Category Archives: Dharma Practice

The Instructions of Gampopa

The Instructions of Gampopa:
A Precious Garland of the Supreme Path
by Gampopa (1079–1153)

His Holiness Gampopa is one of the most prominent Teacher in Tibetan Buddhism of the 12th century, the most important student of the famous Jetsun Milarepa – and teacher of the First Karmapa, the men who integrated Atiśa’s Kadam teachings and Tilopa’s Mahamudra teaching to establish the Kagyu lineage of transmission in Tibetan Buddhism. Four of His disciples later founded 4 important Kagyu Schools, including Karma Kagyu.

His name Gampopa literary means “the man from Gampo”, but He is also known as Sönam Rinchen and by the title Dakpo Lharjé “the physician from Dakpo.”

A Precious Garland of the Supreme Path and The Jewel Ornament of Liberation or The Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings are the most known works with teachings of Gampopa.

Namo Ratna Guru (Salutation to Ratna Guru)!

To those who liberate beings
from the terrible ocean of Samsara that is so hard to cross,
who are ornate with the pure practice of the precious Kagyu tradition, whose river of blessing is endless like the expanse of an ocean; to those holy gurus of the soft and pure practice lineage
of vast, far- seeing spontaneously accomplished aspirations,
I pay homage and go refuge.
I supplicate you to overflow me with your gracious blessing.

Having churned the oral tradition of Kagyu for a long time and keeping it in my mind and heart, I write down this Precious Garland of the Supreme Path with instructions which will be extremely valuable to those fortunate ones who directly or indirectly venerate me and those persons who desire to attain the liberation and omniscient Buddhahood.

10 causes of non-compensable losses of human life:

At the outset, they should meditate upon the ten causes of non-compensable losses of human life which are as follow:

1. It is a non-compensable loss to this very rare and pure human life to get oneself indulged in wrong doings (negative deeds).

2. It is a non-compensable loss to die by engaging this rare, pure, transient and perishable human life in irreligious and material activities.

3. To waste this short human life of Kali Yuga (degenerated-age) in worthless activities is also a non-compensable loss to this rare human life.

4. Without elaboration of mental fabrication of the mind whose nature is the Dharmakaya, but to sink into the abyss of Samsaric mire due to ignorance is a non-compensable loss.

5. To detach oneself from the company of the holy guru, who is the best path-finder, before one attains awakening and be able to help cultivate the Bodhichitta is a non-compensable loss.

6. Vows and Samaya are instrumental to achieve Nirvana (liberation), which we destroy by our affliction, carelessness and adverse condition. So, they are non-compensable losses to this human life.

7. To lose the awakening experience achieved with the blessing of the holy guru amidst the clumsy, confused and irreligious activities is a non-compensable loss to this human life.

8. To sell out invaluable and profound instructions of the great Siddhas to unfortunate and unworthy common men for shake of ordinary material benefits is a non-compensable loss to this human life.

9. All the sentient beings must have been our kind parents in any one of our previous births. So, we ought to acknowledge our gratitude to them. We not only forget them, but also react against them with different attitudes (desire, anger, pride, greed, attachment and envy). It is also a non-compensable loss to this rare human life.

10. To close the three gates (body, speech and mind) in the practice of Dharma by indulging oneself in luxurious material life during his full youthful is also a non-compensable loss to this rare human life.

The 10 necessary things:

1. It is necessary to be disciplined oneself in order not to be deprived from his own original and unique concepts by misled advice.

2. It is necessary to accomplish the instructions of one’s supreme guru with faith and diligence through the arising of faith and intense diligence; you are able to put the instructions of the guru into practice.

3. It is necessary to identify the difference between the right and wrong instructions; but one should not make mistakes and misunderstand the conception of the holy guru.

4. It is necessary to execute the intentions of the holy guru, with transcendental wisdom, faith12 and diligence.

5. It is necessary to meditate and churn over one’s deeds and to distinguish between the good and evil deeds through possession of mindfulness, attention and conscientiousness, so that one can keep these three entrances unstained by the defects of faulty conduct.

6. It is necessary to practice upon the tutelary deity with a stable, purified and independent thorough possessing of courage and the armour like diligence.

7. It is necessary to be without attachment and craving of conduct and not to entrust the nose-rope in the hand of other.

8. It is necessary to always be diligent in gathering the two accumulations of merits by practicing the preparatory performance and dedication from the core of the heart.

9. It is necessary that one turns one’s mind to benefit the sentient beings both directly and indirectly with loving-kindness and compassion.

10. It is necessary that one should not mistake all things to be substantial and inherently that furnish essential characteristics through the possession of knowledge, understanding and realization.

The 10 dependable things:

1. One should take refuse in a holy guru, who possesses supreme knowledge and compassion.

2. One should take shelter in the monastery, which is isolated from the society, spiritually pleasant, blissful and established with the divine blessing.

3. One should take stable companions like views; character and practice keep with equal importance.

4. Keeping in mind that livelihood is full of faults and leads to sinful deeds; one should keep himself confined to limited livelihood.

5. One should take shelter in the lineage instructions of Siddhas by giving up the partial outlook.

6. One should apply the materials, medicines, mantras and deep interdependence that are beneficial to oneself and others.

7. One should take food that benefits his health and should follow the path of method for sound health.

8. One should take shelter in Dharma and conduct to benefit himself through experience.

9. One should teach only to faithful and fortunate disciples.

10. One should always have mindfulness and alertness upon the four kinds of conducts and should use them in life.

The 10 things to be given up:

1. Give up the master whose actions are always mixed with the eight worldly Dharmas.

2. Give up those friends and companions whose company affects your mind and experience negatively.

3. One should abandon those places and monasteries which nourish more laziness and violence.

4. Give up that wealth which is amassed through pretension, theft, robbery and cheating.

5. Give up those actions and activities that affect your mind and experience.

6. Give up that food and conduct which are harmful both mentally and physically.

7. Give up fixation and attachment that binds you with desire, hope and greed.

8. Give up the careless and shameless conduct that compels others to lose their faith in you.

9. Give up the meaningless actions and activities walking and sitting.

10. Give up the habit of hiding your own faults and exposing other’s.

The 10 things not to be abandoned:

1. Compassion is the root cause of benefit to others; so it must not be abandoned.

2. The appearances of various aspects are the radiance of the mind; so it must not be abandoned.

3. All thoughts (nature of relativity) are the transitory reflection of dharmata only; so they must not be abandoned.

4. Defilements are instrumental of cultivating wisdom; so they must not be abandoned.

5. The desirable objects that appear to the five senses are like the water and fertilizer for experience and realization; so they both must not be abandoned.

6. Sickness, suffering and sorrows are like our teacher; so they must not be abandoned.

7. The enemies and obstructers are exhortation of the Dharmata; so they must not be abandoned.

8. It is a boon to achieve spontaneity; so it must not be abandoned.

9. Path and method are always support to proceed on the path of wisdom; so they must not be abandoned.

10. What is accomplished through sadhana is the physical conduct of Dharma; so it must not be abandoned.

The intention to benefit others, which needs little physical ability, must not be abandoned.

The 10 things to know:

1. Since the external appearances are deceptive, one should treat it as unreal.

2. Since the internal mind is selfless, it should be treated as empty.

3. Since the thought arises from some condition, it should be treated as incidental.

4. Since the body and speech are products of elemental forces, they should be treated as impermanent.

5. Since all the pleasures and sufferings of sentient beings arise from karma, the result of actions should be treated as unfailing (non-deceptive).

6. Since suffering is the cause of renunciation, it should be treated as a spiritual teacher (Kalyanmitra).

7. The pleasure and comfort of this life are the causes of rebirth; so they should be treated as craving and attachment to Mara.

8. Merry-making in the gathering and festivals are obstacles against the accumulation of merit; so they should be treated as obstacles of merit.

9. The obstacles and accidents urge to cultivate virtues. So the enemies and obstacles should be treated as our teachers.

10. The absolute truth is that all phenomena are without a nature; one should know everything to be the same.

The 10 things to be practiced:

1. After entered into the gate of Dharma, do not indulge in the worldly life and practice in accordance with Dharma.

2. After giving up your native place, do not settle yourself permanently elsewhere; practice without attachment.

3. Give up arrogance and practice in accordance with the instructions of your holy guru.

4. Do not just teach; train your mind through hearing contemplation and churning over the Dharma; practice what you have learned.

5. When realization has arisen in mind, do not be satisfied with it and without being complacent, practice without distraction.

6. After achieving the spiritual experience through meditation, do not enter into the life of community and carry-on practice till you attain the Enlightenment.

7. Having promised and committed yourself, do not involve in the three gates in irreligious activities; practice the three trainings. (Trisiksa)

8. Having generated the Bodhichitta (Supreme Awakening), perform all practice for the benefit of others, by giving up your own selfishness.

9. Having entered the world of tantra, do not indulge your three gates in ordinary works; practice about the three Mandalas.

10. In your youth, do not wander meaninglessly; practice Dharma in the presence of a holy teacher.

The 10 things to be emphasized:

1. At the very beginning the practitioner should emphasize on hearing and analysis of Dharma.

2. The practice of meditation done with experience should be emphasized to more arisen practice.

3. Until you attain stability of your mind, emphasize on living in solitude.

4. If excitement predominates mind, emphasis should be given to control it.

5. If torpor and depression predominate, emphasis should be given to a little nap of mind in order to be active again.

6. Until the mind is stable, emphasis should be given to contemplation.

7. Through your stabilized in even placement, emphasize on attaining Buddhahood.

8. If unconducive conditions are many, emphasize on practicing three folds of patience.

9. If desire and attachment grow in stature, emphasize on forceful renunciation.

10. If love and compassion weaken, emphasize on the cultivation of Bodhichitta.

The 10 exhortations:

1. Considering the difficulty to obtain the very rare human life and sources, exhort yourself to practice the genuine Dharma.

2. Considering the death and impermanence of life, exhort yourself to cultivate the virtues.

3. Considering the unfailing results of actions, exhort yourself to abandon wrong deeds.

4. Considering the defects of Samsara, exhort yourself to accomplish liberation (Nirvana).

5. Considering the suffering of the beings of this Samsara, exhort yourself to cultivate the Bodhichitta in your mind.

6. Considering the existent evil thought in the minds of the sentient beings, exhort yourself to hear and reflect Dharma.

7. Considering the difficulty of abandoning the habits of evil thoughts, exhort yourself to practice meditation for giving up them.

8. Considering the result of the defilement in this age of decadence, i.e., Kali yuga, exhort yourself to prevent the bad deeds.

9. Considering the many unconducive conditions present in this age of decadence, i.e., Kali yuga, exhort yourself to be patient.

10. Considering the emptiness of worthless activities, do not waste your valuable human life, and exhort yourself to be diligent.

The 10 deviations from Dharma:

1. If one has little faith and sharp intelligence, he remains as a speaker forever, which is a deviation.

2. If one has deep faith and little intelligence, his effort goes meaningless, which is a deviation.

3. In the lack of instructions, a courageous person takes to evil and faulty ways, which is a deviation.

4. In the lack of hearing and reflection, meditation is obscured with the darkness of ignorance and false faith for which the meditator does not achieve the goal. This is a deviation.

5. After understanding the Dharma and the nature of wakening, if it is not practiced, one becomes a lazy religious practitioner. It is a deviation.

6. If one’s mind is untrained after the methods of great compassion, there is very possibility in following the path of Hinayana. It is a deviation.

