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Continuity Of Aspiration 

An Interview with H. H. Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche (1904-1987) was head of the

Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism. His Holiness Shenphen
Dawa Rinpoche is the son and lineage successor of Dudjom
Rinpoche. he was personally trained by His Holiness in all
aspects of Vajrayana meditation and medicine. His Eminence has
formed Dudjom International Foundation (now called Dudjom
Shenphen Foundation) to carry on the activities of his father. 

This interview was conducted for the Sun by Tensho David
Schneider and Susan Garner in Berkeley, California, on October
12, 1988, for the Vajradhatu Sun. The Shambhala Sun

Sun: Could you tell us a little about your early life and training?

Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche: I was born in Kongbu, that's in Tibet,
now China, in the Iron Tiger Year in the early morning of the
Tibetan New Year. On the morning of my birth a peach tree
appeared near my bedside. Iwas raised there. I was recognized
as Khengken Tulku, the incarnation of Tulku Pema Yeshe. I
belonged also in part to the Taksham Monastery, as I was also
recognized as the incarnation of Taksham Tulku.

S: Rinpoche, how were you recognized?

SDR: I was partly recognized by His Holiness Karmapa, actually.
It's quite intricate. What happened is that Dudjom Rinpoche
didn't want me to go back into the Taksham Monastery. Since he
didn't want that, he asked His Holiness Karmapa to recognize me
as Tulku Pema Yeshe, which I was. I was an emanation of Tulku
Pema Yeshe as well as Taksham Tulku. It's a double emanation
Happening at the same time. His reason was that at Taksham at
that time there was not so much harmony between the lama and
the monks, and all the Taksham lamas were living very... their life
was not long, because of disturbances in the monastery. So on
that ground, my father requested His Holiness Karmapa to
recognize me as Tulku Pema Yeshe.

Taksham was also in the Nyingma lineage. Taksham Tulku was a
famous Nyingma terton master, who discovered many teachings.
The reason His Holiness Karmapa had to recognize me was that
he was an arbitrator. The monks that came to get me from
Taksham monastery had definite indications that I would be born
as a son to Dudjom Rinpoche, and to my mother - they were
given all the locality and everything. According to the Tibetan
government, then, if you belong to a specific monastery, you
have to go to that monastery. Parents do not have the right to
hold the child back. So in my case they wanted me to go to that
monastery. Later, they agreed that if His Holiness Karmapa would
intervene and divine, then whatever he said would be the final
word. So in fact, His Holiness recognized me as Tulku Pema
Yeshe, and he had to recognize another Taksham Tulku, in
another locality. There are tulku emanations of body, speech, and
mind, so another was recognized.

Tulku Pema Yeshe was a Nyingma too. In fact, Tulku Pema Yeshe
was an emanation of my father's father, Jamphel Norbu. Jamphel
Norbu passed away and became Tulku Pema Yeshe. Tulku Pema
Yeshe passed away, and then, there I was. My father would
normally say that he had already seen me change three
incarnations. My mother would say two, because she had me me
when I was Tulku Pema Yeshe. That time when I was in Tibet, I
passed away quite early. In my thirties, after having received the
Rinchen Terzod wang from my father. My father said I made a
definite commitment to him, saying that I would be reborn as his
son, if he would pay that kindness back to me, because I had
been his father in a previous life. My father, agreed, so there was
a definite communication.

When I was Tulku Pema Yeshe, I received a lot of teachings from
Rinpoche. I was receiving the Rinchen Terzod from him and I
passed away during the transmission. This is one of the most
important Nyingma transmissions; it's the collected works of all
the tertons basically, the totality of the lineage teachings. It's a
seven month transmission.

S: Your formal training after went to a monastery?

SDR: I wasn't given to the monastery, because I was the only son
of Dudjom Rinpoche's from my mother. Moreover, Rinpoche
already had a prophecy as to my training, and particularly where I
should be and so on. It's very lucky that I went to India, and was
able to come out here. If I had been given to a monastery, I think
I'd still be stuck in Tibet.

Through this mother of mine, no son was yet born. All she gave
birth to were several daughters. And then I'm the only son. At the
moment I have two sisters, before that I had a few more who have
since passed away in childbirth. My mother holds very clear
vision, basically. Even my father would consult my mother for a
lot of things. Still at that time, most of the lamas were asking my
mother to recognize tulkus and so forth. She has a very clear way
of divining things. So in her dream, a lady came to her and gave
her a nine-pronged dorje wrapped in a blue silk scarf and told
her, "Keep this. This is terma. It will be beneficial to you." As she
looked at it she found one of the heads of the dorje...well, not
damaged, but slightly shaking. It wasn't firmly in place. And my
mother thought with such a beautiful dorje, if one head is
shaking...she was a little worried about it. It just happens to be
that way, but it doesn't affect the purity of the dorje."

At that time Dudjom Rinpoche also told my mother that I would
be conceived. My mother had a dream of my coming into her
house, and she sort of didn't want me in the house. The house
was representing her womb and she didn't want me to come in,
but I sort of forced my way in, saying that Rinpoche had given
me permission to stay in the house, and really I should stay in
the house. She said that when I came into the house there was a
retinue of people saying that I had come from one of the
buddhafields. Immediately she felt that I had come into her womb
and she wrote back to my father - Rinpoche was giving the
Terzod wang on the other side of Tibet and my mother was in
another area. So Rinpoche said yes, that's me, and that's how it
happened. My mother's name is Sangyum Rigzin Wangmo.

S: Did she connect you with the prong of the dorje that was

SDR: No, that prong of the dorje was for my leg, because I was
born with one of my legs weak. That indication of the prong was
referring to my leg.

S: Oh, I didn't understand the meaning...

SDR: (Laughing) Oh, it's just a story, though, it's like a fairy tale.

S: Then you were raised mostly with your mother?

SDR: I was mostly with my father, and mostly I was able to
observe the way my father lived, the way he carried on his
practices, the kinds of people that he met. In India I went to a
Catholic school and a Protestant school. My mother felt it was
important for me to study the English language. She felt it would
be beneficial. I also had tutors that Rinpoche appointed who were
working very closely with him. I had one especially qualified tutor
named Lachung Apo who I studied with for a couple of years. He
had studied in Mendro Ling monastery and almost became the
abbott there, but instead he lost his vows. After that he went
totally into secret tantric practices. He was a very realized

S: He lost his vows?

SDR: Yes. It's a stage of development where he felt that he
wanted to transcend the monastic path and become a yogi. Also
he lived with this lady who was a prostitute, who was in fact a
dakini. She gave up her body and left one day, without leaving
any trace behind. My tutor was involved with her.

S: Did you have any trouble coming out of Tibet?

SDR: No, there wasn't any problem there, because my father
went for medical treatment, so to speak. We left much before the

S: He had a prophecy?

SDR: Yes, he had a prophecy and he also advised many of his
disciples to leave Tibet. Tibet was already prophesied to be
invaded by China. In our monastery especially, there were a lot of
signs of the deities that indicated that it was bad. Several of the
protector statues...from their mouths blood was oozing out, and
their directions changed too. The whole state was shifted to the
East. And then, you know, diving by crystal...all the divinations
pointed out to move. So we moved.

S: Where were your monasteries?

SDR: Mine was in Kongbu, and Rinpoche also had build one
there too.

S: How old were you when you came out of Tibet?

SDR: Seven or eight. But I have a very fresh memory of all that,
somehow. I remember fortunately enough, meeting Rinpoche's
mother before leaving Tibet. At that time I must have been only
two or three years old, but I remember meeting her, staying with
her at a restaurant.

S: Are you practicing these days as a monk or householder or...?

SDR: I'm a lay practitioner. I was married once before, and then
separated. I was married to a Bhutanese before, but in relating to
my world, and the many things that came up, I was separated.
Since then, I've just remained as I am. My wife and child are still
in Bhutan.

