Deepen Your Practice 32 - The Perfection of Wisdom: The Perfection of Wisdom

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Gampopa's Jewel Oament of Liberation clearly shows the need for a spiritual fiend throug three examples. The frst example is of someone crossing a geat expase of water who needs a ferrman skilled in crossing te water ad controlling the craf. The second example is of a stong bodyguard accompanying one when traveling in a dangerous land.

The third example is of a guide when taveling in a completely foreig area. In a similar way, we need a spiritual fiend to give us advice and guidance on the difcult road to enlightenment.

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There's a ver vivid example of this given by the great dharma teacher, Shantideva. He compares spiritual practice to the need of actually taking medicine when one is sick. When one is ill, one can read all about medicine in the various medical books and lea everthing about one's condition and what medicine one needs to take. But without actually taking the medicine, one cannot be cured. It is the same with dharma. There are so many texts that clearly show us what we need to give up and to acquire to gain realization.

But just reading the books is of little beneft without actually practicing what is indicated in the dharma texts. Once we are determined to practice, we must be sure we don't practice something which has been created just to please people, but something which is really true in the sense of being in accord with realit.

Therefore the Buddha gave instructions on the truths, on the four noble tuths and on the to truths. If we practice in accord with how realit is, we can be sure to have a positive result, otherwise we will not. The frst jewel is the precious Buddha. Understading the truth of phenomena and how to actually put things into practice depends upon the Buddha who is the teacher of the ver best path we can follow to obtain liberation.

Once our mind is set upon liberation, we need to fnd a way to achieve this. This begins, frst of all, with the ver best teacher of the most supreme path and this is the Buddha. If we ask what we should practice and how we can fnd the truths, we get this instuction on the three jewels and lea to see how the Buddha is the teacher, the Dhama is the path, and the sangha is the fiends on the path.

This enables us to fnd an authentic path. In some religions, for instace, we have the idea of an all-powerfl or all might being to whom we can tur, and if we place our trust in this being and give ourselves completely to that all-might being, then in retur he or she will be pleased and will liberate us. Under this theistic concept if we t away fom or invoke the wrath of this being, we will never become fee.

So evering depends upon the power of this being. The Buddhist tradition it not really like this at all. We take refge in the Buddha and tur ourselves toward the Buddha, but it is not with the belief that the Buddha will be able to eliminate our sufering throug the power of his blessing.

No, the Buddha simply shows us what we need to do, what we need to give up, and what we need to meditate on by giving us a whole range of practices, and tells us that if we can do these things, we will eventually reach the sae state of liberation as he achieved. This is how the Buddha shows us the path. The second jewel is the path or the dharma, which are the teachings of the Buddha.

It is the Buddha's teaching which is most important. The dhara is his gif through which we can attain liberation. We need to completely absorb these teachings and make them part of ourselves. The third jewel is te sagha who ae our fiends who are also on the path of the Buddha's. Because of our circumstance we cannot meet te Buddha personally and listen to his teachings or to ask him to clarif our questions. Because we really need a fiend to help us on the path, we tur to te sangha for help, who carry on the Buddha's teachings and hold the real meaning and experience of those teachings.

The jewel of the sangha to whom we tur ae people who have understood and assimilated the teachings of The Buddha, who actually put tem into practice ad through their practice have gained some result and realization. Even though the sangha hasn't achieved the ultimate achievement, they do possess some realization ad experience fom their practice. It's because of this that the sangha is so capable of helping us. They can show us how to develop the skills ver precisely and help us discover what needs to be eliminated and just how to do it.

But this depends not only on the three jewels outside us, but also on our own efort. Therefore the instructions on diligence are important. There are three main types of diligence to overcome are the three kinds of spirital laziness. The frst type of laziness is involvement with activities which are negative and harmfl. If we don't do the things which are usefl and helpfl because they are things which are negative and harful, then our practice won't progress. We need to have the diligence to eliminate our bad habits and preoccupation with things which we know are harmful to us and other people.

This can be any misconduct based on aggession, any behavior based upon desire. So the frst kind of diligence is called the diligence of cultivating noninvolvement.

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The second type of laziness is spiritual fatigue meaning that we see the benefts of doing practice, but it seems to be too much for us to face because we feel exhausted mentally or spiritually. As a result we don't do as much as we could. The remedy for this is to cultivate the diligence of indefatigabilit. We tell ourselves, "How else am I going to make progress if I don't practice. If I do this now, much goodness will accrue for myself and others. There is a ver wonderfl example for this diligence of indefatigabilit in the biogaphy of Jetsun Milarepa.

Afer he had been accepted as a disciple by his guru, Marpa gave him instructions on how to practice and Milarepa went into retreat. I this retreat he walled himself up and sat with a butter lamp on his head in the meditation posture. He would meditate until his lamp went out doing many, many hours in each session.

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For eighteen months he meditated with incredible d H igence in this manner. Afer this time Marpa came and he said, "You've really practiced meditation diligently and now it would be good for you to relax a little bit, to come out, and walk aound. This sort of attitude is a wonderful example for us. The remedy for this is called te "diligence of toroughly applying oneself to the path of practice. One believes that other people can achieve enlightenment, but one believes that one will always be stuck and won't eventually be like the Buddha. This belief holds us back, so to overcome this lack of enthusiasm for our own development, we need to really believe that we ca achieve Buddhahood.

Believing we ca achieve this goal, we will apply ourself continuously to the path. With practice we develop our meditation and through the power of shamatha special powers of the fve kinds of visions and the six kinds of clear cognitions will aise in us. We will develop these fve kinds of vision and will acquire these special powers of seeing. We will also gain these six superormal abilities. As we acquire these, they will make our practice advance ver swifly because these exceptional powers equip us much better to progess on the pat.

We are shown what is to be abandoned and what is to be realized there. This is followed by instructions on the path of cultivation. All of these have to be practiced in time. Questions Queston: We only have to pray to some powerfl being in some sects of Buddhism to achieve enlightenment. One may pray to Amitabha and nothing more is required than faith in Amitabha because of Amitabha's vow.

I tink its called Pureland Buddhism and that seems to be diferent fom what you have been teaching. However, when one prays to Amitabha or Tara to achieve liberation there is a difference between this and the way one relates to a god in other religions. The diference lies in the fact that when one does those prayers, the emphasis is more in what comes fom ourselves. One is not just praying to Amitabha to please him because he is all-might and one is powerless. It is simply not like that. It is true that when one does practice to Amitabha for instance, one is supposed to pray with great faith and one does the prayer in a certain way, and generates over and over and over again this one-pointed wish to achieve the state of sukhavati Tib.

This is done because this produces the cause which will actually create the fture experience of sukhavati. Even though this appears quite similar to praying to a god, we must understand that to obtain liberation is not pleasing or displeasing some higher power, but it is developing true longing and devotion to create the conditions necessary for liberation. The third condition for reaching enlightenment is the four stages of tis path of junction.

When we reach the path of insight, we receive the direct, defnitive realization of dhaata. The second path of junction then concers learing about the dharmata ad in tis stage we prepae ourselves and practice in such a way that we can obtain the realization of the path of insight. So it is as if we join with that insight, which is why its called the "path of junction" or "path of preparation. At tis point we begin to warm to the experience of this insight into the universal essence. The wisdom or jnana which emerges on the pat of insight is like a geat fre and the analogy of this is tat as we approach a geat fre, we are waed.

The name in the text which is applied to te path of junction is "defnite sepaation. This term "defnite separation" is used here because everything that takes place on the path of junction is to give us this separation, this release. First, we warm to the experience of emptiness; we don't actually have it, but we practice it through aspiration.

