by Lama Thubten Yeshe
Buddhism can be understood on many
different levels, and people who actualize the Buddhist path
do so gradually. Just as you pass slowly through school and university, graduating from one year
to the next, so do Buddhist practitioners proceed step by step along the path to enlightenment.
In Buddhism, however, we're talking about different levels of mind; here, higher and lower depend
upon how much spiritual progress you have made.
Also, in the West, there's a tendency
to consider Buddhism as a religion in the Western sense of the
term. This is a misconception. Buddhism is completely open; you can talk about anything - the
evolution of both the external and the internal worlds. Buddhism has its doctrine and philosophy
but it also encourages scientific experimentation, both inner and outer. Therefore, please don't think
of Buddhism as being some kind of narrow, closed-minded belief system. It isn't. And also, Buddhist doctrine
today is not an historical fabrication derived through imagination and mental speculation. Rather, it is a true
psychological explanation of the actual nature of the mind.
When you look at the outside world
you have a very strong impression of its substantiality. You probably
don't realize that that strong impression is merely your own mind's interpretation of what it sees. You
think that the strong, solid reality really exists outside, and when you look within, perhaps you feel
empty. This is also a misconception, the wrong mental attitude that fails to realize that the strong
impression that appears to truly exist outside of you is actually projected by your own mind. Everything
you experience - feelings, sensations, shapes and colors - comes from your mind.
If you get up one morning with a
foggy mind and the world round you also appears to be dark and
foggy, or when the world seems beautiful and light, you should understand that basically, those
impressions are coming from your own mind rather than from changes in the external environment.
Therefore, instead of misinterpreting whatever you experience in life through judgmental wrong
conceptions, you should realize that it's not outer reality but only mind.
For example, when everybody in this
auditorium looks at a single object, me, Lama Yeshe, each of
you has a distinctly different experience, even though simultaneously you are all looking at the one
thing. These different experiences don't come from me; they come from your own minds. You are
probably thinking, "Oh, how can he say that? We all see the same face, the same body, the same
clothes," but that's a just a superficial interpretation. If you check deeper you'll see that the way
you perceive me, the way you feel, is individual, and that at that level, you're all different. These
various perceptions do not come from me but from your own minds. That's the point I'm making.
So then perhaps you think, "Oh, he's
just a lama; all he knows about is mind. He doesn't know about
powerful scientific advances like satellites and other sophisticated technology. There's no way you
can say that those things come from mind." But you check up. When I say "satellite," you have a
mental image of the object that you've been told is a satellite. When the first satellite was made, its
inventor said, "I've made this thing that orbits the earth; it's called a 'satellite.'" Then when everybody
else saw it, they thought, "Ah, that's a satellite." But 'satellite' is just a name, isn't it?
Before the inventor of the satellite
actually made it, he speculated and visualized it in his mind. Then,
on the basis of this image, he acted to materialize his creation. Then he told everyone, "This is a
satellite," so everyone thought, "Wow, a satellite; how beautiful, how wonderful." So that shows how
ridiculous we are. People give things names and we grasp at the name, believing it to be the real thing.
It's the same thing no matter what colors and forms we grasp at. You check up.
If you can understand what I'm explaining
here, you'll see that indeed, satellites and so forth do come
from the mind, and that without mind, there is not a single manifest material existence in the entire
sense world. What exists without mind? Look at all the stuff you find in supermarkets: so many names,
so many foods, so many different things. First people made it all up - this name, that name, this, this,
this - so then, this, that, this, this and this all appear to you. So if all these thousands of supermarket
items as well as jets, rockets and satellites are manifestations of mind, what then does not come from
mind? That's why it is so very important to know the way your own mind works.
Thus, if you check really deeply
into how your mind expresses itself, your various views and feelings,
your imagination, you will realize that all your emotions, the way you live your life, the way you relate
with others, all come from your own mind. If you don't understand how your mind works, you're going
to continue having negative experiences like anger and depression. Why do I call a depressed mind
negative? Because a depressed mind doesn't understand how it works. A mind without understanding
is negative. A negative mind functions to bring you down, because all its reactions are polluted. A mind
with understanding functions clearly. A clear mind is a positive mind.
Therefore, any emotional problem
you experience arises because of the way your mind is functions, and your
basic problem lies in the way you misidentify yourself. You normally hold yourself in low esteem; you see
yourself as a poor quality human being, while what you really want is for your life to be of the highest quality,
perfect. You don't want to be a poor quality human being, do you? So, in order to correct your view and
become a much better person, you don't need to squeeze yourself or to jump from your own culture into
another. That's not the solution. All you need to do is to understand your true nature, the way you already are.
That's all. It's so simple.
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