by His Eminence Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche
Translated by Lama Nyandak
July 1, 2011
Morning session - Four Mind Trainings
Today is the last day of Saka Dawa and it is said that during Saka Dawa all the thing sthat we do - positive or negative will multiply many times. Especially today is the last day, the 30th day of Saka Dawa and is also the day of Buddha Amitabha, so it is considered as a very special day.
Just as Shentideva said in his Guide to Boddhisattvas Way of Life that the precious human life is so difficult to obtain. When we obtain such a precious human life, we should utilize it in meaningful way. We now have actually found the precious human life and not only that, we have encountered the Buddha Dharma and have the opportunity to practice the Buddha Dharma as well. It is important to try to accomplish something meaningful out of this precious human life. Meaningful in the sense that for our own self benefit, we need to attain liberation; and for the benefit to other sentient beings, we need to achieve the attainment of enlightenment so that we can benefit all other sentient beings. It is said that finding the precious human life is very difficult but even when we have found the precious human life, not many individuals who are practicing the precious Buddha Dharma and practicing the virtuous deeds. It is like star in daytime. The reason why it is rare is because since the beginningless time until now, we are influenced by the ignorance and by the karma of afflictive emotions and because of our strong habitual tendency, we are unable to connect ourselves to the practice of virtuous deeds and the practice of Dharma. Therefore it is said that it is very rare even though there are so many human beings, somehow people who are following the path of Buddha Dharma is not so many. Just as Shentideva said: “Individuals who are in the striking path to the virtuous deeds are just like lightening in the dark sky after rain.” When lightening occurs in the darkness, it is very momentary; in the same way, we do have momentary virtuous attitudes in our mind. That also comes from the power of blessings and the aspiration prayers of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Precious human life that we have found now is not something that we can obtain so easily. We have found the precious human life because of the positive deeds and merits that we have accumulated preciously and also we have connected ourselves to the path of the Buddha Dharma in the former lifetimes. Precious human life that we have obtained in this life is the result of great accumulation of merits in the precious life and it is not something that we accidentally obtained. Here we have the opportunity and potential to achieve higher attainment for ourselves on the basis of our human body, we should cherish it because life is of so impermanent nature and we do not know when we are going to die. It is said in the teaching that our remaining life is getting shorter and shorter and die is approaching closer and closer. Therefore we have to put ourselves into the practice of virtuous deeds. Even though sometimes we have positive thoughts in our mind, it is very momentary and not lasting forever. Therefore we have to constantly remind ourselves to remain in positive thoughts in our mind all the time. Even though it is very difficult to obtain the human body and it is very difficult to generate positive thoughts in our mind and perform virtuous actions, however, the point is that our human body is composed of blood, flesh and so on and when death comes, we have to leave the body behind without choice and what happen after our death is that whatever positive or negative karma that we have created will follow ourselves. Just as Maitreya Buddha said that the six realms of existence is categorized into three higher rebirths and three lower rebirths. Within these six realms of existence, beings are wondering in these six realms of existence because of their own negative karma. It is said that until you are able to eliminate your own negative deeds and karma that caused you to take rebirth in these six realms, you will not be liberated. Just as the wheel which is spun by water, until water stops, the wheel will keep on spinning. The same regarding us wondering in samsara, we are cycling around and around until we are able to uproot all our obscurations and negative karma that cause us to cycle in the samsara.
