Lama.Thubten.Yeshe.(15.5.1935, 5:00 LMT (6:05 GMT), Töling Dechen/Lhasa/TIB - 3.3.1984, 5:07 PST, Los Angeles/USA), also called "Hippie Lama" was one of the most outstanding personalities of the Seventieth and early Eighties. Beside Chögyam Trungpa he was one of the first Tibetan teachers, who managed to explain Buddhism in a modern and unorthodox way. The result of a careful study of our Western mentality and culture. His early meditation courses in Nepal were a major attraction for the international Hippie high society, mainly young academics, and he really loved and enjoyed the craziness of Westerners. He quickly became a kind of an institution and cult figure. Taking in account that Tibet was cut off the world for thousands of years, living in fixed traditions of how transmit the Dharma, Lama made a huge time-jump, to create completely new words, analogies and ways of thinking. A courageous, pioneering and admirable undertaking, which demonstrated his open-mindedness and highly developed intellectual qualities. For this he was loved and honored by all his Western students and seretly critizied by many traditionalists. An 'enfant terrible' in the Buddhist world.
But his huge sucess in spreading the Dharma in the West, having thousands of students and young monks worldwide and initiating more than 100 centres and monasteries in all continents gave him right. The unique charm of his teachings was a mixture of spontaneity, natural humor, humanity, openess and his powerful way of transmitting the Dharma. He always spoke directly from the heart and one could feel, that behind his words was a highly trained and experienced mind of wisdom and tantric realization. His main disciple, Lama Zopa, described his qualities using the words of Shantideva: 'May I become a protector for those without one - A guide for those who have entered the path - May I become a bridge, a boat and a ship for those who wish to cross over - May I be an island for those who seek one - And a lamp for those needing light - May I be a bed for all who wish to rest - And a servant for all who want a servant.' To his closer students he could be a rigorous teacher demanding high discipline and intensive studies in both sutra and tantra. He embodied both, modesty and vajra-pride. Being his student for ten years (1974-84) I know and learned to honor both aspects of him. Sometimes after weeks of intensive teachings and meditations from 6 in the morning to 12 midnight I hardly couldn't walk anymore and, like many others, I really started to hate his rigidity. But it was essential and wise to go through such extremes, for fighting ego grasping and wrong concepts, so that the ultimate mind could open it's hidden and enlightening potential. I don't want to go much further here, following Lama's standard saying, with which he ended all his lectures (laughing and excusing himself): 'I think I talk to much'.
Lama.Yeshe entered at the age of six the famous Sera Monastic University in Lhasa, where he studied until 1959, when the Chinese invasion of Tibet forced him into exile in India. He continued to study and meditate in India until 1967, when, with his chief disciple, Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, he went to Nepal, where he established two years later Kopan Monastery, near Kathmandu, in order to teach Buddhism to Westerners. In 1974, the Lamas began making annual teaching tours to the West, and as a result of these travels a worldwide network of Buddhist teaching and meditation centers (FPMT) began to develop. In 1984, after an intensive decade of imparting a wide variety of incredible teachings, at the age of forty-nine, Lama Yeshe passed away after a heart surgery in Los Angeles. His rebirth was discovered in Osel Hita Torres (* 12.2.1985, 19:40 MET, Bubion/E) and officially recognized by H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1982. As the monk Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche he is now studying for his geshe degree (Doctor of Buddhist philosophy) at the reconstituted Sera Monastery in South India. Lama's remarkable story is told in Vick MacKenzie's book 'Reincarnation: The Boy Lama' (-see below).
Fore more detailed biographical notes surf to the FPMT website or click my article 'Lama Yeshe, A Milestone In My Life' (links see below).
Question: From what you say, I get the impression you're somewhat critical of the West, that you laugh at what we do and the way we try to civilize the uncivilized. I don't really have a question, but what future do you see for mankind in terms of what the so-called progressive West is developing: bigger planes, bigger houses, bigger supermarkets? What future do you see for the West?
