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Tenzin Ösel Hita gave this talk on February 9, 2013 at Choe Khor Sum Ling Centre, Bangalore. Click on the links above to watch the video or to listen online and read along with the unedited transcript.

Wow, I didn’t expect so many people. It’s very nice. It’s a big center. [A little more discussion to someone which prayers to recite]

Leader of the group: Page 34. We just go through the two pages, quickly. Once in English, once in Tibetan.

[Group recites refuge, bodhicitta prayer, four immeasurables, mandala offering.]

Ösel: Thank you so much, everybody, for coming. So nice to see so many wonderful people, such beautiful energy, and I’m really sorry, again, for coming late.

So, I’m very happy, this is my first time in, like, in Indian center. For me, I see myself like, maybe, 20 percent, 30 percent Indian, maybe not Pakha [sp], but a little bit k_ you know. But, because I grew up in India, so, you know, it’s like, it’s also my country, you know, Hindu style, I love Hindu style. So I’m so happy to be here with all of you. Thank you so much.

So, today, we’re going to talk about, a little bit, my understanding of, what I understood from some things. It’s like a mixture of, maybe my own experiences, what I studied, back, in the monastery, and what I’ve been studying now.

I just arrived from the monastery after 15 days of just being there, and going everyday to class with my teacher. So he taught me some lam rim, like that, it’s very simple stuff. And, so I just wanted to share with all of you, some of this, maybe it can help you, because most of you are, I believe, you live in Bangalore. You’re working in Bangalore. So Bangalore is a city, it’s a big city, I just saw it today.

So it can be very difficult, sometimes, to cope with everyday life, especially when you have, like a schedule, and you don’t have so much free time, and then there’s _ [situation ?], and all the people, and the stress, these are all, all these factors can be very difficult sometimes, for our own, kind of clarity. So, it’s like a, it’s a little bit like it’s a hard job, you know, not only to do your exterior job everyday, to earn your money, to live, but also the interior job. It’s more difficult, because normally, for example, when you’re maybe outside, in the countryside, where there’s not so much traffic, so many people, so much, like all this activity.

Then also, because the outside is like, a little bit of, like a reflection, also, from our inside, it reflects. So it’s more easy to be more stable, more, like peaceful inside, when you’re in the countryside. So, by being in the city, it’s like, almost like a test, you know, you have to endure, it’s like a practice, it’s double practice.

So like when people go to retreat in the mountain, it’s much more easy, then if you try to do, like, retreat here, or to do, like, meditation. So, I think, it’s very, very good for you to be able to have the possibility to come to the center, and to learn how to meditate, and to see the reality of our mind, you know, the nature, sorry, the nature of our mind, and to understand how this works. Because sometimes it can be very difficult to cope with this kind of lifestyle, if you don’t understand, a little bit, how the mind works.

[Looking to where there’s a pillar in the hall, blocking his view of the people sitting there.] I’m sorry, there’s a pillar here, so I cannot see everybody. [Saying hello.]

So, sometimes our mind can be our best friend, and at the same time, sometimes, can be our worst enemy. It can play tricks on us, it can make us believe things that are not true.

Sometimes, for example, when we get angry, we think we’re right. Because, we are trapped in our body, so we are living everyday, in this body; we are alone. The only way to communicate with other people is through, like words, through facial expression, like, maybe music, or things like that. You know, there’s a way, where we can express what we are, what we feel, through this communication. But without this, we are alone.

So, sometimes, it’s just us who think. So when we get angry, then we think we’re right, because that’s the way we are, you know, we are by ourselves, so we think something. It’s like the ego, the me, we are born by ourselves, you know, so we’ve been all our life, by ourselves. So maybe we think we’re right, like, there’s some reason, something happens.

Like if you’re stressed, then if someone talks to you, or something, maybe they’re not talking in a way that should make you angry, but because you’re stressed, and you have that state of mind, then immediately you jump, you get angry. And, also, you think you’re right. Even if you’re not right.

So maybe, from the other side, the person who is seeing you, oh, wow, this person is, that’s strange, why did he get angry, I didn’t say anything, you know. Maybe that person doesn’t understand. But we, we think we are right. Until afterwards, maybe one day, anger subsides, and we realize, oh, maybe it was a mistake. But if we have big ego, we’ll never see this. We’ll never realize that maybe, we were wrong.

So I think, that’s, one thing that is very important is to keep that in mind, especially when we’re in a stressful kind of ambiance, to be aware of how our mind plays these tricks on us. And many times, it’s like a test. The more stressed we are, the bigger the test. So, if we are able to pass the test, then every time becomes easier, you know, to keep a coherent, straight, you know, stable state of mind.

This is very important, you know, because otherwise, then slowly, slowly, we get used to and we just, we get sucked into samsara, and then we suffer, and we suffer more, and more, and more, because we’re always thinking about me, because we are alone with ourselves. So it’s normal. Right?

So, it’s normal we think about ourselves, because that’s all we have. We are born to this world, and the only thing we really have is our body. I mean, all the material possessions people may acquire, throughout their time, it’s not really ours. It’s part of like, the planet, and it’s manmade, it has its own functions, and some things are useful, some things are necessary, and some things are just extra. You know, we think it makes us happy, but in the end, we want other things. So the only real thing that is really ours is our body. That’s the only thing we have. Even our clothes is not ours.

So, from the moment we are born, we are born into our reality. So what is our reality? I think, maybe, each person has their own concept of their reality. And that’s completely normal. Because each of us, we live our reality. Nobody can live the other person’s reality. Maybe I can see this color, red [points to the flowers], and it’s the same name, but maybe you’re seeing it yellow. But you call it, red. Who knows? We cannot know, can we? So this is like philosophy, sometimes. But the thing is, that, our reality is ours, and we share a reality, right? But it’s not our reality. It’s their/or: the reality.

It’s like the universe, right? It’s, we cannot say the universe is infinite, like infinite time, because then it becomes very debatable, like, if it’s infinite, and there’s infinite possibilities, and if there’s infinite possibilities, we may all be buddha, right? So, the time of the universe is immeasurable, it can’t be measured. But I don’t want to use the name, infinite, because otherwise, can create, like, some difficulty to understand.

So our reality is inside this immeasurable reality of the universe. And this reality has been there for so long, it’s _[?], like scientists, they call it the Big Bang. Right, the universe started with Big Bang, expansion, and then contraction again. And right now we are in the expansion.

And if you think about it, also, even us, that we, maybe two, three seconds it’s happening, our heart is going boom-boom, boom-boom, all our lives, since we are born, until the day we die. It’s expansion and contraction, expansion, contraction. It’s a little bit like the universe, but a much smaller scale. And each of us, we have that.

So this is our reality, the same way the universe has their own reality, and each of us, we are living our reality. And the way we see it, will never be the same as other people see it, but we are sharing a reality.

Is this becoming very complicated, or is it easy to understand? Yeah?

Okay, so, for example, I like to use examples, very much. Like, you’ve been to the sea, yeah? You know the sea? Like, some Tibetans, they never saw the sea before. So we talk about the ocean, and they’re like, wow, really, a big lake? Bigger than a lake? How big? Oh, you cannot see the end. Oh, really, I cannot believe, it’s impossible. I’m just joking.

So, yeah, so like imagine the ocean, yeah, the seaside. So there’s a sunset, sun is coming down, and the sun, you can see the, like the reflection of the sun, it’s like yellow, golden light, on the water. And it’s like a straight line, from the sun, to where you are. And you’re only seeing, from the sun, to where you are, it’s like a path, you know, it’s like a golden path. That’s all you see when you’re sitting here. So I’m seeing my path, from the sun to here, this reflection.

And if somebody else is over there, they will see their own reflection. But where I’m seeing the reflection, it’s just normal water. So they cannot see the reflection I’m seeing. In order to see it, they have to come where I am sitting. So it’s a little bit like that. I can just see water, but they are seeing, the exact same place, a reflection.

And, for example, if you go in a plane, high enough, sometimes you can see the whole ocean, reflection, gold, gold color. Have you see that before, from a plane? Just shining everything. So that’s a reality. The whole ocean is shining, with the sunlight. But sometimes when we are down, we can only see one small path. And we cannot see the shining, but it’s there. And to see it, you have to go, maybe on a plane. So that’s, I think, it’s very good example to understand, a little bit, how reality works.

So each of us, we have our reality, and we’re stuck in our reality. So what we see is also what we project. There has to be something there, originally, already. So we give it, like a name or a function, something, for example, the table. Table has a function. You can put the book on it.

But, for example, if the table has to have that function in order for me to give the name, table, which represents that function. Like, for example, sometimes, maybe there’s a, like you find a pipe, or a rope, and maybe it’s dark, and then I can mistake the rope for a snake. So I get really scared, ah, there’s a snake, a cobra! But, actually, it’s just a rope. So actually, what I’m seeing in my mind is a snake, but that snake doesn’t really exist. So it doesn’t really have the function of the snake. It’s just a rope. So that’s a different kind of reality, because what eye is projecting, is not really there, in the sense, that it’s function is not the same as I am giving it, to.

So you shouldn’t think that things are not, like, for example, it’s not like the rope and a snake. Actually, there is something there, and it has a function. The only difference is, the thing is there, for example, like we talk about science, the fact that we can see colors, is because it’s a reflection of the light. Right? For example, the sunlight is white color, but you can divide the color of the sun into the rainbow.

The sunlight, the white color; the normal color is composed by, like, many different colors. So when I see this pen, blue, it’s because all the colors are being absorbed, and the only color that is being reflected is the blue. So that’s why I’m seeing blue. Right? That’s what I learned in science.

So, for example, black is absorbing all the colors, and white is reflecting all the colors. So, if you think about it, if there’s no light, then nothing has color. There is no color. So it’s like, light is information. The light gives us information, for us, in order for us to see our reality. So maybe, the actual reality of the things is, no color, they have no color. But it’s us who gives the color.

In the same way, we give our reality, the existence to things, the way we see it. But it’s never the way it really is. That’s why they call it, duality. And if you think about it, the universe is like a duality, you know, it’s, even starting from the Big Bang, it’s expansion, contraction, and heart, also, even female, male, day and night, good and evil, there’s so many cool things. And then, of course, what you’re perceiving, and the perceptor. Right?

So it’s like that. And that’s why it’s, sometimes it’s very difficult to understand what’s really happening. We get confused, because, maybe also like the system, they make us believe that, you know, this is our reality, we have to believe this way, you know, we have to change clothes, everyday, we have to, you know, go to the supermarket and buy food, and eat, and we have to consume, like, to be happy, we have to have T.V., we have to have nice house, we have to have a car, we have to have a job, the perfect partner, and the kids, and all this. It’s something also, in part, it’s made by the system, in order for us to be in a, in our, in this kind of reality.

But there’s also people who just decide to go into the forest, and live. They may live naked, and they meditate, or whatever, or maybe they just pick fruit, I don’t know. But that’s how we used to be, human beings, we used to come like that, homosapiens, originally, we used to be like that. We used to live in caves, and build fires, and, just, there’s nothing else, but, like hunting, and [re-?]producing.

Now, every time, it becomes more complicated, more complicated, more complicated. So we get sucked into this reality which we think is very important. But, in the end, it isn’t really important. Like the day we die, and everyday we’re learning something new, and even the day we die, we’re still learning something. So the learning never finishes. But, the day we die, then what did we accomplish?

So, if we really believe in the system, and we keep doing this all our life, of course, for example, if you have children, it’s a different story, right, and of course, you have to survive. And, especially, like in India, there’s so many people, [laughter], how can you eat, otherwise? It’s crazy. So this is our reality, this is the 21st Century. So what we can do is to meditate, in order to kind of see how this is happening, how it works.

So, for example, I think the easiest way for me to explain this, so that you can put it in practice is to use it in your everyday life. Because this is the way you live, this is what you chose. And also, it’s a little bit like destiny, what destiny chose for you. And when I say, destiny, I’m also talking about karma. Karma is what we create, in past lives. We may not remember, but the fact that we live a certain life, compared to other people, it’s because of something, we created a cause, in order to have that situation. And I think that’s very logical.

Personally, me, I didn’t believe in karma, at a certain period in my life, and I didn’t believe in buddhas, I didn’t believe in many things. I used to call myself, agnostic scientific. Now, I like to call myself, in the process of becoming Buddhist. So I’m starting to believe in these things, because it makes a lot of sense, and it helps me to understand my reality, and to cope with my own problems, and my stress, and my depression, sometimes, everybody has this, you know, you have ups and downs.

You have the ups and downs all the time, it’s normal. We learn from our mistakes. We suffer, and then we enjoy, and then maybe suffer again, but this is, all comes from the way we see it, you know.

For example, like, if I, let’s say like I break a leg, for example, I mean, that’s pretty bad, yeah? Breaking a leg, it’s like, maybe you have to stay one month, with crutches, and if you’re working, that’s even worse. Or, I mean, there can be so many situations.

So, depending on how I see the situation, it can be much worse, or much better, you know. It’s the way I see it. I can say, okay, wow, I broke a leg, maybe I don’t have to go to work now. So I have time, maybe. Or, maybe I can think, oh, I broke a leg, now I can’t move, I’m stuck in my bed, I’m depressed. It’s just the way you see it. And this way, life is all the time. It brings us opportunities, you can call it, opportunities, in order for us to evolve, in a better way.

So if you think about it, what is the purpose of our life? For me it was a big question. And I think, maybe it still is a big question. Why are we here? What are we doing? Where are we going?

So Buddhism, basically what it explains to us, it says, we are here in order to benefit other people. This is, for me, it’s like the essence of Buddhism. And how do we benefit other people? Of course, there’s normal, superficial ways to help people is like, in just everyday life, the situations come where we have that opportunity to give a hand, lending hand, or even a smile, or even just saying, hello, is enough, to help that person. Especially like in the city. For example, New York. I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard stories like, you’re insignificant. You walk in the street, you don’t exist. Or if someone bumps into you, they continue.

Even, sometimes, like Milano, or Paris, if you’re in an elevator, with somebody, and you say, hello, they look at you like, wow, you’re weird. You’re so rude, you talked to me. I don’t know you, why are you talking to me? Sometimes it happens. This is how, the mentality, some people live in, that’s their reality. [if?] you say hello, it’s like, huh, do I know you? This person is so rude, he said, hello. It can happen. It happened to me many times. Oh, sorry, sorry. Sorry.

I’m just joking. It might happen, of course, and much worse. Sometimes people find it much easier to have a fight with a stranger. Because they’re a stranger, so it’s like, instead of saying, hello, and saying, oh, wow, where do you come from, and, you know, what’s up, instead of saying like that, they sometimes, you know, they look for a fight; it’s easier to fight with someone who is a stranger. It’s like the excuse: I don’t know you, so I’m going to give you all my negativity, all my negativity. You know, it happens all the time. And it’s a sad situation, you know? But, it happens. So, we have the opportunity to change that. We have the opportunity to turn that around.

I thought many times, you know, like why is it, sometimes, so bad, in this world. Like, for example, when you turn on the news, it’s always, sometimes negative stuff. Like, for example, if there’s a mother, and she took care of her children, she raised eight children by herself. No husband. Just the mother by herself. Working, maybe two or three jobs, taking care of her children, put them through college, everything. Does she get in the news? No. Will you see that woman in the news? No. Her name will never appear in the news. You never see in the newspaper, oh, this woman raised eight children by herself. Never.

But, a mother, for example, she kills her son. Of course, headlines: Mother Kills Her Son. Why? Why does it give so much importance to this negativity? But then there’s so much positiveness, that don’t give that much importance; it doesn’t even become the news. It’s like, oh, it’s normal, this happens, everyday, okay. But it’s nice, you know, it’s good to switch that around.

I think one of the, the main causes of so much negativity on this planet, is because people overvalue negativity, much more than positiveness. They give more importance to negative things, then to give positive things. It happens all the time, even in families.

You know, like maybe your mother, or your father, or your brother, you know, you have good relationship, everyday, like good things happen, you don’t really give that much importance. Oh, like your mother, wow, she raised me for so many years, she took care of me. And then, maybe one day your mother slaps you. Ah, like you remember this, so strong. Oh my god. And then, all day, you’re like, frowning, oh my god, she slapped me. Why did she slap me, I didn’t do anything wrong.

Maybe she was stressed, who knows?

But we give so much importance to that, and then we don’t think about all the good things happening. That’s, I think, also one of the reasons why there’s so much negativity, it’s because of our mentality, it’s the way we think.

For example, Bangalore, or _ [uses another dialect]. You see, most of, like the roads, the cars, the buildings, the situations, everything, how did it start? It started with a thought. Everything has to start with a thought. Even this table started with a thought. The person who built this table, the carpenter, he had to start with a thought.

Okay. Where shall I make the holes, how, the lines. Even the person who ordered, maybe, he said, oh, I want a table like this, the designer, this house, the architect, everything has to start with a thought. Everything that’s manmade, starts with a thought. Otherwise, it cannot be made. So then, you can see the result of those thoughts, here. This is how powerful the thoughts are.

So that’s why it’s very important to check your thoughts, and observe your, everything inside. Because, you know, like, for example, you are the only person who really knows. Even sometimes like, I think, I don’t even know myself. But, I’m the only person that knows myself, this well. But sometimes I surprise myself, I do things that I wouldn’t even, I don’t even know myself. Sometimes I, maybe I get angry, and I shout, and then after, I’m like, wow, that’s so strange, why did I do that, you know? And then I have to check, observe, investigate, from where did it come. And then, maybe I realize, maybe I, for two or three days, something happened, and then, I kept it inside, and then, you know, I didn’t work on it, and then, like something happened, and just kept on happening, and then I explode. It happens.

So, it’s good to observe, and to check, but many times, because we are the only person that really knows ourselves, this well, it’s our job to really keep this kind of way of thinking, to check all the time, to observe our thoughts. Some of our thoughts, so much happens, even if we don’t see it. The energy we give, many times, starts with a thought.

For example, we can have a thought, someone may shout at us. Then we have a thought: Oh, this person, he shouted at us, then our ego gets hurt, and then we get angry inside. But maybe we don’t say anything. But this thought, it stays there. So from that thought, we plant a seed, and then maybe a state of mind, sorry, an attitude, maybe, an attitude comes, the attitude of like, okay, I’m not smiling, today I don’t want to smile. Even somebody smiles at us, we just look very serious. We act like didn’t see him smile. I’m just joking.

So then, from that attitude, the state of mind appears. And then, this is the state of mind that we’ll keep for the rest of the day, maybe. And then, the emotion, and then the energy, and then even that will expand, and it will effect the people surrounding us. So that’s why it’s very important to see why and how. And most of the times, it’s because of our ego, because we think about me. I’m so important.

Which, of course we are; we are the center of our universe. Right? But not the way we think it is. Because, if you investigate, in the end, you can’t find this ego. This ego, kind of me, me, me kind of thinking, it’s imposed from the outside. Even the moment we are born, and we start to speak our first words, Papa, Mama. What does this mean? It means, my Papa, my Mama. So even our, the first words we learn, already they’re teaching us to think this way, of me, me, mine.

So that’s why it’s important to see this kind of, what do you call it? Habit, and to change, change this. That’s what Buddhism teaches us, to change the habit, in order to have a more easy-going, kind of way of life, state of mind, in which we can help other people. But how can we help other people, if we don’t help us, first? How can we love, if we don’t love ourselves first? If we don’t like ourselves, how can we like someone else?

I like, examples are so good, you know. For example, like, when I was younger, like when I was a teenager, I used to have many zits, you know, like these green things that come out in your face, what do you call that, zits?

Student: Pimples!

Ösel: Pimples. Yeah. When you’re at the age of puberty, you have many pimples. So I used to always look at myself in the mirror, wow, a new pimple, oh no, I have a new pimple, I’m so ugly now. I used to think like that. Because this is the way I think, you know, because I’m thinking of me, me, me, me.

So maybe, one day, somebody takes a picture of me, you know, a group picture, whatever. And then when there’s a group picture, the first person I look, myself. I don’t look at anybody else, I only look at myself. Oh, am I handsome? Am I good looking in that picture? And, always, oh, I’m so ugly. Almost, always, I look so ugly.

Why? Because that picture is based on the present. Maybe the picture was taken yesterday, or today, then I’m identifying myself with my present moment. And, because I’m thinking me, me, me, I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied with who I am, or what I look like, then after/actually, I project, I’m not handsome, or I’m not good-looking. So then I get, like, unhappy.

But, then the same picture, four or five years later, I look at the same picture, wow, I’m so young, I’m so good-looking. I wish I was like that now. But the picture’s exactly the same. So what changed? The way I see myself changed. So this is also a good example, to see how we create our reality, we project what we want to see, in this way. But actually, it’s not the reality, because this changes all the time. [snaps fingers] It’s changing.

Also, of course, the reality outside is changing, because that’s the way impermanence works. Like, for example, quantum physics, talks about this. They say everything is created, is composed by atoms, and like, the smallest particle is what we called the quark, or something like that, so small, it’s tiny, tiny. And all of these are always vibrating, they’re vibrating, and then they’re moving all the time. But between that, it’s all space.

So it’s all vibrating. And because it’s vibrating, it’s changing, it’s energy. And everything is composed by the same thing, same composition, all the material is composed by atoms, which are vibrating. So this is energy, it’s vibrating energy.

