PAPER TIGER AUTHOR: KHENPO TSULTRIM LODRO

Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö is one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist masters alive today. As demonstrated by his many writings, he is not only exceptionally learned in the traditional Buddhist teachings, but is also deeply familiar with science, western philosophy and the modern world. Here in this short text, drawn from a series of lectures, he encourages us to remember the Buddha’s fundamental message on the real meaning and purpose of life: the cultivation of genuine wisdom and compassion. I am a deep admirer of Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö and supporter of his work.

I would like to thank the directors not only for creating this opportunity to honour Khen Rinpoche, but also for giving me the chance to write a few introductory words for this auspicious occasion.

Actually I am not the right person to do this. First, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche needs no introduction. He speaks for himself by his example. Even if you need someone to give an introduction, it should not be done by someone shady like me who eats betel nut and is found wearing very colorful clothes, and hanging around with colorful people in colorful places.

Khenpo Tsultrim Lodr? was born in 1962 in Drango (Luhuo) County in Sichuan Province’s Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. In 1984, he received monastic ordination at the world-renowned Larung Five Sciences Buddhist Institute (Larung Gar) in Serthar, becoming a disciple of the preeminent spiritual master, H.H. Chogyel Yeshe Norbu Jigme Phunstok. After many years dedicated to the study of the five main sutric treatises and tantric scripture, he was awarded the title of Khenpo in recognition of his scholarship.

I first came upon the teachings of Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche early in 2014. I remember being surprised by the number of people who informed me of his visit to Taiwan and told me to catch his lectures. As a student of Tibetan Buddhism for more than twenty years, I am accustomed to hearing the teachings in Tibetan or English which is then translated into Chinese. I did not expect a Tibetan Buddhist master to speak to us directly in Chinese. Undoubtedly, this made a difference in terms of the clarity and completeness of the lectures in the time allowed. Most of all, however, I was impressed by the strong sense of purpose and urgency in which he communicated the timeless wisdom of the Dharma. When I was approached in regard to translating one of his books, I was quick to accept the challenge.

Buddhism, certainly Tibetan Buddhism, places great importance on happiness. However, the emphasis in Mahayana Buddhism is not on one’s own happiness; it is the welfare of all sentient beings which is important. When we strive to bring joy to all beings, we can be sure of attaining even greater happiness for ourselves. This well-being ultimately surpasses any that material enjoyment can bring. Such is the Tibetan Buddhist view on happiness.

Taming the mind is like taming an animal. When the mind is desolate and in despair, we should practice how to face suffering and transform adversity into courage and determination on the path to liberation; when it is immersed in pride and carried away by success, we should contemplate all things are impermanent and all defiled phenomena are suffering to overcome arrogance. We must avoid the two extreme states of mind and abide in the middle at all times.

In our world today, it is increasingly apparent and obvious a lot of problems of a spiritual nature cannot be resolved by material means. To treat mental problems we must work with the mind. It is imperative that we look immediately for answers within the Buddhist culture to address concrete problems in our life, and to ameliorate the stress and anxiety we feel.

There are some very special methods in Buddhism for overcoming suffering. By practicing the methods, we purify our mind and attain a higher state of realization. In the short run we can reduce our stress; ultimately we can be free of the suffering of birth, aging, illness, and death.

Human suffering can come from many different sources. The methods for working with suffering are also quite varied.

In this modern age, we are enjoying greater material well-being than ever before.But at the same time, we are also facing many problems: our trust in people and the index on happiness continue to decline; divorce, suicide, and crime rates keep rising; depression is even more prevalent. How do we resolve these problems? Buddhist philosophy can be very helpful at this time.

Practitioners also encounter suffering and happiness.  How to transform happiness and, in particular, suffering into favorable conditions in our practice is extremely important.  Without the right method, suffering and happiness become obstacles to the path.  This not only impedes our practice, it also affects the normal course of our life.

Buddha-dharma is not a philosophy to be appreciated from afar.  Its wisdom is directly accessible and relevant to our problems in life.  Unfortunately, most followers do not progress beyond an intellectual understanding of the Dharma, even those who have studied the five major treatises — Middle Way, logic, prajnaparamita, and other profound and significant texts.  When confronted with life’s unexpected difficulties, they are lost and unable to put the teachings into practice.  This is like a soldier who is armed with very sophisticated weapons; when confronted by the enemy, he is caught by surprise and does not know which weapon to use.  How regrettable! Thus, in this section, we will discuss — how to utilize the teachings and develop the right way to face both suffering and happiness in life.