HH Karmapa teaching on Vajradhara Lineage Prayer
Transcript of a teaching given by the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa during the 29th Kagyu Monlam Chenmo February 26–28, 2012 in Bodhgaya, India. Simultaneously translated into English by Ringu Tulku Rinpoche. Slightly edited.
Great masters of the Karma Kamtshang lineage
2012, Monlam Pavilion
This is a special, sacred place. Kalachakra tantra talks about two types of Jambudvipa, the greater and smaller one. This is the smaller Jambudvipa and in the centre of that is this great sacred place called Gyalwa Dorje Den in India, Bodhgaya. This is one of the most sacred places for Buddhists and in this place people from all over the world, the devotees, have gathered here, and we have again and again different programs related to Dharma. And especially now, today we have this very special occasion to teach and listen Buddhadharma.
This I think is a very fortunate thing for me as the speaker as well as for you who are listening to these teachings. Therefore I would like to extend my greetings to all of you. Especially this is the beginning of the Tibetan year of Water Dragon, and thus I would like to extend to all of you my special wishes for the Tibetan New Year, Losar. I would like to express my tashi delek to all of you and I wish in this coming year you will be free from all obstacles, outer, inner or secret and that all your wishes will be fulfilled.
In the afternoon from 3 to 5 pm this is only for the sangha, ordained people, members, who are registered in the Kagyu Monlam. This is not a teaching but I’m giving information and instructions. Only for ordained Kagyu Monlam participants, who have the card. This is about training them about environment, how to conduct themselves, about health and hygiene etc. Therefore the foreigners and those who are educated in these matters already at school do not have to attend this.
This morning we are going through the Dorje Chang Tungma, The Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer. When you say Dorje Chang Tungma, that means Short Dorje Chang. Then you might feel that there are two different kind of Vajradharas, one is short and one is long. One small and one tall Dorje Chang. It is not like that. Short means the short prayer of Dorje Chang. There are other prayers, which are longer. To compare to that this is a short one. Therefore we call it Dorje Chang Tungma.
The author of this prayer is Benkar Jampal Zangpo, who is regarded as the reincarnation of Geshe Langri Tangpa. Benkar Jampal Zangpo was teacher of the 7th Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso.
Generally when we teach the short prayer, there is also a tradition that you first explain how to meditate the lineage and there are two different ways of visualizing the refuge mandala. There are two different types of refuge mandala. One is the lineage lamas one above another, and the other is like gathering together. But we are not going to approach this from that point of view. We are going directly to the teachings, more as a transmission of the meaning, the main understanding of this prayer. This is not about how to visualize, not a detailed explanation of the visualization.
The lineage of Mahamudra or the lineage of Kagyu comes from India: Tilopa, Naropa and Maitripa, these great masters from India. And in Tibet it comes from Marpa Chökyi Lodro, the Great Translator. Marpa Lotsa Chökyi Lodro travelled to India three times and there he met the great masters, Naropa, Maitripa and many others. He studied under them all the four tantras and especially the four special lineages that Naropa received. He studied them all the Four Tantras and especially the special lineages that Naropa received. He studied them all and became not only a great master but a great siddha. He also received predictions that his students will become more advanced than himself and their students will become even more. The teaching lineage will flow like a stream of a river, which becomes bigger and stronger as it flows by. That kind of predictions he received.
From Marpa two lineages continued. First is the lineage of the tantras that Marpa brought from India – he had many students, but most important four students whom we call the four pillars of the teachings. Among them Ngok Chöku Dorje was the one, who specially held the teaching lineage and through him still now this teaching lineage is preserved, not only in Kagyu School but this teaching lineage spread to other schools of Tibetan Buddhism as well.
And the Practice Lineage of Marpa Lotsa was specially carried on by Tibetan yogi Milarepa. After Milarepa met his teacher Marpa, he – as you know – went through many hardships and did everything that his teacher wished. Thereby, afterwards he was instructed by his teacher. He meditated in most solitude places in caves on very high snowy mountains. Just eating nettles, which is barely human food. That way practicing for long time with great hardship he attained the most profound experiences of the Lineage. Milarepa had many great students, who attained the highest realizations. Among them the two greatest ones are known as the sun-like and moon-like students: Rechungpa was the moon-like student. Later on he passed away without leaving mortal remains behind. He also had many students, Khyung Tsangpa, whose student was Gyalwa Lo (Bengar Jampal Zangpo, i.e. Jetsun Lorepa) etc., many great masters.
And the lineage of Rechungpa – there is a special lineage called Rechung Hearing Lineage. One of the main students of Milarepa was Nyandzong Repa Changchup Gyalpo. From him there is a special teaching lineage, which is called Nyandzong Hearing Lineage.
The most important lineage holder of Milarepa, the sun-like Dakpo Daö Shönnu, we call him Gampopa, was very clearly predicted by the Buddha in three popular sutras. In them it’s predicted that there will be someone called Gelong Tsodze, a bikshu, gelong, who is a doctor. And it was also predicted that he will have five hundred very pure enlightened students and five hundred not so enlightened students. Out of that there were eight hundred great meditators of whom the most important students of Gampopa we call Khampa mi-sum, The Three Men from Kham. They were all coming from Kham region of Tibet.
Dakpo Rinpoche is the founder of Dakpo Kagyu. His nephew was called Gompo Tsultrim Nyingpo (or Gomtsul). From him there was a lineage that held Gampopa’s teachings at Gampopa’s main seat and that has later been called Densa Kagyu. The main student of this nephew, Gompo Tsultrim Nyingpo, was Shang Yudrakpa or Tsöndru Drakpa. From there came another sub school of Kagyu called Tsalpa Kagyu, which is one of the four elder sub schools of Kagyu.
The lineage that comes from one of the three Khampas, from Thutob Khampa Use (Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa), is called Karma Kagyu. And then one other of the three men from Kham, Khampa Dorgyal (Thutob Pakmo Drupa), the lineage that comes from him, is called Pakdru Kagyu. Khampa Dorgyal seems to be the one whose lineage and activity spread most widely, because all these, what we call chung gye, the eight later sub schools of Karma Kagyu are coming from students and students of students of Pakmo Drukpa.
Another direct student of Gampopa was Barompa Dharma Wangchuk, who started Barom Kagyu. In that school there were eight masters, like Trishi Repa who became the teacher of the Chinese emperor. This lineage was once very important and strong, and the teachings still continue and are intact. Tsalpa Kagyu, Karma Kagyu, Barom Kagyu and Pakdru Kagyu are the four elder schools, kagyu che zhi, and these are coming from direct students of either Gampopa or his nephew. There is also a tradition to count five, kagyu che nga, the five early Kagyu schools, when we count Densa Kagyu as one of them.
The main seat of Gampopa is called Dak-lha Gampo, the Kagyu lineage held at his main seat.
The lineages that spread through the students of students of Gampopa, especially the students of Pakmodrupa, we call the eight later Kagyus.
It is very important to understand, because when we talk about che zhi chung gye, sometimes it is understood as eight greater and kind of lesser… [HH Karmapa in English:] “In some version they translate greater and lesser and people misunderstand that greater means great and lesser means small, not important.” So it’s not like that, it’s just that the lineages that come from the students of Gampopa and his nephew are called the four elder, not greater but elder schools or sub schools of Kagyu.
And it’s also important to understand that the nephew of Gampopa was someone almost equal or similar to Gampopa, both were teaching and there were no students of Gampopa, who didn’t receive teachings from his nephew as well. They were more or less same or similar. And their direct students were the founders of the four elder schools, kagyu che zhi.
The students of them, especially the students of Pakmo Drupa are the founders of the other sub schools of Kagyu. Because they came later or are younger, they are called chung gye. Chung here is not referring to smaller or less important. It’s not like that, this is important to understand, because there can be misunderstandings.
And sometimes people have even said that the terms che zhi and chung gye were not there before but appeared only after the Jamgon Kongtrul the Great and Jamgyang Khyentse’s time. Some people say that these terms were not there before the writings of Jamgong Kongtrul. That it seems is not correct, because in a writing called taklung shabdrung ngawang namgyal, perhaps it’s a prayer, in there it’s very clearly mentioned che zhi and chung gye. This writing existed during the time of the 10th Karmapa, and Jamgon Kongtrul lived during the time of the 14th Karmapa. Therefore that cannot be true.
When we translated the Kagyu Monlam Prayer Book into English, we discussed about this quite a lot and we decided translate che and chung as “elder” and “younger”. As it’s said here: “…those who have the four elder and eight younger lineages.” Otherwise, sometimes when we say “greater” and “lesser” it kind of applies, that the greater are kind of more powerful or more famous or more widely spread than those who are called lesser. That misunderstanding has to be cleared. Because it almost seems like these terms were made by those who belong to the four elder ones, che zhi, and telling that the others are kind of small, not significant etc.