So this is how, you know, the material world exists, in this way, we cannot see it, we only know it, what do we call it, like scientific point of view, or, you know, like a theory, it’s like a theory. But for us to see that, it’s almost impossible. But it’s like that. If you check, it’s true.

Because, for example, when the Buddhists, they talk about emptiness, it’s together, same thing. Quantum mechanics, quantum physics, and like, the philosophy is emptiness, same thing. They talk about the same thing. So now, slowly, slowly we are realizing that actually science, and spirituality are coming together, they’re becoming the same thing. But, through different paths, in different ways. It’s amazing, you know, it’s really, really amazing.

And, like, for example, quantum mechanics says, everything is consciousness. And, for example, emptiness, when [the?] Buddhists say, it’s all created by the mind. It’s like we give the existence by, I mean, I don’t know many words, but, it’s like, [someone’s calling out: imputed.] Imputed? Exactly, imputed. Consciousness imputes.

So anyways, I’m getting very technical and I don’t want to go there because then I’ll get lost. [Ösel laughs] Because I’m learning. So, but this is my understanding of the emptiness, and the quantum mechanics. Slowly, slowly, I think we’re all learning, even the day we die, we’re still learning. So it’s a process that will/or: we’ll never finish.

But I think it’s important to check this, and maybe sometimes when we you some space, like when it’s time to go to sleep, you know, then think about this, a little bit, and then stop thinking, and just breathe. It’s a good meditation, you know. Because sometimes, many people, when they try to go to sleep, they can’t sleep, you can’t fall asleep, for some reason. And if you can think about it, the reason why you can’t sleep is because you can’t stop thinking. So, as long as you’re thinking, you can’t fall asleep. Because in order to fall asleep, you have to stop thinking, that’s the way you fall asleep.

So, many times you’re like, you’re turning around in the bed, and you’re, oh, I can’t sleep, then, actually, finally you get so tired, then automatically, the mind goes off, and you fall asleep. But it’s automatic.

So what’s good is, to like, manually turn off the mind. It’s very difficult, it’s not easy, I mean, it’s very difficult. Because all our life we’re just thinking, thinking, thinking. That’s the way we’re raised, that’s the way the system wants us to be. Because, the strongest voice is a voice, an inside voice, subconscious mind, subconscious, the inner voice, maybe, but, inner voice is the strongest voice. And we almost, never listen to that voice; we’re always thinking.

But the thinking, we actually, sometimes even identify with our thoughts. But our thoughts are result of, like, how we do everyday, you know, how we’re raised, and how we are, and everything. But the thoughts is just, it’s like a tool, it’s like a screwdriver. It’s something that we use in order to live our everyday life. But it’s not us. We are not our thoughts. Thoughts is the result of who we are. It’s something else. It’s like my hand, or my eyesight, you know, it’s just part of me, but it isn’t me. So it’s very important to see that.

And the inner voice is actually, who we are, where we come from. When Buddhists are talking about reincarnation, they’re talking about that; that’s what actually travels, from one vehicle to another. Our body is a vehicle, yeah? So when we pass away, this inner being, or inner self, or consciousness, or, I don’t know, there are many names. I don’t want to give too many names, otherwise, it can be confusing. But when you check, when you search, it’s always the same thing. It can have many names.

So this is the inner voice. And in order to hear, to listen to this inner voice, you have to turn off the mind. So that’s why it’s very important to start to practice this. For me, it’s like the basic meditation. Before you go to sleep, start breathing, because there’s different types of breathing, you know, like there’s the nose breathing.[showing] But, then there’s another type of breathing that comes from here. [showing]

You know, when people do yoga, the same type of breathing for yoga. [Showing the students] Now this [showing], now this one [showing], it’s very deep. And even if you just try that three or four times, already, then your mind becomes very relaxed. I think you may get a little bit dizzy, from so much oxygen coming to your brain. So sometimes, if you’re a cigarette smoker, instead of smoking, you can try to breathe, sometimes it has the same effect.

Yeah, so when you go to sleep, try to do that. Try to start breathing this way, then, you start to become conscious of your body, from the top, to the bottom, everything, the whole, [body[ you go through everything. And then you try to turn off the mind; it can be very difficult. At the beginning, maybe you can do it one second, two seconds, three seconds, four seconds, five seconds. And when you get ten seconds, then you have achieved something. It may take some, a while, but it is possible.

So when you get to ten seconds, then you’ve already started; that’s meditation, already. So in those ten seconds, you will hear the inner voice, you will see who you are, where you come from, what you are. That’s our reality. That’s the true self. And then you can fall asleep more easy. You know, it doesn’t take half an hour, one hour, turning around. You can fall asleep, maybe ten minutes. It’s like very automatic.

Because, usually, in order to fall asleep, we cannot think, we have to turn off the mind, then slowly we start going, into like, different rooms. You know, we go into one room, and then the next room is a little bit deeper, and then deeper. And then, finally, there’s one room where we don’t remember anything; suddenly we are asleep.

And in this room, it’s very difficult to be conscious in this room. But once we pass this room, we are asleep, we are already in the dream world, we’re dreaming. Sometimes, if we are very tired, it’s just like black. But that’s normally, it’s like, we have to go back; to get back our energy it’s very important to sleep.

Like, for example, the scientists, they say, it’s good to sleep, minimum, of like between six to eight hours. And when we sleep, to sleep, in complete darkness. Because, there’s, behind our eyes, there’s a sensor, and sometimes, if there’s light, then the sensor does not release a substance called, melatonin. [some offers the word] Yes, thank you. Melatonin. So it’s good to sleep in complete darkness, and then, this melatonin, basically what it does, it regenerates our body, during the night. So around, maybe one billion cells are regenerated, in one night.

So it’s so important to have good rest, good sleep, complete darkness, and, then this way, we regenerate ourselves, and we are fresh in the morning. And, the other thing is, also, we go back to who we are, ourselves, our inner, fountain of life, or fountain of energy, or you can call it many things, you can, maybe, clear light, I don’t know. I’ve never seen it, but, you know, I try everyday. [Ösel laughs.] Sometimes when I’m not lazy. Sometimes I just watch movies, and, I fall asleep. Put some music, fall asleep, or, just think, think, think, fall asleep. Sometimes, when I remember, I try to do this kind of meditation. And when I do it, it helps a lot, it really does.

So the day you reach one minute, without thinking, then that’s a realization. That’s one type of realization, in Buddhism. So that’s very good. It’s very simple, and you can do it everyday, before you go to sleep. And the more you do it, the easier it is to go to sleep.

Because many times, like, our mind is very active, during the day, in the city, you know, up, down, working, stressed, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and then when you go to sleep, you’re still, like, very active, and sometimes it’s so difficult to fall asleep. And then you get stressed, because maybe you have to get up early in the morning, you have to get up, and then you get stressed, oh, I can’t fall asleep, and then more stressed, and then it’s like, it’s terrible. So this is good method.

And, I think, also, one thing I wanted to talk about is, how to meditate, during our day, daytime, everyday life. That’s also very helpful. Especially if we’re living in a city. So, for example, one type of meditation is to always think about other people, before we think of ourselves.

Like in the workplace, try to see other people, even say hello, try to be as nice as possible. Even if you are really stressed, or unhappy, or depressed, try to really give the importance to other people. Because, when we give importance to us, it just makes more, and more, and more, and more. If we are depressed, we get more depressed, we become more unhappy. If we are sick, we become more and more sick. You know, sometimes we become sick, because of the way we think. If we think positive, then sometimes we don’t get sick. Sickness sometimes is mind generated.

There’s one old, old man, I think, I don’t know, in Holland, or something, he’s like 120, or something, and he’s super healthy, he still goes to jog, and everything, and they did an interview to him, and said, what’s your secret? He said, my secret, I have no secret. I just get up in the morning, and I say, wow, thank you for having this life, I’m so happy. It’s just awesome. This is great. That’s no secret. He said. And that keeps me, gives me this kind of energy, you know, being happy, being good, you know, then it keeps, becoming incrementing.

So if you think, like that, for other people, then you forget about yourself; you forget about your problems, you forget about your sickness, or your depression, or your stress. Then you think about, wow, oh, he’s unhappy, or he’s having a hard time today, today he has long face. Maybe I’m going to tell a joke, I’m going to say, hello, or even, maybe, I’m going to give him a hug. Even it may be weird, but [laughter], it can look weird, but, it doesn’t matter, you know, at least, they will feel something. Eventually, they will open up, also, and they will say, wow, thank you, that was amazing, you know, you changed my day. Today I had a great day. Why? Because you gave me a hug.

You know, there’s this story I saw on Facebook, the other day, about this guy, who works in a, I think, like meat factory, or something. And he got locked up inside this big fridge, accidentally he got locked up inside, and he couldn’t come out. So he was freezing. And it was nighttime, and everybody had gone home. So he said, okay, now, this is it, I’m going to die.

And then, when he was almost dead, then somebody opened the door. Turns out, it was the guard, the security guard, he found him. So, afterwards, like, he called the police, and everything. And then, when he was better, he said, "Wow, how come you found me? Like, it’s impossible. This factory, there’s like thousands of workers. How did you find, how did you even, you know, know I was in there?"

And the security worker said, "I’ve been working here for 20 or 30 years, and you’re the only person who says, hello, in the morning, and who says, goodbye, goodnight, in the afternoon. So, I got your, hello, in the morning, but I didn’t get your, goodnight. So I said, uh, something’s wrong. So I started to look for you."

So, that’s, I mean, that’s a very good story, I think, that really inspired me, it can change your life, it can save a life. Incredible, no? It’s karma.

So, I mean, these details may look insignificant, but, they can be very big. It’s like The Butterfly Effect. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie. I think the movie’s very exaggerated, like, make big, the Hollywood production, they exaggerate everything. But, in part, it can be true. The Butterfly Effect is like, something you do here, can have a big effect, somewhere else, big effect. Everything can change.

So when we’re positive, when we think about other people, before we think about ourselves, in that way, this effect is like, it’s like the butterfly, butterfly effect, it keeps expanding.

In the same way, we have negative thoughts, we have negative energy, then it keeps expanding in a very negative way. That’s why it’s so important to check our thoughts, you know, very important, everyday. And the more we do that, the more the habit, and then the easier it is to be happy, to be, you know, in a very healthy state of mind. And how do you do that? By thinking of other people, all the time. Instead of thinking, me, I’m unhappy, or, me, me, I want to be happy. No. Oh, they are unhappy, I want to help them. I want to make them happy. Automatically, you will be happy.

So this is our purpose. This is the purpose of our life. Or at least, this is what I understand, from Buddhism, this is what I understand, this is our purpose in our life. The world, we can think about it like a school, school of learning. We’re here to learn, and to help other people to learn, also.

So, I keep talking, talking, talking. Maybe it can get boring. Yeah. [pause]

So I don’t want to bore you; you already waited for a long time. So you must be very tired. Today’s Saturday, so today _. [ using an Indian term, maybe day of rest, day off?

So, I don’t know, what. Yeah, I think, maybe it’s a good idea, maybe questions and answers.

Oh, yeah, dinnertime.

Ösel: So, yeah, we just do, maybe some questions. Ask questions, if people have doubts. Okay.

Question: _ [I can’t make out this question]

Ösel: How do I feel, about what?

Question: How do you feel when _ [I can’t hear. Maybe something to do with being a reincarnate lama.]

Ösel: Well, this is, since I was very, very young, since I was 18 months old, I was recognized, so it’s, like part of my reality. For me, it’s like normal. Like, many times we see the sun rise, and we see the wind blow, and make the trees dance, and we see the fire burning, or we can hear music, or, that for us, is like normal.

But it’s magic, actually, it’s like ceremony, it’s nature’s ceremony, everyday it’s happening. The birds are flying, you know, the wind is blowing, and the sun is shining, up to the stars and moon, you know, all this is magic. But for us, it becomes normal. Why? Because we see it everyday. So for me, it’s a little bit like that.

It’s like, since I was so young, it’s been like that, so, I try to think of myself, just normal person, which is true. The only difference between me and you is that I had the education in the monastery. I grew up as a monk. So I think that’s the only thing, maybe, that differentiates us, a little bit, is the way I was raised. But otherwise, I’m just a normal person, probably much more than all of you. It’s not something special for me, you know. It’s just my life.

Question: [sounds like] I was trying to understand, forgiveness. Can you speak about [forgiveness?]

Ösel: Forgiveness. To understand forgiveness, you mean?

Question: [can’t hear well. Something like:] I don’t know forgiveness. In my heart, I don’t understand it.

Ösel: Okay. I think, forgiveness is very, very easy; very, very easy. Forgiveness is, for example, have you ever, [pauses] I forgot, I don’t have the word now. _ Somebody speak Tibetan? [someone offers the word, regret]. Regret, exactly. So, have you felt regret before?

So forgiveness is the same thing, but from the other side. When you regret, you regret because you feel you did something wrong. So, forgiveness is when you let the other person, like forget his regretfulness. Maybe this is a bit complicated like that. Another example.

Like, for example, I can say something, very bad, harsh words to you. Or, for example, you say harsh words to me. Or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. And then, you feel very bad about this, because maybe, you know, afterwards I’m very serious, or I cry, maybe I cry. So you feel bad. So, if I forgive you, then you can feel better. Yeah? So this is, a little bit, the way forgiveness works, you know, is to help the other person to kind of clean this karma up.

Then also for ourselves. We, sometimes we do actions, and then we can regret these actions. Regret is helpful, like up to one point, but after that, it becomes just a burden, it becomes like a weight. So regret is good, to learn from our mistakes, but after that, we have to forgive ourselves, and learn from that, and move forward.

So forgiveness, there has to be a balance, also, the same way as regret. But, I think, from my point of view, this is the way I understand forgiveness. So forgive people’s actions, because we’re all learning, and we make mistakes, and we’re human beings. And many times, this is the way we learn; we learn through mistakes. So it’s good to forgive. From my point of view, that’s what Buddhist forgiveness means. Is that helpful.

Question: [something like they understand intellectually, but on a practical level, how to use]

Ösel: Slowly, slowly. Slowly, slowly. Just forgive. If you’re angry with someone, forgive them. Start with that. Forgive everybody you’re angry with. Forgive everybody who you think wronged you. You start there. By forgiving yourself, also.

Question: [re: helping others/dedication]

Ösel: Of course, if you practice with the sole purpose to help yourself, then it’s not that beneficial, [it’s] useless. So you shouldn’t think, I’m helping myself. You should always think, I want to help other people, and then, this way, you help yourself automatically. It’s like in the package, part of the package. But it’s not the reason why we’re doing this.

And, just by the thought, of wanting to help, even if you don’t help, that’s more than enough. Already you’ve planted the seed, you’ve created the cause for that to reap, you know, to grow. And even if you don’t see it clearly, it’s already there, it’s happening.

So just by thinking, oh, I want to help, sentient beings, you know, I feel bodhichitta, or, you know, like dedicate the merits, for them, or visualize take their suffering, already there, you’re creating the cause, of helping them. Even if it may look insignificant; it’s very significant, very, very significant. Every action is super significant. Every thought, super significant, very significant.

Like it’s difficult to believe, but that’s the way it is, because, like, for example, we’re all connected to the collective memory, so each of our thoughts becomes part of the collective memory. So, what we think, what we feel, what we do, effects everybody else.

So when you dedicate the merits, when you think about other people, you’re helping other people, through the collective memory. You know, it’s like the omnipresence. It’s difficult to explain, but, I think you can visualize, this kind of superconsciousness, which is all of us together. We’re all interconnected. So one good, positive thought helps everybody else.

One more question. Last question.

Question: On forgiveness, I have a question. So is it to make ourselves happy, or to make the other person happy, this forgiveness?

Ösel: Forgiveness? Forgiveness is to, of course it’s to make the other person happy, but, by forgiving, it’s more about how you feel towards them. It’s like, for example, if someone stole something from you, right, then you get angry, oh, he stole something from me, oh, this guy is terrible. You know, he took something from me.

Then, you’re not forgiving; you’re creating bad karma for them, and you’re suffering yourself. That person has already stolen the thing, so it’s gone, it’s just materialistic, it’s nothing. So then, if you visualize, okay I give this, I offer this thing to that person. So this way you’re forgiving their action, and in this way, also, the karma becomes less. And you’re not suffering so much yourself. That’s like, a little bit of an example, forgiving.

Forgiving also is forgiving people when they maybe talk harshly to you, you don’t take it badly. You see, if you take it badly it’s because of your ego. Oh, he talked badly to me, he said harsh words to me. Or he didn’t smile, because, when I smiled, he didn’t smile back. It doesn’t matter. You give, positive. It doesn’t matter what you receive, as long as you give positive. That’s forgiving also.

Eventually it will come back. But that’s not the important part. The important part is to help other people, to be happy. 
Of course, it’s very difficult to make people happy because the only person who can make themselves happy is themselves. The only person is yourself. It’s your job to find that. It’s like the teacher. The teacher can help you, show you the path, but you have to walk the path. You cannot say, okay help me to be happy. No, you have to be, do it yourself, the same way, if you want to study, you want to get a degree, you know, you can’t say, okay can you study for me? You have to study yourself. It’s like that.

So, forgiving is, you forgive, but ultimately, it’s up to them to change the way they act. But the most important thing is to check yourself, and not to check other people, because that’s their story, that’s their business.

The more you look outside, the further away you’re from yourself. So then the harder it becomes to find yourself, and to understand your nature. You see, that’s one of the problems, people always search outside, keep searching outside. And the more you search outside, the further away you’re from you, and then the more problems, the more hardship, the more difficult.

So don’t search outside, search inside, look, check inside. And as long as you have a good attitude, this will come back. And you’ll create the cause for the positiveness to expand. Already there’s so much negativeness; why do we want more negativeness? It’s not necessary. So this way, forgiveness helps a lot; forgive yourself, forgive other people.

Okay. [The center wants to offer Ösel a cake for his birthday]

Let’s dedicate first. Um Dze-la.

So all the positive thoughts we’ve had today, let’s dedicate it, and hope, in the future, we can be better people, slowly, slowly. And thank you so much for inviting me here. I’m so happy to see all of you, and to meet all of you, to make the connection. And next year, maybe we’ll meet each other again.

Director: Please visit us, at the center, many, many more times.

Ösel: Definitely, many, many more times. For sure. Thank you so much. Thank you.

By Tenzin Ösel Hita   Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, 2012

If any of you some questions, I will try to answer the best I can. You don't have to get up to ask a question, you can just pass the mike around, better. If people are shy, they don't want to get up to ask a good question...

Question: Welcome to ABC. From what you shared with us, I get this feeling that you live life well, you love the life that you have and you have deep gratitude for the life that you are living now, that is the feeling I get. My question to you is where do you think this is coming? Do you think you it is coming from the spiritual exposure which you had, could it be culture, family or do you think it is the way the you are being wired?

Ösel: I think is because I suffered a lot, mentally, and I decided that I didn’t want to choose to be that way, basically. And also I am very lucky to have the life I have, so those two together equal your answer.

Question: Your talk is very poignant in the sense that it also reflects the life which you have a rather unique one. When you talk about satisfaction do you see that at any point in your life from the time when you are identified, the exposure that you have, there was certain dissatisfaction and also the title of an reincarnated tulku, has it been a burden or had it been a boon and if they had been when were the occasions when you find that this title of reincarnated tulku benefited you a lot but sometime in point it actually worked out to your disadvantage?

Ösel: Many questions, I don’t know if I still remember the first question. I am sure many of you want to know a bit of myself like personally. I am going to try to share the best way I can, without losing face. No just joking. Maybe not so joking. For a long time for me it was very hard to accept my destiny, it is like a burden which is a difficult responsibility. Because I didn’t really know who I saw, I didn’t understand myself and also because in the monastery when I was living as a monk which is great opportunity and it is amazing to live in that situation, to be able to study the Buddhist philosophy and share your life with the other monks who are actually doing the same thing. For my point of view at that time it was also a bit controversial for me because I didn’t quite understand what life was really about, because I was a bit like in a bubble. It doesn’t mean it is bad, but also because people expected me to understand how people live and why they suffered.

In the monastery you don’t really experience so much. You experience that mentally of course because maybe you watch some Hollywood movie and you like Oh I want to be like Tom Cruise. But that is like, because you are projecting of course, and they teach how to overcome that and how to understand how your mind plays trick on you. But eventually basically the book that changed my life was Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I am not use if many of you read it, but you should read if you get the opportunity, it is a very short book. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, it is not Sidhhartha Guatama Buddha, it is related to that because it is the same time period. But it is a writer who kind of came up with this idea, with a story of this boy who is called Siddhartha. Reading that book changed my life because after I read that book, up to then I always believe that I was Buddhist. After I read that book I start asking many questions, am I really Buddhist? And if I am why am I Buddhist? If I don’t really understand the Buddhist philosophy, yet. There is so many things that I don’t understand yet, I have so many questions, I have so many doubts.

So I really start to investigate what is a Buddhist and I came to a conclusion that a Buddhist is actually your lifestyle. It is not just because you take some initiations or read a book or take refuge. You don’t become a Buddhist like that, you actually become a Buddhist through your lifestyle. How you really act in the most difficult moments also. It is like a test life gives you to see if you are really a Buddhist or not. But that is just my point of view of course, each of us we have our own point of view and I respect that, so I am just sharing your question.

