Donna Quesada: Well, I noticed you’re a little different than when I saw you… you didn’t have your beard when I watched your videos.
Lama Lakshey Zangpo Rinpoche: Oh, right, right. A couple of years ago, I think, I grew a beard and my hair may be now seven months or six months. And when I grew them, everything turned white, and so my friend said, “Hey, let it grow. Maybe it looks good for you.”
Donna: I think it suits you!
Lama Lakshey: Yeah, that’s okay. Not too bad or terrible and when I talk like that and my mom or my brothers and my friends say, what’s wrong? You are white, did you color? And it’s so white.
Donna: Well, it suits you very well.
Lama Lakshey: Some people asked, are you transforming yourself to the west? And I said no, but this beard is about to grow out white it is growing white and I look different… I like it.
Lama Lakshey: How are you?
Donna: Well, I’m very well, thank you, and I was going to ask you, is that the proper way to address you, “Lama Lakshey?”
Lama Lakshey: Yes, yes. Lama Lakshey Zangpo. My name is Lakshey Zangpo. Lama Lakshey is perfect.
Donna: Oh, that’s what I should call you then. And Lama Lakshey, we have a very special way that we like to begin and I want to first thank you for spending this time with us. We’re just honored to have you be a part of our awaken community.
Lama Lakshey: Really, I am happy to be here.
Donna: And I would like to know what you think about awakening. In other words, what does it mean to awaken?
Lama Lakshey: Yes. I think awakening means, in my understanding, to realize the reality of the truth. Most of the time we do not really recognize the nature of the reality and the truth of all the phenomena arising in front of us and we continue to kind of dilute our minds but we do not realize that. And so the work of the mind is to just engage with the reality of nature, the nature of the truth. That’s what I think our awakening really means… and to realize the truth, right?
Donna: Yes, and just to clarify, and to deepen my own understanding, does it mean that we walk around with something that’s not the truth? We’re kind of in a state of fantasy all the time? What does that look like to realize the truth?
Lama Lakshey: Yes. I wouldn’t say that, but if we’re like, for example, if I am dreaming and while I’m dreaming we could realize that’s a dream, that’s the truth for me, and while I’m dreaming, and I wouldn’t think that’s not the truth… I will react to anything, you know? I like or don’t like it. But the moment I realize that I was in a dream, and then I will have different reactions to the truth. So therefore, for me, what it means to awaken is to engage with the natural reality, like almost everything is as if we realize it, like almost dreaming in one aspect. So everything is the object of sensory phenomena, if we look a little bit closer then everything is sort of dream-like and so, when we realize that there is some truth in it and that’s when we discover and understand what awakening means. That’s what I think.
Donna: When you talk about dreaming, I think of the old… the Daoist Zhuangzi, and he suggested, you know, this riddle to us, how do we know that we’re not just a butterfly dreaming that he’s a man or, am I just a man dreaming I’m a butterfly or something like that, wasn’t it?
Lama Lakshey: Yes. We are so kind of trapped and so attached towards all these sensory objects, and that sometimes creates unnecessary, sort of… trapped in it, and then some people don’t know how to add off the stack from that. The will of things that we hold is kind of permanent, tangible, and therefore it’s some sort of you know, not enough to understand what’s arising in the nature of attributes to all the characteristics of it. So that’s what I think. So therefore, if we realize it, you know, the truth and there’s many layers about the truth and kind of, in general, more kind of specific and very sacred way to understand, as well. So therefore, it depends on how much we understand the truth, but that much helps in awakening, right?
Donna: And I tend to be too philosophical myself and so just to bring this down from the abstract and make it really real… Would it be like when we willingly delude ourselves, like if we’re in an unhappy relationship or maybe politically, when we tell ourselves something is normal or something is okay, when really it’s not? So, living in truth is maybe to be honest with ourselves?
Lama Lakshey: Yes, I think we are human and we are very marvelous and intelligent, but the intelligence, how we use or apply it, I think, it really depends on individuals, their background and their education. If we use our intelligence in a more logical and more kind of common sense and then in the human brains we have a very special capacity in order to distinguish what’s good for us individually, as well as for humanity, and what’s not good for us individually and for humanity.
We have to be very special and intelligent in order to distinguish between right and wrong, but sometimes we do not really make use of that intelligence properly or productively. Therefore, I think it is many things, the culture, the condition where we live and many things.
But when it comes to individuals, and when everybody is just the same human being, no one wants to have complications and problems. Everyone wants to have a right to overcome their problems, and also, everyone has some sort of potential in order to overcome. But sometimes, some people are thinking not to use or not have the right to truth in order to alleviate their own disturbance. But we do have intelligence, if we use it in the proper way.
Donna: You know, it’s true. We all really want the same thing in the end, and I was watching some of your videos and you talk about happiness and the way that we keep ourselves busy, but we’re busy for the purpose of being happy, which seems so strange because as long as we’re busy, we’re kind of missing out on the happiness in that moment, aren’t we?
Lama Lakshey: Right, and I think there are two things… we are physically busy and mentally busy. We are humans, and I always say that we are not just one thing. We are like a combination of the physical body and the mental body and our physical calm or relaxation does not necessarily bring our mind to relax or to be in happiness and peace. But if our mind is calm, it is not necessary to also bring our body into physical relaxation. We need to find some kind of balance between the mental body and the physical body, and how to cooperate with each other to bring out our happiness.
One is… yes, physical happiness, we need to have food, a place to live and we need a possession of work, etcetera. But that does not in any problems make us busy, but if our mind is consistently about longing, craving, and… like that, and then even physically we have some kind of luxurious comfort but it’s mentally not that much, providing and comfortable… therefore, at the end of the day, it is kind of exhausting.
