Topography of the Path – Lam Rim: Part 3 A Beggar Has Won the Lottery


Today my intention was when you leave I want you to feel you are like a beggar or a pauper who just found a jewel in your pocket. That’s what my aim is. We need to move on quickly but we’re going to continue to contemplate that. As I said, whatever you brought here, something brought you here, right, that spark or whatever brought you here, that’s enough motivator to move you deeper and deeper. So I was talking about, kind of joking about, 2% milk, dharma lite versus real dharma. How can we bring this dharma lite to the real dharma from the depth of your heart? In order to do that there are two things, we need to work on. One is a deep understanding which hopefully, we can do through this course, deep understanding, and also this emotion, emotional resistance. Each of us has this kind of habitual emotional resistance. See if we can work with that too and melt, perhaps relax about it a little more, a little more open-minded and see how that goes. This is like an expedition. I laid out a picture of the street or the path, but actually, this is not a path. It’s more like an expedition, going deeper and deeper into the source of who you are. That’s how the Lamrim teachings start, start with this so-called “precious human life.” What do you think about this one? Of course, you might have heard a lot about this teaching. What makes your life precious? What’s special about your life? Without any judgment, again I have to emphasize without any judgment. Compare, for example, with your sister, brother or your neighbors. What makes your life so special? Of course compared to animals, what makes your human life so special? – Those kinds of contemplations. Of course, we can talk lots about this based on the classical teaching, but I just want to go over the questions. See if you can rest in that, contemplate that, really appreciate what your life presents. The thing is we take it for granted. Usually, we focus on what’s not going well. I want you to really reflect on that and appreciate what life presents. The first one is, “are you free from unfortunate states?” which mean not in a state of animals, for example, or great, severe suffering, great hunger, and thirst. Are you free from it? Check! And how do you feel about it? If you were born in that sort of state like in the middle of Africa or somewhere, no drink, worrying about food on the table. You’re completely free from that, no? I ‘m going to go a little bit quicker, but I want you to continue to contemplate on this until you really feel appreciation, grateful. “Are your sense and mental faculties healthy and complete?” Are your mind and body, healthy, healthy enough? Even if we have an ache or something like that, healthy enough to be here, to listen to teachings, to explore your own mind. What would it be like if your mind was not functioning? There are so many people like that, psychosis and so forth or dementia. The third one is “do you live at the time when Buddha has appeared and given teachings? So this particular era we are living in is when Buddha gave teachings. And still, these teachings are available, authentic teachings passed down from generation to generation, genuine authentic teachings. There are so many eras in the past when Buddha’s teachings were not available. Also in the future, who knows, after a hundred years, they may not exist in pure form. But for now, we have this. We have an authentic lineage. We have authentic teachings available. How do you feel about that? Also, we have religious freedom. There are so many places where there is no freedom in terms of what you believe. We have that freedom, precious, no? Then number four is “have you committed a severe crime?” In tradition, they talk about the five heinous actions, five things – killing one’s father, mother, arhat, drawing blood from the Buddha’s body, or causing a schism in the sangha. So none of us here have done that. Let’s move on to five, this one is so special. I feel each of you here, so special about this particular quality you have. “Are you naturally interested in spiritual practice?” Do you have an instinctive belief in things worthy of respect? Like compassion, love, wisdom, this kind of feeling, intuitive feeling that brought you here. There are so many people who don’t have this. Even though they may be living next door to a dharma center. Even one click and they can join this kind of online teaching. They don’t have an inclination but we have. Even your family members, they’re not interested in, but we are. How precious this curiosity, faith! Then six, I should move on, “do you have a supportive group?” a supportive circle of like-minded people, a spiritual friend who encourages your practice and who acts as a good example, as an object of inspiration or something like that. Or do you have access to internet communities? What would it be like if you didn’t have a supportive group, if you were completely isolated in the world,? Even you may have these inclinations or some of the rest of these qualities you may have. But if you lack even one of these qualities, for example, no supportive group or no teachers, it’s difficult, no? – in terms of this journey, I am talking about. Then number seven, “do you have material conditions for practice such as food, clothes and so forth, health?” You don’t need to worry about food for the next day or today even, lunch. But not all people are like that at all. But we are. Then finally eight, “do you have access to a qualified spiritual guide who can guide you along the correct path?” It’s very difficult to gain realization if you follow the wrong path or inauthentic path. Right now just even quickly I mentioned these eight things. All of them you have. Even if you lack one of them, it’s difficult. So now I want you to just let go of this writing or whatever. Just take a moment to feel into your body. Whatever we discussed today in this session, very quickly but at least we touched the surface of this vast expanse of what life, your life, particular life presents to you. You have everything to make this life meaningful, to make your mind become dharma. Let you feel like a beggar who just won the lottery. Allow yourself to be joyful and enthusiastic about everything you have going for you in your life. So we’re going to seal it. That’s what we do usually after an analytical, little bit of contemplation, conceptual mind involved. In the end as a conclusion, we’re going to rest in shamatha. Rest in that energy, this feeling of appreciation, amazement, and awe and wonder. How fortunate, how possible I got this! That sort of feeling, joy! And rest in it. Seal it. Then make a determination to make use of this opportunity. So this week, until the next time we meet, next time we’re going to go into this opportunity is finite, death and impermanence. But before that I really want you to appreciate, just enjoy and really seal this realization into your grain, into your mindstream. You’re like a beggar who just found a jewel.

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