After that I decided that I was in the process of becoming a Buddhist. So because I was in the process of becoming a Buddhist, I decided that I had to experience life. I couldn’t be a monk all my life, I had to go out there and do what everybody else is doing also. So that was basically the decision I made was because of that. Actually at the same time my life has been a huge weight and has been very difficult at certain period of time but at many periods of time also has been a blessings, incredible bliss. Because of all the love I receive from everybody and I am really grateful because I really feel it, I really appreciate all the support from everybody. Thank you really.

Question: Buddhism is about a way of life there I just do whatever the things I do and I won’t harm people that sort of things. What’s next? How are you going to share with us your energies?

Ösel: First of all it is very very very important to point something out. Tradition is super important, just to make it clear. Tradition is very, very, very important because it is a passed down knowledge from many many generations, from many people who have been practicing and experience and having realizations throughout the ages. So tradition is based on all of those experiences, so that is why it is so important to keep all the traditions and respect it. Maybe for somebody tradition doesn’t work, that is okay because many people it does work. And maybe for the ones who doesn’t work eventually it will work. So I think that is very important to point out so just so that there is no misunderstanding.

And I grew up in the tradition and I left the tradition because I want to understand more outside of the tradition because I think there are many people out there who are not open to tradition and many of us who maybe would pick up a dharma book, or go to teachings of great teachers, or may go do meditation or go to retreat. Many of us would do it and it is maybe perfectly normal, for many people it is something impossible, it is something they would never even dream about. Picking up a Buddhist book is like no way. Basically what I feel my purpose is, is to be able to reach out to those people in a more simple way, like to help them give them a small window or vision of what there is in Buddhism, in dharma, like an introduction, especially like the younger generation. And that is why I say I am not Buddhist, I am in a process of becoming a Buddhist because for me it is really important see every else also, because it is like all roads lead to Rome.

It is many different types of ways and each person just has to find their way. So like music can be a very way to reach those people, and audiovisual, movies, documentaries. Because movies, basically, you work really hard to make a movie but once it is done it is there and people can watch it anytime. And also people watch it at home, when they are relaxed, sit down, have something to drink or eat, with the family, and just turn on the TV and you don’t have to do anything, you just relax, you can put up your feet, you can lay down, you can pause, it is just so easy, you can rewind and watch again, whatever. It is in the heart of the family, it is like in the heart of the house, and you watch with your family or you watch in the cinema. So it is a very easy way to communicate in that sense, that is why I found it was the most reasonable way to communicate in that sense.

Of course that is not the only thing that I want to do but that is one of thing I am trying to do. Maybe eventually I will come up with a nice Hollywood movie, action, and thriller. Maybe looks a bit like the Matrix hopefully where it really gives some meaning but it also reaches the people who will never actually be attracted to religion. And I think it is very important to be able to help those people, because those are people who needs the most help. That doesn’t mean I am not a traditional person or I don’t respect tradition because I do. For me tradition is very important but I think it is also very important to reach those other people. So I am just trying to create more alternate ways to reach even more people. I think I explained myself, so there is no misunderstanding.

And of course I am very happy to come to ABC many times as many times as always, continuously, I will be, great.

Question: Having seen the busy lifestyle in Singapore, what is your advice for our Dharma practice.

Ösel: I like that simple question. I think Thich Nhat Hanh, he is very inspiring for me, I love him. And he talks about constant meditation, like you can meditate in every moment. So when you are stress it is best moment for meditation, because that is best practice, it is best test, it is difficult. For example if you are working as a dish washer, if you are working in office, whichever work you are doing, it is something you have to do again again and again, monotony. That is very difficult, sometime we usually just disconnect and do it automatically. So it is good to be aware and to do it in a meditative mood, meditative feeling, that will helps us to not get stressed and to really feel moment to moment.

And when you wake up you say okay I am going to work to help my family, to help someone. So you already get up and you start work, not for yourself, not to make money to buy my car or to buy this, but actually to help people. So just with that thought you are creating a very positive vibration in your body. So throughout the day that vibration keeps going and that will help you a lot, to really stay in touch with your deep self and not with the stress or the ambience in the office, maybe people are angry or stress, that will not affect you. On the other hand you actually affect them in a positive way and you will be able to help them also, reach that state of mind, meditative mood, where you are doing what you are doing in a positive way, you are relaxed, you are breathing, you are conscious. It sounds simple and it is not easy I know it is not easy but you have to start somewhere and slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly you will achieve that state of mind for the whole day. And when you do you will reach the great satisfaction. And that satisfaction is one of the best satisfaction because you worked hard for it, and you achieved and you did not give up. And that is a great question.

Question: What make you decide to become a lay person. Being as a monk you have less attachment, you have less responsibility, when you have less thing you can let go, actually that is the happiness. Can you share with us, as a lay person make you more happy or you have better opportunity to help because one of your criteria, the more you help people, the more you happy.

Ösel: Actually as a lay person I have more problems, it is more difficult, because you have long hair, you wake up in the morning, oh I have dandruff. I have to comb my hair, I have to shave, the eyelashes, I have to look good, perfume. What clothes am I going to wear today, maybe this looks good, maybe not this, blah, blah, blah. So you are really complicating yourself, and of course you have to live, have a job. When you live with a partner, when you are married for example, the best practice is your partner because that is best test of patience. When you achieved to live with your partner in peace and total harmony then you can be in harmony with everybody else, or like with your mother also. At least for me it is been like that. With her I really learn so much, we have been through a lot. Difficulties, good period and finally we have come to a point where we are in harmony. And it is difficult to reach that but with patience, with love, with dedication you can reach there.

I think also as a monk, you can also suffer if you don’t have the right mentality and the right motivation. So it is not really about wearing the robes or living a monk’s life, it is more about the motivation and your mentality. Because you may be a monk but if you want to live a lay person life then you suffer more than being a lay person. And vice versa also. So maybe you should try becoming a monk someday. (OL, GL) I am just joking, don’t take it too seriously.

Question: I can just try to conclude here. The opportunity to get being happier to help others, I can see that being the monk and lay person is the same opportunity?

Ösel: It depends, each person is different, just like when you go to the ocean and you see all the sand, each grain of sand, you pick up one, there will be none that is just like that. So in that way each of us is also completely different. So each person has different circumstances, different conditions. So it is really about the individual, I can’t really generalize about that. Thank you.

Question: Lama Ösel, I know that you are not in robes but for me it hardly makes a difference, unlike the brother here who has known you since you were small, I have just known you for the last maybe 48 hours, and I think that sitting here, listening to you, I regard you as a young person 27 years old, I am 72. Yet listening to you, the words of wisdom that has come forth from you is so much conviction and sincerity from your heart. It is just run through my mind where does all these wisdoms come from? And as I said whether you are in robes or as you are, it doesn’t matter as long as you are coming forth with right dharma message to all of us, I am sure being a reincarnation, a tulku, I think Lama Yeshe would have liked someone to continue to give that message, to be the bridge between east and west. And I think it doesn’t really matter if you are a film maker, you are a monk, it doesn’t matter as long as the message get through. I thank you so much.

Ösel: Thank you, thank you so much for, very inspiring, thank you. So if there is anymore question? Otherwise we do a break, I am sure most of you are tired. It is been a long day right?

Thank you so much everybody, really, from the bottom of my heart. You really inspire me, really.

By Tenzin Ösel Hita
Amitabha Buddhist Centre, Singapore, 2012

Tenzin Ösel Hita gave this Dharma talk at Amitabha Buddhist Centre (ABC), in Singapore, on November 14, 2012. The second part of this talk is a question and answer session where Ösel talks about his time as a monk and his vision for how to be of most benefit to others in the future. You can watch a video of this talk on the FPMT website.

Satisfaction and Challenging Your Limits

Thank you so much everybody for coming here. It is so nice to see so many beautiful faces and such beautiful energies and I think we are all really lucky to be able to be in contact with Buddhism and the Dharma and to have all these great teachers and masters coming to ABC, teaching us very often, especially Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

First of all I would like to ask everybody maybe for a minute of silence in gratitude to the space that we have right now. We have a roof on our heads so that we don’t get wet and not wind and we have comfortable seats so let’s us say thank you to life for that.

Ok thank you otherwise we get boredom, too long, already you have waited a long time, twenty minutes to start.

So first of all, I would like to start talking about each individual and who we are. In this planet there are so many people living here. And each of us, we have every day to live, so we get up in the morning and each of us has his schedule, something we focus on or something we want to accomplish. So we are very happy to have that. Because many people, they do not that focus, like vision. Many people get up and they don’t know what they will eat today. Or maybe they don’t get up in the bed; they get up on the street and maybe with an empty stomach from 2 days ago. Some people maybe don’t have family. I mean I could go on and on, it is sad, so it is something that is happening in the world every day, the fact that we are all here means we are very lucky. Because of course Singapore is a first world country and most of us have the basic needs. Which are the basic needs, is survival, so we need food, shelter, protection and company, which is like warmth? So most of us have that, that is very positive. So just that is reason enough for us to appreciate the life we have and for most of our problem to become insignificant. Because many when we have a problem or we suffer, it starts off in a certain moment, so maybe the worst thing that can happen is somebody we know that passes away or some disaster happens, or we have physical problems, so that’s one the bad thing that can happen. The other suffering that we can have is the mental suffering, which is the one who actually multiplies the physical sufferings.

So usually for example the suffering can start in certain moment, but it is us who chooses to prolong that moment, to make it longer, to keep that moment alive. So it is us who choose that, it is not actually like that. It can be suffering for a while, but then we choose to keep the suffering. It is like “Poor me, poor me, poor me, Me, Me, Me, Me”, that is based on the ego, and the ego starts from the moment we are born, is like input, even from the moment we say my father, my mother, mama, papa, means mine. Also society in a way has made us think that way and believe that way. But if you think very deeply, the ego, the me doesn’t really exist the way we think it exist or we believe it exists, right? If you check for example many times we see things in a certain way today, but tomorrow it will change, so that helps us to understand it, what we are actually seeing in reality is not what we think we see.

Maybe just to make more simple, I will give an example, personal example. Like sometime before, couple of years or ten years ago whenever, someone would take a picture of me, or maybe I look at myself in the mirror and I be like, " Oh I am so ugly, I have zit here, or I am too skinny, my face is too like flat, I wanted to be more round." I look at my face in the picture and "Oh I have pimple, I am so ugly, blah blah, me, me, me." Then the same picture maybe I see it three years later and I am like “Wow I am so handsome then, so good looking, oh I wish I were like that now” and then I realize it maybe the picture is actually the same, who is changed, I have changed, but the vision the way I see the picture has changed, because I don’t identify myself with the person in that picture anymore. So that is very significant, because we identify ourselves with the ego, it is not the actual person who we are and that ego is an input that’s been put from the outside.

So I think it is a good thing to start there, because today we are going to talk about satisfaction right? Satisfaction is difficult thing to achieve when you are unsatisfied. Most of us are unsatisfied, why? Because we are searching outside. And we keep searching outside most of our lives, and many of us who are not in contact with Dharma, many times we don’t have the opportunity to really look inside ourselves. Many people are scared to look inside, somebody don’t believe, the fact that 80% of reality is inside. Some people just don’t have the time to do the introspection, just so busy all the time, from the moment they wake up to the moment they fall asleep, exhausted. So we have that opportunity so we are very lucky. So I am just gonna share some thoughts and some experiences I have had. So it is my point of view, it doesn’t mean that it is the truth or anything, each person has to find their own truth. It is not like I am going to give you the truth, cos that is impossible, it is completely ridiculous. Each person has found the truth, you have to understand the truth, and you have to understand yourself. And that is basically why religion exists, it is to help you find that, it doesn’t give it you, you have to find it by yourself, and it helps you to find that.

So whatever you hear today, you can take you feel is helpful to you, what makes sense to you and what doesn’t you just leave, not necessary to take as a truth or take it for your own purposes. I am sharing my feelings my thoughts.

We are all learning, everyday, from the day we are born, we learn, and throughout our life we are learning, so it is not like any other person is more wise than other person, we are all have our own wisdom through our own experiences, it is like, each of us is like a book, so it is different books, we can’t really generalize, we can’t really judge, because each person is different, we can’t compare either. I know many people like to compare with like the Hollywood stars, because that is the way capitalism works, it is consuming, you compare, you wish, you want, you desire, and that’s where unsatisfaction comes from. From wanting what you don’t have.

So we are all learning, even that day when we pass away and we die, even that day we still learning something new, because it is a new experience, and death is part of life also, just like being born. It doesn’t mean that it is bad; it is just part of the experience of life. Because we are all living in this body and we are born in this body and this is what we have throughout our lives, and our experiences are based on what we go through with this body. So for me to communicate with you I have to express myself in words, or facial expression like laughing, or sadness, or anger, these different expressions.

But ultimately we are alone inside, each of us, so that is something we have to learn and understand and accept. Because whether we want it or not we can search everywhere, all over the world, we can have all the riches, we can be famous, we can have the biggest car, biggest ship, biggest helicopters, the biggest everything, and in the end we will always be with ourselves when we go to sleep, when we wake up. If our partner is very very beautiful physically, it doesn’t mean that’s going to bring you happiness. Many people think oh a beautiful woman will bring us happiness, but if you are not happy with yourself if you are not comfortable with yourself, whether the woman is beautiful or not is not going to make a difference, ultimately.

So that is why you really have to check inside yourself and say: “Who am I? What am I doing? What am I thinking every day?” because thoughts are so important, if you think about all these cities, the man-made cities, the airplanes, the rockets, everything that’s been made-man. Just in this building, I think everything besides our body right now is man-made, or even our body is man-made because we re-produced, but I am talking about man-made like constructing, and building, all of that started with a thought, in the very beginning.

So from a thought everything, all of these what you are seeing today, even the microphones, the cup, the table, the roof, the TV, the camera, everything, the watch, the clothes, everything started with a thought. That is how powerful a thought is, it is the beginning of all of these. Before you build anything you have to think, you have to have an idea, so that is the power of the thought.

So that’s why you have to observe your thoughts and be very aware of what you think every day, and of course you cannot think that you are your thoughts, because the thought is just a tool of us, it is like a tool, is like a screwdriver, you use the screwdriver for your job. So thought is part of our body, of physical and mental awareness. But never identify yourself as a thought because the thought is based on our emotional at that the moment, it is our attitude, it is based on a moment also on what has happened before, maybe an hour ago, or what is going to happen in an hour, you are nervous because you have to do something, or maybe an hour before something happens so your mental attitude affects your thought, but that is not you. That is important thing to make difference. But all the time to be aware and observes your thoughts.

So everyday actions define us, we can choose who we want to be every moment. It is not like oh I am this person; I had this trauma when I was a kid so I have to live with this all my life, NO. we choose to live with that everyday all our life, it doesn’t mean that because we had problem when we were child then for the rest of life we are gonna take this burden, this weight on top of us. That is our fault, it is not somebody else’s faults, it is not our parents’ faults, and it is our fault for choosing to taking the weight continuously on us for our whole life. So that’s why we choose to be who we are, we choose through our actions.

And that is very important to see the freedom that we have, and that comes later with the limits. Breaking our limits, because many times we create limitation, we think we are limited, we think we can’t, or we are like this, but actually it is not true. So anyway we will go back to that later.

So let’s talk about satisfaction, go to the point ya. I don’t know, in Singapore I have seen this many many shopping malls, many places to go shopping. I am sure most of you, actually I think all of us have shopped, gone to do shopping many times. And basically when we do shopping apart from maybe supermarket shopping which is very important of course every day we have to eat, like to buy clothes, or maybe new gadgets like the new iphone. I have seen photos of the people sleeping on the street waiting for the new iphone, not just in Singapore, I don’t know if in Singapore, but in America ya for sure, like many place in the world, people actually decides to sleep on street just to buy an iphone. And they have an iphone which works perfectly well, but they want the new iphone, which maybe just a little smaller and just works just a little faster. But it is, it is all about patience, half a second doesn’t really makes a difference, you know.

But anyway that is just an example of how our mind works, our mind set. It is all about that you think, that we go shopping, we going to buy some material stuff and that is going to bring us happiness or satisfaction. So we go, we buy it, we feel very happy when we are going because we have maybe enough money to buy something, and then we go, we buy it, we take it back home and it is like “Oh my precious”, it is like the most amazing, most incredible thing in that moment. We get home, we open the package, we read the instruction booklet, whatever, we use it a little bit, interesting, that time that moment is like the short lived satisfaction maybe you can call it, it is like the happiness that you have projected, but it is not real happiness, it is just temporary feeling that we create. And after that we just leave it there and we forget about it, and may we use it every day or not, I don’t know, it doesn’t really matter. The thing is that next day or maybe a week afterwards or a month afterwards, we are already thinking about something else. So that is when you realize that that doesn’t really bring you satisfaction.

So for example you have a new car so you clean it every day, then suddenly you see a stretch, Argh, oh my god there is a stretch on my car, what am I going to do now, it is so expensive to repaint the whole car, and if I paint a little bit it is not going to look good. So important, for some people it is so important. But for some other people, eating and filling the stomach is so much important. So each person has their own point view and their own way they live their life, which I respect of course. But the important thing is to see what is really necessary and what is not really necessary in life, because as we live throughout our lives, we have many opportunities and time. And the way we choose to live that is how we create our personality and how we are and who we are.

So the actual happiness and the actual satisfaction comes from helping people, from giving a lending hand. It doesn’t mean you have to dedicate your whole life to helping people, I mean some people choose to do that which is great, but many of us we have family to take care of and that already is helping people. The easiest way to help people is just to be aware of the opportunity or the situations that come every day, just to be kind to somebody, to say hello, say how are you, means you care about that person. Just these details means a lot to somebody else, it can mean a lot. When you get back home sometimes, just because you know somebody every day, you seeing them every day, there is moment where you just over confident. It is like you see a stranger, and you like you talk but you are respectful and when you see someone who is family member or maybe very close friend, or some of them you just more relax, and sometimes especially family, I am not sure about Asia but in Europe, family fights a lot. Children talked back to their mothers and their fathers and it is also a bit of culture maybe. Many times family would stopped talking to each other just because for some stupid reason. Maybe for some people is stupid, for them maybe is not stupid. But if you think about it, it is stupid because you are actually sacrificing the relationship with your parents, or with your family for any reason, it does not matter, as long as you are sacrificing that, from my point of view is stupid. I am sorry to say, and that is why I am saying, each of you just take what you think is good for you and what helps you. I have to be direct because otherwise I can’t express myself.

I think it is very important to start in your own family, you own home, where you are really, you have the confidence in the people, when you actually see that sometimes you overreact, or sometimes you don’t respect that person just because he is family. Oh he is my brother, ok whatever, doesn’t matter tomorrow we will make peace, today I am going to insult him because I am angry or somebody insulted me before. Or because something happened, someone scratched my car. It doesn’t matter. Actually it does matter because when we actually harm somebody even saying bad words, we are actually harming ourselves much more. Even like criticizing people, we are criticize somebody we are criticizing ourselves, we are harming ourselves. It doesn’t mean don’t hurt people don’t harm people because you are going to harm yourself, NO. Don’t harm people because that is what you wouldn’t like people to do to yourself. But ultimately when you do harm, you are harming yourself, eventually, in sub-consciously, very subtly, that will stay inside. Maybe when you go to sleep maybe you have a nightmare or maybe you won’t be able to sleep that night and you don’t know why. Turning around again and again, you like, Oh why can’t I sleep, then maybe you realize oh I said something very bad to somebody today, after thinking a lot, or maybe a week before, doesn’t matter it is there. That is how karma works, karma is the imprint to leave inside yourself. So anyway I think I going far away from the subject.

We are talking about satisfaction. Basically satisfaction really comes when you help somebody, when you act, when you give something good of yourself, when you are actually are more aware of other people than yourself. When you think about Me Me Me all the time, that is when unsatisfaction comes, and from unsatisfactions there is suffering also. When you think about Me, Me, Me then there is suffering. Because you suffer, why, because you project about what you would like to have or what you wouldn’t like to have.

So satisfaction is basically living the moment, when you live the moment which is the present which is all we have apart from this body. This body is all we have and this moment is what comes with this. So that is all we have actually. You can say no I own a house, ya but that house is just projection, it kind of like a concept. That house, its nature is a creation of many people from many different generations who actually came up with the concepts of cement and bricks. And maybe you work a lot and you learn some money and then maybe you have the mortgage, but it is all a concept. The house basically is a place to live and to take care of your family and to live together. But do we own it? No, it is just a concept. Do we own the car? No, we don’t, we can use it, we have the choice to use it, but all that we really own is our body. That is the only thing that is actually really ours. We can say this is mine. And with the body comes the moment which is now. And it will be always be now, always. And with that now comes the self, being the self. It is constantly happening. That is why I am not saying be the self, I am saying being the self, because we are constantly being. So when you realize that, satisfaction starts to happen, because then you are living the moment, that’s where you are really understand satisfaction. You are living the moment, you are helping other people and you are thinking about how to help other people and that is what other people think about you and try to help you also. So it is like vice-versa, it is like paying it forward which will always come back, tenfold, hundredfold. Same way someone hits you and you hit them back, doesn’t really makes sense because you are just giving back what they gave you, but you don’t want that, so if you don’t want it why are you giving it back. If you stop giving it back then they will think Oh he is not giving back I wonder why, what is going on here. You give space for that person to realize his mistake.