(Note: Rinpoche is now remarried to Sonam Chokyi with two
wonderful daughters, Dechen and Tseyang.)

S: Are you Thinly Norbu's younger brother? 

SDR: Yes. I am. My mother was the second consort. My father
married once before and she produced Thinly Norbu and all of
them. That marriage broke up. Then Rinpoche married my
mother, and from that union, there are two sisters and myself. My
sisters live in France.

S: Rinpoche had a prophecy that he had to marry my mother. It
was important for him to extend his life. You see, normally the
Nyingma tertons don't live that long at all, unless they marry the
right consort. My mother happened to be the one that was
predicted. After my father's first marriage, my father didn't get
involved in looking for my mother. What happened was the
protectors got involved. One of Rinpoche's principal protectors
himself went and approached the father. My mother's marriage to
my father is something very unique.

To prolong his life the protector went to find the right dakini. He
went in person and made the connection from my mother's
family to him. He went and asked for her, and then connected my
father to her. He appeared in my father's vision and said, "Stay,
the right lady will now come to see you." My grandfather, my
mother's father, was completely fascinated, because he realized
it was a protector. The visitor was of a very aristocratic family
and approached to give a ritual object from my father's
monastery - which was missing from my father's monaster.
Things like that happened.

He came in a physical form, and told my grandfather that a
certain book, containing certain transmissions that he was
looking for was in Dudjom Rinpoche's monastery, and nobody
else had it. He said he should go and ask for Dudjom Rinpoche to
give him that transmission. He said. "As a present, I give you
this. You should send your daughter to see him for the book." My
grandfather was surprised that somebody had walked right into
his room, and talked to him. He called the guards and servants,
and they said that nobody had come in, that they had been
guarding the place very thoroughly. Earlier he had had a dream
and he connected these things together, and that's how it

S: If I understand you correctly, your father, His Holiness, held
transmissions from all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism?

SDR: That's right.

S: Do you hold transmissions from all four schools?

SDR: No. At the moment I'm not holding transmissions from all
four schools, although I will be receiving those transmissions.
That definetly will be an important part of my evolution. But at
this moment, I'm holding His Holiness's direct terma
transmissions, which is called Tersar lineage or "New Treasure"
lineage. Rinpoche called all the revelations he received from
Dudjom Lingpa, his previous incarnation, and during his life, all
the treasure that was revealed to him at that specific time by
Guru Rinpoche was called the "New Treasure". Rinpoche himself
also being a terton further propagated all the teachings of his

S: When did Dudjom Lingpa live?

SDR: He was born in 1835. Before that Rinpoche had already
emanated as Dorje Thogme, Dudul Rolpa Tsal...he emanated four
times as four different tertons. And the last was Yeshe Dorje. In
this last emanation he was known as Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje. He is
more widely known as Dudjom Rinpoche, but his real name was
Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje.

As a terton, he emanated four times. But from the point of the
emanation itself, I think he is the 14th. He was the first Buddha
who gave empowerment to the thousand Buddhas, and he
promised to manifest as the last Buddha, Mopa Thaye. So from
the point of view of the emanation, it's quite a long lineage.

S: Is ther a special training for tertons? Or are you just

recognized as a terton? How does that work? 

SDR: At this moment I'm not recognized as a terton or anything. I
don't claim to be a terton. It depends on the specific time. If the
time is arising, then these mind transmissions will arise. At that
time one will get the indications from the wisdom dakinis where
the specific terma is. And terma can be in the ground or in the
mind. It depends - there are so many kinds of terma: space
terma, earth terma, water terma, air terma, and mind terma.

S: Are there particular practices to prepare one to receive terma?

SDR: There is nothing to prepare. It's prophecy and fulfillment of
prophecy. It just depends on the right time. At the right moment
the revelations will occurr. The quality, and practice, and training
can also remove a lot of the obstacles and make a clearer path
for these transmissions to arise. One could put one's total effort
into the practice, and one would be a more suitable vessel in that

S: Rinpoche, has your practice and study been particularly
focused in specific areas?

