Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Resilience

Online from Taiwan
January 14, 2021
67 minutes

Live Zoom session with the students of the Samtse College of Education, the Gedu College of Business Studies, the Sherubtse College and the Royal Thimphu College, Bhutan.

Transcript / Video

English
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Tiếng Việt
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Note 1: This is an edited transcript of a live teaching, and should not be taken as Rinpoche’s final word. Every effort has been made to ensure that this transcript is accurate both in terms of words and meaning, however all errors and misunderstandings are the responsibility of the editors of madhyamaka.com. Please see note.


Note 2: This transcript includes footnotes with clarifications and more information about Tibetan and Sanskrit Buddhist terms used in the teaching. Please click on the superscript number to read the footnote. Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche’s name is abbreviated to “DJKR” throughout.


Resilience

Hello everyone. I’m still new to this, talking to a machine and supposedly talking to lots of people. This is always a little bit awkward, so awkward that sometimes I even forget what [I’m going] to say. So I [have] made some notes, [and] I’m going to read these notes.

Before I begin, I should wish you a special Losar. I think for a lot of people, today is just a specific Losar. And I hope the old year will take away all the negative force, and the new year will bring all the favourable circumstances that we so need.

So, yes, we do have a challenge, to say the least. The world is definitely shaken. And [even] just 50 years ago, if this [had] happened in London, it might not have had much impact in places like Samtse1Samtse (Dzongkha: བསམ་རྩེ་; Wylie: Bsam-rtse; older spelling “Samchi”) is a Bhutanese town in the southwest of the country, near the Indian border town of Chamurchi – see wikipedia.. But thanks to so-called modernization, globalization, advancement of technology, travel, whatever, we in Bhutan also feel this. We are also very much shaken. Although I have to say that due to the very dedicated and incredible effort put by both His Majesty and His government, a country like us, I think we should feel quite proud and happy that amidst these surrounding we are doing well.

An opportunity to rethink

But nonetheless, we are shaken. We are very much bothered by this. And unfortunately, this may go on for another, I don’t know, six months, if we are lucky. Perhaps much longer. But I’ve heard that the word for “crisis” in Chinese also means “opportunity”2Ed.: The Chinese word for “crisis” (Chinese: 危機 / 危机; pinyin: wēijī) is, in Western popular culture, frequently but incorrectly said to be composed of two Chinese characters signifying “danger” (危; wēi) and “opportunity” (機 / 机; jī). Although the second character is a component of the Chinese word for “opportunity” (機會 / 机会; jīhuì), it has multiple meanings, and in isolation means something more like “change point”. The mistaken etymology became a trope after it was used by John F. Kennedy in his presidential campaign speeches and is widely repeated in business, education, politics and the press in the United States – see wei-ji.. So hopefully this becomes an opportunity for us, an opportunity to rethink and reevaluate our goals. To rethink the way we value things. To rethink our aims and our lifestyle. And not to forget to be resilient.

Now being resilient is a very Bhutanese thing. Actually, I would say this sort of perseverance is very much in the Bhutanese blood and the Bhutanese bone. We have words like tsagen3tsagen (Dzongkha: རྩ་འགེངས་) = persevere, persist, try – see tsagen., and I think it’s really important that we don’t lose that. You know, if we are not careful, it’s easy to lose this.

We still have people in Bhutan who prefer to walk barefoot in the mud and in the snow. In fact, I remember very well once when I was in East Bhutan we were traveling somewhere in the mud, and this guy was wearing flip-flops. And after a while he just took off his flip-flops, because he said it’s much better to walk with bare feet. Our men used to wear, and maybe they still wear, their gho4gho (Dzongkha: བགོ་, go; Wylie: bgo) = the Bhutanese traditional national dress for men, a knee-length robe tied at the waist by a cloth belt known as the kera (Dzongkha: སྐེད་རགས་) – see gho. quite a way above the knees, like miniskirts. Then, of course, these stupid Scottish socks came along in Bhutan, and then [they were] followed by boots, sneakers, and Nike shoes. In the process, we Bhutanese may now have lost a little bit of resilience in walking barefoot, right? Of course, obviously, I’m not suggesting that all of you guys here [should] walk barefoot in the mud, and so forth. More importantly, we need to be mentally resilient and emotionally resilient.

