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Reminders of Kindness, Compassion, and Your Own True Nature by Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche

Translated by Ina Bieler



December 14, 2012


You must train the mind like a muscle. If you want to train your body you must practice exercise regularly. Likewise, if you want to train your mind you must practice meditation on a day to day basis. You will not be able to carry a heavy load with weak muscles. Training is a gradual process. You must persistently and constantly train your mind on a day to day basis if you wish to overcome difficulties and become stronger. Every time you recognise a thought your mindfulness has become that much stronger. Slowly you will gain in inner strength. In the beginning it is not easy to overcome very powerful emotions. If the emotions are too overwhelming and you are unable to overcome them with mindfulness, you must apply a different method. You should then think of a deity, like Tara, immediately without allowing yourself to indulge in the bad feeling. In the beginning you do recongise the emotions but they still won't go away. That is because your mindfulness is not strong enough. Therefore you must train the mind in all circumstances, not only when you encounter problems. You should train the mind first by recognising the less intense thoughts. And if you train consistently with diligence, then eventually you will be able to overcome even more powerful thoughts. And later, no thought or emotion can trouble you anymore. Everything becomes the same. Then even though the body is in samsara, the mind is liberated. You have to make an effort to liberate your mind rather than your body. "Consciousness the guest, will cast aside the guesthouse of the body." (37 Bodhisattva Practices) When your mental grasping diminishes you will see how everything is so fleeting and doesn't truly exist. This life is like a dream. Nothing ever stays, suffering and happiness come and go. You must be able to let go of your fixation to the things that cannot last. Thoughts of desire and attachment are the delusion of a confused mind. Best is if you need nothing.



October 29, 2012


Dear Everyone,


H.E. Garchen Rinpoche sent a message this morning requesting the worldwide sangha to please recite White Tara mantras for those in the path of Hurricane Sandy.


If you are a center director, please send this message to your list, so that it receives as wide distribution as possible.


May all be protected by Great Mother Tara.






Lord Atisha's Homage and Supplication to Tara



Homage to she who protects from the eight perils!

Homage to she who blazes with auspicious splendor!

Homage to she who blocks the door to evil destinies!

Homage to she who guides on the path to the higher realms!

You have continually accompanied me.

Pray protect me evermore with compassion!


October 22, 2012


Q&A with HE Garchen Rinpoche during 2012 Amidewa Retreat in Singapore



Q: When we are chanting the mantra, do we keep up the entire visualisation all the time?


GR: You do not have to keep visualising all the time during mantra recitation. In the beginning when we recite the visualisation for the mantra recitation, you should generate the visualisation as explained in the text. Then you begin reciting the mantra with this visualisation. When your mind then becomes clear and calm you do not have to visualise anything. You can just sustain this state of clarity and tranquillity as you recite the mantra. If distracting thoughts or emotions again arise you should come back to the visualisation to help you mind return to focus. When there are no thoughts you can just rest in the empty natural state of mind, abide free from fixation, not separating self and others.



Q: When we do the practice at home, do we have to do all the offerings as the sadhana suggests?


GR: There is no need to assemble all the prescribed offering substances. You should assemble whatever you can such as flowers, water bowls, a statue or picture, and so forth, and the rest you can visualise. It is important to understand the meaning behind making these offerings. The point is to overcome ego-clinging. When we practice making offerings, we are practicing to give away what is precious to us, thus we release attachment. Ordinarily we are attached to the sense pleasures, for this reason we offer them. The deity actually has no need or desire for these sense pleasures, but offering them releases our own attachment and we accumulate great merit. As a result of having made offerings we will experience the result that is similar to the cause in future lifetimes, for example a beautiful complexion, or a long life span, and finally it serves as the cause for attaining awakening.





October 17, 2012


Q&A Series with HE Garchen Rinpoche during 2012 Amidewa Retreat in Singapore



Q: When I am sincerely thinking of benefiting others and there is no self grasping in the mind, is that mind the Buddha?


GR: It is the mind of a Bodhisattva, only caring about others is bodhichitta. This mind is the essence of all deities. If you practice any deity with this mind, you will be very close to the deity and receive blessings. What we call blessings is actually nothing but love. The mind that is free of selfishness and only cares about others is a bodhisattvas mind, such limitless love is relative bodhichitta. A Buddha has not only perfected relative bodhichitta but also ultimate bodhichitta, i.e. a Buddha mind has fully realized that all duality is delusion and that in fact there are no self and others. There are different levels of bodhisattvas, there are ten stages or bhumis a bodhisattva progresses through on the path. The enlightened mind is beyond all paths, there is no more training, it is complete awakening."




October 7, 2012


Q&A with HE Garchen Rinpoche during 2012 Amidewa Retreat in Singapore



Q: Rinpoche said that whoever realizes the nature of mind is Buddha. Can Rinpoche please explain this further?


GR: Sentient beings believe in a subject-object duality, they think that they themselves are separate from the others out there. When you directly experience the natural state, all these ideas and fixations fall apart. When the thinking of self and others falls apart, when one doesn't cling to the habitual discursive thoughts, one realizes that the nature of mind is actually like space. There is no separation or duality in space. Separation is only a mental construct. When these mental fabrications collapse one will know the endless space-like nature of mind. There is a sense of ease and peace. Knowing that sentient beings have not realized this reality, one maintains unconditioned compassion. Abiding in the natural state of mind is a most peaceful and joyous state. But sentient beings have not seen their own true nature, with confused minds the endlessly suffer in illusory samsara. This is a great pity, thus the compassion of those who know reality naturally prevails.



August 17, 2012


Excerpted from H.E. Garchen Rinpoche's teachings during the 100 Million Amidewa Mantra Accumulation Retreat at the Garchen Center in Singapore, Dri Thubten Dargye Ling:



Why are we reciting the Buddha Amitabha's mantra? What is the purpose of mantra recitation? There is a great merit from reciting the Amidewa mantra with faith and devotion but it is of even greater benefit to truly understand its purpose. Since beginningless time in samsara, we have habituated to a belief in a concrete reality, we cling to the inherently true existence of all appearances. This fixation has formed a deep imprint in our mind which compel us to follow our habitual patterns of destructive thoughts such as anger, jealousy, and so forth. These emotions are the cause of great suffering for our body and mind. Even though we cannot see these afflictions, their energy is extremely powerful and the feeling may overwhelm us so much that we cannot bear it. These powerful emotions are our habitual imprints, and when they arise, we cannot let them go. When we practice the deity we purify these imprints. By visualizing the deity, such as Amitabha, our habitual imprints with regard to our body are purified. By reciting the mantra our habitual imprints with regard to our speech are purified. At least for the time when we actually practice, our mind will feel peaceful and happy. The ice-block of self-grasping will melt a bit. In the Amitabha sadhana it says: "The Dharma wheel of unceasing compassion will always turn." Even though sentient beings are obscured by self-grasping, they possess buddha-nature which is an unceasing continuum. This nature is wisdom awareness and since it is unceasing there is no one who does not possess at least some compassion. Even if beings have not developed vast bodhichitta, they all possess love at least to some degree. Thus, whoever has a mind naturally possesses an unbroken continuum of wisdom and compassion. Since mind itself cannot perish, it is impossible for this continuum of wisdom and compassion to degenerate. If you understand that all sentient beings have the potential to attain enlightenment, you have understood the essence of Vajrayana.




August 13, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:



Verse 11:


"All suffering without exception comes from wishing for one's own happiness. The perfect buddhas arise from the altruistic mind. Therefore, completely exchanging one's own happiness for the suffering of others is the bodhisattvas' practice."


