06 Apr 2016
Alan says he was advised that he inadvertently overlooked part of the oral transmission of Karma Chagme’s Naked Awareness text so he now delivers it for completeness (page 18 beginning “You are the protector of all sentient beings without exception…”). This afternoon’s topic is on the second of the Greats – Great Loving-Kindness (Maha Maitri). As with all the Greats, we require a fundamental shift from aspiration to intention whereby the intention in this case requires taking responsibility for the care of all sentient beings. Alan comments that in Western tradition the focus is human-oriented (and mostly only men at that) whereas this is not even considered in Tibetan Buddhism where the focus is on all sentient beings. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama was asked what the fundamental drive in humans was, he replied “caring”. At the very least we care about ourselves, and almost everyone else cares about someone else in addition to themselves. The Bodhisattva ideal however is to take responsibility for caring for all sentient beings. The ground for beginning the Bodhisattva path is cultivating immeasurable equanimity. However when you calculate the number of sentient beings in all worlds, this can be overwhelming. The practical advice Alan received from one of his teachers, Gen Losang Gyatso, was to focus on caring for everyone (including every animal) that comes to mind. This is not only everyone we’ve met but also the broader spectrum when we consider our exposure to all people and animals via study of history and the media. However the practical importance of this is that it pretty much covers beings of all the six realms from the most sublime to the most diabolical. The practice then is to care for each and all these beings without exception by recognising their fundamental Buddha-nature. The third part of the Bodhisattva liturgy startles us in that it requires us to resolve that “I will bring all sentient beings to happiness and its causes”. So how are we to understand the personal pronoun “I”? The only way is that the referent “I” has to be from the viewpoint of Dharmakaya or Buddha-nature. Then Alan asks: “Why do we need more Buddhas? Why do we need another copy of the Buddha? Isn’t that covered? Aren’t there enough Buddhas already?”
The meditation is on Great Loving-kindness
Following meditation practice, Alan returns to Chokyi Gyeltsen’s root text - stanzas 3-5. Alan comments on the nature of the accumulation of merit, the purification of afflictive and cognitive obscurations, and the way to view our root and lineage gurus.
Meditation starts at 43:45
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Olaso. So someone kindly brought to my attention the fact, it was Jess in fact, that I had skipped or omitted or overlooked a passage in the text here in Naked Awareness, it’s on page 18. I just, I think I just saw that it was indented and assumed that it was commentary but it’s not of course. So I’m just going to read this now just to see that the oral transmission is complete. Some of you who are teachers in your own right, there are more than one of you here, may want to share this with others, the transmission, the explanation, in which case it’s good to have it complete, right? And this one really anybody who would love to listen, this is good for all. So here it is on page 18, when Kama Chagme writes:
With palms pressed together holding a stick of incense [this is of course part of the ritual for taking refuge] With palms pressed together holding a stick of incense the master and disciples invite them, [the objects of refuge] by chanting together [I’m just going to read this, it’s very self explanatory, and so you are the protector addressing now the objects of refuge, you are the protector of all sentient beings without exception, the unassailable divine conqueror who defeats the hosts of maras, who knows all things as they are], Lord please come to this place together with your retinue. Lord for countless eons you have cultivated compassion for sentient beings and you have made vast prayers to fulfill the needs of us all. Now when the time has come please dispense a myriad of miraculous blessings from your spontaneous palace, of the absolute space of phenomena, in order to liberate limitless hosts of sentient beings, please come together with your entire retinue. You are the lord of all dharmas, your complexion is like pure gold with a splendor more magnificent than the sun. Due to my faith, may you gaze upon me, peaceful and compassionate, subdued and abiding in meditative stabilization. With your dharma of primordial wisdom free of attachment you possess inexhaustible power. Return, return, oh being of the peace of purity, omniscient sage foremost of living beings, come to this place of offerings which are presented like beautiful reflections. Lord it is good for you to come here, we possess merit and good fortune, please accept our offerings, attend to us and grant your blessings. When we offer this eight petaled lotus, as vast as the galaxy, with joy and open heartedness, please remain as long as you please.
[00:02:43] What a lovely invitation, truly. And just a tiny commentary here. What kind of just leapt out at me as I was just reading through that is that in the first paragraph I was highlighting, referring to the bhagavan, the bhagavan Lord, the Bhagavan, what was replete with blessings, he’s referring there to you who know things as they are, highlighting here the quality of the Buddha of wisdom, of knowing, this omnipresent awareness of the Buddha. And then we see down below the peaceful and compassionate, the highlighting the compassionate element, free of attachment. And that down below I saw the power, where was the power? [Alan speaks sotto voce] You possess inexhaustible power, these are the three qualities. The wisdom, the compassion and the power of enlightened awareness, for highlighting those offerings, invitation then you may make this further and then below that you will see just to contextualize then you imagine a bathing, and I’ve explained that already.
[00:03:57] And so, thank you Jess, now the oversight is corrected. So that’s that. And so, today we will move to the second of the four greats, Maha Maitri, Maha Maitri, the liturgy is very similar and so I don’t need to give as much explanation as I did yesterday. It has that same vein the same fundamental shift that we find for all four of these ‘greats’ is that each one of these now is, as we’ll unpack day by day, each one of these is presented as not only an aspiration but an intention and the mode of intention is actually taking upon oneself responsibility, responsibility. So I’ll do it, I’ll take, I’ve got it covered, I’ll take care of it. We all know what responsibility is. But the first, the first words that come out, in Tibetan [Semchen Tam Che, Semchen Tam Che Tibetan phrase,], all sentient beings. We say this innumerable times, especially in the Mahayana but elsewhere in Buddhism. All sentient beings. I think it is very significant in the eurocentric, eurocentric or Judeo-Christian traditions both, we often speak of all men, all men in the United States constitution, ‘all men are created equal’ it didn’t say anything about women, or slaves or blacks, or native Americans. And animals? Ah forget about it!
[00:05:38] So that, that just has enormous biases built into it, enormous. You never find that in Buddhism. You never find [?05:46 Tibetan] - It sounds ridiculous. I just said: All men. Like what? Only the ones with penises right? [laughter]It’s like why are you saying that? I’ve never seen that. I don’t think I have ever seen in any of the Tibetan literature I have ever read, the phrase [?06:02 Tibetan], it sounds crazy. But it’s not even all humans because of course when they get gentle on that one, men and women are kind of included among honorary members, something like that. But it’s still all human beings, all humanity. And then in buddhism when have I ever seen [?06:25 Tibetan]? Virtually never, I can’t remember ever [?Tibetan] means all human beings, I can’t remember that coming up. It’s always, all sentient beings, all sentient beings. And sentient means, has a dual aspect to it; awareness, of course, you are aware of this or that, but also sentient, quite rightly, it’s a good translation, the word sentient also has that element of feeling, of caring, that is suffering and pleasure, it has that built-in. And in the Buddhist view, and I believe it’s correct although it is not obviously or necessarily correct, but every being that is aware, every conscious being, is also a sentient being.