Globalization and modernity

Now because of many good reasons and also bad reasons, we had no choice but to become part of what we call the global community. If you think about the world today, there has been a lot of good change. There’s much less war compared to the past. The communication system has improved a lot. We have a very good information system. Of course, this is all very subjective. We have a good medical system. And supposedly, a lot of poverty [has been] reduced.

But, on the other hand, this global community or global culture is also very much driven by the economy. So in other words, people really care so much about what they have, rather than what they are or who they are. I would say that maybe Bhutan is one of those rare countries [where] leaders treat people as citizens. [Whereas in] most countries in the world nowadays, their leaders treat people more like consumers.

The modern world, the global world, has a culture which cherishes competitive mind. Competition is a virtue. It’s sort of the thing to do. And also, [there is] so much emphasis dedicated to individual rights and individual wellbeing. Yes, individuality is very much cherished. And people fight for individual wellbeing, rights, identity and so forth. And the modern mind also tends to think that basically, if you have the know-how, if you have the means, the world is basically in your hands. That’s how modern people are trained or educated or brainwashed to think.

Of course, definitely, most modern skeptical minds don’t believe in God [or an] Almighty Creator. But, you know, Buddhists talk about cause and condition, karma. Modern people may accept the theory of cause and condition and effect to a certain extent. But I think the more subtle and the more advanced reality of cause and condition is not really understood in depth. [It is] ignored. And because of that, the respect and appreciation towards cause and condition is almost nonexistent in the current world.

So, ironically – and I say this because we cherish individualism and all that so much – but ironically, the modern people have become so fearful. We are so afraid of being left out. We are so afraid of being irrelevant. And because of that, we have become very lonely. And we also alienate ourselves from a lot of things. From family, from the village, from friends, and from references, whatever references. And all of this then causes us to lose our resilience. 

We all have mind, so we all have the capacity to be resilient

Now, the big question is, can we be resilient? And as a Buddhist here, I’m saying, yes, we can. Absolutely. We all have mind5Ed.: In Tibetan the word for “sentient being” is semchen (Tibetan: སེམས་ཅན་, Wylie: sems can), which literally means “having mind” or “endowed with mind” – see semchen.. I mean, apart from this laptop that is sitting right in front of me. Whoever is listening to this, you have cognizance. You have something that is so unique. Something so powerful. Something that no education system can make. [Something that no] science or technology can just sort of come up with. This is what in Bhutanese we call sem6sem (Tibetan: སེམས་, Wylie: sems; Sanskrit: चित्त, IAST: citta) = mind, ‘cognitive act’, thoughts, mentation, cognition – see sem., which is very loosely translated as “mind” in English.

Anyway, if you don’t have mind, then you are just like a pebble, like a piece of wood. But you do have mind. And this mind that you have and I have, this mind doesn’t have a hierarchy [in which] some people’s minds are [greater or] lesser than [those of] others. It doesn’t have that kind of measure.

And this mind that we have, it’s quite amazing actually. It’s so receptive. Given the chance, it can really accommodate a lot. [We can] say that it’s like the sky. No matter how [many things] you have, [they] can [all] fit in the sky. Just like that, mind has this quality or character of accommodating.

And this [mind] isn’t something that you have to download. This isn’t something that you have to acquire. You don’t have to buy it. You have it. And it is the base of your resilience. So in other words, you all have the ability or the capacity to be resilient. You don’t need God’s intervention. And this [mind] is something that no one can take away from you, [in the same way that] this mind of yours is not something that someone gave you. You just have it.

So as a foundation, I’m assuring you that you have the capacity to be resilient.