Everybody should get this understanding or idea out of their mind, because otherwise it creates discord. It’s not good. And when we talk about the Tibetan words che and chung, they don’t always mean big and small or greater and lesser. There is a story of Ling Gesar. They have three family areas called che gyu, chung gyu and bar (middle) gyu, which are not small or less. Che gyu comes from the lineage of the elder brother and chung gyu is coming from the lineage of the younger brother. Actually chung gyu is the more powerful one in Ling Gesar’s story. This must be understood in that context, otherwise it creates misunderstandings and we use it thinking we are bigger than others and others are smaller than us. This misunderstanding has to be cleared. I didn’t want to talk too much about this but I think it’s important to clear this misunderstanding.
Tea offering prayer
Since this is the Karma Kagyu gathering, maybe it’s useful to explain a bit more about that. The name Drupgyu Karma Kamtsang, Drupgyu means “Practice Lineage”. Karma means Karmapa and Kamtsang is coming from Gampo Gangra – that is a name of a place in Lithang, eastern Tibet, in Kham and Tsang means that Karmapa founded this as his place – tsang means “place” or “nest”. Nesting in Gampo Gangra, that is why it’s called Karma Kamtsang. And Gampo Gangra is regarded as one of the sacred places of Chakrasamvara and also Gampopa predicted, told the first Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa that he should go and practice in Kham, Gampo Gangra and his activity will spread all over Tibet, to all three regions. Therefore it seems that the place where the Karmapa got the final, ultimate realization is also in that place in Gampo Gangra.
Since this is a Karma Kagyu gathering, maybe it’s also good to explain a little bit about the name Karma Kagyu.
The first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa was not popularly known as Karmapa, although he had received this name when he had a vision of the dakinis. At that time he was given the name of Karmapa as the performer of the activities of all the Buddhas. The name was there but not well known, everybody didn’t know the name Karmapa. Some people say that the lineage was named Karma Kagyu, because the Karmapa was residing for a long time in Karma Gön. But according to some historians the popular name of Karmapa was only given to the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi. Some historians regard Karma Pakshi as the first Karmapa and Dusum Khyenpa as the first holder of the Black Crown. Karmapa became very popular during the time of the second Karmapa, so there are different ways of explaining this.
So, there are different predictions about the lineage of the Karmapa and the consequent incarnations. According to one prediction of Dechen Chögyur Lingpa for seven generations, seven times the rebirth of Karmapa will be there and another one says there will be manifestation for 13 times. One prediction of Guru Rinpoche says that Karmapa will have only seven reincarnations. It seems until the seventh or eighth Karmapa they are regarded as actual reincarnations or rebirths of Karmapa and from then onwards there are another 13 manifestations or nirmanakaya forms. Other predictions or visions of Dechen Chogyur Lingpa talk about 21 Karmapas. And then there is also one prediction, which the fifth Karmapa received, which talks about 25 Karmapas. There is also a prediction of Drupchen Nyakre Sewo, which says there will be 1002 Karmapas.
These seem to be slightly different. When we say 1002, maybe those are not holding the Karmapa’s throne or anything like that, but will be actually performing the Karmapa’s activities. Therefore it is said that the Karmapa’s activities will not finish until all the activities of the thousand Buddhas [are accomplished]. And sometimes [it’s said] until all sentient beings of the whole universe are liberated the Karmapa’s activities will not end. This has to be understood from that point of view.
We have to make a difference between tulku and ku-shay. [HH Karmapa in English:] “The manifestation and reincarnation.” Ku-shay is reincarnation or rebirth, and tulku is manifestation. A tulku, trul-pa must have one basic being from which the manifestations happen. To give an example, it is said that arhats can also have manifestations or trulpas, but they cannot independently think and act. These manifestations will only think and act if the main basis of the trulpa, the person who is making that manifestation acts. Only then they can act, they do not have independent activity. But when that person is much more advanced and becomes Buddha or a highly realized being, then the manifestation can act independently. So one great enlightened manifestation or Buddha can have many manifestations and each of them can act independently.
But when we talk about a ku-shay or rebirth, the basic person, the main individual himself or herself takes birth in another form. For example if I was a person who had a capacity to manifest as a tulku I could be in India and send another manifestation to America and one somewhere else. And they could act according to the beings’ needs. But if I have taken a rebirth ku-shay, I have to myself be reborn in America. I cannot be two, here and there. So when we talk about drulpa, there can be many drulpas, therefore we talk about the manifestation of body, speech, mind, activity etc. These things can happen, if the person has that capacity or that level of realization. If one doesn’t have that level of realization then one cannot manifest, but if one has that, one can manifest.
And then, when we talk about drulpa or tulku, it’s also important to understand how the name is formed: everybody who is called tulku is not necessarily that kind of manifestation of buddhas and bodhisattvas that we talked about. When we call something… when we give a name, it can be many different ways of giving a name. it can be similar or there is some connection and therefore we can give the name. Similar or some connection… therefore we can give the name. Every tulku, what we call tulku, is not necessarily a manifestation of a Buddha or fully enlightened being. It can be a person who is practicing very well, has lived very well and has very good conduct and who has done many positive things in this life and has created causes and conditions to be reborn as a human being and has the capacity to help many beings.
One of their aspirations is that they will be reborn as a human being who has created the seed, the potential to help many beings and uphold the teachings. Another great being seeing this potential, they could be called tulku. They are not necessarily manifestations of the Buddha or realized beings, but they have this positive capacity. Because of their positive capacity, if they are given the name tulku, that potential becomes much stronger, they are recognized by people and they have more positive conditions to function. Everybody who is called a tulku is not necessarily a manifestation of the buddhas and bodhisattvas. This is also possible.
But it is not right to call everybody a tulku. If everybody became a tulku, then there is nobody to respect tulkus!
And the Karmapa had many students. Out of them some were very great students, and the Karmapa recognized that their experience and attainment was exactly same as that of himself. These students we call gyalwa yab-say. It means the father and son, like teacher and student. We call it yab and say, father and son. Actually it’s teacher and student, but when you say teacher and student, one teacher can have many students, but the spiritual son and spiritual father is a very special kind of connection.
First of these [sons] was the Shamarpa. The first Shamar was predicted by the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi. Karma Pakshi said: “In hundred years there will be two of my own reincarnations. And one will be wearing the black hat and one will be wearing the red hat. That’s how the Shamar happened. From that prediction it seems that the Shamarpa and Karmapa is the same thing, although the Shamarpa is placed as the student and the Karmapa is placed as the student most of the time. There were ten Shamars and during the tenth Shamar there were some complications concerning the activities of the Shamarpa. Then the Tibetan government at that time disallowed to recognize and enthrone the Shamarpas from that time onwards. For certain time the recognition and enthronement of the Shamarpa was not allowed. Only after the 16th Karmapa came to India he specially asked the permission of His Holiness Dalai Lama, and that is how the present Shamarpa was recognized and enthroned.
When you talk about the Shamarpa, when the ninth Shamarpa passed away and the time came for the recognition of the tenth Shamarpa, there was a dispute. One great Kagyu Lama recognized one person and another one recognized another one. There was a conflict. At that time, because of the influence of the Chinese, there was a system of drawing lottery from a golden vase. They did that and drew lottery from the golden vase. One name came through, so he became the throne holder of Shamar. But the other candidate was also recognized as Shamar and he was called Nam Ling Shamar, because he came from the family of Nam Ling. The one who actually held the throne came from a family called Tashi Tsepay, so he was generally called Tashi Tsepay Shamar. And the Nam Ling Shamar’s reincarnation also continued until the fifteenth Karmapa.
After the tenth Shamar there was no throne holder of the Shamarpa, because it was not allowed to enthrone him. But there were lamas of whom people said that they were the incarnations of Shamarpa. So if we count the throne holders, the present one is the 11th Shamarpa. But because of those who were not enthroned, sometimes they say the present one is the 14th. So this is coming from that.
Now we come to the Situpas. The first Situpa was the direct disciple of the fifth Karmapa. Since then the Situpas have been the main responsible holders of one of the main seats called Karma Gar. And especially one of the most important Situpas was the eight Situpa Chokyi Jugne. He became very important, because at that time both Karmapa and Sharmapa passed away I think on the way to China, within days. And then the whole responsibility of Karma Kagyu fell on the shoulders of the eight Situpa. He established the Palpung Monastery and not only that; he became a great master and scholar in all the branches of studies of Tibet and also India. He preserved not only the Karma Kagyu but whole of the Tibetan culture and art and all aspects of Tibetan civilization. Therefore he has been especially important and we owe great deal of gratitude to him.
