Buddhist Philosophy

Pure Perception and Discrimination

Pure Perception

In this video clip, Rinpoche answers a practical question about keeping our perception pure.  This topic often creates a lot of confusion. So, does pure perception mean that we have no discrimination? Does it mean that we do not speak out?

Acting Not Re-acting

Pure perception does not mean that we can not act. People often wonder how we can function in the mundane world.   We can use the example of a lotus rooted in the mud.    We live and act in the mundane wold, with all its apparent muddiness and imperfections. And, yet, we see that everything is by nature pure.  Thus, Rinpoche explains that we actually can function much better. That’s because we can change the way we react.  Then, we don’t react with complete hatred.  And we don’t discriminate against someone or something as evil in and of itself. We don’t focus on “eliminating the target.” In that way, we can speak out or act without causing additional harm.

More Acceptance

With pure perception we have more acceptance. We don’t immediately close down and want to lash out. Rinpoche explains that we should remember that all beings have the same minds. Someone who behaves badly still has an innately pure mind.  We can distinguish wrong action without thinking that an individual is inherently evil.  How does this help? It means that we can see them without hatred or anger. If we have hate or anger, we become part of the problem. Like a lotus, we can remain pure as we rise above the mud.

Rinpoche says we need to learn how to speak out. We can shout-sometimes it is necessary to warn someone who is about to make a big mistake.  But we can shout without anger. Non-discrimination means we can change a problem.


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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.