Saturday, 9th November
Student: Is the mind experiencing emotions and sensations the same mind experiencing enlightenment? It is still separate between subject and object?
Rinpoche: The mind that sees object and subject, is that the mind receiving enlightenment? Yes, the same mind receives enlightenment.
Student: Does feeling have to have existence? I experience feeling without existence of the mind.
Rinpoche: What do you mean by mind?
Student: That is not the body, something else.
Rinpoche: Is the feeling body. Feeling is in the body, isn't it?
Rinpoche: So, is the feeling mind?
Student: It should be.
Rinpoche: Just simple, feeling, what did you feel at that time when you felt there was no mind?
Student: I was not aware of my mind and I felt, but it must have been there.
Rinpoche: You experienced the emptiness of mind. You had the experience of a certain feeling without mind.
Student: Yes, exactly. I wasn't aware of the mind.
Rinpoche: Do you believe?
Student: I changed my mind now.
Student: You said mind cannot cease because it must be the possessor of the realization of nirvana. Would you say that you believe each person is the vessel of an individual entity, and they will continue to exist as an individual entity after the realization of enlightenment?
Rinpoche: Yes. If the self doesn't continue, there is no person. Isn't that the same?
Student: Do you distinguish between self and ego.
Rinpoche: I don't use much ego, because people have different understandings of ego. Modern people believe ego to be a delusion but according to the dictionary and books, the ego is the self. I think young people in modern times, those who take drugs, they believe it is a delusion or something. I have a different understanding of ego. I myself don't use ego much. According to the dictionary explanation as long as there is a person there is a self, but the self, the selfless ... anyway, I am not in a hurry to talk about this subject. It is a term used so much in the teachings, and it is used also in other religious teachings. It is used so much, it is emphasized so much and recognized as a very important thing to realize in the Buddhadharma, but selfless does not mean as it is written and as you hear, selfless does not mean just that word. Selfless does not mean just that as you hear, as it is written there. It has another meaning. You have to understand beyond that. Anyway, it is like this. As I talked about during the breathing meditation, if you understand, I have already mentioned the wrong conception of the self "I," not just the conception of the self, the conception of the person himself, that is nothing wrong. The conception of the "I" is nothing wrong. But what is wrong is the conception of the self "I," that conception is a mistake. In order to receive nirvana, even before receiving enlightenment, even just to receive the cessation of the ignorance, nirvana, even just to receive this, the person has to completely remove the wrong conception of the self "I," the wrong conception of the self "I," that which is wrong, that which is illusive, that which is fallible.
So this is the thing. Usually when it talks about selfless, this does not mean that to achieve enlightenment or nirvana you have to cease yourself, finish yourself, cease your "I." It does not mean this. The problem is this. In many books selflessness, egolessness are written about, and sometimes authors have also written soullessness—however many people get wrong understandings just by reading books. Actually, this is not caused by the book but by their own ignorance, not understanding exactly what it means. So if "selfless" is written there, then the person think that to achieve enlightenment, nirvana, one must cease the "I," the person himself. He should make himself to not exist. He should make himself non-existent, which is an impossible thing. However, as long as the mind continues, as much as you try to follow the method, as much you try to cease the "I," it is hopeless. It is a meaningless and hopeless thing, something that has no result, an action that has no result. So many people get wrong understandings from books like this, by just reading books without having a perfect teacher or guru. Without receiving the explanation of the teaching from a perfect teacher who is experienced, who has a correct or perfect understanding of the Dharma, so they just read a lot of books and believe in that as they understand, and they think the whole meditation, the whole process of the practice is to destroy the "I," stop the "I." The person believes this is the whole goal, the total aim, which is impossible thing to happen. Anyway, this is a big subject.
In order to fully realize the wrong conception that sees the self "I" and in order to realize and discover the self "I" and destroy the wrong conception and avoid the wrong view of the self "I," we have to go through the graduated meditations as they are set up in this teaching. First of all we have to go through all these meditations. By doing meditation on each of these subjects, understanding each of these subjects, we understand our own nature better. In this way our minds become much more powerful; there is more wisdom to quickly destroy the wrong conceptions that make us see in the wrong way. So there is a whole process; there are levels to go through in order to realize that point. Also, by going through the levels of the gradual meditations and doing the meditation trying to realize the nature of the "I," the nature of oneself, there is less danger and more skill. However, the wrong conception of the self "I," the same conception of the self "I" and the wrong conception of the self "I" are different, you cannot make them one, you cannot mix them up. The conception of the self is not the wrong conception of the self "I." This is the difference. In regards to the conception of the self, there are wrong conceptions of self and wrong conceptions self "I." That's what I mean—all conception of self is not the wrong conception of the self "I."
What we were talking of before is another way of saying the possibility of receiving enlightenment—because the object of greed or attachment is not permanent. It is indefinite, as is the negative mind. Attachment and anger in the object are also indefinite, not permanent. Even without depending on such profound methods, meditations, teachings, even for a person who is usually in the world who never meditates, the object of anger changes and becomes an object of attachment. That object of attachment sometimes becomes an object of ignorance and sometimes becomes indifferent, becomes a danger. It always changes, it does not last, even without depending on the meditations. So therefore the object of the negative mind is not true. If the object of anger was true then the object of anger should always last. If the person anger for one person, that person who is the true object of anger should be an object of anger for all the rest of the people. It is the same thing with attachment and ignorance.
One thing, the attachment and anger came from ignorance, which is the wrong conception. It came from ignorance, which is a wrong conception, which is temporal and false mind, which always projects a wrong view, a false object, which does not exist. So ignorance, the cause of the greed and anger, can be removed by realizing the absolute nature of the object. Therefore, the ignorance is not permanent. This is one reason that proves that there is the possibility of achieving enlightenment or nirvana. So in order to remove the ignorance and all the delusions, such as the 84,000 delusions, in order to remove all these delusions Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has shown 84,000 teachings for the remedies of the 84,000 delusions. All these teachings, all the 84,000 teachings are included in the three vehicles—the lesser vehicle, the Mahayana, and the Vajrayana. So this time the teaching that we are going to talk about and the meditation that we are going to practice is the Mahayana teaching.
It is the Mahayana teaching that leads the fortunate person to enlightenment and it was well expounded by the two great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is a profound teaching as it is the essence of Guru Tsongkhapa's and the great pandit Atisha's understanding of the teachings. This teaching includes 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all these teachings are set up for the practice of one person's achievement of enlightenment. There are four topics in the outline. The first is showing the knowledge of the authors. The author is the great pandit, the great realized yogi Atisha. He wrote the teaching titled The Graduated Path in order to inspire devotion in the teaching, the knowledge of the teaching, and the way of listening to the teaching and explaining the teaching, and the way of leading the disciple in the path to enlightenment.
First, a brief history of the great yogi Atisha, who established Buddhism in Tibet, and how he brought the teachings from India to Tibet. By understanding the knowledge that the great pandit Atisha has achieved, and by feeling devotion for him, also there is a way the teaching can benefit. The teaching can benefit by understanding his knowledge, by hearing about his knowledge and the realizations that he has achieved. The great Atisha is one of the highly realized pandits among the thousands of pandits in the great school, Nalanda. During that time there was Buddhism in Tibet but no teachings. [Earlier,] Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet to destroy the evil beings, the mischievous evil beings, and to purify the place. First Padmasambhava, the great yogi, came to Tibet and then afterwards Buddhism was established—sutra teachings and more tantric, Vajrayana teachings. Then after a long time there was some degeneration. There was a different leader who didn't like certain teachings, and while he had power in Tibet the leader—his name was Langtan. One who has horns on his head, like an ox. At that time there was much degeneration in the teaching and people had much wrong understanding about the teaching. There was always confusion between the tantra and sutra. There were different people such as pandits wearing blue robes who came from India and corrupted the teachings in Tibet, saying that they were practicing Vajrayana but acting in a different way.
However, at that time Lha Lama Yeshe Oe, who was actually a bodhisattva, couldn't stand the corruption of the teachings in Tibet. He wished to invite a pandit from India to make the teachings perfect. So he checked up—who would make the teachings in Tibet perfect and be able to remove the people's wrong understanding and wrong actions? After checking for long time, he finally heard of the Venerable Atisha, and thought that this pandit could do it. At this time when he heard Atisha's name he received such an incredible, wonderful feeling, such an attractive feeling. So he sent another Tibetan pandit Gatsosin with many gold presents to invite Atisha from India. This Tibetan pandit went to invite Atisha with gold presents, but he couldn't invite Atisha. Afterwards Lha Lama Yeshe Oe himself went. Before that he went to find more gold. As he went to find more gold, the king of Tibet at that time called Kalag Gyalwa put Lha Lama Yeshe Oe away in prison. The king was scared, he didn't want the pandit to come to Tibet. The king knew that if he invited the pandit, the teachings would spread in Tibet. The king didn't like that plan, so he put Lha Lama Yeshe Oe away in the prison and told him, "If you cannot give up refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, you should give me gold the size of your body. If you cannot give me that much gold you should give up refuge." So the king gave him a choice. Lha Lama Yeshe Oe, this Bodhisattva who wanted to invite the pandit Atisha to Tibet, said he wouldn't give up refuge, so he had to be in prison for a long time. His son called Jangchub Oe went to find gold to give to this evil king. Jangchub Oe found gold up to his shoulder but still not enough. After he found that much gold he went to see the king to ask if he could take Lha Lama Yeshe Oe out of prison. But the king said there is gold missing the size of his head. The king wouldn't accept it, so the son Jangchub Oe, who was also a bodhisattva, went to the prison to explain to his father Lha Lama Yeshe Oe that the king wasn't satisfied. He said, "Don't worry, I will try to find some gold the size of the head, to give the king." But Lha Lama Yeshe Oe told his son Jangchub Oe, "Even if you find that much gold and the king lets me out, what is the benefit? I cannot benefit the teachings, therefore it is better I give up my life. On behalf of me please invite the great pandit Atisha from India. This is necessary to spread the pure Dharma in Tibet." So this was the will that he left, and afterwards he passed away in prison.
Jangchub Oe, the son of Lha Lama Yeshe Oe, sent another Tibetan pandit Nagtso Lotsawa with some other helpers and many gold presents. When they arrived in India they met Atisha and explained the whole thing—how the teaching was corrupted in Tibet, how it prevailed before, how it was cut later on by a certain person, and how people are suffering and ignorant and about the king of Tibet. They explained how Lha Lama Yeshe Oe sacrificed his life in prison to spread the teachings in Tibet. When Atisha heard this, he found it a little bit difficult to accept right away. Then afterwards the deity Tara, the female aspect of Buddha who communicated with Atisha regularly, predicted that if he went to Tibet he could benefit the teachings and the people so much, especially through one of the followers who lives in the five precepts. She told him that through this specific follower who is living in the Five Precepts, you can benefit the people and the teachings in Tibet so much. Atisha didn't accept this right away and he said he would check up. Then he checked up with Tara who predicted this and also told him if he didn't go to Tibet, he would live much longer, but that if he did go he would benefit so much for the people, but his life would be short, twelve years or something, I don't remember. Atisha said, "If I can benefit the teaching and the people, I don't care about my life short, it doesn't matter." So Atisha finally accepted to come to Tibet.
At time he was living in the monastery and had to have permission from the abbot of the monastery to leave. The abbot was called Runa Agara. At that time it was extremely difficult to invite Atisha to Tibet because everyone in India, the other pandits, wanted Atisha to be there. They said they needed Atisha there, that generally the whole teaching depended on him, spreading the Dharma depended on him. It was quite difficult to receive the permission right away from the abbot. But finally the Abbot gave permission to Atisha to be in Tibet for three years. So the Tibetan pandits who came to invite Atisha made the vow to bring him back to India after three years. Then Atisha and the other followers who came to invite went around to make pilgrimage in India and Nepal, keeping the secret of not letting other people know he was going to Tibet.
