Buddhist Monk Offers His View of Pathway to Happiness

El Vaquero Staff Writer

“Our mind has a mind of its own, it is like a wild horse.” It is a desirous mind that seeks attachments to people, places and things because we want to feel “connected.”

Buddhist monk Kelsan Tungpa said this in a lecture based on the Tibetan Buddhist method of meditation on Monday. And there is more to come.
In the remaining three sessions-“The Secret of Happiness,” “The Profound Exchange of View” and “Transforming Pain Into Peace” -more will be revealed.

At the first session, with 25 people in attendance, Tungpa, who is from the Kandala Center in Elysian Park, talked about what he called “the three poisons”-anger, attachment and ignorance.

Ignorance was described as being mistaken feelings. If we change our view of the world, the world will change. In other words, it is our perception of events that determine how we feel about them.

Though we believe the mind is in the head, Tibetan Buddhism says the mind is in the heart.” Incidentally, just last week, pop singer Madonna claimed to be a practitioner of this method.

Tungpa said he hoped the lectures would help the attendees to procure a “virtuous mind” in order to make their lives easier.

Much of this will be achieved through the meditation to be taught in the lectures. The meditation includes breathing and visualization techniques.
As many a novice has found, meditation is not an easy thing to do. Meditation is work, Tungpa said.

This meditation is not about emptying the mind of all thought but contemplating and focusing on an object of virtue. This is to help us practice “equalizing ourselves with others.”

Although these are concepts that many people might have a hard time grasping, the people at Monday’s lecture who were interested seemed to be very curious about what was to follow in the coming weeks.

On Monday, Tungpa talked about the “seductive and dangerous mind.” The seductive mind is dangerous because it is “self-cherishing.” It is focused only on serving itself.

“I, me and mine are the only things this mind is concerned with. The dangerous mind resists change and is therefore a tight mind,” unable to accept those things that do not please it, Tungpa said.

It becomes attached to the “perfect moments” and refuses to let go of them. This mind can be contented only when life goes in the direction it wants to go.

But life has its comings and goings, and it is not always pleasing. So, how does one feel happiness during those times of discontent? That is, of course, the secret of happiness.

In a preview of next week’s lecture, Tungpa said that true happiness is dependent on cherishing others instead of yourself.

The meditation is designed to help the practitioner achieve this state of mind. “The self-cherishing mind tricks us,” Tungpa said.

In meditation we can contemplate these thoughts and feelings, analyze them and ask ourselves questions about them. Are these thoughts going to make me happy? What use are they to me? What do I gain from holding on to them?

The following week in “The Profound Exchange of View,” Tungpa will discuss how we can exchange our viewpoint for theirs.

Putting ourselves in another person’s shoes so that we can avoid judging those who wrong us, making it possible to forgive them and thus avoiding the dangerous and seductive mind that can only bring us pain and suffering.

Tungpa said he is happy whether five or 50 people attend his lectures. He said he is content if someone just walks away feeling “a little less angry and a little bit happier.”

Tungpa will be giving lectures in SF 107 at 2 p.m. every Monday until May 26. Admission is free, and all are welcome.