17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.



Practical Dharma Commitment in Daily Life

by HE Kunzig Shamarpa Rinpoche

These words of teaching have been transcribed from a seminar session given by Rinpoche at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Retreat Centre, 30 November 1980.

Translator Ngodup Tsering Burkhar.

Taking lay percepts, taking the Bodhisattva vows, and being able to commit to that kind of discipline is critical. As practitioners of the Dharma who have an understanding of the Dharma and who have an appreciation of it, it is important for all of you to live according to such disciplines as much as possible. In doing this you are relating to the teachings practically. Many of you, as householders, have responsibilities in order to fulfill your basic needs. In the daytime you have a lot of work to do, but in the evening, if you forego entertainment and distractions, if you are a sanely disciplined person, you will have plenty of time to practice - say from 9.00 in the evening to midnight you could do quite a bit of meditation and practice. It depends, of course, on individual orientation and bodily needs, but it is healthy, generally, not to take evening meals. This keeps one clear, light and more awake, making meditation easier. Maybe you could sleep from 12.00 to 3.00 am and then get up and meditate. Why not? It demands a lot of work. You must attain liberation, and it is not easy. It is very possible to do these things. So much of our time is simply wasted time during which nothing useful is achieved. Not only wasted, but also it is spent accumulating all kinds of negativity. In relating to the Truth of the path outer disciplines become important because we are used to so many different bad habits. To protect us from reverting to these bad habits, outer disciplines are necessary. The practice then become subtler when one begins using meditation to work with the gross negative emotions. The purification of the restless, confused instability of the mind begins with meditation practice. The knowledge eventually comes that the root of all such problems is ego. And the work is to uproot the ego in stages along the path, developing the state of egolessness.

The practice can be related to in two parts: the actual practice and the post-meditation practice. The actual meditation practice is when we formally practice and work with specific meditation techniques. Post-meditation practice is being mindful of how we deal with things in our daily lives, being mindful of our negative habits and being mindful of maintaining a sanity of mind. The actual practices that we do are, for instance, Shinay meditation, Ngondro, loving kindness and compassion through sending and receiving, focusing on the breath, so that with the outflow of breath all goodness is transmitted to others, and with the intake of the breath all the negativity of all beings is consumed. The idea is that these practices must not be left for just the meditation session, but you must be able to carry the enlightened attitude out in your daily life. Some sense of kindness, some sense of good heartedness must be carried over. If the genuine kindness that we express is only limited to human beings, that is not really a complete kindness. It must extend towards all sentient beings - towards all beings equally. Because if your kindness is only limited to human beings it could possibly be attachment, or political diplomacy or politeness. Be equally kind and generous to all beings, then it is pure. This is something relaxing, walking, eating or sleeping; this attitude should be cultivated.

Basically, if you are able to maintain a steadiness of kindness and the enlightened, compassionate attitude, it will permeate all of your activities naturally. In post-meditation practice mindfulness and exertion is important. Exertion is necessary during formal meditation situation as well. Mindfulness of generosity and of the precepts means that even if someone or angry with you, you are careful not to be angry back or take revenge. Or if someone tries to harm you, you do not bring harm to him or her, but you practice patience. So in this way, the sanity of the practice can be applied in one's life.

When we do meditation practice, it is like taking a particular treatment from a doctor to cure an ailment. You may have to adhere to certain disciplines to insure your recovery, for example, a special diet, an exercise programme, or cleanliness - things that build health-giving habits. In the same way, following outer disciplines of precepts and meditation gets one into the habit of sanity. It contributes toward the gentleness of the mind, and them it is easier to apply the techniques of calming the mind. This is the inseparability of method and wisdom that is referred to so often in the teachings.

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