Just as I mentioned in the bardo teaching that we are now in the bardo of natural birth and existence and during this bardo, there is great opportunity for us to determine our next life. Whether we will have a better and positive life in the next life or a worse life in the next life, it is completely up to what we do in this life. If we put ourselves into more positive deeds and practices, we may have better life in the next life. If we are not able to do so, we probably may have a worse life in next life. When we die, none of the possessions that we own now will be able to help us nor can they be brought with us to the next life. What we are able to bring with us is the positive and negative karma that we have created. With this, we will wander in the samsara again according to that karma. Also Buddha gave teaching to a king in one of the sutra, “When you are alive, you have wealth and power and many people help you, but when you die, neither these things that you own follow you, nor your friends and relatives can help you. What follows you and helps you when you die is whatever positive deeds and merits that you have accumulated and that karma is going help you.” Because of that, it is important for us to distinguish what is positive and what is negative. Generally speaking, all human beings wish to have happiness and not wish for suffering. But just by wishing and not wishing would not help us. We have to distinguish what are the causes and conditions that bring happiness and what are the causes and conditions that bring suffering. As Shentideva said that even though sentient beings while wishing for happiness, they destroy the causes of happiness and even though they do not want to have any pain and suffering, they are creating more causes and conditions for suffering. With our ignorant mind, even though we do not really want to have any suffering, but we are always chasing the causes and conditions that produce pain and suffering. Even though we wish for happiness, we are always destroying the causes and conditions that will produce happiness. Just like when fire starts to burn, we extinguish the fire. Therefore, it is important to know what are the causes and conditions that will bring happiness and suffering. The entire sentient beings is going through pain and suffering because of the ignorant mind, therefore, when we obtain the precious human life and have encountered the Buddha Dharma and Buddha has shown us the authentic path to liberation, we should rejoice that we have found such a sublime path. With that, we should generate loving kindness and compassion towards all sentient beings. Also Buddha has taught widely and on many levels of the teachings – sutras, tantras and so on; in particular, the practice that we are doing today is related to the practice of Vajrayana teaching and practice and that has to do with the generation stage and the completion stage of the practice. We should rejoice that we are so fortunate to have this kind of profound practice that we visualize ourselves as Avalokisteshvara and recite the mantra of Avalokiteshvara. Before we even start reciting the mantra, it is important to generate loving kindness and compassion to the entire sentient beings. We have to develop great altruistic intention to all sentient beings. May all sentient beings be liberated from all pain and suffering. May they have all the happiness and peace. The three-day retreat is not very long but it is very profound practice. If you are able to combine all the stages of Buddha’s practice into each and every session of the practice, such as starting from the four contemplations that turn the mind (mind training) and in addition to that the five preliminary practices and the five Fivefold mahamudra as well, then one session alone will bring immense benefit. This morning, we focus our intention on the four thoughts mind training – precious human life, impermanence, law of cause and effect and the flaws of samsara. We will do the mani recitation in relation to the four mind trainings.
Questions and Answers Session – Five Foldpath Mahamudra
This morning we focus on the four mind training teaching. This section we are going to focus on the Five Foldpath mahamudra teaching. When we talk about visualizing oneself as a deity, it is said that we have to visualize the deity mentally. This kind of visualization has to be grounded with bodhicitta or the altruistic intention to attain Buddhahood for the entire sentient being. Lord Jigten Sumgn said that the form of bodhicitta is the Buddha. The real Buddha is bodhicitta.
Then regarding the question about the empowerment whether an individual can visualize the deity without having empowerment or not. When we talk about empowerment, there are two ways to understand the meaning of empowerment. One is the ordinary way and the second way is the ultimate way of understanding. The first ordinary way to understand what empowerment is is that the vajra-master holds the vase in his/her hand and puts the vase upon the disciple’s head and then gives saffron water to disciple and if you drink it, you receive the vase blessing. Then you considered as having received the empowerment. However, when we talk about the ultimate meaning of what empowerment is, here Lord Jigten Sumgon said that you will be able to receive the real empowerment only if you are able to understand the real meaning of empowerment. If you are able to understand and realize the ultimate meaning in your mind, you can say that you actually received empowerment. Regarding the real meaning and the ultimate meaning of empowerment, in general, there are four different types of empowerments and the last one is the word empowerment, the ultimate empowerment that is related your true nature of your mind. When we receive the word empowerment, it is something that cannot be expressed and cannot be explained, it is beyond imagination, it is the ultimate nature of your own mind. You can consider this as the ultimate meaning of empowerment. Before we try to visualize ourselves as a deity, it is important to develop altruistic intention of attending enlightenment for the benefit to all sentient beings. Here when we try to develop this kind of correct mental attribute, we first develop compassion to all sentient beings, compassion towards the suffering of the entire sentient beings. That is said to be the relative bodhicitta. Then when you try to understand in deeper level what the sentiment of this compassion is and where this compassion arises. If you try to look into the real nature of compassion, you cannot really identify what it is really like. It is something free from elaboration. It is emptiness nature. In that case, you are practicing the ultimate bodhicitta. Here we are combining the practice of both relative and ultimate bodhicitta together. As long as we have this kind of understanding and attitude in our mind, we are allowed to visualize ourselves as deity. With the correct mental attitude, you will have good result. The reason why we are allowed to visualize ourselves as deity is because each and every sentient being possesses the Buddha nature. Here on the basis of Buddha nature and the path which is the union of compassion and emptiness, we have the right to visualize ourselves as deity and the result of all these practices is that we are going to attain the form body of Buddha. If you are able to understand the key point, you really have received the ultimate empowerment. If we just have the ceremony of giving and receiving the initiation, the master who gives the initiation, holds a vase and put the vase on your head; these ceremonies give us the introduction on how to visualize ourselves as a deity. As long as an individual is not able to receive the ultimate meaning of the empowerment, by just receiving the ordinary way of empowerment, whether or not the individual really received the empowerment is a question and whether or not there will be good result comes out of the practice of that initiation, it is also a question. When Khenchen mentioned to you that when you visualize the deity, you should not have deluded mind, he referred to when you start visualizing the deity, you should start with the right and correct motivation. If you begin your visualization having attachment or anger or ignorant, due to this intention, there is possibility that you be reborn as male and female ghosts and for those who have an ignorant mind, they may be reborn as territory honor or spirit. Therefore it is said that when we start visualizing ourselves as deity, we should have right motivation. When you have already started, you may have different thoughts, but that is not really a big problem. However, when you start visualizing as a deity, you should start developing the intention of bodhicitta.