[00:07:05] So in science fiction, like if any of you have ever watched Star Trek, there is Data who is extremely intelligent and he is clearly conscious, but then he has no emotions, right, and that is a very very common theme in science fiction; the robots, the androids and so forth and so on, they are conscious but of course they have no feelings, they have no emotions. That’s fine, that’s science fiction, you know, it’s fun, it’s just for entertainment. But in the Buddhist view there is no such thing as a being that is aware but has no feelings, that has no sense of joy or pleasure, or suffering and so on. It’s a package deal, they come together and this is why, I am rambling a little bit, but this is why, when the Dalai Lama was asked years ago, ‘what do you think is the most fundamental drive in human beings?’ Because we are human beings talking, but more broadly speaking in sentient beings, ‘what is the most fundamental drive?’ And he said ‘caring.’ That is we care, at the very least we care about ourselves, and almost everyone cares about someone more than just ourselves, and then we can just ask well - where does the caring drop off? In wartime it’s very very clear, we care for our side and our soldiers wearing this colour and then we care for the other side to die, we care about them, we want them to die, to be defeated to be and so forth, because they are wearing a different colour, and maybe a different language, and a different design, so we know who to shoot. It is very handy, it’s very courteous, that you wear a different colours so you know who the bad people are, so you know where the sharp demarcation is. But that’s where it is, and of course we find this in races, people of my skin pigmentation, sometimes my gender, sometimes my religion, my political persuasion, and so on. But it’s always [08:48 TIBETAN, Semchen Tam che, Semchen Tam che,] all sentient beings care and the bodhisattva ideal is to care for all sentient beings, so there’s just no demarcation. That’s where we start with that immeasurable equanimity, that’s the, that’s the ground for beginning to cultivate the bodhisattva ideal.
[00:09:07] If you don’t have impartiality, if you don’t have that evenness, then you’re not really ready, you’re going to venture out onto the bodhisattva path with preferences here, and preferences and bigotry here, and close mindedness and so forth, well it is just not going to get anywhere, because this is an indispensable foundation. But all sentient beings, all sentient beings, there it is it comes up all the time in Buddhism and it comes up every single time in the liturgy for these four greats. And so I remember grappling with this a long time ago when I was a monk living in Dharamsala studying and receiving formal monastic education at a Buddhist monastery that had been founded by His Holiness and I just, I kind of just wondered like, what am I supposed to think? Because we are reciting this all of the time, everybody does in Buddhism. What am I supposed to think, what’s supposed to come to mind when I think ‘all sentient beings’? Because if you’re dealing within a purely Buddhist worldview you have what are called [?10:09 Tibetan] and this is a billionfold world, a thousand times a thousand times a thousand, sometimes falsely translated as trilocism, like a three thousand fold, it’s not 3000, it’s a thousand to the third power. A thousand times a thousand times a thousand, is 1000 million, or a billion. So it’s a billion fold world, it’s a billion fold world system, I translate it here loosely as galaxy. It’s obviously a western term, but a billion fold world system. But now when they’re speaking of a billion fold world system it means each one of the worlds in that system is inhabited. If it’s a planet that has no life on it, it’s not a loca, it’s not a world system, it’s a big rock, that’s all that is, just a big rock. It’s got to have sentient beings on it, right. And then it’s a loca, a [?Tibetan] and so [?11:01 Tibetan] is a billion fold system of populated worlds. Worlds system, planets, call it what you will. And then, and that’s just for starters. And so we’re in one of them of course. In the system where there are a billion what’s called planets that are inhabited. And then they say, oh and there are countless of these. There are countless billion fold worlds. Ok.
[00:11:29] So when I say that the Buddhist worldview is no less small in space or time than modern cosmology, for which this particular cycle of the universe is about 13.8 billion years old. And it has roughly about a hundred billion galaxies, each one of which having up to about a trillion stars. So you can start multiplying the zeros, it gets to be a lot of zeros there. But these are just almost inconceivably vast in dimensions throughout space and time. And so when thinking of all sentient beings it’s kind of easy, in my experience, maybe it’s just my limited imagination, to actually have no one come to mind, just kind of like to whom it may concern! [laughter] Yeah, but actually, but it’s not my brother, he’s not all sentient beings, it’s not my neighbours, and no not you, you’re not all sentient beings, you’re just a small cluster. So none of you, I have to focus on everyone which means I am actually focusing on no one, right. So I asked the Abbot of our monastery, this wonderful teacher [?] Lobsang Gyatso, I asked him what shall I have come to mind when I think all sentient beings? Because we are reciting this everyday, and I have been reciting this everyday for decades by now, many of you have. And his answer has obviously really stuck with me because it was so practical. He was another one of these monks, monks, teachers, who really embodied the Dharma, you just saw no difference between what he taught and what he was, he’s such an inspiration. One of the finest teachers I have ever met in my life and very, very warm hearted, [? name] Gyatso. He was appointed personally by His Holiness to be the Abbot of this monastery. So his answer was sentient beings, all sentient beings, that’s whoever comes to mind. Everyone who comes to mind. So not just everybody you’ve met, even if you’ve had a long life, we’re talking about thousands here, maybe tens of thousands, that’s a small number, right. Everybody who comes to mind; well this is Plato, and Attila the Hun, and Jesus and Socrates and you know, Charlemagne. They come to mind, yes I have read a bit of history. And of course there are animals, there are many animals, I wanted to be a naturalist, I was going to be a wildlife biologist until I encountered Buddhism.
[00:13:50] But now getting more practical. So again it is a big field, and by way of internet, by way of reading and so forth and so on, we’ve become, a lot of people can come to mind, whole groups can come to mind, they do of course but where this really becomes very practical in terms of cultivating the four immeasurables and the four greats, is considering the range of people, the varieties and just for the time being let us focus on human beings, just because those who are the ones we’re engaging with the most, not because they are the most important, but they are the ones we are actually encountering. And if we consider the people who come to mind, those we know personally, those we know by way of the internet, history books and so forth and so on. Well, for certainly everyone here, everybody listening by podcast, certainly a broad spectrum comes to mind. We know some really, really evil people. I mean the word has to be used, I mean, there are people who really have demonstrated very, very evil mindsets, behaviour and so forth. So we’re kind of familiar with the worst of the worst, and they crop up all over the place, I wish it would just be selective, it would be like this group, and all the rest of us are fine, but there’s no group that is fine.
[00:15:08] I diverge a little bit, just in a very playful way. For some years I would comment, I am a 5th generation Californian, you know like a real Californian, not one of those newcomers, you know, just playfully, but kind of like pride of state in the California. And then I was watching a series of documentaries and it was focusing on the 1860’s and my beloved state, I mean it’s a gorgeous state and in the 1860’s I think it was, maybe the 1850’s in my home state, there were regions where if you’d go out and shoot a Native American and scalp them you would get a reward like like shooting a coyote, shoot a human being, men, women, child it doesn’t make any difference. You would get your $5 or whatever by just going out and shooting them and cutting off the top of their head to show that you really killed somebody and then they give you, this is California? My state, the golden state, and suddenly I didn’t really want to say I’m a 5th generation Californian anymore. You know it doesn’t matter whether it’s just playful, it doesn’t make any difference anyway, but this California. We don’t think, we generally don’t think of California as the realm of villains, you know, demonic, diabolical. But what is that apart from demonic and diabolical? Argentina did the whole, the same thing with the whole country, they pretty much wiped out the Native Americans there. In other words they did what they did in California but maybe more efficiently.