SDR: My trainings have been in the trainings of yoga. My
speciality is in the training of yoga. Therse are the teachings of
the Buddha, and more particularly, these are the teachings of
Guru Rinpoche. These relate to the three essences: essence of
nerves, essence of wind, and essence of the seed - it's called
"thigley". From the yoga point of view, the training is to learn
how to bring purification to the wind, nerve, and essence. The
heart of the teachings of the protectors and dakinis - their
essence is based on the practice of the yoga. This has been my
training. It's a whole field of awareness. We are totally affected by
that: we have so many nerve obscurations resulting from
sicknesses, wind obscurations manifesting as mental
disturbances, thigley obscurations arising as a degeneration of
our cells, bringing negative emotions up. "Tsa" is nerve, "lung" is
wind, and "thigley" is seed. In the gross aspect, it is seed, in the
subtle aspect it is the realization of the mind, which relates to
clarity and luminosity. So when we are talking about rainbow
body, and the perfection of Dzogchen, perfection of Dzogchen
comes with the perfection of tsa-lung, which will greatly enhance
complete understanding of awareness. This is another sphere of

It is important to understand this, because in Tibet there have
been very few tsa-lung pratiotioners. The yoga of tsa-lung-thigley
practice, is actually three different ways the mind receives the
three kayas. Perception of the nerves arises as tsa, the internal
movement of the wind which the mind is resting on is lung, and
thigley is penetrating the core of the depth of realization itself.
It's nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya.

It's a whole training on it's own. That training we have in the
monastic tradition as well as in the lay tradition. In that, we have
two approaches, which are "penetrating through somebody else"
and "penetrating through self". It may be in the other traditions,
but I would think that most profoundly, this is a Nyingma
teaching. It deals with the dakini practice, and the terma of dakini
practice. It means that it's the core of realization.

From the time of your birth you are already bringing
obscurations of your nerves, and the winds, by being in the
wrong circumstances, or environmental situations. There can
also be coincidental negative actions that you have commited in
birth that can affect you as you are growing up too.

There are certain right etiquettes. From the time you are
conceived in the womb it depends how your parents are thinking
about you, there are certain negative memories of their thought
that you cling to, are attached to and then later on don't
understand. The way you relate to your parents can come
directly from being caught by that thought. It's a very delicate
thing here.

Some sense of gross negativity happening can be the influence
of karma. Many things happening simultaneously can also be an
indication that it is arising so you can work with it.

But some things can be accidental and coincidental too. I mean,
if you walk on the road and a car hits you, that doesn't mean that
the karma was for the car to hit you. It's your negligence of not
looking properly...(laughs). To define that as karma is very, very
difficult. Everything that we don't understand, we can't say, "It's
karma". From the time you are in the womb, through growing up,
you could have had obscurations. Say there was a negative
person, and your parents, let's say, let you wear their clothes -
there are an infinite number of obscurations...wearing other
people's clothes can bring obscurations, running under defiled
things can bring obscurations, negative energy of defined things
can bring obscurations. That doesn't mean it's karma, right? You
are running into it.

Karma really means freezing of your past negative actions, and in
that freezing there is no way to escape it. From practice you can
purify it, but from any other point of view there is no escape.
Karma is something very serious concerning life and death. It
won't be something light - things just not working for you, or you
just having a little bit of sickness - that's not karma. Karma is
more heavy.

When karma accumulates, and you have not paid back that
karma debt owed, sometimes it can fall altogether at the same
time. Or it can be spread out. It just depends on your psychic
strength, where you can spread it out evenly so you can take it -
or your weakness in which everything just falls down at once.
Basically it's karmic debts that haven't been paid back. So those
have to be paid back, so you have practices like incense offering,
fire practice, there are many practices that repay karma to beings
with form or without form. Doesn't matter. It's the action itself
that has to be purified. Karma from the tsa-lung-thigley point of
view, we understand that in the meridian channel all your actions
are engrained in the form of movement, subtle movement. In tsa-
lung-thigley we learn how to bring it out, so that it can be heated
and purified by the wisdom heat.

