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Mipham Treatise on the Modes of Being

Very useful teaching with which one can reflect upon oneself.  Dharma is not just about mumbling mantras and going about in our usual habitual patterns.  But it takes introspection and quietude to really assess our own minds and change it.

Some nice quotes :

Let me explain the reason for this [being plagued by misfortune]:
Their previous merit is weak,
Like Chinese tea sifted through a filter.
They have bad mind and lose what is good.
Because they do little to repay the kindness
Of their parents, teachers, elders, and benefactors
The protective deities and divinities become disenchanted with them,
And they become like a corpse with no allies.
With little concern for disgrace in this and future lives and with little heed for
the law of cause and effect,
Whatever they say and whatever they swear,
They never follow through on a single thing.
This is why the strict and honest protectors become disenchanted with them.

Mistaking benefit for harm, they get pulled in all directions and fall sway to
their temporary situations.
If they could they would even treat the sublime refuge objects
as their servants,

They have little respect or confidence in the Three Jewels,
They do not act the same in front of your face as they do when you are
not looking,
And their earlier actions and later actions are inconsistent.
This deeply saddens the awakened heart-minds of the samaya-bearing
Dharmapalas.
They indulge carelessly in food and money
That was garnered from false accusations, disgraceful actions,
and swearing oaths.
They heedlessly indulge in gossip and slander.
Thus, protective gods and guardian spirits fade away into the sky.

When they see the fulfillment, glory, and prosperity of others,
Painful jealousy rises up uselessly.
Since they willingly disgrace themselves in front of everyone,
The capacity of the protectors and refuge deities is exhausted.
Because of these and other such causes and conditions,
They sabotage their own perfect conditions.
It is like they are sitting in a pool of feces:
Even if they call out to hundreds of deities and thousands of nagas,
It is extremely unlikely that these divine beings will congregate before them.

At that time, they say,
“Alas, even though I have done all this puja and practice,
Nothing in my life is working out and nothing is successful,
And these practices have not benefited me in the slightest.”
Beings in these degenerate times have such weak merit!
Right away, you must recognize that it is these unwise behaviors
That are to blame [for your misfortune].
And you should turn away from these actions!

Credits and thanks to Ari Bhod:
http://aribhod.org/translation-publishing/mipham-jamyang-namgyal-gyatso/

The file is available free for download on their site but I include a copy here for download in case the link changes in future:

Mipham treatise for download here (right click)

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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”

Not believing in impermanence is a sign of heavy negative karma

Dear friends, impermanence has often been belaboured upon countless times by teachers, but many of us have failed the same number of times to take it to heart.  I hope you can read this, examine yourself and take it to heart.  The Buddha did explain before that of all relative meditations, the meditation on impermanence is supreme and creates vast merits.  The past Kadampa masters have taken the teaching on impermanence as their main practice and succeeded in liberating themselves and others from samsara through diligent practice.  Similarly. we should not underestimate this teaching.

Not believing in impermanence is a sign of heavy negative karma
Phurpa Tashi Rinpoche

As we have not spend much time contemplating on impermanence in the past, therefore even if we think about impermanence now, in the depths of our mind, we always think that we will not die. This kind of baseless conviction (that we will not die) has lodged itself firmly in the depths of our mind. Therefore, even though we listen to the teachings repeatedly, in actuality, we are just going through the motion of thinking about impermanence. Everytime, we are only able to think for a moment that human life is hard to gain, life is impermanent and the natural law is that of birth and cessation, therefore we are going to die eventually. Although we contemplate like that, but in fact, we still believe strongly that we are not going to die immediately.

Why is this? “This is because when you Guru told us that it is possible for us to die tomorrow, but when tomorrow arrives, we are still alive and well. Last year when you taught us about impermanence, it turned out that this year i am still surviving quite well.” Therefore although the Guru repeats many times but you still feel that for these few days at least you are not going to die.

Of course, for the time being, it may be like that. But one day will arrive when you will feel that what the Guru has taught you is actually real and objective. But when that time arrives, even if you feel terror and fear, it will be too late. Please think carefully. How many close friends have already departed from us? I think for these people (who have died), they too must have felt that birth and death is a natural pattern of life, and they too must have thought before about death, but due to the heavy karma created from beginningless time, deep down in their hearts, they still felt that it was impossible for them to die. But now, isn’t there only a pile of bones and ashes remaining from what they used to be?

If simply witnessing (death) will create fear in those people who are still alive, remember that death will definitely happen to us after some time. This is certain! Therefore wherever you are now, we should be fully assured that we will have to face such a moment. For instance, tonight, when you place your head on the pillow to sleep, maybe you will be lucky enough to wake up tomorrow. But one day will come when you are no longer able to wake up. This day will come sooner or later. Maybe it is this year, maybe next year. No matter what, within fifty years, no matter how you deceive yourself, you will have to face this objective truth. It doesn’t matter whether you believe or understand it or not, (death) will still operate its effect in our lives.

In the past, we always said that our karma is heavy. What is karma? All the viewpoints and conduct that run contrary to the authentic dharma are labelled ‘Karma’. Therefore, you should examine yourself: after having started in the Dharma, are negative emotions and conduct that are contrary to Dharma still occuring frequently or only occasionally? If it happens frequently, then this means that our karma is heavy.

For example, when we listen about impermanence, our mind has some kind of unreasonable force that is constantly hookwinking ourselves. We believe that we will not die in the meanwhile. This is also a sign of our heavy karma. Because karma will never present itself as a demon with long straggly hair holding a spear. To you, such a manifestation seems to be your karma, but karma will not present itself like this.

Presently, there are some students who recall that they killed a fish last year. Or killed a chicken last year. Are such karmas heavy or not? From a certain perspective, having hurt the lives of sentient beings, of course this is a sign of heavy karma. But remember that whether karma is heavy or not does not depend on its appearance. Appearance by itself is not negative karma, instead, we should reflect on whether our mind and conduct has contravened the authentic Dharma.

Therefore when the Guru teaches you about impermanence, but your mind has no way to absorb this reality constructively, but insists that you will not die, this then is an aspect of your heavy negative karma showing.

So how should we dissolve such karmic force? We should rely on the lineage’s teachings to cut through this unfounded view that we will not die. Therefore, we should always repeatedly contemplate on impermanence. This point is very important!

Prayer in midst of sufferings

Nowadays there are many phenomenons manifesting from the four elements causing fear, destruction and loss of live and property. At these times, it is very important to direct strong prayers to the people who are suffering.  Some people wonder if these prayers are of any benefit.  According to Dzogchen Khenpo Choga:

In the Prajnaparamita sutras and Samantabhadra tantra, Buddha said that when there are natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, or fire, the energy of your Dharma practice at that time increases millions of times and you create immeasurable good karma and greatly benefit all beings. It is a very important time for us to pray sincerely from our hearts.

When such disasters strike, people who are affected are too distraught or distracted to concentrate on prayers, they may not even know how to pray. In such times, people from other parts of the globe can concentrate and offer up our positive energies and invoke the Buddhas/Bodhisattvas to help.  There is definitely a positive effect because many of such disasters are at least partially caused by other kinds of formless beings and we can definitely reduce or limit the damage through spiritual methods.  There are many stories of highly enlightened masters praying and preventing huge disasters like typhoons, earthquakes etc, even in recent times.  There are also stories of ordinary people who were very sincere and dedicated to their practice and the disaster wrecked havoc everywhere around them but left their house alone.

By directing our prayers towards those humans, animals etc who are affected by the disaster, their minds can also receive these energies and calm down, thus reducing their suffering.  Those who have passed away can also experience less confusion in the bardo.  Those who are alive are also less likely to fall prey to their baser emotions and engaging in theft etc in cases where there is lack of food.

