Buddhist Philosophy

Confidence with Compassion: Building Dignity

Confidence with compassion is a key trait of a Buddhist practitioner.  These days we often lack self-confidence and may blame external situations, such as public speaking or relationships. However, Phakchok Rinpoche says that if we really examine ourselves, we can learn how to develop stable confidence. The good news is that as practitioners we can easily train in developing confidence, also known as dignity. He notes that every single Buddhist practice, especially on the Vajrayāna path, is designed to empower us with dignity.

Refuge Practice

For example, if we practice taking refuge, we visualize ourselves being purified and blessed by all the figures within the refuge tree. We receive all these blessings in the form of light rays.

Then, at the conclusion, what happens? We visualize that entire refuge tree dissolving into us. The very basic yet profound practice of refuge is quite empowering. We imagine all these beings, with all of their qualities, merging into us. And we should feel great confidence in that.

Guru Yoga

Confidence with Compassion

Then, of course, the practice of Guru Yoga is the true empowerment with dignity. Mingling our body, speech, and mind with the guru’s body, speech, and wisdom mind means that they are not separate: they are one. It is important to remember that the “oneness” is not situational. They are always one.

We should not think about this “mingling” as if we were mixing two glasses of water. They are always “one.” We need to be very decisive about this. This is a case where asking too many questions is not helpful. In the beginning, doubts are natural, but if we ask too many questions about the “hows” of the process, we may lose heart. But if we keep doing this Guru Yoga practice, then confidence and dignity gradually increase and remain deep in our hearts.

 

Simple Buddhist Practice of Building Confidence

If we are not engaging in Vajrayāna practices, but are followers of the Buddha, we can still build confidence by relying upon the Buddha.  For all levels of practice, we gain great confidence by regularly contemplating the Buddha. Whenever we are feeling low, or harbor doubts, we can call to mind the Buddha and his qualities. Why do we think the image of the Buddha is so popular these days? Because even those who don’t call themselves Buddhists or spiritual people seem to naturally feel drawn to his presence.

We can contemplate an image of the Buddha and visualize receiving blessings from the Buddha. We can also imagine that the Buddha dissolves into us and we are not separate from the Buddha. Regular practice in this way will also help us become more confident. For more information on this practice please follow this link to the Treasury of Blessings blog.

Phakchok Rinpoche was recorded on this topic in a Question and Answer session hosted in 2017 for the updated edition of A Glimpse of Buddhadharma, by Phakchok Rinpoche.  This revised edition will be forthcoming from https://lhaseylotsawa.org/

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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.