7. If one’s mind is untrained after wisdom and emptiness, the person concerned travels about the mire of Samsara. It is a deviation.

8. If the eight worldly Dharmas are not overcome, the last deed follows the path of worldly Dharma. It is a deviation of whatever you do becoming a worldly decoration.

9. If one has too much attachment and interest to one’s house, household articles and one’s town, he always works to please that people and follow his way. It is a deviation.

10. When one has knowledge and spiritual power, but an unstable in mind and always follows the path shown by ordinary priests for their rituals. So, is a deviation.

The 10 confusions to be identified:

1. Confusion occurs between faith and desire. So, identify them.

2. Confusion occurs among love, compassion and attachment. So, identify them.

3. Confusion occurs between the emptiness of nature of all knowledge and the emptiness of human intellect. So, identify them.

4. Confusion occurs between the nature of emptiness of the phenomena (Dharmadhātu) and the view of annihilation. So, identify them.

5. Confusion occurs between experience and realization. So, identify them.

6. Confusion occurs between the virtuous and the show people. So, identify them.

7. Confusion occurs between the loss automatically done and the loss carried out by Mara. So, identify them.

8. Confusion occurs between the deeds of siddhas and conjurers. So, identify them.

9. Confusion occurs between deeds that benefit others and oneself. So, identity them.

10. Confusion occurs between skilful methods and pretentious skill. So, identify them.

The 10 unmistaken principles to be observed:

1. To leave home without attachment to anything, to take ordination, and to be homeless is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

2. To venerate the holy guru and the well-wishers like that of turban on the head is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

3. To combine the hearing, reflection and meditation on the right Dharma is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

4. Modest conduct and high thinking are an unmistaken principle to be observed.

5. To have broad view, open mind, and strong commitment is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

6. To have supreme wisdom and less pride is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

7. To be rich with instructions and in practice of the Dharma is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

8. To have the supreme experience and Enlightenment without arrogance and vanity is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

9. To live, especially, in solitude and to refrain away from the community is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

10. Detaching oneself from selfishness, to do welfare to others is an unmistaken principle to be observed.

The 14 useless deeds:

1. Having got the rare human life, not to observe the Dharma is like returning empty handed from the Island of jewels. So the life is useless.

2. Having entered the ordination of Bhikṣu to remain indulged in worldly life is like a moth dying in the flame of fire. So the life is useless.

3. Having no faith in Dharma while living with a great teacher of Dharma is like dying of thirst while living on the shore of an ocean. So the life is useless.

4. Dharma that does not cure the four basic faults and ego is like an axe that does not cut down the poisonous tree. So, life is useless.

5. Instructions are worthless if they do not mitigate the hindrances just like medicines in the bag of a physician not being used for a patient. So, life is useless.

6. Dharma not applied into the real life is like the recitations of a parrot who does not understand the meanings. So, life is useless.

7. To give in charity the wealth amassed though pretension, cheating and stealth is just like wasting the sheepskin in water. So, life is useless.

8. To venerate the three Jewels by harming the sentient beings is just like serving the mother with the flesh cut off from child and being cooked. So, life is useless.

9. By taking this birth for granted and in order to be happy by oneself through deception and patience is just like an attempt to attach a mouse to a cat. So, life is useless.

10. To perform the great acts of virtue for accumulating fame, name and wealth in this life is like exchanging a wish-fulfilling jewel for a wood apple or for a little fried flour. So, life is useless.

11. After having sufficiently studied and hearing about Dharma, if the mind does not change, the person concerned remains insufficient and worthless, as a physician is unable to cure himself of tuberculosis. So, life is useless.

12. The rich instructions are worthless, if not translated into real life just like the lost key to the treasury of a rich person. So, life is useless.

13. To teach Dharma without proper understanding of its real meaning is like a blind person leading another sightless one. So, life is useless.

14. To overlook the practical aspect of life because of the fast experience gained from tricks, and not to search for the true nature of things are just like assuming brass to be gold. So, life is useless.

The 18 prohibitions against hidden evil for practitioners of the Dharma:

1. While living in solitude to work for fame and happiness in this life is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

2. To accomplish one’s own desires by being the leader of the mass is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

3. Not to fear for committing sins by being a learned religious person is the prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

4. Having heard sufficient instructions, to get indulged in ordinary life is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

5. While observing the moral conduct thoroughly, to be highly ambitious is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

6. Having good experience and having realized the supreme knowledge thoroughly, not to be able to control one’s own mind is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

7. Having entered into the ordination of Dharma, not being able to give up the common anger and the very nature of ordinary life of human affairs is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

8. Having entered into the ordination of Dharma by giving up material life, once again to return to the material life of a common man is a prohibition for the practitioner of Dharma.

9. Knowing pretty well what Dharma is, not to practice it is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

10. After having commitment of the Sadhana, not to fulfil it is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

11. Having done all the acts in accordance with the Dharma, not to improve the moral character is a prohibition of the Dharma.

12. Having all food and clothes spontaneously, but not to part with it is like roaming about aimlessly amidst a community, which is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

13. To spend one’s power accumulated from virtuous deeds entirely for the healing of the patients and for the happiness of a child is a prohibition to the practitioner of the Dharma.

14. To teach the profound instructions only for food and wealth is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

15. To praise oneself indirectly and to censure others is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

16. To give instructions to others, while one’s own mind is contrary to Dharma is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

17. To be unable to live in solitude and not to live with the company of the people is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

18. To be anxious and worried both in the time of happiness and sorrow is a prohibition for the practitioner of the Dharma.

The twelve essential things:

1. It is essential for the practitioner to have faith, arising from deep fear of birth and death as well as to consistently practice Dharma with the knowledge that birth and death are true to life.

2. A guru who shows on the path of liberation is essential.

3. The wisdom for understanding the meaning of Dharma is essential.

4. Diligence like amour and courage is essential.

5. Not being complacent with the three trainings and the two accumulations, cultivating more virtues is essential.

6. A right view to realize the nature of all phenomena is essential.

7. Meditation in which the mind itself abides wherever it is placed is essential.

8. It is essential that all the conduct and all actions should lead to right path.

9. Proper instructions to abandon the hindrance, māras, mass destruction and the wrong path are essential.

10. Not confining instruction only to words, but to realize them in action is essential.

11. To have great confidence on a happy mind at the time of separation of body and mind is essential.

12. To accomplish Trikāya as the natural result of Sādhana is essential.

The 11 marks of a holy person:

1. The reduction of jealousy and pride is the mark of a holy person.

2. To have little desire and to be content with the ordinary possessions is the mark of a holy person.

3. To be without might, snobbery and arrogance is the mark of a holy person.

4. Not to show off oneself and censure others is the mark of a holy person.

5. To examine any action with alertness and perform with alert mindfulness is the mark of a holy person.

6. To uphold the result of the karmic action carefully accepting the truth like that of protecting the pupils of one’s eyes is the mark of a holy person.

7. Without pretension of vows and Samaya, to act according to the demand of the situation is the mark of a holy person.

8. Without passionate and humiliating treatment to treat all the sentient beings essentially equal is the mark of a holy person.

9. Not to anger with others for their sinful deeds, but to have patience is the mark of a holy person.

10. To give other people all the credit of a victory to and to accept all defeat oneself is the mark of a holy person.

11. To possess thought and conduct unlike common worldly people is the mark of a holy person.

The opposite deeds of a holy person are the marks of an unholy person.

The 10 non- beneficial things:

1. This illusory body is perishable and certain to be destroyed. So it is non-beneficial to give much attention to and serve this body.

2. Too much greed and avarice in giving up trivial things is non- beneficial as men take nothing along with them when they will die.

3. The labour put into the construction of beautiful palaces and mansions is non-beneficial, as one does not possess them when dies. On the other hand, one’s corps will be put out from the door of the mansion.

4. To give wealth as a token of love to the children, nephews, and nieces is non-beneficial, as they will not have an instant’s power to help one at the time of one’s death.

5. To give much attention to the concerns of the family and friends is non-beneficial at the time of death, as one has to die alone.

6. To increase the number of children, nephews and nieces as well as to give one’s amassed wealth them is non-beneficial, as everybody is perishable and everything is destructible.

7. The effort put into the acquisition of land, property and authority for the maintenance of luxurious life is non-beneficial, as one has to leave fully everything behind at the time of death.

8. By Entering into the gate of Dharma through faith, without conduct yourself in accordance with sincerity is non-beneficial, as it turns out to be the cause of lower migrations (suffering).

9. Knowing Dharma very well and having trained the mind in hearing and reflection, if one does not practice he will have nothing by which to take death onto the path. It is non-beneficial at the time of death.

10. It is non-beneficial to remain with a holy guru for a long time and to have no faith and respect towards his teachings. You will not receive his instructions or blessing.

The 10 self-accomplished sufferings:

1. To live the life of a worldly person without a wife is like a fool taking poison to suffer himself.

2. Devoid of Dharma, to commit negative deeds is like a mad man jumping from an unreachable height to suffer himself.

3. Deceiving others with undue pretensions is like taking the poisoned food to suffer oneself.

4. To entrust the leadership to a man of little intelligence is just like asking an old woman to guard the cattle. It is a self-accomplished suffering.

5. Not to labour for other’s benefit through an excellent motivation, but to labour only for self-interest by the eight worldly Dharmas is just like a sightless person wandering the Northern oasis, which is a self-accomplished suffering.

6. Undertaking a great endeavour for impossible tasks is like a weak person trying to carry heavy burden, which is a self-accomplished suffering.

7. Disregarding one’s holy guru and the teachings of the Buddha is like a ruler ignoring his council, which is a self-accomplished suffering.

8. Giving up the meditation, to come back to the worldly life is just like a deer wandering into the valley for its possible death, which is a self-accomplished suffering.

9. Not to encourage the natural wisdom, but to be disturbed by the elaboration of distractions like a bird (Garuḍa) with broken wings is a self-accomplished suffering.

10. Carelessly consuming the property of the guru and the Three Jewels is like a small child taking fire into its mouth, which is a self- accomplished suffering.

The 10 self-accomplished great kindnesses to oneself:

1. To abandon the human attachment, envy and dislike in order to practice the divine Dharma is a great deed to one self.

2. To abandon the worldly life and relatives and to take shelter in holy persons is a great deed.

3. To abandon activities of distraction and to hear, to reflect as well as to meditate upon the scriptures is a great deed to oneself.

4. To give up the intimacy with the members of the family and to live alone in solitude is a great deed to oneself.

5. Having control over the sensual objects, to remain independent without attachment is a great deed to oneself.

6. To be content with ordinary things and to have no desire for luxuries and precious things is a great deed to oneself.

7. Not surrendering one’s freedom to others, to meditate upon one’s tutelary deity is a great deed to oneself.

8. Not taking care of the pleasures of this life, to cultivate the Bodhichitta in mind to obtain the permanent spiritual happiness is a great deed to oneself.

9. Abandoning fixation on the reality of things, to cultivate emptiness is a great deed to oneself.

10. Not using the three entrances (body, speech and mind) of our life in ordinary acts, but endeavouring to unify the two accumulations48 is a great deed to oneself.

The 10 perfect things:

1. To trust in the result of action is the right view for one having little intelligence.

2. Realizing that external and internal Dharmas have four units of appearance and emptiness, the awareness and emptiness is the right view for one having moderate intelligence.

3. Realizing the viewed, the viewer, and the realization as not different from each other is the right view for one having sharp intelligence.

