, a mind of love.
For example, if I go to a store to buy something, even it’s just a small thing I can think, may this benefit the store if I spend just a little bit of money there then that helps the store. Of course, I can’t give everything I have because I also need to eat and survive but there are those certain things that I have to pay for. Another example, when I’m staying in a hotel, or when I’m buying an airplane ticket and so on, those times where I have to pay for things, at that time I can think, may this benefit whatever I’m paying for.
For example, because there are staff working there I can go on an airplane or I can go on a train or I can go into a restaurant and eat food. When I pay for all these things then the money just goes around. I’m benefiting people and bringing immense benefit to many people. You can understand even that to be a great cause to accumulate merit and then you give away with great happiness and joy. First, there is love and then there arises immeasurable love. It’s this wish you love them so you want to give to them.
Then there’s immeasurable joy, where whatever you give away, whatever you do you do it without holding back, without greed or stinginess and that’s really a way to make this virtue, whatever you do become a really vast cause of merit. Then there’s also immeasurable compassion that comes from that. For example, you could consider that all these people working in this place they also suffer a lot and they need to have a salary to survive and so on. For example, when you go to a restaurant and you pay even just 10 dollars or so, you think can think that the people working there will have a salary because I’m leaving money there otherwise, if they don’t have work they won’t find food to eat and they can’t survive. In this way everything I do can become a perfect virtual cause of happiness. So it is always giving away without holding back any stinginess. Everything that you have to give away can become a cause of great merit. When you recognize that and think that, it is so beneficial that is my cause of merit. In this way, you are investing all your wealth or whatever you give away to the treasure house of the heavens.
One should do so without holding back, meaning without any a wish to receive anything in return. Then, if you give in this way, in all future lifetimes from lifetime to lifetime, the benefit will stay and what will stay really is the mind that wishes to benefit and all the self-grasping will slowly disappear. “
ENJOYING ONE’S FRUITS – UNLIKE ANTS RUNNING AROUND PILING UP THINGS
“If we don’t think in that way, we can see it now as people only care about themselves and their food and so on. They run around day and night and that is actually very similar to ants. They are running around constantly day and night because they always feel like ‘I don’t have anything and I’m hungry I need to find food’. We can see their misery and how they’re running around in the heat of the sun. They run around like that because they are very hungry, because they think ‘I don’t have, I lack something.’
That’s why we also go around in cars and airplanes and so on continuously. Why does that happen? It arises first from self-grasping, and then from that arises stinginess and greed. No matter how much you have, you always feel a sense of lack like ‘I don’t have’ and then that leads to birth. For example, as in the body of an ant who just keeps collecting and collecting things, they keep thinking that there is a lack and they keep piling them up, different sticks and things like that and food. That is because they have this habitual karmic imprint of just this feeling of lack, even though there is no lack. To remedy it, we develop a wish to give things away. In that way, we can look at other animals, like the honeybees whose work of collecting the pollen and just naturally enjoying the fruit of their collection, which is very different to ants who don’t actually really enjoy the fruit of their piling up things. So there’s also a difference. Anyway, when we look at animals we can see how just naturally karma just goes around and comes around.”
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO LOVE AND BODHICITTA
In brief, to summarize it all it comes down to the mind of bodhichitta as the buddha had taught it all comes down only to love, if you possess love you possess all good qualities. That is the relative bodhichitta and through relative bodhichitta of wishing to benefit others, all selfish attitudes and states of mind will become cleared away For example, when you walk around until you see a beggar on the street and you just give them one dollar, then do so with a delight with joy and wanting to give and then this small offering becomes a great virtue, a vast root of virtue. So the merit here is in the wish to give, it is in your loving mind. So all of these qualities of wanting to give and wanting to hold discipline and so on, all arises from love really. Recognizing that is the method to accumulate merit, then you will always recognize it’s all in my mind.
