Living Fully Introduction : Page 2 of 2
Living Fully: Finding Joy in Every Breath
After years of comprehensive study in the foundations of Buddhist philosophy, I met my root teacher and many other great masters from whom I received the teachings, transmissions, empowerments, and secret initiations of the Great Perfection tradition. The Great Perfection is the pinnacle of all Buddhist teachings, the ultimate path for achieving direct realization of the clear and lucid nature of the mind.
When I was twenty-one years old, I was invited to Kham, in eastern Tibet, to be instated as the spiritual leader of Shyalpa Monastery and Retreat Center. As part of my enthronement, the revered lama Khenpo Karma Dorje and other local lamas performed the Innermost Secret Puja of Padmasambhava. This ceremony offers prayers of aspiration to the Second Buddha, Padmasambhava, who brought the precious teachings of Buddhism from India to Tibet. I was humbled by their gracious reception. Their confidence in me strengthened my resolve to shoulder the responsibilities of guiding the monastery. It was an honor and privilege to serve in this way.
In 1987, I was invited to come to the United States to teach. I was intrigued about visiting there, as I had met many American tourists in Varanasi, India, who told me that their country was materially rich but spiritually impoverished. Arriving on the East Coast of the United States with only a hundred dollars in my pocket, I traveled across the country by road to Los Angeles and then back to Vermont, giving teachings along the way. I soon learned that many people in America were looking for instant gratification whether it was fast food or quick enlightenment!
Some of my close students requested that I remain in America, and I lived for several years in the beautiful Berkshires of Massachusetts. I remained there in semi-retreat, studying and contemplating the Seven Treasuries of Longchenpa, the seminal work of one of Tibet's greatest scholars and meditation masters. My faith and trust in these profound teachings intensified, and I grew more determined to present these jewels of wisdom in a way that would be accessible to a growing audience of receptive seekers in the West.
In the years since, I have tried to fulfill the wishes of my teachers by sharing my understanding of Buddhist teachings and practices with spiritual aspirants around the world. I feel very blessed, having access to a wisdom tradition that can guide us toward complete fulfillment. We are so fortunate to have the time and interest to hear these teachings and put them into practice. Today, the teachings of the Buddha are still descending on us like a rain of sweet nectar. In this very lifetime, we are capable of awakening from the fog of our delusions and experiencing the radiant light of our true nature.
Those who continually experience the highest, richest qualities of their being are known as enlightened ones. The more we can integrate with the essential richness of our being, the more fully we can live. Then we can truly enjoy this precious life and celebrate each and every moment. Ultimately, there is no difference between the Buddha and ourselves. The Buddha actualized his enlightened qualities, and we too have the same potential.
The enlightened nature that exists within us is inherently perfect from beginningless time. We do not have to manufacture anything, since it is already perfect as it is. Our true nature shines like the sun. We need to always be aware of this unconditional luminosity, even on the darkest of days.
In this troubling age, when rigid ideologies and confusion often reign, the teachings of the Buddha beckon us home to the simplicity and freshness of our natural state. We do not need to concern ourselves with anything other than this fundamental state of being. Let us breathe freely, without all of the pressure and stress to which we have grown so accustomed. It is my heartfelt wish that these precious wisdom teachings will help to guide us straight to the essence of our true, unconditional nature. At peace with ourselves and at ease with the world, we can discover what it means to live each moment fully. •