We know that there is this experience of dharmata and we wish to gain it. So frst we warm to it, and then through coming closer and closer to the real experience, we reach this summit stage. When we gain the understading of tue realit, then fom that time onwads, we become a realized individual Skt. This is the point between being a ordinary person on the tainted path and being a realized person on the untainted path. At this stage we would never retur to what is tainted and we have reached the highest realization of all worldly phenomena.

On the path of junction there ae four principal obstacles to be removed. The root of these obstacles will only be removed when the , stage of insight and the stage of cultivation is achieved. But already one the path of junction we are removing the actual manifestation that would come fom these different things that we need to eliminate in ourselves so they no longer manifest their efects.

In general there are two tpes of obscurations that need to be eliminated: the obscurations of the deflements Tib. The four obstacles that ae to be elimi n ated by the path of junction are the obscurations to knowledge. The frst obstacle is called the "concept of objects. We believe them to be solid and outside of us. On the frst the path of junction, the stge of warming, we manage to overcome this concept of an exteral realit. The second obstacle is the "concept of a subject" or perceiver.

This concept is the belief that the perceiving mind that experiences these outer objects is sepaate fom these outer objects. This is removed on the second stage of summit. The third obstacle is called "concept of substantialit. This takes place in te third stage of the path of junction which is the stage of forbeaance. The fourth obstacle is the "concept of projected realit. This goes further because we develop an understanding of how these apparent outer and inner phenomena ae only defnitions, labels, and projected realities.

We understand, for instace, that our body is just a projection of our mind so this last stage eliminates the belief in the mind' s formulations of reality and the understanding of what these really are. This obstacle is removed on the fourth stage of the highest worldly thing. The path of the bodhisata is superior to the path of junction of the shravakas and the pratekabuddhas, which are called "the rhinoceros-like practitioners" in the text. The reason the path of junction for bodhisatvas is superior is that in lesser vehicles the practitioners do not manage to get rid of these four incorrect beliefs, whereas on the bodhisattva' s path, the practitioner manages to eliminate these four incorrect beliefs.

The frst was bodhichita, the second the practice instructions, the third was the path of junction which eliminated the four incorrect concepts. Now we will look at the fourth cause which is the basis for our practice. The word "basis" in Tibetan is rten means literally "that which one can rely on" and can also be translated as the "foundation" of our practice. The foundation of our practice is Buddha-nature Skt. If the potential is there, then it's worthwhile working on it, but if there' s no potential then no amount of effort will bring about any results.

The great master Nagauna explained this by saying if we take rock and we know there's gold inside it, then by maing an effort we can make the gold that is contained in that ore appear. But, of course, if there is no gold in the rock, no matter how had we will work, we will never obtain gold. For sentient beings, if we didn't have this potential for Buddhahood, there would be no way that we could make Buddhahood manifest.

But because all beings are endowed with Buddha-nature, then the effort is worthwhile. The atainment of Buddhahood comes about through the work and meditation that we do on the ffh path of cultivation. The ver profound meditation at this stage is what brings about Buddhahood. This is possible because of the preceding stage of insight. Once we have had the lasting insight into the universal essence, we can work on the stage of cultivation.

As we have seen, the path of insight depends upon the fourth stage of the path of junction called the highest worldly thing. This stage of highest worldly dharma comes as a result of the third stage of forbearance, which in tur comes fom the second stage of the summit, which in tur comes fom the frst stage of warming.

We begin this whole chain of events because of the presence of the Buddha-nature within us. Through the stages of the path and Buddha-nature we can make enlightenment a reality. By working on the stages of the path of insight, we reach the path of cultivation and eventually Buddhahood. We have just discussed the frst six of these called "the six dhannas of realiztion" which are te four stages of the path of junction, the path of insight, and the path of cultivation. They come about by eliminating the obstacles such as the disturbing emotions which block our realization.

To eliminate these deflements we need to apply a remedy. We need to directly realize the true nature of dharmata. To do this we need to cultivate samadhi and to cultivate saadhi we need to control our life and practice discipline. All of those remedies spring fom Buddha-nature, the potential present in all beings. Therefore Buddha-nature is called a remedy. As we cultivate the various remedies to our obstacles and put them into action, we will eventually manage to give up the obscurations of the deflements and te obscurations of knowledge.

If these obscruationswere truly par of our mental continuum, we could never abandon them. But as these can be overcome, we conceive of this potential in tenns of the possibility of abandoning. If we retur to the example of a person going into a dark room and seeing a coiled rope and thinking it is a snake; if there really were a snake, it would be ver hard for us to get rid of our belief in the existence of a snake. But if it really is a coil is a rope, it is really possible for us to give up the concept of the snake.

Likewise in our analogy, Buddha-nature, not the obscuration, is the real foundation of the mind and this allows us to give up the obstacles ad achieving the fuition. So I bought a map of India. Daniel Aitken: Rinpoche, I heard you describe that in your retreat, early on you got quite ill and came near to death. On the map, there are all the holy places of Buddhism and Hinduism; how to go about by bus, how to go about by train, what platform, things like that.

So I took a train from there to nearby Kushinagar. I stayed at Kushinagar in the guesthouse, very cheap. I cannot stay on the street. I thought maybe I will treat this as training for a few weeks. Mingyur Rinpoche: So I left my monastery with a few thousand rupees, maybe five thousand or six thousand rupees or something like that. First I stopped in Varanasi for three days at the train station.

I stayed at the train station outside on the street and I felt very embarrassed. It looked like everybody is looking at me, and there are some police there and I thought they are also looking, you know. After all my money is finished, then I thought, this is a good opportunity to really move onto the street—no choice—and stay on street. So I went to ask at the restaurant that before, when I had money, I ate from. Later I went there and asked them,. Every night I have to go there. Then that leftover food has some, maybe food poisoning—I got a virus.

I have diarrhea for three days. Then on day four, I cannot really move. My body became very, very weak. Then in the afternoon, 2 to 3 p. Should I go back? Should I stay? If I want to go back, I can make one phone call and go back, right? After that I make a decision that I am going to stay. And then I feel quite happy. I really learned bardo practice, so I did continue to do that and let it go, let a lot.

Particularly at the beginning, that first month was very challenging. Then in the morning around 1 to 2 a. But my mind is very clear; I rest in med- did this change the way you think of what you want itation. The teaching lineage is am going to become unconscious. Suddenly my mind com- always there, from 2, years back. So I will continue to pletely opened. And also, different types of with sun shining. Something you can experience, but personality. One meditation technique is not suitable for cannot put into words.

The normal monkey mind is gone. But that time, I know without thinking. And I remained in that state until morning. DA: For how long, Rinpoche? Then in the end, I felt like this is not important things. One is daily practice. Maybe you can do the time—this is not the end, not the time for me to go. That feeling became stronger. And then suddenly I felt my body, and then cushion, formal practice. Then you need to make that into slowly, slowly I feel like breathing. Before that, I thought habit. But my body was paralyzed—I tried to move actually, just like me when I was [young] In Buddhism, for sure.

Just like that. And then call daily routine.

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I come back. Then everything is so nice. Normally when I So, how to build a daily routine? It would take thirty days. So after You have to do meditation five minutes every day wheththat the street is like my home. After thirty days it becomes DA: Wow. The ground is so…grounded. Then I look Informal meditation, you can meditate everywhere, at the trees, the leaves are very green and fresh. I seconds, four seconds.

So I or have a particular body posture. Everywhere, anytime. Someone took me to the hospital and I woke up in the hospital. I went to the Himalayan Mountains. Even so, I would gladly give back my newfound strength and flexibility to have Cheyenne. And yet, the other side of that truth is that decades later I am more whole today than I would have been without having known and loved my daughter. The people who ask me such things are often the newly bereaved or those who deeply care for them, wishing for life to be as it once was. And truly, things cannot and will not ever be exactly as they were—because we and our world are changed.