I end this post with another quote from Khenpo Choga:

Generosity is not merely money. It includes love, healing, and brings great hope for the future. Therefore, you should find a reliable aid organization and support and join their activities by making a donation with love and compassion. Even if you give only one penny with positive thinking it makes a big difference.

We may think of this world as many different, isolated countries. In fact, it is one, deeply interconnected world. If any area has a problem, it is not theirs alone. It is actually everybody’s problem. For example, if there is a nuclear explosion in Japan, the radiation spreads everywhere.

When natural or social disasters increase, we really need to increase our good intention and good conduct. Therefore, these days we should practice positive thinking one thousand times more than before.

We cannot just say, “Oh, this world has so many problems,” and just sink in sadness, worry, or fear. That does not help anybody. If you are afraid of problems, that is a big problem because then you feel helpless to solve the problem. We should directly face problems, find solutions, and act right away. That is how we effectively help ourselves and others.

Generally, helping others is the best way to help yourself. Especially when there is a tragedy, we need to help each other more. By helping each other, you can realize the meaning of life. Sometimes greedy people choose money over the lives of people, but we should always choose the lives of people over money.

A Mirror Revealing the Crucial Points: Advice on the Ultimate Meaning

By Longchen Rabjam

Single embodiment of the compassion, power and activity
Of the infinite mandalas of victorious buddhas, beyond measure,
Glorious lama, supreme sovereign lord of a hundred buddha families,
At your feet, now and forever, I pay homage!

Ema! Fortunate yogins, listen now:

We have gained a perfect human form with its freedoms and advantages, we have met the precious teachings of the Mahayana, and we have the freedom to practice the sacred Dharma authentically. So, at this time, let us not waste our lives in meaningless pursuits, but work towards the genuine, lasting goal.

There are infinite categories of teaching and countless are the ways to enter the vehicles. Explanations can involve a great many words and expressions. Unless we can take to heart the essence of the genuine meaning, then even committing many hundreds of thousands of volumes to memory will not decidedly bring benefit at the moment of death.

Seemingly, we might have boundless knowledge, all derived from study and reflection, but if our fundamental character is not attuned to the Dharma, we will not tame the enemy, the destructive emotions.

Unless we limit our desires from within by adopting an attitude of not needing anything at all, then even mastery over a thousand worlds will bring no real satisfaction.

Should we fail to prepare for the uncertainty of the time of death, we will not accomplish the great purpose, that which we will surely need when we die.

If we don’t overcome our own faults and train in impartial pure perception, then having attachment and aversion will prevent us entering the ranks of the Mahayana.

Unless we make pure prayers of aspiration with unceasing compassion and bodhichitta, in the knowledge that there is not a single being among the three realms or the six classes who has not been our mother or father in the past, we will not unlock the treasury of altruism.

Unless we have such devotion for our kind teachers that we consider them as greater than the Buddha, we will not receive even a single portion of their blessings.

Without genuinely receiving blessings, the tender shoots of experience and realization will not grow.

If realization does not dawn from within, dry explanations and theoretical understanding will not bring the fruit of awakening.

To put it simply, unless we blend our own mind with the Dharma, it is pointless merely to adopt the guise of a practitioner.

Restricting ourselves to only basic sustenance and shelter, let us regard everything else as unnecessary.

Practice guru yoga, pray with single-minded attention, and direct all virtuous actions to the benefit of all beings, your very own parents.

Whatever you encounter—be it happiness or sorrow, good or bad—regard it as the kindness of the lama.

In the expanse in which self-knowing rigpa arises spontaneously, free of all grasping, rest and relax, without contrivance or fabrication. Whatever thoughts arise, recognizing their essence, allow them all to be liberated as the display of your own intrinsic nature.

Without the slightest trace of anything to cultivate or focus upon in meditation, don’t allow yourself to drift even for a single instant into ordinary confusion. Instead, remain aware and undistracted during all activities, and train to recognize all sights and sounds and sensory experience as the play of illusion. In so doing, you will gain experience for the bardo state.

