This transcript of Khentrul Rinpoche’s message for Buddhist Practitioners in the time of Corona Virus has been lightly edited for easier reading.
Hello, all Sangha members in the world, followers of the Buddha Shakyamuni, especially Kalachakra sangha members.
So, this time many people are finding this to be a difficult time. But as we are practitioners, we have to think very deeply and we have to see many aspects of life and many aspects of this situation.
So if we don’t do that, what is our practice for? What is our dharma for? So, if we cannot do that, then we are not dharma practitioners. Then we are just ordinary people. Then all our dharma practice is just for hobbies. It becomes a hobby. It has nothing to do with the improvement of spiritual abilities. Dharma is how to deal with difficulties.
We need to know very well more than normal people, more than the everyday people. That is meant to be. So this is also a very good chance to test oneself.
What kind of practitioner are we? This situation is quite special. This gives us a chance to look inward and examine oneself and test oneself. What kind of a practitioner am I? This is a good time to think of that.
Then we have to look at what is ordinary and what is a practitioner? An ordinary person means when we hear about this virus, and then this isolation, this business of locking down everything, it makes us anxious. It makes anxiety and increases depression and everything as normal and usual. If that is the case, then we are just an ordinary person. We are not a practitioner. There is a saying in Tibetan, when you are warm with the sun and your stomach is full then you think you are a very good practitioner. But when these situations and crises come over you, then you realize you are very ordinary.
So, Tibet is, of course, cold and sometimes you might be hungry. It’s a harsh life. So that’s why the saying. Maybe nobody is hungry today, nobody’s freezing today, but when these situations come, people have a lot of anxiety and suffering.
So, that’s why we have to test and ourselves. We examine ourselves. Who am I? What kind of practitioner am I? Until now I claim to practice dharma and have bodhicitta and so forth, but, is that really the case? We have a very good chance to reflect.
So, this situation has forced us to reflect on ourselves. This is the first thing we have to think about.
And then, secondly, we have to think, even if you realize “I’m not really a practitioner. I’m not really special at all, but still, how can I deal with this problem?”, you know? We need to look at a level. We have to think about this. Is this virus really bad? Is this really the problem for the world? Or is this really a problem for me individually? Me and my family? Is this individually bad or this is bad for the world?
So firstly, we don’t really know, 100%, if this is really bad for the world people or bad for the world.
And secondly, of course, we don’t really know exactly how bad for the individuals, but if we have some assumptions and we have some superficial way of looking, even in that case, maybe a little bit bad for the world, for the economy everything is bad, in general, for the world maybe, but for individuals, this has definitely less, much less, chance to be bad. So first step, we have to realize that.
So what does that mean? That means for the world, if we look in a superficial way, this is affecting many things, the business, economy, everything is going to be bad. Many people are probably going to die in this case.
But for individuals why less? Why is this less, why? Why, because firstly, this reminds us of the impermanence of life, the certainty of death and the uncertainty of the time of death. It forces us to realize that, but at the same time, it is good because there are millions of conditions for death every day. But we usually don’t think about that, we don’t realize that, and we don’t think about that. Sometimes even we intellectually know that, but still, we don’t have a habit to think about that. But this virus is only one condition of death. This gives us a chance to reflect on all that, how death is very scary… And when death comes is there anything that can help you, in the whole world? You work very hard, from birth to death, all of them, are they meaningful? Are they of any help? No, nothing zero.
And it only helps if you have a special viewpoint, the special attitude of the Dharma. That only helps you. Nothing else. You have to realize that. So that means… this is not too bad, because so many things we don’t realize before. We don’t think of all these things. We have a bad habit to think in very superficial way, and we are anxious in silly ways. So this forces us to realize all this is not really the cause.
So only one condition for death added to millions and we become very, very anxious. And we have this to teach us. Why don’t you usually think about the impermanent time of death? And why don’t you think about the certainty of death? Why don’t you prepare for your death and journey to rebirth? Everything. You are only stuck on very superficial things and they take over your life.
So, this has given us that reflection now. This is really important. Okay, so that is the first step. Everybody should think of all these things.
Even if you don’t believe in dharma, you don’t believe in religion, you don’t believe in spirituality, but this is so obvious. So, for anybody, it’s worth thinking of all of this.
Okay, this is a second thing then, usually, people always really like dharma, like really high Dharma really, really like Mahayana. really like Vajrayana, so people think like that. Now it is time to reflect on ourselves. Am I really a Mahayana high practitioner? Do I really have bodhicitta,? Am I qualified to practice Vajrayana? Am I qualified to practice the highest yoga tantra? Vajrayana, Mahamudra, Dzogchen and so forth?
