Meeting with the Vajrayana Path: His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok

The following is an excerpt from a public talk given by His Holiness Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok:

This vehicle of secret mantra, Vajrayana, is the principal vehicle of Buddhism that is practiced in Tibet, and now we find it spreading throughout America and other countries.  There are many Dharma centers that have been established in America, primarily by Tibetan lamas who are upholders of the Vajrayana tradition.  This means that many of the American disciples are now becoming practitioners and upholders of this tradition.  In fact, throughout this world, Vajrayana Buddhism is already firmly established in some 32 countries.

Within the secret mantra vehicle, the ultimate, absolute pinnacle, the enlightened mind of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas condensed into one essence, the heart blood of all the Dakinis, is the quintessential path known as the Clear Light Great Perfection, or Ati Yoga.  This Doctrine of the Great Perfection is dependent upon the receiving of what is termed pointing out instructions or pith essential instructions which can be passed from teacher to disciple in the form of just a word or two.  In fact, if everything is auspicious according to the way that the Clear Light Great Perfection is actually transmitted, it is taught that if those essential instructions are given in the evening, by sunrise one will be enlightened.  If they are given at sunrise, by evening one will be enlightened.  So this is considered to be the most expedient path to liberation.

To meet with the Clear Light Great Perfection is something that is so precious and rare that it is taught that just to hear the words of the Dzogchen teaching, the teachings on the level of Ati Yoga, closes the door to rebirth in the three lower realms and puts one safely and directly on the path to liberation as a Buddha.  So it is a Dharma that has the power to liberate just by contact, just by sight, just by recollection.  Even to recall the words of the Dzogchen teachings is something that is so precious and profound that it is likened to having a wish-fulfilling jewel in the palms of your hands.  It is not a Dharma that is filled with elaborations and complexities that takes a lot of time to accomplish or establish.  It is a Dharma that, if it meets with the right individual or the perfect aspirant, is something that is easy to practice and that can be applied to every aspect of life in a very simple way producing very direct results.  However, this Dharma, this Doctrine, must only fall into the hands of those disciples who have the karmic affinity for it which is something that must be established due to karmic connections.  Otherwise it is a Dharma that is meant to be kept secret or to be guarded from any other type of situation.

When we think about Tibet and how the Dharma came into Tibet originally, it was due to the kindness of the great Orgyen Rinpoche, Guru Padmasambhava, and Vimalamitra. In fact, there have never been two teachers of the likes of these two who have ever come since then.  They are so great and profound.  Guru Rinpoche and Vimalamitra only gave the Dzogchen teachings to their closest heart disciples and only after a tremendous kind of karmic affinity had been established.  It is not something that is just given in any other circumstances.  In Tibet there exists to the present day the eight great chariots of traditions and teachings of practice which are very sublime and extraordinary.  However, amongst them it is only in the tradition of the secret Nyingmapa that these Dzogchen teachings are found, and they are unequalled by any other.

Now I have a personal feeling about this, and I mentioned it a little bit in San Francisco. Since I’ve come to America I have seen that there is a very strong connection here for the Dzogchen teachings.  I have also had an opportunity while I’ve been in the United States to give Dharma teachings on different subjects, but I find when I teach on the subject of Dzogchen, which is the Tibetan term for this Clear Light Great Perfection, this Ati Yoga category, that I find that people become much more enthusiastic and the faith wells up inside of them in a different kind of way.  I liken this to the situation in this country at this time where the country itself is very powerful and there is much material prosperity, but also everyone is extremely busy and people don’t have too much of a chance to practice elaborate forms of religious or spiritual instructions.  So in noticing all of these coincidences coming together, I truly have seen that Americans have a strong connection with the Dzogchen doctrine and that this is probably the most important doctrine to propagate here at this time.  Therefore I have a very strong hope that each and every one of you will have an opportunity to meet with the Dzogchen doctrine and put it into practice in your lives.

If you practice the Dzogchen in this life alone, you will immediately receive the benefits of good health and mental contentment.  That’s why you can use someone like Gyaltrul Rinpoche as an example.  Even though he’s old now, much older than most of you, he’s still very happy.  His mind is filled with content and his body is still healthy too.  This is because of the point I just brought out.  I think it also might be true for Ahkön Lhamo as well.

Four Contemplations That Turn the Mind to Dharma #Palyul

Wheel of Life

The following is a prayer from the Nam Chö Ngondro Practice Book:

Homage

I prostrate to the glorious Samantabhadra.

Vajra Verses

This precious human rebirth is extremely difficult to obtain.

All things born are impermanent and must die.

Perseverance in the practice of virtuous Dharma is cause for becoming a Buddha.

Whatever negativity is produced will cause one to wander in the six realms.

Hungry spirits suffer from hunger and thirst; animals from stupidity;

Hell beings from heat and cold; humans from birth, old age, sickness and death;

Demigods from warefare; and even gods (Devas) have their suffering.

Without Bodhicitta, There Is No Path: from His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on Mediation, reprinted with permission from Palyul Ling International:

Many of you are interested and have asked, “Please give us the Dzogchen teachings.” But even I myself don’t know what is Dzogchen and I don’t have anything to teach you!

Anyway, as I explained to you earlier, if one practices the Bodhicitta, that kind of pure intention to really benefit all other sentient beings, and then the samatha meditation practices to establish one’s mind in full concentration, then of course there will be the Great Perfection (“Dzogchen”) meditations.

But if one cannot cultivate the Bodhicitta within one’s mind, the path to Enlightenment is already broken. Without Bodhicitta, there is no real path. Bodhicitta is that which is without any partiality. The pure intention of Bodhicitta, the thought to benefit all sentient beings without any exception, can be understood by realizing that in one or another lifetime, each being has been one’s parent. If we understand this and think of how dearly they have taken care of us, then we will feel grateful to all the parently beings and we can generate Bodhicitta to all of them.

This present body of ours is here because of our parents. If we did not have parents, there is no possibility that we could have these bodies. And if we don’t have this physical body, then we cannot accomplish any kind of worldly or Dharma activity. So our mothers are indeed very kind and we should be grateful.

Of course, there are many kinds of parent-child relationships in this world, but we should remember that whether or not we are close to our parents is based on our own desires and our own thoughts. Beyond that sort of thing, the main meaning here is that without our parents, we could not have this body, and because of this we should understand and be grateful for their kindness. So first one really concentrates on generating Bodhicitta based on one’s gratefulness to this life’s mother, and from that one can extend this Bodhicitta to all sentient beings equally.

So the most important points are to have faith and devotion in the Dharma, then meditating and contemplating on Bodhicitta and compassion. Then one can apply these into practice through the meditations on emptiness.

In the Dharma practice one should not think, “Oh, I am doing all this practice for the benefit of this lama or for these Buddhas.” Never think in this way. The Dharma practice is for yourself. Each and every one of you as individuals has to liberate yourself from Samsara. You are attaining Enlightenment for yourself. You are attaining Buddhahood for yourself. By your practice, your lama is not going to attain Enlightenment nor is Buddha going to attain Enlightenment! Buddha has already achieved Buddhahood! And if you cannot attend to Dharma practice in the proper way, then it is yourself who will fall down into the three lower realms. It is not the lama or the Buddha who will fall into the lower realms!

So, though it is important to think spiritually of one’s own benefit and how one can attain Enlightenment, still the achievement of that kind of liberation is by the path of benefiting all other sentient beings. Without that kind of Bodhicitta one cannot attain complete Enlightenment.

The Bodhicitta we can generate right now, however vast, is beneficial. In the future, when one attains Enlightenment, according to the vastness of that Bodhicitta, that many sentient beings can benefit and liberate themselves from the sufferings of Samsara. Right now we cannot really perceive all that fruition, but if we continue to practice, then in the future we will realize it as a direct perception.

The Birth of Tulku Migyur Dorje

Tulku Migyur Dorje

The following is an excerpt from a teaching offered by Tulku Dawa Gyalpo at Kunzang Palyul Choling in Maryland. Future posts will continue with the teaching on the Life of Migyur Dorje.

