The thing about Buddhism is that it stresses attainment of something ineffable, and I think this is where it differs from other religions in that it’s more correct. We live in a world with promises of paradise. Everyone is telling us that if we will only have a certain experience, amass a certain amount of belongings, become rich and famous, whatever it is, we will be happy. And there are people who tell us that just the opposite is true—if we give up all that and we live a life of chastity, simplicity, poverty—sort of doing penance—that creates happiness. Those two schools of thought are very prevalent. But Buddhism endorses both of those schools and says, sure, you can go through that path of giving things up, and it will create a certain momentum and discipline for you to go beyond the limited perceptions that you currently have or, you can have it all and go beyond the limited perceptions that you now have.

Buddhism’s stress, in other words, if it’s advanced Buddhism, is really not on how to live. Basic Buddhism has all the little scriptural thoughts on right thought, right action, right conduct; it tells you everything, for a person who is trying to rise above being completely possessed by their desires and senses and just get some intrinsic purity going. But once you’re past that stage, Buddhism suggests that the only thing worth attaining is that which is ineffable. And this is really the question that you have to ask yourself. Theoretically, you are in this room because you are interested in something that’s ineffable. And at the same time, we all have a side that is very, very materialistic. We want personal gain above all else. And sometimes it just gets extreme; we get out of control with it. We want something and we will do anything to get it. We’ll even do something illicit, that we know is intrinsically wrong. We would kill somebody if it would profit us, and not even think about it.

So in Buddhism, we feel that whatever you attain is a loss. Whatever you lose is kind of a plus. This is intermediate Buddhism. Because when you lose something it makes you aware of the transience of all samskaric existence, of all the existences of all the worlds. The worst thing you can do is be in comfort and luxury and paradise and have everything working for you. Because it totally blinds you to the reality of existence, and that is that everything is transient. You get into a very relaxed and comfortable state until the bottom drops out from under you, whether it’s your death or change of some type. You get into kind of a blinded state.

So we feel that when you lose something, when there’s disaster, what most people would not seek in their life—when it occurs to you, we consider that a very good thing because it keeps you on your toes. It awakens you to the fact that you are in a dream world, that the very nature of life is continual change.

So when something goes wrong, we love it, because it says, “Wait a minute. Time to saddle up, buckaroos.” We have lost touch. And this is life’s gentle way, or not so gentle way, or downright ornery way of reminding us that this is the nature of life, and what we should be doing is establishing a solidity in ineffability. Since nothing in the material world lasts and all material things ultimately cause pain, because all material things are eventually lost or they lose their luster, it is best to develop a solidity in something that does last.

It’s like a career. You know, you can get a career where there’s no solidity. You’re a performer. This season they like you, you get a lot of work; next season they don’t, you’re out of work. On the other hand, if you’re a computer scientist and there’s a demand for good programmers because there’s a shortage, then you can be assured of work all the time. So one looks around at life—most people, of course, don’t, they don’t really awaken enough—and you kind of dope it out and you realize that everything here is transient and no matter what you attain, it will pass, and that all happiness, personal happiness, is based upon things that are temporary—and that’s all well and good, but temporary happiness is followed by absence, by pain, by depression, by alienation, then there will be temporary happiness again. That’s just how life is.

So in Buddhism, we seek to go to something that is ineffable because it’s more solid. We feel that there’s a world, we see it, we experience it—there’s a world of light from which all these material worlds come, from which we come, all the things we love come, all the things we don’t like come—and if we can meld our mind with the essence of that, then we will live in a perpetual state of newness, renewal, and ecstasy and happiness. And our happiness is no longer dependent upon whether they like us this season and want us or not.

Buddhism is essentially the establishment of one’s mind in that which is ineffable. Ineffable meaning it does not appear to be solid, but actually it’s much more solid than that which appears to be solid, which is actually much more ineffable. The world that we say is solid—knock on wood—is transient. Nothing here lasts. The wood doesn’t last; the whole planet won’t last forever. But on the other hand, that which is ineffable, which is the world of light—meaning it’s hard to see at first, can’t perceive it through the senses—that lasts forever; it’s always been and it will always be. And its very nature is happiness, ecstasy. So if we take our time and, rather than building up some huge fortune which then is swept away, we take our time and instead invest in stocks that are infinite, as opposed to finite, then we get to enjoy that forever.

Now, Christ said that, like most teachers of any caliber say that. They say, don’t get so stuck in life and living, don’t be so caught up in the getting of life, possessions and families, because it’s all going to cause you pain eventually. And even if it’s a very pleasant ride, the ride is going to end and where are you going to be then?

