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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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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.

Amazing Devotees I have Known

(From “Heart of Unconditional Love”  Tulku Thondup)

In the Golok province of Eastern Tibet, where I was born and grew up, I knew many older laymen and laywomen who joyfully and vigorously prayed with unreserved devotion to the Buddha of Loving-Kindness (Chenrezig) and enjoyed heartfelt blessings.

Many of them were illiterate, in the Western sense. But in reality, they not only knew how to recite all the essential prayers and pray with true love for mother-beings and devotion to the Buddha, but they also did so sometimes more earnestly than many well-educated monks and nuns. Yet many of these laypeople knew very little about the fancy interpretations and complex meanings of the textual teachings. They weren’t really interested in theoretical views of different traditions. Nor were they interested in becoming logicians who could criticize, defend, and refute intellectual and doctrinal arguments. They didn’t care whether they could cite historical or bibliographical evidence. Most weren’t interested in performing elaborate ceremonial liturgies.

But these laypeople had something that was far more precious: absolute trust, confidence, and devotion to the Buddha of Loving-Kindness and his unconditional love, as instructed by their teachers. They fully believed in his power to protect them from misfortune and fulfill all their needs if they prayed sincerely from their hearts. With this trust and devotion, they continuously recited the Six-Syllable Prayer as their daily spiritual prayer to the Buddha, day and night, unless they were asleep. While walking or sitting, even while eating and drinking, somewhere, somehow, the waves of devotional prayer were always alive on their breath. Even while they were asleep, if they woke up for a second or two in the night, I would hear them starting to recite their prayers a couple of times before they fell back asleep.

When I was growing up, I remember hearing from the father of my tutor Kyala Khenpo (Chechog Dondrub Tsal), whose name was Yumko of Kyala and who was then in his eighties, that when he was in bed, he held his prayer beads on his stomach as he was counting prayers instead of resting his hand on the bed.  That way, he explained, the movements of the beads would keep him awake longer, so that he could say more prayers.

These wonderful devotees seem to have transformed the waves of their breath into a cycle of prayer, as if the chain of their thoughts was a continuous flow of devotion and all the waves of the phenomena around them turned into the presence and actions of the Buddha of Loving Kindness (Chenrezig), wishing joy for all.

That is why these older people, whether they were happy or in pain, rarely seemed to get distracted from the light of love of the Buddha.  When they were happy, they would respect it as the blessings of Buddha’s love.  When they were sick or suffering, they would still maintain a sense of thankfulness by seeing it as a washing away of their negative deeds (karma) that, thanks to the power of the Buddha’s unconditional care, they wouldn’t have to experience in future.  If they lived long, they used their years as an opportunity to pray more to their beloved Buddha and engage in more virtuous deeds for others. If they were dying, they would be pleased as if they were going home, since they fully trusted that the Buddha would lead them to his Pure Land — a Buddha paradise.

Because of the power and effects of these life-long positive thoughts and deeds, when the hour of their death arrived, most of these laypeople hardly felt sadness, pain or fear.  While dying, many expressed joy at leaving for their long-awaited destination, for which they had long prepared.  They would start to describe their beautiful visions of Buddhas or Buddha pure lands and the soothing sounds of prayers.

According to the Buddhist teachings, when devout and meritorious meditators die, they behold clouds of enlightened ones such as the Buddha of Loving-Kindness (Chenrezig) in the sky before them, in the midst of lights of love and music and prayers.  They move swiftly and peacefully through the bardo, the intermediate or transitional period between death and rebirth.   They take rebirth in a Buddha Pure Land of everlasting peace, joy and wisdom.

In today’s world, it is becoming harder and harder to find people like this anywhere, inside or outside of Tibet.  But when I was growing up, seeing people who led such meaningful lives opened my eyes to the world of true authentic teachings and meditators.  These simple people became a great source of inner joy and true understanding for me.  Whenever I think about them, I get lost in great wonder.