And then of course the 11th Situpa also, he was a very serious person but he did many important things. He did the xylograph of all the commentaries of the eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje. That is how we still have the works of Mikyo Dorje and can study them. Also he established shedra. There are so many important activities he did.
The present Situpa I am not going to talk about much now, because during the last day of the monlam we will do mandala offering and presentations to him, but at that time we can talk about that. There are some things. During one of the Situpas called Mingyur Chokyi Gorcha, his reincarnation was called Norbu Sampel. He didn’t live very long, he died in young age, but we need to count that. If we count that, this will be the 12th Situpa.
There was also another Situpa, which was recognized, but because of the arrogance of the family in which he was born, they did not give him to be enthroned, because at that time the Kagyu School was kind of a little bit weak. Therefore the tulku died very young. The eight Situ Rinpoche also said that because that tulku, called Lekshey Mrawa, he neither entered into the Karma Kagyu monasteries or school, and was never enthroned as Situpa. So he should not be counted as one. In this system that tulku is not counted.
The first Gyaltsab Rinpoche was the teacher of the seventh Karmapa, and he used to call the Lama Rinpoche Wang Gyama, The Precious Rinpoche with Hundreds of Empowerments, because he had received all the empowerments, instructions and transmissions of all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism. His teacher, the sixth Karmapa, knowing that he would become the teacher of his reincarnation, sent him to all the lamas of all the schools to receive all the teachings, transmissions and empowerments. Therefore he was one of the greatest lamas who had received and perceived all the teachings of all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism.
Then onwards there were many great masters, gyaltsabs. Perhaps it was the eigth one, during that time Tibet was invaded by Mongols, Goshri Khan and at that time there was a war between U and Tsang in Central and Western Tibet. All the schools but especially the Kamtsang School was very much damaged and reached almost the age of disappearing. At that time this Gyaltsab Rinpoche was a very skillful person. He skillfully made connections with the Mongolian king. He could make a very strong connection with them and thus he saved Tsurphu and many other Karma Kagyu Schools in Central Tibet. We can almost say that because of Gyaltsab Rinpoche the Karma Kagyu School is still flourishing.
The first Pawo Rinpoche was called Pawo Tsuklak Trengwa. He was a great historian; he wrote the history of Tibetan Buddhism, which is still source of information. He was a great scholar.
And Treho [Shabdrung Rinpoche] we don’t know much about. It seems treho is the name of certain kind of position. It is said there are two Trehos, chewa and chungwa. This one is the Treho Chungwa. There is the continuation of the Trehos.
These six are the six students or the Six Heart Sons of the Karmapas.
[che zhi chung gye gyu pa dzin nam dang
dri tak tsal sum palden drukpa sok
…holders of the four great and eight lesser lineages –
Drikung, Taklung, Tsalpa, these three, glorious Drukpa and so on…]
Those are the four older and eight younger lineages, Drikung, Talung Tsalpa and the great Drukpa. Sometimes it is described as the four and the eight main students of the Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa. It is also sometimes understood like that. On top there are Drikungs, Talungs, Tsalpas and Drukpas. This is one way of explaining this.
[HH Karmapa in English:] “Here the meaning of the eight, four elder, eight younger, the meaning is not meaning of all the Kagyu Lineage.” Maybe the four and eight does not have the general meaning of what we discussed earlier. Maybe this means specifically the students of the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa.
27 February, 2012, Monlam Pavilion
Today is the second day of the teaching and first I would like to say Good morning to all of you. Yesterday we talked about the Lineage, and there are few things that I must make clearer today. One thing we talked about yesterday was about the Situ Norbu Sampel. There was some complication, which number of the reincarnation of Situpa Norbu Sampel was. Because the Khedrup Mingyur Gocha was the Fourth Situpa and Norbu Samphel was his reincarnation, therefore he should be counted as the fifth. And the Situ Lekshey Mrawa whom we talked about yesterday about, is somewhat in between the seventh and eighth. I’m not very clear, you may look up, but in my understanding because this was talked about by the Eight Situpa, Situ Chokyi Jugne, it seems it was in between the seventh and eighth.
And also about the Gyaltsab Rinpoche. Yesterday we talked about the Lama Rinpoche Wang Gyama, we don’t know exactly whether that is the same we talked about. The First Gyaltsab Rinpoche was Goshir Paljor Dondrub. He lived at the time of the writer of this prayer, Bengar Jampal Zangpo, and he received the Vinaya ordination from Bengar Jampal Zangpo. Most of the instructions, teachings, transmissions, it seems he received from the First Gyaltsab Rinpoche, Goshir Paljor Dondrup.
Also when we talk about the six gyalwa yabse of Kamtsang, it seems the Karmapa has to be included in that. Until the Fifteenth Karmapa Khakyab Dorje we usually talk about the six gyalwa yabse [Gyalwang Karmapa along with Tai Situpa, Shamar Rinpoche, Gyaltsap Rinpoche, Pawo Rinpoche and Treho Rinpoche]. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye was the First Kongtrul Rinpoche, and his reincarnation was born as the physical son of the Fifteenth Karmapa Khakyab Dorje, his name was Khyentse Özer. Khakyab Dorje included him as one of the gyalwa yabse, one of his main disciples. And since then we have seven gyalwa yabse of Karma Kamtsang.
The First Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche is predicted by the Buddha and it’s clear in the sutras, he was predicted very clearly. He was a Lama of rime activities… [HHKarmapa in English: “Non-sectarian”] …non-sectarian, ecumenical activities. And Jamgyan Khyentse and Jamgon Kongtrul not only preserved and propagated their own particular lineages, but the Dharma, all Buddhist traditions that were there in Tibet. They received all the empowerments, reading transmissions and instructions. Then they not just remained in principle non-sectarian, but they worked extremely hard to actually preserve and propagate them. Therefore they received all the empowerments and transmissions of Eight Practice Lineages and Ten Lineages of Study.
And then, to give an example, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche travelled all over Tibet. Whoever had any kind of transmission, he would receive that. There is a story that once he found a very rare transmission. Maybe that person was blind, he couldn’t read, but he had this transmission. Jamgon Kongtrul read line by line and then the person repeated those lines and through that he received the transmission. This is beyond imagination for us, how much effort he put to receive all different kinds of traditions and lineages. Through that way he compiled the Five Great Treasures, which amounts hundreds of volumes. And throughout his life he worked extremely hard to receive teachings, to give those teachings and then to make all different kind of activities to preserve them for the future.
For instance, when he was very old, over 80, his hand was shaking so much it was difficult to write down. So he tied the pen around his hand, so that it would become part of his hand, and then he would continue writing. Therefore his activities are never ending, not only for Buddhism, but he composed a prayer which we do during the Kagyu Monlam, the Prayer of the Well-Being of Tibet.
He was instructed by his teacher Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, because this is something extremely important, what kind of relationship he had with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, their samaya, teacher and student relationship. Each was a teacher to each other and also student to each other. He said these prayers six times day and night, every day. The way Jamgon Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse worked together is something that we must take as an example.
These two people were actually predicted by the Fifth Karmapa. He said in one of his predictions that anybody who makes any kind of connection with Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, will never fall in negative realms. And also Chogyur Dechen Lingpa was part of that team. Chogyur Lingpa became so important and his activities became so strong, because of the support of Jamgon Kongtrul. Therefore the Jamgon Kongtrul’s activities are not just important for Karma Kamtsang but his activities are extremely important and crucial for Buddhism and Tibet as whole.
Especially his notes on what he had studied and what he received as transmissions – this is not included in his collection of works. It’s separate, they are big volumes. Just to read them is a challenge for us. It gives all the details of the transmissions he received, their lineages etc.
And also in the Kamtsang we have the practice of the tantras, 13 tantric practices, sadhanas coming from Marpa’s tradition. If you really want to know all the details from the history, we must look into his works and notes. We have these instructions and teachings still intact now in a very pure way because of his contribution. His book was published last year in Tibet. It’s maybe a thousand pages thick. I think it’s important that we can look at it a bit and study, because it is source of lots of information.
