Karma Kagyu Lineage
The subject of this teaching is the Lineage and Guru
Yoga. So we are going to discuss the lineage of the Karma
Kagyu. Generally there are many types of lineages in Tibet,
but I don't have time to talk about all of these. The talk is
going to be particularly about the Kagyu. In the world the
first Kagyu lama was Tilopa, an emanation of Dorje Chang and
Korlo Demchog. For the benefit of sentient beings and
especially for the benefit of meditation practice, out of
skilful means, Dorje Chang emanated Tilopa.
When Tilopa was a young boy he looked after cows. He
took them around the fields and through the woods. One day,
when he was walking around with the cows amongst trees, there
were a lot of different lights moving around and lots of
different sounds. A dakini, Dorje Phagmo, appeared in the
midst of the swirling lights and took Tilopa up to Urgyen.
That's the Dorje Phagmo's and Khorlo Demchog's pure land. When
Tilopa met Korlo Demchog face to face he received all the oral
instructions of the Kagyu Lineage.
When he returned to earth he started teaching Dharma. A
lot of people questioned Tilopa and said: "Who is your lama,
who is your teacher?" Tilopa replied: "I don't have a human
teacher. My teacher is Dorje Chang and Korlo Demchog." People
doubted and said: You can't have it like that. You are telling
us lies. Maybe you have received the blessing of the demons.
So we are not going to listen to you." Generating a great
compassion, and out of this compassion using skilful means
Tilopa started to take teachings and supplicate other lamas
and teachers who were around, so people could have the faith
that he was also taking teachings from human
His essence is the same as Dorje Chang and Khorlo
Demchog, he is actually a totally realized Buddha, but he went
through the motions of going to teachings and taking
instructions and behaving as a very humble person who didn't
really have much knowledge. Gradually over time he showed
people the method of how to take teachings and instructions
and how to practise them gradually and how to have realisation
in one's practice. Although he didn't need to do this himself
he did it for others.
He went to all four directions and took teachings from
all teachers who were residing in the four directions and
condensed all these teachings in the four lineages into one.
For example from one direction came the teaching of the tummo
or the internal fire, and one was the clear light, one was
dream yoga and one was the illusory body. So the four lineages
came from the four directions in India and became the Kagyu
Lineage or the lineage of oral transmission.
The second in the lineage of the
Kagyu is Naropa. In the beginning Naropa was a person who went
to Nalanda University and he was very skilled in debate. He
was able to defeat many people in debate and give them answers
immediately, so after sometime he generated some pride in his
achievements. One day he sat on the roof top of the Nalanda
Monastery with a text which he was reciting in the sunshine.
All of a sudden, while he was looking at the text, a big dark
shadow of a person appeared and he couldn't see anything. It
covered all directions, so he looked upwards. When he looked
up he saw a really ugly old lady with missing teeth and very
long hair looking down at him and chuckling: "Ha ha ha." He
said: "Who are you?" and she said: "Who are you?" "I'm
Naropa." "What are you doing, what are you reciting? What do
you know?" He said, "I know the text." The old woman
questioned Naropa and said: "Do you know the words or do you
know the meaning of the words?" Naropa thought about it and
replied: "I know the words." "Ha ha ha!" The old lady became
really happy and danced around. She was going up and down in
space, flying around, going down to earth and then flying up
Naropa thought to himself: "If she gets so excited
about me saying I understand the words, what is she going to
be like when I tell her I understand the meaning as well!" So
he said to the old lady: "I don't just understand the words, I
understand the meaning of the words as well." She said: "You
understand the meaning of the words? U huu." She burst into
tears and was sobbing. Very, very sad. She put her head down
and her hair was drooping down. Naropa then questioned the old
lady and said, "When I told you I understand the words you
became very happy, but when I told you I understand the
meaning you became very sad. What was all that about?" The old
lady said, "You are telling me a lie, that's why I became
sad." Naropa said, "What lies did I tell you?" "You don't
understand the meaning of the words. You just know the words.
Because you lied to me and told me you understand the meaning
of the words, but you really didn't, that's why I became sad."