All the buddhas of the past, present, and future arise from bodhichitta. In the beginning, the Buddha Shakyamuni was an ordinary being like us. Having given rise to bodhichitta, the Buddha then accumulated merit throughout three endless eons, and finally attained complete enlightenment. What we call merit is nothing else than love and compassion for sentient beings. If we practice virtue with compassion for all beings, it is called merit. If we practice virtue without compassion it is not called merit. If we truly love others, we will easily exchange our own happiness for their suffering. Some people are naturally very compassionate, this is due to the merit they have accumulated in the past. We are compassionate because we love others. If we would not love them, we would not care about them. But if you love others and see that they experience endless suffering, an unbearable feeling will overcome you. You cannot bear to see them suffer, you want to do anything to free them from suffering. This is compassion. The root of all the endless suffering is self-clinging. The only thing that destroys self-clinging is love. Thus what those beings need is love and compassion. If love permeates their mind, their negative karma and suffering will melt away. For example, if all the people in a war-zone would give rise to love all of a sudden, their suffering would end. Their hatred and jealousy will disappear right there. Thus their negative karma would become purified. Bodhichitta is the most powerful way to purify negative karma and dispel suffering. When negative karma and obscurations become purified, they melt away like snow melting in the sun. If the snow mountain is very large you will not notice that some snow has melted, nevertheless, change happens moment by moment. If you really understand the pain that is created by self-clinging, if you really trust that striving for your own happiness is the cause of suffering and has never brought you happiness since beginningless time in samsara, you will be able to generate the inner strength to transform your mind. If you really understand the extent of the wealth of merit gained from bodhichitta, it will be easy and joyful to benefit others. For example, we believe that we are tired because we work too much. In reality we are resentful because our payment is not good enough. Imagine someone were to tell you: "I will offer you 10 million dollars if you work for me today." Would you be too tired to do it? Most likely you would be at your best behavior that day. The merit gained from giving rise to bodhichitta is a far greater wealth than 10 million dollars. Understanding the benefits of bodhichitta, bodhisattvas are tireless. When you see how your love touches others, it will become your happiness to give your happiness to others.




August 6, 2012


37 Bodhisattva Practices Series



Verse 10:


"When mothers who have been kind to one since beginningless time are suffering, what's the use of one's own happiness? Therefore, generating the mind of enlightenment in order to liberate limitless sentient beings is the bodhisattvas' practice."


Since time without beginning we have taken birth in cyclic existence, over and over again. In all these incalculable past lives we have had parents. If we were to pile up the bones of all our past bodies, it would be greater than Mount Meru. If we were to gather all the tears we cried, it would fill up a limitless ocean. Since we incarnated infinitely, there is not a single being who has not been our parent in a past life. At that time, they cared for us with great love and sacrificed their lives for our sake. Just like our present parents, they have committed many negative deeds in order to protect us. As a result of these negative deeds they now suffer in samsara endlessly. How could we turn our backs at them and leave them alone? Because they are our mothers, and thus very dear to our heart, we want them to be happy. The wish for the happiness of others is love. If you love someone you cannot bear to see them suffer. This is compassion. We wish for all others to be free from suffering. The root of suffering is the self-clinging mind. Although sentient beings are limitless, self-clinging is the single root of all suffering. If you give rise to love and compassion for all sentient beings, your mind will become vast and all-pervasive. When love pervades all beings, self-grasping diminishes. In this way you accomplish the dual purpose of others and yourself. Ultimately, there is a single ground within which all beings are one. Because we are connected to all beings on the ultimate level, we can pervade them with love. They can actually receive our love. For instance, a dog or a cat will naturally come close to a person with great love, and they will run away if one is very angry. This is a sign that of the single ground. In addition, when you think of others, you do not think about a self. If you are self-centered, your mind becomes narrow, like a block of ice. But when you let go and send out love to others, you will notice how your mind expands. The mind become open and spacious, like a vast ocean or the sky. Bodhichitta is the preliminary practice, bodhichitta is the main practice, and bodhichitta is also the result. Therefore be courageous and do not abandon even a single sentient being for as long as samsara exists.




July 30, 2012


37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 9:


"The pleasure of the three realms is as fleeting as a dewdrop on the tip of a blade of grass, vanishing in a single moment. Striving for the supreme state of never-changing liberation is the bodhisattvas’ practice."


The three existences are the human's on the earth, the gods above, and the nagas below. All beings in these realms are attached to the pleasures of sensory enjoyments. We are not liberated because we are attached to samsara, because we think that we can actually find true happiness by finding gratification for our senses. We can understand rather easily that hatred is the cause of suffering, and we are ready to give up this negative emotion. It is much more difficult for us to realize that the actual cause of still wandering in samsara is our mistaken belief that we will, in the end, find some happiness here. It is thus more difficult to recognize our desire for samsaric bliss. We are not free from suffering, because we can't let go of it. But no matter how hard we try, even if we get what we were striving for, it will not last. When we die we are forced to let it all go. What will stay, however, are the negative imprints, the karmas that we created in order to obtain worldly pleasures. Everything is impermanent, changing moment by moment; nothing lasts, like a dewdrop on the tip of a blade of grass. To cling to the permanence of things is extremely ignorant. Patrul Rinpoche said, "The attachment to sights is like a moth attracted to a fire flame. The attachment to sound is like a deer enchanted by the hunter's flute. The attachment to taste is like a fish taking a baited hook. The attachment to touch is like an elephant mired in a swamp. The attachment to smell is like a bee flying into a carnivorous flower." For example, the elephant finds it very blissful to be in the cool mud, but he is so heavy that he easily becomes mired in the swamp and will die there if he can’t get out. Likewise, we think that samsara is pleasurable. In the beginning we enjoy ourselves, in the middle we experience misery, and in the end we will find no liberation, like an elephant sinking in a swamp. In the beginning, we are convinced that obtaining our object of desire will bring us satisfaction. When we get it, it becomes the cause of suffering. If the good qualities and the faults of an action are equal, or if the faults are predominant, you should not engage in the action. This is how you should consider before partaking of something pleasurable. For example, if you consider carefully, you will not drink alcohol excessively. There is nothing wrong with drinking only a little bit of alcohol, it can be medicinal. But if you drink excessively and get drunk, then eventually you will drink yourself to death. If you are honest, the pleasures of this life, many times are the cause of much suffering.



June 20, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 6


"When sublime spiritual friends are relied upon, one's faults are exhausted and one's qualities increase like the waxing moon. Holding sublime spiritual friends even more dear than one's own body is the Bodhisattvas' practice."


Why is the spiritual teacher more important than one's own body? The body is impermanent and we will cast it aside, like a guest leaving a guest-house. But if we understand just one word of our guru, and practice accordingly, we will experience happiness in all future lives. When the teacher only introduces us to karma, cause and effect, it is like receiving two wide-open eyes, the knowledge that knows what to do and what to give up. Simply by being introduced to karma, we are shown to path to create happiness in all future lives. Therefore, even if someone were to offer us millions of dollars, it could not compare to the value of receiving a single line of teachings from our guru. In fact, money may easily be used to create even more suffering. The cause of all suffering is the self-centered mind, and all the negative emotions. When you recognize this, your faults will be exhausted.

When you recognize that the only cause of happiness is a pure and loving mind, your qualities will increase like the waxing moon. The path to such recognition is given to us by our spiritual teacher. For this reason he is more precious than one's own body.

What does it mean to hold the spiritual teacher dear? Holding his body dear only leads to trouble; what we must hold dear are his words or instructions. Holding his words dear means to listen properly and then apply them to one's own mind, put them into practice. First we must understand the teachings, and then we must personally experience what we have learned. We experience the teachings by reflecting and meditating on them until a feeling of certainty arises. For instance, the teacher explains to us the preciousness of love. An intellectual understanding is already a great merit. However, an intellectual understanding will not dispel the root of our suffering, our negative emotions. It certainly helps, but in order to truly pass beyond suffering, we must practice, gain a living experience. When we gain a personal experience, we will directly see how love is so precious. Knowing this, based on experiencing it directly, one will not let go of it at any cost.

Not letting go of love, we will habituate to it to the point when it becomes effortless and always remains naturally. Then we have created perfect peace and happiness and have finally passed beyond suffering. The root cause is the kindness of our teacher.



June 4, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 5


"When evil companions are associated with, the three poisons increase, the activities of listening, pondering and meditation decline, and love and compassion are extinguished. Abandoning evil companions is the Bodhisattvas' practice."


