Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

Chogyam Trungpa says that confusion has wisdom within it automatically. Confusion contains a message. He says that most people never see their confusion.

He does not say this, but it only makes sense that one would feel some confusion on the Buddhist path.

The Buddha effectively said that we misunderstand and misperceive the world. Awakening is coming to see the world accurately. …


Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

I include myself in this claim, obviously. By every known metric, I’m a pretty smart guy, but the issue for awakening on the Buddhist path is not about intelligence in the ordinary sense.

When I took refuge, the teacher who performed the ceremony gave me the dharma name Intellect Lord, which produced audible guffaws from people in the room who knew me.

I felt smacked between the eyes.

Only several years later did I write to that teacher to tell him that such a name for me was like mainlining doughnuts to a diabetic. …


Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

Mick Jagger was definitely not a Buddhist.

A consistent meditation practice on the Buddhist path brings a profound sense of satisfaction.

Not smugness. Buddhists are not smug. We can be very satisfied with having made the best possible choice for what to do with this precious human birth.

This is just another way of stating the basic point of Buddhism. We torture ourselves with our clinging to the impermanent phenomena of this world.

This is a good way to state the point because it illustrates how subtle is the shift from what Ajahn Sumdeho calls “personality view,” or ego…


There is no good option for humans. Often, we do not get what we want, and even when we do get it, all is impermanence, so it won’t last forever. We know we are going to die, then get reborn to do it all over again.

Or, there is one good option. The Buddha figured out how to escape this vicious cycle of frustration and disappointment. He entered the deathless, which means that he had no more rebirths.

All you have to do is change your mind. It really is that simple.

But our egos get in the way. They…


Chenrezig, The Buddha of Compassion

Life is an invariably fatal, sexually transmitted disease. That’s a Buddhist joke, except that it is literally true. Buddhists do regard a human lifetime as a precious birth, but that is because humans have the mental capacity to study the dharma and enter the deathless, so they can stop having rebirths. Being born is not inherently valuable. It’s the fate we want to escape.

One of the five lay precepts is to avoid irresponsible sexual conduct. …


Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

Our motives are extremely important in Buddhism. Karma, again, results from intentional action.

This is one of many reasons why a consistent meditation practice is essential. Your consistent meditation practice will gradually reveal to you motivations you did not know you had. Remember that the key cognitive and psychological move in Buddhism is the realization.

You may think you already know what your motives are, but our most important thoughts and beliefs are sub conscious until we start to notice them with our meditation practice. …


Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

After he awakened, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching. He did so out of compassion. He knew that he should share what he had realized with as many people as possible.

Presumably, he wanted all humans to awaken, but he could not make that happen. He could only keep explaining over and over, and over and over, and hope as many people got it as possible. We are all responsible for our own awakening and nothing can change that.

The Buddha did what he could, but we have no reason to think that he beat himself up…


Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

Your ego will tell you all manner of stories about the horrible outcomes that will result from awakening. They are all lies.

Especially in our culture, the belief exists quite strongly that people, especially men, should be tough, not endlessly kind and compassionate.

The Buddha was both. The Buddha said we have to give up all of our enculturation to awaken fully, and that includes our beliefs about who the Buddha was and what happens to us after we awaken.

A famous story circulates about a leading Buddhist teacher haggling in the market in India over the price of a…


A Tree

The human condition remains essentially what it was at the time of the Buddha. His prescription still works. A consistent meditation practice will move you towards full awakening. I know from experience.

But one feature of the culture of the United States poses a particular problem that likely did not exist as ferociously at the time of the Buddha.

In the United States, a lot of people are fascinated with anything that is new. They are constantly on the lookout for the next great thing.

In some sense, this is just the basic problem the Buddha identified. We have trouble…


A Tree

Except that you do want to know. Or experience.

Before awakening, being awakened looks weird and perhaps slightly terrifying. Your ego will tell you that you definitely do not want to get too close to that mess.

Once you awaken, however, you suddenly find enormous peace and understanding and it is not frightening at all. It is far superior to being unawakened in all respects. The difference is indescribable.

Buddhist teachers often talk about how following the Buddhist path requires courage. …

William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store