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|Article Title: While I Still Can 趁我还行|
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While I Still Can 趁我还行
A Dharma teaching by
Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, transcribed by Jamie Khoo, checked by Shantini
During my Dharma talks as usual, I’m just like you, a normal ordinary person but I’ve studied many, many years under 13, 14 great lamas and I’m a resident incumbent of the great Gaden monastery who currently has 3000 monks (for those of you who are very new).在照常进行佛法开示的时候，我就像你们一样是个普通人，但我师从十四位大喇嘛学习佛法多年，并且是目前拥有三千僧侣的伟大的甘丹寺的常住，这些是给新学员的介绍。
I came to Malaysia originally because I was requested to come here by my monastery to give teachings and I kind of got stuck here ever since, in a good way. And none of you are Tibetans and I’m here to share the holy Dharma - holy because it brings a difference in your mind, not holy because I’m fanatical. But it’s holy because it brings a difference in your mind, it brings a purpose, it brings a different train of thought or a different type of thought that might be very beneficial in your lives. And I stress the words, “it might be.”
我到马来西亚，最初是因为寺院要我来这里讲佛法开示，此后就一直被一种善意的方式“困”在此地。在座的没有一个人来自西藏，我在这里要与大家共同分享神圣的佛法 － 神圣，是因为它将给你们带来思想的转变；不神圣，是因为我对佛法充满狂热。但它是神圣的，因为它改变了你们的思想，指明了人生的目标，以及有可能对你们的人生非常有益的不一样的思路。我强调“有可能”这个词。
So I don’t need you to go through any of the Tibetan cultural procedures. First of all, I don’t like to see people uncomfortable, so any time you’re uncomfortable, please do stretch our your legs, point your legs at the throne. Do not think that anyone here or behind me or around me gets offended, the Buddhas never get offended. And if your legs are hurting you and your knees are in pain, it’s very difficult to listen to a Dharma talk. So the purpose here is not to put you through a Tibetan torture session of legs and pain and meditation and the whole new-age whatever! What I want is your ears and your brain and your eyes and to absorb something, some information we can share that I learned for many, many years.
So being that you and I are the same, though the difference is that I specialize in my field, you specialize in your field. So if you have an ailment or a sickness, you would go to a renowned doctor to get that diagnosed, prognosis and also some kind of treatment. Similarly, if you have something in your mind, or something you wish to see more in your life or something that maybe in your life, you’ve done everything and been there and done it and had it and you’re thinking, “Well, where am I now?” many of you need to see a shrink or a psychologist.
But one step further, if you’re not crazy, but you just want more, you think there’s more, well then you would see a Dharma teacher. I’m not a very renowned one but I’m a Dharma teacher. So in any case, you’re here to listen, to contemplate and to share with me on the Dharma, what I’ve learnt and what I’m here to share with you. There is no “I’m your Guru, you have to listen, and I’m always right and you’re always wrong.” I don’t believe in things like that. But when it comes to Dharma, in this room, I think I’m going to be right. You’re going to be “not as right.”
In normal life, there’s a lot of things I don’t know and I need to learn from you. So similarly, in life there’s a lot of things I know also because although I may be deceivingly, extremely youthful looking (anybody says not to that, I’ll get up and punch ya!) but I’ve lived quite a few years and the secret to glamour is never to reveal your age! So I won’t tell you that I’m 41. But in any case, my point is this: I’ve been around, traveled around, lived many countries, taught many places and have some experiences. But the experiences were quite different because they were combined with a Dharmic kind of thought, a different type of thought.
There is miracles in Buddhism, there is incredible feats in Buddhism, there are great Lamas with actual clairvoyances which I’ve come across. And then there are people who have those powers and at the same time, have a lot of logic. And there’s another group of people who, sincerely from their heart, have tried to put the mind transformation thoughts of Buddha’s teachings into their mind stream and attempt to practice and make their lives and the lives of other people around them better. And I think I would fit into that category.
So in any case, this is not an indoctrination session. This is not that I am right and you are wrong. This is not “Tibetan wisdom rules!” It isn’t anything like that. It’s a sharing session. And that’s very, very important.
So logic, Dharma, religion should be questioned. Logic, Dharma, religion should be asked. I believe that any religion that doesn’t invite questions or invite discussion and debate – there’s something insecure about the teacher. (I don’t think about the religion but more about the teacher). So I may not know everything, but what I do know, I’ll definitely share. What I don’t, I’ll investigate and let you know.
So what’s important is that Buddhism, like all religions, seek to find an answer that pretty much covers many things that we have questions about, many things that perhaps disturb us, many things that perhaps interrupt our lives or interrupt the lives of people around us, or even maybe doing things to us that we don’t even know it’s doing. And Buddhism, like every other religion, seeks to address that question.
And what happens is, there are many questions that cannot be answered but there are also many questions that can be answered. And the questions that can be answered are on our intellectual level, that we can perceive. Example, if we have a child that’s six or seven years old, there is no possibility you can explain to that child something that you’ve learnt in university or college, or as a postgraduate, or whatever. It’s impossible. And it isn’t that, if the child says, “I don’t understand,” or “it doesn’t seem right to me,” it doesn’t mean what you have is wrong, it simply means that the child’s ability to perceive and to comprehend is not developed at that time.
Similarly, there is knowledge there that’s very difficult for us to comprehend and that is not to say you’re stupid, I’m stupid and we can’t understand it. But it’s a logical process of getting knowledge slowly. Slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly. Nothing in your life, you have gotten knowledge overnight; nothing in your life you have learnt overnight. Everything that is anything of worth whileness you have received over a period of time.
Similarly, spiritual practice is much, much more higher than any type of knowledge you can try to get or try to acquire in a worldly sphere, or in a normal life. Simply for the reason (and I’m very over-simplifying it) is that worldly knowledge and worldly activity benefits to a certain limit in this life and it definitely cannot benefit us at the time of death or our next life. Worldly knowledge can only give us a certain amount of benefit in this life and even that benefit is dependent on many causes and conditions.