Then Naropa said: "Who in the world now understands the
meaning of the words?" The old lady replied: "My younger
brother Tilopa, he knows the meaning of the words." Naropa,
when he heard the word "Tilopa", all his hair stood on end and
tears streamed from his eyes and he felt great natural
devotion arising. He asked, "Where is Tilopa?" The lady said:
"He is in a cemetery quite far off." All of a sudden the old
lady disappeared. Naropa thought: "I really must go and meet
In Nalanda monastery there were many monks' apartments
and in the night time he got up and ran away. He searched and
searched but he couldn't find him. He experienced many types
of difficulties and problems trying to find Tilopa. Finally he
found him. When they met, Tilopa wouldn't teach Naropa
anything. He started to give him more problems. But Naropa had
great faith and whatever Tilopa said he listened to.
One day Tilopa and Naropa went to the top of a very
tall building, maybe nine storeys high. Tilopa was just
looking around from side to side. Looking into space he said,
"Hmm, if I had a student with faith, if I told him to jump off
this 9-storey building, he would just do it!" Naropa looked
around him and thought: "There is nobody here except me."
Tilopa continued, "If somebody had faith in me they would just
jump off immediately." Naropa looked around again in case
somebody else had arrived and he thought: "I'm here just on my
own. Maybe Tilopa means me." So he immediately just threw
himself off the building. When he hit the ground he broke all
his arms and legs. Tilopa came down - slowly. "What happened
to you? Are you in pain?" "I'm not only in a lot of pain, I'm
almost like a corpse!" Naropa replied. In that case I'm going
to call you Naropa." In Tibetan na signifies illness, ro is a
name for a corpse and pa means a person. So Naropa means the
person who is sick like a corpse. Tilopa said, "No problem,
doesn't matter." and put his hand over Naropa's body. In one
second he jumped up and his body was even better than before.
Tilopa then gave Naropa 12 difficult things to do but he still
wouldn't teach him any dharma.
Having completed all the difficult tasks that Tilopa
had given to him, Naropa came to him one day, offered a
mandala and supplicated him saying: "Please, please, give me
the teachings." All of a sudden Tilopa grabbed his shoe off
his foot and grabbed Naropa by his hair and said: "You can't
understand the nature of mind by words, you need to recognize
it yourself." and he hit him with the shoe across his face.
Naropa just collapsed and became unconscious. When he came out
of the unconscious state, immediately he had a vast and open
realisation of the nature of mind. So then Tilopa and Naropa
became alikel, of the same nature. The realisation was the
same level. They didn't become the same person but their
realisation of the nature of mind was the same.
Naropa became a powerful and accomplished siddha. The
striking of the shoe across Naropa's face was Tilopa giving
him the lineage of the meaning. After Naropa was unconscious
and woken up, he gave him the instructions of the meaning of
the word, all the transmissions. So then, why did Tilopa give
12 difficult tasks to Naropa? It was like his preliminary
practise or his ngöndro, he was purifying all the different
things that Naropa needed to purify. Because he purified all
his negativities with the 12 difficult tasks, in one moment he
could realise the nature of his mind.
Naropa passed his lineage to Marpa Lotsawa. Marpa
stayed with Naropa 12 years and 7 months. Naropa bestowed on
Marpa the entirety of the transmissions. Marpa also had to go
through some difficulties, though. Then Marpa bestowed all the
teachings to Milarepa. Milarepa also had to endure some
difficulties and do some work. One day Marpa told him to build
a house in a triangular shape. Then he said: "Destroy it, I
want to make a round house." Then he wanted to make a
rectangular house. After completing all these difficult tasks
Marpa gave Milarepa the lineage of the meaning and all the
oral instructions. Milarepa gave all the instructions to
Gampopa, but Gampopa did not have to go through too many
difficulties. He was very lucky! (Just joking.) Gampopa stayed
with Milarepa for three years and gradually Milarepa passed
down the lineage to Gampopa.
From Gampopa the lineage spread out to various other
lineages. Four main ones and eight minor ones. The four major
ones are the Kamsang Kagyu, Baram Kagyu, Phagdru Kagyu and
Tsalpa Kagyu. Those are the four main lineages of the Kagyu.
You have Drikung Kagyu, Drukpa Kagyu, Taklung Kagyu, Marpa
Kagyu etc. These are the eight smaller ones. 1. Drikung 2.
Drukpa 3. Taklung 4. Yasang 5. Trophu 6. Shuksep 7. Yelpa 8.
