in Buddhism when we talk about wisdom, we are talking about the wisdom to free ourselves from all these delusions. And many times the things that we think are wisdom are in fact not really wisdom. In Mahayana, wisdom is the mind that understands selflessness or the mind that understands the emptiness aspect of the self. But even though it is easy to study that, it is very difficult to experience it. This is because of many lifetimes of attachment to the self.

In Buddhism, we talk about samsara and nirvana. Samsara is where there is all this delusion. When we talk about ignorance or delusion such as

Photo 2.20 : Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche was doing Pujas during Losar in 1982 in Hong Kong

clinging to the self, we are not talking about a defilement that actually does exist truly within us and that we then later have to purify. In fact, all these delusions, all this ignorance, in reality they do not exist. But because of our own insecurity we think that they exist. We are very attached to this existence of the self and we are constantly busy as the slave of this self. Now wisdom is that which understands the non-existent aspect of such a delusion. But as I have said many times, one can roughly understand wisdom through study and receiving teachings, but in order to actually understand wisdom one has to have lots of merit.

It is the same for devotion. It is kind of easy to understand what devotion is, but to have devotion one needs lots of merit. Until you have merit, a person does not have devotion. I think not only the spiritual, enlightened qualities such as wisdom, devotion and compassion, but even the mere happiness that we have in our day-to-day life depends so much on merit. I am going to become a little wild now. For instance, if someone like my interpreter [here] says to this nun [here], "How beautiful you are", it depends so much on how much this nun has merit or not. If she has the merit to have even a short time of happiness, such praise will definitely give her lots of happiness. If she does not have enough merit, the same remark that the interpreter makes can cause lots of problems. For instance, it can raise her expectations [yet] maybe the interpreter said it just out of politeness. But because there is not enough merit to interpret this remark properly, she may have raised her expectations and she might follow him wherever he goes! And then if he is a kind of patient or skilful person, it might work. But I do not think he could tell her that she is beautiful every day. So merit, sonam in Tibetan, is one of the most important qualities that really has a lot of influence on everything. I am sure you must have experienced in your life a certain thing that sometimes make you unhappy can make you very happy and this is very much because of merit.

You may be wondering now, "How can one have merit?" Strangely, even to have merit you have to have merit. Merit is the cause of merit. This is the difficult part in Buddhist practice. In one aspect, there is the complete idea of wisdom which is beyond all sorts of concepts, beyond all sorts of habitual hang-ups. But in order to get this wisdom, we talk about merit which comes very much together with our emotions. It is the same for emptiness. This is what we have to realise. But in order to realise emptiness, one has to have merit, such as singing well or making offerings to the Guru [which the people outside are doing right now] and such as some of you being patient and trying to listen to what I am trying to say and at the same time not getting disturbed by all those drums [outside]. One can accumulate merit this way also.

There are two great methods for accumulating merit. Compassion for sentient beings -- CONTINUE --

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