The Second Jamgon Kongtrul, Khyentse Özer, as mentioned before, was the physical son of the Fifteen Karmapa Khakyab Dorje. Khakyab Dorje had very strong devotion to the First Jamgon Kongtrul, his teacher and it is said that the First Jamgon Kongtrul and Khakyab Dorje had discussion and then decided that he would come back as the son of Khakyab Dorje. Jamgon Khyentse Özer was a very pure monk and he was also a great master of Mahamudra. I’ve heard that when the Sixteenth Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje had some doubts or unclear points about Mahamudra, he would invite Jamgon Khyentse Özer or Kongtrul Rinpoche and through the explanation of Kongtrul Rinpoche he could clear all his doubts, although the Sixteen Karmapa’s main teacher was Tai Situpa and he received all instructions and teachings from Situpa. The Jamgon Khyentse Özer, the Kongtrul Rinpoche, was also a teacher to the Sixteenth Karmapa. Although he was the son of the Karmapa and therefore very high family, he was humble and very easy for everybody to connect with.
And the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul, as you all know, was Lodro Chokyi Senge. He was very good and extraordinary in both the dharma as well as in mundane activities. His activities were very important for the 16th Karmapa and especially for his seat in Rumtek. He did so many activities in order to fulfill the wishes of His Holiness the 16th Karmapa. As you know, he didn’t live that long, he passed away in a car accident. Many believe that if he had not passed away, maybe all these problems that happened in Karma Kagyu School might not have happened. His activities were very widespread and strong all over the world, therefore many people in the world and many of you have very strong, special connections with him; they still feel those connections.
When the 16th Karmapa was very ill, Jamgon Kongtrul was serving him with so much care and devotion, that – so I’ve heard – the 16th Karmapa was saying that in this life I will never be able to pay back my great gratitude to you. This is what he is supposed to have said.
The 4th Jamgon Kongtrul is recognized by myself, at that time I was a child. When I was in Tibet, there were some restrictions, whether I was allowed to make the recognitions of the tulkus or not. But I recognized about 40 tulkus, some more openly and some more secretly.
Out of those 40 odd reincarnations that I have recognized it’s my feeling that Jamgon Kongtrul was the clearest and the most confident I had. Sometimes it’s clear, sometimes not so clear. About some other tulkus’ recognition I had some kind of mixture of clarity and unclarity, but Jamgon Kongtrul’s was extremely clear. Therefore I have hope and I will pray and also make all the dedications that his activities, both generally for all Buddhism and especially for Karma Kamtsang, that his activities will be great, strong and stable. And I also request all of you to contribute and support him in his activities for the spread and preservation of Buddhism in general and for Karma Kamtsang in particular.
In my case I have kind of tendency in falling into trouble all the time. Though I cannot say exactly how my activities will flourish I very much wish and request all of you to support the activities of Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.
In 2012 it will be 30 years since the 3rd Jamgon Kongtrul passed away. By the end of this year, in 2013, it will be two hundred years since the birth of the 1st Jamgon Kongtrul. I hope that we will be able to organize the 30th Kagyu Monlam as a celebration for this. The theme of next Kagyu Monlam will be on Jamgon Kongtrul and his activities.
So, I’ve been telling lots of stories. The reason for the stories is that in general the teachings of the Buddha spread because of the Shakyamuni Buddha’s efforts and dedication for many lifetimes. And generally if you think about spreading of Buddhism in Tibet also, that is due to the tireless work and efforts of so many great beings. If we think about Karma Kamtsang, it’s not a huge or very big school, it’s a small school, but even then this school is living, its tradition is flourishing. We have so many great masters who have worked tirelessly. Many great masters have come from time to time and we have these teachings and living tradition. We don’t have these teachings and living tradition just easily or without any problems, these things were preserved and practiced with great effort and by many people.
If we understand that, if we know what kind of activities happened and what kind of efforts they made, then maybe we will be more appreciative and we will understand the greatness of these teachings and traditions. So maybe we will follow the footsteps of these great masters. A certain kind of devotion and appreciation may arise in our minds. Otherwise, if we just kind of take it for granted, the real devotion or commitment may not arise in us. Therefore I think it’s important to understand this and learn what happened, the stories of these great masters and then get inspiration from those stories and great masters’ lives. That is why I’m spending time in talking about these masters.
When we talk about the Karma Kamtsang lineage, as you know we had some troubles, I don’t know what to call it. Since we are all samsaric beings, we have attachment and aversion. Therefore it’s natural that we feel some attachment to our side and little bit aversions to others, but it’s very important I think that we think deeper and in a more long time envisioned way. As I discussed earlier, we have the Karma Kagyu Golden Lineage, which consist of great beings, the Father and Son, Victorious Ones, the gyalwa yabse, and so maybe when we feel attachment to our side and little bit aversion to other side. In small way it’s useful or will give some benefit for now, but that’s not the main or most important thing. We have to think in the long term. If we work with the attachment and aversion to our side and others’ side, there is a danger that the true living tradition of Karma Kagyu Lineage may get rotten. We are practicing Dharma. Our main aim is peace and non-violence and to try to make our attachment and aversion smaller or lesser. Even if, of course, in my own case there has been many things happening and we know what is happening. What others are doing, it doesn’t matter, but I think we have to, at least from our side, not to get in a conflict and remain sincere and good hearted, acting very positively without doing anything negative or harmful to others. This will be very important in the long run for the stability and for the true preservation of the teachings of the Karma Kagyu. So we all need to think deeply about this.
To talk about these matters is not easy for me, it’s quite difficult, but since I’m supposed to be the main holder of the teachings or the Lineage of the Karma Kagyu, sometimes I need to say something about these things. Therefore I said very briefly little bit about this, and you can yourself think more deeply and understand.
Material things cannot bring true happiness
Now we come to the main teachings, shenlok, detachment or revulsion as the foot of the meditation and then devotion as the head of meditation and non-distraction as the main practice of meditation.
The first is as translated in the Kagyu Monlam:
Detachment is the foot of meditation, as it’s taught,
As ones with no craving for food or wealth
Who cuts the ties to this life,
Please bless us, may I have no attachment to honor or gain.
When we talk about shenlok, there are many different translations made of this word: detachment, revulsion, disgust, and many others. Since I don’t know exactly, I cannot feel the English word myself, I cannot say which would be the best translation for this word. But the essential meaning of the word shenlok is like the feeling if you are walking on the street and step in shit, what you feel is shenlok, disgust. At times I’m told that detachment can also be a kind of mental disease; that you don’t feel anything, good or bad. That kind of having no feeling can be understood as detachment. That is not the meaning here.
The most prominent yogi of Tibet, Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen, a great Sakyapa master, has a work called Shenpa Chitral about four attachments. It was taught to him by Manjushri. In it it’s said that if you are attached to this life then you are not a true dharma practitioner. If you are attached to samsara, then it’s not renunciation. If you are attached to yourself, then you are not a bodhisattva and if you have grasping or clinging, it’s not the right view. These four bring the four attachments. And the four Dharmas of Gampopa are in essence exactly the same.
Therefore, for a person to be totally liberated from samsara there has to be the feet and head and the kind of in-between. If all three are not there, it’s not possible to happen. Detachment, disgust or revulsion are one-sided or not complete in some cases. For instance if you put grass instead of meat in front of an animal who eats meat, like lion, they don’t have attachment, because they don’t eat it. If you put meat in front of deers, they have no attachment to the meat, because they don’t eat it. And most of the birds, except perhaps craws, don’t hoard things, keep things for future. These are some kind of detachment, but not complete, it’s there nature, it’s not that they have practiced detachment. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have any attachment. It’s one-sided detachment, incomplete.
What you mean by true renunciation, detachment or revulsion it’s said that it’s according to the different levels of beings. From Buddhist point of view we talk about three levels of beings. In the beginner level we see that there is no use being attached to this life. If you are more advanced, you are no more attached to samsara, you see that samsara is not a kind of thing to feel attachment. You feel disgust towards the samsaric state of being. Then, if you are very advanced, you are not attached at all, you experience complete peace. According to the level of mind different kinds of revulsion, renunciation and detachment are recommended.
What do we mean by the first statement, no attachment to this life? This is very important to understand clearly, because if you say “no attachment to this life,” it’s easy to say, but it doesn’t happen like this. This is what I think, I’m not saying it’s correct, but this is what I think. What it is saying is this: “practice dharma” means it’s not only for this life. It’s for the benefit of next life in a long, long run. If our objective is only to have something done, to have good life only, to be able to live now and not thinking anything after that, that’s not enough or proper, because there are many more lifetimes to come and because it’s a longer period of time, it’s much more important than now. Therefore we have to think about not only now but also many lives to come. Therefore we need to plan and have a vision for next life and onwards. We have to think about what would be good for us in next life and lives to come. The most important thing is not just what we get for food and clothes etc.