So anyway I don’t want to bore you, I just keep talking okay, and if you want to sleep you can sleep, if you want leave you can leave, if you want a pee pee break just let me know okay. tea break whatever.

So the same way we prolong the suffering we can prolong the satisfaction, we can choose to keep the satisfaction. So if we are satisfied now, we are satisfied tomorrow and so on. Because in the past, many times you suffered from the past, oh this happened, that happened, I did this, oh I regret this, and actually that something already happened, we are living right now which is based on the past of course, but we can choose what we want from the future, we can create our reality. Reality is always changing so we can actually choose to create what we would like to happen. So the more we want to help people, the more happiness and satisfaction will come to us. That is basically the teachings of the Buddha, it is Dharma, in a very simple way, which I think, Dharma itself is very simple just like life, is very simple, it is just we complicate it with our thoughts and our lives and all these distractions that exist.

Talking about limits, we create our limits from the very time we start having coherent thoughts, like even maybe when we are younger, eight or nine years old, already we are starting to create our limits because we start to be coherent, we think, “Oh I can’t do this so I would like to do that but it is not possible because blah blah blah”. Many times it may be true but we can always choose to change that gradually and sometimes maybe our parents force us to do something, and we like oh we have to accept this, it is the way life is. But we always choose what we want to do and how we want to do it you know, that is breaking the limits. Doesn’t mean you have to, you know, if you going to the gym you going to work so hard, you going to like destroy yourself, No. breaking the limits is not about going to the limit and like exhausting yourself, No. breaking the limits is about understanding how we limit ourselves and how we create a wall or a bubble where we think this is all we going to live or this is all we are, our potential, that is, when we create our limits.

Many times that comes from our childhood, because when we grow up, like until we are 14, 15, 16, that I like the very important stage of our life, we are actually getting our personality, when we the people, when we do this, when we do that, the language we learn the language, we learn the culture. So basically that is when we are created who we are, but that doesn’t mean we cannot be someone else. It doesn’t mean also that we can change ourselves, in other words we can give the space for the change to happen, we just have to vision and focus and project where we want to go and then give ourselves the space for that to happen and that will automatically arise.

Because if you think about it, each of us, individually our potential is infinite, infinite potential. Believe it or not, it is true, if you think about it, our body is amazing, and it is incredible. We just forget about it, we see the sun and we like Oh it is normal, we see wind blowing the tree, making the tree dance, we think oh that is normal we see it every day. We feel gravity, gravity makes us sit right now like this, we are not floating, like astronauts bumping into each other, we try to drink, and it is like floating everywhere. It is like gravity is happening right now, it is amazing, it is magic, just like fire, it is amazing, you look at the fire and it is like woah, it is constantly burning, it is magic. The thing is that there is a certain point, when we are kids, everything is amazing, everything is wow, wow, wow, why does this works, how does this works, why and blah blah blah blah, then there is a certain point reaches and we like Okay it is normal, we just focusing on our everyday, we just look down, and just do what we are doing.

But everyday it is amazing you know, it is a ceremony when the sun comes up, it rises, for all of nature it is ceremony, the birds come out they do the music, the trees you can feel it, even the light, the cloud, everything is magnificent, and that is the magic of life, it is every second, all the time. In the same way our body is so magical, you just have to look at your body, just see our hands, and how we can interact with our body. It is crazy we are composed by so many different cells, millions and billions of cells. And we have different organs all working at the same time, doing different functions. And our skin is doing different functions, the pores and all of them are happening at the same time and it is all composition of many different things to create just one thought, like one understanding, we just focus on one thing. Okay I am looking there now, you can see reality you can see what is happening. Light is information, light gives us information what is and when it is dark, we can always imagine what there is, but it is not the same thing of course. For those of us who can actually see, we should feel very very lucky, and always feel happy because of all these opportunity we have. Just talking about eyesight, hearing, how amazing is that music, so magical you know, and I can just go on and on, so anyway check for yourself. It is really, it is magic, I tell you life is magic, it is complete magic, you can’t believe it. That is why we should never think we are limited because it is constant magic, it is happening, it really is. If you don’t believe me, check it, check it yourself, and just turn on the TV, I am just joking.

So when you believe something that is your reality, so if you think you are limited then that is your reality, if you think you can do something, that is your reality. So I think that is good for now for satisfaction and breaking your limits. I also want to talk about another factor, which today in our world is creating a lot of chaos and suffering, it is call ANGER. It is an emotion that is based on our ego. Basically anger, jealousy all these things, but basically anger is a very destructive force, it is very very destructive. It arises from our ego, from the Me, Me, Me, and maybe like in Asia we call it sometimes like lose face, like when somebody insults us oh we lose face. What does that mean lose face? Do you know what that means? I don’t. I understand the concept, I think we all understand the concept but the actual meaning doesn’t really exist. Because insult is like a word, there is a saying in English, “Stick and stone can break my bones but words can’t do anything” as long as you don’t give importance to those words.

So many times like for example anger is like when you are indignation when like someone say something to you or you get stressed and from that stress there is a certain anger that comes out like “Oh he said that, I can’t believe he insulted my sister or my mother”, and it is just, the concept, that person he created his own choice to send that energy to you. If you let it just bounce off, then for you it won’t harm you. It will harm that person of course, because they chose to do that to themselves. When I insult someone I am harming myself, much more than I am harming the other person. And even less if that person chooses not to really give much importance to that, because anger comes from the ego concept. What is ego? Ego is when we create this concept of who we are and what we are. But actually we are just functional beings, we are doing our function which is to live, to reproduce. Nature created us in this way, so we have our instinct of course. And in survival usually animals get angry when you hurt them and they react to defend themselves.

But for human it is different because we think a lot and we think and we create another reality which is our ego. So that is why anger is a very destructive force which we have to be very careful with, it is an emotion which is hidden, everybody has anger. I am a very angry person. it is true maybe I don’t look like it now but sometimes be careful. Yeah anger is very dangerous because you can regret for the rest of your life something you did when you are angry. You can maybe take a car and drive really fast and you have an accident. Then you can regret that moment for the rest of your life. Why? Because that impulse, and that impulse where does it comes from? Comes from the ego. The ego is for example, you look at some point on that wall. So right now our consciousness is focusing on that point, so anger is like a pipeline, like a tube, from our ego to that point, so we don’t see anything else but what that pipe is showing us. So it is like just looking through that pipe, you can’t see anything else you just see what you are looking. That is a little bit like what anger looks like, it makes you completely blind, it makes you see what the ego wants you to see.

And of course we are our worst enemy if you think about it. Our worst enemy is ourselves, so we can be very treacherous with ourselves, so we have to be careful with that. Because we are composed by many different, hmm I don’t know, beings you can call it I think, because sometimes we are happy and sometimes we are sad, it is different states of mind. When we get angry we just see what that states of mind wants us to see, so we are indignant. “Oh that is not right, he said that, that is not true, I worked so hard and he is saying I didn’t do anything.” If you work really hard and then you are satisfied with yourself, you are happy with yourself, it doesn’t matter whatever anybody says, it doesn’t matter, you know you did what you did, and you know what you did was really hard and you work really hard for it, so who cares what person says, who cares what he tells other people, they can believe whatever they want to believe, you know what you know. I can understand in Asia is very difficult to accept that, because like losing face is about giving importance to what people think about you. And really that is none of your business. I am sorry to say. Your business is what you do and your actions and your thoughts, that is your business. What other people say, what other people do, as long as you can help them then it is your business. But if it is something negative if it is going to make you suffer and if it is make you worry, forget about it. Why? Why are you going to take that weight and why you are going to worry about something you can’t change. You are not going to each person and say “Oh it is not true what he says, it is not true”. If it true, then ok maybe you want to convince them otherwise. But if it not true, then doesn’t matter, as long as you follow your own truth your own positive thoughts.

Again I am going far away from the subject which is anger. So anger comes from when your ego is hurt. When they hurt your ego, that is basically when anger comes. So when anger comes it is like a tube, it makes you blind, and you only see something then you want to show how angry you are, you want to demonstrate that you are really angry, so maybe you punch someone or something and you hurt your fist when you punch the wall and for a week you are hurting. Or you take car and you drive really fast, just because you want to show, you want to scare the other person, you want to show Oh I am really angry. Things like that.

So sometimes you have to check, you have to say “Okay I am seeing this emotion is coming up” you have to check why is it coming up, from where is it coming up. You check and you see oh it is the ego, the ego is hurt, and the ego wants me to react. And this ego many times hurts us, it is our worst enemy, so we have to be very careful, really, it can really harms us. And many times war are fought because of that. Maybe war maybe done in the name of peace, but you can’t make a war for peace. It doesn’t make sense. So anyway just be careful with the destructive power of anger, because many of us would say oh I am an angry person, but watch out, you never know. when it comes out, it comes out. And that is the test, everyday life gives us test, when you are stress, when you are very stress, people come maybe talk to you, you are so stressed, you can’t talk you Ahh No No, whatever, you talk really harsh, that is the moment of the test. If you can be kind to that person when you are suffering yourself, then you pass the test. The more you do it, the easy it will be, and the happy you will be the more satisfied.

Because in the end, negativeness, if you check the news for example most of it is all negative, why? Because people wants to see negative things, it like more interesting, and from where does that come from? Why do we suffer so much many times, why do we see so much negativeness? It is very simple, it is because people over-value negativeness much more than positiveness. For us sometimes negativeness is so much more important than positiveness. You will never see in the news on a single mother raised four children by herself for fourteen years, but you will see oh a mother kills her son, that you will see. Or maybe you will see, or for an example, your parent took care of you all your life, and then maybe you are not used to your parent shouting at you or slapping you, and maybe one day your mother slapped you really hard, and you Oh my mother slapped me, and you remembered that, that is like that is the biggest memory of your mother. Oh I know my mother is not a nice person, she slapped me. What about all those years that she took care of you. I am saying generalizing, I am just making example of how people gives so much importance to negative things, and by doing that, they create the negative energy becoming very big and the positive become insignificant.

So if you switch that around, turn it around, you make the positive really significant, you give importance only to positive things all the time, and negative things Ah doesn’t matter, it is insignificant, it doesn’t really matter, I am not going waste my time in this. Then slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly there will be no negative things, they will all be positive. And if each of us can do that, then will affect the collective memory. The collective memory is like the omnipresence, somebody call it god, somebody call it evolution, somebody call it nature, somebody call it love, the universe, the big bang, there is just so many names for it, physics, karma, but ultimately it can be the same thing, and it is up to us to see it the way we want to see it. So if you start now to see only positiveness and to give the importance to positiveness then the negativeness will starts disappearing. And one day it won’t exist, and if it exists, will be able to change it and see the positiveness in the negative. Something bad happened to you, you like “Okay I learn from this, it makes me stronger, and I will be a better person, and I will be able to help other people to overcome that difficulty." So that is positive. We are always changing. So tomorrow is a new day, so maybe today we may be suffering, but tomorrow we have the opportunity to change that just from the way we see it.

Anyway it is very important to love yourself I think. I think all of you think that also. because it is so important, for a big period of my time, I think most of teenagers go through that, you don’t like yourself, think most of us have gone through that. That is something we have to learn, but eventually we will see that it is very important to be comfortable with ourselves, to love ourselves in order to be able to love everybody else. You can’t really give love or help people if you are not well youself. Treat yourself with respect, take care of your body and try to slowly, slowly make that better and better so that you can help other people eventually. But always starts with yourself, with your thoughts with your feeling, with the actions.

So I think I will stop there and if any of you have questions I will try to answer the best I can.

Tenzin Ösel Hita gave these Dharma talks during the 45th Kopan Course. November 27, December 07 2012.

[Osel’s testing microphone out.] Whoops, okay. I have more practice now. Hello. Just have to get the breathing right.

Okay, so thank you so much for coming again. I’m sure, I mean, I think the faces look much more relaxed than the other day, less tired. Today was like a vacation, right? So I know you did korwa, so I know. And tomorrow you’re going to Boudha, I believe?

Yeah, so when you go to Boudha, make sure you ask for your wish, or your, what you would like to accomplish because always all your wishes are, they come true when you wish it hard enough. Because it’s together with what we feel, inside of us, and that is our truth, of course, combined with the truth where everybody believes that. So it becomes very powerful. So in Boudha, all the wishes come true. So it’s double powerful. So just make sure you make beautiful wishes for all your life, and desire to help the sentient beings.

Most of the time, I mean of course, you’ve already done the November course, you know about karma, so motivation is very important. Not only “me, me, me”. For other people always. And then the ‘me’ will come automatically; you don’t have to worry about that.

So translators …you’re not translator today? You’re on vacation, also? Okay.

So I just wanted to congratulate everybody with their precepts. I know it must have been really, really hard. I have a really hard time not eating when I’m hungry. So good job. Congratulations.

So you’re almost in the end of the November course. I just want to ask you from the bottom of my heart just to be aware of the opportunity that you’ve had, and you have, and the habit that you’ve created, and to keep that habit when you go back to your home, to your normal life, just try not to let the old habits, like the negative habits, kick back in. Try to keep the habits from here as much as possible. It will help you for the rest of your life. So just try to keep that in mind because now you have that state of being, that flow. So when you get back into like the city or, it’s hard, of course, to keep it but inside you can keep. So just try to focus on that, try to see that goal, so that before you even get there, you already have it clear, and don’t get lost or sucked in to the distractions and samsara, etcetera.

So let’s start with some gratefulness. So gratefulness for this body. It’s so important always to be grateful for the body because this is what we have for our life – it’s all we have, the only real thing that we own.

So that’s why I just want to emphasize on that because many times we forget. It’s normal, we have a body, it’s normal. We’re just focusing outside all the time.

But the most important part is our body and what we have inside, because we are with our body all the time, 24/7. So just to be grateful.

So I just want to go through the five senses that the body has. Most of the senses are information coming from outside. And through that information, we are more connected to the outside world. It helps us to understand what is going on. So we should be grateful to have those five senses, which some people don’t have all five.

So we start with the sight, the light; light is information. When you turn on the light, when the sun comes out, then you can see what there is outside. When you’re in complete darkness, then you don’t see anything. There’s no information coming from the images.

It’s interesting sometimes also to think about that. Like when you do meditation; it’s important to do analytical meditation as well as practical meditation. So the analytical meditation is, it starts like that, where you actually investigate and try to understand. Maybe it’s difficult to understand because ultimately, understanding is just a concept. But try to feel and engage in what is happening in those moments. The contact we have with outer reality.

So the sight, we are grateful for the sight we have. Right now, I’m so grateful to be seeing so many beautiful faces. Really, this is very beautiful.

So thank you to the sight. We can move around, we can do also our jobs, we can, I mean, there’s infinite, infinite situations where we need our sight, and thankfully we have it. So let’s be grateful for that.

And the smell. How incredible is the smell? You can smell something and you can identify what it is – be it good or bad. You go in the restaurant, “Hmm, it smells so good. Ah, I’m hungry”. And you go near a toilet, “Oh!” It’s amazing, you can identify the source of where the smell is coming from. I mean, it’s amazing. And it all, it’s only the air, you can’t really see it. Can’t see smell, can you? But it’s, so the smell and the speech with which we can communicate with each other, imagine that there was no speech. You have to do like sign language. How hard is that?

So we have the opportunity to be able to communicate through speech. So that’s why it’s important to respect the fact that we have the possibility to do that. And when we do speak, try to think before you speak., and really see whether it’s got, it’s beneficial. Or maybe ‘beneficial’ is not the right word ‘cause it’s so generalized, like speaking – we always speak, so you can’t always check if it’s beneficial or not.

But at least check whether it’s worth it or not. Just talking for talking, sometimes is just, I don’t know, it’s just a waste of energy – unless, of course, you’re sharing information, you’re learning something.

Sometimes it’s good to just talk, but not always. Like people can talk for hours and hours and hours about just gossip or whatever. And sometimes it’s just talking about other people and judging other people or criticizing people, and that’s, there’s not much point there ‘cause ultimately, you’re harming yourself when you do that. So that’s the wrong type of speech. It’s not the type of speech you would want to use because we have that the gift, we have that opportunity. So when you use it, just be aware of how you use it [pause] – apart from being grateful, of course.

And the language. Of course the language is amazing. How could we communicate if there was no language? Facial expression, theater, maybe? But there’s so many sophisticated words to express yourself that sometimes without language, there’s so much limitation. So the fact that we can actually communicate, it’s really amazing; I’m so grateful for that every day.

And, of course, we have the physical contact. The tact, sometimes it can be painful, sometimes it can be pleasurable, but it’s there. Our body can feel. We can feel cold, we can feel heat. It depends, [pauses to say] oh, I think, translating is working now. No vacation! Okay, I’ll try to go slowly, okay? Thank you.

So I mean, so one of the types of suffering is the physical suffering, of course, which is through sensations. And it can be very hard sometimes, like sickness, and that’s one of the, I think, basic physical suffering is through the sensation. And, of course, many times it’s difficult to kind of cope with that. But it’s always, we can make it less by using our mind and our thoughts and our feelings, and not paying so much attention to that.

For example, if maybe you have broken leg or something, or I’m sick, stomach pain or a flu, fever, whatever. Maybe I can be feeling really bad like, “Oh, poor me, and, I’m suffering so much.

So then if I just think about that, then it make, becomes really big. Then I suffer much more. So then the fever becomes like this amazing fever I’ll remember all my life. Yeah, I’ll tell everybody, “Oh, yeah, when I got this fever, I hallucinated and everything – it’s amazing”. No, but I mean really bad; I mean, not ‘amazing’ kind of good. But anyway it’s going to the point.

So for example, if I concentrate on other people’s suffering, like people who are really suffering a lot, like in Africa or in places war zones, and then I can realize that actually my suffering is nothing compared to those people. And I’m really lucky just to have that suffering – it’s not so much actually; it’s just a fever, tomorrow it can get cured. There’s some chronic diseases which it exists, and at least in this moment, I don’t have it. Or if I have it, you can always think about something worse which other people do have.

So in that way, we can really work with our suffering and change it into compassion, into bodhicitta. So it’s stops being, ‘Me, me, me. I’m suffering, Poor me!’, into “Wow, this is just a little bit of the suffering humanity has to go through. Let me try to use this suffering and visualize that I’m taking other people’s suffering through this, and purify”. And through this, just think positive, and your suffering will become smaller in that way. Yeah, so anyways, I’m going on with the subject.

But the five senses, and the last one would be hearing. So hearing is amazing because it’s another type of information which we cannot see, of course. So that’s why, there’s so many things that we cannot see with our eyes, because many times people say, “Oh, if science doesn’t say it, then it doesn’t exist?. Or, “If the government doesn’t say it, it’s not true”. Or, “I don’t believe it because I can’t see it”.

Then it’s, sometimes it contradicts the reality because there are so many things we cannot see, that it doesn’t really make sense to negate, or say, “It doesn’t exist”, like, for example, karma. Karma exists in the way that, for example, the scientists through many hundreds of years have been investigating, and they’ve discovered many new discoveries every so often.

The same way that also mind scientists, even it goes even further away than the actual science we know today, because those people, they started thousands of years ago, even maybe at the time of the prehistorics. Maybe there was no science there, maybe the science was like fire, and the javelin, but at least it was some kind of meditation, some kind of ritual, where people would come together, maybe sing or make music, make drumming, go around the fire, I don’t know, like the American Indians. It’s a ritual – that’s meditation also. It’s communicating with yourself.

So from the beginning of humanity it’s existed. And now, there’s many different ways of the information has arrived. One of the types of information is Buddhism. And so all of you have had the opportunity in this time to attend the November course and learn about that.

And I mean, from my point of view, the lam-rim is more than enough for the whole lifetime. If you get a good understanding of that, that’s good enough. So we have that opportunity, thanks to the hearing, of course.

So let’s just concentrate on those five senses. Of course, for example, hearing we can enjoy by listening to good music, the type of music we like, of course, because not everybody likes the same music. Some people like very chill music, some people like heavy metal, so it’s different for every person, right?

So let’s just meditate on that, for maybe five minutes, on the five senses and on our body, and the gratefulness for having that. And try to keep that gratefulness constant. Even if you can’t, it’s not a problem. Just try to be aware, once in a while; when you use the five senses, just to be aware [of] the opportunity you have, how magical it is. People forget about that. People forget about the magic in life – they just get lost in materialism and everyday life and their habits, etcetera. So let’s just, yeah. [pause for meditation]

I feel bad to interrupt the moment. It’s so amazing to see so many people in silence. interiorizing – it’s really beautiful. It really is. So, but I have to interrupt ‘cause it will become late otherwise, and maybe tomorrow you have to wake up early. I’m sure you’re tired also from today.

So anyways, you can also do it by yourself any time. Just keep in mind that any moment during the day is a good moment to meditate. You don’t have to sit down to meditate; any moment is good to meditate. Even if you’re in the toilet, it’s fine. It doesn’t matter. Meditating is not about having to be in a specific place, in a specific state of mind with specific people, no. Meditation is about yourself. So any time you’re with yourself. So that’s enough.

