Through Wesley Knapp.
The transcript below is a particularly good example, delivered by the Rinpoche at the Casa Loma ‘Castle’. I am guessing but I think it is a good bet that this event was organised by Karen Russel & Rob McConnell. I also guess that the original scribe was Cecilie Kwiat [the punctuation is similar to her’s] although that is not known either. But, to the organisers and the scribe, whoever they may have been, I offer many thanks. Also, to Heidrun in Germany, who sent me this transcript, thank you! I was at this talk with Angelica and we were deeply moved.
Namgyal Rinpoche begins:
“We have been talking about bits and pieces previously – And so I would like to speak about principles this evening. I just learned that my father died on this date, and I have been thinking of him. He grew up in Northern Ireland, with bombs flying through his childhood. Later in his life, he became interested in the Masonic Order. He had great aspirations in his life, juxtaposed with experiences of bombs.
You are in many ways like my father. You have great aspiration, and in life many grenades are thrown into the midst of your dreams. When this happens to you a few times, you perhaps begin to think somewhat fatalistically, ‘there is not much I can do about anything’. Or you find that bitterness sets in, with some gnashing of teeth, or a state of depression.
But you should understand that if the consciousnesses in this room were united, there is enough brain power and emotional heart involvement to revolutionize religion in this country.
Now, it seems to me, many of you are ‘fiddling while Rome is burning’. There is an emotional plague and many people are falling under its sway. While this is happening, beings are amusing themselves with distraction. Forgive me if I am not able to express this as well as it might be stated, but when a subject is near to one´s heart it is sometimes difficult to find the appropriate words. Even great teachers can only do so much, and there are thousands of beings needing help. There is a tremendous energy in a community of beings, if properly directed, to work with this need.
I have admiration for those of you who are involved in the promotion of peace and similar works. But it seems to me that that is not somehow enough. We appear to be going from crisis to crisis, from point to point. We reel from one issue to another, lacking a way that simply addresses the root of crisis. There is a need to address the very fibre of morality, the philosophical state of people right from birth.
I am not so much interested in ranting and and railing against the church. It was made by humans and of course it will fall short of the glory of god. But there is something happening in the churches which I believe we should examine. I will illustrate this by mentioning that some time ago I was invited to speak in the First Methodist Church in England. I lectured that night of the mystical experience of the light. The room was packed with young people who wanted to learn. Meditation is not really on about experiencing bliss and light only – it is for the development of compassionate involvement to aid all humanity.
But, on this occasion I was speaking about the meditation on light. As I entered the church, I saw notices on the board announcing dances and movies. There was a coke machine set up near the door. ‘Dances and coke to attract the young, and this in a church founded by John Wesley’! People come asking for bread and they are given stones. In many instances today, where the church doesn´t rule by fear it rules by the absence of good spiritual work.
There are, in England, more practising Buddhists than practising Anglicans. Shocking. I’m not suggesting that the solution is to become a Buddhist, but this statistic may indicate that there is a need which is not being met. Why are people going to the east for religious inspiration? Why go to the east? Did you ever think that we are the east, to further west? This is just an idea, and – a bit like Cicero – you might ponder it through. It could start you off somewhere.
One possible meaning of the word religion is re + leg, so this idea might get your legs going again. Perhaps we might find a way to use religion to get on with the direct work on development of being. Faith – as the saying goes – without works is dead. It is time for us to move on to new moral depths.
I hope you are listening carefully. I don´t believe that it is imperative for you to leave your background in the search for awakening. It is very important to know your background, to know – to know the great forces that shaped this present moment. I once watched a program on television in which the Dalai Lama was interviewed. He was asked what Christianity could offer to Buddhism and he answered something like “Hospitals”. But the earliest hospitals date back to the time of King Asoka, a great Buddhist king in India.
Then he was asked what Buddhism could offer to Christianity. His reply was “Meditation”. But it wasn´t until somewhere around the fifth century that the many forms of Christian meditation and contemplation began to fall away – or were killed off! At one time, Christians and Jews danced before the Arc of the Lord. “I played the pipes, but ye would not dance” That´s rather like what we hear nowadays. Why don´t you dance? Those of you who view yourselves as elderly, it is time to disabuse yourselves of that idea. Pass beyond that. Re-gird your loins!
These are ideas. Out of all respect to traditional forms of meditation perhaps it is time to see if they could be made understandable to people today. When I practised the classical meditation on light, we were put in a cell and given a box-like structure with a candle. A pin-sized hole was put in the box to allow the light to shine out in a circle on the wall. The size of the circle was dependent on the type of being meditating. Through this practice you could come to experience the body as filled with light. Then the whole cell would fill with light.