It’s a matter of importance. It’s not to say that we should not care for this life at all; of course we need to get something to eat, something to wear and somewhere to live. That’s important but it’s not the most important thing. Most important is to consider things in the long future. We need to prioritize these in the right way. We need to have priority, the more important in the long term, and the less important in the short term. If we make the opposite and think the short term things are more important, and through that sacrifice our long term welfare, it’s not dharma practice.
Of course for example Milarepa completely gave up completely the welfare of this life and went to the snow mountain, lived in caves, didn’t have anything to eat, no companions, but if we look into ourselves, whether we can do like that, maybe we will die of hunger or cold or not having any companions. This may not be the right thing to do for us, it’s not necessary that we have to do exactly what Milarepa did. But it is also important that we should think about our future and the long time future should be more important. For instance we may be doing some business, which may go well or not. But even if it doesn’t go well, that should not affect our whole life or mental condition, because perhaps we can do something else. The most important thing is that if we are going in a certain way it should bring us more benefit in a long run, not only in this life but also lives to come. I feel that to have this priority; consider whether long time or short time benefit is more important and see that long time benefit is more important than the short time benefit. This is what I feel is having no attachment to this life.
There are also some people who may not have any confidence or belief in the next life or life after life. Even for those I think there is a way to understand this, not having attachment to this life. Although it’s also important to understand, that when we talk about this kind of beginner level of beings, there are two levels: the main beginner level and the ordinary beginner level. To give an example, many people especially monks and nuns come here to Kagyu Monlam, also monks and nuns from abroad.
There are true monks and nuns and true sangha members and those who look like sangha members, but we are not sure, if they are real sangha members or not. Here we serve tea and bread, sometimes even money. They don’t usually come, but when there is tea or distribution of something, they come. And they try to get that. If that becomes the main thing, it does not serve the purpose of the Kagyu Monlam. [HH Karmapa: “It is not so meaningful.”] When people come to Kagyu Monlam, the most important thing is not whether they get tea or not. We don’t come here just to get tea and bread etc., but we have come here to pray for the world peace. So we have to understand this is an opportunity for us to practice that, to do some prayers and whatever we can to make some positive deeds, to accumulate some merit, whether we believe in next life and many lives or not.
In fact in order to really understand and believe in life after life we need actually accumulate lots of merit, otherwise we will not. But here the main thing – even whether we believe in life after life or not – is to understand not to be attached to this life. What it means is this: most people believe that our happiness comes from the material things around us. If we really look deeply we can understand very clearly that the material things are not the source of our happiness. Many people from developed countries have understood this, they have got all of the things, the machines etc. They understand that these material things do not necessarily bring the lasting peace and happiness. Actually, too much attachment to them brings more difficulties, problems and tension and unhappiness.
First we have to understand deeply that material gain or running after material things only is not the source of our happiness. Then we have to understand that the real happiness has to come from within. To develop certain kind of contentment or to learn how to find happiness from within ourselves and not just based on gaining the material things. When we understand this, then I think this is another level of understanding that this life’s material gain is not the source of our happiness. Therefore detachment, revulsion or some kind of renunciation, detachment from things which are supposed to bring happiness into our lives, when we understand this, then I think it is another way of finding non-attachment to this life.
So, we talk about detachment being the foot of meditation. And sometimes it is also said, gom, meditation, has to be given right ownership. This right ownership is important. It is said that if you give a meditation [technique] to somebody whose main intention or aspiration is only to do something for the benefit of now or for this life alone, then, whatever this person does – whether it’s meditation or anything else – this will be used for that purpose and nothing more. It’s important to give this meditation to somebody who can use it in a right way. When somebody has that understanding of detachment or revulsion to samsara, then the meditation will be used for much more deeper, purposeful and useful way in the long run. That is why the great masters have said meditation must be given for the right person or right ownership.
When we talk about the kangpa or the foot, detachment is the foot of meditation, it is said that if the person doesn’t have renunciation, revulsion or disgust towards samsaric state of being, this person will not be able to go towards the true liberation or true kind of enlightenment. If the person has that understanding or experience of detachment, revulsion or disgust with samsara, then whatever meditation or practice the person is given or has, will certainly take you to liberation. Therefore it becomes like the feet and without feet you cannot go forward. The feet has to be also good one, not crooked or disabled feet, but kind of positive, strong feet. Therefore it is said like this.
About detachment I would like to give some examples or anecdotes. Sometimes these anecdotes are too windy or maybe too high or something, it doesn’t work. I’ll give this anyway. This is a story of Gyalwa Gyontonpa. Gyalwa Yontonpa, student of Gotsampa was staying in retreat. When he was in retreat he was doing a practice giving water-torma, doing water ceremony to Jambala. Two water bubbles appeared and from those the yellow and black Jambala came out of the bubbles. Then the yellow and black Jambala asked: “We want to give you whatever you want. Please ask what you want. We are ready to give whatever you want.” When they said this, Gyalwa Yontonpa said: “I don’t need anything. I have everything I need. Even if I am in a remote place or in solitude, I have everything I need. You have nothing to give to me. If you can give something, give it to the beggars.” And then he put off all the water.
Usually we try to practice or propitiate Jambala for many days or weeks trying to gain something, and if Jambala appeared we would ask for so many things. If we are like that, we have attachment to things. But he didn’t need anything; he knew that everything he has is enough.
Another story is from Druptob Urgyenpa. He was a student of Karma Pakshi. He was also a student of Gyalwa Gotsanpa and it was said that he was a student, whose yoga practice was equal to his teacher’s. Gyalwa Urgyenpa went to India two times. I think it was during the first time he went to India – to Bodhgaya – and he had a vision of Ganesha, the Indian deity with a head of an elephant. Ganesha told him that I would like to become your protector and you should give me torma offerings. My sadhana is in Tibet, and if you do that, practice that, make offerings to me and if you stay in Bodhgaya for three years, I will make you the head or owner of two thirds of the world. I don’t know if he meant India, the known world at that time, but he was told like that.
Gyalwa Urgyenpa said: “I cannot give you offerings, because you need offerings like meat and blood, which I don’t give you, and I don’t need any protector, I’m protected enough. Whether I want to stay in Bodhgaya for three years or not, it’s up to me, you don’t need to tell me what to do. Even if you offer me two thirds of the world, what do I do with it? I am just a monk, I don’t need it.” So he didn’t agree and he didn’t accept this offer.
In short, when we say to be free, to cut the ties of this life, we all want freedom. It is said that if you have freedom for yourself, it’s happiness. if you do not have freedom for yourself, it’s suffering. If we are too much attached to the luxuries and needs of this life, to all material and worldly things, you get caught and tied up by those things. You lose your independence and freedom. You become under the power of whether you have those worldly things or not. When you are too attached you are tied up and your freedom is lost.
The Tibetan word dö-tag here is actually the thing that the cattle have in their neck with which they are tied up. If you have that, you are not free; you are tied up with a rope. When you get freedom from that you are really free. Therefore if you are too much attached to worldly things you become a slave of the worldly desires, needs and concerns. You are put down, nailed or caught up with this. To be free from that is important way of freeing yourself.
I’m thinking about a story to tell, it is an old story. The story goes like this. There was a rich person and next to his house lived a very poor person who was actually a beggar. The rich person had to do accounting every evening, count money, and he was working very hard all the evenings. Meanwhile the poor person came home and then he was singing and being very merry and happy. One day the rich man was thinking: “Why is he singing and happy all the time while I am not happy and have so much stress and all that? Perhaps all this wealth is the cause of my tension and unhappiness.”
He wanted to make a test. Next morning, when the old man went begging, he went and put a big lump of gold, as big as the head of a goat in the house of this poor person. In the evening when the poor person returned, he saw this big piece of gold. First he thought: “Oh, maybe somebody has lost it. I need return it, wherever it belongs to.” Next he thought: “They cannot lose it in my house. This must be some kind of blessing from Buddhas or something., because I’m so poor, out of kindness they gave this to me.” Then he thought: “Okay, now I need to sell this and then I need to make some investment. Then I need to build a house, what kind of house will I make?” He started to think on this line and – forgot to sing that night. Meanwhile the rich person was watching through his window what he was doing. He noticed that as soon as he got the gold he stopped singing. He understood that actually this gold did not become a cause for his happiness but actually stopped him from enjoying his life, singing etc.
