Depressed by the state of the world?

28Feb11

 

Things are pretty awful here.

I was recently reading a teaching on Guru Rinpoche given by the Khenpos. I think this is a beautiful and inspirational story.

Buddha Shakyamuni taught that there are infinite world systems containing an infinite number of sentient beings. Therefore, there are also countless emanations of enlightened beings to serve their awakening. There are thirty-six other world systems which are near our own. Each one hosts a different emanation of Guru Padmasambhava. I will tell you about one of these worlds. To the east of here is a world where the concept of poverty does not even exist. Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava have both emanated there to give Sutra and Vajrayana teachings. Being so strong and wealthy, it was only through the teachings that people in this world learned about poverty and imbalances like we have on earth. Upon hearing of this, they thought, “Oh, what a wonderful place! If only it was like that here, we could practice generosity and serve others. There is something very special in the acts of giving and receiving. It would be nice if we had that kind of situation in our world.” This is an example of the influence of Guru Padmasambhava on beings in one of the thirty-six relatively nearby worlds.

We all get overwhelmed with the suffering that we experience, see around us and learn about via the media. I love the way this beautiful story flips the situation as we normally perceive it on its head and inspires us to take advantage of the inexhaustible resources of wealth that we all have within us.

The story speaks to something that I love about Vajrayana and Buddhism in general. If one reads the sutras there is such an immense worldview described within– infinite dazzling universes, infinite pure Buddha lands. Towards further elucidation, Vajrayana and Mahayana speak to any felt impoverishedness of self with which we struggle, and reveal ourselves and all others to be resplendent with sublime qualities.

In our culture we have a tendency, as Ngawang Zangpo writes in Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, to “view every person and situation as a challenge to ‘name the ten things wrong with this picture'”. The pure view of Vajrayana, on the other hand, encourages us to view ourselves and others as pure and without fault. What a difference such a view makes, and what a genuine panacea it can be if we take even moderate steps towards viewing our world (i.e., our projections) that way. It perhaps sounds simple, reductive, and Pollyanna-ish, but on the contrary it actually presents a much more realistic view than our habitual cynicism which is constantly being confirmed and reinforced by our cultural surroundings, the media, etc.

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