tonglen practice is extraordinarily powerful. If you want to stay stuck
in samsara, donít even think about practicing tonglen.
Seven Points of Mind
Training - Origin of Lineage: all
teachings trace back to Buddha Shakyamuni. In the course of history,
great masters like Nagarjuna and Asanga held and perpetuated the
Mahayana teachings. In Tibet the experiential aspect of Mahayana
Buddhism has been continuously upheld through the practice of pith
instructions received from the masters who are living emissaries of
Bodhicitta mind and have realized authentic love and compassion.
Atisha purified the
lineages and passed along the essence of the mind training teachings
that he received from his master, Serlingpa. Atisha passed the lineage
to Dromtonpa who passed the lineage to Langri Tangpa. But it was Geshe
Chekawa who revived the lineage of lojong. One day he this profound
pith instruction which shocked his mind:
Take all defeat upon
Offer all triumph to
went to see Langri Tangpa, who already passed away. Chekawa was very
sad, because he thought the lineage died, but he found a disciple named
Shawara who upheld the teachings. Chekawa stayed with Shawara for an
un-luxurious twelve years just to learn these two lines. Chekawa endured
many hardships to receive the seven points of mind training, which
represent the depth of Mahayana training.
extraordinary lineage has been passed down through all the sects of
Tibetan Buddhism, so I simply wish to share the blessings of this
teaching I have received from my masters with you.
morning we need to take Bodhisattva vows to re-affirm our commitment to
awakening Bodhicitta mind. We visualize the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas and
offer the strength of our commitment for the benefit of all beings. In
this way we develop the courage to live an authentic way of life in each
moment of every day.
means mind training. All we do in Buddhism is train our minds. There is
a prayer from Buddha Shakyamuni:
One should not
commit any non-virtuous deeds.
One should cultivate
perfectly virtuous deeds.
And one should tame
their wild mind.
This is the Holy
path of all Buddhas.
should we train our minds? Because our minds are so neurotic, filled
with hope and fear, anger and resentment. Our minds are very unstable.
But through training our minds and taming our minds, we will be able to
practice genuinely. Taming the mind is a way of healing the kleshas, the
the mind is like an athlete who is sick. In order to perform at an
optimal level, the athlete needs to take care of the illness, taking
medicine, nourishing the body, recovering slowly and steadily until
there is a complete and solid rebound.
training is like cultivating a wild field that we wish to plant a
beautiful garden in. We have to take care to remove the wild scrub,
heavy rocks and scraggily weeds before we can sow the seeds that will
produce perfect flowers. Similarly, each of us has extraordinary
capability within, but we must be very deliberate in taking care to
cultivate the incredible qualities that already exist within each of us,
creating positive conditions for the seeds of virtue to bare the perfect
fruit of enlightenment.
Buddhism emphasizes training the mind. It is also important to train in
practicing virtuous physical deeds, but the emphasis here is mental [and
emotional]. Without mind training, we can never experience any true
achievement. Once we focus, on mind training, then we experience
incredible results. There is only
one discipline in Buddhism: training oneís mind.
discipline is essential. Guarding the five precepts is crucial for
laying the foundation for higher development. It is really up to us, how
much we disregard the physical trainings, but the vows are for us to
develop a sense of moderation. It is also good to practice sojong twice a month.
is essential on the path, and is a real sign of our development of
enlightened qualities. We must always observe our actions. Physical
disciplines are ultimately for training our minds, for manifesting the
inherent qualities of love and compassion through purifying our
obscurations of hope and fear.
Mahayana perspective, happiness is quite cheap. In Tibet, Yak butter and
toilet paper is more rare than happiness. Happiness is always readily
available. But somehow, we have missed it here in the west. We all
desire happiness, whether we admit it or not. Happiness has become a
myth in this culture. Mind training is about achieving true happiness,
not false happiness. Human beings have the idea that their fantastic
illusions of being wealthy, powerful, and attractive will produce
happiness. But authentic happiness has nothing to do with anything
outside of ourselves. Our conditioned belief system leads us down the
same habitual road where we discover that our great efforts to
manufacture artificial happiness are futile. We always wind up wanting
happiness can only come from within. Even though the essence of Mahayana
teachings is not necessarily about achieving happiness, happiness is
essential to attain enlightenment, according to Aryadeva. We are
actually seeking for the most profound realization, which transcends
even happiness. We are searching for who we are by directly realizing
the nature of mind, which is Bodhicitta.
ultimate goal in this life is quite simple. When we shift our
perspective towards realizing the nature of our minds, the meaning of
our lives becomes evident, because the meaning is always now, so we
donít have to search for the nature of our minds. It is already apparent
as the conviction to awaken to who we truly are. This responsibility
lays above all conventional goals. All relative endeavors are secondary
to actualizing love and compassion towards all beings, and this is
actually the greatest happiness, the greatest wealth. Unfortunately,
most people never hear this message. Most people donít even know they
have Buddha nature, so it is important to reflect on what a precious
opportunity we all have to realize our sublime potential and to follow
the extraordinary path that leads to complete awakening.
a Bodhisattva heard a voice from space, saying, One day you will meet a Bodhisattva
who has an enlightened verse, but you must cross fiery mountains and
blazing grounds, flooded fields and thorny valleys filled with dead
animals to receive the blessings of that verse. This great being
faced every obstacle without fear because he knew that true happiness
could only come from realizing enlightenment. Once he heard that one
word, he dedicated his life to contemplating and realizing the essential
teaching, and thus he became an arhat.
simply need to be thankful for this great blessing: to receive such
precious teaching. We must hold this intention the whole way through.
