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A Message from His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche regarding the Rise of Environmental Challenges in the World

This is a message to all the Buddhists in the world. In general, anyone who practices a religion, any religion, needs love and compassion. This love and compassion is to be directed towards all sentient beings: “May all sentient beings have happiness and may they be free from suffering.” Therefore, when people anywhere suffer from heat and cold, you should pray to the one in whom you take refuge. Pray for the benefit of all countries in the world, for example, “May those without rain have rain; may those without water have water; may the fire that injures some be extinguished,” and so forth. You should make prayers that accord with your own tradition. As Buddhists we can recite the Prayer for World Peace or single-pointedly supplicate to Tara. This is the responsibility of every religious practitioner, even if you are the only one in the house. Such prayers will surely be of benefit. Even if only one or two people pray, it will surely bring benefit.

We should all pray together for the well-being of all countries. This will also benefit us. If we close ourselves up and only care about our own well-being, then of course, that will not be of much benefit. But if you pray with the intention to benefit the entire world, that will actually benefit yourself the most, and it will also benefit the world. This is called “accomplishing the benefit of others and oneself.” So everyone should supplicate his or her own source of refuge.

Buddhists, for example, can supplicate Jetsun Tara, Chenrezig, and so forth; recite Mani mantras; perform purification rituals before stupas, or even small statues; be generous to animals, and so forth. All these practices will benefit the world. Otherwise, hatred and jealousy will increase in this world, and love will decline. This will lead to an increase of heat in the world, and in the end the world will go up in flames. Thus, it would be good if everyone would consider this. We should all pray and take this to heart with great concern. If we remain unconcerned about the suffering of others as long as it doesn’t affect us personally, we are just paying lip service to our prayer, “May all sentient beings have happiness and may they be free from suffering.”

The single cause of all the misery in this world, such as floods on the outer level and conflicts on the inner level, is the ill will arising from the hatred and jealousy of the people inhabiting this planet. Instead of helping one another, people harm each other: countries go to war, people and religious groups fight with each other. In brief, love—the harmony of the inner elements—affects the harmony of the outer elements. The five mental afflictions and the five outer elements are profoundly related. Therefore, our efforts to give rise to love and compassion will be fruitful by virtue of three powers: first, the power of one’s own pure intention—one’s own good heart ; second, the power of the Tatagathas—all the buddhas of the three times have made aspiration prayers, but in addition, we must supplicate them. Just as with a wish-fulfilling jewel, unless one expresses the wish, it will not be fulfilled. If we supplicate, then we will receive the power of all the buddhas; this is the power of the Tataghatas. And third, the power of Dharmadhatu—samsara and nirvana have a single basis. The duality of samsara and nirvana is only a temporary appearance due to various karma and afflictions.

As a result of actions committed with an afflicted mind, we now witness a lot of suffering in this world. So how can we purify these afflictions? All afflictions arise from self-grasping, and the antidote to self-grasping is the altruistic mind. Altruism will benefit one in all circumstances: in this life, in the next life, and in the bardo. Everyone needs altruism. Even a tiny creature will experience happiness relative to the level of its altruism.

Thus we pray, “May beings possess happiness and the causes of happiness.” The cause of happiness is love. And, “May beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.” The cause of suffering is self-grasping. There is no other Dharma than that. The heart-essence of the Dharma is love and compassion. Apart from love and compassion, no other Dharma exists. What we call “the Buddha” is the wisdom-mind, the perfection of wisdom. The subtle wisdom of buddha-nature is the underlying basis of samsara and nirvana. Therefore, if one has love and compassion, wisdom will increase. If you understand this, you will discover the method to bring about happiness and liberation from suffering.

Thus, we should engender excellent aspirations. Since the world is currently in such a perilous state, I request everyone to pray well.

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Respecting Triple Gems

(Source : Nyingma Monlam Book Vol 23)

Before you skip this, dear readers, please note the gravity of this topic.  Mipham Rinpoche (a great Bodhisattva, Manjushri himself) states that the consequences of disrespecting these representations of the Triple Gems are extremely serious, similar to that of the five heinous acts (eg, killing your parents etc.) Karmic repercussions are caused by oneself and ripens on oneself, no matter what your opinion may be.  So it is good to educate oneself on these topics.