Okay, so I thought to mention something because last night I was watching this documentary about frequencies. It’s a very new documentary about maybe one week, two weeks old. It’s on You Tube. I posted it on my Facebook page just in case people, so if anybody wants to join, it’s just Osel Hita; it’s very simple. Just to keep you posted about things that are happening, information that I come up with. In Facebook, sometimes there’s lots of information, interesting stuff. So that was just a propaganda moment.

So I watched this documentary about frequency, and it’s very interesting because frequencies is something that scientists have only started to discover in the past maybe a hundred years, or even maybe less than that.

And normally, of course, we kind of know frequencies because like vibration, like the singing bowl when you turn it around, can feel the vibration, or the vibration of the voice – there’s many different types of vibrations. So I think people have known a little bit of vibration but frequency’s a different concept. So sound is like, it’s like this vibrating magic, and it’s part of the frequency also.

So the documentary was talking about a thing called the Schumann resonance. It’s a scientist called Schumann and he discovered that the earth, that the resonance or the frequency of the earth is at 7.83 Hz. I have no idea what that means but at least that’s the information. And it turns out also that the human beings resonate at the same vibration, the same frequency.

And one of the experiments they did that I saw on the documentary, was that they would take people underground and shut them off from the actual frequencies of the earth because the frequencies underground are different from the ones that we have outside. And the people would become sick and they would get very tired, and they would get a lot of lüng, and stuff like that would happen because they were not in contact with these frequencies from the earth.

So I just thought this was a very interesting concept because it’s true, like when you go into the countryside, you go outside of the city where it’s full of frequencies like the cell phones and the wi-fi and the internet, all that is frequencies everywhere. And when you go outside into nature, you really feel so good because you’re free from all that.

And also one of the good things in the November course is that they confiscated cell phones. So I’m sure you keep ... one of the factors of feeling good is because you don’t have that frequency resonating with you all the time, which is what happens when we carry cell phones with us all the time.

So it’s something that has not been very well-investigated yet because it’s very new. And basically, like cell phones and the wi-fi frequencies, it’s not that they actually cause sickness or like cancer and stuff like that.

One of the things that I understood, I’m not sure, but that’s a thing what I understood, is they lower down the quantity of melatonin. Have you heard of melatonin before? It’s a special liquid I they think we have; it’s like an antioxidant – very, very powerful antioxidant which is released when we sleep.

So the senses are right behind the eyes, and then when it’s dark, then the brain releases that substance – melatonin. And basically what it does, it regenerates all the cells and regenerates our body, and I’m not sure, but I think the numbers were around one billion cells – that regenerates a billion cells a day that we lose or that destroyed or whatever in the night.

It may be an exaggeration but it makes sense because our bodies are composed by many, many, many, many, many cells, billions and billions and billions. It’s like a universe inside a universe inside a universe inside a universe, which is saying it’s infinite. When you go out, our planet is like the galaxy, the galaxies in the universe; the universes in some other universes. It just goes on and on and on and on. And we’re just this tiny part; we think we’re so important, which is normal because we are the center of our universe, right? We live in our body. It’s normal that we have that preconception. But of course, we are very important but we are very small. Just have to keep that in mind.

And I just remembered a phrase that I like very much. It goes like this: “Be proud for you are, but be humble for you belong”.

And basically, when it says to be proud for you are, it doesn’t mean be proud like, oh I mean, like a snob or something. No. It means be proud of your potential, be proud of what you are. Respect yourself. Don’t underestimate yourself. Don’t push yourself down. Just be proud because you are; you are what you are.

But at the same time, be humble because you belong. You’re part of something, and you depend on something constantly in order to exist, starting from our body and all the different particles of our body.

Even to eat, we have to live, we have to eat. So even every day, our life is based on having to drink water and breathe air and eat, and also maybe even relationships and contact with other humans. So all these things are factors that we need every day in order to live. So we are part of everything. So that’s a big reason why we should be humble.

So I just really like that sentence. It’s nice: Be proud for you are, and be humble for you belong.

It’s like, I mean, it’s amazing, I just remembered. For example, our heart is beating all the time, right – boom-boom; boom-boom; boom-boom, right? And the beating, basically it’s expansion and contraction our whole life. And the universe is doing the same thing, or at least that’s what the scientists say. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but they say the universe expands and contracts. Right now we’re in the expansion moment of the universe.

So it’s a little bit almost the same, right? Our heart is doing it constantly; the universe is also doing it right now. It’s just that the time of the universe is so huge, like even a million years for us is like one second for the universe. It’s nothing.

But we can feel. It’s like for example, the time for the trees and for us, it’s a different type of time, it’s a different type of change, maybe almost. Maybe the change is the same, I don’t know, because all particles moving constantly.

And of course, frequency. Frequency is one of the main factors of movement, of time because time is based on movement. So anyway, I’m going far from the subject again.

But I just wanted to make that metaphor, the heart of the universe; it’s really interesting. It’s like dualism – like female and male, night and day, good and bad. I mean there’s just so many types of dualism in our existence. It’s just interesting just to think about it, just to see, say, “Wow, look, huh”. I mean maybe it’s always two, but the two maybe become one or something like that, I don’t know.

Anyway, now I’m just going back to the frequency part. Just like, for example, I know many of us, we have to live in cities, and we are there – one of the numbers I heard in the documentaries, around four billion people in this planet have cell phones. And they started building cell phone towers, I don’t know, maybe 50 years ago or less, maybe 20 years ago. And now everybody in Nepal and India, Africa, everyone has cell phones – so cheap.

And I mean it’s something that sometimes scares me because we don’t really know the effect or the consequence of it; it’s not really known yet. So, but one thing I do know is that the tests are made, the cell phone that affects the person is based on a grown up person.

So I know today there are many young children maybe who use phones at a very young age. So strongly recommend not to give your children cell phones, at least until they’re old enough to have the skull thick enough so that it doesn’t affect them so much.

But of course, I’m not scaring people or anything. I’m just saying, just to be aware of that, and try to use the phone less. And if you can, at least maybe use the speaker or maybe cable, maybe don’t put the phone next to your head so much.

Of course, each person is different so I mean for me, I’m just saying this because I want to help you. It doesn’t mean I want to scare you. Fear, it’s not good. So fear is not the point why I’m saying this. It’s just to be more conscious. Okay. So don’t misunderstand me, please. We have enough fear in the world already.

So karma is a little bit like that. You cannot see it but it’s there. And then sometimes you can see the result of karma, like instant karma, it can happen. Like this time, when I was in Bali, I had, we were all going to go somewhere, and we had rented a motor bike and the keys disappeared. Then suddenly, everyone was going and I couldn’t find the keys. So I was looking for the keys for an hour everywhere. I was freaking out. And I had left them on the table but I just couldn’t find them; it was so weird. So anyway, so finally I gave up, and said, “Okay, let’s just stay at home. Everybody left”. We stayed at home and, relaxed. So it’s fine.

Except what happens in sometimes life, you have to adapt to what happens. Even though sometimes our projections tell us what we want, and when it doesn’t happen that way, then we get really pissed and angry and frustrated. But that’s one of the practices, when that happens, if we know how to adapt, then we feel good about that. And then sometimes it’s even better – the situation, something better happens. So anyway, just keep that in mind. Sometimes if things don’t happen like you want them to happen, it maybe for a reason and a very good reason, too.

So anyways the story goes that after two days, so it’s so funny because in Bali immediately the next day, we got a copy of the key. Two Balinese, they took a hose, tied the hose to the bike, the motorbike, and carried the bike to the key-maker or whatever. And then in one hour, they had a new key for the bike.

So then after two days, I went to visit a friend and result’s that he had the key; he had taken it by mistake, and he had it in his backpack. So he gave me the key back and I went, “Okay, now I have two keys. That’s great”. And then he had to leave. And suddenly, he couldn’t find his key. So he was searching for one hour for the key. And then he had to do the same thing. He had to get someone to make a copy of the key.

But it’s so weird ‘cause the moment he gave me the key, ten minutes afterwards, he needed the key for his motorbike and he couldn’t find it. That was like the most recent, instant karma experience I had. It may be coincidence but maybe not. I don’t know.

So sometimes instant karma is good, because it makes us see how karma works. For example, I have a friend back in Spain. He was a bit naughty and he stole something in a supermarket. And that same day, his wallet got stolen and he lost a lot of money.

So that was like instant karma for him. And since then, he never again stole anything from anyone or anywhere. Of course, before he used to always steal from like supermarkets, stuff like that. It’s just like, I don’t know why. But anyways, he learned his lesson.

So it’s a good thing that sometimes instant karma happens immediately because that way we actually see the results of our actions. And also it’s very lucky because that way we purify faster. So sometimes, stay aware of that and try to keep in mind that karma does exist, and it’s based on the scientists of the mind who have been experiencing this for a very long time. And it’s been passed by word of mouth and through experiences up to now. So I just want to emphasize on that again because tradition is based on that.

So it’s just we have to be able to filter what works for us through tradition. But tradition is there, thank God. It’s so beneficial, so helpful because that is what we have from all those generations. So anyways, I don’t want to talk so much about one thing. So that’s that.

So we as individuals, we have so much power and potential, we must use this opportunity, especially now that we have been introduced to the lam-rim. So just keep in mind the fact that you have been here, you’ve made all these connections, you met all these beautiful people, which I’m sure many of you will keep meeting throughout your life. And it’s amazing friendships will arise from this course. Maybe many friendships already happened from other courses from other parts of the world.

So just feel rejoice for that, and just keep in mind the lam-rim and what Venerable Gyatso has taught all of us. And so much dedication, so much hard work from his side. And he’s such an amazing monk and such an amazing person that we are so lucky to have him here amidst us.

So just keep that in mind, and really respect that. Don’t go back home and say, “Okay. Whatever”, like, “I understood some of it; I didn’t understand some of it, whatever. I’m just going to go back to my old habits and that’s it”. Because then afterwards, your body will actually tell you, you’ll see it for yourself that actually it’s good, it’s helpful.

Sometimes our mind plays tricks on us; it makes, believes things like grasping mind or your obsessive mind, it makes this big, powerful kind of thought which becomes even like an emotion or a feeling or, and then we get lost in that. So we just have to tame that, keep that at bay always. Especially see whether that’s good or not, if it’s beneficial for us and for the rest of the people that surround us. I just want to emphasize on that again also. It’s very important to take the opportunity that you have, that you have had in this course, and use it for the rest of your life, and help other people to be inspired by that, too, in your own hometown or your city or your family, wherever you’re going to go back.

So try not to get sucked in into you your habits and your everyday kind of life where you don’t, when you’re not conscious. Of course, you have to do your everyday life; you have a job, you have to do the job. But at least now you have the technique of maybe not to get stressed so much, to be able to breathe, to be able to do some meditation, to be able to be kind to people in the workplace. All those things, you have that now. So when you go back, it’s going to be different. Of course you have to go back to routine in your life, that’s normal. We have to live, right? We have to pay for our family, we have to pay for ourselves it’s the way humans have built society, and the system has created this kind of way of being. So it’s normal, it’s nothing new. But just try to keep in mind what is good and what is bad for you.

So it’s so important to keep the purity that you have achieved in this month, the purity that you have right now. I don’t want to bore you with that any more.

So I just wanted to talk maybe about love a little bit because I think there’s some questions the other day about your partner, and how to live with your partner and relationships and all that stuff. And I think last time, we didn’t have much time so I wasn’t really able to go very deep. I can’t really go too deep because I, myself, am still also learning what love is.

So I just want to share a little bit what my understanding of some things that we should be aware of what love can be sometimes.

So love has many views. There’s different people who see love different ways. Love has always existed; it’s part of the human beings. It’s, for me sometimes love can be the same thing as just like God or yourself or the guru or the omnipresence or the collective memory, sometimes even maybe evolution or karma. I don’t know, maybe it creates confusion thinking like that? But sometimes, it’s interesting to think, “Oh, maybe it’s the same thing. It could be the same thing”. Because love is everywhere; it’s not something that we can point at. Love created us, love keeps us alive and it’s the energy we have, I mean, it’s got so many different names, and so many different views.

So I don’t really want to generalize or specify anything. But I just want to make sure that you understand what love is not, what love is not. Because today in this society, many people confuse love with other things which are not love.

So for example, today, in today’s society, love can be mixed up with like grasping or obsession or attachment. It can even be related to suffering – like people suffer from love, from love. But it’s not real love because love, you never suffer from love, there’s no suffering that comes from love. Love creates no suffering – the real love, of course.

That’s why I just want to talk about what love is not. I mean, after love can be anything you want it to be. But at least you know what it’s not, which many people believe it is.

Sometimes in a relationship, oh, you think, “Oh, I love this person”. But then you’re like, putting so much pressure on that person, you don’t let them breathe sometimes. And that’s not love, of course. Love is, there has to be space. Without space, there’s no love. From space, then love comes out from that. I mean, if there’s no space, how can there be love? I don’t know, does that make sense? Maybe I contradict myself, I don’t know. But at least for me, it makes sense.

So just going back in time a little bit. Back in the days, maybe couple of hundreds of years, thousands of years, I don’t know, love was a different story. Maybe love letter, very romantic love letter would be written by somebody, and they wouldn’t see maybe for year or two years. Maybe the letter would take months to get to that person. You would never even know if it reached that person or not. Maybe no answer would come.

For example, you have to take a boat from, I don’t know, from point A to point B, it would take maybe three months, and you have to navigate, or even walking, anything can happen: you can fall sick, you can have an accident or fallen from the horse, I mean, it was so easy to die back in those days.

The medicine was not as good. And there was no opportunity to for example, even like chicken pox or appendicitis. If I had lived, maybe a thousand years ago in this body, I would probably be dead by now because I had appendicitis, and that would have probably been the cause of my death. But that can be, I was able to have the operation done and here I am today.

So that’s one of the things, back in those times, love was very different because you really appreciated the person, you really emphasized or you really gave importance to the person with you. It’s like so special, that moment.

There’s no cell phone, you can’t like, “Oh, by the way, I forgot to say blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”. No. The only chance you have to talk with that person was when that person was in front of you. And then maybe once you’re gone, they have to travel somewhere for months. Then you’d write a letter maybe – very, very romantic letter, starting maybe, “Oh, my dear love. My sun, my light, my breath, whatever. You’re my moon. I love you more than the moon loves the earth”. And stuff like that.

Today sometimes being romantic becomes cheesy. If you tell someone, “I love you” too soon, they’re like, oh, they get nervous or they get stressed. So you have to be careful. Oh, maybe I shouldn’t say, “I love you”, because she’ll get paranoid or she’ll run away.

But back in those days, there’s no, like you have one partner in your lifetime. The person that you actually connected with or maybe you can call it ‘soul-mate’. Everybody’s a potential soul-mate if you don’t project too much. But it’s, I mean it’s beautiful when you actually are able to connect to someone.

Of course, today there’s so many changes because it’s unsatisfaction. Unsatisfaction is the basis of today’s society. It’s like the way even capitalism works, the way the whole economy system is based on is sometimes on unsatisfaction. You want more than what you have, more than what you already need to survive.

So anyways, going back to then, so that’s why love has changed a lot from back in those days. So sometimes it’s interesting also to maybe just think about how it was back then, and then think about how it is now, and then see that maybe many of the preconceptions we have are based on society and other people’s belief or whatever. So sometimes you just have to go back inside, go back to the old days to really feel that love that’s so intense, which of course exists today but it’s more generalized.

So for example, today love is based on appearance, right? Sometimes people base their, “Oh my God, this person – she’s so beautiful or he’s so handsome”. But maybe don’t even know what that person is like inside. But it doesn’t matter, I love her.

Of course, you love everybody, right? That’s a different love. I mean, that is love. And that is not the love we are talking about, right now. The love we’re talking about now is the confusing love, the love that people mistake for love. It’s not real love. It’s something that I think the word has been misused for quite a while now.

And for example, the appearance is influenced by the media, for example, the celebrities or, the magazines. If you actually check the original photo of the celebrity compared to what actually you see in an advertisement, it’s completely different. It’s like it’s complete change. ‘Cause, of course, first the person has normal face just like us, everybody is normal, like we are human beings. Of course we’re different, but we’re all beautiful because we are how we are, we are who we are. We’re unique.

So never think, oh, because that person looks so lovely, or beautiful in that picture, it doesn’t mean we’re ugly. I mean, sometimes people do that, because they compare with themselves; they compare with what they would like to be.

But you can’t compare because each person’s different. It’s not like, oh someone is more wise then the other person. It’s different types of wisdom. Wisdom comes from experience. So it’s not like, oh, he’s more wise than that person. No, they have different types of wisdom.

So you can’t really compare between such unique, functional beings, such unique things or people. It’s impossible. And that’s something people tend to do a lot. They tend to put themselves down because they compare themselves with what they would like to be, which is what sometimes the media makes them believe.

And sometimes, it’s not true what you see because the actual person is not the same person in the picture. They have to go through lots of like make up [‘maquillaje’], and then they take the picture, lighting, everything, and then after that in photo shop, they stretch the face, the eyebrows, whatever, and then finally they put the pictures in there, like “Wow! What a beautiful woman!”

But she doesn’t exist. She exists there as a picture. Or a beautiful guy, a very handsome guy, for example, “Wow, he’s so handsome! I wish my boyfriend was like that”. Poor boyfriend!

So it’s so funny – sometimes some people say, “Oh yeah, I’m madly in love. I’m so in love, blah, blah, blah, blah”, and then two years later, “Oh, I hate that person”.

How can that be? Then it’s not true love ‘cause true love is eternal; it’s not something that comes and goes. It’s something that’s there.

So those are just things that are not love, which we confuse with love, and from there we suffer. So I just wanted to specify that because I have had those experiences and I’ve suffered through that, and luckily I’ve learned a little bit. So I can share that with you. And so that you don’t confuse yourself with that, and just be aware that real love is unconditional.

There’s one saying I like very much from Thich Nhat Hanh. He’s my hero. He says, “Love someone in such a way that they feel free”.

And that’s so true because many times when we tend to love someone, we make them feel like sometimes they’re stuck, that we are always checking on them, making sure that, what they’re doing, where they’re going – it’s like a lot of pressure sometimes, and that’s… how can that be love? It’s, you’re actually grasping, it’s attachment.

When you suffer, it’s because you’re attached. You’re attached to that object of desire, and then that object of desire does not maybe reach what you expect, or maybe that object of desire….

For example, jealousy, for example, I mean why should you feel jealous if the other person is having, talking with someone and laughing? Some people actually feel jealous from that, and they get really uncomfortable.

For example, if their girlfriend is talking with another guy and they’re laughing, and you don’t know what they’re talking about, and you’re like, “Oh, no, what’s going on here?” Oh, I have to go there and disrupt the conversation or make sure I’m in front”. Then you just sit next to the person. “I’m her boyfriend, by the way.”

That’s so pointless because when you really feel love, when you see that the person is laughing, then you’re happy for them, you’re like, “Wow, that’s great! They’re enjoying”.

I mean, of course, another thing is when you go to sleep and the other person is somewhere, you don’t know where they are. And maybe then, maybe you can worry a little bit. But that’s another story. But at least when you actually see the other person enjoying whichever way, you should be happy for that person, not jealous or angry or worried. Worry. Real love doesn’t bring worry.

So all these things I wanted to share with you. Because I think that can help a lot in your relationship. Especially also breaking your limits in a relationship many times. We have limitations that we created from our childhood, like childhood traumas, maybe things that happened when we were really young or maybe during later on, later on stage in life. So then we create limitations. We’re like, “Wow, I have psychological problems all my life because when I was a kid, this, this, this happened”. No!

I mean, you’ve had many problems, but that doesn’t mean you will be that way all your life, based on that experience, that negative experience. You can actually break that limitation,

Some people, they can’t talk so much because they feel they’re not accepted or they feel like they’re different or they don’t, some people, they have difficulty speaking, maybe because of some childhood trauma. I don’t know. But if that’s the case, then you should really check whether that’s worth it or not because you’re carrying the weight from your childhood, and if you’re not careful, then you will carry the weight for your whole life. And then what’s the point? And then how many weights are you going to carry from all the traumas, and all the bad things that happened to you. You can’t. It’s just, in the end it’s going to squish you.

So it’s good to, of course, maybe sometimes even relive the traumas and experience it from your new awareness. Because every time you look at things, they are going to be different. Sometimes we shut it down, we don’t want to see it, and then that’s a trauma which is very subtle. And maybe when they hypnotize you, then that can come out. But sometimes you don’t have the opportunity to get hypnotized. So it’s good sometimes to go back, relive and see if from your new perspective. Then maybe you can digest sometimes. That’s one good way to let go.

Another way also is to see it, to use it in a way that’s beneficial for you. In a way that experience, it’s an experience. It’s something that you learn from. And if you’re able to overcome that experience, that negative experience, then maybe you can even help other people to overcome similar situations.

So always try to see the positive side of everything that may be bad or negative. Because there’s always a positive side. Because like we said before, this universe is dual, it’s from expansion, contraction. It’s always two things. For life to occur, there has to be female and male. So it’s the same way, even if it looks super negative, there will always be a positive side to it. And even also the positive side will have a negative side to it.

There’s another saying I like also very much. It says, “To light the candle is to cast a shadow”. I mean, you can’t not cast a shadow when you light a candle. It brightens the room, but it will always be cast a shadow, too – something that comes together with it.