This means we must express great appreciation for the infallible
knowledge we have the good luck to receive. The responsibility is ours,
whether we actualize these teachings or not. Knowledge is the great
equalizer. Our freedom and happiness depends on ourselves, not on the
masters, not on the lineage, but in applying the teachings in everyday
life, generating love and compassion in each moment. Every individual
has the capacity to realize enlightenment in this lifetime. This is the
efficacy of these precious teachings. We have to meet the power of the
teachings with confidence in our Buddha nature in order to actualize
View, Meditation and Action
the right view is crucial, otherwise we will not develop according to
the teachings. Pure qualities will not manifest if we are not certain
concerning the view.
in my monastery wanted to be a Dzogchen yogi, whatever that means. He
started eating dried yak shit because he thought he going to be
something special. One day, an elder monk teased him, calling him stinky
and so forth. The monk got very upset and embarrassed. Then the elder
said, ďWhat kind of Dzogchen yogi are you, getting upset like that. You
donít understand a thing about the pure view of Dzogchen!Ē
to cultivate pure intention, carrying all it the way through in every
aspect of our lives.
5.12.01 Seven Point
First train in the
refers to practicing ngondro, engaging in the contemplations of the four
thoughts, and establishing the correct motivation. The preliminaries are
not some sort of temporary practice we dispense with in favor of more
esoteric practices. Ngondro requires great effort and sacrifice,
something that we practice everyday, as it is what goes before any practice or
activity we engage in. Just as we cannot cook without certain
ingredients, ngondro is indispensable to every other practice because it
is actually the means to the personal discovery of liberation.
Practicing ngondro is a way of practicing authentically because it
short-circuits the graspings to the illusory self, thereby establishing
a pure, powerful motivation that can leas us to enlightenment in this
begins with taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Then we
generate the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the
benefit of all beings. With the right intention, all of our activity
becomes beneficial, whether we are cooking or cleaning or washing the
dishes or driving a car or having a conversation, everything becomes
sacred because there is less fixation on the self. So from morning to
night, when we wake up until we go to sleep, our intention is to
generate enlightened activity for the benefit of all beings. We gather
so much momentum in this way, cutting through our mental and emotional
to lay the foundation of ngondro practice. If we donít have this
foundation, then regardless of whether we practice higher teachings, we
will continually fall back into the same habitual patterns that cause us
Consider all phenomenon as a
bodhicitta is the realization of primordial or innate wisdom. This is
the state of samadhi where we experience the union of wisdom and
compassion. In the beginning, the two states appear as separate. But by
thoroughly investigating the nature of mind, raising the question, Who Am I?, we reach the
pinnacle of unification where there is a single stream of experience
that is the union of wisdom and compassion. In order to experience this
union, however, we need to develop deep compassion, otherwise we become
attached to the states of bliss that arise from deep meditation on
emptiness. It is very important to bridge the gap in the beginning
between the seeming separation. Buddha said in the sutras, The wisdom without compassion is a
way of binding Bodhisattvas to samsara. Likewise, those who practice
compassion without wisdom are bound to samsara. But for those
Bodhisattvas who practice the complete union of the two, these
Bodhisattvas are travelling to the city of nirvana.
has no inherent reality. Our experience is usually a projection of our
own minds. The Taoist sage Chuang Tzu said, I had a dream that I was seeing a
butterfly. But when I awoke, I could not tell whether Chuang Tzu was
dreaming of the butterfly or the butterfly was dreaming of Chuang
waking lives have no inherent existence. It is like seeing a movie
projected on a screen. But for sentient beings life seems so solid and
concrete. Suffering seems so real, therefore happiness seems even more
real, as if it has a specific cause.
Tantra, for example, we regard everything as the deity, but we knowingly
cultivate this illusory perception, because even wisdom is an illusion,
which means reality and illusion are not two different things. However,
we desperately cling to our illusions because we have not had a deep
enough taste of our authentic state. Suffering is not real. Happiness is
not real. Wisdom is not real. Ignorance is not real. There is nothing we
can find to call real, especially ourselves. But we need to find the
special illusion we cling to, namely our sense of I, in order to see its
to carry this contemplation throughout the day: that our lives are a
dreamlike. It is very easy to return to our old faulty perception that
everything is real. During meditation, we are enlightened, but in
post-meditation we need to stabilize our conviction that all phenomenon
is a dream, whether we see beauty or ugliness. When we go down to the
beach, we can contemplate the illusory bathing suits, the amazing
illusory bodies, the illusory suntans, event the illusory poor people we
contemplating the illusory nature of what we think, see, hear, smell,
taste and touch, we destroy the dualistic notions of good and bad. We
can wipe out the entirety of samsara in this moment by utilizing the
profound weapon of this contemplation. Without reacting to anything, we
overcome our fear of suffering, and pass through the gates of duality to genuine freedom.
life presents us with favorable conditions, we feel good. When we
experience unfavorable circumstances, we suffer. But this is fundamental
ignorance that misperceives the nature of phenomenon, seeing situations
and circumstances as being real. When we cut through this misperception,
we experience great equanimity, which is true happiness. This is the
realization of a spiritual resilience that does not react to anything
because all things are see purely, naturally, as fundamentally being the
same. There is no heavy investment of emotions to distract us. There is
only genuine feeling, which expresses authentic qualities of love and
compassion because it is not based on the dream.
real world does not exist outside of oneís self. Nirvana is the only
real world, which is what the teachings constantly remind us of. Dharma
is what has authentic quality in this life, because Dharma teaches us
the nature of reality: that all suffering, birth, death, aging, hope and
fear are all illusions. By recognizing the nature of these illusions,
then we are truly content, and we become real Bodhisattvas, expecting
nothing, rejecting nothing, chasing after nothing, just completely
satisfied with life as-it-is. The mind of the Bodhisattva itself is
Analyze the unborn nature of
mind itself is an illusion. The mind has no source, no place it resides,
no place to dissolve. The mind is unborn yet unceasing. Mind is always
there, yet it is not locatable, not findable, whether we are awake or
asleep. This mind we experience right now is the same mind we
experienced lifetimes ago, yet is has no substantiality, even though it
stores all memory, karmic patterns and inclinations. Mind itself is
emptiness, regardless of whether we are experiencing bliss or sadness.