Afterwards Atisha came into upper Tibet, and gave much Dharma around that area. Then afterwards he wrote the teaching that I think I mentioned before, The Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. This was a very condensed teaching, very simply written, including all the teachings of sutra and tantra, all the essence of the teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
After three years Atisha and the other pandits who came to invite him tried to return to India as they had promised, but there was war, fighting at the border so they couldn't cross that area. So they sent a letter, sort of a petition to the abbot about the situation. They also sent the simple teaching written that Atisha had written in Tibet to the abbot. After they received the information, the letter and the text written by Atisha, the abbot invited all other pandits, and they all lined up and he explained the benefits of Atisha, how beneficial he had been in Tibet and about the teaching written by him. Then he passed away. Also there was a king invited. Then they passed the teaching written by Atisha to each pandit to examine and check up whether it was correctly written—not just only words, but especially the meaning, the way subject is set up, whether there was a mistake in the meaning or the way the words were written. There were many ways to check up. So when the pages were passed to each pandit, besides the words being perfect, even though they were pandits, learned in the Dharma and the different aspects of the teachings, somehow by seeing one page of that text they got a deeper understanding of the Dharma. They got such a good feeling, a deeper understanding of the Dharma. So all the pandits who checked the text got a big surprise—they really admired Atisha's knowledge and the beneficial actions that he did in Tibet, writing such a precious text that includes all the subjects, the essence of the Dharma and the path simply for the beings who have lower intelligence of mind.
So then the abbot said that if he was of such great benefit in Tibet, he stay be longer in Tibet. So finally Atisha and the other Tibetan pandits received permission from the abbot to stay. The other pandits were extremely pleased to have Atisha longer. From Upper Tibet they went into the center of Tibet, and then also they took Atisha to Lower Tibet to spread the Dharma. I think he spent about twelve years in Tibet destroying all the wrong conceptions the people had of the teaching, stopping all the people's wrong behavior. He spread much pure Dharma which was not corrupted, and that which was corrupted he purified, removed.
Also as Tara predicted, he met the follower living in the five precepts. This follower was also a bodhisattva, a transformation of the Compassionate Buddha Avalokiteshvara. He is called Dromtonpa. Atisha benefited the people and the teaching of the Buddha through his closest disciple Dromtonpa so much.
This is just a very short history about how the great pandit Atisha benefited in Tibet and helped the teachings. Atisha was born in part of Bengal, India—I don't remember the specific place but he was born as a prince. They had many possessions—palaces with golden banners, and in their apartments in the palaces they had many thousands of swimming pools. His family was extremely rich, having so many, hundreds, thousands of people in the population.
Usually, for poor people who don't have much possessions, who have a simple life, generally talking, it is easy somehow to practice Dharma, somehow it is easy. Generally for one who has so many possessions so many things like this king, involved in such things, it is difficult to live an ascetic life. It is difficult to develop the mind renouncing samsaric existence. Generally it is difficult. Atisha had everything—possessions, palaces relatives, and he could have had wives, princesses, whoever he wanted, whatever in life, whatever possession or enjoyment he wanted, he could have. When he was a prince his parents tried to keep him in the family and train him to take the place of the king. They tried to invite many girls from different places to dance and show things to him to make his mind feel attraction, and life that life. The parents tried many ways. But in early times, even though he was a child around nine years old, he went into the forest to seek a guru and receives so many teachings, even when he was a child, very young, nine or ten. He received so many teachings, refuge, and initiations from different gurus. The gurus sent him home several times. Once the gurus sent him back home to see the suffering nature of the worldly home. For different purposes they sent him home. One guru sent him back home, and he spent time there listening to his parents, and again left home for another guru. Then again that guru sent him home for a different purpose. The last one was to get the permission from his parents to make the complete decision, that it was okay for him not to live in the family and that he could live an ascetic life as he wished. The last time Atisha was sent by his guru, he performed as a deity like you see in the tangkas, naked without clothes on, wearing a costume like the deities with other dakinis outside looking fearful. He sent Atisha back to home with eight dakinis. When they reached the home, his parents recognized Atisha but they were shocked, because his appearance completely changed, it was nothing like before. They saw and recognized him but had fear and crying and many things. Atisha and the other eight dakinis tried to act crazy and the people really believed that they were. Afterwards his parents gave him permission to do whatever Atisha wanted, to leave the family.
Anyway, this is just a very short history of this great highly realized bodhisattva Atisha. Actually there is a whole book explaining the whole history of the way he benefited the teachings in India and Tibet—about the amazing, incredible beneficial actions he did, and the knowledge that he achieved and his realizations. The graduated path of the teaching that we are going to talk about is originally from Atisha's teachings, from the precious Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. So there is communication between what we are going to learn and Atisha. Atisha is in the lineage of the teaching so therefore usually it is like this. It benefits the mind very much to know about these holy beings, their holy actions and knowledge. As the devotion in them arises, in their knowledge, in their holy actions, at the same time as we practice the meditations, they become much more effective and beneficial for our minds. The meditations and practice become more successful because the devotion makes is stop the hindrances of the meditations and makes the practice of meditation successful, quicker to realize. Anyway, that is also another big subject, later on we can talk about it. Really actualizing the meditations, receiving the realization of meditations does not only depend on the practice of meditation. It does not only depend on knowing the subject of meditation. There is another need to receive the realization of the meditations—there are many other needs—equipment such as devotion, many other things—prayers, purification, many other needs. Just only knowing the how to meditate doesn't bring realization.
So also in the afternoon you meditate just like yesterday, spending more time watching the thoughts. First you do the breathing meditation and after that if you feel comfortable, if it doesn't cause harm, then to keep the mind away from distraction, if your mind is so much distracted, uncontrolled, after the breathing meditation, keep the mind between the two airs, the air that you bring up from down below the body and the air that you bring in. Keep it in the stomach and the mind between, the mind manifested feeling much bliss and just concentrate there. If you can't do it, it doesn't matter. If it causes harm or you cannot do it, you find it difficult, it doesn't matter. After that, try to be conscious of sensations like sound—what you feel or hear. Starting from the head to the feet, concentrate, try to be conscious, and then try to go back to yesterday, try to remember yesterday and the day before yesterday, like this, to the baby time in the mother's womb. Then the previous life, and the previous life before that. Then afterwards try to see beginningless life. Then just concentrate on the mind that is checking the life, you just concentrate on that. You watch that. In this way the mind is watching the mind, the mind is concentrating on the mind and watching. Also, it is not completely unconscious but be conscious, concentrating, "I am watching the mind," knowing what you are doing. In this way while your mind is concentrating on your mind, you are conscious of this action. In this way there is less distraction, and it is harder for other thoughts to arise, because your mind is spying, your mind is aware. So while it is aware, it is difficult for other thought to arise. Like police spying—while the police are looking at the materials at the same time they are also watching the thief—whether the thief is coming or not, what person is coming. Also part of the mind is working on that, sort of like this. It is easy to recognize other thoughts arising, easy to reject them, stop them from rising. They start to arise slowly so you can reject them. Spend most of your time here. It is very useful to realize the nature of mind.
Sunday, 10th November
From the holy speech of great bodhisattva Tenzin Gyaltsen, "Even with the goddess called Yangchen situated at the throat, it would be extremely difficult to bring all the success of the bodhicitta tree, which grows where there is the water of love in the earth of compassion that brings about all wishes."
Anyway, the meaning is this. Usually this goddess is called Yangchen, and one who achieves this goddess achieves incredible wisdom. For one who achieves this goddess, any subject that they have to express or explain is not difficult, it is all easy, everything just flows out without much effort. This is the special knowledge of this goddess. But even for one who has achieved this, who has this goddess living at the throat, still it is extremely difficult to bring about the wishes that the wish-fulfilling tree brings. The wish-fulfilling tree, the great tree that brings all the wishes, is the example, like the example of bodhicitta. As the wish-fulfilling tree grows from the earth and from conditions such as water, so the wish-fulfilling bodhicitta also grows from the earth, from compassion, and from water such as great love. The wish-fulfilling tree is just to give an example of how the bodhicitta brings about all the wishes, but actually this example cannot compare to bodhicitta—to all the wishes bodhicitta brings, because a wish-fulfilling tree cannot bring all the wishes as bodhicitta can bring. Any sentient being who wishes enlightenment, who wishes the cessation of ignorance, of perfect peace and any enjoyment, happiness in future lifetimes, any happiness, enjoyment in this life—anything can be received through bodhicitta. If bodhicitta brings the highest wishes and the goal of enlightenment, why not temporal happiness and peace? It is natural.
Just like a person who goes to New York. He doesn't have to purposely plan to land at different places such as the airport in London on the way to India. He doesn't have to purposely plan to land there, but he aimed to reach at New York and landing at those different places happened by the way. So just like this, as the bodhicitta brings the most sublime happiness of enlightenment, so any temporal happiness and enjoyment, any happiness of the future life, can be received through bodhicitta. Therefore it is a most skillful method, trying to understand about bodhicitta and trying to practice and meditate on bodhicitta. In this way, without causing harm or suffering to oneself and other beings, one can always be in happiness and achieve all those higher goals, the sublime happiness.
Therefore, it is necessary to train our minds in this pure thought even in this moment. Cultivating this pure thought for the action of listening to the teachings also becomes the cause of enlightenment. So therefore it is necessary to cultivate the pure impulse of bodhicitta, thinking, "I must release all sentient beings from all suffering and the cause of suffering and lead them to happiness and the cause of happiness. In order to do this I must achieve enlightenment. Therefore I am going to listen the teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment."
The listening subject is the Mahayana teaching that leads the fortunate person to enlightenment. This was well expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is a profound teaching, the essence of the great yogis Atisha and Guru Tsongkhapa's understanding of the teaching. It includes the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and all these teachings are set up for the practice of one person's achievement of enlightenment.
There are four topics in the outline. First, for reference, the knowledge of the authors. Yesterday we briefly talked about Atisha—his great works that were done in Tibet and his early life, where he was born, how he lived at his home. Anyway, there wasn't much talk about his history, finding different gurus in different times and receiving realizations, but it's okay.
The second one, in order to cause devotion to arise, the knowledge of the teaching.
I think page 5, paragraph 3. Kadampa—there is one sect that started after Atisha came to Tibet. "Kadampa" literally means those who—the followers of Atisha who were Kadampa took as the path to enlightenment any orders of the Buddha, any teaching, any piece, any word, any letters that they saw. And also besides that Kadampa refers to those meditators who take any situation, any words, whatever changes, whatever becomes wrong, whatever situation—whether it is pleasant or suffering—always they take it as the path to enlightenment, always they use the condition to receive enlightenment. They have such profound skills. However, the fundamental practice of the gradual path is mainly training the mind in the gradual path.
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Under the names of those sounds, besides animals, even non-living sounds such as streams, thesound of wind, even the sound produced by non-living things.
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This is the way that Atisha, this great author, this highly realized being, wrote the teaching of the Lam.drun. He had all the knowledge to work to write that text. All these five knowledges. Besides having these five knowledges which include Dharma knowledge, inner knowledge, he had the continuous line of experience, not only just receiving the words but having the experience. The third one is having permission from a deity or guru. In previous times if the author didn't have those knowledges they didn't write books on Dharma.
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This is the general explanation. It is also important ... this contains certain important things that help later on to not confuse our minds. Because there are such things—Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana teachings, different vehicles like this. So if you understand this the knowledge of these teachings written by Atisha, by studying these texts what knowledge we can receive, what confusion, what wrong conceptions can be removed. By understanding this then later on our mind doesn't get confused with the different teachings. In each of these teachings—Hinayana, Mahayana, Vajrayana—there is little bit different way of practicing. The main thing is that there is a different way of thinking. Hinayana and Mahayana, there is a different way of thinking.
Actually all these three methods were shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to destroy the ignorance, greed, and attachment—mainly to destroy the negative mind and all the obscurations and to receive enlightenment. The purpose of showing these three methods is mainly to receive enlightenment. Guru Shakyamuni's purpose in showing three methods is to bring sentient beings gradually to the main goal, the final goal, enlightenment. Just like this. When parents want children, mainly they aim to send the children to University to learn higher subjects, to get a higher degree, but they cannot send the student right away to University to learn higher subjects, such as philosophy or whatever. Those deeper, more complicated subjects. So in order to get a higher teaching, first of all they send them to a small school, and after that send them to college, like this. Then to University. As they gradually do this, the purpose of the different methods is to lead the followers to the final goal, enlightenment.