[00:16:28] So we know of this and then we know of the wide range in between and then we know of extraordinary individuals, you know the Nelson Mandelas, the Mother Teresas and these exceptional people, Albert Schweitzer, the current Pope is a remarkable man, truly from all I can tell, truly a holy man. And then we have these beacons, these beacons of light, of goodness, of virtue. And then of course very appealing people and very unappealing people, physically attractive, physically unattractive and then just keep on going to the animal realm and so forth. So what [? 17:08 name] Gyatso was getting at, is when you bring to mind the spectrum of just the type of individuals that you know, you know or know of, you’ve pretty well covered the six realms. Even in the human, I mean not really but symbolically we have people who are embodying the qualities of a hell realm, and we have rampant greed of like a human embodiment of a preta, we have people who are living like animals in the worst sense of the term, bestial. We have people like in Beverly Hills and Santa Barbara, and Acapulco and the French Riviera and so forth, doing their best to emulate devas, you know in Tuscany, you’ll probably find some of that here, you know. [laughter]. And so we’re doing our best. And so we are covering the whole bandwidth but we also have pure realms. We have people who are creating pure realms around themselves, we encounter such people as well. And so again Gen Lamrimpa’s point, was very deep and very practical, and that is when you think of all sentient beings just think of the whole bandwidth of sentient beings you are aware of and include them all without excluding any of them. And equally, from the most sublime to the most diabolical, equally all, for the sake of all sentient beings without exception.
[00:18:24] That’s big. But of course, the without exception part is that each one has a Buddha-nature. No one ever can or has been or ever will be diabolical to the core, that manifests because of causes and conditions coming together and manifesting. So in my more sombre moments I just wonder sometimes if I had been born the mother, the child, the son in 1950 of Palestinian parents who have been evicted and they’ve you know really received on the brunt, you know the sharp edge of a lot of racism against Palestinians, it happens. The Israelis are human beings, they do what other human beings do. And that maybe my uncle was killed, and my parents had a strong vendetta against the reigning regime and they brought me up to serve the cause, to be a good terrorist and find that back pack and go and blow up as many people. Would I have resisted? Could I, can I say in total confidence, even my both parents were absolutely gung ho on this thought, this was absolutely the will of God, it is a good thing, it’s justifiable, they bought me up to fulfill that destiny to go off and blow up somebody. Would I have such innate goodness that I would say I’m sorry Mum and Dad, I love you but, no I can’t do this, I can’t? I would love to be able to say yes, and I can’t. How do I know? I just don’t know. And so if I could be a terrorist just by having different parents. I’m nothing special but I’m just kind of looking, if ever I sense that I am somehow actually intrinsically superior to the members of Isis for example, then I have to think a second time - exactly what makes me invulnerable to, immune to, that type of attitude? What is it? And I don’t come up with anything at all. If I were an Arya bodhisattva, then, yes. If I were so far along, or maybe even irreversibly on the path, then, yes. But I wish, but I’m not there yet and so it basically just kind of puts me right down at the bottom of the pyramid and then when I look at the kind of influences I have come under, under my parents, both very devout Christians, ethical, good hearted, virtuous people. And the people I knew when I was growing up, generally the same. And then of course all the lamas and so forth that I’ve met. If there’s any virtue here that’s manifesting and there is some, then I know, I know how it happened, you know Good fortune, Geshe Rabten when he gave me my monastic name the first name was Jampa, because that was his lineage, together with Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, theJampa was the name of, the kind of lineage, Jampa Phuntsok Rinpoche. And then the second one is the more personal one. So Geshe Rabten called me Jampa, his name was Jampa Sherab and he called me Jampa and then Kelsang. Kelsang means good fortune, good fortune. You are in the Jampa lineage, which means Maitreya. You’re of the Maitreya lineage, but you are a fortunate one. [laughter]You made your way all the way from California, winding up the hill going up to Dharamsala and receiving monastic ordination from him. You are a fortunate guy, you are a lucky dude! That is what he was saying. But he didn’t say, Holy Joe. He didn’t say oh you are so special, you’re lucky. That’s what he really said, you are really lucky!
[00:22:04] Okay, so all sentient beings. That kind of unpacks it, makes it practical doesn’t it? I have just no interest in empty liturgy. I just can’t deal with it. But now that part is not, not empty liturgy. So we’re starting off with, okay, I get it. This means in practice, as I read the newspapers and you know what’s going on in the world today we all know what’s going on basically. And then I encounter different people, I recall people in my life and then I just have to be aware. I am saying this, I do the six session guru yoga like many of you would with a Gelugpa background. And we are saying this every single day at least six times a day, all sentient beings, all sentient beings. This means every single one of them, no matter how they treated me, no matter how they treat anyone else. If I exclude them, I am breaking one of the fundamental root bodhisattva precepts. Don’t do that! So it’s means no one is excluded, we never give up on anyone, ever! That is practical now, really practical.
[00:23:04] Then this big one, it really leaps out because we have in Buddhism this big emphasis on non-self, there is no such thing as an independent autonomous self-existent, self. But we have this liturgy may, why couldn’t all sentient beings or just to put it in vernacular, why couldn’t we all, or every one of us, that would be another way of saying it. But why couldn’t all sentient beings find happiness and the causes of happiness? Why couldn’t we? There’s that again, starts with a question, each one does. And then when we see, there is no reason why each one couldn’t find happiness and the causes of happiness, then we arouse the aspiration as in the immeasurable loving kindness - may it be so, may each one be so endowed. But the third one is the one that startles, startles, because it has the ‘I’ word so prominent, it really does [?TIBETAN 00:23:54] - I will do that, I will bring all sentient beings to happiness and the causes of happiness. I mean that’s the personal pronoun ’I’. I will do it, and it’s kind of like ‘I’ cosmically reverberating out through time and space because literally no one is excluded. [coughs] Excuse me, I have to find the angle here. [laughter] You may call that ‘phat’ people listening by podcast, just call that phat, that was my invitation to realize rigpa. [laughter] If you didn’t get it, another cough is coming, you’ll have multiple chances. So what’s up with this, with this big flamboyant, cosmological, megalomaniac it sounds like? But ‘I shall, I shall’ and of course we looked at that briefly so now even more briefly. If the referent of ‘I’ in that regard is this human being then, it’s silly. If the referent of ‘I’ is this continuum of consciousness, individual carrying on from lifetime to lifetime, silly. If the referent of that is, dharmakaya, Buddha nature, pristine awareness, primordial consciousness, that’d the only dimension at which it’s not silly, and it’s not only not silly, it’s profoundly meaningful. But it is taking responsibility, that’s how they phrase it, I’m not making that one up, it’s taking responsibility for all sentient beings.
[00:25:14] Now, one might very well reflect, I think they’re covered! I think they are already taken care of, because how many Buddhas have there already been? Buddha Shakyamuni, he is the fourth in a series of a thousand Buddhas and then we have all of these great beings, these great adepts, Milarepa, Naropa, and Padmasambhava, and Tsongkhapa and so forth. We have had many many enlightened beings. I mean, we have maybe more than we need. And each one of them is saying; ‘I will do this, I will do this.’ And I’m just, I’m just really an ordinary being, you know. So they’ve got it covered. I think maybe they don’t really need me! [laughter] Because all the Buddhas have been saying this and they’re already completely enlightened Buddhas. So what do they need me [for]? What is one more little chip? Actually what is the big deal about being one more Buddha because there are already Buddhas everywhere? Buddha mind is everywhere present. So what’s the big deal we just throw a little pebble in? Even if I become enlightened and you throw me into the pool, it is just one more, one more guppy. It’s a Buddha Guppy, but still! [laughter]There are lots of Buddhas out there, so what’s the big deal of having one more? Is that really needed? Isn’t it covered? You see I’m always trying to wiggle out, [laughter] find an escape route, because it just seems so utterly awesome and kind of wild.