For example, I gave something to the beggar I have obtained love now, I have more love. So in this way, our small love will increase. Right now our love is very limited, it’s limited to our relatives and friends and so on. That love is biased on not knowing the real qualities of love and that love can change it is unreliable and often leads to separation. Even if people stay together no matter how much time they spend together, they’re not really happy together. Ultimately they won’t be able to stay together, they will separate but if there is true love even animals can stay together. For example, birds can stay together for the rest of their life and so similarly if there is true love between companions they will be able to to stay together and experience happiness in their minds. That is the quality of love and not just in the human realm but wherever you go in the six realms it’s like that. Wherever you go in the world, when there are two people who truly love each other, there’s pure love then they will be able to stay together for the rest of their life. What really keeps them together is the mind of love and also the understanding of karma. If they understand karma, they understand that love is most important and then they will be able to stay with each other for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, if they do not understand the quality of love, then they will do all kinds of things and that will lead to them not being able to stay together and then it would be very difficult to spend their lives together.
So not ever separating from love is really the essence of the bodhisattva vow and not ever to allow this love to decline and this also what we saw in this example of Christianity or Jesus. So that is most important if you have love, the wish to give and so on will naturally arise. The mind of love of all the buddhas is like a vast ocean and now if you take the bodhisattva we are adding our drop of water to that ocean and for as long as the ocean exists, that water will be there we’ll never become exhausted and it will always be there to be used by oneself or others can drink it and so on. That’s the bodhisattva and what really undermines this vow is the state of mind of hatred or anger and jealousy, but mainly anger or hatred, that is the actual enemy of bodhichitta. Therefore, we have to be very careful to protect our bodhichitta from that.
That is really the beginning point of the bodhisattva, so it’s the prayer where we say ‘may beings have happiness and the causes of happiness’. So what’s the cause of happiness of all sentient beings in the three realms of samsara? They only have one single cause of happiness and that is love.
A SINGLE LAMP FLAME CAN ELIMINATE THE DARKNESS OF AEONS
THE BENEFITS OF SPINNING PRAYER WHEELS
“Since around 1980, when I first came out of prison, one of the first of my activities was to distribute these liberation by seeing mantras and then also I continued to do that when I came to the western countries and pass them around to Dharma friends as gifts in many different shapes and forms.
LIBERATION UPON SEEING MANTRA BRACELETS AND T-SHIRTS
Milarepa also said that aside from accomplishing the dual benefit of self and others simultaneously, there is no other perfection of prayer than that. Or in other words how the dual benefit is accomplished is: for your own sake you attain the kingdom of the dharmakaya and for the sake of others you will continue to manifest for as long as samsara exists to benefit others.
In this way, the benefit of self and others is accomplished simultaneously and ultimately what is accomplished is the realization that self and other do not actually exist separately. In any case, we have to ensure that all our actions of body speech and mind are fruitful and are meaningful actions.”
 “The benefits of the prayer wheel have often been spoken of before, however, these days people in samsara aren’t able to accomplish any Dharma practice at all- they don’t have the time. For those that are unable to engage in any practice, the way to accomplish the virtues of body, speech, and mind all at once is through spinning the prayer wheel. And it’s not necessary to have a have a large one; a small one can be spun at any time. When we spin a prayer wheel, the virtue of the Body is that there are many millions of mantras revolving inside. The virtue of Speech is that, from the power of that inner mantra stream and due to the special qualities contained within the prayer wheel, offerings are made to the Buddhas, and at the same time, the obscurations of sentient beings are purified- these are the words of the Buddha.
The virtue of mind is that, when we spin the prayer wheel, the mind remains undistracted. The superior practice is to rest within meditation of the view—an understanding of the non- duality of self and other—while spinning the prayer wheel. And this is an extraordinary instruction! If we spin the prayer wheel with the thought to benefit all sentient beings, then we will perfectly abide single- pointedly within two- fold bodicitta. Spinning the prayer wheel for even a single moment has such vast benefit!”