Refuge and Conclusion   HOME Mani Teachings 2011

by His Eminence Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche

Translated by Lama Nyandak

July 3, 2011

Stockholm, Sweden

Today, some of our Dharma friends want to receive the refuge vow. Just by having the intension of receiving the refuge vow alone indicates that you have accumulated a great deal of merits from your past lives. This is wonderful. Generally speaking, each and every sentient being possesses the Buddha nature. The Buddha nature that we have is obscured by the adventitious defilements and because of that we are not able to manifest our Buddha nature as Buddha does. In the samsara, each and sentient being desires happiness and not desires suffering; but just by desiring happiness, happiness will not come and just by not desiring suffering, suffering will not go away. So we need to know the path and method to accomplish happiness and overcome suffering. In order to do that, we need to have an authentic teacher who can help us and lead us to the way to happiness. The authentic teacher in this case is Buddha. Buddha is the one who can show us the Path to happiness since Buddha has already overcome all the afflictive emotions and defilements. He has already accomplished all the knowledge and all the qualities of Buddha.  He has the quality of knowing and the quality of loving kindness to all sentient beings. Because of that, he can help us. Even though he has the quality of knowing, but how can he help? The reason why he is willing to help sentient beings is because right from the beginning he generated the intension to attend Buddhahood for the benefit to all sentient beings. He started his path to enlightenment by generating bodhicitta; therefore, Buddha is not just knowing, he has great compassion and loving kindness toward all sentient beings. His loving kindness and compassion is impartial, offering to all sentient beings equally. The path and method that he showed to us is his teaching which is called the Dharma. If we are able to apply his path in our day to day life practice, we are really able to get rid of the causes and results of suffering. Buddha has three special qualities: knowing, loving kindness and ability/power to help other sentient beings. Therefore when we take refuge to the three Jewels, first we take refuge to the Buddha. Buddha helps us by means of his teaching called Dharma. Therefore, we take refuge to the Dharma. Now we have Buddha as a teacher and Dharma, the teaching as the path. The third one is the Sangha. Even though we have Buddha as the teacher and Dharma as the path, we do not know how to apply these Dharma practices in your daily life. We need somebody who can assist us on the path to the Dharma practice. We can consider Sangha as a spiritual companion.

We are taking the refuge vow. Vow means something that you promise to keep in your mind. The refuge vow is the transmission that came all the way from Buddha Shakyamuni down to now, whether it is in India or Tibet, this refuge ceremony transmission has been there all the time. When we are now taking the refuge vow, we are connecting ourselves through the lineage transmission of the refuge vow to Buddha Shakyamuni. During the actual ceremony of receiving the refuge vow, there are a few lines that I will say first and then you have to repeat after me. The meaning of that is “Today onward until I die, I will take Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as my refuge/protector.” The real significance of taking refuge is that we should have confidence in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha that they have potential and power to help us to liberate ourselves from the suffering ocean of samsara. You will be repeating after me for three times and at the end of that, I will say “Tub-yu-no” and you have to say “Legso”. The meaning of “Tub-yu-no” is that this is the method and you will reply Excellent. After that, a small piece of hair is being cut from your head meaning that you are making an offering (with your hair) to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

Generally speaking, it is mentioned in many places about the advantages of taking refuge. However, Lord Atisha summarized the advantages of taking refuge into eight classes. The first benefit is that one will become a practitioner, the follower of the Buddha Dharma. Otherwise, an individual who may study a lot about Buddhism but if an individual has not taken refuge to the Three Jewel, that individual is still not considered as follower of the Buddha. Second benefit is that the refuge vow is the foundation to all the other vows to receive. For example, based on the refuge vow, one can take individual liberation vow, bodhisattva vow and secret mantra vow. Third benefit is that one can get rid of a lot of the negative karma that one has accumulated since beginningless time until now. Forth benefit is that one will increase one’s own merit. Fifth is that one will accomplish one’s wishes spontaneously. Sixth benefit is that one will not be harmed by human and non-human. Seventh benefit is that when you die, if you remember taking refuge in the Three Jewels, you will not be reborn into the three lower realms. Eighth benefit is that even though one may not be able to reborn in the Pureland, one may be able to reborn as human in the next life. During that life, one will again connect oneself to the Three Jewels and continue practicing; so eventually, one can reach enlightenment.