One may think that evil companions are those mean people who hate us. But this is not necessarily the case. From the perspective of the Pratimoksha path an evil companion is someone who prevents us from practicing the Dharma. If we do not practice, the three poisons, desire, hatred and ignorance increase. A loving friend may be someone preventing your from practice, and a troublemaker may help you to practice. Furthermore, it is better to have a troublesome friend who believes in karma, than a skillful benefactor who does not believe in karma. However, a beginning practitioner, whose practice is not yet stable, might be influenced in a negative way by such a companion, for instance, they might begin drinking and smoking, or deny karma. As such negative influence leads to the increase of negative karma, it is better to avoid such companions. A bodhisattva practices patience and love, thus there is no one to be abandoned.

Those who are troublesome are benefactors of patience, and those who are loving are benefactors of love. If one is able to sustain stability in patience and love, there is no need to abandon troublesome people.

A bodhisattva will not be influenced negatively, and by keeping the troublesome person company, the latter may even change and become a better person. Even if we are a beginning practitioner, we might end up in a relationship that we cannot abandon, even though our practice is not yet stable. Due to karmic forces people meet and are bound to live together. So what can we do? We have to generate awareness and abandon rather the afflictive emotions than the companion. The true evil companion to be abandoned is self-grasping. If we do not abandon this evil companion, we will always encounter obstacles. Abandoning evil companions does not mean to abandon our friends who are annoying, thinking, "we always fight, we better break up." This would be a mistake and by doing that we will meet unharmonious friends again and again. We are holders of the bodhisattva vows. We promised to cultivate love, compassion, and bodhichitta for everyone, so we cannot say “everyone except him.”

Still, we must not accept wrong views. Whatever someone with wrong views, desire, anger, or sectarianism says, you should not listen to it. In brief, we have to purify our mind; if we follow thoughts of desire and aversion, our love, kindness and compassion vanish.



May 27, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 4


"Long-associated companions will part from each other. Wealth and possessions obtained with effort will be left behind. Consciousness, the guest, will case aside the guest-house of the body. Letting go of this life is the Bodhisattvas' practice."


>From the day we are born to our mothers until the day we die, this entire life, is like a dream. Ordinary people think that last night's dream is unreal, but this life is the reality. This is a great mistake. This life and last night's dream have the same nature. When we experience them, they constitute a reality, a real experience, yet they are illusory by nature. After we have died, the consciousness awakens in the bardo. Then it is like awakening from the dream of life. Life will seem unreal all of a sudden, everything that appeared to us in this world in this life, will be gone, like last night's dream, and become a fading memory. Then the bardo, while illusory by nature, becomes our reality. For as long as we dream, the dream is an actual personal experience. Only when we awaken from the dream we realize that it was just a dream.

Or, even if we recognize that we are in a dream, for as long as the karma to experience this dream lasts, we will continue to experience the illusory suffering and happiness of our dream. When we dream, the imprints that are stored in our mind, become activated and manifest in the form of our dream perceptions. Also the perceptions of this life are nothing but the projections of our own karma, afflictive emotions, and mental imprints. The visions of the bardo have the same nature, they are the projections of our own mind. Although in the bardo we lack the aggregate of form (a physical body), all the other aggregates (feeling, cognition, formatives, and consciousness) are still there. The consciousness still clings to the notion of a self and thus experiences fear and terror. You cannot control the appearances of the bardo, it will seem just as real as this life. Lord Jigten Sumgon said, “I am a yogi who realizes this life, the next life, and the bardo to be one.”

Thus, see the futility of clinging to the concerns of this life!




May 12, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 3


"When harmful places are abandoned, disturbing emotions gradually diminish. Without distraction, virtuous endeavors naturally increase. Being clear-minded, definite understanding of the Dharma arises. Resorting to secluded places is the bodhisattvas’ practice."


'Resorting to secluded places' refers to the isolation of body, speech and mind; not only the body. The whole purpose of secluding the body and speech is in fact only to seclude the mind. Secluding the mind means not to fall under the power of thoughts and emotions. Only secluding the body and speech while the mind still clings to thoughts and emotions, it is pointless. We seclude the body by traveling to isolated places, and we seclude the speech by remaining in silence. We do this in order to create an environment in which the mind is not constantly distracted by various sensory attractions. This is often misunderstood and people remove themselves from society in order to live in a hermitage to do retreat. But it only becomes a retreat if we are able to seclude our minds by not falling under the power of our own fixations. Some people never seclude themselves from the world but are still able to sustain awareness and do not fall under the power of their thoughts.

The latter is the one who is actually in retreat. However, for beginning practitioners, a place in isolation is conducive for practice because the mind is not sufficiently subdued in order to be able to withstand or resist the distractions and entertainments of the world. In an isolated place such entertainments are lacking and thus the wild and restless mind will find it easier to calm down. Since at such a place one is not faced with outer distractions, it is easier to turn inward and watch the mind. By doing so, the wish to practice virtue will increase. When the mind is calm and stable it is easier to cultivate compassion, patience and the other perfections. A harmful place is a place that leads to the increase of our negative thoughts and emotions. This can be any place, a mundane place or a hermitage. If, in a mundane place, one is able to control one's mind and not fall under the power of thoughts, it is not a harmful place.

In fact, yogis whose minds are stable should travel to mundane places of distraction in order to test their accomplishment. In brief, a harmful place is a place that leads to the increase of negativity and fixation, and a beneficial place is a place where one does not grasp at whatever arises. Since most people have to work and cannot seclude themselves to isolated places, you can also isolate yourself for short periods of time, for example a week, or for the weekend, or even just for a day or a few hours. As you gain a living experience by practicing in such a way as much as you can you will find that often the places we enjoy ourselves at are harmful places, and as your patience increases you will find that your enemies can be an enhancement to your practice. From the perspective of the Dharma, friend and enemies sometimes change roles."





April 29, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 2


"The mind of attachment to loved ones wavers like water. The mind of hatred of enemies burns like fire. The mind of ignorance which forgets what to adopt and what to discard is greatly obscured. Abandoning one’s homeland is the bodhisattvas’ practice."


The root cause of samsara is the attachment to the false idea of a self. Due to attachment we take birth in the six realms of samsara again and again. Although one may live in this world, if one is not attached, one does not wander in samsara. In our homeland we meet the adversaries whom we dislike, and we are attached to our families and friends. If we abandon our homeland and go to a different place, we are not attached to the people there, we see them all as the same. However, if we do not understand the detriment of attachment and aversion, we will again hate our opponents and cling to our friends, even if we move to a different place. Again we become attached to those people who treat us well and we dislike those who are unkind to us.Thus it is important to recognize the fault of attachment and aversion. If you are able to recognize their fault, there is no need to abandon your homeland. Consider what happens when only a subtle emotion of attachment or aversion arises.

For example, when you are describing a certain person to others, if he is your friend, you will only mention his good qualities; but if you dislike him, you will only point out his faults and not mention his good qualities. Tainted by attachment and aversion we cannot see how things really are. When we think about situations that are less emotionally charged, we come to understand that true intelligence arises within a mind of equanimity, a mind that remains uncolored by attachment or aversion. If you are mindful and recognize your mental arisings, for example, in conversation you will immediately recognize when you are tempted to say something negative about someone just because you don’t like them very much.

Attachment and love can easily be confused. Love means to feel sincere love and a wish for the other's happiness, without any sense of ownership and a wish for one's own happiness. Even someone who generally understands karma, temporarily dismisses it when an intense emotion of anger or desire arises. Some are overwhelmed by the emotion and blindly engage in negative deeds. Others commit evil deeds knowingly but are incapable to resist due to the force of the passion. This is what the verse means by “the mind of ignorance which forgets what to adopt and what to discard.”Tilopa said to Naropa: "Son, it is not the appearances that fetter you, it is the grasping at those appearances that fetters the mind."




April 2, 2012


The 37 Bodhisattva Practices Series:


Verse 1


1: At this time when the difficult-to-gain ship of leisure and fortune has been obtained, ceaselessly hearing, pondering, and meditating day and night in order to liberate oneself and others from the ocean of cyclic existence is the bodhisattvas’ practice.


Many people do not consider the preliminaries very important, thinking that because they have read a book they already understand the eighteen leisures and fortunes and don’t have to concern themselves with them any longer. They rather move on the 'real and more profound' practices. According to Lord Jigten Sumgon the preliminaries are most profound. You will only become free from the cycle of existence, the ocean of suffering, if your whole heart wants to become free, otherwise no matter what other advanced practices you may engage in, they will not free you from suffering and in fact, they may even reinforce the ego. In the beginning you must understand the preciousness of this human incarnation and how difficult it is to obtain. Normally we ask others, 'how did you sleep last night?' And when they respond, 'I slept well,' we say, 'that's really good.' If we didn't get enough sleep, we feel sorry for ourselves.

This is a sign that the thought of the precious human life has not yet fully dawned in our mind. If it would have dawned in our mind we would feel sorry for every minute we wasted sleeping. We would not be sluggish and grouchy in the morning, but upon awakening we would remember the precious human life and feel a sense of urgency to get out of bed. Thus in the morning it is important to remember the precious human life. You may wonder how to do your daily tasks without sleep. You do not need to abandon sleep, but you should practice moderation and discipline. Furthermore, if you practice for instance the Om Ah Hung Vajra Recitation as you fall asleep, your sleep will become virtuous. Every time you awake in the middle of the night, you should remember sentient beings and recite a few Mani mantras for them. This human life is the fruition of myriad virtues accumulated throughout countless lifetimes.

It is a one-time opportunity and we shouldn't expect to obtain such a precious opportunity again in the future. Knowing how precious this human life is, one would not waste one's time with meaningless activities. Moreover, one will always be joyful even if things seem to go wrong, if one becomes a beggar, is without friends and family, or without wealth. Let alone becoming depressed, one would be happy, knowing that one possesses a precious human body, the ship that can bring one beyond the ocean of suffering. In fact, one will know that worldly pleasures will only bring one's own ruin in the future. This human life is very powerful, for humans are endowed with intelligence and the six elements. It is the crossroad between going up or down. If we know how to use this human existence well, we can attain enlightenment in a single life. If we waste this human existence and engage in negative deeds, it will propel us into the lower realms for countless eons.



March 26, 2012


On the view of Vajrayana


The view of Vajrayana is extremely difficult to realize. Because it seems obscure, some feel safer calling themselves followers of the Hinayana path and are not interested in the Vajrayana path. This is a legitimate aspiration. However, the view of Vajrayana is actually not so obscure and difficult to understand. Vajrayana explains how things really are. For instance, imagine a big glacier. Someone who does not understand Vajrayana will think, "This is a mountain of ice." Someone who understands Vajrayana will think, "This appears to be a mountain of ice; however, the nature of ice is water. It is not always a ice mountain; once it melts it turns into water." If you only understand this principle you understand the view of Vajrayana. Vajrayana says that although the six realms appear, the appearance is temporary. In reality all sentient beings possess buddha nature, the potential to attain enlightenment. In the mind various thoughts arise temporarily.

They are not who we really are; they come and they go and constantly change. Now you are angry; the next moment you love. All these thoughts are momentary. But there is a ground of being, there is a conscious awareness that is always there. It never comes and goes; it is always there unchangingly. It doesn't die and isn't born. There is an underlying eternal conscious awareness. You have never separated from it and you never will, for this is who you really are. When you see this nature, your true nature, you see the true meaning of Vajrayana.



March 21, 2012


When you give rise to a wish to help others, your wisdom will increase. Conversely, when you maintain mindful awareness, your wish to benefit others will increase. In the beginning train your mind in the Shamata of love. Through continuous practice you will gain personal experience and you will see the effects of practice. To apply the practice again and again is the only method to be happy. If you do not abandon the wish for your own happiness and the negative emotions coming from this wish, you will never find true happiness. If you do not abandon the causes of suffering, you will have no choice but to suffer and there is nothing you can do about it. Karma is nothing that the Buddha had just invented. With his all-knowing wisdom the Buddha saw how things really are and with his compassion he showed this to us. He simply showed us that the very nature of compassion and kindness is happiness, and that the very nature of ego-grasping is suffering.

The stronger our ego-grasping, the less we are able to care for others. All that the Buddha taught in the three vehicles, the Pratimoksha- Bodhisattva- and Vajrayana-vehicles, is a method to give rise to bodhichitta. These methods must be put into practice and then you must persevere in practice, but you cannot expect immediate results. Your practice is for the sake of many future lifetimes. The Buddha said, "If you would like to know where you will go next, look at your present actions." You will only be able to practice the true dharma if you trust in karma, cause and effect, and understand the preciousness of patient forbearance and love. If you do not have this as a basis, all other practice will bear not meaningful results.



March 17, 2012


What I am sharing with you are not the words of a great scholar but the words of an old father with a lot of experience. I have experienced great external hardships, having spent twenty years confined in a labor camp. You could call this 'a problem.' However, inside I truly did not experience suffering, moreover I consider my time in prison as a very beneficial time. As a boy, before I was arrested, I had faith in the Dharma but lacking practical experience, my faith was somewhat depthless. In prison I had the opportunity to actually practice, taking external hardships onto the path with patient forbearance. Not a single time did I hope to become free from prison, I lived day by day, free of hopes and fears, sending compassion to beings, relying on Tara, praying to her secretly. Having thus applied the Dharma and seen the results of practice, I gained confidence in the validity of the Dharma and my faith became deep and irreversible.

Then I thought that it would benefit others to share these experiences, and as I travel to teach, I am only sharing my heart advice based on my own experiences. It is important to gain personal experience in order to really understand the Dharma. It is important to ask: What is true happiness? Is it external or internal? Even if one is very rich and has everything one could wish for, if there is hatred in one's family, one experiences hell-like suffering. If one is poor but shares love and kindness with one's family, one experiences a pure land. Happiness can only arise from within the mind, happiness is not at all related to the external world. When the mind is disturbed, one finds suffering anywhere, even in a positive circumstance. If the mind is at peace and filled with love, one finds happiness even while surrounded by a seemingly difficult outer circumstance. "All suffering without exception comes from wishing for one's own happiness."




March 9, 2012


We suffer without choice. We do not want to suffer and we try everything to be happy but suffering happens regardless of our wishes, and we can't do anything about it. Why is this so? It is because we have already created the causes for suffering in the past. But where are those causes of suffering? They are within your mind right now, it is the self-centered mind and all the negative emotions that come from it. If you recognize this, you will understand that you are responsible for your suffering and that there is no one else to blame. Understanding this you will be able to tolerate difficulties and avoid more suffering in the future. If you want to be happy you must know the causes for happiness. The Buddha said, "I can show you the path to liberation, but liberation depends on yourself." Whether you are a Buddhist or not, whether you practice any religion or not, you have a mind, and temporarily all causes for happiness and suffering are within this mind.

The only cause of happiness is love and the only cause of suffering is self-grasping. If you just understand this, you have understood the workings of karma, cause and effect, perfectly. 'All suffering without exception comes from wishing for one's own happiness. The perfect Buddhas arise from the altruistic mind.' Whether you follow any religion or not, the true nature of your mind is wisdom awareness, and that is the actual Buddha. The Buddha said: "The Buddha is within all beings. Beings are only obscured my temporary stains." Whenever you let go of the false belief in a self, you will see your true nature, emptiness-compassion. Every being sees the Buddha when they see what they really are, their true nature.



February 26, 2012


                                                                                                                Losar 2012

Tashi Delek-


Many years ago, I left my monastery in Tibet in order to spread the dharma in Western countries. I spend much of my year traveling around the world and rarely have the opportunity to return to my homeland. Many of you have heard stories of the beautiful high plateaus of Tibet, but very few understand how endangered it has become.


                In 1998 through the generosity of many students, I was able to return to Tibet and fulfill the aspirations of 8 villages, by building 4 schools. Today these schools struggle to retain their programs, due to a lack of steady funding.


                Since the opening of the schools, the communities enjoy increasing literacy in Tibetan, Chinese, English and math, preparing them to cope with the modern world in which they live while preserving the traditions of our Tibetan heritage and religion. Through the schools the children receive two nourishing meals each day and warm clothes, plus they participate in shared cultural activities, such as Tibetan singing and dancing. The schools follow the schedules of the nomadic parents in the villages, so that the children can live at home and help their families with traditional chores and move with the herds as needed.