LamaYeshe: I see that Western people are getting busier and busier, more and more restless. I'm not criticizing material or technological development as such, but rather the uncontrolled mind. Because you don't know who or what you are, you spend your life blindly grasping at what I call "supermarket goodness". You agitate your own life; you make yourself restless. Instead of integrating your life, you splinter it. Check up for yourself. I'm not putting you down. In fact, Buddhism doesn't allow us to dogmatically put down anybody else's way of life. All I'm trying to suggest is that you consider looking at things another way.
Finding a Teacher
LamaYeshe: Remember, we are all responsible for our own lives. Don't think that this Tibetan monk will give you enlightenment or make you powerful. It is not like that. Just think, "At this time in my life I have come into contact with this monk, and I will judge him realistically. I will not blindly accept what he says but will check up on wether it is right or wrong and debate with him."
Question: What should people in the West do when they can't find a teacher? Should those who are really searching go to the East to find one?
LamaYeshe: : Don't worry. When the time is right, you'll meet your teacher. Buddhism doesn't believe that you can push other people: "Everybody should learn to meditate; everybody should become Buddhists." That's stupid. Pushing people is unwise. When you're ready, some kind of magnetic energy will bring you together with your teacher. About going to the East, it depends on your personal situation. Check up. The important thing is to search with wisdom and not blind faith. Sometimes, even if you go to the East, you still can't find a teacher. It takes time.
Practice of Tantra
Question:Sometimes it's hard to find a teacher. Is it dangerous to try to practice tantra, for example, without a teacher, just by reading books?
LamaYeshe: :Yes, very dangerous. Without specific instructions, you can't pick up a book on tantra and think, "Wow, what fantastic ideas. I want to practice this right now!" This kind of attitude never brings realizations. You need the guidance of an experienced teacher. Sure, the ideas are fantastic, but if you don't know the method, you can't put them into your own experience; you have to have the key. Many Buddhist books have been translated into English. They'll tell you, "Attachment is bad; don't get angry," but how do you actuallyabandon attachment and anger? The Bible, too, recommends universal love, but how do you bring universal love into your own experience? You need the key, and sometimes only a teacher can give you that.
Question:When you were talking about meditation, you didn't mention visualization. It seems that some people find it relatively easy to visualize while others find it quite difficult. How important is it to develop the ability to visualize things in the mind?
LamaYeshe: : Many people have trouble visualizing what's described to them simply because they have not trained their minds in it, but for others it's because they have a poor imagination; they're too physical. Perhaps they think that all there is to their being is their physical body, that there's no mind apart from their brain. However, Buddhism has methods whereby you can train your mind and develop the ability to visualize in meditation. But in reality, you visualize all day long. The breakfast you eat in the morning is a visualization. Whenever you go shopping and think, "This is nice," or "I don't like that,", whatever you're looking at is a projection of your own mind. When you get up in the morning and see the sun shining and think, "Oh, it's going to be nice today," that's your own mind visualizing. Actually, visualization is quite well understood. Even shopkeepers and advertising agents know the importance of visualization, so they create displays or billboards to attract your attention: "Buy this!" They know that things you see affect your mind, your visualization. Visualization is not something supernatural; it's scientific.
LamaYeshe: :The nuclear essence of tantra is that the human being is the deity. The human being is the god; the human being is the deity. I have to emphasize this. We have the qualities of the deity within us. You always think that the deity is something rarefied and inaccessible, but through tantra you can touch the deity, recognize yourself as the deity. That's why it is very powerful.
Buddhism teaches that the basic human problem is the ridiculous thought that we are hopeless. This way of identifying ourselves damages our human quality. Therefore, we need to discover the divinity within us, the divine qualities that are already there. Buddhism is really so realistic, so scientific, so down-to-earth, so clean-clear: human beings do have a pure nature and divine inner qualities, so they should recognize and unify with them. And according to Lord Buddha, the way to recognize our divine qualities is not simply to know that they are there, but to act, to act. The way to act is to practice tantra. Tantra is not about words; the essence of tantra is action.
