Teachings based on the book “Gems of Dharma, Jewels of Freedom” by Gampopa.
The Four Impediments to Awakening Why don’t you want to awaken? Get ready for impact. Talk given at winter retreat in Dec. 2009, Miki, Hyogo, Japan.
Note: Quote attributed to Neils Bohr > actually by Schrodinger to Bohr.
We have the basis which was we have the condition which is the teacher’s spiritual mentor and then we have the means and these are the instructions. So what is it that keeps us from becoming Buddha? You understand when I use the word Buddha; I’m not referring to a religion or a particular dogma, right I’m referring to the fully awakened state. So this is important for you to recognize we’re not it’s not a secretary in view in the sense that you know, not Hindu right? Buddhism’s mother is Brahmanism, which is the root of Hinduism. So we’re not talking particularly about religion. We’re just; you can call it God I suppose except God is usually seen as an object in some way by most people. So it’s not an object. It’s an understanding of the nature of emptiness, right?
And nature lacks inherent objective reality we phrase it in those terms because you are an objective reality. And so the only way we can refer to it is by lack of objective reality. Since your hang-up is the idea that there is an objective reality as such a fixed position. And so it sounds like a negative to most people. I mean non-Buddhist Buddhism sounds like a negative because it says it’s not like nirvana is extinction, but it’s not extinction in the sense of no apples, right? It’s extinction in the sense that even when the apples are in the bowl they are by definition empty. Then there is the appearance of the object to reality. The magical play of Maya’s net The great illusion doesn’t make it a substantial thing any more than a rainbow or a camera or a dream they melt away they pass.
And in that sense, they can’t be objectively real because if it was objectively reel it would not change. And insofar as everything changes You can’t say there’s an objective reality because it’s never fixed long enough to find it. And this is kind of where you get to with quantum physics that not only is there not an objective reality but even the particles that make up an objective reality can be experimentally proven to show you that the particles are in two places at the same time. This is pretty weird when two subatomic particles can be in the same place at the same time. Because of course that contradicts the law of Newtonian physics and Einsteinium physics. Einstein didn’t like it. Even the guy who invented or discovered quantum physics, Niels Bohr didn’t like it. I don’t like this idea is what he said, I’m not happy with it.
How can you be? Because the I in some nebulous form or other thinks of itself as an objective reality despite our understandings of it and despite our philosophical willingness to accept it. Nevertheless, we don’t like it. And the reason we don’t like it is that the web is the deluding position you with me So that which prevents you from becoming a Buddha is the harmful mistake of falling under the sway of the four hindrances. In other words, you subsume under the four hindrances. And because of that, you come to believe in an inherent self or you come to believe that there’s an objective reality to be found and your suffering, you know, it’s suffering. You think, okay like cancer or an accident, but the suffering can be redefined, the struggle or just a kind of discontent or a sense of lack of security.
No matter how much money you have in the bank, it’s never enough. If that’s your issue, no matter how much your partner tells you they love you, it’s never enough because there’s an inherent insecurity in these ideas. There’s an inherent lack of security and money. There’s an inherent lack of security and relationship. There’s an inherent lack of security in your career, it dissolves all the great paintings of the world won’t last. Maybe take a long time. They’re gone, right? All artists are gone. All musicians are gone. All music is gone, right? Eventually, It all goes before Greek music. There was music. It’s all gone new music. We’re not saying it’s gone in the sense that something else doesn’t happen, but something else happening means it’s not here now. If it’s not here now, where was it before?
It was here? And therefore what is here now also goes, and if what’s here goes now, where did it go to? If it exists inherently it can’t come and it can’t go and if it can come and go, it can’t exist inherently. And if it can’t exist inherently, what does it mean to talk about it as it is now? It’s a logical inconsistency. You can’t call something in it. If it isn’t there like a rainbow If you drive through the middle of a rainbow, it disappears In fact, you can’t drive through the middle of a rainbow because the ability to see the rainbow means you have to be at a distance from it. Now be very clear about this. You are you because you are at a distance from your rainbow, and the distant thing that you’re distant from is your mother and that’s how the ego develops It starts to see itself as distant from the mother rather than being the rainbow, It becomes a seer of rainbows.