Some claim that it is time that heals, but I see this process a bit differently. Certainly, time allows some necessary space, a kind of respite, from the despair of early grief. I can still access the deep, vivid grief of losing my daughter, Cheyenne. The idea that grief incrementally weakens by the mere passage of time has not been my truth.

Nor would I wish it to be. I decided early that I would not be willing to fragment parts of myself in order to make me—or those around me—comfortable. And, by allowing myself to be with grief, to bear its weight, to carry it, I have become stronger. Eventually I became strong enough to help others carry their grief. If we were to use a 1—10 scale, my grief varies day to day across the whole range, but my capacity to cope is almost always in recent years at a 9 or a It happened like this:.

Those we love deeply who have died are part of our identity; they are a part of our biography. We feel that love in the marrow of our bones. Carrying such formidable weight, my muscles hurt at first—almost constantly, they ached and burned with pain—as my body objected to the new weight I had to carry. The weight I needed to bear never changed—only my ability to carry it. There is a lingering call to remember them that, though sometimes muted by the chaos of the world, never fades away.

When we dismiss that call, the cost to ourselves is fragmentation and disconnection, and the cost to society is an emotional impoverishment that ignores grief and causes it to be reborn into self-and-other. Seeking to live without grief, we diminish our ability to feel truly content. Turning toward the shattered pieces of our selves, choosing to stand in the pain, is a serious responsibility. When we remember our beloved dead, we bridge the gap of space and time between us and them and bring them back into the whole of our reality.

Particularly when life has regained a tempo of comfort, surrendering to grief is an act of necessary courage. And through such adaption, my heart has grown bigger, and my capacity to. Each episode takes you on a fascinating exploration of Buddhism and meditation as our guests share stories and discuss life-changing practices, timeless philosophies, and new ways to think and live.

Subscribe now via your favorite podcasting app, and let us know what you think! Preview your first lesson for free and join over a thousand students who have connected with these powerful teachers and teachings. In this course with Ven. Thubten Chodron, strengthen your knowledge and practice of Buddhism by understanding its varied traditions—how they came to be, what makes them different from each other, and what they have in common. Alan Wallace.

The curriculum for children spans topics such as meditation, kindness, character, and nature, and lessons include age-appropriate meditation instructions, songs, activities, games, storybook suggestions, and discussion topics. He loves to bark and play and—most of all—chase pigeons in the park. What is Nico doing? Why does he look so calm and happy? Questions 1. What do you do to meditate? You drag it back.

The mind is like a puppy, because sights, sounds, and even thoughts are constantly distracting it. So, we can get our puppy mind to take a rest in one spot by bringing it back to our breath. Regading beings as sons and daughters bu dang bu mo'i sems 9. Regading beings as relatives and fiends bshes dang grogs ki sems Regarding beings as kin nen dang snag gi sems H.

Ireversible paths phyir mi ldogpa'i lam L The Application of equality of existence and peace srid zhi mnam nid ki sbyor ba J. The application of purifing zhing dag sbyor ba K. The application of skillfl means thabs mkhas sbyor ba v. Application when reaching the peak rtse mor phin pa' i sbyor ba A.

The application of te signs of the peak rtse mo'i sbor ba'i rtags B. Increase in merit bsod nams ram par'phel ba C. Perfect abiding of mind sems kun tu gnas pa E. The application of the pea of the path of insight mthong lam rtse sbyor 1. That to be removed spang bya a. Concept of object bzung ba'i ram par rtog pa b.

Application of te sumit of path of insight mthong lam rtse sbyor dngos F. The application of te sumit of the path of cultivation gsom lam rtse sbyor G. The application of peak of absence of obstacles bar chad med pa' i rtse sbyor H. The six paitas phar phin drug H. The recollection of the Buddha sangs rgas rjes su dran pa I. The recollection of the dhana chos res su dran pa J. The recollection of te sangha dge'dun res su dran pa K. The recollection of the rigt conduct tshul khrims res su dran pa L. The recollection of giving gtong ba rjes su dran pa M.

The recollection of the divine state lha res su dran pa N. The tue nature of phenomena chos thams cad ki gnas lugs VL Instantaneous Application skad cig mati sbyor ba A. Showing the accumulation of merit bsod nams ki tshogs bstan pa B. Showing the accumulation of wisdom re shes ki tshogs bstan pa C. Showing the simultaneit of te two accumulations tshogs gnis zung 'ug tu bstan pa D. Showing te simultaneity of how tings are and how they appear gnas tshul dang snang tshul zung 'ug tu bstan pa VIII. The dharmakaya chos sku A. Svabhavikakaya ngo bo nid sku B.

Jnaadhanakaya ye shes chos sku C. Sabhogakaya longs spyod rdogs pa 'i sku Possessing the fve certainties nges pa lnga ldan 1. Certainty of place gnas nges pa 2. Certaint of form sku nges pa 3. Certainty of teachings chos nges pa 4. Certainty of entourage 'khor nges pa 5. Certainty of time dus nges pa D.

The Orament ofMahaana Discourses Skt. This work consists of twenty-one chapters and is written in verse. I covers a discussion of Buddha-nature, refuge in the three jewels, the mahayana paths, and the doctrine of emptiness. The Orament of Clear Realization Skt. This work is a verse commentary on the Prajnaparamita literature which comes in the 1 00, and in 25,, and in 8, verses and like that literature is divided into eight vajra topics. This text is studied in all four Tibetan lineages and is used in the study of the sutra system.

Distinguishing the Middle fom the Extremes Skt. This work is a commentar expounding primarily on the Chittamatra school of Buddhism, especially the Shentong school. The text explores etemalism and nihilism and why these are not pa of the middle way. Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata Skt. This is a commentar on the tathagatagarbha doctrine and the Chittamatra school of thought. Te Uttara Tantra Skt. This work is written in verse and has seven vajra points. It is mainly a commentary on the three jewels, the seed of Buddha nature which is inherent in all sentient beings, and the attributes and activities of the Buddha.

It particularly deals with the subject of Buddha-nature and the development of the realization of the nature of phenomena through the purifcation of the disturbing emotions. His frst teaching was that all beings seek happiness, but that they do not achieve a state of permanent happiness because of their attachment to objects. These are, of course, the teachings of the Four Noble truths which was a formal discourse to fve of his disciples which laid down the fndamentals of the Buddhist path.

For the next for-fve years the Buddha taught much differently; he would usually meet in a large gatering and then he would accept questions and answer these questions.

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His answers varied depending on the capacit and understanding of who asked the question and the answer was specifc to that particular individuals needs. When the Buddhist teachings were collected together afer his passing away, his students made a collection of discourses which were essentially question and answers to individuals questions and were not organized in any systematic way. These teachings called the sutras fll over 30 volumes and it was difcult for the average Buddhist to extact the essential meaning fom these discourses.

As a result of this some enlightened individuals in later centuries studied these sutras and meditated upon them for a long time and then wrote ver careflly written commentaries or shastras which organized these sutas into basic themes. Thrangu Rinpoche emphasizes that the authors of the shastras did not expressed their personal teories and beliefs as universit professors do today, but they were extaordinar individuals who received transmissions fom supermundane sources. This may seem far-fetched to the wester scholar, but anyone who has spent any time with Buddhist lamas knows that this communication goes on even today with the most realized lamas.

In the fourth century C. The younger brother Vasubandhu spent years studying under the geat gurus in India and Kashmir and upon reaching enlightenment wrote an extaordinary shastra on the - 9- The Onament ofClear Realization Abhidhanna called the Abhidharmakosha. The Abhidhanna, to geatly simplif, is the Buddhist cosmology and classifcation of knowledge which tries to systematize the dhanna in a highly structured set of concepts. This book written in Sanskrit was almost lost with the Moslem invasion of India in the eleventh century, but was fortunately copied, and taken to Nepal and Tibet and translated into Tibetan.