But even though he first of all he was following the Hinayana teaching, later on he had to follow the Mahayana teaching and then receive enlightenment. So all these three teachings—Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana—are something that can be practiced by one person, not opposite. If I am practicing the Mahayana teaching, I can never practice the Vajrayana teaching—it is not like this, they not opposite to each other.
In previous times Guru Shakyamuni Buddha showed the three methods, the three teachings, for different disciples who have different level of understanding and intelligence. For those with lower intelligence, Guru Shakyamuni showed the method of the four noble truths, the lesser vehicle path, and then for those who had higher intelligence Guru Shakyamuni showed the Mahayana teaching. Then for the beings who had the highest intelligence Guru Shakyamuni Buddha showed the Vajrayana teachings. These teachings were shown with different aspects, in different places. They were in India but in different places such as Sarnath—which is the place where Guru Shakyamuni showed the four noble truths, the subject of the lesser vehicle, the path for beings who have lower intelligence. The Mahayana teachings, in which are the explanations of shunyata, absolute nature, were shown in a holy place near Bodhgaya. Also, the Vajrayana teachings were shown in another place in India called Hochog Palgyeri. Those teachings were shown to the disciples at the same time—different teachings were shown in different places for different disciples but at the same time with different aspects.
Actually it means that by understanding the Mahayana teaching there is no other teaching that you cannot understand. By understanding the Mahayana teaching you can understand the Hinayana and also the other teachings, as by practicing these teachings any obscurations, any defects to the mind can be completely purified. There are delusions that can be purified by practicing the Hinayana teachings, and those delusions can be purified by practicing the Mahayana teachings. There is no such other teaching that you cannot understand by understanding the complete Mahayana teaching. Also generally by understanding the Buddhadharma, the more you understand, the deeper and wider your understanding of the Buddhadharma—those who can do this understand much better than those who study other religious books and teachings. You can understand much better and you can check better because you have a certain wisdom understanding the right meanings and knowing the way of checking, so it is easy. Also you understand easier, you can understand much better, you can easily understand what is right and wrong.
Such as the 84,000 teachings and the many other teachings written by the Indian pandits with so much detail. By studying the Lam.drun teaching, the teaching on the gradual path to enlightenment, by understanding this you can understand all others—the wide teachings, where there are many hundreds and thousands of volumes explaining different subjects. So by studying the gradual path, this simple teaching, you can understand the other teachings much more easily, with less confusion. If you don't study this, without depending on texts such as the Lam.drun and the gradual path to enlightenment, without depending on studying these texts and teachings, studying other teachings which have so many details and explanations, if a person's intelligence is low, he becomes confused. The teaching doesn't confuse him but due to his lower intelligence he becomes confused, he doesn't the understand essence, he cannot bring it in, in totally, he doesn't know how to practice, how to co-operate with life.
First of all, starting with the gradual path to enlightenment is the best way of studying the Buddhadharma, the most practical thing. By studying this the person receives the understanding of the essence of the whole Dharma. Then after that as the person studies other big wide subjects that have so much detailed explanation, then it is very easy and quicker to understand, and it is very easy to bring the whole different understanding in one. It is very easy for that person who knows, who studied the Lam.drun teaching. Studying other subjects is not confusing; he finds it very easy. For him the subject is so small because he can bring it into one, he can make it one totally. So it is easy to incorporate into his life, his life is lived in that. Also in this way, one thing, this time also the reason we explain about the gradual path, the reason we choose this subject and also usually study this first without choosing one specific subject from the available subjects is because this way it is very effective for the mind. It is very effective for the mind, it is easy to have experiences. In the other case, the other way of studying is more intellectual, not so much related with the feeling, the experience. The way the subject, the meditations here are set up is mainly to clean the mind, to subdue the mind—mainly for the practice of subduing the mind, to clean the mind, to control the mind. So it is very, very useful.
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Some people say the Mahayana teaching was not shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, that it was shown later on by someone, Nagarjuna or some follower, and that it is not the real teaching in the Buddhadharma, not for us. Also, same thing, saying the Hinayana teaching was not shown by Buddha, or the Hinayana teaching is not for us, no need for me. This is avoiding Dharma, the action of avoiding Dharma. This is one of the worst negative karmas. It is the same thing complaining about the Vajrayana teaching, that this mysterious practice was not shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, it was shown by some other yogis, and that it is not Buddhadharma—avoiding Dharma like this with ignorance, no understanding. However, we don't think of any of these things. but generally if you understand it is useful. So afterwards, such ideas, such thoughts rising can be possible, and at that time the understanding of this will be useful. Such thinking is avoiding the Buddhadharma, and is the worst negative karma. Especially for those who took bodhisattva vows, there are eighteen root faults, and doing this, a person commits a root fault.
Student: You tell us to check on what you say. The process of checking in a way is determining whether what you say is right or wrong. If we are not supposed to have wrong thoughts about Dharma, surely it is heresy to check.
Student Answered: You should prove for yourself if what is said is valid for you.
Rinpoche: I accept that as true too. It is necessary of course, right, you have to prove it, he is right. What I am saying is, generally if there is a logical reason that can be definitely proved, then you can say it is wrong because it has a logical reason to prove it, but without any logical reasons, just complaining without really knowing, just complaining like this, or just because you heard some other people saying the same complaints, and you just imitate what your friend says without having any logical reason within your mind, without having deep understanding how it is wrong—check up. Check up. I don't mean if you don't understand the complaint, that it is wrong. I don't mean that. What I mean is to check up in order to understand, in order to fully understand whether it is right or not correct. The subject, for instance, you have to check up. For instance, mind beginningless as we recently discussed, check up until you fully see with the logic, until you fully see whether it has beginning or whether it is beginningless. I don't mean that you should judge that it is wrong because you are not understanding, that is not right. Then nothing can be good, in that case nothing can be good, nothing good is left, nothing right is left, if it is up to people not understanding. Just like this.
One example. Like if there is a thief who steals things from your house, in order to stop those things getting stolen from your house, not understanding who the thief is and thinking there is no thief is not right, is not the skillful method. That doesn't help the situation. You also cannot think that things are getting stolen here from my house so all people must be thieves, not understanding. So you check up who is the person who is really stealing my things. Then you find a definite reason, that he came at such a time, the way he stole, and stole such things. There is the whole reason, the story that proves that person is a thief, that makes the person receive the name "thief" just like this. If by checking you find he is the thief, then there is a way you can stop him from stealing. That way also you understand other people didn't steal, but that it was that specific person. It is necessary to check up until you really understand. So usually it means this.
Ganges is river. Ganges doesn't mean only the river in India but it means the Pacific—not only the river in India, the holy water where you bathe like Western people bathe ... I am joking! This Ganges doesn't mean only that.
Student: Who is Losang Tubwang Dorje Chang?
Rinpoche: When our mind ... oh yes (laughing) ... through the practice of the gradual path to enlightenment our mind becomes completely purified of all the different delusions, all the different levels of the obscurations, heavy obscurations and subtle obscurations, such as dualistic mind. When the mind is completely purified of all this our mind becomes omniscient mind. At that time it becomes Losang Tubwang Dorje Chang.
Student: Will the Hinayana path take someone all the way to enlightenment?
Rinpoche: It is a path to enlightenment. The Hinayana path is a path to enlightenment, yes. It is a path to enlightenment. Otherwise what is the purpose of showing the path; there would be no purpose if it doesn't lead the disciple to enlightenment.
Student: The purpose of the path might be to take the person to the Mahayana path.
Rinpoche: This means the same thing. Just like the example that I told you about the trip to New York, where you have to land at different airports on the way. Like this the person when is sick, has fever, or has disease, at the beginning the doctor gives the method, certain disciplines that he should not eat a certain diet to stop his disease. When his disease goes away he becomes less, better and better, then the doctor gives another method for him to get stronger, well. The doctor allows him to have another diet that he could not have before, like eating meat or another strong diet. Before his sickness is cured the doctor tells him he shouldn't have that diet, then afterwards his sickness goes away, becomes less, and gets better, and then the doctor tells him he can have another strong diet. But those two methods look different, what the doctor told the patient the first and second time look different, but both are methods to make the person healthy. The main aim is making the person completely cured or healthy. Just like this, different teachings were shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and the whole point is to bring the disciple into enlightenment, showing the Mahayana teaching, the Hinayana teaching—the whole thing is to bring them to enlightenment, like this. You are right, you are right, the purpose of showing the Hinayana teaching is to lead the disciple to the Mahayana teaching. It is method because the person is not ready to receive the Mahayana method, his mind not ready, but the mind is ready to receive Hinayana teaching, it is necessary to show that. Afterward, as his mind becomes ready, then the Mahayana teaching can be shown. That way he can receive enlightenment; you are correct.
Student: Is it wrong thinking to be confused to think that the doctor changes. That creates confusion for me. Is that wrong thinking?
Rinpoche: How do you find confusion? Like this, you don't understand what the doctor means or what the doctor said, different things at different times. Anyway, it doesn't matter. Afterwards we can understand and talk. There is a different way of thinking in the Hinayana teaching and the Mahayana teaching. Guru Shakyamuni explained a different way of thinking. But the way of thinking that was explained by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha to the followers of the Hinayana path was different than for those who would receive enlightenment by following the Mahayana Path. Afterward, when their minds become ready, then Guru Shakyamuni gives the method, shows the Mahayana teachings. In that way Guru Shakyamuni leads the disciples to enlightenment, like this. It will be cleared up as we carry on, these different ways of thinking. If you talk too much now there can be a little confusion.
Then the way of listening and explaining the teaching, a little bit about that, a little emphasis. Also, even when explaining the Dharma there are certain disciplines from the teacher's side. There are certain needs, equipment in his mind. There are disciplines, there are many things that are necessary to make the teaching beneficial. Also, from the disciple's side there are disciplines, there are ways of listening, things necessary to make the teaching beneficial or effective for the mind. Such as not being like this example, the pot. If the pot is upside down, if the cup is upside down, as much tea as we put it doesn't go inside. Just like this, if the person is not listening to the teaching, it doesn't go in the mind, just like the upside down cup. If it is up, if it has a hole, as much delicious tea is put inside, it doesn't stay, it runs out. That is listening, but at the same time forgetting. Just like when the person is there remembering but after the schedule the person is not thinking anymore about that subject of forgetting. That way the teaching doesn't become useful.
Then even though he is listening, just like the filthy cup with the bad smell, even though the cup is not upside down, or doesn't have a hole, it is dirty. Even if you tea put inside, it doesn't become worthwhile to drink, it is dirty. One of the most important things—we don't have so many problems of those other two, not so much for Westerners, but the third one is the biggest problem, the filthy cup. This is the most difficult thing, and that is listening to the teachings with a negative mind, with an impure motivation. So in that way listening to the teaching with an impure motivation, with a negative mind, in that way the teaching doesn't benefit the person that much. It cannot benefit the person's mind, cannot change the person's mind that much. The person is listening to the teaching with pride. Thinking, whatever else that he has to say, I know this subject, this just example—what new things does he have to say besides this subject which I know already, like this. Having strong pride and listening with pride. Even though he is listening, understanding the words, the teaching doesn't become beneficial to his mind because of pride. It does not become beneficial because the person is not listening to stop his life problems. The person is not listening to subdue his mind, to subdue his negative mind. He is sort of checking the person who explains, but he is not checking himself, his own mind, not concerned with trying to subdue his mind. Therefore the teaching doesn't become beneficial.
In the following subjects there will be many teachings that some people may have heard, which you already know. There will be all kinds of different subjects. However, even though you understand the words, the subject, this is not sufficient, you need the experience within your mind. Check up whether you have the experience. If not, then there is need of the understanding, the practice. The reason there is no practice is because of not having the deeper understanding of that subject. This is one thing. Listening to the teaching is not just understanding the words but realizing the subject through understanding. Because the whole thing, the whole purpose of the teaching is to realize, experience, clean the mind. Also, repetition, similar words and subject will come for the mental practice. Otherwise just for understanding the words we don't need repetition.
