Auspicious Knot

First, we should start off with the short opening prayer.

Tonight's topic is about a practice which many people have may have either heard about or seen. It's actually quite a popular practice nowadays and is talked about a lot. It has various tunes that a person can sing and it is quite a flamboyant practice with the practitioner using a horn, bell and drum to accompany his singing. It's kinda a noisy and fanciful practice. Many people like to listen or watch it being done. This practice which you may have either seen or heard about, and which has become very popular, is called Chod.

The introduction of Vajrayana into Tibet was very gradual. It developed over time into eight major Vajrayana lineages. She Che is counted as the sixth lineage of these eight.

It particularly involves a principle of aspects of activities. These activities are pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and destroying. She Che includes both Sutra and Tantra processes. In Sutra every practice is to develop awareness and compassion that will pacify things such as aggression, attachment, etc. In Tantra the methods effectively transform negativity into positiveness.

The main source of this lineage was the great Bodhisattva Padampa Sangye. Padampa was his Tibetan name. Kamalashila was his Sanskrit name for when he was in India. He visited Tibet five times, each time coming through a different entrance.

One time when he came into Tibet it was after going through China. One time he came into Tibet from Eastern India. Another time from the Kashmir border. Another time from Nepal and another time through the borders of Bhutan.

The main text he taught in Tibet was called the "Dam Chu She Che". This text had its source in both Sutras and Tantras. Part of this text is known as the "Chod".

With regard to the She Che having sources in both Sutra and Tantra, with regard to the Sutra, it is based on the Prajnaparamita Teachings. The Prajnaparamita consists of seventeen texts with the largest volume having 400,000 sentences. With regard to its source being in Tantra, it's based on several different Tantras. One is called the "Great River", which is about the alphabet. One is the "Mahamudra Tantra".

When Padampa Sangye transmitted this lineage two different aspects developed. One was the general She Che and the other aspect was the Chod. She Che specifically deals with the pacifying of suffering. Chod deals with the cutting through of duality. So, there was a slight difference between the two even though they had the same basis.

Padampa Sangye had forty-nine remarkable disciples, twenty-five of which were male and twenty-four of which were female. He passed the general She Che teachings to all of them. The Chod lineage as well as the She Che was passed down to one main disciple who was known as Machik Lapdron Drolma.

There are three principles which must be established to practice and get profound benefit and appropriate development from She Che and Chod practice. The first principle we need is to have a proper foundation. This means that one's view must be sincere and very clear. When a person lives by a principle such as karma they will do their best not to cheat or destroy others. This is the kind of clear foundation one must have. Such a principle relates to a person who has developed maximum awareness and mindfulness of their actions. This is very important. Their actions should be tempered with correct view. This is known as outer perfection.

On top of outer perfection one should have an inner perfection of awareness and mindfulness. This will involve sincere intention. When our compassion and loving kindness for others has "perfect intention" this will make our outer actions more real and valuable. So, the second basic principle is having compassion and loving kindness. This means that one should have compassion for those less fortunate and have love for those more fortunate, those having more insight and strength than oneself.

The last condition one must have is a profound sense of samaya. Samaya just means having some sort of level of commitment or responsibility. The samaya commitment has to do with getting it all right from the beginning so there is no mistake. If there isn't a correct transmission of the practice and it's principles there is a great danger of getting it wrong. When we have proper transmission then our actions, our intentions, our understanding will help us to progress properly.

Our commitment is to getting it correct from the beginning and our responsibility is to continue to keep it correct throughout our path. Having these three principles as a basis then when we practice something like She Che or Chod things go properly. When one has these three principles clearly established then the conditions for obtaining the appropriate development out of the practice methods would be present.

Now, specifically what I would like to share about the teachings of She Che and Chod are actual advice Padampa Sangye gave as part of these teachings. This he gave when he came through Nepal into Tibet and stayed in a particular place called Tingli. Many of the people in Tingli became followers of his and he gave them one hundred different forms of advice. This advice is recorded into a Tibetan Text called 100 Types of Advice. The way the text is recorded, you can open it and just read a single piece of advice and get benefit from it. It is not necessary to read the text from beginning to end.

While this advice is specifically taught to practitioners of Chod or She Che, I think we can find it useful as well, especially in it's format. We can just look at one advice while we are on the bus going to work or during a lunch break and have something to contemplate and try to apply to improve our daily life. Also, when we have suffering, we could take the advice like an aspirin.