Question: I would like to clarify the Buddhist meaning of meditation. Am I right in interpretating it as "observing the passage of your mind"?
LamaYeshe: :Yes, you can think of it that way. As I said before, Buddhist meditation doen't necessarily mean sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed. Simply observing how your mind is responding to the sense world as you go about your business - walking, talking, shopping, whatever - can be a really perfect meditation and bring a perfect result.
Learning by Practicing
LamaYeshe: : Many people easily gain an incredible intellectual understanding of Buddhism, but it is a dry understanding that does not fertilize the heart. There are some Western professors, for example, who have studied Buddhism for years. They have high degrees in Buddhist studies and have published books on the sutras (= philosophy) and tantras (= magical wisdom practice). Yet many of them admit that they are not even Buddhists, which means they haven't actualized what they write about. They can read Lama Je Tsongkhapa's texts and translate them using incredible words, but for them it remains mere theory. I find this shocking.
On the other hand, some people have heard just a few lam-rim teachings (= basics of Mahayana Buddhism), such as the workings of the negative mind, but they begin to look inside themselves and to meditate. The teachings gradually become part of them. The mere intellectuals, however, think that the negative mind is somewhere else - up on top of Mount Everest, perhaps. They don't care about the negative mind because they think that it doesn't refer to them... The important point is to taste the chocolate. No matter how small a piece you get, as long as you taste it, you will be satisfied.
Question:If a person, out of ignorance perhaps, believes he has achieved enlightenment, what is his purpose in continuing to live?
LamaYeshe: :An ignorant person who thinks he's enlightened is completely mentally polluted and is simply compounding the ignorance he already has. All he has to do is to check the actions of his uncontrolled mind and he'll realize he's not enlightened. Also, you don't have to ask others, "Am I enlightened?" Just check your own experiences. Enlightenment is a highly personal thing.
Question:I like the way that you stress the importance of understanding over belief, but I find it difficult to know how a person brought up in the West or given a scientific education can understand the concept of reincarnation: past, present and future lives. How can you prove that they exist?
LamaYeshe: :If you can realize your own mind's continuity from the time you were a tiny embryo in your mother's womb up to the present time, then you'll understand. The continuity of your mental energy is a bit like the flow of electricity from a generator through the wires until it lights up a lamp. From the moment it's conceived, as your body evolves, mental energy is constantly running through it - changing, changing, changing - and if you can realize that, you can more easily understand your own mind's previous continuity. As I keep saying, it's never simply a question of belief. Of course, initially it's difficult to accept the idea of reincarnation because these days it's such a new concept for most people, especially those brought up in the West. They don't teach you continuity of consciousness in school; you don't study the nature of the mind - who you are, what you are - in college. So of course, it's all new to you. But if you think it's important to know who and what you are, and you investigate your mind through meditation, you will easily come to understand the difference between your body and your mind; you will recognize the continuity of your own consciousness; from there you will be able to realize your previous lives. It is not necessary to accept reincarnation on faith alone.
Question:With respect to rebirth, what is it that is reborn?
LamaYeshe: :When you die, your consciousness separates from your body, enters the intermediate state, and from there it is born into another physical form. We call that rebirth. Physical and mental energy are different from each other. Physical energy is extremely limited, but mental energy always has continuity.
Question:We have this idea of consciousness transmigrating from body to body, from life to life, but if there is continuity of consciousness, why is it that we don't remember our previous lives?