So first, if we try to check “Am I ordinary or I am a Hinayana practitioner?”. If I am ordinary, then this makes you sad. It makes you worried, it increases anxiety and depression, that is absolutely ordinary.
But if you have a little bit of middle way of thinking, at least “Oh! This is impermanent. This is nothing special. This is a part of life. And then I have faith in Buddha, Dharma, and the Three Jewels. Definitely they will help me. Definitely I will have much more chance to not be affected by this virus because I have faith in the Three Jewels”. If you think like that about it, you are a Dharma practitioner, a very basic Dharma practitioner, but you still are special. More special than ordinary. So, think of that.
So, this strategy is you want to be protected by the Three Jewels. And you have faith. You have a connection with the Three Jewels. That’s why you are much safer than others.
Okay, this has qualified you as a practitioner. But you are still a lower practitioner because you are looking for protection. Okay. you are looking for protection for only yourself. Then if you realize, if you are a little bit higher than this, then what do you do?
It is not about you being more worried about the world because you have bodhicitta, you have compassion. Because you have compassion for all sentient beings, that’s why you worry more than everybody else about the world. And then you have much more anxiety and depression because you have compassion. No, it is not that. Don’t think that way. This is the wrong way of thinking. It is not that. What makes you special is, you have to realize Tibetan expression, which means those who are real dharma practitioners, a little bit higher dharma practitioners, their mind sees this is bad condition – in normal, ordinary people realization – as the path, for you, this becomes the path. For others it is an enemy in the wrong place, it is not the path to reach, it is not the path to adopt. But for you, it becomes the path. This is a view that shows you are a real practitioner.
So why is it like that? Quite easy, think about it. If this had not happened, you would be in your normal, typical life, ups and downs, most of the time not really happy, okay, and nothing is changed. Years and years and nothing changes. This is the typical way.
But this virus, this situation, this lockdown for us, forces us to transform. It forces us to change. It forces us to look inward. It forces us to look deeper. So, think about that.
So before, I had no time because so many things to do, I had no time to practice dharma. I had no time to study, but now it forces you to have time. It forces you to have practice, because you have no job, you can’t work. Normally, you can waste time chatting with the people, spend time playing games with people, working hard, everything, you have no time.
Now, this forces you to have time to practice dharma. Does practicing dharma mean you just sit in a cushion, try to do some breathing in, breathing out or you try to meditate? It’s not only that. But it is forcing you to look inward. Looking deeper into life looking for more, much more conditions, millions of conditions of death all the time, not only corona-virus. Do you realize that?
But then why are people so crazy about this coroner virus right now? The whole world? It is only because of the focus shift. A focus shift, that’s the only reason. Otherwise, we could become crazy our whole lives like it is now because if we focus all the time on death conditions, we have millions of conditions every day. If we focus on that, we either become crazy or we become excellent practitioners who never waste one minute and always have a good attitude, incredible strength in the mind, incredible love, compassion and wisdom in the mind.
We could become like this, but unfortunately, usually, our focus isn’t there. Our focus is on superficial things. But today, the virus shifts your focus only to the virus, so everybody shifts focus to this. So that’s why, most this crazy situation today is because of a shift in the focus, it is because of that.
There are some exceptions because of this virus, okay. But the most important is what? If anybody can transform this into an opportunity, can turn this into a path, if it can force you to have a good approach to a deeper meaning in life, and force you to have more knowledge, more study more mindfulness, even if you are really sad, you are really anxious or anything, but if you see this as transformation, the process of transformation, it is good if you think that.
In the worst scenario, even if you’re going to die this time, still this has forced you to prepare for death, to be already prepared. So many years on your life and you didn’t prepare, but this time you prepare yourself. Can you take it like that? Can you study dharma more deeply and completely engage in that? Can you study all the Bardo process, everything, so you are completely focused on that, completely engaged on that? Can you do that? If you do that, that’s fantastic.
Even if you don’t die this time, you prepared everything to die, but you didn’t die, in the future, it is even better. But if you’re going to die this time, it is still fantastic. It is a fantastic death, because this let me prepare, okay?
And also if you get and you don’t die, that also gives you a lot of experience in how we react to things and what is a reality, you know, and in the future, we learn a lot. So there are so many things, if you are wise enough, if you are intelligent enough, there are a million things you can think of this as really opportunity, really good qualities for us, especially individually. Okay, so think of that.
Of course, the majority of the world, yes, they don’t think that way. They definitely consider this as a crisis, but individually, especially as you are a sangha member, as you are a practitioner. Then you should think, firstly “I am so fortunate to be a practitioner. Secondly, I am even more fortunate to have this situation to force to focus on the Dharma”. You should think like that and you should act like this.