                During these difficult economic times, the schools have faced funding difficulties and keeping the schools open and up to government standards has been a struggle. These village schools are crucial for the survival of Tibetan culture and each dollar donated will be of great benefit.


                Because I hold the children, teachers, cooks and everyone who works for the schools deeply in my heart, I am asking each of you to consider giving financial support to these schools. It is my hope that my worldwide sangha will take the opportunity to support the our Tibetan sangha brothers and sisters. Your generosity will help ensure that these communities enjoy the freedoms allowed through education.



Thank you for your compassionate consideration of this matter,



H. E. Garchen Rinpoche- 2012


Donations may be made payable by check to:

The Pureland Project

5007 Cedar Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19143

Or through PayPal:


For Further information please contact:

 Meg Ferrigno (Pema Lhamo):

267.241.7606 (country code 001)



February 1, 2012


Meditation means to first recognize and then habituate to the nature of mind. First you must understand the basic nature of mind. This mind is a single ground within which we are one. Once you have recognized the nature of mind, you must always sustain it, uphold it, without falling into distraction. To habituate this present awareness is meditation. No matter what external condition may arise, happiness or suffering, you should never stray from this clear awareness that recognizes everything that arises. You should practice mindful awareness in all your activities; this is the perfect conduct. The view, the meditation, and the conduct are all mind, the single ground. There are many thoughts that always arise, but thoughts are impermanent; they come and go. The mind from which they arise, however, abides like space; it never comes and goes. It is always there, it has always been there, and it will always be there. It is like space, or a vast ocean, or a mirror.

It never goes anywhere, just like space. Therefore, do not cling to the temporary thoughts. No matter how much you cling to them you cannot actually hold on to them, as they are impermanent by nature. Rather, observe that which never goes away, the clear knowing awareness that recognizes all the thoughts arising. This awareness is the buddha within you; it is your true nature. Whatever thoughts arise, negative thoughts, sadness, afflictive emotions, do not follow them but continue to observe with mindfulness. When this mindfulness is sustained, arising thoughts will naturally dissipate without the need to abandon them. This awareness must be upheld, not only in meditation sessions, but also during all your activities. No matter what you experience, happiness or suffering, it does not affect your awareness; it always is as it is. This nature is buddha nature, and every being has it.

In addition, you should read "The Ganges Mahamudra" by Tilopa every day; this will support your meditation. You should also read "The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices" every day; this will support your conduct. What is most important is to cultivate bodhichitta, love and compassion, in all your activities. Without compassion you will never understand the nature of mind. Without compassion, the mind is like dirty water. The water is cloudy, and you are unable to see its true clear nature. If you give rise to compassion, then you will understand the nature of mind very easily.



January 14, 2012


There is no greater negativity than committing suicide--one creates a very powerful cause of intense suffering by taking one's own life.


You must understand that all suffering has its seat in the self-grasping mind. When trying to exchange your body, it does not result in exchanging your mind--you cannot escape from your mind. Committing suicide leads to even greater suffering than you experience now; you will not be able to just erase your suffering.


You have your karma and your lifespan. You must allow your karma to play itself out and not bring an end to your life prematurely. Moreover, by killing one's body you are killing billions of life-forms living within your body, and you acquire the negative karma of that.


You should rather transform your mind. When you are suffering, practice tonglen; take on the suffering of others and think that by you experiencing suffering they will be released. All suffering is temporary; so is conditional happiness. The mind must gain stability in being unmoved by impermanent circumstances. It is never too late to begin to practice. We have wandered in samsara since beginningless time, and at some point we must begin to practice.


Don't worry about how much time you have wasted for eons in the past--begin to practice now and you will die free of regrets. What you do from now on is more important. When you feel sick in your body, send your mind out into space; do not fixate on the body. Separate the mind from the body and rest in space. You can also visualize Tara in space and recite her mantra. I personally have many pains, but if I do not fixate on them, if I send my mind out into space and meditate, I do not feel them. Only when I begin to think about them do I again feel the pain.


You should moreover think that your own suffering is quite small compared to the suffering of so many other sentient beings. For example, I was kept in prison for twenty years, and you could call this a problem, but not one time did I think about when I would be released. I just practiced Tara day by day, and let alone not thinking of suicide, I was actually quite happy in my mind. If you want to become free of suffering, you must change your mind, not your body. Pray to Tara all the time and recite her mantra, so you never forget about her. Then I can also help you, as I am always practicing Tara. Whenever you experience pain and difficulty, think of Tara single-pointedly.



January 2, 2012




A person who has seen the nature of mind as it is and has gained stability in abiding in it, as they watch their mind they see the empty essence like space, unidentifiable. The nature of mind cannot be described; it is like space. Milarepa said, "When there is no difference between space and mind, that is the perfected dharmakaya." The empty space-like essence is the quality of dharmakaya. Then there is a vivid clear awareness that knows its empty space-like essence. The nature of clarity is emptiness; the nature of emptiness is clarity. They are not separate, they are non-distinct, they are the union of clarity and emptiness. The qualities of the sambogakaya arise from the nature, which is clear awareness. From the union of clarity and emptiness shines the natural radiance of compassion pervading all the reaches of space. It pervades wherever emptiness pervades. We thus say that the buddhas' compassion pervades everywhere. The all-pervasive compassion is the nirmanakaya.



December 30, 2011


Apart from sustaining mindfulness throughout the day and night there is no other clear light yoga. It begins with being able to sustain mindfulness throughout the day. When your mind is very clear and sharp during the day, eventually it will carry through the night. When you fall asleep continuing to sustain mindfulness, in a union of clear awareness and emptiness, you will first recognize the dream state. This recognition is called "recognizing the luminosity of the dream." Then eventually, through consistent mindfulness, even the dream state will disappear, and you will rest in clarity naturally; awareness will remain. Eventually clear awareness will even remain during the deep sleep state. It is like the illumination of a lamp flame. There are no thoughts, and there is a subtle feeling of your sleep's rest. This is accomplished when you sustain clear awareness continuously--remain free from the slightest distraction--throughout day and night.

Finally, in deep sleep you will recognize the clear light of deep sleep. What we call clear light is your ability to outshine thoughts and emotions or feelings with clear awareness. These thoughts, while arising, dissolve without having affected you or leaving a trace behind. A beginning practitioner will sustain mindfulness sometimes, and then will again become unmindful. This must first be overcome during the day. You must first be able to destroy whatever habitual thoughts arise, then habituate sustaining clear awareness. Then when you go to sleep, uphold mindfulness by falling asleep practicing the OM AH HUNG Vajra Recitation. At times you might remember the OM AH HUNG during the dream state, and eventually mindfulness will remain even in the deep sleep state.



November 25, 2011


During H.E. Garchen Rinpoche's recent visit at Jangchubling in Dehra Dun, India, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche clarified the meaning of White Tara's seven eyes. As students have asked about this again and again, Rinpoche would like to pass on the explanation on White Tara's seven eyes in this quote:



    "White Tara's seven eyes represent the Three Gates of Complete Emancipation and the Four Immeasurables. The Three Gates of Complete Emancipation are: wishlessness, signlessness--all phenomena lack inherently existing characteristics such as color and shape, and emptiness--the enlightened mind that realizes the empty nature of the former two. In order to attain the Three Gates of Complete Emancipation one must cultivate the Four Immeasurables--immeasurable love, immeasurable compassion, immeasurable joy, and immeasurable equanimity. The Four Immeasurables are thus the cause of the Three Gates of Complete Emancipation."


November 18, 2011

Verse 32 of the Bodhisattva Practices: "If, influenced by disturbing emotions, one points out another bodhisattva's faults, oneself is diminished. Therefore, not speaking about the faults of those who have entered the Great Vehicle is the bodhisattvas' practice."