There it remained essentially unchanged fom the ninth century on to today where it is still studied by all Tibetan sects in their monastic colleges. This work is classifed as a major work of the hinayana school. The older brother, Asanga was even more remarkable. Asanga spent a period of twelve years meditating on Maitreya who was an original disciple of the Buddha who achieved such high spiritual achievement that Maitreya dwells in the sambhogakaya. Afer these twelve years, which involved many trials, Asanga was able to "meet" with Maitreya.

To be able to contact the sambhogakaya requires an extraordinarily pure and realized being. From Maitreya Asanga was able to receive the transmission of fve shastras. These shastras were: Te Uttara Tantra which is a treatise on Buddha nature. When Thrangu Rinpoche frst came to the West he chose this as his frst text to teach to Westerers. This teaching is now available from Namo Buddha Publications. The second treatise is the Abhisamaa-Iankra which is this particular text on the vast Prajnaparamita teachings.

The third treatise is the Madhyanta-vibhaga or Distinguishing the Middle fom the Extremes. This text describes expands on the tenets of the Middle-way school. The fourth treatise is the Dharma-dharmata-vibhaga or Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata. This work also discusses Buddha-nature and is available from Namo Buddha Publications. The Buddha taught three paths or three vehicles. The frst path is the hinayana which stresses to generalize greatly the examination of mind through meditation and the accumulation of merit. The accomplished practitioner of this path is called an arhat.

The second vehicle is the mahayana path which includes everything in the - 1 0 - The Foreword hinayana vehicle with a special emphasis on the concept of emptiness of phenomena and te emptiness of self. The accomlished person of this path is called a bodhisatta. The concept of emptiness is the Prajnaparamita teachings. So we can see that this commentary on the Abhisamaalankra is one of the foundations for the mahayana teachings.

This is why this text as well as the other four texts of Maitreya are taught throughout Tibet and among all sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The Orament of Clear Realization summarizes the vast Prajnaparamita text of 1 00, verses. This Prajnaparamita text along with its shorter versions of 25, and 8, verses came fom the great tantric practitioner Nagajuna who lived in the frst century of our era. The Onament comprises 80 distinct points and these points are memorized in Tibetan monastic colleges shedras and are an integal part of a Buddhist education.

For this reason we have included each of these points and their Tibetan names in the extensive outline of this work. Unfortunately, the root text of the Oament has been translated only a few times into English. We are now preparing a text of this commentay with a translation of the root text. The root text is for the most part simply long lists of words very similar to the 80 points and this makes the root text without a commentary fairly incomprehensible.

We are especially fortunate to have the geat scholar Thrangu Rinpoche commentay on this important work. Clak Johnson, Ph. Path of accumulation Skt. Path of Preparation Skt. Path of Insight Skt. Path of Cultivation Skt. In this path the practitioner continues the insight of the path of insight and begins to enter the second through ninth bodhisattva levels. Path of No-more-Iearning Skt. The frst turing of the wheel of dharma took place in Varanasi which we now call Benares. In these frst teachings the Buddha taught the four noble truths: the truth of sufering, te truth of the origination of suffering, the truth of the cessation of sufering, and the truth of the path which leads to the cessation of sufering.

By accustoming ourselves to these truths by meditating upon these four truths, we can achieve the state of a shravak or a pratekbuddha, who are individuals who achieve the fuition of the hinaana. In the third turing of the wheel of dharma the Buddha taught on Buddha-nature or Buddha-essence which is present in all beings. These teachings on the Prajnaparamita, however, belong to the second turing of the wheel of dhaa.

The principal topic of this second turing is the exploration of voidness or. The Buddha taught the Prajnaparamita very extensively. He taught it in depth in a text called the one hundred thousand verses, in an intermediate text called the tent-fve thousand verses, and in a concise text called the eight thousand verses. These teachings on the Prajnapaamita also exist in a extemely concise and pithy form which is called the Te Heart Sutra which is ofen chanted each day in mahayana Buddhist centers.

The frst is a direct exposition of the meaning of emptiness and second is the indirect exposition of revealing the hidden meaning of emptiness by discussing the paths and the spiritual levels. Within the direct exposition of the nature of emptiness, we are dealing with the understanding of emptiness which is the principal concer of the practice of a bodhisattva. In a more detailed method, if we approach it in an analytical way, one 4 can examine the sixteen aspects of emptiness which are, for example, the emptiness of exterals, the emptiness of interals, the emptiness of exterals and interals together.

Another direct approach is to examine emptiness in terms of the relative level and fom the ultimate level. The indirect exposition of emptiness is to approach emptiness by studying spiritual progess on the fve paths and the ten bodhisatta levels. The fve paths are: the path of accumulation, the path of junction, the path of insight, the path of cultivation, and the path of no more learing.

By examining of these fve paths we can begin to understand emptiness. We also contemplate what takes place on each of these fve paths in terms of a gradual increase in wisdom Skt. We begin with wisdom based on simply hearing the teachings. This then leads to the wisdom which comes fom contemplation of what we leared through study.

Later we actually meditate on emptiness to gain direct insight into emptiness. The direct study of emptiness comes mainly by the great masters Nagarjuna and Dharmakirti who described emptiness in terms of logical reasoning. The indirect meaning approach to emptiness was presented by the great arya Maitreya in this text on the Prajnaparamita called the Abhisamaalankara. In this teaching he gives the indirect meaning of emptiness by explaining the fve paths and the ten bodhisattva levels.

The Cultivation of Prajna To begin with we are living in sam sara and sam sara contains much sufering, hardships, and diffculties. A closer examination shows - 1 4 - An Introduction to the Prajnapaamita that these diffculties and sufering spring from ignorance. Now the main way of removing igorace which is the cause of all these problems is to cultivate wisdom, specifcally, the wisdom of emptiness.

We begin with just limited wisdom, and eventually through our practice, this matures into a vast wisdom or jnana which is the wisdom of the Buddha. The most effective way to remove our negative states of mind is through wisdom. The classical example to illustrate this elimination of our sufering through developing wisdom is the exaple of the rope ad the snake. If there is a rope which is coiled up in a dark room and we look at the rope not knowing it is a rope, we can mistake it for a snake.

If we think it is a snae, then we paic, becomes fightened, and this causes much anguish. This mistaken idea is the cause for our suffering and is caused simply by our ignorance. We are simply ignorant of the true nature of the rope ad believe it is a snake. The solution for eliminating our anguish is to simply know that it is really a rope and our belief that it was a snae was just a delusion. It is through this wisdom of seeing the tue nature of the rope that we can eliminate our sufering in this situation.

In a similar manner the geat suffering and problems in our life all spring fom not knowing the nature of the delusion which is our perception of the world. We don't really need to resort to aggression or anger, yet we do it. We don't really need to give rise to desire or wating, and yet we do it. Our anger and desire cause many problems and diffculties.

Now the very best way to remove the problems ad sufering of life is to attack the ver root of the problem which is to understand the delusion and the igorance which has created the whole situation. We can see through this delusion by cultivating wisdom, showing us how importat cultivating wisdom is for us.

When we talk of the Prajnaparamita, we are talking about this perfection of wisdom or the wisdom that carries us to the other shore. This is precisely because there is nothing to equal this wisdom of emptiness. Cultivating prajna is the ver best manner to eliminate the sufering of samsara and fom it we can get a direct and true insight into the way things are. So we need to study the scriptures of the Buddha the sutras and the various Buddhist commentaries of the geat masters the shastras. Having studied these, we can then contemplate and refect ver deeply about what we have read and heard.