~One advice is about applying an antidote to any neurosis we may have. Padampa said that when a neurosis becomes powerful and our antidote isn't effective we shouldn't get disappointed. He said one should just recognize this means that one's practice isn't good enough for when you really need it. He said the other side of the coin should be true as well. That if we are involved in a strong neurosis and the antidote we use is effective, meaning our practice is strong enough, then we shouldn't get proud of this fact either. He said we should neither be worried when we are ineffective nor proud when we are effective.

~He also gave advice about the development of one's qualities. He said faith, trust and diligence is the most important foundation for developing one's qualities. When we have faith and trust we can develop qualities, but it is with diligence that our actions will be very clear. When we don't have faith and trust we are not definite. There isn't much power and strength in our efforts then. It's very wishy washy. If in addition to trust and faith, on top of those we have diligence in developing the quality, then the quality will be able to grow stronger. For, even if one has faith and trust, without the diligence, the result of the quality is weakened.

Myself, I always think about the saying you can bring a horse to water but you can't make them drink. You can have faith and trust but without the diligence it won't be truly yours. The faith and trust is the source, the foundation for developing the quality, but it's the diligence that makes it real and solid for you.

Regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, regardless of your particular situations in this life, if you have faith, confidence, and diligence you can become enlightened. If you are merely caught up in your emotional confusion and continue to let that dominate your life, enlightenment will be difficult to obtain. Given the difficulties we have in experiencing our own nature of mind directly, two fundamental elements are necessary for this type of transformation. These are: our own efforts to purify our obscurations, develop merit and awareness, as well as devotion. Devotion to the Buddha and his teachings that is indispensable part in brining about our transformation.

~He said suffering was an effective eye opener. He said one shouldn't get upset when suffering comes to them. We can use suffering to appropriately and wisely find a way to overcome it. Then, you use it instead of just suffering from it. He said one shouldn't resist any suffering or deny it. Instead, one should try to use it properly. For example, if you are on your way to work and the car breaks down what is left is for you to call your office and say you'll be late and then to immediately get your car to the repair man. If you resent that the car broke down it all then becomes a bigger problem. You could resent it for an entire day which could cause further difficulties for you if you were to snap at your boss or coworkers. When we encounter suffering, encounter problems, we should just deal with it and not make more problems. This is why he said suffering was an eye opener.

~He said mindfulness is very important. This simply means the wandering mind can be quite wasteful.

~He also said that if you don't want to work hard, you had better develop great patience. Diligent effort means a lot if we want the result to come fast.

~The next advice is related to lineage as being true instruction. He said true instruction can't exist without lineage. What he means by this is that true instruction can only come from someone like a Buddha Shakyamui who attained enlightenment first and then who shared those steps with someone else who then went on to become enlightened who shared it with another person who then went on to do likewise, and so on. This is what he means that without lineage there is no true instruction.

~He also spoke of merit and wisdom accumulation. He said without merit it's difficult to obtain wisdom. He said only merit accumulation without wisdom will not give one enlightenment. He said one must accumulate both merit and wisdom. This is why merit and wisdom or merit and compassion are often referred to in Tibetan Buddhism as the two wings of a bird. Both are necessary in order to fly. Merit accumulation means using the physical body, using speech, and using thought for some direct benefit. Doing something meaningful and helpful. Thinking something meaningful and helpful. This is merit accumulation. He doesn't say that wisdom isn't possible without merit accumulation but he does say it is very difficult to accumulate wisdom without merit. This actually makes sense if you think about it. Just doing something or saying something beneficial cannot lead us to enlightenment. You won't get there just doing that. Enlightenment is first inner development and then finally inner awakening. It has to awaken and emerge from the inside.

~ The next advice relates to impermanence. He said continual understanding of impermanence makes you accomplish things. He said if you understand impermanence you don't waste time. If you acknowledge, understand, and respect impermanence you won't waste time. You'll have to do your best. If you are wishy washy you'll just waste time. So, knowing about impermanence means you'll have to be as clear, profound, and definite as possible with what you are involved with.

~The last advice I'm going to talk about relates to sectarianism, greediness and aggressiveness as being a fault to a practitioner. He said this was the worst fault a practitioner could have. Why is it such a great fault? When one practices the dharma, what really has to happen is the practice has to work. The practitioner has to become better because of practice. Even if one becomes just a little bit better then the practice is working. But, if one becomes greedy or aggressive and one is becoming worse, then that is a fault. We are trying in practice to reduce faults, to overcome faults, to get proper development and proper use of dharma, not to become worse.

Ok, I think we should stop here. Thank you so much for having me here tonight. I feel very happy and honored to have been asked to share with you and I hope coming here has been helpful and beneficial to you. Goodnight. Let's conclude with a short dedication prayer that we can do together.

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