S: As I understand it, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche died last
year in France.

SDR: Yes, that's right.

S: Can you say anything about the period of time before his
death, the parinirvana itself, and the time afterwards - the

SDR: Well, there are many extraordinary things that happened,
but at this moment, since his body has not been taken back to
the original destination which is in Nepal, and he has not been
consecrated in the stupa, much of these activities cannot be
disclosed, because the activity is not fulfilled. Within that, any
misunderstanding or projection that might arise with regard to
the pure state of the displays can cause confusion, and might
also create some imbalance in the way things should work. Not
much has been disclosed at this moment. Suffice it to say that
since he is one of the greatest realized masters, there is no
question that he displayed perfect signs of realization - there is
no question about it at all. It has affected those of us who are
practitioners, those of us that are non-practitioners, even the
physicians who attended His Holiness - all of us have been
greatly moved by this.

One thing is that he remained in meditation for fourteen days. He
went into total meditation. He changed his posture completely;
his passing away posture was different from his meditative
posture. He was in the posture of subdueing all negativity; he
had one hand in his lap, and the other hand was back. When he
passed away he was sitting up with his hands in front, on his
knees. Then he put his hand back into the subjugating posture
and he remained in that posture for fourteen days. We believe
that during that process of meditation was the fulfillment of his
aspiration to remove...basically, war, disease, famine, things that
need to be removed. At that point he was really manifesting the
full force of the kayas. Locked in nirmanakaya, displaying
brilliance in sambhogakaya, and in dharmakaya, his mind
remained unganging. So it has moved us.

And his passing away has not been unpredicted. He already
made very clear from the very beginning. He manifested the
signs of illness, so that we could have less attachment to him.
That is a skillful means for us to let him leave his body in that
way. That is out of total compassion. From the point of view of
passing away, in the innermost sense of it, he had already
passed away two years ago. What remained was the outer form
that gave us a sense of working with our emotions.

S: His body is currently being preserved?

SDR: His body is currently being preserved as it is. That's very
unique and very rare. In Tibet, a terton's body being preserved is
very rare. And that preservation requires many qualities, to keep
it that way.

Normally it's the aspiration. Having passed away, he leaves his
body behind so that future students can connect, just by seeing
himin the stupa. Because as he's put in the stupa, his face will be
visible for all the devotees.

S: His body is being preserved in salt?

SDR: At the moment we take the precaution of putting salt, so
there will be no moisture, so that the body dries. But the
important aspect is that the posture of the body is remaining in
meditation still, and it is as it is. The body is in that posture as a
benefit for future generations.

S: And the body will be placed in the stupa, and there will be a
way that one can look in and see?

SDR: Oh yes, definetly, the face will be visible.

S: It sounds like an extraordinary stupa.

SDR: Well, the stupa is being build according to our tradition.
There are many different ways of building it, but Venerable
Chadral Rinpoche, who is one of the foremost teachers, is the
one who has been making the stupa. He is the master modeler of
the structure. So he's been doing that, and that's ready.

S: So there will be a window.

SDR: Where the vase section of the stupa is - the vase is the
circular, cylindrical shape. Within that there will be a glass, and
within that the devotees can see.

S: Is that unusual?

SDR: The body will not decompose in a situation like that. It will
remain as it is...the face, every expression.

S: As if one were looking at a picture of His Holiness?

SDR: Exactly the same. But it won't be a picture. It will be the real

S: Why has there been such a long time until his body could be
placed in the shrine?