LamaYeshe :Too much supermarket information crowding into our minds makes us forget our previous experiences. Even science says that the brain is limited such that new information suppresses the old. They say that, but it's not quite right. What actually happens is that basically, the human mind is mostly unconscious, ignorant, and gets so preoccupied with new experiences that it forgets the old ones. Review the past month: exactly what happened, precisely what feeligs did you have, every day? You can't remember, can you? So checking back further, all the way back to the time when you were just a few cells in your mother's womb, then even further back than that: it's very difficult, isn't it? But if you practice this slowly, slowly, continuously checking within your mind, eventually you'll be able to remember more and more of your previous experiences.
Many of us may have had the experience of reacting very strangely to something that has happened and being perplexed by our reaction, which seems not to have based on any of this life's experiences: "That's weird. Why did I react like this? I've no idea where that came from." That's because it's based on a previous life's experience. Modern psychologists cannot explain such reactions because they don't understand mental continuity, the beginningless nature of each individual's mind. They don't understand that mental reactions can result from impulses that were generated thousands and thousands of years ago. But if you keep investigating your mind through meditation, you will eventually understand all this through your own experience.
Reincarnation and Population Explosion
Question:How does Buddhism explain the population explosion? If you believe in reincarnation, how is it that the population is expanding all the time?
LamaYeshe :That's simple. Like modern science, Buddhism talks about the existence of billions and billions of galaxies. The consciousness of a person born on earth may have come from a galaxy far away, drawn here by the force of karma, which connect that person's mental energy to this planet. On the other hand, the consciousness of a person dying on this earth may at the time of death be karmically directed to a rebirth in another galaxy, far from here. If more minds are being drawn to earth, the population increases; if fewer, it declines. That does not mean that brand new minds are coming into existence. Each mind taking rebirth here on earth has come from its previous life - perthaps in another galaxy, perhaps on earth itself, but not from nowhere - in accordance with the cyclic nature of wordly existence.
Bodhisattva Ideal and Marxism
Question:Can a Bodhisattva be a Marxist in order to create social harmony? I mean, is there a place for the Bodhisattva in Marxism or, vice versa, is there a place in Marxism for the Bodhisattva? Could Marxism be a tool in the abolition of all sentient beings' suffering?
LamaYeshe :Well, it's pretty hard for someone like me to comment on a Bodhisattva's actions, but I have my doubts about a Bodhisattva becoming a communist in order to stop social problems. Problems exist in the minds of individuals. You have to solve your own problems, no matter what kind of society you live in, socialist, communist or capitalist. You must check your own mind. Your problem is not society's problem, not my problem. You are responsible for your own problems just as you're responsible for your own liberation or enlightenment. Otherwise you're going to say, "Supermarkets help people because they can buy the stuff they need in them. If I work in a supermarket I'll really be contributing to society." Then, after doing that for a while, you're going to say, "Maybe supermarkets don't help that much after all. I'd be of more help to others if I took a job in an office." None of those things solve social problems. But first of all you have to check where you got the idea that by becoming a communist, a Bodhisattva could help all mother sentient beings.
Question:In conclusion, then, are you saying that it's impossible to create one common spiritual society on this planet?
LamaYeshe :Even if you could, it would not stop people's problems. Even if you made a single society of all inhabitants of the entire universe, there would still be attachment, there would still be anger, there would still be hunger. Problems lie within each individual. People are not the same; everybody is different. Each of us needs different methods according to our individual psychological makeup, mental attitudes and personality; each of us needs a different approach in order to attain enlightenment. That's why Buddhism completely accepts the existence of other religions and philosophies. We recognize that they are all necessary for human development. You can't say that any one way of thinking is right for everybody. That's just dogma.
Question:Are you familiar with the Hindu concepts of atman and brahman?
LamaYeshe: While Hindu philosophy accepts the idea of a soul (atman), Buddhism does not. We completely deny the existence of a self-existent I, or a permanent, independent soul. Every aspect of your body and mind is impermanent: changing, changing, changing... Buddhists also deny the existence of a permanent hell. Every pain, every pleasure we experience is in a state of constant flux; so transitory, so impermanent, always changing, never lasting. Therefore, recognizing the dissatisfactory nature of our existence and renouncing the world in which transitory sense objects contact transitory sense organs to produce transitory feelings, none of which are worth grasping at, we seek instead the everlasting, eternally joyful realizations of enlightenment or nirvana.
