Sharing the Buddha's teaching makes me happy, because Buddha's teaching is most important. That is because Buddha's teaching is antidote to all suffering. No matter what, we want to achieve happiness, but without his teaching, compassion, and skillful methods, this is not possible. Enlightenment, or perfect happiness, is freedom from all the afflictive emotions. Without the teachings we cannot achieve wisdom, so I think the teaching is most important. There are many teachings in this world and Buddhism has many different teachings. The purpose of all the teachings is the benefit of sentient beings. There are different teachings because there are different levels of understanding.

But the essence of the teachings is bodhicitta. This is a Sanskrit word meaning mind of enlightenment. Bodhicitta is the source of peace, happiness, compassion, love, joy, and equanimity. So it is the source of enlightenment. It is the source of benefit for oneself and others. The Tibetan word for bodhi is jang chub. The Tibetan word jangmeans freedom, meaning freedom from afflictive emotions. All afflictive emotions are completely purified. So Buddha achieved enlightenment through his practice and study. Originally he was an ordinary person like us. Chub means realization. As soon as one is free of all afflictions, one awakens to the nature of phenomena. Whatever external and internal things exist in this world, their nature is realized and one becomes a Buddha. Citta is the Sanskrit word for mind. The definition of mind in Buddhism is clarity and luminosity.

The fundamental nature of all beings is enlightenment nature. The only difference is whether one practices or not. There is no difference at all between the Buddha's mind and ours. If there were a difference, we could not be enlightened. But because there is not, we can achieve the perfect potential of our enlightened nature. To understand bodhicitta and become enlightened, one has to follow the path. To do this, Buddha taught two types of bodhicitta, relative and ultimate. So bodhicitta is very important. Both relative and ultimate are equally important. I asked my teacher about this. He said both are equally important, but to achieve the ultimate, one must have the relative. In my limited experience, relative bodhicitta is very powerful. But it is not that easy. Ultimate bodhicitta one can realize off in the mountains, but relative bodhicitta must be practiced among people.

In the practice of the four immeasurables, sometimes one can practice equanimity right away. But usually one starts with love for oneself and others. Then one practices compassion, sympathetic joy, and finally equanimity. So practicing loving kindness is very important.

Loving kindness is wishing that others be happy. Everyone has the same wish to be happy. There is no difference between people in that respect, no matter where are born, or what we believe. The wish to be happy is part of our fundamental nature. This wish is in our body and mind. Even the five senses want to experience beautiful and pleasant objects. Knowledge is not enough, we have to know from the heart, which requires practice. We have to experience the four immeasurables deep inside through meditation training. When we are well trained, whenever we meet someone our first thought will be how can we make them happy. The Dalai Lama has said for this reason that his religion is kindness. By practicing loving kindness we can practice for oneself or for others. In order to practice love, we must practice kindness. The two are the same. But practicing kindness, opens up our love. So practicing kindness is a crucial practice. Jigten Sumgon said the practice of loving kindness should start with our loved ones.

As far as meditation, it is important to sometimes have some words. But sometimes words are not needed. When we practice in that way our hearts warm up. It is not enough to practice just one time. It needs to be practiced again and again. When we practice repeatedly, love will arise by itself when we meet others. Generally when we realize loving kindness, compassion is there. We make the distinction for intellectual reasons. Compassion is the wish that others be free of suffering and pain. So the practice of the four immeasurables is bodhicitta practice. Whatever practice we do, we must have bodhicitta. So we begin every practice by reciting the bodhicitta prayer. This is not just done for the sake of tradition. When we conclude our practice, it is very important we dedicate our merit. This is also based on bodhicitta. Buddha Maitreya's teaching also says he prostrates to bodhicitta. We prostrate to Buddha because he has embodied bodhicitta and so that we can realize our own bodhicitta. Whatever beings there are all have the nature of bodhicitta. Everyone has the great potential to achieve happiness and be free of suffering and pain. There are many types of meditation practices, both sutra and tantra. But bodhicitta is the essence of all of them. Without bodhicitta, they are just empty forms. Any time, anywhere, the most important practice to eliminate the afflictions is bodhicitta. In order to teach, one must have bodhicitta. So please study bodhicitta, it is important.