After nine months, Tulku Migyur Dorje was born, in the tenth lunar month and seventh day. When he was born, he was related to Karma Chagme. At that time, Karma Chagme was not checking about him. Karma Chagme sent just one profound protection cord, which was normal.  In Tibet, the Lama used to give to everybody. Especially when a son or daughter was born, they would give that. So Karma Chagme was an uncle now. He heard that his nephew was born, so he sent that red cord that we are put on our neck. He himself was doing retreat. He didn’t come out. He sent some sumdi for his nephew. I think that was the first connection with him, the first connection between Karma Chagme and Tulku Migyur Dorje. Tulku Migyur Dorje got his first things from Karma Chagme.

Later, Tulku Migyur Dorje’s sibling was born. His brother’s name was [unintelligible] Tashi. When his brother was born, his mother could not take care of him anymore. He was mostly cared for by his grandpa. He had two grandpas, one from the father’s side, one from the mother’s side, but seems like among the two, he would be cared for by one. He didn’t go one day here and one day there. One grandpa’s name was Tsering Bum and the other one was Adrup. Adrup and Tsering Bum. When Tulku Migyur Dorje started to speak, he said amazing things. He said so many different things, but they didn’t care. The grandpas, the parents, they didn’t care about what he was saying. Actually they didn’t know what he was talking about. He was saying things that every child does not commonly say, but they had no idea what he was saying. He said so many things at that time. It says in his story. Our Holiness also used to say that. At that time, he actually taught, but nobody listened to him.  

Among those two grandpas, Tsering Bum was a good person, with a good nature. Adrup had a very bad nature. His grandpa Adrup didn’t like Dharma so much. He didn’t practice Dharma so much, and he liked to hunt. He had an arrow and bow, bow and arrow and everything, those weapons which can kill deer and those things. His grandpa, Tsering Bum, was kind of a spiritual man. He practiced; he meditated. He recited MANI mantra and all those mantras. When he did those things, his son, not Tulku Migyur Dorje, his son came to him saying, “You are very good. You are making very good your way.” He appreciated what he was doing and he said all those things. Mostly Tulku Migyur Dorje lived with Adrup. Adrup was the more powerful. He wanted to take of his grandson. He didn’t want to give him to Tsering Bum. Unfortunately, he mostly was taken care of by Adrup. Adrup’s nature was not so spiritual. He did not do meditation. He did not recite any mantras, and he didn’t practice at all. Whenever Tulku Migyur Dorje saw his grandpa Adrup, he felt very sad, and he said that, “You are making a very bad way for your future.” He used to say that at that time, but they just ignored him. Let the kid say whatever he says. They didn’t care much. This really happened. If some kid two years, three years, four years said this kind of strange things, nobody cares, right? Just let him. Let him say. Grandpa was not caring what he said. Also it is said that when he was a kid, he liked to wear clothing of monk’s colors. He did mudras and recited mantras naturally from his mouth. These kind of things happened with him, but nobody cared at that time.

When he was seven years old, he saw the Loden Chogsed, Guru Loden Chogsed. Guru Loden Chogsed is among the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche. Guru Loden Chogsed tried to teach him the vocabulary at that time. He also saw the Dharma protector, Nechen Shenphen Marnak. Actually Nechen Shenphen Marnak was the Sky Treasures protector. Nechen Shenphen Marnak appeared to him and he also tried to teach some more vocabulary. He said, “From Kathog [monastery], some monks will come to look after you,” because he was the reincarnation of Wangdruk Jatso, who was Kathog’s lama. This happens normally in Tibet. Still today, no matter where you are from they will take you. As you can see now with our little Holiness, it is very obvious. Our little Holiness was born in Phakpo, in the center of Tibet, but he was grabbed by Kham. Now he’s in Kham, Palyul. This really happens. Nechen Shenphen Marnak told Tulku Migyur Dorje when he was seven, “They are coming to look after you, but they won’t get you. Karma Chagme will come and he will get you. He will teach you very well.” When Nechen Shenphen Marnak said that to him, he was seven. At that time he was still not Migyur Dorje. I don’t know what his name was.

