Please take a few moments before you begin this teaching to settle yourself. Sit upright, yet naturally relaxed. Before listening to and/ or reading the teaching make aspirations such as: "I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the precious Dharma. I am doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings so that they may be free from suffering and attain complete awakening".
Self-confidence can be a trait that we wish we had, but many of us may feel unsure of ourselves. At first glance, it might seem rather paradoxical to worry about self-confidence as we often hear about emptiness of self in Buddhist philosophy. However, we need self-confidence so that we can function in our regular daily actions in the world. Moreover, and most importantly, we need self-confidence in our own nature and in our practice.
Phakchok Rinpoche says that we shouldn’t focus on the external conditions where we lack self-confidence. Instead, he advises us to first think about how we can be confident. Here, he shares the good news that for a Buddhist practitioner, it becomes natural and easy to have dignity because that is built into the system.
When we go for refuge, we visualize light rays coming from the many awakened beings who populate the refuge tree. And when we conclude that practice, we imagine all those beings dissolving into ourselves, empowering us, and bestowing a strong sense of confidence and purity. This is how we should practice! Repeating this process over and over again will naturally build our dignity, but without leading to pride.
Self-Confidence Through Practice of Guru Yoga
Additionally, on the Vajrayana path, Guru Yoga is considered to be the supreme practice. When we practice Guru Yoga, we speak of mingling our minds completely with the Guru. The Guru’s wisdom and our mind are not separate. As we practice in this way, we don’t dwell on lots of conceptual details. Instead, we approach this meditation with a firm determination that we and the Guru are always one.
Self-confidence develops if we don’t get hung up on the whens, whys or hows! If we repeat this practice regularly, our dignity and confidence will slowly, but automatically, increase. When we build self-confidence in this way, we ground it deep within our hearts. It is not some easily shaken external shell.
Examine your own experience. Do you have a solid, grounded sense of dignity when you practice?
If you feel slightly shaky, make an effort over the course of the next month or so to spend more time with the refuge visualization and/or your Guru Yoga practice. As Phakchok Rinpoche often reminds us, we need to feel the presence very strongly. Gently, but resolutely, remind yourself that you and the Guru are one. Be decisive!
At the end of the teaching, please remember to dedicate the merit of receiving a Dharma teaching. As you go through your day, take a few moments from time to time to recall these instructions.
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