Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog

Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog, where we explore the dharma, which we have been fortunate to come into contact with. In a word, what is “dharma”? We can say it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. We can also say dharma represents certain truths or “the facts of life”. But most essentially, we’ve found that dharma comes to mean an awakening of our own active intelligence about the causes of suffering and happiness. This process is ignited by the teachings we hear and catalyzed further by our contemplation and practice. Join us in appreciating and deepening our understanding of dharma through these excerpts by Mangala Shri Bhuti’s teachers and senior students.

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As we discussed earlier, when speaking of the ego, and developing self-awareness of the ego and its effects, we need to “produce the remedy at the source.”

We can do that by learning to let go, and especially letting go of this drive to feel special, with the ego wanting more and more.

People who are very addicted to this sepa (Tib. desire, attachment) can't even know what it means to let go. They can't imagine what it means to let go. Because then they feel so bland, so unadorned, so boring, and so ordinary. They cannot imagine how to let go of the kind of grasping that has over the years, and over lifetimes, strengthened inside their mind. But someone who’s really intelligent, who has a contemplative mind, who really can objectively see, can also let go.

 From time to time we all get caught up unconsciously, we all get carried away, we all do things that later we regret. You think afterward, “What was that all about? What kind of a trip did I get into?”

You kind of wake up from a certain unconsciousness. But when you become conscious of that, when that kind of sepa surges up inside of you and that hunger gnaws inside, you can identify what it is. There may be a situation where the outer conditions cause you to tense up, and confusion arises in your mind due to the dynamic of your own seeds meeting certain outer conditions. And, you are certain that you’re “right.”

At times it seems like you’re someone who is bound to jump off the cliff, like one of those wild pigs. First one pig jumps, and then all the rest jump too. But you know how to identify that very ego. You know how to identify that very attachment to the ego, that you can feel in this particular experience that you have inside. You know very well how this has gotten you into so much trouble before and how this will continue to cause you so much more trouble, unless you get a handle on it. And how this is the real cause of a lot of the suffering in the world, as well as in your own individual life.

So it doesn't require very much of you to let go of this. And when you do let go of it, all of a sudden the ground under your feet becomes stable. Before that point you were just walking on thin air. Letting go is such a great kindness you can express to yourself.

The Buddha and all of the great masters have said, “When one learns how to let go of one's own ego attachments in this way, it is the greatest thing that you could do for yourself.”

It’s an act of kindness, a compassionate act, and creates a ‘non–entanglement’ policy with the world. In its place, if you can manage it, develop a sense of counting your blessings, a contentment attitude, feeling a sense of marvel about the wonders of the world, and your life, the wonders of your merit, and, as a Dharma practitioner, the wonders of practice.

Until you are actually able to let go of some of that ego attachment, your practice is one of spiritual materialism. Before you can let go in this way, your practice isn’t really a practice, but rather since it just supports and feeds that hunger instead, it's really a form of spiritual materialism.

Someone who is young, like fifteen or sixteen, needs to have a little bit of that drive, that ego motivation. But even for those who are young, you still need to watch out, so you don't get too caught up in it, with no other motivation aside from that. If the whole sum of the driving factors in your life comes from that, without any other motivation of your own from your critical intelligence, then it’s like a kind of intoxication.

Without an analysis of what is worthy to support your life; without supporting the goodness of others, and bringing that into one's own life along with your own sense of goodness in your relations with others, this kind of drive alone becomes a danger.

Shantideva says "If it’s only for that, why not drink yourself to death, or drug yourself to death.” That is the sort of intoxication it is. So, if intoxication is no problem for you in that way, then why not just drink yourself to death or drug yourself to death. It’s the same sort of thing.

As a young person in modern society, you need to have some of that drive—as fuel to compete, and do well in the world. The world nowadays is all about this. That’s why it's called a rat race. Which means it really doesn't have much to do with whether it supports you, or really supports anything.

Even though I'm saying you need some of that, as a young person, you have to keep a close eye on this drive. Otherwise there is a danger. You still need to understand what will really support you and will support those you are responsible for—not in any sort of egotistical way, but in a real sense. With the right mixture you could still do well.

Now you may be in your twenties, but as you’re in your thirties, or as you’re in your forties, or in your fifties, your sixties, your seventies, or as you’re in your eighties—if you are not able to drop this, you remain a fool throughout that whole time, throughout your whole life. With this, your suffering won’t become any less as you age.

A feeling of rejection will increase with this. The feeling of not being met on your terms will increase with this as you age. The feeling of underlying disappointment will increase with this. As a young person you still have that undetermined future—an open future—anything can take place in that undesignated, open future. But as an older person, the future is no longer so undesignated and open.

Maybe you've already lived half of your life, or much more of your life. So there's going to be this sort of heavy sense of disillusionment, the feeling of unmet expectations, disappointment, unhappiness, dissatisfaction with how life has played out for you. It will be more critical as you get older to be able to relate with this aspect of your mind.