Jesus spoke of this when he said, “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be filled with light”. In early Christianity there were these experiences. People were much more involved and experiencing these states. In the Russian Orthodox tradition there is a meditation practice of saying the mantra, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me, a sinner” to the beat of the heart. There were these exercises in Christianity, but they seem to have vanished. We have lapsed into a sort of ‘shopping centre’ thing.
The churches are in error if they believe in some sort of damnation. And so are you. You must grow up – transcend that. We need another doctrine. We need the simple statement that salvation is involved with every being – the doctrine of original salvation.
There are three types of Christianity. (you will allow me to introduce a note of history here, will you not? I´m going to do so, anyway!) First is the Sacerdotalists, who believe that beings are saved by the sacraments. Second are the Evangelicalists who believe that salvation comes through the translation of a book. Third are the Universalists who believe that salvation is universal.
Nowhere in the New Testament is there mention of hell. Did you know that? Any moment of unwholesomeness, here and now IS the experience of hell. What need is there for a hell later? “Whatsoever a man soweth so shall he reap” that´s in the scriptures. You don´t need to fear the hereafter: you do need to undo the unwholesome states NOW and pray to receive light NOW.
And how can you do that? Study this universe, explore the laws of this universe. Then you will see. “This is the light that lighteth every man into the world”. I can quote more scripture for you. “God looked upon his creation and found it good “. Perhaps you might return the favour. You are that light, and it will never be put out. You can put a bushel over it, but you can´t put it out.
You could speak of what you´ve seen and heard first-hand, and every day you are seeing, hearing, sensing the mystery of life. You are surrounded by a mystery into which you have been plopped. It was, I think the writer Nikos Kazantzakis who wrote in a book entitled “SPIRITUAL EXERCISES” that we are hurled from the womb to the tomb. In this journey, we meet with many miracles.
You need to open your senses, like radar scopes, to come to some understanding of this mystery in which you live. From this point of view I must say that the most admirable of the saints might be St.Thomas. He was compelled to reach out and touch. You might try more of that. But above all, since you are in a mystery, don´t pretend that it isn’t mysterious. If you drop the pretence, you will be in a continuum of discovery.
Because the church is not meeting the needs of today, people are ‘voting with their feet’ – they are leaving. A certain ‘madness’ overtakes them and they are going elsewhere to search for inspiration. You came here tonight, didn’t you? And so we may have to look more deeply, to renew the quest. Maybe we can´t thrill people with coke machines and dances. We may need a new dance, something like what happened at Pentecost.
Speaking to you as spiritual beings, I will repeat an ancient message, “Physician, heal thyself”. When you see resignation, bitterness, hopelessness, and so forth, don´t think you can resolve it by attacking the problem after it manifests. The sin is not so much in the occurrence as in the lack of meaningful work being set forth for the spirit of the human being.
It is time for some contemplation on the nature of the reality in which you exist. You may resolve some ills by running for parliament. But most people are ‘running for parliament’, and you will be more separated from others than ever. In today’s political society there isn´t much of a statement of principle to be found. Where is the philosophy of our southern neighbours clearly and simply stated?
Some years ago a student from Cambridge (suffering from all the answers that infect university students, and caught into the dictatorship of youth) announced grandly to me that, “All is Maya”, illusion. It may be so, but look around you. Some illusion! In Buddha-Dharma there is the principle of sunya, of emptiness. Now many so-called Buddhists love to go around saying ‘all that you see is emptiness’ but the real understanding of sunya is not gained by emptying the universe: it is gained by emptying ‘you’ from patterns of morbidity. Become unselfish and move into unity with the universe. This really is some illusion in which you dwell!
We have struggled for thousands of years to build a civilization, to secure a place safe from bears, tigers and all manner of things. There are great wonders to be found written into this struggle, but they will be wondrous to you only if you can keep centred. It is necessary for the human being to have an idea, a question. Like, ‘What is this illusion, this ‘Plenum Void’ – or Void Plenum?’
I almost think the first step you should make is to buy a skull and put it in your room, somewhere that you will see it. This would be a statement of the nature of society. I know that (according to Freud) you should be on about bigger and better pleasures. So, get a skull. It strips the being, brings you to contemplate the immediacy – and so you don´t just ‘pass your time away’. (Having a skull nearby was a discipline of the Carmelite nuns). There is a time for the direct look at the environment in which you live.