It is through this we can progressively cultivate prajna. The Study of the Sutras and Shastras It is very fruitful to study the discourses given by the Buddha which cover many areas. One can study those of the hinaana system and one can study those which have been adopted by the mahaana system. However, in Tibet, which was the land rich in varaana teachings, there wasn't a great emphasis placed on the teachings given by the Buddha himself, but rather an emphasis was placed upon the study of the great discourses and commentaies given by the great Buddhist masters living afer the time of the Buddha.

There is a good reason for the shastras being studied so much in Tibet. When the Buddha was teaching, a disciple would come and ask a particular question and the Buddha would give an answer. Then another disciple would come with another question and the Buddha would answer that particular question. Throughout his life that is how the Buddha taught. He didn't give long and well-structured discourses on one particular topic and then move on to the next topic in a logical sequence. As a result afer the Buddha's parinirvana, some of the geat Buddhist masters systematically aanged the various teachings into certain topics.

Their works were entirely based on what the Buddha taught and not their own personal theories, but they organized the Buddhist teachings in a systematic way. If we were to begin by readings the various sutras of the Buddha, we would fnd there are so many of them, and it would take a very long time to build up an organized picture of what the Buddha was teaching.

Once we have that picture, we can then read the actual sutras of the Buddha and know that a particula one fts with a particular topic and thus we can understand - 16 - An Introduction to the Prajnaparamita the teachings of the Buddha much better. This is why in Tibet much more emphasis was placed on the shastras. We can take the exaple of the Prajnapaamita literature which were actually teachings given by the Buddha in 1 00, stanzas comprising twelve Tibetan volumes. But there is also the 25, stanza Prajnaparamita teaching comprising three volumes. Then there is the 8, stanza teaching comprising only one volume.

So we can study the total of sixteen volumes on the Prajnaparamita taught by the Buddha or we can study the Onament of Clear Realization which sums up the whole meaning of these teachings in just a few pages. In the title, it is call an "upadesha-shastra" Tib. In this text Maitreya 7 begins by describing this work as one which touches the ver nerve of the Prajnaparaita and can convey all of it in these very precise tenns. The author of this text, properly speaking, is the great protector of beings, Maitreya.

We have received this text through ara Asanga, the great Buddhist master who through his own spiritual realization was able to go to the pure realm of Tushita, where he received the teachings fom Maiteya. Actually of the fve main works of Maiteya te Abhisamaalankra is the frst of these works. We know tis is the frst of the fve because it begins with a homage and the other four don't have a homage. Homage8 The introduction to the text begins by paying homage through prostations to the mother of the Buddhas.

The mother of the Buddhas is wisdom Skt. Without this wisdom one canot become Buddha. Therefore this wisdom is like the mother which gives birth to the Buddhas. Wisdom also gives rise to higher states other than Buddhahood which are also mentioned in this homage. The homage praises the wisdom which gives rise to the shravakas, in their state of peace, and the wisdom which gives rise to the great bodhisattvas. In general there are three sections concering the three kinds of prajna. The frst prajna is basic knowledge of phenomena, the - The Oament ofClear Realization second is the knowledge of the path, and the third is knowledge of omniscience.

These three types of prajna give rise to all of the enlightened qualities of the buddhas. The shravakas and pratekbuddhas cultivate prajna to understand how much suffering there is in samsara and the qualities of peace which calms suffering. Their main concer is to cultivate the frst of these kinds of prajna. The qualities of the bodhisattva spring mainly fom the prajna of the path.

The main concer of the bodhisattva is to help other beings develop and mature. The actual ability to help other beings mature comes fom their extensive study of the path. The third prajna of omniscience is the complete knowledge of all phenomena. It is the abilit of the Buddhas to guide and lead beings which comes fom this omniscience that they have. It is the wisdom of the path and the qualities of the Buddha, the goodness of the Buddhas comes fom their wisdom of omniscience.

The very essence of these three therefore is prana, and because it gives rise to all their qualities, so this homage praises wisdom, the mother of the Buddhas, the bodhisattvas, the shravakas, and pratekabuddhas. The Necessit for Composing the Tet The frst intoductory verse was concered with the homage, praising the mother in relationship to the three types of prajna.

This next section deals with the necessity for composing this new text. In Buddhism, if someone wants to compose a new text, the person needs to be qualifed to do so. Generally speaking, there are three types of authors. The very best tpe of author of a shastra has the realization of the dharmata or universal essence. The next best kind of author is one who has had a direct realization of the deities, such as A valokiteshvara, Manjushri or Vajrapani. By realization we mean that the authors have met in their meditation with one of these deities face to face which gave rise to composing a shasta.

It's not quite so good as having the realization of dharmata, but it is second best. The minimum qualifcation of an author of a shastra is that one has at least accomplished the fve branches ofstudy. We should study those texts which were written by authors who had some or all of these qualities. If all three are present it is, of course, best. If tese qualities are not there, we may be confsed and be led astay in our practice.

So we need to seek out those texts which are properly composed. The Abhisamaalankra is ver rewarding because its composer, Maitreya, was not just very skilled in the fve branches of leaing, or someone who had a direct meeting with a deit, but he belonged to the categor of those who had a direct ad tue realization of the dharmata. The realization of dharmata is present in practitioners who have achieved the frst bodhisattva level.

Maitreya did not just achieve the frst or second or third bodhisattva level, but reached the tenth and last bodhisattva level. He had the richest, most purifed experience of the dharmata. Among all the bodhisattvas who attended the Buddha when he was alive, it was Maitreya who was asked by the Buddha to be his regent in tis present time; so Maitreya is the representative of the Buddha himself ad is called ''the Protector Maitreya. When we know tat it was Maitreya who composed this text, we can have geat confdence in it.

If we put these teachings into practice, the fuition will be trly rich for us. This text was not made up by Maiteya, but was based entirely on the Prajnaparamita teachings given by the Buddha. If we don't have the key of the ver essence of these profound Prajnaparamita teachings, then it will be ver difcult for us to grasp their meaing. So Maitreya wrote this text to give us this key which will enable us to have access to the meaning of the Prajnapaamita.

In the present we cannot directly meet with the Buddha or listen to his teachings. But Maitreya who wrote this text received these teachings directly fom the Buddha and they were transmitted to him in their fll meaning. I is because of this that Maitreya is able to exlain these teachings so clearly and directly.

The main reason for his writing this particular text in the way he did was to clearly present the meaning, the overall content, the main point of the Prajnaparamita. He wrote this shastra so that the Prajnapamita - 21 - The Onament ofClear Realization teachings could easily be understood and second with this understanding it would help individuals reach Buddhahood. When we study the larger Prajnaparamita in 1 00, stanzas, we fnd that there are eight main sections. In the 25, stanza version there are also eight main sections, and there are eight sections the 8, stanza version.

In this shastra there are also eight main sections or principal topics. Nagarjuna also wrote on the Prajnaparamita, but in his direct exposition he used logic to explore, for example, what the Buddha meant when he said, "form is empty" by explaining the inner, the outer, and the combined aspect of emptiness. In the direct expositions of emptiness by Nagarjuna, we lea how various things are empty, how form doesn't exist, how there is no ear faculty for hearing, and there is no arising of auditory consciousness.

Essentially it is an exposition of the emptiness of everything. But implicitly, it is thereby also shown how this emptiness can be realized, how the wisdom realizing emptiness is developed and what it is that this wisdom overcomes. This hidden meaning of the Prajnaparamita sutras is what Maitreya is concentating on when he explains the paths and bodhisattva levels in eight main sections.