4. To concentrate on the object of target, i.e., tutelary deity etc., is the right meditation for one having little intelligence.

5. To concentrate on the Samādhi of the four units is the perfect meditation for one having moderate intelligence.

6. The contents without concept in the indivisibility of the meditated, the practitioner and the practice are the same. Knowing this well, to concentrate on practice is the perfect meditation for the one having sharp intelligence.

7. Accepting the results of action like one’s eyes is the right conducts for one having little intelligence.

8. Accepting all Dharmas as dreams and illusions is the right conduct for one having moderate intelligence.

9. Engaging in no conduct whatsoever is the perfect conduct for one having the sharp intelligence.

10. To reduce the reflection on one’s self, the defilements and grasping at self by and by till they are mitigated completely is the perfect sign of progress for the one having little, moderate and sharp intelligence.

The 10 mistakes of practitioners:

1. Not relying upon a guru who properly practices genuine Dharma, to follow a talkative practitioner is an extremely mistake for a practitioner.

2. Not searching for the traditional instructions of the Siddhas, but to look for pointless intellectual Dharma is a mistake for a practitioner.

3. Not being happy and content with whatever got at the moment, but to try more and more to get the things required for one’s material happiness is a mistake for a practitioner.

4. Not knowing what is the meaning of Dharma and while not living alone for practicing Dharma oneself, but to teach the gathering is a mistake for a practitioner.

5. Not giving in charity the wealth and excess possessions, but to amass wealth by means of greed and pretension is a mistake for a practitioner.

6. Not guarding the time (samaya) and vows properly, but to misuse the three entrances (body, speech and mind) to Mokṣa in worthless works is a mistake for a practitioner.

7. Not oneself realizing the true nature of things and practicing it, to use up this life only for material benefit is a mistake for a practitioner.

8. Not controlling one’s own fickle mindedness, but foolishly try to control other’s is a mistake for a practitioner.

9. Not fostering the experiences gained from meditation, but to try to achieve greatness in this life is a mistake for a practitioner.

10. Not engaging in diligence while auspicious conditions are assembled in this life, but to try to be happy with this dormant life is a extremely mistake for a practitioner.

The 10 needful things:

1. As a deer escapes out of the cistern after much effort, so is it needful for the practitioner at the beginning to generate the genuine faith from fear of birth and death and believe in this practice absolutely in order to escape the cycle of death and rebirth.

2. It is needful for the diligent to harvest virtuous deeds at the middle stage of a practitioner like a farmer having a good harvest after sowing good seeds, so that there will be nothing to regret at the time of death.

3. In the end it is needful to try to achieve an imperishable mind as the holy person tries for the bliss of the mind and achieve it.

4. It is needful to immediately busy oneself in the meditation knowing the shortage of time like someone trying to immediately save himself being pierced by an arrow.

5. In the middle stage, it is needful for the practitioner to have undisturbed meditation like the feelings of a mother for her only son who has recently died.

6. In the end it is needful for the practitioner to protect himself from doing meaningless activities as well as to remain alert just as a cow remains alert to save her calf from predators as well as tries to feed the calf with the best food.

7. It is needful for the novice practitioner to be happy by generating confidence and certainty towards Dharma like a hungry person feeling happy after getting delicious food to eat.

8. In the middle stage it is needful for the practitioner to be happy by generating confidence and certainty towards one’s own mind like a pauper being happy getting a jewel.

9. In the end, it is needful for a practitioner to generate confidence towards non-duality for practice like a liar being single-minded to speaking lies.

10. It is needful for a practitioner to have resolute of realities like a crow flying away from the ship.

The 10 needless things:

1. If the mind itself realizes to be empty, hearing and reflection of Dharma are needless for a practitioner.

2. If the awareness is recognized to be uncontaminated and pure, the purification of wrong-doing is needless for a practitioner.

3. If one abides by the natural path the accumulation of gathering (Sāmbhar) is needless for a practitioner.

4. If one cultivates the natural state of mind, it is needless for a practitioner to reflect on the path of method.

5. If one recognizes the nature of spiritual thought to be dharmata, it is needless to non-conceptual meditation for a practitioner.

6. If the roots of the defilements (Kleṣa) are recognized to be rootless, it is needless for a practitioner to find out their remedies.

7. If appearances and sounds are recognized as illusory, it is needless for a practitioner to find out any remedies with them.

8. If suffering is recognized to be the replica of Siddhi, it is needless for the practitioner to look for pleasure.

9. If one’s own mind is realized to be unborn, it is needless for the practitioner to practice transference.

10. If every activity is dedicated for the benefit of others, it is needless for the practitioner to work for his own benefit.

The 10 superior things:

1. One human life with freedom is superior to all other sentient beings of the six types of cyclic existence.

2. One person observing Dharma is superior to all ordinary people lacking interest in Dharma.

3. One vehicle of meaningful essential path is superior to all other ordinary-vehicles of paths.

4. One moment of knowledge arising from meditation is superior to all knowledges arising from hearing and reflection.

5. One moment of non-composite virtue is superior to all the composite virtues.

6. One moment of non-conceptual meditative concentrations (Samādhi) is superior tall the conceptual concentrations (Samādhis).

7. One moment undefiled virtue is superior to all the defiled virtues.

8. The arising of one moment realization is superior to the entire product of experience in the mind.

9. One moment selfless conduct is superior to all the selfish conducts.

10. Giving up the material of the world is superior to all the material generosity.

The 10 supreme acts:

1. A religious minded person if gives up or does not give up the worldly activities for Dharma’s sake, it is a supreme act.

2. Once doubt is over, to contemplate over Dharma or not to contemplate over, both are supreme acts.

3. After the victory over passion, to do things passionately or dispassionately is a supreme act.

4. After the direct realization of Dharma (Dharmata), sleeping in an empty cave or leading a large community on the right path is a supreme act.

5. After recognizing the sight as illusion or dream, to live in solitude on a mountain-top or to wander about the world is a supreme act.

6. If an individual has attained the freedom of mind, whether he abandons the desirable things or upholds them is a supreme act.

7. In an individual practicing Bodhichitta, whether he meditates in solitude or does welfare to the other beings is a supreme act.

8. If an individual, who has deep faith towards the guru, remains with the guru or does not remain with him is a supreme act.

9. If an individual who has heard much and understood the meaning of Dharma, whether he attains siddhi or comes across hindrances, both are supreme acts.

10. If a Yogi who has attained supreme realization demonstrates signs of siddhi or does not do it, it is a supreme act.

The 10 qualities of perfect Dharma:

1. The arising of the ten virtues, six perfections, all emptiness, all factors of Bodhi-Dharma, the four noble truths, the four Dhyānas (Concentration), the four formless absorptions, and the ripening and liberating of Mantra etc., in this world are a quality of perfect Dharma.

2. The appearance of the noble lineages of human monarchs, noble lineages of Brahmins, noble lineages of householders, the six types of gods of desire realm, and four great kings, the seventeen types of gods of form realm, and the four types of formless gods in this world are the quality of perfect Dharma.

3. The arising and existing of streams-enterers (continuous procession), coming and non-coming (once-returners, non-returners) Arhats, Pratyekabuddhas, and wholly omniscient Buddha etc., in this world are a quality of perfect Dharma.

4. The arising of natural benefit for sentient beings by the two forms of bodies (Buddha’s Enjoyment Body and Emanation Body) with the self-arisen compassion until the samsara is felt empty by the great power of Bodhicitta66 and the aspiration, is a quality of perfect Dharma.

5. For the excellent means of sustenance of all sentient beings, the appropriate rising of power through aspirations of Bodhisattvas is the quality of perfect Dharma.

6. The arising of slight and momentary happiness due to the result of the merits of virtuous actions in lower migration, prolonged unhappiness (life in hell and in the forms of ghost and animal) is a quality of perfect Dharma.

7. When a bad person’s68 mind follows the path of right Dharma and he becomes a holy person as well as is respected by everyone, it expresses the quality of perfect Dharma.

8. When someone has been committing wrongdoings since the previous life, it is like adding fuel to the fire of hell. In this state if his mind changes towards Dharma and he labours for achieving the happiness of higher-state and liberation, it is a quality of perfect Dharma.

9. Only to have faith, respect and delight in genuine Dharma as well as the wearing of the dress of a monk creates a sense of respect among the ordinary people. Making the base of such respect is the quality of perfect Dharma.

10. After abandoning all the possessions leaving home and being ordained as a Bhikṣu as well as being fully furnished with the provisions of sustenance, one should hide away in solitary hermitage. Yet facing no problems for sustenance of life is the quality of perfect Dharma.

The 10 things, which are merely names:

1. The nature of the ground of the universal Dharma is inexpressible. So the ground is merely a name.

2. There are no such things as path, journey and traveller. They are merely names.

3. In true sense of the term, there is nothing to be viewed and no viewer. So everything is empty. The realization is merely a name.

4. In the primordial mind, there is nothing to meditate and no meditator; the experience is merely a name.

5. In ultimate nature there is nothing to be done and no doer. The process of conduct is merely a name.

6. Ultimately, there is no thing as time-bound and no doer to do according to time. So time (Samaya) is merely a name.

7. Ultimately, there is nothing to be accumulated from virtuous deeds and no accumulator; the two accumulations (merits and knowledge) are merely names.

8. Ultimately there is nothing to be purified and no purifier; the two obscurations are merely names.

9. Ultimately, there is nothing to be abandoned and no abandoner; in this world both are merely names.

10. Ultimately, there is nothing to be obtained and no obtained; the fruition is merely names.

The 10 Great Bliss:

1. The nature of the minds of all sentient beings being abide in Dharmakaya is a spontaneously great bliss.

2. To be free from the elaboration of characteristics, the ground, the expanse of dharmata is a spontaneously great bliss.

3. To be free from the partial influences of the realization of the mind, both conceptually and non-conceptually (view of externalism and view of nihilism) is a spontaneously great bliss.

4. The experience of being free from the influences of the dormant state of mind and having no conceptual elaboration is a spontaneously great bliss.

5. To be free from the influences of acceptance and rejection and rejection of effortless conduct and slothfulness is a spontaneously great bliss.

6. As dharmakaya and wisdom are inseparable and same, being free from the grasping and non-grasping attitudes of the Dharmakaya is a spontaneously great bliss.

7. In the Sambhogakaya (Enjoyment Body) these is the self-arisen great compassion. So to be free from the influences of birth and death of the above body is a spontaneously great bliss.

8. To be free from the elaboration of the perception of dualistic appearance, the Nirmanakaya (Emanation Body) or the self- arising compassion is a spontaneously great bliss.

9. To be free from the influences of elaboration of view of the self or the characteristics as preached by the Buddha in his turning of the Wheel of Dharma is a spontaneously great bliss.

10. Devoid of partiality and seasons or scheduled time, the activity of boundless compassion of Buddha is a spontaneously great bliss.

Conclusion:

In this text the essence of the teachings of the Kadampa tradition has been compiled.

In order to spread and preach the doctrine of the Buddha in the Tibetan region of the Himalayas, Atiśa Dīpankara Śrījñāna instructed these teachings to his dear disciples like Geshe Dromtonpa and Geshe Channgawa.

The writer of this text Gampopa admits that he has been able to compile these teachings of Atiśa with the blessing of the holy gurus of Kadampa tradition and his tutelary deity Arya Tara.

Milarepa received the treasury of instructions of the great sages of India namely, Naropa and Maitripa who are as glorious as the sun and the moon, as well as the instructions of the great knowledgeable lama of Tibet namely, Marpa. His instructions also have been compiled in this text.