When we meditate and rest our mind free of conceptual thoughts, this is sometimes called ultimate bodhicitta meditation and sometimes insight meditation. At other times there are a lot of conceptual thoughts when we meditate. Sometimes there are many strong conceptual thoughts. At other times they are there, but not so strong. During meditation anything can happen and there is nothing wrong with that. The most important point is to be aware. Do not give up your meditation, continue it. Be aware of your thoughts, The important point is continuous meditation practice, whether 15 minutes or an hour. Then we will be more comfortable when thoughts come up, even though we can't transform them. The power of conceptual thoughts will lessen. With continuous meditation, you will be more aware of thoughts and not follow them. You will experience something which is beyond words in the heart. So do not think that 15 minutes of meditation a day is useless. When I play the singing bowl. it does not make a sound right away. It takes a few rounds. As soon as I play, the sound is there, but it is too subtle to hear. So when you begin meditating, it seems that nothing is happening. But each time it creates an effect. After long enough, you will become more aware. A great master has said our perseverance needs to be steady like a river. It's best not to push yourself too hard. Take a rest if you have been practicing a long time. Emptiness and appearances are inseparable. This is easy to say, but hard to realize. But with practice, it can be understood. This is called the introduction to the nature of mind.

Q; Does one cultivate ultimate bodhicitta before one attains buddhahood?

A: Relative and ultimate bodhicitta are inseparable. To understand ultimate bodhicitta, one must practice relative bodhicitta. The singing bowl sound is like relative bodhicitta. But it arises from the ultimate bodhicitta. Where is the sound coming from? From the nature of the singing bowl. Bodhicitta arises from our fundamental nature. Philosophy always looks outside. When we come to the practice part, there is no separation. So we have one mind and one heart. There cannot be two. So the philosophy part and the practice part are different. Shakya Pandita said our awareness is in the book. When the book is open, our awareness is open, but when it is closed, it is closed. Milarepa said intellectual understanding is like a patch. One day it will fall off. So the intellectual understanding of emptiness is a mental creation. It is not yet the true understanding.

Q: What is the best way to deal with anger and desire in our day to day life?

A: From my understanding, we need calm abiding meditation every day. We will become more aware of our anger and attachment. Our anger and desire will lessen if we practice. Practice meditation 15 minutes every day. And study the teachings. Just thinking about anger and desire won't help. You should investigate where anger comes from, whether it comes from oneself or the other. The Dalai Lama has said every person gets angry. It is part of the human nature. We are born in the desire realm, and experience desire. To reduce anger and desire, we shouldn't let them go too far. If they do, there will be problems. It is normal to have a little anger and desire. But we let it go too far.If anger and desire make us unhappy, then we should deal with that. Sometimes people think they need to get rid of everything. Most of anger comes from desire and attachment. It does not happen on its own.

Q: how do you deal with anger directed to you?

A: First think anger does not have any positive qualities, it is only negative. Loving kindness is also an antidote to anger. Between the two of them, that will reduce anger. And when your meditation is stronger, when anger arises, just look at its nature.

Q: I don't think I will attain enlightenment in this life, so where will I be reborn?

A: Enlightenment is not as far away as you think, it is quite possible to get enlightenment in this life. Enlightenment comes from the self, the teaching, and the teacher. When these three come together, enlightenment is not far away.

Q: How do you find enough time to practice if you are not a monk or nun?

A: Everybody has an opportunity to be enlightened, and who will get enlightened first no one can say. Being a monk or nun is wonderful, but there are many challenges there as well. The majority of monks and nuns are not enlightened. They learn the texts but do not necessarily have the experience. But monks and nuns have more opportunity to practice. The more practice and the more challenges, the more powerful will be the result.