Archive | April 2014

Solar Eclipse 29 April 2014

Event UTC Time
First location to see partial eclipse begin 29 Apr, 03:53
First location to see full Eclipse begin 29 Apr, 05:57
Maximum Eclipse 29 Apr, 06:04
Last location to see full Eclipse end 29 Apr, 06:15
Last location to see partial Eclipse end 29 Apr, 08:15

Highly encouraged to do more Dharma practices during this time-slot.

(Check for your local times)

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On Pure Vision

Message from Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche April 11, 2014

You think that your body is real, that pain is real, and that pleasure is something else, also real. There are so many different sensations. But all of these are just appearances. Pain is just an appearance, pleasure is just an appearance.

All appearances are the same as dreams. Look at dreams: we have one experience, then another, then the whole thing changes, then we wake up or maybe have another dream. Dreaming, waking, dying, then a new life: all of these are just appearances.

Always try to see where you are as a pureland. We think that someday we will arrive in the pureland, that it is someplace we have to go. Actually, the pureland is something you train in, something you recognize. Until now we have always gone into samsara too much, we have always focused on impure appearances. We have trained in these so diligently that even if Guru Rinpoche or Tara were to come in front of us, we wouldn’t believe they were actually there, because we don’t have any habit of seeing them.
So, we must train in pure appearances instead. Try to see all of this as a pureland. You should read about purelands, such as Guru Rinpoche’s pureland, Tara’s pureland, and Vajrasattva’s. Read the descriptions of what it’s like there.

If it’s Guru Rinpoche’s pureland you are thinking of, that means Vajrasattva can’t be there, right? Tara can’t appear there. And Buddha Shakyamuni? No way! Isn’t that how you think?

Actually, there is no difference between them!

Or maybe you think that, unlike the others, Buddha Shakyamuni doesn’t have a wisdom body, but a flesh body?

He IS a wisdom body! But since he is appearing to impure beings, he must also appear impurely, as flesh and blood. In the temple there are all those thangkas depicting the Buddha’s past lives. He manifested in so many different ways. Each one was only for the benefit of beings, each was just an appearance. He seemed to be flesh and blood but really he was just wisdom appearing for the sake of beings.

Appearances change continuously. So if you die, it’s nothing much. It is just appearances, changing a bit. In terms of your body, maybe death seems like a big change, but in terms of appearances, it’s not a big deal, because appearances are changing all the time anyway. Watch how they constantly arise, constantly change– whether waking or in dreams, morning and night.

If you die but to you everything is a pureland, then you are still in the pureland. Sentient beings’ experiences are changing, but it is all your pureland. You don’t need to buy a ticket to the pureland. You just need to recognize what you have right now. In your pureland, all happiness and suffering are liberated. They call that quality “all- encompassing purity.” “All-encompassing” means it is even, evenly pervading everything. “Purity” means all obscurations are purified, like the syllable “sang” (“purified”) in the Tibetan word for buddha, “sangye.”

At the same time, that purity is inseparable from compassion for sentient beings. All appearances are all-encompassing purity, but beings don’t recognize this. Instead, they suffer in the realms of samsara. Thus, they are naturally objects of compassion.

That purity is also manifesting unceasingly. You think that Vimalamitra and all the great masters of the past came and then they went away? No! They are present, here, now. These manifestations are but the expression of the qualities of all-encompassing purity, your buddha nature. They emanate and appear in all different forms in response to the needs of beings. They are made by the mind, and the mind can do anything. It can appear in any way.

It’s important to consider skillful method (which is great compassion), and wisdom or prajna (which is emptiness). When these two are unmistaken, they are inseparable. They are the union of method and wisdom. Everyone likes to think this is just referring to sexual union, but it’s not.
For example, your body, speech, and mind are method, great compassion, because without a form, you can’t benefit others. But they are empty; that is wisdom. They are completely empty, just appearances, nothing else.

The nature of awareness is clarity, and that clarity is wisdom.
A scholar without method is nothing, no matter how much he knows. Look at the Dalai Lama, he can sit anywhere, high or low, he doesn’t care. Others, by contrast, can’t just sit anywhere; they feel they need a special place to sit. That means they don’t have method and wisdom together.
In the future, if you have learned many things and then you pop up, thinking you are something special–that means you blew it! It means you couldn’t give up the afflictive emotions, the five poisons. You didn’t get real method or real wisdom.

You don’t need to go anywhere; you already have it. What you need is to study and train in pure appearances. Then, your grasping to ordinary reality, grasping to this and that as good or bad, grasping to subject and object as impure: all these will decrease slowly.

