Mar 13, 2015

Jewels of Enlightenment - foreword


Dear friends,

The precious teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni arrived on the Tibetan plateau in the 6th century and have survived there ever since. Under the patronage of Tibet’s kings, Buddhist teachers were invited from countries near and far; of these countries present day India is regarded as the mother source. It is often said that the inaccessibility of this land of snowy ranges helped to secure a purity of teaching and practice up until recent times. Yet, another major factor in retaining such purity is the sincerity that is embodied in the basic Buddhist principles of renunciation, bodhichitta, devotion and the true view.

Many countries have been blessed by the instructions of the Awakened One and Buddhism in its various lines of transmission is branded and categorized accordingly. Thus, people today speak of “Tibetan Buddhism.”

Seen from the Tibetan point of view, there are as many approaches or "vehicles" as there are different types of people, while practically speaking there are three main approaches: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. It does not make sense to claim that one is higher or better than another. What really matters is what is right for the individual in order to progress from whatever point one is at this very moment. The three vehicles share the common perspective that allows that to happen -- how do we remove what hinders liberation and enlightenment, how do we provide the right circumstances to progress, and how do we gain further experience and realization.

The common denominator in each case is to identify the main culprit: our ignorance which allows selfishness expressed in emotions and actions. The three vehicles taught by the Buddha are more precious then anything else we could possibly find or achieve in this world because on every level they provide with practical and realistic tools on how we in actuality can deal with any present situation. Being given the knowledge of how to remove ignorance and selfishness is the most valuable gift -- don't you agree? Ignorance and selfishness are causes of so much suffering and their opposites, while wisdom and compassion are the source of all happiness and well-being. This is the most profound meaning of healing.

If I were to choose the primary characteristic that defines Tibetan Buddhism, it would be the ability to accommodate a vast variety of approaches and levels of profundity. Tibetan Buddhist masters have emphasized that there is neither conflict nor contradiction between any of the three vehicles and encouraged an understanding which encompassed all three vehicles. In the words of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, “Practice the three vehicles in the same session, on the same seat.”

The following selection of precious and practical quotes are in harmony with this perspective. They reflect the immense variety of approaches and profundity that have made the tapestry of Tibetan Buddhism a deep interest and daily practice of an ever-increasing number of spiritual seekers the world over.

In selecting these quotes, I have focused on unifying all the teachings into a single system. This is how most great masters understand them as well as being how I, myself, have been taught.

If you are interested in the plight of the Tibetans, here is a selection of valid reasons for preserving their rich cultural heritage.

If you are attracted to the beauty of Tibet, here is the landscape for their profound religion, like a range of immaculate snow mountains reflecting the sunlight of wisdom and compassion with the purity of noble intentions.

If you are looking for insights and the meaning of life, here are drops scooped up from enlightenment’s inexhaustible ocean.

These quotes are true jewels and their beauty transcends silver, gold and precious gemstones. String them together on the cord of your living moments.

Let them sparkle!