Sonam Rinchen of Dagpo Nysgom from Eastern Tibet has also prepared this text by compiling the teachings of Kadampa tradition as preached by Atiśa Dīpankara Śrījñāna and the teachings of Kagyu tradition (Kadampa coming from Serlingpa and Atiśa, and Mahamudra lineage coming from Naropa and Maitripa and so on).

In the words of Gampopa,

“All individuals of the future, who have devotion to me and are not able to see me, if they read the text composed by me, such as, ‘A Precious Garland of the Supreme Path’ and ‘ The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, ’ they will get the result of seeing me.”

Therefore, Oh! Fortunate disciples of Gampopa! Attempt to spread the teachings of Gampopa composed in these two texts for the benefits of those persons, who want to practice and read these books and for all sentient beings.

Offering Mudras

Offering Mudras by Lama Karma Chotso

Lama Karma Chotso Of Kagyu South Florida Buddhist Center teaches her students how to properly do the Offering Mudras used at their weekly practice of White Mahakala and others.

Teaching from Kagyu Shedrup Chöling
Founded by The Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche 19 years ago in South Florida, Kagyu Shedrup Chöling has flourished under the guidance of Lama Karma Chötso.

KSC is a Tibetan Buddhist center of the Kagyu tradition. The meaning of our Tibetan name is “the Kagyu Dharma Center (chöling) of study (she) and practice (drup)”.

KSC’s sole purpose is to impart to students the time-tested methods of Buddhist philosophy and meditation practices as taught by Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche, His Eminence T’ai Situ Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche and Lama Norlha Rinpoche.

KSC Sangha members are supported in their quest to achieve lasting happiness and transcend suffering. Our Kagyu Center – just north of downtown Miami – is a veritable garden of peace and a support for South Florida’s spiritual community.

The Venerable Lama Karma Chötso

When Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche gave the Kalachakra Empowerment in New York City in 1982, it was the very first Tibetan Buddhist event Lama Karma Chötso ever attended. Following that weekend, she continued to take empowerments and teachings from Kalu Rinpoche at Kagyu Thubten Chöling (KTC) in upstate New York where he was preparing participants for the first three-year, three-month retreat in the USA. The Very Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche, Abbot of KTC, continued to guide Lama Karma Chötso and, along with His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, remains her closest teacher.

Lama Karma Chötso was ordained as a novice Buddhist nun by Kalu Rinpoche in 1986 prior to entering the second three-year, three-month retreat at KTC where the retreatants practiced in strict seclusion for almost three and a half years. After Lama completed the retreat, she added to her training by learning Tibetan painting, traveling to India and Sikkim twice on pilgrimage and into Tibet on pilgrimage with Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche in 1993 where she first met the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. Lama stayed in Nepal to study and practice for a few months before returning to the monastery in America.

In November 1996, Lama Karma Chötso came to South Florida to prepare for Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s first visit. At the end of his teachings, Rinpoche instructed her to stay in Florida and begin a center for the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism. When he returned in 1997, Lama Rinpoche found a small house in Hollywood, Florida with a small but traditional Tibetan shrine room waiting for him. He then bestowed the name “Kagyu Shedrup Chöling” on the center, which means the “Kagyu Dharma Center of Study and Practice”. Lama Karma Chötso kept the center in Hollywood, FL until she raised enough funds to purchase land for the Lama Residence in El Portal. She has also continued to teach in centers she started in the Florida Keys and in Coconut Grove. Many of her students have been under her guidance for as long as 15 years, doing extraordinarily well with their meditation and study of Buddhadharma.

During her time in South Florida, Lama Karma Chötso has given lectures at the Whole Life Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Sunshine Cathedral, Dania Library, St. Thomas University, Barry University, health centers and many other venues. She has given blessings to the manatees at the Miami Seaquarium and the dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key. After having been a member of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Council of Greater Hollywood for many years, she was President for one year. She has been a Professional Volunteer Chaplain for Hospice Care of Broward County, assisting in the dying process and performing Buddhist death rituals for the deceased. Lama Karma Chötso taught meditation and Tai Qi to the inmates at Broward Correctional Facility from 1998 until 2004. She co-taught a course in Tibetan Buddhism with Dr. Nathan Katz at FIU and is a Committee member of FAU’s Interfaith group.

In February 2010, Kagyu Shedrup Chöling received a permit to build four Tibetan stupas at the Lama Residence. The stupa blog, southfloridakagyustupas.com, shows the progression of the building on the land Lama Karma Chötso consecrated. She has said, “For anyone to even see a stupa in their lifetime indicates that they have accumulated good merit in past lives. But for an entire sangha to actually participate in building stupas shows that all of them have positive connections with one another, with Tibetan Buddhism, with their Lama, and also have inconceivably great merit. This is very unusual to find at any time anywhere, but especially now, and here in South Florida.”

Medicine Buddha Mudras

Medicine Buddha Mudras by Lama Karma Chotso

Lama Karma Chotso Of Kagyu South Florida Buddhist Center teaches her students how to properly do the Medicine Buddha Mudras used at their weekly practice.

TAYATA OM BHEKANDZE BHEKANDZE
MAHA BHEKANDZE
RANDZA SAMUNGATE SOHA

Teaching from Kagyu Shedrup Chöling

Founded by The Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche 19 years ago in South Florida, Kagyu Shedrup Chöling has flourished under the guidance of Lama Karma Chötso.

KSC is a Tibetan Buddhist center of the Kagyu tradition. The meaning of our Tibetan name is “the Kagyu Dharma Center (chöling) of study (she) and practice (drup)”.

KSC’s sole purpose is to impart to students the time-tested methods of Buddhist philosophy and meditation practices as taught by Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche, His Eminence T’ai Situ Rinpoche, Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche and Lama Norlha Rinpoche.

KSC Sangha members are supported in their quest to achieve lasting happiness and transcend suffering. Our Kagyu Center – just north of downtown Miami – is a veritable garden of peace and a support for South Florida’s spiritual community.

The Venerable Lama Karma Chötso

When Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche gave the Kalachakra Empowerment in New York City in 1982, it was the very first Tibetan Buddhist event Lama Karma Chötso ever attended. Following that weekend, she continued to take empowerments and teachings from Kalu Rinpoche at Kagyu Thubten Chöling (KTC) in upstate New York where he was preparing participants for the first three-year, three-month retreat in the USA. The Very Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche, Abbot of KTC, continued to guide Lama Karma Chötso and, along with His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, remains her closest teacher.

Lama Karma Chötso was ordained as a novice Buddhist nun by Kalu Rinpoche in 1986 prior to entering the second three-year, three-month retreat at KTC where the retreatants practiced in strict seclusion for almost three and a half years. After Lama completed the retreat, she added to her training by learning Tibetan painting, traveling to India and Sikkim twice on pilgrimage and into Tibet on pilgrimage with Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche in 1993 where she first met the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa. Lama stayed in Nepal to study and practice for a few months before returning to the monastery in America.

In November 1996, Lama Karma Chötso came to South Florida to prepare for Lama Norlha Rinpoche’s first visit. At the end of his teachings, Rinpoche instructed her to stay in Florida and begin a center for the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism. When he returned in 1997, Lama Rinpoche found a small house in Hollywood, Florida with a small but traditional Tibetan shrine room waiting for him. He then bestowed the name “Kagyu Shedrup Chöling” on the center, which means the “Kagyu Dharma Center of Study and Practice”. Lama Karma Chötso kept the center in Hollywood, FL until she raised enough funds to purchase land for the Lama Residence in El Portal. She has also continued to teach in centers she started in the Florida Keys and in Coconut Grove. Many of her students have been under her guidance for as long as 15 years, doing extraordinarily well with their meditation and study of Buddhadharma.

During her time in South Florida, Lama Karma Chötso has given lectures at the Whole Life Expo in Fort Lauderdale, Sunshine Cathedral, Dania Library, St. Thomas University, Barry University, health centers and many other venues. She has given blessings to the manatees at the Miami Seaquarium and the dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key. After having been a member of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Council of Greater Hollywood for many years, she was President for one year. She has been a Professional Volunteer Chaplain for Hospice Care of Broward County, assisting in the dying process and performing Buddhist death rituals for the deceased. Lama Karma Chötso taught meditation and Tai Qi to the inmates at Broward Correctional Facility from 1998 until 2004. She co-taught a course in Tibetan Buddhism with Dr. Nathan Katz at FIU and is a Committee member of FAU’s Interfaith group.

In February 2010, Kagyu Shedrup Chöling received a permit to build four Tibetan stupas at the Lama Residence. The stupa blog, southfloridakagyustupas.com, shows the progression of the building on the land Lama Karma Chötso consecrated. She has said, “For anyone to even see a stupa in their lifetime indicates that they have accumulated good merit in past lives. But for an entire sangha to actually participate in building stupas shows that all of them have positive connections with one another, with Tibetan Buddhism, with their Lama, and also have inconceivably great merit. This is very unusual to find at any time anywhere, but especially now, and here in South Florida.”

http://kagyu-sfla.org/

Stupa of Reconciliation, Peru

Stupa Peru – Kagyu Shouth Florida

We are building the first stupa of reconciliation in lamas, Peru. This is a project that will use sustainable solar energy and will capture some fresh water from the air, benefits that will be shared with the community of the residents of the area. Will include gardens of indigenous plants, cabins of retreat for practices of meditation, and infrastructure for educational seminars, for children and adults, in addition to providing a neutral space for mediation and conflict resolution.

Help us build the stupa of reconciliation!

Donate: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1252579493/peruvian-stupa-of-reconciliation?ref=user_menu

Stupaperu.com

Under the direction of Lama Karma Chötso, resident teacher of Kagyu Shedrup Chöling,and the collaboration of the Kagyu Taryei Chöling Sangha, a Stupa of Reconciliation is being built near Tarapoto-Peru. Traditionally, the Stupa is a representation of the enlightened mind of the Buddha and, as such, is a method for harmonizing, purifying, and balancing the elements of the environment thereby benefiting all inhabitants.

In India and Tibet, stupas were built as reliquaries for the relics of the Buddha and enlightened masters who followed his Path. They are repositories of positive energy, objects of homage for the accumulation of merit, guards against natural disasters such as earthquakes and storms, and agents of balance in areas scourged by war or disease. Thus, stupas can create a protective barrier of sanity and positive energy in the face of aggression and destruction.

Tibetan Stupa in Ganze, Tibet
Tibetan Stupa in Ganze, Tibet

During the decade of 80-90s, in the area of the Peruvian jungle surrounding Lamas, inhabitants suffered the devastating violence of Shining Path. The Stupa of Reconciliation will have a powerful effect restoring the balance of the interpersonal, social, cultural, and environmental wounds that this area went through during the Shining Path years of terrorism.

Since 2013, a group of Buddhist practitioners of diverse traditions and their supporters have been working hard to build the Great Stupa of Reconciliation and a meditation centre in Rumisapa, a district in Lamas, San Martin, Peru. Stupas are structures that have been built for thousands of years, representing the highest potential of the mind, and bringing peace, harmony, health, and happiness to their surroundings. With this project, residents and visitors will be able to access teachings, meditation instruction, and retreats. Beginning with the very basics of meditation practice, we can start to calm our destructive emotions and cultivate an altruistic mind oriented to creating peaceful, mutually supportive relationships with others.

