A Teaching on Compassion by Adeu Rinpoche

Translated by Tsoknyi Rinpoche

(Requested by a few western students at Tsechu Gompa, October  2005)

Question: How can one generate compassion?

Answer by Adeu Rinpoche: Emptiness and compassion are in unity. You practice and meditate, and naturally compassion will arise. Rinpoche doesn’t have much to say. All of you have entered into the great path of Buddhism—not only entered, but are able to practice—not only practice, but are able to spend some time, so you might have some experience. That is the birthright of obtaining a human body. So please rejoice in that.

As you know, the first part of entering into the Buddhist path is the object of refuge. I think that you are all aware of that, so you might not see it as important. Taking refuge is very important for the beginner and in the middle. And when you become enlightened, it also plays a very important role. So it’s very important in the beginning, middle, and in the end. You should know that taking refuge very sincerely into your heart is very important. On top of that, based on the conditions of the refuge vow and precepts and that you’re keeping them, the main highway or road, the root of enlightenment, is bodhicitta.

In general, compassion consists of motivated compassion and the actual path itself. The first step of motivated bodhicitta is that you have to have a very general idea of the conditions. You have to think that all sentient beings are exactly like your mother. Actually it’s not just talking; if you can really count all those in samsaric circles and think that they have all been your mothers, then all of those sentient beings are somehow close to you. They all want, they all need happiness, but everyone is sort of mistaken, confused by the cause of happiness. What they want is happiness, but they are making the wrong conditions or wrong causes for happiness. So all the samsaric sentient beings are circling in the cycle of samsara. So you must sincerely make those sentient beings exactly the same as you and your mother. Make it warm and close within yourself.

The difference between Mahayana and Hinayana depends on how great your compassion is. After you bring all countless sentient beings close to you, remember not only have they been your mother, but remember also their kindness. When they were your mothers, they were very kind to you. Reflect in your mind all of their kindness, and now you’d like to pay back all of that kindness to all of those sentient beings. Then you think, ‘How can I pay them back?’

In order to pay them back, sincerely practice the Dharma, realize yourself, and try to liberate them. The best way to pay them back is liberation. So may I be the person who liberates all sentient beings. It’s a sort of reflection. The first thing is to bring all sentient beings close to you like your mother. The second reflection is remembering their kindness. The third is how to pay back the kindness, and the fourth is the paying back by Dharma, by realization, by liberation of enlightenment. So you are the person who liberates those sentient beings.

Thinking this in your mind is the first step in motivated compassion. Then think to yourself that in this life, you want to help them through your speech, your body action and through your mind. You want to help all sentient beings currently in this life, by yourself. I think it’s very difficult to help all sentient beings. That you’re going to help is the idea, to have the objective to want to help all of those sentient beings, because of that you do practice, accumulate merit, wisdom and accumulate good conditions for yourself. Then at the end of the practice, you dedicate the merit that you accumulated and somehow through that, I think you will reach some benefit for all sentient beings. To help through normal physical action is very difficult, so put it into prayer and dedicate all the merit. Keep in your mind these kinds of conditions. The first, bodhicitta, and then you have to enter into the action. The action you have to start with first is the six paramitas, then compounded merit and uncompounded merit. Whatever you accumulate, compounded or uncompounded, put all of this together and then you are really engaging on the path. You practice the six paramitas and compounded and uncompounded merit, and so at the end of the practice it’s very important to dedicate to all sentient beings. I think it’s simple, but I think it’s very important.”

Tsoknyi Rinpoche: I think that we are missing the most simple things, because we would like to liberate our own suffering, we forget about all sentient beings. So we think that our teaching was not so good, or we think that it’s other people’s teachings, but actually we are caught by our own confusion, so we don’t see that one as being very important.

Adeu Rinpoche: Also, it’s very important to think from time to time, all these sentient beings are circling in samsara because of the three poisons or five poisons: confusion. So if you really want to help sentient beings, you must know what the causes are that are making trouble for them—the basic three or five. So indirectly you have to help them. You have to bring all of their negativity and obscuration to you. So all of this negativity you bring to yourself like a kind of Tonglen-breathing, and then with whatever merit, accumulation and wisdom you have from this life or previous lives, you put it all together and give it to them. Indirectly you are trying to clean the cause of the suffering of sentient beings. If you practice that, I think, slowly-slowly, directly or indirectly, you will help sentient beings. Based on this kind of understanding, you enter into the Great Vehicle like Vajrayana. Then when you practice the development stage or completion stage, whatever practice you do, purely, with good motivation and ESPECIALLY at the end of the practice- right after the practice, it’s very important to dedicate before you’re manipulated by any negative thoughts. Offering fresh merit to clean and to purify the three poisons of all sentient beings—that is also practicing bodhicitta. So what Rinpoche is saying is that you don’t practice just in one area, you practice whatever and wherever you can, and when you do a good thing, you can then dedicate. You’re not saying, ‘Oh, now I’m practicing only compassion,’ but rather, while you are practicing the development or completion stages, at the same time you are also practicing compassion.