Of course, Buddhism helps us with that. So I can’t really go much into that into deepness; that’s Venerable Gyatso’s job, but I think there is a way to be able to overcome negativity eventually. But when you do have negativity, just try to switch it and see the positive side, and use it in a more beneficial or more useful way than squishing you, or like carrying this weight on your back for a long time.

I did that for a while. And then I realized it was completely useless. It was based on my ego, which is like, “Oh me, I suffered! Or “Me, I had this bad time.” Or “This happened”, or... Then I just carried that with me all over, and I was conditioned by that – the way I lived, the way I talked with people, the way I did things was conditioned by that. So what’s the point? It’s already happened; it’s finished, it’s gone. You’re living another thing but you’re stuck with that from before. So it doesn’t really make sense. And I think many of us tend to do that.

So I think it’s important to be able to go through that and use it in a way that will help you. So you use it as an experience from which you learn, and you overcome, and then you can help other people to overcome that, too.

But because that happened to you, doesn’t mean you have to be that way. So that is called breaking your limitation. And sometimes when you live in a relationship, those limitations can cause some, what do you call it?

Ven. Gyatso: Friction.

Lama Osel: Friction. Thank you. It can cause some friction. So sometimes it’s good because in a relationship, you can break your limitations together, can help each other, our partner can be our best psychologist.

So even our friends can be our psychologist because they know you. So that’s why they’re very good psychologists. That’s what friends are for, is to listen and to help you understand yourself, and vice versa. It’s one of the things about having friends is that we can help each other by listening and sharing, and sharing our understanding and experiences, of course.

So there’s no suffering as a result from love. Just keep that in mind when you think about love in a relationship. If you suffer, then it’s not love. That suffering did not come from love. That suffering came from attachment or grasping or jealousy or whatever, all those negative emotions and thoughts, and stuff like that.

And of course, the hardest love to achieve is the unconditional love. But at least if you keep that goal, that vision that mindset, then one day, maybe you will be able to reach that. Of course, I don’t think I’m the adequate person to talk about that but Buddhism is basically, talks about that. One of the basis of Buddhism is unconditional love.

So I don’t want to keep you going here too long. So it’s been one hour exactly now. And I finished my notes. So perfect.

eah, so I think the November course has still, how many days left? ‘Til the eleventh?

Ven. Gyatso: Eleventh.

Lama Osel: Eleventh. So today, we are on the seventh? By the way, if you’re wondering what the monks were doing today before, they’re reciting Migtsenma. It’s Lama Tsongkhapa’s mantra. So they’re doing the korwa, circumambulation around the monastery, reciting the mantra because tomorrow is Lama Tsongkhapa’s day. Lama Tsongkhapa is the very beautiful statue we have up here; it represents Lama Tsongkhapa, of course. He’s the founder of the Gelukpa tradition, and he was an amazing practitioner – amazing.

So we have, tomorrow is Lama Tsongkhapa day and tomorrow, I think, all of you will go to Boudha, so make sure you make your wish or wishes. I remember, when I was a kid, I used to think, “What’s the best wish one can make?” I really wracked my brains, and I came to the conclusion the best wish is to wish to have infinite wishes. To me, that’s a good thing, yeah? So you can wish to have infinite wishes, and then you can wish all the wishes you want, which ultimately you don’t really need anything else. We have that potential, we have the possibility, the power of the mind, the power of the…. The individual is so powerful, that if we are able to focus and really feel whether we need that, we can make it happen, whether there is a stupa or not. But of course, the stupa will help a lot because the faith comes out, and the faith from everybody else, which affects the collective memory. And that helps the wish to become true more and more fast, and more strong.

So perhaps you have you any questions? I don’t know whether I should go through them or not? I don’t know – maybe you prefer using the microphone? Or maybe you prefer me to read these questions and answer them? I don’t know, maybe we can have a vote? I don’t know. Or maybe Venerable Gyatso can decide.

Should I answer these questions or should we send the microphone? From the audience or

Ven. Gyatso: From the audience? They’ve been pretty long, those questions.

Lama Osel: Okay, so let’s make it short. I’ll just pick some. But these questions are very complicated because I think the people thought a lot before. So there’s picky questions. [pause] I don’t know which one to choose.

Okay, so let’s just do.. it says “Questions for Osel”.

Number one: I think this is good, questions, because this way I can share a little bit of myself because I think it’s not, it’s not nice I’m just talking, talking, talking, but you don’t really know who I am or what I’m doing or anything. So I think that’s important to share also from my side. So anyway, so the question goes: “Are you planning on taking on students, or leading retreats in the future?”

I don’t have many plans for the future. I thought to keep it maybe, three months ahead, maximum. So after three months, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing. But one of the thoughts that I have is maybe for the next November course, if I can really get a deeper understanding of the lam rim, which is what I’m going to do after Kathmandu, I’m going to India to the monastery, to Sera Monastery, and Lama Zopa, he said that I should study the lam-rim from my teacher in Sera. So that’s what I’m going to be doing in the next couple of months.

So if I’m able to get a little bit deeper understanding of the lam-rim, then maybe for the next November course, I can try to give some insight or understanding or my thoughts, or whatever you want to call it, together with Venerable Gyatso and whoever will be teaching for the next November course. So that’s my wish maybe.

So for me, it’s very auspicious to be able to be here and talking with all of you because it’s the first time in the November course, and I think all FPMT started from the November course, so it’s really special and historical, for me at least. So I want to thank you to being able to make this opportunity, this moment a reality. Because without you, then I’ll just be talking to myself right now.

So then number two: “When are you going to be leading retreats?” I don’t know if I can really lead retreats, because technically, I’m not a Buddhist, yet, I’m in the process of becoming Buddhist and I have a hard time meditating. So I don’t know, maybe in the future, future, future, maybe. But I think, I’ll probably follow retreats in any case. I don’t think I’ll be leading retreat. Or maybe, I don’t know. Who knows?

So number two: “What are your goals and dreams besides enlightenment, in case that tops the list?” Yeah, enlightenment. That’s so far away. But I guess that’s the main objective, right, to become enlightened, to help other people become enlightened. But for me, that’s so far away, I never really think about it.

My goals and dreams, I think basically, my goal is to be a better person every day, try to go through what I’ve done at the end of the day when I go to sleep. Try to think about all my actions, and try to see what I did wrong, or what I don’t feel comfortable with by following all my moral code. Be a better person, basically it’s being a better person with myself, for myself and for other people. You have to take care of yourself, before you can take care of other people. So you start with yourself always.

And my dreams, I have many dreams like everybody. But my dream is just to be able to help Lama Zopa, and maybe take some weight away from him, so that he can relax. And I think basically, that’s the main reason I was born, and why in this life, I’ve had this opportunity of being in this situation. So if I don’t take advantage of that situation, or don’t do what I should do, would be good to do, then probably later on, I will regret a lot, I won’t be able to feel good with myself.

So basically, I think it’s my job. Maybe job is not the right word. It’s my responsibility, maybe, I don’t know. But anyway, it’s just – that’s my dream is to be able to do what Lama Zopa would like me to do in order to help people.

But basically my dream is to be able to reach people who are not Buddhist, and introduce them to Buddhism because I think they are the people who need the most help, people who do not have any contact with Buddhism, people who would never pick up a Buddhist book or go to any meditation course, who would even listen to teachings, or even just because it has the name of religion in it, then they’re like, “Oh, no! I don’t want to know anything about that”.

I think mainly my dream is to be able to reach those people, and to be able to give them a small taste of what Buddhism can be, and then introduce them to Buddhism, and help them in that way. I think that’s mainly my dream. That’s one of the reasons why I chose audio visual techniques, making films and stuff like that, because you have the power of sound, speech, you can condense any messages there, you can put music, you can give images.

Now I’m concentrating on documentaries. Maybe one day I’ll make a Hollywood action film, like the Matrix. That’s such an amazing film, right? Wow. Something like that would be amazing, but I think I’m very far away from that yet.

But anyways, tomorrow there will be screening of the new, official film, the first official film I did together with Matteo Passigato – he’s a very good friend of mine from Italy. I met him in ’98 in Bodhgaya, and ever since then, we’ve been in contact.

So we did this documentary together, and it was produced by FDCW, which is Foundation for Developing Wisdom and Compassion. And the documentary is about Universal Education, which is what Lama Yeshe started in the l970’s, and now it’s actually really happening. So basically, it’s just a documentary as an introduction to that. So I don’t want to go into much detail because I’ll do the presentation tomorrow. But just try not to miss it. If you’re interested, please come. I don’t know what time. I think it’s at five?

Ven. Gyatso: Three-thirty.

Lama Osel: Three-thirty. Oh, good thing I didn’t say ‘five’. Three-thirty, you’re sure of that? Okay. So three-thirty, not five. Yeah, maybe five in Spanish time. Two hours late. Three-thirty.

So anyways, so join my Facebook page. Just kidding. So thank you so much. I don’t know, maybe I should do more questions. I don’t know, it’s already nine, like almost [9:]15, so maybe we’ll just leave it there.

Student: Keep going.

Lama Osel: Sorry? Keep going. Okay. So okay, more questions.

Question: Do you, at some point, in the future, intend to officially start giving teachings, plus taking on students?

Answer: Well, I don’t know about teachings. I don’t feel very comfortable with that word, but for sure, I will, definitely I will share my experiences and my thoughts, and try to help people by doing that, which is what I’m doing right now. I’m just sharing my humble, small thoughts.

So that’s one of the reasons why I don’t feel comfortable sitting on a throne is because I like to be at the same level as everybody, because I don’t want you to see me as a guru or anything. I just want you to see me as a friend, as somebody you can talk to, somebody you can really relate to.

So that’s mainly the reason why, this is why I feel the most comfortable, not on a throne. I would never sit on a throne probably. Oh “Never say ‘never’”, right? Justin Beiber. So maybe, I don’t know anyways, so taking on students – well, I don’t know about students but, of course, I hope I’ll have many friends like you. So just think of me as a friend, okay?

Question: Okay, so will you/do you plan on taking over the lead at Kopan?

Answer: I don’t know about lead, but I’m just this small potato. I’m just somebody who walks around, and just listens to gossip, talks with people, has some tea somewhere, some coffee in the coffee shop. That’s it. Nothing else. I’m not the leader. It’s not like that. The leader is Lama Zopa Rinpoche, and basically, I’m just a follower, I just follow. So I don’t have any plans to take over and lead in Kopan, or anything like that. I’m just visiting Kopan; it’s my home. So I just love being here, and just enjoy being here and sharing with everybody, and talking and seeing people. That’s basically what I want to do in Kopan – nothing else.

Question: What are your close, future projects?

Answer: My close future projects. So basically, after this documentary, one of the things, the two basic things I want to do: one is to study a little bit more, maybe do some like communications, maybe economy, or leadership maybe a little bit. Even though I just said, I don’t want to be a leader, but I think it’s important to learn about leadership in order to work in an organization like the FPMT. So one of the plans I have is to study that for the next two years.

The other plan is after this documentary, maybe to create another documentary – ‘cause this one is just 15 minutes long. But the next one, it’s maybe one hour? And basically it’s about emptiness or spirituality together with quantum physics and science, coming together.

So the people who don’t believe in spirituality, then the really hundred percent scientists, they can see, “Wow, maybe spirituality has something to do with science; maybe it’s the same thing”. ‘Cause emptiness and quantum mechanics or quantum physics really blend together, you can really see how the principle is the same, the way they explained.

So I don’t know much about it yet but I really want to investigate and learn about that, and make a documentary. So that’s the other project I’m trying to do. So I welcome any help, any information, any suggestions from people. So those are basically the two projects. I don’t know more now, or have any more projects,’ cause then, it just becomes very vague. So I just focus on those two for now.

So that’s.. more questions.

Question: So one question here is, “Osel, are there any changes that you would like to happen in the monastic education for Tibetan Buddhist monks, and nuns?”

Answer: I mean, I don’t feel there’s any changes needed because the way the system works is very, very, very good. It’s based on how it’s been working for a long time, and it’s always worked very well.

But I think, one of the things that I would like there to be is some exercise. Maybe not sports because that’s very competitive, but at least like some stretching exercise or maybe even yoga, or some kind of exercise like that. Because the monks many times, they sit for a long time during the day time, and then if you don’t do exercise, then it can create back problems, it can be very unhealthy. So that’s one of the changes I would like in monastic system.

Like Thich Nhat Hanh, in his monastery the monks do exercise every day, stretching exercises. They even play music which is hard to believe, but it’s true. I learned that last month. They have this special time, free time where they can actually play music, and they have violinists and pianists and whatever. And it’s beautiful music; it’s like an orchestra. So for me, that was very surprising that monks were playing music in a monastery. Wow!

But of course, it’s a different type of tradition. It’s based on Buddhism but it’s just different ways of seeing it. So for different people, different things work. But I thought that was very interesting. It doesn’t mean that I want monks playing music here, of course. I think the exercise part is the part that I was talking about. Don’t misunderstand me. It doesn’t mean tomorrow we’re going to bring a band here and play rock-‘n-roll music and concert in the gompa, something, like that. No! No! For rock-‘n-roll you go outside of the monastery.

Okay, so more questions. Let’s see.

Question: So one question. I think maybe this is the last question. “Dear Osel Hita, in your recent talk you said that when you were younger, you had difficulties, coming to terms with your situation in life in relating to happiness. Are you happy now? If so, what changed?”

Answer: Am I happy? I don’t know. Happy is a concept, right? So it’s not like, “Oh, I’m happy”, because tomorrow I may not be happy. So then I was not really happy now. So it doesn’t really make sense to say, “Oh yes, I’m happy”, because tomorrow I may be crying. So then I wasn’t happy. Right? Because I’m crying afterwards. So where’s the happiness?

I think, so happiness is for me, it’s easier to tackle, like the other day I said, by thinking not being unhappy. So I’m not unhappy, that’s for sure. So that could be in a way I could say I’m happy. But happiness has a concept everyone is looking for, that concept is very difficult to find. It’s not something you go afterwards. It’s a little bit like the donkey going behind the carrot, and the carrot – it’s a guy with the stick, and the carrot’s hanging. So the donkey’s going behind the carrot, but he never really reaches the carrot.

So if we think about happiness in the way that many people think, especially in society: “Oh, like I’ll be happy when I have this house” – materialistic point of view. Then that happiness is impossible. You’ll always be searching, going after something which will never happen ‘cause actually that will create more suffering; it won’t create the happiness.

So anyway, so am I happy now? I can say I’m happy for sure, because I’m not unhappy, right? But not the happiness that people talk about. So it’s, maybe this should be two words, I don’t know, like for love also, should be different words – like ‘unconditional love’, maybe ‘unconditional happiness’ we can call it. So I’m not unconditionally happy, but I am happy. Yes.

So what changed? I think what changed is basically, the perception I had of why I was suffering. I was suffering because I believed I was suffering mentally. And the change really was that I realized that I was suffering because I wanted to suffer, because of my ego. It was me who was thinking about myself, saying, “Oh, poor me, and this and that, and blah, blah, blah, blah”. And then I was suffering because of that.

So I still suffer, of course, because every day is a different day, and we die when we go to sleep, and we are reborn when we get up in the day; in the morning-time, it’s like being reborn again. And every day is different. So you never really know what’s going to happen, every day can be different, –things can happen that make you unhappy, or make you suffer.

But suffering as a state of mind, I don’t suffer as much anymore because I really try to see the root of that suffering. And that came from my ego, from me saying, “Oh, me, me, me, me, me, me”. And then that’s something that Eckhart Tolle talks about. He says.., in Spanish you say, ‘cuerpo de dolor’. I don’t know how they say it in English.

Student: Pain body.

Lama Osel: Pain body. So that’s a little bit kind of the same thing. It’s like we create the suffering from our ego because we always think about ourselves, and then that increments that suffering.

So I think that’s one of the things that changed was that I read Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now. I read that and that helped me a lot to see that, to change that. So that was one of the things that helped me not to be so unhappy. And so to me for me that’s.., I hope that answered the question, didn’t make too much confusion.

So maybe now we can do some question and answers from, with the microphone. Just in case there’s some misunderstandings, someone wants to… [pause] We don’t want to take too long; it’s 9:22, right now.

Okay, so anyways, today’s vacation so you’re more relaxed. No precepts. You had dinner today?

[Students answer: Yes]

Good, good, good. So you’re not grumpy. I get so grumpy when I don’t eat. If I’ve got an empty stomach, then try not to talk with me ‘cause I’ll be very grumpy. How do you know if my stomach’s empty, though? Good question, huh? Then you can listen to my stomach, [makes stomach growling sound]. When it makes noise, then keep your distance. Just joking. So questions?

Question: So you mentioned in your last talk, and also in this talk, that we have a ‘collective consciousness.’ And so what would be your kind of interpretation of what that means, and how does it fit into a Buddhist framework, if it does?

Lama Osel: Wow, good question. Maybe we could think of it like karma also. Collective memory, it’s like something, ‘cause karma has many different types of karma. There’s a karma that is connected with all of us. Like right now, there’s a karma that has made all of us share this room. So that can be also a result from the collective memory. I don’t know. It could be.

The collective memory from my point of view, is like, it’s like the Hundredth Monkey Syndrome. Did I talk about that last time? No?

This experiment that they did about many different monkeys in different islands. And then all the monkeys were given sweet potatoes. So they would wet the potatoes in the water and then throw them in the sand. And the monkeys would eat them with sand. So it would be very crunchy and very uncomfortable, but they would eat them anyway because it was delicious, and they liked it very much. But, of course, it was very, it’s not nice to eat with sand.

So one day, one monkey discovered that if he washed the potato with water, then he didn’t have that crunchiness anymore. So he showed it to other monkeys also. Then slowly, slowly, the whole community in that island started to wash the sweet potatoes with water. And when around, I think, 100 monkeys, around, started doing that, then suddenly all the monkeys in all the islands started doing that, too, at the same time. And there wasn’t any real connection between them because it’s different islands. So I think that’s a pretty good example for collective memory. It’s like maybe when a certain number of that same species reaches a certain realization, then it helps everybody else to reach that.

That’s why it’s so important to focus on the individual because as we practice, the more we practice, the more realization we get, the more it affects the collective memory, which eventually will affect the people, the humanity also. So that’s why we can really make a difference in that way. That’s why it’s so important to really practice hard in order to help other sentient beings. It’s not like, “Oh, if I’m a good person I’ll be able to help that person on the other side of the world because I’ll go to Africa”. No. It’s like we will be able to help the other person on the other side of the world through the collective memory.

Thinking that way, then the motivation is, it’s even easier to keep that motivation. So it’s a good idea to think about the collective memory. In the same way also, our negative thoughts affect the collective memory. So maybe that answered your question a little bit. Okay.

Question: [Sorry. I’m a bit nervous.]

Lama Osel: That’s okay. That’s only your ego.

Question: We learned about the mind during the November course, about the power of the mind, and also about love, especially…I have a bit of a problem to describe ‘love’ and ‘mind’. It’s like when you go to the cinema, the guy with the projector is your mind, and the screen is your heart. And sometimes I just feel that all that is in the screen is what the guy’s projecting. Did you understand?

Lama Osel: Yeah, I understood. But I don’t think that’s a very good example. Because our heart is, like for example, this very short phrase I like to use is: ‘Being the self’. Right? Being, originally was, ‘Be the self’. But then I changed it to ‘being the self’, because we’re actually being, we’re constantly changing. So we can’t really be the self, because be the self is like static. So ‘being the self’. It’s a very simple phrase, ‘being the self’.

And when we talk about the self, I think we can also talk about the heart, it’s maybe the same? Maybe, I don’t know. But the heart is like our instinct, right. It’s our inner feelings, our subconscious mind. Maybe, I don’t know. I don’t want to create confusion because I’m also learning. So sometimes I may use words which may not make sense. But at least from my point of view, I think the heart is like a deep voice, it’s a real voice inside us. And the mind is something that is affected by everything else all around us. It’s like the conditioning. It’s a conditioner, something that’s been conditioned. For example, when we are born, the first words we learn is ‘papa’ and ‘mama’, ‘my papa’, ‘my mama’. That’s like conditioning already, first words, “my”.

So it’s a little similar, like the mind is, like it conditions actually our heart. So I would see it like, the other way around me, I mean the screen is the heart and the mind is the projector. Hmm. I mean, I think the mind affects sometimes. But we just follow the mind so much that we don’t really listen to our inner voice.

So I’m not really comfortable with the example you used because it can create confusion. But I think basically, we think too much; we give too much attention to our thoughts, which may come from outside also, which are conditioned. And the actual inner voice, we don’t hear it, or don’t listen to it.

And the best moment to listen to it is, for example, we go into to meditation, breathe deep. Or even before going to sleep, then you just breathe and you feel yourself and you try to stop thinking. I know that sounds very hard, but it’s possible.

You can start one second, stop thinking. Turn off the mind. One of the ways I like to use is like you become a stone, so you don’t exist. Or you can, like meditators don’t exist, so then you can’t think; if you don’t exist, you can’t think. If you’re a stone, you can’t think. Right?

Or maybe you can visualize a scenario, the curtains are closing, the curtains are completely black, so then the mind, all the images are like buzzing around, and the curtains close, then you can’t see anything [makes blowing sound], and then you just forget about what you’re thinking.