Martsang These days the Karma Kamtsang Kagyu is the
predominant one. There are few Baram Kagyu people around but
the majority of the other Kagyu lineages have faded
Out of the eight minor lineages the Drukpa Kagyu,
Taklung and Drikung Kagyu are still present, the rest of them,
the other five, have disappeared. So the branches of the Kagyu
are three. There is one called Shangpa Kagyu, there is also
Surmang Kagyu and Nedo Kagyu, but they don't come into the
calculation of the four major and eight minor, they are like
separate branches, but they are Kagyupa lineages. That's the
explanation of the lineage.
Within the Kagyu tradition, the main point, the main
practice is the practise of meditation. What came down most
predominantly in the tradition of the Kagyu are the
instructions of how to practise, how to meditate. In the
Gelukpa tradition the main aspect is studying of the texts.
But the Gelukpas still have to practise. In the four major
lineages of Tibetan Buddhism they all have their own
particular specialities or something very particular to them.
It's said that the Kagyu lineage is called the lineage of
blessings. This is because based on lamas' pure intention,
devotion and faith connected with the interdependence of the
pure lineage, there is great blessing to be obtained. So
that's the explanation of the lineage completed. Now we will
talk about Guru Yoga.
Within the Hinayana Tradition the lama, teacher doesn't
really come into it, rather they have somebody who is like a
learned spiritual friend, who is like a normal human being but
spiritually more advanced than oneself, a friend. In the
second case, when one is on the Mahayana path, one's
perception of the teacher is like somebody who is on the
bodhisattva levels and he has spiritual accomplishments. The
teacher is like a doctor, you are the sick person and they
give you medicine. That's how you perceive the teacher to be
at the time of the Mahayana and bodhicitta practice. When it
comes to the Vajrayana viewpoint of the teacher, then the
teacher is viewed as Buddha. What is the reason for that? It's
because if you view the teacher as Buddha you obtain
blessings. Why is the swift accomplishment of blessings
obtained? It's because between ourselves and the lama there is
a connection. A very good, positive connection.
What are the three very good connections? They are the
blessing of the empowerment, the scriptural transmission and
the explanations. For a practitioner there is no better
connection than these three. Also we can see the lama, we can
hear his teachings. Because of these things mentioned we can
say there is a very good positive connection with the lama and
interdependence. So then, if we supplicate the lama with
faith, it's like all blessings of the Buddhas come together
united into the lama, and we receive the blessing of the lama,
so therefore we also obtain the blessings of all the
Buddha Sakyamuni and Buddha Dorje Chang are very
important but if we were to supplicate Sakyamuni or Dorje
Chang directly and we also supplicated the lama, then
supplicating the lama would be more beneficial to us and it
bring blessing more swiftly. So the lama is more important.
Why is that? We've never received empowerments, instructions
or scriptural authorisations from Dorje Chang or the Buddha
Sakyamuni, we've never heard their speech, we have never heard
their teachings. We have from the lama, so the lama is more
important to us.
We are given an example of what it's like for all of
the blessings of the Buddha passed to the lama and thento us.
For example the sun shines all over the United Kingdom. I have
piece of paper in my hand. If you want to burn this piece of
paper and place it on the grass in the sunshine, it will be
difficult to burn it. But if I bring along a magnifying glass,
and I place it by the paper, the sun's rays will be
concentrated onto the paper and it will burn very quickly. It
will burn immediately. The Buddha's blessing is like the
sunshine. One's lama is like the magnifying glass and through
him comes the sunlight, which is the blessing. Having
connected with the lama's lineage, one obtains all the
blessings of the Buddhas through him.
The main technique or main practice for us as
practitioners in the Vajrayana is that of the practice of Guru
Yoga. If we practise Guru Yoga we will swiftly obtain all of
the blessings. Then one attains enlightenment very quickly. If
you remember when we were doing prostrations and refuge
practice we had the objects of refuge and the lama there who
is the embodiment of all of the objects of refuge. When you
are visualizing in the Dorje Sempa practice the Dorje Sempa
deity upon your head, he is inseparable from your own guru.
Then one does the yidam practice of the development stage and
one feels that the yidam and the lama are inseparable. Then
one is practising the dharma protectors' practices and one
feels that the dharma protector and the lama are inseparable.
