Monday, September 14, 2020

A powerful story about a Snake and a saw

 A snake found its way into a carpentry store and as it moved around, it unwittingly slithered over a saw lying on the ground and was cut. Instinctively, the snake struck out at the saw and bit the tool, seriously wounding its mouth. Not understanding what was happening and believing the saw to be an attacker, the snake decided to wrap its whole body around the saw to constrict and suffocate the supposed enemy. The snake squeezed the saw with all its strength, and in the process wound up killing itself. 

Sometimes we react in anger to hurt those who have harmed us. We believe that they are going to further harm us and we retaliate, but we do not realize that we are in fact hurting ourselves. As it says in the 20th verse of The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas:

As long as you do not subdue the enemy of your own anger,

External foes will only increase as you try to conquer them.

Therefore, calling up the armies of love and compassion,

Subdue your own mind—This is the practice of a bodhisattva.

In life, sometimes it is better to ignore situations, people, and their attitudes because the consequences can be harmful. The snake viewed the saw as an enemy and aggressor, not realizing the object was inanimate. Our own anger is the real enemy and not someone outside of ourselves. People often think to themselves that the other person has hurt them and then label this person as the enemy. If you think about this very seriously, this is a real misunderstanding. 

If you reflect, when a person is angry with you, it stems from the anger arising in his or her own mind and is also how one reacts to anger. That is why anger often results in both parties fighting or arguing, sometimes forming long held resentments. Both are ignorant about where the real enemy lies. Everyone wants happiness and doesn't want suffering but we do not understand that when we react in anger, everyone suffers. It is better to show compassion to someone who did us wrong. 

Just like the story of the snake above, the serpent thought that the saw was hurting him but in fact it was his own misconception and inability to let go of negative emotions. The idea of the enemy and anger itself arose from the faulty perceptions in the snake’s own mind. Similarly we have to check our minds to see where this anger is coming from. Two people’s misunderstanding as to who or what the real enemy is can result in dire consequences.

Shantideva said in the Guide to the Bodhisattva Conduct:

"If you tried to cover the whole earth with leather, 

Where would you find enough?

But just putting leather on the soles of your feet,

Is similar to covering the whole earth."

This is a very good example; even if we had to cover up externally grasped objects, we could not, and it would be meaningless. Shantideva is saying that it would be better if we could take control of our own mind.

Usually when we experience even a temporary, slight fascimile of happiness, we crow with delight and jump for joy; and when we experience a temporary, slight unwanted frustration, we get unhappy and cry; some even commit suicide if it is too painful. Rather than being like that, we should make our mind immutable, whatever experiences, pleasant or painful, arise.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

meditation is medicine for the mind.

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Many people seem to believe that meditation is extremely challenging and complex, but actually this is not the case. It is important to first ask ourselves the question, why meditate? Often when I ask my students, many respond that they believe the purpose of meditation is to stop thinking and to stop thoughts. 


Recently, I walked to the beach with a younger student. Near the sea shore, we sat down and I said, “Let’s meditate”. He quickly sat cross-legged and closed his eyes. I told him, “this is too fast.” He said, “What should I do?” 

I told him that with any kind of Dharma activity, take your time to begin. Reflect and ask yourself, why am I meditating. He said, “Oh, I never do this! Should I do this every time?” Yes; before beginning any sort of Dharma activity, we must think about the purpose of what we are going to do and check our motivation. If you have good motivation, then the action is positive. For instance, you can ask yourself, is this Dharma activity for the benefit of sentient beings? Even if you do positive activities, such as thousands of prostrations, but have negative intentions, you are committing a negative action. As Patrul Rinpoche said:

What makes an action good or bad? 

Not how it looks, nor whether it is big or small, 

But the good or evil motivation behind it. 

Then he asked me how to meditate. I inquired, “How do you usually meditate?” He responded, “I meditate on nothingness and try to quiet the mind.” I asked him, “Do you only meditate just this one way?” to which he responded yes. This type of meditation, or dzogchen, resting in the natural state of the innately luminous and pure mind, is very difficult for a beginner and difficult to maintain for long stretches of time. 

There are so many different ways to meditate, such as meditation on loving kindness, compassion, selflessness, impermanence, the difficulty of finding the human life, etc. If you are a Mahayana or Vajrayana practitioner, you can practice guru yoga, deity visualization, etc.  Also, you can meditate on emptiness and an introspection into the origin of the self, that is, who is the self and where does the self reside.

As an example, I told my student at the beach, now that there are these destructive fires in California, you can practice a deity visualization: imagine a vast Buddha Amitabha above the land, in Carmel Valley, in Santa Cruz, wherever the fire is raging. Then, visualize nectar-like water streaming from Buddha Amitabha and extinguishing the fire. 

When he heard this, he was so happy and began to smile, and he pointed in the direction of Santa Cruz. He then said, “I had no idea that this is meditation. This is very good right now because there are fires everywhere.” Afterwards we meditated and my student told me, “Wow Rinpoche, I really enjoyed this meditation.”

In Tibetan, the word for meditation is gom, which literally means to become familiar, to become accustomed, or to cultivate. Gom refers to familiarizing the mind to that which is true, and that which is virtuous. I think it very helpful to understand the etymology of the word Gom because it teaches you how to meditate! If you want to run a marathon, it would be impossible if you had never even run a mile before. You must start out running for 30 or 40 minutes a day, and slowly as your body becomes accustomed to the discomfort and your mind becomes accustomed to the challenge, slowly you can build up endurance and run 26.2 miles without an injury. Or if you want to cultivate a garden, you must properly prepare the soil and know the right seeds to plant at what time of year.

Meditation is learned and practiced in the same way. It is important that in the beginning, sessions should be short. If you have never meditated, try sitting for only a few minutes, 5 minutes or less. Initially meditation is very challenging, but gradually and incrementally, it becomes easier. As long as there is improvement, don’t give up meditation. If you are able to extend your time meditating from 5 minutes to 6 minutes, this is good and an improvement; what is important is to persevere! Eventually, try 10 minutes, then 15 minutes; progressively you will see that your mind is more positive and more relaxed. Turning your mind towards the positive will give rise to bodhichitta, to contentment, the desire to help all sentient beings, among numerous other benefits. As I often say, meditation is medicine for the mind.

Gom also does not refer to only one technique or style of meditation, but actually can refer to any kind of Dharma activity performed using body, speech, and mind. Making prostrations, repetition of mantras, or any kind of spiritual activity is gom. So it is not necessary to limit your meditation to one kind of activity. Anything done with positive motivation can be a form of meditation.

To begin with, there is object meditation. You can focus on an object, such as a flower, placed in front of you. Your eyes should be relaxed and gently opened as you focus on the object. As your eyes gaze at the flowers, see how long you can hold your attention on the object. This is stillness. Later, inevitably, the monkey mind will come in and take your attention away from the flowers. This is movement. Then, you must bring your attention back, realizing, I am meditating; do not move. Realizing and watching the shift of your own attention, both stillness and movement, that is called awareness, or rigpa.

In the beginning, you might experience 99% movement and 1% stillness. At first, object meditation may be almost completely movement with our negative monkey mind. This is because we never meditate. Slowly, meditating little by little, we achieve longer periods of stillness, from 1% to 2%, from 2% to 3%, and so forth, to the point where movement and stillness are equal. 

These three --movement, stillness, and awareness-- can be applied to everything that you do, and are not limited to Buddhism or Dharma. Stability of mind is conducive to all activities. Movement, on the other hand, is not. I see so many people, changing all the time and moving to and fro, back and forth.

Actually, we are constantly fighting with movement. All sentient beings have minds, and most human beings have a slightly negative mind. That is why they may think to themselves, “I don’t want this monkey mind,” and feel, “I need to rid myself of it.” In truth, it depends on how you use your mind. 

The human mind could be likened to a horse. We are the rider of this horse, but most of us have no control over the animal. Unless the rider has control over the animal, it will not listen, and the horse could assert its own will, going wherever it pleases. In some cases, a wild horse could even be extremely dangerous to the rider, by kicking and thrashing, and can seriously injure or even kill his driver. Such is the case with our own mind.

One could say, horses are bad, and we don’t need them, but this is certainly untrue. Actually, if one is a skilled rider and knows how to control a horse, this animal is of great benefit, going great distances at speeds unimaginable by foot, and an excellent companion who could even become the rider’s best friend. Ultimately, the mind does become your best friend. Without the mind, we could not meditate; if your mind is focused, you can achieve anything.

