Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Six Perfections

One thing which I haven't pointed out is that a genuine or ideal practice of each of the perfections must be complete; it must contain within itself all of the aspects of the other five perfections. For instance, in the case of the practice of patience, while remaining in the state of patience and tolerance, encouraging others also to do so is the practice of giving or generosity. The second is basing your practice of patience and tolerance on honesty and sincerity, which are aspects of ethical discipline involved in the practice of patience. The third, of course, is patience itself. The forth, which is joyous effort, refers to all the efforts which are involved in maintaining patience and tolerance. The fifth is that when you engage in such a practice, you maintain a single-pointedness of mind and the ability to focus on whatever you are doing and remain single-pointed. Mindfulness can also be included here, which is the aspect of concentration and single-pointedness in one's practice of patience. The wisdom practice is your ability to judge what is appropriate and what is inappropriate as well as what is required in a given situation. These are all faculties of wisdom and intelligence that are a concomitant part of your practice of patience. This could also include the wisdom of realizing the empty nature of phenomena, if you have it. This is the same in the case of the practices of all the other perfections, such as generosity: within the practice of generosity, all of the other perfections must be complete. And the same is true for ethical discipline, and so on.

--HH the Dalai Lama, Healing Anger

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Recently went on retreat in the Hollandse Biesbosch.

As it turns out "retreat" doesn't mean kicking back in the outdoors, chanting and meditating. It means a rigorous schedule of early morning prayers, eating, twice daily teachings, two hours long, plus workshops and helping with food preparation or cleaning. I sat on the floor for a total of about seven hours each day.

We had plenty of downtime, it's true. The island was small, and there weren't vast paths to traverse, but I did manage to get my running shoes caked in mud. Leave it to me.

It was a bit overwhelming at times being so close to everyone, but also joyful and fun. I got to know a few exceptional people.

The Lama was very supportive. He advised me to enjoy myself, to be open to people. He taught us about cultivating bodhicitta, which means compassion. It all made complete sense to me. The Shantideva texts stand out as being especially profound.

In short, I am becoming a happy person. I am becoming more aware of who I am, my actions, and the impact of my actions. I am developing a greater understanding of human emotion, where it comes from, and the benefits of patience and loving kindness.

It's all very simple, but it comes as a revelation to me. I guess you could say that if I hadn't left where I was and come here, if I hadn't suffered what I have, I might never have come to realize these truths. I am still learning, and I have a long way to go, but already, after only a few short months of studying with the Lama, I am an infinitely more stable person. I have broken bad habits I've been stuck in for years. I am not depressed or desperate anymore. It's all quite interesting.