Mind is like sky. It is immeasurable. It is an infinite
inexpressibility, yet it is here right now.
mind seems to have some factual substantiality, because its power drives
us through life, orders us around, dominating us. But the purpose of
meditation is to drive the mind, instead of letting the mind drive
we be free of our untamed mind? Can we discipline our mind? Most
teachings offer techniques to control the mind. But in Mahayana and
Vajrayana Buddhism, the teachings are not about disciplining the mind.
If I tell you not to think about a monkey with wild red hair eating big
juicy apples, it would be impossible not to think about.
Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, the path is one of meditation and
investigation of the nature of mind, exploring how mind comes into being
in order to be free of the samsaric entrapments. We do this by simply
seeing that what arises in mind is in fact the unlimited expression of
the nature of mind. Thoughts and feelings have no inherent reality, but
we cannot realize this through discipline because we continue to
distance ourselves from our immediate experience by repressing, which in
turn often causes us to act out. However, with confidence that comes
from glimpsing the nature of mind, we can experience the illusory nature
of our thoughts and feeling in the midst of thought and feeling,
whatever the flavor.
What is the nature of mind? Where does mind reside? Where does mind
always changing. Where does this change occur? Finally, through inquiry
we discover the luminous wisdom of ultimate bodhicitta simply by
realizing exactly what the nature of mind is. This we must find out for
ourselves with diligence.
The antidote will vanish of
itself is self-liberation. Mind liberates itself without any other
antidote, like a snake that is tied in a knot unties itself. The same
with mind: mind itself is
self-liberation. This is called rangdrol. We are not really
looking for any antidote, because an antidote perpetuates the lingering
sense of dualism, which is still suffering, though positive thinking can
be helpful on some level. We are not interested in subduing negative
emotions, however. We are viewing all antidotes as emptiness. Emptiness,
whether expressed as love or compassion, is the ultimate antidote. This
is Buddhaís mind, the Dharmakaya, which is always liberated,
spontaneously so, because it is ungraspable, ineffable, so all illusions
simply fall away on their own accord. There is no need to reject or
accept anything within oneís self. By engaging with the duality of
accepting and rejecting, we fall into attachment and experience hatred
and anger, pride and jealousy. But since everything is an expression of
Dharmakaya mind, liberation here means not being attached to any state
of mind. Whatever the antidote, we recognize it as emptiness.
The nature of the path rests in the
Alaya is the basic ground, the
Dharmakaya, which is the
natural state of mind. By searching for the nature of mind, without
coming up with any conclusions about mind, we discover the Dharmakaya
mind by simply resting in the state of not-finding, where we experience
the extraordinary, spontaneous effortlessness of naturally arising love
and compassion. This state is not a blank or dry state of mind, but
filled with an infinite richness.
the waking state, the dream state, in meditation and post-meditation, we
always reside in the Dharmakaya mind. We are actually always residing in
the ground of being, the Dharmakaya, only we havenít recognized this
until now. But mind is the all-creator, the ground of everything. We
only have to refer back to this constantly in order to experience
genuine happiness, which is the freedom from delusion. Liberation is
simply the absence of mental confusion. When there is no more mental
confusion, there is perfect clarity of mind.
and samsara, hatred and love are all states of mind. Mind is the
universe. We live in our minds, but mind should live in us.
In post-meditation, consider
phenomenon as illusory
a very necessary discipline, because it is easy for us when we are in
the temple sitting on the cushion, but when we are in the world, having
our buttons pushed, it is easy to forget that phenomenon are illusory.
We confuse ourselves by setting limited standards that are created by
our conceptual interpretations of what practice is, and these
interpretations are based on our false identities. We need to be
courageous to practice in each moment of the day, in every situation,
which means recognizing the illusory nature of the mental fixations we
cling to for our false sense of satisfaction.
to have a sense of urgency concerning our practice, which goes against
the grain of our habitual formulations and ideas about practice.
Practice is always what is happening. This moment is practice. We need
to abandon our conventional spiritual notions and embrace our lives
completely. This is how we consider phenomenon as illusory in
post-meditation, so actually there is no post-meditation. Realization
continues all the way through our lives and can even be more powerful in
various contexts of our lives that appear as more mundane or
we reach a level where we stabilize in our meditation. Then there is no
distinction between what is practice and what is not. Love and
compassion always arise when we stabilize in meditation, which happens
by abandoning our hopes and fears. Then there is utter simplicity. We
should make our lives simple. By making our lives simple, we can
guarantee our happiness and benefit others. This simplicity is the
Buddha-field of our pure perception, where meditation becomes
Train to give and take alternately;
mount them both upon your breath
slogan is actually the teaching on tonglen, which we have covered quite
extensively. Tonglen is my favorite teaching, though not necessarily my
text we are studying is a very sacred text. It is not ordinary. It is
like the tonglen bible, which I will hand out to you at the end of the
Buddha was passing into parinirvana, his disciples were sad, but
Shakyamuni said, ďDonít worry.
During the degenerate times I will always manifest in the world as
letters in sacred texts for the benefit of all beings.Ē We donít
ever have to feel unfortunate, because here in these sacred texts we
have the heart essence of all the great masters and enlightened beings,
consecrated by the protectors. These teachings we study are treasures of
the enlightened mind and are filled with vast, immeasurable qualities
that empower our practice, guiding us to the complete unfoldment of
experience afflicted emotions, all we have to do is open one of these
sacred texts, read some of the teachings and automatically we experience
a shift in perspective. This is quite remarkable.
Three objects, three poisons, and
three roots of virtue: in all of your actions, train yourself with
remember not attach to anything outside of ourselves, or feel threatened
by fears of imagined circumstances, because everything is an illusion.