Listening to the teachings with the idea, with the mind checking the person explaining, instead of checking one's own mind, instead changing the mind by listening to that subject, sort of watching how many mistakes he makes, how many incorrect words ... listening to the teaching in the mind, checking just other people, not checking oneself, not concerned with cleaning one's own mind. Listening to teachings with such a mind doesn't help that much. It is necessary to think that the listener himself is the patient and the teacher explaining is his doctor and the Dharma the listener is receiving is the medicine to cure the disease, the delusions, the ignorance. There are other things but these three are very important to think about. By thinking like this you know you are really a patient, needing a doctor, needing medicine to cure the disease. In this way you know the purpose that you are listening for. Thinking like this makes the mind conscious of the reason you are listening to the Dharma, which is the medicine to correct the disease, the delusions. I am listening to the Dharma to correct my mental disease. So in this way the person's mind is conscious of the purpose for which he is listening to the teaching. In this way he knows that he is listening to the teaching with such a mind, for himself not for other people, for himself to clean his own mind. However, when you listen to the teachings think that what he is explaining is for me, to clean my mind. In this way the teaching can be much more beneficial and also you can understand, as the person is trying to explain, you can understand much better, with less wrong conceptions, you can understand much better, and also your own mind will be in this way.
However, especially in these fundamental teachings it mainly talks about your own life, the positive and negative life. It talks about the Dharma, the fundamental subject it introduces is our own life, which we are not conscious of usually, which we don't know. What is positive and negative, what is right and wrong, and how to make life perfect and pure by introducing the right thought and the wrong thought. So in this way we understand our own life, we understand how we are, how we live. Also besides showing what is right and wrong, the life and the mind, the thoughts, also the Dharma shows where the life problems arise and also it gives the solution how to stop it, how to make the life happy, also this is the method.
So anyway, the Dharma is like a mirror. The fundamental subject that we are going to talk about is like a mirror, a mirror to check up our own mind, our own life. Just like the mirror we often use to check up whether our body is clean or not, or dirty, just like this, the mirror reflects or shows what shape we have, whether it is clean or dirty, like this. Dharma exactly shows this. Besides the physical body, Dharma shows about the mind, how our mind is. So in this way Dharma is like the mirror of the mind, the mirror of our mind. In this way we understand the nature of our mind, we understand the evolution of our mind, the nature of our mind. Therefore many times we will talk about negative things, many subjects that you hear will be negative things, many subjects will be negative things that we have been doing and not been conscious of, that we now know. That is the first thing that the Dharma explains before you make yourself correct, perfect, before giving the method to make you perfect. For that, to make the life perfect, and the mind pure, the Dharma shows first of all what is the problem, what is wrong. You see the problem here in the modern world is that we don't know what is really wrong. The main problem is that we don't know what is wrong with us, wrong with our mind. The reason that we don't know what is wrong with us, the reason why we don't know what is wrong with ourselves, what is really wrong, is because we do not recognize ourselves. Totally. So understanding Dharma makes us recognize and know ourselves.
The way of explaining and listening to the teaching is briefly like this. What you think from the mind. Then usually it is necessary always just before listening to the teaching, always necessary to have a pure motivation. Therefore because of that reason even though I will repeat all the time how to cultivate bodhicitta, from my side just explaining is not enough, that doesn't mean all your actions of listening teaching become Dharma, become the cause of enlightenment. Because for your action to become the cause of enlightenment, Dharma, depends on your mind, it doesn't depend on my repeating. Repeating is just to help, to emphasize, if you didn't motivate in the pure way. Like this. However, if I talk totally, to make your action of listening to Dharma or doing meditation the cause of receiving perfect peace, the cessation of your negative mind of ignorance, the action of listening to the teaching should become the method, the remedy of the delusions which are within our mind. The action of listening to the teaching should become the remedy of the delusions. So what should make the action the remedy of the delusions—the motivation, the pure thought, that has to be made by the pure thought, pure motivation.
So example. There are four people listening to the Dharma. This person, one person listens to the Dharma with the reason just to make the temporal life happy, just to have an enjoyable life. For that reason the person is listening to the Dharma. He thinks that by listening to the Dharma maybe he will understand certain methods to make this present life happy and comfortable, but has no concern for future enlightenment, receiving everlasting peace. Then the second person listens to the Dharma concerned with having a better future rebirth. Just only that—concerned with future happiness, a happy rebirth, but not concerned with getting out of the boundaries of suffering, samsara, not concerned with receiving enlightenment. The second person listens for such a reason. The third person listens to Dharma to release from samsara, the boundaries of suffering. That means delusion and karma, and to receive everlasting happiness. The fourth person is listening to Dharma with bodhicitta, with the pure thought, the motivation, the wish to receive enlightenment only for the benefit of other sentient beings. So now we check up—these four people have different ways of thinking, different motivations. So who's action becomes the method of receiving perfect peace? Who's action becomes the remedy of the delusions?
For the first person who is only concerned with making the temporal life happy by listening to the Dharma, his action of listening to the Dharma doesn't become even a virtuous action, because that action is possessed by attachment, negative mind, attachment to temporal comfort, only the temporal life's comfort, therefore it is a negative action. Even if it is not a virtuous action and that action is not the remedy of delusions, it is a helper, a method of delusion, it is a helper, becomes a helper to the delusions by not being the remedy of the delusions. The second person who is only concerned for the future rebirth, not concerned with releasing from samsara, boundaries of suffering and receiving enlightenment, his action is a little bit better, this action is a virtuous action because the action is not possessed by attachment attached to only the comfort of this life. He is concerned with his future life, the action is done with that motivation concerned with the future life, so the second person's action of listening to the Dharma is virtuous, while the other person, the first person's action is not virtuous, is a negative action that only brings a suffering result, a suffering rebirth, such as an animal rebirth. Also other suffering rebirths besides animals, creatures. There are other suffering rebirths such as pretas, narak beings. So the first person's action doesn't ... anyway the result caused by the action possessed by a negative mind is a suffering result. The second person's action is a virtuous action but still the second person's action of listening to the Dharma is still not the remedy of the delusions. It still doesn't become the remedy of the delusions. So because the second person doesn't motivate the action to release from samsara, to release from the delusions, he doesn't do the action with this motivation, so even though he takes another rebirth, he is still living in the boundaries of suffering, living in delusion.
So now, the third person who listens to the Dharma for the purpose to escape from samsara, the boundaries of suffering. His action becomes the remedy of his delusions because his motivation is to escape from delusion, remove the delusion, therefore the action of listening to the Dharma is the remedy to the delusions, becomes the remedy of the delusions. That action becomes the cause, that action is the actual cause of bringing everlasting happiness. And the fourth person who listens to the Dharma with the pure motivation of bodhicitta—then there is no question, no doubt whether that action is the remedy of his delusions, no question. Because the fourth person's goal is the final goal, much higher than the third person's goal and the fourth person's goal; that is the highest goal. He has the greatest project, aim, wanting to receive enlightenment for each of the suffering sentient beings. So that is the most pure motivation, that action is the actual cause that brings enlightenment. Just like the seed that brings the fruit.
So therefore the action done with such motivation, bodhicitta, that action is the most beneficial action for oneself and other sentient beings. With this motivation, listening to teachings becomes a very helpful and quick cure for the mental diseases and to control the mind and in that way your action never gets involved in self, doesn't become an egocentric action. Motivating, thinking like this, repeating the motivation and thinking like this doesn't let the self—cherishing thought rise. So the understanding of the different types of motivation is very important. Because this is not something that you are going to do after one year, two years, next life, these actions are something we have to know right away, act on right away to benefit the life, our life and other beings' lives.
I think maybe now you don't need to do the breathing meditation so it is much better to spend more time watching the thoughts, the last meditation. If you start watching the thoughts, all of a sudden like this, you don't find the object to concentrate on, sort of like your mind is lost in space. Watch your own thoughts, the words. It looks quite simple because we often have thoughts often thinking on different objects. All the time we are thinking. So there is no problem of not having thoughts. Sometimes we think too much. Anyway, there is no problem of not having thoughts. The thinker, the object, not the person but the mind, on that you concentrate, and that is the object you watch. So the method is, first of all, you check, go through the life, then after going back through many previous lives, then after some time you ... first of all you only concentrate on the life then afterwards going back and back like this. Afterwards be conscious of what your mind is doing, thinking, what it is checking, the life. So the thinker of the life, the mind—then you just concentrate on that, be thoughtful of that. That it is there watching. Be thoughtful of your thoughts watching the life, try to be conscious of that thought, that itself is watching thought. So it is more important now that you spend more time like this, watching the thoughts, but however, trying hard, trying hard. It is natural to have difficulty at the beginning so you don't need energy to try it, to continue to bring back the mind from distraction, try to be conscious of the thought. Just like another example. If you are walking with a friend along path, then you are watching the road but also you are watching your friend, what he is doing, whether he is going to hit you. With one of the eyes you are watching the road, but on one side you are watching the other person who is walking with you. Like this, be very careful, conscious, mainly you are concentrating on the mind, but also a little bit, also being conscious of what things start to come, like this. If you concentrate on the thought, this way there are less distractions because usually there is the distraction of thinking of many different objects, the mind thinking of different objects. Now we concentrate our mind on different objects, so concentrating on the thought it doesn't get the chance to think of other objects. More thinking of just the thought.
Student: Just looking at some event past in my life, guiding the thought, at a certain point I would lose the guidance and thought becomes—
Rinpoche: Same thing, similar. First of all you are checking the life—your mind is somewhere in America, round your home, wherever, your friend there, where there is an island, a swimming place. Then when the mind is thinking like this all of a sudden you know that the mind is thinking of such an object like this. Then just concentrate on that thought that thinks of America, your friends, just on that thought you concentrate, take care of that thought, concentrate on that, so that it stops to continuously think, to wander around. Again if the mind gets distracted thinking like this, if you do it again and again like this, somehow the energy of our effort makes the concentration last longer. If you use the skill of being conscious of the mind, the thought on which you concentrate, at the same time what things start to rise, what other thoughts start to rise?
Student: Shall I let one thought rise after the other and watch or go back to the guidance—usually one or two just going along. Guiding my mind to see a particular year, twelve months, at a certain point if I let go of the guide, a thought arises which is nothing to do with the subject, I can watch that thought. After that arises another one nothing to do with the twelve months—do I watch?
Rinpoche: Don't go back to the subject. First you go through even though the mind gets distracted on something else. The main thing is to try to recognize and hold the thought. The main thing is, it doesn't matter whatever the thought, the mind thinking of different subjects, it doesn't matter, the subject is not so important.
Student: Hold the thought?
Rinpoche: Hold the thought and watch it. Not like this—there is one method but not like this. You are thinking of some plans to do in the West, your mind is thinking but at the same time you are conscious of what your mind is thinking, planning. This is one method to stop the intense agitation, one method. In this way it stops after some time but it doesn't stop arising and because you are still letting the mind think of other subjects, you are not really concentrating on one point. The most important thing for a short time is to concentrate mainly on the mind.
First you motivated the pure thought of bodhicitta thinking, "I must lead all the sentient beings to the Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightened stage by myself achieving Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightened stage. Therefore I am going to practice the Guru Shakyamuni Yoga."
Usually there is so much benefit even just visualizing any aspect of enlightened beings. We don't realize, we don't have the wisdom to realize the effect by seeing the statue or by seeing even a painting of the enlightened beings. The effect of that and how much it purifies the negativities, we don't realize. But actually any figure of the enlightened beings, just by seeing it, it is very beneficial to the mind. Just by seeing it, it can purify much negativities, much obscurations of the mind. One thing is visualizing the aspect of the enlightened beings never causes attachment, the effect is completely different than visualizing ordinary person, visualizing your friends to whom you are attached—it is different, the effect is completely different. Visualizing the ordinary people that we are attached to causes attachment to rise, only causes the mind to become more ignorant instead of lessening the obscurations. As it causes ignorance to rise, attachment to rise, it causes our mind to not realize its nature. It causes us to not realize the nature of that object. Also it causes us to not realize the nature of our mind. It is natural, for instance, that attachment never makes us realize the nature of attachment, the faults of attachment. What attachment does is obscure the understanding or fault of the attachment, the nature of the attachment. As attachment obscures the understanding of the faults or nature of attachment, the attachment obscures the understanding of the nature of ignorance. That's how the attachment causes is to not realize the nature of mind. However, again there is a big subject around there to explain.