In the Tibetan view, a human body possesses pathways and focal points of energy that control health and balance within the organs and within the organism as a whole. The earth, too, possesses channels of energy flow and “vortexes of power” that are of great importance in the proper functioning and prosperity of any region. These extend throughout the earth, promoting health and the flourishing of the entire planet.

Just as when imbalances and energy blockages in the human body that lead to pain and illness are treated with holistic healing techniques, building structures such as stupas and hermitages in places that are connected to histories of trauma (natural or man-made) can be a powerfully restorative force.

Tsatzas, dharma texts, and mandalas inside Stupa to be sealed and consecrated
Tsatzas, dharma texts, and mandalas inside Stupa to be sealed and consecrated

These are some of the ways in which the construction of a stupa can have unlimited, inconceivable effects:

Ecological

Most ecological views and programs aim at conservation and protection. The Buddhist view emphasizes a relationship of reciprocity between the earth and those who rely on or derive benefit from it. Building structures such as stupas and facilities for meditation practice and ritual are unique ways of actually giving back to the earth – not only protecting the sanctity of the earth and restoring the natural balance, but actually enhancing the prosperity of the environment and its inhabitants.

Social

A stupa is a symbol and expression of focused human intention to strive to realize one’s greatest potential in order to give back the fruits of that achievement so that all others might also realize their fullest potential. It is a finite, tangible artifact and undertaking in the service of unlimited, universal ennoblement.

Personal

Larger stupas contain a sanctuary within them that serve as sacred spaces for individual or group meditation and spiritual practice. By participating in the building of a stupa or visiting such a sacred site, the blessing and power that is communicated to the environment also becomes an immediate felt experience that purifies and enriches one’s own body and mind, leading to the realization of one’s innermost nature as completely perfect awakened awareness.

Progress of the construction of the Stupa in the jungle of Peru
Progress of the construction of the Stupa in the jungle of Peru

 

 

Lama Karma Chötso looking at Stupa plans
Lama Karma Chötso looking at Stupa plans

 

Peruvian architect and crew taking a break
Peruvian architect and crew taking a break

 

Lama Karma Chötso with Ancestral Teachers of Raices de la Tierra Festival in Tarapoto
Lama Karma Chötso with Ancestral Teachers of Raices de la Tierra Festival in Tarapoto

Please join us in this most noble aspiration to continue the construction of The Stupa of Reconciliation at Lamas, Peru. We invite you to choose from some of the many gifts we have prepared for our backers:

Tara Tsatsa
Tara Tsatsa

 

Milarepa Tsatsa
Milarepa Tsatsa

 

Manyushri Tsatsa
Manyushri Tsatsa

 

Maitreya Tsatsa
Maitreya Tsatsa

 

Custom made bone/amber Mala (backer will get similar)
Custom made bone/amber Mala (backer will get similar)

 

Tara small statue
Tara small statue

 

Chenrezi large statue
Chenrezi large statue

 

Buddha Shakyamuni very large statue
Buddha Shakyamuni very large statue

4 Immeasurables

The Four Immeasurables

May all sentient beings have happiness
and the causes of happiness;
May all sentient beings be free from suffering
and the causes of suffering;
May all sentient beings never be separated from
the happiness that knows no suffering;
May all sentient beings live in equanimity,
free from attachment and aversion.

SEM CHEN TAM CHAY DE WA DANG
DE WAY GYU DANG DEN PAR GYUR CHIG
SEM CHEN TAM CHAY DUG NGEL DANG
DUG NGEL KYI GYU DANG DEL WAR GYUR CHIG
SEM CHEN TAM CHAY DUG NGEL ME PAY DE WA DANG
MI DREL WAR GYUR CHIG
SEM CHEN TAM CHAY NYE RING CHAG DANG
NYI DANG DREL WAY DANG NYOM LA NAY PAR
GYUR CHIG

The Four Immeasurables as a Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Prayer

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.

The Four Immeasurables become immesurable

Everyone wants to be happy, but happiness cannot be achieved in isolation. The happiness of one depends upon the happiness of all and the happiness of all depends upon the happiness of one. This is because all life is interdependent. In order to be happy, one needs to cultivate wholesome attitudes towards others in society and towards all sentient beings.

The best way of cultivating wholesome attitudes towards all sentient beings is through meditation. Among the many topics of meditation taught by the Buddha, there are four specifically concerned with the cultivation of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. These four are called the Four Immeasurables because they are directed to an immeasurable number of sentient beings, and because the wholesome karma produced through practicing them is immeasurable.

By cultivating the wholesome attitudes of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity, people can gradually remove ill will, cruelty, jealousy and desire. In this way, they can achieve happiness for themselves and others, now and in the future. The benefit in the future may come through rebirth in the fortunate realms.

(a) Loving-kindness

Loving-kindness, the first immeasurable, is the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy. Loving-kindness counters ill will. The attitude of loving-kindness is like the feeling which a mother has for her newborn son. She wishes that he may enjoy good health, have good friends, be intelligent and successful in all that he attempts. In short, she wishes sincerely that he be happy. One may have the same attitude of loving-kindness for a particular friend or for others in one’s class, community or nation. In all these cases, one wishes that the person or persons concerned enjoy happiness.

The extent of loving-kindness in the instances mentioned above is limited to those for whom one has some attachment or concern. The meditation on loving-kindness, however, requires one to extend loving-kindness not only towards those whom one feels close to, but also to others whom one may know only slightly or not know at all. Finally, one’s loving-kindness is extended to all sentient beings in all the realms of existence. Then only does the ordinary wholesome attitude of loving-kindness found in daily life reach the state of the sublime or the immeasurable.

(b) Compassion

Compassion, the second of the immeasurables, is the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering. It counters cruelty. People can observe the natural attitude of compassion in the world around them. When a mother, for example, sees her son seriously ill, she will naturally be moved by compassion and earnestly wishes that he may be free from the suffering of his sickness. In the same way, most people have experienced the feeling of compassion upon seeing the suffering of a relative, a schoolmate or even a pet. All these are examples of the ordinary feeling of compassion. To become a sublime state of mind, compassion has to reach beyond the limited group of individuals or beings whom one loves or cares for. Compassion has to be extended to all sentient beings in all the realms of existence before it becomes an immeasurable.

(c) Appreciative Joy

The third immeasurable is appreciative joy. It is the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings. It counters jealousy and makes people less self-centred.

People in their daily lives may experience appreciative joy. It is like a mother’s joy at her son’s success and happiness in life. In the same way, almost everyone will have at one time or another experienced the feeling of joy at the good fortune of a friend. These are the commonly experienced forms of appreciative joy. When one meditates on appreciative joy and extends it to all sentient beings and not just to loved ones only, one then experiences appreciative joy as a sublime state of mind and as an immeasurable.

(d) Equanimity

Equanimity, the last of the four immeasurables, is the attitude of regarding all sentient beings as equals, irrespective of their present relationship to oneself. The wholesome attitude of equanimity counters clinging and aversion.

Equanimity can be experienced in common forms in daily life. When a grown-up son settles down with his own family, he begins to lead an independent life with responsibilities of his own. Although his mother still has her feelings of loving-kindness, compassion and appreciative joy towards him, they are now combined with a new feeling of equanimity. She recognises his new independent and responsible position in life and does not cling to him.

To become a sublime state of mind, however, the attitude of equanimity has to be extended to all sentient beings. In order to do this, one needs to remember that one’s particular relationships with one’s relatives, friends and even enemies, are the result of previous karma. Thus one should not cling to relatives and friends while regarding others with indifference or hatred. Moreover, one’s relatives and friends in this life may have been one’s enemies in a past life and may again become enemies in the future, while one’s enemies in this life may well have been one’s relatives and friends in the past, and may again become one’s relatives and friends in the future.

Meditating on the Four Immeasurables

Various methods have been taught for practising the meditation on the Four Immeasurables. They are designed to help one extend systematically, the wholesome attitudes of loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity to all sentient beings by beginning where it is easiest to develop them. To practise the meditation on loving-kindness, one should begin with oneself. One should cultivate the wish to be happy. Gradually, this practice will enable one to eliminate unwholesome attitudes and actions that produce unhappiness in one’s life. When one has developed a feeling of loving-kindness towards oneself, one should go on to develop it towards a close relative or friend. When this is accomplished, one can move on to the more difficult task of developing loving-kindness towards strangers and even enemies. One then extends this attitude to all members of one’s community and nation and finally to all sentient beings in all the realms of existence.

To develop compassion, one may begin with an individual whose suffering naturally arouses a feeling of compassion. Once compassion has been aroused in this way, one can go on to develop it step by step towards relatives, friends, strangers and even enemies. Finally, like loving-kindness, compassion can be extended to all sentient beings without exception. When cultivating appreciative joy, one begins with a fortunate friend. Thereafter, one can extend one’s attitude of appreciative joy to relatives, strangers, enemies and then to all sentient beings. In cultivating equanimity, however, one is advised to begin with a stranger because one is naturally free from strong feelings of clinging or aversion to him. Then, having aroused the wholesome attitude of equanimity, one can extend it to relatives, friends, enemies and all sentient beings.

Developing wholesome social attitudes through practicing the meditation on the Four Immeasurables will bring about a change in one’s personal and social life. To the extent that one can free oneself of ill will, cruelty, jealousy and desire, one will experience greater happiness with regard to oneself and in one’s relations with others. One will find that at home, at school and at play, one can experience a new sense of harmony with all. Later, these wholesome attitudes will help one to relate successfully to others both in one’s career and in one’s social life. Even after this life, the wholesome karma gained by cultivating the Four Immeasurables will lead one to rebirth in more fortunate circumstances.
Summary

All life is interdependent. Therefore the happiness of one individual depends upon that of others. The Buddha taught the Four Immeasurables – loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity – in order to remove ill will, cruelty, jealousy, clinging and aversion.

In meditation, the Four Immeasurables are extended to all sentient beings. Through cultivating the Four Immeasurables, people can achieve happiness now and in the future.

Why do we do Prostrations?

1.The Purification of Pride

First of all, we should know why we do prostrations. We do not do them to endear ourselves to somebody else. We do not do them for the Buddha. Such concepts are completely wrong. The Buddha is not a god of this world. We bow down to purify all situations from the past where we did not respect others. Being interested in our own satisfaction and ourselves we did many negative actions.
Prostrations help us realize that there is something more meaningful than ourselves. In this way we purify the pride that we have accumulated through countless lifetimes thinking: “I am right,” “I am better than others,” or “I am the most important one.” During countless lifetimes we have developed pride that is the cause of our actions and have accumulated the karma that is a source of our suffering and problems. The goal of prostrations is to purify this karma and to change our mind set. Prostrations help us rely on something more meaningful than our pride and ego clinging. In this way, through full confidence and devotion, we get rid of everything we have gathered because of pride.

2.The Purification of Body, Speech, and Mind

When we do prostrations we act on the level of body, speech, and mind. The result of doing them is a very powerful and thorough purification. This practice dissolves all impurities, regardless of their kind, because they were all accumulated through our body, speech, and mind. Prostrations purify on all three levels. Through the physical aspect of prostrating we purify our body. We offer our body to the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) and to all sentient beings, wishing that all their wishes are fulfilled. Through the repetition of the refuge mantra and the meaning we ascribe to it, we purify our speech. Through confidence in the Three Jewels we develop enlightened attitude and devotion. As we are aware of the perfect qualities of the refuge and offer everything to it, the veils in our minds dissolve. When our body, speech, and mind are being purified we realize that what we initially thought of as our body is actually a manifestation of enlightenment as active compassion. What we initially thought of as our speech is the expression of enlightenment on the level of joy; our mind is the truth level of enlightenment. We are able to see the enlightened reality of our body, speech, and mind – their full of wisdom truth that we initially were not aware of. We realize that this practice can lead us to our goal, enlightenment, because the three levels expressing the state of a Buddha appear immediately after the three levels of our existence – body, speech, and mind – are purified. We do not have to look for enlightenment anywhere else. We do not have to chase any perfect realizations. The three levels of enlightenment are true inherent qualities of our own body, speech, and mind. We did not see it before. Prostrations help us discover it.

