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What Would Buddha Do?

Recently, Buddhadharma: A Practitioner's Quarterly, asked Yeshe to weigh in on this question in their "Ask The Teacher" feature.

When facing difficult decisions, I like to ask myself, What would Buddha do? As an exercise, I think it helps me to be more compassionate, but I also know I'm just guessing. Is there any way we can know what the Buddha would do in our situation?

Here is Yeshe's response...

Knowing that we do not know, while daring to trust that we can, is a fertile place of practice. This trustful yearning signals ripeness for a view spacious enough to hold the paradox of embodying a mind enlightened by nature, yet confused by habit, in all its nondual fecundity, here and now.

Many Buddhist practices across traditions cultivate view. Integrating the Buddha’s view aligns our conduct with his; otherwise, we may sense a lack of guidance. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the Tibetan Rimé master, explained:

Meditation without view

Is like wandering across a vast plain without sight.

View without meditation

Is like climbing a sheer cliff without arms.

For me, meditative inquiry is the key. Uniting shamatha and vipashyana, meditative inquiry harvests prajna, the precise knowledge integral to mind, which itself refines view.

It takes humility to allow our view—of an issue, self, others, reality—to be right developmentally in this moment, and then to be released, ever so gently, in the maturity of the next.

Meditative inquiry can take many forms. One is to harness paradox to contemplate difficult decisions:

  • Connect with the compassion that accompanies your yearning to know what is best to do in your situation. Compassion extends the wish for happiness, free of suffering, that drives our every word, thought, and deed to all beings. Allow that same compassion to soften fixed ideas about yourself, others, hopes, fears, and results.

  • Practice letting false binaries fall away. Good/bad, right/wrong, me/them dichotomies roil the mind, clouding its innate capacity to know. Releasing them encourages ease and lucidity.

  • Relax into lucidity, the knowing quality of mind, not pinning anything down.

  • Now, open to the paradox of buddhanature present in all its fullness, right within your lived experience of uncertainty. Holding paradox activates the mind’s inherent creativity, deft at discerning opportunity. In dynamic poise, alternate between rest and discernment, as appropriate.

  • From that place of easeful discernment, revisit the issue, prioritizing your path to manifesting buddhanature, beyond self or other, guessing or knowing, hopes or fears.

Meditative inquiry does not yield pat answers. Rather, it fosters

self-knowledge, confidence in mind’s intrinsic resources, and exquisite responsiveness to our inner landscape. It can also help unearth and reevaluate assumptions underlying emotional patterns.

At its most transformative, it is the heart of the integrative dharma practice that cultivates view progressively, all the way to transcending views altogether. Ultimately, meditative inquiry unveils nondual wisdom, the mind’s true nature.

It takes humility to allow our view—of an issue, self, others, reality—to be right developmentally in this moment, and then to be released, ever so gently, in the maturity of the next. The more we shed misperception, the more we refine prajna, tweaking our inner compass toward bodhi-north.

Receptivity to buddhanature unfolds in unexpected ways. Confident trust blooms. Intimacy with mind deepens.

This is prajna rising, how we come to know as the Buddha knows.



Teachings by Drupon Khenpo Lodro Namgyal

through April 6, 2022

Translation to Chinese (Mandarin), English, French, Spanish

Live Webcast via Zoom

Discussion Group with Yeshe & Zopa




DROPS MARCH 18, 2022



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