Dec 01

Kalu Rinpoche | Stages in the Path of Illusion | Lesson 3 (Part 2)

So, I think, the last time where I have reached was, the five negative faults. Did I explain that, last time? Yeah, five negative faults. So, five negative faults are, this is a major explanation. So, then from this, then on, there goes more into a progressive explanation.

So, the reason why we are making a prayer to the Buddha, is that we want to have a deeper understanding to oneself. And we have five negative thoughts. Negative, when you say negative, we should not see it as something bad, something terrible. But rather, we should see the negativity as a part of obstacle, actual logical obstacle that can be removed, based on your analytical capacity and understanding. And that should be our mental strength, and that should be our mental approach, and the mental attitude.

Because, when we are in Buddhism, when we are in the Buddhist society, we often think of as an obstacle, something that is simply have to be prayed, and by the protector and the deities, can be solved by them, you know. So, when we think of obstacles, we automatically think like that. And then when we think about something negative, we automatically think negative in the sense something bad, something sad, something broken, something miserable. But in the spiritual understanding, the negative not really necessarily means miserable and sad, you know. The negativity in the Buddhist and the spiritual sense, is basically absent from the clarity, you know, absent from the clarity of a genuine solution. So, that is the meaning of negative. So, you should not have a lot of imagination, but rather clear understanding, what does it mean by the negative fault. So, the facts of the five negative faults are,


Fixation in one’s life, you know, in your life.


Denial to the existence of the karma.


And thinking that there is joy and happiness in the Samsara, or at least trying to justify. let’s put it like this.


Self-importance, self-importance, self-importance, primarily self-importance and leading to other things.


And then the fixated mind. Fixated mind to self, fixated mind to external.

So, my explanation to this is that, you know, it says, attachment to this very life, denial to the karmic existence, and trying to find some kind of justification, that there is still some sort of a middle ground solution. Even the Buddha said, there is no solution. You know, like trying to be diplomatic, against the Buddha’s teaching. Let’s put it like this, clear and simple. And that’s something we have to understand.

So, these are the three and then the other one is the self-importance, and the fifth is the fixation.

So, these are the things that we need to accept and overcome. But here is where it goes wrong. Because many of the traditional teachings, when we think about it, we think, we see it as a black and white, something like negative, something positive. But in the reality, in order to make actual progress, all the renunciation of these negative qualities, takes time. Nobody becomes renounced instantly. You can renounce intellectually, but really to renounce the fixation to oneself, it takes time.

Like Milarepa. He abandoned the old ordinary worldly life. But yet, but there’s still much to observe and to overcome. That is the example. So, you cannot just simply renounce and say, ‘Look at me, I renounce everything. So now that is supposed to make me happy.’ It doesn’t.

So, the renunciation is a progress, as well as a spiritual awakening or the realization, the deep realization of the mind is also a progress over the time. So, you should not think it as something like you can manage one, and then finish one, and then never to look back again. It doesn’t work like that. We have to analyze the meaning of the renounciation again and again. We have to convince ourselves. We have to convince ourselves genuinely. Not based on force, not based on the culture mentality, not based on the religious way like forceful way of thinking. But rather, genuinely examining the reality of the suffering, the existence of the suffering, and the very existence of the attachment, and the very essence of the attachment. Examining one from the broader one, all the way to the subtle one, from the intellectual capacity. And then as you continue to practice, and then the very subtle level of the self-fixation tends to be overcomed based on your Dharmic dedication.

So therefore, just by saying that I understand the five things, is not enough. Long story short. Understanding is one thing, and having a genuine progress is another.


So, there are the five positive things. You know, there are five negative faults and five positive.

ཚེ་འདི་ལས་ཕྱི་མ་གལ་ཆེ་བར་རྟོགས་པ། ལས་འབྲས་ལ་ཡིད་ཆེས་པར་རྟོགས་པ།

And then, like an example, Khyungpo Naljor said, in this, in the context, in this teaching, it says that, seeing the meaning of life, not just this life as important, but also next life as important as well. And that is the first stage of renunciation.

But you should not make a misunderstanding between the worldly practitioners. Like an example, there’s so many worldly practitioners who practice generosity, who practice kindness, who practice some sort of meditation, but not necessarily the purpose of looking at Buddhahood, more to do with to be born in heaven. So, these are the worldly wishes. The worldly wishes are not just ‘I want to have a long life. I want to have a fortunate life, let’s say, more good luck, you know, more magnetize or charismatic.’ These are just worldly wishes. But also, if you say, ‘I want to uphold the discipline. And I want to uphold the quality of kindness. And I wanted to practice a little bit of meditation, and then have a little bit of generosity, so that I could cultivate enough positivity or bring enough positivity in terms of illumination, so that I can live in heaven.’ So, you can consider that as the next life. But that is not same as what we are trying to say here.