Based on these things one will swiftly obtain the
blessings and the levels of enlightenment. What is the reason
for that? It's based on having a very strong positive
connection between ourselves and the lama, because we have had
the empowerments, the scriptural transmissions and the
instructions. Even if we don't receive all these three from
the lama, if we receive empowerment from him or just
instructions or just scriptural transmission, even each of
them separately, will still give a very positive
So then, when we supplicate the lama, whether we obtain
the blessings of all the Buddhas and the lama depends on our
faith. If we don't have faith, even if our teachers were Dorje
Chang and the Buddha Sakyamuni and we were next to them all
the time, without faith in them, no blessing would enter us.
As an example, Buddha Sakyamuni had a monk called Gelong Legpe
Karma. He stayed with the Buddha for 25 years but he didn't
generate devotion for the Buddha therefore he didn't receive
blessings. So if we perceive our lama to have the lineage,
even if he is like a normal person and he doesn't have very
high realisation, if out of our faith we perceive him to be a
Buddha then we will get all the Buddha's blessing completely.
So generating faith for one's lama is very
What type of faith we have to generate? We have to have
faith that the lama and the Buddha are inseparable, they have
the same qualities. There are two reasons for that: one is
based on the relative truth and one is connected with the
ultimate truth. The one related to ultimate truth is that the
lama has Buddha nature and the Buddha nature is Buddha.
Therefore the lama and all of the Buddhas have identical
nature. So the lama really is the Buddha. Not only the lama is
Buddha, the student also is Buddha. Why is that? It's because
the student also possesses Buddha nature. If you understand
that, it's called the ultimate guru yoga. It's like the lama's
mind and your mind are meeting. When we say the lama's mind
and the student's mind are united and become mixed, it's not
like you have to pick some substance in your right hand and
some substance in the left hand, grind them and mix them up
together. It doesn't mean that. The first thing to understand
is that one's nature and the lama's nature are the same.
Understanding that one also understands that all the Buddhas'
nature is identical. If you understand correctly, one's own
lama, his mind and your own are inseparably mixed. That's the
reason relating to the ultimate truth.
What is the reason connected with the relative truth?
The Buddha said that generally all the Buddhas possess
compassion and skilful means. For all the vast number of
sentient beings the Buddhas do what they can to help each
individual being appropriate to that being's nature. We
ourselves have negative karma and illusions. Because of our
impure perceptions we cannot perceive pure perceptions. Right
now this moment Dorje Chang is present before us. We can't see
him. We can't hear his teachings. This is due to one's own
negative karma and negative or impure perceptions, illusions.
So, what are we able to see? We can see somebody who is rather
similar to us, somebody of flesh and blood who suffers. Who
appears to be like us because they have suffering and mental
defilements. That type of person we can perceive. So then the
Buddhas in their infinite wisdom, compassion and skilful means
emanate beings who look like us; like Karmapa, Tai Situ
Rinpoche. In the world now there are many beings like that.
They look like us, they appear to be the same. They need to
eat food. They become sick, they need to take medicine from
time to time, and they also manifest death. And sometimes they
make a few little mistakes.
So they appear to be like us and because of that we are
able to see them and relate to them. and we are able to listen
to the teachings they give. But truly their real nature is
that of the Buddha because they are emanations of Buddha. If a
lama has all the characteristics and he possesses the true
lineage, he is an emanation of Buddha. That's the reason for
relating to the dimension of relative truth. So then, putting
it in brief: one needs to have faith and supplicate the lama.
The root of the blessing depends on our generating faith for
the lama, devotion. In Milarepa's lifestory it tells you what
he did and what kind of experiences he had, how he generated
faith etc. One day one of Milarepa's students approached him
and said, "You know, when you were with Marpa, he gave you all
those difficult things to accomplish and you did all those
things, you practised and finally you became enlightened.
Surely you aren't a human being like us, we can't hope to do
this kind of thing. Maybe you are an emanation of Dorje Chang
or maybe another Buddha, would you please tell us, whose
emanation you are?
Milarepa replied, "For you to think that I am an
emanation of Buddha is a very good thing, but as far as I'm
concerned, I don't know whose emanation I am. If I happen to
be a rebirth of a hell being, because you perceive me as an
emanation of a Buddha, that's very beneficial for you. So then
we can see that everything depends on the generation of one's
own faith and devotion. If you understand that the nature of
the lama is Buddha but that the lama's kindness is greater
than that of the Buddha, then one will naturally give rise to
faith and devotion for him. That's the explanation of showing
us that the nature of the lama and the Buddha is identical.
Now there is a little bit of discussion about how it is
that the lama's kindness is greater than that of the Buddha's.