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Stories shared – The miraculous effects of practicing the Mani mantra

Karma Rinpoche’s teachings on the Mani Mantra

If one diligently practices the heart-mantra of Chenrezig (OM MANI PADME HUNG), it will not only help us to purify negative karma from beginningless time but will also truly help to plant the karmic seeds for merging with the mind of Chenrezig, bringing us to the level of Chenrezig and total enlightenment of the Buddha.

The miraculous effects of practicing the Mani mantra – the tooth of a hundred million recitations and foreknowledge of the time of death:

When ordinary beings are about to pass away, for many of them, what they see are only the Raksha minions of the hell realms and other ghostly entities, due to that, they give rise to great terror.  If one has taken refuge and practised the Mani mantra, when it comes to the time of dying, one will see the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and spiritual masters.  One will not take rebirth in the lower realms and will not feel afraid.  By these excellent circumstances, one will even have the opportunity to take rebirth in the pureland of Sukhavati (Amitabha’s pureland).

The six syllables mantra (OM MANI PADME HUNG) is extremely wonderful.  Through the practice of its meaning, one carries out the six paramitas:

OM : perfects the paramita of generosity

MA : perfects the paramita of discipline

NI : perfects the paramita of patience

PAD : perfects the paramita of diligence

ME : perfects the paramita of meditation

HUNG : perfects the paramita of wisdom

Normally when we practice the Mani mantra with devotion, we are accomplishing the six paramitas at the same time.  In our lineage, we recite “OM MANI PADME HUNG HRIH”, “HRIH” is a seed syllable, it contains the qualities of the body, speech, mind and all activities of Chenrezig.  It allows us to receive the great blessings of Chenrezig, and gradually transform our ordinary body, speech and mind into the enlightened body, speech and mind of Chenrezig.

The six syllable mantra can help us to seal the doors to rebirth in the six realms of samsara, preventing us from revolving continuously in the cycle of rebirth

OM : prevents rebirth in the heaven realms, and blesses the heavenly realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

MA : prevents rebirth in the Asura (demi-gods) realms, and blesses the Asura realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

NI : prevents rebirth in the human realms, and blesses the human realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

PAD : prevents rebirth in the preta (hungry-spirits) realms, and blesses the preta realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

ME : prevents rebirth in the animal realms, and blesses the animal realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

HUNG : prevents rebirth in the hell realms, and blesses the hell realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

In the Tibetan regions, many elderly people like to recite the Mani mantras and would often finish many hundreds-of-millions in their life.  In Tibet, very few of these old people would have sicknesses like dementia.  They would hold the rosary in the left hand and rotate a prayer wheel with their right hand, while their mouths would recite the Mani mantra of Chenrezig or other mantras.  If they had time, they would do full prostrations and pray in their minds to receive the blessings of Chenrezig.  This is practice with body, speech and mind in tandem. While speech is reciting Buddha’s mantra, body is also paying homage to Buddha and mind is focused on supplicating and recollecting Buddha.

If only speech is on reciting Buddha’s mantra but mind is utterly devoid of any focus on Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, then there is no real connection with Buddha.  To recite Buddha’s mantra also means that one constantly recalls and thinks of Buddha.  The motions of body, speech and mind should be performed with the awareness that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas constantly regard us (with their compassion).  We should hold this in mind and always confess our negativities with regret and accumulate virtues and positive deeds —  practising diligently.

In Tibet, there is the saying of the “Hundred-million” tooth.  Many elderly people of eighty or ninety years old would grow new teeth.  Just as if they were babies who had just grown out their baby teeth.  Many people view this as the great blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  Generally, this is a sign of blessing when one has finished reciting a hundred million Mani mantras.  I had a Taiwanese student who was a very famous dental specialist.  I once invited him to look at my maternal grandmother’s new tooth.  He said, “This kind of tooth is not documented in the dentistry school, but one finds it alot in the Tibetan regions, it is quite amazing.” Actually, the new tooth is just one facet of the blessings, many people would also foretell when they are going to pass away and make all the preparations for it.  That was really incredible.

