Sun, 27 May 2012
Tonight's translation is by Geshe Tonpa, which I assume is short for Dromtonpa. Dromtonpa was Atisha's main disciple and thus an important figure in the Kadampa tradition. Geshe Tonpa distinguishes between what is and is not genuine spirtual practice.
dge ba shes ston pa'i zhal nas/ nyon mongs pa'i gnyen po 'gro na chos yin/ mi 'gro na chos min/ 'jig rten dang mi mthun na chos yin/ mthun na chos min/ bka' lung dang mthun na chos yin/ mi mthun na chos min/rjes bzad na chos yin/rjes ngan na chos min gsungs/
Geshe Tonpa said:
If it is a remedy for the afflictive emotions of beings, then it is Dharma. If not, it is not Dharma. If it does not accord the world, it is Dharma. If it accords, it is not Dharma. If it accords with the precepts, it is dharma. If it does not accord, it is not dharma. If it leads to the exhaustion of karma, it is dharma. If it leads to mischief, it is not dharma.
Sat, 26 May 2012
Lama Phurbu Tashi has written a brief explanation of the four preliminary practices, which loom like the Himalayas before many aspiring Tibetan Buddhists. For those who are unfamiliar, the four reliminaries are four sets of a hundred thousand repetitions of four different practices. The aim of the preliminary practices is to clear away obstacles and develop merit so one can practice mahamudra effectively. Lama has been teaching a class on Mahamudra in Annapolis and an explanation of the preliminary practices has been an important part of it. So here is what he wrote, with a few editorial changes of my own.
All the great masters have advised that the preliminary practices are more profound and important than the main practice, because success in our main practice depends upon the preliminary practices. The preliminary practices are twofold, the outer preliminaries, or the four thoughts, and the inner preliminaries, which are the four hundred thousand accumulations. The four thoughts (the precious human body, impermanence, karmic cause and effect, and the unsatisfactoriness of samsara) are a form of contemplative meditation helping us to see the relevance and the urgency of spiritual practice.
The inner preliminary practices start by reciting refuge prayers while doing one hundred thousand prostrations. Refuge is the entry to the path to enlightenment. It is the fertile ground of goodness from which all spiritual qualities grow. Prostrations are an expression of our devotion to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha to purify the transgressions and bad karma of our body, speech, and mind.
The second inner preliminary practice is one hundred thousand recitations of the hundred syllable mantra of Vajrasatva Buddha, which purifies our obscurations and bad karma. Our innate primordial nature is enlightenment, but it is obscured by defilements and conflicting emotions, generally known as the two veils. The first veil stems from our habitual distorted ways of thinking and is primarily responsible for the development of our erroneous views and perspectives on things. So it is referred to as the veil of cognitive distortion. The other veil bears on the emotional aspects of our being and is labeled the veil of conflicting emotion. When we have completely purified them we become what we are, our enlightenmened nature.
The third practice is one hundred thousand repetitions of the mandala offering, in order to accumulate merit. In the Dharma merit refers to the cause of happiness. All happiness is the result of merit. The more we accumulate merit, the more we can provide happiness to both oneself and others in many lifetimes until we attain enlightenment. So the accumulation of merit is a practice of compassion as well.
The last of the four inner preliminaries is guru yoga. This practice is focused on generating devotion and involves one hundred thousand recitations of the guru yoga prayer. According to this spiritual path, devotion is the most profound method to attain insight wisdom. In order to attain enlightenment we have to complete two accumulations, the accumulation merit and wisdom. Guru yoga is a profound means to reveal our innate wisdom. As is traditionally said, “the profound path of guru yoga.” No one says the profound path of emptiness, or tranquility, insight, and so on. An example is in Naropa’s life story. Naropa was a top scholar and an advanced practitioner of his time. But he was still lacking one thing, genuine realization, which he could only get from the blessing of a qualified guru. Eventually he obtained it from Tilopa’s blessing and the blessing was only received when his devotion was sufficiently strong.
