A Commentary on Calling the Guru from Afar

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Aptos, CA (Archive #1543)

A commentary by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche on the prayer Calling the Guru from Afar. This teaching was given at Kachoe Dechen Ling,  Aptos, in the winter of 2004-05 and was transcribed and lightly edited by Ven. Thubten Labdron.  

See also Lama Zopa Rinpoche's advice on Calling the Guru from Afar, given in Singapore, April 1992. 

“Even the mere thought to benefit sentient beings is more exalted than offering to the buddhas, so no question about actually attempting to work for the happiness of each and every single sentient being.”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche teaching during the Ninth Meditation Course, Kopan Monastery, Nepal, 1976.
Commentary: Part One

Chanting of Eight-line Praise to Heruka

By having praised with the eight-line prayer, all the dakas and dakinis from the 24 holy places go to the heart of Guru Heruka and make requests.

First confess all the negative karma and downfalls such as broken bodhisattva and tantric vows from beginningless rebirth, and all negative karma and broken samaya with the guru. “May it be completely purified.” In reality it is completely purified, not the slightest stain is left. One’s own mental continuum becomes completely pure.

Then make requests to Guru Heruka, “I am requesting, please make it happen to generate realizations in my heart, in this very lifetime, from guru devotion up to enlightenment, especially bodhicitta and the clear light. Whenever death happens may I born in the pure land or wherever is most beneficial for sentient beings.”

Then make whatever other requests you have, such as, “May all the funding be received for the Maitreya Buddha project and all other projects without delaying even a second, and for the projects and centers to be most beneficial for sentient beings.”

In your heart Guru Heruka fully and delightedly accepts to grant these requests immediately.

Chanting of Eight-line Praise to Vajrayogini

Now make all the offerings in Aptos house, Washington house and all the centers’ gompas, and all the collective offerings that have no possessor like the sun and moon, beautiful flowers etc. You can offer the inner offerings here, in the “outer, inner and secret offerings” line, also the secret offering and then the absolute offering.

Mandala offering, Requesting Prayer

Meditate on the part on guru devotion, the long version.

Second round mandala offering and requesting prayers

This first stanza is the key to guru devotion, the essence, the most essential teaching on guru devotion, the very point. All the rest comes from this as an elaboration or a creation; it is the creator, the very heart. Without understanding this there is no way to understand the words, such as the quotation from Sangye Yeshe, “Before Guru there is not even the name Buddha.” Also when we recite refuge in the Guru Puja, why “Namo Gurubhya” comes first, rather than Buddha coming before guru, or why we say guru-buddha and not buddha-guru, is from this first stanza, the commentary. When you understand this you understand why guru comes first. It is not just because guru is kinder than Buddha, which is part of the explanation and true but is not the only reason.

In the early Kopan times, Lama used to do examinations of the Sangha. One Sangha member would be singled out to sit below the throne, with no previous mention of the day’s subject. That time there were only about 30 or 40 Kopan monks and they would also be there. All the students sat in the gompa as that Sangha member was questioned and debated by Lama. Once, when Lama Yeshe and I stayed a long time in Tushita in Dharamsala, Jampa Zangpo was questioned. I think I put the question, “Why does the guru come first?” There was one geshe helping Jampa Zangpo; the geshe said, “Because the guru is kinder than the buddhas.” I think there is a much deeper reason—I am sure the geshe has that understanding and didn’t get to complete the answer; this is the reason.

I don’t know how this verse is translated into English, Dawa Dondup originally translated it and Ven. George re-translated it.

It is talking about the very essence of guru, the very meaning, what we ultimately have to realize, by introducing the ultimate guru, as in conventional and ultimate guru. Recently in Mongolia Kyabje Denma Lochö Rinpoche mentioned that Pabongka Rinpoche’s explanation is the clearest one, no other lama has explained so clearly how all the buddhas are one in essence, how they are all one. Pabongka said, “All the sentient beings become one in essence when they become enlightened.”