Cultivating aspiration

So what do we need next? You need to want to be resilient. This [desire or aspiration for resilience] is something that you need to train yourself [in]. You need to educate yourself, you need to train yourself, you need to tell yourself that you want this resilience. You need to have aspiration to be resilient. You need to have the motivation to be resilient. And this can be trained. This can be habituated.

You can start with something very short and small, but consistent. Wanting and needing to be resilient. And here, many of you may not be that religious, which is fine. And some of you may consider yourself as religious, Buddhist, Hindu. If you are doing prayers, if you are chanting mantras, if you are doing pujas, if you are lighting a lamp, if you are offering incense, do it so that you will become resilient. Mentally resilient or emotionally resilient.

And this being resilient, emotionally or mentally, is really the highest blessing you can ask for. And it is achievable, actually. And this is a realistic blessing that you can ask [for]. Whereas to live long, to live forever – that’s not realistic. Now after that, I’m suggesting two things here to be resilient. Two things that you can think about are to be creative and to be authentic.

Creativity

And when I say to be creative, I’m not only talking about [things] like painting or writing or photography or whatever. Of course, those things [are] also [included]. Those things are wonderful. Those things are good if you if you happen to be doing them. And it’s not necessarily just that. [It could also be] weaving, singing, etc.

But I’m talking more about being creative in how to [see things]. Right now we have a challenge. We have a real challenge at the doorstep with this pandemic situation. We can protect ourselves from the actual virus by social distancing and masks and washing hands and so forth. But more importantly, how can we be creative in becoming resilient, when you face the challenge of loneliness, paranoia, anxiety? How do we sort of outwit the anxiety? How do we hoodwink it? How do we always stay one step ahead of our anxiety? One step ahead of the challenge?

So this is something where we can, again, educate ourselves. We can contemplate, and we can train ourselves. Just to give you some ideas, examples, and analogies [of] how to be creative. How about being creative in how you define things? You know, definitions [of success, wealth, happiness etc]? How you value things?

Okay, let’s say wealth. To be rich. Right now, I think a lot of us have a certain definition of wealth, richness, and prosperity. And our definition is [based on] the general idea [held by society]. But I think we can be quite creative about this. For some, yes, having many cars, many buildings, lots of assets, [and a large] bank balance, may be the definition of being rich and wealthy. But maybe for others, it’s not. And this is where you have to be creative. Maybe for for some, we can sort of define wealth in terms of thinking “Okay, this is enough”. Some sort of contentment, right? This may be the definition of wealth.

And similarly, how do you define health? Now, I think [when it comes to] physical health, you don’t want to have too much high blood pressure, you don’t want to have an ulcer, [this is] fairly easy to understand. But there’s also mental health. Many times, as I said earlier, we become unhealthy mentally and emotionally, because we are trying to fit in, we are trying to win some sort of a competition, we are trying to sort of not get left out. So, here again, I think we can be creative in how we define what is a healthy mind. 

The same thing again: How do we define happy? Happy is a very subjective, very general term. How do we define it? And so forth. We should be really creative. You know, it’s really not wise to rely on definitions [or] meanings that are imposed by school, advertising agencies, and all those big companies. Basically, we don’t have to be so uncreative in following definitions that are imposed by others.

Authenticity

And we can be authentic as well. This is also what I mean by authentic. We don’t have to be sort of sucking up to a definition or value that someone else has imposed upon us. This is what I also call being creative in managing our life.

This [applies to] everything, [such as] how we look. Not everyone has to look like K-pop stars. That’s just one definition. That’s just one way of looking at it. I know that a lot of you who are listening here are students. Not all of us have to finish degrees. Probably I’m saying something that is contrary to [what your] teachers and parents [might say], but it is a fact. The fact is things like degrees and diplomas are created by some British people and probably some people whose aim is to create jobs. You know that. Some of these definitions, some of these values are so outdated. I mean, really outdated. 

So I think we should not lose our creativity and authenticity when when it comes to defining these things. 