Learn about how, if you recognize the nature of the elements, then all earth is the yellow goddess Sangye Chenma (Buddha Locana), all water is the white goddess Mamaki (Mamaki), all heat is red Gokarmo (Pandaravasini), wind is green Damtsig Drolma (Samaya Tara), and space is blue Yingchugma (Dhatvishvari). Those are the outer elements. For the inner elements of the body, all flesh is Sangye Chenma, blood is Mamaki, the body’s warmth is Gokarmo, the breath is Damtsig Drolma, and space is Yingchugma. All of these are different from each other, right? No. They are the same nature; they are oneness. All of the buddhas, whether wrathful, peaceful, enriching, or magnetizing, are the nature of the five wisdoms. We must gradually understand this.
When we say “The earth is Sangye Chenma,” what does that mean? Does it mean the earth has eyes (“chenma” means eyes)? No. It means that the nature of earth is not separate from our buddha nature. It means that anything made of the five elements is our buddha nature, arising as the 5 wisdoms. When they are not recognized, they are the 5 poisons. When they are recognized, they are wisdom. If you ask, for example, where does discriminating wisdom come from? You can answer, the 5 poisons. Do I know this for myself? No. I heard it, but I didn’t see it myself.
You might say, “Don’t disturb me! I am in a pureland!” But whatever disturbance comes, that disturbance energy is the five poisons, which are the five wisdoms. How is that going to disturb your pureland?

You also can’t say “Muslims are wrong! Hindus, put them over in some corner. Hinayana? Put it down. Vajrayana–put it up high.” You actually can say nothing like that! All have the same nature. Vajrayana is the tradition of Buddha’s enlightened mind. The Buddha has enlightened body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities. There are so many! How can you make them high or low?

Similarly, we have so many negative things, too: all the poisons, including desire, pride, jealousy, anger and ignorance. If we recognize them, they are the five wisdoms, the five kayas. There are not just five–we have numberless, inconceivable conceptual elaborations. They are there, countless, but we have to look at their nature, which is the same. Babies don’t have so many concepts, so they will eat shit or anything–they don’t know the difference. It’s all the same to them. It’s only once you grow up that you make a big deal, saying, “That’s dirty!”
In Dudjom Rinpoche’s pure visions, many, many purelands appeared, in the east, south, west, and north, upstairs, downstairs, and everywhere. In these, there were many different deities–peaceful, enriching, magnetizing and wrathful ones–and all of them gave him teachings and blessed him. It wasn’t that some were high and others were low.

Train, bit by bit. Check. Old or young, everybody try to train in this. First, read about the qualities of Guru Rinpoche’s pureland, and then read the visualization of Tara’s pureland, and then others. Read whatever generation stage juicy teachings you can find that describe the palace and the environment. This way you will become more and more familiar with them.

We think we need to go to the pureland today, but we don’t know how to get there. Actually you don’t need to go there, you don’t need to “go” anywhere, in any ordinary way. Recognize that right now you are already there, in the middle of it. We have the five elements in our bodies as our flesh, blood, heat, breath, and mind. In truth, those five are the five dakinis, they are awakened. For example, our breath is Damtsig Drolma. If we slowly try to understand this, then when we do the Chimed Sok Tig Longevity Practice or any other deity practice, we will recognize that they all have that same meaning.

The buddhas know that all these appearing phenomena are not ordinary. They know that earth is Sangye Chenma, heat is Gokarmo, etc. We think, “A pureland, wow, sparkling! Someplace special, I want to go there!” No, it’s not like that. If we need to go to a pureland, we need to slowly, slowly understand the purity of appearances. Then all the buddhas are with us. Understanding the purity of appearances is understanding the nature of the buddhas. If you understand the nature of refuge in the buddha, then you know that the nature of the dharma is the same, and the sangha are just the emanations of that same buddha.

Guru Rinpoche is, too. He is the emanation of the forms of all the buddhas. He is also the emanation of their speech, mind, qualities, and activities. They say there are eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, but actually there are countless emanations. When we awaken, the benefit of others will manifest like this, and we don’t need to be kissing and hugging everybody to try to benefit them.

Kuntuzangpo is the primordial buddha, and he is called that because he has never strayed into confusion about appearances. He has always understood their nature, and thus he has never had any learning or training to do. That accurate and unchanging understanding is the ultimate teacher. It is our own nature. In fact, all the buddhas have that nature, and so do all sentient beings. So you can see, the buddhas are not something far away, out there; all their qualities are present, evident, and manifest. If you know them, that’s enlightenment. If not, that’s samsara.

If you practice listening, contemplation, and meditation, those are relative method and wisdom. By exerting yourself in these, learning and practicing generation stage, completion stage, and each of the levels step by step, then you become liberated. In that nature of liberation, the dharmakaya, all efforts such as listening, contemplating and meditating are liberated as well.

Tashi Delek!

Interview with Thinley Norbu Rinpoche on bringing up children

I understand you are writing a new book on bringing up children. Would you tell us about it?

I thought Westerners might be interested in how to give their children good habits, especially to connect with Buddhism. The book is for children, but parents should give up parent’s ego and study it in order to teach children.

The title is Fresh Rain. It is about how to create good habits in children, to raise the crops of spiritual knowledge. When children start to see objects and start to talk, you can put the seeds of good habits in their minds gradually, with skilful means and patience, for the long term, showing them how to practise for enlightenment and also for this life. It is important to put the seeds of how to settle their minds from the beginning.

Ordinary people cannot be forced to think or act beyond their capacity, because it can cause craziness. Unless they have especially gifted minds or are a sublime being’s incarnation, very young children cannot understand subtle, immaterial spiritual ideas. So therefore, they have to be taught gradually about spirituality at the right time, with skilful means, through the objects of the five senses in the material world, even though the source of material energy is immaterial and the basis of spiritual phenomena is insubstantial.

Children must be taught initially through material examples which they can touch, which they can see, and which they can hear, in order to connect them to immaterial spirituality. At least they will not have an unstable mind or mental disorder. Ultimately, this can be beneficial to attain enlightenment if they practise continuously. If they have faith, it can benefit them even momentarily in this life. Then, as they grow up, they have to change again, because they develop their minds. Their minds become more refined, and they become ready to learn more refined ideas. As they grow up further, a more expansive point of view has to be gradually taught.

The main key is to make children’s minds very balanced, very stable, and not speedy. Nowadays, many people are very speedy from the habit of competition, but this always causes mistakes. It is not right to think about the past or future just to be expedient for one’s own instant gratification which leads to many disastrous consequences. The problem is that they have to continuously repair their mistakes.

Of course, samsara is like this world; it is not a buddhafield. There are always mistakes, but Americans make many more mistakes than anyone, I think. I say this with good intention, not to be negative, hoping they will decrease and cure their mental halitosis. There is so much technology and material wealth; people don’t believe in the spiritual idea. People don’t believe in rest. They are so afraid of delaying anything, and they always have to rush.

This automatically seeds extreme nervousness, frustration and fear, so when they age, they are more unhappy and depressed. They can no longer deal with the material world in the same way because their physical energy is decaying, yet reminiscence of their youth continues in their minds. It is very difficult to help them through substance, and their misery cannot be cured easily because of their lack of spiritual development. So, spiritual development cannot be ignored, in order to always have a positive life until attaining enlightenment.

There is such a great cultural distance between Tibet and the West, how easy is it to communicate the dharma to Westerners?

If Westerners think and say that dharma is difficult to communicate to Westerners because it is foreign to them, it will discourage them from believing in their buddhanature, rather than inspiring them to let their buddhanature blossom.

Whoever follows the Mahayana teachings believes, as Buddha Shakyamuni said, that all sentient beings have buddhanature. Buddhanature does not mean animal nature. Buddhanature means the awakened nature which is the source of immeasurable, awakened knowledge. Therefore, that is the root circumstance seed. Through that seed of buddhanature and the good opportunity of contributing circumstances arising, such as wisdom lineage teachers, buddhanature can blossom.

Buddhanature is not foreign. Buddhanature itself has no division. Division only comes from the lack of acknowledgement of buddhanature. So, it is not only Westerners who can connect with dharma some day, but other beings also. Instead of thinking dharma is foreign and discouraging Westerners from opening their buddhanature, we should have the inspiration of believing in buddhanature and try to let it blossom as shown by the Uttaratantra’s three reasons.

Actually, in the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings, Buddha Shakyamuni never made divisions between those with different skins and cultures. If people do not think dharma is foreign, and they believe in buddhanature, then buddhanature is not foreign and they can cause enlightenment the same as other supposedly foreign Buddhas, and join with other foreign Buddhas. But this depends on the individual’s decision. For example, Devadatta was not physically foreign to the Buddha. He was Buddha’s cousin, from the same race and family and locale as Buddha, but through his jealousy, Buddha’s activity became foreign to him. It cannot be said who is foreign and who is not. It is the individual’s karma.