Even though Dorje Chang and Buddha Sakyamuni are very
important and great beings, you are not able or fortunate
enough to hear their teachings, to obtain empowerments or
scriptural authorities from them, you are not able to meet
them even. But we can actually meet the lama physically, hear
his speech and receive his teachings, empowerments and
instructions. If we were to meet the Dorje Chang Buddha in
person and ask for teaching, if he was going to liberate us
and lead us to enlightenment, what could he give us? He could
give us the instructions of how to practise and liberate
ourselves within one lifetime. Higher or better teachings than
that he wouldn't be able to give us. He couldn't just pick us
up and threw us into a Pure Land. And this type of instruction
one's own lama can give: how to liberate oneself in one
lifetime and become enlightened. We are not able to perceive
Dorje Chang but we can perceive our own lama. So, who is more
kind to us, is it Dorje Chang or the lama? It's the lama. If
you understand that point, faith and devotion will arise. This
is why in the Vajrayana tradition the practice of Guru Yoga is
respected as something very important, the main point. That's
the general meaning of Guru Yoga.
How do we practise the Guru Yoga actually? How do we do
it? If we have understanding and appreciation that the lama's
mind and the Buddha's mind are identical and that the lama is
in fact a Buddha, then we can meditate on his body. If one is
not able to generate that strong faith, then one feels that
the lama manifests as Buddha Sakyamuni or the Buddha Dorje
Chang, not the way he normally is. And you also think that his
manifestation contains all of the essence of the Buddhas. One
supplicates one's lama and ask that I myself and all sentient
beings may be free from suffering; temporary suffering now and
all suffering up until the point we reach the end result,
perfect enlightenment. And then please give me the blessing so
that I will have the realisation of the mahamudra, please give
me all the blessings. You make a prayer like that.
Some people like to meditate on their lama in the form
he normally has, how he normally appears and that's okay for
them. But some people don't like that. Rinpoche knows someone
who was practising the Guru Yoga but he didn't enjoy it. The
reason was that in real life he was constantly coughing, so
when he visualized the lama on top of his head he was
uncomfortable because the lama kept on coughing. There is
another guy, who had unfortunately a very pointed head, so the
lama couldn't sit on the point of his head, he kept on falling
Before in India one person had an experience - when he
tried to meditate on the form of his lama upon his head he
kept on falling off from side to side. So he went to the
teacher and asked what he could do. The lama said: "Oh, you
put the lama at the bottom and you sit on top of his head!" So
then he meditated like that. It became very clear, he didn't
move. He said to his lama: "I meditated as you instructed and
it was very clear, very good." Then lama said, "Now you need
to revert back to what was originally there, you on the bottom
and the lama on the top. He did this, and this was also very
clear. The reason why he couldn't achieve this in the first
place is because he had a very tight grasping idea that he had
to have a very clear visualization of the lama. Because of his
intensity and grasping for that, his mind became very tight
and then the lama fell all over the place. When he turned it
around with him on top and the lama on the bottom, he didn't
really have appreciation of that, because he didn't quite like
that position, as he wasn't grasping, it became very clear.
Afterwards he understood the meaning of what had happened, and
could meditate very well.
If one can meditate the form of one's lama and form of
Dorje Sempa as inseparable, one has got the meaning of Guru
Yoga as it's explained in the ngöndro. When one is practising
the refuge and the prostrations, one is visualizing one's guru
in the form of Dorje Chang in front of one. So that is the
meaning associated with ngöndro.
What is the main part of the practice of the Guru Yoga?
It's the receiving of the empowerments. The empowerments are
four in number. The first one is from the lama's forehead a
white light emanates and touches one's own forehead. One feels
that ones physical obscurations, defilements and impurities
are completely purified, and one receives the blessing of the
body of the lama. That is classified as the vase empowerment.
The second part is that from the lama's throat a red
light emanates and touches one's throat centre and one feels
that all of one's impurities, obscurations and defilements
related to speech are completely purified and one has received
the blessing of the speech from the lama. This is called the
secret empowerment. The third thing to happen is that from
lama's heart centre a blue light radiates out and strikes
one's heart centre. One feels that all of the defilements,
obscurations and impurities related to mind - our mental
impurities - are completely purified and one has received the
mind blessing of the lama. This is called the wisdom-knowledge
The fourth empowerment: one imagines simultaneously
white, red and blue lights coming out and striking one's three
places. One feels that all of the body, speech and mind
impurities, defilements and obscurations are completely
purified and one has received in totality all the body, speech
and mind blessings of the lama. This is called the word or
mahamudra empowement. Finally the lama dissolves into light
and this dissolves into oneself. The meaning really is that in
the end the lama and oneself become inseparable and their
essence is identical. So you need to understand that. And then
you relax. That is the absolute true Guru Yoga. When one is
visualizing the lama external to oneself and supplicating him,
that part is related to relative truth.