How to cultivate resilience, creativity and authenticity? Simply observing

Okay, so how do we do this? Now, this is the point that I wanted to share with you. Okay, so we want to be creative in managing our life. We want to be creative in outwitting our challenges, but how do we do it? And here I want to share something very, very simple. So simple, that probably the simplicity itself [will be] challenging for you. But it’s something that you should really try. 

And that is simply observing.

Simply [be] aware of your body, your feelings7Ed.: DJKR used “feeling” throughout. It has been changed to “feelings”., your mind.

Simply being conscious of your body, your feelings, your mind. And when I say this, let me explain this a little bit. When I say “simply observe”, and “simply being conscious”, I’m not asking you to observe something very exotic, or something that is mythical or mystical. You have a body, You have feelings. You must have a feeling right now. And you have mind. You have thoughts. And whatever that thought, feeling, mind – be aware of that. Be aware of that emotion. 

And I’m not even talking about being aware of it for hours and hours. I’m talking about – how about [something] like one minute a day? And when you are aware of your thoughts, your body, your feelings, you are doing this not to judge8Ed.: i.e. observe your body, your feelings and your mind without judging what you observe as being “good” or “bad” etc.. If you have some really hideous thoughts or some really heavy emotions [you should not judge them].

You are doing this to simply acknowledge. Just as how babies would look at fresco paintings. Just watching, observing. Not analyzing, “Where are these thoughts coming from?” Definitely not judging. If a good thought comes, [don’t get] excited. If a bad thought comes, you don’t have to brood about it. Just simply observing the thoughts. And not just the thoughts. Also feelings [and body].

Appreciating boredom

Many of you are probably in a lockdown situation. And I’m sure you are deadly bored and lonely. How about taking this chance, and for the first time, look at your boredom. You know, there’s one great master who said that “Boredom is like the dawn. If wisdom is like the sunrise, boredom is like the dawn”. If you can appreciate this boredom and loneliness, if you can just watch it and observe it, it will lead to wisdom.

Because usually what happens when we are lonely and when we are bored [is that] we try to numb ourselves with some sort of entertainment. We read a book, call somebody, text someone else. I don’t know. Browse social media, eat, drink. But this. How about just observe? Observe this boredom. Observe this loneliness. There is a treasure in it. It’s like a gold mine. It’s like a treasure mine. Yes, of course, for a lot of us, especially beginners, [this] will take time. You have to train yourself. 

But here, at this time, as I said earlier, crisis, challenges, obstacles, can be an opportunity.

And there are a lot of other opportunities [that] we don’t have time to talk about here. Probably, this is a really good time to really consider the way we think about our life ahead. You know, what kind of education should we really have? What kind of planning should we have?

The benefits of simply observing

But I’m not just talking about that. I’m talking about [the] most important sort of preparedness. Because when you simply observe, watch, and be aware of your thoughts and feelings, or your body, or even the table that is right in front of you, or your window. It could be something as mundane as your door knob. It doesn’t have to be anything that is sacred, it doesn’t have to be anything special. It doesn’t have to be anything exotic. It can be something so mundane. So simple.

But simply observing. What does that do? When you simply observe, what it does is it preempts hope and fear by removing its food9Ed.: DJKR said “preempts food for hope and fear”. This has been changed for clarity.. You know, our mind? We have hope and we have fear. We have a lot of hope, a lot of ambition, a lot of fear. And then out of that comes all these other emotions – desire, anger, ignorance, jealousy, pride, all that. And then they feed each other. And then you get entangled.

And then a lot of stories are written in your head. A lot of daydreaming. A lot of delusion. A lot of fantasies. And then of course, [we] never know that those are just illusions, those are just fantasies. In fact, [we] believe that they are true or they’re going to be true. And this is what we call delusion. And when you have that, you are not normal or sober. You are drunk. 