In this Buddhist context, what we are trying to say is that, next life in a sense that we want to be in touch with the Dharma at all the time, and ultimately want to reach the state of enlightenment. Right? So that’s the distinction between the ordinary worldly wishes and dedication, and us. Because if you just listen to it without any understanding, it sounds similar, you know. ‘Next life, I want to be better. Next life, I want to have a better one. This life, yes. But the next life was also important.’ So, if you don’t understand fully, it can be misunderstood.

Like an example, Khyungpo Naljor when he came to India, to see Dorje Tenpa. Khyungpo Naljor said to Dorje Tenpa, ‘I am here and desperately wanting to seek your attention, and want to learn Dharma, because I’m not afraid of this death. I am afraid of my next life.’ That’s how he started his spiritual journey. And he started in his 50s. In his late 50s, you know, he became Buddhist. He was a Tibetan. And he became a Buddhist, in his late 50s. He was not brought up in the monastery in the 20s, or teenager, or when he was child. He became a Buddhist in his late 50s. And yet, he became a great master, because he dedicated, practice, retreat, practice, retreat, and so on. So, that’s that.

And, you know, many of us, we may find the argument that ‘I don’t believe in next life.’ We say, ‘I do not believe in next life.’ Or there are some group of people who get carried away say that, ‘Well, I really believe the next life, really, really next life.’ But then again, they don’t have any sort of awareness of the action of their body, and their speech, and their mind. So, that also doesn’t help anything.

So, either way, like an example, if you have the argument that ‘I do not believe in next life.’, then, if you do not believe in next life, then you should not dream at all. But that is impossible. You always dream, whether you like it, or you don’t like it. So, that’s how the next life continues. The idea of the next life is much more than how you look, and how you appear. It’s the soul that continues, the consciousness that continues.

You know, previous Kalu Rinpoche, in his teaching, he said that, when you are in a state of dream, and when you’re dreaming, in that very moment of that experience, in that very moment, you believe that everything that you’re witnessing is actually real, absolutely real. And then the moment you awaken, you realize it was a dream. So, the idea of that we have in our mind, ‘This is real. This is real.’, you need to overcome that over the time slowly, slowly. And really understand over the time, what is the definition of the reality, and what is the meaning of impermanence, and then having some sort of awareness in mind, developing over time. It is very much important.

Okay, so, going to the second one.


Seeing the Samsara as samsara. Seeing the suffering as suffering. Instead of justification.


Instead of having a self-importance, having the importance of others as well. A little bit of openness. Open mindset, let’s put it like this.

དོན་དམ་སྟོང་པ་ཉིད་དང་ཀུན་རྫོབ་སྒྱུ་མར་རྟོགས་པ། ཆོས་སྒྲུབ་པའི་བར་ཆད་ལ༑

And then understanding the relative truth and ultimate truth. So, these are the five things, the five positives.

So, now, talking about the obstacles, you know, to practice Dharma, there’re always obstacles. So, what are the definition of obstacles?


Externally, there can be obstacles from men and spirits. And then the second obstacle can be caused from the unbalance of our elements, of our body.

And then the third obstacle,


The third obstacle is having so many projections of thought that is the opposite of the Dharma view.

So, these are the three different kinds of obstacles.

So, I think I have to explain a little bit here.


The external obstacles that are caused by men and spirit. I think nowadays, with so much distraction, I don’t think the spirits have any energy or strength to disturb us anymore. Because our mind is fully concentrated into ‘Who is posting what? And, you know, what other better pictures? How can I update my profile picture? And which angle? What background?’ You know, we get so distracted with so many things. Even the spirit is knocking on our head, I don’t think we ever interrupted by them anymore, I will say. But definitely we face a lot of obstacles with other human beings, with some sort of discomfort. Not necessarily like in the 15th century where people literally had arguments. So, nowadays, it’s not a perfect society, but at least there’s some sort of the boundary, or the legal structure at least. There’s corruption but at least there’s some sort of boundary, some sort of line, better than a thousand years ago, at least in some sort of, some level. So, I think that’s that.


And then the second is that, you know, we say that we are Buddhist practitioners, but yet we do not look after health seriously as we should. Because being Buddhist means awareness of what we put inside our mouth, before what we put into our mind. You know, so, like an example, Taranatha, in this very teaching, I know, it’s going to come a little bit later, but in this very teaching, he said, the first awareness to the spiritual awakening starts from awareness of what you consume. So, when you have the awareness of what you consume, and then that brings some sort of balance. When you bring a balance of what you consume, you bring the balance to the body. When you bring the balance to the body, you create some sort of a space between your mind and the body, to see more wider, more wider perspective. As you create that reality of little bit space, and then a desire to have some sort of solitude tends to come. You know, the meaning of solitude, tends to come.

