About Shang Rinpoche
Rinpoche’s spiritual pursuit began at a very young age and has spanned many years, in which he received lineages of all four major Vajrayana Buddhist schools—Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug—from numerous lineage holders and great yogis of our time in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche has acquired all the necessary empowerments, transmissions, and teachings to become a fully qualified Vajrayana master. Furthermore, Rinpoche is a recognized tulku (reincarnate lama), authenticated by eminent lineage holders and distinguished masters of our time.
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What’s an affliction, anyway!
A growing number of people are unable to find ways or methods to face and resolve their troubles, not to mention trying to move beyond them. Afflictions are not limited to just common people; all people on this earth cannot get away from problems induced by fame, wealth, and worldly affairs. In truth, as long as we are in the human realm we inevitably have afflictions, even high-level practitioners. A Rinpoche once told me that when he was younger he contracted an extremely serious case of leprosy. At that time in Tibet, leprosy was a frightening affair: it was equivalent to a terminal disease like cancer and all those who contracted the disease were quarantined from everyone, including their own family. The venerable Rinpoche was taken to an isolated and depressing place in the mountains. Squeezed into a tiny room, the only thing to keep him company in his miserable state while his skin festered with blisters were the mantras and sutras he recited everyday. He had even greater afflictions: the constant agony of wondering if and when he would recover. His greatest desire was to guide and help sentient beings; it was inconceivable that he would be cast into isolation. He had a very hard time with this on a daily basis, and continuously prayed to his master for blessings. Then finally, one day, his master came to his room. Rinpoche couldn't bear it and groveled before him, begging for blessings. Unexpectedly, the master only coldly said a few words: "If you believe in me, just recite Vajrasattva's hundred syllable mantra and you will swiftly recover from your illness."
This true account made me realize that the companion afflictions like most is someone who gets completely caught up in them. Everyone is the same: when you make an affliction out to be a big deal, you’re just giving it more momentum, allowing it to cast its net wider and wider. From my experience, the most effective way of transforming afflictions is actually to find an even bigger affliction than the one you’re currently facing, or the thing you dislike the most, or the thing or person you enjoy most, or perhaps a long-held desire you haven’t actualized — shift your attention to any one of these and your original affliction will quickly disperse, as if clearing smoke or fog. Some people use exercise or singing as a means of diverting their attention. Whichever you choose, so long as you don’t give your affliction much attention, it will also lose interest in you and eventually leave altogether.
When I was a high school student, I ran into a huge affliction. I was extremely self-conscious about my image then and didn’t know who to talk to about it. The person I trusted the most at the time was my Daoist master. He took me to the foot of the stairs leading up to Zhinan temple and said, “Don’t think about anything. Just run up and down these stairs without stopping ten times!” I took up the task and ran until I was covered in sweat, gasping for breath and my legs felt like jelly. To tell the truth, it really was effective. My affliction disappeared. So the bit of advice I can offer to the readers is that an affliction’s biggest enemy is being ignored, so go ahead and put some effort into shifting your attention away from your problems!
from Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche