While in graduate school at Naropa University, I was lucky to meet a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who taught his students the way his teacher taught him, and so forth, back as many generations as we could fathom. Over the years of studying and practicing, I began to realize that we were on a journey of self discovery and that there was an inherent wisdom in how this sequential path of practice and study was laid out. No wonder it has been done this way by so many devotes for hundreds and hundreds of years!
The dharma teachings and practices are very practical and down to earth. You take responsibility for yourself and your present situation. You don’t rely on someone else to do the work for you. It is not about tough love, but rather is what makes this approach so self empowering and self liberating. It is not to say people can’t help and support you. Of course they can, but they can’t do it for you. Ultimately it is up to you. You can learn to take back control over your own mind and learn how to cultivate your inner riches of love, warmth, clarity, and beauty.
At every step of the way as you travel through the three yanas (groups of teachings), there are tools for developing awareness, insight, and compassion that create the very foundation needed for the next inquiry and exploration. This process of trying things out, having direct experiences, and reflecting on them is how you discover with unshakable confidence the truth about who you are. You have discovered it for yourself by trial and error, and learning from direct experience. It is one thing for someone to tell you, “You’re good...You’re free...Everything is okay...” but if you don’t really believe it for yourself it doesn’t go very far or last very long.
When you realize how, despite everything that has ever happened to you, your inner light has remained untouched. Nothing can ever take that away from you. Having been dragged through the hell realms of extreme trauma in my childhood, I couldn’t believe how pure and bright the light in my heart was still radiating. It had always been there and was totally unharmed by all that had happened to me. It was more a matter of self discovery, as if had been protected, hidden away, until it was safe to come out. This is how I knew for sure that our true nature is indestructible. Once you discover for yourself who you are and what is true, you no longer need confirmation from outside, “Am I okay?” This is what allows you to finally relax and feel naturally peaceful and joyful.
“The Buddhist Journey is a Healing Journey” continues in Part 3.