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 4 2024.



Good morning all my Dharma friends, here and on the livestream. So yesterday I spoke about the “Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind,” and so that is, “Preliminary Practices”. And, often people say that, “Well that is just “Preliminaries,” that’s easy, (that’s the easy things). It is actually not easy at all. Jigten Sumgon said, “Everyone thinks that, the so-called main practices are so profound”. But […] he said, “to me the ‘Preliminaries,’ are more profound, than the main practices”. So, why do we need “Preliminary Practices”? If you want to grow something in a field, you first have to plough the field, (get the field ready), without that, nothing will grow on it. So, first of all the mind has to mingle with the Dharma. We already have the seed, (all sentient beings have that seed), because they possess Buddha nature. So, that is kind of, the fundamental refuge that we already have, (because we have Buddha nature). And, because we have the fundamental refuge, we also have “refuge on the path”. And so, what is the main problem, (the fault), that sentient beings develop? It is that concept of “me,” (a self). And then, the perception of, “self” and “other,” because they are controlled by “me”. [It is] this idea that there is a “self,” that the six realms of samsara [cyclic existence], have been created, but also samsara is only temporary. So, what we need to do is, we need to be able to think about others, instead of the “self”. “The Perfect Buddhas arise from the altruistic mind”. So, you have to see for yourself, from looking at your mind, “… Am I able to really think about others?”

Mostly, we really first think about ourselves, (mostly ourselves, are more important), even if we practice the Dharma, or do something good. There is still this thought of “me,” “I am first”. If […] it’s nothing to do with “me,” then somehow it doesn’t feel so good. There is this… somehow, it has to be about “me”. And so that, is what we have to eliminate. This sense of “me”. Like thinking for example, that “… If I don’t think about “me,” “myself,” somehow I’m going to lose out on something. So, instead of thinking of “me,” we have to train the mind into thinking about others. And unless we follow a long path, many stages of a path, we won’t be able to tame that “self” so easily; that’s why there are so many stages to a path. So basically it is said that, “… Before you actually move onto those “so called main practices,” you really need to practice the “Preliminaries,” until you are able to really “think” about others, and not yourself.


So, we spoke about the “Difficulty of finding a precious human body”. And there are many ways we can think about that. We can think about, How difficult it is to find a precious human body, in terms of its causes. And that’s actually the main way to think about it, (the most important way). We need to understand the cause, that leads to a precious human rebirth. So the seed, is our own mind, and we already have that. The actual cause, (the supporting condition), that we need, to be born as a human, is the altruistic mind, (is the mind of bodhicitta). There are many different ways to explain that, and many of you might have heard about… How difficult it is to find a human body, in terms of causes. In terms of examples, there are many different stories about that. But, so for example, if we just look in the world; the Dharma has spread in this world. We look at how many people there are, how many animals there are, and those people who just think about “concrete material existence”. All they can see, is just this life, (this existence).

So, don’t just think about this, [in that way]. Do not just think about this life. And that is something, people generally don’t like to hear. They like to think about this life. But saying that, “Don’t just think about this life,” does not mean, you have to give up everything you do in this life, and just become a retreatant, somewhere in isolation. It doesn’t necessarily mean that. It is mainly the mind that we need to pay attention to. With body and speech, we can continue to engage in whatever we are doing. But the mind is important. And so the mind first needs to understand, the importance of love. Love is really indispensable, we absolutely need love. And why?… because it is the only cause for happiness. [And] that is why in our recitation of our opening prayers, we always say in the beginning; “May beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness”. And that is what I always recite, and I always emphasise “May they have happiness, and the causes of happiness,” [adding emphasis to this word, the “causes”].


So, I don’t have a lot of learning myself, but this is what I can say, (I know), and that is, the only cause for happiness is love. And that is why I also emphasise the word “cause,” when we say, “May beings be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering”. The cause of suffering is self-grasping, and nothing else. So that is what we must understand by all means. There is only one cause for suffering, and that is self-grasping. “The perfect Buddhas arise from the altruistic mind”. So if you want to find happiness, if you want to find the cause of happiness, there is only love. If you want to get at the root of your suffering, you have to only rid yourself of self-grasping. And so of course that is a difficult thing for us often, to accomplish. So basically all that we want is to be happy. If I ask you, what is it [that you want?], what do you want? You will say, “I just want to be happy”. But, you are just thinking about this life. If you just think about this life, in this world, you have both happiness and suffering. So you don’t want the suffering, you only want the happiness. Since that is what you want, if you don’t have the cause for it, there is no way you will get it. And the cause is created in a previous life already. Any action that you have done with a mind of love. [And] that is why, you now have a precious human body. Also the precious human body is a result of practicing ethical discipline. Or, if you have practiced, [or] been patient, then now you will have many friends; you will have a beautiful face, and a long-life. If you have been generous, you will have wealth. So all the happiness comes from generosity, patience, and ethical discipline.

Also it is said that, if you just practice a single, nyung-ne or, nying-ne practice; each time you do this practice, you create the cause for a precious human body. This is actually what a Drikung Geshe told me, when he gave me the Mahayana Sojong Vows. So, every time you do this practice, you gain a precious human body. So when you look at your life, as a “precious human being,” you have a “precious human body”. But there are some people even though they have that, [the precious human body], they for example, are very poor. So, if you are very poor, it is because in a previous life you have been stingy. So each of your experiences, that you experience in this life, is somehow connected to an afflictive emotion. Or, for example, if you do not have a lot of friends, it is because you have not been patient. So, everything is connected to an affliction. And also, the slightest happiness you experience, is connected to anything you have done with a mind of love. And so these feelings of love, and also the afflictions, are within our mind. And they create karma, and they create our experiences. Also, when we receive the Refuge Vow, that is what we are introduced to, […] the causes. So people generally don’t recognise the real causes for their happiness, and their suffering.


So you should really think about it. If you have a lot of suffering, for example you think, “I am very poor all the time, [so] that is because I have been stingy in the past”. It has a cause. Every experience is somehow related to one of the ten non-virtuous actions, or any of the afflictive emotions. Somehow it is present within your mind. So, your outer problems, somehow have some kind of connection to a quality in your mind. You have to get to the root cause of that. And also for happiness, whatever it is, find the right cause for it. So we have found the precious human body, and so having found the precious human body, the most important thing for a human being now, to make use of this life, is to understand karma. You have to understand the “workings of karma”. The other day, I saw something about Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, who came to Washington, and met with some people [there]. And he said that, “Generally speaking you, [U.S.A.] are considered, of all the hundreds of countries in the world, […] the best country in the world, but then still, that does not ultimately benefit you, because there is still past and future lives [continuation]. So he said that, […] “Even though we have some kind of freedom, autonomy, in a mundane sense; if we do not pay attention to karma, then eventually, karma will ripen”. And so, I really find this very meaningful to think about. For example, if you find yourself being poor, or having no food, or having no drink, and so on. We need to understand that all of that, has a certain cause, that it is related to.

And so, I can’t really myself, speak so much about other, different religions. I have a lot of faith in the Buddha Dharma. I can’t say what other religions really do, but I do know that, they all really believe in love, compassion, kindness. But saying that…, “May all beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness. And be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering,” seems to be, quite a unique Buddhist practice. But all religions certainly have these qualities of love and compassion. It is just to different, varying degrees. And so, this is really what Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was passing on, and masters like him. And they really have opened the eyes of disciples, (in their tens and thousands), to karma. These masters are like the sun shining in this world, introducing us to the “workings of karma”. So the main thing that we need to understand is, the “workings of karma”. So even though you have such a great country, you still have a lot of poor people, without food and drink within it; because there is karma. And so, if we don’t understand this, then all we can see is just this life. We can’t see future lives, past lives. They don’t believe in karma, they don’t understand karma. If you don’t have any understanding of this, then you can’t really accomplish so much meaning in this lifetime. So to accomplish meaning, (having found a precious human body), you have to understand karma. And that really, essentially, means you have to understand the importance of love, and think that, “… that’s the one thing, that I have to hold on to, by all means”.


And so love, has to connect to the Buddha nature, that you already have. And yesterday, also we spoke about this adventitious, this momentary stain, that is self-grasping. What I meant by this, is that it is “momentary,” because it does not really exist. It just momentarily, (in the moment), it arises. It never existed in the past, it will never exist in the future, and when you are mindful, and when you see it, it doesn’t exist now. So it is just something that arises temporarily, and it can be destroyed, when you give rise to love. So you need to find a way to melt the ice-block. If you put the ice-block in the freezer, it will not melt. You have to take it out, and put it somewhere warm, where it doesn’t freeze. If you put it in the sun, it won’t freeze into an ice-block. It will melt and turn into water, and then do all the things that water does; like giving life to the natural environment, the trees and the plants and so on. Everyone needs water to survive; without water, no living being can survive. So ice, even though it is water, essentially it still can’t sustain somebody’s life, if you don’t melt it. So self-grasping is just like that, it is like an ice-block. So you need to recognise, “my mind is like an ice-block, it is self-grasping, (I cling to a self)”. And the problem with that, is that we lose all of our love. Even some people lose their love for their own family members, and they want to kill them, or they commit suicide. All of this happens, because they do not understand karma. So really keep that in mind, and think, it is really so important that I understand karma. I have to remember this.

And so now coming back to “the difficulty of finding a precious human body,” in terms of numbers. So, we can look at animals and humans for example, and see that, there are far more animals, than there are humans. And then, if you look at the few humans there are, how many humans actually really understand karma? And then, even those who do understand karma, how many really trust in karma, and practice accordingly? So it gets less and less and less. And so here we can see, how hard it is to find a precious human body, and why there are just so few. And so it is really important to reflect on that. Think about all these human beings that exist. How many of these human beings do good things? How many do negative things? And all of that has a cause, and creates a cause. So the one thing to remember is, the one cause for happiness, that is love. So just bring this to your mind very clearly, thinking that, now I have understood that this is the cause of happiness, and this is what I must trust in, (believe in). And if your trust in this is very firm, then you have really accomplished that part of “The Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind,” you have really understood karma. And if you only have love, the other “six paramitas” will happen naturally, in all your activities. So now, in terms of engaging in various activities, you don’t have to separate the dharma from the world. You can practice… You do not have to necessarily sit down in a certain environment and do a practice, to practice the dharma.


You can practice the dharma in all of your ordinary activities. You do not have to change any of your activities at all. The most important thing is to look at your mind, and to practice love and bodhicitta in your mind. The outer appearance, the outer manifestation is really secondary, it can appear as anything externally. You can do anything really, any kind of job, or activity. What is most important is to have bodhicitta, and then dharma practice is accomplished, so it’s important. In terms of understanding how difficult it is to find a precious human body, thinking about the causes is really most important, and the cause is bodhicitta. And then think that… for example, how does one become an animal, and so on? It is because one lacks that [bodhicitta], one does not understand that. So to understand the precious human body, the most important thing to know, is the cause for a precious human body, which is love.

And so as a precious human being; then we understand karma, and we take refuge in the Three Jewels. So it [Buddha Dharma] says, we have to take refuge [in our true nature]. And what’s the real point of taking refuge? After taking refuge, what should we do? After taking refuge, you have to benefit sentient beings. If you benefit sentient beings, you are really also benefiting yourself, [a nondual nature]. In the past in Colarado, there was a disciple of Zopa Rinpoche, and he made a wooden prayer wheel with a crystal on top. It was very beautiful and easy to spin. And at that time I thought, this is really wonderful, (because I understand the benefits of spinning a prayer wheel), and it is so easy to spin these wooden prayer wheels. In Tibet we also have prayer wheels, but often they are very large, and made of different precious metals, like gold and so on, so it’s hard to spin them. And we have to find a skilful way to disseminate, to spread love. And I thought, this is a wonderful way to spread love, to increase the teachings, and to spread the teachings. So that prayer wheel, for example is filled with millions of Chenrezig mani mantras. And who is Chenrezig really? Chenrezig has great love for all sentient beings in the three realms [of existence]. He can see all of their suffering. So I do understand Chenrezig’s qualities, and I thought it would be good to fill these prayer wheels with so many Chenrezig mantras. And have them made, in a way that is easy to spin, because I understand the benefit of spinning the prayer wheel. So there is a text that speaks about the benefits of the mantra.


So a Chenrezig wheel, for example, is filled with […] a million mantras, and that text which speaks about the benefits of mantra, mentions nine benefits, but three of them are most important. And these are: to understand that the mantra is the deity. Then second, the mantra is a blessing of the deity, and third, the mantra also is a purification of negativities. So it is good to understand these three. And so then, since the mantra is the deity, when we spin the prayer wheel, filled with those mani mantras, each of these mantras becomes the deity, becomes Chenrezig. And then also, it is a blessing. So Chenrezig’s quality is great compassion. And so then with each rotation of the prayer wheel, if there is a million mantras, then a million Chenrezigs emerge outside, with great compassion, and pervade all sentient beings Buddha nature, with love. And as a result, they will also be able to develop love in their own hearts. And so you are familiar with that, so I don’t want to speak too much about that, but the prayer wheel is really important for that reason.

Just one more thing about it, [the prayer wheel]. The only problem it had, was the top part always kept falling off. And so now I have changed that. I made that top part, (this kind of like wooden part), and the intention was for it to look like a mother’s nipple. The nipple of a breast, because then we remember our mothers. Everyone who is born from a womb in the six realms [of cyclic existence], has a mother. And it is important that we remember our mothers with great love. There are still some people who say that, “But I don’t love my mother”. And why? “Oh, because she abused me, she was not good to me”. No matter what happened, still she did carry you in her belly, when she was pregnant. And she taught you everything, before you even knew how to speak. She fed you, she raised you, and so on. But then, you don’t think about any of that. You just think about some of the negative things, (that’s also an ignorance actually). So, no matter what really happened with the mother, she was very kind for giving you this life and nourishing you. So, there is no reason at all why you shouldn’t have love for your mother, and you really benefit from that, the most actually.


And so then once you understand that, then next, remember that there is not a single sentient being who has not been your mother. They all have been your mothers in a previous life. And so in the dharma, we often speak about, […] how our actions become more significant [more meaningful]. And it is influenced by, if the recipient, like a mother for example: is a very special kind of recipient. Or, if the thought in your mind, (the intention), is a special kind of intention. Or, if the […] object, whatever it is, that you are doing, or giving, is a special kind. So those three are often summarised. They are called: the field with the recipient, the field thought, and things; so that is what is meant by that, (so the field, or the recipient). A special recipient, is for example a mother. But then everyone really has been your mother, so everyone is a kind of this special recipient. And now then, the “thing,” the special “thing” that you are giving, is sending out all these mantras, when you spin the prayer wheel. So first you see the nipple for example, then you remember your mother, and then you remember that all beings are my mothers. And then you spin the prayer wheel, and millions of Chenrezigs, with great compassion are sent out, to all of the sentient beings. And so when Chenrezig goes out, how is he really going? It is really the mind that is going, [the compassionate, wisdom awareness]. It is the mind that reaches sentient beings, when you turn the prayer wheel. So when you turn the prayer wheel, how the mind goes is, there is a mindfulness when you spin the prayer wheel. And through this focus, all thinking stops. So it cuts through the “dualistic thinking” of “self” and “other”. And when there is no dualistic thinking, and you send out all of these Chenrezigs, you can easily see that, all males are Chenrezig, and all females are Tara. So that is the power of mantra really.

There are many different deities and mantras, and that is the power of mantra. It is, that it cuts through the “dualistic thinking” of “self” and “other”. And that is the main practice of the Vajrayana. It is often explained in the context of the “Four Nails that Bind the Life-Force”. […] anyway that is the benefit of spinning a prayer wheel, and we also remember the kindness of our mothers. And nowadays disciples have created and opened up workshops, where they actually produce those prayer wheels. And then sometimes the people who own prayer wheels, or after the [prayer wheels] are produced, then they sometimes come and say, “Can you now bless all of these prayer wheels?” But actually it is not necessary to bless or consecrate a prayer wheel, because it is already blessed by itself. It is filled with the mani mantra. So it is Chenrezig. It is already blessed by Chenrezig, without any other blessing. And so nowadays, also in Taiwan what they are sending out comes from Gargon [Gar Monastery]. [It] is this prayer wheel *balm. [*It is made from a buttery salve, and is used to keep the prayer wheel spinning. It is also used in blessings and of ritual items]. So if you want […], you can put this on the prayer wheels. So those people from the Taiwan centre really think about, how they can produce, and create things that really benefit others.


For example when we give the “Refuge Vow,” they [Taiwan centre] have created this “Refuge Vow” package, where they send out this prayer wheel and different items. And so all of these items, also the text and the card, and so on, they do not need any blessings. You don’t need to especially bless them. […] The Buddha Shakyamuni himself, actually said to Ananda, just before he passed away, “Do not be sad. I will continue to exist, I will continue to be there. In the future, I will appear as the spiritual teachers. I will appear as the Dharma teachings, I will exist within the scriptures”. So that is what the Buddha said, and therefore we can really say that, any spiritual teacher, with great love, really is a manifestation of the Buddha. The mind really manifests as the Buddha. [In the realisation of the Buddha qualities, and in the Enlightened activities that bring benefit to all beings]. So the Buddha didn’t mean that for everyone he will appear as, (materialising) in a certain form, but he will exist within the minds of these great masters. Or, anyone who possesses love, the Buddha will exist together with them, in their minds. And he also said, he will exist within the scriptures in the future. He will exist within the heart of bodhicitta, that arises within you. So all the benefits of that arise, from just spinning a prayer wheel. So I was thinking about it, and I thought it would be an excellent way to promote the prayer wheel. For people to remember this. Remember compassion, remember their mothers. Remember the kindness they have received from their mothers, and also have a wish to repay that kindness. And then, all of the mothers, all sentient beings.

So, all these sentient beings, currently are suffering in the lower realms, [there are so many more sentient beings in the lower realms, than the upper realms, countless sentient beings]. And why?, because of self-grasping. Although they do possess Buddha-nature, temporarily their mind is like an ice-block. Temporarily they are controlled by their afflictive emotions. However, whenever the sun of love and compassion shines on them, that ice will instantly melt, and they will all become Buddhas, (because they already possess the actual cause within them). So this is the meaning of the prayer wheel, and why it is already blessed on its own. And so all of this is a skilful method of the Buddha; a skilful method for us to become liberated. For example, there are certain forms of “liberation by seeing,” (when we see a certain Buddha’s form, or a mantra), then that plants the seed of liberation. Or, there is the “liberation by tasting,” (something we eat, like the mani pills). Or, the “liberation by hearing,” (the various teachings that we receive from the spiritual masters, especially the teachings on karma). And these masters really engage in extensive enlightened activities for beings in the world. And why do they do that? They do that, only because they want to put this love in the minds of sentient beings. So, they need various skilful means to accomplish that, (to put that love in the mind of sentient beings).


So what is a skilful way here for example? For example, when you see a Buddha form, then you remember, “Oh that’s the Buddha, the Buddha is very precious. So what did the Buddha say? Well the Buddha taught karma? What does that mean? Well, actually it means love. Oh I need to cultivate love”. So that is what you then remember, when you see a form of a Buddha. So you really benefit yourself. It is really to your own greatest benefit. In the “Samantabhadra Prayer,” Samantabhadra himself said, “My mind and sentient beings mind, we are the same. But you have given rise to self-grasping,” (you think, [from] “me, me, me,” all of the time, this is what ties you up. [Samantabhadra is the primordial Buddha, a state that is naturally free of self-grasping]. So when self-grasping is given up, and the ice is melted, it becomes like an ocean. And so what happens when the mind becomes like an ocean? When you have this Mahayana ocean-like mind, what does it feel? What kind of mind is that? So that mind feels the suffering of all beings. It is aware of everyone’s suffering, and the mind does not ever think about oneself. [Of the nondual nature state of mind itself]. Like the quote we mentioned yesterday, “The Mahayana mind is vast like an ocean, and a lesser mind is like the water collecting in the footprint of a cow”. So this is the feeling, the experience you will gain, when your mind becomes like an ocean. And we need many different skilful ways to bring our mind to become liberated. So there are essentially three different methods, the three paths. They are the practices we can do, with body, and speech and mind.

Essentially the Buddha said, “Do not commit any wrong, perfectly practice virtue. Completely tame your own mind”. So, “Do not commit any wrong,” it just means, let go of self-grasping, (let go of selfishness). “Be virtuous” means, have an altruistic mind, (have a wish to benefit others). So that is really all you need. If you just have that, then no matter what you do with body, speech and mind, it will always be good, (it will always be virtuous). And so, that is what the Buddha had recognised with his great wisdom and compassion. And, as a result, he gave us this method. And that is why in our recitations, (our prayers), we often say, “the Buddhas qualities are inconceivable”. It is because of that. If we didn’t have the Buddha, no-one could become liberated from those miserable states of existence. The Buddha was the one who had the method. And the Buddha gave us this method, which essentially is the “Four Immeasurables”. Through love we have to eliminate self-grasping, it is really the essence. And so that is what we need to understand as dharma practitioners. Because we do practice the dharma, but then we have to understand, that it really means to practice in the mind. We need to develop this power of love, (a real feeling of love). And, you need to protect it with patience.


And that is how Milarepa, and many of the other hundreds and thousands of siddhas, have attained accomplishment. All they really did was, eliminate their self-grasping, and gave rise to an altruistic mind. And with that mind, they are set on liberating sentient beings. And with that intention, many nirmanakayas, or tulkus have appeared in the world. And then everyone is a tulku as we mentioned. We mentioned before, “All phenomena have the nature of the three kayas”. So therefore, always remember that everyone in this world is the deity. All the males with compassion are Chenrezig, and the females are Tara. It is important to cultivate a pure perception. And that is also what benefited me greatly. A pure perception means that you see those higher beings with great devotion, and the sentient beings with great compassion. Either way, whether you have great devotion, or compassion, this will purify your self-grasping, (your dualistic thinking), and you will separate from the self. When you separate from the self, your mind already is the Buddha naturally. There is no Buddha found outside of yourself. And so this is also actually what is included in essence in our Refuge card. Everything really, that is important is included in the Refuge card. But in essence you already have the jewels within you, [within] your mind. There is nothing that needs to be removed from your mind, and nothing that needs to be added to your mind. Your mind as it is already, is the Buddha naturally. So we take refuge in the Buddha for example.

When you take refuge in the Buddha, from today onwards, until Enlightenment, it is said you will be protected. Then you take refuge in the Dharma. You are protected by the Dharma until attaining Enlightenment. You are protected by the Dharma, because the Dharma is love, and that is your trustworthy protection. Because the Dharma really means, it really means, to understand karma. You have to be very careful, really consider karma, that is the essence of the Dharma. The essence of the Sangha, or the spiritual friends, or community, is the spiritual friend. So all of that, is within you. The essence of the Buddha is wisdom. The essence of the Dharma, is love and compassion. The essence of the Sangha, is the spiritual friend. And the meaning of that, is also written on the Refuge card. So this is actually a card I have designed myself. Because I felt that, there was so many different books on Refuge, just so many teachings, (but there is just too much), and it is hard for people to really understand the essence of it. So I created this card, and I also asked […] Khenchen Sherab, to verify if the content is okay. And he said that, it is good the way it is. So this card, I did not just randomly write stuff down, but I really confirmed the content of the card.


[Questions for Garchen Rinpoche from the audience, are brought to Ina (translator)]

So I have got three questions here:

Question 1

Q: You spoke about how both unlimited love and compassion, and emptiness are needed for Enlightenment. How do they interact, or go together in our being?

A: If you only cultivate love, the self will disappear, (if you just always think about others). If you just always think about others, so you can really try that out, and look at your own mind, when that happens. When you really just only think about someone else, and you don’t care about yourself at all, (what happens in your mind?) So, in terms of emptiness, how they interact? Emptiness means… what needs to be empty really is the self, (that needs to be emptied). The outer universe and the inner sentient beings, they are compounded phenomena. And therefore, they are naturally empty. So what needs to be emptied, (through reflection), is the self. When there is this great love, in that moment there is no feeling of a self. You don’t think about yourself. So this is how you can recognise it. “When I do not think about myself, then I think about others. When I do not think about others, I just think about myself”. So it is these moments, when you don’t care about yourself, where you only think about others, that the self becomes empty. And then, again it arises momentarily, due to the six sense consciousnesses. But then when love arises again, it disappears again. [And] that is all you need to habituate to, is love. And ultimately, when someone who has cultivated immeasurable, or great love, is one that we call a Buddha. It is the state where there is no more self-grasping at all.

And so it’s the love, for example that you have for your child. But then, what does often happen is, it starts with love, but then the next thought is, “it is my child”. And so then again, there is this “me” that arises. You have lost your pure love. So this “me,” this “I,” this is how it arises momentarily. So when you cultivate immeasurable love, the mind becomes very vast, like the sky, or like an ocean. As we said, “the mind of the Mahayana is like a vast ocean, and that pervades everything, the outer entire environment naturally”. And so this is a real experience of immeasurable love. The samsaric love, is love but then again a “self” arises, so it becomes sort of tainted. There is love, but then you think for example, “that is my child”. And then again that love is tainted.

Question 2

Q: When someone you love passes, how do you differentiate love and grief, from attachment?

A: So when someone you love passes away, [and] there is this feeling of real love, or immeasurable love, then you would feel, every being has been that person. For example, if it is a parent that has passed away. Then you would think, every being has been my parent, (or whichever family member has passed away). But if you only think about this one person, and not all sentient beings, then that is attachment. Attachment does not do any good, only love will benefit them, (if you want to benefit the deceased). So, if for example your mother, who you love very much passes away, then think, that everyone has been my mother. And then actually, if you want to benefit your deceased mother, this vast mind will actually benefit her. So actually there is really no being who has not been your parent. And so now, we just think, it is our mother right now. But actually all beings have been our mothers. And on the ultimate level, actually we are never separate from our mother, (on the ultimate level of mind).

And so when you cultivate immeasurable love, your mother and all beings will benefit. It is said, that there is, like a poisonous dedication, and one without [poison]. Or a tainted, and an untainted dedication. And the untainted dedication, is the dedication of emptiness. Where you recognise that all sentient beings possess Buddha nature, and no real sentient being exists. I also do not really exist. And then you just rest in a state of emptiness. Then the more tainted or relative dedication, is when you still do perceive a duality of “self” and “other”. Then you need to cultivate immeasurable love. So that is why we say, “You still have to cultivate immeasurable love, because you do still see a duality of “self” and “other””. So we have have these two kinds of dedication, the relative, (which is this one), and the ultimate, which is just to rest in this nondual state. And then if you have a lama, a guru, who has seen the ultimate truth, who has realised the [nature of] mind. And you think of this lama, then also through his or her realisation, you can actually benefit the deceased. And that is because they themselves, the deceased, they possess Buddha nature, and then that guru possesses bodhicitta. And with bodhicitta, the gurus liberate those not liberated. They release those not released. Meaning that they lift those in the lower realms out, into the higher realms. And those who are already in the higher realms, they make them attain the bhumis and so on. But what is important is that you remember that guru. The guru may always think of you, but then, if you don’t remember the guru with great devotion, (if you do not have much devotion to the guru), then the guru can not help you so much, (the benefit will be smaller). So what is important is that you are also able to remember the guru.

Question 3

Q: I have difficulty fully accepting karma as a cause of rebirth in suffering [samsara], how did you develop faith in karma?

So Rinpoche said, I do really believe in karma, and mainly it arose by observing animals and humans together, and how they are different, and why they are different. So the reason why we don’t believe in karma, [action of body, speech and mind; cause, effect and conditions], is because we don’t really understand those “Four Thoughts [That Turn the Mind to Dharma],” that we mentioned before. Like the precious human body, and so on. And so then, if you don’t understand, that the cause for a human birth is bodhicitta, then you also won’t pay much attention to love and compassion. So love and compassion will be very small. And when that is very small, then you will not really care about karma. So that is really why we need the “Preliminary Practices”. We need to think about them. So trust arises, when you go through the reasoning; you think about it. For example, when you look at animals and humans. Or, anything that you observe. You can see a cause of that kind of experience, within it. Or, for example, when just a thought, or an emotion arises, (there is a cause for all of that). And so, also you can observe that when love arises, all these thoughts will go away. Love is actually connected to emptiness. So when love arises, all these thoughts just naturally go away and become empty.

So we don’t believe in karma, mainly because of ignorance, and that is why there are all of these “Preliminary Practices,” (all these stages). And we have to just persist in them, (keep doing them, over and over again). Thee Buddha first said, “You have to understand, recognise suffering”. So that is really the first step. You look at the suffering of humans, and of animals. And then there is some, [that say], for example, “I don’t suffer in this way, but why do they suffer this way?” There is a cause for suffering. This is also what the Bodhicaryavatara for example, explains. It explains the different kinds of suffering that beings experience. So when you read about, or hear about their suffering, (you feel their suffering, that’s a sign that you trust in karma). If you don’t trust in karma, you are unaffected. For example, you might even see someone killing a fish, right in front of you, and you don’t feel anything. You just take it, cut it, and then eat it, without any feeling. But if you understand karma, you can’t just do that without being affected, (there’s a feeling). So that is what you have to look out for. But you have to just keep developing that reflection, again and again.

And so the root of understanding karma also is really love and compassion. Karma is like the seed, of anything to grow, (the seed of a flower, that’s in your mind). But you don’t see that seed, but it’s in your mind. And so, a very subtle afflictive emotion even, is a seed, that eventually will grow, and then result, in the manifestation of anything in the six realms of samsara. So the reason why we can’t see the seed, is because we don’t have enough love and compassion. And that is why we need the “Preliminary Practices”. And the preliminary really is, love and compassion. It is like, for as long as you are an ice-block, you don’t really see the nature of water. You can’t understand, that you are really water, (you can’t understand it). But once it melts, you will know. And so, similarly we need to melt our ice, of self-grasping with love first.


May bodhicitta, the precious and supreme mind, arise in
whom it has not yet arisen! Where is has arisen, may it not
decline, but ever increase higher and higher!

[Garchen Rinpoche]: And it’s important to have a discussion with each other, (to really discuss karma with each other). Until you really understand it. And also you have Khenpo Rinpoche and Drupon Rinpoche here, who can help you. But you really have to discuss it with each other, and ask about it. Until you really believe it, (and really understand it); because it is really quite dangerous not to.

The session closes with the recording of the White Tara mantra:


(to be continued…)

Immeasurable heartfelt thanks for these most precious teachings.
(Any errors in the transcription are the transcriber’s own).