In short, at all times and in all situations, let whatever you do accord with the sacred Dharma and dedicate all virtue towards enlightenment. If you do so, you will fulfill the vision of your lamas and be of service to the teachings. You will repay the kindness of your parents and spontaneously benefit yourself and others. Please keep this in mind.

Even if we were to meet in person, I would have no greater instruction to give you than this. So take it to heart, all the time, and in any situation.

Lord of the victorious ones, Longchen Rabjam Zangpo, wrote this on the slopes of Gangri Tökar. May virtue abound!

 

(Source : http://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-masters/longchen-rabjam/ultimate-meaning)

Saga Dawa Letter to Dharma Friends

A very nice letter containing alot of essential reminders for all practitioners.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saga Dawa Letter to Dharma Friends

Dear Dharma Friends,

It is my duty to tell you how to lead your life in a noble Dharma way. Through my whole life experience, I have learned the following things. These are very important to have, and will make your life more peaceful and pleasant:

First, you should recognize that this life you have is very precious, with favorable conditions. After that, you should remember the force of impermanence. Everything is like a dream, changing so fast like the weather. Maybe it will last long, whatever you have, therefore it would be wise to let go of things that cause you pain. Also, it is important to be patient with everyone, including with your family members. If you can deal with your anger, you can solve many problems. Another thing, do not lose your temper when you talk with others. Always be mindful of what you are going to say to others.

Recognize your own faults. Be humble. Do not be selfish. Be kind to others. This is the noble way.

Dharma people should behave better than common people. We have great responsibility of Bodhicitta. We are supposed to be the caretakers of all beings, that’s why we have to behave better.

Some scholars think we don’t have to pray, that having Buddha nature is enough. I don’t think there’s a way to achieve enlightenment without relying on the Three Jewels. Buddha is our guide. Dharma practice is the path. And Sangha members support your journey. That is why your teacher and Dharma brothers and sisters all become very important in your life. You should respect them and never argue with them. Your good actions are the real vows that you are holding.

Some scholars believe that Buddha died, passed into nirvana, and so practice or praying is not necessary. They think that they have realized the view and are the same as Buddha. But this is wrong view. I feel sorry for people who believe this way.

Just because you cannot see Buddha does not mean you can say there is no Buddha. Buddha is always present. Buddha is always here. Even though we have Buddha nature, we still have so many obscurations and defilements. This is why we take refuge, because we have to rely on Buddha for help. We are not yet realized. If we become a fully realized being, then we no longer have to rely on Buddha. But as long we are not yet realized, we must have faith and take refuge and rely on Buddha. Always.

Dharma is based on truth. So we have to be true to ourselves, all the time. You cannot be two-faced, like front and back. The Prayer of the Three Kayas is Guru Rinpoche’s own words, the most profound instruction on how to deal with what we see, what we hear, what thoughts arise in our mind. So analyze the meaning of this teaching, and try to meditate.

If you pray strongly to Guru Rinpoche, you will receive his blessing and will realize the meaning of your Buddha nature.

I will always pray that all of you achieve your goal at some point.

Much love to all,

Baca

(Ven. Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche
Saga Dawa Full Moon
June 15, 2011
Garden Grove, California)

Happiness FOC

Life is richer and opens up when you can feel joy at the accomplishments of others.

If we use our comparing mind and start feeling depressed or envy at happiness of other people, our mind becomes narrow and we destroy our own virtue and peace.

As you slowly cultivate feeling joyfulness for other people’s joy, slowly their accomplishments and happiness becomes no different from your own accomplishment and happiness. It progresses to feeling joy for other people whom you don’t even know, then progresses to even people you dislike. Finally, you can even take joy in all of phenomenon. The beauty of the blue sky, the soft radiance of the morning sunshine, a breeze, colours, sights and sounds. Everything becomes inconceivable beauty. Life is a quiet celebration always. This is the result of merit and purifying our mind.

(FOC – free of charge)