Okay? So we all should do this. I’m not saying you shou do it and I don’t have to do it. I am not saying this. We all should do this. We all should be together, you all with me. Please be with me and we all will do this, okay.
Especially if you consider you are in the bodhisattva path, if you consider you are a Mahayana practitioner, you try to practice bodhicitta. So, what does it mean bodhicitta? Bodhicitta means you don’t care about what the world is, what the suffering is. I mean, you don’t care means you don’t care how bad it is, you already know how bad it is, but bodhisattva means you go beyond that. So, your mind and your aspiration go far beyond how bad the world is. Do you know that? Bodhicitta means that.
Bodhicitta doesn’t mean: “Oh! Sentient beings are suffering so much, this Corona virus, I am so sad, I can’t take it anymore”. That’s not Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta means the warrior mind, you know how bad it is, but your aspiration and everything, your strength and your enthusiasm, your determination go far, far beyond how bad the world is, how bad this virus is, how bad this crisis is, this financial crisis, everything.
So that is bodhicitta. So please try that, especially if you think “I’m not just Bodhicitta practitioner, I practice Bodhicitta with a Vajrayana path”. In that case, Vajrayana means that the base of your practice is not only Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta means you want to overcome all these problems. You take responsibility to overcome for everybody, all sentient beings. Overcome means there is something to overcome.
But Vajrayana practice is based on there is no need to overcome. It is already perfect. What does that mean? Anything that is bad is illusion. Anything perfect is the truth. Anything perfect means the absolute truth. Anything not perfect is illusion. So you do not drown in illusion, your focus shift to purity, your focus shift to perfection. So that is what it means, in a simple way. “Oh, Vajrayana practice, I do this yidam, I do this mantra, I have to do these many mantras”. Well, you know, it is not that way. That is a very narrow-minded way, narrow strategy. But the essence is, you know, you focus on purity, you focus on perfection, this is Vajrayana.
Especially if you are fortunate enough, a practitioner of Kalachakra. This is the best. Why is this the best? Everybody talks about Bodhicitta, everybody talks about purity, the purity of the world, the enlightened world, everything is deities on the mandala.
So this is Tantrayana talking, why is Kalachakra so special? I tell you. Yes, everybody talks about Bodhicitta, but who has more details and more focus? Again, the focus shift. In Kalachakra the focus shifts from anywhere else to the Warrior Nature.
So, that’s why. Kalachakra went to Shambala and developed in Shambhala and transformed Shambhala. So, Shambhala becomes more than any other pure land. So the Shambhala mission is transforming this world. Why? Because of the nature of the Kalachakra practice.
Kalachakra means Tibetan expression, Kalachakra means you go beyond the three realms, yet you appear as the three realms. So that emphasizes the purity so elegantly. So that is why Kalachakra practice is the most special transformation. Because Kalachakra Tantra fully emphasizes how you transform this world. Shambala warriors take this path as a reality, take this mission and took responsibility. So what we have, a little Kalachakra in our life, maybe a little bit in stages, early stages, but this is linked and is connected with Shambala warriors.
Do you know what the Shambala Warriors’ mission is? What is Shambhala’s mission? How to transform our world? Free from extremes. Some people misinterpreted this in a very narrow way, but if you look more broadly, with a deeper view, then it is free from two extremes. What are the extremes? One is the material world, materialistic people. One extreme is the fundamentalist, very narrow, incredible narrow view. If we are free from these two extremes, then we don’t have any chance of a problem in this world.
So maybe this coronavirus and blaming each other is maybe the start of the Shambala mission. There are a lot of arguments, who made this Coronavirus. Americans say Chinese. Chinese say Americans made this. These arguments. What does this show? It is exactly pointing to what Shambala warriors are going to overcome. Whoever made this disease purposefully, if this is possible, then it is definitely part of Shambhala’s mission to destroy [this kind of conception].
If nobody purposefully made it and it’s naturally transforming, the process of transformation, in that case, what is the real solution? Only Kalachakra. The ultimate solution is only Kalachakra and who carries this power? The Shambala warriors. Shambala mission is the only ultimate answer.
So, we are so fortunate, especially practicing the Kalachakra path, even you have a little realization, or no realization and you only have faith and devotion. We are still the most fortunate people on this earth. Why? Because we are the transformers, you know? So, shift your focus on that, not on small-minded pity. “Oh, it’s too difficult, this is hard!”. No there is no difficulty, the only difficulty is that you did not shift your focus. But if you shift your focus then it is perfect.
So please focus on the excellent path of the Kalachakra and the excellent mission of Shambala. Be a warrior, ok, be heroes and heroines. Don’t keep self-pity on your minds. Are you with me? I’m with you guys. Ok, we let’s do that.