Negative Influences/Power of Mind
LamaYeshe :Anyone who claims to be a Buddhist knows that the pricipal concern of Buddhism is the mind. The mind is the nucleus of samsara (=illusionary world) and nirvana (= enlightened, nondualistic dimension). Every experience we have in our lives manifests from our mind. Because you interpret your life and your world through your mental attitude, it is important to have the right motivation. Wrong motivation brings pain, disappointment, and extremes in life. Think in this way, "During the rest of my life, it is my responsibility, to grow in mindfulness and happiness. Each day I will expand the loving kindness I already have. When I wake up each morning, I will open my wisdom-eye and see more and more deeply into the inner universal reality. I will try to be as mindful as possible. I will take responsibility for my life and dedicate it to others by growing strong in loving kindness and wisdom. I will serve others as much as possible." Make the determination that this will be your way of life.
Question: Lama, can the various negative thoughts that arise in our minds come from a source outside of ourselves, from other people, or perhaps from spirits?
LamaYeshe :Well, that's a very good question. The real source, the deep root of negativity, lies within our own minds, but for this to manifest usually requires interaction with a cooperative, environmental cause, such as other people or the material world. For example, some people experience mood swings as a result of astrological influences, such as the vibration of planetary movement. Others' emotions fluctuate because of hormonal changes in their bodies. Such experiences do not come from their minds alone but through the interaction of physical and mental energy. Of course, we would also say that the fact that we find ourselves in a body susceptible to this kind of change originally comes from our minds. But I don't think Lord Buddha would say that there is some outer spirit harming you like that. What is possible is that your inner energy is relating to some outer energy, and that it is that interaction that makes you sick.
You can see from your own life experiences how the environment can effect you. When you're amongst peaceful, generous, happy people, you're inclined to feel happy and peaceful yourself. When you're amongst angry, aggressive people, you tend to become like them. The human mind is like a mirror. A mirror does not discriminate but simply reflects whatever's before it, no matter wether it's horrible or wonderful. Similarly, your mind takes on the aspect of your surroundings, and if you're not aware of what's going on, your mind can fill with garbage. Therefore, it is very important to be conscious of your surroundings and how they affect your mind.
The thing that you have to understand about religion is how your religion relates to your own mind, how it relates to the life you lead. If you can manage that, religion is fantastic; the realizations are there. You don't need to emphasize belief in God, or Buddha, or sin or whatever; don't worry about all that. Just act of right understanding as best you can and you'll get results, even today. Forget about super consciousness or super universal love - universal love grows slowly, steadily, gradually. If, however, you're just clinging to the notion, "Oh, fantastic! Infinite knowledge, infinite power," you're simply on a power trip. Of course, spiritual power really does exist, but the only way you can get it is by engaging in the proper spiritual actions. Power comes from within you; part of you becomes power, too. Don't think that the only true power is up there, somewhere in the sky. You have power; your mind is power.
Question:I've seen Tibetan images of wrathful deities, but although they were fierce-looking, they didn't look evil. That made me wonder wether or not Buddhism emphasizes evil and bad things
LamaYeshe :Buddhism never emphasizes the existence of external evil. Evil is a projection of your mind. If evil exists, it's within you. There's no outside evil to fear. Wrathful deities are emanations of enlightened wisdom and serve to help people who have a lot of uncontrolled anger. In meditation, the angry person transforms his anger into wisdom, which is then visualized as a wrathful deity; thus the energy of his anger is digested by wisdom. Briefly, that's how the method works.
Question:What is the meaning of suffering?
