TURNING THE MIND TOWARD ENLIGHTENMENT - Pristine Mind: Our Fundamental Nature - Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness (2016)

Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness (2016)


Pristine Mind: Our Fundamental Nature


WE HAVE COVERED a lot of material in this first part. First, our fundamental nature is Pristine Mind; that may seem to be merely a concept right now, but meditation will make it clear. Second, our mental and emotional situation, our ordinary mind, appears to be who we are due to the contamination of our mind by the mental events that result from disconnection from our Pristine Mind; that may also seem conceptual right now, but again, meditation will clear that up as well. We need to begin the meditation process. But before we do so, we need the inspiration, enthusiasm, and determination to make it work.

The enlightened masters of my lineage have provided the pure nectar of the teachings in an unbroken stream, from Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava all the way down to my own sublime teacher, Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. Among these great teachings are four fundamental facts of existence for us to contemplate, to give us the inspiration, enthusiasm, and determination that we need. These facts are as true now as they have always been.

First: the rare and precious opportunity of human birth. Of all the living things in this world, how many of us are human, with a consciousness endowed with the capacity for self-reflection, the ability to ask ourselves what life is all about? Reflecting on this fact enables us to take productive actions, to appreciate every moment we have, to think about how we can help ourselves and others. We should take advantage of this opportunity during this exceptional human lifetime. We possess the power to impact our own lives as well as the lives of those around us—either positively or negatively. It is up to us whether we choose a positive or a negative path, but we should recognize that the choices we make will greatly influence our level of happiness and fulfillment.

Second: the changeable nature of existence. We and everything that exists are impermanent and subject to change at any time. We all know that we will die; we just don’t know when. Everything in our world is subject to creation, growth, dissipation, and disappearance. Even our sun and all the stars of the universe will burn out eventually. Nothing remains the same. Therefore, the changeable and uncertain nature of everything must be accepted and dealt with. The Pristine Mind teachings provide a truly effective way of understanding and working with impermanence. It is crucial to always remember the bigger picture. A mind that is focused less on petty daily happenings and more on what is really important, what makes life truly meaningful, will be successful in reaching a state of lasting freedom and fulfillment.

Third: the consequences of our actions. Our attitudes and actions are subject to the natural law of karma. The Sanskrit word karma refers to action and reaction, cause and effect. If our mental attitudes are positive, then our speech becomes positive, and our facial expressions and our energy naturally become positive, projecting positive energy, creating positive circumstances. If our mental attitudes are negative, however, then our speech, our behavior, and our body language become negative, projecting negative energy, creating negative circumstances. That is cause and effect, or karma.

Each positive or negative action or attitude has a corresponding consequence or result. It creates a wave. If we have a negative, harmful, hateful attitude toward ourselves, others, or the world, we leave little room for feelings of happiness, and we send waves of counterproductive energy into the world that creates disharmony. If, however, we have a positive attitude with positive intentions and motivations, they too send waves. Through our body language, speech, and facial expressions, and through our very presence, we send the world a very different signal. We make room for happiness within, and we send a more harmonious, beautiful energy out into the world, and that creates many positive, harmonious results. That’s the natural law of cause and effect. It is up to us to decide whether the nature of our actions will have consequences that are positive or negative. This fact places a great deal of responsibility on each individual. If we choose thoughts, words, and actions wisely, we will reap the benefits of the goodness we send out into our environment.

Fourth: the discomforts of existence. The nature of our life is a mix of pain and pleasure. Sometimes we feel lucky and other times we feel unfortunate. Sometimes we feel bright, shiny, and proud, and other times we feel dull, withdrawn, and ashamed. We often do not live with the robustness and joy that we would like and that we somehow sense should be part of something so precious and miraculous as a human life. Being born, we cannot help passing away, and during our life we have to deal with sickness and old age—if not our own, then of those around us. We struggle to overcome or avoid these conditions, and as a result we suffer mental and emotional turbulence. We often don’t get what we want, and we sometimes get what we don’t want. The Buddha said that when pain ceases, we feel pleasure, and when pleasure ceases, we feel pain. This is the nature of ordinary life.

When we fully understand these four fundamental facts and incorporate them into our way of living, we do not become egocentric about any impressive achievements we have attained. We understand that such achievements are enjoyable and fine for the time being, but that they are only temporary and short-lived. And when circumstances go downhill—even if we sink to the depths of misfortune—we are not depressed, because we know that the bad times are temporary as well. That’s just the way life is. Things change. This realization keeps us from despairing when hardships come our way. Understanding these basic facts, we are better able to handle the hard times. When we realize these facts and make them central to our approach to life, then we become broad-minded and less centered on our ego.

If we base our life on the assimilation and remembrance of these facts, then our view, our outlook on life, is grounded in reality. Otherwise, if we are constantly pitting our self-centered feelings against others’ feelings and against actual reality, we will continually run into conflict. And so much human suffering comes from this kind of conflict. It is a clash of the inevitably conflicting ego needs of different individuals, which are ever-changing even for the people involved. If we see the big picture, we have a view that is much more in line with reality.

Best of all, the contemplation of these fundamental facts ignites our desire for enlightenment. This desire itself yields multiple positive experiences and positive mental events. Without this basis in reality, even our positive emotions have no lasting power, because they can’t be sustained, and negative experiences inevitably follow. But with these fundamental facts forming a basis, we have the motivation to practice Pristine Mind meditation and to attain complete enlightenment.