YOUTH IN FOCUS: I am a college student and have been really fortunate to have read Buddhist books by great beings like Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, among others. I realise that I can’t tame my mind and practice living in this world of distractions. I must do whatever needs to be done before it’s too late. I have enough time now to practice and follow their (above mentioned great teachers’) footsteps. I deeply wish to practice Dharma and meditation by being away from distractions. I want to meditate in secluded mountains but this would also leave my parents and relatives in grief. Please advise.  

A Confused Boy

Well, Confused Boy, according to Buddhism, turning our mind to practice is the ultimate way to spend our lives.

Actually, our unenlightened human life can be compared to a man who enters a room in the evening and sees a cobra coiled in the corner. He is terrified and wonders how to respond. Should he run, stand still or perhaps attack the snake? He spends the entire night thinking like this. Finally, the sun rises and light floods into the room. He sees the coil clearly. It is not a snake at all, but a coil of rope. He relaxes. Furthermore, he realises that all the action he considered during the night (running, standing still etc.) was useless, because he was reacting to something that did not exist in the way he thought. Only when he saw the real situation was he at peace and reacted appropriately.

In Buddhism, it is believed that all unenlightened beings act like this man. We see the universe in an incorrect way – basically, we don’t recognise that it is essentially empty – and so our thoughts, words and deeds are inappropriate. As a result, we suffer. In the same way that the man gained relief when he saw the true situation, so our suffering can be removed when we recognise the truth.

The Buddha and Guru Rinpoche offered many methods to reach this goal, and practicing in secluded mountain areas is one such method. But, there are also others.

Whatever the path, the tsai-wai lama should be at its heart. Relatively, he guides us along, telling us to turn left and right at appropriate junctions, while ultimately he acts as a display of our buddha nature. So, before you make a decision about your future, I advise you to find an authentic teacher to guide you. This is the most important point. Your teacher may tell you to stay in the mountains. On the other hand, he may tell you to live in New York or London. Whatever he tells you, that is your path.

Anyway, rather than reading the words of person who totally lacks wisdom like me, I suggest that you read this teaching by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. It will help answer your question.

Approaching the Guru

Shenphen Zangpo was born in Swansea, UK, but spent more than 28 years practicing and studying Buddhism in Taiwan and Japan. Currently, he works with the youth and substance abusers in Bhutan, teaching meditation and organising drug outreach programmes.

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