As I wrote in A Dharma Gong to Wake Us from Ignorance:

།མ་དུལ་རྨོངས་པའི་སེམས་འདིས། །འབྲས་བུ་འཁོར་བའི་སྡུག་བསྔལ། 

།དུལ་ཞིང་ཞི་བའི་སེམས་འདིས། འབྲས་བུ་ཐར་པའི་བདེ་བ།

This untamed mind of delusion

results in the suffering of samsara.

A subdued, peaceful mind

results in the bliss of Liberation.

Samsara and samsaric suffering comes from nowhere but our own mind.

Modern scientists continue to confirm what Buddhists have known to be true for thousands of years. A friend told me about a recent Harvard study that showed how 47% of the time, our mind is not on what we are doing (that’s around a third of our lives!) and found a causal relationship between more mental wandering and levels of unhappiness.

Buddhist thought maintains that we have one mind with so many different mental functions operating at different levels. The true nature of the mind is not negative; rather this pure mind is referred to as Buddha nature. Ignorance obscures our innate wisdom and creates suffering. This pure mind is covered by delusions and negativity, which is just like a house which has been cluttered with dirt and mess. You feel miserable living in this messy house and you cannot appreciate its actual beauty. When you finally get around to putting in the hard work and decluttering your home, you feel so light and happy seeing the natural beauty of the home that was just obscured. This “inner house” of the mental space has to be cleaned in the same way. 

།དྲི་མེད་འོད་གསལ་རིག་མཛོད། །ཉོན་མོངས་གད་སྙིགས་མ་བཀང་། 

།རྙེད་དཀའི་མི་ལུས་རིན་ཆེན། །འཁོར་བའི་བྲན་གཡོག་མ་བྱེད། 

Don’t fill the stainless treasury of luminous awareness

with the garbage of delusion!

Don’t make this difficult-to-find

precious human life a slave to samsara!

And also,

།སེམས་ཉིད་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ། །གད་སྙིགས་ནང་དུ་གཡུགས་ནས། 

།འཁྲུལ་སྣང་མགོ་བོ་འཁོར་བའི། །ཀྱེ་མ་བདག་འདྲའི་སེམས་ཅན། 

Buddha nature is a wish-fulfilling jewel.

How sad that sentient beings like myself,

deceived by our hallucinations,

would throw it in the trash!

Buddha nature permeates our current state like butter permeates milk. We may see milk and think, I want butter, how can I extract it from the liquid? We must churn the butter; this requires work and effort. One day, after churning, you will find the presence of pure butter and the disappearance of milk. 

To tell you the truth, all human beings are mad! The two types of madness amongst humans, though, are quite different.

The first group, representing the vast majority of sentient beings, are mad, desperately running outside after samsara. This is a very serious form of madness with dire consequences. These sentient beings believe in the reality of the outer world, holding their 5 senses to be true. As I wrote in A Dharma Gong to Wake Us from Ignorance:

།རང་སེམས་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ་། །བདག་པོ་རྒྱག་མཁན་མི་འདུག། 

།ཐམས་ཅད་དབང་ལྔའི་རྗེས་སུ། །གཅིག་རྗེས་གཉིས་མཐུད་འབྲངས་སོང་། 

Nobody takes care

of the wish-fulfilling jewel of mind.

Everyone chases the five senses,

one after another.

Actually, samsara is like a drug; we are addicted and seek more and more, but we don’t see things as they really are. Our suffering is just like grabbing a rock and hitting ourselves repeatedly in the head, crying out, “Where is the origin of our pain?”, when in reality, it is our own doing! This brings more suffering and does not bring happiness. As stated in The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva:

The practice of all the bodhisattvas is to turn away immediately

From those things which bring desire and attachment.

For the pleasures of the senses are just like salty water:

The more we taste of them, the more our thirst increases.

The second group of crazy people is far fewer in number. These are the beings unwaveringly seeking pure Dharma and inner peace within their own mind. These individuals are also seen by worldly people as crazy. Such with Buddha Shakyamuni, who left his kingdom, wealth, and family. Jetsun Milarepa was called a lunatic during his life. His extreme renunciation, reclusiveness, and unconventional behavior brought derision from local people. From Milarepa’s “The Song of the Lunatic” taken from The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa translated by Garma C.C. Chang:

Men say, “Is not Milarepa mad?”

I also think it may be so,

Now listen to my madness.

The father and the son are mad,

And so are the transmission

And Dorje Chang’s succession.

Mad too were my great-grandfather, the fair sage Tilopa.

And my grandfather, Naropa the great scholar.

Mad too, was my father, Marpa the translator.

So too is Milarepa.

Also, as I wrote in A Dharma Gong to Wake Us from Ignorance:

།ལྟད་མོ་ཕྱི་ལ་མ་བལྟ། །ནང་ལ་ལྟད་མོ་བལྟོས་དང་། 

།སྔར་མ་མཐོང་བའི་ལྟད་མོ། །བསོད་ནམས་ཡོད་ན་རྙེད་ཡོང་། 

Don’t look for shows outside;

watch the show inside!

If you are lucky you’ll discover

a show like never seen before!


In conclusion, it is important to consider the purpose of meditation and to regard all activities with proper motivation as a form of meditation. Begin slowly, and gradually you will develop endurance and cultivate positive qualities. This can be summed up in the three supreme methods preliminary to Dharma practice: 


  1. Motivation: say to yourself, all sentient beings throughout all realms want happiness just like me, but do not know the cause of happiness. Therefore they suffer, wandering helplessly throughout samsara without any refuge or protection. I’m going to practice with the intention to help free all sentient beings of their immense suffering


  1. Focus: we should practice with a concentrated mind, focusing wholeheartedly on whatever we are doing. Although your body may be sitting for meditation or prostrating, and your speech reciting mantras or praying, it is important that your mind is with you at all times 


  1. Dedication: dedicate the merit for the welfare of all sentient beings, praying that bodhicitta continually grows greater

If you have all three, your practice becomes Dharma. Without these three, although the efforts may support or strengthen your own mind, it will not be Dharma. 

This mind of yours, which may now seem like your enemy, will eventually become your best friend. See samsara for what it actually is. Like all sentient beings, you seek happiness, but do not be fooled! Look in the right direction. 

As I wrote in A Dharma Gong to Wake Us from Ignorance:

།བུ་ཆུང་ཤར་ཕྱོགས་སྟོར་ཡང་། །མ་ཡིས་ནུབ་ནས་བཙལ་ལྟར། 

།སེམས་པ་ནང་དུ་བཞག་ནས། །བདེ་སྐྱིད་ཕྱི་ནས་མ་འཚོལ།

Don’t be like a mother, searching in the West,

for a child she has lost in the East!

Having turned the mind inwards,

don’t seek happiness outside!

I share this with you all because in this modern time, the word “meditation” is thrown about casually and without proper context. Thus, many sincere people new to dharma wish to meditate but have become confused about the meaning of the term as Buddhists understand it. My sincere wish is that all could experience the vast benefit that comes from meditation, which has been my own practical experience, and I pray the same for all sentient beings.

