Give Your Ego the Wisdom Eye by Lama Thubten Yeshe From a five-day meditation course Lama Yeshe taught at Dromana, near Melbourne, Australia, in March 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush.
We always use the word, "ego." But although we're all the time saying, "ego, ego, ego," we don't realize the ego's psychological aspects, its mental attitude. We interpret the ego as some sort of physical entity. Therefore, it is necessary to discover that the ego is mental, not physical. That's so worthwhile.
We have such a short time to realize egolessness, but searching for it is what differentiates us from animals. Otherwise, what's the difference? Animals enjoy the sense world and conduct their lives to the best of their ability. Just like ourselves, they like those who feed them and dislike those who beat them, isn't that so? What's the difference?
Perhaps you think, "Rubbish! I can intellectualize, I can write; I can make money to support and enjoy my life." But even rats and mice can look after themselves with ego and attachment. They can collect and store food many times their own weight. Look at the bees: even though their lives are so short, they collect enough honey to last for maybe hundreds of years. So, what difference is there between bees and so-called intelligent humans if the mental attitude is the same, where both are living only for sense pleasure? Perhaps bees are even more intelligent than us-they live such short lives but still accumulate vast amounts of what gives them pleasure.
Therefore, I think it's so worthwhile and so important that while we occupy these precious human bodies, with all our intelligence and where everything has come together, we use our ability to seek our inner nature and release ourselves from all the problems of mental defilement, which come from our ego. Everything we've done since the time we were born until now has come from our ego, but it's all been so transitory and our pleasure has been so small.
But don't think, "Oh, I'm too bad; my mind is completely dominated by my ego." Don't put yourself down. Instead, be happy to realize such things.
Realizing that only your own mind and effort can bring you release from your ego is so worthwhile. For years and years, ages and ages, all you've done is build up your ego, and under the influence of its hallucinated projection of the sense world, you've run, run, run from one thing to another, as if you'd lost your mind. So to now have just one flash of recognition of all this is most worthwhile; it really is worth putting in the effort.
Don't think that without your own effort, without your own wisdom functioning, you can stop the schizophrenic mental problems that result from the energy force of your own ego. It's impossible.
Lama doesn't believe that he can solve your problems without your own effort and action. That's a dream; if that's your attitude, it's a complete misconception. "God can do everything for me; Buddha can do everything for me. I'll just wait." That's not true! "I don't have to do anything." That's not true! You did everything, now you have to experience the powerful consequences. You can see now, with your own experience, can't you? Just one meditation session is all it takes.
What Lama wants is for you to become a wise human being instead of one who is dominated by the energy force of a super-sensitive ego. At the end of a meditation course, I'd like you to be thinking, "Well, that was my own meditation course, given by my own wisdom." If you feel like that, the course was worthwhile. Otherwise, if you just go, "A high Tibetan lama gave a meditation course; I went," it's just another ego trip. What's the purpose? Your old habits, your schizophrenic mental attitudes haven't changed a bit. So what meditation did you do? Lord Buddha is already enlightened; through his own effort, with his own wisdom, he freed himself from his schizophrenic mind, but here we are in a still agitated condition.
So you can see, realization is so individual. It depends upon each individual's mind, effort and wisdom. Realization is so personal. From morning until night, you all have different experiences, even though you're all trying to meditate on the same thing-different experiences according to the individual level of the individual mind.
If you think, "Oh, I have so much to do at home...my house, my family, my friends...it's difficult to sit and meditate," it means your mind is ensnared by the worldly life. You've been like that from the time you were born until now, and if you keep going that way, you'll end up dying with nothingness. How can you ever finish anything like that? Work in the materialistic life continues to pile up, one thing after another, then another, another, another, and you can never say, "Ah, at last I've finished everything, now I can sit and meditate." That time will never come.
You can see, when your mind is occupied with ego energy, it's like constantly having needles stuck into your body. That would be pretty uncomfortable, wouldn't it! It's the same thing, exactly the same thing. So you can realize how Important it is to release attachment and ego. When you do release them, you will experience everlasting joyful realization, inner freedom, inner liberation, nirvana...it doesn't matter what you call it. But instead, all we do is try to please our ego; it's like we're praying to our ego. We dedicate all our energy to our ego, and what we get in return is mental pollution; there's such a bad smell in our minds that they can't even breathe.
So from now on, instead of welcoming your ego's energy force, stand guard against it with mindfulness and wisdom, watching with penetrative attention for the first sign of its arrival. And when it comes, instead of welcoming it, "How are you, ego? Come right in! Have a cup of tea, have some chocolate," examine it with a big wisdom eye, a wisdom eye bigger than your head! Just watch it. When you give your ego the big wisdom eye, it disappears, all by itself.
