Buddhist Philosophy

Changing Perception

Changing perception can teach us so many things. Often, we cling to our own ideas and habits. But, new experiences can really make a big impact. Phakchok Rinpoche visited Earthfire Institute in October 2009. Afterward, he talked about how the visit changed his perception of wildlife.

Changing Perception: Fear to Respect

That’s because as he met some of Earthfire’s residents he began to respect them. He began to see them as individuals. For example, before his interaction, he feared the coyotes. But, after he got a chance to meet them, he changed his opinion. How might we extend this example to other situations? Have you ever experienced a similar change in perception as you became more familiar with people or animals?

Changing Perceptions: We’re the Ones Who Change

Here Rinpoche speaks about how a wildlife refuge serves the valuable purpose of teaching human beings. Refuges like this benefit humans as much as animals. Because in this environment we learn how to connect with not only other species but with our own families and friends.

Visiting nature in this way can give us a chance to reflect on a greater meaning. Feeling connected to the animals and developing an understanding of them as individuals can bring a sense of calmness and respect. And that’s something that we can take with us into our daily interactions with all beings.

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.