3.Physical Benefits of Prostrations

Prostrations strongly influence the balance and harmony in our body. Blocks in its energy channels gradually dissolve. This helps us avoid diseases, lack of energy, and other problems. Our mind becomes clearer. Our ability to understand increases.

The State of Mind During Prostrations
We should do prostrations with full confidence, joy and motivation to benefit others.

1.Confidence

We should have confidence in the perfect qualities of the Three Jewels and be sure that their blessing can remove the veils from our minds. The blessing can appear and the purification is effective when our confidence in body, speech, and mind meets the transforming qualities of the enlightened body, enlightened speech and enlightened mind – the sources of the refuge. If we do not have confidence and cannot open up to the Three Jewels prostrations will only be like a play.

2.Motivation to Benefit Others

When we do prostrations we should understand that good actions are the source of happiness of all sentient beings. Prostrations are a good example of this fact. When we do the practice using our body, speech, and mind, we offer our energy to others wishing that it brings them happiness. We should be happy about this fact and do prostrations with joy.

The Proper Practice

1.Visualization of the Refuge Tree In front of us in space we imagine the whole refuge tree. First, we imagine Dorje Chang – the lama who represents all sources of the refuge. We imagine the lama as the center of the refuge tree. We should be fully aware that Dorje Chang is our teacher and that he is the mind of our lama. We think about Dorje Chang to make sure that the manifestation of the nature of mind is not stained by our habitual thoughts. To help us keep the pure view, the view of wisdom, we imagine this perfectly pure form. At the same time we keep awareness that Dorje Chang is the mind of our lama. Everything that appears in front of us in space is like a rainbow or a reflection in a mirror; it is not a thing. If we have difficulties visualizing the whole refuge tree we should have confidence that all objects of the refuge are really in front of us even if we cannot hold them in our mind.

2.Awareness of Ourselves and Others
We are not alone in our practice. We are surrounded by all beings that fill the whole universe. We imagine our father on our right side and our mother on our left. When we stand between our parents from this life we realize that each and every being without exception has been our parent in some previous life. This helps us remember the goodness of all our parents, all sentient beings, who were helping us during countless lifetimes.
We imagine the ones we consider our enemies in front of us, between the refuge tree and ourselves. We think of the people who cause us problems and obstruct the realization of our plans. All these people are very important because they help us develop such qualities as patience and compassion. We usually want to avoid such people. We try to stay away from them. We do not want to think about them. Putting them in front of us helps us not to forget them. Treating enemies in such a way protects us against disrespecting them.

We focus our attention on the refuge tree. We are confident that the refuge can free all sentient beings from the suffering of samsara and it can protect us against the anxiety that this suffering causes. In such a mind-set, surrounded by all sentient beings, we start to repeat the refuge mantra. Everything around us starts to vibrate. We experience strong light from the refuge tree. The light shines on us because of our own devotion. This makes us open up even more. Then we start to bow down. We are the masters of the ceremony and lead the whole practice. Our prostrations immediately inspire all beings to begin doing the same practice. We hear all beings repeating mantras and doing prostrations. These vibrations fill the whole universe.

Holding such a vision rather than concentrating only on ourselves widens our activity. On the one hand it gives us strength, on the other hand it gives us motivation to practice. All beings doing prostrations with us give us encouragement. Experiencing great amounts of energy from all beings doing prostrations, we feel even more confidence in and devotion to the Three Jewels. The feeling of “riding with the crowd” helps us finish prostrations quickly and experience great happiness during the practice.

3.The Symbolic Meaning of Each Element in the Act of Bowing Down
To give the ultimate dimension to our practice we should be aware of the symbolic meaning of a prostration. Touching our forehead with clasped hands, we ask the objects of the refuge for the blessing of their bodies. At the same time we imagine that the blessing of their enlightened bodies radiates on us, goes through our body and dissolves all its obscurations. Then our clasped hands touch our throat. We ask for the blessing of speech. At the same time we think that the blessing of their enlightened speech emanates from the objects of the refuge and purifies all obscurations that we have accumulated through our speech. In such a way we free ourselves from these obscurations. When we touch our heart with clasped hands we ask the refuge for the blessing of their enlightened mind. It helps us get rid of all veils and wrong views in our minds. We are confident that all evil wishes we have been filling our minds with since beginningless time are completely purified. We should think that we are getting the full blessing of enlightened body, speech, and mind from the Three Jewels. Through the power of this blessing, all veils, bad karma, and negative tendencies in our body, speech, and mind are purified. We are completely pure and inseparable from the body, speech, and mind of the lama and the Three Jewels.
When our body touches the ground with its five points (knees, hands, forehead) we should realize that five disturbing emotions – anger, attachment, ignorance, pride, and jealousy – leave our body and disappear in the earth. In such a way we experience complete purification.

The two aspects of prostrations, dissolving the mind’s poisons and getting the blessing from the Three Jewels, cause the transformation of pride, attachment, jealousy, anger, and ignorance into the five corresponding wisdoms. We should be confident that the transformation is actually taking place, that we have the natural, inherent ability to develop these wisdoms.
This symbolic aspect of prostrations will work only if we have confidence. Our confidence can give us this big purification. Practicing without confidence is just like aerobic exercise.

4.The Significance of Devotion
Our devotion will grow the more prostrations we do. Finally, we will reach the level where we will no longer think that our body, speech, and mind are any different from the body, speech, and mind of the Three Jewels. Prostrations give a wonderful result; they are the source of a very powerful blessing and a great purification. We should not think that prostrations consist only of an activity of our body. The blessing and purification appear mainly because of our devotion.

5.Increasing the Strength of Our Practice
We practice with an open mind. We should not think that we are the only person doing prostrations. All beings are doing them with us. We do not have to limit our thinking only to ourselves. We should not assert ourselves by thinking, “I am bowing down.” If we think like that we accumulate good potential that corresponds to the act of doing one prostration. If we think of all sentient beings doing prostrations with us, the good potential we accumulate is much bigger. When we are doing prostrations we should think that a hundred of our emanations are doing them with us. If we are able to imagine that our practice will be much stronger. We should not count more prostrations if we imagine more beings doing them with us. This is only one of the special Vajrayana methods that help us strengthen our practice.

6.Linking the Prostrations with Calming the Mind
After a while our body will be tired. This is a useful moment to practice calming the mind. When the body and mind are tired, attachment decreases. If we stop doing prostrations for a moment our mind will naturally calm down by itself without any additional help on our side. When after a while our body and mind feel rested again, our mind becomes agitated. This is the sign to start prostrations again. When we alternate doing prostrations with calming the mind we can practice ceaselessly.

The Approach to Suffering

Sometimes we might experience difficulties doing prostrations. Pain and fatigue will be in our way. There is always some concern: pain in our knees, elbows, lower back, everywhere. There is no reason to be discouraged by it or lose confidence in our practice. Neither should we strengthen the feeling by saying to ourselves, “I suffer so much, I feel so weak.” By doing this we completely block ourselves. We lose the ability to act. When the pain is allowed to “have a say,” it can become a real obstacle on the path of our further practice. We should use every unpleasant experience, whether physical or mental, as a means to get enlightened. Such experiences should mobilize us toward greater effort on our path.

Everything we experience depends on the state of mind we are in. If we want to experience things differently we must change the state of our mind. If we manage to efficiently transform suffering into a positive and beneficial experience, the suffering will disappear completely without a trace. This will give us more happiness and joy.
Prostrations are a way of accumulating truly good potential. They are an easy and effective way to purify negative actions from our past. On the other hand, if – due to pain and fatigue – we continue prostrations being depressed, true purification does not take place.
The Techniques of Working with Unpleasant Experiences

1.Depletion of Karma
We should not think of suffering as something very serious. We should remember that suffering is just karma, that it is impermanent like everything else. Suffering has its end. When our karma ripens we should remain relaxed and observe this natural flow of things. If we manage to infuse our practice with the understanding of the impermanence of karma, it will dissolve by itself. Karma is not something we have to accept or reject. It is like the obligation to pay our bills which appears automatically. When we have paid our debts karma dissolves by itself and there is nothing to reject.

2.Purification of Karma through Physical Indisposition
Dharma practice eliminates veils and stains that are results of our former actions. We should perceive the physical indisposition that we experience during the practice as the result of the compassion of the Three Jewels. This relatively small suffering dissolves future karma which will not ripen. For this reason we should experience this suffering with joy and confidence. Such unpleasant experiences indicate that the practice works. The use of purifying methods may result in many unpleasant experiences on the level of body, speech, and mind. At the same time, we are getting rid of difficulties and veils in our minds. As we experience purification as a result of our practice, our confidence in the Three Jewels increases. We feel deep gratitude because these relatively small nuisances help free us from conditions that would otherwise ripen as much greater suffering.

3.Noticing Ego-Clinging through Suffering
We should regard every suffering as an antidote to ego clinging. Experiencing one’s own suffering is in itself a proof of our egocentric attitude towards all phenomena. At the same time, such situations (where we experience suffering) give us the possibility to get rid of our ego clinging. If we have no ego-illusion we can experience no suffering. We should also understand the cause of our suffering: we experience it because of our former actions which resulted from our ego clinging. Being so focused on ourselves, we have sown many karmic seeds which have now ripened as suffering. We can treat suffering as a teaching showing us the results of actions that result from being focused on oneself. From beginningless time this ego clinging has been the cause of us being caught in the cycle of existence (samsara).

4.Observing Our Ego
Ego wants to be satisfied all the time. As long as everything is all right our ego is content and tries to keep this state. Our “self” clings to this contentment and our mind is distressed with desire – the poison of attachment. When nice circumstances are gone, ego still clings to them because it wants to be content. More attachment and desire appear in our mind. In the cases of unpleasant situations the ego reacts with anger and hatred. It tries to avoid them and replace them with pleasant experiences. In this way our mind is anxious and unhappy. We can recognize the continuous influence of ego in every situation. It ceaselessly categorizes experiences as pleasant or unpleasant. If we follow our ego we accumulate karma which will sooner or later ripen as different kinds of suffering.

5.Unpleasant Experiences as a Test of Our Perseverance
We should remember about our promise to use our body, speech, and mind for the benefit of others. Knowing that we work for the benefit of all beings we should keep our promise, subdue our internal difficulties, and continue our practice.
Translation from the Polish magazine Diamentowa Droga (Diamond Way) by Peter Piasecki and Susan Bixby from Calgary, Canada.

Lama Gendyn Rinpoche on PROSTRATIONS

BUDDHISM TODAY, Vol.5, 1998
Copyright ©1998 Kamtsang Choling USA

Kalu Rinpoche

Understanding the Need for Spiritual Practice

When Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche gave the Kalachakra Empowerment in New York City in 1982, it was the very first Tibetan Buddhist event Lama Karma Chötso ever attended. Following that weekend, she continued to take empowerments and teachings from Kalu Rinpoche at Kagyu Thubten Chöling (KTC) in upstate New York where he was preparing participants for the first three-year, three-month retreat in the USA. The Very Venerable Lama Norlha Rinpoche, Abbot of KTC, continued to guide Lama Karma Chötso and, along with His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, remains her closest teacher.

