Archive | August 2015

Lungta and Dharma Practice

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche explains:

“All the experiences [of the six realms] are the result of karma, and it is mind that is responsible for the creation of karma, nothing else. Every experience of passing pleasure and pain and all the seemingly small and incidental occurrences of our lives arise because of the mind.

However, we have no power or control over the mind at all. We may have in our mind the intention of doing something of a very virtuous and positive nature, but if something goes wrong our mind can change instantly and become very negative. We can also experience states in which we are motivated in a negative, non-virtuous way and then find that our motivation changes and becomes positive.

What really controls the mind is lung [Tib.], the ‘wind’ or ‘subtle energy’ that determines the direction that the mind pursues. Thoughts arise in our minds and as they arise and we react to them, we create karma. The windhorse, the mount upon which the mind rides like a rider on a horse, controls or directs the thoughts arising in our minds.

If we are confused about the essential nature of an arising thought, it may well be a cause for the perpetuation of samsara. If there is no confusion about the fundamental nature of the thought, the essence of that thought can free itself into dharmakaya. As the thought frees itself, the enlightened mind of buddhahood arises. The very same thought can lead to a state of freedom or to a state of confusion, and the direction it takes depends upon lung ta.

Lung ta is actually sem, ‘the ordinary, conceptual mind’. When lung ta is low, everything becomes a problem: our ability to make progress with both our worldly projects and the Dharma will decrease. One of the signs of lung ta being low is not feeling well or being ill at ease. This is a common symptom in the present age; almost everybody’s mind is unhappy, unclear and dull.

If lung ta flourishes and becomes more positive, then even former tendencies that brought about non-virtuous or negative karma—ordinary thoughts of the five poisons of attachment, aversion, ignorance, jealousy, and pride—can be transformed into a more positive manifestation. They arise in their true nature as the five aspects of yeshe, or ‘primordial wisdom’ of ‘timeless awareness’ (rigpa), through the power of lung ta.

However, if our lung ta is neither flourishing nor nurtured, even if we are motivated to do something positive or virtuous, our motivation can change or be spoilt. For example, we might enter the path of Dharma and make attempts at establishing a regular practice, but find that our ordinary, negative thoughts drag us down and perpetuate samsara, because our lung ta is weak and our minds are continually weighed down by negativity. Even if people think they will practise the Dharma, do retreats or meditate on compassion and emptiness, unless their lung ta is stable the outcome will be the opposite of what they intended.

From the outset the lung ta of beings throughout the three realms and of ordinary human individuals in this realm has been impaired and flawed. On top of that, in these times of spiritual degeneration, a continual degrading of our own and others’ lung ta is taking place. The mind becomes increasingly obscured and rigpa becomes increasingly hidden from the ordinary mind.

When we pray to Guru Rinpoche and invoke his blessing, offer sang and engage in other practices that cause the flourishing of lung ta, we awaken the clarity aspect of mind. We awaken our rigpa, so that it is more perceptible to us. The ultimate point of such practice is to awaken the clarity aspect of our minds, to bring us into closer contact with our own rigpa. We may even discover the enlightened intent of kadak, or ‘primordial purity’, where neither suffering nor even the concept of suffering remain to be dealt with.”

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Teaching on Seven Lines Prayer – Yangthang Rinpoche

(My comments:)

If we wish to really receive the Dharma in our life, it is necessary to take whatever you already know and bring it from head to heart.  For going into heart, rather than remaining in the dimension of head or intellect, one of most incredible approach is the path of devotion.

From the point of view of goal-oriented, business-transaction-savvy intellect who is out for the greatest profit in the shortest time, devotion seems foolish, low-class, dangerous, prone to abuse, unsophisticated etc etc. But actually, the cleverer you are, the more self-protecting and condescending you are, the harder it becomes to really do the simplest things of all, which even animals or children are even better than us at doing sometimes.

The seven-line prayer is an invocation to the Buddhas in the form of Guru Rinpoche.  Through thinking of the sufferings of life and impermanence, feel deep sadness and pray to Guru Rinpoche as the only refuge.  This prayer opens our hearts to devotion and what is beyond the reach of reason and intellect.  Because when it comes to the crux of the matter, death, all logic, reasoning and knowledge will not be of much use, only what we know intuitively/ instinctively would come up.  At that point, heart is of much greater use.  That is why the past masters have always urged us to pray to the Guru and Triple Gems with faith at the point of death.

Nowadays due to being trapped and obfuscated by their self-centred logic, people are not able to see what matters and what they really want or need.  In a kind of murky state, they continue to strive like robots for things that don’t make much sense.   If we examine the records of some people who go through a very harrowing experience like some terminal illness or life-threats or a near-death experience, they seem to wake up and develop some kind of clarity of purpose in their lives.  In other words, intellect has started to give way to heart. When we read about the qualities they start to treasure, these are always qualities like love, kindness, gratitude and faith.

If we are practicing the Dharma, rather than always being limited by the words of the text we are reciting, it is much more important to have the true blessings soaking our heart.  Our hearts should be moved by faith, by the pain of sentient beings, by the kindness of our spiritual guides, by the sublime qualities of the noble beings like Lord Buddha or Guru Rinpoche.

When we are practicing, rather than treating it like just another routine session on the cushion, we should be happy, even slightly excited at having another chance to practice.  But nowadays, how many are only practicing by rote?  That is why we need to bring the energy down from head to heart by invoking Guru Rinpoche with the Seven-Lines prayer.   Sometimes singing the prayer with a beautiful tune, sometimes loudly at the top of one’s voice, sometimes in a very gentle and moving tone.  It is up to the situation, the point is to invoke blessings to enter our heart so that vibrant colors comes back to our practice and infuses life in it.

Here’s the teaching