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Working with Karma - #1
Lecture given at Bodhi Path Buddhist Center,
Washington D.C. in 2002

We begin every teaching with prayers to the Refuge, to the Bodhisattva commitment, and to the Guru-masters.

Refuge in Tibetan means protection, in the Buddhist context, it means to be protected by all the completely enlightened beings who are the Buddhas. We are also protected by the truth of the Dharma, the teachings of the Buddhas. In addition, we follow the Sangha who act as our guides on the Path of Dharma. These are beings who have already achieved a certain level of enlightened wisdom through their own Dharma practice. They are therefore qualified guides for us. We seek to be connected to these three aspects of Refuge to avert our deviating into the wrong direction. We wish to stay on the right path.

The second prayer reflects the importance to develop the Bodhicitta attitude. When we go to receive the Dharma, or when we practise the Dharma, we are not doing it to solely benefit ourselves. It is natural that we initially seek out the Dharma for our own sake. But we must at the same time, start to learn to be concerned for other beings as well. We learn to adopt an attitude, or an aspiration that we may become useful to others. We try to share always with others whatever knowledge we may acquire. This open, and genuine altruistic care and concern for others is Bodhicitta.

When we pray to the Guru as in Guru Yoga, we seek to receive the essence of the knowledge and capacity of our Buddha nature mind. This is accomplished through our connection to the qualities of the Guru which will lead us to realize the essential meaning of the Dharma thereby we become liberated from our suffering and our illusions. This is just what the Buddha had taught us, to begin to step away from samsara and towards nirvana through a process of our own awakening to the truth.

As we say the prayers, we try to keep our understanding in mind concerning Refuge, Bodhicitta, and our connection to the realized masters.

The term, Buddha, in Tibetan, means someone who is totally enlightened, San Gye. He is someone whose knowledge is complete, or all knowing. In Indian, the term is Bhagavan. A little more than 2500 years ago, the Buddha explained that all beings could improve their conditions by connecting to the truth. We should first try to understand and then to act according to the truth. This will inevitably bring about better and beneficial results for oneself as well as for others.

The Buddha explained that each and every being has an innate and basic potential. This potential is wisdom, and it can be developed. Just as he himself developed his wisdom and reached enlightenment, similarly, we can also achieve this same result. The Buddha then taught extensively and exclusively to reach this one goal. He explained in great details the obstacles preventing us from developing our inner potential. He elucidated the methods, the practices as remedies to help us overcome our obstacles. He taught the path of meditation as the means to develop our innate wisdom.