The Maitreya teaching, Ornament of the Sutras, gives examples like the mandala of the sun: “The unimaginable numberless beams of the sun are mixed and always engaged in one activity.” That means illuminating the darkness of the world. Also in the very center of that which is uncontaminated—the dharmakaya—innumerable buddhas are mixed and do one activity, illumination of the wisdom—the dharmakaya. That means illuminating sentient beings’ minds, similarly to how the sun has innumerable beams engaged in one activity.

Then it gives another example: “As the water goes below the earth to different places, to the nagas and so forth, the water also becomes different, and is enjoyed by the small creatures abiding in it. When the water goes into the ocean all this water is in one place, it becomes one water and the activity is one. It is enjoyed and used by the many creatures abiding in the water.”

From different mountains and various sources the water flows to the ocean and becomes one, doing one activity, and is always enjoyed by the sentient beings living in the water. This is like before sentient beings had separate minds but when they become enlightened, like all the water flowing to the ocean, they become one.

Then, just as from that ocean water goes out to the various rivers etc., similarly, all the buddhas are one in the dharmakaya and from dharmakaya, like innumerable beams emitting from a single sun and engaging in one activity, numberless forms of buddhas and deities, all the different transformations, nirmanakaya and sambhogakaya aspects, manifest. Also, when we cannot see those aspects of buddha, the deities in their nirmanakaya aspect, they manifest into ordinary forms. To guide sentient beings the deities manifest in their various aspects, nirmanakaya aspect, numberless buddhas to work for the benefit of sentient beings but at the moment we cannot see them in the aspect of buddha and receive direct guidance to directly save us from lower realms’ suffering, from samsara and from lower nirvana; to bring to enlightenment from the dangers of samsara and the peace of nirvana, so therefore they manifest as ordinary beings. Our minds are very obscured so they manifest as ordinary beings, in the aspect of virtue.

Because our minds are obscured and cannot see the pure form of buddha, the only way left to directly guide us to liberation and enlightenment is by showing the ordinary form, the definition of which is “having mistakes”—that is what His Holiness explained during the Dharma Celebration. In the commentary of Guru Puja that was requested in the second Dharma Celebration I think, not sure, second or third, His Holiness said the definition of ordinary aspect is having mistakes. That means having delusions and suffering of body and mind, having aggregates in nature of suffering, making mistakes in actions. Only with this ordinary form of the virtuous friend can [the buddhas] directly guide oneself. That which is ordinary form exactly according to one’s own impure mind and mistaken thoughts, only with this form, having all these mistakes and suffering, able to directly guide by giving instructions, the three levels of vows—pratimoksha, bodhisattva and tantra—oral transmissions, tantric initiations and commentaries, explanations of tantric teachings and instructions. Not only teaching but through various means directly guiding one, to liberate from the lower realms, save from samsara and even lower nirvana and bring to enlightenment.

If this ordinary aspect is not shown, without this, one is totally guideless in samsara, totally lost, like worms on the ground and in the water, no opportunity to practice Dharma, to be liberated. Or like a baby left in the forest in the night, dark, no light and surrounded by wild animals such as tigers, and other dangers, not only guideless and totally lost but in great danger. Or left in the desert where there is nothing, full of dangers such as poisonous snakes and scorpions. Not only lost but tormented by all the sufferings of samsara. So therefore this ordinary aspect is the most precious in one’s life.

So looking positively at whatever mistake appears as a theatrical act have a pure recognition from one’s own side; with devotional mind seeing as pure, as buddha, those negative thoughts such as heresy or anger don’t arise and one is able to obey every single word without doubt. This way one doesn’t create obstacles from disobeying or breaking advice. With devotional mind it is very easy; even if there is an appearance of mistakes, understanding or recognizing that is buddha. Heresy and anger don’t arise so one doesn’t create obstacles and there is no fear and no difficulty in obeying; one obeys immediately. This devotion causes one to receive blessings of the guru in the heart and then one is able to obey immediately, without any hardship or difficulty in one’s mind; one is able to have realizations of the path to enlightenment. Then able to cease the gross and subtle defilements, able to achieve the two kayas: dharmakaya, then rupakaya to manifest, rupakaya, which is the aspect to benefit sentient beings. Then able to liberate numberless sentient beings from the ocean of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment. That is the main goal of guru devotion practice, why we should want to practice guru devotion. This is the ultimate reason. If one wishes to accomplish this aim one practices guru devotion.

