The Three Gateways to Liberation
The Ground, Emptiness
The Path, Absence of Characteristics
The Fruition, Wishlessness
Dear Friends Near and Far:
I hope you've all been happy and healthy. I'm doing very well and at the moment in Kathmandu sitting in our annual Ngakso Drubchen. For today's Guru Rinpoche Day, I would like to take you back to the roots. With all your varied backgrounds and the different stages you are in your practice, it is sometimes good to refresh yourself of the basics, the essence. And to those of you who are new to the dharma, this should be a good start for you all.
Buddha's teachings are extremely vast and for that reason we are often left thinking, where to begin? When first entering or inquiring about the Buddha's teachings, the starting point should be the view since this forms the ground of the practice to follow. When training on the path, the view should be in accord with the capacity of the individual and for this reason Buddha gave a variety of different teachings. The ultimate, essential view that the Buddha taught howeaver is none other than the profound emptiness and this is the first of the three gateways to liberation.
Having ascertained the view, the second step is to put this view into practice on the path. Yet if you do not know how to practice correctly, then your path will go astray. Thus to prevent us from going astray on the path, Buddha taught freedom from grasping and clinging and told his disciples repeatedly to not fabricate. This is the mode in which we should practice on the path; abscence of characteristics.
But what is the result of doing this kind of practice and holding such a view? One needs to know what the result is and not be mistaken about this. To use a simple example, if you are traveling somewhere you need to know the route and you need legs to get you there and eyes so you can see the path. But you also need to know something about the destination and also how will you know when you have arrived? Likewise, the fruition of the Buddha's path is the collapse of all hope and fear, all notions and concepts; wishlessness.
In this way, the three gateways to liberation contain the essence of the ground, the path, and the fruition of the Buddha's ultimate teachings. Thus if you can study, contemplate, and practice these correctly, your path will be unmistaken and will lead to perfect enlightenment without a doubt.
For those of you receiving this note and not knowing how or why and wondering what this note is all about. I can atleast answer the what part, and that is, for the last six years, I have been sending notes to my students all over on each GRD to gently remind them to not go completely astray fom the path and remind them of the three jewels and to bring thier mind home for few minutes and to basically take a pause!
Sending you all much love and affection from the Blessed Valley.