A Teaching by Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche
Kagyu Thubten Chöling Monastery, 1986

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In order to practice the Dharma taught by the Buddha it is necessary, at the outset, to establish confidence in its validity.

First we must understand that we have had countless lives in the past and will continue to have countless lives until we attain the level of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. Belief in the existence of previous and future lives gives rise to confidence in the truth of karma, the effects of actions. This confidence is based on understanding that unvirtuous actions lead to suffering and virtuous actions lead to happiness. Without this conviction, we will not abandon unvirtuous actions or perform virtuous ones.

We can reach this conviction by examining the signs of the workings of karma in the world around us. Although we are all born as human beings, each person experiences different circumstances, such as a long or short life, mental happiness or misery, and wealth or poverty. These variations in individual circumstances arise through previous karma accumulated in former lifetimes. Even animals have a sense that actions lead to results. They know enough to look for food when they are hungry, water when they are thirsty, and shade when they are hot.

If one has no confidence in the existence of past or future lives or in the truth of the effects of karma, then one will have no appreciation of Buddhism or any other religion. The practices of all religions are based on the intention to benefit oneself and others in a future existence.

The Buddha taught that sentient beings are subject to 84,000 mental afflictions; to remedy them, he gave 84,000 profound and extensive teachings. The point of all these teachings is to benefit the mind. One’s body and speech will automatically derive benefit since the mind is like the master, and the body and speech are like its servants. For example, through thoughts of generosity, we perform acts of generosity; and because of angry thoughts, we use harsh words or act unkindly. The mind is the source of the action while the body and speech enact the mind’s intentions. For instance, today you had the thought, “I must go to Kagyu Thubten Chöling to hear the Dharma,” and in response to that thought, your body and speech somehow managed to accomplish this.

If one practices the Dharma correctly, then the four types of obscurations that veil the nature of the mind—ignorance, habitual patterns based on dualistic perception, mental afflictions, and karma—are removed. Complete elimination of these obscurations—known in Tibetan as sang—causes the inherent qualities of the mind’s nature to manifest fully and spontaneously. This manifestation of the qualities and wisdom of the mind is called gye in Tibetan. Together these two form the word sang gye, which means Buddha or Buddhahood, the ultimate attainment.

It is necessary to practice Dharma because we are subject to impermanence. Born from our mother’s womb, we go through childhood, mature, grow old, get sick, and eventually die. None of us can avoid birth, old age, sickness, and death. We have no control over this. That is why we need to practice the Dharma.

Since no one lives forever, we have an underlying awareness that we are going to die. But we have only the idea “I’m going to die.” We don’t remember the suffering, fear and difficulty we experience at the time of death. We don’t really understand the nature of death because we don’t understand the meaning of Dharma.

If our whole existence just disappeared at death like a flame that has been extinguished, or like water that evaporates, then everything would be fine. But the mind’s nature is empty, clear, and unimpeded. Because it is empty it does not die. Our mind does not disappear, but goes on after our physical death to experience the confused appearances of the interval between death and the next rebirth (Tib. bardo). We then take rebirth in one of the six states of existence. This cycle repeats again and again. Since the nature of cyclic existence is impermanence, it is a source of only suffering and not happiness.

Everyone is concerned about having a long life and freedom from sickness. It is good to have these things, but people neglect to provide themselves with good circumstances for future lifetimes. We should recognize that the mind that experiences future lifetimes is the same mind we have now, so we should therefore be concerned with providing for the future experiences of that mind.

How can we ensure happiness in future lifetimes? By practicing virtue with body, speech, and mind. When engendering Bodhicitta we pray, “May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness; may they be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.” The cause of happiness is virtue and the cause of suffering is nonvirtue. It is therefore necessary to practice virtue and avoid unvirtuous actions to the best of our ability. Since we have the ability to choose between virtuous and unvirtuous actions, our future happiness or suffering is in our own hands.

There are two practices that I find extremely important and beneficial. The first is the vow of refuge, which by instilling faith in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha forms a foundation for attaining Buddhahood. The second is the meditation on the Bodhisattva Chenrezi. This practice is the essence of all the teachings of tantra, and Chenrezi the essence of all yidam deities.

Many people in the West are interested in the teachings on Bodhicitta and benefiting others. This is very nice, but the root of cultivating Bodhicitta is being able to take all suffering, loss, and defeat for oneself and to give all happiness, profit, and victory to others. If one does not practice this within one’s own family, then talking about applying this ideal to all sentient beings is merely words.

Reflecting on the kindness of our parents is how one begins to practice mind-training (Tib. lojong). We realize that they are suffering now and will continue to suffer in the future, and that until they attain liberation from samsara, they will go from life to life experiencing pain. If we reflect in this way, we begin to understand that it is unfitting for us to allow beings who have been so kind to us to experience so much suffering. This recognition is the beginning of loving-kindness and compassion. Next we must resolve to do whatever we can to free them from suffering. We expand on this contemplation by including all the people that we care for—our children, friends, and relatives. We then include all those whom we neither like nor dislike, and then people we dislike, even those we consider to be our enemies. Finally, we include all sentient beings, who fill all of space, and we imagine that we take on all their suffering and offer them all our happiness and virtue. In particular, we should make the aspiration that this meditation may serve as a cause for their attainment of Buddhahood and liberation from the sufferings of samsara. That is the way in which Bodhicitta is developed.

If we can practice Bodhicitta, develop patience, and pacify all disharmony in our own home, then we have prepared the way leading to the development of limitless Bodhicitta. If, on the other hand, we cannot maintain patience and harmony in our own home with our own family, then it is very unlikely that we will be able to do this with respect to all sentient beings, who are infinite in number. So if, after hearing these teachings, you go home and eliminate all disharmony in your home and family, I will proclaim you all male and female Bodhisattvas!

Bodhicitta

Bodhicitta is a spontaneous wish to attain enlightenment motivated by great compassion for all sentient beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently existing self.

Bodhicitta

 “Bodhicitta” or “awakened mind”, “mind of enlightenment” is the central notion of the Mahâyâna (“bodhi” means enlightenment or awakening and “citta” means mind). Bodhicitta defines the way of the Bodhisattva, both in the Great Perfection Vehicle as in Tantrayâna or Secret Mantra Vehicle. This is a special mind one may generate by specific mental training. This mind seeks awakening, but for the sake of all sentient beings, in other words, vows to awaken to teach how to cease suffering.

Although various classifications pertain, two types of Bodhicitta are distinguished : ultimate and conventional (relative). Usually, the latter is referred to as the mind spontaneously wishing to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all living sentient beings. Two types of conventional Bodhicitta are given, namely aspiring and engaging. The former is the mere wish to attain this special mind, while the latter is actually doing so, holding all actions by the Bodhisattva Vows.

Two powerful methods are proposed to generate relative Bodhicitta, and on the basis of this ultimate Bodhicitta : the sevenfold cause and effect (Aśanga) and equalizing & exchanging self with others (Śântideva).

Ultimate Bodhicitta is a wisdom mind motivated by relative Bodhicitta directly realizing emptiness. This is the Bodhicitta of the mind of a Buddha.

Bodhisattvas and their Bodhicitta

Generating merit by virtuous actions and realizing absorptions are not typical for the way of the Bodhisattva. Non-Buddhist systems also maintain moral discipline and develop spiritual exercises, involving calmness and concentration. Spiritual systems considering this-life salvation as impossible or very unlikely mostly do not invisage helping others after being saved. Helping others however is introduced as the best way to be saved.

In the Buddhadharma, Lesser Vehicle practitioners keep to themselves and seek liberation for their own benefit. Although devoid of the intent of salvation to save others, this does not preclude joy, love, compassion & equanimity. While the Lesser Vehicle focuses on the latter, the Great Vehicle is all about compassion. In terms of Bodhicitta, this means one vows to seek Buddhahood to help others thereafter. Bodhicitta is the mind of enlightenment of the Bodhisattva.

It is said the Bodhisattva, like a good shepherd, vows to postpones his own enlightenment until all sentient beings attain theirs. He or she enters “nirvâna” only after the last sentient being has done so. Why ? Because all other sentient beings are deemed more important than one sentient being. This is the intent. So to convey this universality of compassion, the Bodhisattva makes sure he or she comes last. It is also said the Bodhisattva is like a boatman, ferrying sentient beings across, from conventional truth to “the other shore” of wisdom or ultimate truth.

These admirable & devotional images, conveying vital information (namely universality & process), do not represent the Bodhisattva’s ultimate intent. Does the Bodhisattva have the energy or omniscience to stay last & truly help ? Is he or she able to serve others with absolute certainty he or she is not self-serving ? No doubt compassionate, powerful and wise, even the Great Bodhisattvas, still under the sway of very subtle delusions, must first become Buddhas to realize their goals, namely the cessation of the suffering of others.

True Bodhicitta must be “king-like”. The Bodhisattva seeks full enlightenment (Buddhahood) to bring, as a Buddha, infinite energy-resources into play to help (teach, empower, bless) all sentient beings without free will (hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, anti-gods, gods) and all humans of good will. While very powerful, a Buddha is not omnipotent, nor the Creator-God.

To propell him or her into Buddhahood, the Bodhisattva vows to generate the “mind of enlightenment for all sentient being”. According to the Lesser Vehicle, the Great Vehicle miscalculates. Lacking time, the Bodhisattva will never be able to complete his or her training. Liberation (Arhathood) may be intended, but Buddhahood is extremely rare, if not impossible. And in a certain way, Great Perfection Teachings confirm this, for although Buddhahood is definitely possible, it remains extremely difficult. To accumulate the necessary merit to clear all the dross in a single lifetime from scratch was deemed nearly impossible.

This problem is solved by the tantric “turbo”, the Fourth Turning, increasing the accumulation spectacularly, i.e. allowing the already available Bodhicitta to generate very vast merit very quickly. The two baskets (of merit and wisdom) thus rapidly simultaneously (not sequentially) filled, enlightenment is possible in a period of time as short as three months or a single lifetime ! In exceptional cases, a single “pointing-out” instruction may suffice (cf. Dzogchen).

By itself, this mind of enlightenment is the ultimate vehicle of vehicles. But, once entering the “Body of Truth” (“Dharmakâya”), it is no longer necessary. Completing the Ten Stages of the Bodhisattva training for the sake of the enlightenment of all sentient beings is therefore the final goal of the Bodhisattva. The first stage of this training is entered when emptiness has been directly perceived (on the Path of Seeing). Then he or she is an “Ârya” or Superior Bodhisattva. The Mahâsattva Bodhisattva has Buddhahood in sight.

In Tibetan Buddhism, relative & absolute Bodhicitta are distinguished. The relative mind of enlightenment is subdivided in (a) the intention and wish to generate this mind of enlightenment for all, called “aspirational” Bodhicitta, and (b) actually doing so, called “engaging” Bodhicitta. Absolute Bodhicitta is the vision of the true, fundamental nature of all phenomena, the direct, undeluded experience of emptiness. This wisdom-mind or “son” prehends the matrix or “mother” out of which all phenomena emerge and to which all return.