SDR: There is enormous work in building a stupa, and
particularly there, because the whole monastery is being
renovated. New buildings are being put up. In fact, what we've
done is broken down the old walls of the monastery and built up
a new temple there. So that the whole temple which is three
stories high is for him. That's taking time. And the fresco
paintings which are being done by the top artists we have in our
lineage take time. When you visit the monastery, you will see the
enormous amount of work that is needed for that. Until the
monastery is ready, until the stupa is ready, there is no way to
just take his body back. It is better to keep it where it is, because
in France we have all the practitioners there, and it a pure
blessing to have His Holiness there - we still feel his presence.
We feel that he is very much there. That's in Dordogne, in the
south of France. That's where we have our retreat center, and
other centers are also there. It's right next to the Kagyu center
there, they are very close.

S: Your father was head of the entire Nyingma school? 

SDR: That's right.

S: And now His Holiness Khyentse Rinpoche is the head of the

SDR: Officially speaking, the appointment has to come from His
Holiness the Dalai Lama. As we know, in our lineage, there are
many heads of lineages. But I think to this point the Dalai Lama
hasn't yet appointed anybody to take over the head of the
Nyingma lineage. It's very important that Dudjom Rinpoche's
bodily remains are brought back first, and we can complete that
whole cycle.

S: You are your father's dharma heir?

SDR: Yes.

S: Meaning that you hold the Tersar lineage.

SDR: Yes.

S: Did he give transmission of the other lineages that he held to
other people?

SDR: Whoever wanted whatever teachings...he was like a vast
treasure house that way. So that's why he became one of the
foremost lineage holders during this century. There is no lama
that he has not taught, there is no lama that he has not given to.
So in fact, according to certain of the inner prophecies, Rinpoche
was holding the key of the four schools, and being, really, the
aspect of accomplishment.

S: Was His Holiness Khyentse Rinpoche a student of your

SDR: Yes, Khyentse Rinpoche received a lot of teachings from
my father. Yes, he was a student of my father.

A lot depends on the activity, on having a popular way of
reaching out, of being able to penetrate that title. People are very
free these days in calling someone a lama or a rinpoche or
anything for that matter.

S: More from Western students?

SDR: It's coming more from this side (laughing) than from
anywhere else.

Everything will ultimately go back to His Holiness the Dalai Lama,
because he is the spiritual and temporal ruler of Tibet. Our
aspiration and focus is totally towards the Dalai Lama, because
he is the symbol of unity. We have many centuries of skillful
means of his manifestation. There is no doubt for anybody, for
any lama or any being. He is the final authority.

S: May we ask a bit about your plans?

SDR: At this moment, I don't have many plans, frankly. My most
important task is to take my father's remains back to Kathmandu,
so that thousands and thousands of disciples coming from Tibet,
India, and all over, will be able to come and participate in the
offering pujas that he will do. And my main emphasis at this time
is just to fulfill that last cycle of paying homage to His Holiness
Dudjom Rinpoche. When this is brought about, all the disciples
will be happy, and can at least participate in the accumulation of
merit. We can be together to do all these practices and so forth.
That's my main focus. Dudjom International Foundation (now
transformed into Dudjom Shenphen Foundation) is a foundation I
just recently started connected to my father's work. My main
work is to translate his bodhisattva activity into a very physical
aspect. Not that he hasn't done that - he has started schools, he
has started dharma centers. But this is a continuation of that in
the field of charity.

I hope that over a longer period this will become a very important
foundation, bring Rinpoche's aspiration in the field of charity,
and making it more tangible - in the sense that it can reach out to
every kind of person, not just the dharma practitioners.
Offshoots of dharma: translating into education, training in the
Vajrayana path, the field of medicine and psychotherapy. In my
father's terma there are a lot of teachings dealing with that.

I have many other priorities that are set in my mind that I need to
go more deeply into. I want to go more deeply into my own
religion. I want to bring the work of the lineage to a more open
public so that they can realize the beauty of the depth of the

I'm in a position where I have to consolidate the centers, rather
than put more centers out. I think, fortunately, that there is no
gap at this moment in the way the centers are. There is no
political gap, or whatever you want to call it. It just came directly
from His Holiness that I'm to hold the lineage, and everyone has
accepted it, and we're all working together, so I think we have a
very harmonious situation now. I'm not thinking of really
expanding at this moment, at all. I'd rather consolidate those old
students who have made some connection to His Holiness, and
some new students who want to come in. But I want to keep that
to a minimum. I want to place emphasis more on my own internal
training that I have to go through.

