Compassion Conquers All reveals the heart of Buddhist wisdom in eight short verses, as elucidated by a fearless pioneer of contemporary Dharma.
Unconditional love and freedom are here and now if we let go of self-centered obsession and let ourselves be embraced by what is.
The very life we are living, with all its difficulties, failures, and frustrations, can be the road to liberation. The world can be our school of transformation. Everybody becomes our best friend. We become our own best friend.
Deeper and deeper, from learning to cherish all beings as precious, to realizing that those we perceived as enemies are our supreme teachers, the teachings in Compassion Conquers All transport us into our innermost heart where we discover that we are the light we have been longing for. Indeed, compassion conquers all.
|Publisher:||Career Press, Incorporated|
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About the Author
Beloved for his unconventional, contemporary approach to Dharma, His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche brings more than 2,500 years of Buddhist wisdom and teachings to the modern spiritual seeker by connecting ancient worlds with new people, cultures, attitudes, and lifestyles. He is a tulku, a reincarnate lama of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, as confirmed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He is also the founder and spiritual guide of the Kechara House Buddhist Association in Malaysia. Rinpoche shares largely progressive teaching methods, which use elements as diverse as Madonna's music, sacred sutras, feeding the homeless, and caring for animals to convey authentic Buddhist teachings. He has very active followings online with more than 180,000 Facebook fans and 2,000,000 views on his YouTube channel. Be inspired by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche's work and life at www.tsemrinpoche.com.
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THE EIGHT WORDLY CONCERNS
When we do any kind of Dharma activities — lighting incense, making prostrations, making offerings, offering flowers, giving donations to the temple, giving dhana to monks, sweeping the temple, driving or buying supplies for the temple, being committee members for the temple, meditation, chanting — anything — it should be free from the eight worldly concerns, or the eight worldly Dharmas. Dharma means conduct. So Buddhadharma is correct conduct, conduct that leads to awakening. The eight worldly concerns are:
to be happy when we are praised,
We should not be practicing the Dharma for these reasons at all.
It will be better to memorize those eight worldly concerns than 100 tantric practices, and I am not trying to blow your mind away. But yes, if you know the mantras and practices and all the initiations of 100 tantric deities, but you are practicing with the eight worldly concerns, you will not achieve even one tantric result of one tantric deity.
So we should memorize the eight worldly concerns and check over and over and over again if we are free from them. And if we are not, we must work on it immediately, we must get over it, we must practice, and we must immediately get to the point, because time is short and time is running out. So any Dharma actions should be free of those eight worldly concerns.
If our Dharma is preoccupied with them, there are many disadvantages. When we do actions with the eight worldly concerns, the act will lead to rebirth in the lower realms, and future lives will be also spent with uncontrolled attachments, like now.
All results of uncontrolled delusions, attachments, and negative states of mind now are a sign that they have not been controlled in the past. So if they were not controlled in the past, the result is that we have not gotten it under control at this time. If it is not gotten under control at this time, it can only get worse, not better. So future lives will also be spent with uncontrolled attachments. One cannot ever enter the Mahayana path. One cannot reach liberation.
If you do any Dharma actions with the eight worldly concerns — whatever practices that you do, you will not gain liberation. One will constantly experience hindrances in one's meditational practices: hindrances of laziness, sleepiness, procrastination, doubt, and instability. That is the inner level. The outer is financial problems, time constrictions, responsibilities, and so on.
So when we practice Dharma in a way that the motive is not free of the eight worldly concerns, then the results of course will not be positive; while we are practicing, we will experience many inner and outer obstacles, and there will be no fruition of our practice — except planting seeds for our future lives.
The practice then becomes only a service to the eight worldly concerns. What happens when you practice the Dharma with any of the eight worldly concerns is that it actually feeds the eight worldly concerns. How is that? You might practice the Dharma so that you will be praised. Yet the point of practicing the Dharma is not to be praised and not to be recognized. The point of practicing the Dharma is to reach liberation. So if you help a Dharma center or you meditate wonderfully when people are around, yet when no one is around, you pick your teeth, then you are not practicing the Dharma with a correct motive.
So when our friends are around, we raise our eyebrows, the whites of our eyes are there, we have great meditation experiences, we see lights, our hair goes up, and our tears come down. But if the minute our friends disappear, we go out for a coffee break, I think we are practicing Dharma for praise.
If you are practicing Dharma for praise, the very practice of Dharma leads to wanting more praise, increasing of the big ego, therefore leading you to the three lower realms. You may think, "Hey, how can practicing the Dharma lead us to the three lower realms?" Practicing the Dharma doesn't lead you to the three lower realms; your negative intent before the action leads you to the three lower realms.
You could sweep out an old folks home with a good motivation — "May this act benefit others"; that act will lead you to Buddhahood.
You can sit in front of Je Tsongkhapa and meditate for five hours, and meditate on the U.S. dollar and meditate so your finances move up and that you can get some wealth vase, some wealth mantras, some wealth pujas (and that you will pass on everything to make it on Sunday for the wealth prayers) then — if you meditate for five hours in front of Je Tsongkhapa, you are meditating for material gain.