In his Prayer to be Reborn in Dewachen, Chagme Rinpoche says that the fault of denigrating a bodhisattva is worse than any of the five deeds with immediate result. Since we do not know who is and who is not a bodhisattva, we must be extremely careful. Thus the swift path of Vajrayana teaches us to train in pure view, to recognize the buddha nature in all beings, the nature which transcends gender, race, culture and social status. In fact tantra teaches that we must even see the four elements as deities. A bodhisattva, one who acts for the welfare of sentient beings, places loving kindness, compassion, faith, and respect into the mind streams of many sentient beings. If someone denigrates such a bodhisattva, all those beings will turn away from devotion, and this becomes the cause for their plunge into the lower realms. It is important that you practice free from any bias, do not engage in separation while pretending to be a dharma practitioner.

The mind that thinks they are not good is a dirty mind. As long as you have negative thoughts in your mind, no matter how much you attempt to be pure, you cannot become pure. It is said that everything that appears and exists is all-encompassing purity, and also that within every sentient being dwells the buddha. The Secret Mantra Vajrayana teaches that the external universe is an immeasurable palace, and all the internal sentient beings are dakas and dakinis. This is how it truly is in reality. When you understand this, your mind becomes like space, very blissful and happy. But if you hold a biased view of attachment and aversion, your mind is miserable and your will slander others. The faults or qualities other traditions may have are irrelevant, what causes harm is your own negative thought. For instance, if one gives rise to strong faith in a dog's tooth, relics will emerge from it. The dog's tooth is impure, but relics will emerge if your own mind is pure.

We have to purify our own minds. We should not insult each other, but rather uphold the Buddha Dharma. The Buddha Dharma is love and compassion, and whoever possesses love and compassion upholds the Buddha Dharma. Whoever does not possess love and compassion does not uphold the Buddha Dharma. In the Buddha Dharma there is no hatred or jealousy, and if we are in the grip of hatred and jealousy we do not uphold the Dharma. It is because of such bias that we denigrate and criticize bodhisattvas. In the Seven Verses of Protection of Tara, Lord Jigten Sumgon says, “deceived by errant dogma;” actually, it is not the dogma that is bad, but rather one's misunderstanding of it it is bad. It is through negative thoughts about others that you are “deceived.” We practitioners must clean our minds and cultivate pure view free from any bias, thinking that everyone is a buddha, all sentient beings are our parents.

When your practice has developed you will not denigrate anyone, much less a bodhisattva.  If one fails to benefit beings in this way, and instead transmits thoughts of attachment, aversion, pride, and misconception, one will be plunged into hell. This is a sign that a spiritual master doesn't have cultivated true wisdom. Yet for us, we must be compassionate toward all, especially toward those with inferior wisdom.


May 25, 2011

The Om Ah Hung Vajra Recitation, Part 2:

Sometimes people ask, "Are we 'one' or 'the same'?" Well, we are neither. Is there "one" space, or are different spaces "the same"? Space is neither "one" nor "the same," and so is the nature of mind. Trying to figure it out by labeling it "one" or "the same" is just another mental fixation. Likewise, there are neither one nor many Buddhas. You can't say there is only one, as there are limitless Buddhas, yet you can't say there are many, as their essence is a single ground--emptiness and compassion abiding like space. Thus, do not grasp at singularity or multiplicity. Whatever appear are empty of self nature, like a rainbow in the sky. They lack inherent existence, as they are compounds and thus impermanent. The nature of mind of all beings always remains like space; it is uncompounded. While their bodies appear diversely, the mind of all beings has the same essence.

There is only one such thing called "mind," just as there is only one such thing called "water," although water manifests in different ways--as oceans, rivers, rain, drops, etc. If everyone were to practice OM AH HUNG, their mindfulness would have the same essence without the slightest difference in quality or size.

May 13, 2011

The Om Ah Hung Vajra Recitation, Part 1:

What do the Om, Ah, and Hung syllables represent? Om represents the vajra of form, the union of appearance and emptiness. Ah represents the vajra of speech, the union of sound and emptiness. Hung represents the vajra of mind, the union of clear awareness and emptiness. These are called "the three secrets." When there is no grasping to perceived form, this is the union of appearance and emptiness. Forms continue to appear and are seen, yet there is no grasping at their reality. When there is no grasping at perceived sounds, this is the union of sound and emptiness. Sounds continue to be heard, yet there is no grasping at their reality. If the mind neither grasps at sights nor sounds, it will naturally rest within the union of awareness and emptiness and thus will not grasp at mental arisings either. The three vajras are contained within the vajra of the mind. Thus the Om, Ah, and Hung syllables mark the forehead, throat, and heart of all deities-—while deities appear in myriad forms, the essence of their body, speech, and mind is the same.

May 4, 2011

Excerpted from Rinpoche's teachings in Virginia in April 2011.

How has samsara arisen? The illusory self clings to its own happiness. Ordinary beings are only concerned about their worldly affairs. In order to overcome this attachment we must first recognize the suffering nature of samsara. For this reason, the Buddha first taught, "Recognize suffering and then abandon the origin of suffering." Even though we experience all sorts of pleasures as human beings, this samsaric happiness is like eating a delicious meal mixed with poison. Having recognized suffering we will yearn to become free from it. How do we do that? We practice the Dharma and liberate our mind from the causes of suffering. This is difficult because we are attached to worldly life; we think that one day it is going to make us happy. If this would be ultimately true, then there would be nothing wrong with being attached, but unfortunately clinging attachment can only lead to suffering.

When we pass from this life, we will not be able to bring with us even the slightest thing or person, no matter how much we want to. There is no other way than to leave this guest-house of the body. The only things that will follow us are the karmic traces stored within our mind-continuum. For this reason it is so important to recognize suffering and eliminate its causes before it is too late.

May 1, 2011

Excerpted from Rinpoche's teachings on Dream Yoga in Virginia in April 2011:

Eat little food in the evening, and contemplate death and impermanence before you go to sleep. The dreams of an ordinary person are the manifestations of virtuous and non-virtuous imprints laid down within the mind. When the wind energies enter the impure channels of afflictions, we experience a nightmare. Nightmares are the self-light of negative emotions. Positive dreams are awakening of virtuous thoughts. In order to recognize the dream state you must first gain stability of awareness during the day. First you must be able to overcome all thoughts and emotions of the daytime; then eventually you will be able to recognize them when you dream. In the beginning you will be able to recognize coarse thoughts such as fear during the dream state, and later on also the thoughts in more subtle dreams. Through this, as ignorance diminishes, your sleep will at first become lighter.

Ordinary sleep is a state of deep ignorance; it is an affliction. Thus instead of asking, "Did you sleep well last night?" you should ask, "How much time did you waste sleeping last night?" Of course we must sleep enough to maintain a healthy body, but there should certainly be a limit. I suggest no more than five to six hours a night, since you all have to work. Try to fall asleep with great clarity, and eventually through habituation you will never fall into a state of ignorance, but rather will sustain clear awareness.

April 28, 2011

Excerpted from Rinpoche's teachings on the Six Bardos in Virginia, April 27, 2011:

An ordinary person believes in the appearing world as real and the dream state as unreal, whereas the buddhas have seen this world to be illusory just like a dream. The Buddhas say that in the Bardo after death we will perceive delusive manifestations, that the three lower realms are an illusion, and so forth. So then one might think, "If it is just like an unreal dream, then it can't be that bad." That is a quite mistaken understanding. Although illusory by nature, a dream will be experienced as a reality for as long as the dream lasts. This lifetime is like a dream, but until the karma of this life comes to an end, we will perceive this lifetime as real; we will not awaken from the dream of this life. For instance, if you have a nightmare, you will experience it as a reality for as long as you dream; you will not just wake up at will. When we die we awaken from the dream of this life, and this life becomes a fading memory.

None of it is left behind, and soon we find ourselves grasping at a new reality, the bardo state. If you understand this life to be like a dream, you will understand that everything within it-- happiness, wealth, and pleasure, pain, and suffering--is impermanent and will not last. You will thus not be so overwhelmed by different circumstances. You will stay focused and not be carried away by indulgence in pleasure, and you will not be much affected by difficult circumstances.

Our life is like an oil lamp. The oil is the karma and the fire is this life. As long as there is oil, there is fire. Our life lasts until the karma for this life comes to an end. Then we will move on, controlled by the karmic imprints stored in our mind continuum.

