When the sun rises, it dispels the darkness so we can see things clearly. Wisdom, or insight (prajna) is like the sun, because it enables us to see things clearly. If we have yet to understand the fundamental importance of the mind, it is a sign that wisdom has not yet dawned within us. Once wisdom arises within us, we need to make it stable and in order to do that we train in meditation and other practices.
The mind is the most important factor. When training the mind in bodhicitta (the mind of enlightenment), we need to cultivate compassion, and just like wisdom our compassion needs to be stable and vast like the open, unchanging sky. If it is unstable, it will be vulnerable to circumstances and easily swayed. So in order to strengthen our compassion we can intentionally train in cultivating compassion, in contemplating its benefits, in developing confidence and dignity within ourselves, and at the same time train in shamata and the like.
Whatever we are engaging in, whether it be spiritual practice or a mundane activity, we need wisdom that sees to the heart of the matter, that understands the essential points. The source of happiness and suffering is the mind. To understand this fact, we need the illuminating sun of wisdom. At the same time, we should avoid being judgemental. Wisdom accompanied by judgement can be very harmful; we need to develop wisdom, but with as little judgement as possible.
My root guru, the late Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche, would explain that to be Buddhist (which in Tibetan is nangpa, literally ‘insider’) means to understand that the source of all happiness and suffering, samsara and nirvana, awareness and ignorance, delusion and wisdom, benefit and harm and so on is the mind (inside, not outside).
We are all students of the buddhadharma. Some of you are studying and exploring the Buddhist teachings. Others of you are already engaged in practice, and some of you have been practising for many years. As Buddhist practitioners, essentially the two qualities we are striving to develop are wisdom and compassion; wisdom and compassion that are as vast and unmovable as the sky, as stable as a mountain, and as bright as the sun.
I am sending this short reflection today from Delhi having just finished some of my morning recitation.