The Kathog lamas came to [unintelligible]. They heard about this family and a child born there. Also the letter that Wangdrup Jatso wrote was possessed by them, not Karma Chagme, and according to that letter they came to find their master. Three monks came to his house. What can I say? This is fortunate or this is unfortunate. I don’t know. If you look from one hand, it seems fortunate, but if you look from the other hand, it looks unfortunate. When those three monks came to look for him, he was staying with his bad grandpa. When those monks talked about him, grrrr, grandpa was angry. He didn’t want to listen to anything about that, and they couldn’t get the boy from him. He kicked them out. Later again, other monks came from Kathog. At that time, he was with his father, but his father scolded them instead of accepting them, and let them go away. He didn’t give his son to them. Normally it is very difficult to give. If somebody came to you that you didn’t know asking for your son, how could you give? It’s very difficult. However, they couldn’t get him in accordance with what Nechen Shenphen Marnak prophesized.

The story of the Life of Migyur Dorje will continue in future posts.

Mind Creates Form: Khenpo Tenzin Norgay

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Khenpo Tenzin Norgay given at Kunzang Palyul Choling called “The Six Paramitas”

We are always concerned about our mind.  We have the body, speech and mind, and according to our Buddhist teachings, we say that our mind is more powerful than our body and speech.  It is the main controller.  Once we have our mind controlled, then our body becomes naturally controlled, and then our speech is also perfected.  So that’s why, instead of making our body perfect, what we are doing is making our mind perfect.

The mind is given more importance in our teachings.  According to our teachings, our mind can create a physical object, not the other way around—a physical object creating our mind.  So this is one of the main teachings. If we are able to understand that, then the law of karma, or incarnation, can be better understood.

So here, when we say our mind can create physical objects or all these projections—it is in the Abhidharma teachings—we are talking about how we have three realms of existence: the formless realm, the form realm and the desire realm.  Even in the Sutrayana teachings, when talking about, the formation of these three realms or cyclic existence, like when earth or some physical formation is there, it’s saying that it starts from below and then goes upward—having this sphere and space and the sphere of water and all gradually stacking upward.  Then when talking about the formation of the beings abiding there, the inhabitants, it’s talking about stepping downward.  First we can say we have this formless realm where there is only consciousness.  The person born in the formless realm is, in one way of saying,  less distracted and has a great degree of meditation but without Vipassana or Right View.  If we don’t have Right View, then when our meditational power becomes exhausted, we can be born in the form realm.  In the form realm, our teachings say, there is no physical body of flesh and bones, but not exactly the rainbow-like body. So there is sort of like a physical body there which is not really made of flesh and bones. But it’s saying because of our attachment to the physical form, there is some solid form of physical appearances in the form realm.  When this becomes stronger, we call it the desire realm.  So that’s where we are, in this desire realm.  And here, our desire to objects is stronger, so we have this flesh and bones and this brain.

What I’m trying to say is our mind can exist freely without relying upon the chemicals in our brain.  If it were just a chemical process, then once the brain died, everything would be dead.  So it seems this is not our teaching.  Our teaching is that our mind creates the brain, not the brain creates our mind.

 

The Seven Branch Offering: Commentary by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The Seven Branch Offering

The following commentary was extracted from a teaching given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Kunzang Palyul Choling in 2001 on the occasion of offering the Bodhisattva Vow. To see the verses of the ceremony for the Bodhisattva Vow to which His Holiness was referring you can click here.

From Words of My Perfect Teacher:

The Vajrayana path includes many methods and is without great hardships. It is intended for those with sharp faculties. If we constantly train ourselves to accumulate merit and wisdom with a strong mind, everything that would otherwise take a whole great kalpa to accumulate through the six paramitas can be accomplished in an instant, and liberation can be attained in a single lifetime.

There can be no doubt that the single most excellent, secret and insurpassable field of merit is the vajra master. This is why the practice of accumulating merit is combined with the Guru Yoga. The seven parts of the Offering of the Seven Branches include all the innumerable methods for accumulation of merit and wisdom.