The eight main topics of the Abhisamaalankara can be divided into three main sections. The frst section contains the frst three topics concered with the gound or foundation of realit Tib. The third section has only one topic describing the fuition of practice, realizing the dharmakaya. The Seven Topics The frst topic deals with the very highest form of knowledge or jnana which is the knowledge of all phenomena which is possessed by the buddhas.

The buddhas possess two main tpes of jnana: the jnana of the nature ofphenomena and the jnana of variet of phenomena. With these two kinds of jnana, the buddhas have the most complete and deepest form of prajna. The second topic concers the knowledge of the path. This topic deals with the meas of how to obtain this knowledge of the buddhas with the prajna which emerges and increases more and more as one progesses along the bodhisattva path and the wisdom that make this possible. The third topic concers basic prajna and it is from this basic prajna that the wisdom of the bodhisattvas on the path and the wisdom of the Buddha eventually emerges.

This topic concers the study of the wisdom of ordinary beings, shravakas and pratyekabuddhas which is the cause for the other kinds of wisdom to emerge. These frst three topics deal with the foundation of prajna which ae the three tpes of knowledge.

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The fourth topic deals with how to actually apply these types of knowledge on the path step by step. The fourth topic is called "The applications of the realization of how to flly perfect the knowledge of phenomena. The ffh topic describes what happens as a result of the previous stages of practice.

This topic is called ''the application when reaching the peak. The seventh topic demonstrates how, because of the gradual application, in the end tere is an instantaneous application of our practice ad in that one instant, there is the complete culmination of prajna through the vajra-like samadhi.

Then all of prajna becomes present within one phase. It is called "the application of fll enlightenment. As we go through these topics we will fnd that each topic can be frther subdivided and this actually yields sevent shorter subtopics in all. Rinpocbe: The Diamond Sutra does indeed concer the Prajnaparamita. Generally when we talk about the various texts dealing with the Prajnaparamita, we usually mean the ,, the 25, or the 8, stanza version of the Prajnaparamita teaching. But there are actually seventeen principal works on the Prajnaparamita called "the six mothers and eleven sons" and one of the eleven sons is the Diamond Sutra.

Question: Do shravakas and pratyekabuddhas the only persons who have this frst tpe of prajna? Rinpocbe: It's not just the shravakas and the pratyekabuddhas who have this basic prajna. All prajna which is not the deepest wisdom which understands dharmata, is considered basic wisdom. Every thing but this deepest wisdom is called basic prajna, so it covers much more than that cultivated by the shravakas ad pratyekabuddhas. Question: What is a shravaka? Rinpocbe: The term shravaka is a general term for those who are following the hinayana teachings. The Buddha's taught the mahayana to those with a greater capacity and he taught the hinayana to those with a lesser capacity.

Generally all of those who entered the hinayana teachings we call shravakas. Question: Why is Maitreya the regent in Tushita? Rinpocbe: Before the Buddha came to our world to teach dharma and enact the last stage of his enlightenment, he was dwelling in a very pure realm called Tushita. At that time the Buddha's name was Dampatogdkar "sacred white banner" and he had a divine existence and was teaching divine beings there. When he saw that the time had come for him to teach the dharma in our world, he knew that he had to leave that dimension, and predicted at that time that the buddha who would appear afer him would be Maitreya.

So before he lef Tushita he appointed Maitreya to be his representative in Tushita to continue the teachings. This is why we call Maitreya the regent or representative of the Buddha. Question: What is the difference between prajna and jnana? Sometimes their meaning overlaps. The syllable jna in both jnana and prajna means "wisdom. From all these diferent kinds of knowledge, the knowledge which allows us to realize the universal essence, to cultivate love and compassion, and to help us to help others is the highest knowledge which is called prajna with pra meaning "the best," and jna meaning "wisdom" or "knowledge.

When the Tibetan tanslators translated jnana the syllable jna was tanslated simply as she in Tibetan ad then the translators added ye to this syllable make yeshe. They added the syllable ye to denote wisdom which aises fom meditation, which tascends concept, so that as one cultivates meditation, there is a very profound understanding which is nonconceptual which is close to the wisdom of the buddhas. Because the wisdom of the buddhas and the great bodhisattvas has existed forever, the translators added this syllable ye which means "forever" meaning this wisdom has always been there.

Actually in this particular text, sometimes when it says prajna, it really connotes jnana. So these words are used sometimes interchangeably showing they are not stictly separate terms. Queston: What is the meaing of sutra? Rnpocbe: The word sut is used in two ways. Sometimes it is used to cover all of the teachings given by the Buddha himself. At other times it is used more precisely meaning one of the three sections of the dharma called the Tripitaka or Three Baskets.

In the Tripitaka there are the Sutras, the Vinaya, ad the Abhidharma. The sutras are mainly concered with meditation or saadhi, the Abhidharma is mainly concered with the development of wisdom and understnding, and the Vinaya is mainly concered with discipline and the rules of moralit and conduct.

In the narrow sense sutra - 25 - The Orament of Clear Realization means one of three sections of the Buddha's teachings, and in its broad sense it means all of the teaching given by the Buddha.

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  • In Tibetan we say ka meaning the original canon, the words of the Buddha. In Tibetan we say ten cho or shastra in Sanskrit which meas an explanator text. We could apply the word shastra to the Buddha's teaching because they explain the Buddha's teaching to us, but actually this word is used for the texts that are commentaries on the words of the Buddha that were composed by Buddhist adepts.

    These shastras elaborate and categorize the teachings of the Buddha, but they are not words of the Buddha himself. So the main distinction is the sutras are the words of the Buddha and the shastras are later commentaries on the words of the Buddha. There are ten subtopics in this frst topic, the causes or conditions for attaining Buddhahood. The topic of bodhichitta is divided into two main subtopics: the characteristics of bodhichitta ad the categories of bod hi chitta. The characteristics of bodhichitta are having the higest motivation.

    This motivation has two aspects. The frst aspect is te wish to help all oter beings. This doesn't mea helping just one person or a hundred or a thousand, but it meas being concered wit helping absolutely all beings fom te beginning of time throughout time ad space. What happiness do we wish to give these beings? We realize that no one wants to sufer and that everyone wants happiness, but no one has it. So we wish to give all sentient beings the ver best happiness and this is te state of perfect Buddhahood. So helping absolutely all beings and helping them reach Buddhahood creates the higest motivation which is a chaacteristic of bodhichitta.

    We can also look at the characteristics of bod hi chitta in terms of wisdom and compassion which must be present for there to be true bodhichitta. Compassion is being concered with not just one's fiends or relatives, but being tly concered with the happiness of all sentient beings throughout space and time.

    True compassion is - 2 7 - Te Orament ofClear Realization also being aware that all sentient beings want to be free from suffering and that they all are tring to achieve happiness. Compassion by itself is not enough because the kind of happiness that beings seek and the way they choose to eliminate their suffering is ofen very limited. It is through wisdom that we begin to understand that true and eteral happiness is only achieved by reaching Buddhahood. With wisdom we realize that without achieving Buddhahood there is no permanent happiness.

    So wisdom is the second characteristic is the focus upon enlightenment. We can only defnitely help sentient beings when we ourselves achieve enlightenment. Therefore we must wish for enlightenment. Maitreya in his root text says that the sutras explain in both ver concise and also in very detailed ways how all sentient beings can achieve Buddhahood. When the Buddha taught, he sometimes found it was necessar to elaborate on a subject very extensively so that people understood and at other times he taught in a very concise way.

    The fnction of the Buddhist commentaries is to show in a very concise way things which are very vast and profound. Commentators also sometimes expanded very concise sayings of the Buddha so that we can comprehend them better. That is why it is ver usefl to study not only what the Buddha taught, but also the Buddhist commentaries. These similes are arranged according to the gradual development of bodhichitta.