~Khenpo Karten Rinpoche





Tuesday, September 1, 2020

ཉི་གདུགས་དང་འབྲེལ་བའི་གཏམ།

སློབ་མ་ཆོས་མིང་དུ་ཀརྨ་དབྱངས་སྐྱིད་དམ་Shayna Morse,ནས་ཉི་གདུག་དང་ཅོག་ཙེ་ཉོས་པའི་ཉིན་མོ། 
ས་གནས་ཁ་ལི་ཧྥོ་ཉ་ནི་དུས་བཞི་ལ་འགྱུར་བ་ཆེར་མེད་པ་ག་དུས་ཡིན་ཀྱང་ཉི་མ་ཤར་སའི་ས་གནས་ཞིག་ཡིན། ལྷག་པར་དུ་དབྱར་སྨད་ནས་བཟུང་སྟེ་སོས་ཀའི་བར་ཆར་པ་མི་འབབས། རི་མགོ་རྣམས་སྤངས་མདོག་སེར་པོར་གྱུར་ཅིང་མེ་ཡི་འཇིགས་པ་ཧ་ཅང་ཆེ། འདི་ལོར་ཡང་ས་གནས་མ་འདྲ་བ་གསུམ་དུ་རི་བོ་མེ་ཡིས་ཚིག་ནས་ངོས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་གྲོགས་འགའ་དང་ངོ་ཤེས་འགའ་ཡི་ཁང་པ་མེ་ལ་ཤོར་ནས་དཀའ་ངལ་མང་པོ་ཞིག་འཕྲད་བཞིན་པའི་སྐབས་ཡིན། མ་ཟད་ང་ཡི་ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཡོད་སའི་ས་གནས་འདི་ཉིད་ཀྱང་ཉི་མ་ཧ་ཅང་ཚ་ས་ཞིག་ཡིན། ག་དུས་་མཚོ་འགྲམ་ད་སོང་ཡང་ཟ་ཁང་བདག་པོ་རྣམས་ཀྱིས་ཉི་གདུགས་དང་རྐུབ་སྟེག་རང་འགྲིག་ཅན་གྱི་གྲིབ་བསིལ་འོག་ནས་མི་རྣམས་ཀྱིས་དགའ་བའི་འཛུམ་དང་ཟ་མ་བཟའ་བཞིན་པ་མཐོང་ཐེངས་རེར་ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་རྒྱབ་ལོགས་ཉི་རའི་ནང་དུ་ང་ལའང་དེ་འདྲ་ཞིག་ཡོད་ན་ཅི་མ་རུང་བསམ་པའི་བསམ་བློ་རེ་འཁོར་མྱོང་། 
ཁ་སང་ཞོགས་ཟས་བཟའ་བཞིན་པའི་སྐབས་སུ་ཟ་ཁྲིའི་སྒང་ནས་ཁ་པར་གྱི་ཏིར་སྒྲ་ཞིག་ཡོད་པ་དེ་ལ་ཧ་ལོའི་སྒྲ་ཡིས་བསུ་མ་བྱས་དུས་ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་ཚོགས་གཞོན་ཆོས་མིང་དུ་ཀརྨ་དབྱངས་སྐྱིད་དམ་shyna morse རེད་འདུག མོ་རང་ནས་ཟེར་ན། 
(ངས་ཁྱེད་རང་ལ་ཆོས་ཚོགས་རྒྱབ་ལོགས་སུ་ལྷོད་དལ་ངང་འདུག་ས་ཉི་གདུགས་སེར་པོ་དང་རྐུབ་སྟེགས་རང་འགྲིག་ཅན་ཞིག་དྲ་རྒྱའི་རྒྱུད་ནས་མངག་ཉོ་བྱས་ཡོད་པས་གང་འགྱོགས་ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་ཁ་བྱང་ཐོག་ཏུ་འབྱོར་གྱི་རེད) ཟེར་བས་དེ་ནི་ངོ་མ་བསམ་དོན་ལྷུན་འགྲུབ་ཟེར་ན་དེ་རེད། ཅི་འདྲའི་ཡ་མཚན་ལ་ཁ་སང་རང་དེ་འདྲ་ཞིག་ཉོ་དགོས་བསམ་ནས་བསྡད་ཡོད། 
ད་ཡིན་ན་བན་རྒན་ང་ལ་ཉི་རའི་ནང་དུ་བསིལ་གྲིབ་འོག་ནས་བརྩོམ་འབྲི་རྒྱུ་དང་། ཇ་འཐུང་ས་སོགས་ཧ་ཅང་ཕན་པོ་བྱུང་བས་དད་ལྡན་མ་ཀརྨ་དབྱངས་སྐྱིད་ལགས་ལ་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེ་ཞུ་འདོད་བྱུང་། 


Sunday, August 30, 2020

ཕ་རྒན་དྲན་རྟེན་ཟངས་ཀྱི་ལྡི་ཁོག་ཞིག་ཉོས་པའི་ཉིན་མོ།

ད་ནང་ཞོགས་པ་ཁ་འདོན་གྲུབ་མ་ཐག་ཉེ་འཁྲིས་སུ་ཡོད་པའི་ཅ་དངོས་རྙིང་པ་གཙོང་སའི་ཚོང་ཁང་ཞིག་ནང་དུ་སོང་། 
ཚོང་ཁང་དེར་སྐབས་རེ་བོད་པའི་ཅ་དངོས་རྙིང་པ་མཆོད་ཆས་དང་ཐང་སྐུ་སོགས་གོང་ཁེ་བོའི་ངང་ནས་རྙེད་ཀྱི་ཡོད། ལོ་གཅིག་གོང་ཚེ་ལྷ་རྣམ་གསུམ་ཀྱི་གོས་ཆེན་ཚེམ་དྲུབ་ཐང་ཀ་རྙིང་པ་ཞིག་ལ་ཨ་བཅུ་གཉིས་ཀྱིས་ཉོས། དུས་དེ་ནས་བཟུང་སྟེ་གཏམ་དཔེར། གླེན་པས་གཡུ་རྙེད་ཐེངས་གཅིག་ལ་རེ་བ་ཐེངས་མ་བརྒྱ་བྱས་པའི་དཔེ་ལྟར་ག་དུས་ཡིན་ནའང་དུས་ཚོད་ཁོམས་སྐབས་ཚོང་ཁང་འདིའི་ནང་དུ་སོང་གྲངས་ནི་ཉུང་ཉུང་གཏན་ནས་མིན།  
དེ་རིང་ཡོད་པའི་ཅ་དངོས་ཕལ་མོ་ཆེ་ནི་སྡེར་མ་དང་། ཟ་ཁྲི། ཉལ་ཆས། སྣོད་ཆས། རྣ་རྒྱན། མཛུབ་དཀྲིས། སྐེ་རྒྱན་སོགས་རེད་འདུག ཟུར་ཞིག་ལ་མདོག་ཡིད་དུ་འོང་ཞིང་དམར་ལ་སྨུག་མདངས་ཅན་ཟངས་ཀྱི་ལྡི་ཁོག་ཞབས་འོག་ཏུ་མེ་གཏང་ནས་ཟས་རིགས་གཡོས་སྦྱོར་བྱེད་ས་སྤུས་གཙང་ཞིག་མཐོང་། ལག་ཏུ་བླངས་ནས་མིག་གྱེར་གྱེར་སྐེ་འཁྱོག་འཁྱོག་ངང་ཡུན་རིང་པོར་གཡས་བལྟ་གཡོན་བལྟ་ཞིབ་ཏུ་བྱས། ད་རེས་ཀྱི་ཟངས་ཀྱི་ལྡི་ཁོག་འདིའི་བཟོ་ལྟ་དང་། དབྱིབས། ཆེ་ཆུང་སོགས་གང་ལ་བསམ་ཡང་ཉོ་འདོད་བྱུང་། སྣོད་ཞབས་སུ་ཤོག་ཛར་ཞིག་གི་ངོས་སུ་རིན་གོང་ལ་only 12$ ཞེས་གསལ་ན་མི་གསལ་བའི་ཨང་གྲངས་དེ་ཉིད་མཐོང་བ་དང་ལྷན་རང་དབང་མེད་པར་ཉོ་འདོད་ལྷག་པར་སྐྱེས། ངོས་ཀྱི་ཕ་འདས་པོ་དེ་ཉིད་ཅ་དངོས་རྙིང་པའི་རིགས་ལ་དགའ་ཞེན་ཆེ་བ་མ་ཟད། ཤིང་ཕོར་དངུལ་ཤན་ཅན་དང་། ཟངས་དང་རག་གི་སྣོད་སྤྱད་ཉར་རྒྱུ་ལ་ཧ་ཅང་དགའ། ཕ་འདས་པོའི་དྲན་རྟེན་དུ་ཆོས་ཚོགས་སུ་ཤིང་ཕོར་ཆེ་ཆུང་འདྲ་མིན་མང་པོ་ཞིག་ཉར་ཡོད་ཀྱང་། ཟངས་ཀྱི་སྣོད་སྤྱད་ད་ལྟ་ལས་མ་རྙེད་པས་ལྡི་ཁོག་དེ་ཁུར་ནས་ཚོང་དཔོན་མི་རྒན་མིག་ཤེལ་ཅན་དེར་ཨ་སྒོར་བཅུ་གཉིས་སྤྲད་ནས་ཉོས། མི་རྒན་ནས་ཀྱང་you found a good one ཞེས་ཟེར་བཞིན་མཐེ་བོང་སྒྲེང་ཙམ་བྱེད་བཞིན་གདའ། ངས་ཀྱང་ཟངས་ཀྱི་ལྡི་ཁོག་དེ་ཉིད་མཆན་དུ་བཅུག་ནས་ནང་དུ་འབྱོར། ཕ་རྒན་འདས་གྲོངས་སུ་ཕྱིན་ནས་མི་ལོ་ཉེར་བཞི་ཙམ་སོང་ཡང་ད་དུང་ལོ་དང་ཟླ་བ་སོང་བཞིན་ཇེ་དྲན་རེད་འདུག། ཕ་རྒན་ཡོད་པའི་སྐབས་སུ་ད་ལྟ་ནང་བཞིན་ལག་འཛིན་ཁ་པར་དང་ཕར་ཞོག། སྐབས་དེ་དུས་པར་ཆས་དཀྱུས་མ་ཞིག་ཀྱང་སྡེ་དགོན་གཉིས་ཆར་མཐོང་རྒྱུ་ཧ་ཅང་དཀོན། རྒྱུ་མཚན་དེ་བས་ན་ངོས་ཀྱི་ཕ་འདས་པོའི་དྲན་རྟེན་ལ་རང་ཉིད་དགའ་མིན་ལ་མ་ལྟོས་པར་ཁོང་གང་ལ་དགའ་བའི་ཅ་དངོས་རིགས་ཉོ་ནས་ཉར་གྱི་ཡོད། 


