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Never Give Up
2023, July, Issue 55
“Begin with Bodhicitta. Do the main practice without concepts. Conclude by dedicating the merit. These, together and complete, are the three vital supports for progressing on the path to liberation.”
Longchenpa, as many of you know, was a great master of the Dharma, one who people often refer to when discussing their meditation practices or when studying Buddhist texts. Unfortunately, many of his texts have been misinterpreted or misconstrued. Later in life, Longchenpa saw this confusion and he extensively revised some of his texts. One of the main points I discovered from this is that we should never give up, and that effortless meditation does not mean that we shouldn’t meditate. What he really said is that we should diligently practice until we are fully enlightened. This is a very important point, one that I repeat quite often.
Many great masters come and go, becoming reborn among us, doing what they can to help people awaken. They are referred to as tulkus, if they are recognized in some way by authority figures in Tibetan Buddhism. Even though people place great importance on this system of spiritual recognition, in reality we are all tulkus. It doesn’t matter if you feel you are someone important from a previous life—you are! Don’t worry about that headache—just practice! Be glad someone hasn’t come up to you and placed a special hat on your head! It’s better that you are left alone to your Spiritual Practice, you need to awaken now.
For myself, I can’t really make any claims about who I was in a past lifetime. I don’t formally have any students; therefore, I shouldn’t call myself a teacher. No one has recognized me as a tulku, and they probably won’t, even if they knew who I have been. It would make some people extremely upset if they knew who I’ve been in some of my lifetimes, after the way they have mistreated me. When I started to ask one of my teachers about this, he shook his head. He didn’t even want me to ask the question, because nothing good would come of it, and it’s not important.
In The Frog: A Spiritual Autobiography, Spanning Many Lifetimes, I keep it simple by saying that I refuse to be a teacher. This seems to keep some people rather satisfied. It also keeps me happy by not having that extremely important and rigorous responsibility of having a student or two. Receiving the intense sort of attention that a teacher receives sounds very unpalatable to me. I would rather create this or that, while remaining in seclusion. Privacy is priceless to me.
Even so, sometimes people ask me for spiritual advice, or ask me to give talks about the Dharma or lead people in meditation. This is fine, as I am also more than happy to help. People should know, however, that I’m not a part of any school or organization, even though Longchenpa is part of my lineage in this lifetime. I don’t have an agenda or follow a script. I’ve not sought the endorsement of any lama, monastery or institution. I don’t want any title or accolades. You can refer to me as just some crazy Dzogchenpa. That would amuse me. I’d be satisfied with that.
Since my death, my texts have been derived from that ineffable experience. My texts appear without concept and are displayed by my mind, even if I do pick up a book every now and again. When I do pick up a book, however, I do so with a critical view. This author got it right, this author cannot communicate properly, this author got it wrong, I simply don’t enjoy reading the way I used to. The ineffable has done that to me. Enjoy your studies while you can. Absorb everything!
Years ago, I would chant Bodhisattva vows, over and over, everyday. Part of that vow involves being committed to knowing all of the Dharma. Some of my friends would laugh when I told them this part, because they knew how much I loved reading, with the assumption being that the Dharma was found only in books. And, it’s true, I couldn’t get enough.
When the ineffable opened to my mind, all was revealed. By never giving up, by constantly studying texts, by meditating day and night, whenever I could, I became aware of our inseparability with the Dharmakaya. I became the Dharmakaya for an eternity, only to return once again.
My experiences in the death bardo meant that I no longer needed to delve into libraries or seek advice from tulkus or attend spiritual retreats. I became the Dharma. Living spontaneously, being aware of our real condition, became my life. I never gave up, and I still practice every day—really now in all circumstances. I never gave up.
Longchenpa’s words reiterate what I keep repeating about Bodhicitta. It’s the key and the door. It opens us up to practice and to liberation. Without Bodhicitta, we might as well not bother. If we are to awaken, we must begin with Bodhicitta. We must develop the compassion necessary for ourselves and others, and we must never give up.
May your Spiritual Practice become indestructible. May you awaken in this lifetime. You will definitely awaken.
Blessings in Light,