LamaYeshe :Mental agitation is suffering; dissatisfaction is suffering. Actually, it is very important to understand the various subtle levels of suffering, otherwise people are going to say, "Why does Buddhism say everybody's suffering? I'm happy." When Lord Buddha talked about suffering, he din't mean just the pain of a wound or the kind of mental anguish that we often experience. We say that we're happy, but if we check our happiness more closely, we'll find that there's still plenty of dissatisfaction in our minds. From the Buddhist point of view, simply the fact that we can't control our minds is mental suffering; in fact, that's worse than the various physical sufferings we experience. Therefore, when Buddhism talks about suffering, it's emphasizing the mental level much more than the physical, and that's why, in practical terms, Buddhist teachings are basically applied psychology. Buddhism teaches the nature of suffering at the mental level and the methods for its eradication.
Question:Why do we all experience suffering and what do we learn from it?
LamaYeshe :That's so simple, isn't it? Why are you suffering? Because you're too involved in acting out of ignorance and grasping with attachment. You learn from suffering by realizing where it comes from and exactly what it is that makes you suffer. In our infinite previous lives we have had so many experiences but we still haven't learned that much. Many people think that they're learning from their experiences, but they're not. There are infinite past experiences in their unconscious but they still know nothing about their own true nature.
Question:Why do we have the opportunity to be attached?
Lama.Yeshe:Because we're hallucinating; we're not seeing the reality of either the subject or the object. When you understand the nature of an object of attachment, the subjective mind of attachment automatically disappears. It's the foggy mind, the mind that's attracted to an object and paints a distorted projection onto it, that makes you suffer. That's all. It's really quite simple.
Question:Perception is one of the five aggregates that, according to Buddhist philosophy, constitute a person. How does it work?
LamaYeshe :Yes, that's another good question. Most of the time, our perception is illusory; we're not perceiving reality. Sure, we see the sense world - attractive shapes, beautiful colors, nice tastes and so forth - but we don't actually perceive the real, true nature of the shapes, colors and tastes we see. That's how most of the time our perception is mistaken. So our mistaken perception processes the information supplied by our five senses and transmits incorrect information to our mind, which reacts under the influence of the ego. The result of all this is that most of the time we are hallucinating, not seeing the true nature of things, not understanding the reality of even the sense world.
Question:Does past karma affect our perception?
LamaYeshe Yes, of course. Past karma affects our perception a lot. Our ego grasps at our uncontrolled perception's view, and our mind just follows along: that entire uncontrolled situation is what we call karma. Karma is not simply some irrelevant theory; it's the everyday perceptions in which we live, that's all.
Body and Mind
Question:Lama, what is the relationship between the body and mind as far as food is concerned.
LamaYeshe :Body is not mind, mind is not body, but the two have a very special connection. They are very closely linked, very sensitive to changes in each other. For example, when people take drugs, the substance doesn't affect the mind directly. But since the mind is connected to the body's nervous system and sense organs, changes induced in the nervous system by the drug throw it out of harmony and cause the mind to hallucinate. There's a very strong connection between the body and the mind. In Tibetan tantric yoga, we take advantage of that strong connection: by concentrating strongly on the body's psychic channels we can affect the mind accordingly. Therefore, even in everyday life, the food you eat and the other things your body touches have an effect on your mind.
Question:I am trying to understand the relationship in Buddhism between the mind and the body. Is mind more important than body? For example, in the case of tantric monks who do overtone chanting, oviously they develop a part of their body in order to sing, so just how important is the body?
LamaYeshe The mind is the most important thing, but there are some meditation practices that are enhanced by certain physical yoga exercises. Conversely, if your body is sick, that can affect your mind. So, it's also important to keep your body healthy. But if you concern yourself with only the physical and neglect to investigate the reality of your own mind, that's not wise either; it's unbalanced, not realistic. So, I think we all agree that the mind is more important than the body, but at the same time, we cannot forget about the body alltogether. I've seen Westerners come to the East for teachings, and when they hear about Tibetan yogis living in the high mountains without food they think, "Oh, fantastic! I want to be just like Milarepa." That's a mistake. If you were born in the West, your body is used to certain specific conditions, so to keep it healthy, you need to create a conducive environment. You can't do a Himalayan trip. Be wise, not extreme.