 

Prostrations:

The branch of prostrations is a remedy for arrogance.  Sometimes we have arrogance; we feel we are more qualified then the masters and teachers.  So, this is a remedy to remove the arrogance.

Offering:

After the prostrations to the Buddhas, bodhisattvas and all disciples, you now have to make offerings to them..  Imagine all the things in the universe as an offering, which is a very good offering.  All the offerings will be the sacred flowers and the sacred garlands and musical instruments, perfumes, superior parasols, superior butter lamps, superior incense. All these things will be the offering.  Just imagine you are offering them. So, this is the offering.  This is the remedy for attachment to our belongings.

Confession:

Now comes purification of negative actions.  We have to purify the negative actions by thinking negative actions are like poisons that are inside your stomach.  Also, you make a commitment that you will not do those mistakes or bad negative actions again.  Also, you think that in order to purify all the negative actions that are in this world that are done by other sentient beings, I am doing these purification prayers. This is the remedy for removing anger.

Rejoicing:

We have to rejoice in the accumulations of merits done by other beings. This is the antidote for jealousy.  Sometimes we feel jealous of other beings that practice.  In order to remove the jealousy, we have to rejoice in whatever practice they are doing.  This is the remedy for that action.

Requesting Enlightened Beings to Teach:

The next stanza is requesting the enlightened beings to teach.  We request them to teach because sometimes when they come here for the purpose of teachings, they feel kind of upset when they find the bad reactions of the people.  So they feel upset and don’t want to teach.  So we have to request them to teach.  That is how we are requesting it.

This is the remedy for ignorance, thinking the teaching is nothing, thinking the teaching will not have any result.  This chanting will remove the ignorance.

Enlightenment depends on the understanding of the teachings.  Without teachings, there is no way of getting enlightened.  But some people, those who don’t know, who aren’t in favor of the teachings, then they don’t really see the teaching as worthwhile.  They criticize the teachings and those who do the teaching.

Requesting Enlightened Beings to Remain:

The reason why enlightened beings pass away is that they want to show human beings that enlightened beings are very real and they don’t last long if we are not very careful.  So, we have to request them to remain as long as possible to turn the Wheel of the Dharma.  This is the request to remain with a long life.

This is the remedy of wrong view of Buddhas.  Some people think the Buddha is nothing, just a liar.  So, they have a lot of wrong views of Buddhas.  This way of chanting will remove the wrong view of Buddha.

Dedication:

The last one is a short form of all the seven branches of practice.  It’s an offering.  This is the dedication of the merit that you have accumulated.  You have to dedicate all the merit accumulated by other beings to other beings.  In order to get enlightened you have to dedicate the merit.

This is the remedy for doubt.  Sometimes we have doubt whether it is true or not.  This way of chanting will remove or clarify our doubt.

Understanding the Nightmare – by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche on “Meditation” reprinted with permission from Palyul Ling International:

And there are many, many beings that don’t know much about Buddha or Enlightenment or the Dharma teachings or liberation. They really don’t have any idea of such things. Even with all the explanations we could find in these Dharma teachings, and even though so many lamas and other qualified teachers give these teachings, still one might think that these teachings are just myths. And so you can’t truly accept them or believe in the absolute reality.

Everything is based on what is called the Law of Karma which is the actions that we do, the causes and conditions we create ourselves. Furthermore there is a Law of Karma which is known as the Collective Karma, the actions, causes and conditions we create together. There is no way we can change ourselves other than understanding Karma. Moreover, when one cannot understand all these deeper things, then one thinks that these things do not really exist.

When the lamas and the many other qualified teachers¹ teach on the sufferings of Samsara, of course it is not really nice to hear and then one feels like, “I don´t want to hear these kinds of teachings.” Certain people when lama gives these teachings on suffering even say, “I’m not interested to listen about the sufferings of Samsara. This lama doesn’t seem like he can give out good teachings!” These people prefer to just express their own ideas.