You see, some people, you know, who have gone through so much in life, who got married, who fought in war, and then who did so many things in their lives, at the end of their life, they want to be alone. Of course, they like to be with people. But they like to be alone. And I don’t think that we have to wait that long.

Because we Buddhist practitioners, you don’t have to wait until that moment comes. Many people, you know, people who work very hard, have a lot of grandchildren, a lot of job, a lot of money, lack of money, whatever their social status may be, there’s some point in their life, they just want to be alone a little bit. But unfortunately, that is a little bit too late. So, us, as a practitioner, you know, we have to realize that little bit quicker. So, the importance of the solitude mindset, once we have that, and then the reality and the joy to practice Dharma, whatever the tradition may be, whether it’s a Nyingma or Sakya, or Kagyu or Gelug or Jonang or Shangpa, doesn’t matter. The most important is that when you develop this some sort of solitude mindset, and then the solitude reality tends to develop and then the joy to practice Dharma tends to be closer and closer to your heart.

So that’s how it works. It doesn’t work the other way around. Many people they think that the Dharma is like a painkiller. If you have a problem, and then ‘I want to have a quick one, ease the pain right away.’ And it doesn’t function like that. Even it does, it doesn’t last. Because Dharma is to have some solid foundation in one’s mind.

So, going back. So, therefore, to bring a balance in the body and health as well is very important.


And then, the third obstacle is the ordinary projection of thoughts that are opposite of the Dharma factors, the opposite of the spiritual progress and the goal. And this can be explained in a wide range. Because, like an example, ‘I am next to my Rinpoche. I am next to my Lama. So, I am more important.’ So, that is also an obstacle. You see, you look at the Milarepa. Milarepa being as a student, and the Khyungpo Naljor’s student, his name is Mokchokpa, the common ground they have, is that they always receive a teaching desperately, receive empowerment, instruction, desperately, joyful. But they were the students who are not part of the inner circle, but rather something little bit more distant. And they have no political agenda in their mind. ‘Oh, I want to be the more important student. I want to be the more important figure. I want to appear more special.’ They have none of that. And both of them, the common ground is that they receive all the teachings what they need to be received, and then they practice for the rest of their lives.

And that’s what Milarepa did. Because Marpa Losawa, you know, even though he is an incredible master, his son, you know, mismanaged a little bit at the end. After Marpa passed away, the son little bit mismanaged some things. And just like that, you know, Milarepa witnessed that, was disappointed and left, but he received all the teaching that he needed to be received. He received all the empowerments and transmissions and teachings, and he became the first Mahasiddha.

And then, you look at Mokchokpa, exactly the same. He was the youngest student, who received the empowerment, and teaching and transmission. He was not part of the important key figure in the beginning. And then, there was also some kind of mismanagement in the inner circle. Because Khyungpo Naljor was very famous at that time, it was 1 000 years ago. And Mokchokpa he witnessed that. He saw that. He saw what was Dharma. And he saw what was not Dharma. And he left. He distanced himself, genuinely. And then he did retreat by himself. So, it can go to that extent.

So, it doesn’t mean that only with the conflicts when we are doing a practice, but rather also, you know, experiencing with the reality, with the actual circumstance, to protect oneself. And I think that is very important and not to get lost in these kinds of circumstance. Okay, so, I hope you understood what I’m trying to say.

And then the subtle obstacles of the mind, of course, it’s there. But it’s not so much of a life-changing threat. So, there can be subtle obstacles in your mind, when you’re doing retreats. Maybe your clarity of the mind is not there. Maybe your full dedication is not there. Maybe the undercurrent distraction is there. And you’re unable to acknowledge or recognize it. You may have these kinds of subtle obstacles. But you will be able to overcome eventually. If you have awareness of the solid surrounding and the situation, you will have the potential to have awareness of the subtle state of mind.

དེ་གསུམ་སེལ་བར་མཛད་དུ་གསོལ་ཞིག་པའོ། །དམིགས་སྐོར་གཅིག་གོ །

So, when you take a refuge to the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, these are the things that you have to make a prayer for. ‘I want to minimize all the obstacles of the humans and the spirits, and also the health, and also, from my own disturbing thoughts, and the subtle obstacles. And please bless me so that I can overcome all these difficult challenges.

And before you take the refuge, try to resonate to yourself about what are the five negative thoughts, and what are the five positive thoughts, before every practice. Before every practice, before you start the refuge, just start doing that a little bit. What are the five negative faults? What are the five positive?

The five negative faults are, the justification of the suffering, and then attachment to one’s life and the fixation, and the self-importance, and then denial to the karma, karmic existence. And then the five positives are the opposite of these, you know, five things, right? So, when you have some sort of mental preparation, and after that, then you make the refuge prayer, and then in this moment, you think about all these three things, the three obstacles. ‘Let me overcome the three obstacles.


Kalu Rinpoche
Teaching on Stages in the Path of Illusion,Lesson 3,Part 2
5th Nov. 2021