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Home > Buddhism > Quotes > Quotes by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Quotes by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

If a guru only imposes a single method, such as meditation, the students will be deprived of a wealth of skillful means.

If a guru does not value deity practice, the door of attainment of the students will be extremely narrow.

A guru who has no devotion toward his own guru or the Dharma will cause the blessings of the students to vanish like a mist. (TGDB?)

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Devotion is Awareness

It may sound as if you must have devotion in order to have an understanding of the view, that devotion ignites the practice of the Dharma. But as you become more seasoned in practicing the Dharma, especially the Vajrayana, the gap between devotion and the goal of the devotion becomes very small.

As you become more skilled in practicing, you will see that devotion is the awareness of impermanence, devotion is the renunciation mind, devotion is the compassion for all sentient beings, devotion is none other than the experience of dependent arising.

Most important, the moment there is devotion, you have the view, and there is awareness of shunyata. (TGDB?)

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In the degenerated time, the Buddha-Dharma is even more potent, so the degenerated time should not be used as an excuse for discouraging oneself. It should be encouraging.

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How we interpret information and our experiences of the world depends entirely on how much merit we have accumulated.

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Once you understand that real Dharma practice is not just about formal sitting meditation, but a never-ending confrontation with and opposition to pride and ego, as well as a lesson in how to accept change, you will be able to start practising right away.

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Kongtrul Rinpoche suggested we pray to the guru, buddhas and bodhisattvas and ask them to grant their blessings, “So I may give birth to the heart of sadness.” But what is a “heart of sadness”? Imagine one night you have a dream. Although it is a good dream, deep down you know that eventually you will have to wake up and it will be over. In life, too, sooner or later, whatever the state of our relationship, or our health, our jobs and every aspect of our lives, everything, absolute everything, will change. And the little bell ringing in the back of our head to remind you of this inevitability is what is called the “heart of sadness”. Life, you realise, is a race against time, and you should never putt off dharma practice until next year, next month or tomorrow, because the future may never happen. (NFH)

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When you are looking for luck, the door to un-luck opens. Luck is when you are content with whatever you have.

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Awareness is the quintessential teaching of the Buddha–from the awareness of cool air as you breath in and then out, to the profound awareness of natural perfection. And with boundless compassion and courage, the sole purpose and activity of all the buddhas it is to ring the alarm bell that brings us to this awareness.

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Mistakenly believe that dharma practice will make one feel peaceful, and living with a carefree life, this is a great misunderstanding. Buddhism is not a treatment; instead, dharma in fact is specifically designed to flip your life. Therefore, when your life is thwarted at every turn, why complain about this? If you practice, and life has not capsized, then this is a sign that everything you did in practice is not effective yet.

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If someone is able to hear teachings about emptiness and tolerate them intellectually as well as practically and emotionally, it is an indication that they have a real affinity for the dharma. (NFH)

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As long as you accept and practice these four truths (all compounded things are impermanent, all emotions are pain, all things have no inherent existence, nirvana is beyond concepts) you are a “practicing Buddhist.” You might read about these four truths for the sake of entertainment or mental exercise, but if you don’t practice them, you are like a sick person reading the label on a medicine bottle but never taking the medicine. On the other hand, if you are practicing, there is no need to exhibit that you are Buddhist. As a matter of fact, if it helps you to get invited to some social functions, it is totally fine to hide that you are a Buddhist. But keep in mind that as a Buddhist, you have a mission to refrain as much as possible from harming others, and to help others as much as possible. This is not a huge responsibility, because if you genuinely accept and contemplate the truths, all these deeds flow naturally. (WMYNAB)

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All because of Cherishing Oneself...but It's Never Too Late

Right - (རང་དོན་ལ་ཞེན་ན་བྱང་སེམས་མིན།) Yes, that’s right. So we were talking about “If you have interest in your own thing, interest, if you have attachment to your self-interest, you are not a bodhisattva". This can be understood on this level which we just talk at. That’s the highest level. Based on this wisdom, of course, even on the relative level - cherishing oneself; let’s assume there is a self. Even on that level, cherishing just oneself but not others, is from the management point of view, is wrong. It does not exist, you know, there is no such thing as me alone having fun, the rest of the people – who cares. It doesn’t work like that. Everything is interdependent.

Oh, I don’t think I have to elaborate too much. The whole situation on this earth is, the deterioration of the earth, is very much to do with cherishing the self. It’s because of that, not because of George Bush at all. It’s very unfair to blame him. It’s because we need to take shower. It’s because we need to, you know, sprinkle water on our mown, eh, this lawn. It’s because we need to drive car, each and every one of us. Stuff like that. And there is like the whole China, India, waiting to do that; already accomplishing to do that. So, actually, eh, someone like George Bush – I think he has purified a lot of the karma, for being the catalyst and the scapegoat for many of, every one of our individuals cherishing the self. So, I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on this. Bodhisattva attitude is really a timely attitude. It’s really one of the, probably, the only strategy to save this earth. It’s not too late - Never too late. (PFTFA)

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If it were not for certain people’s greed for wealth, the highways would be filled with cars powered by the sun, and no one would be starving. Such advances are technologically and physically possible, but apparently not emotionally possible.

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If one knows that everything is impermanent, one does not grasp, and if one does not grasp, one will not think in terms of having or lacking, and therefore one lives fully.

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“THE INNER BUDDHA As Jigme Lingpa said, the moon has all the qualities necessary for its reflection to appear on the surface of a clear lake. If the moon did not have a shape or substance, and if it didn’t reflect the light of the sun, it would not be possible for it to appear on the water’s surface. Furthermore, the quality of clear water is that it can reflect, and when the moon and the water—two entirely separate entities—are perfectly aligned without any obstruction between them, a reflection of the moon will appear effortlessly, without intention. Similarly, our inner Buddha has qualities that enable it to manifest effortlessly and without intention. When there are no obstacles, the Buddha will reflect spontaneously in sentient beings who have the merit. Some” (TGDB)

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You might imagine the tamer your mind, the more likely you are to see the wildness of others, but quite the opposite happens.
A mature practitioner will usually have a far purer perception of others than a beginner. The more enlightened qualities a practitioner acquires, the humbler he will become; the more time he spends with his guru, the greater his devotion; and the more he hears and contemplates the dharma, the quicker his pride and arrogance will diminish.

The supreme sign of a great practitioner is not that he sprouts a halo, has extraordinarily auspicious dreams, experiences bliss continuously, or can foresee our miserable futures. The supreme sign is that he no longer has any interest in material gain, fame, the respect of others, or being the centre of attention. (NFH)

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If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or concept that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain, if you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist.

If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty, if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist.

And if you think that enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space, and power, then you are not a Buddhist. (WMYNAB)

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The guru should be Nonjudgmental

A guru should be able to see a student’s potential and know that any negative quality the student exhibits can be transformed and that therefore that student is a worthy recipient of aspiration. There should be no competition, no preference for some students to get enlightened faster; it’s not a race. If the guru judges too much, valuable time will be wasted. Excessive judgment indicates a lack of understanding of the fundamental view of dependent arising and equanimity. A path designed by such a guru will have a panicky and finicky quality. (TGDB)

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People like us have dualistic compassion, whereas the Buddha’s compassion does not involve subject and object. From a Buddha's point of view, compassion could never involve subject and object. This is what is called mahakaruna - great compassion.

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You Should Be Frustrated

Practicing dharma is necessarily a frustrating business. What practitioners, especially beginners, often fail to realise is that frustrations are the signposts of our success.
An exasperating lack of concentration, devotion or inspiration might be just what you need to make the extra effort to tune in to your practise fully.
Alternatively, of course, it may topple you in the other direction and stop you practicing altogether—a temptation you must resist at all costs.
Always remember, though, that frustration with your spiritual path is often an indication that you are becoming a genuine dharma practitioner. (NFH)

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Meet as many lamas as you can, hear as many dharma teachings as possible, particularly if you are eager to pursue the higher paths, and try to socialise with people from the same lineage you are practising.

But try to avoid being distracted by other practices that at first glance appear more attractive than those you are already engaged in.

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…I have been told that ‘smile’ is currently a hashtag for Buddhism. It’s so embarrassing! Vimalakīrti would never have tolerated it. If he were alive today, he would ruthlessly rip apart and demolish the so-called ‘spiritual’ teachings that are currently being touted as the ‘truth’. What would he have to say about Buddhism’s ‘smile’ hashtag, and using ‘mindfulness’ as a therapy, I wonder?
[From “A Celebrity Falls Sick” by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, commentary to the Vimalakīrtinirdeśa-sūtra, free download here: https://khyentsefoundation.org/vimalakirti/]

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Try imagining Guru Rinpoche above your head, or sitting in front of you, or in your heart.
● As you chant the mantra, imagine an uninterrupted stream of nectar flows down from the guru and dissolves into you.
● At night visualise your guru sitting on a lotus in your heart.
● As you eat, imagine your guru in your throat.
● If you are facing an obstacle, perhaps a dispute in your family, or if you are depressed, visualise your guru on your shoulder, wrathfully baring his fangs.
● Longchen Nyingtik Ngöndro practitioners can imagine sparks of fire and scorpions shooting out from Guru Rinpoche’s vajra, the scorpions snapping up each and every obstacle and swallowing them until they are all completely annihilated.
● As death approaches, visualise your guru in the form of red Amitabha and transfer yourself into Amitabha’s heart, again and again.
Imagine that everyone and everything you encounter throughout the day is none other than Guru Rinpoche.
This is quite a profound practice, and beginners may find it a little difficult at first, so start by doing it on an aspirational level. (NFH)

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"There is a prayer where Jigme Lingpa* says, “Buddhists and Bodhisattvas, please make sure that what ever I want never happens.” Buddhist blessings, he said is when 100 things that you wish never come true but 1,000 things that you dare not wish come true. That's Buddha's blessing. So, if you are a serious Dharma practitioner, you are fulfilling your wish when things are going wrong. You are seeing the truth, actualising it and when that is happening, you should see it as a blessing."

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Mind's ultimate nature, emptiness endowed with vividness,
I was told is the real Buddha.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of hierarchy.

Mind's ultimate nature, its emptiness aspect,
I was told is the real Dharma.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of political correctness.

Mind's ultimate nature, its vivid aspect,
I was told is the real Sangha
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with thoughts of equal rights.

One cannot disassociate emptiness from vividness.
This inseparability I was told is the Guru.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with depending on chauvinist lamas.

This nature of mind has never been stained by duality,
This stainlessness I was told is the deity.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with the categories of "gender" or "culture."

This nature of mind is spontaneously present.
That spontaneity I was told is the dakini aspect.
Recognizing this should help me
Not to be stuck with fear of being sued.

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By and large, human beings tend to prefer to fit in to society by following accepted rules of etiquette and being gentle, polite, and respectful. The irony is that this is also how most people imagine a spiritual person should behave. When a so-called dharma practitioner is seen to behave badly, we shake our heads over her audacity at presenting herself as a follower of the Buddha. Yet such judgments are better avoided, because to “fit in” is not what a genuine dharma practitioner strives for.

Think of Tilopa, for example. He looked so outlandish that if he turned up on your doorstep today, you probably would refuse to let him in. And you would have a point. He would most likely be almost completely naked; if you were lucky, he might be wearing some kind of G-string; his hair would never have been introduced to shampoo; and protruding from his mouth would quiver the tail of a live fish. What would your moral judgment be of such a being? “Him! A Buddhist?” This is how our theistic, moralistic, and judgmental minds work. Of course, there is nothing wrong with morality, but the point of spiritual practice, according to the vajrayana teachings, is to go beyond all our concepts, including those of morality.

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ON REBIRTH. “If you go on telling a Madhyamika philosopher saying that ‘I believe in this life but I do not believe in next life’ then it's almost like you going to a master chef with a boiling water and egg inside, and saying, "I believe the water is boiling and I believe there is a fire but I do not believe that the egg is going to be cooked." It is like that, you understand? You believe in cause and condition but you don't believe in effect. So they will immediately put you into the category of believer of neither [which is one of the extremes]. " London 22. June 1996.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnl1JkHr9LE

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You can search as much as you want

Chandrakirti has no problem if you are searching [for something that is not empty, impermanent or wholly dukkha]. Chandrakirti has a problem if you find something.

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Right motivation

No matter which dharma practice you engage in, from ngondro to offering a single candle, always do it with the intention that your practice will benefit all sentient beings. In this context, benefit does not only mean giving practical help, such as offering food or medicine, or feeding people’s emotions, egos and delusions. Here, benefit includes aspiring to be instrumental in the enlightenment of all sentient beings; without such an aspiration, it is easy for dharma practice to become self-serving.

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A genuine tantrika

The legendary udumbara flower is said to bloom only once every 3,000 years. Even rarer is the appearance of the Buddha on this planet earth. And rarer even than the appearance of the Buddha is the tantric teaching. Likewise, to see an authentic tantrika and mantrika is extremely rare. Being well-versed in tantric wisdom and well-equipped with tantric substances and outfits does not make an authentic tantrika. A mantrika is someone beyond inhibition, assumption and fear and yet completely at ease with those frantically caught in hope and fear.

We read of such tantrikas during the times of Saraha, Virupa, Nagarjuna, Naropa and Padmasambhava. Those of us fortunate to have encountered Dagchen Rinpoche have actually witnessed such an authentic tantrika in this very lifetime. Yet another extraordinary role model has now passed.

In my deluded view there are hardly any such genuine tantrikas left on this earth. From the depths of my heart I beseech those remaining to live long. May their utter genuineness always make us uneasy and self-conscious as we trot out our endless panoply of excuses and dodgy reasons. And may we constantly hold such great beings in complete awe.

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Tragic nostalgia
Most of the time we are trying to make the good things last, or we are thinking about replacing them with something even better in the future, or we are sunk in the past, reminiscing about happier times. Ironically, we never truly appreciated the experience for which we are nostalgic because we were too busy clinging to our hopes and fears at the time.

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Truth is hard to swallow

Life is nothing more than a continuous stream of sensory illusions, from the obvious ones, like fame and power, to those less easy to discern, like death, nosebleeds and headaches. Tragically, though, most human beings believe in what they see, and so the truth Buddha exposed about the illusory nature of life can be a little hard to swallow.

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Modern Illusions

Millions of people in this world are interested in some version of meditation, or yoga, or one of the many so-called spiritual activities that are now so widely marketed. A closer look at why people engage in these practices reveals an aim that has little to do with liberation from delusion, and everything do to with their desperation to escape busy, unhappy lives, and heartfelt longing for a healthy, stress-free, happy life. All of which are romantic illusions. So, where do we find the roots of these illusions? Mainly in our habitual patterns and their related actions. Of course, no one of sound mind imagines any of us would willingly live an illusion. But we are contrary beings, and even though we are convinced we would shun a life built on self-deception, we continue to maintain a strong grip on the habits that are the cause of countless delusions. (NFH)

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Reflections of the moon on a lake

The great Longchenpa said, when the moon rises and when there is a clear lake, even though you may not wish it, the moon is reflected in the lake. Likewise, as long as sentient beings have merit, the image of the Buddha and his teachings and his blessing are reflected, even though you don't search for them. But if the lake is murky and defiled and not clear, even though the moon is shining in the clear sky, the reflection of the moon doesn't exist.

Likewise, even though the compassion of the Buddha is infinite and ever-present, if there is no merit among sentient beings for the Buddhas to reflect, then the chance of communication with the Buddha probably does not exist. However, judging not just from us, but from everything that is going on regarding the activity of the Dharma, I feel that we sentient beings still have a lot of merit.

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Sentient beings are like silkworms, create their own traps and die in them. (NFH)

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Vajrayana texts state that for one who seeks enlightenment a guru is more important than all the buddhas of the three times put together. His job is not only to teach students but to lead them. He is our most important companion, our family, husband, wife and beloved child, because only he can bring us to enlightenment.

Sadly, in recent years, the word guru has all but lost its original meaning. The deluded beings of this time are greedy for everything pure and stainless, so they grab at the principle of the guru, spoil it, reject it and then move on to another perfect treasure to lay waste.

It has happened far too often and as a result gurus are now mistrusted in the modern world and often ridiculed in popular culture. Nevertheless, for someone serious about following a spiritual path there is no substitute for being guided by a guru.

We follow a spiritual path because we want to defeat our emotions and attain enlightenment, and to achieve that goal we need discipline, guidance and the courage to confront everything we have spent many lifetimes trying to avoid. This is precisely what a guru provides us with by challenging our preconceived concepts, disrupting our lives and most important of all by denying ego’s every wish.

Therefore, as Jigme Lingpa strongly advised, we should do a great deal of research about a guru before we give him or her carte blanche to torpedo our lives, because we must be able to trust him completely. Unfortunately, very few people these days focus on such details, and this stage of the process is too often overlooked. (NFH)

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As it is explained in many of the meditation teachings, first of all you cannot stop thoughts. It is impossible. And stopping thoughts is not our agenda. It is not doable. Even if were do-able it is not necessary, it is useless. Meditation actually is to generate the awareness of the thought. If you are supposed to develop the awareness of the thought, then you have to have the thought to be aware of! So you can’t really get rid of the thought and then try to look at something. (PFTFA2)

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Extracted from the interview of DJKR.

Interviewer- You have ever said you would rather be a prostitute in the next life to enlighten sentient beings. Why do you make such a wish.

DJKR- It didn't come out from my mouth casually.. You know role of a Lama only benefits already converted ones. So easy that's actually comparing to what prostitute can do. Thats it...

Rinpoche Smiles.

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When a bodhisattva visited Buddha – it is in the Prajnaparamita Sutra – and the bodhisattva complaint to the Buddha, saying: I feel so sad, I feel so sad about this meaningless life and all of that. And it is almost painful. Then Buddha: this is a noble wealth, you have so much merit that is why you are feeling sad about these things. When you don’t have that merit you will be distracted to all this gadgets and think this is life.

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This is what the dharma practitioner needs to understand — that the whole of samsara, or nirvana, is as essenceless or untrue as that film. Until we see this, it will be very difficult for dharma to sink into our minds. We will always be carried away, seduced by the glory and beauty of this world, by all the apparent success and failure. However, once we see, even just for a second, that these appearances are not real, we will gain a certain confidence. This doesn't mean that we have to rush off to Nepal or India and become a monk or nun. We can still keep our jobs, wear a suit and tie and go with our briefcase to the office every day. We can still fall in love, offer our loved one flowers, exchange rings. But somewhere inside there is something telling us that all this is essenceless. (LAC)

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Training in discipline purifies wrongdoing and wrong thinking; training in meditation stabilises right view, right motivation and right action; and training in wisdom liberates us from the root of ignorance.

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What Makes a Buddha?

Having examined many profound subjects, Vimalakīrti asked two very significant questions. The first was “What makes a buddha?” meaning, what ingredients or components go into making a buddha? It’s a bit like asking “What is the recipe for Korean ‘kimchi’?” And the second question was, “To which family or caste does a buddha belong?”

Today, it’s not easy for us to understand these questions, but back then they were considered extremely relevant. Historically, certain jobs were always given to those born into specific families and social backgrounds. Until very recently, for instance, the highest political and social jobs in England were given almost exclusively to men who had been educated in public schools like Harrow and Eton; and the Prince of Wales is always expected to become the next King of England. The same can also be said for the other end of the social scale – no one is surprised when the son of a cobbler makes excellent shoes. Similarly, the people of Buddha’s time would have expected buddhas to have been born exclusively into specific castes or families.

“What are the components or ingredients that make Śākyamuni Buddha a ‘buddha’?”

Must blood run through a buddha’s veins? Is a mouth necessary? And ears? Is there a special buddha DNA, or a code that gets passed from one generation to another, like the DNA that causes hereditary high cholesterol?

“What is it that has the potential to become a buddha?” ‘Potential’ in the sense that milk has the potential to become yoghurt.

“Is ‘buddha’ just a historical figure?” Meaning, is ‘buddha’ only ever the Buddha we see depicted as statues and on temple walls with a lump on his head and curly hair, who was the son of Śuddhodana and Mahāmāyā?

“What are we referring to when we say ‘buddha’?”

By now, Vimalakīrti was no longer answering Mañjuśrī’s questions, Mañjuśrī was answering Vimalakīrti’s. And how touching and beautiful that Lord Mañjuśrī began referring to Vimalakīrti not as a patron, but as the ‘Son of a Noble Family’.

I wonder if we will ever be able to appreciate this conversation fully?

It’s unbearable for many of us even to contemplate the notion that cleanliness can be found in the midst of filth. Yet cleanliness can only be found in filth. And for those of us who are stuck with the idea that cleanliness is a puritanical state that is entirely independent and separate from filth, emotions and defilements, such a statement is so bewildering as to be virtually inconceivable.

“Son of a Noble Family,” said Mañjuśrī, “Emotions are the ingredients that make a buddha. Ignorance, craving, desire and anger are the buddha family.”

Here, Mañjuśrī offered hope and encouragement by making a mockery of our ideas about clean and dirty. He said that good can only be found in the bad and the ugly. Was he merely giving a politically correct pep talk, or saying things he didn’t mean just to cheer us up? No, he was expressing a hard and piercing truth. For some, it is an unbearable truth, but for others, it is the most encouraging thing we have ever heard.

“If you plant a seed in the sky,” said Mañjuśrī, “It won’t ever grow into a flower. Likewise, a buddha cannot arise from the uncompounded state; buddha – enlightenment – will only arise where there are compounded phenomena.”

So Mañjuśrī is not denigrating compounded phenomena; he is not saying compounded phenomena are unholy, or some kind of stain. What he’s saying is that compounded phenomena are impermanent, but even so, we venerate them. For the philosophically-minded, this is an important point. (VSI)

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The Danger of Titles

You are really blessed, that you are not a Tulku or Rinpoche. Actually there is a great master called Tsele Natsok Rangdol. He has a prayer, I saw, there is a really beautiful prayer. One section of the prayer, from the depth of his heart he said: “May I never ever reborn as a Tulku or Rinpoche.” It is really good. I do it every day, really. Because when you suddenly have these Rinpoches or some monasteries or Khenpos or whatever the line is so thin, so thin. Are you really, is your life for the Dharma or the Dharma for life. So thin. And I can almost tell you from my experience it is more from the other way, Dharma for living. (PFTFA2)

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Mara’s five arrows

The sutras tell us that Mara (Buddhism’s “devil”) is a tricky character and an expert archer. To avoid straying into the sights of one of his five arrows requires tremendous effort because each one is trained on our most vulnerable spots.

The first of Mara’s arrows is aimed at those who feel great pride in their accomplishments or in their material or spiritual wealth.
The second is aimed at those who are ignorant because they have no idea which activities and attitudes need to be abandoned and which adopted.
The third is directed at those with wrong views, such as not believing in cause, condition and effect.
The fourth is fixed on those whose forgetfulness continually distracts them from mindfulness.
The fifth strikes those distracted by the eight worldly dharmas.

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Gurus should not adapt the dharma to the needs of busy, materialistic people who demand a businesslike method for receiving teachings that fits into their lifestyles. Were that to happen, far too much that is crucial to an authentic spiritual path would be lost. (NFH)

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By understanding emptiness, you lose interest in all the trappings and beliefs that society builds up and tears down – political systems, science and technology, global economy, free society, the United Nations. You become like an adult who is not so interested in childrens games. (WMYNAB)

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A knife becomes sharp as the result of two exhaustions — the exhaustion of the sharpening stone and the exhaustion of the metal. In the same way, enlightenment is the result of the exhaustion of obscurations and the exhaustion of the antidote of the obscurations. Ultimately one must abandon the path to enlightenment. If you still define yourself as a buddhist, you are not a buddha yet.

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Ngondro is More Important than the Main Teaching

If you were to ask me if I have [already] given a Dzogpa Chenpo teaching, yes I have. I have given Dzogpa Chenpo Ngondro, coming from the Longchen Nyingtik tradition of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa.

[I put it like that] because it looks like every time people say "I have received Dzogpa Chenpo teachings", they are always referring to the pointing out instructions. But that is not necessarily the case. Longchen Nyingtig Ngondro is also a Dzogchen teaching. It is actually more important, because it is the root.

This is what Patrul Rinpoche said [quote in tibetan]:

"In my tradition, ngondro is more important than the main teaching". (WOMPT)

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To feel depressed is not always a bad thing

The aim of far too many teachings these days is to make people “feel good,” and even some Buddhist masters are beginning to sound like New Age apostles. Their talks are entirely devoted to validating the manifestation of ego and endorsing the “rightness” of our feelings, neither of which have anything to do with the teachings we find in the pith instructions. So if you are only concerned about feeling good, you are far better off having a full-body massage or listening to some uplifting or life-affirming music than receiving dharma teachings, which were definitely not designed to cheer you up. On the contrary, the dharma was devised specifically to expose your failings and make you feel awful.

Try reading The Words of My Perfect Teacher. If you find it depressing, if Patrul Rinpoche’s disconcerting truths rattle your worldly self-confidence, be happy. It is a sign that at long last you are beginning to understand something about the dharma. And by the way, to feel depressed is not always a bad thing. It is completely understandable for someone to feel depressed and deflated when their most humiliating failing is exposed. Who wouldn’t feel a bit raw in such a situation? But isn’t it better to be painfully aware of a failing rather than utterly oblivious to it? If a flaw in your character remains hidden, how can you do anything about it? So although pith instructions might temporarily depress you, they will also help uproot your shortcomings by dragging them into the open. This is what is meant by the phrase “dharma penetrating your mind,” or, as the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye put it, “the practice of dharma bearing fruit,” rather than the so-called good experiences too many of us hope for, such as good dreams, blissful sensations, ecstasy, clairvoyance, or the enhancement of intuition.

Patrul Rinpoche said there is no such thing as a person who has perfected both dharma practice and worldly life, and if we ever meet someone who appears to be good at both, the likelihood is that his or her skills are grounded in worldly values.

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We aren’t willing to see things as illusory

It’s understandable that we aren’t willing or able to see these things as illusory. It’s much more ridiculous when we get caught up in extravagances such as high fashion, haute cuisine, celebrity status, and membership in elite clubs.

More than a few people are so spoiled that having a television in every room or two hundred pairs of shoes seems like a necessity. Lusting after a pair of Nikes or a Giorgio Armani suit at a posh boutique goes far beyond the practical survival impulse. People even get into fights over handbags in stores.

The assembled phenomena of packaging and market research are so intricate and calculated that we become suckers for labels, accepting the ridiculous price tags that have no correlation with material value.

...

The process of relating to this reflection of the inner Buddha is called devotion. As long as there is the stream of thoughts, there is no end to the projection of samsara. Until the end of samsara, there is no end to the path. As long as there is a path, there is devotion. And as long as there is devotion, there is an outer teacher. (TGDB?)

...

Enlightenment, basically you want to know what is enlightenment. As I said, enlightenment is an absence of paranoia. Okay I will tell you. We have so many obsessions, obsessions. Certain impulse obsessions too. You understand? Obsessions. Obsessions coming from our own habitual tendencies that is coming from past life or obsession taught by our mother, father, grand parents. Or obsession that is taught by the great Confucius master. Obsession that is coming from our culture. All of this. And these obsessions really binds you, make you life limited.

I will give you one example. Maybe you are the very right, very person. Think, I am giving you an example. You know sometimes when we go to bed some people have this obsession that they have to put their shoes in order right next to the bed. Really right in order. Facing to the door not to the bed. They go to sleep, they wonder: “Did I put my shoes right? Maybe not.” You check. You look at the shoes. Yeah it is facing there. Facing the door. It is right in order, it is not upside down. And then you sleep. Half an hour: “Was that my dream or did I really put it.” You get up and check.

I am just giving you are very extreme example but if you think all our life is a bit like that. Our life. There is so much obsession. Like parent’s obsessions that the kids must study this this this this this. Husband’s obsession that wife must do this and that. Wife’s obsession of husband must do this and that. You understand. We have a certain rules we made and expect the other people to perform. That is what we call obsession.

As you practice the Dharma, you practice and practice and practice. One day you kick out your right foot with the shoes. The shoe landed on the shrine, on top of the shrine, I don’t know. Left shoe goes right through the bath room and sink into the toilet. You still sleep, nothing, you don’t care a bit where it went. That is enlightenment. No more obsessions, no more clinging. There is a short form of that, in America we call it ccl. Couldn’t care less. You have to reach to that. Ccl is the American version of enlightenment. Couldn’t care less. But then again it is accompanied with the compassion so. Not only you have ccl, you actually want other people to have ccl. That is important. (TLP)

...

The vast majority of us perform two activities almost instinctively; we like to throw out rubbish and love collecting goodies. This universal habitual pattern can be usefully employed as a format on the spiritual path.

...

Every one of us has been hurt by people we have cared for, and although we may insist we have forgotten all about it, we rarely have. To help ease any lingering pain, visualise them in the place of honour, and as you arouse bodhichitta, wish them everything that is good.

If thinking about them continues to be painful, it is a sign that you have not let go of feeling they have wronged you. Try not to focus on it. Instead, admit to yourself that you are still holding on to your pain.

Then concentrate on wishing them every happiness and long to take all their sufferings on yourself. And do bear in mind that for those who are really serious about practising the dharma, difficult relationships provide the most fertile ground for practice.

...

VSI - Vimalakirti Sutra Introduction
PFTFA - Parting from the Four Attachments, (Seattle, 2011)
PFTFA2 - Parting from the Four Attachments, (Nepal, 2009)
NFH - Not for Happiness.
LAC - Life as Cinema (essay)
WMYNAB - What Makes you (Not) a Buddhist
WOMPT - Teachings on “Words of My Perfect Teacher” Taiwan, 18-21 February 2011
TGDB? - The Guru Drinks Bourbon?
TLP - The Three Levels of Perception, Sakya Tenphel Ling, Singapore, 2003




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