Awakening Dignity: Lighting Three Lamps to Return to Your True Home
Phakchok Rinpoche addressed a public audience in Taiwan in December 2023. The topic of the talk was Awakening Dignity: Lighting Three Lamps to Return to Your True Home.
Rinpoche noted that many in the audience were beginners in Buddhism, or had curiosity about dignity. He explained that when he teaches to a Chinese audience, he knows that the word for dignity has a different meaning than in English. Because of this, when he addresses a Chinese audience, he prefers to say “our nature is pure and limitless”.
Rinpoche says that people who come to teachings may have three stages or different levels of experience in life. These are:
- You have lots of problems or trouble in life and you see no condition to improve
- You have an average life with ups and downs
- You generally experience happiness and success
Many of us are somewhere on that scale. Then we might ask the question—which of these three stages needs dignity or pure and limitless?
The answer, Rinpoche says, is that regardless of which stage we are experiencing dignity is important. But the approach is different.
How do we normally relate to the world and our human situation?
- In the world…we say our human nature is very jealous. Our nature is bad.
- We always refer to our character and behavior as “me”.
- We point our finger to our brain when defining “me”.
These three modes of relating to the world limit us. They make us negative, bring a feeling of worthlessness, and make us subject to negative emotions. If you listen to your kids you see these problems frequently.
Instead, we can consider the true situation.
- Dignity is unlimited
- Nature or essence of body, speech, and mind is pure.
- Compassion, emptiness, wisdom, peace, ease openness and bliss or happiness is the nature.
When Rinpoche says “pure” he means no ego clinging. Not stained by bad karma. This nature is uncreated by anybody. You don’t create it, nor does a Buddha, nor any gods or demons. All of this equals dignity.
This purity is also called Buddha-nature, or in Vajrayana Buddhism divine pride
Normally, in the Mahayana practices, when we pray to Amitabha we are looking for blessings to bring us to the pure land. In Vajrayana Buddhism. we chant to receive blessings to realize the nature from which we are not separate.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, we talk about three levels of buddhas:
- Outer Buddha—the representation of an enlightened being, like a statue
- Inner Buddha—the nature that is inside me and every sentient being
- Secret Buddha—no grasping, just ease
Many of us have difficulties in believing in the innner buddha.
But if you think your nature is compassion then your compassion is limitless. If you know you are pure, you transform. You become humble.
Rinpoche said that some people hearing this may understand, what he is saying. And some begin thinking, while others reject what he says. It doesn’t matter. He asks us to just not forget what he says.
Rinpoche himself first rejected this idea. But then he started improving his character. Then he could hear the pure part. Then he started meditating. Compassion, ease, and humbleness came for a short period. This happens by itself. If you think meditation brings you these qualities, you are totally wrong. Nature is all of these things. These traits are not produced by meditation. We are that. When you understand this it comes easily. All your questions come because you are not convinced your nature is pure.
As you travel along the Buddhist pathway, you encounter three teachers. As we progress we move up the scale from the first to the third.
- Human teacher
- Your mind
- Your nature
Rinpoche reminds us to remember that pure nature is uncreated. He asks us please not to forget this.
If pure nature were created then we find three problems
- The nature would belong to someone…you owe someone
- No freedom
- Limited time
Rinpoche then explains that for the three stages of an individual, there are three ways you can react to his message.
- If you are going through difficulty you can’t hear him.
- If you are ok in life, you hear but don’t digest it well.
- If you are already happy and successful, you can hear what he is saying, and what he has taught can help you.
Because he wishes to help all three types of people, Rinpoche then likes to give exercises that are particularly helpful for the first and second types of individuals.
Rinpoche leads the audience in several exercises that he advises people to do regularly.
This teaching is in English with translation into Chinese.