I wonder how much thought you have given to the preciousness of human life? Its dimensions are incredible. Don´t loose sight of that. It would be very beneficial for you to spend some time every day in contemplative consideration of the richness of this birth. And also you might look around you, realize that this world in which you dwell is in reality a charnel ground. People right here in Toronto are dying.
I was thinking of initiating a new form of meditation, called scuba diving. When you dive, you sometimes visit coral reefs. They are very beautiful, although today they are often used to sell to tourists. Divers go down and break off chunks of coral so someone can buy a piece and maybe look at it once or twice. Do you realize that you are holding a million years of struggle in your hand? That´s very like humanity holding a hand up and there is thousands of years of human endeavour behind that motion.
Yet, in the majority of your actions, your inter-actions with this milieu, all that has gone before is ignored. The beauty of what has struggled into manifestation is taken for granted. You should, as a human being, be in a passion to take that hand full of coral and raise it – if not fling it – towards the heavens. You are the result of a tremendous wave of evolution. Now the question arises – What are you going to give? What will you contribute? This exposes the greatest sin of our time. (To sin is to be less than you can be.)
It is said that North America, to maintain its present life style, uses 60% of the world´s resources. It doesn´t have 60% of the world´s population! If you don´t give something back, you are robbing others. You must give back a compassionate work. Your clothing, transportation, housing etc – all of that – is built on the backs of others. What can you give back? Not only money, however necessary that may be, but a state of mind that will prevent the crises such as presently occur in places like Ethiopia – to ensure that such major disasters and mass states of suffering do not happen in the future.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope that you will remain idealists. It is better to be a sloppy idealist than a cold -hearted realist. And rather than asking, ‘Is the teaching relevant to modern life?’, I suggest that you make modern life relevant to this teaching. Don´t use this richness just for frivolity. Take up the challenge. Man is an organizer, and women even more so! That should get at least half of you going!
There is enough power here, in this room tonight, if it were united, to revolutionize spiritual understanding. I think we should organize a new church or a new society: we should set in motion some organizational wave that will cast down barriers between people, between churches, between all classes of living beings. Bring this into being. Use the organizer. I want to be a Protestant and a Catholic at the same time. I want to be catholic/universal, and I´m protesting that this option is not being presented. The Protestant Reformation didn´t go far enough, it should be extended. Let us no more have the claim, “We have the truth and they haven´t” Transcend sectarianism. Let us form a World Federalism.
It is time to abandon those so comfortable points of ego clinging that puff you up. Leave off the great sin of spiritual pride. For you, I quote, “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. And again, “God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform”. It is time to use God to convey a higher and deeper mystery – a mystery that we are compelled to study. If you believe in any type of salvation, why not go one step further? I believe it was de Chardin who said something like ‘In this greatest of all possible universes, I suppose hell might exist. And I hope it doesn´t’ have a test of faith. Test to see if that great love is here.
What is the way to express your faith? To share with another. I put out a call to you for us to meet next April/May; To have a conference where we meet and fashion something for all people. I propose it and for those who can agree, I am sure it will come into being. We need only seven people committed to speak and organize a new religious expression. Let us have the First Founding Convention/Conference of the Universal Doctrine of Salvation. Are you interested? (Many people show their assent). So, we have the beginning of a movement. We have no name yet, we haven´t got anything but a planet – and we´d better move quickly while we’ve still got that!
The Buddha wouldn´t teach people unless they were in a stage of enough calm for them to hear the high truths. And so too, today one must deal with the emotional problems first, because until that level is healed people cannot hear. Until the spirit is refreshed, human beings cannot hear the sound of liberation. So, for the mass of beings, out of compassion, we must find ways to calm them and to awaken their inspiration, that they come to realization.
We must speak to the masses. They share our hopes. And let us try to establish an environment for future generations in which there is no need to grow up with grenades exploding around them. Put the negative states behind you and keep your eyes on God. Keep in focus what it is you want to bring into being.
Before you become too involved in questions of world disarmament – which is a worthy task – why don´t you disarm your ego view? I am reminded of St. Theresa of Avila, who said that it is not the mortal but the venial sins that damn one. It is the sin of putting off what one aspires to do, the tendency to ignore the present situation that causes hell states to arise. So the Buddha said, “He who would truly honour me would practice”.
I wish to share with you a very ancient blessing:
‘Idam te punna kamman asavakaya vayam hotu’ – By this meritorious act, may all cancers be dissolved.
Before there are cancers of the body, there are cancers of the mind…”
Visit www.namgyal.ca for more teachings and archives of Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche