ESSENCE OF PHENOMENA AND KARMA (1) WITH H.E. GARCHEN RINPOCHE


On May 3, 4 & 5 2024, H.E Garchen Rinpoche bestowed precious teachings on: Essence of Phenomena and Karma, which can be found on Youtube.

Transcription of H.E. Garchen Rinpoche’s teaching from the English translation, by translator Ina Bieler.
All copyright reserved to Garchen Institute.

May 3 2024.



SYMBOL OF THE BUDDHAS BEGGING BOWL


So Tashi Delek to all my Dharma friends here, and also on the livestream. And so first of all, so we are always talking about refuge. And when we go for refuge; we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. And so here is [a begging bowl], you always see me holding this begging bowl, (that I drink from), and that comes from Lord Jigten Sumgon’s tradition. Lord Jigten Sumgon said that, “… all of my followers have to hold such a begging bowl,” (carry with them a begging bowl). So what’s the benefit of carrying around a begging bowl? First of all when you see this bowl, you will remember the Buddha, because it is the Buddha’s bowl. The Buddha didn’t have his own food, but he took his begging bowl and he went around and asked for food from other people. So it’s the Buddha’s begging bowl, and when you see it, you remember the Buddha. And then, when you remember the Buddha, what do you think of next? What did the Buddha talk about? The Buddha taught the Dharma, so then when you see the begging bowl, you will also remember the Dharma. First you remember the Buddha, and if you remember the Buddha, you remember the Dharma, (and the Dharma essentially is “immeasurable love for all beings”). The Buddha had great love and compassion for all sentient beings. Then if you just remember that, (if you remember the Dharma, you remember “immeasurable love”). Then that is enough, then you will think that, “This was given to me, this gift of love was given to me by the Buddha”.

And then you may look inside yourself, and ask yourself, “Do I have love for all beings?” and if you find that, “I do really care about everyone in the world, I want everyone in the world to be happy,” then that is sufficient; (and you are remembering the Dharma). And then once you have taken the “Refuge Vow,” when you remember the Dharma, you will then also remember the Sangha. You think that, “I have taken the Refuge Vows, so I’m a Sangha”. What does that mean? It means, “I must have great love for all sentient beings. Do I have great love?” And if you find, “I do”. Then you can conclude that, “I am an actual real Sangha”. So this is the benefit of holding a begging bowl; you remember the Buddha, and then you remember the Dharma, (which means you remember love), and then you remember the Sangha. So then, it is not just within yourself, but you also are then able to cultivate […] a devotion towards others, [through Dharma practice]. Then you will recognise that everyone with love and compassion is the deity; (all the males with compassion are Chenrezig, and all the females are Tara). So that is why this begging bowl is so precious, because it makes us remember the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. And Lord Jigten Sumgon had said that, “My followers have to bring with them; (hold a begging bowl), a Buddhas begging bowl.



BUDDHA’S QUALITIES


So then, you may ask, so who is the Buddha? You may think, the Buddha is someone who was born in India, in the old days, close to Bodhgaya somewhere, and maybe, he was a son of a king. So, what is so special about him? But the Buddha has incredible qualities. So what are those qualities? The Buddha first of all understood the suffering of all sentient beings; (he understood that all beings with a mind, suffer); no matter where they are, in the desire realm, the form realm, or the formless realms. And so seeing the great suffering, the Buddha felt great compassion, and great love, for these beings, and he wanted to protect them, (he wanted to help them). So the Buddha is a mind, that unifies great wisdom and compassion. The Buddhas mind, is a mind without any self-clinging; (that is really the meaning of the word, “Buddha” or “Sang gye” in Tibetan). So “sang” means to have cleared away; cleared away self-grasping. There is not the slightest notion of “me” in the Buddhas mind; the Buddha only cares about others. And this altruistic mind becomes vast like space, (all-pervasive like space). And that is the meaning of the second syllable “gye;” it is “expansive” or “vast”. So self-grasping is cleared away, and altruism is vast; that is really the meaning of the word “Buddha”.

And so, when you think about the Buddha’s qualities, (of what this mind has become), it is actually really incredible; this kind of love that he had for everyone. And we all have some kind of love; we love our friends for example. We care for them, (care about them). But our love is actually very small, compared to the Buddhas love, and it is very easy for us to lose our love. We get very afflicted in our minds, and then we lose our love. The Buddhas love can never be lost. The Buddha will never lose his love. Until all sentient beings are Enlightened, no matter what, the Buddha will never lose his love for sentient beings. And he knows sentient beings possess the potential to become Buddhas themselves. So he tells them, “You are temporarily like ice-blocks, but “when you allow the sun of compassion to shine, then this ice-block will melt, and you will be Enlightened”. So the essential teaching of the Buddha was, “… completely, or perfectly, tame your own mind”. So he really told sentient beings, “You are actually Buddhas, all you need to do is purify the mind; (which means you have to rid yourself of self-grasping). When there is no more self-grasping in the mind, you are a Buddha; and in fact your mind ultimately has no self-grasping, it is just a momentary, […] adventitious arising, (but it is not really part of your mind”). So this is what the Buddha in brief said, when he first turned the “Wheel of Dharma”.


ALL PHENOMENA, EVERYTHING ARISES FROM A CAUSE


So then if the Buddha was here, you may ask him, “Now you already have become a Buddha, (now you have all happiness), so why do you care so much about sentient beings suffering? Why do you feel that? And so what the Buddha would say, (and he did say this), “You all in this world, humans and animals for example, you live together, (you can see each other). You are all the same essentially. You have the same mind, but you don’t have the same body. Animals in their animal body, suffer much more than humans do, in their human body”. And why is that? So the Buddha said, “There is a cause”. He said that, “All phenomena, everything arises from a cause”. So that is what we call “karma”. There is a “karma” for everything, and that is kept within the mind, and the mind cannot die. When you die, and the body dies, the mind goes on, either to a Pureland, (to be with the Buddhas and stays there like space, together, pervading space). Or, the mind may wander anywhere in the six realms of samsara. But the mind will not die.

The Buddha said, “All beings, all you beings, are actually Buddhas. Your mind is the cause for Buddhahood”. And so how is the mind actually the Buddha? It is because the mind is actually like space. “But you sentient beings,” the Buddha said, “… have not realised that. But when you see your true nature, it [the mind], becomes like space. You cannot see it, because you cling to the existence of “you,” and “others,” (a duality). And because you see a dualistic existence, of “self,” and “others,” you develop many thoughts of “attachment” and “hatred”. Actually “self,” and “other,” do not exist. You may appear to have separate bodies, but you do not have separate minds”. For example, you may have a hundred phones in the world. All of these different phones, they look different, but they are all powered by the same electricity. If the light goes out, (there’s no electricity), then they all disappear, (they can’t do anything). You can’t do [anything] with that phone if it is not charged. So even if you have thousands of phones, they can’t do anything, if there is no electricity. And so it is the same with a person. When a person, (or an animal), dies, when the body dies, they can’t do anything. There is nothing they can do. So its like when the life is not there, then the body can’t do anything. So that is in terms of the mind.



THE FAULT OF SELF-GRASPING


And then the Buddha also said that, “… compared to gods and humans, there are so many animals in comparison. There are only very, very few humans and gods, and there are many animals”. And so why are there so many more animals? It is because of the cause that they create, they don’t realise that. So what’s the cause that leads to such a birth? Why are there so many? It is because, most beings do not understand the fault of self-grasping. Because they can’t see their own self-grasping, they continue to accumulate it, just like snowflakes piling up, (accumulating more and more). So we can’t see it. You can’t see your self-grasping, but it is something that has made your mind become very solid, like an ice-block. It has solidified you. And nothing can destroy it, (even an atomic bomb, can not destroy your self-grasping). So what is the only thing that can destroy it then? The only thing that can destroy it, is love. And nothing else at all. And so that is what the Buddha realised first. So he cultivated Bodhicitta, (the mind set on Enlightenment). He realised the importance, the great quality of love, and then throughout three endless eons, that is all he held on to, is love. So he realised the preciousness of love, and then from lifetime to lifetime, (for many lifetimes), that is all he held on to. And holding on to love, he then naturally practiced the six paramitas, until he perfected them. But what he really trained his mind in, is love. You can read about that more, when you read the life stories of the Buddha. And in the end he attained Enlightenment in Bodhgaya in India. When he attained Enlightenment he realised truly the nonduality of self and other.

The point of Enlightenment, is where all self-grasping, completely has disappeared. And when that [self-grasping] completely dissolves, what reveals itself is your true nature. And your true nature is often explained in the scriptures by the Buddha, as a nature that is luminous, it is clear, it is non-material, or uncompounded, and it is subtle or profound. And so many of you know about that, and so the way to see it is through, just let your mind be naturally, and allow the self-grasping to disappear. And so that is one thing that you really have to keep in mind. And so the Buddha, when he attained Enlightenment he saw that, and he thought that, “This is something everyone has to know”. And he said that, “In order to know that however, the first thing you need to understand is karma, and be extremely disciplined in your actions. Many of you have taken the “Refuge Vow” and we also read that in our opening prayers. We take this commitment, “I’m going to cultivate bodhicitta from lifetime to lifetime until I attain Enlightenment, because it is so precious. Also the Buddha mentioned in the scriptures there’s an example of what Bodhicitta is like.



BODHICITTA IS LIKE UNDEFILED GOLD


So bodhicitta is like lion’s milk, and the lion’s milk needs to be contained in a very special golden vessel. And that golden vessel that holds the lions milk is patience. So bodhicitta must be held by patience, otherwise you will lose your bodhicitta, your love. We have love but if we do not have patience, we will lose our love. So you need to have patience, if you want to hold onto your love. So all of you do have that, but often, for example, you have a friend that you love with all your heart, and then one day they make you angry, and then all of that love is lost instantly. [This is] because you do not have any patience. So we need love, but we need to contain it within the precious vessel of patience. So it is said that, “Bodhicitta, is like this lions milk,” or sometimes it is also said, “Bodhicitta is like gold, or like a gold chain, (a jewellery chain), that can easily break, but it can also easily be fixed again. So there are many different examples of bodhicitta, but it is precious like gold. And also for example, in the Tibetan medicine, when we produce those precious pills, the main ingredient in them is gold, because it is very precious. So bodhicitta is like undefiled gold, and this is what the Buddha had first cultivated, (a mind of bodhicitta). So from the very beginning, first we need to understand how important bodhicitta is.

Then the Buddha said, “Understand suffering, recognise suffering”. A person who had already planted a seed of liberation in their minds in a previous life, will be able to remember it, by virtue of Buddha nature. So in the past, when the Buddha first taught the Dharma, he taught it to his assembly that was referred to as the Sangha, of five fortunate ones. He taught them, the “Four Noble Truths,” and taught them, you must see suffering, (recognise suffering). See all the suffering of samsara, of the lower realms. When you see suffering, you will want to become liberated from suffering, and then you need a method to become liberated. And the Buddha said, “Do not commit any wrong, perfectly practice virtue. Completely train your own mind”. So, do not harm a sentient being, only benefit sentient beings. Cultivate love for others. In whatever you do, do good for others, do not hurt them, (that is the meaning of practice virtue perfectly). The result of practicing virtue, (and not committing any wrong), is that your mind will become subdued or tamed. You will melt the ice-block in your mind, it will become water. For example, if you put an ice-block on top of a flower, it won’t help the flower at all, (it won’t reach the flower’s root). It has to be turned into water first, and once the ice is water, it can permeate the root of the flower.


UNION OF WISDOM & COMPASSION


So the Buddha taught us that, “You possess Buddha nature, you have that quality of wisdom within you. And you need to connect that […] with compassion. If you are able to do that, your ice-block will melt, and when your ice-block melts, you will be able to truly benefit others, and bring them happiness. So you need to cultivate “bodhicitta”. “Bodhicitta” in Tibetan [language] is, “byang chub kyi sems”. […] “byang” is the same as before, (similar to before, as the “sang” in Buddha). It also means to purify. (Again), what needs to be purified is “self-grasping,” this thinking of “me”. And so, since we need to purify the “me,” you may wonder what [that is], how does that actually arise? When does that start? When does this sense of “me” begin? Actually, there is no beginning to it; it is momentary. It is not actually there, (it arises momentarily), from beginningless time, there is no “me”. So there is no “me,” since time primordial, [since beginningless time], and there will never be a “me” in the future. So the existence of it does not exist, (in terms of time when it started), because it arises momentarily, (in a moment). So you think for example, “my body,” and then, because you have this strong, habitual identification with your body, you think everything is “me”. Everything surrounding my body somehow relates to me. “This is my thing, this belongs to me”. “All these things that “I’ own,” and so on. And because you see, (have) this sense of “me,” then “others” also appear. And so this is how you accumulate dualistic perception, that has become like a snow mountain.

So, you have to first of all understand the fault of, this “me”. And then when does it arise? When does it start? It doesn’t start, (because it doesn’t actually exist). There was this story about a Drukpa Kagyu Lama who had a disciple that requested a teaching on, finding out the nature of the mind, and so then that Lama said to the disciple, “I will give you the teaching, but first give me your “me,” your “I,” […]. The disciple said, “sure,” and then he went home, and day and night he was trying to find it, because the Lama was asking for it. Where is that “me,” this “I,” that he was asking for? He was looking for it all night long, and he couldn’t find it, so he came back the next morning, and the Lama asked him, “So where is it, did you find it?” And he said, “Rinpoche I couldn’t find it anywhere”. So then the Lama said, “Why are you here? What are you doing here? And he said, “Well I am here to receive the Dharma from you still”. And then [the Lama] said, “There it is. You found it, the “I”. “I’m” here to receive the Dharma from you”. This is how it arises momentarily, (this moment). Arising momentarily means that, it is only there, when you think it’s there. When you don’t think its there, it’s not actually there. So that is the meaning of “momentary”. Therefore it has no beginning time in terms of timing, and also no end. It doesn’t really exist.



THE PERFECT BUDDHAS ARISE FROM THE ALTRUISTIC MIND


It just momentarily arises, then when you don’t think about it, it is not there. So when you look at your mind with this understanding, you will see that there is no self within the mind. So essentially that is what the Buddha realised and taught. And so then, how do we realise it? In the Thirty-Seven Practices [of Bodhisattvas], it says, “The Perfect Buddhas arise from the altruistic mind”. So, we do have to recognise this momentary sense of self-clinging in our mind, and then we can’t just let it go like that, we have to train our mind. And, as you cultivate love for others, it will gradually just exhaust itself and disappear eventually. And so, when that [self-clinging] disappears, as it disappears, (in proportion to its disappearance), wisdom increases. And the more your wisdom increases, the more you will become aware of sentient beings happiness and suffering. You will see what leads to their suffering, and happiness. You will see the very subtle workings of karma, the subtle and the coarse workings of karma: (what precisely leads to suffering, and happiness). So that is what you see as wisdom increases, and self disappears. Finally when the self has completely gone away, (this clinging to a self, this thought), then you are liberated. So often disciples want to receive teachings on Mahamudra or Dzogchen. They think these teachings are so profound, and then when I tell them, “Today I am going to teach you about the Ngondro, (the preliminaries), they say, “I already know that, I know the “Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind [to Dharma]”. But do you really know it? You don’t actually know it.

For example, when we look at humans and animals. We just said that, they live together in one world. Do you really understand them? Do you really love those animals for example? Or feel for them? You don’t really care so much about the animals. They are in the end, just an animal right? So you actually don’t really understand karma, if you think this way. There is still a grasping of “me,” “me,” “me;” (it is just that, that is all that is really important). You have not really connected to the mind of bodhicitta. And if you don’t, then what remains in your mind when you die, is just an ignorance of karma, and that is what leads to birth as an animal, for example. So when you look at the essence, the mind, (which is also what we learn during the refuge, that all beings have the same mind). They all have the Buddha within them, humans and animals alike. Anyone who goes for refuge, and understands that, can become liberated. Because what is the Buddha, that we take refuge in? The Buddha is your own mind, that is what you take refuge in. It is the mind that is free of all dualistic thoughts. And so that is what you need to actually understand; to understand karma ultimately.



CULTIVATING THE MIND OF BODHICITTA


It is said that, “When you realise the nature of mind, there is nothing else to learn, (no higher learning than that; than realising the nature of mind”). So what we call “Mahamudra” and “Dzogchen,” and so on, is ultimately just to understand your own mind, (to know your own mind). You won’t find any Buddha outside of yourself. So whenever you realise that, you see the Buddha. Whenever the dualistic thinking disappears, you see your true nature. Your true nature is like space, (that is what you really are). And when a mind becomes like space, space is all pervasive. Then you will be able to instantly see, and feel, the suffering of all the sentient beings, as your mind pervades them. So that is actually also a sign of having realised the nature of mind. [It] is, that you are really very conscious of everyone’s suffering, (because your mind pervades them all); and there is a great love, that pervades all of these beings. And this love, helps them melt their ice-block, so it turns into ocean water. This love pervades the entire outer and inner environment; everything around you. So we need to begin with “immeasurable love”. The Buddha first cultivated “a mind of bodhicitta”.

And so in the “Path of Pratismoksha,” of “Individual of Liberation,” often people say, “… It’s like the “Path of Individual Liberation” is just too much trouble actually, basically. I really like the Vajrayana much more, and I really like the “Bodhisattva Path,” much more. There are just too many rules, and this and that, in the “Path of Individual Liberation”. So when you say that,… What’s the root of the Vajrayana, that you think is so precious? So, in the Vajrayana for example we say that, “The nature of all phenomena is the three kayas”. The nature of samsara and nirvana, all is the “three kayas”. Everything has the nature of the “three kayas,” there is no real samsara. So this is what you hear, when you hear the Vajrayana. But then how does that really exist in your mind, when you look at your mind? You really have to always look at your own mind, and really ask yourself is that really something that I actually live also? If you want to practice the Vajrayana, first of all you need Bodhicitta, the Bodhisattva Path. There is one example Shakyamuni Buddha gave in the Great Liberation Sutra, in there he said, “The Mahayana mind is as vast as an ocean, a lesser vehicle mind is like the water collecting in the footprint of a cow”. So, in scope it is much smaller, it is the same water.



A SIGN OF EMPTINESS BEING REALISED IN THE MIND


So you have to see for yourself, what is the scope of my own mind, (if you want to practice the Vajrayana). You should see for yourself,… “Do I really have bodhicitta love for all sentient beings”. And so, if you would then be able to say, “I do actually think of the suffering of all sentient beings in the three realms, all the time, day and night, I really love them. I feel great compassion for their suffering, and I understand the cause of their suffering. I understand it comes from self-grasping. Then if you are honestly able to say that, you are really a Mahayana or a Vajrayana practitioner. So Milarepa also said, that […] the realisation of the bhumis and paths, or the progression along the bhumis and the paths, (as we move up the bhumis and the paths to Enlightenment), is nothing else but an increasing clear vision of emptiness. And in order to perceive clearly he said, you need a sign, something that indicates that you are on track. And so what is the sign that should arise in our minds? So when you begin to realise emptiness, then what you care about is only others. Then your mind becomes vast. You will not even think about yourself any longer. You will just think about, “What can I do to help others?” And when you think this, your mind pervades all beings, there is just no more sense of “me,” and so that is actually one of the signs of emptiness being realised within the mind.

And so now we can speak about the dharma nicely. For example, maybe we have studied the scriptures, the dharma books really well, and we can talk about the dharma, but all of this “dharma talk” is of no benefit, if it has not really arisen from within your mind. So we can say, “Mahayana practitioner,” and speak really eloquently about it, but it won’t benefit anyone really, if it doesn’t come from a realisation of that. And so, you can say, “I am a Mahayana practitioner”. You can say, “I am a Vajrayana practitioner,” but you have to see for yourself. For example, what do you do when you get angry? So if you are able to say, “When I get angry, I get angry, but it goes away instantly. No matter how much somebody hurts me, or bothers me, no matter what emotion arises, I can let it go, right there and then. If you are able to say that, then you are really a Vajrayana practitioner. If not, it’s different, maybe you think you are a Vajrayana practitioner, but you still allow the five afflictive emotions, be in your mind, completely ordinary. So then that is of no benefit. So the Buddha did say, “All phenomena have the nature of the three kayas”. The Buddha does not lie, but we also need to really actualise that from within ourselves.



APPEARANCE AS IMPURE IS JUST MOMENTARY
[a play of phenomena, the arisings of causes, conditions and effects]


In terms of the “Three Kayas,” so the “dharmakaya,” and the “sambhogakaya,” exist in a pure aspect, of mind. And then in the “nirmanakaya,” the “nirmanakaya” have a pure, and impure aspect together, which is why we say, “… that all sentient beings in the six realms of samsara are really “nirmanakayas,” because they all possess Buddha nature ultimately”. If they appear impure, it is just momentary. So momentarily they embody the three poisons, or the six poisons. So they are sort of tulkus, (a “tulku” means nirmanakaya), they are tulkus of the six realms. So, who are the hell beings tulkus of? They are the tulkus of hatred. And who are the hungry spirits tulkus of? They are tulkus of stinginess. And who are the animals tulkus of? They are ignorance tulkus. So, they are all tulkus, but they are tulkus of the three poisons temporarily. So it is only temporary, (it won’t always last, they won’t always be that), because they ultimately possess Buddha nature. They have the “seeds of liberation,” and so that is why we plant those seeds. For example through the Liberation by “seeing,” “touching,” “hearing,” and so on. So all this appearance is only like an illusion, it doesn’t actually exist. Ultimately the three lower realms, none of it really exists. And so, (when you look at it, and you apply it to your own mind now), and you find out, so I get angry; if I let myself be angry in this kind of ordinary way, then with a hundred percent certainty; I will go to hell. Or, if I allow my stinginess, or greed to just be there, ordinary; with a hundred percent certainty, I will be a hungry spirit. And so, how does all of this arise? (All these thoughts of stinginess, and anger and so on?)

Jigten Sumgon said in the Gongchig, that “karma is the manifestation of our momentary thoughts”. So karma just arises, thoughts just arise momentarily, (just moment by moment). And so then when we die, these moments of affliction will then transform into an inferior rebirth. So when we die and all of our elements have dissolved; if in your lifetime you have practiced meditation, you have practiced Mahamudra, and Dzogchen and you have seen the luminous nature of your mind, then at the time of death, you will also see that. And if you see that with a hundred percent certainty, you will attain Enlightenment as a dharmakaya. Or, if in your lifetime you have cultivated love and compassion, and practiced the yidam deity, and you have complete faith in the deity, (so the three kinds of faith [are] the clear, the trusting and the longing faith), if you die with that strong conviction, then with a hundred percent certainty you will attain Enlightenment as a sambhogakaya, and take rebirth in the Purelands. Or, if you remain in an impure state, then you may go on into the Bardo, (it is called the “Bardo of Becoming”), after death. You go into the actual Bardo, and then depending on which of the afflictive emotions is the strongest one in your mind, that will determine where you will take rebirth in the future. And so that is what we call the “karmic winds,” it is those “karmic winds” that will bring you to any of the six realms [of cyclic existence].



THE KARMIC WINDS & THE WISDOM WINDS


So we therefore need to understand the difference between the “karmic winds,” and the “wisdom winds”. And we should see them arising, (moving within ourselves). So what are the “karmic winds”? So when a strong afflictive emotion arises, (that’s a karmic wind arising). So then when you have practiced, and the same affliction arises, but you see it, with a clear mind, (mindfulness) it will go away again. So what just happened, now? So I got really angry, I saw the anger and it went away. [This is] because, when you see the anger; (what I see), is complete clarity, that’s actually the nature of anger. It is so powerful, (this anger is so powerful), that it clears away all other thoughts, (so all there is, is the anger), and so the mind becomes completely emptied of everything else. So the mind just becomes like space, and completely clear. So, that’s the power of the anger when you see it; it eliminates in an instant all the other emotions. For example, you have a friend that you love with all your heart. If you get really angry with that friend, sometimes people are even able to kill their partner, because they completely forget about the love in that moment; (that is how powerful the anger is), it completely eradicates all other thoughts. So when all thoughts are eradicated, you come to the actual fundamental nature of your mind, (and that is why we call the anger, the “mirror-like wisdom”); and so, in that case, the afflictive emotion is seen, (is realised), as primordial wisdom.

So we call that, “transforming the karmic winds, into wisdom winds”. And so you are seeing this movement for what it actually is. When you see your own mind, in this way, then you have some good understanding of the Vajrayana. Then the next question would be, “Do you always do that?” So then maybe you feel that… not all the time. Sometimes I just eat really good food, and I just bite into it, and it gets into my belly, and then, often I don’t even really think about what I’m actually eating, and so on. (The body is also pervaded by all different microorganisms, who are harmed by that). And so then, all of this for example, is complete unawareness of that. Then there are the afflictive emotions, when that is there, again with one hundred percent certainty, whatever there is, will ripen as a karma. So as Jigten Sumgon said, “the karma is… or the karmic manifestations are the manifestations of our momentary thoughts”. And so, then when karma remains in the mind, you are in the “Bardo of Becoming,” and you just go to anywhere in the six realms of samsara. So you have to, (the point is), we have to be very precise with karma, in order for us to be able to practice the Vajrayana. So when you really understand the afflictive emotion, what it is, it actually is primordial wisdom. But if you don’t understand it, if you don’t know, (if you don’t recognise that), then it is just a normal afflictive emotion.



WHO IS ACTUALLY HAVING THIS EMOTION?


And so when the afflictive emotion arises, then who actually is having this emotion? Who is thinking about it? There is no-one really; there is no-one there really, (thinking this emotion), that is the actual point. But if you don’t understand that… the Buddha had said that, “Beings don’t realise their true [nature]; that there is no real actor (agent), and not knowing that, they engage in meaningless actions”. And so this is how we become completely ordinary and afflicted. And so whether or not we go to the Hell Realms, or to the Purelands after our death; whether or not we are taken by “karmic,” or “wisdom” winds, is up to us, (is up to you). So, if we do not recognise that, and just remain ordinary, the six afflictive emotions will remain in the mind, (and we take birth in the lower realms). So for example, we may even have some understanding, (but not really). So we hear somebody say, (we hear the Lama say), “So you have to really believe in karma”. And then you feel that, “Yeah so that’s really true, he’s probably right”. But then, you don’t actually assimilate that in your mind. (So, you kind of take it in, but you don’t really care so much, or believe in it a hundred percent). So then how would you mind look like otherwise, if you really would understand?

Then for example, if you see an animal, or any other being that suffers, what you would immediately see, would be what leads to that suffering. So you would see the ignorance, for example in an animal. (So you would see, and you would feel their suffering). You would become aware of everyone’s suffering around you, and you would feel a great compassion; (when that arises in your mind, then you are really practicing this). So for example, you see a sentient being and they are suffering, you understand, this is because of ignorance, or this is because of anger, or this is because of stinginess. And, in that moment of understanding that, there is great love, and there is great compassion. So the Vajrayana in other words, is practiced in circumstances, in situations as they come up, you practice. And so Milarepa also said, in […] terms of empowerment, because we all like to receive empowerments; Milarepa said, “The outer empowerment is to receive the vase on your crown”. And everyone likes that a lot. They feel, now I have met this Lama, and now I receive the empowerment, (the vase has been placed onto my crown). But actually this is not the real way to receive an empowerment.



UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING OF THE EMPOWERMENT


The empowerment has to be received by the mind, that means you have to understand the meaning of the empowerment; which is also why you can receive the empowerment over a recording, or the livestream. If you really trust, then you will receive the empowerment, because it is the mind mainly, that needs to receive the empowerment. So the outer empowerment is to receive the vase on your crown. Inner empowerment is to see your body as the deity. And the actual empowerment, is to understand the meaning of the empowerment; and that is, the natural state of the mind, (so the nature of the deity, which is a mind that is free of the five afflictive emotions). A mind that has transformed all these afflictions into wisdom; a mind that has no self, (that’s the mind of the deity). And if that comes to mind, as you receive the empowerment, then in an instant you can become the deity; (because the meaning of the deity actually has arisen in your mind). So it is not at all about receiving a vase on your crown. You have to understand the inner meaning. If you don’t understand the inner meaning, this is actually why often people misinterpret the practice. They kind of get the practice a little bit wrong, (a wrong understanding of the practice), because they don’t understand that very point.

And so now moving to something that is very important, and that is the thought on, how difficult it is to find the precious human body. And so that is something that has really been of great benefit to myself over the years. It is extremely difficult to find a precious human body. And it is hard for us to think about this, especially if we don’t understand, what we just mentioned before; (if we don’t have much love for sentient beings). But then, if you have love for sentient beings, (the reason why it is easier to think about the difficulty of finding a precious human body), is because you are aware of the suffering. So because you have compassion, you feel instantly the suffering of an animal, for example; and because you feel their suffering, you notice them. And then, you think about, how hard it is to be a human being actually. I had one disciple who said, […] she went to a place where they catch fish, and then they kill the fish there, and she said, she couldn’t look at that. She had to close her eyes, because she just couldn’t bear to see that. So that is the kind of compassion that should arise in one, when one really feels compassion. It really affects you, when you feel compassion. The suffering of others really affects you.



KARMIC CONNECTIONS


Otherwise, some people they feel nothing at all. They just go and kill a fish, or anything, without feeling anything at all, (because there is no compassion). So then, whatever karma goes around, [comes back to us]. Now we eat the fish, but later the fish eats us. For example, when you go to a restaurant, and you eat some fish. So the fish is put on your plate, you are the one who eats it. The fish is the one that is being eaten. But in order for that fish to land on the plate in front of you, [that] is only possible because of karma, (karmic connection). If you didn’t have the karmic connection, the fish would not be there for you to eat at all. But then because you eat the fish, there is more karmic debt being created. So there is a karmic debt that is being created. Nothing happens for no reason, that is why Guru Rinpoche said that, “our conduct has to be precise, (or fine), like tsampa flour”. We have to be extremely precise with karma. And also in the Seven Verses of Supplication to Tara, it speaks about, those who don’t really believe in karma. So we have seen the mind, but we don’t really preserve it, because we don’t really believe in karma. So, we need to really trust in karma, [cause, effect and conditions]. And Jigten Sumgon also said that, “Those who do not have real certainty in karma, when they talk about lofty dharma, it is just a lie”. What he means is that, if you don’t really trust in karma; even if you know all kinds of other Dharma teachings, to speak about them, is of no benefit. [For] if you don’t really believe in karma, [then] nobody will really benefit from that.

So, no matter what Dharma you practice, (whichever vehicle you follow), you always have to ask your own mind, (look at your own mind), “How am I, actually, myself, practicing all of that?” “Do I really understand the Vajrayana, and in essence, that is, that all beings are really Buddhas. So what is the difference between the “Vajrayana” and the “Individual Liberation?” So, in the “Individual Liberation,” we want to find a method to become liberated from the six realms of samsara, [cyclic existence]. So here, we need to think about karma very carefully. And so, that is also where we learn [about]; how difficult it is to find the precious human body. But then, do you really know that? Is that really conscious in your mind? (You have to really ask yourself [that]). If it is [really conscious in your mind]. If you really understand how difficult it is to find a precious human body, you will not waste any time. There is no time to waste. You would use any moment to do anything meaningful, to practice virtue, anything, because the body is going to die, and it is very hard to find such a body again.



THE ONLY THING THAT GOES WITH ‘YOU’ IS YOUR KARMA


After you have left this body, whatever riches you have accumulated, everything will be left behind. And the only thing that goes with you is your karma. So for example, when we look in the world, what some people do. There are some really bad leaders, or kings in the world, who go for war with other countries, and they kill others, just like playing games. And all of this cruelty, is only because people don’t really understand karma, that is the only fault here. And that is really why there is so much suffering in the world, because people don’t think about karma. So, we have to think about it carefully, and this is what Guru Rinpoche meant, (and Guru Rinpoche is really the prime example of a Vajrayana practitioner, (upholder)), and he said, “… while your view must be high as the sky, (or as vast as the sky), your conduct must be as fine as flour,” (so it must be very precise). You must follow the workings of karma. And so for a practice therefore, it is really important to reflect on the difficulty of finding a precious human body. And we reflect on that, by looking at humans and animals, since we live together. And this is something that has really helped me a lot. I’ve practiced it for many years, and I’m still practicing it, because it is so beneficial for the practice. And because of that, I’m able to, really be aware, and feel the suffering of sentient beings, all over. So its a very important practice.

And so one important thing, as we are all assembled here together, we have a great opportunity, and it is really important, to discuss the dharma with each other. In terms of asking questions now. So you can ask questions, but before you ask the questions, you should actually discuss it with each other. Because, when you discuss the dharma, even if I am not here teaching the dharma, its still okay, because you are really practicing it, by discussing it. So by discussing it, you understand for example, the “relative truth” of karma, and then the “ultimate truth” of emptiness. And so this is then, how the questions arise, [it] is through discussion. So it is better not to, just directly ask me a question, but before you do so, really discuss it with each other, and see what comes up. And then you also have the opportunity to ask Khen Rinpoche, [Drupon Khen Rinpoche] here, questions or, Drupon Rinpoche [Drupon Rinchen Dorje Rinpoche], who holds the practice lineage of blessings, and of course you can ask me. So it is a very special time that you are all here, so during this time, it is really important to use this time for practice. Thank you, Tashi Delek.

And Rinpoche says, any questions directed to Rinpoche, you can write them down on a piece of paper, and then give them to me, or I guess, give them to the office, and then we can go through these questions.

“May bodhicitta, the precious and supreme mind, arise in whom it has not yet arisen, where it has arisen, may it not decline, but ever increase higher and higher”.



(to be continued…)
Immeasurable heartfelt thanks for these most precious teachings.