[00:26:48] Well it’s true, Amitabha, the Great blessings of Amitabha, Sukhavati, the blessings of Buddha Shakyamuni, of Tara, of Manjushri, of Chenrezig, Chenrezig, and the many manifestations of Gewa Karmapa, of course his Holiness the Dalai Lama, many manifestations of Chenrezig, Avalokiteshvara. So it seems like on the one hand it’s covered. And this from my perspective as far as I can tell, that’s many religions, actually stop there, and they say yes all, all human beings need to be saved, but when all is said and done, God will take care of it, Jesus will take care of it, Sheva will take care of it, Allah will take care of it, they don’t need me! They’re God, they’re omniscient, they’re omnipotent, they’re all powerful, the Buddha will take care of it. Theravadins, Theravadins, they do not encourage that, there are Bodhisattvas in the Theravada tradition. To my mind there is no question about that. But as a tradition, if you go to any really knowledgeable Theravada scholar and say how about I develop the motivation of a bodhisattva, here is their answer; ‘Do you think you are one of the, do you think you are one of the, you are destined to be one of the Buddhas? Do you think you are Maitreya, because right now there is only one bodhisattva in the world and that is Maitreya. Maitreya will be the fifth Buddha. If you think you are Maitreya, then ok go for it. [laughter] But if you don’t think you are Maitreya then get real, and become an arhat because Maitreya’s got it covered. Maitreya’s the next Buddha and after that there will be the sixth Buddha and this is a cycle of a thousand Buddhas. If you think you are one of those, okay, but if you don’t, well then just become an arhat, get free for heaven’s sakes. So there is no strong encouragement. In some cases no encouragement at all to really set out on a bodhisattva path, but set out on a path to become an arhat. So as far as I can tell there is so much I don’t know, I mean I don’t know almost everything but in the vast field of what I don’t know there may be some other tradition that teaches Bodhichitta but I don’t know of it. I don’t know of it. It seems to be unique to Mahayana tradition, of taking upon oneself the responsibility of liberating and bringing to perfect enlightenment all sentient beings.
[00:29:07] But now is this kind of like a competition? Like Buddha Shakyamuni, well Buddha, I’ll pick up where you left off. It’s ok, I’ve got it covered. [laughter] That’s silly, that’s silly. We’re not going to be silly here. But then Buddha does, Buddha’s mind, the mind of any Buddha is all pervasive as we understand it in the Buddhist context, Mahayana context. So, how does this all fit together? And I am reminded of the story of Milarepa and I have to thank Kathy for a correction here. It is small but there is no reason to make unnecessary mistakes. The lame goat story, the lame she goat story, it wasn’t Milarepa’s goat, my mistake. I just had a really clear memory that was false for about forty years. [laughs] I was thinking it was Milarepa’s goat, it wasn’t. It was Lama Mopa, Lama Mopa, and Milarepa went to him first as a vajrayana master and received actually empowerment and just didn’t get anywhere. It just didn’t work at all and then Lama Mopa with Milarepa, they went off to see the Great Teacher, he was renowned, the Great Marpa, the great translator, the one who’d been to India and brought back these many sacred texts. And they’re coming to meet the great master, it’s like going to meet the Dalai Lama or Sakya Pandita, I mean a great great Lama. And so Lama Mopa brought all of his possessions with the exception of a lame she goat and he didn’t think she would make the journey anyway. And they all showed up and then it was true, then Marpa said; Where’s your goat? You know, I want the goat too. And then it was complete, correct? Yeah, good. So it’s good to correct. It wasn’t Milarepa’s goat, the gist of the story is the same. So I didn’t lead you astray to some deviant path you know, by giving false proprietorship over the goat. [laughter] Whew, I haven’t lost my credentials. [laughter] But here’s the point - why I mention it now except to correct an error. And that is, that Lama Mopa as far as I could tell, he was a good Lama, he gave empowerment, he was a good lama, and Milarepa got nowhere with him, nothing happened and if we understand this from a Buddhist perspective the karmic connection just wasn’t there, the karmic connection with Marpa was big time and it is said as soon as Marpa saw Milarepa come in he already knew this is going to be my heart son and here’s a guy who has just killed 35 people. This is, he’s going to be my heart son, right, he didn’t show it, because he had to bring Milarepa through a lot of purification, otherwise he would never lead him on the path.
[00:31:53] But there’s the point. So one extraordinary lama, but let’s say another one, a very competent lama, right. So the simple point here is that the efficacy with which a spiritual friend, a guru, a lama may lead others on the path, and really along the path, right to awakening, is not simply a matter of how realised the lama is, or what siddhis the lama may or may not have, or the eloquence, or the clarity, or the erudition, or the depth of compassion, none of these are trivial, but that’s not the only factor in play. The factor in play is also karmic relationship, karmic relationship. And so when we look, I could really ramble on a long time I already have. But when we look at the previous lifetimes of the Buddha and there are many many accounts, we find that those five disciples with whom he connected, they were practicing ascetic practices together, the Buddha and then the five, and then the Buddha restored his health, they left him. And then the Buddha sought, when he saw who is ripe, who has little dust on their eyes, he saw clairvoyantly, they’re the ones and he made a beeline from Bodhgaya to Sarnath to seek those five out. First of all, why? Because they are his favourites? He liked them better? No of course not, but he saw this strong karmic connection was there. They were really ripe and the connection was there lifetime after lifetime after lifetime, you know. And then he just walked into their presence and in that first Dharma talk one of them became a stream enterer right there, at least one. Boom! He just gained realisation in one dharma talk, as he turned the wheel of Dharma, the four Noble Truths, and then they all did of course, and so, karmic connections, and these are ones that are fostered, nurtured, reinforced, lifetime after lifetime after lifetime. And it can be spousal, it can be mother/child, it can be brother/sister, it can be friend, it can be guru/disciple relationship and it can often manifest in myriad ways. One was your spouse in the last lifetime, might be your child in the next and the next one could be your Guru and the next one could be your uncle, and the next one could be a business partner, but it is kind of like bad pennies, they keep on coming back! These relationships they keep on coming back for better and worse, for better and worse, you know, but the karmic connections do tend to reinforce, to strengthen, to strengthen, and where the karmic connections are strong that’s where you may have the greatest impact. So it is said in the Bodhicharyavatara, that it’s better to have a bad relationship with a Bodhisattva than no relationship at all.