When you do any kind of practice and then dedicate all the merit to sentient beings, you have to include or put together those practices with the Three Excellences: Excellence in the beginning, Excellence in the middle and Excellence at the end. The beginning is refuge, especially with good motivation—with bodhicitta motivation. The middle is thought-free and non-clinging, no ownership, free practice, not belonging to anyone, but free-beyond-concept practice. At the end, you keep all of this in your mind, all sentient beings, and nicely dedicate. If you combine these three things with any kind of practice, you are going in the right direction. Otherwise, if you miss one, then you miss one. If you have a good beginning and a good end, but not a good middle, then this also is not good. In general, whether you are becoming a good practitioner or not really depends on renunciation. If you have first-class renunciation, you will become a first-class Dharma practitioner. If you have mediocre, second-class renunciation, you will end up a mediocre practitioner. If you have terrible renunciation, you will end up a terrible practitioner. So what’s really really important is renunciation.

What you need to know with all sincerity in the depths of your heart is that the three cycles of samsara are like shit. I want to get out of here because this is nothing, is of no value, valueless. All of samsara is completely valueless. If this comes into your heart, then this is the first entering into Dharma practice. Without that, anything you do is still something happening with you—ME. Secondly, you have to trust in causes and conditions and karma. You have to especially trust in the Dharma, but with the thought of all of these things—in your heart, having no doubt at all that this is the right thing. You have to have full trust in the Dharma. This is very important. After you have trust in the Dharma, then you think, ‘Oh, if I need to be free from samsara, there is no other method than practicing Dharma—understanding the insights of the mind through Buddha’s teachings.’

So this unshakeable trust becomes faith. You have to have faith. First trust, then secondly, you need to have the very strong faith that if you need to get out of samsara, there is no other method than understanding the nature of the mind. That method is only coming from the Buddhadharma. So you have to have faith in the Dharma.

Once you have all of this confidence and understanding for accomplishing the Dharma, then in order to accomplish successfully, you must have continuous diligence. Not like one day up—the beginning is good, but in the end it’s like ‘washy fishy’ (wishy washy). That kind of practitioner, even if you have trust and confidence in the Dharma, you will not get it. It’s in your mind somewhere, but you will not get it. If you want to fully accomplish, then you need to be like a river, that kind of diligence.

Also, one other important thing: if you are in a muddy place and want to get into a dry place, a dry place being Nirvana or liberation (Buddhahood), then you have to rely on someone to lead you there, someone who will guide you there. So the spiritual teacher is very important. Listen to his or her teachings. Find the right teacher and follow. Not only follow, but also you have to have in your heart some kind of strong devotion. A sort of melting kind of devotion, all the time, in your mind. So that wherever you go, in general, you have to have that in your mind. Then you will get the blessings of the lineage based on authentic Dharma, Buddha’s teachings as a path, and with the help of strong continuous diligence, unshakeable trust, faith and devotion, you put the Buddha’s teachings to work; take it as a path and practice. If you do that, if you go through it that way, then you will find that omniscience/liberation will happen. When that happens, all of your confusion, the three poisons, are purified, collapsed. At that time you will have the power to help sentient beings. So keep all these things in your heart and mind, and then work on the Buddhist path. So for the time being, this is my teaching. For the time being, it is like that.”

Tsoknyi Rinpoche: Adeu Rinpoche adds that in general, he thinks the law of karma is that everything is based on causes and conditions. So the fact that we are meeting here today (or that you are reading this) is some kind of cause and condition, a karmic link from a previous time, and that’s why it is happening right now and will happen also in the future. Rinpoche will make prayers that he will have karmic connections to you and your Dharma, your health and to support your connection to Dharma. So he will pray to increase your Dharma point of view, to support that point of view, your connection to him, your connection to me, and the Dharma. He will make this kind of aspiration.

Thank you so very much, Rinpoche.

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