Mind itself is an illusion. That is why mind is Dharmakaya mind. If mind
was substantial, it could not be Dharmakaya mind, because the nature of
mind itself is already free, not bound to anything. But our ordinary
experience of mind is that it is inflexible, heavy and restrictive. But
mind has no substantiality.
long have we struggled with mind? Forever, because we havenít seen the
nature of mind, even though we may practice spiritual disciplines. We
impose spiritual ideas upon others and ourselves concerning what
practice is, but this is obviously not practice. Practice is an
objects refers to what we see as beautiful, what we feel as beautiful,
which is attachment, and what we see as ugly, what we feel as ugly,
which is aversion, and the other is what we experience as a neutral
state, which is indifference. Whenever we encounter any of these
phenomena, regard them all as an illusion. In this way, attachment,
hatred and ignorance are self-liberated, and we accumulate the three
virtues, which is the transformation of the three poisons into the three
order for us to experience this transformation, we need to engage with
everyday life in a very practical way, a very pragmatic way, which is
the meaning of the statement train yourself with maxims. We
can always remember slogans to guide us through the day, like be mindful, picking out a
particular klesha and making a mantra out of it, like, Donít be angry, Donít be
narcissistic, Donít be foolish, Donít judge other people, Donít project
things outside of yourself, Be compassionate, Be in the moment, Open
your heart, No resistance, Be natural, Think quickly, speak slowly,
and my favorite: It doesnít
matter! And the last, Love it
the way it is.
Begin the training sequence with
means actualizing ultimate and relative bodhicitta utilizing tonglen
meditation, starting with ourselves. In this way, beginning with
ourselves, our meditation is completely enhanced and easy for us to put
directly into action, which has a powerful, transformative effect,
because we experience the results directly. It is a completely felt
experience, that of liberation, which is always happenings when we apply
the meditation at the appropriate time, in the appropriate place.
When all the wold is filled with
evils, place all setbacks on the path of liberation
negative circumstances onto the path to enlightenment. For a
Bodhisattva, life itself is always filled with challenges that provide
us with the rich nutrients to grow into the fully realized beings that
we are. When we embrace unwanted circumstances, we develop incredible
strength and character because we are striking the heart of ego, which
is resistance to suffering. Bodhisattvas do not look for comfortable or
positive circumstances. If we really reflect upon our minds, we may see
some kind of fear of certain situations, which creates the hope for
certain situations that will keep us stuck in comfort. This I call the
big bang of samsara.
suffering is not always the heavy emotional ups and downs. It is much
subtler, lying underneath all of our lifeís activities as the dichotomy
of hope and fear. Even on the path, we bring hope for enlightenment and
fear of not being a good practitioner.
example, we can reflect on how we have experienced your day in the
subtle way, what our interactions with others have been, how hope and
fear have conditioned our lives. What is there to hope for? What is
there to be afraid of?
we may like to be in certain situations that we feel are conducive for
our utmost happiness. Are we creating a fantasy? Are we really being
honest with ourselves? Are perfect situations going to emancipate us
from suffering? We have to look closely at our hopes. Are they rational
or irrational? Can we see how these hopes spawn our fears, and vice
problem with hope is that is comes as a package deal. Wherever there is
hope, there is fear. We even have to go beyond the hope for
enlightenment, to go beyond the vestiges of our dualistic mind.
see that the root of hope and fear is the belief in positive and
negative circumstances. But for a bodhisattva, everything is positive,
everything is a blessing, therefore there is always complete devotion.
This almost sounds outrageous to us, but it is actually a living
experience. When we are caught up in certain situations, like hope and
fear, it is impossible to see life as a blessing, because the luminosity
of life as-it-is is obscured by our expectation, which always defeats
our noble aspirations.
everything is a source of inspiration. Each moment presents itself as an
opportunity to experience reverence towards all life. Maybe your house
is burning. Maybe you have a terminal disease. Maybe you recently found
out that you smell. Maybe you found out that people donít like you. It doesnít matter. Donít judge
anything as negative or positive. When we judge reality through the
lenses of hope and fear, then actually everything is negative because it
is bound to cause us more suffering. But without judgement, everything
is a blessing and a source of extraordinary happiness, presenting the
perfect opportunity to unfold in the practice of the six perfections
because everything is seen as an illusion. There is no obstruction to
wisdom and the unfolding of genuine compassion, because wisdom and
compassion simply abide as the ever-fresh awareness of awakened
great Longchenpa said, ďI can
only laugh and laugh and laugh because I see everything as an amazing
us here come to the path because we are suffering. This is actually very
positive, because we are bringing negative circumstances to the path. So
we see that even suffering can be a great source of blessing.
have to go through this human initiation where life turns upside down
and nothing makes sense. Our irrational emotions are stirred up. This is
the spiritual harvest for us, because then we have the chance to realize
our true nature, applying the teachings by practicing love and
compassion towards all beings, and ourselves. Love is the ultimate
remedy for all situations. When we practice love there is no longer any
Lay the blame for everything on one
an ultimate change in perspective for us, because we are often blaming
reality for the felling that our lives are a great tragedy, that life is
difficult, having the nature of suffering. But this is just
conditioning, reflecting our own perception.
very rich. Life always offers the perfect time to experience
enlightenment, so we cannot blame reality. Letís think about making a
resolution right now. We are going to leave our karmic bag behind. We
are going to end the constant complaint against reality. His Holiness
never complains about China. He always explains the situation in terms
of karma, regarding it as the path to enlightenment for countless
idea of blaming oneís self is taking responsibility for oneís self,
examining the nature of this I that is the cause of suffering. There is
no notion of guilt involved. This slogan is about gaining perspective
concerning the nature of reality: all happiness and suffering are
determined by our own minds. Nirvana is not outside. It is pure
perception. Samsara does not exist outside. It is a state of
misperception that exists within our minds.
mind is enlightened, then no matter where we go, whom we are with or
what we do, everything is the experience of the pure land. It is like
being on a golden island. There is no birth death old age and suffering.
Nirvana is a portable paradise. We can take it with us. The same with
samsara: it is a mobile-home hell that we can also take with us wherever
us go. The choice is ours to make.