Once we have taken refuge, there are things that need to be cultivated and there are things that we should abandon. Once we have taken refuge in the Buddha, we do not take refuge in any other worldly god. It is because worldly gods themselves are bound in the samsara and they are not free from samsara, so they cannot help us to liberate from samsara. Once we take refuge in the Dharma (Buddha’s teaching), we should not commit any harmful action or thought toward any sentient being because the essence of all the Buddha’s teaching is the altruistic intention and compassion to all sentient beings. Once we take refuge to the Sangha, we should not associate friends who have negative/bad influence to us for example friends who commit negative karma. The reason is that for the beginning practitioner, the outer condition and environment make a huge difference. If we associate with them, we ourselves are also engaging and involving in negative karma, as a result, our loving kindness and altruistic intention to help other sentient beings will be degenerated. There are also cases when friends that we are following may have some different views on the Buddhist path as well. We are not saying that we should not develop loving kindness and compassion towards those people. What we are saying is that we should not be affected by their misbehavior, the negative actions and so on.

Things that need to be cultivated once we take refuge to the Buddha are first, we should always pay respect to the Buddha including his images (pictures, statues etc), his clothes (robes) and so on. Once we take refuge to the Dharma, we should not step over the Dharma texts, books and so on. We should pay respect to the texts. Once we take refuge in the Sangha, we should pay respect to Sangha not just in person, but also their clothes (yellow or red robes) and so on. We should always treat them with respect.

When you understand the importance of paying respect and keeping precepts that Rinpoche has been explained, on the surface, it seems that they are not that important. However, they are important since when you train yourself with these practices, it helps you to build strength in your mindfulness and heedfulness. If you can maintain these attitudes in your daily life, it will help you to enhance your faith and devotion to the Three Jewels as well as strengthen your mindfulness.

The refuge ceremony that you are receiving today is according to the Tibetan tradition of Buddhist refuge ceremony which is combined both sutra and tantra.  So it is considered as Mahayana way in taking refuge in the Three Jewels. Therefore, before receiving this refuge vow, you are receiving this vow for the benefit to sentient being, not for only oneself. When we take the refuge vow, we have to make sure that we are delightful; we should rejoice and feel fortunate that we have the opportunity to receive the refuge vow. After the refuge ceremony, you will receive a new name. The name will always start with “Konchog” which means “Triple Gems/Three Jewels”. So when you say your name, it will remind you that you are the one who take refuge in the Three Jewels. Before you receive the refuge vow, you should do three prostrations if you can. If you cannot due to legs or other physical problem, it is fine to just fold your hand together and sit there. After three prostrations, sit with right knee touching the ground and left knee half standing up. All of your hair that you have offered, Rinpoche will bring with him to the holy place Lachi, the place that Milarepa has meditated for many years.

These past few days, we had a wonderful Mani-retreat and it was very successful. I saw that the organizers of this retreat work very hard, day and night. So, I would like to extend my gratitude to them. Also all the participants who came here came diligently every day. I rejoice your hard work and your recitation of the Mani-mantra. Everyday Ani Khandro-la also came to recite the Mani-mantra.  I thank you all for joining the Mani-retreat.

The late Drubwang Rinpoche when he was alive, he always emphased and encouraged people to recite the Mani-mantra wherever he travelled. He always explained to people that Mani-mantra is one of the most simple and effective practices for the ordinary people like ourselves.  It is very true. We are the disciples of Drubwang Rinpoche and we should listen to his advice and instructions. What we can do is that we fulfill his wishes to recite the Mani-mantra as much as we can.

Mani-retreat also takes place every year in December (during the anniversary of the parinarvana of His Eminence Drubwang Rinpoche) in Rinchen Ling Monastery in Kathmandu. Last year some of the Swedish friends also came and participated the Mani retreat. All of you are welcome and we are very happy if you can come. Since for a long time until now, we all are trying to cultivate ourselves in the virtuous deeds, positive thoughts and positive deeds, we should continue to do so. If we cultivate positive thoughts and positive deeds, the environment and the country that we live will be more peaceful. From my part, I will always pray for your good health, good fortune and success in your life. Since these past few days, we have been reciting the Mani-mantra until today. We can now dedicate all the virtuous deeds that we have accumulated during the Mani-retreat for the welfare of all sentient beings. Now we do the Mani-dedication. That is all for now and I would like to thank you all of you.




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 2012-09-23.