My maternal grandmother lived to about 89 years old.  On the day of her passing, she had already washed all her old clothes and piled them up neatly.  The new clothes were placed aside and she tasked my father to assemble all the relatives.  When they were gathered, she informed them that the old clothes have already been washed and who they should be given to.  She also made known who should receive the new clothes.  Below her pillow were some money from her relatives, she instructed that these were to be offered to the ordained monastics when they came the next day.  After that, she thanked each and every one of her relatives saying that she had given everyone much trouble during her late years.  Then, saying she needed to take a rest, she laid down.  Everyone thought she was going to take a nap.  After awhile, my aunt said, “Mother, we are going to leave first.”  But there was no response.  Upon checking, they realized that she had already passed away without any apparent suffering.

A grand-dad of (another) aunt recited the Mani mantra all his life.  He had been diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer for about one or two years when I visited him.  He was sitting at the balcony, basking in the sun and at that point, he was reaching 80 years of age.  He looked hale and hearty and was in very good spirits.  In front of him were placed some rock sugars, butter and Tsampa (dried barley).  I asked him, “Don’t you have Esophageal Cancer?  Can you still consume these foodstuff?  Other people who have this sickness have to refrain from eating (solid foods like these).”  He laughed and said, “So they say it is Esophageal Cancer but I can still eat, rock-sugars, Tsampa and butter and many more…  just do some chanting and all would be fine.”  He did not seem to feel any discomfort or pain, but continued to eat and drink until his death.”

On the day of his death, I rushed back from Chengdu.  In the afternoon, he started to ask everyone, “Is Rinpoche back yet?”  When he heard that I was on the way back, he had my cousin Ruogu Lama go to the monastery to invite all the monastics to his home.  He mentioned that it would be difficult to get money when he was dying so he arranged for the money to be offered to the monastics later on his behalf.  After all had been done, he continued to recite the Mani mantra.  That night, when I had just entered the door of my home, before I had even drunk a sip of tea, a phone-call came saying, “He has just passed on, please come to do the (customary) funeral rites for crossing him over.”  The grand-dad of my aunt had anticipated the timing of my arrival home.  After his death, his corpse had the fresh appearance of a person who was still alive.  It was very awe-inspiring.

To be free and at ease at the point of death, this is the most excellent and ultimate proof of a whole life of practice.  This experience is the old man’s legacy for later generations, everyone should have faith and devotion in this!

(More teachings on the Mani mantra :
https://bodhiactivity.wordpress.com/mani/)

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

Healing the Subtle Body — Emotional Needs in the Practice of Spirituality

Tsoknyi Rinpoche Interview on Lung

“In the 21st century, the subject of healing the subtle body is crucial. I sometimes say that for western Dharma practitioners, “body enlightenment” is more important than the enlightenment of the mind.” ~ Tsoknyi Rinpoche

*Q: In your new book “Open Heart, Open Mind” you discuss the subtle body and its influence on our lives. How can we understand the subtle body?

Rinpoche: In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the subtle body (Tib. “lu trawa”) connects the body and mind and is the home of the emotions that influences both.

Q: So it is a point of great importance that is largely unknown in western psychology. Can you please explain the system of the subtle body in more precise detail?

Rinpoche: The subtle body is composed of three interrelated aspects. The first consists of what in Tibetan is called “tsa”, (“nadi” in Sanskrit), usually translated as channels. They are closely related, but not the same as a network of nerves that extend throughout the body. These channels are the pathways that allow sparks of life(“thigle” in Tibetan, “bindus” in Sanskrit) to circulate and can be compared to neurotransmitters–chemical messengers that influence our physical, mental and emotional states.The “thigle” circulate within the channels due to the subtle energy or inner wind, known in Tibetan as “lung.” (“prana” in Sanskrit).

Q: A certain amount of lung is a normal part of the subtle body. But there are also disturbances in the wind energy. Is it possible that lung disturbances can get intensified through meditation practice and manifest negatively at the level of feelings?

Rinpoche: Clearly, yes. In anything we do, whether during meditation or in any situation, lung can be intensified. This can happen when we feel overloaded and “stressed out” or when our emotions get quite strong, even overwhelming. Any practice we do driven by the wish to perform well or succeed with a corresponding lack of relaxation and lightness increases this intensity and creates restlessness. I am speaking here about the attitude of a forced, driven, goal-oriented practice. To take one example, if you want to quickly recite 100,000 mantras within a few days this may cause what we call lung, a disturbance in the energy, because you have unnaturally put yourself under too much pressure.