So the general advice of the awakened one in your neighborhood is to unhook a little bit from the very big system of the material world and consider wisely that all this is transient. And if your teacher is even a little more awake, then we’re apt to say, don’t hate the world, don’t hate things that are transient, don’t feel that there’s something intrinsically wrong with them. What’s transient is transient, and why should it bother you? Pleasure will be pleasant for a while, then it will pass. Pain will be painful for a while and it will pass. Since everything is transient, then there is no eternal pain because that passes too. Everything is transient. Your mind is transient. You’re transient in this body. You’re transient in this life. You’re just passing through and it’s passing through you.

As you’re passing through this life, as you’re passing through this body, as you’re passing through this moment, you may run into one who’s awakened. And if you run into one who’s awakened, then if it just is—we believe it’s coincidence if it happens because we believe everything in the universe is coincidence. And so, if by coincidence you happen to run into somebody who’s awakened—out of the billions and infinite billions of beings in the samsara, there’s not very many awakened beings—if you happen to run into one who is awakened, if for some reason, by some coincidence—call it karma, call it fate, call it what you will—you end up in front of a being that is awakened, they are aware of how this works, this thing called life and eternity, and you are not.

You are just pushed and pulled around. You don’t know why you’re in this life, why you’re on this planet, why you’re in the type of body or the type of mind that you’re in. You’re not quite sure who you are, who is in this body and in this mind, what your beginning was, where you’re going, where you come from. You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. There’s no surety in anything. So if you happen to end up in front of someone who’s awakened and you’re a basic consumer, then you make inquiries, because consumers are interested in progressing. As a consumer you’re interested in bettering yourself and having a better experience.

Now, I assume that all species wish to evolve. I mean, that’s intrinsic in being a species—that one wants to do better. And sometimes we get confused and frustrated and end up not doing so or causing ourselves or others pain, but that’s not necessarily our intention. That’s just confusion. So if you happen to end up in front of an awakened one, the question that you ask is, ”How do I get out of here?” See what I mean? “How does this work? Where am I? Where am I going to? Is there any order to any of this? Should I bother to look around or will I just—is it a waste of time? Am I just going to be counting numbers that go on forever and have no meaning?”

Buddhism suggests there is something ineffable that you cannot see with your physical eyes or feel with your hands, and that it can be reached, that it can be known and that it is ecstatic. There’s a lasting, perfect happiness that lies beyond all of that which is apparent to your senses—and it is infinite—and one can take an inner journey from the awareness, it’s merely a shift in awareness. You can shift your awareness from where you are now to that. But if your awareness is completely bound up in the things of this world, which it would be if you felt that they had the most validity and solidity, then, of course, your awareness won’t shift.

We focus upon what we feel is most important. That’s just how the mind works. The mind follows a prioritization system; it’s coded that way. Whatever is most operative is in our mind the most. When that’s taken care of, our mind automatically moves to the next most operative situation.

So when we feel the illusion of the transitory, that it’s not transitory, that it’s real—when we feel that this world, these peoples, these experiences, are in some way ultimate, that reality is here in the sensorial worlds—then that’s where we place all our attention. But of course, it’s a terrible mistake because the sensorial worlds are only a band of perception. They are just a way of seeing life and there are so many different ways. If you place all your attention in the sensorial worlds, it’s painful, ultimately. Whereas beyond the sensorial worlds are worlds of light, the limitless structures of infinity. They’re just there. They’re like the stars. You may not be aware of them tonight, but they’re out there—billions of them.

Now, we might feel, what relevance do the stars have to me? I mean, they’re way out there and we’ve got one that’s close enough and it takes care of the earth, so what do we really need to know about all those stars for? Well, that may be true in case of the stars but in case of the inner light, the inner light is the most relevant thing there is—because without it, you’re stuck in very limited planes of awareness and you don’t see life very well and you pass from experience to experience without knowing why and without control and without knowing that there are other options that are much more interesting than the ones that you are currently accessing.

Buddhism is the study, then, of other options and how we access them, essentially. But it’s difficult for the beginner sometimes because we discuss the ineffable in very pragmatic terms. And when one isn’t used to that, when you haven’t experienced a lot of ineffable consciousness, it’s difficult initially to see that it is more solid than that which appears to be solid. So the best thing to do is to get experiences. You need experiences, both in daily living and in ineffable consciousness. And then you can make a comparison and determine which is worthy of most of your focus.