By simply watching [you can preempt all of this]. I know many of you may think this sounds painfully, ridiculously simple. But this is how it is. And I need to tell you that this is not some New Age teaching. Some of you may be wondering. This is very much from the sutras and the shastras. For instance, this is taught in the many chapters of the Bodhicharyavatara, Chönjuk10Bodhicharyavatara (Sanskrit: बोधिचर्यावतार, IAST: Bodhicaryāvatāra; Tibetan: སྤྱོད་འཇུག་, Chönjuk; Wylie: spyod ‘jug) = “The Way of the Bodhisattva”, a classic guide to the Mahayana path and the practice of the 6 paramitas written in Sanskrit verse by the 8th Century Indian master Shantideva – see Bodhicharyavatara.. Tenpa dam11tenpa dampa (Tibetan: བསྟན་པ་དམ་པ་; Wylie: bstan pa dam pa) = supreme teaching, sacred teaching – see tenpa dampa.. Shézhin12shézhin (Tibetan: ཤེས་བཞིན་, Wylie: shes bzhin) = attentiveness, continuously paying attention, awareness – see shézhin., if you like. The actual classic words. Observation. Shantideva, the author of the Chönjuk, even prescribed how to wash our hands. [The teachings are] as detailed as that.

Anyway, observing your body, observing your feelings, observing your mind. Observing your anxiety, boredom, loneliness, whatever. And then, of course, for a lot of you, the new and younger beginner meditators, it is possible that by doing so, you [may] get even more bored and more lonely. But here you have to be resilient. You have to be mean to your laziness. Just try to get beyond this barrier. Just try to break through this.

Have I told you anything that is complicated? I have not told you to chant any mantras. I have not told you to do prayers. I have not told you to sit. I am not telling you any of this complicated stuff. You can observe. And I’m not even asking you to observe something beyond you. I’m simply asking you to observe your own body, feelings and mind.

A bird’s eye view of life

And by doing so, you will have a bird’s eye view of your life. Right now, you are looking at your life from [just] one angle. Just like six blind people touching an elephant and then each describing [the one aspect that they are touching, and giving six] different descriptions13The parable of the six blind men and the elephant originated in the Indian subcontinent, and wikipedia gives the following version:
A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”. So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, “This being is like a thick snake”. For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said the elephant, “is a wall”. Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.
The Buddhist sutra Udana 6.4, contains one of the earliest versions of the story. It is dated to around c. 500 BCE, during the lifetime of the Buddha, although the parable is likely older than the Buddhist text – see wikipedia.
. That’s what’s happening [in our lives]. Because we have lost the bird’s eye view. We have lost the big picture. We don’t have the vision.

Because when we don’t observe, your hope and fear entangles you. One hope leads to more hope, which also leads to fear. And then you lose the bird’s eye view. You also lose your objectivity14Ed.: DJKR said “the objective view”. This has been changed., because you are looking at your life through all all these definitions [and] yardsticks that you have learned from schools, from books, from the movies that you watch, from the social media that you browse through. And then, really, you totally lose your sanity15Ed.: DJKR said “lose total sanity”. This has been changed.. I mean, you brood [if you get] even one less thumbs up when you post something on your TikTok or whatever.

So this [observation] is something really simple that you can16Ed.: DJKR stresses “can”, to indicate that we are able to do this. There is nothing stopping us.do, and I urge you to all do this. And as I was saying, this is a very classic Buddhist method.

Seated Buddha, Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka – Reywatha, Pinterest

The other term I want to share with you is nyampar zhakpa17nyampar zhakpa (Tibetan: མཉམ་པར་བཞག་པ་, Wylie: mnyam par bzhag pa) = meditative equipoise; evenly resting; the state of even contemplation – see nyamzhak.. In fact, there’s even a gesture. It’s like this, right? [DJKR places his hands in the meditation mudra or dhyani-mudra, with the back of the right hand resting on the upturned palm of the left hand with the tips of the thumbs lightly touching18Ed.: See image of seated Buddha, Gal Vihara, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Tricycle magazine has an illustrated article “Mudra: What Do Buddhist Hand Gestures Mean?” which includes images of the meditation mudra or dhyani-mudra – see Tricycle.]. You sit like this. Nyampar zhak. Nyam means “equal”19nyam (Tibetan: མཉམ་, Wylie: mnyam) = even, equal, alike – see nyam.. Zhak has the connotation of “just let it be”20zhak (Tibetan: བཞག་, Wylie: bzhag) = put, place, stay, remain, leave behind, leave alone – see zhak..