Reflect upon the kindness of all
another Bodhisattva perspective to remember the incomparable kindness of
all beings. In the Mahayana teachings we are told to regard all sentient
beings as our own mothers, without any boundaries or notions of
separation. This is called equanimity.
we establish grim divisions between ourselves as others, calling some
friends and others enemies. But Bodhisattvas, who are extremely humble,
regard all sentient beings as true spiritual teachers. All beings become
the source of inspiration of love because all beings teach us how to be
kind and compassionate in an authentic way.
very easy to practice compassion in relation to our cat, but with
enemies, or those with whom we have personality conflicts, like they way
someone dresses or talks or gestures, those whom we scrutinize with
arrogance of judgement, it is not so easy to practice authentic
we hold ourselves in the sense of separation, which is egoís trap, the
snare of the sense of I, which creates the idea of wanting to be
special, which we then use to keep others out of our hearts and prevents
us from entering into theirs. We keep ourselves out of our own hearts in
this way because we perceive ourselves as not good enough, never living
up to our own expectations.
always demonstrate kindness and forgiveness towards all beings. These
virtuous qualities arise from genuine humility, which comes from
realizing that we are indeed no one special, which means we have
realized that we completely are.
and compassion require no compensation. A bodhisattvaís life is a free
gift to the world, for the benefit of all beings. A bodhisattva always
practices generosity without expectation, ever-widening the circle of
love and compassion, whether the gift is material, physical or
spiritual. Bodhisattvas hold only pure motivation, which means there is
no sense of separation between the giver, the giving and the one given
to. Since there are immeasurable beings, imagine developing love and
compassion in this immeasurable way! This is how we reflect upon the
kindness of all beings.
Voidness is the unsurpassed
protection; thereby illusory appearance is seen as the four kayas
a way of seeing all circumstances. Whatever arises can be regarded as
the four kayas: Dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, svabhavivikaya.
We can discuss this contemplation a bit more in the future, when we
practice Dzogchen. Essentially what this means is that with unstained
perception we regard everything as Buddha phenomenon.
realize emptiness, we see things as they are, not through the
distortions of our mindís misperception. Emptiness means things are
empty of our thought, our preconceived opinions. When we see from a pure
perspective, we see everything is a manifestation of the four kayas,
meaning there is no good to be hoped for, nothing to be feared, no
beauty to enjoy, no ugliness to avoid. Seen in this way, nothing
happens. So we cannot find any single phenomenon that causes
happiness. Genuine happiness is
think lots of things happen in our lives, but on the level of emptiness
or Dharmakaya, nothing happens, which is the best insurance policy for
our lives. There is nothing
greater, nothing else that
will provide us with happiness in this life, in this world. The true
sanctuary lies within ourselves, in realizing this nothingness that is
is simply karma, our internal issues. Outer conditions provoke our
samsaric inclinations. Then we project and blame outer circumstances. In
the same way, by examining this dynamic in our minds, we can find that
there is actually no suffering, there is no outer circumstance, there is
no karmic condition. If we are courageous enough to trace suffering back
to itsí source, we will be amazed at what we find: we wonít find
anything! But we continue to suffer because we donít look. We donít look because our minds
are imbued with a great sense of expectation. We expect to find some
great abyss of pain, so we always stop short of landing upon the shores
of nirvana because we are afraid of letting go of egoís games. But
perfect freedom is waiting to de discovered within the dimension of our
The best of the methods is to have
merit is done even through ordinary actions. For example, speaking
kind, loving words. Ultimate compassion can be our motivation, making
others happy. The power of this virtue is amazing because it comes from
pure motivation. The effect of any action does not depend on itsí size,
but on the purity of the intent. Bodhicitta quality manifests through
forgetting the self. This is the source of pure motivation, which is the
demonstration of immeasurable love and compassion in measurable
very important, which we do every evening through practicing sojong. It is a way of
reflecting upon our minds and our activity during the day. The ultimate
confession is recognizing our true nature.
Giving torma to the
Dharmapalas, the protectors. This is very necessary. Gesar and
Ekajati and Mahakala are some of the spirit-protectors. We ask them to
remove obstacles on the path. We ask them to remove ultimate obstacles
of hope and fear by making offerings of torma and prayer.
And making a simple
offering, like leftover food, to the hungry ghosts. This is an
excellent means of connecting with the basic ground from which all
virtue and positivity, as well as negativity, manifests. This practice
has to do with the practical aspect of developing generosity that
transcends egoistic notions of self and other, good and bad.
To bring the unexpected to the path,
begin to train immediately
a way to use internal and external circumstances without reacting in a
habitual way. We use everything as a catalyst to practice meditation.
The substance of liberation is actually our emotional turmoil. To cut
through, we simply have to recognize. The more turmoil we experience,
the greater our capacity to awaken.
our meditation is like fire. Fire needs substance to burn. The same with
our capacity to awaken: the greater the substance, the greater the fire.
[It is important to address
denial, which may appear as nirvana because our minds seem subdued. But
really we are leaving karmic issues un-addressed. Actually, there is a
very fine line between denial and nirvana.] So our inner turmoil can
actually be very positive. Irrational emotions can be excellent fuel for
the meditation fires of purification. We can use all circumstances
without be subjugated by them. Rather, we can use all things in our
lives as a chance to develop love and compassion in relation to
ourselves and towards all beings. This is enlightened courage that
subdues all fears.
The pith instructions briefly
summarized: put the five strengths into practice
an essential phrase, the essence of Mahayana practice in one package
that we can carry throughout our entire lives.
