29 August 2020

Living the View - Ngakma Nor’dzin & Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin

Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin with horse in Montana

In this video from February 2010 Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin and Ngakma Nor’dzin discuss Living the View and viewing oneself as a practitioner at all times.


Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin: One of the simplest approaches to living the view is to view oneself as a practitioner at all times. It can be very easy to view oneself as a practitioner whilst you are sitting, and to forget all of that once you’ve left your sitting place. But to have a memory of that with you—because most of our practice happens when we’re not practising formally—and to have that be with you – to take it out with you, and to understand what it is to be a practitioner in the world is important.

Ngakma Nor’dzin: I think there are probably different levels of living the view. When we are on retreat with our Sangha—with our Vajra bothers and sisters—then we have living the view at quite a high level: we assume that everybody in that setting has good intention towards us. We enter into the confidence that that’s what that situation is like. So we try to be worthy in that situation and similarly we view the people in that situation that they have good intention towards us. That means that if something is going on in a conversation or whatever, and somebody appears to be not being very kind, we assume that we have misunderstood their intention rather than responding to the apparent unkindness. So we live the view that our Vajra brothers and sisters are realised beings. This creates a wonderful rich creative space in which one can try to live honourably. One can try and live at the very pinnacle of what it means to be a good, honest, honourable human being.

It’s obviously much more difficult to do this in an ordinary everyday-life setting, but I think having had the flavour and experience of this in the sangha setting, one can start to experiment taking risks in an ordinary-life setting. The first thing that we try and do is to assume the best of other people.

A very simple example of this would be when the children were young (they are grown up now, left home, at university and everything), but when they were young there was always this standing-outside-the-school-gate period that happened when you went to collect your children from school – especially at junior school of course; junior and infant school. Now one of the root vows of Vajrayana is ‘never to denigrate the opposite gender’. Often the conversation outside the school gate seemed to be a bunch of women slagging off their husbands—saying negative things about their husbands—and the tendency was that there would be a general, ‘Oh yes, mine’s like that as well …’ And I—from the point of view of my vow—could not join in with this – and from the point of view of my relationship with my husband, didn’t want to join in with this because this was not my experience of our relationship.

So I would try, without the other people feeling put down in any way, to just say something like, ‘Well yeah, but also this…’, or ‘I haven’t found that, I’ve found this…’ and just try and present a more lighthearted view, or try to bring some humour into the conversation, or whatever – just say, ‘Well actually it doesn’t always have to be like that. My experience isn’t that it’s always like that, and does it actually help us all, standing here agreeing with each other about this not-very-helpful view of our husbands? We are in relationship with them, so surely the best thing to do is to appreciate that relationship, not moan about it.’

So this is just a simple example of how you can try and live the view even in ordinary life.

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