To overcome the afflictive emotions it is necessary to get rid of their root, which is the ignorance conceiving of inherent existence. To do this it is necessary to generate a wisdom consciousness that perceives objects in a way exactly opposite to how ignorance perceives its objects. We have to reflect on the fact that objects don't exist inherently, or in and of themselves. It is necessary to develop reasoning to refute the truly existing object that the erroneous consciousness apprehends. In this the view realizing emptiness is very important. To develop the level of wisdom required to act as an antidote to this ignorance it is not enough merely to generate an inferential consciousness in dependence upon reasoning. One must bring that inferential under-standing to the level of a direct non-conceptual perception of the truth. To do so, it is necessary to have assistance from concentration. Through a deep level of concentration it is possible to develop the meditative stabilization which is a union of a mind of calm abiding and a mind of special insight. So, it is first necessary to achieve a calm abiding or tranquilization of the mind. When one develops one-pointedness and the ability of the mind to remain on its object of observation in a clear and alert manner, it also helps in the daily progress of one's life. One's mind is sharper, more alert, more capable. Hence the necessity for setting forth presentations of the way to achieve meditative stabilization, samadhi.
Someone who wants to achieve calm abiding of the mind must go to an isolated place and be prepared for it to take a long time. If one works at achieving calm abiding in connection with tantric or mantric practices it is said to be easier. However, apart from that, just practising in ordinary life, it is helpful in the early morning just when you wake up to use your clear mind to investigate what sort of a thing the mind is. It will help to keep the mind very alert so it will help the rest of the day. In order to reach the level at which internal subtle distractions have been eliminated and one has a deep level of one-pointedness of mind, it is first necessary to restrain the coarser level, desire and hatred, and the coarse ill-deeds of body and speech. For this, one needs the training in ethics.
In the Buddhist system of ethics there are householders and those who have left the householder's life. Even among householders there are different stages. The reason being that Buddha set forth levels of practice in accordance with the capacity of different people. That is very important. We should follow according to our own mental disposition, then we will get satisfactory results. When you recognize that teachings are set forth for beings of different levels and dispositions, you can develop real respect for the different types of religious systems present throughout the world. Even though differences in philosophy are tremendous, often fundamental, one can see that for various types of beings those philosophies can be appropriate and beneficial. Today we need that kind of mutual respect and mutual understanding. That's very important.
In this connection I very much appreciate and respect the Western monks and nuns here. However, there shouldn't be any rush to take vows. Since Buddha set forth practices in accordance with various different levels it is important to determine your level and advance gradually within that. And another thing, I feel it is very important that those Westerners who sincerely want to practise Buddha dharma remain good members of their society. They should remain there, not become isolated. The essence of the Buddhist teaching as it is practised by Tibetans is also involved with Tibetan culture; it would be a mistake to try to fully Tibetanize and practise a Tibetanized form of Buddhism.
Remain within your society, carry on within your profession, work as a member of your community, and meanwhile implement the Buddha's teaching if you feel it is something useful and effective. We have already established various centers, we should keep them going. But it someone wants to practise Buddha dharma, it is not necessary to join a centre; he can just remain where he is.
We have been discussing ways of combating the afflictions, later we are going to discuss how to develop Bodhichitta, compassion, and how to destroy the obstructions to omniscience, the predispositions established by afflictions. First of all one trains in ethics-which is the basis, then through the practice of samadhi the mind is focused and becomes powerful. That focused mind is to be used to meditate on emptiness, by which one gradually overcomes the obstructions, and then gradually the innate obstructions. Finally one completely overcomes that ignorance which is the conception of inherent existence. That extinguishment is called liberation.
As the protector Nagarjuna said, 'Through the extinguishment of contaminated actions and afflictive emotions there is liberation.' Contaminated actions are produced from wrong conceptions. Those are produced from conceptual elaborations, and those conceptual elaborations are stopped through emptiness, or cease in emptiness. It is explained in both these ways. In any case, that reality, the emptiness in which all of the afflictive emotions, ignorance and so forth, have been extinguished is the true cessation that is liberation.