However, there is a big difference between the effect or benefit of visualizing an aspect of the enlightened beings and an ordinary person who is not enlightened. When there is a visualization of ordinary people, it comes sometimes in anger, sometimes in attachment, in different feelings, and sometimes ignorance rises. But any time the person sees those figures such as paintings, statues, even visual aspects of enlightened being, there is always benefit, it always becomes a purification of the delusions. One thing is, as we look at, as we visualize the figure of the enlightened beings each time when we look at it, it leaves an impression on the consciousness to receive the teaching of that buddha or in the future lifetime to be the disciple of that buddha, to live close to that Buddha. Also by visualizing or by seeing even a simple figure of an enlightened being, it gives interest, gives the wish to attain enlightenment, to be like that enlightened being, who has such knowledge of holy body, extremely beautiful, never causing negative mind to arise. It only causes faith and devotion to arise. Also, to receive the knowledge of that enlightened being's holy speech and the knowledge of that enlightened being's holy mind. So in this way as there is interest or such wish in the person's mind, the person because of that energy, that wish, the person follows the path to enlightenment and the person achieves that buddha for the benefit of sentient beings. So there is that much great purpose, benefit. Also any time we see each figure, each different aspect of an enlightened being, it leaves an impression to see many hundreds, millions of buddhas in future lifetimes.
For instance, one example, one history. One of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's disciples called Shariputra—there are two of his closest disciples, arhats called Shariputra and Maudgalyayana. So Shariputra in one of his previous lifetimes was a messenger, and he spent one night in the temple and he was fixing his torn shoes and there was a light in front of him so first of all, he was fixing his shoes, then afterwards he got tired and he sort of took a rest. Then in front of him there was a painting on the wall of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. So he saw this figure. Before he didn't see it because of fixing his shoes, and later on he took a rest and with the light he saw the figure there, this beautiful painting. And he looked again and again while he was sewing his shoes because it was very interesting there, very attractive, a very interesting figure that caused devotion to arise, and the wish to become like that. So he thought it was very attractive, wonderful, he thought there is such person like that having such beautiful body and he thought, "I wish to become like that." He had the strong wish to become like that enlightened being, as he saw the figure. So because of this karma, this impression left by seeing this figure in his other lifetime, he was always with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, very close, always very close and receiving teachings from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and seeing many thousands of other buddhas. Seeing these objects leaves an impression in the mind and causes us in future lifetime to meet the teachings again and also to really see those different aspects of buddhas.
So visualizing has great purpose, so much benefit, even when there are bad dreams, when there is something offensive that was caused by human beings and non-human being, spirits, such as people who try to give offense with the black magic method. However, especially when there is any kind of this offense or danger, things like this happening, especially in those times, on those occasions, visualizing the aspect of enlightened beings, whether you visualize outside of you or in oneness with you, it becomes protection. It protects you from those dangers, offenses, from the mental danger and physical danger; it is very powerful. Why does it become protection, and when we visualize certain ordinary persons that we are attached to, why doesn't that become protection and why does visualizing certain aspects of enlightened beings become protection, why does that have power? This method, this visualization becomes protection by the power of that enlightened being, it is the knowledge of the enlightened being's omniscient mind. That enlightened being who is completely released from all fears and sufferings and has infinite great compassion for all sentient beings to lead them from suffering. So the visualization of this aspect, protecting, helping like this, is because of the knowledge power, the knowledge of the omniscient mind, especially the infinite compassion that he has achieved. Also with each aspect of the deity there are all kinds of different methods according to different dangers, different sicknesses, different dangers—there are all kinds of different methods that one can do, practice, use, even with one aspect of a deity. Why is it that even the non-living things and the living beings cannot give harm when the person is practicing such a method? That is because of this power and knowledge of the enlightened beings. However these are the experiences, anyway, there is no need to talk much. Even though it is not our experience, it is the experience of many other meditators, many other people, holy beings who followed the method, who did the practice. So it is definite that also if you visualize, if you practice in a similar way, it can become also protection for you.
The main point, the main purpose of visualizing the aspect of the enlightened beings, is for purification, purifying the delusions and receiving enlightenment. So as I explained, you make the visualization. First of all before we become oneness, because our mind is so deluded and dirty, so in order to become oneness first of all we have to purify ourselves. Therefore first of all we visualize outside. So the visualization of the enlightened being should be in a specific place—with maybe one arm that much distance between you and the object and then above the ground, at the same level as the height of your forehead, then visualize the large golden throne, the large square golden throne, adorned by many jewels. So as I explain it is better to visualize.
First of all you make the position correct. Straight from your forehead at that level, that height, visualize a large square golden throne adorned by many jewels and erected by eight snow lions, white lions. There are two lions at each side, one lion at each corner. The lions are holding up the golden throne, thinking of it as a real living animal, breathing. Above the throne is a lotus, a big lotus. On the lotus is a sun and moon seat. The sun and moon both are flat, like round cushions, both are flat, very bright, and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha ... first of all think like this. All the enlightened beings' omniscient mind manifests in Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, in the manifestation of a monk wearing robes. As you see, try to remember the thangkas, the paintings, adorned with beautiful robes, legs crossed. The color of his holy body is golden, all transparent not just like the statue, not just like made of cement, but like a water bubble, very transparent, just like that. Golden color but very transparent, indestructible, glorious looking. The right hand's palm is on the right knee, the left hand is holding a bowl, and the bowl is in his palm. The bowl is held at the navel. The bowl is filled up with nectar; nectar means sort of medicine. As the term of the nectar called dutsi—du means hindrance, tsi means medicine. So medicine to stop hindrances. So that nectar in Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's bowl is nectar to stop the evil of the skandhas, or aggregates. The nectar is to stop the suffering of the aggregates. For instance, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha doesn't have any suffering of the aggregates, he is released from that, but the nectar stops our suffering of the aggregates. For instance, we have bodily suffering and mental suffering—these are the suffering of the aggregates. So that is the nectar to control the evil of our aggregates. That is the nectar to stop the evil of the death—not Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's death but our death, the suffering of death. And this is the nectar to stop delusion—not Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's, but our delusion.
His right palm on his knee signifies controlling the evil hindrances of certain sentient beings, suras and asuras. Those other sentient beings cause harm to the meditators, those who practice Dharma. And the robes, the beautiful adorned robes do not touch his holy body, there is one inch of space between the holy body and the robe, but he looks well adorned, decorated. And he has such a beautiful smiling face that gives incredible bliss within our mind and tiny eyes, compassionate looking eyes, and red lips, and long ears and a hair knot on the top. All the hairs are dark blue and curved, not mixed with each other but curved to the right and radiating, his whole holy body radiates and sends rays all over, all directions, up and down, on all sides, sends rays to all sentient beings who are in different universes, planets, and different realms. So many rays come from each of the pores of his holy body, so many rays, and a great number of small buddhas come from his holy body to different sentient beings' realms to work for sentient beings. Some Buddhas come back through the rays and absorb into the pores of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's holy body after finishing the work for sentient beings.
Think that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is the embodiment of all the enlightened beings. Now make requests from your heart, "Please grant me blessings in order to quickly receive the beginning of the gradual path, the realization of the guru and up to the realization of enlightenment, for the benefit of other sentient beings." Think that Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has accepted and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is sending white purifying light with his infinite compassion wanting you to release from all suffering and attain enlightenment. So as you are receiving the light it is just like the light coming in the dark room—as the light comes in the room the darkness completely disappears, nowhere existing, just like this think that the light has gone into all the parts of your body. All of a sudden all the delusions, all the subtle obscurations, all the negative karmas, all are completely purified, all are completely lost in the form of darkness, nowhere existing in and out.
So while you are concentrating on the purifying white light coming from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's holy body, from the heart and absorbing into your body, going all over inside the body— while you are concentrating on the purifying white light coming, you repeat the prayer.
La-ma Dron-pa Chom-dan-da
D'e-zhin Sheg-pa Dra-chom-pa
Yang-d'ag-pa Dzog-pa Sang-gya
Pal-gyal-wa Shak-ya T'ub-pa-la
Ch'o-do J'in-gy'i Lab-tu-sol
Guru Founder Lord Buddha, the Fully Realized Destroyer of all Defilements;
Fully Completed Buddha, having fully realized the Absolute Truth as it is in objects.
Magnificent King Buddha, to you I prostrate and go for Refuge, to you I make offerings; please, bestow your blessing.
Then repeat also the mantra of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
Ta Ya T'a Om Mu Ne Mu Ne Ma Ha Mu Ne Ye So Ha
Now think, "By absorbing the white light which is the essence of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's omniscient mind, all my negative karmas that have been collected from beginningless previous lifetimes, all the delusions, every single subtle obscuration, is completely purified." Feel complete emptiness of all the delusions, negative karmas, try to feel the body very light and blissful.
Now visualize yellow light coming from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's heart, the knowledge yellow light. This means the yellow light, the essence of yellow light is the infinite knowledge of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's holy body, holy speech, holy mind. The holy body which has not one ugly part, the holy body that can transform into numberless different manifestations to work for other sentient beings according to the sentient beings' different minds and knowledge of holy speech. It can give the teachings on different subjects according to the sentient beings' different levels of mind and those teachings in different languages according to the different sentient beings languages. All those teachings are given by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha in different languages on different subjects at the same time, as he has such knowledge of speech and knowledge of holy mind, the omniscient mind that fully sees all past existence and all present existence, and all future existence, and has the complete power to read all the numberless sentient beings' different thoughts at the same time. There is not one single atom or existence that his omniscient mind doesn't fully see. Every existence that is existing is fully seen all the time by the omniscient mind. There is such infinite knowledge of the omniscient mind. So this yellow light is received from Guru Shakyamuni's heart, the essence of that is the infinite knowledge of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's holy speech, body, mind. Think, "I am receiving it, all of my body is filled up by that knowledge light." And try to think, "I have received the infinite knowledge of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's holy body, speech, and mind," and try to feel infinite bliss, all the parts of the body besides the mind, feeling bliss even in all the parts of the body. So while you are concentrating on this yellow light receiving, recite the mantra.
Now do the visualization of the absorption of the eight lions absorbing into throne—then the throne absorbs into the lotus, that into the sun and moon, and they absorb into Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha comes to sit on your head and melts into light and becomes oneness. The light absorbs into you and you instantly think that you become completely oneness with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. As you do the visualization absorbing Guru Shakyamuni Buddha into oneness with you, think at the same time that all the ordinary view, the way you see yourself and all the wrong conceptions, are completely empty and your mind is oneness, completely oneness with Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's blissful omniscient mind in the form of space. While the mind is being oneness with blissful Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's omniscient mind in the form of emptiness like the nature of the sky, all of a sudden the large throne and lotus and sun and moon seat and oneself who is in the manifestation of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha appear, exactly as you have visualized before in front of you, with a very transparent radiating glorious looking holy body, feeling infinite bliss. At the heart visualize again the lotus, sun, moon, and in the center of the moon visualize the seed syllable letter that is the essence is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's omniscient mind, letter MUM. On the edge is the MUM mantra standing clockwise. So while you are reciting the mantra visualize you are sending rays from the mantra and from each pore of your body to all the sentient beings up and down in all directions. You send purifying rays to all sentient beings and purify all sentient beings, all their negative karmas, all their delusions, all their subtle obscurations. Again recite the mantra while you are concentrating on this, sending the purifying rays to all sentient beings. This includes your enemies, sentient beings you like, don't like, that you hate—it includes everything. So while the visualization is done recite the mantra as you are concentrating on sending rays from the mantra.