And as the ego develops, you become more and more distant from the emptiness of your nature So the whole nature of the ego’s attachment separates you from God, which is why it says in the bible, no, man, a woman can look on the face of God and live. It doesn’t mean you drop dead right? It just means that if you’re looking directly in the face of God, you’re not there, nor then can God be there because who’s gonna be calling it God after all? So the four impediments that prevent the attainment of Buddha hood are the attachment to the experiences of this life. That also means your aversion to certain experiences of this life. It’s not just an attachment to what you like. It’s also aversion to what you don’t like and it’s also confusion about what you should like or not like attachments to the experiences of this life.
So if you wanna be clear about this, they tell soldiers and warriors and samurai in Buddhists that fundamentally you’re already dead Otherwise you can’t function in your role. You can’t function as a samurai. If you think you’re still alive you can’t function as a soldier. If you think you’re still alive, they tell you from the beginning you are dead. If you survive, you’re lucky, we tell you that as a Buddhist if you want to see Buddha nature if you want to experience Buddha nature, you should see yourself as dead. Now dead here does not mean that you don’t experience it because after death experience continues. I know it’s a little hard to fathom, but you will continue experiencing it after death. You just won’t do it with that body that you’re so attached to experience will continue.
However, experience by nature is a group of and your attachment to this particular, this particular scandal. Your form will continue embargo in the same way that you have some kind of form and dream, don’t you? It’s not a physical form, but it’s some kind of form. The cohesive nature of that experience and dream is a mental body, is it not? You have no awareness of your physical body as a rule and dream, but there is a feeling of kind of a mental body, isn’t there Somebody’s dreaming? Somebody’s experiencing something right now that somebody doesn’t inherently exist, does it? It’s a way of speaking, we wake up in the morning and say I had a dream, but while you’re dreaming you don’t think I am having a dream because the eyes are not there. Nevertheless, there is experience. So too in this life, the fact that you identify certain experiences as belonging to a particular body and certain other experiences as not belonging to your body is an illusion and it is the source and the cause of your suffering Your stubborn refusal to see the truth to be attached or averted to your particular set of preferences So attachment to the experiences of this life.
If you see yourself as already dead if you see this as a dream if you see this as a movie, then you’re halfway to Buddha hood because it’s not your body, it’s not your feelings, it’s not your perception, it’s not your consciousness and it’s not your factors of consciousness any more than bamboo belongs to this piece of bamboo and that piece of bamboo, we are not, of course, denying or negating experience. Experience is forever the thing that separates Samsara from Nirvana is not that Nirvana has no experience, but that there is no owner of experience there is no god of experience. There is no angel of experience. There’s merely or purely experience. And then it’s called pure perception. The second impediment to the attainment of full realization is the attachment to worldly well-being. In other words, comfort is your attachment to being comfortable.
Your perversion to being uncomfortable, uncomfortable, and comfortable is a state of mind. It doesn’t exist inherently in the object, cold or hot are not inherently uncomfortable They are just intense experiences. You are attached curiously enough, all you sensuous included, all you feeling types are included. You’re attached to neutrality In other words, you’re attached to nothing happening but nothing happening would mean that you weren’t there. Therefore you make something happen just pleasurable enough to experience. It’s just pleasurable enough to call it yours not so pleasurable. That it wipes you out and is not so unpleasant. Herbal that it wipes you out. And the nature of intensity is that it wipes you out. Superior pleasure is the end of you. And superior pain is the end of you. Have you ever been in ecstatic absorption or intense pain? And you’re not there are you?
That the experience is so overwhelming that you don’t even know you’re there. You know, How do you feel? Well if someone asked me it hurts but goes away because it hurts too much really. It’s almost like a dream, isn’t it? It’s almost like you’re not there but you want to be back, right, you want to be healthy and for you healthy means normality, and normality means basically boring and therefore you go between boring which is what you do most of the time to little fits of semi intensity you and semi-fit of negative intensity and you go from you to trying to stay as close as you can to the middle of Yeah, switched off potential, fundamentally wants to stay within the comfortable range, switched on potential means fundamentally that you recognize that the nature of experience is purely and simply experienced, Jesus, said it be either hot or cold or I’ll spew thee out of my mouth.
Well, you know, it’s a desert religion. You got to have some compassion for the desert religions because they are fierce, you know, it’s a desert you die in the desert. It’s been, it’s like having a religion out of the North Pole, There’s not a lot of room for left and right, you’re either on or you’re dead. So Christianity and Judaism and Islam are all like kind of fierce religions because they all come out of like this desert plain Hinduism and Buddhism come out of like this fertile much more forgiving. You know, if you forget your umbrella, you can always sit under a tree if you forgot your food, there’s always a fruit hanging around, it doesn’t get too cold and it doesn’t get too hot. You can move from the planes when it’s hot and you can move from the mountains when it’s cold.
