Buddhist Philosophy

Awakening is Possible

In these two brief audio files from early 2015, Phakchok Rinpoche addresses questions that many practitioners have about their path and practice. These common doubts can create confusion about the path and the result, so it helps us if we take Rinpoche’s very direct message to heart.

Each of these teachings addresses the subject of awakening. And both may inspire us to develop great confidence in our practice. We may want to listen to these two teachings repeatedly to remind ourselves that awakening is very possible and that it brings great freedom.

PhakchokRinpoche.Gesturing.2004

Awakening is Easy

In the first teaching, Rinpoche addresses the issue of the difficulty of achieving enlightenment–or “waking up”. His answer may be startling–he says that it is actually very easy. He points out that it is our own mindset that creates problems. We develop the habit of thinking that it is so difficult–and then we never actually practice. We might even give up before we truly begin. Rinpoche kindly shares the advice of his own meditation master. He says that his teacher always emphasized the possibility and the ease of the practice–and this is Rinpoche’s own inspiring message for all of us.

image01Free of Hope and Fear

In the second teaching, Rinpoche uses the example of the famous Tibetan yogi Milarepa (11th-12th century). Milarepa, of course, was probably the most famous of the Tibetan yogis . He spent many years wandering from cave to cave and subsisting on a diet of nettles.

Rinpoche notes that many people wonder what the benefit of this type of existence was. The major accomplishment, Rinpoche points out, was that Milarepa was completely free of hope and fear.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can come to understand how these two factors dominate our lives. Milarepa stated that he was free from hope and fear–these two elements that, as Rinpoche says, “haunt us on both the spiritual and mundane level.”

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Reflection Question

As you sit down for a practice session, honestly reflect on your hopes and fears. Do you feel those as weights, making awakening seem beyond possibility? Consider what it might be like to just sit and practice without expectation. Encourage yourself to just relax with whatever manifests.

How does that feel?

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