This is something very important because usually we all work and do lots of things to get money, to become rich and to earn our livelihood. Why we earn money and riches is because we want to become happy; in order to make ourselves happy we need money etc. The money is there in order to bring happiness to ourselves. But in the process of earning more money and more properties sometimes it so happens that an aim or objective of life becomes to earn more money. In order to earn more money, riches and wealth we spend all our life and lose the perspective that it’s not in order to bring happiness we need the money and wealth. Not that our life is just to earn money and wealth. When people lose this perspective, sometimes they become so hooked up or too attached to earning money and wealth that if they lose their wealth or job then some people even commit suicide. We have totally lost our perspective. This kind of understanding we have to make very clear. We want to be happy and that’s why we need things but not to become a slave of worldly concerns or things and thereby lose our happiness as well.
28 February, 2012, Monlam Pavilion
The specialness of the 2012 Gutor
Today is the third day of the teachings on the Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer and this is the last day. I’ve heard that there are some people coming from faraway places, who would leave as soon as these teachings are over. So here I think it has been a great opportunity, a great fortune that we could come together in this very special place, Bodhgaya, where the Buddha became enlightened. And we could discuss and listen to the teachings of the Buddha and the right views. Therefore I’m extremely happy and I hope that you will be able to return home happy and satisfied.
Before these teachings we had Gutor, the yearly Mahakala practice and then the activities of Losar. Gutor, the Mahakala practice, was this time something very special for me, because since I arrived in India 12 years ago, I have not been able to participate in real elaborate – although I did the Mahakala practices, I did not have the chance to participate in this kind of elaborate Mahakala drupchö or practice. This is the first time I got an opportunity to participate fully in this kind of traditional practice. This is a great opportunity for me and I’m very happy about it.
Also the text, the ritual that we did, is something very special. It was combined by the 6th Karmapa and it is the most elaborate and longest text on the Mahakala practice. This is something that has not been practiced for several generations and we had the opportunity to revive this practice. Therefore it is specially auspicious and important. Also the whole practice was very complete, because we started with empowerments, then we did the mantra recitation and at the end the concluding activities. And all this made the practice of Mahakala really complete.
We practiced Mahakala together and then we had the Vajra Dance. In this dance Jamgon Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche participated and especially Jamgon Rinpoche was given very short notice. He did it the last minute, only few days. He made lots of effort to learn this dance. The dance he did was what we call the Subduing the Earth or ground, which is actually the first dance of this Mahakala Dance series.
All these things signify that we are trying to preserve the traditions of the great masters of the past. Especially Kyabje Gyaltsab Rinpoche was the Vajra Master of the whole practice and he also did one or two weeks of retreat before coming here and doing this. Then he presided over the whole practice as the Vajra Master.
It is also important to understand that these kinds of rituals are not just pretending or copying what others did or just doing something as a tradition only, but this is the real practice of Vajrayana. So we had this great opportunity practice that, very fortunate time for us.
Also the Losar celebrations, although we didn’t do any mundane kind of festivity, we did the religious parts, all the traditional religious activities of Losar, and therefore I feel that this time was really special time. I think it’s very important to appreciate this, that when we have this very enjoyable and great time, we need to recognize that and appreciate that.
At that time when we did the Mahakala Dance, actually the program was that before the dance started, I was supposed to give an introductory talk and explain what the dances are about, the significance and benefit of these dances. But because I had not much time to practice the dances, in the morning I had to do lots of practice so that I would be able to do it well. In the process I forgot to give the introductory talk. Probably if I had the chance to do it, maybe it would have been better, people would have understood little bit more what to do and how to watch the dance.
Sometimes it seems that in the monasteries we make the dances and then we distribute cards and invite people to watch. It is becoming more like an entertainment. People come to watch the dance and there is a sense of entertainment. And I think that’s not the right way. I’ve heard that in some Japanese spiritual dances there is a tradition that everybody, both those who are watching and those who are dancing are in meditation and it’s not like entertainment, but the whole thing becomes like a meditation. And I think it will be very nice and useful if that kind of thing can happen in our tradition as well.
There are some people who want to take refuge. I will recite the refuge and you should repeat after me. There are two kinds of refuge: one is just doing the refuge and the other one is taking the vow of the refuge. Just doing refuge is that you go for refuge to the Buddha; you say that I go for refuge to the Buddha and feel inspiration. That’s one thing. Taking the vow of refuge is to say I’m taking the refuge and I’m going to do it for my whole life. Making that commitment, that’s the difference between just going for refuge and taking the vow of refuge.
The vow of refuge is regarded as most basic, the foundation of all vows. That is of course not just going for refuge but taking the vow of refuge. Whatever you want to take that you will have to think yourself, what you have to do is this: I will do the refuge prayer three times and you will repeat after me and then when the third time is finished I say [tap…?] and at that time you feel that you have received the refuge vow.
Now, if you just took refuge alone, then maybe there is nothing much to do, but if you took refuge vow, then there are some precepts to observe. There are many instructions, things to give up and things to try to practice and many other instructions. We don’t have that much time to explain all of that, but the main thing here is that the Buddha is seen as a doctor and ourselves has to be seen like a patient. When we have a disease, we need to go to see a doctor and take on the prescriptions; we have to actually do what the doctor asks us to do. If we take that medicines the doctor prescribes us to take and do it according to the instructions of the doctor, our disease will be cured. In the same way the teachings, the dharma that the Buddha gave is the medicine. Therefore we have to actually try to learn and practice those dharmas, those medicines.
Otherwise just taking the refuge and then saying “I’m a Buddhist,” does not make much sense. It’s just like “I am Buddhist,” becoming some kind of identity, which… maybe another person who has this strong identity creating more conflict than anything else. This I think doesn’t help. Therefore we need to really use this opportunity to actually learn the dharma and practice.
I would like to give an example. Someone goes to a temple, makes three prostrations and a prayer. From outside he seems to be a good devotee. But what he is praying is that “I have an enemy whom I really hate and I wish he will die and not only him, but all his family will be destroyed” If that is the prayer he is making, is he going for refuge to the Buddha? Maybe he is going for refuge to the Buddha but he is not practicing dharma. It is totally contradictory to the dharma. So sometimes I feel that - I’m not saying that everybody is doing that, but some of us might be doing in this way, that we try to do something, kind of going for refuge to the Buddha, but in a wrong way. It’s not that we are trying to please Buddha or giving a present to Buddha. Practice of Dharma is something very different. We need to understand that and then try to practice it in a genuine way. That I think is very important.
Now we come to actual the point. The second, most important thing is devotion. Here it says:
Devotion is the head of meditation, as it is taught.
As ones who pray always to the Lama,
Who opens the gate to the treasury of oral instructions,
Please bless us to develop genuine devotion.
His Holiness recited some verses from a great master of Nyingma tradition, Longchenpa, and also from the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje. Not only these masters but in the Geluk tradition also it’s said that Guru Yoga is the heart or the life of dharma path. The Sakya tradition also says that the Guru Yoga is the practice for the most advanced practitioners. In all the sutras and tantras and in the great commentaries of these sutras and tantras written by masters, devotion is described the one medicine, which could cure all the diseases. The medicine is sometimes described as karpo tsetu. It is regarded as white ginseng, which is supposed to be good for all kind of diseases.
The Tibetan word mogü is usually translated as devotion, but I don’t know if the word devotion really transmits the meaning of mogü or not. Mogü in Tibetan is two words, mo and gü. Mo is inspiration, longing, something that really wishes for something. And güpa means respect – that the inspiration that we have is not only in the mind, but that is expressed through your actions. Tepa is with your mind, but güpa is not just with your mind, but an action that follows that state of mind.
I feel that the best example of mogü is of Milarepa. As you know, Milarepa killed 35 people. Some say that he killed some others also before and after. Whatever it maybe, he killed 35 people at one time. To kill 35 people is a big deal, I don’t think we have anybody here… we may not have anybody here who has killed even one person. When he killed that many people, he felt very strong remorse and regret. What he felt was: “Because I killed so many people and did such a bad thing, I must practice dharma. Unless I practice dharma, it’s not possible not to practice dharma. And therefore I have to find somebody, who can teach me how to practice dharma. And I will do whatever he says.”
It’s not just like showing respect and sitting there with little bit of feeling devotion. It’s not like that. But it’s very strong determination, very strong decidedness, that I must find someone who can show me the way. And not just practice dharma, kind of “I’m just doing something here, and if I can do its okay, if I can’t it’s also okay. But I must practice dharma, I must get liberated. If I don’t get liberated in this life, then I’m surely going to be born into hell realms. That cannot be, therefore I must practice dharma.”
This kind of very strong feeling and resolution is what Milarepa felt. So it’s not like our usual kind of respect or devotion, we kind of feel respectful, little bit devotion, but not doing everything that needs to be done or that we are asked to do. It’s not that, but I must do exactly what my teacher asks me to do, and transform myself completely, there is no alternative. So that kind of determination and strong feeling, there is strength in it. Sometimes it is said that when you have mogü, you have nothing else in your mind but your lama, and whatever happens you see it as devotion. This is the understanding of real mogü.
