It would be hard to find a simpler, clearer, more practical explanation of the two fundamental paths of compassion and wisdom than the one Lama Zopa offers us here.
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Through the teachings found in this book, we can begin to experience the embrace of wisdom and sanity that comes from giving rise to awakened mind, the very heart of the bodhisattva. Truly the remedy for all that ails this world, it can be nurtured and expressed by anyone, regardless of religion, nationality, race, gender, income, health, or age. Of the vast array of thoughts and experience the human mind can give rise to, there is nothing more transformative than the simple profundity of a genuinely kind and good heart.
Many of the principles articulated here are relatively easy to comprehend and common to a variety of spiritual traditions. However, the actual experience of awakened mind takes place beyond the confines of any teaching, and ultimately beyond the realm of conceptual thought. Leading us skillfully to this awakened mind, Chagdud Tulku guides us through a time-honored instruction made accessible to our contemporary lives through the Bodhisattva Peace Training.
This practice involves three essential steps. First, we encounter teachings from a qualified lama or instructor. Then, we deeply contemplate what we have read or heard in order to determine its validity and relevance. We ask questions, identify doubts, and resolve confusion and misunderstanding. Finally, we meditate, blending the teachings with our mind and heart until we become one with them.
Being honest with ourselves about what’s actually arising under the surface of our mind and heart at any given moment, and genuinely transforming anything other than good heart, takes years of experience. Stabilizing, deepening, and expanding that kind heart into a seamless experience of the awakened mind is ultimately a lifelong practice. What matters is not how long it takes, but that it happens authentically, for it is the accumulation of choices we make, moment by moment, that determines our future experience.
In our contemporary world of instantaneous access to knowledge, immediate gratification, and instant pain relief, we are accustomed to quick fixes. It would therefore be understandable to think that simply through reading, we could be changed permanently by a book like this and carry its meaning consistently into our daily lives.
But reading is only the first step in a lifelong journey. If we don’t thoroughly engage the training, the values we hold so dear can be swept away by the tsunamis of our daily existence. We have spent a lifetime developing responses to pain and difficulty. Changing these old habits is like trying to reverse the momentum of a boulder tumbling down a mountainside. It requires great effort, skill, patience, perseverance, and no small amount of courage. But as we move closer to the realization that life’s meaning and purpose can be found in benefiting others, the strength and sincerity of our efforts will be reflected in the world around us. Through this process that is at once tender and profound, a metamorphosis occurs that fundamentally alters our understanding of ourselves, of others, and of reality itself.
If you feel a resonance with Rinpoche’s words—a yearning, even, to make your life and heart one with their meaning—spend time contemplating them, deeply, as they apply to life as you’ve known it. Then meditate on them, again, and again, when alone and in the world, throughout the day, every day, until their essence arises spontaneously as lived experience. Only when we genuinely live these teachings can our lives and our work in the world be transformed.