Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

An extremely concise summary of Nagarjuna's Madhyamika

July 7, 2013 0

Perhaps it’s my imagination, perhaps it’s not but I’ve noticed a theme in Rinpoche’s teachings lately. They’ve been related to the mind, reincarnation of the mind and the false ‘I’. I think these teachings, which are philosophical yet accessible, appeals to a lot of us who are aware that material success does not necessary translate into happiness, and want to know why without being patronised.

I’ll soon be blogging the second part of Rinpoche’s teaching on self-limitations which is related to this topic of the reincarnation of the mind (I do realise the irony of this delay considering Part 1 began with a summary on procrastination!) but for now, I share with you a teaching Rinpoche gave a few months ago on Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika…


H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche is pictured here praying for all sentient beings at the very first audience in Kechara Forest Retreat. The audience was accompanied by a profound explanation of Nagarjuna’s Madhyamika!

Rinpoche taught about the no-self, teaching that we should not be so attached to our physical form because at any moment, the karmic causes for us to exist as Jean Ai, as Jean Mei, as Jay Jae, as David will be exhausted.

Since the karmic causes for us to remain in this present physical form can be exhausted at any time, we should not be attached to our concept of who “I” am because when we are forced to lose it (at death), the loss will cause us suffering.

How can we get rid of this attachment, thereby preventing the inevitable suffering? Meditate on where ‘you’, the mind resides. Does it reside in your arm? If I chop off your arm, are you still you? If I chop off all of your limbs, are you still you? If I remove your head and you are just a torso, are you still you?

So where do ‘you’ REALLY reside?

Since there is no real, permanent, tangible ‘you’, why be attached to that concept and indulge it?

Why invest so much in something that you have to leave behind anyway, and something which only brings you suffering? How does it bring you suffering? You spend decades looking after it and indulging in it, and then you have to age. There is no two ways about this – everyone, no matter how rich or poor, fat or skinny, will have to age and die. And after having spent decades indulging in and reinforcing your attachments, in your old age, your body lets you down – you can no longer indulge in it in the same way you used to, but your attachments themselves still remain, thereby causing you suffering…you want to do it, but you physically cannot. In this way, your body is the greatest traitor of all.

Since death is the forced karmic dissociation of the body and mind, and at death you are forced to leave your body behind, do not be attached to it. Treat your body as a vehicle (it) to do good for others, and not as property (mine) to indulge in.

And since there is no real ‘you’, why react to others as though there is a ‘them’, and as though there is a ‘you’ to be hurt? Why create karma on the basis of something (the false ‘I’ that is hurt) that does not REALLY exist? And why help them to create karma on the basis of something (the false ‘you’ that is doing the hurting) that does not REALLY exist?

Contemplate on this and you will find that amongst many other things, your fears, insecurities and doubts melt away. Why? Because there’s no ‘you’ to be hurt if you take the leap, and you leave your comfort zone!

Reflections and Teachings

Leave a Reply