Q: What exactly happens at that time?

Rinpoche: When the mind continuously demands greater speed due to over-excitement, a high degree of pressure, and a need to perform too quickly, the subtle body eventually becomes exhausted. Through excessive activity on the mental level a message is sent to the subtle body to push, go faster, with the result that the restless lung is strengthened. The subtle body’s natural equilibrium gets out of balance and at some point it becomes a lung disturbance.

Also, being over-seriousness, uptight, having strong grasping and mental restlessness are conditions that can lead to a feeling of agitation and restlessness in the subtle body. And these habitual patterns can become deeply imprinted within the channels due to this stirred up lung. That is why we should learn how to handle this energy sensibly.

Q: How should we deal with a lung imbalance?

Rinpoche: Overactive lung confuses and disturbs the subtle body nervous system and becomes increasingly rigid and solidified–and because of this the natural capacity to feel compassion becomes blocked–your innate ability to feel unconditional, unbiased love, warmth and openness. Without this capacity it will be impossible for you to feel loving kindness and compassion towards others, and to love them. We have to reconnect with our basic nature and relax in that. There is also a special yogic breathing exercise called “vase breathing,” which can serve us well here. The breath is closely connected to the subtle wind energy. In my book, Open Heart, Open Mind, I devote a whole chapter to this method.

Q: It is interesting that you mention yogic breathing. Is it worthwhile to practice yoga, chi gong and pranayama in order to be more grounded in meditation? In traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings, it is my understanding that instructions on breathing exercises are normally not given.

Rinpoche: Yoga, chi-gong and similar energy-balancing can be extremely helpful in cases of disturbed lung. When there is an imbalance the subtle drops (Tib. “tigle”) are not able to circulate freely in the central channel. This leads to blockages, not on the mental level or in the physical body, but the feeling energy is blocked. In these cases these kinds of exercises can be beneficial to restore a more natural balance. I think that many older Tibetan lamas are not aware of the fact that establishing this equilibrium in the subtle body is so crucial in the West. Traditionally, in Tibetan Buddhism the methods you mentioned in your question are hardly used in relation to the body. That is why they are simply not considered by many teachers, and they do not know much about them. It is also connected with the fact that in Tibetan society, that the emotional body was generally very stable and that there was more of an emphasis on healing the physical body, such as with the neck or with joints and so on.

Furthermore, in Tibet there was generally a lack of mental training and education and until the Chinese invasion, a full education was possible for the most part only in the monasteries. There was no public school system and much of the population consisted of nomads, very simple people with a sweet, cheerful nature. That is why there was not a great need for emotional healing–this aspect was actually pretty good. In order to develop the mental faculties and mind training, methods for the detailed visualization of a mandala were used. And it was the “awakening” quality of the intelligence that was important to cultivate through these practices.

In more recent times, many young lamas have recognized the lung imbalance in modern societies and its causes. Educational systems strongly emphasize cognitive development and the subtle body aspect, the emotions, are often blocked because of lung disturbances and other reasons. Various methods for energy healing can be useful, and I would strongly encourage people to practice these according to their individual needs.

Q: Sometimes I think the cultural differences between East and West are so great that we should be quite careful about simply taking on Tibetan customs.

Rinpoche: I agree with that up to a point. It is not necessary for a person in a modern society to try to be Tibetan and imitate Tibetan culture and customs in a rigid way. The basis of the Dharma is the transformation of the five poisons (ignorance, attachment, aversion, pride and jealousy) and the habitual tendencies that are more or less applicable to all cultures. Different cultures have unique habitual patterns and we need to clearly discriminate what is transformative within our cultural context.

But certainly there are certain teachings which are shaped by Tibetan culture, and if one has no understanding of the cultural context, then these teachings and practices may not have the capacity to transform one’s mind.

In modern societies, developing cognitive understanding is strongly emphasized for young children at a very early age, and this can create an unhealthy residue of tension in the subtle body. This imbalanced approach towards cognitive development is why it is so important to transform the subtle body. You handle thinking very well and can become familiar with the Dharma on a theoretical level, but we need to bring this understanding into experience so that the blockages in the subtle body can be healed. In the 21st century, the subject of healing the subtle body is crucial. I sometimes say that for western Dharma practitioners, “body enlightenment” is more important than the enlightenment of the mind.

