Sometimes we read or hear the sutras and doubts arise. We ask ourselves if enlightenment is beyond our capability. Or we may worry that it is impossible for us to accumulate merit for uncountable eons. Of course, that may sound very overwhelming!

In this audio clip, Phakchok Rinpoche assures us that enlightenment is possible. Actually, there is a thin line dividing buddhas and sentient beings. What is the difference between a buddha and sentient beings? A buddha sees the true nature of the mind and understands that the mind is not truly established. However, sentient beings do not see—but it is possible!

But we can read these stories with the correct understanding. And the message of these teachings should be that we learn how to invest our time intelligently. Rinpoche points out that the quality of practice counts more than quantity. And thus we need knowledge about how we can approach practice cleverly.

Merit, Mind, and Compassion

When we see the true nature of mind and when we practice true compassion—that moment itself is equivalent to many eons of effort accumulating merit. Here Rinpoche uses the example of an intelligent investor gaining a great return on investment. We need to know how to practice in that intelligent way and we will gain great returns as well. To understand more about intelligent merit gathering you might want to read this blog post about multiplying merit.

Rinpoche tells a story from a past life of the Buddha that demonstrates the effectiveness of this practice method and he advises us to be equally smart about our own practice.

  • Consider the story Rinpoche tells here about the Buddha as a student. What qualities does he emphasize in this explanation? How do you understand the example? Does this story change your understanding of kalpas of merit?
  • And what might you apply to your own practice approach after reflection?