Now, tantra is a little bit different than other forms of Buddhism because in tantra what we do is we use the sensorial worlds as access points or pathways to ineffability. Normally, since the ineffable is most easily discerned and experienced and focused on and become through the practice of meditation, one leaves the physical world—goes off to the monastery or cave or the desert, or whatever it is—and just devotes all one’s time to meditation. But to be quite honest with you, if you’re interested in establishing your consciousness in the immortal light, it is easier to do it directly through the process of meditation, of course, but also through the access points that are already present in the physical world. A kind of Catch-22 of enlightenment is that since enlightenment is all things, whatever is physical contains enlightenment too. But, while that is true in a sense, it doesn’t mean you can get to it, unless you know how, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

So then, tantra is a process in which we are using aspects of mind in the material planes to transcend mind as we know it in the physical planes and mental planes and the material world. At the same time, in addition, of course we do meditation whereby we move directly into ineffability. The funny part is that ineffability is not ineffable at all. There is nothing more real and more solid than nirvana. It is the most real and the most solid thing there is, and all of these things that we see here are its creations, which it spins forth for a while, sustains for a while, and then it dissolves them. Whereas that which we’re so used to thinking, “Well, you know, the spiritual realms are sort of vague,” they are not vague. They are the only things that are certain and solid, and the things that we think are solid are not solid at all—they’re transient, they change, they’re simply the byproducts of immortality. Yet they have their own luster. Yet they are immortality. Immortality is contained in all things, since it is all things.

So in your quest for certainty or enlightenment, the most important thing is to try and get beyond … desire, because desire causes hate. If it were not for desire, there would be very little happening in the world. Desire is inevitable. Desire is intrinsic to a body and a mind. But when you identify too much with your desires, which means you just don’t let them go by but you get stuck in them, they pull you places. And when they pull you someplace—there you are.

We seek absolute neutrality in Buddhism. Complete neutrality. We don’t want to be drawn to anything in particular; we don’t want to be pushed away from anything in particular. We want life itself to select where we should be and what we should be at any given moment, knowing that life will always make the ultimate choice in the matter—the best choice—whereas we with our limited perception will probably make all kinds of mistakes. But since life created us and created all of this, obviously it knows what it’s doing and it knows how the system works.

We try and reach a point of complete neutrality where we can face life and death with an equal eye, success and failure with an equal eye, loss and gain with an equal eye. But that neutrality is only found in the clear light. It’s an interesting idea, but on a pragmatic day-to-day level, as soon as you really want something, you’ll forget all about that philosophy and you’ll get totally wrapped by it. And that desire will just overcome you, and you’re willing to do anything to get that, even if it means destroying yourself or others. You lose your balance if you get caught in desire. The same is true of aversion. When you’re afraid, you’ll do anything to get away from that which you fear. You go crazy. Fear can overpower your better judgment, in other words. So can desire, aversion and attraction.

The way you overcome attraction and aversion is by going to another condition which has little to do with both, which is wakefulness. In that wakefulness, you see beyond attraction and aversion. You can see that they’re just operative forces in the universe that you can sidestep. It’s like an opponent in martial arts who’s rushing towards you; you can just get out of the way. You just take a quick step back, and they keep rushing by you rather than getting entangled. Once you’re entangled, it’s messy.

The best way to deal with desire and aversion is to push them away. To cut to the chase, if I may here, we all know what we should be—I believe that—we just don’t listen. But we know that we should be terribly humble, completely consistent, and that we should strive to enter the light. There’s no reason for that, it just is how it works, just like the fact that we’re alive. We know we should be completely humble, we should stop thinking that we’re very marvelous—we’re not. We’re interesting at best because we’re part of life and all of life is interesting. But we’re not marvelous. We’ll come and we’ll go.

What’s necessary is a very integrated humility, wherein we just are who we are and we do what we do and there’s a sense of peace to it, a stillness. It’s not necessary to impress others or to impress ourselves. Rather, what’s most important is to integrate ourselves with the light, to lead a type of life that does that. And some people may understand it or not, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not an audience participation situation. Rather what we’re doing is just seeking to find the still point in the middle of all the turning worlds, simply because we like that, we know that that’s where we belong. If a person doesn’t feel that, then it’s not necessary, obviously. But if we get hooked up with people who do feel that [it’s not necessary], we can pick up their desires, their consciousness, and they distract us from that which is most important to us and that which is real, for us. Reality is personal.

I think that you know whether you are a person who is interested, ultimately, if you really searched your being, in finding stillness and dissolving in the light. No one has to explain to you what that is—you know. If you don’t know what that is or what I mean by that, then it will not draw you. There are certain things in life you just don’t need to explain. You either are at that level or you’re not.