Mon, 21 May 2012
Tonight's quote is by Dampa Sangye, who transmitted the Zhije lineage from India was the teacher of Machig Lapdron.
rgya gar dam pa sangs rgyas kyi zhal nas/
bla ma'i gdams ngag tshol ba la khra tsha mas gzan tshol ba lta bu zhig dgos/ chos nyan pa'i dus ri dwags sgra la nyan pa lta bu zhig dgos/ sgom pa'i dus lkugs pas ro myong ba ltabu zhig dgos/ bsam pa'i dus byang pas lug 'dren pa lta bu zhig dgos/ 'bras bu'i dus nyi zla sprin las grol ba lta bu zhig dgos gsungs/
The Indian Dampa Sangye said:
When you receive the guru's instructions you must examine them with reasoning like a monk looking for his shawl. When you receive spiritual teachings you must listen to them like a like a deer listening for noise. When you meditate you must meditate like a mute man tasting his food. When you are thinking you must watch like a shepherd watches over his flock. When you achieve the goal you must release all activity like the clouds clearing away from the sun and moon.
Thu, 17 May 2012
Tonight's quote is by Putowa, one of the early Kadampa masters.
pu to ba 'i zhal nas/
khyod kyis 'chi ba mi rtag pa mang du soms dang/ der 'chi nges pa'i blo gcig byung na/ sdig pa spong ba la dka' rgyu med/ dge ba sgrub pa la dka' rgyu med pa zhig 'ong gi/ de'i steng du khyed kyi byams pa dang snying rje mang du sgom dang/ de rgyud la skyes na/sems can gyi don byed pa la dka' rgyu med 'ong gi/ de'i steng du khyed kyis chos rnams kyi gnas lugs stong pa nyid mang du sgom dang/de rgyud la skyes na/ 'khrul ba sbyong ba las dka' rgyu med pa zhig 'ong gi zhes gsungs/
You should meditate on death and impermanence a great deal. If you single mindedly contemplate the certainty of death, you will abandon wrong doing and virtue will arise without difficulty. Also, you should meditate on love and compassion a great deal. Then the wish to benefit beings will arise without difficulty. Also, you should meditate that all phenomena are empty by nature a great deal. Then all delusions will be removed without difficulty.
Sun, 13 May 2012
Tonight's translation is a quote from Gampopa, the founder of the Kagyu lineage. I'm pretty sure the quote is from the Precious Rosary, but I don't have a copy to check it. Those who do can check my translation against a more accurate one.
mnyam med dwags po rin po che'i zhal nas/
dang po skyed 'chi'i 'jigs pas ded pa sha ba btsan dong nas 'bros pa lta bu zhig dgos/ bar du shi yang mi 'gyod pa zhing pas so nas rem pa lta bu zhig dgos/ tha ma blo bde ba bya ba rlabs chen zin pa'i skyes bu lta bu zhig dgos/ dang po long med du shes pa skyes bu'i gnad la mda' phog pa lta bu zhig dgos/ bar du yongs med du bsgom pa bu gcig pu shi ma lta bu zhig dgos/ tha mar byar med du shes pa phyags ma dgras ded pa'i rdzi bo lta bu zhig dgos gsungs/
The peerless Dagpo Rinpoche said:
At the beginning it is necessary to engender fear of death, like a deer fleeing from the King of Hunters. In the middle it is necessary to practice without second thoughts, like a farmer cultivating his crops. Finally, it is necessary to relax in the midst of activities, like a person who has finished a great undertaking.
At the beginning, it is necessary to ceaselessly study the essential points, like a person struck by an arrow. In the middle, it is necessary to meditate on the non-existence of everything, like a mother on the death of her only child. Finally, it is necessary to know that there is nothing to be done, like a shepherd whose flock has been stolen by a thief.