Q: The hectic pace of modern life often causes correspondingly hectic lung activity in us. What can you recommend to counteract this?

Rinpoche: First, you should find out your own inner speed limits. An energetically excessive speed can manifest on three levels: in thinking, feeling, and in the body. Practice being aware without judging or analyzing, your emotional condition and also the overall sensitivity of your subtle body. You can use “the gentle vase breath” to bring the lung back to its natural place, its home, residing slightly below the navel. in this way you can slow down the excessive speed in your subtle body and think clearly and perform physical activities and not burn out.

Q: With growing awareness in our meditation practice, our habitual disturbances also become more noticeable. How can one get control over a disturbance, without giving oneself over completely to its power?

Rinpoche: Be kind to it. Welcome it: “Okay, it is true that I experience some disturbance in this moment, but it is not real. It is only my long-established habitual pattern.” Often when something external attracts your attention it immediately activates a dormant tendency. As a result of this, you believe that your experience is happening fully, 100% real, and everything is exactly as you perceive it: solid, truly “out there.” But really, the external event is simply a trigger.

The external object may contribute only 5% towards causing the disturbance. But when that habitual pattern is stimulated, even if only briefly, it provides the remaining 95% of the experience to come into being. At this point, you can communicate with your habitual pattern. Recite the following mantra: “It seems real, but it is not true. It is not me.” If you can manage that, your life will be a lot easier.

*Source: Based on an Interview for Tibet & Buddhismu, March 28, 2012 entitled, “Tsoknyi Rinpoche on Lung”

The Wisdom Qualities of Realisation

(Comment: Some people claim to be realised and enlightened and Buddhas and so on and so forth.  When one is truly realized, abilities like those in the below-mentioned account arises naturally.  There are very definite wisdom qualities and strong changes in the person.  In this day and time, there are many people who fantasize about realisations and yet nothing much has changed in them. This is a very clear indication that one is no where near the mark.  Therefore, do not be deceived by nice names and good presentations and delusive experiences, observe clearly for yourself…)

According to my experience, some great monks who have never been educated or even attended a single day of school, who do not even recognise a single word, developed astonishing abilities of composing poetry and other such literary skills after attaining realization. They became good at almost everything. This is truly beyond our ordinary conception.

Eighty years ago, my teacher met a monk who gave others tonsure, he carried a knapsack and wandered all over the country side. It was the time of the Man-Qing, and all bare-headed children were disallowed from attending the examination and the restrictions were extremely harsh. However this great meditation master who was also bare-headed had attained great realisation and knew every subject. There was nothing beyond his ken. He had a monastery which was given to him by the administrators after the previous abbot expired.

Some people called him Monk Yang, some people called him the Head-shaving Yang. Many scholars went to test him saying, “Monk Yang, I have forgotten which book this line of prose came from, can you please tell me?” The monk would reply that it came from such-and-such a page of this book. My teacher who was very mischievous in his youth picked one line from the famous secular novel “Dreams of the Red Mansions” to test the monk but the monk was nonetheless able to give the correct answer. It was really strange! There was a opium-addict who was very rich and he couldn’t kick the opium habit no matter how he tried. Later, he went to Monk Yang and said, “Dear Monk Yang, can you just help me to shave my head?” Monk Yang agreed and in the process of shaving, the man’s addiction kicked in; his nose started running; his eyes teared, it was pure torment. Monk Yang then gave his back a slap and said, “Release”. The shaving was completed and the addiction never came back again.

~Nan Huai Chin

Vajrasattva Sky Relics

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Many of such relics rained down from the sky during a 1997 mass practice Vajrasattva puja in Serthar Monastic College of Five Sciences under the guidance of HH Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche.  Many people were accumulating billions of Vajrasattva mantras together using the Wish-fulfilling Vajrasattva Sadhana discovered by HH Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche.  Such signs occur frequently in subsequent years during the Vajrasattva and Amitabha pujas (which take place yearly at the college).  This attests to the superb blessings of the Vajrasattva Terma discovered by HH Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche.

Other related posts:

https://bodhiactivity.wordpress.com/tag/vajrasattva/

https://bodhiactivity.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/vajrasattva-practice/