Volume 8 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion – New book!
by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
Ven. Thubten Chodron
I would suggest books for them to read, but in those years there were not as many books on emptiness as there are now. Most of the books they had access to were written by scholars for scholars, so it was often challenging for them to understand the teachings on emptiness.
During a break in their long retreat, they came to see me. One of them told me she was disgruntled with having so much difficult material to read and said she would like to meditate more and study less. I told her the story of Asaṅga, who was already a bodhisattva on the third ground when his guru Maitreya told him to keep studying.
She listened attentively, and at the end of our conversation I held up three fingers and said firmly, “third ground,” to make sure she understood the importance of study. Nevertheless, she seemed relieved when I later told her that she didn’t need to read all the books, but should continue to study the works of Nāgārjuna, Candrakīrti, and Tsongkhapa.
Over the years, by studying and reflecting on the meaning of emptiness, I have come to have a feeling for it. As a result, grasping, attachment, and so forth are not as strong as before, which makes a difference in my life.
Having practiced the Dharma my whole life, I’m now hopeful to attain true cessation. I have the sense that I’m approaching the path of seeing; perhaps I am near, at the path of preparation.
Progress on the path did not come about through lying on my bed, but through study and practice. But whatever stage I’m at, I still must practice. This is not a time to become complacent. The more you progress through the stages of the path, the more you’ll be able to benefit sentient beings.
Try to dedicate yourself to benefit others through bodhicitta even when you dream. When people focus so much on themselves and are selfishly motivated, they become narrow-minded. Turning your mind to think of others’ well-being will help overcome depression.
Watch Venerable Chodron introduce the book in these two short talks – Part 1 & Part 2 – and give a reading and commentary from the chapter, “Refining Our Understanding of the Object of Negation.”