My dear Patrick,
Thank you very much for your kind, sweet letter, telling me about yourself and how it has been for you. As you know, our permanent residence has been the lower realms, and we have received this upper realm rebirth just about one time, and especially rebirth as a human. This perfect human rebirth is even more special. We are so, so fortunate; unbelievably, unbelievably fortunate.
Not only that, we have met the Buddhadharma, and not only that, we have also met Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings. That is so fortunate. Wow, wow, wow! Anybody who reads, listens to or is able to talk about Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, is so unbelievably fortunate.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “If one doesn’t practice but just by knowing the Buddhadharma, the philosophy, that person receives more sharp intelligence, is not ignorant and is unbelievably fortunate, but the best is a person who practices.”
As you said, you never gave up faith, so that is the most important thing; that is the root from where enlightenment comes. The root is the faith.
It is mentioned in the Precious Tala Sutra, (Tib: Konchog Talai do)
Devotion is the preliminary, like the mother that generates all the qualities, to be protected and spread
Devotion eliminates all the doubts and with this one is able to cross the great river (this means the sufferings of samsara and that we go beyond samsara by generating the path)
Devotion is like the symbolic city of happiness and goodness
Devotion makes our mind calm and clear without disruption
Devotion makes us abandon pride and it is the root of respect
Devotion is like wealth and like treasure
Devotion is like the supreme lake that we use to reach where we want to go
Devotion is like a hand; the root collecting virtue
It is said in the Sutra of the Ten Dharmas (Tib: Phagpa cho chupe do; Skt: Dasadharmaka Sutra):
For non-devotional people, the white dharma does not grow, just like burnt seeds do not grow green stems.
In the past there was a famine, and one old mother recited the mantra of the goddess Tsundi (Tib: Lhamo Tsundi).Tsundi is a female aspect of Buddha, who, after reciting the mantra, was able to cook the stones and eat them. One day her son came and told her the mantra she had been saying is incorrect and he told her the correct mantra. The mother changed what she was reciting and started to recite the correct mantra, but after that she was no longer able to cook the stones and eat them. So, from this story you can see that the main power came not from the mantra, but from faith. She was able to cook the stones because of her faith, not the mantra, so this shows the power of faith.
If there is faith, then enlightenment can be achieved by practicing the path. If we have no faith, then however much we know about sutra and tantra, the realizations cannot be achieved.
Therefore Gyalwa Ensapa, Lama Tsongkhapa’s disciple’s disciple and the first reincarnation of the Panchen Rinpoche in Tibet, said:
In short, whatever great or small realization is generated, this is due to whatever great or small devotion we have generated towards the valid guru, who is originator of all the attainments. Keep this advice as your heart practice, looking at the qualities of the guru and not looking at the mistakes.
The originator of all the realizations is the kind guru (This means we receive from the guru all the attainments up to enlightenment, from guru devotion, the three principal aspects of the path, the uncommon two stages, dharmakaya and rupakaya.)
May I keep this instruction in my heart
Looking at the guru’s qualities and not looking at mistakes
May I be able to complete this commitment without obstacle.
Even if the guru is Buddha, but from our own side, if we do not see the actual Buddha, then we do not receive the blessings of Buddha.
As Kadampa Geshe Potowa mentioned in the Blue Scripture, a collection of teachings on the stages of the path:
Even if Manjrushri or Chenrezig actually came before me, it doesn’t benefit.
If we do not see the guru as Buddha, then we do not receive the blessing of Buddha; what we receive is only loss and no profit, just like the Mara Devadata, who was reborn in hell for eons and eons. Even if the guru is not Buddha from his side, but from our own side if we see the guru as Buddha, then we receive only profit and no loss.
For example, there was an old mother who wanted a relic of the Buddha very much, but her son forgot to bring this to her. Instead, he found a dog bone on the road home and brought it to her, and told her it was a relic of the Buddha. So the mother really respected the bone as if it was the Buddha’s relic, with so much devotion, and then later an actual relic came from that dog bone. So, the main cause of the relic was her devotion; the dog bone was not the main cause.
Therefore, from the guru’s side, even if the guru is not Buddha, but from our own side, we look at the guru as a real Buddha, then of course we will achieve enlightenment first. Then we are able to do perfect works for sentient beings, so isn’t that great? Isn’t that fantastic?
Learning is one thing, but of course it is most important to practice Buddha’s every single word, and to actualize the path to enlightenment. Every single word of Buddha is to subdue the mind, therefore it is very important to live the life with bodhicitta, whatever we do, with devotion to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and with compassion to every sentient being. Live the life with bodhicitta as much as you can, not only when you are studying and meditating, but also when you are eating, working, walking, sleeping etc. Do everything with bodhicitta, as much as possible, then everything becomes the cause of enlightenment, and even when problems happen, use them in the path to enlightenment, to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings.
Thank you very much.
With much love and prayers...