Meditation doesn't mean fulfilment of your worldly wishes. Meditation and practice is for Enlightenment. Therefore when we do practice for the reason of getting praise, how can we label that Dharma practice? That is definitely not Dharma practice. In fact, that very motive makes the act result in the fruition of more negative karma. So when we start practicing Dharma, instead of our wish to get praise decreasing, it increases. The more we go to a Dharma talk, the more we know, the more empowerments, the more teachings, the more knowledgeable, the more scholarly we become, the more advanced we do it, the more we can chant, the more we can teach, then the bigger our ego, the bigger our pride, the bigger our arrogance. Everything becomes bigger. And the whole point of learning Dharma is to decrease those points and to, in fact, annihilate or destroy those points.
So when you practice Dharma with the wrong motive from the beginning, it is not the Dharma, the Dharma teacher, or the Dharma environment that is at fault. It could be your ignorance at fault, or it could be that you know it and you have not applied the antidotes hard enough. It is definitely not the Dharma.
I always use the example that if you do not know how to drive a car, and the car has a little accident, it is not the fault of the car but the driver. So if you do not get results from your Dharma practice, it is definitely not the Dharma. It is definitely not the Dharma teacher, it is definitely not the Dharma itself, it is not the center, and it is not the Dharma students. It is you yourself.
Because if Dharma had no results, our altars should be empty. There should be no enlightened Beings. So we would be prostrating to empty things! And there would be no living enlightened Masters today, such His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the great Karmapa, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and His Holiness the great Gaden Tri Rinpoche. There would not be any enlightened Masters around, like my Master His Eminence the great Kensur Rinpoche — they would not be around.
But there are living beings around that are enlightened and highly realized and extremely beneficial for others: the great Chinese Mahayana Master, the nun Reverend Cheng Yen in Taiwan — definitely she's a Master of practice. She's doing a lot more than I can ever do. She must be advanced in her practice to be able to do that. So there are living examples around us of people who are practicing and practicing correctly.
Therefore, why we are not getting those results? We must point the finger back at ourselves. Not at the Buddhas, the Dharma, the temple — "Oh I couldn't listen, because it was so hot and I was sweating; it is not my fault" — or the Dharma teacher, or the Dharma texts, or the Sangha.
We must go back to the source. If the Dharma or the Dharma teacher or the Buddhas were at fault, as I said, the altars should be empty. But because there are living representations of the result of correct Dharma practice, the Dharma must be correct and we ourselves must be at fault. But we should not be despondent or depressed. If we are at fault, the fault is impermanent, dependent on conditions. Therefore wecan change the conditions and bring an end to the wrong practice and start on the right practice.
So when we do Dharma practice to get praised or to avoid insults, that is a very low aim, and the minute we don't get praise we stop doing Dharma practice. So the fault is not Dharma — it's the motive.
If we do Dharma practice to get gifts, to avoid not getting gifts, to get ang pows (red-colored envelopes containing money, which are traditionally used in Chinese custom as gifts or presented to the Lamas or Sangha as a sign of respect) and all that, the minute we don't get it, we get upset. Again it is not the Dharma; it is our motive.
If we do Dharma for good reputation — "Oh, he's so good, he's so holy, he's such a good person, he's a family person, he also goes to the temple, and he's so wonderful" — the minute we stop getting praise, we suffer, we feel despondent, we don't want to meditate, we don't want to practice, we don't want to join the temple, we don't want to listen to the Dharma, we don't want to meditate, and we become despondent. Why do we become despondent? Not because we have not gotten the results, but the actual reason is the very motive that we started with — out of ignorance — was wrong. So the Dharma is not at fault.
Then, we wish to get Dharma to receive some material gains — success. So we go to the temple to listen, hoping it will change our luck. We go in front of the altar, kowtow to change our luck. We make offerings to change our luck,we listen to the Dharma and recite lots of mantras, we go to empowerments to receive great blessings to change our luck so that we can hit the lucky number, our economic situation moves up, and we can get rich.
I get a lot of this question from people: "I've been chanting and praying; why isn't my business moving up?" Because the very reason you are chanting and praying is not for your business to move up. So you should be chanting and praying regardless of whether your business moves up or not. Otherwise the minute your business doesn't move up economically, you go down. Of course it is a normal human reaction that you feel sad and unhappy, but that is when you should actually increase your Dharma practice and increase your Dharma energy. You should take advantage of the situation.
If we practice the Dharma to move our economic situation up — that our company moves up, we can make more money, our stocks go up, whatever — and if that doesn't happen, we become despondent. We have used the Dharma for a short-term benefit, and we don't derive the ultimate benefit from Dharma, which is complete freedom from suffering, not just business moving on.
When we practice Dharma, when we see Lamas, get divinations, get blessings, do rituals, and sponsor pujas for the sake of simply receiving wealth, increasing our wealth as an end in itself, then the Dharma has been brought down to a very low level, and the full purpose of Dharma is not fulfilled. So we should not practice Dharma with the intent that it will move our economic situation up, or to avoid the economic situation from going down. If we do that, our rebirth will be in the spirit realm.