Question:Buddhism always talks about karma. What is it?
LamaYeshe:Karma is your experiences of body and mind. The word itself is Sanskrit; it means cause and effect. Your experiences of mental and physical happiness or unhappiness are the effects of certain causes, but those effects themselves become the cause of future results. One action produces a reaction; that is karma. Both Eastern philosophies and science explain that all matter is inter-related; if you can understand that, you will understand how karma works. All existence, internal and external, does not come about accidentally; the energy of all internal and external phenomena is interdependent. For example, your body's energy is related to the energy of your parents' bodies; their bodies' energy is related to their parents' bodies, and so forth. That sort of evolution is karma.
Lama.Yeshe: When you contemplate your own consciousness with intense awareness, leaving aside all thoughts of good and bad, you are automatically led to the experience of non-duality. How is this possible? Think of it like this: the clean clear blue sky is like consciousness, while the smoke and pollution pumped into the sky are like the unnatural, artificial concepts manufactured by ego-grasping ignorance. Now, even though we say the pollutants are contaminating the atmosphere, the sky itself never really becomes contaminated by the pollution. The sky and the pollution each retain their own characteristic nature. In other words, on a fundamental level the sky remains unaffected no matter how much toxic energy enters it. The proof of this is that when conditions change, the sky can become clear once again. In the same way, no matter how many problems maybe created by artificial ego concepts, they never affect the clean clear nature of our consciousness itself. From the relative point of view, our consciousness remains pure because its clear nature never becomes mixed with the nature of confusion.
From an ultimate point of view as well, our consciousness always remains clear and pure. The non-dual characteristic of the mind is never damaged by the dualistic concepts that arise in it. In this respect consciousness is pure, always was pure and will always remain pure. We can compare positive states of mind to water at rest and deluded states of mind to turbulent, boiling water. If we investigate the nature of the boiling water we will discover that, despite the turbulence, each individual droplet is still clear. The same is true of the mind: wether it is calm or boiled into turbulence by the overwhelming complexity of dualistic views, its basic nature reamains clear and conscious.
The conclusion, the, is that we all have the capacity to move from the confused, polluted state of ego-conflict to the natural clean clear state of pure consciousness itself. We should never think that our mind has somehow become irreversibly contaminated. This is impossible. If we can train ourselves to identify and enter into the natural, unaffected state of our consciousness, we will eventually experience the freedom of non-dual awareness.
Question: What is nirvana and do many people attain it?
Lama.Yeshe: When you develop your powers of concentration such that you can integrate your mind into single-pointed concentration, you will gradually diminish your ego's emotional reactions until they disappear altogether. At that point, you transcend your ego and discover an everlasting, blissful, peaceful state of mind. That is what we call nirvana. Many people have attained this state and many more are well on their way to it.
Control of Kundalini
Lama.Yeshe: Control of kundalini energy (=libido, sexual energy, naga energy) is important even in ordinary orgasm. You cannot have a perfect orgasm if you cannot control your energy. It is the same in tantra. You cannot experience perfect bliss if you cannot control your energy. The fact is that if we lose our energy, we have to energy to utilize. In order to use energy, we need energy. If we don't have it, we cannot use it. This is logical, and you can see it clearly from your own experience. When you concentrate well and control your energy, you can experience more bliss, which you then unify with the wisdom of nonduality.
If kundalini starts to flow uncontrollably during your meditation and you begin to experience orgasm, try as much as possible to hold it and have it expand inside the secret chakra. Try to hold the energy there as long as possible. The longer you can hold it, the more pleasure you will experience and the more possibility you will have of utilizing that pleasure by unifying it with the universal reality of nonduality. In this way, you learn to control your body as well as your mind.