There are two types
of practice. The first is to benefit others and the second is not to harm others.
The benefit of helping others is mentioned many times in the Buddhist teachings
and is based on great compassion extending to all sentient beings. This is the
principle by which the Buddha lived his life.
The Buddha was born into a royal family, had a wife and son, but one day went outside the palace and saw the suffering of ordinary people. In particular, he saw the sufferings of birth, sickness, old age and death and felt great compassion towards others. He wanted to relieve them of their suffering but saw giving material aid wouldn't help, so started to think what would.
After leaving the palace, the Buddha did six years of retreat meditating on how to release sentient beings from their suffering. He realised the four noble truths, which state that the cause of suffering is delusion and karma and that external phenomena can't destroy suffering. The Buddha saw that the solution must come from within, as, in its natural state, the mind is free from delusion and karma.
The unwanted suffering we experience and the pleasure we desire come from bad and good actions we have done in the past. So, through this perfect human rebirth, we can make an effort to gain freedom from suffering and lower rebirths and reach the state of Nirvana and Enlightenment. We can achieve Buddhahood in one life-time if we really make an effort in this present life.
The Buddha taught these realisations to many disciples who became Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or Arhats. Through the kindness of the great master, Lama Tsong Khapa, the complete teachings of the .Buddha existed in Tibet. These teachings contain the complete method to achieve our goals. You shouldn't blindly accept the teachings but test them to see if they are .rue and find out which ones are most suitable for you. The teachings are like medicine for the mind. The expert doctor has to discover what sickness the person has, then give medicine according to the sickness. It would be futile to give the same medicine to all sick people. In the same way, one should see if the teachings are beneficial and practice those that are most suitable to your inclination and interest.
Some people like doing tantric sadhanas, others like doing purification practices while others like doing virtuous action in general. If you are not interested in learning or studying Dharma but want to be kind to sick people then that type of practice should be developed if you have that personality. That kind of practice is considered one of the best and most precious.
Merely hearing the Dharma is not enough . Three factors are necessary to practice the teachings - listening, contemplating and meditating. While you are listening you should be thinking about what you heard and through this you can understand the teachings. Then you should try to become familiar with the knowledge and put it into practice.
Realisations will gradually be generated if you continue practicing. Also, your interest in doing the practice will increase and when that happens, there will be continual development. After you have been practicing for some time you will become unhappy if you miss one day's practice; you will feel something is missing.
I've now been in Vajrayana Institute for six years. Although this Centre is not big, the relationship between the director, students and Members is very harmonious and they are very supportive of each other which is a big thing. The Centre is like a family and I would like to thank you all for that.
Before coming to the West, Lama Yeshe (founder of the FPMT) said the students there have a strong desire to learn the Buddha's teachings but there was a shortage of teachers so he asked me to go the West to help them. Lama Yeshe also told me that western students are very smart when it comes to understanding the Dharma and that's true. I came here to teach so you can make use of me either as a Centre or as individuals.
If you have any personal question relating to your practice, you can come and see me. If you don't have any specific questions you can always come along to teachings. Because of your requests, returned to the Centre in 1996 to benefit you instead of doing retreat as planned, so please make use of me. I really feel very close to you all so whenever you need my help take the opportunity as that's the reason I came back to Sydney.
At that time I was under the guidance of a high lama who said it would be nice to do retreat but it would be better to teach. He said it would be very beneficial for people to hear the teachings as they can gain a very special result after a time.
I am very happy when I see students trying their best to learn or practice the Dharma as it's the reason I came to the West.
When I went to Melbourne in the early 1980s, the Centre there was in a small house and only had one small statue of the Buddha. Now Tara Institute has grown into a very big Centre with a large number of students. I am happy that the initial small house was the basis for the present Tara Institute. I also visited Buddha House in Adelaide, which was a small Centre at the time, but is now a large Centre teaching many students. In that way I think Lama Yeshe's goal has been fulfilled.
So there are two benefits of even a small amount of practice. You will generate a feeling of joy and stop harming others. That will also benefit the country as we need more people guided by the principle of not harming others.