Or sometimes just concentrate on one point. You just concentrate on your breathing, concentrate on your heartbeat, or concentrate on some visual image you can make in your mind. But at least try to not think. Actually, from my point of view, it’s better not to have any visual images.

And then especially before going to sleep, so then you can actually turn off the mind, and the longer you keep it, the better. Slowly, slowly with practice; it’s not something that happens from one day to another. It will take time. But eventually, if you can stop the mind for ten seconds, then already that’s a realization. And then from there, you can keep going back to the ten seconds. And in those ten seconds, you will hear the real voice, the inner voice, the true self, who we are, unconditioned.

And that’s why it’s also good to do it before you go to sleep, because that way you manually turn off your mind. And when you fall asleep, you already turned off the mind. Because normally what people tend to do is you’re just thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, you can’t sleep. And then finally, you get so tired, your thinking stops and you fall asleep automatic.

And many times, we can’t sleep because we’re thinking too much. So a good way to go to sleep is by turning off the thoughts, just feeling yourself, listening to the inner voice, and then you manually go to sleep. And that way, you’re more conscious of falling asleep, because sleep is actually one of the best meditations. His Holiness the Dalai Lama says that: He says sleep is the best meditation.

And also, of course, going back to what I was saying before, the melatonin is released during our sleep. So it’s important also to sleep during the night-time, because when there’s light, the melatonin is not released, because the senses are behind the eye. So it’s important to have a good sleep hours, like you’re doing now in the November course.

I’m a late night sleeper. Sometimes I go to sleep at 2 a.m. It’s very unhealthy; I don’t recommend it. I’m trying to change that. That’s one of the habits that I’m trying to change. But maybe it’s a Spanish thing. I don’t know, maybe it’s a Western thing, or maybe it’s a universal thing, I don’t know. It’s good to go to sleep early and get up early, so that you sleep in the night, in the dark hours, in the night hours for the melatonin to regenerate.

And also to have that schedule, because when the morning time come and the light, and the sun comes up, it’s like a ceremony; it’s nature’s ceremony. All the birds and the animals, they all celebrate the fact that the sun’s coming up. So why shouldn’t we also celebrate that? Why should we sleep in bed and just wait ‘til the sun shines so hard, we have to get up. “Oh my God. It’s so hot here”.

Question: So you mentioned be yourself, your true self

Lama Osel: Being yourself.

Question: Being yourself, true self, inner voice, these are all things that come naturally to me and I understand them. But here, there’s a lot of talk of no self. And that’s difficult.

Lama Osel: No self. Hmm. Maybe that should be a question for Venerable Gyatso. Maybe that’s, the no-self part is based on the emptiness concept? Of course, that’s a different story. It’s like, for example, there’s different stages of learning, and for example, you’re learning the Buddhist philosophy. One of the first stages it says the past and future don’t exist, because everything exists in the present. So everything in existence, only exists in the present. That’s what they say.

Like _. But of course, when we go higher up, when you study more the Buddhist philosophy, there’s a certain point which says “past, present, and future are all the same time”. So it changes. But of course, in order to reach that there, then you have to understand the first steps.

So from my point of view, I don’t really know much about that. So I’m just sharing what is practical for me at least, what I can relate to, and what I think maybe all of you can also relate to. But because I’m in the process of becoming a Buddhist, I’m still studying. So I’m not qualified to really talk about that in that sense.

And also I just want to say please don’t misunderstand me, or take me too seriously. I’m just sharing thoughts. So it’s not like you have to say, “Oh, this is the truth”, or just don’t take me seriously. Just take what works for you, check it, see if it’s really true or not, if it makes sense. And then if it’s useful, use it; if it’s not, just leave it. It doesn’t matter.

So any more questions?

Question: I just have a request. I know you’re a very busy person, but I would like to invite you, if you can come to our graduation on Tuesday, the closing of the.., I think all of us would love to have you and be a participant of our completing the course, if you can come to...

Lama Osel: Thank you. Okay sure, for sure. Yes, I’ll be very happy to do that.

So the question is, could you explain emptiness in your understanding?

Lama Osel: My understanding is so small, it’s difficult. I can’t explain emptiness but I can explain some parts of emptiness, maybe, that I understand.

I think first of all, in order to understand, or to start understanding emptiness, we have to realize that actually there’s a lot of things outside. And what we experience is what we experience. For example, a stone cannot experience reality the way we do.

In other words, you can even say we’re a reflection of the universe because through us, the universe kind of exists. I’m not sure if you understand. It’s, so all reality’s outside – it’s happening. And then we are just a functional being who’s experiencing it; it’s happening. And in order to experience it, we have to have the five senses, for example, or any one of the senses.

So basically, what we experience is inside us. It’s our experience, but it’s not necessarily what actually is out there. So that separation, it’s like the dualism. And then, we are composed by many, many different kind of cells or atoms, or like metabolisms, and all of those together create one, which is us, because when we think we are one functional being; we think as one. We don’t think as many voices or many people. It’s like one. But that one comes from a composition.

So I think those two things are like an introduction for emptiness – to think about that. That’s analytical meditation, to experience that, to think about it and experience it. Of course, practical meditation is very important also. But analytical is super important. So the two to be combined is good.

That’s kind of basically a little bit of the understanding I have of emptiness. I’m not sure if that is …

Venerable Gyatso: We’ll talk about it.

Lama Osel: Okay. I have to come to the teachings also. Okay, maybe one more question? Okay, two more questions.

Question: Last night Lama said that love is suffering.

Lama Osel: Love is suffering. He did say that? I don’t know. So yes, he did say that Gautama Buddha said that love is suffering. It can become suffering if it’s not unconditional love. But I think maybe he referred to the type of love that materialistic or samsaric people like us sometimes believe in – not the unconditional love. I very much doubt that the unconditional love is suffering. So maybe it’s just a word-play; it’s just misunderstanding from the words? I don’t know, I may be mistaken. Good question. It’s good to question always; very good to question; you have always to question, always, always.

Question: So last time you mentioned having been inspired by the works of Carlos Castaneda. Tonight you mentioned having been influenced by the words of Eckhart Tolle. Have you been studying karma from the Theravada point of view, or do you plan on doing so?

Lama Osel: I see. Well yeah, for sure, I’m very open to that and I would love to do that. But no, I haven’t really studied from the Theravada point of view yet.

One of the people also that inspired me was Krishnamurti, which I forgot to mention the last time. Because his life and my life are very similar, so many times I identified myself with him. And he helped me a lot also to understand myself, which is the main thing I’ve been trying to do since I left the monastery was to understand myself.

So I think also, all of you should do that, should understand yourself. So I hope I didn’t create much confusion. Please if I did, maybe you can ask me, or you can ask Venerable Gyatso. I’m sure he can clarify that for you. Please don’t take me too seriously. Give some freedom so that I don’t get very stressed when I talk.

Sometimes I talk, everyone’s so serious, everyone’s looking at me. I’m just joking. You’re all smiling; it’s so beautiful. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it. And it’s beautiful to be here with all of you, such amazing energy. And please, please keep that energy going, keep that purity. Don’t forget what you learned here, and spread it when you go back to where you came from. And maybe see you next year at the November course. Maybe see you before that? Yeah, anyway, I’m going to see you tomorrow!

So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. [applause]

Tenzin Ösel Hita gave these talks during the 45th Kopan Lam-rim Course at Kopan Monastery in 2012. In the talks Ösel covers many lam-rim topics such as guru devotion, Dharma, the sufferings of samsara, our five senses and love, all from a contemporary viewpoint.

You can learn more about Tenzin Ösel Hita by exploring his biography on the LYWA website.

First Discourse: Dharma, Samsara, and Q&A

So I think we are a bit early, five minutes early.

[Background noise] It’s a bit loud.

Okay, so first of all, I would like to thank you all for being in the November course. I think it’s very, very special that all of you have come from all over the world, from so many different places to meet here. It’s a very special occasion and a huge opportunity for all of you to also connect with everybody else. So I just wanted to thank you for making that effort of coming over here and learning some Dharma, and making the connections.

Sorry for the breathing. [Loud noise in background] How do you do it Gyatso-la? How do you breathe?

[Ven Gyatso/Adrian: Just bend it out a bit.]

[Microphone adjustment] Hello? Yeah, that’s better. Now I can breathe!

So first I just wanted to mention the translators. How many translators are there? Three? Four? So I’m going to try to talk a little bit slowly if that’s okay. If I’m going too fast, just let me know, okay? Thank you.

So let us start with gratitude, first of all. Gratitude for the body we have, which was given by our parents. Gratitude for the food we are able to eat, and for the shelter we have every day, which many people don’t have. So let us also have gratitude for this space which we are sharing right now.

So let’s have a minute of silence in gratitude for all those precious things that are ours. Because actually, the only thing that we actually own is our body, and the moment comes with that. So let us feel appreciation for that. So minute of silence. [meditate]

So first of all, I would like to start introducing myself because I think many of you probably don’t know who I am or what my history is. So I think it’s important to explain a little bit why I’m sitting here right now.

So basically, I grew up in a monastery in India, in South of India. Since I was six, I grew up in the monastery ‘til I was seventeen or eighteen.

So I had a lot of contact with Buddhism and the tradition because I was a monk. So basically, I felt it was important also to talk a bit from my own experience of what Buddhism is like for me, so that I could help many of the new people who have not had much contact with Dharma, and also being it’s their first time, so it can be sometimes a bit heavy and difficult to understand. But in the end, it will be very easy because it’s very simple. It’s just sometimes, it can get complicated, but you can simplify it always. So don’t worry about that.

So when I was around sixteen years old, fifteen, sixteen, because most of my life I had believed I was a Buddhist, because I grew up in that ambiance. And then when I was fifteen, sixteen, I read the book called Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. I don’t know if you’ve read it but you should if you can. It’s really good.

And after reading that book, I really questioned myself and I said, “Am I really Buddhist?” How can I be a Buddhist if I don’t quite understand yet the Buddhist philosophy and what Buddhism really is? So then I started to realize that maybe actually I was still learning to be a Buddhist. So therefore, I was like in the process of becoming a Buddhist.

And I believe I still am today. I’m twenty-seven. It’s been already ten years and I’m still in the process of becoming a Buddhist. So it’s not something that just happens from one day to another Being Buddhist is not about just reading book or going to courses, taking meditation or initiations. It’s also about the lifestyle, the attitude you have, the way you think, the way you act, the way you talk. So that’s basically one of the important parts of being a Buddhist.

So for me it’s been like that. And I think it’s, it may be helpful if I can share a little bit my small thoughts with all of you because I understand it can be hard sometimes to understand the traditional way.

Of course, the tradition is super important because it’s something that has come from many, many generations, thousands of years of people practicing and having realizations and understanding, and passing it on to the next generations.

So that’s why tradition is super important. It’s there, and it’s available. It doesn’t mean it will work for everybody. Each person has to find their own way of understanding and what works for them because nobody can really come and say, “Okay, I found the truth. Take it.” It may be his truth, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your truth. You have to find your own truth.

Somebody can come and help you to find that. And that’s what Dharma is for. The guru is also. The guru, the teacher, is helping you to find your own way, your own self, investigating inside and understanding the nature of the mind. That is the guru and the Dharma.

But ultimately, the real guru is inside ourselves. We are our own guru, we are by ourselves. So it’s up to us to walk the path, always. We are born by ourselves in this body, and we will die by ourselves. There will be nobody who will take care of us afterwards in the sense like holding our hands and carrying us. We have to walk the path by ourselves.

They will help us, of course. It’s like being in the middle of a forest in the night. [pause] Am I going too fast? [Asking translators?] Sorry. It’s like being in the forest at night and it’s completely dark. So you’re trying to get out of the forest. But you don’t know which direction to take.

And then suddenly, the full moon comes out and then the full moon helps you to see a little bit better. So then you can see better and you can maybe climb a tree and see where, which direction you want to take. So then basically we’re trying to get out of the forest. We’re not going to the moon. The moon helps us to get out of the forest.

So that’s a little bit like the metaphor I like to use with Dharma and gurus. Because many people think the guru is salvation. No. The guru will help you to understand our own nature, but that’s not salvation. Salvation is in ourselves. And the further away we search from ourselves, the further away we are from ourselves and the harder it is to find that.

So I just wanted to make a point, there before I started because I have struggled with that for a long time. So I think… and also it’s just my point of view, so it doesn’t mean it’s the truth or anything. You just take what you feel works for you, what you like, and what you don’t think works for you, just leave it – it’s not that important for you. Each person is different, right?

Like for example, when you’re walking on the beach and you see the ocean, the sea, and the sun is coming down and you see the reflection of the sun coming towards you. It’s like a path from the sun to you. And what you see shining is what you see shining. But somebody else who’s over on the other side will see their own shining, their own path.

Actually, the whole ocean is shining but we only see one small part which is from the sun to us. And what we have seen, the shining, the other person cannot see because they’re in another place. So we have to walk to where they are to see the same shining, right? I’m sure you have seen that before. And sometimes when you go in the plane, you can see the whole ocean shining, which is how it normally is.

So that’s just like a metaphor to understand that each of us is different as individuals. Each grain of sand in the ocean is different. So you can never really compare, and you can’t really judge other than judge yourself because we are the only ones who really know ourselves, and we really know where we are or what we’re doing. So that’s why it’s important to try not to judge. And if you have to judge, then at least don’t condemn because we can all change.

So the November course is about Buddhism. And I wanted to start talking about samsara.

Many of you know probably already what samsara is. According to Buddhism, samsara is like the wheel, it’s a wheel of.., where we are born and we die again, and we are stuck in this wheel of constant rebirth and just going around and around.

So Dharma is here to help us to be liberated from that, even though that’s very far away still. We have to concentrate on the now, right? So it’s important to, that’s the concept of samsara.

So the purpose of Dharma is to help oneself in order to help other people. And that way we find our own purpose because, basically [if] we think about the animals on this planet, their purpose is to survive and to reproduce. And we are like animals also. The only difference is that we have many different capabilities or capacities. We’re able to think, we’re able to speak, so many, each of you[know already. We’re all human beings.

So apart from, of course, surviving and reproducing, we have many other purposes. But of course, the main purpose is to help ourselves, to understand ourselves so that we can help other people do the same. And as we can see today in the planet, it’s complete chaos. People who think they are happy, they’re actually suffering much more than the people who think they are suffering.

There’s a saying that I like. It says, “Some people are so poor that all they have is money”, which is not so far from the truth.

So in this world, sometimes it can be really hard for some people, and we have the opportunity to be in contact with the Dharma, which can help us a lot. There are many other different ways of finding our true nature and understanding it – and one of them is Dharma.

So we are all here, and that’s a good thing, it’s a really good thing. So, if some of you sometimes feel it’s difficult to understand, don’t worry, it’s easy, ultimately it’s easy, even though there’s things because of tradition, may become complicated but that’s up to you to filter what works for you because for each person it’s different.

So because Gyatso’s talking, Venerable Gyatso’s speaking about karma yesterday, and so one of the important things of karma is the intention behind it. The intention is so important because that’s the main thing that is behind our actions and our thoughts and speech. So that’s why it’s really important to always check oneself. Before you check someone else, check with yourself. Because many people, many times, we tend to just judge other people and not really look at ourselves. “Oh this person is doing that, he’s saying this, blah, blah, blah”. But then we don’t really look at ourselves. And then, we forget about what we are doing. So it doesn’t really make sense, right?

So that’s why it’s so important to check oneself and see really what our intention is. Because based on our intention, then the karma comes from there. If the intention is positive, then the karma is positive; if the intention is negative, then the karma will be negative.

I mean, I can’t really show you that karma exists. I didn’t believe in reincarnation for a long time; and karma was one of the things that I didn’t believe in. I used to call myself ‘agnostic scientific’. And then I added ‘spiritual’ afterwards. I was never an atheist because you never know what really is out there. You know what your own world is, from your eyes, what you live. But there’s so much out there.

When you go to another city and you see everybody just moving around, you’re like, “Wow, this exists all the time”. It’s just that I’m here right now and I’m seeing it now. But even if I’m not here, it’s still happening. So what we think, is not everything that is. What we see is not everything; it’s part, it’s a small part. So that’s why you always have to be open also, not like closed doors and say, “No, that’s not true”, or “That doesn’t exist”, because it may very well exist; you never know.

And so for a long time, I didn’t believe in karma, and then slowly, slowly I started to understand that karma is a little bit like the law of the universe; it’s like physics, it’s a type of law. So karma is another law. It’s so subtle, it’s very hard to see. But from generation to generation people have experienced it, and that’s what we have today. It’s the teachings of the Buddha that have been carried on to many generations.

So if you don’t believe it, you can check. But it makes sense, and it’s very logical because karma is like the law of cause and effect. What you give, you will receive eventually. And even if you don’t believe it, I think it’s pretty logical because sometimes you question yourself, “Why are these people suffering? They didn’t do anything”. So there must be a reason why. And for me, I think it’s the most understandable explanation to that.

So behind our intentions and our choices, which are very important of course, because every day we make choices, our emotions sometimes they guide us towards those choices.

One of the things, I think Dharma tries to help us is to not become slaves to our emotions because there are many different emotions. There’s the negative ones and the positive ones. The negative ones, for example, anger or jealousy or different very negative emotions, sometimes create more negative energy.

Like, for example, anger. When you get angry you go blind a little bit. And then from that, then you can do some actions which later on will cause a lot of suffering to yourself and to other people because you were blind at that moment and you became a slave to that emotion.

So you have to really be careful with some emotions because when you do become a slave, that creates an energy and a reaction. So it’s always better if you have emotions, to have positive emotions; try to control the negative emotions.

It doesn’t mean that those emotions are not going to be part of us, like, for example, anger. I can be an angry person, right, even if I don’t look like it right now. But sometimes when it comes out, then it comes out , yeah? It doesn’t mean I’m not angry, like I’m not an angry person. It’s inside. This has to be a catalyst that will make it come out.

So it’s not like we can banish anger, but we can – or maybe you can, I don’t know. Eventually, I think, Dharma can help you with that. But I think mainly it’s to try to control that emotion and try to be aware of where it’s coming from.

Like when you start getting angry, then you say, “Oh, this is happening”. Then you try to breathe, try to rethink, try to understand where it’s coming from, investigate, observe, and then slowly, the anger will disappear. So that’s like a very good, one of the first steps in order to try to keep the negative emotions at bay, because the negative emotions are a big thing about karma – they can create a lot of bad karma. So we have to really check that.

So sometimes the emotions can create an attitude or a state of mind. We have a thought, then from that, there comes an attitude. Then because maybe we are stressed, somebody comes, and that person is talking to us very nicely but because we are stressed or we are pissed or whatever, then we talk really badly to them. We don’t, kind of pay attention, and we just…. So that sometimes is something that we really have to be aware.

If you are stressed, and it’s hard for you to not to be angry with the person, then that’s the test. That’s when you can be the real Buddhist. Then if you can really control that and be a good person at that time, then that’s, you’re surely becoming a real Buddhist. Right.

Just cause you read a book or do some meditation, doesn’t mean you become a Buddhist – at least from my side. Each person has their own view, of course.

So it’s so important to be aware of our mind at all times because if you think about it, everything that’s been created by the human being – starting with the gompa, our clothes, the floor, the roof, the place, the buildings, everything – in one beginning, it started with a thought. Someone had to think of that before it started, before they started to create that. So just by looking, everything that’s been created by the humans, then you can already see how powerful the thought is.

So just because you’re the only one who knows what you’re thinking, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to think bad things. I mean it’s, of course, it’s normal but sometimes it’s good to check why it’s coming, from where it’s coming and whether it’s beneficial for yourself.

For example, if you criticize someone, you’re actually harming yourself more than you’re harming the other person. You’re also harming the other person.

So that’s one of the things, it’s important now that we are alive and that we’re here, to try to be a better person. That’s basically what Dharma is telling us. And through that, we can really find happiness, because most of us, that’s what we’re searching – we’re searching for happiness.

And also I had a hard time with happiness because it’s so far away, like enlightenment, to become enlightened or to help all sentient beings. How can you help all sentient beings? That’s like almost impossible. I used to struggle with that every day. How can I be happy? Happiness. Where am I going to find happiness. I mean, it’s a state of mind.

So those things for me was really, really hard, and I found ways around it. So instead of ‘all sentient beings,’ it would be ‘some sentient beings,’ starting with yourself and your family and your friends, which is enough. And happiness, I also found it not being unhappy is easier than trying to be happy. So that’s like the first step.

When you’re trying not to be unhappy, then you make the cause for eventually to be happy. So that’s, at least for me, it’s easier to tackle when you think about it.

So that’s why, so there’s always many ways to see it and many ways to get around so that you can understand for yourself, because each person is different, like I said. And it’s normal that for some people it may work, for some people it may not work.

So I don’t want to take too much time because I know it’s, the day is very intense for all of you, and you are also doing in the November course, apart from the teachings there’s meditation, there’s what’s it called, writing sessions, discussion groups and dreaming, dream interpretations. I don’t know, there’s many different things which I really like to be part of. So I don’t want to take much of your time. Maybe we can repeat this again another day.

So basically, we’re looking for happiness. So if we try not to be unhappy, then we can create the causes slowly to be happy. And basically, how can we be happy is by helping other people to be happy, and that will come back to us.