MANTRA AND MEDITATION
Think, "All the sentient beings are completely purified of all their negative karmas and all delusions and even the subtle obscurations." Think, "I have enlightened all the sentient beings in the nature of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha." Visualize all sentient beings in the aspect of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. Think, "I have attained my work as I motivated in the beginning with bodhicitta." This is not nonsense thinking. "I am not enlightened, I didn't enlighten even one sentient being, why should I think this?" This method is a profound Mahayana method. This has great importance that causes one to quickly achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha's enlightenment and lead other sentient beings in his enlightened stage. This is thinking about the future but even though it is future thinking, imagining, thinking, and meditating like this at the present time, taking the future result in the present, this has great importance. But anyway, it is not necessary to explain this now.
The meaning of the mantra briefly, to have some idea what it means.
La-ma Dron-pa: La-ma means Guru. La-ma means ... in this case, this specific subject it means guru. Usually La literally means sort of high, having higher knowledge. But here in this specific subject La-ma means guru. Dron-pa means founder of the path.
Chom-dan-da: Chom means destroyer, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has destroyed all his delusions and dualistic mind, so Chom. Dan means—there is a deeper detailed explanation—however, Dan means having the realization of enlightenment, totally. Da means passed away in enlightenment. Simply talking Da means passed away in enlightenment through the path.
D'e-zhin Sheg-pa: D'e-zhin means suchness. Sheg-pa means passed away. Actually Chom-dan-da and D'e-zhin Sheg-pa have a similar meaning. Another meaning of that D'e-zhin Sheg-pa is realizing whatever the nature that existence has, the absolute nature that existence has. This is also one meaning of D'e-zhin Sheg-pa. Suchness means the absolute nature of existence as Shakyamuni Buddha realized it. It means Guru Shakyamuni Buddha doesn't see the nature of the object that is not there, which doesn't exist. He sees what is actually existing there. Anyway, D'e-zhin Sheg-pa.
Dra-chom-pa: Dra means enemy. In this case enemy means delusions. Chom means the same thing—destroyer because he has destroyed all enemies, delusions. This means also arhat.
Yang-d'ag-pa Dzog-pa Sang-gya: means fully enlightened. Yang-d'ag-pa means fully, Sang-gya means enlightenment. Usually Buddha is Sanskrit, and the Tibetan term is Sang-gya. Sang-gya means completely purified of all the delusions, all the subtle obscurations, not having one single defect of the mind. Gya means having all the knowledge, gya means perfect in all the knowledge. Sang means complete purity of all the delusions, obscurations. So each word has great meaning. Actually just even two words Sang-gya includes the whole realization of the Buddha and includes also each path that Buddha has achieved and each purification of negative mind and delusions that Buddha purified—so it includes so many incredible subjects.
Pal-gya-wa: Pal means magnificent. Gyal means King, Buddha.
Shak-ya T'ub-pa-la: Shak means of caste, the Indian caste called, Shak-ya, one of the noble castes Buddha was born into, a pure caste. I think there is still a generation of this. T'ub-pa means control.
Ch'ag-tsal-ching: means prostrate. So prostrate to whom? To Guru Shakyamuni Buddha.
But all this, La-ma Dron-pa ... to Ch'ag-tsal-ching, each of them are different names but each of them mean one thing. Just one thing. Just one essence. That is what comes at the beginning, La-ma, the essence, whom we call Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. So that essence, that La-ma who manifested in the aspect of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, to that enlightened being, we prostrate. Ch'ag-tsal-ching means prostrate.
Ch'o-do: means offering.
Kyab-su-ch'i-wo: taking refuge.
J'in-gy'I: asking to grant blessings to purify the mind, to receive realizations.
I think we stop there. Actually, the meaning of this dedication, what is going to be said now, actually the dedication is this. So you can think at the same time even though you can't say the Tibetan prayer, you can think of the meaning, so its same thing. Due to the merits may I quickly achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and lead every and all sentient beings to your enlightened stage.
(See Appendix I for amplified version of Guru Shakyamuni Yoga Practice.)
Monday, 11th November
From the holy speech of great bodhisattva Tenzin Gyaltsen—first just a little history about Tenzin Gyaltsen. He was born in India, in Khunu, and he spent his early life in Tibet in different monasteries where he completed all his practice, listening to Dharma, checking, and doing meditation. He perfectly completely these in Tibet, taking teaching from different gurus. Not only did he take the teachings on the paramita, not only general the Mahayana teachings, but also the Vajrayana teachings. After that he spent much time in India living an ascetic life. Actually, he is a great yogi, a great yogi who does the practice very secretly and spends his life mainly in the practice of bodhicitta, taking care of other beings more than oneself. Even though there are thousands of other Dharma practices, different practices such as Vajrayana, many other practices, he spent his life mostly in the practice of bodhicitta, keeping the pure thought of bodhicitta, taking care others more than oneself, keeping this pure thought as his heart.
There are many people who may have seen this bodhisattva Tenzin Gyaltsen. Before, the Tibetans did not know anything about him. He was just wandering around in India like a sadhu, with a naked body without clothes on. At that time the Tibetan people didn't know anything about him. He wandered around and spent much time at the Ganges in Varanasi, where many sadhus lived. He lived around there for a long time, but people did not know any difference from the outside—they just believed that he was the ordinary person that they saw in their view. He lived like the sadhus. Sometimes he used to come to the Tibetan monasteries, such as Bodhgaya, at certain festival times and he asked the monks to give him a place to stay. The monks didn't know him at that time and they thought he was an ordinary person. He spent some time there and left, and people didn't know when he left, and then he came back. Afterwards, somehow His Holiness the Dalai Lama took teachings from him especially on bodhicitta. The teachings on bodhicitta were on the text written by the great pandit Shantideva, "Following the Bodhisattva's Actions." His Holiness took teachings from him on that text. Also His Holiness' tutors took teachings from him. Many other high lamas took teachings from him as well. So gradually many other people recognized that he had the perfect understanding of the whole Dharma—besides the intellectual understanding, he had completed the experience of the Dharma. He himself was living in the experience of the Dharma, the realization of the meditations. So later on, as people recognized and heard about him, they began to take teachings from him. His life history is so amazing, something that we can't imitate. Just even understanding of his life, how he lived, even just understanding this it is something that generates incredible devotion. He was a yogi who didn't have even one single atom of attachment, who didn't have any smell of attachment. Whatever action he did—speaking, talking to people—whatever he did never involved even a small action of attachment.
Usually he took one meal—he didn't have any kitchen or proper things. Usually he lived at Bodhgaya, and there were no proper things and people around there offered lunch. He took one meal and I think he went peepee once in the day, and any material things, anything people gave him—he usually didn't like other people giving him things. He usually didn't accept. For him there was no difference between giving him garbage and giving him gold and silver. There was no difference for his mind, no change in his mind. In his room people offered things, so he put everything under his bed, just left it there around, just like it had no owner.
He knew Sanskrit very well and the Indian language. I think he knew a few words of the American language! He knew the three states of America—California, Washington, and New York!
Also I took teachings from him twice. I wished to take teachings from him more but there wasn't time for him because usually there were a lot of people. Usually in the teachings he emphasized bodhicitta. Usually when he gave teachings he gave them the practice of bodhicitta and the bodhisattva's deeds. He had the complete, entire understanding of the Dharma when he explained. Just like he really sees everything.
Before, he wished to come to make pilgrimage in Nepal but he couldn't come for long time—I think for several years. He has recently arrived in Nepal. We went to see him. However, this teaching that he wrote on bodhicitta is explained with his experience, with his realization, so it has so much taste, and even hearing it is very effective for our mind. Therefore, because of that, as much as I can, I am thinking to explain one verse from that teaching that explains about the benefits of the bodhicitta.
"How is it possible that the thought of bodhicitta of a mother, father, and Brahma, and Tshangba have cover all beings like bodhicitta?" Tshangba is one of the Hindu gods that is riding on the swan, I think it is called Vishnu, I don't remember,
This means how can be possible that parents and Brahma and the god Tshangba have this wish-wanting to benefit, enlighten sentient beings by generating bodhicitta. The benefits of this bodhicitta, as it is generated for all sentient beings, is infinite, is numberless, as the number of sentient beings is infinite. Such bodhicitta wanting to benefit to each of the sentient beings—even parents, Brahma, even the god Tshangba don't have. There are different types of Brahmas. Usually one type of Brahma doesn't tell lies, and because of the power of not telling lies, any prayers they say are quickly successful, and definitely bring results because of the power of speech, keeping the morality of not telling lies. In previous times the Brahmas used to have physic powers, such as the power to foretell, things like that. So even the god Tshangba who has much power, possessions, and enjoyments, having so much, surrounding other gods, however even they don't have this precious, pure thought of bodhicitta, wanting to benefit all sentient beings.
What this means is that we are fortunate that we have such chance to hear the teachings on bodhicitta and the chance to train the mind in bodhicitta. We are fortunate to get to try to generate such a pure thought wanting to benefit all sentient beings. However, it is necessary to train the thought in bodhicitta even in this moment. Without training the mind in that pure thought, it cannot drop into our mind, it cannot be received. So therefore, to train the mind in bodhicitta and also for this action of listening to the Dharma to become the cause of enlightenment it is necessary to think, "I must enlighten all the sentient beings, therefore I must achieve enlightenment. In order to achieve enlightenment, I must complete the realization of the whole gradual path to enlightenment. Therefore I am going to listen to the teaching on the gradual path."
The listening subject is the Mahayana teaching that leads the fortunate person into enlightenment. It is well expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga. It is a profound teaching, the essence of the great yogis Atisha and Guru Tsongkhapa's understanding. It includes the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and all these teachings are set up for the practice of one person's achievement of enlightenment.
This teaching on the gradual path has four outlines. In order to have reference, the knowledge of the authors. In order to receive devotion, the knowledge of he teaching, which we briefly explained yesterday. The way of listening and explaining the teaching. The way of leading the disciple in the path to enlightenment.
Before the explanation on the way of leading the disciple in the path to enlightenment, a little information about, a little talk on the general form of the meditations.
Three suffering realms means ... it will come afterwards but these are such as the suffering beings, the animals. There are also other suffering beings called pretas and naraks.
In regard to benefits, there is a great difference between offering a world full of jewels to each of the sentient beings and giving just one handful of food to one single sentient being, to one dog. But the benefits of making charity of one handful of food to one sentient being with the motivation of bodhicitta are infinite like space, like infinite space, incredible. The benefits of this action motivated by bodhicitta can never compare to the benefits of making charity of a world full of jewels to each sentient being without the impulse of bodhicitta. It has benefits, but the benefits of that action are so limited—they are almost nothing compared to the benefits of the small action of giving one handful of food with a pure motivation bodhicitta. So how much merit you create, how beneficial the action is, does not depend on how much material you give—it mainly depends on the giver, the mind. It mainly depends on the motivation.
For instance, even though the person is giving one small handful of food to the dog, even just one bowl of food, but giving it with bodhicitta, thinking, "I am going to make this charity in order to receive enlightenment for the benefit of sentient beings." Being motivated like this, making charity like this. Even though it is small, one handful, the benefits of that action cover each sentient being because you do not make the charity you. You don't make the charity only for you. The purpose of making this charity to that animal is to enlighten all sentient beings. With this motivation, even this small work becomes work for other sentient beings.
The purpose of explaining this is that if you understand this important point, this important vital point of makes the action more beneficial, then even with a small action you can gain such great benefit. Such great benefit. There is such a chance. But without understanding there is no way to do the action, no way even if you have a world full of jewels to offer to each sentient being—there is no way if there is no understanding of bodhicitta, how to make the action beneficial to sentient beings. Therefore, understanding the importance of this practice is very important.
Checking Meditation - Paragraph 2
... is wrong, many people also have the idea that to attain the path to enlightenment one doesn't have to depend on the guru, not knowing the purpose of having a guru. If there are doubts like this, afterwards they can be discussed.
Student: Does karma imply that everything is fixed?
Rinpoche: It is fixed but you can break it, you can change it.
Student: If you understand karma you can break it.
