Nuggets From Tashi Nyima's Call
Posted by Nil Zacharias on Dec 7, 2019
The Venerable Tashi Nyima is an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk, and a longstanding animal rights advocate. Known for his directness, clarity, and humor, he leads a congregation with Sanghas in Texas and Mexico, presenting the teachings in a form designed for the contemporary world. He has promoted the need for compassion for all animals since 1968, and leads twice-yearly meditation retreats for full-time vegan activists. He is the author of The Dharma Handbook, and The Buddha’s Bowl, a collection of Buddhist instructions on radical compassion for animals. In it he expounds that “What we do unto non-human animals, we do unto ourselves.” He points to the need for balancing urgency with compassion for where people are at a given time. Born and raised in the West Indies, he began training as a Catholic priest before pursuing the Buddhist path. Before becoming a monk, he practiced and taught medicine as a naturopathic doctor.
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me:
THE BUDDHIST PATH:
- The entire Buddhist path is a path of removing, because we understand that Buddha nature is already there. We just have to remove the wrong views of separation and supremacy and the emotions that go with it (Separation: I am separate, independent and for my self/Supremacy: I have to make sure my agenda gets primacy).
- The wrong views of separation and supremacy are innate and comes with being in this body and mind. The process of removing these wrong views is an ongoing process and it never ends. One can remove wrong views by cultivation of peace.
- Have you ever held an object in the hand and started franticly looking for it and the agitation does not allow you to notice the very object you are looking for is in your hand? When you calm down you can notice. We are so agitated that we can’t see clearly and when we cultivate peace we can see clearly and see reality as it is.
- Remember you have this body and this mind and this mind has the wrong views of separation and supremacy and to remain a child of illusion is to remember where you come from. If you are wearing clear vision yellow glasses you have to remember that the world is not yellow, but you are seeing it that way. The way we see reality in human form is not reality as it is.
- We have limited resources so we must allocate carefully to solve the world’s problems. You can allocate part of your generosity for transformation of systems, some for specific places or organizations that are making an impact on a particular group or cause and some for those who you encounter in the flesh and need help. Buddha advised - keep 1/3rd of your income for family and relatives, 1/3rd for emergencies and 1/3rd for generosity.
- Tashi was with his teacher and came across four men beating up another man. His teacher said in a friendly tone “Gentleman, wouldn’t it be more fun to beat up two Buddhist monks instead?” The men said some colorful expletives, laughed, walked away and left the man alone. Tashi asked his teacher “Did you know they were not going to beat us up?” He said “No, but at least I knew some of the blows would land on us and not on that man” He added “We must get in the way. Compassion demands that we get in the way when there is injustice, pain, harm and suffering. If Buddhism is not engaged it is not Buddhism.”
- When Tashi was an Abbot of a monastery and was having trouble with a difficult young monk who wasn't following instructions and getting his work done. Tashi mentioned it to his teacher and his teacher responded “You know he is dying, right?” Tashi was taken aback and suddenly felt full with empathy and compassion for the young monk. The teacher looked at Tashi and said “We are all dying.” The lesson here is how would we treat others if we are constantly aware that this is their last moment or they are dying soon? Would we be tough on them or kind and compassionate? We are all dying and we have to hold each others hands while we pass away.
- Instead of limiting our carbon footprint, the Buddha instructed us to reduce our karma (harm) footprint.
- In this reality it is impossible to avoid causing some harm to others. The intention is not to be perfect but be as harmless as one can be.
- We don't practice meditation to be good at meditation. We practice meditation to be good.
- If you have an extremely concentrated meditation but afterward act without kindness, that was an unsuccessful meditation. If, however, you have a very difficult meditation with a distracted mind, but afterwards you act compassionately, that was a successful meditation.
- Best definition of emptiness in Buddhism “Nothing whatsoever is me or mine.”