Another question regarding the difficultiy to look at the nature of the emotion itself rather than looking at the object of emotions. Rinpoche was saying that it is true that it is not easy since so far we are so used to always look outwardly and we have not get used to looking inwardly. This is something that you have to put into practice and you have to get used to. Once you get used to looking into the nature of emotions, it would be easier.
Regarding somebody asked about because of somethings that you have said, it gave rise to some feelings that affect your mind or your own body. Rinpoche said that it happens and it is normal.
Regarding the question about doing sadhana practice, whether or not it will ripen our karma faster or immediately.
Answer: When we talk about the law of cause and effect, it is very subtle; it is not something that we can pinpoint. Only Buddha can pinpoint at what kind of result that one have now is due to exactly what precious karma that you have done in the past. Person like myself, I cannot really tell you what kind of result is due to what kind of karma in the past. But one thing we can remember is that when all these adverse circumstances happen in our lives, we have to consider that as a reminder for us to practice the Dharma. It is said that adverse condition is one of the best reminders to practice the Dharma. It depends on how we set the mind whether we look at that as negative or positive. If you look at it in a positive way – you having this kind of problem and difficulty, may all sentient beings of the six realms of existence, who are facing problems and difficulties, may all their problems be solved and may all their difficulties and bad karma be purified. In addition, you can make use of the opportunity to practice sending all the goodness to others and receiving all the badness from other sentient beings upon yourself.
Another question is what the intention of reciting the mani-mantra is. Is it to crash our ego or not?
Answer: Yes, you can say that it is for crashing our ego. The reason why we are reciting the mani-mantra is to purify all our negative karma that we have created since the beginningless time until now. We are trying to develop loving kindness and compassion to all the sentient beings so that we are able to help sentient beings. Also we are trying to attain the state of enlightenment so that we can help all the sentient beings. The reason why we recite the mani mantra is to enhance our loving kindness and our bodhicitta mind towards all sentient beings.
Regarding another question that when you walk around the city, you feel that people’s mind is very hard and rigid. Rinpoche said that if you have this kind of feeling, it is either that is your own way of looking at other people or it is because of the people who live in this country and city, everybody is very busy and they have to work a lot and because of the work and anxiety, they have very hard mind. This could happen. When you see this, what you can do is that you make a good aspiration prayer that may all these people generate loving kindness and compassion and you can develop loving kindness to all these people.
Another question is about the wife dies and the husband who has already died 10 – 15 years ago, is there waiting somewhere and wife is going there to meet the husband. Rinpoche said that of course, this kind of karma may be there, but it is not necessary that this kind of karma happens to each and every sentient being. This kind of statement may be found in different religious faith for some reasons and there might be some sources to explain that kind of explanation and statement. However, we do not find any of this kind of statement in the Tibetan Book of Death nor in the bardo teachings. There is no such thing.
There is also a question about the dragon on the brocade. Rinpoche said that when you talk about dragon, it has to do with the culture especially the Chinese culture. In Chinese culture, dragon is considered as very meritorious and very powerful animal. Dragon symbolizes the king and peacock symbolizing the queen. So you can see sometimes the dragon on one side and the peacock on the other side representing the king and the queen. Since nowadays brocade is made in China so the dragon is there but it has nothing to do with the religious idea.
Another question: Is it possible to use the details of visualization as an antidote of anger.
Answer: Of course when you are really full of anger, you cannot really visualize yourself as the deity. Lord Jigten sumgon said that first you have to look into the nature of anger itself and then imagine that all sentient beings who are going through the anger, may they transfer the anger into compassion. So with this compassionate mind, you can visualize.
Another question: when you start with visualization, it is necessary to always have a clear image while you chant the mantra? Sometimes, I lost the image and I wonder if I should I try to generate the image again or should I just leave it and just continue concentrate on the mantra?
Answer: You do not have to visualize it all over again, but in your mind, you should make sure that you have already visualized the deity and you have the confidence in yourself that you are the deity, this is what we called deity pride.
HOME Mani Teachings 2011
|May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,|
|that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;|
|May all sentient beings obtain all the excellent flavors of nonattachment,|
|and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;|
|May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth|
|and realize that all Buddha teachings are without difference;|
Last updated on 2012-10-06.