Generally mogü is according to person’s capacity and level or development. It could be very good or medium or in the beginning, it can be of many different levels. But the most important thing about it is that we need to focus on the positive quality of others. We need to learn to see the positive qualities in others. Even if there is just one positive quality, we need to look at it, we need to appreciate it, we need to accept it and then we need to rejoice in it and be respectful to it. We need to feel that and feel mopa, longing for it. In this way we generate our positive qualities. It’s not something that we can suddenly get. It’s not something that we can just invite, like we make music and all these rituals and it comes enters in us and is there. It’s not like that. We need to develop it. We need to develop step by step.
Whatever is around us, whoever we have around us, we need to start seeing their positive qualities. We need to protect their positive qualities, because if we only see the negative side and only focus on the negative side, then we will only generate the negative side. Therefore we need to focus on the positive side. What positive qualities there are we need to concentrate on that. And when we do that, that kind of respect or appreciation or longing for that positive quality naturally develops in us.
And it’s the same when we talk about how to relate with the lama. The relationship of the lama and student also is the same. We want to receive and bring in us the positive qualities that the lamas have. It’s not that we want to get their negative qualities. We don’t want that. Therefore it is said that first of course we have to examine the lama. And then, if you find that the lama has some positive qualities, then only we will take that person as our lama. But then, we need to protect that positive quality of the lama, we need to focus on that. Because if we only look for the faults, then we will see those faults. Even if sometimes the lama doesn’t have those faults, because of our own, we can project those negative qualities on the lama. It is often said that the lama is the mirror of the students, teacher is the mirror of the students. Therefore if our mind is with lots of faults, problems and negativities, then this we will see in others as well. Therefore we need to learn to look and focus on the positive qualities and thereby cultivate it in ourselves.
And actually when we talk about the lama, lama is the [spiritual friend], means like positive friend, very good friend. We need to find a very good friend that we can really trust. And it’s not just an ordinary friend, it’s a dharma friend. When we have that kind of dharma friend, we should be able to use that and through that way we cultivate our own positive qualities, learn to see them more and through that way step by step develop our devotion, our mogü. Because mogü is not just something that is suddenly coming to us. We have to work on it step by step.
When we talk about mogü, it is like trying to develop or inculcate all the positive qualities of the lama. The lama’s body, speech and mind into ourselves. And to develop that in us. That’s what we say is the cultivation of mogü. Therefore it is sometimes said, if somebody really wants to attain buddhahood, then only mogü and mogü alone, if we take it as the path, it is enough. It is said like that. This means that if you really try to see, if you see the positive qualities of the lama, body, speech and mind, their great achievements and then really try to bring that in us, try to cultivate that in us, that is the main practice. We don’t need to do lots of other practices, if we just do that, it’s enough.
There is a story of Gampopa. He talked to all his students, the Karmapa was there and all other ones. He told them: “All the hard work I have already done. I’ve done lots of practices, gone through many difficulties, and hardships one may need to go through, I’ve already gone through them for you and done everything. The only thing you need to do is to pray and that is enough from your part.” This Gampopa said. I think it means this what we have just explained. And the same thing is said by Gyalwa Götsampa also. He said: “In my life I didn’t leave the dharma just as an understanding. I put it into practice, actual experience. And I actually practiced those things that are most difficult and those difficult things I didn’t leave as difficult things alone. I put it in its difficult conditions and integrated that difficult condition into myself, practiced that. Through that all the positive qualities I didn’t just keep there as positive qualities but I actually put it in myself, in my heart and in my experience. Therefore I have done all the hardships and hard things for you. So now you, my students have nothing to do but pleasant, easy things. The only thing you have to do is to pray to me.”
This kind of thing is very important I think, there is lot to learn from that. Because, you know, the great masters of the past have prepared everything, they have done all the hardships for us. Now it’s up to us. Of course that is one of the causes, the lamas’ activities. But then of course from our side also we need to develop wisdom and diligence, but if we practice in this way we can actually generate the positive qualities of the great masters in us. But we need to do it with joy, we need to develop great inspiration and aspiration, longing with lots of determination.
When we have that and can really see the positive qualities, through that we can also develop and cultivate those positive qualities in us. For example Milarepa said: “For the people of the future I have gone through all the hardships and practices so much that for my future generation students may there not be any obstacles or deviations. May they be able to experience these positive qualities without any problem.” What it means to say is that mere praying or having devotion, that’s enough, because through that way we can generate those qualities of the great masters within us.
It’s not just the understanding. We have to take what is written in black and white in the books, take it out and make it our own experience, put it into our heart. Bring the instructions written in books in letters, black and white, into our own heart, a living experience.
The third is the undistracted meditation, the real main topic. This also has two parts, the shamatha meditation and vipashyana meditation. The first is shamatha meditation, about that it’s said like this:
The main practice is being undistracted, as it is taught.
As ones who, whatever arises, rest simply,
Not altering just that fresh, essential thought.
Please bless us with practice
That is free of conception.
The first of these is the shamatha meditation. And generally meditation can be of two ways. One is meditation through reflection and another one is meditation placement or without reflecting. According to the general Mahayana level practice it is said that reflective meditation is more to generate the vipassyana and placement or calming down meditation is more for the shamatha meditation. But when you go up to vajrayana level, like anuttarayoga practices, then even this placement meditation can be a way to generate vipashyana meditation.
Shamatha meditation is the basis, it is very important both for worldly path and also for the path beyond samsara. Actually without shamatha meditation you cannot really have proper advancement on the path, because even in the worldly meditations there are first, second and third dhyana meditation. So those are also according how you progress, basically how stable your mind is, how one-pointed your mind is. The stability of the mind is the main criteria on how far you advance on your path. And the similar way about the non-worldly or beyond the samsaric path also. It’s not just that if you have a good intention or good kind of view, that will not necessarily advance too much. It has to be experienced. Therefore the meditation, how stable your mind is, is the basic foundation. Without that the path almost cannot exist.
In this age there are so much disturbances and busyness. It’s very difficult to cultivate the shamatha meditation. Some people even say that there is so much distraction in the world now that it is almost impossible to generate the true shamatha meditation. It’s waste of time to try to generate shamatha meditation, you can’t do it, they say. They say it’s therefore better you recite mantras, so that you could be born in Dewachen or Sukhavati and then slowly go through that. There are people who say this kind of things. And I understand what they say.
Even Milarepa was very fortunate to be born at that time. If he was in 21st century, it would be interesting what would happen. There are so many causes of distraction. Even if I could find Milarepa now, in this 21st century I would probably go there with lots of instruments like iPhone and iPad and all this kind of things. Maybe first time he would say “Oh, I don’t want those things.” But maybe slowly he would say: “Oh, it’s interesting!” Maybe he would also get little bit distracted. Maybe he would like to play with computer every once and a while. Therefore you cannot guarantee that even Milarepa would not be at all distracted.
When we talk about shamatha, there are generally two ways of cultivating it, which are recommended. The first one is that you go into solitude, you go in a place, where there is no disturbance and then you meditate there and through that way you develop the shamatha meditation. The second way is that you don’t go into any kind of special place but whatever happens, if your mind is not disturbed or not distracted, be aware of that and be in that state, relax in that. If your mind is moving, if it is distracted, be aware of that and relax in that. Let it be in its own place, let it relax in that own space where the mind is. Let it be in the natural state and that is the second way of generating the shamatha meditation.
And I feel that this is the best way in this time. Because there is almost no way you can be totally free from any distractions. Maybe you can go on the Himalayan Mountains, on top of Mt Everest. And even there if you have mobile phone it would ring. The phones have so many different kind of ringing tunes, that I cannot imitate them. Some of them even sound like dogs barking. Therefore there is almost nowhere where you can be totally undistracted or undisturbed. Therefore maybe this is the only way we should be able to develop the shamatha.
In essence it is said that mindfulness is the guardian, the person who is looking after the meditation. Therefore mindfulness is the most important factor. [HH Karmapa: “Mindfulness and undistractedness have same meaning in English?”] How undistracted you may be, you are aware of your mind. Just be aware of it and let your mind be in that. There is nothing much to do, just be aware. And that’s what we call yeng mey or undistracted.
