Practical confidence, not theoretical.
Traditionally, it goes like this: Garab Dorje’s “The Three Words Striking The Vital Point” condenses all the teachings of the Buddha into this quintessential meaning;
Recognise your essence.
Decide on this point.
Gain confidence in liberation.
First, recognise true essence. Without that, we cannot decide on it or gain confidence beyond doubt. If we cannot decide upon that as the ultimate, we will never gain confidence in liberation, free of emotional limitations.
Recognising the essence of our own mind simply means recognising what we already are, which is pure, uncontaminated awareness. We just hadn’t noticed it before.
We may study and learn, but our understanding remains an idea, a separate object held in mind. Essence has to be recognised, experienced and realised. We do not recognise our essence through the dualistic act of one thing looking at another. If we take that approach, we fixate and cling to a mistaken view that covers and obscures true essence. That’s why we suffer.
The Buddha said, “Don’t take my word for it.” When we experience and realise the Buddha’s teaching, we can then decide that this is it and there is nothing else, and thus, gain confidence.
As an example: at art school, we do our art. But it isn’t exactly our art, is it? The teacher comes round to check what we are doing, guiding and correcting us. Any work we display from art school isn’t totally ours. We cannot show it to others and say “I did this”; it just reveals potential. We have to do our own work, in our own time. Only then do we understand it; having decided that it is complete, we gain confidence in our ability. Of course, all understanding can be refined!
But here is an essential point.
We do not know if our work – or understanding – is good or correct until we interact with others and note both their reaction, and our reaction to them. If we have the courage, this tests our understanding – can we let what we find go in order to increase our sense of objective inner space? This is putting the teaching – and our realisation of pure awareness – to the test. Are we happier, more contented, clearer? Can we neutralise the arrows of demons from adversaries and flowers from admirers? If not, can we recognise the situation we are in?
Gaining confidence, we rest in unconditional love,
because we need no conditions to love.
Now, that is confidence.
When we realise the nature of mind, it can be a shock – and a disappointment. “Is that all? What have I been doing until now? What have I been chasing? Why have teachings been made so complicated?”
The growth of confidence is an ongoing process, but we need confidence in the foundation of our understanding.
What more can one want than happiness?
Happiness for everyone!