Windhorse

(Extract from Ruling Your World by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche)

When we have windhorse, we are able to accomplish what we want without many obstacles.

FOR MANY YEARS, I had the privilege of studying in India with His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who was like my grandfather. Khyentse Rinpoche was a great Tibetan meditation master, a teacher of teachers and kings—among them, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the king of Bhutan. He was an incredibly soft-spoken person who radiated power in a gentle way. Each day he would sit on a couch or a bed with his students gathered around, He was old and big and fat, and he liked to wrap his favorite blankets around his waist. His presence was warm and genuine. His stuff always looked better than everybody else’s. His prayer beads, his old Tibetan wooden cup—even his blanket— shone with goodness. In his presence, the value of the most ordinary item increased—not simply because he owned it but because it attracted others. His energy infected his environment. In his presence there was a sense of natural wealth and success that had nothing to do with money.

That is the power of lungta, windhorse. Lung is “wind” and ta means “horse.” You see the image of windhorse printed on the prayer flags that flutter in the breeze all over Tibet. It is the ability to bring about long life, good health, success, and happiness. When we have windhorse, we are able to accomplish what we want without many obstacles, On its back, windhorse carries a wish-fulfilling jewel. This jewel is the wisdom and compassion that it takes to act not on behalf of ourselves but for all beings. This is where real confidence and competence come from, Once we possess this jewel, our life becomes blessed. Whatever we want happens without difficulty. Just as if we were to jump on the back of a horse and ride across the open country, there is nothing in our way. With windhorse, we are like warriors racing over the vast plains of Tibet, our victory banners fluttering in the wind.

I meet many people in my travels, and I can tell just by how they look or speak that fear and stress are reducing their life-force energy. They are hampered by drip—a Tibetan word that describes contamination of ourselves and the environment—the depletion that comes from living on the “me” plan. Drip is the opposite of windhorse, Windhorse thrives on discernment and intelligence. Drip thrives on lack of it. Windhorse is the element that emerges when we engage in virtue. Drip is the element that exudes when we engage in aggression and fixation. We think we have to push to get to where we want to go. Windhorse, comes from paying attention to how we conduct our lives. brip comes from feeling that it doesn’t make a difference. Windhorse attracts drala—the blessing energy that arises when we overcome our own aggression. Drip attracts obstacles. Windhorse is clean fuel, Drip is a layer of goo, like soot from a coal fire. It feels dark and heavy, like having tar in our lungs from smoking. Windhorse uplifts us. Drip thickens our mind. By cultivating negativity, we are neglecting our potential to discover basic goodness, and the pollutant in our system gains the strength to overpower our wisdom and compassion. There is no drala. Life becomes dark and difficult.

I remember asking my father about the first time that he ever saw a car. He was a teenager living in eastern Tibet, quite a remote area. He said that he could smell the car for days before he saw it. He didn’t know what the smell was, It just got stronger and stronger, and finally the car arrived. He said that for days after it left, he could still smell it. That’s what drip is like.

Drip “drips” on us. We experience it as a film that covers everything. This film is a reflection of negative psychological leftovers in our environment, the exhaust and pollution of the “me” plan. When our mind is habitually agitated and discursive, drip becomes a veil of normality. As if our eyes are not fully open, we expect things to be a little dark and dirty all the time. In being fooled by the veil, we become imprecise. We believe that it doesn’t matter what we say, think, do, or eat, so we ignore our mental and physical environment. Acting on self-interest seems natural, and we engage in activities that reduce our life-force energy. V/e eat food that weakens our system. We speak words that diminish our integrity. We constantly seek entertainment. We wear clothes that make us feel lazy. Living our life in a nonchalant way, we miss so many opportunities. Things just don’t work out; our energy is perennially low, We forget about wisdom and compassion. We forget that every moment of our life is important. If we’re not exerting ourselves toward virtue, then most likely we’ll be swayed into non-virtue, and “What about me?” will just become stronger.

Drip takes on its own life as obstacles, Accomplishing what we want becomes more difficult. We miss the bus; we get a parking ticket; we become ill. The most serious obstacle is the idea of “me;’ which keeps us from seeing our own basic goodness. Out of that doubt comes ignorance, and out of ignorance come negative emotions, which produce more harmful acts, which make the dark age darker. Buddhists consider physical illnesses to be the results of previous negative actions; from that point of view, the disease of ”me” is the root of all disease. It’s the one that keeps samsara going…

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