In Buddhism we don’t really seek to explain things or convince people per se. We talk about things a lot, but we don’t believe that it changes anything. We just talk about it because we like it—we like the way it sounds. We like to talk about the light, hear about it, see it, because we just get such a kick out of it. But we don’t believe that you can explain Buddhism or life to anyone. We just do it because we get off on it. But a person either has the understanding or they don’t. So, OK, I’m a teacher, great. OK, I’m a teacher of the clear light, great. I’ve been a teacher in thousands of lives. Great, big deal, so what? It’s a job. It’s an occupation. I’ve done other things before that.

I can go around the world teaching and teaching and teaching, and people will come and see me and hear what I have to say—big deal, so what, doesn’t mean a thing. It’s just what I do. But if someone ends up in a room by coincidence some day with me, and they have some level of awareness, I will not have to explain anything to them, meaning—of course I’ll explain things to them—but there’s no convincing necessary. I don’t have to say to a person, “Gee, look at the benefits of our program. You get this, this—buy now. Buy. Try this! New improved, with the extra additive, clear light plus.”

We feel that this knowledge of enlightenment is not something that you can convince someone that they need. They are either at a point where they are wakeful enough to know that that’s their path or they’re not. And if they’re wakeful enough to know that’s their path, then they should get on it, learn it, do it properly and attain that which can be attained and lose that which can be lost, and so on and so forth.

So we feel—in other words, Buddhism is the most private club in the universe. And we’re not looking for members. We feel, actually, we have enough old members from other lives to keep us going forever. But it’s a club that meets on regularly scheduled days and regularly scheduled hours where we all get together and do the same thing we do in every life. And there’s no reason for it, it’s just what we do. A person is either drawn to it or they’re not. And if they’re drawn to it, they’ve got to work their ass off, otherwise they don’t belong there. Because that’s what we get a kick out of; we get a kick out of working—really hard, all the time—to the point where we work so much that we just enter into the light because all our work is directed at bringing us into the light. Because we feel there’s nothing here on this earth that we want. We’ll take anything, sure, why not? You know. Toys are great. Toys R Us. But we don’t feel that anything really matters, ultimately. In a transient sense all kinds of things matter, sure. But in the ultimate sense—and we go back and forth between the two— nothing matters here.

So we don’t tend to get so caught up if we don’t get something today. We don’t have to destroy everybody because we’re pissed off. If you have to do that, then it means you’re very much in the transient world and you’re not in the world of enlightenment at all. We don’t have to off somebody or destroy them because they have something we want or because they stand in our way. Because we know that everything we need is within us, not within someone else. At best someone else can show us how to get that, but we even have to do that ourselves.

So we’re very self-reliant in a kind of Emersonian sense, the Buddhists. And we can accept very quietly incredible suffering—and incredible ecstasy. But our life is not really bound up in suffering or ecstasy; we’re seeking something else and we seek it in every life, and we seek it throughout every eternity. And that’s the perfect quiescent absorption in the clear light of eternity. Because once you’ve seen it and experienced it, nothing else can ever move you again. You can enjoy all things, but they can’t possibly be ultimate. Because what can compare to that? How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Padmasambhava? It just doesn’t do it any more. You know, MTV has its moments, and that’s all I put it on for. Well, it’s fun. But the clear light is much more appealing, ultimately. The power of MTV is nothing as is the power of this whole world and all of its fantastical beings and mind states. It’s nothing compared to the clear light.

So we just feel that we do what we do. In each lifetime we try and get back to who we are. And if we’re back there, then that’s all we had to do. Then from there we just have to be that and that’s our lives. We don’t seek to gain, we don’t seek to lose. But we definitely like to play games because we feel that the world is a big game that God has designed for us to play. And so, since we happen to have very big minds, we like to play with them, and we play games. Just to see if we can win. We don’t really care if we do, but it’s fun to try—because you’ve got to do something with eternity.

We play games that tend to just bring us more and more into the light, more into the ineffable. And we avoid games that do the opposite. A lot of people play those, and that’s what they need to do now because they need to experience the transience of pain and frustration. But since we’ve already figured that out in other lives and we know about it, we don’t feel it’s necessary.

Nothing burns or hurts you like desire. It destroys everything beautiful in your life. You’re sitting, perfectly happy at home, staring at a flower and suddenly you’ve just got a desire, you’ve got to go do something. You have to have something. You have to get something. You have to be something. And you can’t just enjoy the perfect clarity of life.

The Buddhist world, as I said, is the ultimate private club. We don’t seek members—we just try and find our old members. And then we just do what we do in every lifetime. And it would sound boring to some people, I guess, except that it is the ultimate ecstasy and infinity, which doesn’t really lend to boredom.