But even though it is generally acknowledged in history that Devadatta is evil, I cannot decide myself. I cannot say that Devadatta is certainly evil, because as I heard and read in the many vast Mahayana teachings from my great teachers, for the benefit of sentient beings, it is taught and written that Buddha’s activity can be anything, and Buddha can emanate anything, sometimes with what seems to be negative appearance and sometimes with positive appearance, in the form of demons or in the form of deities, as a demonstration for the benefit of sentient beings who have dualistic habit in order to guide them so that they can recognise the difference between what is negative and positive, and so that they can analyse what is bad and what is good.

A master magician can create many different spectacles on a stage, but he himself does not believe that they are true. The audience believes in their reality because they are attached to reality habit. Even though they know it is just the performance of a magician, if the magic is frightening, the audience has fear, and if the magic is beautiful, the audience has desire.

Because bodhisattva’s prayers are so vast, and Buddha’s miracles are so awesome, it can never be said by someone such as me what the ultimate nature of appearance is, since any appearance can be a Buddha’s emanation. Many people of inferior faculties misunderstand the miraculous histories of many sublime beings, including misinterpreting Padmasambhava’s history, because of their seriously mistaken habit from many lives. Even the one angle that they see is only seen through their critical, negative habit.

Was your father, Dudjom Rinpoche, your teacher?

All inner Vajrayana practitioners say “Pa chhog Dorje Chang” — supreme father Vajradhara — as Tilopa said. So, I suppose I can call my father my supreme vajra master father. Father and vajra master are indivisible for me.

Your books have been popular and much sought-after by Western students of Buddhism. Yet you do not seem to seek publicity or large numbers of students. Why do you not seek a more prominent public role?

In general, if I’m in good health, I like to present the teachings in public, but for many years I have had health problems that have reduced my energy very much. I do not want to only blame the operations I have had; I am supposed to believe it is my karmic result, according to the causal yana. However, it is difficult to judge which way of serving the Buddha’s teachings is truly beneficial, whether it is done publicly or privately. It depends on the intentions of the teachers and the listeners, and can only be known from sublime beings. The main teaching is to try to help others in an immaterial, spiritual way, to guide them to enlightenment through blossoming wisdom, spirituality, and not only through materialising and conceptualising.

I do not want to say either that many people know me or that no one knows me because I do not want to prove anything. In general, few, many and much always go within different times, different places, and different directions. Time, place and direction are always changing. So, the best way is not to answer anything in a particular way.

You came to the West first in 1976 because of your health problems. Why did you choose to stay?

I didn’t choose; I think my karma chose, the same as for other sentient beings. Also, I often stay in the West and in other places. I can’t say I will stay continuously in the West, because first, I cannot say what my karma is, and second, I still have breath, so I can move.

Was it good or bad karma to stay in the West?

If someone likes to think it’s bad karma, I like to say it is bad, in order to satisfy them. If someone likes to say it is good karma, I like to say it is good, in order to satisfy them. What other people like to perceive, I have to answer. What I believe from my heart, people may not believe because of different points of view. I cannot know if it is good or bad karma or what is the result and what is the cause. Maybe from the Buddha’s teaching I can know what is good karma and what is bad karma, but I don’t know myself because I have no wisdom eyes, my mind is obscured, and I cannot penetrate any past lives or future lives. So maybe it is bad karma or maybe good karma.

Potencies of Holy Days

“In the Kalachakra Tantra, it is stated that during the occurence of a solar or lunar eclipse, all positive actions would increase in effect by a thousand or ten-thousand fold.   In China, in the Susiddhikara Sutra, it is stated that during a lunar eclipse, one can accomplish the highest attainment; during a solar eclipse, one can accomplish the highest, medium and lowest attainments.”    ~ Khenpo Suodargye, one of the most extraordinarily learnt and prolific translators in our times

“Why are the solar and lunar eclipses important  times for doing Dharma practices?  In the Kalachakra tantra it is deemed that the external sun and moon corresponds to the Prana (Vayu), Nadi and Bindu (Wind, Channel and Essence) in one’s body.  Everyone breathes 21,600 times everyday, out of which a large proportion are karmic winds.  The proportion of wisdom winds is relatively smaller.  On such holy days, most of the karmic winds are transformed into wisdom winds, therefore the Prana(Vayu), Nadi and Bindus are circulating in a special phase and diligent Dharma practice during these times would yield a result beyond that of normal times.”   ~  Khenchen Tsultrim Lodro –  vice abbot of one of the largest monastery in the world – the Larong Five Sciences University


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