26. maj 2010

A letter from Phakchok Rinpoche

Dear Dharma Friends,

I hope you've all been happy and healthy. The message below was sent out on Guru Rinpoche Day, but due to some technical error, many of you didn't receive it. It is my hope that you receive it this time without any obstacle and if you happen to receive a double copy, please bear with us.

I would like to share with you a teaching that is very dear to my heart. A teaching given by my grandfather many years ago. And it is to my hope that the teaching will have some positive impact on you.

Heart Advice from my grandfather, Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche:

This Precious Human Body:

The body we have right now is called the precious human body. In this world there are countless sentient beings and among all of them, the best one is this precious human body, which is very hard to obtain again and again. It is impossible to obtain a precious human body through demerit. It is only through the accumulation of merits in your past lives and the residual of incredible great positive karma that we can arrive in a body like this.
Having being born as a human is like arriving on an island of jewels. But if we don’t take any of them and just keep our hands crossed and go home empty handed, then what really is the point? So how do we make this precious human birth meaningful? It is only through practicing the spiritual path that one can make this precious human body significant. Without which you are just an ordinary human trapped in an ordinary human body.
And why is this human body called precious? It is because of this body, that we can listen to precious teachings when they are explained and subsequently put them into practice. But if we waste such a precious thing like this, there is truly no greater loss than that. If we don’t practice the dharma then we are no different than an animal. So truly and honestly we should really persevere to practice the dharma.

Practicing the Dharma:

To practice the dharma means having trust, diligence and being wise/intelligent. Trust means having complete trust and confidence in the Dharma, the teachings and in the one who taught the teachings, the Buddha. Therefore having complete trust in the Buddha and the Dharma. Complete trust in the Sangha, the ones who upholds the teachings and therefore a feeling of gratitude towards the Sangha. We need to trust in these three (Buddha/Dharma/Sangha).
Diligence means, in any kind of job you do, if you begin and do not finish then it is never completed. Therefore what carries you to complete that job is called diligence.
And being wise/intelligent is first of all what we gain from listening to teachings, from thinking about them and than later applying them. So when you hear something and you gain some trust and confidence then you have some insight that is called the knowledge through learning. And then when you think it over, the knowledge through reflection and finally the knowledge through meditation practice and having full confidence and trust in it. It is for that reason invincible to have trust. If one mistrusts then that is a great defect.
If one has no compassion and trust it is very hard to penetrate the very heart of the dharma. It is like someone who when seeing Buddhas and bodhisattvas flying in the sky think they are just showing off and when seeing a creature lying on the floor with it’s intestines flowing out and saying oh it’s his karma, everyone dies.

Devotion and Compassion:

Compassion and devotion shouldn’t just be a show. And shouldn’t only be of lip service. It should be from the depths of our heart. Trust towards the teachings of the Buddha should be with pure appreciation. We need to have the kind of trust which is penetrating so that tears comes out of our eyes and the hairs on our body naturally stand, a kind of feeling difficult to remain in. Simply by uttering some empty words wont’ suffice. When thinking of other beings you should have the kind of compassion thinking that they are all my parents and yet they don’t know what to do, they create immense pain and suffering for themselves, yet they are not aware of it. They have no idea about the ultimate truth, the true state of Samadhi. So they wonder from one life to the next in the endless chain of samsara. Therefore, the ones who are filled with overwhelming compassion for sentient beings and with unwavering devotion for the enlighten ones; they will without any doubt receive the blessings of all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Just to pay lip service and superficially act as if one pities sentient beings and respects the enlighten ones is not enough to receive the blessings. It has to be with hundred percent sincerity. So here are some signs of receiving the blessings, and they are when you no longer have to try to feel kind and compassionate, as it will come spontaneously and you no longer have to try to be deliberately respectful, as it will come spontaneously as well. Those are the signs. With a natural trust in the teaching and the consequences of karma, that is the real accomplishment of dharma practice. That is the real siddhi.