April 24, 2011

One day each of us will die; there is no one in this world who does not have to die. There is no benefit in being attached to this lifetime, because it will be left behind. As it is said in "The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices," "Consciousness, the guest, will cast aside the guest-house of the body." So we can ask ourselves, "Does it really not matter whether I am prepared for death, or does it matter somewhat? Why would I want to receive Phowa instructions?" If you receive Phowa instructions you receive a method to attain freedom. The body has nine openings through which the consciousness can leave after death. Only one of them leads to freedom--the opening at the crown. When we receive Phowa instructions we learn how to transfer our consciousness through the crown.

If we do not know this, we will be tossed around by afflictions such as hatred, desire, ignorance, jealousy, etc., and thus we will lack independence, we will be overpowered by the afflictions. Being controlled by the afflictions will cause the consciousness to leave through one of the eight impure openings of the body, which will lead to birth in samsaric existence. The Buddha said, "Independence is happiness; dependency is suffering."

April 20, 2011

It is said, "If you would like to know what you did in past lives, look at your present body," and "if you would like to know where you will go next, look at your present actions."

If you give rise to jealousy and hatred due to self-grasping, you will be a samsaric sentient being wandering down to the hell realm, hungry spirit realm, or animal realm. Where you go is up to you. It is your choice. It is up to you whether you will go up into the pure lands of the buddhas or down into samsaric states. When your own mind is purified, you will become a buddha. If you do not purify your mind, you will be a sentient being. Where you go will be determined by your present actions. In "The Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices" it is said, "The Subduer said that all the unbearable suffering of the three lower realms is the fruition of wrongdoing. Therefore, never committing negative deeds, even at peril to one's life, is the Bodhisattvas' practice."

April 18, 2011

Excerpted from Rinpoche's teachings on the Samantabhadra Prayer, commentary on the verse of ignorance.

There are many thoughts of ignorance such as dullness, fogginess, discouragement, laziness, depression, or irritation without reason. In particular, if we are lazy we will not accomplish anything, neither in a worldly sense nor in dharma. The supreme antidote is mindful awareness, it will overcome all negativities. These thoughts are fleeting, they will not last, they come and go. Awareness always remains and recognizes them. If you maintain mindfulness you will know with certainty what to do and what not to do. Thus clear awareness is most important, it is your inner buddha. This awareness cannot be seen, it is empty, and yet it has great vividness. It doesn't come or go, it always is as it is, like space.

Remain free from distraction then nothing will obscure this awareness, thoughts have no essence as they will not last. They come and go like waves on water.

April 11, 2011

To me in this world there are only two types of beings: my benefactors of love and my benefactors of patience. The majority are my benefactors of love; they are very kind and help me. Some try to cause harm and create obstacles; these are my benefactors of patience. The kindness of each benefactor is equal, and thus my love for them is equal. Maybe my benefactors of patience are even more kind to me, as they allow me to practice the perfection of patience. I am thus very grateful to all those who do not like me and make me tame my anger. At the same time I feel great compassion for their sorrow, but as they allow me to practice patience and my anger and jealousy to gradually diminish, they are my teachers. Thus, in the end, when I attain enlightenment and all my anger and jealousy are no more, it is due to their kindness. For this reason I love them greatly.

April 6, 2011

In prison Khenpo Münsel Rinpoche taught me this: "The extent of your realization will be known when you encounter difficult circumstances. You will not know the extent of your realization when things go well." When you find yourself in a troublesome situation, when you are in great pain, when an intense emotion arises, only then will you know where you are at with practice. He added: "Adverse circumstances will reveal your hidden faults." If you are able to hold awareness unwaveringly during such a time, and thus if you are not carried away by the force of the emotion, it is a sign that you have gained experience in practice.

If you were to practice mindful awareness with great diligence for just a month, if you were to recognize even the slightest thought and not allow your mind to wander off into delusion for that time, even in such a short time you would witness great changes. Fierce afflictions would not faze you so much any more, because you would have gained personal experience in observing the illusory play. There is in fact just one remedy necessary--mindful awareness. It is the single sufficient remedy that transforms difficulties inside and out.

Monday, Mar 28, 2011

Jealousy and pride can be tricky and are difficult to recognize; they sometimes manifest as a subtle feeling of dislike. For instance, when someone tells you how great you are, you feel good about it. But then the person continues, "You are great, but he is still better." Then a feeling of discomfort arises. When others are praised, we do not like to hear about it. When these subtle thoughts of jealousy and pride remain unrecognized, they grow into overwhelming emotions that cling to one's own happiness and to hostility toward others. The root of all this is the grasping at a self. Because we strongly believe in this self, we feel alarmed by everything that threatens it. When others criticize us, we get angry.

In fact, when others blame you, they cannot add a fault to you that you do not possess. When others praise you, you are not becoming a greater person because of that. Whatever others say about you does not affect your faults and qualities. Only you can see whether you have this fault or not. If you do not have the fault for which you have been accused, there is no need to be upset, since criticism does not make you have the fault. If you do have that fault for which you have been accused, then the person pointing it out to you becomes your kind teacher helping you to improve. Dzogchen Patrül Rinpoche said, "Never look at your own qualities, but never look at others' faults. Always look at your own faults, but never look at others' faults."

It is important to recognize each and every subtle arising of jealousy and pride. This requires a great deal of diligence in mindfulness, as these emotions in particular are very difficult to identify. Whenever such a thought arises you must apply a method to abandon it. Ideally you eliminate it through recognition: if you have trained your mind in mindful awareness you will see the thought the moment it arises and recognize its empty nature. If you recognize this, this thought is rendered powerless. It will not affect you in one or the other way. If your mindfulness is not yet strong enough you can apply the bodhisattva approach, considering that the other person is your mother, your best friend, your child, and therefore give rise to love and compassion for them.

And if this is too difficult in a certain circumstance, you can apply the pratimoksha approach, and that is to contemplate the faults of this emotion, understanding that as a result of acting on such an emotion you will fall into the lower realms. You should apply one of these three approaches according to your mental capacity in the moment of affliction. You have to practice according to your capacity, just like a child must wear children's clothes and an adult wears adult's clothes. A child in an adult's cloak would be troubled. In brief, Lord Buddha summarized, "Perfectly tame your own mind; this is the Buddha's teaching."

Thursday, Mar 24, 2011

A spontaneous inspiration given by H.E. Garchen Rinpoche in Los Angeles on March 21, 2011

There are two major systems in this world, the mundane and spiritual. These two systems are like two eyes, thus it is important to know them both. It is important to know the essence of these systems. Some people in this world refuse all spirituality, they only believe in the improvement of science. This is slightly mistaken. We do need science but at the same time must not neglect our mind. And even within different belief systems there is disagreement. To me, all religions are necessary and good. I also am very fond of science. I like to have two eyes wide open.

A person who is only concerned with this lifetime is like someone roaming around aimlessly in a pathless desert not knowing where to go. A person that understands karma, cause and effect, is like someone walking on a road, knowing where to go and knowing where they are, but they still have to walk around mountains and face other difficulties. A person with bodhichitta is like someone going on a train. One goes straight through the mountain and is not obstructed by any obstacles on the way. One also reaches the destination faster. A person with love in their hearts can easily sever the flow of afflictions. If one has bodhichitta one becomes very powerful in accomplishing great activities that bring benefit to others. As love will destroy self-grasping, wisdom will naturally dawn and thus one will unmistakenly know what to adopt and what to discard. Going with the train is like cultivating relative bodhichitta. When self-grasping has diminished and one sees the nature of mind, one realized ultimate bodhichitta, emptiness. This is like going in an airplane. The airplane moves above the clouds, the clouds are like thoughts and the space above is the expanse of dharmakaya. The airplane of clear knowing awareness moves through the dharmakaya space unobstructedly. It sees the entire world and also the clouds below, but as it overrides the clouds it is not bothered by the clouds, the rain, the storms.