So the more we try to be happy, the less happy we will be. And it works that way. If you try to be, try to buy a lot of stuff for yourself, the more stuff you buy, the less happy you will be because the stuff will never reach our expectations, and sometimes it will break, so we’ll be unhappy.

So if we actually search to make someone else happy, then we’ll be happy automatically. Just by seeing them, just the appreciation they give us, just the action. Even if they don’t appreciate, it doesn’t matter, we already did the action.

So the compassion, what we like is well-being, to live well. Sometimes, for example when we suffer, the suffering starts in one moment, let’s say something happens. There can be different types of suffering – physical suffering or mental suffering; sometimes the physical suffering is created by the mental suffering, like sometimes we can become sick because we are depressed all the time. So our body reacts to that. Our thoughts are very powerful, so they really affect us and they affect the people around us, too.

So what we really want to be, we search for the well-being, to be comfortable, to have food when we’re hungry, to have a nice bed to sleep, not to be cold, when we’re too hot, to have something nice breeze. So basically, if we’re able to help other people with that, then we are helping ourselves. Because ultimately, we are all just functional beings, right? Our function is to live. So if we live in a better way according to our own moral code, then we’ll be better people, and eventually we can really find that happiness eventually.

So it’s not so far away, but there’s first steps you have to take. Just like enlightenment. I used to think, “Wow, enlightenment is so far away, it’s impossible. How can we talk about enlightenment if it’s so far away?” But of course, you have to have your goal, you have to see where you want to go. Then if you know where you’re going, then slowly it will happen. But you have to know where you want to go.

So it’s a good thing to want to reach enlightenment one day. But of course, there’s many steps before. So we have to concentrate on the other steps. But always keep that in mind – that our purpose is to become enlightened, to be free from suffering and from samsara in order to help other people to reach that also. Basically that’s Buddhism; at least from my point of view, that’s Buddhism condensed in a sentence.

So compassion is so super important. We can talk about bodhicitta. Bodhicitta is one of the means to reach that goal, and karma is part of that. When you have compassion, then you create a very positive karma that will help you and help other people eventually reach that place.

So that’s basically what I wanted to share today. I hope it wasn’t too complicated. And I’m not sure if maybe we have time for questions and answers, but maybe we can do that another day unless, of course, there’s a microphone handy and people would like to ask questions.

Even though, personally I’m not qualified to answer Buddhist questions but I can try to answer the best I can. So I don’t know.

Ven. Gyatso: If people have questions, you can stand up and speak loudly.

Lama Osel: There’s no microphone? [One manifests] Oh, yeah, perfect!

I think for now, today, I think that’s good. Oh, many questions.

Questions and Answers

Question: Thanks for talking to us today.

Thank you.

Questioner: I have a problem with I can’t talk to a partner, or desire with people, that the monks maybe cannot explain about, so perhaps you can enlighten us on that topic.

Lama Osel: Yes, it’s very complicated. First of all, I think each couple is completely different because it’s two individuals, and each individual is so different, so that a couple makes it even more different, more unique. So each couple is so different, it’s really hard sometimes to really explain the situation for each couple. Of course, what goes between each couple is just between them, of course. And they are the ones who are learning through each other.

Personally I think living with a couple, with a partner is very helpful in order to learn, for example, patience or understanding, or empathy, or all these really good qualities can come from living with your partner, as long as you give space and you understand the other person, and you really try to listen to them and try to understand what they are going through, and also accept because each person is the way they are. And many times, at the times of the couple when we are together, [There’s music coming from close by], oh, beautiful Indian music. Maybe it’s supposed to go with the conversation, the couple conversation. Romantic music.

So when you’re living with someone, it can be very hard because many times we project what we would like the other person to be like. And of course, our projections never reach what reality is actually. Because there’s two different things: what we see is not the same as what there is.

For example, when I was maybe fourteen, fifteen, I used to have many zits in my face, green zits that come from puberty. So I used to see myself really ugly. And then maybe someone take a picture, and see the picture and be like, “Oh my god, I’m so ugly! I don’t like myself, at all”. And then maybe five, six years later, I would see the picture, and I’m like, “Wow, I’m so young! I look so good. I wish I could be like that now!”

So there you have a really good example of how the mind plays tricks on us, because the picture’s exactly the same. It’s just that I see myself different. I’m projecting what I would like to be like on both occasions. But the picture’s the same, the person in the picture is the same.

So that’s, I think it’s a good example to show that what we are seeing is not always what there actually is there, because what we see can change all the time. Maybe today we see something, then next year, it’s something different – even tomorrow or even maybe in an hour it can change.

But the thing there, it’s changing, of course, but it’s the same thing. I mean it’s changing, because the energy particles are moving constantly there, buzzing. But, actually, it’s solid. It looks solid, at least. Like next year, maybe the table will continue being the same, maybe the same color, but my mind will have been completely different. So our mind changes at a much greater speed.

So that, also in a relationship with your partner, that affects us a lot. And that’s I think, one of the root of the problems living, when you live with your partner is that many times you project, and you think you know the person or you understand the person, but actually what you understand is what you think you understand.

So it’s important sometimes to know how to differentiate those things. And that’s what Buddhism calls ‘dualism’. Now, I’m not sure. Is that correct? Kind of? Close. I’m still learning.

So when you live with a couple, it’s so important always to respect and to give space, and to try to understand. And when emotions, especially negative emotions come, to push them down, and then that’s a really good practice. So you can really evolve, fast, when you live with your partner if you know how to complement each other, how to complement each other in that sense.

And respect, of course, always, respect – is the most important, I think, factor. And understanding also. Try to understand that person as much as you can. Before you try to impose what you would like, or what you think is correct, try to understand what the other person is saying to you, and what they are trying to make you understand.

So then vice versa, it works really well. If you can really achieve that level, then you will evolve much faster ‘cause think that’s the best test of patience. Maybe parents and your partner?

In Asia, it’s not so much the parents, but I think in the West, it is ‘cause it can be really hard sometimes. 
 Yeah, so I hope I answered your question in an understandable way.

Any more questions?

Question: Dear Osel, What role do you think the internet, and social media have in spreading the Dharma, or at least raising mass consciousness? How can we make sure that we don’t become superficial activists? For example, just clicking on a link to save the whales and feeling good about that only.

Lama Osel: Oh, that’s a complicated question. But I think clicking is the first step, right? ‘Cause the computer is in our house or maybe we’re in cyber café, but at least it’s the nearest thing to trying to do that good action. So there’s also a first time, there’s always a first step. So clicking is good enough as long as your intention is there, right?

Then of course, other people maybe go to Africa to help the children there. Or maybe study medicine and then go to Africa and be a medic. Maybe other people will sponsor a child, and some people just click. I think either way, as long as your intention is pure, then it’s good enough. Because each person is different, and some people don’t have the time, don’t have the capacity or maybe the budget or the finance to do that.

Or even the, what do you call it when you do, when you really work hard at some things, the hardship. Like some people give up really easily, some people don’t. So dedication is the word I was looking for. Some people don’t have enough dedication, so it’s easier than other ways. So I think each person has to find their own method of trying to achieve that goal.

Question: So technology can be a great way to spread these beautiful ideas. But it can also be a source of addiction and attachment. And I wonder if you have anything to say about how we can use Dharma to not get attached, to like …

Lama Osel: Facebook.

Question: …the computer. Yes, Facebook, yes.

Lama Osel: Yeah, I know, I understand what you mean. Yeah, it’s true, sometimes the internet can create attachment, and just being connected all the time, you just, it’s like you spend so much time on internet sometimes that it can be difficult to really relate to the real world, our reality as a human being; it’s just the screen sometimes, that’s our reality.

Even for some kids, they’re playing game all the time, and that’s their reality. And then when they go out into society, they have difficulty relating to other people because they don’t feel comfortable with themselves, because they are so accustomed to just being themselves in the computer.

So that can happen also like with Facebook or with other computer-related programs or internet, internet-related programs.

I think it’s a question of, what do you call it, [pause] moderation. I think if you’re able to moderate, then it’s okay as long as you’re doing something useful, apart from passing the time, which most of us…. I think I pass a lot of time on Facebook or just looking at things, and just whatever.

But I think it’s important to have moderation and try to, as long as you’re spending your time, try to do it in a way that’s meaningful for you. I mean, you can spend, maybe an hour or two just doing nothing, because it’s important also to do nothing, to rest and to just be with yourself and relax. But don’t spend too much time doing nothing, ‘cause then you’ll be unhappy ‘cause you haven’t accomplished anything, and that’s one of the causes also of being unhappy.

Maybe bring the microphone to them if it’s possible. Sorry. It’s coming, okay?

Question: How can you use Dharma knowledge in our daily life in our relationship with parents, friends and partners, to give them some advice without sounding harsh, like saying, “It’s your karma, you’re so attached; it’s impermanence”?

Lama Osel: I think maybe examples are really good. When you use examples that relate to the people in everyday life, like for example impermanence – you can explain to that in the sense that just because you buy a new I-phone, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy. Right? You may be happy when you bring it from the shop to your house. “Woah, I got a new I-phone!” And then you get home, you unwrap it, or it can be anything. And then eventually, it will be something else. So that’s a good example for impermanence.

Or karma, it’s like also, for example, if what would you like people to do for you? If you want to be happy in the sense, if you don’t like someone to talk harshly towards you, then why would you talk harshly to someone else, for example, right? Because that creates, it’s not nice for you.

Or if someone hits you, you don’t like it. So why would you do that to someone else, right? You try to explain that in the first person, so that maybe they can relate to that in everyday life, using examples like that. I think it’s easier than just using the name ‘karma’ or ‘impermanence’ or ‘attachment’. Eventually you can use that, but you have to explain to them what it means, right? Otherwise they won’t really understand.

Question: I guess you own modern movies, and I would like to ask you what you think about Western society especially in case of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll? Look at the United States of America – some people say it’s like ancient Rome.

Lama Osel: Ancient Rome.

Question: Ancient Rome, it’s going down. Who will be the next leader?. What do you think?

Lama Osel: I think, first of all, we shouldn’t generalize, because each person is different. As an individual, each person makes their own choices. So just because a group of people do something, doesn’t mean everybody does it. So that’s, I think the first thing is not to generalize so much.

But I think it’s part of the culture, the Western culture, it has a long history of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Of course, so it’s part of the culture in a way. And it’s also something interesting to experience in order to understand in deeper way what samsara means.

Because sometimes, for example, if, when you become a monk in Tibetan tradition at a very young age, and you take vows, and you give up things which you don’t even know what they are. Then eventually you have a curiosity and you will want to know what it is like. So I think for some monks, of course, it’s no problem. But for some monks it is a problem, because they want to understand, they want to know what that is. It’s like reading a book about chocolate and then, of course, you don’t really know what it is like to eat chocolate. But it doesn’t mean the chocolate is going to bring you happiness. Right? In the book, it says chocolate will not bring you happiness. But you want to know at least what it tastes like in order to know that it won’t bring you happiness.

So it doesn’t mean that everybody has to do that. It’s just that for some people it’s interesting to have gone through that. And for example, Kopan started with the hippies that came to Nepal, and then they were introduced to the Dharma. And because they had gone through that, they really appreciated Dharma, and they found it as something very helpful because they felt that their generation was getting a little bit lost with the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.

So as I said before, I think moderation is very important, and to learn from our mistakes and to learn from our experience, and to always try to be a better person.

And I think culturally, it’s part of the Western culture, also worldwide. It’s not something that is bad in a sense. Of course, without moderation, everything is bad, without the right intention. So you just, you try to keep that at bay and try to understand why, where it’s coming from, why it’s coming, why are we searching that. And that eventually that is not going to bring satisfaction.

I mean, you can look at all these famous singers from the 1970’s like Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, and so many of them just passed away at a very young age. And just because they were experiencing that, doesn’t mean they’re going to be a better person. Of course it made great music, which may inspire people to be better people but it doesn’t mean that that is the answer.

So if you try it, try it in moderation and eventually understand where it comes from, and understand that that does not bring happiness. As a matter of fact, it brings more unhappiness.

Question: What do you think is Buddhism in the modern world, how does it translate, and is the modern Buddhism is keeping the essence of Buddha’s teachings.

Lama Osel: I think Buddhism came from thousands of years ago. So it’s important also to relate to Buddhism, today. Because people have changed, and sometimes tradition has stayed behind, it doesn’t mean it’s not useful; of course it’s useful, it’s super important for everybody because Buddhism is based on the tradition, that’s how it’s arrived to us – from word of mouth, through texts, through ancient texts.

But I think there’s many ways to introduce, make an introduction of Buddhism to the Western people who have no interest in religion, for example. Actually there are many people who have aversion towards religion. And I think, those are the people who are in the most need of getting in contact with the Dharma.

So that’s why I think it’s very important to create different ways to share and to explain Dharma to those people because they are the ones who need it the most; they are the ones who are suffering the most also.

So I agree with you that Dharma can be explained in many different ways, and today, I think, also there’s many different ways to explain it. Then slowly, slowly, there will be even more. So I think that’s very important.

Question: You said that if we are happy we inspire people to be happy. _ [missing] said that if we don’t do anything, we are not like too much – we are not happy. But if we are doing too many things, also we are not happy because we stress maybe of doing so many things. So what do you think to get a balance to find like happiness or we can an inspiration for people?

Lama Osel: Yeah, it’s important to listen to your body, right, because our body’s our vehicle – it’s what, where we live in since we were born ‘til we die, it’s where we live, we are alone inside.

The only way to communicate with people is through speech, through facial expression, through physical contact, maybe music, maybe painting, art, stuff like that. But ultimately, we are alone, right? So it’s so important to listen to our body because our body will tell us whether we are stressed or we have to take a slower pace.

I mean, sometimes, if we are not doing other exercise, then also our body will tell us by maybe some back pain. So it’s good to do like stretching exercises like yoga, something like that?

So it’s just, for each individual it’s different. So it’s just, I think the body will tell us when it’s the moment to stop working too much, and when it’s the moment to start doing something if we’re not doing a lot. But ultimately, of course, it’s the individual – each person has to see that by themselves.

So I think we have time for two more questions.

Question: What path is the one that you recommend for those people who have this kind of aversion towards religion? What way to go?

Lama Osel: Yeah, that’s a good question. I’m trying to also find out myself. But I think that, like the saying, “All roads lead to Rome”, and Rome is ourself. So I think it can be complicated in some moments, but I think eventually each person can find their own path.

Of course, it’s a very good question because not everybody finds it interesting or finds it helpful or useful. So maybe it’s just also a question of timing? When you reach a certain point in your life and you suddenly think, “Okay. Wow, I need to find meaning in my life. I have to understand what life is about”. And then maybe that thought [snaps fingers], will trigger the fact that you start searching for an answer or something. So sometimes it’s just the question about the moment in your life, and also your situation.

So it can be complicated but I think ultimately we were slowly able to reach more people, to be able to really find the true nature of their mind and understand how that works.

One more question.

Question: In your opinion, what is the best way to find an inner self, and not an outer self that is relying on your inner strength, and not something that it relies on outer things? And what’s like the path to find this?

Lama Osel: To find what?

Student: Like an inner sense that doesn’t rely on outer things….

Lama Osel: Oh, oh, okay.

Student:… to do with ego or attachment.

Lama Osel: Yeah, yeah. Well basically, wherever you are in the world, if you are not comfortable with yourself, whether you’re in Hawaii or you’re in Africa, it’s not going to make a difference. So you have to always start with yourself. And then how you relate to the outside world is based on how relate with yourself.

If you have many problems in your mind, then even if you go on vacation, then you will still have problems. So it’s important sometimes to also switch off the thoughts because many times we can be our worst enemy. At the same time, we can be our best enemy.

So it’s important to really check and see why we’re thinking, where it’s coming from and if it’s really helpful for us. ‘Cause, for example, one of the reasons there’s so much negativity in the world, from my perspective at least, is that people overvalue negativity much more than positive-ness.

Like, for example, there can be a mother who raised five children by herself for twenty years, and you’ll never see that on the news. You’ll never see, “Oh, this single mother raised five children by herself, doing two different jobs”.

But you will see a mother killed her son – that you may see. So that’s a good example to show that how even the news always overvalues negativity much more. And also we do because sometimes it’s like, it’s more interesting, oh we pay more attention. Oh there was an accident, and you say, “Wow, oh my God, there’s an accident”, which, of course, is terrible. But then there are so many other really nice things happening, and you say, “Okay, it’s normal”.

So if we can really switch that and overvalue positive-ness, and really say, “Okay, this person said this to me, which is very beautiful”, and really give a lot of importance to that, and slowly, slowly not give so much importance to the negative-ness, then that can really create a difference in our life and also in the people surrounding us.

And also in the collective memory because each individual affects the collective memory. So if we work with ourselves in that way, then we can actually help everybody else, even if it’s in a very subtle way.

I don’t know, I mean, I believe in the collective memory; maybe not all of you do. But I think the collective memory is a little bit like evolution or like god, or maybe sometimes love or karma – it can have many different names. It’s just sometimes you have to identify what works for you, what names, the one that you identify with.

For me, collective memory is like the omnipresence, like god. It’s something that we are all part of in an energetic way.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. I don’t know. At least that’s what I believe now. It may change tomorrow.

So one last question.

Question: Hello. Since you left the monastery ten years ago, I’m just wondering how have been working to go through what you have to reach that stage. Have you been studying any other sects of Buddhism or other religions?]

Lama Osel: Well, since I left the monastery, which has been already almost ten years now, I’ve just been living life and suffering, and, and I’m going through what everybody else goes through. And I think one of the inspirations I’ve had apart from Buddhism is many different authors, like Alejandro Jodorowsky or Thich Nhat Hanh or Hermann Hesse and Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho – just all these people. I just try to read books. Even Carlos Castaneda helped me a lot.

So since reading books and just experiencing life and talking with people, and just going through what everybody else goes through.

Of course, I had a raising in the monastery. So the way I saw things was a little bit different from people who grew up in the West. ‘Cause I grew up in the monastery with my basis as Dharma, and Buddhism, so it was easier for me to not get sucked into the samsara in a very deep way, so kind of just try to experience it and try to understand how it works.

Yeah but of course, I think we are all sucked into it eventually, I mean, all the time. But that’s what’s so hard about it is to really find how to get out of it, and how to help people. And that’s what Venerable Gyatso is here for, is to help us find that way, that path.

So I just would like to thank Venerable Gyatso so much from the bottom of my heart for helping all of us. And maybe sometimes maybe hard to understand, but ultimately it’s so beneficial. It may be difficult to also not fall asleep sometimes. I’m joking. But at least try to sleep well at night, so that that doesn’t happen during the teachings because you can miss some very important stuff. ‘Cause it really is – lam-rim is the basis of Dharma. So if you get a good understanding of lam-rim, then you’ve got enough. With that, you have enough for the whole lifetime.

So that’s why this November course is very important, it’s historical for all of us. So just keep that in mind and try not to get stressed. And just keep a light-heart, light-mind, just try to [seems to be exhaling], don’t think too much. And if you think, think positive, right?

Okay, thank you so much. Thank you. [applause]

By Tenzin Ösel Hita in Losang Dragpa Centre, Malyasia

In this short excerpt, Tenzin Ösel Hita shares his personal experience of putting the Dharma into practice with students at Losang Dragpa Centre in Malaysia on February 19, 2015.

Ösel was born in the small Spanish village of Bubión, Granada, in 1985. He was recognized as the incarnation of Lama Thubten Yeshe by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1986. Read Ösel's biography here.

It's the law of the universe, it's the law of karma, it's the law of the human mind, right? Buddhism says it, so I don't have to say it. All of you know it, but I think it's important to really put it in practice, and not just to do meditation, read a book or come to puja. This is very good, this is a way to imprint, to put an imprint and keep on the right path, but the most important moment to put this into practice is when—like in English, I'm sorry to say, please don't get offended, in English they say—when shit hits the fan. Very metaphoric.

You know, when that happens, that's where you really have to put it into practice, keep the middle path and think about other people instead of yourself. Even if you're suffering, forget about that. Think about the other person instead of yourself. It's very easy for me to say, but for me it's really, really difficult. I had a really hard time saying it. Now it's very easy, I can say it. But if you saw me when I get frustrated, angry, you'd probably laugh at me right now.

So, I’m just sharing this because it's helpful for me too. I'm also suffering and I have a lot of difficulties and I have many frustrations. And when this happens, I try to think about what I say, but even then it's so hard. Only afterwards when I make all the mistakes and I really make a mess out of everything, then I sit down and I'm like, “Oh, I wish I could have thought about it before. Now it's too late.” But still you can learn. You can always learn from your mistakes and slowly, slowly, make an effort to be a better person.

And try to make the person next to you happier. This is my advice, from my experience and the difficulties I go through, and we're all going through the same [difficulties] so it's not like I’m sitting up and telling you “Oh you know I’m enlightened,” blah blah blah, because I'm not. I'm probably the worst of all of you.

Just when I talk it's very beautiful, very nice. But it's very difficult and we’re all in the same boat. So we're here to work together and slowly, slowly, we will achieve it. Change doesn't just happen like that. We cannot change the world but what we can do is change ourselves, and that’s the first step. So we focus on that. Okay? That's the first step.

I just want to thank all of you again. Thank you so much for being here and for doing what you are doing. Please keep up the good work, okay? Thank you.