Student: Is it OK to add the refuge preliminary to the beginning of my sadhana practice each morning, after visualization and offering to refuge field?
Rinpoche: That’s completely OK.
Student: Is it OK to do the prostration preliminary in the morning?
Rinpoche: Very, very good! Excellent! Mainly do what is more comfortable for you.
I remember His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, who helped His Holiness the Dalai Lama in education, Buddhist philosophy. Rinpoche became a teacher for His Holiness by giving him the lung of the Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment [Tib: jang-chub lam-dron]. It was the lung or a commentary, I’m not sure; or maybe another teaching.
Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche was the son of Serkong Dorje Chang in Tibet, who became a lharampa geshe along with the high lama Tehor Kyorpon Rinpoche. He left the monastery go to the high mountains in Lhasa to retreat on lam-rim, then he came to India and guided the monks there. He became one who can lead us in life.
Gen Jampa Wangdu was in the village there. He was like a dob-dob [monk police] in Tibet, before it was lost to China. Maybe he was an ascetic monk for one or two years in Tibet. He was the one who achieved shi-nä in Dalhousie. He also achieved bodhicitta and emptiness and had a great experience in the Six-session Guru Yoga in Dharamsala.
Later, because Serkong Dorje Chang had achieved a very high tantric path, he practiced sang-yum in a solitary place and bore so much hardship to complete the path. Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche was the son of that Serkong Dorje Chang, the one who passed away in Tibet and incarnated as a geshe. He escaped from Tibet to Nepal, then passed away in Nepal. He lived at Swayambunath Monastery.
Going back, [the first] Serkong Dorje Chang was Milarepa’s guru, Marpa. Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche was the son of Marpa, Darma Dodé, who was told by Marpa not to go to one of the functions where there were many people, but he went and then he passed away there. He fell from his horse and banged his head on a rock.
One story is that Rinpoche wore skin on his head, I haven’t seen other people do that. I heard that this was because of what happened to Darma Dodé’s head. He was also referred to as Thuksey Rinpoche, which means Marpa’s precious heart son.
So, Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche did prostrations every night. I don’t remember seeing Rinpoche do this in the morning, but I saw him at night time even when he showed the old aspect. In a hotel in Bodhgaya, I had to go late to see Rinpoche. In the same room, Serkong Dorje Chang was asleep on his bed, with a mudra that threatens; his left hand was down and his right hand was up. Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche took off his outer robe, but left on the inside dress and wore this while he was doing prostrations.
Then Lama Atisha, in a very, very, very, old aspect, even did prostrations when he was shaking [unsteady with age].
So it is very, very, very good, excellent, to do prostrations, whether it is morning or night time.
You probably know the benefits of doing prostrations. There are about ten or more than ten benefits. There is the full prostration, but even putting the palms together to the holy objects, to the guru—even just putting one’s palms together, there are eight or ten benefits.
Just one prostration, from here down to the earth, how many atoms your body covers, that many times you create the karma to be born as a wheel-turning king a thousand times. It’s unbelievable. Why explain it this way? To be born as wheel-turning king one time, you need to create infinite merit, inconceivable merit. Of course, you should not dedicate for that, you should dedicate for enlightenment and to lead sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible.
From the heart I want to say again skies of numberless thanks for reading the Sutra of Golden Light and filling the world with it.
Please live life with bodhicitta. Thank you very much! And thank you very much for dedicating for His Holiness and for my health. You can also dedicate for the success of the large statues that I want to build in Tibet, India, Nepal and Mongolia.
It is unbelievably fortunate to be a nun, as well as to read the Golden Light Sutra and to ask people to read it, and even to make full-length prostrations to the Guru.
Your letter shows your attitude and your understanding of Dharma. It’s very, very good, like realization. I am extremely happy about that.
I am sure you didn’t forget our talk at Sera about the thesis you wrote and your studies. Then we travelled together by airplane to Delhi. There I didn’t have any idea, because the hotel where I stayed didn’t have a separate room, so I don’t know what happened. Then we went to another hotel.
Sometime if you have something to ask or discuss, something I can help with, please write and let me know, or write even if you just want to tell me something.
With much love and prayers...