Receiving the Blessings:

You may not be having a lot of knowledge and information of the dharma but if you have real trust in the three jewels and you have kindness towards other beings and acutely understand that in this life, nothing last forever, then you have already received the blessings of the three jewels. Otherwise just to know a lot of teachings can sometimes really resolve in nothing but conceit. Or thinking I have practiced so much and so many years of Shamatha and Samadhi. People who have a lot of practice behind them usually become more miserly and stingy. This is proof that the teachings have not taken affect. So what is the main mission at stake? It is after all about buddha-nature, which is the very identity within which the bodies, speech, mind, qualities and enlighten activities of all the Buddhas are complete. Actually the body, speech, and mind of any sentient being have its source or origin only in the body, speech, and mind of all the awakened ones. This unchanging quality is called the vajra body, the unceasing quality the vajra speech and the unmistaken quality, the vajra mind. The indivisible unity of these three is exactly what buddha-nature means.


If we don’t recognize or acknowledge in our own experience what is the unchanging quality of this buddha-nature, then it is more or less like entering into the entrapment of the physical body of flesh and blood, our speech being entrapped within the movement of breath to become voice and voice that appears and disappears. Our consciousness becomes fixated upon a perceiver or the perceived. In other words, fixation on duality that arises and ceases for each moment, in other words, thoughts that come and go, one after the other in an endless string of thoughts continued from beginning less time and just goes on and on. That is how our normal state of mind is. If we don’t recognize our own nature in this very lifetime, we are then incapable of capturing our natural seat of unchanging self-existent wakefulness. Instead, we chase after one perishable thought after the other so that samsara becomes endless. Being overpowered by this involvement in thought day and night, life after life. Unless you become free of conceptual thinking, there is absolutely no way to truly awaken to enlightenment.

The Supreme Method:

Great peace is when the conceptual thinking subsides or calms down. And there is such a way for that to happen. The thoughts which are an expression, while thinking if you truly recognize that you are in natural phase, which is buddha-nature, at that same moment, any thought vanishes by itself leaving no trace. That brings an end to samsara. So the basic way for that is the supreme method, once you know that one method is there anything superior to that you need to know? And this way is something, which is already attained in your self, it is not something that we need to get from someone else, by bribe, search for and finally find. It is not necessary at all. Just recognize your own natural phase and you have already transcended the six realms of samsara. That way is what one asks for when asking a master to please give instruction on mind essence. This is the most precious which one doesn’t need to search for outside, it is in your self. This is called the Buddha being placed in the palm of your own hand. That is an analogy which means, at that moment, you don’t need to seek for the awakened state somewhere else. If you line up all the money and wealth of the whole world in a big heap on one side and on the other side the recognition of buddha-nature, the nature of our own mind then what is more valuable if you were to choose between the two? Obviously, you should without a doubt choose recognizing mind essence as being much more valuable. This is called the amazing Buddha within.

If you have a wish-fulfilling jewel and yet don’t use it, then the endless samsara lies before you. Isn’t there more trouble? This is something we really need to think about. This is the real crucial point. If we didn’t have this innate buddha-nature, who can actually blame you. This buddha-nature, it is the identity of the three kayas of all Buddhas.

And in closing:

Although my mind is the Buddha, I failed to acknowledge it
Though the essence of thought is Dharmakaya, I failed to recognize it
Though the innate natural state is uncontrived, I failed to sustain it
Though this naturalness is the true state, I failed to trust it
So Guru, please look upon me with compassion and grant your blessings
That I may quickly turn my mind towards the dharma
And have no obstacles on the path and quickly have diligence to practice

Sarva Mangalam,
Phakchok Rinpoche

Pilgrimage in the Year of the Iron Tiger: Following the footsteps of the Buddha, The Awakened One
Tentative date: December 15th-25th, 2010
Visit www.cglf.org for more information

* The above teaching was given at Nagi Gonpa by Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche with Erik Pema Kunsang as his translator.