།དྲིན་ཅན་ཕ་ལོ་དམ་པ། །མི་བརྗེད་དྲན་རྟེན་ཆེད་དུ། །དེ་རིང་ཚོང་ཁང་ནང་ནས། །ཟངས་ཀྱི་ལྡི་ཁོག་ཉོས་ཡོད། 
།གདོང་ལ་བགྲེས་ཉམས་དོད་ཅིང་། །ལག་ཏུ་ཕྲེང་བ་ཐོགས་པའི། །བོད་ཀྱི་མི་རྒན་མཐོང་དུས། །དྲིན་ཅན་ཕ་ལོ་དྲན་བྱུང་། 
།ཞིམ་པོའི་ཟས་ཞིག་བཟའ་དུས། །ཁྱེད་ཉིད་ཡོད་ན་བསམ་བྱུང་། །དྲོན་པོའི་གོས་ཤིག་མཐོང་དུས། །ཁྱེད་ལ་བཀོན་ན་བསམ་བྱུང་། 
།ཕྱི་རྒྱལ་ལུགས་སྲོལ་མེད་པ། །རང་མགོ་རང་གིས་མི་ཐོན། བོད་པའི་ལུས་སྲོལ་མེད་ཅིང་། །ཕ་མར་གུས་བཀུར་མེད་པ། །
།དེང་དུས་གཞོན་སྐྱེས་འགའ་ཡིས། །ཕ་མར་དྲིན་ལན་མེད་པར། །ཁ་ལན་ཚིག་ལན་སློག་དུས། །སེམས་པ་གཏིང་ནས་སྐྱོ་བྱུང་། 

དེ་རིང་གི་ཉིན་ཐོ་དེ་ཙམ་ཡིན་ཁ་དྲོ། ཚེ་རིང་།

Sunday, August 2, 2020

ཕ་འདས་པོ་དེ་རྨི་ལམ་ཁྱད་མཚར་ཞིག་གཏང་བྱུང་།"A Vivid Dream About My Father"

