Q: Is it being compassionate that chanting mantras and trying to learn about the dharma and trying to keep calm mind? In our western world as busy as it is, how do you do it right and do it best?
A: Many people think that just by reciting mantra can help a lot of people, and all sentient beings in the samsara, which is true in certain level. But in certain level, we have to understand, the mantra is not just about reciting only. The purpose of the mantra is not for accumulation, is not for constantly reciting. If you have only these two perspective points of view, then you’re lost because you will fall into the illusion of arrogant and self-perfection, which is very easy to be lost in that path.
If you are chanting a mantra with the clarity in mind, with the meditating, reciting, yet at the same time, using the method of chanting to make your state of mind with more clarity, and instead of reciting for accumulation, being present with your mind, then once you develop that kind of quality gradually, then there will be wisdom. Because when there is no clarity, there will be no wisdom. So in order to have clarity and also the stability, you need to train yourself at first, physically, mentally, spiritually. I think these are all important.
So it’s very important that we keep our understanding of the mantra as simple as it should be. Because many people, when they are practicing Dharma and when they talk about mantra, they take the purpose of the reciting mantra in a very high level of superstition, having a lot of doubts and believing in all this kind of mythical magic by thinking that ‘Oh, the more I recite the mantra, the more powerful I can be or should become’. That kind of personality, that kind of perception, that kind of a terrible belief will not help anyone.
So reciting mantra should bring a clarity in our state of mind. With that clarity in mind, there will be wisdom. With the wisdom, you will reflect to yourself the reality of the samsara. Then with the realization of the reality of the Samsara, you will have an understanding that you’re in the state of illusion and therefore ‘I should distant myself from the appearance of perfection’. With that kind of attitude and mindset, you will have much broader realization and understanding. That’s one thing we have to keep in mind.
So, chanting mantra is not for reciting. It’s not for bringing some kind of magical power. The very purpose of chanting mantra is to be present. And with that in mind, there will be clarity. With clarity, there will be wisdom. With the wisdom, you’ll have a realization of the reality of the suffering. And with that, all your illusion from your state of mind and from your emotion will break down slowly, slowly. But what I said to you, takes only few minutes. To experience this, takes years and years. So that’s why we should never assume that teachings from the teacher is so easy to be understood.
So don’t overestimate yourself. Overestimating yourself is not good. Being courageous is one thing, but overestimating yourself with the lack of quality, with the lack of foundation, can always lead in the wrong direction. So that’s why we have to keep our mindset based on simplicity and transparency and honesty to ourselves most importantly. We cannot be honest in the society 100%. Because you may lose your job, you may lose your partner, you may lose the very thing that you’re trying to protect and so many different lifestyles that you may have. So maybe being honest to everyone may not be the first solution, eventually that should be our destination. So in the beginning, being honest to ourselves especially when we are practicing Dharma, I think that is very very important. Because if we cannot be honest to ourselves with the practicing of the Dharma, then the very time that we are trying to do it will go in a waste direction. So that’s why we have to keep our mind in the simplicity as possible, but not forcing yourself. There’s a big difference again on that.
Because many people they think ‘I’m some kind of a great enlightened being. I was very fortunate. I’m next to my guru, therefore I don’t have to do so many practices.’ Then you start to think that ‘I’m more special than any other people’ and that kind of selfishness and arrogant cannot just cause damage to your spiritual journey, it can also cause damage to other people. Forcing yourself to be simple, forcing yourself saying ‘I’m a high realized being’ cannot lead you anywhere. So instead of pretending, it’s important to keep it simple. And then, when you have the real growth, within your own spiritual accumulation of all the positivity, then it will stabilize. That’s the second thing that we have to keep in mind.
With love and respect from your Kalu Rinpoche
Live talk Q&A on Facebook, Sep. 2th 2018