[00:34:31] That’s kind of intense, but it is better to encounter a bodhisattva and have a negative thought towards him, which is really not a good idea at all. But have some connection, you know, maybe just say you look stupid or whatever I don’t like your clothes, you know, [laughter] why are you bald? You know, whatever [Alan makes rustling sound] and then go off to the next bar, but at least you have made a connection. So that won’t be a really good connection right there, and there may be negative consequences for that, but now you’ve come into the field, you’ve come into the field of a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva, you’ve come into the radar of a bodhisattva. What’s the bodhisattva’s response? A true bodhisattva, when you insult him or her? You look funny, you look stupid, oh you’re a Buddhist, I think Buddhists are blah blah blah. What’s the bodhisattva’s response? Compassion. If they are talking out of delusion - okay, may you be free. It’s going to be compassion, so the hook is already there. You’ve aroused compassion for you as an individual and the hook is there, right. So even though all the Buddha’s have the same degree of purification and same degree of virtues, I mean they’re completely homogeneous in that regard, they do not have the same, each one from Buddha Shakyamuni to Maitreya and so forth, they do not have the same identical network of karmic relationships with other sentient beings. Now that’s not only true from Shakyamuni to Maitreya, it’s from Beatta to Michelle. Nobody in the universe has that constellation of network, of relationships with other sentient beings, human, animal and possibly otherwise. No one can fill Beata’s shoes, and that’s His Holiness the Dalai Lama, that’s the Panchen Rinpoche, that’s Gawa Karmapa that’s anybody, no one can fill her shoes. No one has that constellation of relationships. No one, and of course Michelle and all the rest of us, no one can fill your shoes, which means that regardless of your level of realisation, or lack of at this point, you have a unique constellation of relationships with sentient beings. And bear in mind it’s not like five thousand or ten thousand and then it’s cut off, because those five thousand are related to five thousand, and you know, whew, out and out and out and out. No one can fill your shoes, right?
[00:36:52] No one has your connections with this array of sentient beings and of course from day to day as we meet new people, or somebody comes into the field of our awareness, just by way of the internet, we read of a mother, we read of a community, we read of an individual and they’ve come into our field, they don’t know we are here, that is ok. You know that they are there, and that does matter because the hook of your compassion can go out by way of the internet and so forth and so on and the connection is made, right. But nobody has your constellation. It’s an overlap of course, but I was just speaking with one of you today. Several of you, six of you to be specific but one of you today was saying, and he was saying that I’ve trained with this teacher, very fine teacher, I’ve trained with this teacher, very fine teacher, I’ve trained with this teacher as well, right. The constellation of teachers and I’m one of this person’s teachers but within a bouquet, within a constellation, right. And so is there overlap, in terms of what I might be able to offer as a dharma teacher, what I may be able to offer to this person and another teacher? Of course there’s overlap, we are not teaching disparate incompatible dharmas, but then I’ll never fill that lamas shoes and they won’t feel mine either. Even if they are immeasurably more realised than I am and they may be, but they can’t fill my shoes and they wouldn’t want to because there’s no need for them to do. So all sentient beings now, it is all sentient beings no one is excluded, there’s no cut-off point where you say I have no connection absolutely whatsoever with this group here. Because there’s no barrier, that’s the whole thing there are no barriers that interrelatedness just goes out in an ever expanding field, and there is no cut-off point in space or time, right. At the same time within that field there’s an inconceivable number of sentient beings with whom we have a special relationship, such that, such that, for example when Daniel, when Daniel one day achieves Samyak-sambodhi, perfect enlightenment, one day, one day, why not? And so there he is and he’s manifesting with the 32 major and the 80 minor marks and he is just sitting under his Bodhi tree and he’s about to perform the twelve deeds of a fully enlightened being. He’s going to have his own five or something comparable, he’ll l have those who will meet him and they are going to achieve enlightenment so quickly. I mean Bahia heard a five minute Dharma talk from the Buddha and became an arhat. And others that get a little dharma talk, they get a phrase and they become stream enterers, like that. Why? because of those connections, connections were made.
[00:39:39] So final point, and that is this whole notion that, it’s a phrase that I’ve made up, but I just, it seems to be inescapably true. It may not be true, in which case somebody needs to point it out, but it seems to be inescapably true. And that is that each of us is in fact the centre of our own Mandala. You look around, it’s perfectly obvious you in the centre of the universe. Look around, everybody is around you, you are in the centre. And it’s kind of like you know metaphorically and I’m rambling again, but like you know the expanding universe, expanding, and how all the galaxies are moving away from each other. But if you are in any one of those galaxies all the other galaxies seem to be moving away from you, which suggests that you have either really bad body odor or that every place is the centre. Because whatever galaxy a hundred billion of them right? But it’s space time itself that’s expanding. And so wherever you are all the other galaxies seem to be withdrawing from you because it’s like the muffin, like the raisin in the muffin, that’s you know, that’s growing because of the yeast. It’s rising because of the yeast. They’re all moving away from each other, right. The little raisins in the muffin. Or dots on a balloon, as you blow the balloon up all the dots are moving away from each other. Just two metaphors. So it could look like whatever galaxy you’re in, you’re in the center of the entire universe because all the rest of the universes are moving away from you. And it’s true you are, the center[the American spelling of centre] of the universe, from your perspective. But then so is it true for the adjacent galaxy and so forth. So it’s just a metaphor.
[00:41:15) But here we are each one in the center of your mandala. And as our minds are purified, our perceptions of all those around us will be purified, our awareness of the environment will be purified, and as we continue to purify the mind, everything around us is becoming purified, purified until you open your eyes and what you see around you are only Buddhas in Akaniṣṭa - the highest pure realm, and now you’re about to become perfectly enlightened. But you didn’t go from here to there, you didn’t go from one place to another, you actually are still, in the midst of movement, and your environment is purifying, purifying, purifying. And then you see from your perspective all sentient beings are in fact buddhas but you’re also aware that all sentient beings from their perspective are sentient beings and they’re suffering but you see their purity because of your purity and they see their impurity and the impurity of their own environment because of their impurity and then of course we have only one job, free them all. But you’re in the centre of the universe so who else could possibly do it? You’re in the centre of your universe. You are the Lord of the Mandala, no gender specific, you’re the centre of your Mandala, and it includes all sentient beings. So who else would they look to except for the person who is in the centre? And so therefore liberate all sentient beings. Yeah, okay, that’s enough. Let’s find a comfortable position. Maha Maitri is on the schedule.
[00:43:39] Meditation bell rings three times.
[00:44:13] In the spirit of Great Loving-Kindness with this motivation and with this intention settle your body, speech and mind in the natural state.
[00:45:38] Resting in the stillness, the clarity, the luminosity of your own awareness, turn your awareness outwards to the world around you, let it illuminate the world of sentient beings, all the realms of existence, all inhabited worlds, but then more intimately - all of the beings of which you are aware.
[00:46:59] And attend to the simple reality that every sentient being, of every kind, cares, cares about the feelings they experience, wishes to find happiness, everyone. But as Shantideva says while we seek to find happiness out of delusion we, we destroy the very causes of our happiness as if they were our foes. So while all sentient beings wish for happiness, their very pursuit of happiness is veiled, obstructed by delusion, craving, hostility, giving rise to only more suffering, never satisfied, never fulfilled as long as we pursue our happiness under the domination of ignorance and delusion. Which raises then the question, the first of the four elements of the liturgy, why couldn’t all sentient beings find happiness and the causes of happiness? Raise the question to yourself.
[00:48:53] Here we focus for a little while now on the seven billion people, human beings, on this planet. Why couldn’t each one have enough to eat? Have shelter and clothing? Have medical care and education? Why couldn’t each one have all their hedonic needs fulfilled, met? Why couldn’t that happen?
[00:49:30] And from lifetime to lifetime, why couldn’t every sentient being, whatever mode of being they presently embrace, why couldn’t each one find happiness and the causes of happiness? As we extend the field of caring, as we already care about ourselves and our loved ones, we extend this to all those beings who care about themselves and that is everyone.
