A Short Biography of Lama Wangyal
Lama Wangyal has been running Thrangu House in Oxford since 2001. He trained at Thrangu Rinpoche’s monastery in Kathmandu for 16 years, and completed the traditional three year retreat.
He is an experienced lama in the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. He was sent to Oxford in 2001 by his root guru Thrangu Rinpoche to be in charge of the activities at Thrangu House Buddhist Centre.
1) What do you need to do in order to tame your mind?
- You need to learn the methods by which you achieve peace, well-being, happiness, and harmony in the mind.
- If you cannot control your mind through an understanding of what is good and bad, you will have no power and authority over your own mind, and then you will cause harm to yourself and others.
2) It is a mistake only to think of yourself. For example, if you think only, "I need nice clothes, good food, a big house, beautiful music, wealth, etc., for myself," and if you do not think, "that person is in need, I must help; that person needs food, clothes and a home, I will give it to them; that person is ill, may the illness ripen on me; that person is sad, may the results of my practice ripen on them," then you will never have well-being and happiness.
3) If you are deceived by illusions and do not recognise them, you will become crazy. If you hold on to the illusion, thinking that it really exists, your mind becomes desperately ill and exhausted.
4) The fault of attachment to material things is that it brings about suffering for the mind. The fault of desire is that one will not practice virtue, one will not stop negativity.
But one day you will lose your independence, become ill and die, and then there will be no time left for practice. You do not know when that time will come. When you die, you cannot take anything with you, and your body will be like rubbish. Maybe the possessions you leave behind will become a cause of fighting and arguments in your family, waiting like vultures.
7) If you generate the Bodhisattva attitude of love and compassion, these problems will become less.
8) If your mind is full of doubt and suspicion, and if you have no faith and trust, your mind will become crazy. If you have no faith and trust in yourself and others, the situation will become messy. If you do not understand yourself and others, misunderstandings will arise, and the situation will become exhausting and resentful.
9) Our mind is dirty with the three afflictions of desire, hatred and ignorance that obscure it like dark clouds. Unless you clear them away, the sun of skilful wisdom will not shine. Our mind is ill with these three poisons of desire, hatred and ignorance. Unless you take the medicine of Dharma, your mind will not get well. You yourself have to do the practice. There is no automatic solution.
10) Buddhist Dharma is not about telling people what they want to hear, cheating them, making politics or business, complaining or criticising. One has to learn the wide and altruistic attitudes of the Bodhisattva, which is of benefit to oneself and others: one has to practice and train everyday in compassion, love and equanimity. If you do not do this; practice even a little; then the mind becomes unstable and overly delicate, and it is very difficult to become happy and peaceful.
11) If you keep the Buddhist vows—no killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, or alcohol—the mind becomes peaceful, harmonious, relaxed, gentle, calm and refreshed. Even if you cannot keep all this all the time, you should make an effort at least to do a little. This is also good.
12) Practice the exchange of self and other. Take others' suffering as your own, and offer your own happiness to others.
13) Consider this carefully: At the hour of death, the benefits of a kind heart and good deeds for others are that your death will be happy, quick and painless. If you have accumulated a lot of negativity, your death will be painful, difficult, and with long suffering. Don't forget karma. Don't be careless. Remember a kind heart and good deeds.
14) I came here five years ago. I studied at my monastery 16 years ago. The point of writing this text is my hope and wish that my experience and the intellectual understanding of Buddhism in the West come together. I write this from my heart experience, not from books, and I apologise for any mistakes. It is meant for beginners in Buddhism. It was written as the result of an impromptu conversation without much planning and forethought.
15) This country has good people and a good situation. I feel happy, but I am a Buddhist monk who did not grow up in this culture and there are not many other monks here, which sometimes can be a problem.
16) I pray people will be happy, free of fear, illness, war, and that the climate and weather is timely and good.
May I repay the kindness of my parents. May my Guru have a long life and his Dharma activities spread worldwide. May there be harmony among friends. May the truth of Dharma spread in the world. May there be equal respect to all.
Best wishes from the resident Lama at Thrangu House, Oxford.
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