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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