In Buddhism, maturity is about how well you relate with this, how well you are able to assess it and let go of it. In its place you must learn to really generate a deep sense of contentment, counting the blessings in your life and really cultivating a favorable quality of life.

This is all apart from that drive to feel special, it’s aside from that—just becoming able to pack that up and put it on the shelf so you can really live authentically. With this still present, you never will be able to live an authentic life. No one with this emphasis has a very authentic presence. You can see the person is in their head. That person is inside their vanity, and is not really an authentic self.

As we age, if age is really to mean greater maturity, you have to be able to let go. Then in its place you can have all the riches of the world, even if you think only about the richness of the natural world alone.

Just with your own life, appreciating the sense organs that we have—eyes to see, ears to hear, a nose to smell, a tongue to taste, a body to feel sensations. Consider this very body we have that functions for eighty years or more. I mean, think of how much it takes to maintain a car, an inanimate machine, to keep it functioning. And when our bodies function well for fifty or sixty years, it's a marvel! Yet with our usual thinking, it's not a marvel, but it's a sort of expectation, and we take it for granted. Then if I want to have, say, at fifty years old, the same energy level as a sixteen-year-old, I feel frustrated when it is not like that. And that’s just my own fault, through not being able to be content with myself, comparing myself with something impossible.

In this country, in the modern world, the older people get, the more they want to be younger. They try to act younger and compare themselves with the health, activity and abilities of younger people. Then they feel even older.

Instead, think about how this body works for fifty years, and that is much more a marvel than the car that is fifty years old, which won’t be working so well at all. Okay, so the car is an inanimate thing. Nonetheless it won’t be working. It will rust, the brakes will have failed, many of the parts will need replacing and by then it probably wouldn’t run any longer. Even if you treated it like a museum piece a lot of things would still have gone wrong. Yet this body is still kicking and ticking, and continuing to function—able to do all it is able to do. It's a marvelous thing! It’s truly a marvelous thing to appreciate and enjoy.

So it has to be like that with everything if you are able to look with eyes of appreciation. If you don't have the eyes of appreciation, you will never see anything in the world to appreciate. But if you cultivate the eyes of appreciation to really see what there is to appreciate in one's life or in the world, then you’ll find so many things. So many things to really marvel about. So many things to feel deeply contented with, deeply amazed by, and be deeply touched with the realms of richness, the richness in one's own personal life!

So I think all that will unfold. I feel that all of that will come very easily into the domain of one's mind. And then you no longer feel a sense of unhappiness. You feel incredible contentment, peaceful. You may not feel ecstatically happy. But, feeling ecstatically happy is sometimes questionable as to whether it's a genuine happiness. My own feeling is that a lot of the time when people are ecstatically happy, they are actually not really that happy deep down because they’re caught in some sort of excitement. A lot of the time excitement has a great deal of anxiety around it anyway.

What I want to say in conclusion is this. As a meditator, please observe your mind! If you cannot do this simple thing, then as Shantideva has said, “What is the use of all the different austerity practices and disciplines aside from the austerity practice and discipline of observing one's mind?”

And when we speak about observing one's mind—the discipline of observing one's mind—it has to be about ego and ego attachments. In particular, how we like to be special. How much we like to feel special. How much we like the feeling that arises in feeling special, and how that becomes the entire working ground of our neurosis, with all of the unhappiness that it breeds, especially when it is not being met.

I think that if I have been able to communicate this well then I have provided service to you all, to help you mature yourselves even if you’re in your eighties. Though I am, generally speaking, younger in age than many of you, I would still say that I have helped to mature somebody; to mature somebody in terms of their emotional well-being.

I don’t say this with any kind of personal authority at all, or any kind of expertise or perfection myself in this. But this is what I find to be a very interesting practice. I'm always very grateful that I've received some teachings on this kind of thing, the Lojong teachings. And I recognize just how much this has really kind of saved my butt from inviting so much more suffering than necessary into my life.

We need to have some humor about it too. This doesn’t have to be something serious, or dark, where you’re hard on yourself, or aggressive towards yourself. Just observe yourself openly and objectively with a sense of humor. You'll save so much trouble, without having to go through it, if you sort of play out the whole scenario before you actually go through the trouble. It will also save so much money, right? You won’t have to acquire so much, or have to buy so much. You won’t have to overspend, and to sell out so much of yourself. When you no longer do all of those, you can develop authentic presence.

A person who does all of those doesn't have authentic presence. We talk about wang tang (Tib. inner, authentic presence; genuineness). Who has wang tang, and who doesn't have wang tang? A person who doesn't do all of those, has wang tang. Whereas the person who does all of those things is like a monkey, from the Buddhist point of view. In India, there are men with sticks who tell the monkey to do something, then the monkey does all that he’s told to do. So like that, you become the monkey of your own ego. How could one then have an authentic presence?

Please listen to me in this, especially the older people. Okay? Maybe I'm wrong to say “older people listen to me.” Maybe it’s not appropriate to speak in terms of age, but I think that when you’re mature you’re going to be better able to observe and really apply these  teachings much more personally. 

Link #263 given on 3/3/2015

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