    The frst simile is an example of earth. Wen we frst awaken our bodhichitta, we need a great longing and wish to achieve Buddhahood. When we desire to help others, our bodhichita will fourish. If that aspiration is lacking, then it will be extremely diffcult for us to make spiritual progress. So aspiration is the frst qualit of bodhichitta.

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    This is compared to the earth because upon the earth one can build houses, plants can grow in it and so on. If there is no earh, then there is no foundation for these things to appear and be stable. When bodhichitta is accompanied with very good aspiration, then we can think of it as being like the solid earth. This stabilit is compared to gold. We need to make our aspiration into something which will never change fom now until Buddhahood. We cannot be ver concered to help everyone one day, and the next day forget all about this.

    We cannot even practice one year and the next yea not. Instead we need to have a very good, continuous motivation which is much deeper than our initial aspiration. This motivation is compared to gold because gold has a qualit of immutability, of changelessness. When gold is still in the ore, it has a golden luster. When it is mined and polished, it still has its golden luster. Gold is not like brass or other metals which blacken and taish with exposure. Because gold has this changelessness, it is compared to this very stable, healthy continuous aspiration.

    The third simile concers this bodhichitta motivation becoming even deeper. But one needs to make it much deeper, richer, more powerfl. One does this through geat diligence in our practice and improving the qualit of our aspiration. Maing this refnement and improvement of bodhichita is compared to the waxing moon. The ver new moon fom the frst day has a very fne crescent.

    Then each day it gadually grows and gows until it reaches a fll moon. He also brings it up repeatedly in Heart of Compassion , his discussion of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva; the power and strength of love; the perfection of wisdom; and the role emotions play to "destroy oneself, destroy others, and destroy discipline. In his commentary on the 9th chapter of The Way of the Bodhisattva that appears in The Center of the Sunlit Sky , the great Kagyu master Pawo Rinpoche—the student of the 8th Karmapa and teacher to the 9th—devotes thirteen pages to the Sutralamkara explaining how the text proves the validity and authenticity of the Mahayana.

    Others, like Patrul Rinpoche and Milarepa, were respected on account of their total disregard for wealth, fame, and position, inspiring and teaching through the example of their humility and simple lifestyle. It should not be imagined, however, that they con. The truth of this prediction duly became clear when, following a series of signi. Khenpo Ngakchung was indeed a most unusual child. Even as a baby he displayed miraculous powers and had visions of deities.

    From his early teens he accompanied Lungtok Tenpai Nyima constantly, serving him, listening to his teachings, and, in his spare time, practicing. Even before completing the preliminary practice he had meditative experiences usually associated with the main practice of the Great Perfection.

    While doing the mandala practice he had a vision of Longchenpa, in which he was introduced to the nature of mind. Lungtok Tenpai Nyima downplayed these experiences, insisting that Ngawang Pelzang go through the whole path in the proper order so that he could achieve stable realization and truly benefit beings. Two years later, after Lungtok Tenpai Nyima had passed away, he performed several retreats, all marked by extraordinary signs of accomplishment. He also began giving teachings himself. His calling as a khenpo was no doubt encouraged by a vision he had of Patrul Rinpoche in which the latter stressed the importance of education and monastic observance.

    After his years at Kathog he traveled widely in east Tibet, establishing monasteries and shedras, giving teachings, practicing in retreat, and writing. The thirteen volumes of texts he composed include commentaries on Madhyamika treatises by Chandrakirti and Aryadeva, texts on sadhana practice, commentaries on Vajrayana, and works on the Great Perfection, many of which were teachings that he had received from Lungtok Tenpai Nyima. In it he saw an immense stupa being destroyed and washed away by a river flowing west into the ocean, and he heard a voice from the sky saying that millions of beings in that ocean would be benefited.

    The Seven-Line prayer to Guru Rinpoche, Padmasambhava, is one of the most ubiquitous and important prayers, performed across lineages and in particular the Nyingma tradition who commence nearly every practice with it. It is introduced as one of the preliminary practices, and it remains crucial—in fact its importance increases—as one progresses through the more advanced levels of the tantric path.

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    Given the central role that Guru Rinpoche plays in the practice of guru-yoga, it is easy to appreciate the significance of the Seven-Line Prayer, the great and powerful invocation that unfailingly effects the presence of the Guru. It is no ordinary formula but appears, like Guru Rinpoche himself, from another dimension. Just as the Guru has arisen miraculously without the need of human parents, so too the Seven-Line Prayer is said to have manifested spontaneously without the agency of human authorship.

    And just as guru-yoga remains crucial at every stage of the Vajrayana path, so too the Seven-Line Prayer is relevant at all levels of the practice. Inwardly, its every word is shown to be heavy and pregnant with meanings that distill in concentrated form the whole of the Vajrayana. The Seven-Line Prayer is like a lovely, many-faceted jewel that receives and concentrates within itself the light of the entire path, reflecting it back with sparkling brilliance. Following you to be like you, I beseech you to come and bless me.

    Guru Padma Siddhi Hung. In this short but extremely rich work, Mipham Rinpoche presents the many layers of meaning, from its outer, literal meaning to the hidden meanings related to the path of liberation, the path of skillfull means including the Perfection stage and Dzogcchen, and finally pith instructions related to these. He concludes with an explanation of how to use the commentary itself as a practice. This book also includes a Guru Yoga based on the prayer, entitled Rain of Blessings which is performed by many practice groups throughout Asia and the West. It can be used almost as a crib-sheet reminder after reading the full account by Mipham Rinpoche.

    He presents the history, as described above. He also adds. Intending it for future disciples capable of training, he concealed it in many Ters. Later, The Vajra Seven-Line Prayer was revealed in the Ters of most of the one hundred great Tertons of the last ten centuries of the Nyingma lineage, again and again, as the heart of the prayers, teachings, and meditation. So it is a prayer that is most extraordinary, easy to practice, and replete with immense blessings. At the same time, in the sky before us, we visualize the paradise of Zangdopalri with Guru Rinpoche and his retinue of vidyadharas, 4akas, and 4akinis.

    Then, what we visualize in the sky dissolves into the visualization we have already created. The buddhafield dissolves into the buddhafield, Vajrayogini dissolves into Vajrayogini, Guru Rinpoche dissolves into Guru Rinpoche, and the retinue of deities, 4akas, and 4akinis into the corresponding retinue. Do not ever think that the buddhafields are far away, or doubt whether the buddhas may or may not come. For as Guru Rinpoche said: I am present in front of anyone who has faith in me, Just as the moon casts its reflection, effortlessly, in any vessel filled with water. He introduces the background of the prayer here:.

    It came to this world during a debate at Nalanda when heretics were defeating Buddhist scholars. If you invoke him there, he will come to your aid. The scholars prayed, and Guru Rinpoche came to them. They were able to win the debate, glorifying the Buddha Dharma and helping it to prosper. Later, when Guru Rinpoche went to Tibet, he taught the prayer to his twenty-five disciples and it benefited them greatly. In this work, rather than jumping right in to the meaning of the prayer itself, the first half of the book lays the foundation and view that are necessary for effectively reciting the prayer, namely: showing the inherent problems in the extreme views of of nihilism and externalism; why trying to understand the nature of mind is a futile exercise; clearing misunderstanding about who Guru Rinpoche was; a presentation of various Buddhist doctrines and how the Triple Gems of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are recognized; and finally a look at the Buddha as well as peaceful and wrathful deities in the Vajrayana system.

    Reflect on impermanence. Feel the presence of Guru Padmasambhava, and all the buddhas, bodhisattvas, lineage masters, and sangha. Chant the seven-line prayer, which is the sound of love, joy, and devotion. Feel it bringing you and all beings back into your original true nature. Whether you recite for a short or long time, afterward meditate on the absolute state—open, relaxed, and free.