S: More retreats?

SDR: Yes, I'm looking forward to that. More retreats, and more
consolidating all the older students of His Holiness, getting them
together, setting up schools, setting up education that can train
people in the Vajrayana path. Many things we can't know now will
arise. But as far as setting up the priorities, it's just to finish the
whole thing in Kathmandu, so that's stabilized completely.

S: Will you be doing your retreats in France, or Kathmandu, or

SDR: It really depends. If I can put lamas who are responsible in
the various centers, and lamas who can communicate the
teachings, or lamas who can take the administration, and really
bring it about, that will give me time to practice. Definitely I will
practice in the holy areas, if possible, where the great sages have
practiced before, bringing that energy bringing that blessing of
the special quality. But if not, then I won't be stagnated by having
to think that's the only way I could...I could be anywhere. I could
even be out here.

S: In the barbarian lands of California?

SDR: Anywhere. Most important is, do I have the right
instructions, do I have the right guidance? That's important. If I
have that, place wouldn't matter.

S: Rinpoche, do you have a date in mind for bringing your
father's remains to Nepal?

SDR: Yes, more or less. It's not an exact, specific date, I would
think it will be in the middle of Janurary (1989). That would be the
right thing to do. The date hasn't been fixed yet, but according to
the French government, we have to pick an exact date, because
when we take His Holiness's body, each territory we cross, we
have to get permission.

S: You're taking his remains over land?

SDR: Well, from Dordogne to Paris, each division you cross, the
mayor must okay it. From Paris we'll definetly fly. When I go
back, then an exact date will be finalized. We have to have at
least two months for the government to do all their paperwork.

S: In reading the flyer of which teachings you are giving during
your visit here, it seemed that you were giving what looked like
rather advanced Vajrayana teachings. We've been exposed to two
different styles with regard to that. Our teacher Trungpa
Rinpoche was very strict that way: one had to do this practice
first, then the next, and os on. On the other hand, Kalu Rinpoche
had a feeling to do more public events. What is your feeling
about giving Vajrayana teachings to Westerners. Which style
would you say you are more inclined toward?

SDR: (Laughs.) Actually, it depends on the mind of the teacher
really. What is the skillful means? It doesn't mean one way is
right and one way is wrong. According to the different mental
make-ups, the approaches are different. Normally in the
Vajrayana training, you have to go thoroughly. It's a very
systematized approach. There is no way one can be very lenient
about it. You have to go though the right process of trainig.
Though one can be more formative in making a structure, while
some lamas don't want so much structure as going into the
opening of the teachings first, and then later, bring them into a
structured form. You can start from a structured form, or you can
open up, and then, after giving a taste of the teachings, then

Both approaches, what can you say? There is no fault in either
approach. Now obviously, if you are going to get too stuck in the
formative stage of the trainingt, then sometimes, practitioners
can be disillusioned with a very structured way, and not see the
absolute inner opening of the Vajrayana, which is very important.
It's important to have at least a glimpse and a taste of these
teachings. The approach can be from East or West, doesn't

The important thing is that the students are maintaining the
samaya, that the students are understanding, and removing their
basic poisons. It's not so much a technicality of what is, but the
profoundness of wisdom and compassion of Vajrayana teaching.

As far as I've seen, I've seen many teachers teach very different
ways. There is not one set way of going about it. Some teachers
go straightaway into Dzogchen, and then later go into lower yana
perspective and training. Some teachers start from the lower
yana progressive training and go up. It just depends on what the
teacher envisions to be the best.