In case anyone is wondering, the dying visions of these laypeople were not hallucinations or delusions.  They were the result of these peoples’ transforming their mental habitual tendencies by pacifying conflicting and confused thoughts, healing bruised emotions, and cooling the flames of sensations.  The kind of world or phenomena that people encounter after death is a manifestation of the qualities of their mind, of the habitual reflections they built over lifetimes.  By the time death arrived, these laypeople were blossoming with the joyful energy of devotion and trust in the Buddha.

If our mind is full of devotion, trust and loving-kindness, then what we will see and feel at death will be a world of ultimate joy and love.  This transformation can take place in anyone, if they developed a mind of true trust and devotion to the Buddha of Loving-Kindness (Chenrezig) and if they prayed with the skilful means of devotion from the core of the heart.

Following Buddha with faith

The teachings of Buddha may be difficult to understand, beyond ordinary conception. But as a practitioner, it is important to have faith in Buddha whose teachings are based on omniscience and full comprehension of the capacity of beings, instead of constantly following one’s own interpretations which are fickle, changeable, dependent on one’s current emotion, preferences, mental afflictions and flawed intelligence.

Quote from the Medicine Buddha Sutra :

At that time the World Honored One said to Ananda, “The merit and virtue of the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, which I have just extolled, is the extremely profound practice of all Buddhas. It is difficult to fathom and to comprehend. Do you believe it or not?”

Ananda said, “Greatly virtuous World Honored One, I have absolutely no doubts regarding the Sutras spoken by the Tathagata. Why? Because all Buddhas’ karmas of body, speech, and mind are pure. World Honored One, the sun and moon could fall, Wonderfully High, the king of mountains, could be toppled or shaken, but the words of the Buddhas never change.”

“World Honored One, there are sentient beings deficient in faith who hear about the extremely profound practices of all Buddhas and think to themselves, ‘How could one obtain such supreme merit and benefit merely by reciting the name of a single Buddha, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata?’ Due to this lack of faith, they give rise to slander. During the long night, they lose great benefit and joy and fall into the evil destinies, where they wander ceaselessly.”

The Buddha told Ananda, “If these sentient beings hear the name of the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata, and sincerely accept and uphold it without any doubts, they cannot possibly fall into the evil destinies.

Ananda, this is the extremely profound practice of all Buddhas which is difficult to believe and to understand! You should know that your ability to accept this comes from the awesome power of the Tathagata. Ananda, all Hearers, Solitarily Enlightened Ones, and the Bodhisattvas who have not yet ascended to the Grounds are incapable of believing and understanding this Dharma as it really is. Only the Bodhisattvas who are destined in one life to attain Buddhahood, are capable of understanding.

Ananda, it is difficult to obtain a human body. It is also difficult to have faith in and to revere the Triple Jewel. It is even more difficult to be able to hear the name of the World Honored One, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata. Ananda, Medicine Master Vaidurya Light Tathagata possesses boundless Bodhisattva practices, limitless skillful expedients, and immeasurably vast, great vows. If I were to speak extensively of those for an eon or more, the eon would soon end, but that Buddha’s practices, vows, and skillful expedients have no end!”

This entry was posted on 15151515, in Teachings.

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

Generation and Completion Stage non-dual

Comments: Some people consider the generation stage (of the Vajrayana system) to be ‘conceptual’ , ‘dualistic’ and prefer teachings purely on emptiness or the nature of mind, Dzogchen etc.  While it is okay to concentrate on the aspect or teachings that suit one’s inclinations, it is not so okay to have a biased or erroneous view of the other Dharma methods/paths.  This may cause us to accidentally denigrate the teachings to others who may be suited to such teachings or to lose a precious opportunity to progress on the path with a method that may actually be of tremendous help to us (despite our reservations.)  I found this precious story of Ra Lotsawa (a great realized being and adept of Vajrabhairava), do read :

Maben Chöbar, Tsur Lotsawa and Barekpa Töpagawa, who were pupils of the Indian Vajrapani, came to receive Dharma teaching from Ralo. When he gave them the empowerment and instructions, Tsur Lotsawa gained a realization that was like space and Maben Chöbar gained unimpeded miraculous powers. Barekpa was thinking, “This lama’s instructions on the generations stage of the deity are so very detailed, he has an attachment to complexity as solidly real,” and so he didn’t develop any qualities.

That evening, the three men were staying together in the same house and so they compared their experiences. As nothing had happened for Barekpa the other two said, “We have developed excellent experience and realization through receiving this lama’s instructions, but as nothing happened for you should ask to receive them again.”

When Barekpa did that, Rachen smiled and said, “You don’t have faith in me.”

Barekpa said, “No, I am not lacking in faith.”

Ra Lotsawa laughed and said, “I know exactly what you are thinking.”

Barekpa made many prostrations and offered a confession, so that Ra Lotsawa said, “The superior mantrayāna is distinctive because of its methods. In wisdom and emptiness there is no division into good and bad. There are many kinds of methods but there is none greater than the generation phase. It is the teaching of the inseparability of the basis, path and result.  Some say the meditation of the generation phase is inferior and the meditation of the completion stage is superior. However, both are the natural power of the mind so how can there be any superiority or inferiority? Seeing the non-dual as two and viewing one as superior and the other inferior: that is attachment to solidity.” Then he sang this song:

I pray from my heart with veneration

To venerable  guru Bharo.

Give your blessing to deluded beings

So that they may realize non-duality.

In the last of the five hundred year periods,

The time when only the outer image of the Dharma,

The meaning and view of the Buddha’s teachings

Will be incorrectly explained by minds with partial understanding.

The practice of the generation phase of the deity

Will be declared to be conceptual by the ignorant.

It is attachment to duality if you adopt and reject

The inseparability of clarity, knowing and emptiness.

In particular the special teaching of the mantrayāna

Is solely the generation stage of the deity;

It is the meditation of emptiness

And it is present throughout the vinaya and sutras.

The principal cause of our wandering in samsara

Throughout beginningless time until the present

Is solely the attachment to ordinary appearances.

The Buddha taught the generation stage in order to purify that.

The teaching that the generations stage is inferior,

Which is found in Dzogchen, Mahamudra, the dohas, and elsewhere,

Is for the purpose of negating the attachment

Of beings who have the view of eternalism.

Otherwise, the inseparability of the generation and completion stages,

When meditating on the deity meditation,

Is that the clear appearance is the generation phase

And the empty nature is the completion stage.

Their non-duality is the union.

There is no adoption or rejection, division into good or bad.

All appearances of form are the union of emptiness and appearance, the Body.

They have no nature of their own, they are like rainbows.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

Physical obscurations are purified and the nirmanakaya is attained.

All sounds are the union of emptiness and sound, the Speech.

There is nothing to be identified, they are like echoes.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

Vocal obscurations are purified and the sambhogakaya is attained.

All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.

Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained.

Everything is non-dual,

Self-arising, self-appearing, like mist.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

The svabhavakaya, beyond the intellect, is attained.

In brief, the generation stage has great qualities.

Everything that you wish for comes from it.

Even attachment to ordinary appearances and belief in solidity

Are purified by meditation on the generation stage.

Even the peaceful, increasing controlling and wrathful activities

Are accomplished through meditation on the generation stage.

Even an immeasurable benefit of beings

Arises through meditation on the generation stage.

Without any physical or vocal difficulty being needed

Everything will be accomplished through the meditative state.

Ease of practice, great benefits, skilful methods,

Are the special qualities of the mantrayana.

Barekpa was filled with faith and, saddened, asked for  forgiveness for his earlier lack of faith. From then on Barekpa single-pointedly practiced whatever instruction the lama gave. He had a vision of Vajrabhairava and directly perceived the true nature of all phenomena. He subsequently accomplished a vast benefit for many beings and in the end departed to the pure realms.

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”