[00:50:46] And if each sentient being is indeed endowed with the Buddha nature then there is no reason why every single one couldn’t find happiness and the causes of happiness. They simply need to find the right causes and conditions to manifest this inner purity of their own being, their own awareness. And so if it is in principle possible for each one everyone to find happiness and the causes of happiness, then as we attend to all sentient beings, arouse the aspiration, the aspiration of loving kindness, may it be so. May we all find happiness and its causes.
[00:52:31] May each one find the outer conditions so that their hedonic needs may be met. And may each one find the conditions, encounter the conditions to ripen, to awaken their own Buddha nature, their own pristine awareness so that each one can find the happiness that they seek from their very core. The happiness of awakening, the happiness of perfect enlightenment itself, the ultimate happiness. Or we will never stop moving, according to the teachings of the Bodhisattva way, we will never stop moving until we gain such realization. We may even pause as an arhat, but even then we’ll be set in motion again, awaken to the fact that there is more to be done, the final obscurations to be removed. May each one find happiness and the causes of happiness.
[00:54:17] And then we move from aspiration to resolve. So a pledge to an intention. [? 54:30 Tibetan] I shall do so. I shall bring all sentient beings to happiness and the causes of happiness.
[00:55:20] Imagine calling out to all sentient beings from the center of your mandala, the center of your world. And for however long it may take, for as long as space remains, for as long as sentient beings remain, abide by the pledge to apply yourself tirelessly, until each one has been brought to their own fulfillment, their own perfect joy by helping them cultivate the causes of perfect awakening.
[00:56:42] So we bring to mind this lofty ideal, as in the first step of the self directed loving kindness, the first meditation. Then we turn to the second question, what would we love to receive from the world around us to enable us to realize such happiness? So in a similar vein return to the fourth element of the liturgy. [?57:03 Tibetan] May the gurus and the enlightened ones grant their blessings to enable me to do so. This is the help we need. We may envision this supplication being granted breath by breath as we inhale, symbolically imagine the blessings of all the enlightened ones, all the gurus, converging in upon your body and mind from all sides, above and below, the whole of reality by way of these enlightened ones rising up to meet you, to support you, to empower you, bless you, to bring about the inner transformation, the third element of that initial meditation. To bring about an inner transformation, that purification, that unfolding, unveiling of all the qualities of enlightenment in your own being. So that again you can breathe out, and breathe out by way of your own being, like light shining through a prism. Send out the light that you’ve received, refracted through the prism of you own Buddha nature. So for the remainder of the session let’s breathe in, breathe out. With a request for blessings and the receipt of blessings, the reception of blessings. And breathing out the light of great loving kindness and venturing into this realm of possibility, imagining as the light flows out in all directions striking individual sentient beings, imagine each one being brought onto the path, finding the causes and conditions that set out on the path of their own liberation, their own awakening, and breath by breath imagine each one realizing their heart’s desire, realizing perfect happiness. Breathing in, breathing out. Let’s continue practicing now in silence.
[01:07:41] Meditation bell rings three times.
[01:08:58] Olaso. So time to go back to Panchen Rinpoche’s text. On page three, in the phase of the mundo, the preparation. So going to the root text here this is again all caps, all capital letters, in italics, quickly . It’s nice when you have text, root text like Madhyamakavatara and so forth, then commentators or those reading and studying the texts and actually want to know what did the author have in mind, it’s the gomba, what did he have in mind, he or she, it’s usually he, in Tibetan Buddhism. But what did they have in mind? That’s exactly what is meant by that. So then multiple commentators say well this is what he had in mind and of course they have their own perspectives and so they start debating. You know like Nagarjuna. Nagarjuna you know, was he more in line with Svatantrika Madhyamaka or Prasangika Madhyamaka? So it’s a major issue, what did the Buddha have in mind you know, in the prajnaparamita sutras, Cittamatra or Madhyamaka? Well here we have it, it’s kind of done because the same person who wrote the root text also told what he had in mind by writing commentary on his own root text. Now when it comes to the commentary then you have to say yeah but what did he have in mind there? [laughter] And so sooner or later somebody has to, you know, deliver the goods, and so that’s my job here trying to really a simple job, try not to distort what he said, not obscure it, but reveal it clearly, that’s my job. So I’ll do my best.
[01:10:42] So here he writes in the root text, first in order. And I’m just reading this first verse again. “First in order to enter the gateway and erect the supporting pillar of the teaching, in general and the Mahayana in particular, you must exert yourself in going for refuge and arousing awakening mind, bodhichitta, not just by lip service or words alone.” So we really have, I think enormous help from that whole chapter from Karma Chagme Rinpoche to really fill that out, so we’ve done that.
[01:11:11] So we now go into the next verse: “Also, since seeing the real nature of the mind depends on collecting merit and purifying obstacles, you should prepare as much as possible through reciting the hundred syllable mantra” that of course is the mantra of Vajrasattva, “and the hundred times, a hundred thousand times, reciting that a hundred thousand times and confessing your moral lapses” your you know, so vices, violated precepts, broken samayas and so forth, so confessing this hundreds of times, okay? So just very briefly on this, merit, I remember I was asking, again Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey all my basic questions, I was with him for like a year and a half. And he was my principal teacher for just really learning dharma and I asked this question, a simple question. So we have these two issues accumulate merit, I mean it’s it’s it’s a really flimsy little word at least in American English, it’s sounds quite trivial. It’s like merit badges for brownies and cub scouts, [laughter]I’m sorry it has a really trivial connotation, a lot of people can’t stand it. So if you like you can just go to Sanskrit, you can but it’s Punya but it is a type of energy, a kind of force, a kind of power that is accumulated through engaging in virtue. Whether it’s by way of the first five paramitas, skillful means, cultivating wisdom, going into retreat, helping the ill, any kind of thing, anything that’s virtuous is storing, accumulating, bringing together kind of a spiritual energy, a power or force which then can be directed in a myriad of ways. And on the one hand we have that.
[01:12:45] And then the other hand we have purifying obscurations, purifying obscurations, and these in the Mahayana perspective consist of two types, afflictive obscurations, these are kleshas. And an arhat is completely free of those, all of them are equally free. But then there are the cognitive, jneyavarana in Sanskrit, the cognitive obscurations, the subtlest veils that need to be removed in order for the full wisdom, compassion, and power of Buddha mind to be revealed, to be unveiled, to be completely manifest. The arhat has not purified those, that’s why even an arhat cannot remain an arhat forever, just abiding in nirvana, not in the Mahayana view. Because you’re not finished, you’re not finished. And sooner or later poetically a ray of light will emerge from the heart of the Buddha’s strike the arhat’s continuum and arouse him from nirvana with a message -there’s more to be done. And then voluntarily take birth, not thrown by karmic klesha, but then cultivate bodhichitta and get on with it. As it says in the Lotus Sutra, There is only one final destination, only one final destination, sravakas, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu whatever, we don’t need to call it buddhahood, just call it perfect awakening or call it be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect. Call it whatever you like, but there’s only one final destination in the Mahayana view, that’s my view.
[01:14:04] And so, so it’s removing all obscurations that veil this, to use again the Christian terminology, this kingdom of heaven within, or just keep to the Buddhist terminology, buddha nature, your own pristine awareness. But the question I posed to Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey was, with the obscurations, I can conceptually understand, that they’re finite, nobody has an infinite number of obscurations, they’re finite. And so I can imagine that you set out on the path and then you’ve completely purified, you’ve finished, purifying all the afflictive obscurations. Good, that means if you’re on the bodhisattva path you’re an eighth, an eighth bhumi araya bodhisattva. Pure bhumi, you’ve finished, you’re now finished forever with all mental afflictions, now you have to achieve the ninth and the tenth and then on to enlightenment to completely purify the subtlest veils of cognitive obscuration, but then you finish those and then you’re finished. So, there’s a finite amount of obscurations and then you’ve clean them all away and there aren’t any left. But when it came to merit, you can always do more. I mean really you can always do more. Just more hospitals, more gifts, more kindness, more - you can always do more. So when is enough, enough? You know.
[01:16:20] On obscurations clear - you’re finished. But when is enough, enough? When have you stored enough merit to have enough merit to become perfectly enlightened? And he gave I thought, a very, well, obviously I’ve remembered now it’s more than forty years ago. He said; “Well it’s not just more and more and more because of course you can always have more. I mean you can have an infinite, I mean if your consciousness has no end, this means in principle you could accumulate an infinite amount of merit, but you don’t need to accumulate an infinite amount of merit to achieve enlightenment because otherwise you would never finish, there would always be more, right. It’s just straight logic. So if you don’t need infinite therefore you need finite, but then how much because now it’s finite? How much do you need? And he said well it’s like charging a battery. When the battery is fully charged you’re finished. [laughter] I can understand that. He’s speaking to a California guy you know who is 21 years old, charged battery, I got it, fully charged. Yeah I got it, okay. It makes sense to me. That’s what he’s talking about here. But for purification, you want to purify not only the afflictive obscurations, the cognitive obscurations but it would be a really good idea to purify as much as you possibly can, these negative imprints, negative karma, negative imprints, stored on your mental continuum, from past misdeeds. They will otherwise rise as big obstacles on your path. So you’d like to clear out the obstacles before you set out on the long journey. So that’s why that. So that’s the root text.
[01:17:01] And a bit more root text, he’s going to be commenting on all three of these verses altogether so I’ll do what he did, read all three of them, then we’ll get to his fairly extensive commentary on these three verses. And then we’ve done these, so we have these refuge and bodhichitta, and then we have collecting merit, purifying obstacles, and then we have the third element of these preliminaries, he’s talking about the core preliminaries, and that is then make heartfelt appeals again and again to your root guru, who is inseparable from all the Buddhas of the three times. The very notion of root guru can be understood in two different ways. One is root, where you have root guru and a lineage guru. So in one interpretation, and these are both sound, a root guru is a guru with whom you’ve had direct contact, just that, you actually received teaching, empowerment, what have you. That is your root guru, your actual guru, you’ve met that person. And then you have the, your guru’s guru, who you may have never met, but it’s the same continuum. And so for example with Geshe Rabten, I never met his principle lama who didn’t make it out of Tibet, Geshe Jampa [?01:18:05 name]. I never met him, but he was Geshe Rabten’s principle guru. So he’s the my lineage guru. And then he had a guru. And I never met them either, at least not in this lifetime. So they’re my lineage gurus. And then that goes right back to Buddha Shakyamuni. I haven’t met him either, lineage guru, lineage guru. So the root are your immediate ones and the lineage are just those beyond. Now in some cases like some of you are Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s disciples. Well one of his lamas was Lama Yeshe, but you’ve probably, many of you would have met him, not all of you. But then one of their gurus was Geshe Rabten, and you may or may not have met him, so he may be your lineage guru, right. So just that simple.
[01:18:47] On the one hand, on the other hand another meaning and I think you are familiar with it, the root guru is - if you have only one guru, if you only have one guru, then that guru is your root guru. But if you have multiple and most buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists anyway, most do. And some have many, many. Atisha had sixty, sixty gurus with whom he had this you know, formal guru disciple relationship. Among an array of gurus there may be one, but it could be more than one. It’s not monogamy, it’s not spiritual monogamy, we should just throw out that whole notion. This is a spiritual relationship, there is no possession here. But the root guru, and it could be one or more, again, is one with whom you feel a very very strong, like your deepest sense of trust, the deepest connection, the deepest sense of blessing, the strongest connection, the deepest sense for reliance. Where from your very heart, this in the Mahayana context, this is what it is, I have to speak from that perspective, I’m not going to try and secularize these teachings, I have no interest. This is the one where you turn to the guru and you really, to him or her, gender is irrelevant, and as you turn to the guru you really do have that heartfelt aspiration, this is a relationship I would love, I cherish to sustain from now until enlightenment. And so the disciple may repeatedly ask the guru, please in all lifetimes from now until I’m enlightened, please always catch me with a hook of your compassion. That’s a root guru, that’s a root guru. And so, that’s deep, it’s much stronger than a marital relationship, or any romantic relationship, it’s much stronger than friendship. This is kind of like the most important relationship of all. And it can be with more than one. And this often happens. His Holiness had two root gurus, I mean for at least for starters. The senior tutor and the junior tutor, you know. And so on and so on. It’s very very common. But that’s the general meaning of it.
[01:20:41] But now, just to elaborate just a little bit on that. Many of us will have among our lamas, some of our lamas may be renowned, like His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Gawala Karmapa, and so forth, and not only be renowned as in being famous, but also really have extraordinarily deep realization. [?01:21:02 name] Rinpoche whose not extraordinarily renowned outside of Tibetan Buddhism but his realization - like the sky. And so some of us have the good fortune to meet these true, truly realized individuals, and then in all likelihood we’ll meet other lamas, who don’t have that realization, that level of realization, not everybody has the same of course. But they may be still qualified you know, a really good solid Geshe who’s studied well, has good ethics, good motivation, he’s a clear teacher, may not have spent much time in meditation, may not have very profound realization, but he’s ethical, he’s benevolent, he’s compassionate, skillful, caring of the disciple, that’s enough, that’s enough. But then it’s very easy for us ordinary people, where we you know, especially in some cultures, I won’t mention any of them, but they’re all over the place, that are very hierarchical in nature, you know, even in America it’s clear everybody is, and some are more than less, but it’s then very easy to superimpose a grid, a hierarchical grid. Well I’ve got these lamas, now this is the highest realized one, he’s really terrific. And this one’s really very good, but not that good. And then there’s the one that’s given me an awful lot of teaching but of course he’s not much different than me, he’s just, you know, but he’s good. [laughter] But now when I take refuge, I take it to the big one, you know, the big one. And the other ones, well you know, also ran, you know, it’s easy to do that. Because that’s appearances. That’s appearances, and within the Mahayana context and especially all the more in Vajrayana context it’s completely, flamboyantly, missing the point. Because what we’re doing is reifying them all, reifying them all.