Rinpoche: Right, yes.
Student: Otherwise one's life is pre-ordained, fixed, if you don't understand karma.
Rinpoche: Right, it is sort of fixed by the cause but it can be always changed, always stopped through methods.
Student: Is the text written by Tenzin Gyaltsen an ancient text?
Rinpoche: No, the text wasn't written a long time ago.
Student: Do you think it is possible to receive enlightenment also by following other Dharma? Such as Christian, Hindu, without ever hearing about Buddhadharma?
Rinpoche: If you can make the path to enlightenment, if you can make your practice, if you are practicing what you are realizing, if what you are practicing can become the path to enlightenment, no matter what it is called, it an be possible. But it depends on the individual realization, the way he practices.
Student: Is there another understanding of ignorance besides ignorance, hatred, and greed, and not following Dharma—is ignorance a collective word for all of these things or is it something deeper?
Rinpoche: Ignorance is very deep, yes.
Student: Can you give us another understanding of [ignorance]?
Rinpoche: Collective—what do you mean?
Answer: I think we use—we may use the word ignorance for them but is ignorance something else? Is there another meaning we may have missed and don't fully understand?
Rinpoche: Right. There are different types of ignorance but they are different ignorance as you said. Different ignorance. Ignorances that are easy to understand, ignorances that are very profound to realize, to recognize.
Student: Are we capable of understanding now if you were to explain it to us.
Rinpoche: I think I am starting!
The main form of meditation on the graduated path is analytical meditation, checking meditation. There is also one-pointed meditation, but the main form of meditation of the graduated path is analytical meditation. The way of actualizing the meditation is through checking, such as the realization of the impermanence of oneself, such as the realization of the absolute true nature of oneself. This is just an example. This realization has to be achieved through analytical meditation. Besides this realization, there are many other realizations that have to be received through checking. Without depending on analytical meditation, checking, first of all we cannot recognize things such as impermanence, we cannot recognize the wrong conception that thinks and feels that oneself as permanent. Also, we cannot realize the wrong conception that sees oneself opposite to the absolute nature of oneself. As long as we don't realize these wrong conceptions, there is no way to dispel or to stop these wrong conceptions, such as thinking or conceiving of oneself as permanent, as a self entity. If you don't realize them, you cannot dispel this wrong conception. If you cannot dispel this wrong conception, there is no way to realize the absolute nature of oneself. Same thing, there is no way to realize the impermanence of your own "I." It is the same thing with the other exterior objects, just like this. Of course, checking meditation is so important in Dharma, this is something that we have to spend whole our life doing, the way we put our life will depend on it, and it will be something that we are going to believe, so it is necessary first of all to go through analytical meditation in order to discover the meditation or the actual object. Even when worldly people buy ordinary things in business, material things, they have to check up first—they depend on checking. First of all, they check up where it is made, what it is made of, whether the material is pure. They check up many ways before they buy, before they make the decision to buy, and before they give that much money to pay for it. The problem is they don't want to give up that much money for the material. So for that reason they want to check up, so they aren't cheated and they don't lose. They want to have profit, they don't want to make themselves lose. First of all they check up the object. Even when they want to buy food from the store, they check up whether it is rotten or fresh—many ways they check up, and then they buy those temporal things. Even food, something that lasts for one day or two days, one hour or two hours, even that has to be checked up. Even that thing that you have only for a short period, even that is important to check up, so why not the meditations? Why not the Dharma? It is silly not to check the method that we are going to use in our lifetime. It is silly that checking is recognized as sort of a hindrance to wisdom, a hindrance to meditation. That is an extremely foolish way of thinking, a foolish method. This is much more important, checking the meditation, the method that we are going to practice, in which we are going to live. Checking this method is the most important thing, more than checking those temporal things.
For instance, even if, without checking, we get false, wrong material that is not of pure quality, if it is food it may cause us to get sick for some days, and if it is material we may pay some extra money—but that's all. It doesn't make you create negative karma. It doesn't built wrong conception. Without checking, without knowing how the meditation is beneficial, without knowing how it is beneficial to your mind, whether it is the method to diminish your negative mind, without checking these things, just believing in a certain method and easily accepting and doing it, it can be possible to receive a wrong conception and with that wrong conception create negative actions, wrong actions. Creating wrong actions also builds ignorance. In that way, building ignorance causes all the future lives, besides this present life, to be in the suffering. Therefore, one shouldn't think that the checking method is a hindrance for meditation. Thinking like this will only cheat oneself. Instead of developing the wisdom, it will cause you to close the wisdom.
Also there are many people who believe that any thought that appears is all distraction. Checking is not a good method, checking is a hindrance because any thought that arises is a hindrance to meditation. Believing that nothing exists, believing oneself doesn't exist as well as others—this belief, this meditation can never solve the problems, can never stop the suffering. Just like this example—the person falls down into the fireplace, into the hole where there is a fire. But then believing there is no fire, how much he suffers feeling hot, trying to believe there is no fire doesn't help, doesn't stop the pain while he is burning. It doesn't help that by thinking like this it may burn the whole body. Just believing this doesn't change the object; believing that it doesn't exist doesn't make the fire not exist. It is better to recognize the fire, to think the fire is there, and how to get out of it. That kind of way of thinking is the biggest wrong conception, the biggest hindrance to actualize reality. There is no way to realize even other existence as reality.
Paragraph 3, Quote
The one who doesn't have broad understanding ... I think first I finish this. (Read rest of page down to end of 1.)
Samadhi. This is not the practice of the higher intelligent beings, but in this specific teaching the subject of the samadhi meditation comes in the path of the higher intelligent being. That is, I think, usual even in other religions, for instance, Hindus also have samadhi meditation. Samadhi meditation is just general, it is not a particular meditation—the general samadhi method is not a particular meditation in the Buddhadharma because it is practiced also by other religious people. But the process of practice, the way of practicing samadhi meditation, the way of completing samadhi meditation can be different. The purpose of putting the samadhi meditation here in the path of the higher intelligent beings is to practice samadhi meditation with bodhicitta. If it is not practiced with bodhicitta, it doesn't become the cause of enlightenment, therefore the subject of samadhi meditation is put on that graduated path.
2. Such as the main path that is explained in the path of the middle being, that is, the higher trainings of conduct, concentration, and wisdom. By completing these three practices, we can escape from samsara, escape ignorance.
3. Three evil destinies. The first part of the meditation is the graduated path of the lower being. The first part we are going to do is the graduated path of the lower intelligent being. Then afterwards comes the graduated path of the middle being and the graduated path of higher intelligent being. So one who has a broad understanding, a wide understanding of all these methods and subjects has that much wider wisdom. That much wider wisdom eye. Also, that person does not have so much difficulty in the practice of meditation because he has so many methods to use, so many understandings to use, to actualize each specific meditation. How that helps the understanding of even the higher subjects, the higher meditation—there is always a relationship between the meditations, so understanding all the different meditations helps us to understand even better the first meditation, like perfect human rebirth. The first meditation. If the person has the understanding of other meditations, those higher meditations, it makes it much easier to actualize even the first meditation. Somehow the person has more methods, so as the person finds different problems in his mind, he can use different methods right away. He has skill. The person who knows only one type of meditation doesn't have the understanding of other different types of meditation, and no understanding of the gradual meditations. He has that much less methods, less skill, and no method to actualize the meditation quicker, to make the practice successful. Also there is no chance to train his mind gradually in those different levels of paths. Just like an armless person cannot climb the rocky mountain.
So first of all one emphasizes that there are many different types of meditations here as we roughly mentioned. Here are some of the titles. At the beginning it is necessary to have an understanding of all those different meditations. Once you know how to practice, how to do each specific different meditation, each specific different method, then you can spend more time actualizing the first meditation that you have not realized. You spend more time there, put more effort there, until you receive the realization of this meditation. Then after you receive realization of the first meditation, train your mind in the second meditation until you actualize it. Then you do the third meditation, just like this. This is the way to complete realizing the gradual path to enlightenment. However, trying to understand the different types of meditation at one time is the wise skill. That is the quickest way of understanding the Dharma, the quickest way of training to realize the nature of mind. So therefore one should not think, should not expect only one type of meditation and not to have many other different types of meditation. We should expect to develop the wisdom in the different subjects by knowing the different subjects, and we should expect to know the different meditations to solve the different problems. Many times we expect just knowing one meditation is enough, that it is a sufficient method to solve all of life's problems, which never works. This never solves all the problems. So if you have certain expectations like this, certain wishes like this, it is better to make yourself understandable and try to recognize that what you are expecting is not skillful. Try to know the necessity of knowing and understanding the different subjects, otherwise this expectation will cause you suffering, and will cause you to not understand the other subjects. So this is emphasized before the meditation.
Just one example. For instance, there are all kinds of different sicknesses, such as the 424 different sicknesses. However, there are many different medicines to cure the different sickness. Just like this, there are all kinds of different mental problems; therefore, we need different meditations. Even thinking in this way, you can make yourself understand.
This part of the meditation includes the way of leading the disciple on the path to enlightenment, which has two topics in the outline: the way of following the guru who is the root of the path and the way of training the mind in the gradual path to enlightenment. The way of training the mind in the gradual path to enlightenment has two topics: persuading the mind in order to take the essence of the human rebirth and the way of taking the essence of the human rebirth. So part of this meditation is on the perfect human rebirth, the great usefulness of perfect human rebirth. The second meditation is the great difficulty of receiving the perfect human rebirth. These three are the methods persuading the mind to take the essence of the human rebirth.
You close your eyes, think, try to feel this.
"From beginningless previous lifetimes I have been dying and reborn, dying and reborn in the six realms of suffering, such as the animal realm, the human realm, and other realms." First of all try to feel the beginningless of your previous lives, then think of the circle of rebirth and death that has been going round and round by taking different bodies.
Now I have received a perfect human rebirth that has eighteen attributes: eight freedoms and ten opportunities.
What Is The Perfect Human Rebirth?
The Eight Freedoms
D'al.wa means usually sort of rest. D'al.wa means rest or chance. Gya is the number eight.
I think the eight freedoms and ten opportunities or ten richnesses; anyway, we can talk about that later on.
1. The English term, hells. Tibetan yal.wa, Sanskrit narak. There are beings experiencing narak suffering under the earth, on the earth, in space; it is not really a definite place.
For instance, for example. Even on the earth there are human beings experiencing suffering in many different ways. Some people suffered from explosions, atomic bombs. There are certain human beings who have such awful karma that they have to experience such incredible suffering. There are certain persons whose life has no chance to enjoy happiness, the life passes away by suffering. Sometimes a person has to spend whole his life in prison, so much suffering, worrying, without having the chance to be free, to enjoy, to do things as he wishes. Those are simple narak sufferings. There are many other examples, but just to have an idea. Also there are narak beings, there are human beings suffering, and animals suffering—there are many different types of beings suffering. There are narak suffering beings that we see and that we don't see—some which we ordinary people don't have the karma to see. Many of the ordinary narak suffering beings we see. Anyway, on this part you can discuss during the discussion time with other students. Also if you read the following subjects you will have a clear idea of the suffering.
There are also different types of narak sufferings like this. Once, there was a monk called Pagpa Gyatso who came from the Pacific to a desert place. In that desert place there was no country, just empty land, and somehow he had the karma to see certain suffering narak beings. All of a sudden he saw an extremely beautiful house. He went there and he saw one man and two women who were enjoying themselves very much in that house. But then as the sun set, as dusk appeared, the whole house that was beautiful in the day changed and began to burn. The whole house was burning and the two women turned into dogs and began to eat the man's flesh, taking pieces from his body and eating them. Then again when the sun rose, the whole house completely changed again and became very beautiful and the two dogs became women and they enjoyed themselves with the man. Then when night came again, the suffering started over.
This monk came from the Pacific to find jewels, and he asked those beings why they were suffering like this. These beings had the karma to see their previous lives—not because they had realizations of meditation or control of their lives, but because they karmically remembered—they had no chance to escape from that suffering until the period finished. The man told the monk that in their previous lives in India he had been a disciple of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha called Noble Pagpa Khata Yana, an arhat. He had made vows to keep precepts during the day, but not at night. Because of that karma he was together with the women who were women in the daytime and dogs at night. Because of that karma of keeping precepts in the daytime, they were together in that place enjoying a very happy life, but at night they suffered.