The way of the Bodhisattva is the appropriate means to generate relative Bodhicitta, while the Ten Stages train the former to realize the ultimate wisdom of absolute Bodhicitta, i.e. totally remove substantial instantiation of objects.

These divisions again illustrate the importance of the proper understanding of the nature of intra-mental ideality (the ego, self, the mind) and extra-mental reality (the other, the world).

Generating Relative Bodhicitta

To generate relative Bodhicitta during meditation, the sevenfold instruction on cause and effect by Aśanga is to be applied :

recognizing sentient beings as mothers : if we realize the cycle of death & rebirth has caused every sentient being to be one’s mother, father, husband, wife, closest friend, etc. many times before, then we bring everyone within the context of one’s mind, and establish equanimity towards friends, neutral persons & enemies ;

mindfulness of kindness : becoming aware that at some point all sentient beings have been close & kind to us, helps to extend kindness to all ;

repaying kindness : cultivating the intention to repay the kindness of all sentient beings develops a sense of being in contact with them, it opens our heart to all, and cuts off the notion of being isolated or unable to be kind ;

love : generating love towards all sentient mother-beings, i.e. wishing them to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, helps the mind to find pleasantness in relation to everyone ;

compassion : generating compassion towards all sentient mother-beings, i.e. helping them to actually realize their greatest happiness, namely freedom from suffering and the causes of suffering, results in a spontaneous & universal intent ;

great compassion : the attitude stating one will actually & constantly free each and every sentient being throughout space from suffering and the causes of suffering, changes an ordinary being into a person of great capacity, with a perspective beyond one’s own benefit ;

aspiration to enlightenment : realizing the aim of great compassion can only be fulfilled after enlightenment, makes one vow to attain the highest enlightenment for the sake of freeing all sentient beings from suffering and its causes. With this mind, Bodhicitta has been generated.

Another method, proposed by Śântideva involves equalizing & exchanging self with others. First one regards others as precious & important while contemplating the disadvantages of self-cherishing and the advantages of cherishing others. After thus having equalized self and others, one trains to exhange self with others. Success in this comes when one spontaneously cherishes others in the same way as one used to cherish oneself.

In the last phase of this training, one practices taking & giving (Tib. “tonglen“). One (a) takes the suffering, fear, unhappiness, faults etc. of another (visualized as black smoke inhaled and drawn into our own heart, the seat of our self-cherishing mind), (b) mixes these contaminations with the causes of our own suffering, namely the Three Poisons (attachment, hatred & ignorance), allowing this smoke to consume our self-cherishing, and then (c) returns our very best to the other, visualizing how they have become pure, uncontaminated and in great bliss.

The generation of Bodhicitta presupposes a whole series of preliminaries, summarized by the sevenfold prayer, involving refuge & prostrations, offerings, confession, rejoicing in virtue, supplications, turning of the Wheel of Dharma and dedication. Once generated, Bodhicitta has to become spontaneous. In order to prevent it from degenerating in this lifetime, four precepts are kept :

remembering the benefits of Bodhicitta : if we remember the benefits often, we will be more motivated to generate Bodhicitta ;

generating Bodhicitta six times a day : generating Bodhicitta every four hours allows this mind to become a habitual formation ;

never abandoning any sentient being : while sentient beings may hurt us or abandon us, the Bodhisattva never generates the intent to reject another permanently and irreversibly ;

accumulate merit & wisdom : by daily adding merit to our field of merit and deepening our understanding and/or experience of emptiness, we create the causes & conditions to maintain Bodhicitta.

At some point, when Bodhicitta is stable and no longer degenerates, it will become spontaneous. Only when this has happened, the Bodhisattva may enter the Tantrayâna.

Bodhicitta in Ritual

In Mahâyâna ritual, Bodhicitta may be generated by the Four Immeasurables (“brahmavihâras”), also used in the meditations of the Lesser Vehicle and later incorporated in Patañjali’s Yoga-sûtra, the canon of the Hindu Yoga school.

joy (“muditâ) : “may all mother-sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness” : this is the act of rejoicing in the happiness of others. Taking joy in the merits visible in this world opens the mind to the truth, the beauty & the goodness present around us in every moment, but often we are taken by unawareness. Seeing these virtues, opens & feeds the mind with positive, constructive thoughts ;

love (“maitri”) : “may all mother-sentient beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering” : this is wishing every other not to be afflicted with suffering. If we can love our enemies, our friends and the strangers we encounter, we have conquered our own self-cherishing. Wishing all living beings happiness broadens the mind even further, for not only do we rejoice in their virtue, but we also wish to increase it ;

compassion (“karunâ”) : “may all mother-sentient beings realize the greatest happiness : freedom of suffering” : this moves beyond merely wishing, but refers to actually realizing or contributing to the happiness of every other being. Here we engage and so actually do something. Afterwards we check whether sustainable improvement has been generated and correct our efforts if necessary, and this again and again and again … ;

equanimity (“upeksâ”) : “may all mother-sentient beings abide in equanimity, free from attachments to loved ones, free from hatred of foes” : this is dealing with every other in an impartial way. While acting, and contributing to the happiness of other sentient beings, they are not considered to be inherently different from one another, while their functional, dynamical distinctions are pertinent.

Generating Absolute Bodhicitta

Generating absolute Bodhicitta, or realizing the wisdom-mind of emptiness are equivalent.

 

~ Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche: 

“How can we ensure happiness in future lifetimes? By practicing virtue with body, speech, and mind. When engendering Bodhicitta we pray, “May all sentient beings have happiness and the causes of happiness; may they be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.” The cause of happiness is virtue and the cause of suffering is nonvirtue. It is therefore necessary to practice virtue and avoid unvirtuous actions to the best of our ability. Since we have the ability to choose between virtuous and unvirtuous actions, our future happiness or suffering is in our own hands.

There are two practices that I find extremely important and beneficial. The first is the vow of refuge, which by instilling faith in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha forms a foundation for attaining Buddhahood. The second is the meditation on the Bodhisattva Chenrezi. This practice is the essence of all the teachings of tantra, and Chenrezi the essence of all yidam deities.

Many people in the West are interested in the teachings on Bodhicitta and benefiting others. This is very nice, but the root of cultivating Bodhicitta is being able to take all suffering, loss, and defeat for oneself and to give all happiness, profit, and victory to others. If one does not practice this within one’s own family, then talking about applying this ideal to all sentient beings is merely words.

Reflecting on the kindness of our parents is how one begins to practice mind-training (Tib. lojong). We realize that they are suffering now and will continue to suffer in the future, and that until they attain liberation from samsara, they will go from life to life experiencing pain. If we reflect in this way, we begin to understand that it is unfitting for us to allow beings who have been so kind to us to experience so much suffering. This recognition is the beginning of loving-kindness and compassion. Next we must resolve to do whatever we can to free them from suffering. We expand on this contemplation by including all the people that we care for—our children, friends, and relatives. We then include all those whom we neither like nor dislike, and then people we dislike, even those we consider to be our enemies. Finally, we include all sentient beings, who fill all of space, and we imagine that we take on all their suffering and offer them all our happiness and virtue. In particular, we should make the aspiration that this meditation may serve as a cause for their attainment of Buddhahood and liberation from the sufferings of samsara. That is the way in which Bodhicitta is developed.

If we can practice Bodhicitta, develop patience, and pacify all disharmony in our own home, then we have prepared the way leading to the development of limitless Bodhicitta. If, on the other hand, we cannot maintain patience and harmony in our own home with our own family, then it is very unlikely that we will be able to do this with respect to all sentient beings, who are infinite in number. So if, after hearing these teachings, you go home and eliminate all disharmony in your home and family, I will proclaim you all male and female Bodhisattvas!”

Meditation to quiet the monkey mind

How to Shush your Monkey Mind

How You Can Meditate Everywhere, Anytime by Mingyur Rinpoche.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is a Nepalese teacher and master of the Karma Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche possesses a rare ability to present the ancient wisdom of Tibet in a fresh, engaging manner. His profound yet accessible teachings and playful sense of humor have endeared him to students around the world. Most uniquely, Rinpoche’s teachings weave together his own personal experiences with modern scientific research, relating both to the practice of meditation.

Born in 1975 in the Himalayan border regions between Tibet and Nepal, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is a rising star among the new generation of Tibetan Buddhist masters. From a young age, Rinpoche was drawn to a life of contemplation. He spent many years of his childhood in strict retreat. At the age of seventeen, he was invited to be a teacher at his monastery’s three-year retreat center, a position rarely held by such a young lama. He also completed the traditional Buddhist training in philosophy and psychology, before founding a monastic college at his home monastery in north India.

In addition to extensive training in the meditative and philosophical traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Mingyur Rinpoche has also had a lifelong interest in Western science and psychology. At an early age, he began a series of informal discussions with the famed neuroscientist Francisco Varela, who came to Nepal to learn meditation from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Many years later, in 2002, Mingyur Rinpoche and a handful of other long-term meditators were invited to the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Richard Davidson, Antoine Lutz, and other scientists examined the effects of meditation on the brains of advanced meditators. The results of this groundbreaking research were reported in many of the world’s most widely read publications, includingNational Geographic and Time.

Mingyur Rinpoche teaches throughout the world, with centers on five continents. His candid, often humorous accounts of his own personal difficulties have endeared him to thousands of students around the world. His best-selling book, The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, debuted on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into over twenty languages. Rinpoche’s most recent books are Turning Confusion into Clarity:
A Guide to the Foundation Practices of Tibetan Buddhism
, Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, and an illustrated children’s book entitled Ziji: The Puppy that Learned to Meditate.

In early June, 2011, Mingyur Rinpoche left his monastery in Bodhgaya, India to begin a period of extended solitary retreat. In November of 2015 Mingyur Rinpoche returned after four years of solitary retreat. He is currently teaching his monastic and western students living around the world.

Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche

Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche is the twelfth in the unbroken line of emanations that began in the 11th century. A spiritual master of unsurpassed significance in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, he is the current holder of the Kagyu Lineage. Formally trained by the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, he is now supervising the education of the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje.

Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche, an emanation of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, has been prophesied to become the next Buddha, the fifth of the 1,000 Buddhas to appear in this fortunate aeon. His first emanation was King Indrabodhi, a disciple of the Buddha Shakyamuni. In Tibet, Tai Situ Rinpoche was born as Milarepa’s famed teacher, Marpa the translator , who made three trips to India and underwent many hardships in order to acquire the Buddha’s teachings. The transmissions and teachings he brought back to Tibet form the core instructions of the Kagyu Lineage.

Guru Rinpoche clearly foretold all the names of the Tai Situpa incarnations in a treasure text known as The Command Seal of Prophecies (Tib. Lungten Kagyama), which was discovered by the great terton Sangye Lingpa. The renowned line of Tai Situpa incarnations began with Drogon Rechen (1088-1158), a close disciple of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. Since that time, the Tai Situpa incarnations have had a very close connection with the Karmapas; from one lifetime to the next, they have alternated as teacher and disciple. The Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa predicted that Tai Situ Rinpoche would be his main teacher in his next life. He entrusted the letter predicting the place and circumstances of his next incarnation to the present Tai Situ Rinpoche, who was instrumental in finding and enthroning the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa in Tibet.

The Twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche was born in 1954 and was enthroned at an early age at Palpung Monastery, the principal monastic seat of the Tai Situpas in eastern Tibet. He received important transmissions from many great masters, notably the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Kyabje Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche and His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

A renowned artist and calligrapher, Tai Situ Rinpoche teaches in fluent English and is the author of several books.