Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

Self-limitations (Part 1)

July 5, 2013 0

Oh lordie me, where to start? Rinpoche gave an amazing teaching today about self-limitations and I had loads of thoughts after Rinpoche concluded. Rinpoche started by talking about procrastination and how we always delay things, and how Malaysians move so slowly and get things done tomorrow…I mean, why do something today if it can be done tomorrow, right?


When Rinpoche spoke about procrastination, I realised something I’d never thought of before. How many times have you so flippantly said, “Aiyahhhh, I do it later lah!” or “Tomorrow can?” Such easy sentences to utter but we don’t realise just how significant those words are. Because whenever we say that, I realised that we are actually denying that impermanence exists. Outright denying it! A Buddhist denying impermanence? Baaaaaaaaaad Buddhist!

Impermanence definitely exists, just ask Liz!

Impermanence definitely exists, just ask Liz!

I know eh, how can something so small as doing something tomorrow, be a reflection of something so big and significant? Well, when we say “I’ll do it later / tomorrow”, we say it because we’re under the false assumption that we will live forever and that the situation tomorrow will be the same. But it only takes a few moments of observation to know that that’s not true – biologically, our body is always changing and mentally, don’t you know people who seem to change their minds about everything by the second? And can you really predict the moment of your death? How do you know you are definitely going to be here tomorrow?

So since situations are never exactly the same, why do we act as though they are? How do we know that if we don’t do something today, the situation tomorrow will definitely be the same and what we are going to do will be as equally effective? How do we not know that when we go to sleep tonight, it will be our last night? Why do we assume we will wake up?

If we realised impermanence, we would not take time for granted. If we realised impermanence, we will see an immediate shift in our attitude – we will immediately become faster and more aware, because we cannot afford to miss the moment when we will be the most effective. Then, automatically, we won’t procrastinate anymore because we will understand that “later” may not be the best moment to do something.

Rinpoche also spoke tonight about how Rinpoche has spent 20 years in Malaysia. That hit me quite deeply because not only is it nearly half of Rinpoche’s life, but it’s also almost ALL of my life! Imagine if I’d spent the last 20 years as a nun helping others, how different my life and mind would be now. Could I have done it? Could I have spent 20 years of my life to live the way Rinpoche has, always thinking about others?

Those 20 years are significant not just because it’s an awfully long time, but those years are significant because they represent Rinpoche’s bodhicitta and guru devotion. It has been 20 years of Rinpoche living his teachers’ instructions to be in Malaysia and teach, and 20 years of Rinpoche sacrificing his own dream to be a normal monk, and to quietly do retreats, study and meditate.

Don't you know people like this, whose emotions (and therefore decisions) change like the wind?

Don’t you know people like this, whose emotions
(and therefore decisions) change like the wind?

Yes, because Rinpoche has his own dreams too. You might think, “Well, he’s a monk, he shouldn’t be so attached to his dream.” Perhaps you’re right but did you ever consider that perhaps Rinpoche even manifested this dream to give us a chance to fulfill it and collect a great store of merits for ourselves? Did you ever think that perhaps Rinpoche manifested this dream to show us the level of sacrifices a person can make in order to benefit others?

Speaking of sacrifices to benefit others, how have we repaid those last 20 years of kindness that we have received from Rinpoche? Have we improved? Have we developed ourselves to help others? Some might say that in the last 20 years, Rinpoche has achieved a lot so that time was not wasted. But for Rinpoche, the last 20 years is not enough. For Rinpoche, it is never enough because we can never do enough to help others. And so as Rinpoche spoke about spending the last 20 years of his life in Malaysia, I realised the real meaning of “tireless” – we can never help enough people or do enough for them. To say “enough” is to let ourselves be selfish because to say “enough” is really to say “I have had enough of helping people”.

Part 2 to come tomorrow, on how Rinpoche spoke about travelling, about self-limitations and our failures and what really causes us to fail, and about secular versus spiritual 😉

Reflections and Teachings

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