Simply, if one doesn’t want profit, happiness, one doesn’t need to practice guru devotion, but if one wants, desires happiness, desires profit, then one needs to practice. So basically it depends on the individual, it is democratic, up to the individual. If the wish is to achieve happiness, the greatest profit is enlightenment and being able to enlighten all sentient beings.

Why should one liberate and enlighten all sentient beings? Because that is the purpose of life, purpose of living, because one receives all the past, present and future happiness from sentient beings. Other times it was difficult to repay their kindness so this time, while one has received a perfect human rebirth, has every opportunity to practice Dharma, has met the virtuous friend, this time having the Dharma wisdom eye, here is the opportunity to repay the kindness of sentient beings, free them from suffering and bring them to enlightenment.

This is Lama Tsongkhapa’s special technique, when you see mistakes in the guru, instead of losing faith, utilizing using them to develop guru devotion. There are two techniques here talking about the same thing. One thing is thinking, “There must be a purpose for them, to benefit me and sentient beings, purposely doing that.” That becomes a cause to develop guru devotion instead of losing it. The other one is recognizing the mistakes that appear to you as mistakes of your own hallucinatory mind. That is similar to the understanding of that [virtuous friend] as buddha; what mistake appears is according to one’s own karma. That protects oneself from negative thoughts and karma, obstacles to achieve realizations and enlightenment, and enlighten the numberless sentient beings. It becomes a two-way technique or method to develop guru devotion.

So the conclusion is that this aspect is most precious. One should think over and over how precious it is, meditate on this. Then the kindness of the guru, the kindest, this aspect is the most important, in order to guide oneself, to save from the lower realms, samsara and lower nirvana. So is most kind—repeat over and over—most kind.

As I mentioned before, from the ocean come the rivers that flow to different places. From this dharmakaya, like the example of the innumerable sunbeams engaging in one action, from this dharmakaya manifest… all the numberless deity forms of buddha can’t directly guide oneself because one doesn’t have the pure karma to see the pure aspect of buddha, only impure karma, so from the dharmakaya ocean—all the buddhas’ holy minds mixed as one—this manifests.

Then later, the mind becomes more purified as one proceeds on the path, achieves the great path of merit seeing the nirmanakaya, then the right-seeing path seeing sambhogakaya aspect, then seeing the form of buddha, the mind is more purified as it generates realizations; then able to guide in the form of deities, in the form of buddha.

So like an ocean, that dharmakaya, all the buddhas’ holy minds mixed, become one in essence—that is absolute guru. Even those aspects of deity, buddha in nirmanakaya aspect, that one sees, still they are manifestations of guru because they came from dharmakaya, absolute guru. Before you couldn’t see, so the ordinary aspect guided to purify one’s mind then, as you actualize the path by receiving blessings, later you are able to see in deity’s form. So all the buddhas’ holy minds mixed in dharmakaya, in one essence, dharmakaya.

Therefore, as I mentioned in the refuge, now you can understand Pabongka Rinpoche. The activities of the holy body or aspect: this is Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, this is Manjushri, this is Maitreya Buddha, this is Tara, this is Heruka, Yamantaka—this is everything, all the buddhas. Aspect is all the buddhas’ aspects; actions, all the buddhas’ actions, body; speech is all those numberless buddhas’ speech, one. So it is easy to think like that.

Many creatures are living and enjoying in the water; in the small waters, many small ones enjoying, then so many abide in big water, always enjoying. Likewise, there are many sentient beings. With these various manifestations, the sentient beings receive guidance, they are enjoying, they receive happiness, by revealing Dharma. With various methods making them engage in virtue and then enjoy happiness.

