Lama manifests Manjushri
One English businessman found Rinpoche’s demanding teaching style excruciating. “My marriage was collapsing, I had nowhere to live, I had never sat cross-legged in my life, everything hurt and here’s this monk in front of us stuttering and coughing his way through two weeks. All I heard was ‘cough cough suffering cough cough suffering.’ Yet the people around me were madly writing it all down. I couldn’t understand a word and was so miserable Dieter arranged an interview for me.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche had arrived at Manjushri separately from Nepal and his two-week lam-rim course preceded Lama Yeshe’s arrival. “Lama Zopa Rinpoche was sitting on a bed. I offered him an orange and told him that my marriage wasn’t working. ‘Marriage not working—ha ha ha!’ he said. Then I said I was thinking of separating from my wife. ‘Thinking of separating from your wife—ha ha ha!’ he said. He giggled at everything I said and finally made a few inconsequential comments. I thought, ‘Well, this is very trivial.’
“I left the room and halfway across the lawn, I suddenly stopped. Something seemed to hit me hard in the heart, almost like a switch being turned on and I thought, ‘Gosh, he’s right.’ When I came back into the hall all these people said, ‘What’s happened to you? You look amazing! You’ve seen Rinpoche, haven’t you!’ I told them I didn’t want to talk about it. During the interview I had told Rinpoche I didn’t understand a word he was saying in the teachings. I did notice though, that he didn’t cough once while I was with him. After that, everything he said was absolutely clear and I too started taking pages and pages of notes.”
Peter Kedge’s parents were on the platform at Rugby station when the train to Cumbria made a brief stop. They had come specifically to greet Lama Yeshe for the first time.
Although it was mid-summer when Lama Yeshe and Peter arrived at Manjushri Institute, the climate inside that enormous dry-rot permeated Gothic building remained bone-chillingly cold and damp. The teachings were held in a large front room blessed with a Jotul brand wood burning stove. There was another of these excellent stoves in the dining room and one in the Oak Room, which had become the center library.
Manjushri now had a permanent community of thirty, including three mothers with young children. The cost of repairing the dry rot turned out to be four times the original estimate and in addition, more money had to be found for other essential renovations. The residents removed rotten beams, scraped walls, scrubbed and painted and injected foul-smelling chemicals into the dry rot. In some rooms entire walls and floors had to be removed. The Priory became a place where you could open a door to find nothing on the other side.
Harvey had developed a remuneration system that charged residents room and board according to how many hours they worked each day. Those who worked an eight-hour day received free room and board. Some of the young men became quite angry because they had gone there to receive Dharma teachings and found themselves doing all this heavy physical labour. At least the work kept them warm.
On 29 July 1977, the day after Lama Yeshe arrived, he gave refuge to twenty-eight students, lay vows to nineteen and the next day, a Manjushri initiation to fifty people.
The transformed note-taking English businessman was in for a further surprise. During the initiation he swore that when he looked at Lama Yeshe he appeared to be transparent. “I could see right through him,” he said. This was a very conservative, absolutely drug-free, professional man.
Lama Yeshe then gave a two-week commentary on the yoga method of Manjushri. Manjushri represents enlightened wisdom and holds above his head a flaming wisdom sword that cuts through our delusions. For the first half of the course Lama concentrated on raising the students’ awareness to a point where they could see that what is generally held to be concrete is merely perception, which is dependent upon a shifting range of variables.
Lama also taught Manjushri’s mantra, om ah ra pa tsa na dhi. Mantra was a new subject for Westerners. One visualizes the seed-syllable, dhi (pronounced “dhee”), as a red-yellow flame upon the tongue. The syllable is then repeated 108 times at the end of the mantra, in one exhalation. Those students who had spent time at Kopan were familiar with this mantra as it was the one the Mount Everest Centre boys shouted as they swept the courtyard every morning: “Dhi dhi dhi dhi dhi dhi dhi dhi dhi dhi!’
From Lama Yeshe’s teachings on the Manjushri yoga method in August 1977:
These days, in the West, we hear a lot about the open heart, about opening your heart. This is common. From the Buddhist point of view, in order to open your heart, you have to realize something. “I want to open my heart, but how?”—this is the question. Opening has to do with realization; no realization, nothing opens. It doesn’t matter that you say, emotionally, “I’m open. I love you; you love me so much.” That doesn’t mean you’re open. We say that kind of thing, don’t we? “No matter how much I open myself up to you, you never open yourself up to me.” It’s a joke. It’s not true.
Well, perhaps it’s true in one sense, but actually, true openness implies space—your consciousness embracing some kind of wide totality. This experience of embracing totality itself becomes the solution, or antidote, to the narrow, fanatical, conceptualizing dualistic mind.
But then there’s the danger of the attitude, “Wow! Universal reality is incredibly special,” arising. We get the impression that shunyata is a really special, fantastic phenomenon. This attitude is wrong. Instead of, “Oh, non-duality is special, up there; the ordinary, relative bubble of samsara is down here,” which is completely wrong, our position should be more realistic: whenever there’s the appearance of the bubble of relativity, we should simultaneously see non-duality within it.
When we’re in a conducive environment, we find meditation easier—because we’re free of the vibration of the conflict of duality. When we’re out and about, in contact with the objects of the bubble of relativity, our hearts immediately begin to shake; sense objects make uncontrolled energy run rampant within us. Because we don’t see the non-duality of universal reality within the bubble of relativity, our reactions to objects in the sense world are fragmented. If we could see reality, we wouldn’t shake every time there was a change in our external environment.
Why, when the environment changes, does your behavior change immediately as well? You know, I like talking about this. For me, this is much more realistic than talking philosophy. So, why do we change like that? Well, look at what happens to you here. As soon as you leave the meditation hall and go into the dining room, you manifest as something else completely. You’re almost another person. Why? Because you differentiate between the deepest, essential nature of the meditation hall and that of the dining room. If you could see the universal reality of these two rooms—and essential reality is non-differentiated; it has a unified quality—you would not change so easily. You see, we are completely intoxicated by the dualistic mind; the dualistic mind completely overwhelms us. The vibration of each different environment too easily influences us. We think we’re in control; we’re not in control.
When I look at a lovely flower, I’m too influenced. I’m intoxicated by it. When I look at something else, that, too, intoxicates me. I’m completely dominated by my dualistic mind; I have no control. I’m completely influenced by the external world and, from my own side, am totally helpless. We’re all the same—we’re constantly under the influence of whatever we see and hear outside. It’s incredible. The dualistic, relative mind intoxicates us, while our wisdom realizing universal reality is in a deep sleep. Now is the time to reveal and activate that wisdom.
Our dualistic minds are so rigid. As soon as the environment changes, our reality changes. While we’re here at the center, it’s all Dharma. When we go into town to have fun, the sense world bubble of the dance club becomes our reality. Why am I taking this negative approach? Because it’s more realistic. This is our experience. If I just talk abstract philosophy, you can’t relate, because it’s not your experience. I like to talk about experience. Why, when the environment changes, does your reality change? That’s all I’m asking.
You must really understand this yo-yo mind. The yo-yo mind is always up and down, and that’s how you spend your whole life—going up and down. The relative environment changes automatically; there’s no unchangeable environment. So as the relative bubble of your external environment constantly changes, your reality constantly changes, and you really believe that this is this and that is that. You have no universal understanding. That’s what makes you and all other sentient beings suffer.