When one has done the visualization of the lama
dissolving into light and the light dissolving into oneself,
you recognize that the lama's mind's essence and your essence
are identical, the same, and relax in that. That's the
ultimate truth Guru Yoga. That's the end of the explanation of
the Guru Yoga. Do you have any questions?
We have had new information coming in: Marpa spent 16
years and 7 months with Naropa.
Question: Due to Naropa's misconception that Tilopa was
asking him to jump would he have had the same result whether
he jumped or not? Was it wise for him to jump at that point
because he wasn't told to do so directly?
Rinpoche: It is
true that Tilopa did not directly instruct Naropa to jump, but
he did indirectly, because there wasn't anybody else there on
the roof with them. If he didn't have wisdom, he wouldn't have
listened to the lama's instruction. B ut he had wisdom because
he listened to the instructions.
Q: There wasn't any
R: It was an indirect instruction, because
there was nobody else standing there and he took the meaning
to be that I'm a person who has faith, so it must be me
because there is nobody else here, so I jump. We have an
example of indirect instructions or meanings in many places,
not just that.
Q: If one has faith and devotion to several lamas,
does one put them all into one form of the main lama and think
they are all the same?
R: That is what was told yesterday,
yes. That's fine. One doesn't have to think: "Oh, this lama
has got blessing and maybe this one has more. If you have
faith in many lamas, you put them into one, think that their
essence is identical.
Q: My lama was the 16th Karmapa and he passed away long
time ago. I wonder if I can still see him as my lama.
Q: Could Rinpoche explain the idea of tsawe lama (root
R: There are two types of root lama. The real
meaning of the root lama is the lama who points out the nature
of one's mind. At the point one understands that, one has the
instruction and meeting together like that. That's one's true
root lama. But before we get to the point of having pointing
out instructions, we have to have various lamas giving
teachings. You can also perceive the root lama to be somebody
whose is within a pure lineage unbroken and they have all the
characteristics of a proper pure teacher, and one has
connection and faith and devotion for them, then one can also
perceive them as a root lama. But when one is doing the Guru
Yoga though, it is more beneficial if one can feel that the
lama who is giving you the empowerments and instructions and
all transmissions, his essence is really there, he is the main
Q: Which were the four types of teachings held in
R: Tummo, clear light, dream yoga
and illusory body are just an example of the four types of
teachings, which were held in different directions. But there
are many, it is not just those alone.
Q: What does it mean for the guru to become the path?
R: Guru Yoga is the path. We don't say that the lama
himself is the path. It's the Guru Yoga. Oneself practising
the Guru Yoga, that is the path.
Q: At the very beginning of teaching today we heard
that Dorje Chang manifested to Tilopa. If he was so clever,
why didn't he manifest to somebody in every country of the
world speaking every language and get it done much
R: If he could do that then he could just pick us
up and throw us to the pure lands. Because of individual
sentient beings' karma appearances like those don't come
about. If it were like that we wouldn't have to stay in
samsara now. We would have been Buddha a long time ago.
Q: Would you tell us about Maitripa?
received three types of mahamudra teachings. There were the
sutra tradition, tantra tradition and essence of mahamudra
tradition. Maitripa gave Marpa the sutra tradition; mahamudra
transmission and the other two were bestowed by Naropa. Marpa
had various teachers: Maitripa, Kukkuripa and so
Q: As westerners we often have suspicions associated
with figures of authority, not like in the east where in India
or Tibet people naturally have faith in parents and lamas and
they maybe take authority figures better than us. So from time
to time we have doubts and obstacles related to these figures
of authority. How do we deal with that?
R: It is important
and necessary for one to follow the dharma instructions and
advice that the lama gives you. But if it relates to everyday
worldly life then one can be a bit more neutral about that.
