Dear friends near and far,
As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. Today and next month’s Guru Rinpoche day are special, as this 5th month of the Monkey and the next, sixth month of the Bird, can both be considered Guru Rinpoche’s months. So, on this particular day, I have a few important points I would like to bring up.
I have told you in previous messages about the importance of having a big heart and a strong mind (khokpa chenpo), of being reliable (gyü tenpo), of having patience without regret (zöpa yö la gyöpa mepa), and of seeing your own faults without losing your dignity (rang kyön tong tupa, sem pa ma shorpa). On top of all that, the first important quality I would like to highlight today is having a calm, relaxed mind state (lhö cha), and being content (tsimpa), two intrinsically related qualities. By contentment here, I don’t mean the usual way we get satisfaction, which is by setting goals for ourselves, pursuing them, and eventually achieving them. Rather, I mean contentment that is based on kindness and the cultivation of the gentle meditative state of shamatha, calm-abiding (zhi né).
This type of calm contentment is extremely important. These days, many people talk about the importance of the present moment, and of meditation. I myself, in the Radically Happy book, speak about creating space and being in the present moment. But really, in order to create this type of calm, one needs to be content deep down inside, which can only come from dignified meditation. Dignity is important in meditation because meditation has no goal. If, without pursuing anything, you just focus 100% on your meditation, you will experience contentment and calm in the present moment.
Secondly, I wanted to bring up the pervasive influence of social media and such platforms as Youtube nowadays. These can be very influential, but we need to be careful as to who and what we choose as a role model within all this content. Choose role models who are genuinely compassionate; humble yet dignified; disciplined; and diligent. People or stories that display these qualities should be your source of inspiration, even if they date back to 100 or 1,000 years ago. So please always be vigilant regarding the qualities of those who inspire you, and remember the four sets of qualities I set out above: genuine compassion, dignified humility, discipline, and diligence.
Last but not least, whether you are religious, spiritual, agnostic, or indifferent, it is most important not to be biased and self-righteous (chok ri mepa). We all think we’re on the right side of things, that our own views, character or beliefs are better than others’, and so on. We’re always operating based on this hierarchy of our own perceived correctness versus others’ mistaken positions. But I’d like to say to you all, if you want to practice genuinely, whether you just have faith, or practice compassion, mindfulness meditation, or especially the higher meditative practices of Mahamudra, emptiness and so on: reduce your bias, partiality, and self-righteousness.
So, on this Guru Rinpoche day of the Monkey month, I would like to ask you all to be vigilant and check yourselves so that you don’t make excuses and fall into the common trap of thinking that your views or behaviors are better than everyone else’s, whether on the moral, spiritual, legal, or any other level. In Tibetan, these faults are called ‘considering your view to be the best’ (tawa chok dzin) and ‘considering your conduct to be the best’ (chöpa chok dzin). They are the result of ego and judgment, and can only lead to an endless proliferation of negative thoughts. So please be aware of this and reduce your bias and prejudice.
In brief, on this special Guru Rinpoche day, I wished to remind you all to cultivate calm contentment through meditation; to choose your role models based on their qualities; and to let go of bias and prejudice.
With thanks, and sending you much love,
Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche