FROM: http://www.kathokcentre.

ca/content/excerpts-froman-oral-teaching-venerable-lingtrulrinpoche-kadak-choying-dorje-peaceful-manju Excerpts from"An Oral Teaching by The Venerable Lingtrul Rinpoche, Kadak Choying Dorje on Peaceful Manjushri, A Treasure and Placing Buddhahood Within Reach" "Regardless of whether you are explaining the dharma to others, whether you are receiving such an explanation, whether you are engaging in formal meditation, or whether you are engaged in any dharma-related activity, there are three key points, termed the three bonds, which are extremely important to incorporate. The first of these bonds is the key point that your initial motivation for undertaking any one of these activities should be the motivation of bodhicitta, the altruistic and compassionate resolve that was referred to earlier. The second key point is that during the activity your mind should be focused one-pointedly, without any extraneous frame of reference distracting you or taking your attention away from what you are doing. The third key point or bond is that of the concluding factor, that of dedicating the virtue and merit of the teaching, or of listening to the teaching, or of meditating, or of practicing for the benefit of others. It is extremely important that these so-called three bonds or three key points be present in all of your formal practice and dharma-related activities." Bodhicitta (pages 14 - 17) "Returning to the initial point, it is absolutely crucial that those who are motivated to follow the Vajrayana path, within the Mahayana path, within the Buddhist tradition, give rise to bodhicitta. The only way to practice this path properly and effectively, in order to gain the goal that we are telling ourselves we want to attain, is to give rise to that motivation. So this brings us back to the first of the key points, the first bond, the motivation of bodhicitta, of why we do what we do as Buddhists, as Mahayana Buddhists, as Vajrayana Buddhists: we undertake all of this in order to bring benefit ultimately to all beings, not just ourselves. The value of giving rise to bodhicitta in this way, as the initial motivation for everything you undertake in the context of spiritual practice, is found in the fact that it is very easy to do once you understand the framework, and it is enormously powerful and beneficial as a factor in your path. The are more complex stages of the spiritual path that involve certain pitfalls or ways in which you can make an error that can leave you in big trouble if you don’t work very closely with a teacher and pay real attention to what you are doing in your spiritual practice. But in the case of bodhicitta, you cannot go wrong. All you have to understand is the context in which true love and true compassion for others is felt, and there is no way you can go wrong. There is no way you can mess it up; you can’t misuse it once you have understood the context of how to give rise to bodhicitta in the correct manner. Bodhicitta is the single path along which the buddhas and bodhisattvas traverse their own individual paths to enlightenment; they always have, they always will. If you follow the path of bodhicitta, that alone guarantees your enlightenment at some point. That is why it is indispensable and crucial from the onset to think that you are doing this for 3 the sake of all beings and to learn how to truly implement that as your motivation…. The transformative effect that this kind of motivation has on your practice is something that Shantideva, the great Buddhist master of India, noted in one of his writings. Whenever you commit a virtuous or positive action, you create what is termed a root of virtue, and that root of virtue is something that under ordinary circumstances, on a karmic level, leads to a positive result. Once that positive result has ripened and been experienced, it’s finished. However, if you commit that virtuous action and plant that root of virtue with an altruistic and compassionate resolve, imbuing that act with bodhicitta, you lend a quality to it that makes it inexhaustible. It no longer just plays itself out in the ordinary way that karma plays itself out – a good cause leading to a good result and that’s it. Rather, it continues to grow, it continues to magnify and it is inexhaustible. An ordinary beneficial action, however laudable and however beneficial in the short

Remember that if you are truly seeking to gain enlightenment. has a short-term result: it establishes a cause by planting a seed that comes to some fruition in the future and then it’s over. on bodhicitta. the process comes to an end on the level of those particular actions. are giving rise and will give rise to bodhicitta in order to attain enlightenment. However. or whatever. so too will I give rise to that quality of 4 bodhicitta. "Just as all the buddhas of the past. What is it that we mean by dedication? We may quote Jetson Milarepa in this regard. on a practical level. It lends a different quality to the kinds of actions that you commit in this lifetime. there exists such a . of course. something that we are not capable of at this point because we are beginners. by emulating buddhas and bodhisattvas. or whether you are following some specific point of Dzogchen practice – then at the very least. you are focused upon that which is most effective and most relevant at the moment. then for you there is no fixed. and you are completely immersed in the true nature of reality. you will recall. So what we find useful as beginners on the path is a sense of emulation. the first of these sacred bonds should ideally be something that is spontaneous. as you all seem to be saying you are.26) "Now we should say something about the third aspect of the sacred bond. You can seek forever. by saying to ourselves. Try to find someone. You won’t. but you do them without that sense of really doing them for the benefit of all beings. present. the teaching and so forth. to the exclusion of all extraneous distractions. we at least begin with this sense of emulation. one has an unwavering quality of focusing on the key point. While it might be asking too much at this point to assume that we are going to be a complete incarnation of compassion. But again. The Tibetan is translated as "no fixed frame of reference during the main body of the teaching or practice". but you will not find an enlightened being who has not become enlightened through relying on bodhicitta…. try to find a buddha or a bodhisattva who has not attained that degree of complete awakening. the benefit of such actions continues to grow. practicing deity visualization. which is whatever you are engaged in." Focus (page 19) "The second sacred bond. your mind is focused on that. whether it is receiving a teaching. whether you are listening to a teaching on a particular topic or engaging in a particular practice – perhaps a visualization exercise or part of the stage of completion. but with the ripening of those results. Those acts have some beneficial effect. the benefit of that act will continue to flourish without being exhausted. to be the very epitome of bodhicitta. So that is ideal. of giving rise to bodhicitta by emulating great masters. However. and future have given rise. you will ensure that until you and all beings attain enlightenment. That is why it should be the very core of every practice. That is why this quality is so indispensable and so crucial. effortless. The very pith of our practice of dharma should be the focus that we continue to place on motivation. at the very least. ordinary frame of reference. In the true sense of the word. by doing them with a mind imbued with bodhicitta. what this implies is that whatever you are engaged in. which is that of the conclusion: how we dedicate the virtue and merit of our practice for the benefit of others. uncontrived and completely sincere – in short." Dedication (Page 24 . and maybe you will realize the results in this lifetime or perhaps in some future lifetime. And. if your realization is that of Mahamudra or the Great Perfection. if you instill that same action with the motivation of bodhicitta. In one of his songs he stated that between the yogin who meditates in the hills and the person who sponsors the practice by supporting the practice of that yogin with food or whatever." We are emulating a role model of someone who embodies that completely altruistic and compassionate resolve. is that during the main body of the practice. So even though you might not have accomplished the complete transcendence of all fixed frames of reference in the ideal sense of the word.term. You may be a perfectly good person who does positive acts out of a sense of civic responsibility or just because you are a very good person.

a session of personal practice or a group practice or puja. in a rather limited way. One dedicates the virtue and merit for the benefit of others and only for the benefit of others. by buddhas. The root of that interdependence that exists between the two of them lies in the dedication. in a sense. and at some point I get to call in the debt. Quite the opposite: it’s just completely without hope of reward. two distinct processes of prayer. be it a teaching. what is it that makes it truly sacred? The bodhisattva dedicates the virtue and merit of his or her practice without any hope of reward. Concerning the question of prayer in this context. One is dedication and the other is aspiration. "Now I dedicate the effect of having done that session of meditation or having given that gift to charity. When we speak of the scared bond or sacred point of dedication. That simple little scarf in that moment exemplifies. by invoking the blessing of the lineage. he was pointing out. and does so not because there is any hope that if you do this. Mahayana practice involves no hope of reward.connection that the two of them can awaken to buddhahood together. we begin realistically with a sense of . to live longer. all virtue that ever will be created – all virtue that is created by ordinary beings." In the case of aspiration. Some people tend to lump these together. What does it mean then when we dedicate the merit and virtue of a teaching. We are dedicating the effects of that virtue and the merit resulting from that virtue for the benefit of others. an empowerment. but they are. We have completed that action. is being offered. So there is a valuable connection. or of a session of our own practice or group practice? In effect. by ordinary beings. such as ourselves. I’ll dedicate my virtue and merit to sentient beings. the Tibetan word for the white scarf that is often wrapped around the offering one gives to the lama. for the person who understands. to enjoy greater prosperity. if you will. is not an empty gesture. In Tibetan culture it is the way of exemplifying all of that merit and virtue one is dedicating at that point with that offering. we can identify two basic ways in which we pray. what we are saying is that we dedicate the virtue and merit of that particular act of virtue. – the act of virtue that we have committed. we may not be dealing with something that has already taken place so much as we are aspiring for something to take place by invoking the truth and the power of the Three Jewels. as that which exemplifies all virtue of the three times. All of that is dedicated in order that it may function as the unerring cause for the enlightenment of all beings. That is our offering. all virtues that ever has been created. I dedicate the virtue and merit of that for the benefit of all beings. We have undertaken something of a virtuous or positive nature. Dedication refers to what we do with what has already taken place. That does not constitute Mahayana practice. the very root of it. that ever will be created and that is being created in the present moment. 5 "Well. and bodhisattvas. and they have to do something for me. or all virtue and merit created by buddhas and bodhisattvas in a truly inexhaustible manner in their enlightened mindstreams. that is our dedication. So it is a way of focusing on a specific act as a means of exemplifying all the virtue and merit that ever has been created. lies in that sense of dedication. but that means they owe me one. or whatever. whereas dedication has more the sense of properly dispensing with what has already taken place. and you will get all kinds of rewards from being such a good person. of an empowerment." That’s not the approach in the Mahayana. And again. So aspiration is more a question of looking towards something. the symbolism that all of that virtue and merit accumulated throughout the three times. the dedication of the fruits and virtues of that practice between the two individuals. between someone who practices and someone who supports that practice. it’s not just done mechanically. and we say to ourselves. we may aspire for someone else or for all beings to be happy and healthy. All of that is exemplified by this specific act of virtue in the present moment. By invoking any number of factors. 6 The Tibetan tradition of offering a kathag. in fact. It’s not as though we say to ourselves. we bundle together. then that means they will be nice to you. all virtue that is being created. whereas with aspiration we are looking toward what we aspire to be the case in the future. and all of that is something that. and the value of that interdependence.

there is also a rarity about the qualities present in the Three Jewels. understanding that this sense of dedication is something that grows through practice and through our own realization and understanding. In the same way. to talk about the positive qualities of the Three Jewels. Just as we term certain precious substances in the world as rare because they are difficult to come by. but it may also be of use to older students as well. dedicate the virtue and merit of all of my activities in the past.36) "…I also understand that there are some people who are quite new to the tradition of Buddhism. in our world. the Three Jewels. in order to assure that your practice is firmly based. dedicate and will dedicate the virtue and merit of attainments for the benefit of beings. so that the building that you construct is solidly based and will not break down or degenerate quickly. in some formal sense and also in a very personal sense. stated in one of his writings that when one’s motivation is imbued with bodhicitta initially.emulation. is of a most sublime nature. The reason why we say . and so it seems appropriate on this occasion to talk about the Three Jewels. for the term as it is used in Tibetan. The term kon means that which is rare. means that which is most sublime or most excellent. or whatever the undertaking is. and future for the benefit of all beings. of the Nyingma school. Just as the quality of bodhicitta is that which distinguishes the Mahayana or greater vehicle from the Hinayana or lesser vehicle of practice. in our own experience. when one’s mind does not waver from the main focus of the teaching. using this act of virtue as the model. at this moment. and so it implies as well that which. it is like that firm foundation. the first step on the Buddhist path. it is like the foundation or the cornerstone of the entire path of Buddhist practice. This is primarily intended for newer students. and to give you some kind of background. if you will. So it is like the cornerstone. so too do I now. If you are going to build a building." We begin with that sense of emulation. The reason why taking refuge in the Three Jewels is so important in the Buddhist tradition is because it is. one truly has discovered the unerring path to liberation and omniscience. We begin with the attitude. Summary (page 28) "These constitute the three key principles of the unerring path that will lead one to enlightenment. The great Longchen Rabjam. The second syllable. the practice. the taking of refuge distinguishes the Buddhist path from non-buddhist paths. "Just as buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three times and the ten directions have dedicated." REFUGE The Three Jewels (pages 29 . and when one’s roots of virtue that are cultivated in this way are dedicated for the benefit of others. The particular term in Tibetan that is translated very loosely as the Three Jewels is kon chog. and they are the three indispensable elements of that path. present. It is what distinguishes someone who is a practicing Buddhist from someone who has not made that particular commitment 7 in his or her own individual life or situation. kon chog. to talk about the sources of refuge in which we place our trust as Buddhists. or as it is very roughly translated into English. chog. the first thing you do is dig down into the earth and lay a solid foundation. That’s the etymology. you base it upon the foundation of taking refuge.

to guard against the sufferings and vicissitudes of the . like us." We mean that we are relying upon Buddha as the teacher. the teachings. which literally just means a community or a gathering. So we speak of the jewel of buddha. The Sanskrit term Buddha was translated into the Tibetan language as sangye. the state of an awakened mind is one that has awakened from the sleeplike ignorance or non-recognition of the true nature of being. hence the term Three Jewels collectively. and the jewel of sangha. is that of being guided toward enlightenment. this implies that we rely upon buddhahood and. One’s direction. as the path itself that we are following. Either way makes sense. "I take refuge in the Three Jewels. As Buddhists. mold or shape. One implies that it is to fashion. sang means awaken. and the jewel of sangha. the Sanskrit term dharma is translated into Tibetan as the term cho. and the formless realm. by which we can eliminate from our minds all of the negative and conflicting emotions that create suffering. rather than being one of continually falling into that 8 confusion and suffering. Again. we have the word cho in Tibetan. one is given some shelter or refuge from the sufferings of the three realms of cyclic existence – the desire real. and again. that is buddhahood. to guard. when we state that we take refuge in the Three Jewels. The Sanskrit term sangha. the form realm.the Three Jewels is because we recognize the highest principles in Buddhist practice to be the jewel of buddha. a community. inherent qualities of mind. one implicitly acknowledges that the ability. That is where we get the term sangha. or awakened mind. That is what we really mean when we say. just like someone showing one the way to go. who yearn for. to understand sangye etymologically. We speak sometimes speak of the sangha as being comprised of those who are spiritually advanced and those who. meaning the equivalent of the Sanskrit term dharma. awakened being. the jewel of dharma. in particular. upon dharma as the path. or its Tibetan form gendun – those who are motivated by or who strive toward virtue. the jewel of dharma. In either of these senses. toward one’s own awakening to buddhahood. With this awakening from sleeplike ignorance and the unfolding of all the latent. In this sense. which literally means those who are motivated by virtue. to provide a protection. the teachings that lead one to that state of awakened mind. a group of individuals or beings who are no longer indulging in the nonvirtuous and confused tendencies of ordinary mind but are those who are motivated by. In taking refuge. the community of those who help one on that path. In either case. awakened mind. are ordinary human beings who are on the path and who are seeking that state of awakened being that is enlightenment. and there are actually several opinions among Tibetans as to the root of this term. We take refuge in the dharma. and the other is that it is from a verb meaning to protect. the word gendun in Tibetan implies a gathering. upon the Buddha as one who attained buddhaood and as that which demonstrates the path. at the same time there is a protective function of the teachings of dharma in that through following that path of teachings. So the distinction is made between those who are of a spiritually advanced level and those who are ordinary practitioners on the path. is translated into Tibetan as gendun. who strive toward that which is of a positive and wholesome nature in their own mind. in the sense of relying upon the teachings that are the legacy of such a buddha. and the term gye refers to the complete unfolding and increasing of all the powers and qualities latent in the nature of mind itself. and upon sangha as our companions on that path. we rely upon the sangha as those who are our companions and guides on that path. because the teachings of dharma provide us with a model or a process by which we can shape our minds. the power to provide refuge – to provide shelter. we have sangye or buddha.

When a person truly appreciates that. But that kind of refuge and these kinds of examples refer to a very temporary refuge. but there are only temporary states of happiness. If one doesn’t believe that. In Tibet during the military occupation and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Similarly. We became refugees. that there is nothing but this great shifting display of what is essentially frustrating. can truly transcend both the extreme of continuing in endless confusion in cyclic existence and the extreme of merely seeking personal salvation. In a more short-term or superficial way. Because of the fear of the animal or the threat imposed by the wild animal. if a wild animal attacks you. 9 Taking refuge can be thought of in a number of contexts. Once you as a practitioner have understood that the nature of conditioned existence is one of dissatisfaction and suffering. there is nowhere to find any true. eternal happiness. you discover that power and capability lie in the Three Jewels and nowhere within the realm of conditioned existence. people take refuge from certain fears or sources of problems in their lives. For example. if that being is still caught within the nature of conditioned existence. But if you rely upon a more worldly force. It is because the nature of the Three Jewels is not of this ordinary world of conditioned existence that the power to release one from this ordinary state lies in those principles. it is only when a person has appreciated that from the highest state of relative conditioned existence down to the lowest hell. we came to Nepal. lasting. A person may flee his or her homeland and find refuge in another country. We came to India. that person isn’t taking refuge. Now that’s a very prosaic example. then automatically you begin to seek some source of refuge. although that 10 being may be far more powerful than you. only then can that person appreciate the fact that the power to liberate someone from all of those shortcomings and all of that dissatisfaction and suffering lies within the Three Jewels. some of us came to the United States of America and other countries to find refuge. When that refugee dies. and one expects . That is what it means to truly take refuge. You don’t have to think about it at that point: you are moved to try to find something. In a similar way. If someone is still entertaining thoughts of how wonderful it would be to be reborn as a god or how wonderful it would be to be reborn as a human being with lots of power and wealth. Out of a healthy fear of cyclic existence and its shortcomings. the entire cycle of conditioned existence is fraught with suffering and dissatisfaction. without any thought for the welfare of others. one takes refuge in that which is a source of the power and that which has the capability to bring one out of that suffering and out of those shortcomings. if one relies upon a very powerful spirit or worldly god or some more powerful person.three realms of cyclic existence – lies within those principles that we term the Three Jewels. But again. because it is through relying upon those higher principles embodied in the Three Jewels that your mind can truly transcend duality. because he or she is still seeking some ultimate happiness where there is no ultimate happiness. you may retreat into a building because the building provides a place of refuge. one simply doesn’t have that kind of trust and that kind of conviction that constitutes truly taking refuge. be it a local spirit. still pretending that somewhere in the cycle of conditioned existence there is some eternal state of happiness that is a worthy goal. then one isn’t really taking refuge because one hasn’t appreciated what one is doing when one takes refuge. if one does not have a healthy fear of the shortcomings and sufferings of cyclic existence. or some kind of more powerful being within conditioned existence. but it’s an indication of what’s taking place when we take refuge. some source of power or benefit upon which you can rely in order to liberate your mindstream from that appalling prospect of remaining caught within conditioned existence. that being cannot provide that final kind of refuge. it only lasts during this lifetime. be it a worldly god. In particular. When you reflect upon the qualities of the Three Jewels. you run from it and seek a safe hiding place. but that country can only provide refuge during that person’s lifetime. we found refuge from the persecution that we experienced in our homeland. the country in which that person has sought refuge has no more power to help that person. then one isn’t really taking refuge – no matter how much one gives lip service to the formula. we Tibetans took refuge in other countries.

If a person is motivated in this way. To which of these three levels of taking refuge should we aspire? As those who are practicing the Mahayana path. a state of calm. it is a valid form of taking refuge. We will have found something that is of this world. As well. is someone who may take refuge within the context of a very short time frame. on the other hand. for this reason. Only by relying upon the awakened state of buddhahood that transcends ordinary conditioned existence. can we too transcend this ordinary state of conditioned existence. but it is of a very inferior degree because of the nature of the motivation. that is to say just for the rest of this life. Therefore. a state of personal salvation from all of that suffering. to be satisfied with mere personal salvation at the expense of others’ welfare. That person is basically taking refuge because he or she is afraid of a specific kind of pain and wants to avoid it personally. There is the way in which a person of a small degree or an inferior degree of development. I take refuge." It is made with . the person refuses to fall into either the extreme of continuing to wander in cyclic existence or. the way in which a person of middling degree of development takes refuge. and that ultimately there is no true happiness in any of these alternatives. This person is concerned with attaining nothing less than full and complete enlightenment. without taking the welfare of others into consideration. the form realm. we state in the Buddhist tradition.that other being to provide that ultimate refuge. and until that attainment is achieved. but it is the motivation to take refuge until all beings attain enlightenment. a person with an inferior kind of motivation. is not satisfied with any of these more short-term solutions. takes refuge. as a hungry ghost. neither one of remaining in a state of continued confusion nor one of merely releasing oneself personally. or as an animal. The person is thinking of taking refuge for this lifetime. which is to develop our motivation so that we are satisfied with nothing less than full and complete enlightenment – and that we are motivated to attain enlightenment that does not fall into either of these extremes. human or otherwise. neither continued confusion nor mere personal salvation from suffering and pain. a state of peace. The person then is motivated to attain what they perceive to be some kind of nirvana. At that point it’s like two people being carried away by a flood and trying to save one another – a laudable sentiment. but neither of them has the power to save the other because they are both being swept away by that flood. who is a truly superior kind of spiritual practitioner. The person of the highest kind of motivation. the path that leads to the most excellent state of peace. and the way in which a person of a great degree of development takes refuge. it behooves us to follow the Mahayana approach in taking refuge. How one goes about taking refuge can be distinguished within the Buddhist context in three ways. Such a person is motivated to attain nothing less than fully awakened buddhahood. I take refuge in the dharma. "I take refuge in the Buddha as the most excellent of humans embodying awakened being. one will not find a reliable source. 11 Again the time frame tends to be of a very limited nature. that is still within the realm of conditioned existence. we might say. "From now until I die. and I take refuge in the sangha." A person who is taking refuge on a more intermediate or middling level of maturity is a person who has perceived that all of the three realms of cyclic existence – the desire realm. By relying upon a being. Our time frame again is not of a short-term nature. a less developed form of motivation. and the formless realm. as our principle in practice. who are my companions on the path. and therefore something that cannot take us beyond this world. the most excellent of gatherings. which does not fall into either of these extremes. A person who is of a lesser degree of maturity spiritually speaking is a person who is really only concerned with his or her own welfare and is someone who is afraid of falling into some lower state of existence as a hell being. the person just says. from the lowest hell to the highest gods’ realm – are of the nature of suffering. without necessarily [having] any regard for the welfare of anyone else. Without thinking of any future lifetimes. we will not have found anything like an ultimate source of refuge. and therefore that person takes refuge by relying upon the Three Jewels as a means of assuring that he or she will be reborn in a higher state of existence as a god or as a human.

and that’s it. even for something such as a robe or a piece of cloth that is of one of those colors.that kind of background and understanding of the enormous time frame and the immense goal before us that we take refuge. there are three ways of acting and thinking that are to be discouraged. You don’t just go through the ceremony. in the awakened mind as your source of refuge. the ideal of the sangha as one’s companions and guides on the path. but here we are talking about the ultimate source of refuge. embody an ideal. On a more conventional level. whether it be a small statue of a buddha or a deity. by awakened being itself. and that the robes. There is a kind of code that you commit yourself to when you take refuge. which are again three in number. Once you have taken refuge in the Buddha. yellow. once one has taken refuge in the dharma. and this refers not just to human beings but to all beings. as one of the Three Jewels. after having taken refuge in the Buddha. Once one has taken refuge in the sangha. and there are other supportive factors. which are worn by individuals who are practitioners. you are taking something that is less than ultimate to be ultimate. Basically. even the robes and colors that are associated with the Buddhist sangha are worthy of one’s respect. There are certain principles involved in taking refuge: there are three points that are to be encouraged once one has taken refuge. That is another way in which an individual can honour that vow of refuge and incorporate it into daily life. The Nine Points of Taking Refuge (pages 36 – 43) Now taking refuge is not a one-shot deal. as one’s ultimate source of refuge. so to speak. Similarly. in the awakened mind. In the Tibetan tradition. even on a conventional level. of whatever size or shape or species. But the point here is not so much the specific colors. That can only be provided by the jewel of buddhahood. . in the teachings that lead one as the practitioner to that state of awakened being. the awakened nature of mind. and blue. precisely for the reason that was mentioned earlier. Regarding the kinds of attitudes that one should foster and encourage in oneself. this training is not particularly arduous. There is training involved. These are the three aspects of the training that you should foster or encourage once you have taken refuge. there may be powerful worldly forces or worldly gods that can be relied upon to alleviate sickness or incidental dangers and so forth. or whatever. three colors have historically been considered appropriate for robes for the sangha. So it is on that level that it is appropriate for one to develop an attitude of respect. it is important for that individual to show that respect even to the texts which contain the words and letters that embody and convey the ideas of the teachings. that aid one’s practice once one has taken refuge. just as though one were relating to the actual jewel of the sangha itself. or any other symbolic representation. To rely on anything less than that is basically to sell yourself short as a practitioner. by not placing those texts in a low or an unclean place. However. but that those colors embody an ideal. Those are red. the first of the three aspects of the training that you should discourage and eliminate in your conduct and your attitude concerns inappropriateness of taking any worldly or mundane god or demon or force. Such beings are still caught within conditioned existence itself and therefore cannot provide any ultimate source of refuge. take refuge. but by always keeping them in a high and clean place. So we can speak of the training to mean one’s having taken refuge under these nine points or nine categories. one should maintain an attitude of respect for anything that 12 represents the ideal of enlightened mind. that which is ultimately going to lead you out of confusion and suffering.

But think of it from the point of view of the animal or insect or other being that is being killed. That is the literal terminology used in the text.There are some people who feel that certain forms of life are worthy of respect. you are better off ignoring their advice. but that something like insect life is inconsequential. to India. according to one’s own capabilities. perhaps. but really expressing an attitude of harmlessness towards anything that has a mind and that lives. as well as to place offerings there. at a certain border region between India and Tibet there was an individual who had established a law that no buddhist teacher could cross that boundary. so would a tiny insect suffer. while traveling from Tibet. Just as you would suffer from having your life force cut 13 short. such as horses and elephants and household pets. where he was born. For example. which are auspicious days. we do run into intolerance for our own views as practitioners – people who try to convince us that our teachers are charlatans. Here people of extreme views are people who in some way personally try to undermine your faith and confidence in your spiritual process. The local rulers would insist that the loser would convert to the faith of the one who won the debate. according to the local ruler’s interpretation. the encouragement to follow the path of harmlessness. would encounter holders of extreme views who would hold debates with buddhist pandits. There were occasions when the great Sakya Pandita. that the teachings are false. and so it was necessary for Guru Rinpoche to exert very wrathful activity in order to break through that barrier in order to come to Tibet and to bring the teachings to the Tibetan people. where there is more religious tolerance. That is the first alternative. just to reiterate the connection that one has through taking refuge. In any of those ways. Drakpa Gyaltsen. To incorporate taking refuge in the dharma by expressing it as an attitude of harmlessness towards all other beings involves embracing all life. A buddhist teacher who lost a debate was required by law. it is supportive for one’s practice to engage in that kind of activity on a regular basis. That was kind of an old historical grudge that had been fostered. The fact that an insect has a smaller body than yours does not mean that insect wants to lose its life or doesn’t suffer when it loses its life: its life force is as vital as yours. if even just simple bowls of water. For example. even if it’s only once a year. or it is at least done on a monthly basis on particular days such as the full moon or the new moon. one should not rely upon or come under the influence of those who hold extreme views. The third aspect of training on the level of what to avoid or what to seek to eliminate in one’s situation as a practitioner is that after having taken refuge in the sangha. That really is what corresponds at this point to what historically was perhaps a more serious social problem. Those are the three points of training that are to be abandoned or eliminated. people who try to undermine our faith and our devotion and our conviction on the path that we have chosen to follow. Padmasambhava. the Tibetan New Year’s 14 tradition of Losar is a time when everybody makes sure that at least for two or three days they make offerings on a shrine in order to renew that sense of taking refuge in the Three Jewels. not just larger forms of life or those that are closer to us as human beings. then out of this healthy appreciation. Given that one takes refuge. to abandon buddhism and take up the faith of the person who won the debate. or at the very least once a year. such as human life and perhaps larger animals. we don’t have the same kinds of problems that occurred in the past. and so forth. We don’t run into that kind of thing in a culture such as this. even though from our perspective it may seem to be insignificant. this apprehension of the shortcomings and sufferings of the three realms of cyclic existence – given that one is motivated . with a statue or a text or some representation of the Three Jewels. when Guru Rinpoche. and that one can destroy insects without any consequences. Ideally this is done on a daily basis. In this particular culture. As someone who has taken refuge. This means that once one has taken refuge. Now we come to the three points of training that are of a supportive nature. but among people around us. So the second aspect is to avoid harming other beings. it is then of an extremely supportive nature to make a small shrine in one’s home or apartment. was journeying from India to Tibet to spread the teachings.

save due to the fact that there is or is not that faith and devotion in the mind of the individual. by encouraging others to do so. which makes it far easier to keep than are some of the more complex and formal ordinations of the buddhist path. That encourages someone to begin that sort of search in their own life. One doesn’t take refuge with that motivation at one point in time and then just drop it. there are thirty. according to one’s own lifestyle. Here we are only talking about nine pretty simple principles. For example. One continues by literally repeating the vow of refuge. there are 253 vows of the order that are to be observed. through continuing to exert oneself in taking refuge as part of one’s formal spiritual practice. "If you have faith in me. That is what it means to take refuge. You shouldn’t think that you are so unworthy that the Three Jewels are very distant from you. or unwilling to discuss. it doesn’t matter what your personal qualities are on a conventional level – if that faith and devotion for the Three Jewels is in your mind. Those are the three supportive trainings that go hand in hand with the taking of the vow of refuge. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor. Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) said. As far as the novice vows are concerned. dress. if you are a fully ordained monk or bhikshu. The moment you have faith and devotion and conviction in your heart. There is no distance to be traversed. you receive the blessings of the Three Jewels. There is no distance involved. if we want to explore it in detail.to attain nothing less than full enlightenment for oneself and all beings – this act accompanied with right motivation is an ongoing aspect of one’s practice. your ordination is destroyed and you are no longer a monk. For a person who has faith and conviction in his or her mind. deportment. These nine points that we have just discussed within a few minutes are all that there really is to it. No one person is more distant from the blessings of the Three Jewels than any other person. There are four situations in which a 15 monk must offer individual confession for the commission of a particular act and 112 minor rules of conduct. There are thirteen others that require that the entire chapter of the sangha gather to decide how one should purify oneself of that particular offense. On a formal level. it doesn’t matter whether you are clean or dirty. constantly bringing to mind the qualities of the Three Jewels. and it is a very valuable contribution that you can make to someone else. it doesn’t matter whether you are from the Eastern Hemisphere or the Western Hemisphere. all of which constitute the 253 vows of a fully ordained monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It is also important that a person who has taken refuge be willing to explain to others something that they haven’t understood before – these are the qualities of the Three Jewels. the implications of samaya can go on for hundreds and thousands of rules. It’s like a mirror: if the mirror is covered with dust . it’s not a very demanding training. over and over again. ashamed of. If we want to look into the Vajrayana. Four of these are the most serious because they are called defeats. So it shouldn’t be something that you are embarrassed about. you receive the blessings of the Three Jewels. There are some thirty moral downfalls and ninety secondary points of proper conduct for a fully ordained monk. the kind of discipline that the vow of refuge requires is quite straightforward. What he meant was as long as there is faith and devotion in your mind for guru Rinpoche. In their most complete description. and I think that makes them pretty easy to keep. taking refuge in the blessings of the Three Jewels is palpable and directly accessible. and. eating. you are no longer fit to wear the robes. that is to say. if you commit one of those four actions. these three so-called supportive trainings constitute first incorporating some regular formal expression of that taking refuge – through making offerings on a shrine or whatever." It’s not as though we expect Guru Rinpoche to be just waiting to see who calls him and then that he runs over and stands next to their door. there is no separation between you and Guru Rinpoche when your mind is filled with faith and devotion to Guru Rinpoche. that is the value of taking refuge. but rather something that you are quite willing to discuss with others. and speaking. the presence of Guru Rinpoche is immediate. where one finds that kind of openness or inquisitiveness on the part of others. so you wonder how could you ever receive their blessings. I am standing right in your doorstep.

all of the fame. If the previous merit has not been accumulated in one’s mindstream to allow for the experience of wealth. That is an unerring and infallible path that assures an individual’s own enlightenment and potential for the bringing about of enormous benefit for others. these will come about. and enough to take personal care of oneself on a material level. that they have enough to meet their physical needs on the level of those basic physical human needs. and that we don’t need to seek further to try to reinforce our happiness. and they do not seek more. it won’t reflect an image. We can never reach the point of being satisfied by indulging in that or playing that out. Contentment means knowing when enough is enough. or acquire more. they have arrived at a degree of understanding. merely grasping after these is beside the point. he or she must also have arrived at a degree of contentment on that level. When we want something. all of the wealth. enough is enough.or is in some way obscured. that is enough." 16 CONTENTMENT (Pages 126 – 129) "…His Holiness Jigmed P’huntsog says that to practice this path effectively. Rather. This also ties in with the idea of having few wants. and the taking of the vow to give rise to the quality of bodhicitta as the altruistic and compassionate resolve that determines whether or not one is following the Mahayana. Once an individual has taken refuge and has given rise to bodhicitta with the two points – the taking of refuge as the crux that determines whether or not one is following the buddhist path. then one needs to work on the level of merit. We have one thing and then we want something else. In any case. the person who does so must have within himself or herself a degree of contentment in that he or she has few wants on the material level. The moment there is faith and devotion in your heart. all of the glory – have no true essence. When a person has realized that degree of contentment. moreover we feel less satisfied. Actually. Rather. all of those seemingly attractive goals on the material level only come about because one has the appropriate merit. he or she is not continually placing his or her hopes in the idea that further acquisitions or material gain will provide any greater happiness. and if that is our goal. It is the kind of attitude that the person realizes when he or she knows that as long as there is enough to eat. enough to keep a roof over our heads – just enough to keep those basic human needs satisfied. we will never be satisfied as long as we still want and need more on the material level. all of the security. This is in recognition of the fact that in general all of the worldly goals that we seek purely within the context of this life – all of the prosperity. That’s the basic interpretation of the term at this point. that person has already arrived at a sense of contentment. The more we place our hopes and aspirations on increasing our security on the purely material level. enough to wear. That is the nature of the process. If one doesn’t. success. because we think that until we have more and more we are not in any way going to be truly happy. we find it is very difficult to satiate that desire. a sense of understanding that on a material level. the image is brilliantly clear in the mirror. enough to wear. the more we are simply fueling our desires. They are not something that will last. All we really need is enough to eat. not on the level of trying to grab fruition without establishing . you receive the blessings of the Three Jewels. If one has the merit. Such individuals do not continually try to figure out how they can earn more. the greater vehicle of buddhist practice – that individual enters into the doorway of the Mahayana. and so forth. but the moment you wipe away the dust. we are deceiving ourselves. own more.

If a person does not establish the cause.His Holiness Jigmed P’huntsog states that if a person is truly bent on pursuing the path of dharma effectively. whether you have leisure to practice. who then begins to practice a formal path – and in this context we are discussing the path of the Buddhist tradition – it is important to seek a guide. Really. the person begins to think in much longer terms. because that will free up so much more of our time and energy for practice. a spiritual mentor. It is a question of whether or not you have time to practice. even on a mundane level of affluence. it will not work. The way to approach it is from the point of view of the cause of merit leading to the experience. The less time we have to practice. If a person has few wants and desires on this material level. This is the importance of these qualities. If a person doesn’t place his or her hopes entirely in that direction and doesn’t fixate upon those. that person will not have the good fortune to enjoy the fruition.132) For the person with this level of contentment. the more we tie up our time and energy. …. Having covetous attitudes and continually placing our hopes in objects outside of ourselves – things that we could own or have or acquire – is really a false way of viewing things. Clearly. Rather than simply desiring the fruition. that individual must pursue it without any particular attachment to or fixation upon the ordinary levels of pleasure. the more we indulge in the wants and desires of this lifetime. For the person who follows the path of dharma. a lama or teacher qualified to impart the 18 kind of information and guidance that is needed to follow the path. THE IMPORTANCE OF A QUALIFIED TEACHER (pages 129 . it is a sign that the person has made some spiritual progress. because that is the way you as the student allow your own positive qualities to arise in an authentic manner. or satisfaction. we need to address things on a causal level. . As you can see. it is of great value. the less time we have to free our minds from cyclic existence. If you don’t have that kind of guidance. It is really that basic. His Holiness Jigmed P’huntsog quotes from the teachings of the Buddha in which it is stated that the lessening of attachment and desire is a sign of a superior person. fame. and so forth that he or she might possibly obtain on the material level. and the cause in this case is the merit that leads to the fruition. the person will find that their path is much more straightforward and free of obstacles. success. but simply try to figure it out on your own. first and foremost. because you will not get anywhere. the focus shifts from that of being entirely concerned with this lifetime to that of being motivated instead to practice with a view of bringing benefit to himself or herself and others in future lifetimes as well. If we make any distinction at all on a spiritual level of people who are very ordinary and people who are superior.the 17 cause. The reason why the emphasis is made here on this quality is simply because it frees up so much of your time and energy for practice – for something truly valuable. success. glory. Instead of being entirely focused upon this lifetime. it is on the basis of where the person has really placed his or her focus. You do need to rely upon some external source of guidance at the outset of your path in order to elicit those positive qualities that are latent within you. It is very important to follow a teacher. there is no benefit to following through without the right point of view. and the less time we have to practice. to adopt this attitude of contentment.

When you have that sense of reverence for the teacher. Nothing pleases a teacher more than to impart teachings to a student who then practices those teachings so that he or she personally realizes the fruits. almost seems to eclipse that status of the Buddha. then in order to really serve that teacher. the ideal way is through your own practice. the qualities of view. the lama’s mind should embody. No attempt is being made to suggest that the lama is in any objective way greater than the Buddha Shakyamuni or any other buddha in terms of qualities. Ideally. Although we could discuss the qualifications of a teacher in great detail. these three qualifications will suffice in this context. the three ways of pleasing the teacher. It is always being said that the lama is very important. This attitude of faith influences how you view the teacher when you are receiving teachings in various contexts. in a certain sense. the dialectical or more exoteric Buddhist vehicle. It is important that you follow a teacher. None of them will have just figured it out themselves. you are actually receiving these teachings from the ultimate nature of being. It is in the context of the extraordinary kindness you receive from your personal teacher that the true value of that relationship becomes evident. When one has encountered such a qualified teacher. this is something that is emphasized again and again. the teachings that you receive are still most effective when you regard the teacher as inseparable from the presence of the Buddha Shakyamuni. the teacher should have the wisdom and the knowledge to be able to deal with the various misunderstandings or wrong views that crop up in students’ minds as well as be able to dispel those through skillful teaching. the teacher would have realized the complete fruition of the Great Perfection. it is stated that before the teacher appears. . Each of the one thousand buddhas that will eventually have appeared during this eon in which we live will have attained that buddhahood by relying upon teachers. One should really maintain that and honor that connection by serving. above and beyond the ordinary exoteric vehicle and that of the Vajrayana. Even in the context of the sutra tradition. 19 Given that you have found a teacher who is qualified. Of the three. helping him or her with various building and publishing projects or anything tied in with dharma activities of the teacher. While the teacher may be in no way superior to the Buddha in terms of his or her positive qualities. The intermediate way to serve and please one’s teacher is through personal service. dharmakaya itself. you are completely receptive to the teachings he or she is giving. In the context of the Vajrayana teachings. the appropriate attitude for you to hold towards the teacher is that you are not in the presence of the nirmanakaya or even the sambhogakaya manifestation. meditation. and it causes some questions to arise in people’s minds. Then you will be receptive to the teachings that you receive. the teacher. to a significant degree through realization. and you will be able to implement them as they are intended to be in your practice. or more literally. What does it mean that the lama or teacher must be qualified? First and foremost. by attending the teacher. one may honor the connection through material support of the teacher’s projects or by supporting the lama financially so that the dharma activities of that teacher can continue to flourish. It is with the deep conviction that one is actually in the presence of a buddha that one receives the teachings of the Vajrayana. it is important to guard the connection with that teacher just as you would your own heart or your own eyes. At the very least. and conduct according to the Great Perfection approach. Here. That is the very best way to serve and please the teacher. of course. What does that mean? Think of it in this way: According to one of the tantras. for a very specific and personal reason. not even the idea or the name of buddhahood or enlightenment is present.Of course. It will be by undergoing a training process of his or her mindstream that the being will become a buddha. In the Dzogchen context of taking teachings. you should do so with a heartfelt attitude of devotion and respect. Third. It is also important that the teacher have the necessary qualifications. one should think of the teacher in a somewhat more intense way – as being the actual embodiment of enlightenment itself. Whan we come to the Great Perfection path of sheer lucidity. The second qualification is that the teacher should be compassionately concerned and involved in guiding students. The transmission is that direct. but in the presence of the dharmakaya itself. it is as though you are taking teachings from the Lord Buddha himself.

we can begin by looking at someone who has reached a certain level of contentment and a diminishing of wants on a material level. nevertheless. like a fertile piece of ground in which a good crop can grow and yield a good harvest. Again. whether for the ordained or the layperson’s vows. and above and beyond that. there are temporary ordinations. there is the more secret level of discipline. Perhaps it is difficult in this culture to assume that there will be a strong monastic basis at this point. On a very rudimentary level. and (this person) has entered into that path of practice. ordination for a layperson is an important foundation for one’s practice. it is important that we not overlook the level of discipline that assures our own individual liberation. there are many different formal ordinations. Even if a person’s situation does not afford the life-style or freedom to keep that type of ordination. and who is motivated by something beyond this lifetime and has begun to seek teachings and a teacher. sincerely taking that ordination and maintaining those ethics and that discipline for the twenty-four-hour period is valuable because it begins to lay a foundation in one’s mindstream. Above and beyond that. and for the various levels of laypeople. but that does not mean that one cannot implement those basic principles of ethics and discipline through assuming the householder or layperson’s ordination. in terms of his or her positive influence on your life. Ethics and discipline fall into several categories in the Buddhist context. In terms of keeping discipline. upon which positive qualities can grow.nevertheless. The more a person observes and maintains this level of discipline and ethics in his or her lifestyle. Although the Buddha left a legacy of teachings. The point of discipline and ethics is to provide a foundation. Another important element that we should note at this point involves that of one’s own ethics and discipline as an important foundation to one’s own practice. People are familiar with the fasting ritual (Tib. So for that reason this importance is accorded to one’s personal teacher in the context of receiving teachings in Buddhism. assuming a full monastic ordination may be unrealistic. there is the kind of discipline that assures one’s own individual liberation from suffering. there is the discipline and ethics of the bodhisattva path. the more that foundation is being laid for those positive qualities to develop in his or her mindstream. which deals with Vajrayana. nevertheless. Even though this may seem like a very short-term commitment. 20 ETHICS AND DISCIPLINE (Pages 132 – 138) " To take an overview of the path. are aware of the ordination that is taken and maintained from one morning until the next morning. the kindness and grace that you receive from the teacher is based on your view that the teacher is even more important to you than the Buddha. And there are a number of different levels of vows for novice monks and nuns. . Moreover. But we have encountered the teacher who transmits those teachings to us. with tantric discipline. this person has found a teacher who is qualified and is someone upon whom he or she has begun to rely. and although Buddha Shakyamuni and other buddhas have appeared in the world. and who teaches us the practices and stages of the path that we need to follow in order to work our way out of our own confusion and attain enlightenment. we have not in this present context had the good fortune to encounter those buddhas. nyungne). for the fully ordained. depending upon the culture one is from and the context in which one lives. who teaches us about the kind of moral choices that are important in our life. which is part of kriyatantra.

any of these vows in combination constitutes some level of a layperson’s ordination. yet at the same time. Again. a person who has taken a formal vow to abstain from that behavior generates merit. why should you take a vow? It may be the case that you never kill. you may be a person who never steals and is very honest. sincere. even an insect. has adopted whatever particular form of ethics and discipline is appropriate for his or her situation. If a person takes even one of these vows. you won’t have the same kind of merit that comes from not taking life and having that resolve in mind at the same time. you deny yourself the opportunity to make that a truly meritorious action. if you don’t have that resolve. In the former case. you can take these vows with the understanding that you are only keeping them for twenty-four hours. lie. which is often mentioned in the context of the householder’s ordination.The vows are not extremely rigorous for a householder or a layperson. One’s speech should be honest. Again. However. 22 To continue our discussion of the stages on the path of our hypothetical individual: He or she has found and is relying upon a teacher. But if you don’t have the idea in your mind that you will not kill and that you will turn away from that kind of action. making a total of eight that are kept for a twenty-four-hour period. So even though you may not be able to completely understand and . The value of going through this training is threefold. A person who chooses to take that path has various options open to him or her. so that one does not injure or bring mental or physical harm to others through a misuse of one’s sexuality. because with that resolve you lend power to the fact that you are keeping that particular ethical position. three or four vows. The third is the vow that deals with an observance of a wholesome way of expressing one’s sexuality with a partner. upon the tantras. is to avoid using intoxicants that confuse the mind and make it difficult for one to maintain a clear and precise attitude towards one’s life. has ventures onto the path of practice. As you can see in each of these cases. or conceal the truth in a way that causes confusion and harm to others. which is known as the complete ordination for laypeople. one may choose to take all five. These vows can be taken in any combination. there is value in making a formal resolve and going through a ceremony in which you formally dedicate your efforts to abstain from a certain kind of behavior and to follow another course of action in your life. There are also some incidental vows that are added. or upon any of the auxiliary commentaries associated with those. it’s an innocuous action that doesn’t carry a great deal of merit or power with it. Now it may raise a question in your mind that because you don’t do these things anyway. and that refers to any form of life. The fourth vow concerns speech. The fasting ritual mentioned just a few minutes ago involves the four basic vows. one should not use harsh speech. such as the vow not to kill. and has begun the process of studying. with the sexual vow extended to one of celibacy for that twenty-four-hour period. Hearing the teachings means not just reading about them in books in a dry intellectual way. that constitutes one level of ordination or ethics and discipline. Nevertheless. taking anything that isn’t given to one freely under any circumstances or pretext. The person begins a process of study and training to develop his or her mind. and well intentioned. which is literally termed hearing in Tibetan. The first of the vows is to avoid killing. if one is in a partner relationship. whether it is teachings based upon the sutras. then without that kind of resolve. You may be a gentle person who never takes the life of anything. taking them sincerely and keeping them sincerely for that period of time generates a great deal of merit because of the resolve that goes into taking that stance to make that decision in one’s life. The first value is that hearing the teachings and the ideas that are embodied in these teachings plants seeds in your mindstream that will ripen into your liberation. The fifth vow. These are called the four root vows. The second vow 21 concerns stealing. but actually receiving teachings in a very personal way from the teacher. As was mentioned just a moment ago. Or one may choose any two. of course.

Again. and then actually meditate in order to totally internalize those teachings. that’s all I need. In each of these stages you must hear. is that you begin with the four contemplations of the precious human existence. beginning with the four thoughts that turn the mind towards practice. up to and including the level of Great Perfection practice. then you can begin then to embark on the actual path of the Dzogchen practice." Rather. It’s not enough just to get the teachings once and think. If it were possible to just introduce everybody directly to Dzogchen. and preparation. the necessary qualities and realization simply won’t arise in that person’s mindstream. how much more so do the words of the teachings themselves. It has a function. in order to initially turn your mind away from further involvement in cyclic existence and towards practice. They are an expression of the compassionate and skillful means of . reflecting upon the words and the meanings of those words until you have come to a really thorough inner understanding. generation after generation. You have to reflect upon these again and again and again. you might ask at this point if just hearing and contemplating the teachings is the whole picture. It’s as simple as that. In many Buddhist contexts. don’t you think teachers would have done that all along? There wouldn’t have been the need. No. especially when it involves the teachings that are concerned with your personal practice. until you have really come to a thorough understanding. but you won’t really be practicing in the essential way that is intended if you haven’t gone through this stage of contemplation. one-hundred thousand refuge prayers. You might think at this point. To develop the kind of wisdom that is born of meditation. You must be so thoroughly grounded in them that when you are in retreat alone in the mountains. "Oh yeah. Following that training. once you have heard the teachings. I understand that. and so forth." Not quite. The second value of receiving teachings is that the darkness of ignorance in your mind is dispelled through the inner illumination that comes about with the understanding that the teachings bring to you. and of the sufferings and shortcomings of cyclic existence. you will not even think 23 about asking anybody for advice.realize a teaching as you receive it. Following this. development. You must have that kind of certainty. you take the teachings and work with them. and in particular. The way in which meditation proceeds in the context of the Buddhist path. a person will blow a conch shell or ring a gong in order to announce the teaching. "So. the Dzogchen path. turning them over and over in your mind. it is further necessary to develop a kind of wisdom that comes through contemplation. of death and impermanence. The third value is that there is a process of purification: in hearing the teachings and in understanding and reflecting upon them. and all of the mandala offerings if they didn’t serve some purpose. You can go through the motions. you have to actually meditate upon all of the stages of the path. Rather. all of the Vajrasattva mantras. contemplate. you have to go beyond contemplation to meditation. you are actually purifying your mind from the effects of harmful actions and obscurations. There is a saying in Tibet that if even the sound of a gong or a conch shell can plant the seed of liberation. it is not a penalty that is being exacted. Even hearing those incidental sounds sets up a certain atmosphere in one’s mind that plants the seed of liberation and makes one more receptive to the teachings. when your mind has been suitably prepared. If a person is introduced immediately to Dzogchen teachings and practice without having gone through this process of purification. It is not an arbitrary process. a seed is planted. by taking the words and the meaning of those words that you have received from your teacher and reflecting on them again and again. of the cause-and-effect nature of karma. you proceed through the ngondro – the ordinary preliminaries and the specific or special preliminaries that require the repetition of onehundred thousand prostrations. to go through all of the prostrations. Without this kind of wisdom born of contemplation. because you are so completely certain about what you are doing. you will not come to the point where you can really practice effectively. that’s it – I can just study. nevertheless. It’s important to understand that there is a value in this process.

In fact. this is the only process by which one can become receptive to receiving the real teachings. we shouldn’t think of these preliminaries as being some kind of harsh punishment that is being exacted or as some kind of annoying obstacle to receiving the real teachings." 24 . Given that the nature of buddha activity is to bring benefit to beings. So it’s important that we understand in this context that the preliminaries have a value and a function that is not in the least arbitrary.enlightened buddhas guiding sentient beings according to the capacities and needs of those sentient beings.

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