Here is an excerpt of Nyima Dakpa Rinpoche’s talk on Happiness from the Dzogchen Perspective, given at Choompot-Pantip Conference Room, Chulalongkorn University on October 2, 2010. I took notes of his talk and made only small revisions. These are basically his words:
Ordinary people have ordinary conception of happiness. Living standard does not necessarily make one happy. You have to discover yourself; otherwise you won’t be really happy. Happy is mental experience of satisfaction of the being your state. We enjoy our lives – we are fully satisfied with our lives.
No satisfaction in our lives, no happiness.
You have to train your mind, like training a wild horse. We are able to train a wild horse. When it’s trained then you can leave it. Ordinary people do not have relaxed mind. Mind always moves about with no relaxing. Closing our eyes does not mean we are meditating. As long as the mind is not in the state of meditation, then we are only sitting still and pretending to meditate.
Our mind always roams to many places; we are always following it, so we are not experiencing the real potential to meditation.
So when I talk of training the mind, this means training ourselves to deal with our everyday experiences. We are so busy that we are all stressed and challenged. Even today in the 21st century, with all the challenges the mind still needs to be trained all the more. There’s competition everywhere, even among monasteries. Each and every moment we are not free from these competition and challenges. All these are based on ignorance. Competition leads to many facts of thoughts – it can be positive and negative. These thoughts can give rise to all the five poisons, namely ignorance, greed, hatred, jealousy, pride.
Sometimes we are out of control, then we say we are tired of it. We need to find a way to relax ourselves. Calm the thoughts that are arising every moment. We are entering into state of inner calm and peacefulness. This will rejuvenate ourselves.
Yoga and other exercises do not help us unless you get them to the mind. Dzogchen says “the sources of everything, both pleasant and unpleasant, is from the mind.” The mind is as pure as gold. You can transform it into anything you desire. Your mind can be beautiful or ugly. If you fully trained your minds will be precious and you will be able to heal people. If we are not trained then it becomes a source of suffering. Your health will be affected also. The happier you are, the healthier you will be.
The main point is that we need to train our minds. We need to know how to deal with everyday challenges. There is no particular formula or method. Also happiness will be generated in this way. Find out what is the source of unhappiness. Put your effort to transforming that, then happiness naturally arises, like the sun which is uncovered by moving clouds.
Clouds are the polluting thoughts inside our minds. If you are in a bad health condition, you can either accept or not accept it. This lies in our hands. If we are suffering from illness, then what we can do is either to accept or reject it. But the illness is already there so it’s not possible to reject it. If we try to reject it we will only bring about sufferings on top of the illness that we already have. What is happening is not in our hands, it’s karma, but how we handle them is in our hands. This makes all the differences.
That is the main quality of training the mind.
I have a student who is paralyzed. He cannot move. He listens to my talk and teachings and try to meditate and read books. I asked him how he looked at and reacted to his situation in life. He said he was very lucky that he was still able to use his mind. If he were not in this situation then he could not have thought clearly. “Everytime I meditate on compassion,” he says. “I am lucky that I have a wife and family members who look after me. I am better than those who do not have anybody to care for me. Then I do compassion to all people whoa re suffering like me, especially helpless people. When I have reactions on my condition and get upset, immediately I think this way, it helps tremendously. May my pain be the pain of all people that comes to me, so that they are free from pain. This is very powerful. Let my pain be the pain of others.”
Of course this will not change his own physical condition, but his mental state is much different. It gives open space to allow the karmic appearances come in and dissipate by themselves. Our belief in karma should not be only intellectual, but discover the realization of karma from within. This has the power to heal everything by itself. This helps us to deal with any situation. You are more determined to carry on. If you have 100 percent trust in the Triple Gems, then you will experience some positive effects. If you are shallow and unclear and doubtful, then this won’t help. We have the culture of bowing to the Buddha, but now we are doing from the inside by recognizing the quality of the Buddha. Either way we are doing this from our hearts, knowing the full potential of what we are doing. My student is looking at things positively, so only his physical condition is in misery, but his mental condition is very healthy. It’s the mind that makes all the differences.
Another example shows how the mind affects our lives. Two persons have arguments with us. One person is our friend or loved one. We know this person well. The other we do not know very well, a stranger. The issue of argument is the same. Both are trying to get us upset. According to our relationship, the one who is our loved one, even if he means what he says, we still have the feeling that he does not mean it. This is what we tell our minds. So we are OK with that. But when the other person says the same thing, we get very angry. How come he or she uses such words to me! Our reactions are totally different, and the differences is only due to the nature of the relationship that we have toward each of them. In this case we feel that we have to prove ourselves, out of our own egos. We have to prove our “dominance.” But in fact egos cannot dominate egos. The main point is based on our minds. Once we accept this and know through this, then things become very different. Problem is internal; the mind is key to our own reaction. This is why the mind needs to be trained. Once you can control your minds, then you can control everything.
This is the same in other situations in our everyday lives. Thus in order to be happy we need to train our minds to know how to be really happy. This is what Dzogchen is teaching — emphasizing the mind. Other traditions have the same goal but perhaps different methods. Dzogchen emphasize that mind is the king. Whatever the king orders, ministers follow. Ministers are the thoughts. Automatically this will lead to peaceful situation. Our egos will not have much job. When egos are jobless then we have wisdom. Wisdom means to realize things as they are. When things are as they are there are no two sides, no doubt. Make effort, make progress and develop the quality of the mind. Understand the mind, nature of mind, energy of mind. This is what we are looking.
So when he says it’s important to discover the mind, this does not mean the rest can be ignored. If you want to meet the big boss, you still have to make good friends with the subordinate officers. If you don’t do that you can’t reach the boss. One thing is to practice good heart to all sentient beings. Whether you have disagreements, dislikes or enemies. Still that person will enjoy the happiness and compassion. The person whom you mostly hate he or she still have the potential for love and compassion and still have a lot of potentials of benefits for us. Law of karma. Open up your heart. This is essential for making ourselves to have fewer problems We have been very narrow. Often we deal with jealousy, which comes when we have limited space in us. We are not flexible in us to allow goodness of others to come in. We need to be able to rejoice in other people’s happiness. If you look only from jealousy point, then you can’t discover your own happiness at all. If you think that you yourself alone must be happy, then you won’t be happy. True essence of happiness lies in happiness of others. We need openness and flexibility. You are bothered by what is happening because there is enough space inside of you for others to be happy too. When you are OK you are not complaining, then you are OK the way it is. Even if there are disturbances you are not disturbed because you know there’s enough space for us to be happy. We have a lot of problems because of this lack of space and openness — concern of the individual self alone, so we disregard the goodness in others. Do this then you can experience positive changes in your life. Anger is not a solid object. It’s energy raised in you, coming up through external conditions. True anger is energy of your own self. What arises is your ego.
I’ll tell you a story: Dzogchen master was asked by his student. “My main problem is anger. What is the way to overcome anger?” Master says, “if you run after all enemies, your life will be too short to do that. Rather focus on controlling your own mind then you can control all the enemies.”
If I have ten people as enemies and want to conquer them all. I really can’t do that. But if I try to overcome myself and eliminate anger and ego, then I truly win. Trying to defeat other people simply makes more enemies.
You train your mind to be stable and integrated from within. Then there’s no enemy and no friend. All is equanimity. All are equal.
I am born with no name, and I’ll die with no name. Names come afterward.
If you go deep inside, then you will find that there’s no name to the individual. Hence no enemy, no friend. You look at everyone; he has same potential for loving kindness, positive energies.