However, when taught by a qualified lama, it is indeed the Dharma, the truth. These teachings about the nature of Samsara and the reality of the faults of Samsara have been taught by all the Enlightened Beings such as Shakyamuni Buddha. The Enlightened Beings, the Buddhas, all gave these teachings because if we could just understand the nature of Samsara, we could then move on to the actual practices through which we could purify our obscurations. We could have the ultimate realization through which we achieve peace and happiness, and through that we could manifest ourselves to benefit all other sentient beings in Samsara. For that purpose Buddha gave all these teachings. It is not that Buddha wanted to be famous and so gave these teachings, nor was the Buddha showing off his skills in teaching, nor was he explaining things to us so that we would become frightened. These teachings are mainly about how all sentient beings can believe and act to attain complete Enlightenment, to liberate themselves from the sufferings of Samsara. So you see, Buddha gave these teachings with great compassion.

Take the example of a having a nightmare. Within such dreams, no matter what you do, you still cannot escape the scary feeling of a nightmare until you wake up. At the same moment, someone who is awake and watching beside the bed, can see that you are having a dream. We can understand something of the nature of Samsara from this dream example. While we are in Samsara experiencing all different kinds of sufferings, it is exactly like somebody who is having a nightmare.

Putting Out the Fire: Turning the Mind Towards Dharma by HH Penor Rinpoche

The following is an excerpt from a teaching given by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at Kunzang Palyul Choling on Bodhicitta:

We start first with the special method that will turn one’s mind towards the Dharma.  In that method, we have to understand that wherever we are born in the world, in this universe, there will not be much happiness.  There is hot and cold suffering in the hell realms, and the hungry ghosts have the suffering of hunger and thirst.  The animals have the suffering of killing each other.  The human beings have a short lifespan, and within that short life, there is a lot of suffering.  Even those god beings in the god realms have a very good life there, but because of their carelessness, they are just spending and wasting their lives with happiness.  The sentient beings in this world have their own sufferings.  It is important, the Buddha said, for you to understand that wherever you are born, there is no happiness.  There is suffering.

When you understand that, then in order to remove the suffering, you need to have diligence to remove the suffering, like the diligence you do when your hair is burning, when your dress is burning.  During that time, you will put all your efforts toward removing the fire.  Similarly, once we have understood the suffering of samsara, of the world, then we have to really put some kind of diligence toward removing the suffering of samsara. Then if our hair is on fire and our dress is on fire, then we will not really remain peaceful.  We will definitely do something.  So, similarly, once we understand the suffering nature of samsara, we will not waste our time.

 

Prayer to His Holiness Karma Kuchen

From a series of tweets by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo while at Palyul Ling Retreat Center in Upstate New York:

To the victorious Guru Karma Kuchen I pray – for the sake of beings in these degenerate times, ascend the Lion Throne of Palyul fully endowed with every strength and virtue! May we who long for your blessing be satisfied!

In previous times you came to us as Karma Tashi to clear our ignorance, our attachment to ordinary confused appearance!

You again sat on the glorious Palyul throne to grant us the awakening to Primordial Buddha nature as the great display Karma Gyurmed, the dance of suchness, as it is!

Then you returned as Karma Tegchog Nyingpo, also known as Tsawei Lama by the peerless Guru, the Third Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche.

You now have come again as Karma Kuchen, pure and stainless. Kye ho! Such are the many miracles of your display for the sake of beings. Now please abide steadfast upon the Lotus Throne of my heart. Rise this very moment, clear all obstacles to mighty Palyul, banish the enemies of the Heart Essence Nectar given to us by the second Buddha Padmasambava through the child Terton Migure Dorje. Restore us all to original purity, clear recognition and perfect virtue!

May Palyul remain as the great unbroken refuge it is in the world now. Please establish the work of your predecessors and that of our Guru. Protect with mighty vigor the insurmountable accomplishment of our Guru Kyabje Pema Norbu, may nothing be wasted, and may all beings benefit!  Live long! Strengthen the Throne of Palyul and remain in perfect health! Show your holy face as we hunger and thirst; and we need you now more than ever, in these darkening times we need your light, the sun of Palyul, Guru within my heart, grant your blessings!

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved


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