ད་ནངས་ཞོགས་པ་ཞི་བར་གཤེགས་པའི་ཕ་འདས་པོ་དེ་རྨི་ལམ་ཁྱེད་མཚར་ཞིག་གཏང་བྱུང་། 
ཞོགས་པ་ཆུ་ཚོད་ལྔ་པ་ཙམ་གྱི་སྐབས་སུ་རྨི་ལམ་ནང་ཁོ་རང་གསོན་པའི་སྐབས་སུ་མགོ་ཞྭ་རྐང་ལྷམ་ཚང་མ་གཅིག་པ་དང་མ་ཟད་གདོང་ཉམས་སོགས་གཅིག་པ་རེད་འདུག། ཁོ་རང་འཇམ་དབྱམས་ཆོས་འཁོར་གླིང་ཆོས་ཚོགས་ཀྱི་སྒོ་ཁར་སླེབས་བྱུང་། ངས་དགའ་བཞིན་དུ་གློ་བུར་དུ་སྒོ་ཕྱེས་ནས་ནང་དུ་ཁྲིད་ཅིང་སྣེ་ལེན་བྱས་པ་ཡིན། ང་ནི་ཧ་ཅང་དགའ་གི་འདུག། ཡིན་ནའངརྨི་ལམ་ཡིན་པ་ཡང་ཤེས་ཀྱི་འདུག། ང་ཡི་ཕ་འདས་གྲོངས་སུ་ཕྱིན་ནས་མི་ལོ་ཉེར་བཞི་འགྲོ་གི་ཡོད། ངེད་གཉིས་ཇ་མཉམ་བཏུང་བྱས་ནས་ཁྱུག་ཙམ་ཞིག་བསྡད། ཕ་རྒན་ནས་འདི་ལྟར་ཟེར། ང་ཕར་རང་ཡུལ་དུ་མ་སོང་བའི་གོང་ང་ལ་ཟྭ་ཐུག་ཞིག་ཁྱེད་རང་མཉམ་དུ་ཟ་འདོད་ཡོད་ཅེས་ཟེར། འདི་ལོའི་དཔྱིད་ཀར་ཏོག་དབྱིབས་ནད་ངན་དེས་རྐྱེན་བྱས་ནས་ཟྭ་བཀོག་ལ་འགྲོ་ཐུབ་མ་སོང་བས་ང་ཡི་ནང་ལ་་ཟྭ་གཏན་ནས་མེད་པས་ཅི་དགོས་ན་བསམ་བྱུང་། དེ་མ་ཐག་ཕ་རྒན་ནས་འདི་ལྟར་ཟེར། ངེད་གཉིས་བྷོ་སི་ཊོན་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་དང་། ཕ་དཀོན་མཆོག་གཉིས་ནང་དུ་ཟྭ་ཐུག་བཟའ་ལ་འགྲོ་ཟེར། ངས་ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་དང་དཀོན་མཆོག་གཉིས་གང་འདྲ་་བྱས་ནས་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ཡོད་ཞུས་པས།  ཁྱེད་རང་ལོ་ལྟར་ཁོང་ཚོ་སར་འགྲོ་གི་ཡོད་དམ་ཟེར། ངས་འགྲོ་གི་ཡོད་ལགས།ཟེར་བ་ཡིན། ང་ལ་ལྟོས་ན་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་དང་ཕ་དཀོན་མཆོག་གཉིས་ཀྱི་ནང་མི་ལུང་པ་འདིར་ང་ཡི་ཁྱིམ་ཚང་གཉིས་པ་འདྲ་བོ་ཡིན། ང་ག་དུས་བྷོ་སོ་ཊོན་ལ་སོང་ནའང་ཟས་གོས་གནས་མལ་སོགས་ཀྱིས་མས་བུ་ལ་བརྩེ་བ་ལྟར་ཧ་ཅང་སྣེ་ལེན་ཡག་པོ་གནང་གི་ཡོད། 
ཕ་རྒན་ནས་ད་ལྟ་རང་འགྲོ་ཟེར་བ་དང་ངེད་ཕ་བུ་གཉིས་སྐད་ཅིག་དེ་ཉིད་དུ་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་སྒོ་འགྲམ་དུ་སླེབས་འདུག། ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ནས་སྒེའུ་ནང་ནས་ང་མཐོང་བ་དང་མཉམ་དུ་མཁན་པོ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཕེབས་འདུག་ག། ང་ཚོའི་ཟྭ་ཐུག་བཀོལ་ཡོད་ནང་དུ་ཕེབས་ནས་ཟྭ་ཐུག་མཉམ་དུ་མཆོད་ཟེར་ཞོར་སྒོ་ཕྱེས་སོང་། ངེད་ཕ་བུ་གཉིས་ཟྭ་ཐུག་བཟའ་རུ་ཡོང་བ་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱིས་གང་འདྲ་བྱས་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ཡོད་དམ།?
ངེད་ཕ་བུ་གཉིས་ནང་དུ་འཛུལ་ནས་ཚང་མར་འཚམས་འདྲི་དང་ལྷན་ང་ཡི་ཕ་ངོ་སྤྲོད་བྱས་པ་ཡིན། ཟུར་དུ་མགོ་བོར་མེ་ཏོག་འདྲ་མིན་དང་གཟུགས་པོར་དབུས་གཙང་གི་སྐྱེ་དམན་གྱི་ཆས་གོས་ཅན་འདྲ་བོ་བུད་མེད་གཉིས་ཀྱི་ལག་ཏུ་སྤུས་ཤེལ་གྱི་ཕྲེང་བ་དམར་སེར་ཧ་ཅང་ཡག་པོ་རེ་བཟུང་ནས་རེ་རེ་བཞིན་ངེད་ཕ་བུ་གཉིས་ལ་སྤྲད་བྱུང་། ཕ་རྒན་འདས་པོ་ནི་ནམ་རྒྱུན་ཕྲེང་བ་འདྲ་མིན་ཉར་རྒྱུ་ལ་ཧ་ཅང་དགའ་མཁན་ཞིག་ཡིན་སྟབས་ཁོང་ཕྲེང་བ་དེར་ཧ་ཅང་དགའ་སོང་། ང་ལ་སྤྲད་པའི་ཕྲེང་བ་དེ་ཉིད་ཀྱང་ཁོ་རང་ལ་སྤྲད་པ་ཡིན། ཁོ་རང་ནས་ཕྲེང་བ་གཉིས་ལག་པ་གཡས་གཡོན་དུ་བཟུང་ནས་འཛུམ་མདངས་བཅས་ང་ལ་ཟྭ་ཐུག་མེད་ཀྱང་འགྲིག། ང་ལ་ཕྲེང་བ་འདིའི་ཆེད་དུ་ཡོང་བ་ཡིན་ཟེར་བཞིན་ནམ་མཁར་བཀྱག་སོང་། ནམ་མཁའ་ནས་ཀྱང་དེ་ལྟར་ཟེར་བཞིན་ཇེ་མཐོར་ཇེ་མཐོར་སོང་ནས་མཐར་མི་སྣང་བར་གྱུར་སོང་། ང་ཚོའི་གཅིག་གིས་གཅིག་ལ་བལྟ་བཞིན་ཟྭ་ཐུག་བཟའ་རུ་ཡོང་སྒུག་བྱས་ནས་ཅུང་བསྡད། ཞོགས་པ་ཆུ་ཚོད་ལྔ་པའི་སྐབས་སུ་གཉིད་ལས་སད་པ་དང་མཉམ་དུ་སེམས་ལ་དགའ་སྐྱོ་འདྲེས་མས་ཁེངས་འདུག། ང་ཡི་ཚོར་བ་རུ་ད་དུང་ང་བྷོ་སི་ཊོན་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ནང་དུ་ཡོད་པའི་ཚོར་བ་འདུག། དྲི་བ་ནི་ད་རེས་ག་རེ་བྱས་ནས་ངོས་ཀྱི་ཕ་འདས་པོ་རྨི་ལམ་ནང་ནས་འདིར་ཡོང་རེད། ལན། 
དེ་ནི་ཁོ་རང་གསོན་པའི་སྐབས་སུ་ཆེས་དགའ་ཤོས་ནི་གཅོད་ཉན་རྒྱུ་དང་ཉམས་ལེན་བྱེད་རྒྱུ་དེ་རེད། ཁོ་རང་གིས་ཌཱ་རུ་བཀྲོལ་བ་དང་དྲིལ་བུ་བསིལ་བ་སོགས་བྱེད་མི་ཤེས་ཀྱང་། གལ་ཆེ་ཤོས་དམིགས་པ་བཟུང་རྒྱུ་དེ་ཡིན་སྟབས་དེ་ཁོ་རང་གིས་བྱེད་ཤེས་ཀྱི་ཡོད། ཁ་སང་རེས་གཟའ་ལྷག་པ་སྤྱི་ཟླ་བདུན་པའི་སྤྱི་ཚེས་ཉེར་དགུའི་ཉིན་མོ་ཉིའུ་ཡོག་ལ་གཏན་བཞུགས་ངོས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་གྲོགས་འགའ་ཡི་རེ་སྐུལ་ལྟར་བཅོད་མཁའ་འགྲོའི་གད་རྒྱངས་ངོ་དེབ་ཐད་གཏོང་རྒྱུད་ནས་བཏོན་པ་ཡིན། རྒྱུ་མཚན་དེར་བསྟེན་ཁ་སང་ཕ་རྒན་འདས་པོ་རྨི་ལམ་ནང་དུ་མཇལ་བ་རེད་བསམ། 
ཉིན་མོ་དེར་བྷོ་སི་ཊོན་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ལ་ཁ་པར་གཏང་ནས་ད་ནུབ་རྨི་ལམ་གཏང་ཚུལ་བཤད་དུས་ཨ་མ་ཡེ་ཤེས་ལགས་ནས་ཀྱང་དེ་རིང་ང་ལ་དམིགས་བསལ་གྱི་བཀྲ་ཤིས་པའི་རྟགས་མཚན་སྣང་ཚུལ་མ་འདྲ་བ་འགའ་ཤས་བྱུང་ཚུལ་བཤད་བྱུང་། 
"A Vivid Dream About My Father" 

Last night, I had a vivid dream about my father, which I would like to share. In the dream, my father came to California and visited Manjushri Dharma Center. I opened the door for him and I was so happy to see him standing there. He looked just like how he used to, the same beard, the same clothes, the hair, and smiling face. He had such a beautiful smile. I knew that it was a dream while I was dreaming, and I also knew that he had passed away 24 years ago.

My father made prostrations to the center's shrine, and then we ate food and drank tea together. He then told me that he wanted to have some nettle soup with me before he left. In my mind, I thought to myself, because of the pandemic, I couldn't head out to pick nettle leaves. I didn't have any nettle in my house, so what should I do? While I was wondering this, my Dad instantly knew what I was thinking and said to me "No problem, Son. We can head to Ama Yeshe's house in Boston." In the dream, I was astonished because my father had never met Ama Yeshe. I asked my dad, "How do you know her? You have never met her before!" He asked me if I visited them every year, and I said, "Yes!"

Ama Yeshe and P'ha La Konchok are like second family to me, like surrogate parents. They have treated me so well and have always been so kind to me. Whenever I'm in Boston, they prepare delicious food for me and always show me great hospitality. Anyway, my father said to me "Let's go to Boston right now, and eat nettle soup at Ama Yeshe's house!" 

As soon as he said that, instantly, we found ourselves at Ama Yeshe's house. She was so surprised to see me standing outside her window. She said "Oh, Khen Rinpoche, you here! We are so happy to see you! We have already made some nettle soup for you here! Perfect timing! Please do come in and eat with us." Ama Yeshe knows how much I love nettle soup. I greeted her with, "Tashi Delek," and introduced her to my father. 

Inside Ama Yeshe's house, I saw two beautiful women. They were wearing fine jewels and silk brocade chubas. They looked just like dakinis, or like the goddess of long life, Tseringma. Each of these dakinis had a very beautiful amber mala in her hands. They gave the malas to us: one to my father, and one to me. My father always loved malas, and had many precious malas in his collection, so I offered mine to him as well. He held both malas in his hands.

Suddenly, my father said that he did not want to eat nettle soup anymore as he had only really come here for these malas. He said he had to go, and then he smiled broadly, and began to rise up up into the sky. He flew farther and farther away, until he disappeared into the sky. I waited for a while, as I thought he might come back for the nettle soup, but he did not.

That was when I awoke from this strange dream. It was 5:00 AM. At first it felt as if I was still really at Ama Yeshe's house in Boston. I had a bittersweet feeling about the dream. At one and the same time, I was both sad that I had not gotten the chance to eat nettle soup with my father, and happy that he had visited me. 

Vivid dreams like these seem so real. I wondered to myself, Why did my father come into my dream now, of all possible times? I believe it was because I did the Chod practice on July 29th, the night of my dream. My father especially loved Chod pujas. He often used to listen to my chanting while I was doing my Chod practices. He didn't use the bell and damaru, but he knew all the visualizations of offering the body (Lujin). He was familiar not only with the words of the Chod texts, but also their profound meaning. For him, Chod was a very special practice, and that could well be why he came into my dream last night. 

