I believe that we do not come to the path of Dharma by accident. Out of billions of people there are only a few who, like you, have the opportunity to come across the path. It certainly means that we have accumulated some good karma or some positive merit over past lives. In this life it has come to fruition and has resulted in our coming into contact with the precious Dharma. This is why we should not waste this precious time. The more we use our time well, the more we will understand why it is so precious and fortunate.
In the beginning the teacher always says: “This life is very precious and you are very fortunate. Dharma is very good”. Yet we do not feel much like that and sometimes we might even feel we are being imposed upon when we are told our life is so precious. But life can take many turns and each turn brings us closer to understanding the significance of Dharma. Each experience in life teaches us so deeply that we can truly find the meaning of this fortunate life. Then we are able to say: “It is auspicious for me to be able to come across the Dharma.” It does not matter whether or not we are great practitioners because by simply having the opportunity of being on the path of Dharma, we are connected to a source of ultimate happiness, joy, wisdom and compassion. Without this connection our lives would have taken a totally different course and this is what makes us different.
One interesting thing is that one never stops finding deeper meanings on the path of Dharma. As we go further on the path, we never really come to a stage when we feel that it is enough or this is the end. I studied all the philosophical and academic side at the Buddhist College. As each course finished, I used to think that now I would know all the Dharma. Then after I had finished each course, it only created a greater vacuum of what I did not know. There was always something more to know. Then we graduated to a higher school and we started another mind-boggling type of philosophy. After this I thought: “Now I know all the Sutra and Tantra. I am on top”. But again it did not happen and finally even after finishing many years at college, studying all the different philosophical schools of Sutra and then all the different levels of Inner and Outer Tantra, I still did not know everything. I even had a certificate at the end of all my studies but still it did not satisfy me.
In the end it was only through spending a small amount of time on retreat that finally I realized that real experience does not lie in books. It must come from a personal experience. When you are studying the books and texts, you learn something but it is only when you stop studying that true experience begins to unfold. Then you begin to see all the stages of Dharma very differently from when you were still a scholar. Even after studying all the philosophical schools for five, seven or even ten years, you still feel that you need to spend your entire life putting all this study into practice. These years of learning are just a stepping stone leading to all the higher levels that you still need to reach through practice.
This means that in order to realize the complete meaning of what you have studied for seven years might take many lifetimes of practice and still that may not be enough. The reason is because the teaching is so deep and profound. Why does it take so long? Because it cuts through the accumulation of our defilements based on the duality we have accumulated over many lifetimes. We have to cut through these one by one, so it is natural that it will take so much time. We can be logical here. If someone has accumulated negative karma over many lifetimes, how could he or she hope to discard it all instantly over a couple of retreats? — Dungsey Gyetrul Jigme Rinpoche