[decision]: this is the Mahayana practice for living and dying. Living
and dying are the two major processes we experience. Dharma teaches us
how to live and how to die. This is what we need to learn. The major
question on the path is, How
should we live? All the virtuous Dharma principles manifest from
this question. Dharma is way of life, something that we can practice and
utilize everyday, not just during ceremony and meditation.
the Mahayana point of view, the five forces are the guidelines. The
first is the force of motivation, which means one should develop
absolute and relative Bodhicitta mind, the realization of great
emptiness, which we experience through constantly relying on the notion
that everything is an illusion. In Dzogchen, we rely on rigpa, which is
the ultimate Bodhicitta. When we realize the nature of mind, beyond the
duality of subject and object, then we are experiencing absolute
bodhicitta. Tonglen encompasses the relative level of bodhicitta, where
we practice tolerance and forgiveness, love and acceptance, compassion
and understanding for all beings, even insects crawling on flowers, even
spirits we donít see.
to practice compassion in action, towards ourselves, towards others,
towards animals and insects, etc. When we really determine to practice
compassion towards all beings, we find countless opportunities to
practice, to put our meditation into action. Our whole world becomes
compassion, filled with compassionís activity. For example, kind speech
is an excellent practice of compassion, plus itís cheap. It doesnít cost
anything. But kind words can shape and alter a life if offered with pure
address our hard-heartedness, however, if we are to really practice
compassion in every moment. We have selfish motivations in our hearts.
This is okay. The awareness of this simply softens the tendency until it
dissolves. We must be patient and loving to ourselves, letting go of the
resentment we have towards ourselves that keeps us hanging onto our
habitual tendencies. To work through the process, to resolve these
habitual tendencies, we need to practice the relative bodhicitta towards
ourselves, applying tonglen meditation by offering ourselves forgiveness
and love, caring and compassion so that we can emanate the pure state of
our being for all beings.
ultimate teaching of Buddhism is practicing love and compassion, whether
we are practicing Dzogchen or Mahayana. Relative bodhicitta is
practicing love and compassion in action through the paramitas,
really easy to be seduced by our own comfort, which distracts us from
practicing authentic compassion. Sometimes we rely heavily on physical
and psychological comforts, even meditation. Meditation can stick to us
with itsí notions of peace and bliss. But Buddha said MahaNirvana is
going beyond samsara and the meditative experience of bliss. It is very
easy for us to be attached to the bliss, not caring about otherís
suffering, being close hearted. If someone asks us for help, we may say,
Get out of my way. Donít disturb
my meditation! We become enchanted with our spiritual illusion, like
being in LALA land. We have all gone there. It is a very beautiful place
to be. It is like being at Disneyland with Mickey Mouse, where there is
no suffering. But now and then, we run into wrathful teachers who tell
us we are stuck in spiritual delusion, interrupting our spiritual game.
We like to avoid these teachers.
need to do is to become aware of our habitual tendencies of hope and
fear. Until we do, we are still bound to samsara, repeating the same
patterns that cause suffering.
core essence of Dharma, in my experience, is to purify habits.
Therefore, we have to find out what the nature of our ego is. What is
the part of us that cannot expand beyond itself, demonstrating love and
compassion towards all beings in a meticulous way, not an abstract
a person that you do not appreciate, someone with whom you have a
personal conflict, like your boss, who is very demanding and harsh, or
even some sangha members we have conflict with, which always has to do
with personality conflict - consider the personís life, their experience
of suffering, their fear, their hope. All beings are the same as
ourselves. Love and compassion is a tremendous equalizing force that
prevents us from escaping our responsibility towards ourselves and
towards all beings. We are forced to face our close-heartedness, which
arises from the sense of I, which is sometimes so powerful, so dominant
in our minds. When we encounter this incredible resistance, which is the
sense of I, we can practice. We must practice diligently in order to
find out where and how we shut our hearts down. When we know this about
ourselves, this knowledge, which arises from the nature of our minds,
dissolves all conflict. The radiance of this dissolution is unimpeded
love and compassion expressed precisely for the benefit of all
always good to recall the experience of being completely loving and
compassionate towards all beings. Remember the flavor of that
experience, which is one of joy and happiness, filled with pure,
boundless luminosity. This is how we can inspire ourselves, how we can
befriend ourselves completely!
is really no language to describe the true quality of love and
compassion. It is inexpressible. But is so worthwhile to discover this
inexpressibility within ourselves, right now, in this moment.
be difficult for us to believe that we can actually experience love and
compassion in each moment, from now until the moment we die. It is
actually very possible for all of us to arrive at such a place where we
live out of genuine love and compassion in every moment. There are many
great beings that have achieved this level of realization. To be
enlightened means to actualize love and compassion in a very authentic
way. Without true development of love and compassion, there is no
have only one purpose in life: to love all beings, to care for all
beings with compassion. All of us are already bodhisattvas, because love
and compassion is inherent in each of us, but we have to dedicate
everything, including our Dharma practice, to this transcendental goal
of manifesting love and compassion for all beings. Whether we are
artists or lawyers or doctors or teachers, cooks or even garbagemen (or
women), we can always dedicate our activity to actualize bodhicitta mind
for the benefit of all beings.
Virtuous deeds: carry love
and compassion in thoughts, words and deeds, instead of judging and
making neurotic comment. Rather, we try to relate to every being through
love and compassion, recognizing their Buddha nature. We can especially
use loving words to benefit beings, or recite mantras to create positive
environmental energy conducive to the experience to genuine spiritual
the virtuous deed of speaking kind, loving words. Imagine the impact
words have had on our lives, and the impact the words we have spoken
have had on the minds of those in our lives. Speech is very
also speaks loudly, resonating with genuine quality of love and
compassion we have developed through practice.
Bodhisattva means being a love maniac in some way. One has to be kind of
crazy to put into effect love and compassion towards all beings, isnít
it? Love everyone. This is all. Then we familiarize ourselves with the
uncontrived experience of our true nature as Buddha.
how we initially relate to beings? Often we superimpose our judgements
and preconceived opinions on who we see. We donít see beings in this
way, we only see the corruption of our distorted egoistic perceptions.