As a child, my mother Enid often said to me, “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and then would add, “unless.” This latter word was left hanging, and I eventually realised that it was up to me to learn the depth of its meaning.
At the same time that Enid was planting seeds for reflection, my first spiritual teacher, Ven. Lama Senge Tashi, encouraged me to cultivate more skilful thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes I would try to verbally assert “I” or “Me,” and Lama would respond with, “Who is speaking?” or “Who is asking?”
During the Covid-19 pandemic a dharma sister passed from this life. Her name was Robyn. Although she did not call herself a Buddhist, nevertheless, Robyn had a special connection with the deity Medicine Buddha.
Over the six years that I worked with her, in my role as a hospital chaplain, Robyn frequently asked me to chant the mantra of Medicine Buddha and guide her through the visualisation. During her many stays in hospital, this particular practice brought comfort to her while she was experiencing chronic pain, anxiety and fear of the unknown. The medications she took would sometimes cloud her memory, so I would guide her through the details of the visualisation and begin chanting:
Once, as I was about to hold a summer Dharma class on a beach, as the first students began to arrive for the session I picked up two rocks and carefully placed them, one on top of the other, on to a much larger rock base. Observing what I had just done, three students approached: a young married couple and their five year old son.
True Seeing (Ven. Shih Jingang) One day, while Little Pebble and his Master were walking through a garden, the old teacher stopped to look at a white rose in full bloom. He motioned for his young disciple to join him, and they both sat down near where the flower was growing.
‘Little Pebble,’ said the Master, ‘when you look at this object, tell me what you think about it.’
‘The flower is pretty,’ stated the boy. ‘I like it.’
‘’’Flower,” you say. “Pretty, like it,” you say,’ replied the Master, looking to see how his young disciple reacted. Then he added, ‘Mind creates names like flower, and thoughts of like and dislike, pretty and ugly. This mind is small and closed, but if you can see beyond it to the nature of mind, then all is vast like space, completely open to all things. In this state of awareness, there is neither a flower nor a non-flower. Understand?’
But the young disciple did not quite understand, so his Master continued, ‘Little one, come here each day,
One day, Little Pebble went to his teacher, and said, ‘Master, my friend’s dog Tiger died.’
The look on Little Pebble’s face told the old monk that he was troubled. ‘Little one, do you have any questions?’
‘Master, where did Tiger go?’
‘Where did you come from?’ asked the old monk.
‘From my mummy’s tummy.’
‘And where did Mummy come from?’
Little Pebble couldn’t think of an answer.
The Master regarded his young disciple for a moment, then said, ‘Remember, when you made shapes with mud and named them Mummy, Daddy, Master?’
“Calling forth the Great Compassion, we are one with our True Nature; that which is directly Buddha, also indirectly Buddha. Oneness with the Triple Treasure, endless, joyous, perfect being. Morning thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin, evening thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin. All present thoughts arise from Mind, no thought exists apart from Mind.”
These are the words of the Ten Verse Life-Prolonging Kuan-Yin Sutra. Who is reciting them?
A few blocks away, an old man is crying out for help and someone hears. He is a brother, sister, father, mother from a previous life. A phone is picked up and then there are footsteps running towards the sound, “Help me! Help...” Someone sees the old man sitting on the top step, near the front door of his house.
No past, no present, no future. All created things arise and pass away. All names and labels dissolve. You can observe this in meditation practice and, in experiencing impermanence in life and so-called death.
At the conclusion of the Diamond Sutra, it is said that, this is how we should view our conditioned existence: as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a drop of dew, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.
Today I sit alone in a house. The government of the country in which I live has requested that I stay here in isolation for the health and safety of the community both here and abroad. Countless others are doing the same thing, except that some call it a forced lock down, or an obstacle to their free movement. I see this as an opportunity to practice.
The Buddha taught that the suffering connected with birth, sickness, old age and death is a fact of life for sentient beings in Samsara. But so is the possibility of transcendence from Samsaric suffering.
So, for a practitioner, the question is not just “Why?” but also “How?” Why do I/we suffer and, how do I/we overcome suffering? The answer to the former is found in intuitively recognizing (the 3 Poisons): harmful habits of attachment, anger and ignorance; and the answer to the latter lies in resolving to study and practice the Noble Eightfold Path (the antidote) and, fully realizing Buddhahood for the benefit of a
The Book was first published in 1942. The present edition has been revised and expanded. Though primarily intended for the students and beginners rather than scholars, the reader will find it an extremely valuable handbook, offering a sound foundation to the basic tenets of Buddhism as found in its original Pali tradition.