Fri, 11 May 2012
So here is a quote by Milarepa explaining mahamudra, the path that transcends the intellect.
rnal 'byor gyi dbang phyug rje mi las/
lar bu khyed stong nyid bsgom par shor sa bzhi la ma shor ba byed dgos pa dang/ sems kyi gzhi rtsa ma chod na bde gsal mi rtog pa'i nyams ji tsam bzod yang khams gsum las mi 'da' bas rta ba ma chod pa'i nyams zhes bya ba yin/ 'o na lam yang dag pa nge gang yin ce na/mtshan ldan gyi bla mas slob ma snong ldan la khrid de gnyug ma'i shes pa sems na thams ched la gnas/ sangs rgyas la chos sku'i dgongs pa rang gsal/ rnal 'byor pa la thabs du mas mtshon te ngo sprad nas bsgom pas lta ba shugs la rtogs/ nyon mongs ngang gis 'gag/ rnam rtog rang sar grol/ ye shes mngon du gyur/ gnas lugs nyams su myong ba de ngag tu smrar mi btub/brjed pas mtshon mi nus/ gzhon nu ma'i bde ba ltar smra ru med/gzhi de kun la yod kyang ngo ma shes/ de nas brgyud ldan gyi bla ma bsten pa gal che bar gda'/ gnyug ma tha mal gyi shes pa de dpe gang gis kyang mi mtshon/brjod pa gang gis kyang mi rtogs/ tha snyad gang gis kyang mi rig/ des na bcas bcos mi bya/rang ga so ma'i ngang la lhod de zhog mdzod gsungs/
From the Lord of Yogins, Jetsun Mila:
You need to meditate on emptiness without becoming lost in the four extreme views. But if the mind ground is not cut through, you will not experience bliss, clarity, and non-thought however much you persevere and your so-called experience [in meditation] will not cut the root of the three worlds.
So, what is the right path? The student should take shelter with a teacher with the authentic signs of realization. and always remain in the natural state. Through the power of meditating on the pointing out instructions the yogi will realize mind's clarity as the dharmakaya of the Buddha. The afflictions will cease spontaneously. Thoughts will be self-liberated and your original wisdom will manifest. You will experience the nature of all things, which cannot be expressed in words. You can neither forget it or explain it. It cannot be spoken of, like the ecstasy of a young woman. The basis of all things cannot be said to exist or not. Therefore, the most important thing is to follow a teacher with authentic lineage.
The genuine, natural mind cannot be indicated by analogy. It cannot be understood through verbal designations. Therefore, let go and relax with fresh, uncontrived naturalness.
Wed, 09 May 2012
Here's another quote, this time from Atisha, the most illustrious master of the Sarma (new) school of Tibetan Buddhism.
jo bo'i zhal nas /
mkhas pa'i mchog bdag med kyi don rtogs pa yin/ btsun pa'i mchog sems rgyud dul ba yin/ yon tan gyi mchog phan sems che ba yin/ gdams ngag gi mchog rtag tu rang sems la lta ba yin/ gnyen po'i mchog gang yang rang bzhin med par shes pa yin/ spyod pa'i mchog 'jig rten dang mi mthun pa yin/ dngos grub kyi mchog nyon mongs pa je chung la song ba yin/ sbyin pa'i mchog ma chags pa yin/tshul khrims kyi mchog sems zhi ba yin/ bzod pa'i mchog dman sa bzung ba yin/ brtson 'grus kyi mchog bya ba thong ba yin/ bsam gtan gyi mchog blo ma bcos pa yin/shes rab kyi mchog gang la yang der 'dzin med pa yin gsungs/
Lord Atisha said:
The best intellectual understanding is to comprehend the meaning of selflessness. The most eminent behavior is the decorous behavior of a monastic. The best enlightened quality is the great wish to benefit others. The best spiritual instruction is to continually hold the view before one's mind. The best remedy is to understand the absence of inherent existence of everything. The best conduct is not to agree with the world. The best accomplishment is to reduce the afflictive emotions. The best generosity is non-attachment. The best moral ethics is a tranquil mind. The best patience is a humble mind. The best exertion is to let go of activity. The best meditation is an unaltered mind. The best wisdom is to not fixate on anything whatsoever.