By doing this, and I’m repeating here, you will have a broader vision. And with this broader vision, you are prepared [for what might come]. Avoiding pain when pain arrives is one thing. But [what] if you [could be] prepared for the challenge, for the pain that’s going to come? And there will be [pain]. I don’t want to paint a rosy picture here. This is what Buddha said in The Four Noble Truths – life is dukkha. But if you can sort of educate yourself so that you have this attitude towards your life, I think it will bring at least some sort of sanity, sobriety, or balance. Not falling into extremes. And that’s what we want.

So with this, I think I’m going to end here. There are some questions.


Q & A

What can we do if we’re having suicidal thoughts?

[Q]: I’m going to combine some questions. {One] question is: Bhutan has an ever-increasing number of suicide cases. And now there is an increase in mental health issues. And we feel that this will increase [further] now [with the] pandemic. Most of these suicide cases are usually students. Since Rinpoche is now speaking to our students, can you please advise the youth on how we can help ourselves when we have suicidal thoughts? Another student is asking: Why is suicide considered a big sin? Don’t we have the right to choose whether we want to live or not? Apart from the pain it may cause to the people who are left behind, isn’t karma in our own hands?

[DJKR]: Okay, two very big questions. I’m also going to combine the answer here. I think what I have said previously, during my talk earlier, may already have answered quite a lot. I think we are very much pressured. There’s a lot of stress. And this is exactly what I’m saying. Because most of this stress comes from having some sort of a goal. And these goals are almost always defined and valued and decided by someone else. And many times we just blindly follow that. And I’m not only talking about religion. I’m talking about everything – science, technology, economy, everything.

So this is why it’s really important to [examine and rethink] your definitions of [success, wealth, happiness etc.] and also identify what is your goal. Or not, actually. Because you see, there’s already stress [once you start setting goals]. There’s this stress, especially for the younger generation, they’re pressurized in thinking that they have to have a goal. And often we, the adults, design this goal and then shove [it] down their throats. And this is probably not the right thing to do. For young people, their goal should be really to have fun. To have life.

Of course, life is very subjective. And you know, the definition of life is infinite. But [the goal for young people should be] to really have fun. Then you may ask, why do we need education? Education actually is a very interesting phenomenon. I’m a little bit reluctant to talk [about] this here in this forum, because I was told there are a lot of educators listening. I myself, I’m actually starting a few schools, especially for children. And as a Rinpoche I’m somewhat of an educator. And I feel that we, the educators, we almost have to apologize to the students and especially the children that “We have no choice, but we have to educate you guys.”

Because I think education is like an inconvenient truth. Especially in our [contemporary] world, if you need to live, you have to sort of train [people] to stop driving when there’s a red light. But having said this, I think that educators, planning people, and elders like myself, we have the responsibility to really show that there are different kinds of definitions and different kinds of values. Right now, the definitions and the values [that we teach] are very narrow. And they’re not only narrow, they’re also very backward. And I’m not only talking about Bhutan. I’m talking about the whole world. 

So,  all this creates a lot of stress. And I have been hearing that there are young [people] taking their own lives. I’ve been hearing this. It saddens me and makes me [feel] helpless. If it is possible, maybe on top of what I have been discussing earlier – like observing your feelings, observing your mind, observing your body – maybe it would be good to discuss and talk about it. [Maybe we could] discuss how to define [success, wealth, happiness etc. for ourselves], how to create goals, and so forth. 

But here, I want to give you this. For those who feel really stressed and pressurized, and those who really are pushed and pulled, if you really need to talk to somebody and if you think that I could tell you something, if I could be any help, you can copy my email address [DJKR holds up a piece of paper with his email address written on it and reads it out aloud, but it has been blanked out in the video and audio]. I cannot promise that I will deliver magic, but we could maybe talk. And also I cannot really promise that I’ll be prompt with the answer. But he honest. And if you are patient, I personally will try to do what I can. 