But if we are able to do, even physically needed, to work, and have lot of things to do, like many chores and business things, but if we are able to demand to bring about some kind of purpose in what we do, and not just only some sort of self-interests, but interest for your workplace, the community, for humanity, and for all living creatures. If there is a kind of mental attitude that we are able to bring into our life, then even if we are physically busy, still we have happiness and joy. Everything we do, we feel that it’s purposeful and very meaningful. That gives us some sort of feedback and oh, that’s so wonderful and the joy and the busy becomes more productive, rather than destruction. So, I think it very much depends on our intentions and the way we… and how busy for the view.
Donna: So to make sure I understand, it kind of goes back to that old question of What gives life meaning? We need to feel that our life has purpose in order to be mentally satisfied, which is different from feeling physically satisfied, but mentally, we need to feel like it all has a purpose?
Lama Lakshey: Right, and first as I mentioned, we are human beings. We have a really special mental capacity, not just to think or look on the shorter side. We have a special mental capacity and can think of long-term interests for ourselves and for humanity for all living beings, so therefore, a human mind is not just a simple mind… human mind is very complex. Therefore, we have a very special capacity to think for our long-term interests wherein at the end of the day, every human being deserves or wants to be happy, no one wants to be suffering. So therefore, in order to be happy and find purpose in our every activity, that is when we have a good heart and, some sort of thinking about… not always in, sort of, self interests but, interests for the community, interest in others’ wellbeing.
It’s interesting and then it doesn’t matter what we do, there’s some kind of self… like, proud and happiness. I’ve done something really good. This is wonderful like that, if our focus is self-interest, then it doesn’t matter what we are accomplishing. There is something or a lack of satisfaction and that’s not really right and so therefore, I think this kind of… for our mental preparations, in order to redo something… and think about it. First also, anything is possible. To think about how we can think about it to the benefit for others and then, just interesting, like you smiling at somebody and they’re smiling back at you and you are looking at somebody in a strange way or they’re looking at you that way and everything is some sort of interdependency.
So therefore, if we have intention and our heart is good at what do we do, and even if it’s not very successful and at the end of the day it’s really like a very happy, and so I personally think that all the happiness will come if we are able to be concerned with others’ wellbeing, more cherishing to others, rather than only focusing on oneself. So there is some kind of interesting feedback and where does real happiness come from? In my own experience, happiness does not come because I have lots of things and I have drink and food, clothes to wear, and many special labels and expenses. Those do not necessarily bring in happiness, but when we do something that we ourselves are very proud of, for that something I really did, very constructive, the works we have done in our life, and that gives us some sort of contentment and when we are satisfied in our work, that gives us real happiness, something like that.
Donna: It’s so universal. When you were talking about this idea of feeling that our activity has purpose, I was thinking about this writer, Viktor Frankl, who went through the German Holocaust, and his whole idea in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, was similar to that. That we can go through any kind of suffering as long as we feel like we’re gonna come out of it with a sense of purpose, that there’s some meaning about it all. It’s not just arbitrary suffering… we can endure anything, if we feel like we have something to live for, something that… we have a mission, something to do here on this planet. Would you agree with that?
Lama Lakshey: Absolutely, yes, because I know many people in my community, my friends, and where we study Buddhism, but there are some people like that. They are very difficult, very situations, very kind of unbearable experiences in their life. But when they talk, there’s no disturbance, they seem really happy because what happened is, they realized that when we come to the suffering in our life, they don’t think that’s because of what is happening to me, and I’m alone on the planet in this situation. They realized that happened to something and can happen to anyone, and I’m one in the humanity, one of the humans, so therefore. it’s not something that is only for falling this situation’s disturbance onto me.
And the first to think that it can happen before… to anyone and anybody, but I’m really happy that has not happened or someone else’s happened to me, and that is the kind of courage… to kind of release, even still have a situation or difficult physically or mentally, whatever that situation be, there is the situation, but the situation is not heavy. It’s because their mental attitude, and they don’t think that what happened to me, is… I’m so poor thing, and no one else happening… that’s happening to ME. What’s wrong? It’s like that kind of attitude is… make ourselves really down and more difficult to bear with that situation. But when we realize that’s like common for anyone, can happen, and everyone happened, I’m not alone… but talk that sometimes we think about it, Oh, I’m so happy that’s happened to me, not happen to someone else!
If we have that kind of mental attitude, then even when we call in the difficulties, disturbing or sufferings, and the one way we think in some kind of traditions, think that’s very negative, very like that. But some traditions think that is a positive because you have an opportunity to grow for your own spirituality and practice as well as an opportunity also to help others when we’re not going through some difficulties individually. And then, it’s very difficult to realize others’ difficulties when other people go through difficult situations.
But when someone’s own self goes through some difficulties and oneself has that experience, then when we see, when we heard, when someone else going through similar situations, then is naturally arising our sympathy, the empathy also, this kind of affection, it’s loving sometimes. Even it’s very like, urgent in order to do something towards that because we have the experiences. So therefore, sometimes suffering brings out our life to more, kind of a kinder, more effective, more kind of a caring person, and rather than one who is some kind of disturbing.
So I think it very much depends on people who is kind of in a difficult situation, and if anyone has a tool, any difficult situation we can transform it into something very productive or very constructive, rather than destructive. So I think those tools… it’s very wonderful to share with the world. That is what I think.
Read and Watch Part 2 Here: Awaken Interviews Lama Lakshey Zangpo Rinpoche Pt 2 – Drop The “I” For Mental Strength