It is mentioned, “Tantra equaling the glorified sky, all these transmigratory beings, possessor of enlightenment, it appears like the actor, or like a good painting, so by going back, what it is, is only one, the great bliss, dharmakaya. But that one great bliss—dharmakaya, absolute guru—does many acts.” So like an actor comes out as a king, then as a servant, it is just one person but changes the outside form, as a king, as a minister, appearing in many and varied forms. Then the paint, when you make a painting, one color comes in various shapes. For example, white color but when you paint it comes in various shapes, such as flower shapes; the white color takes many different forms.

So the dharmakaya is like that. This one thing, dharmakaya, absolute guru, acts in many different [guises]. I think probably what it means here is similar to what Pabongka explained. All the transmigratory beings when they become enlightened are one, possessor of enlightenment, dharmakaya; then from there come out various forms like actors on the stage or like many beautiful paintings. Then it talks about the meaning: the only one, what is called great bliss.

Then the Tibetan comes:

Dro.wa di.kun sang.gye nga.da nyi
Kar.den ta.dar ri.mo sal.de nang
Kang.dö de.zhin she.ja chik.po nyi
Chik.po nyem kye.mai kar.dzo sol

“That sole one called great bliss, that one does various play—acts.”

So going back to the first verse of Calling the Guru from Afar

“The transcendental wisdom of all the buddhas, one taste in the great bliss, dharmakaya—that is the kind guru, the ultimate nature of all. To the guru, dharmakaya, from the heart I request: in this life, future lives and the intermediate state, please guide me at all times without separation.”

Instead of bringing "bliss" to "wisdom" I joined "bliss" to "dharmakaya". It is describing a little bit what dharmakaya is, by using bliss next to dharmakaya rather than wisdom. It is not saying that wisdom is not great bliss, it’s not saying that, but here it is the way the words are used.

“All the buddhas’ transcendental wisdom, one taste in the great bliss dharmakaya, that one…”

De.nyi means "only that". 

“Is the kind guru”—de.nyi chin.ji la.ma.

Kun.gyi rang.zhin thar.thug—“that kind guru is the ultimate nature of all,” meaning all the buddhas.

De.nyi chin.ji la.ma—“All the transcendental wisdom of all the buddhas one taste in great bliss, dharmakaya.” That great bliss, dharmakaya, “is the kind guru.” That one is the kind guru—de.ni chin.ji la.ma.

Then comes kun.ji rang.zhen ta.thü.  “So that…” means that which is the kind guru, “is the ultimate nature of all the buddhas.”

La.ma chhö.kyi ku.la nying.nä sol.wa.deb—“To the guru the holy body dharmakaya from the heart I request to guide me this life, the future lives and intermediate state all the time, without separation.”

Of course this doesn’t mean that I am the dharmakaya, it’s not saying that, but my gurus of course no doubt, dharmakaya; their holy mind dharmakaya so that, way of meditating to realize, by meditating.

“Guide” means to bring oneself to the same state. Generally “guide” means guide to a place one wishes to be for one’s happiness, so here it is enlightenment.

Normally you visualize one’s virtuous friend above one’s crown. If you have two root gurus you can alternate, sometimes one, sometimes the other.

Verse 11

Sang.gyä kun.gyi pang.päi käl.chhä nyam.thag dag.la
Ma.nor lam.zang tän.shül sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

“Pitiful me who has no fortune, abandoned by all the buddhas; reflecting how the lama shows the unmistaken pure path reminds me of lama.”

“Abandoned by all the buddhas” refers to the buddhas before Shakyamuni Buddha. From the 1,000 Buddhas who descend into the world during this fortunate eon, already three happened. During the time of each of those Buddhas there will be many buddhas, meaning that many sentient beings will become enlightened. The first Buddha was Shak.tup, second was Ser.tup and third O.sel, Kashyapa. Oneself didn’t have the merit or fortune, so was left out, abandoned, unable to be subdued by them. With the fourth, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, Manjushri, Maitreya, Asanga, Nagarjuna, the other pandits and all the yogis in Tibet and India, still one didn’t have the merit; unable to be a direct disciple of Buddha, left out, didn’t have the merit to be guided. Then also all the lineage lamas such as Nagarjuna, Asanga and all the pandits; the yogis like Tilopa, Naropa, Saraha and so forth; the six ornaments; one didn’t have the merit to be directly guided by them. Each of them benefited this world so much but oneself didn’t have the merit to be their disciple, to receive teachings directly.