Sometimes we might not listen to some of that advice. You can
check it out like this: these days when the really true and
straightforward lamas talk to people and give advice it's not
based on their own benefit. They are thinking solely of the
benefit of the person they are talking to. But there are also
present in the world lamas who have some idea of mixing their
own benefit in with that. So the second one is not beneficial
and you need to check that out. But when one's lama is
perceived to have Buddha nature and to be really the Buddha in
essence, you can supplicate like that. But if one comes into
contact with kind of false lamas who are really mixing up
their own benefit in their teachings, one abandons them. That
kind of advice and connection, you leave it. If one encounters
a false lama, it's better to abandon them.
Q: There is a special connection between His Holiness
Karmapa and Tai Situ Rinpoche. Could we have some explanation
R: This comes about because of Chögyur Lingpa's
prophecy, where he gives a prophecy about the connection
between the 12th Tai Situpa and the 17th Karmapa. Tai Situ
Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche were students of the previous
16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, and now the 17th Karmapa
has taken birth and is a young person. Gyaltsab Rinpoche and
Tai Situ Rinpoche became his teachers. T his is based on the
lineage: one is young and the older people look after them and
then it changes around from time to time. Generally, there is
a prophecy, which is a statement of connection, and also from
his side His Holiness Karmapa has a genuine faith in Tai Situ
Rinpoche. This is based on the teachings and transmissions
that the Karmapa has faith arising for Tai Situ Rinpoche and
Gyaltsab Rinpoche. The lineage goes in such a way that the
Karmapa bestows all of the teachings on his main students, but
then when the Karmapa takes rebirth, although he has all the
teachings in their entirety because he is Buddha, he has to go
through the motions of taking instructions from human beings
and human teachers. Now he has manifested as 17th Karmapa and
his teachers will be Gyaltsab Rinpoche and Tai Situ Rinpoche.
They in a way symbolically give back all the teachings that
they received from the previous 16th Karmapa. The Karmapa
himself already possesses them, but because of the students,
in order to show how to do it, then they go through the
motions of giving him back everything.
Q: Who is your personal guru (tsawe lama)?
Q: We have noticed that lamas wear special hats from
time to time. What do the hats and crowns signify, black hat
R: Generally speaking when one wears the
crowns on the head, it's the sign of respect to the nature of
reality and respect to all the gurus. Generally the teaching
comes or is connected with the individual being's own
perception. In olden days a king could give somebody respected
a crown to wear, the idea of that crown is a token of respect,
so there is this respect associated with wearing a crown.
Another reason for wearing it at that time was that when
sentient beings saw the crown it gave them joy.
And why does the Karmapa have particularly the black
crown? Before the arising of the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa,
a long time before he manifested as Karmapa he was meditating
in a cave. Along came a great gathering of dakinis and they
said to him: in the future you are going to manifest as a
being who will be of immeasurable benefit for sentient beings,
because of that we have great faith and devotion for you and
we want to make offerings to you. So they all pulled lots of
their hair out and they wove a crown and placed it on the
Karmapa's head. "Now you become like the king of Dharma." So
the nature of this crown placed on the head was rather like a
rainbow, insubstantial and most people can't see it. It's with
the Karmapa always, where ever he goes. He doesn't have to
take it on and off, it's always on his head. And then the
Karmapa at one time went to China. At that time the emperor of
China was an emanation of Manjushri. Immediately when the
Karmapa came the emperor perceived the crown on the Karmapa's
head. The emperor said, "Oh, that crown on your head,
everybody needs to see it, so we are going to make a copy of
it, a visible copy. So the emperor of China made a replica of
the crown which was on Karmapa's head and he offered this to
Karmapa. When he put it on his head, everybody could see,
because it was a physical object. Because of the
interdependence of the self-existing hat and the one made as a
replica, blessing can be obtained from seeing the
Q: In the Dorje Chang tungma there is a line that says:
"Grant me your blessing that uncontrived devotion may arise in
me." In that context, what does blessing mean?
R: It is a
particular type of power. Various medicines have various types
of strength or power. Water has a power to wet things and
clean things. Fire has a power to burn. When we put water in a
field it helps to grow flowers or crops. All phenomena have a
particular power associated with them. Through the power of
interdependence, when we ask for the blessing, blessing comes
as a particular type of power. What happens is, that one
receives that power, the blessing, and one's defilements and
obscurations are purified and dispelled. If one gives rise to
devotion and faith and supplicates, then one has the blessing
connected with arising of faith and devotion.