You don’t need many clothes You can live under a tree. You can go naked pretty much as the sad news of India. Do try going naked in the desert or try going naked at the North Pole. So you can forgive Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam for being a little obsessive in their views. Worldly being attachment. We’re not talking about being well; we’re talking about being attached to your interpretation of what that means because everything that you define as feeling well is according to your definition. For some people meditating is boring for other people, meditation is ecstatic. For some people being busy is too much for other people. Being busy is too little So and then attached to this is the third one, attachment to the well-being of peace, which is basically what I’ve just said. And lastly, the ignorance using which Buddha hood is achieved.
This is why you’re not a Buddha. You don’t know how to do it Well the funny thing is you do know how to do it. You just choose to think, you don’t know how to do it. So what are the four attachments to the experiences of this life? Attachment to worldly well-being, attachment to the well-being of peace and normality, and the ignorance of how Buddha hood is achieved when we say ignorance of how Buddha has achieved It’s more kind of a refusal to apply it because I’ve been yakking and other teachers have been yakking at you for years and you choose to ignore it. And I guess the fundamental reason you ignore it is you don’t really see the nature of the perpetual suffering of Samsara by being attached to what you like, having an aversion to what you don’t like, and so on.
Why is that so Yeah, that’s true. It’s familiar. So is the prison Yeah, but why is the world distracting? Why do you have preferences? Why do you have the condition? Why do you believe your condition is bad? Why do you maintain a bad habit that doesn’t appear to hurt enough? That’s a very good point. The difference between a Buddha and a switched-off potential is the switched-off potential. It doesn’t hurt in a sense. They’re insensitive My mother used to tell me I was too sensitive, oh, don’t be so sensitive, It hurt too much to be. So how do you have it hurt less? By becoming insensitive? You switch off by switching on; it begins to hurt too much. Therefore what seems to be the way out of the problem switching off 99.9% of the population is switched off throughout their entire lives in divorces and their love affairs and their families and the births and deaths of those that wake up sewed wakes up the pain, the pain of ignorance but that’s not the reason I’m after.
Why? Why do you not awaken? You don’t decide to, Why do you not decide to? You don’t trust the awakening? That’s one reason lazy. All of that’s true. Why you don’t want to? Why don’t you want to because you think it’s resolvable? Do you think you’re gonna get what you want? You think you’re gonna get, if you get the job if you get the money, if you get the house, if you get the marriage, if you get the career you’re gonna make it, it’s gonna work. It’s gonna do it. It won’t you don’t believe me. I know you don’t believe me because if you did you’d be awakened. No matter how much we rant and rave and rant, rave, rent rave, entertaining. Oh, he’s ranting and raving again.
That’s cool fun or you don’t believe it. You do think in there somewhere, you’re gonna get exactly what it is, you’re looking for exactly what it is. You want. You think you’re gonna get it, but you have no idea what it is, do you? You don’t know what it is you want. I want a husband mm kinda until you get one And you know, you’re you know, you’re 16, you want Romeo Juliet 19. You want someone who can think 25, you want somebody who makes money, 30, you want somebody friendly 40. You want somebody who’s not so irritating at 50. You want somebody who leaves you alone, 60. You want somebody who can take care of you, 70 anyway. You do think that chasing your habitual patterns chasing your aspirations, chasing your vague sense of satisfaction is attainable somehow, somewhere in some kind of object, whether it’s your house or your relationship.
Physical sensing beans are gonna chase it in terms of the sense function food houses, touch smells. Feeling people are gonna chase it in terms of love and affection and warmth and friendliness and caring, mental. People are gonna chase it in terms of concepts and ideas, theories and dogma keep chasing it, don’t you? I mean, we can point at it, I mean pick anybody in the room and define whether they’re fundamentally you know, basically a sensing type of feeling, type of thinking type, or an intuitive type. The intuitive types are gonna chase it in terms of some sort of nebulous understanding that they’re going to come to, It’s gonna be like a big light goes off in their head. Boom, I got it. Mhm. For more information, please visit clear Sky center dot org. That’s C L E A R S K Y C E N T E R dot org.