Then in Tibet, Marpa, Milarepa, Padmasambhava, Sakya Pandit and the other great Sakya lamas, Lama Tsongkhapa; one hadn’t generated the merit to be guided by them, so one was left out. One didn’t have the merit to be guided directly by the lam-rim lineage lamas. Numberless buddhas, bodhisattvas and holy beings happened in this world in the past but one didn’t have the merit to be directly guided by them. So one was unable to be guided even by Guru Shakymuni Buddha, followed by all those pandits, unable to be subdued.

What I want to emphasize is “the unmistaken pure path,” how it is shown by the guru. “It reminds me of guru” means it reminds me of the guru’s kindness. So what is the unmistaken pure path? Here, it is specifically Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, not just the general Buddhadharma. One very important point, even liberating yourself, without talking about liberating other sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric suffering, depends on cutting the root of samsara, ignorance. Just to cut your root of samsara it is not enough to realize the ultimate view of the Vaibhâsika, Sautrântika, Cittamatra and Madhyamika Schools. Just realizing the view of those schools, even the Svantrika Madhyamika, cannot cut the root of samsara—only by realizing Prasangika Madhyamika’s view of emptiness, which leads to dependent arising, that things are existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind. Only the Prasangika Madhyamika School’s view of emptiness view brings one to that realization.

There are different presentations in the four Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist traditions and that can be very confusing unless you have a realization of emptiness and clear light. So Lama Tsongkhapa put special effort into presenting the Prasangika School view very clearly, the clearest, first explaining the previous schools’ views to get a clear, in-depth understanding, avoiding the two extremes—the middle way view. That is one main aspect of the unmistaken pure path.

The other one is shi-nä. The subtle sinking thought seems not very clearly explained in the other traditions, although I haven’t read all the other traditions’ teachings on how to achieve shi-nä. By explaining shi-nä, perfect one-pointed concentration; not just one-pointed but perfect, meaning free from gross and subtle attachment and scattering, and sinking thought, especially subtle sinking thought. It seems that many of the past great and famous meditators didn’t recognize that and when you reach those levels of shamatha where you have to recognize this and abandon it, they regarded the subtle sinking thought as a perfect meditation because they didn’t recognize it. If you don’t recognize the subtle sinking thought you can’t really achieve perfect, pure and unmistaken one-pointed concentration, shi-nä.

So such a clear explanation makes it easy to achieve. First, clear intellectual understanding, guidance from the clear explanation, then you put into practice, then you have a correct realization. It doesn’t take a very, very long time with many hardships because the teaching is very clear.

Then also all the special techniques on how to achieve bodhicitta, all the stages are very clearly explained, the psychology, how to gradually achieve bodhicitta, the mind to achieve enlightenment for all sentient beings. Then you enter into the Mahayana path.

It is explained there are three types of prayer that explain the special qualities of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching. One that is commonly recited is Ö.sang gyal.den.ma(?). O.sang—pure wisdom; gyal den.ma—teachings of Buddha. That one is in English. Then there is another one composed by Pabongka, maybe the Kun.dan, I’m not sure. There is another one from the Yamantaka self-initiation text which is composed by Pabongka, which similarly describes all the special qualities of Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching. That is very good to recite, even if there is no particular function.

Then also tantra; Lama Tsongkhapa gives the clearest explanation on how to achieve illusory body, the direct cause of the rupakaya.

These are the major ones, there may be many others, showing the unmistaken, pure path in the clearest way, where there is no danger to waste the life by being misled, leading to suffering rather than liberation.

So it is very important to relate to Lama Tsongkhapa’s unmistaken pure path. Then you feel how fortunate you are in this life. First of all the number of Buddhists in this world is so small and there are so many non-Buddhists; amongst those the number of Mahayanists is very small; amongst those Lama Tsongkhapa’s teachings, which have pure conduct and pure view are a small number.

