|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.
You can also read more about Ösel here.
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.
Question and Answer Session
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.