Later on, I called Ama Yeshe and told her about my dream.  She replied that she was very happy to hear about it. She added that she me had also seen some special auspicious signs in the sky that morning just before I called her. I just wanted to share this with all of you.

Friday, July 31, 2020

A Message about my dear Dharma Sister

I want to write a brief message about my dear Dharma sister,  Tsering Lhamo. She is an old friend we met in Singapore some 12 years ago and have been very close ever since. She is also a student of Garchen Rinpoche, who is her root guru. In addition she had also gone on a pilgrimage to the holy mountains of Lapchi with Garchen Rinpoche 8yrs ago for a month long retreat. Lapchi is where Milarepa had previously meditated and subdued all evil forces in the cave of Subjugation. 

As some of you may know, I gave an oral teaching on Gampopa's Thargyen, "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation", at the Manjushri Dharma Center in Pacific Grove. Every Wednesday for almost 3 years, I went through the text, speaking and explaining in Tibetan, which was translated by  Jampa Tharchin in the presence of the California Sangha. These talks were audio recorded and sent to some of my students in the United States and overseas. She undertook the transcription of all the recorded teachings, of which there are hours of audio. So far, she has painstakingly transcribed 41 sessions amounting to almost 900 pages. She anticipates that, upon completion, there will be around 1500 to 1700 pages in total. She listens to the recording multiple times when transcribing, writing and editing to ensure continuity and clarity in her English transcription of David's translation. .

Throughout the talks on "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation", I found that people had many questions concerning the text and learned more about Western disciples' minds. Many of my students, including my Dharma friend Lama Rigzin who lives in England, requested that I compose a shortened summary of the text, but without poetic and flowery language, so that it would make it easy to translate into other languages, and would be accessible to people of different cultures. For the benefit of my students, I wrote "Excellent Path of Freedom: The Jewel Ornament of Liberation in Brief". I later gave talks on this teaching in brief, which were also simultaneously translated into English with help of Jampa Tharchin over a few months on Wednesday nights at the MDC. These teachings were also recorded and a CD was sent to her which she plans to transcribe in its entirety. She has also completed the transcription of Tokme Zangpo's 37 Practices of Bodhisattva Teachings which i had taught and were previously recorded and distributed in a 13 CD set. All our previous sessions at Wave Street Studios since the very beginning of our live sessions ten years ago have also been transcribed. It is my wish to print all of these teachings into booklets for the benefit of all my students.

I also want to say that she is currently writing my childhood story and autobiography, "The Precious One from Digla: Oyotari". In 2009, she expressed her interest in writing about my childhood experiences and formative years in Tibet. This, along with requests from other students who had asked me about my life and background, prompted the initiation of this undertaking. She spends countless hours listening to me on voice recordings, conversing with me, transcribing, and converting everything into literary prose.

In addition to this labor, she has sponsored my most recent publication, the book "A Ship Sailing to Liberation: A Commentary to the Heartfelt Advice of Dharma Nectar". She has told me that it is her aspiration to finish my autobiography and transcribe the two Thargyen oral teachings before she passes, after which she says that she can die with no regrets. And she believes that if the reading of this autobiography changes even one person's life, her efforts will have been worth it. Her endeavors are a great service to me and my Dharma, and I believe that these activities are also beneficial to her. I hope that these efforts will benefit many, and I wish to thank her for all of her hard work, diligence, and patience; she is an example of a student full of devotion to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

We do not necessarily need to perform 100,000 prostrations or recite hundreds and thousands of mantras. But just by merely doing positive actions, we would be planting the seeds of virtue that would sprout and ripen in future lifetimes. The seed of Buddha nature is already in our hearts and minds. We just need the nourishment of water and sun for it to grow and bloom 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

THARGYEN SESSION 41

For this blog, I wanted to share a transcription of the 41st session of the Thargyen teaching about the cultivation of bodhicitta and bodhisattva vows; as some of you may know, I gave an oral teaching on Gampopa's Thargyen, "The Jewel Ornament of Liberation", at the Manjushri Dharma Center in Pacific Grove. Every Wednesday for almost 3 years, I went through the text, speaking and explaining in Tibetan, which was translated by Jampa Tharchin in the presence of the California Sangha. These talks were audio recorded and sent to some of my students in the United States and overseas.
My heart student from Singapore, Tsering Lhamo, undertook the transcription of all the recorded teachings, of which there are hours of audio. So far, she has painstakingly transcribed 41 sessions amounting to almost 900 pages. She anticipates that, upon completion, there will be around 1500 to 1700 pages in total. She listens to the recording multiple times when transcribing, writing and editing to ensure continuity and clarity in her English transcription of Jampa Tharchin’s translation. Below you can read the transcription of session 41 of the Thargyen teaching:

THARGYEN SESSION 41 
So set your motivation thinking that no matter what, I must attain the perfect enlightenment and eternal bliss in order to liberate all living beings throughout space who have been my mother from the dangers of samsara, solitary peace and nirvana. It is for this purpose that I will listen to these teachings and I will put them into practice. We will be continuing on with the incomparable Gampopa’s composition “The Jewel Ornament of Liberation”. It is very important that we have some understanding of what dharma really means. In general we can speak of two aspects of dharma; the expression of dharma and that which is expressed.

Without the expression of the dharma then there is no dharma that is expressed. And when we speak about the expression, we can categorise that into the teachings that Buddha gave on Vinaya, discipline, concentrative meditation and wisdom. The abhi-dharma, the sutras and the vinaya; these three expressions of the dharma. And based on that expression, the commentaries written by the Indian and tibetan masters, we get the explanation on what that dharma practiced thats being expressed in the scriptures. That which expresses the dharma are the tripitakas or baskets of the teachings as they are called. The sutras, the vinaya and the abhidharma. And then what the three trainings that are described in those teachings are the training of ethical disciple, concentration and wisdom.

So without hearing the teachings, we won’t know what to practice. Therefore we listen and study the three baskets of the teachings and we go on to contemplate those and meditate on them. That is one way which you can say that the listening part is the expression of the teachings. Then the contemplation and the meditation is the actual practice. It is really important that we incorporate the teachings and put them into practice. If we accumulate a lot of knowledge but don’t really practice it then that is not appropriate. Engaging in the three trainings of ethical discipline, concentration, and wisdom are so important.

In practicing ethical discipline, one aspect of that is restraining ourselves from harmful actions. Such as those we have described in the teachings of the ten non-virtues and abandoning them. For example killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and non virtues of speech of lying, divisive speech and so on. It is in order to protect our practice of concentration and wisdom. The reason why we practice ethical discipline and morality is to act as a protective boundary in which we can safely practice concentration and wisdom within that. We can consider the higher training in concentration, which is primarily referred to shamatha type of meditation. Which the mind is brought to single pointed focus quiescence or calm-abiding. Then the training in wisdom can be summarised under the training of special insight; vipassana in Sanskrit.  

Without that expression of the teachings then there is no way to know how to practice them. This step of expressing the teachings and receiving that expression; of hearing the teachings is so crucial to get some kind of understanding for ourselves. So in this six fold outline of the teachings we have reached the fourth section of the outline:

Buddha nature, which is the timeless original nature of all sentient beings.
The basis, the person who attains enlightenment;
precious human rebirth
The condition which inspires that attainment; the virtuous spiritual guide.
The methods for accomplishing it, which are the instructions
The fruits of accomplishing it, the fully enlightened Buddha kayas or bodies of buddhas.
The activities that occur once having accomplished that; non conceptual deeds benefitting living beings.

There are many instructions on impermanence, karmic cause and effect, sufferings of cyclic existence, relying upon a spiritual master,  that have been given which are included. Within these various methods are the instructions on attaining enlightenment. We have reached Chapter 9 in the book; the cultivation of bodhicitta. This chapter is called fully taking ahold of bodhicitta and in this process of cultivating bodhicitta, there are 7 limb prayers that is done in order to support that.  Some of you may not have been here before so I want to mention that what we are doing now is going through the 7 limb prayers for the purpose of cultivating bodhicitta. They are called the 7 limbs or the 7 branch prayers  and it is important for us to understand which part of the branch they are.