Then “reminds me of the guru” means not just stop remembering the kindness of the guru but the conclusion is to practice and follow it. The guru has already guided by showing and teaching so the conclusion is to follow and actualize those teachings. That is just the essence, a short commentary.

Then also you can add to “the unmistaken pure path,” “quick path is integration of the three deities, Guhyasamaja, Yamantaka and Chakrasamvara, which other Tibetan Mahayana traditions do not have.” This also makes it very special.

Verse 12

Nye.ka dön.chhei ten.zang khe.nyen kyi.dug dam.ga
Ma.nor nying.po len.dö sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

So here is the same thing, I’m not going into all the details, it’s all in the lam-rim, how perfect human rebirth is difficult to find and has great meaning, so perfect body. That is also by the kindness of the guru. All the eight freedoms and ten richnesses, each of which are extremely rare, are received by the kindness of the guru. Such like this is extremely difficult to find again but it has been found this time by the kindness of the guru. If it is found it has great meaning, the three levels of great meaning, can be achieved with the perfect human body, which is also by the kindness of the guru. Because of that it is called perfect, a good rebirth, which gives oneself choice, freedom, this life the choice is profit and loss, happiness and suffering. Profit is happiness, loss is suffering. You can utilize this one for suffering or for happiness, you have the choice.

Even day-to-day it can be used for happiness or suffering, one has choice. Even one hour, minute or second, each second use for happiness or for suffering, profit happiness or loss, suffering. One has complete freedom of choice. Every single action of body, speech or mind, action, walking, sleeping, eating, everything whether you use for loss, suffering or whether use to achieve profit, happiness, the choice is yours. Then to be more specific, whether every single action, even each second, one day, minute, hour, second, becomes cause of enlightenment or hell, whether it becomes cause of liberation or samsara, either lower realm or happiness in future life, can be achieved in one second. Every single action can be used either way; one has the freedom of choice by the kindness of the guru.

So one has a wish to take the unmistaken essence, so we can say this:

“With every freedom, with every richness, with every single action, in every single second wishing to take the unmistaken essence—reminds me of the guru.”

This is very profound, even one tries to explain, it cannot be explained.

Verse 13

Lo.bur chhi.wäi jig.chhen rang.gi thog.tu wä.nä
Chi.ja töl.me ngang.tshül sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

I’m not going to explain but I think this part is very good to meditate – if it happened now what are you going to do. Here Pabongka is saying if death were to happen now what are you going to do? That is very important. Of course it depends on how much good karma we collect, how much success at the time of death, able to meditate well means success, depending on how much good karma, merit we collected. In other words, even that, the main thing is how correctly you are devoted to the virtuous friend, it all depends on that—the real answer. If it happens right now, what are you going to do? That is a good thing to prepare. Here Pabongka is reminding us. If it happens now, suddenly can’t… I guess even if one has done very extensive study of the five root philosophical texts and Indian and Tibetan commentaries, even if you are Lharampa and very famous, if you didn’t practice Dharma, the lam-rim, and suddenly death comes you don’t know what to do, then suddenly you are lost and overwhelmed by fear, no time to practice, no time to delay or postpone death.

Somehow, hearing this makes us prepare: “If death suddenly happens what am I going to do?” It helps to prepare how to do the practice, what to think.

Verse 14

Tshe.dii phün.tsog kün.dang da.ta lo.bur dräl.nä
Chig.pur dro.wäi ngang.tshül sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

So, when this happens there is no other means except to rely on the guru, the best thing – that’s why it reminds of the guru.

Verse 15

Jig.rung nyäl.wäi me.nang rang.lü jen.par lhung.nä
Zö.lag me.päi ngang.tshül sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

Here it comes to the suffering of the lower realms. Therefore, “Please guru protect me from this most unbearable suffering of the hell realms, right now.” Good to make this request.