So whether you practice Dharma or not, if you are always miserly and selfish, always concerned about money — you would do anything for money — your rebirth will be the spirit realm anyway. But if you practice the Dharma, you have a chance to purify that karma, so it will be better to be a Dharma practitioner who is greedy and miserly and worldly about money than a non-Dharma one. Because whether you are a Dharma practitioner or not, you still have the same faults. So it would be better to have the faults and Dharma, and there is a chance that you may not take rebirth as a spirit, and if you do, the time is less; the duration of that rebirth is less.
Whether you practice the Dharma or you don't practice the Dharma, your problems are exactly the same. If you look deeply, whether you practice the Dharma or not, your situation, your problems arise from karma, not Dharma; they do not arise from your relationship with Dharma. So therefore, whether you practice the Dharma or not, you have the same problems. But with the Dharma, if practiced correctly, it becomes a temporary remedy to help you get over your problems and also gives you ultimate methods to get over your problems.
How much effort you put into the practice is how much result you will get. So we should practice the Dharma without any of these eight worldly concerns. It is very important.
Then we should not practice the Dharma simply when we are comfortable — when everything is going right, when everything is going comfortable, when money is okay, family is okay, when there is harmony; the minute one of these goes out of balance, we stop the practice. If we are going to stop the practice because of that, we might as well not even begin, because those things will happen anyway. Why? We are in samsara; we have been in samsara for hundreds and hundreds and thousands of lifetimes, and we have created the karmic causes and dispositions for disharmony, for financial problems, for difficulties to arise.
But it is out of fear, and knowing that those difficulties will arise, that we must look for a method. What more superior method than to destroy the roots of those karmas before they bear fruit, by Dharma practice? If we practice the Dharma sincerely, we will definitely get the results.
The first step is motivation, and our motivation should be based upon the guidelines of the eight worldly concerns. It should be free of those eight worldly concerns from the very start. But don't be even more despondent, thinking "Well, what about all the things that I've done? What about the dhana I have given? What about the pujas? What about the prayers, the meditations, the offerings on my altars?" There is benefit, but it would be even greater and more efficacious if it was done free of the eight worldly concerns.
Antidotes to free ourselves from the eight worldly concerns are basic guidelines for us to follow to reshape and recondition our conditioning. They are guidelines, not restrictions. Some of us think, "Oh, Dharma's so complicated. There are so many restrictions; there are so many minute details." Yes, there are, because we are complicated, we are full of minute details. So if the Dharma is an antidote to this, then the antidote will match the problem.
For example, when we go to school there are examinations, requirements, and points that we need. We need to get there on time, do our homework, and so on. It's years and years and years of restriction and requirements, and that is quite difficult. But when we finish school, the actual regimentation, requirements, and the regulations we followed lead to freedom. What freedom? When you get your degree, you can get whatever job you want, you pick what you want to do.
It's the same in Dharma. It is like school. When you follow the Dharma correctly, you follow its regulations and rules; this restraint leads to total freedom in the future. So we shouldn't think of Dharma as a prison wall; we should think of it as very kind guidelines given by an enlightened Being to help us follow our good path. And it will bring immediate results. It will bring immediate results, but the motive must be correct.
If one follows the eight worldly concerns, one is not better than an animal. Because an animal wishes to be praised, receive food, receive good reputation — the males fight with each other to get the best females. They wish to be very comfortable; they wish not to be unhappy. It's the same. What's the difference between us and the animals, except that we do things in a more sophisticated manner?
So we must think that if we practice Dharma or we live our lives with the eight worldly concerns, we are the same as animals, although we are not. And because we are higher and better than animals, we should have a motivation that is much better.
NOTHING NEW IN SAMSARA
The objects one sees are the projection of one's deluded mind. So everything that we perceive — this is good, this is bad, this is nice, this is not — is the result of our own negative karma. If the object we perceive is inherently existent in itself, is real in itself, then everybody who sees that object must see it the way we see it. Yet everyone that sees an object will see it differently because the result of their karma is different.
Change the object into one you are not attached to.
There is nothing new in samsara. Think. You hang around here — there is nothing new. All the food that you want to eat, you have eaten; all the clothes you like to wear, you have worn; you have driven all the cars. You have been everywhere, you have done everything. You have slept, you have eaten, you have taken all types of medications, you have gone to all types of entertainments, you have tried all kinds of things. There is nothing new in samsara. You have done this for lifetimes and lifetimes, and when you die, you will be doing it for more and more and more lifetimes.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Compassion Conquers All"
Copyright © 2015 Tsem Rinpoche.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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Table of Contents
Foreword by Kensur Rinpoche,
Part One: Renunciation: Giving Up Selfish Concerns,
Motivation: The Eight Worldly Concerns,
Part Two: Compassion,
The Eight Verses of Mind Transformation,
Part Three: Wisdom,
Meditation on Impermanence,
About the Author,