For example, if some mind poisons or emotions arise, do not focus on the object of experienced emotion. If you look back to the emotion or the subject itself, where the emotion is rising, be mindful of that, not forgetting that and just relaxing in that. When you do that you see the freshness or arising of those emotions in your mind or in your experience. That is meditation. If you forget that, if you forget to look at the subject, the experience that’s within you, then you lose your meditation. Your mind is distracted and goes after the experience or after the object of the emotion, or thoughts. Then you will be distracted and there is no more meditation.
I would like to give an example. Maybe this example has not be experienced by people, but the example is like this: If you throw a stone at a lion, the lion is not going after the stone but looks at the person who is throwing the stone and attack this person. And then there will be no stone throwing, because you killed the person. But if you throw a stone after a dog, the dog will run after the stone and then the person can throw another stone. This is the example.
So, if you have a thought or emotion, if you follow that experience or emotion or thought and say that this is a nice thought, not a nice thought, this is a good emotion, not a good emotion, and then more and more thoughts, emotions and all kind of things happen. Then you are totally overcome, taken away by your emotions and experiences. But when a strong emotion comes or many thoughts come, if you look at that, the thought or emotion itself, and remain there, not forgetting that, then your mindfulness will be able to catch the nature of your mind. Even if there is a very strong negative emotion, if you look at that arising itself, slowly that negative emotion will become less and less powerful and the negative emotion cannot take over. This is the difference and this is the meditation.
Some people think that when you say: “Look at the thought or emotion,” they misunderstand it and think that we have to look at that emotion which already passed, went away, and they try to grasp that. That is not the correct understanding. You don’t have to keep on holding on to that thought or emotion which is already gone. That would be a problem. This is what I mean to say. The thoughts and emotions keep on changing. It’s nothing stable. Nothing remains, it goes on and on. What you have to be aware of is just that awareness, the awareness of your mind that is there. Many different thoughts and arisings have happened. You don’t have to be aware of any particular thought or emotion but aware of the awareness itself. Being aware of the awareness is what we call looking at the nature of mind. This is very important to understand.
But of course I don’t have to try talk a lot about this, you should go and find an experienced master who has the instructions and then learn how to meditate. It’s not enough that you just listen to someone who talks about it.
So it’s almost 11 o’clock, but I couldn’t finish this, so I will extend this for few minutes, not one hour, but few minutes, so please be patient.
The second, vipashyana, is this:
The essence of thought is the Dharmakaya as it is taught.
Not anything at all, yet arising as anything.
In unceasing play we arise,
Please bless us to realize samsara and nirvana as inseparable.
So, when we talk about the essence of the thought as Dharmakaya in vipashyana, there are two ways of looking at it. The first is: because the nature or the essence of our mind, our thoughts, is emptiness, and that emptiness is given the name Dharmakaya. Therefore, to understand this is the nature of our mind you say, the essence of the thought is the Dharmakaya.
The other way of explaining is: if you look at the nature of our thoughts, or the mind, then there are two things. For instance, if there is anger, it has two parts. One is that its nature, there is clarity, there is kind of knowingness in it. And then there is also the negative part of it, the klesha part. These two are inseparable; the hatred or the anger as its natural state, clarity or awareness and knowingness and then its negative part. Now that knowingness or the clarity part of it is something that will continue till enlightenment. It never goes away. It is its nature. But the klesha part of it, the disturbing part of it, that has to be eradicated, finished.
This is an example: if you look at water, not very clear water but disturbed kind of water, or polluted water, you can’t just throw away the whole water, because then the water is gone. You can’t just throw away the pollution of the water. The water and pollution cannot be separated. And another example is the sea, the sea and its waves. The waves themselves are the sea, so you cannot really differentiate that.
When you actually are able to experience the nature of it, then the waves do not disturb. When you see the nature of it, then that disturbance is not there. You see it’s inseparable and nothing which you would need to be afraid of. This understanding is the inseparability of the thoughts and the Dharmakaya.
Generally speaking, when Milarepa first time was giving his understanding of meditation, of his path to Marpa, it is said that first you have to practice the vipashyana meditation by reflection. You reflect, you have to meditate through reflection and then you go to the placement meditation of the vipashyana. It’s step by step, this was the recommendation. But then, if you are a very advanced kind of person, then it’s very different. Therefore you can also right from the beginning take on the meditation which is not through reflection, but also through placement.
The nature of the mind is clear light, therefore the clear light here is the clarity or the awareness and that’s not separable. So this understanding I think I will not discuss too much, because there is not much time and then also I cannot say that I am great expert in this either.
So it is said that the undistractedness is the actual meditation. And then the loving kindness and compassion is the activity, the result of meditation. And when we talk about the bodhisattvas, there are some bodhisattvas, who are only devoted to help other beings. And there are some bodhisattvas who do some for their own purpose and some for the purpose of others. And then there are also some bodhisattvas, who are working for his or her own benefit mainly, but they also work for the benefit of others as well.
I talked about this example before: that suppose there is a family, a house, and the house goes on fire. As soon as the house goes on fire, it’s seen by a member of that family. He runs away. He runs out of the house. But when he has one foot outside of the door and another foot inside the door, at that moment he remembers that all other members of his family are left inside. At that time he returns and awakes the other people of his family. He saves them and comes out.
So, when we talk about loving kindness and compassion, I think it’s very difficult, or it’s maybe not really being genuine or truthful, if we say that I wish or do good things only for others and not do not wish any good things for myself. Maybe I’m lying about that. But that’s okay. It’s okay to be concerned about your own welfare and do something for your own good also. But at the same time not to totally forget about others, not totally unconcerned about the benefit of others. That’s very important. Because how much you are able to be concerned about others, how much loving kindness and compassion you have, how much you really want to do work for the benefit of others, that’s actually the result of the meditation.
Like for instance, if you have ten apples and you don’t want to eat them all at once, if you keep all the ten apples for yourself, maybe in few days’ time the apples will become rotten and it’s not really useful. So, you eat one apple yourself and the other apples you maybe distribute to others around you. That may be good for yourself also, because maybe next day one of those people to whom you gave one apple might get few oranges. At that time he may offer you an orange. Then next day somebody else, to whom you have given an apple, might have an extra banana, and you might get that also.
When we are talking about loving kindness and compassion, it’s not saying that you are totally unconcerned about your own welfare or your own wellbeing. It is to say, that you should not forget the benefit of others as well. This is the result of the meditation, that you are thinking about the welfare of others and how much compassion, how much loving-kindness naturally comes in your experience.
Then lastly, it is said like this:
In all our births,
May we never be separate from the perfect guru,
Enjoying Dharma’s splendor,
Perfecting the qualities of the Paths and Levels.
May we quickly reach the state of Vajradhara.
Here I do not have much to explain. Today when the two Shabjay Rinpoches are preciding and many tulkus are also participating, and many khenpos and lopöns, the presence of all the ordained sangha, and also many devotees from many different countries have come here. We can say that the whole mandala is here. We can also say all the vajra brothers and sisters, all of you, and here we have had this great opportunity to participate in this festival of dharma. This kind of festival of dharma will happen again and again I hope in future also. And I’m very happy and hope all of you also enjoy this great opportunity.
And not only in this life but also in all the future lives I pray from the bottom of my heart that we will keep on having this kind of great opportunities, very joyful gatherings again and again, celebrate the teachings of the dharma, the dharma festival that we will have again and again and life after life that we will able to work for the benefit of all beings. This I am praying. It’s my main prayer here.
And I hope and think that all of you will be praying for this. And especially it is said that in this very auspicious or sacred place, if you make prayers in a very sacred place, that is much more powerful than just making prayers. And also if you make prayers on special occasions it’s much more powerful and here at this moment it’s the Chojur Dawa, the month in which the Buddha performed miracles. And also if you make prayers when there is a great gathering of sangha, it’s more powerful. Therefore here now we have the gatherings of human beings and maybe non-human beings also.
And it’s also said that if men and women come together and pray together, it is much more effective than if you pray men alone and women alone. So here we have both men and women. And also it is said that if all four different kinds of sanghas come together and pray – the four sanghas are bikshus and bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas. These are the male and female upasakas and male and female bhiksus, if these four come together and pray, it’s said that it will be much more powerful. And also it’s said that when both the teachers and students with good samaya come together and pray together in a harmonious way, it’s said that all the prayers will be very quickly… prayer becomes much more powerful, it’s more likely to have these prayers accomplished. That’s why we pray together in this way.
And now, last few days I’ve been teaching this text, but I didn’t prepare very much. Therefore maybe there were some omissions or problems. So maybe there were some mistakes that I made, so I truly sincerely apologize. And if there were something in those teachings that helped you or were of some use, I pray that those things will go with you and remain with you all the time and create great cause of happiness and wellbeing for you, which will not go away. [The End]