    Meditate according to your capabilities, beginning with focus for a while if you need it, then ultimately relaxing without any focus according to the Dzogchen teachings. While all the books above provide a very precise explanation of the prayer itself, there is an excellent book describing how this prayer is integrated in the life and teachings of a great master. The prayer is weaved throughout The Autobiography of Jamgon Kongtrul where Kongtrul shares receiving teachings on the prayer from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, doing intensive accumulations of the practice, often followed by signs of accomplishment, composing a sadhana based on the prayer, and teaching and performing it widely.

    Excellent auspicious signs appeared. In particular, when he was in Dagam Wangphuk, one night in a dream Guru Padmasambhava appeared to him in the form of Khyentse Rinpoche. Khyentse opened a book containing many yellow scrolls with dakini script written on them, and he gave Kongtrul complete instructions on reciting the Seven-Line Prayer.

    During the daytime, every day there were clouds of white rainbows appearing in the sky. Later, when he visited Dzongsar, Khyentse Rinpoche told Kongtrul he should definitely write down those instructions on the Seven-Line Prayer, so Kongtrul wrote them down as mind terma. Later that year, a large number of students came from all over the country to study with him, and Kongtrul satisfied all their wishes.

    Your nature is the ultimate expanse, Primordial and perfect peace. From this there radiates a myriad rays of light Performing every kind of action In the field of those who might be trained. In joy and veneration I bow down to you Samantabhadra, sun of love and knowledge— To you and all the buddhas and their bodhisattva heirs. Among the teachings of the Natural Great Perfection, Whose path brings beings blessed with perfect fortune To the city of their freedom, Here I shall set forth this commentary, The Chariot of Surpassing Purity.

    The peak and summit of all the infinite discourses of the Sugata is the class of teachings belonging to the Natural Great Perfection. The stages in which an individual person may put this teaching into practice are defined in my text Finding Rest in Meditation. In the present commentary, I shall clearly describe the key points of its pith instructions. Primordial nature, Pure and vast expanse like space itself, Supreme reality, unmoving, Utterly devoid of all elaboration, Clear and lucent nature of the mind itself, The essence of enlightenment— In seeing this unmoving and unchanging perfect ground, I bow in homage.

    The ground of the Great Perfection is the nature of the mind, self-arisen primordial wisdom, which is motionless and transcends all conceptual extremes. Its nature is beyond differentiation. It is empty like an all-accommodating space and is luminous like the unclouded sun and moon. Like a jewel, it is in itself replete with excellence. And through recognizing this unmoving and unchanging ground, awareness itself, I pay homage to it. As it is said in the All-Creating King Tantra ,.

    Teacher of the Teachers, all-creating King! The nature of the mind is the sole seed of everything. I bow down to this mind that like a wish-fulfilling gem Is giver of the fruits one may desire. Pay heed! I shall explain them in the light of my experience. The subject of these pith instructions is self-cognizing primordial wisdom. This wisdom is the mother of all the buddhas, past, present, and to come. I will therefore explain it for the sake of future generations according to how I myself have practiced it.

    The path of past and future Conquerors Residing in the ten directions Is this transcendent virtue, nothing else. Unceasing and unborn, the very character of space, It is the sphere of self-cognizing wisdom. I bow to this, the mother of Victorious Ones Past, present, and to come. The reason is that transcendent wisdom itself is the Great Perfection.

    For this is how all the Victorious Ones of the three times refer to awareness itself. It is that from which they take their birth. As it is said in the All-Creating King ,. I am the essence uncontrived just as it is. I am beyond both being and nonbeing. This section reveals the reason for the composition of this treatise. I shall now explain the main body of the root text first briefly and then in detail. Depending on three things is this accomplished: The place, the persons, and the practices they implement. If those who wish for liberation settle evenly in profound concentration in places suited to their temperament and appropriate to the four seasons of the year, it is certain that they will achieve their purpose.

    And since liberation is perfectly accomplished thanks to three factors—the place where the practice is pursued, the practitioners themselves, and the teachings they practice—these three points form the adamantine body of this treatise, and I shall now explain them successively and in detail. Longchen Rabjam — , also known as Longchenpa, is a great luminary of Tibetan Buddhism. See more about him here. This profound and comprehensive presentation of the Buddhist view and path combines the scholastic expository method with direct pith instructions designed for yogi practitioners.

    To order the full book, click here. So now you have your freedom, hard to find, And yet its time is passing; it is subject to decay. Look closely; see its hollowness like bubbling foam. It is not worthy of your trust! Think night and day upon the utter certainty of death.

    This body is the ground of pain and every mental sorrow, A plenteous wellspring of defiled affliction. And yet you garland it with flowers, Adorning it with robes and jewels. But though you tend and wait on it With many a tasty gift of food and drink, At last it will not stay; it will decay and leave you. You cherish now the future food Of jackal, fox, and graveyard bird! They blaze with glory through their merit and renown, Yet in the contest with the Lord of Death They have no victory.

    Devas and asuras, rishis, those with magic power, The rulers and the ruled—unnumbered are their births, And not a single one without the fear of death! This lifetime passes like the weeping clouds Where dance the lightning garlands of the Lord of Death, And from them, day and night, there falls An endless rain to bathe the shoots That grow in the three levels of existence. The world and its inhabitants will pass. The universe is formed and then destroyed By seven fires, a flood, and then the scattering wind.

    The all-encircling sea, the continents, And even mighty Sumeru compounded of four jewels, All girded by the rings of lesser peaks—all this will pass. The time will come when all will have dissolved Into a single space. Remember this and practice Dharma from your heart. Clear, resplendent, radiant he shines, And yet he is impermanent: He demonstrates his passing to the state beyond all pain. And see how the unbounded sun Of his most precious Doctrine sets And disappears as the generations pass.

    Coreless like the plaintain tree, This form of human flesh, This mere illusion of a dwelling place, How can it not decay and be destroyed? Death therefore is sure; Uncertain is its when and where and how. This life is ever dwindling; no increment is possible. You have so little time to live! Rein in your projects for the future— Better far to strive in Dharma from this very instant!

    This shelter built of the four elements, Endowed with mind adorned with its inhabitants— The thoughts that move— Arises through conditions. Thus it is compounded. Being so, it is destructible. Like a village crumbling down, it will not last. Be swift to practice holy Dharma! So practice holy Dharma right away.

    But actions white and black, not left behind, will shadow you. Why then do you not pass your time in diligence? Think now about the past and future peoples of the world. For those who follow after, it will be the same. Look how they pass! The old and young have all an equal destiny. From them you are no different in your nature. Remember that your death is certain; practice Dharma!

    Throughout the triple world, from hell until the summit of the world, There is no place of safety from the Deadly Lord. Everything is passing, changing, essenceless. Nothing can be trusted; all is turning like a chariot wheel. Especially this human state is plagued by many perils. Disease and evil forces are the source of numerous ills. Fire and sword, vast chasms, poisons, savage beasts, And kings and robbers, enemies and thieves, And all the rest destroy prosperity and life.

    They drift toward the kingdom of the Lord of Death Like rivers running to the sea And like the round orb of the sun That sets behind the western hills. If food and all the good amenities of life May be, like actual poisons, cause of pain, How could goodness and perfection not be quenched by real adversity? There is nothing that cannot become the cause of death. And since its place and cause and time are all uncertain, Rid yourself of all the futile and deceptive things pertaining to this life.

    Sincerely practice Dharma: This will help you in the moment of your death. Now you have attained a precious vessel, Free of every defect, perfect, lauded by the Buddha. Alas, it is like giving teachings to a stone! Most people in this world— To think of them brings sorrow welling up! They do not comprehend when taught, And explanation brings no understanding.