Dear friends near and far
Firstly on this Guru Rinpoche Day, I would like to share a short video in which I talk about the five dear friends that everybody should have. You can watch the video above. Next, I would like to talk about motivation. These days when we talk about enlightenment, many people, including sometimes myself, don’t have a full understanding of what enlightenment really is. As a result, they end up thinking that it’s not of much benefit or relevance to them and then lose the wish to reach enlightenment. And this can happen to us whether we be practicing dharma or involved in the mundane world.
But if you can do what you do—whether it be the dharma or ordinary activities—with the ‘mind of enlightenment’, meaning the motivation to help free all sentient beings from suffering and the cause of suffering and establish them at the precious state of enlightenment, it has a really positive effect. From one’s own side, when you have this motivation you become free from personal, selfish desires and free of anger and aversion towards others. And when you are free of both selfish desires and aversion then you don’t make many mistakes; you are free of ignorance. On the other hand, when you have selfish desires and this kind of self-importance you might regard yourself as having many good qualities and others as being lower than you, and then you easily criticize others and can end up making many problems. So this motivation, the mind of enlightenment (bodhicitta) is so important and beneficial.
For example, in the morning when I recite prayers and make the sang (smoke) offering and so on then I do it focusing on all of our monks and nuns, the Rinpoches, our students, sponsors, the people working in our Foundation, and all the people I know with the wish to benefit them through these prayers. But at the same time we also need the mind of enlightenment that focuses on all sentient beings. And sometimes I forget that. My motivation is indeed very positive—to benefit everyone I know, meaning the lamas and monastics, and all our students and friends—but we need to have the motivation of the mind of enlightenment that keeps in mind all sentient beings and sometimes we can forget that. So in this case the motivation I have is not perfect. There is attachment to others and aversion or indifference towards others. Even if you don’t have any evident aversion to others, if you fail to include all sentient beings in your motivation and think, “Well, I don’t know those other sentient beings, they are strangers to me, I have no real reason to focus on them or think of them” this is actually an aspect of aversion and ignorance. We need to include all sentient beings with the wish that we can help all of them attain perfect enlightenment, understanding that we have been connected to them from beginningless time up until now through the relationships we’ve had with them throughout our past lifetimes—as mothers, fathers, friends, relatives.
If you can really think about this, engender this motivation, and take it to heart you will feel quite differently towards other sentient beings. How so? Immediately your anger and aversion will decrease. Likewise, your self-interest and selfishness will decrease. Your mind will become more open, relaxed, and joyful, and also kinder.
This being so, today I would like to remind you all about this precious motivation of bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment. Whether you are practicing the dharma or doing ordinary things, do it with this motivation seeing that all sentient beings without a single exception have been your parents and dear friends in the past and that you are connected with them in that way and wishing all of them to be free from their suffering and its causes and attain the precious state of enlightenment.
What is enlightenment? The state free of all negative emotions and suffering and endowed with primordial wisdom. This motivation is so important.
So today on this precious occasion of Guru Rinpoche Day, please make some prayers, practice generosity, perhaps give your parents a gift, be loving to your children and others, and speak kindly to people. If you are a practitioner, then do some practice. Do some meditation, some recitation, make prayers, and if you know how then make a gathering (feast) offering to Guru Rinpoche. And throughout please keep all sentient beings in your heart and think of them. Work on developing this motivation that thinks of all sentient beings.
I am sending this short message from Heathrow airport in England where I am in transit on my way back to the United States. As always, with many prayers and aspirations for you all.