So we see suffering, our own suffering, and never the honesty of the
good heart. But imagine seeing with love and compassion. Then these
powerful qualities are reflected in a direct way, and have the capacity
to burn through all that is false. All illusion vanished instantly in
the radiant face of love and compassion.
fundamentally, as Bodhisattvas, we wish to actually be the cause to
happiness in the lives of other beings, because we have relationships
with countless beings. So imagine reflecting timeless love and
compassion, instead of the fear and paranoia that seeks to protect itsí
own interests. By reflecting love and compassion, our experience of the
experience of others can become that of the pure land of Akanishtha, or
the Potala palace. We can visualize all beings as Avalokiteshvara, which
will transform our lives and deeply affect the lives of others by
empowering them to reflect their own positive spiritual qualities.
Repudiation: When we wake up
in the morning we always have a lingering sense of responsibility to our
relations and towards ourselves. Sometimes it is a silent lamentation.
Sometimes there is exuberance. But we have to deal with our own ego
always. With this in mind, it makes it quite easy to relate to every
human being. By relating to ourselves with the honesty of tenderness and
genuine affection towards ourselves, we will never encounter any one we
cannot deal with, any one we cannot practice love and compassion
towards. When practicing lojong,
we take all blame onto ourselves, onto the ego, then examine the
nature of ego until we realize itsí insubstantiality. This is the
bodhisattvas heroic message that delivers merciless wisdom, destroying
the flimsy architectures of ego without hesitation.
Dedication: Dedication is
something we do at the end of practice, commuting the postive vibration
of our efforts to guide and liberate the minds of all beings. Dedication
is the ultimate generosity that cuts through the attachment towards our
own virtue. Dedication is the way to let go of everything, offering all
that we have and all that we are to all beings.
these five forces with a full commitment is the ultimate way of life,
which is the authentic Dharma. My recommendation is to take these
teachings and make a commitment to live according to these five forces
in every day. Each day is precious. For Dharma practitioners, time is
extremely precious. Each moment is a golden opportunity to experience
liberation through practicing love and compassion.
should keep a Dharma diary to monitor our progress, confessing any
downfalls. This is a way of checking out our minds, to observe our own
phenomenon, to track where we backslide on ourselves by engaging in
habits. This is an excellent method we can use to make great progress.
Use the diary in a constructive way, not in a neurotic way to abuse
On how to die, the Mahayana teaches
these five strengths. It matters how you act
we going to die? This is a very powerful and provocative meditation. Am
I going to die with confidence? There is really no distinction between
living and dying. If we know how to live, we know how to die if we know
how to die, then we know how to live. It doesnít matter how young or old
we are. We always need to consider death. It is the most relevant
consideration we can entertain if we are to truly live. If we can face
death, we can resolve our karmic issues of doubt and insecurity.
you are dying. Imagine that you are dying. Imagine that you are dying,
right now. Maybe you have a terminal disease. Maybe you are old. Maybe
you are alone, or in the hospital, surrounded by loved ones.
what emotions you would confront. We may confront regret that we havenít
done something we really wanted to do but never had the chance. Or we
may regret that we were never really able to be who we truly are. We may
feel that our lives duties are not finished. We will have fear of losing
everything we have earned and invested in.
see what is happening in your minds. Is the mind filled with fear and
insecurity, or is there a sense of joy and gratitude towards life, that
you are finished completely?
feelings arise right now in your mind? It is good to remember these
emotions because they are relevant to your situation right now, whether
there was fear or regret or attachment.
can use these extraordinary teaching to resolve the emotions of karmic
tendencies that obstruct us from being the perfectly awakened one.
Whatever is influencing our lives right now, including Dharma practice,
can be resolved through these teachings and this meditation on tonglen
and on death.
Mahayana understanding of birth and death is that they do not exist. But
the very reason we are bound to our emotions, our physical bodies, the
place where we live or work is because we have not been able to be who
we really want to be. We have not given ourselves a sufficient chance to
discover who we truly are, so we fear death, maintaining the illusions
of our insecurity and self-doubt. Thus we fear loneliness, afraid of
facing the unknown because we have not resolved the conflict between who
we are and who we think we wanted to be.
reason we raise these emotions is to transcend them, living in each
moment, as each moment, filled with love and compassion. We bring up
these emotions because ordinarily we are hiding from ourselves by
distracting our minds. We are dying to get on the spiritual spaceship of
creativity to avoid dealing with ourselves directly.
begin to meditate to discover the source of these hidden emotions. When
we blame reality we get very depressed. We feel very pessimistic because
we think that happiness is unattainable. Though in the west, worldly
perfections are attainable, still there is the sense of hopelessness
because we rely on the impermanent world of illusions to provide us with
what we are searching for. We remain stuck in samsara because we focus
outwardly. But discovering the ultimate spiritual property is true
happiness and it abides within. We only need to be willing to look.
matter who we are, we possess Buddha essence, love and compassion. The
only difference between enlightened beings and sentient beings is in the
knowing that arises from recognizing these inherent qualities of love
and compassion. We can actually stop hiding from what we seek by simply
recognizing who we are, which the Buddha has taught, what all the Dharma
teachings provide the key to: that we are Buddha.
have to refrain from taking refuge in external illusions. When we cut
the misperception that happiness exists outside of us, then we see the
natural goodness of our own hearts that has been obscured for countless
lifetimes by the gross habits of hope and fear.
Motivation: I am not going
to die with regret, anger or resentment. We never know when we are going
to die, so if we donít resolve our issues, we will face great fear upon
the moment of death. Each moment is the perfect opportunity to resolves
the issues of our lives, that we can die with the fearless realization
of joyís great confidence. We can even attain rainbow body, but we must
intend to die without fear. If we are able to die with joy, then we can
say our lives were very meaningful, that we have had a very happy
reflect that in each moment we are dying. Our physiology is always
changing, our minds are changing. So we must consider firmly
establishing the intention to resolve all of all issues.
Virtuous deeds: When we die,
the practice of the force of virtuous deeds is to give everything away,
especially our cherished bodies.
body is actually the elements, so imagine your body is the universe.