What was the other question? Oh, about [how] karma is in our hands. Well, taking one’s own life is not really putting your karma in your own hands. Actually, Buddhists would say that suicide happens because you have developed this kind of habit [i.e. the habit of thinking suicidal thoughts and eventually acting on them]. And therefore [because of this habit] you just have this urge or this adrenaline [rush]. I guess you just can’t control yourself. But, you know, do this kind of thing [i.e. the observation]. So it is actually very much [that you are] pushed and pulled and manipulated by your own karma. Okay, one more question.


How can we develop an education system that is both authentically Bhutanese and modern?

[Q]: Since this talk is for teachers and students, there’s a question on education. I think more people would love to hear Rinpoche [speak] on how Buddhism and our authentic cultural values can be integrated into our education system. As you know, children learn prayers but they don’t know the meaning. They follow rituals but they don’t understand them. How can the education system be authentically Bhutanese while also integrating modern curriculums?

[DJKR]: Oh, I think, with a little bit of effort, this is very doable. We will have to be a little bit brave and courageous in shrugging off some of our old skins. Because often, and with a lot of understanding, we Himalayans and Bhutanese often tend to hang on to some old skins. Traditions [and] culture are very valuable. They have a lot of blessings, They have a lot of goodness. But some of them can be a bit of a hindrance. And on top of that, we also need to basically learn to speak the current language, which is very much possible.

In fact, [this has been done before] even in Buddhism. For instance, a few hundred years after Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet, during the [time of] Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo21Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo (Tibetan: རིན་ཆེན་བཟང་པོ་, Wylie: rin-chen bzang-po) (958–1055) = a principal lotsawa or translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan during the second diffusion of Buddhism in Tibet (known as the New Translation School period). He was a student of the renowned Indian Buddhist master Atisha – see Rinchen Zangpo., there was a new translation. They actually sort of modified, not really modified, but they use the current language of that time to articulate Buddhist teachings. Something like that should definitely happen [today]. And it is actually doable. But to do that, some of the people who are concerned, people with this job or this kind of responsibility, you guys need to meet and design this and we need to think ahead, definitely.

Okay, so, as I said, I really feel very awkward talking to a laptop, but anyway, it’s really nice to be able to use this and somehow communicate with many of you there. Please, take care of yourselves. You know, I’m a Bhutanese myself. I like socializing. And I like partying. For how long can one be rikpa drim22rikpa drim (Dzongkha: རིགཔ་སྒྲིམ་, also ripdrimni) = alert, beware, careful – see rikpa drim.? It gets in the way. It gets boring and it gets painful sometimes.

But you have to think big. You have to think of others. And if we can all together really discipline ourselves, [through things] like social distancing etc.. I’m sure we can definitely relieve ourselves from this pandemic situation. But if we do not, then this may drag on and that could lead us into trouble. So, please, especially the younger generation here, the students here, please – you have the responsibility, not only [to] sort of discipline yourself regarding this, but please spread these words and please also make others follow the sort of lifestyle that we have to implement for the time being. This is absolutely necessity. 

And, you know, His Majesty is really doing so much. I hear and I see that the government is doing so much. But, you know, social distancing and washing hands and all this is really for our own wellbeing. Sometimes we tend to think that we are doing it for the government, [but] that is absolutely not true. I’m sure you know that. So please pay attention to this. And again, as I said earlier, I pray, I wish, and I aspire [for your] wellbeing and good health and prosperity. And most importantly, that you will not lose sight of your life, [that] you will have the bird’s eye view. And regarding suicide also, really, if you can have this bird’s eye view, then you will see lots of options. When you see lots of options, life can be spirited23Ed.: The recording was unclear. It sounded like DJKR said “spirited”, but this may be incorrect. instead of just cutting it. 

[END]


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Transcribed and edited by Alex Li Trisoglio