In this context it is really for the cultivation of bodhicitta and in this case the 7 limb prayers are really branches in support of the cultivation of bodhicitta. Usually we can consider this 7 limb prayer to be branches of realizing selflessness. The understanding of selflessness or Shunyata in buddhist teachings is so central to all the teachings. First there is the prostration or homage, second there is the making of offerings, third is the confession or the purification of negativity. Fourth is the rejoicing in virtues of others, fifth is the request for giving of the teachings made to one’s spiritual masters. And sixth is the requesting or beseeching the spiritual masters not to pass into parinirvana. Finally there is the branch of the dedication prayer.

These 7 limbs pervade all of tibetan buddhism and you will find these 7 limbs in almost every kind of practice. So it is something that is indispensable. We have reached Part 2; the actual ceremony on Page 162 where the bodhisattva vows are actually taken. The preparation of the 7 limb prayer is now led up to the actual taking of the bodhisattva vow; the actual generation of bodhicitta. So lets read this section on the actual ceremony: 

2. The Actual Ceremony.
Expressing the commitment is explained in the Collection of Transcendent Instructions. When the Arya Manjushri was born as King Ampa, he went to the Buddha Meghanadaghosa and obtained the instructions on the development of aspiration bodhicitta and took the bodhisattva’s vow at the same time. Likewise, we also should take them together. It is said:

From the beginning to end
Of beginningless and endless samsara,
In order to perform limitless activities for the benefit of sentient beings,
In front of the Lord of the World,
I cultivate bodhicitta
And so forth

Repeat this three times.

Or, one can receive bodhicitta instructions by reciting the brief words from Engaging in the Conduct of Bodhisattvas:
Just as the previous Sugatas
Gave birth to an awakening mind,
And just as they successively dwelt In the bodhisattva practices—
Likewise for the sake of all that live
Do I give birth to an awakening mind,
And likewise shall I too
Successively follow the practices.

Repeat this three times. If one wishes to cultivate bodhicitta and take the vow separately, then recite the words separately and receive it. This completes the actual bodhisattva’s vow ceremony

This ceremony of taking the bodhisattva vow is something that we do every day in our retreat. We recite these words at that time and in your own practice at home, make a note of this practice here and you can do this at home. Reciting the first verse on page 163 “from the beginning to end of beginningless and endless samsara In order to perform limitless activities” and so on. Say it three times and then feel that you have really renewed your bodhisattva vows. You can go on to recite the verse from the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s way of life; and repeat it three times.  So you feel that you have generated bodhicitta and think that you have become a bodhisattva. Think that from this day onwards you are going to give up everything associated with selfishness and self importance. And you are going to cultivate everything that has to do with cherishing and caring about others.

So it is good to make this kind of promise or vow around the virtue we are creating. There are two methods for cultivating bodhicitta and the bodhisattva vow. One comes from Maitreya to Asanga and the other one comes from Manjushri to Nagarjuna and so on. So this is the one that comes from the lineage through Manjushri; with is said to be the lineage of the profound view. Whereas the other one is called the lineage of the vast activities. I think this one coming from Manjushri is very auspicious for us since our centre is Manjushri Dharma Centre. Lets read the next section:

3. The Conclusion.
Make offerings in appreciation for the Triple Gem and meditate on vast joy and happiness about the great accomplishment that has been achieved. It is said:
A person with discriminating wisdom Holds bodhicitta with a great, clear mind. In order to further this He should joyfully uplift his mind this way. And so forth.

Thus the tradition of Shantideva has been explained through the preparation, actual ceremony and conclusion.

Let’s read the next section on Dharmakirti down to the bottom of page 165:

B. Dharmakirti. The tradition of Dharmakirti of Acharya Asanga’s school, which was founded by Arya Maitreya, has two topics: 1. cultivating aspiration bodhicitta and 2. holding the vow of action bodhicitta. The former contains three topics: a) preparation, b) actual ceremony, and c) conclusion.

1. Cultivation of Aspiration Bodhicitta.

a) Preparation. The preparation also has three subdivisions:
(1) supplication,
(2) gathering accumulations, and
(3) special refuge.

(1) Supplication. The disciple who wishes to cultivate bodhicitta proceeds toward a qualified spiritual master and does prostrations. The spiritual master gives instructions and, through his instruction, causes the disciple to renounce samsara, develop great compassion toward all sentient beings, create the desire to attain Buddhahood, develop confidence in the Three Jewels, and develop devotion for the master. After that, the disciple repeats after the master this way: “Please hear me, master. As the previous Thus-gone Ones, Foe Destroyers, Complete Perfect Buddhas and bodhisattvas who reside in high levels first cultivated the mind of unsurpassed, perfect enlightenment, likewise I,___________ , request the master to allow me to cultivate the enlightened attitude of the unsurpassed, perfect enlightenment.” Repeat this three times.

(2) Gathering Accumulations. First, prostrate to the master and Triple Gem, then make offerings of whatever you can actually gather, or visualize in the mind all the offerings that exist. The shramanera vows are received from the updadya (Tib. khenpo) and acharya, bhikshu vows are obtained from the Sangha, but the two types of bodhicitta are obtained through the accumulation of merit. So therefore, if one has wealth it is not sufficient to offer just a little; one needs to make a great offering. In previous times, wealthy bodhisattvas made great offerings. They offered ten million temples and then cultivated bodhicitta. The Fortunate Eon Sutra mentions:

During the regency of King Zamlin, the Sugata Drakjim After having offered over ten million temples to the Tathagata Dawaytok Developed bodhicitta for the first time. If one has little wealth, it is sufficient to make a small offering. In previous times, bodhisattvas who had little wealth made small offerings. By offering a lamp made of one blade of grass, they cultivated bodhicitta. It is said: During the regency of Sugata Ronkye Tenpa, the Tathagata Thayewo After having offered a lamp made of a single blade of grass Developed bodhicitta for the first time. Again, if one has no wealth, there is no need to feel sad over the lack of means. It will be sufficient to do three prostrations. In previous times, bodhisattvas did three prostrations and developed bodhicitta. It is said: The Tathagata Yongden Trengdan After having done three prostrations Before the Tathagata Gyi Dan Developed bodhicitta for the first time.

(3) Special Refuge. This is the same as was explained before in chapter 8.

So as it is mentioned here vows of Pratimoksha or individual liberation such as the monk’s vows that Rinpoche has taken. They are taken independence upon the spiritual master and the community of sangha. Whereas as it says here the bodhicitta vow is taken on the basis of accumulations of positive energy. Through having conviction and devotion towards one’s spiritual master; creating a great accumulations of merit. And it is on this basis that the bodhicitta is generated when the bodhisattva vow is taken.

There is relative or conventional bodhicitta and ultimate bodhicitta. The relative bodhicitta is the kind of bodhicitta where we aspire to enlightenment based on loving kindness and compassion. Based on this love and compassion in our mind is the relative bodhicitta. And ultimate bodhicitta in brief is then the realisation of selflessness or Shunyata. If we want to attain these bodhicittas, first of all we have to develop the conventional bodhicitta aspiring to full enlightenment out of love and compassion for sentient beings. And creating the merit or positive energy to be able to sustain that kind of motivation. Then to develop the ultimate bodhicitta which has to be developed on the basis of conventional bodhicitta.

Lets now read from the top pf page 166 all the way through to the conclusion:

b) Actual Ceremony. The master gives instructions to the disciple in this way: “Wherever space pervades, there are sentient beings. Wherever there are sentient beings, they are pervaded by the afflicting emotions. Wherever there are afflicting emotions, negative karma pervades. Wherever there are evil deeds, suffering pervades. These sentient beings who are suffering were all our parents and these parents were very kind to us. Thus, your kind parents are sinking in the ocean of samsara, tortured by innumerable sufferings; there is no one to protect them. There is so much suffering that they are exhausted and overpowered by delusions. So meditate on how wonderful it would be if they met with peace, the face of happiness. How wonderful if they were free of this suffering! Contemplate this meditation on loving-kindness and compassion for a moment.

“Furthermore, contemplate ‘At this time I have no ability to benefit all these beings.’ Therefore, in order to benefit all these beings, I should attain the state of the one who is called the complete Buddha, the one who has fully exhausted all the faults and perfected all the qualities, has all the abilities to benefit sentient beings. Bring this in the mind.”

