Is liberation possible?

84 Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature

Part of an ongoing series of teachings (retreat and Friday) based on the book Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature, the third volume in The Library of Wisdom and Compassion series by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Venerable Thubten Chodron.

  • Explanation of the factors that makes liberation possible
  • True nature of the mind is pure
  • Afflictions are not part of the nature of the mind
  • Fundamental innate clear light mind
  • Possible to cultivate powerful antidotes
  • Explanation of how afflictions do not have a valid foundation
  • Importance of applying logic and reasoning
  • Conventional nature and ultimate nature of the mind

Samsara, Nirvana, and Buddha Nature 84: Is Liberation Possible? (download)

Contemplation points

  1. Consider that the state of peace that we are seeking with liberation and full awakening “does not fluctuate according to external circumstances.” It is constant, permanent. Contrast that with an ordinary, worldly view of what is peace and happiness. Imagine what it might be like to experience a state of peace that does not fluctuate.
  2. The first factor that makes liberation possible is that the basic nature of the mind is pure. Do you feel like the basic nature of your mind is pure? Do you get glimpses of that? Do you doubt it? Investigate this.
  3. Take some time to consider the example of water as it relates to how impurities are not the nature of water. Do you often identify with the “dirt,” thinking you are the “dirt?” What is the consequence of this wrong view? Explain in your own words why the basic nature of the mind being pure makes awakening possible. Really take some time with this.
  4. The second factor that makes liberation possible is that afflictions are adventitious. What does adventitious mean? Bring to mind moments of calm and clarity from your own experience. How does this demonstrate that afflictions are not an inherent part of the mind? Do you struggle with conviction that the afflictions can be removed? What can you do to begin to work with this and overcome any sense of doubt?
  5. The third factor that makes liberation possible is that it is possible to cultivate powerful antidotes that eradicate the afflictions. Why is it we think the afflictions must have a beginning, even though logically this cannot be the case? What is the antidote that destroys the defilements while the clear light mind remains unscathed? Explain the process by which this antidote works.
  6. On the basis of these three factors that make liberation possible (the true nature of the mind is pure, the afflictions are adventitious, and that it is possible to apply antidotes and eradicate the afflictions and obscurations), conclude that the possibility to attain liberation exists within you and that, given your precious human life with all conducive factors for practicing the path, you have the ability to attain liberation and full awakening.
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.