When you die, your body dissolves into the elements of earth, water,
wind, fire and space. By regarding our bodies as the elements, we see
clearly that there is really nothing to attach to. How can you say, ďThis is my earth. This is my water.
This my space. This is my fire. This is wind. Who owns anything
really?Ē So we must give it all away.
everything as Buddha phenomenon, enacting tremendous love and
Repudiation: Exploiting the
sense of I. The notion of I comes up when we are facing death. We ask,
Am I going to die with confidence? This notion of I, which is a form of
fear, prevents us from remembering the teachings and practicing
meditation. We have to recognize ego as it arises and resolve it into
Dedication: When we die,
thatís the end of our session! Itís all finished, so we must dedicate
all the amazing things we have done for the benefit of all beings,
gathering all the power of our practice, the merit we have accumulated
so we can liberate ourselves and all beings from the fear of death.
have absolute faith in our Buddha nature, then we can give everything
away. Bodhisattvas give everything away. This is how they radiate love
and compassion towards all beings.
All Dharma has a single goal
practice we are participating in, there is a single goal: to be
enlightened through taming oneís mind. Shantideva said, Without being mindful, no matter how
much mantra you recite or deities you visualize, you will experience no
say taming mind, there is irony there. Mind is already enlightened.
Buddha said, Mind is not even
min. Mind is luminous wisdom. Taming mind means bringing mind back
to its natural state. What we may be experiencing right now is the
conditioned state. Taming our minds means to bring mind back to its
natural state. This is what we discover in meditation, and how we come
to realization: that mind is not mind, but luminous wisdom.
unconditioned state of mind is what we are pointing out as Buddhaís
mind, the nature of mind. Mind is like water that is contaminated by
dust or mud, yet the water contains a pure transparent quality. The same
with mind: though we may experience delusions of hope and fear and the
five poisons, the essence of mind always remains unstained. Mipham
Rinpoche said, The reason why we
can never discover the secret of mind is because it is so close to
teachings are a way to study the nature of mind, the secret of mind that
is the pure intrinsic essence beyond mind. By learning about mind we are
going beyond mind. Mind is not mind because mind does not exist. Mind
does not exist in the past, in the future or in the present. Look right
now at mind. Can you find it? Where is your mind?!
the nature of mind? Can it be pointed out? No, there is nothing to point
out, but in the Dzogchen teachings they refer to the nature of mind. In
the lojong teachings they
refer to the alaya, the basic
ground of being.
study? Why practice then? Is there a separate goal for all of the
different vehicles? All teachings and practices seek to find the nature
of mind. The Buddhaís teachings are about mastering the mind, becoming
the great magician of our own lives. If we want to conquer old age and
death, then conquer the concepts about old age and death, which exist
solely in the mind as fear or resistance to these situations. When we
map our minds, mastering it completely, then we have infinite choice. We
become the creators of reality.
the nature of mind? The nature of mind is the unconditioned state of
mind, which we can discover when we relax all of our preconceptions,
going beyond all effort. Going beyond meditation even. We need to go
beyond all concepts, all thought. We can do this by applying every
teaching, every connection we have made with teachers, every mantra we
have recited, to realize the natural state of mind. We engage with all
activity with the intention to realize who we are. There is no other
reason for studying or practicing Dharma.
realization of the nature of your mind is the absolute liberation. This
is the true color of your mind, Dharmakaya mind.
Rely upon the better of the two
means rely on your own intelligence, not the opinions or judgements of
others. We have to have some way of relying on our own minds. This can
be interpreted in terms of our Dharma practice. People may tell us we
are good or bad practitioners, but those words are inconsequential. We
should not be disturbed by anything anyone says about us. Always check
out your own mind. In this way then youíll know which tendencies you
must work on and also youíll know what kind of progress youíve made.
Always be sustained by
means cultivating happy mind. Constantly we must cultivate a happy state
of mind in everyday life. Life should be based on happiness. Every day
we should begin with a joyous mind. Every evening we should end the day
with a joyous mind.
buy almost everything in the market, but one thing we cannot buy is joy.
We must generate joy from within. Joy cannot be bought. We do not need
to crave after joy, Rather generate joy and give joy to all beings.
have unmistakable confidence in our Buddha nature. This confidence is
joy, and radiates pure unconditioned happiness for the benefit of all
beings. It is inexhaustible unfolding of love and compassion for all
beings. In this uncontrived state there is no confusion. There is
absolute enlightenment. Like His Holiness the Dalai Lama: he is like the
look for joy in any forms. However we have a habitual conviction that
joy comes from eating delicious foods, wearing nice clothes, visiting
beautiful places, having pleasant companionship with lovers and friends,
teachers even. We must
always look for joy within. Buddha is not the source of joy. The devil
is not the source of joy. We waste ourselves by projecting that the
source of joy exists outside of ourselves.
madness. It is not rational because there are no conditions, no fixed
dispositions, no cause. Joy is the spontaneous effulgence of
enlightenment. In order to actualize this non-duality, we need to
visualize every being as Avalokiteshvara, recite six syllable mantra of
OM MANI PADME HUNG, and view all motion of thought as intrinsic wisdom.
In this way we can experience the inexhaustible treasure of joy.
we do when we feel bad about ourselves, feeling guilty, etc? Do we beat
ourselves up, or do we reflect upon our Buddha nature? Do we reflect
upon death to short circuit the machineries of confusion? Worrying and
anxious considering are not for us! We only need to be happy, because
ultimately nothing matters, especially when we die. We can take nothing
with us when we die, so why accumulate illusions of hope and fear
created by our attachments to the frozen fixation of the sense of I?
Impermanence is good to reflect upon. Always reflect upon impermanence.
Then you will always feel happy, because there will be no obstruction
caused by grasping.
an excellent place to end.
study the entirety of the Seven Points of Mind Training all of us can
read Jamgon Kongtrulís Commentary on Lojong in the book The Great Path of Awakening.
dedicate all merit from these teachings for the peace, happiness and
enlightenment of all beings.