The other thing is when I fall into the hell realms and am born there may I experience all the sentient beings’ hell suffering. That’s also a very good one, relating to the suffering. After finishing lama trän.no… you think that. By praying now the minute you are in hell you are able to remember bodhicitta, taking all the hell beings suffering at that time, which is the best thing. Let them take all the happiness up to enlightenment. It’s good either way. Either that way, or just “Please protect me when this happens.”

Verse 16

Käl.chhä yi.dag nä.su zä.kom chhu.thig me.päi
Dug.ngäl ngön.sum nyong.tshül sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

Pretas are unable to find a drop of water or even a spoonful of food for thousands of years, born in the preta realm and experiencing only suffering. Not only that, but on top of it you create negative karma; so difficult a life, most unbearable. I have no other method except to take refuge in the guru, remembering the guru. So conclusion is the same, protect, then bodhicitta so that when one gets reborn there to experience all the sentient beings’ hungry ghost suffering.

Verse 17

Lün.mong dü.dror gyur.nä shin.tu mi.dug käl.ngän
De.dra rang.thog nyong.tshül sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

So here is just thinking generally but it is good to relate to particular animals. It is more effective to specifically remember particular animals that one sees, rather than just general. Because we don’t have clairvoyance, normal people don’t see how much animals suffer; people don’t even think they have mind, they think of them like plants, quite extreme people whose minds are so obscured. Just as enjoyment like fruit and vegetables that you can cut and do things to. So one can relate to specific animals that one can remember how they suffer. Not just suffering but also continuously creating negative karma because it is very difficult for a virtuous thought to rise in an animal’s body.

Hell, preta, hungry ghost and animal – no matter how much unbearable suffering one is experiencing it doesn’t stop, you don’t die; because of heavy karma all the obstacles have gathered and no matter how difficult it is you don’t die until the karma is finished. No matter how much unbearable suffering one is experiencing you don’t die. Because of karma all the obstacles gathered, it is heavy karma so you don’t die, no matter how difficult it is. You have to experience it until the karma finishes.

Verse 18

Nyam.thag ngän.song nä.der da.ta lhung.la nye.wä
Di.lä kyob.päi kyab.shig sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

This is also a very, very powerful meditation. Anything can happen by this afternoon or tonight: I could be in a terrifying hell realm or reborn as a millipede or a worm or other creature. By noon or after one hour, even the next minute, I could be in the lower realms. Reflect on the lower realms, most unbearable but you have to experience until the karma finishes, you have no choice. That experience can happen, the suffering of the lower realms can appear even in the next minute. This is a very powerful meditation on impermanence, nothing definite. Thinking to look for refuge, to not be born in the lower realms, looking for protection, there is none other than the guru, relying on the guru, taking refuge in the guru, is the best.

Verse 20

Tha.me si.päi tsön.khang dug.ngäl kün.gyi jung.khung
Di.lä thar.päi thab.shig sam.kyin la.ma drän.no

This samsaric prison originator of all suffering, which has no beginning; because continuity of mind has no beginning delusion has no beginning, the cause of samsara. Not only has it no beginning but it is also difficult to see the end. So again when you think to end the oceans of samsaric suffering, whose continuity has no beginning, there is no better means except relying on the guru, taking refuge in the guru. Then how guru protects and guides, liberating one from samsara is by following the teachings that are revealed and by practicing, obtaining the guru’s advice. This is what is contained in the words “...reminds me of the guru.”

“When I think of…” as a means of protection and of liberation, “… reminds me of the guru.”

The requesting verses are to have the realizations without delaying even a second.

Last verse:

Dor.na jang.chhen bad.du nying.ü dräl.me zhug.nä
Pha.je bu.yi zin.par tse.wä jin.gyi lob.shig

So this is similar to how I explained the meaning of “guide” before. How Guru Shakyamuni Buddha practiced Dharma, developing renunciation and entered the path to enlightenment—to be able to achieve that in the way Guru Shakyamuni Buddha reached enlightenment. Oneself the spiritual son to receive… here father is related to the guru, recognition of what is expressed in the very first stanza, the father, that meditation, that understanding the level on that state. That is the meaning of that meditation.


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Commentary: Part Two »