[01:22:49] This one by his own nature, I’m going to start using female, this one by her own nature, inherently, like Khandro-la for example, or Khandro Rinpoche another extraordinary teacher. And one of Sakya Dagmo Rinpoche , Sakya Dagmo-la, one of my lamas, it’s very easy, for these extraordinary beings, to reify them. That you are inherently exceptional, extraordinary realized, and this one inherently is more like me, but still a few steps ahead on the path beyond me, so I’ll check this person out, check her out as well. So it’s very easy to reify them all. You’re intrinsically this, you’re inherently this, you’re inherently this, and we have this whole hierarchy, and how we have the one who is most similar to ourselves and you’re my dharma buddy. You know [laughs]. You’re not much. Because I’m not much. It’s very easy to do that. And it’s completely missing the point. And then it’s not really guru yoga it’s called idolatry. When one is reifying the holy one as someone absolutely out there, separate, inherently existent, existing from her own side. As soon as you do that, that’s reification, that itself, then your guru devotion becomes an expression of delusion, because it is idolatry, it is idolatry. We can have idolatry toward statues, towards books, to traditions, to temples, to stupas, and to human beings. And it is idolatry under any whatever name you like it, it’s still idolatry, and it may be kind of virtuous idolatry but idolatry tends to be dangerous. Because if you insult the one that I’ve reified as inherently you know, pure and so forth, I probably have to beat you up, or silence you, or subdue you, or you know, whatever. That’s kind of the history of religion right? We can burn your books but you can’t burn my books. We can destroy your temples, but you can’t destroy my temples. We can insult or kill your lamas, but don’t kill my lamas, you know. I think I just gave the history of religion throughout the world. Sad history, I wish it were only religion, but it’s not, it’s politics, it’s everywhere, it’s human beings.
[01:24:49] And so the point there is, and I’m giving a classic teaching and really brief because we need to get to the text. But the classic teaching from Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, Geshe Rabten all my lamas they say the same thing. And that is, it’s natural if you have more than one lama, that they will have different degrees of spiritual maturation, insight, I mean why not? You know, it’s of course, some like [?1:25:11 Tibetan name], well sixteen days he dwelled in the clear light of death. And you know I just saw [?1:25:18 name] I checked him out on youtube, I’ve never met him, but he’s one of the most magnificent Sakya lamas of the 20th century. His Holiness Dalai Lama had tremendous veneration for him, and all the Sakya lamas did. And I just saw this little clip of him on youtube and I was just, I was so moved, you know and it’s just a youtube of a person I’ve never met but I was whew, wow you know, such utter sublime humility, such gentleness, such just you kind of by way of youtube the purity which is transmitted, you know. Well not everybody displays that, you know. And I’m not making it up. It wasn’t oh, I have purevision, a lot of people have that vision of him, that’s why he was renowned. And then he put his cards on the table when he passed away and he dwelled for sixteen days in the clear light of death. So he showed - this just wasn’t a lot of other people having a lot of faith, they had a lot of faith in a person who really was a sublimely realized individual.
No surprise, but then he also showed it, right. And so the point here being that it’s quite natural that if you have even two lamas one probably has greater realization than the other. Or maybe greater compassion and the other has greater patience. The other one has greater wisdom or the other one is more articulate and so forth and so on. Of course, because you know, they’re not gingerbread men or women. They’re individuals and they have their own trajectory. But as we’re venturing into Mahayana and specifically into Vajrayana you may over the course of time identify one or more individuals and feel this is a relationship I really want to nurture, I want to keep on encountering this individual until I’m enlightened. Whether it’s in the pure land, whether it’s in this world wherever it may be.
[01:27:01] When I come back if I can meet with this individual again and come under the care of this individual, it will be okay, you know, that kind of trust, that kind of really heartfelt connection. So imagine everybody knows who it is for me, it is in fact one person. [pause] I have to shuffle papers now or something. [laughter] Do something. [ Alan feeling tearful and tender thinking about his guru] And then you think of all the other ones with whom it may be two or three or in my case it’s about forty with whom that relationship has been made. And they really do kind of look like, like one source of light refracted through a prism. And here’s His Holiness manifesting as a Dzogchen master, Gyatrul Rinpoche and here he’s manifesting as a sublime Tara emanation, Sakya Dagmo Rinpoche and here manifesting as a Yogi’s yogi Gen Lamrimpa and here manifesting as Geshe Rabten, the geshe of geshe’s and so forth. But each one manifesting in a different way but all coming from the same source and of the same nature. So I kind of like that. That’s just classic teaching. But then there’s no hierarchy. Even the one can manifest and really quite ordinary. And the other one manifesting not ordinary at all, you know. They still have the same nature, that’s the idea. And in this way then inseparable from the Buddhas of all the three times. Okay we’ll come back to this.
[01:28:37] But there’s the root text. And that’s where we will pause. And we have a very rich commentary coming. So I was thinking as we’re doing the practice, which I must say I really love, the great, the great meditations, I’m conjoining each of these with the breath, kind of natural. And in between sessions, as you’re just walking about, I hope you’re enjoying daily walks here, what better place to do it? As you’re going on daily walks, you’re walking off to get your dinner, walking back, just out and about, you will be breathing, chances are, and so you can of course simply as you’re walking about and you have no other demands on your time, you may practice mindfulness of breathing, as we have. Arousing, releasing, full body awareness, mindfulness of breathing it’s very good.
Maintain that flow of sanity, that flow of a sense of ease, stillness, clarity, very good. But you may also enrich that same practice, especially as people come into your field of awareness, like if you’re walking along the road, it’s a nice road I find because it’s not so heavily trafficked I feel in danger but it’s also not empty. And so I’m always you know, like good pedestrians are I’m always walking on the side where I am facing the traffic coming so I can see them. Well guess what happens. Every time a car comes there are people in the car and guess what happens? You have the opportunity to make a karmic connection with them. They won’t know it, they don’t need to know it, but you can as they’re coming along and they’re just out and about their business you can just send out rays of light. May you be well and happy, great loving kindness, great compassion, you can make your karmic connection right there. Just as they’re driving by, and they’re gone. Or somebody’s walking along the street, you don’t even need to look at them because you know, if you’re a man and it’s a woman who knows what she’s going to think. Maybe it’s very easy, it if it seems perfectly fine, but I mean Buon Giorno, that’s fine you know. But some of them don’t look, I found here. Some of them don’t look. So I don’t try to [laughter] I don’t try to catch their attention, I’m kind of shy by nature. And so you don’t need to look, that is they don’t need you to, just kind of out of the corner of the eye, just make a connection. And then I think in your dining hall there’s other people, yeah? Tend to them, make a connection. Breathing out, breathing in, yeah. So that’s enriched mindfulness of breathing. I remember Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, he’s coming to mind a lot here, to my mind. But when talking about mindfulness of breathing, mindfulness of breathing, why don’t you just practice tonglen and be done with it. [laughter] Sure breathe in breathe out but for heaven’s sake enrich it. Bring in tonglen, just going [inhales exhales exaggerated] this is kind of like an empty car you know, fill it with love, fill it with compassion, not just mindfulness. And so at the same time don’t you know, exhaust yourself. So there we are. But these practices they really lend themselves, especially when sentient beings come into the field of your awareness. Breathe in, breathe out. Then we’re really moving in the direction of what Dromtonpa said - yeah, give up all attachment to this life and let you mind become dharma. Then you don’t have a sense of practising dharma and then not practising. You’re just like in a current - merrily merrily, merrily flowing down the stream. Yeah? Good. Enjoy your evening. See you tomorrow morning.
Transcribed by KrissKringle Sprinkle
Revised by Cheri Langston
Final edition Rafael Carlos Giusti
Special Thanks to Jon Mitchell for contribution of partial transcripts.