After that, repeat after the spiritual master: “Please hear me, all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions. Please hear me, masters. My name is ___________ . By the root virtues I accumulated in other lifetimes through the practices of generosity, moral ethics, and meditation practice, whether I did them myself, asked others to do them, or rejoiced in other’s good deeds, by all those virtues, as the Buddhas, the previous Thus-gone Ones, Foe Destroyers, Fully Perfect Enlightened Ones, Exalted Ones, and the great bodhisattva mahasattvas who reside in the high levels first cultivated the mind of the unsurpassed, perfect enlightenment, likewise I, ___________, from now on until I achieve perfect, unsurpassed enlightenment will cultivate the mind of unsurpassed, perfect enlightenment for the deliverance of all those sentient beings who have not crossed, to release those who are not released, to help those who have not found the breath to expel it, and to help those who have not achieved the full nirvana to achieve it.” Thus repeat three times.

“Beings who have not crossed” means the sentient beings who inhabit the hell realms, hungry ghosts, and animals—those in the lower realms who have not crossed the ocean of suffering. “Deliver” means to liberate them from the suffering of the lower realms and establish them in the higher realms of gods and humans.

 “Those who are not released” means the beings in the human and god realms who are not released from the bondage of iron fetter-like afflicting emotions. “Released” means establishing them in the definite goodness by releasing them from the afflicting emotions and achieving the state of liberation.

“Those who have not found the breath” means those Hearers and Solitary Realisers who have not found the “breath” of the Mahayana. “To expel the breath” means those who have expelled their breath in the view and behaviour of the Mahayana vehicle by cultivating the mind in the supreme enlightenment and attaining the state of the tenth bhumi.

“Those who have not achieved the full nirvana” means those bodhisattvas who have not attained the non-abiding nirvana. “To achieve the full nirvana” means that these bodhisattvas proceed through all the paths and bhumis and then achieve the full nirvana, which means they attain Buddhahood.

“For” means making commitment to achieve enlightenment in order to accomplish all the necessary actions.

c) Conclusion. Having achieved such a great benefit, one should have great joy and should meditate on great happiness. Also, one should receive explanation of all the trainings. Thus, one who has cultivated this mind is called a bodhisattva, which means having the desire to achieve enlightenment in order to benefit all sentient beings, having the desire to liberate all sentient beings after achieving enlightenment, focusing the mind on enlightenment and sentient beings, and, for this purpose, possessing a great warrior-mind and indomitable courage.

This completes the ceremony for cultivation of aspiration bodhicitta.

So the practice of the Mahayana is extremely vast; we talk about developing love and compassion. And this is not just love for one’s family or one’s own country. When we talk about great compassion, here is where it is really described. “Wherever space pervades there are sentient beings. Wherever there are sentient beings, they are pervaded by the afflicting emotions. Wherever there are afflicting emotions, negative karma pervades. Wherever there are evil deeds, suffering pervades.” And so on. It is talking about sentient beings wherever they are throughout the entirety of space. We are not even talking about just this world or universe but through the entirety of wherever there is space.

This is the object of love and compassion when we speak about the great compassion.  Even though we can’t implement this right now, to set our motivation as vast as we possibly can is the idea. Often when people think about love and compassion, they think about it as something benefitting the other person. That you are giving them something so they really don’t think so much about how it is beneficial to themselves. Actually when we develop this love and compassion, the one who receives the most benefit from doing that is ourseves. What is the reason for that? That is because we have wandered everywhere in the sufferings of cyclic existence of samsara. Due to the creation of negative karma which is all on the basis of this self centered attitude of ‘me, me, me’. This has been the basis that has caused us to keep wandering in suffering.

So if we would like to realize selflessness and manifest this realization of Shunyata, there is only one best thing to do in order to accomplish that. That is to give up this sense of self importance; that oneself is the most supremely important of all. And to take up this attitude of cherishing others; that others are supremely important. If we can do that; to cultivate this compassion for others and give up this self centered mind, then it would be easy for us to realize Shunyata or selflessness.   This is exemplified in that verse from Shantideva that I often quote about whatever happiness that arises in the world arises out of love and cherishing the happiness of others. And whatever suffering that exists in the world arises out of the sense of self-importance or selfishness. And the quotation goes on to say that “there is no need to say much just look at the difference between Buddhas who have devoted themselves to the happiness of others and sentient beings wandering in suffering out of their self-centered attitude. Just look at the difference between these two.

We can see here that this book is not just something to be explained or listened to one time and be done with it. It is something that is to be practiced continually. Now going on with Holding the vow of action Bodhicitta up to beneficial effects:

2. Holding the Vow of Action Bodhicitta. There are three topics regarding taking the action bodhicitta vow:
a) preparation,
b) actual ceremony, and
c) conclusion.

a) Preparation. Preparation has ten subdivisions: supplicating, asking about common obstacles, explaining the different types of downfalls, explaining the faults of downfalls, explaining the beneficial effects of taking the vow, gathering the accumulations, asking about the uncommon obstacles, encouragement, developing special altruistic thought, and briefly explaining the training.

b) Actual Ceremony. The disciple should cultivate the desire to accept the vow. The master calls the noble disciple by name and asks, “The basis of training of all the bodhisattvas of the past and those moral ethics, the basis of training of all the bodhisattvas of the future and those moral ethics, the basis of training of all the bodhisattvas abiding in the ten directions in the present and those moral ethics, the bodhisattvas of the past who were trained on the basis of those trainings and moral ethics, the bodhisattvas of the future who will be trained, the bodhisattvas abiding in the ten directions in the present who are being trained on the basis of those trainings and moral ethics—all the moral ethics are the moral ethics of restraint, the moral ethics of accumulating virtues and the moral ethics of benefiting sentient beings—do you want to accept these from me, a bodhisattva with the name of ?” This is asked three times. The disciple should respond, “Yes, I want to” three times.

c) Conclusion. The conclusion has six subdivisions: making an announcement, explaining the beneficial effects of entering into the omniscient wisdom state, warning not to proclaim the vow randomly, making the disciple understand by briefly describing the training, offering as appreciation, and dedicating the root virtues. This concludes taking the action bodhicitta vow. This is the tradition of Dharmakirti.

So here we have the explanation of taking the vow, holding the vow and action bodhicitta. There are two types of bodhicitta; the aspiring or aspiration bodhicitta and the action or engaging bodhicitta. The aspiring bodhicitta is a wish and it takes place in the mind. Meditating on the four immeasurables and it is the wish to attain enlightenment in order to benefit beings. But the action bodhicitta is actually putting it into practice. This means to employ your speech and physical actions to really benefit beings by practicing the six perfections; generosity, ethical discipline, patience and so on. And the four methods of gathering disciples. These actions that are taken up solely to benefit others.

We will stop here for today and if anyone has any questions, we can take some questions.

Question: We were just reading page 166 that says “Beings who have not crossed” means the sentient beings who inhabit the hell realms, hungry ghosts, and animals—those in the lower realms who have not crossed the ocean of suffering. “Deliver” means to liberate them from the suffering of the lower realms and establish them in the higher realms of gods and humans.” I thought at some point it will say that animals for instance could not come into a higher realm. I may not be understanding this correctly.

Answer: While it is true that in that animal state, that animal doesn’t have the capacity to create the causes then and there to attain higher states of cyclic existence or to attain enlightenment. But the reason the animal rebirth is taken because there have been previous negative karma that led to that rebirth. But when the animal dies or passes beyond that state, there are other positive karma that they have created before.  That can cause them to take birth in human realms or the upper realms of existence. It is possible for them to move into the upper realms of samsara or even to go on to attain enlightenment. Because they have created causes previously for upper rebirth and attaining Sukhavati or the purelands.

It is the case of them having created the karma but it didn’t have the chance to ripen when they were still in the animal realm.  It can’t ripen at that moment so it is karma that has been accumulated but not yet ripened. But once they pass away from their animal existence, and another more positive karma ripens for them, and they take birth in the human realm. Then they can then experience the result of those positive karmas that they have created before.

You may not remember this long story about great master Vasubandu; who was the master of the abhidharma teachings of phenomenology which was quite complex. He was teaching on this subject of abhidharma at one time and there were these two pigeons outside his house that would just stay there and listen to him. Then at one point they were eaten by a hawk and the took rebirth as two disciples of Vasubandu. Because of those imprints and predispositions that they received in their minds from hearing him giving all these teachings, they very quickly and easily became his very highly realized disciples.

Going on to our dedication prayer:

Dedication Prayer of the four dharmas of Gampopa:
May all being’s mind turn towards the dharma
May that dharma become the path
May the path be cleared of deception.
May deception arise as innate wisdom.