What are the experiences that the teachings of the Buddha are founded on? They are sadness, love, and openness. Although they appear to be quite different, sadness and openness are in fact intimately connected. The profound sadness that overwhelms us when we understand the impermanent nature of all phenomena opens us up to the world around us. We open our hearts and begin to notice our fellow beings. We see how we all must face the hardships of life; we understand the fleeting nature of our joys; and we become aware of how much worry, pain, and suffering we all go through in our lives. In this way, we realize that we all share similar painful experiences. Knowing what others go through and feel, we cannot help but sympathize with them, and the wish to help and protect our fellow beings naturally wells up in us. This wish to help and protect arises from love, and the more we open our eyes to others’ suffering and delusion, the stronger our love becomes. Love clears the mind of the thick fog of desire, anger, and ignorance. Love is like the sun that burns through the fog, dissolving it, until only vast openness and clarity remain. When nothing but boundless openness and lucidity remain, we come face-to-face with the basic nature of all phenomena beyond concepts.
Still, as thoughts reemerge, the fog inevitably reappears. But now we know—from our own experience—that freedom and awakening are always right here within us. This realization gives rise to an indescribable joy. We have experienced for ourselves that awakening is a genuine option, for us and for everyone else—how wonderful! The heartfelt wish that everyone may awaken to true freedom is born in us and consumes us to the point where our attachment and delusion seem to dissolve naturally. All the while, we see the world for what it is, utterly impermanent and painful, and our sadness grows ever more profound. Yet our sadness is now accompanied by genuine love and affection and a deep sense of responsibility brought on by the certainty that if we simply stay on course, we will be able to make a true and lasting difference everywhere we go. This is how sadness, love, and openness sustain dharma practitioners ~ Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche