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Chapter 1: Atisha the Thrice Great

“I have reached through the path of emptiness. Once you reach the top, you can look down at all the paths, they are all available to your vision. But to follow a path in its different dimensions, to follow a path in all its details, small details, is a totally different thing.” To look at it from a helicopter or from the mountaintop is certainly a different vision; it is a bird’s-eye view.

Dharmakirti said, “If there had been nobody available here, I would have taught you the other too. But when a man like Dharmarakshita is just here, my neighbor, living in another cave just nearby, it is better you go to him.”

One has first to become empty, utterly empty, but you have not to cling to emptiness, otherwise your life will never know the positive expression of religion. Your life will miss the poetry, the joy of sharing; you will remain empty. You will have a kind of freedom, but your freedom will be only freedom from, it will not be freedom for, and unless freedom is both - freedom from and freedom for - something is missing, something is lacking. Your freedom will be poor. Just to be free from is a poor kind of freedom.

The real freedom starts only when you are free for. You can sing a song and you can dance a dance and you can celebrate, and you can start overflowing - that’s what compassion is.

Man lives in passion. When the mind disappears, passion is transformed into compassion. Passion means you are a beggar with a begging bowl; you are asking and asking for more and more from everybody; you are exploiting others. Your relationships are nothing but exploitations - cunning devices to possess the other, very clever strategies to dominate. When you are living in the mind, in passion, your whole life is power politics: even your love, even your social service, even your humanitarian works are nothing but power politics. Deep down, there is a desire to be powerful over others.

The same energy, when the mind is dropped, becomes compassion, and it takes a totally new turn. It is no longer begging; you become an emperor, you start giving. Now you have something - you had it always, but because of the mind, you were not aware of it. The mind was functioning like darkness around you, and you were unaware of the light within. The mind was creating an illusion of being a beggar, while all the time you had been an emperor. The mind was creating a dream - in reality, you never needed anything. Already all had been given. All that you need, all that you can need is already the case.

Godliness is within you, but because of the mind - mind means dreaming, desiring - you never look within, you go on rushing outwards. You keep yourself in the background, your eyes are turned towards the outside; they have become focused there. That’s what the mind is all about: focusing the eyes on the outside. One has to learn how to unfocus them from there - how to make them loose, less rigid, more liquid, so that they can turn inwards. Once you have seen who you are, the beggar disappears. In fact, it had never existed; it was just a dream, an idea.

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