Certainly at this moment it seems that dharma is becoming a
sellable item. The danger may be there, when the false teachers
arise. One can be very vulnerable and opened up, and exposed,
and all of a sudden somebody comes and taps that energy, and
misuses it. That's where I see the danger. As long as the teachers
are genuine, I don't see anything wrong with the approach.
Where you have to be careful is with all the self-made teachers
that are arising now.

S: Have you encountered much of that?

SDR: Well, coming out to the West, I've seen many. I encountered
ordinary people who are now having titles of "rinpoche", or
l"lama". Certainly"lama" is a selling item, at this time.

S: Do you mean other Tibetans have been taking these titles?

SDR: Yes. It's like an ordinary practitioner who comes here
seeking to make fortune. They have some close students who
refer to them as "rinpoche". From the organization of the spiritual
body, it's very facile. There is nobody to say "That's not it." There
is no kind of order coming, which recognizes or doesn't
recognize. There is no board. But that's a problem in any religion,
so it's not specifically us.

S: Are there Nyingma ngondro practices; is the Nyingma
approach to Vajrayana the same as the Kagyu?

SDR: Exactly the same. Exactly. There is no difference. Between
the Kagyu, Nyingma, basically all the teachings of Buddha in the
Vajrayana approach, all would be the same. You go through the
same stages of ngondro: starting by refuge, bodhicitta,
accumulation of merit, purification, Dorje Sempa, coming to the
Guru Yoga practice. Those trainings are the same. In some
practices, the wrathful practices, there are some wrathful
ngondros. Then there may be slight variations, but generally the
approach will be the same.

Usually though, the visualizations will be the same; Dorje Chang,
or Guru Rinpoche in the center with the refuge tree, left
bodhisattvas, right Buddhas, in front dharma protectors, in the
back, sound of the holy syllables. It will be exactly the same. In
some cases, certain protectors and their aspects have been more
emphasized. When we do the general practice, appropriating all
the protectors, it will be exactly the same. All the protectors are
there, but some are connected to a particular terma to be
protected, and then they will be more involved.

S: Well, Your Eminence, I've run out of questions. If there is
anything you would like to say to Western students of
Buddhism...especially the readers of the Vajradhatu Sun.

SDR: Well, my message is just, foremost, to take the Vajrayana
path as a gem. Definetly work towards harmonizing inner and
outer - balancing their nature. Try to reach a part of the practice
where they have united. The essence of all teachings comes to
understanding emptiness, clarity, and compassion. I would
simply say to practice sincerely and not just be caught by the
outer appearance of dharma. Really penetrate the inner essence.

With regard to Trungpa Rinpoche, I met him in Boulder. I met him
in New York before that. I think you have had a very qualified and
a very skillful teacher. By practicing in harmony, staying together,
one can create the situation for him to come back, meet with you
again and continue the teachings. Once you have aspiration, and
dedicate yourself to the practice, I think that will unfold.

In Europe, we have people doing practically the same practices.
Betweek Kagyu and Nyingma, it's practically the same. Unlike in
the past, when some distance was kept, I think it's time to bridge
that distance, and have more open mind, more honestly look into
what are the possibilities of every school. I feel that now we can
not work in a limited way at all. We are in a stage now where we
have to respect every form of practice in the teaching of Buddha.
I think you are setting an example here in the West which will be
very crucial in the East too. My hope is that the West, and the
kind of community that is happening will speak loudly to the
East. Really that sense of unity in the East is rare - anyway that's
my hope.

All the heads of lineage of the Kagyu lineages are all qualified
teachers. There is no question, no doubt of their ability at all -
transmission point of view - I think the Kagyu lineage is very
fortunate to have it. If you follow together, and don't try to make a
distinction between this and that, and try to cause confusion
within that, then I think you have a very stable dharma growing.
What Trungpa Rinpoche has planted is like the seeds, and what
will come out of it will be shoots, and what the fruit will be will be
your realization, bring more clarity, bring not only our minds into
balance, but our exterior environment into balance, respecting
every form of life. That respect, and that compassion I think is
the key to Buddha's teaching.