Similarly, when one realizes the nature of mind, one is no longer affected in any way by the clouds of desire and hatred. Awareness is above these clouds. As the dharmakaya is like space, it is unchanging. Space does not come or go, space always is as it is. Realizing this there is no fear of death; space does not die nor is it born. The phenomena of samsara and nirvana are like clouds; they arise momentarily, but are as they are, compounds. They are impermanent, subject to disintegration, coming and going. Moving above these clouds one will not grasp at their substantial reality and thus will not cling to thoughts of desire or hatred. To see this nature even for just an instant is mahamudra. You will never gain anything new. Awareness is like fire--in the beginning it is like a spark, in the end a blazing fire. But fire is always fire. You are not creating a great mind that you do not yet possess. To see it for just a brief instant is still seeing it, but of course it must be habituated. Only when we preserve this nature continuously will we achieve the state of great happiness and peace where there is no more suffering.

Monday, Mar 21, 2011

This quote was taken from a teaching Rinpoche gave to the yogis in Labchi in one of Milarepa's caves:

We must separate the inner mind from the outer conduct. The inner mind realizes that all phenomena of samsara and nirvana lack inherent existence. The outer universe and inner sentient beings lack inherent existence, as they are compounds. If we grasp at the truth of whatever arises within the mind—pleasure, suffering, thoughts and afflictive emotions—we will accumulate karma. If we recognize afflictive emotions and unwholesome thoughts as they arise, this mindful awareness is the Buddha. All buddhas abide within the mindstreams of sentient beings. The thoughts are delusions and lack inherent existence—they come and go—yet innate awareness always remains unchangingly. Thus do not pay attention to the thoughts, but see the awareness that recognizes them. When awareness holds its own with stability, afflictive emotions, pleasure, and suffering will disappear, and your mind will become very clear. If you grasp at the truth of thoughts, your mind will be obscured.

Obscurations come from grasping at the truth of thoughts. While understanding that things lack inherent existence and are like a dream, in your activities you should accomplish the benefit of others entirely and abandon harm toward others entirely. Be in harmony with everyone, accomplish the causes of benefit and happiness for all sentient beings, try to make them joyful and happy.

Thursday, Mar 17, 2011

This quote is taken from a teaching on refuge that Rinpoche gave in Labchi in one of Milarepa's caves to a few retreatants.

Gampopa said, "If we do not practice Dharma in accordance with the Dharma, then Dharma itself will become the cause for falling into the lower realms." What are the so-called Three Jewels? The outer Buddha refers to all the buddhas of the three times. The outer Dharma consists of the 84,000 heaps of Dharma teachings, yet they are included within loving kindness and compassion. Sangha refers to a person who has cultivated loving kindness and compassion, a good-hearted person. Having been liberated from one's own suffering, rooted in self-grasping, one is able to show the path of liberation to others. This is the Sangha. Having received the refuge vow, the Three Jewels are also contained within your own mindstream. These are called the inner Three Jewels. The inner Buddha is your mindful awareness and alertness. The inner Dharma is to never let go of loving kindness and compassion, the altruistic mind. What is the benefit of an altruistic mind? It will destroy self-grasping.

When self-grasping collapses, on their very ground, all sentient beings are buddhas. Lord Buddha said: "The Buddha is within all sentient beings. Yet they are obscured by adventitious stains." What are these adventitious stains? All thoughts and afflictive emotions are contained within a single turn of mind, the root of all sentient beings of the three realms is self-grasping. In reality self-grasping is a mental fixation, a thought grasping at a reality. Tilopa said, "Son! You are not fettered by the appearances, you are fettered by grasping at them." Once all grasping is cleared away, there is nothing that can obscure the mind. Even if thoughts arise, they will not obscure the mind, if you do not grasp at them. If you grasp at them, you will be hurt like being pricked with a thorn, you will become obscured. This is called 'fettered.' We are not fettered by the extent of thoughts that arise, as long as we do not grasp at them. All you practitioners, retreatants, mountain hermits, know this, yet listen to the advice of me, a man with experience. I have gathered many experiences of suffering and difficulties in this lifetime. It is said, "an elder sick person is the best doctor."

Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011

This quote is taken from Rinpoche's teachings on 'How to Overcome Difficulties' on March 15 in San Jose, CA.

The first step to eliminate suffering is to give up clinging to this life. From the day we are born to our mothers, until the day we die, this entire life is like last night's dream. After we have died, we awaken in the Bardo—the intermediate state after death. Then this entire lifetime will seem just like a dream; the human world will become a fading memory. It is like waking up from a dream. At this point, if we have failed to eliminate self-grasping, frightening appearances will manifest— compared to which, this human world appears as a pure land. Milarepa knew what would happen if he failed to purify self-grasping, and thus he had the courage to dedicate his entire life to practice, undaunted by hardship. Thus, whenever you encounter difficulty, consider: "this life is like a dream, before too long it will come to an end, and when it comes to an end, I must be prepared."

In order to secure happiness beyond this life, it is important to understand the causes of happiness. In order to avoid causes of suffering, we must give up self-cherishing attitudes and cultivate an altruistic mind that seeks the benefit of others. The jewel of Bodhichitta is the only protection at the time of death. The essence of this is found in the 37 Bodhisattva Practices—it contains a remedy for any kind of suffering, an answer to all questions. Although the Buddha's teachings are vast, the Buddha himself summarized: "perfectly tame your own mind, this is the Buddha's teaching."

Although most of us live like kings and queens, still we are very skilled in finding a way to suffer—nothing is ever good enough. The rich suffer from their possessions, the poor suffer from a lack of possessions. Milarepa lived in a cave without food and drink and he was the happiest person in the world. The truth is that we can only find happiness in our mind. If the mind has a habit of grasping at suffering, it will create suffering and perceive everything as an enemy and a threat. If one does not grasp inside the mind, even an actual difficult circumstance, like an illness, is not perceived as suffering. Truly understanding karma will enable us to tolerate our present circumstances and will teach us how to abandon suffering in the future. Karma can be explained very easily—love is the cause of happiness; self-grasping is the cause of suffering. Therefore, in the 37 Bodhisattva Practices it says: "all suffering without exception comes from wishing for one's own happiness. The perfect Buddhas arise from the altruistic mind."

Sunday, Mar 13, 2011

My dear friends: in my first message, I would like to extend a warm Tashi Delek to all of you in this mandala. From lifetime to lifetime, our minds have been connected and thus I see you like family. What has kept our minds connected from lifetime to lifetime is the spiritual bond of love. These 'reminders of loving kindness and compassion' should encourage us again and again to make an effort to cultivate love for one another. As all our minds are connected, we can help each other through cultivating love. Thus, if more people in this world are able to give rise to love, peace and happiness will increase. I have great love for all sentient beings; for this reason, I trust that spreading the word of love will contribute to the peace and happiness of this world.

My single prayer is: 'May all sentient beings have happiness, and love—the cause of happiness. May all sentient beings be free from suffering, and self-grasping—the cause of suffering.' In Tibetan, the word for 'kindness and love' is 'jamtse' (byams brtse). In Tibetan U-Me script, this can be written in a single line; for me, this is a sign of this word's preciousness. Today, I am offering to you all my kindness and love. I hope you will keep this dear to your heart, as this is the essence of all happiness in this and future lives. It is the essence of the Buddha's teachings. If you have love in your heart, even those who hate you will eventually be your friends. Your actual enemies are hatred and jealousy in particular. Outer enemies are a temporary illusion arising from a deluded thought. This thought is impermanent. Thoughts come and go. Thus if you do not let go of love, the anger in others will eventually diminish.

If you love others, you wish for their happiness. As our minds are one, if you love others, it will pervade their mind and they will thus feel happy. Love is the only cause of happiness. Its nature is all-pervasive like space. Love is the sunlight of the mind.

Furthermore, I am deeply sad to hear about the earthquake disaster in Japan, and also in New Zealand, Tibet, and other places last year. Although many beings have lost their lives, their minds really can never die. And as our minds are connected, we can benefit them by cultivating love and compassion and reciting the Mani mantra (OM MANI PADME HUNG). If we are able to pervade their minds with love, they will awaken from the dream of self-grasping and suffering.


Reminders of Kindness, Compassion, and Your Own True Nature by Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche



Translation copyright © 2012 Ina Bieler. All rights reserved.

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May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,
that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;
May all sentient beings obtain all the excellent flavors of nonattachment,
and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;
May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth
and realize that all Buddha teachings are without difference;

Last updated on 2012-12-31.