This man sent a message through the monk—he said, "I have a brother, tell him the history of the karma, the suffering, so that he will be careful."
However, there are different ways of experiencing narak sufferings.
So read the part of this meditation and discuss it with the other students.
Then after the discussion, do meditation, and if your mind is so much distracted again do breathing meditation. If your mind is easy, first of all watch your thoughts, then later on in the second hour if the meditation of watching the thoughts doesn't work well, read the part of meditation by thinking, checking—not just reading and trying to finish the paper, but trying to understand the subject with feelings. If there is something you don't understand, if you have doubt, you can discuss—you can ask me or discuss it with the other students.
Tuesday, 12th November
From the holy speech of great bodhisattva Tenzin Gyaltsen, "As the fully knowing enlightened stage arises only from bodhicitta, so it is greatly worthwhile for those who desire the boundless state to precisely practice this."
As the fully knowing enlightened stage arises from only bodhicitta, this means the fully knowing enlightened stage can be received only from bodhicitta, because bodhicitta is the principal cause, the main thing that brings enlightenment. Therefore, those who desire the boundless state, nirvana, is same—the opposite of Nirvana is the boundaries of suffering in which we are involved now. Therefore for those who desire the boundless state it is worthwhile to purify, practice this. This means bodhicitta. Since, besides the boundless state, we desire enlightenment, the highest goal, and since its principal cause is bodhicitta, while we have the chance and have met the teaching of bodhicitta, not trying to understand, not practicing it is a great loss. That is a greater loss than any other loss that we have in this life. By losing this great chance we lose the result of the most sublime happiness. The mind that has reached that level is the mind that has all the knowledge, which is perfect in all the knowledge, with not one single knowledge missing. That result can be received through bodhicitta. So while we have the chance to develop bodhicitta, to train the mind in bodhicitta, not trying to understand, not practicing, is a great loss. In this way also we lose achieving that perfect knowledge.
Therefore, it is necessary to train the mind even from this moment, and also to make the action of listening to Dharma the cause of enlightenment. So therefore think, "I must lead all sentient beings to enlightenment by releasing them from all the sufferings. Therefore I must achieve enlightenment. In order to achieve enlightenment I must complete the realization of the whole gradual path. Therefore I am going to listen to the teaching on the gradual path."
The listening subject is the Mahayana teaching that leads the fortunate person to enlightenment. It is well expounded by the great philosophers Nagarjuna and Asanga and it is a profound teaching, the essence of the great yogis Atisha and Guru Tsongkhapa's understanding. It includes the 84,000 teachings shown by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. It is set up for the practice of one person's achievement of enlightenment.
This gradual path has four topics in the outline. In order to have reference, the knowledge of the authors. In order for devotion in the teaching to arise, the knowledge of the teaching. The way of listening and explaining the teaching, and the way of leading disciple on the path to enlightenment. The way of leading the disciple on the path to enlightenment has two—the way of following the guru who is the root of the path, that is the first subject, but it is not necessary to discuss it first. The second, the way of training the mind in the gradual path to enlightenment, has two: persuading the mind to take the essence of the human rebirth, and the way of taking the essence with this present human rebirth.
Generally as bodhicitta is the principal cause of enlightenment, then how to practice bodhicitta? To practice bodhicitta one has to train the mind in the gradual path of the higher intelligent beings. By training the mind in that path, one can achieve bodhicitta. To receive bodhicitta by training the mind in the gradual path of the higher being, it is necessary to follow the gradual path of the middle being. In order to train the mind in the gradual path of the middle being, it is necessary to train the mind in the gradual path of the lower being, the first part of the meditation which comes. Therefore, starting from the perfect human rebirth, all these are methods to achieve bodhicitta. Also starting from the mind beginningless, the possibility of enlightenment, all these are methods in order to achieve the cause of enlightenment, bodhicitta. Otherwise, without understanding the mind beginningless and those subjects, there is no way to train the mind in the gradual path of the higher being. There is no way to achieve bodhicitta, no way to train the mind in the gradual path of the middle and lower being. Therefore this is one thing we should understand.
Just like this you see, in order to plant crops in the field, if you want to have a farm where crops grow, where you can receive continual food from the farm and you can have a comfortable life, for all this enjoyment and food to be received from the farm first of all you have to make the farm. Therefore, before planting the crop, the seed, that you have to make the ground level—trees, rocks, all kinds of things growing there. So if you just throw seeds in space without making any proper field, then you don't get what you want, you don't get continual food from that, it is a resultless action, an action that doesn't bring a result. Anyway, in order to receive these enjoyments, continual food from the field, first of all we have to make it level, clean, destroy all the rocks that disturb, and all the bushes growing there, and fertilize it well. Then put the manure to make it possible to grow. So a lot of work has to be done. Just like this, to achieve the pure thought of bodhicitta from where we can receive all the happiness, good results, there is lot of work, things to be done.
The graduated meditations that come before the actual explanation of bodhicitta, all these are methods to make the mind ready, to plant the seed of bodhicitta. This is an example, but still fertilizing the outside field is easy, but fertilizing the mind in order to cultivate bodhicitta, the mind that we don't see, that doesn't have shape, this is much more difficult to fertilize than the outside land. To fertilize or make the outside field level, you can use the machines, but here however many machines you have, you can't use them Perhaps you can try but it cannot work. In that case everybody would receive enlightenment within three days, one day.
Freedom from birth.
1. Freedom of not being born as a narak being.
2. Freedom of not being born as a hungry spirit. Tibetan term is yi.dag in Sanskrit, preta. In many translations they are called hungry ghosts. Also among these suffering beings, pretas, there are all kinds of this suffering being, pretas. Also even on the earth there are certain ... even though there are beings born as human beings having such a body, they pass their lives always hungry, starving, things like that—the simple suffering of pretas. Also there are beings like this, many times it happened, a person who is so attached to the family, the family's possessions, the field—who has so much miserliness for the possessions. After the person dies, he is born as a hungry ghost situated around that place. Sometimes they give harm like this. If anyone takes possessions or steals crops from that field or that family, the person who steals things gets sick, offended by that spirit. That life is spent in the suffering of feeling hungry and thirsty. No matter whether they have possessions or not, even if they have food they can't enjoy. Somehow due to their karma they dare not eat or drink, just keep their whole life in suffering. Similarly, also there are many people whose life is just passed away in suffering, having so much miserliness, unable to enjoy the possessions, the food. Somehow those beings have a certain karma like that. It doesn't mean that they don't have food and possessions, this is due to miserliness. There are many stories in the West, in Tibet—many places, many stories. Many times they can be seen by certain people, and also there are many hungry ghosts who live on the smell of food. Guru Shakyamuni has shown a method to make charity to those suffering beings. The Tibetan Lamas also do this—certain pujas, certain techniques to say and make charity of food, smell, food in fire, giving prayers. Somehow this gives them the chance to enjoy it. Also Guru Shakyamuni has given many different types of methods to make food charity to the hungry ghosts, the pretas. After the Tibetan Lamas have food, they give a little bit from what is left over and keep it in the hand, pressed like this. Try to get the picture of the hand, many things like this. Also, there are certain mantras for the spirits, the human beings who disturb; just saying mantras and special prayers it allows them to enjoy it.
First of all I will just explain the description of the meaning of each of these new titles. The freedom of not being born as an animal. The Tibetan term is du'dro. The main suffering of the animal is being dumb and foolish, with a mind incapable of understanding the meaning. There are many other sufferings besides.
Then the freedom of not being born as long life god. The Tibetan term is lha.tse.ring.po. "God" is the direct translation from the Tibetan, but this doesn't mean Buddha. It doesn't mean one who doesn't have ignorance. These beings still lives in ignorance, delusions, the boundaries of samsara, the boundaries of suffering. But why are they called god? Because they have higher enjoyments, they have better possessions, higher quality possessions, and even their place is much better than a human beings' place. Even their houses and enjoyments are of a higher quality. Even the food they enjoy is always nectar. Even their bodies are much more beautiful than human beings' bodies, much more beautiful, with light. So because they have higher, better possessions and enjoyments, they are titled god. Just because of that. Also there are different gods who are in different categories. Some of the gods have bodies, and some don't have bodies, but only consciousness.
The whole point is mainly to discover not having the chance to practice Dharma. If you are born as a narak being, there is no chance to practice Dharma. If you are born as a hungry ghost, or a preta, there is no chance to practice Dharma. If you are born as an animal, there is no chance to practice Dharma. If you are born as a long life god—why is it difficult to have the chance to practice Dharma if you are born as a long life god? Because in those realms it is difficult to discover the nature of suffering, it is difficult to see suffering.
Student: Don't they remember where they came from, their previous lives?
Rinpoche: In certain periods when they are close to death they remember. At that time they remember; they see karmically where they are going to be reborn and what previous life they had before. But at that time there is no chance, that time is close to death. They can only experience the extremely great suffering of death, knowing that death is going to happen, so much suffering.
Anyway, it is difficult to realize the nature of suffering. One thing, the mind is always distracted by the object of the senses. The mind is always occupied by objects of the senses. This is mainly due to the attachment. So there is no time to practice Dharma. Even if there is someone who explains Dharma, from their side they don't allow, they don't give time. Their life is always spent in distraction, enjoying the objects of the senses and their friends, wives—their whole life is spent in that way enjoying the objects and the relatives, their surrounding beings.
Student: What is the karma causing rebirth into this realm?
Rinpoche: What is the karmic cause? The karmic cause, that karma is positive karma. Same thing, the reason we are born as human beings now is due to positive karma.
Student: Can they realize suffering?
Rinpoche: It is extremely difficult. Difficult to have the chance to practice Dharma, extremely difficult. This will come later on ... even though themselves are suffering.
So the example is like this. For instance, when we have more possessions, more things, the mind is always thinking of those objects—what to do with those things and always distracted by them and always occupied by them. The mind spends most of the time with the possessions, with the things around you. Mainly this is caused by attachment. For instance, sometimes some students say they find it very difficult to practice Dharma in the West. This is because of their mind, the power of the object that they see is stronger than their mind. Therefore always the mind gets distracted by the object, things around them. So it doesn't give much time to them. That's why they find it difficult to practice Dharma as some say. Just like this example. This is nothing compared to the possessions, the enjoyments of the long life gods. What is on the earth is nothing. No matter how much the possessions and enjoyments are recognized as best in the human realm, they are very poor compared. So the main thing is, if you are born as a long life god, then it is difficult to have the chance to practice Dharma.
Barbarian. Tibetan term la.lo. If you are born as a barbarian in an irreligious country where there is no Dharma then there is no chance to practice Dharma.
Deaf. Tibetan term won.ba. Also if you are born deaf there is no chance to completely practice Dharma, to communicate Dharma, to understand the complete meaning of the Dharma. If you cannot hear, and also if you are mentally a fool with no capability to understand the meaning of Dharma that is explained.
Heretic. Tibetan term log.ta.chan. Log is the opposite, wrong, opposite. Ta means view. If you are born as a heretic there is no chance to practice Dharma because a heretic has a wrong understanding, a wrong view, such as believing there is no existence of karma and believing in just one continuity of mind, like the mind comes with this life and finishes when the body finishes. Sort of like this. Then believing that there is no existence of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, that there is no existence of absolute nature. Also believing that nothing exists. Why there is no chance to practice Dharma? Because these wrong conceptions don't allow the person to understand Dharma, to have the chance to practice Dharma, so in that way there is no way to understand Dharma.
Freedom of not being born during a time when there is no order of Buddha or when Buddha has not descended. So in such a time where there is no order of Buddha, or where no Buddha descended, there is no chance to practice Dharma because no one explains Dharma, and there is no way to receive teachings.
(Rinpoche read following four paragraphs.)
So the process, the way ... first of all, it is important to understand each thing. Why each doesn't have the chance to practice Dharma.