maanantai 23. joulukuuta 2019

Tertons: Dharma Treasure Revealers by Lama Tashi Tobgyal

Tertons: Dharma Treasure Revealers

by Lama Tashi Tobgyal,
Retreat master from Raktrul Gompa, Bardor Tersar lineage:

"With regard to Guru Rinpoche himself we have to remember that Guru Rinpoche was, in a sense, even kinder, even more beneficial to Tibet, than Buddha Shakyamuni. Really, there is no difference between Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Rinpoche. Guru Rinpoche was the direct emanation of Buddha Shakyamuni. But the difference is, for Tibetans, that Buddha Shakyamuni never visited Tibet, never brought the teachings there; Guru Rinpoche did. So all Tibetan Buddhism really owes its existence to the kindness of Guru Rinpoche and the Kashmiri abbot Shantarakshita.

Especially, Guru Rinpoche insured that he would, and has, produced a ceaseless stream of emanations. For example, his best known disciples, the twenty-five disciples, were each his own emanation to begin with: five emanations of his body, five of speech, five of mind, five of qualities, five of activity. And, each of the five [had five emanations] — body [of] body, body [of] speech, body [of] mind, etc. He gave each of them a different set of instructions, predicted their time of rebirth, who their disciples would be, entrusted their particular teachings to particular dharmapalas or protectors, and prophesied those future events that would indicate the time had come to revive their teachings. He provided the specific teachings that would serve as remedies for those particular events or situations and then concealed all of this — the teachings themselves, the prophesies, and the entrustment — as treasure or terma, so that they would survive until the time came for those future emanations to take birth.

These terma teachings are therefore very different from most dharma. They are not the clever compositions of brilliant scholars. In fact, the tertons, the treasure revealers who had discovered them, have in many cases been utterly illiterate, or functionally illiterate, or is some cases merely poorly educated. Yet they were able through receiving, finding the physical texts, and through their visions, to transcribe sometimes ten or even a hundred volumes of teachings."

"Tertons are always challenging to people because they often act unconventionally. And it’s natural, or not surprising, that during the life of a terton people usually think they’re crazy. After they pass away, of course, we all make statues of them and worship them and so on. Or they say, “Well, this is just too much — too many revelations, too many discoveries; this is not possible.” Actually if you learn what they’re really doing and what’s going on, you start to understand that they are emanations of Guru Rinpoche. They seem like ordinary men and women when you meet them, but they’re doing things that are simply beyond our usually experience. For example, they might lapse into a nap for a few minutes and you think, “Well, what is that? He was asleep for two, three minutes.” But as in the case of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, since dream time can be very different from waking time, he was able to get detailed instruction on feast dance from Guru Rinpoche and a retinue of dakinis in what for us probably would just look like somebody slumping for a few minutes and coming back out of it. And that’s what they’re doing. They’re doing things like this all the time. And it’s not surprising that we don’t recognize because we don’t it."

lauantai 21. joulukuuta 2019

Emptiness - Blossoming of Life Itself

Emptiness - Blossoming of Life Itself

Emptiness is not a tasteless, bland, impersonal void of meaninglessness. Emptiness is me, emptiness is you. Do we not have character? Do we not have personality? Emptiness has character, more than anything else, in fact. It is not the fault of emptiness if those who exercise emptiness and try to understand it, lack character. See, the problem is that samsaric minds of people cannot avoid creating fantasies about emptiness which inevitably always misses the mark. To realise emptiness means to really become the person you already are. You know, buddhist art is abound with ornaments and decorations. Those ornaments symbolise character and creativity, the blossoming of life itself that by nature is empty. 

- Kim Orgyen Pema, 21.12.2019 

Pemako Buddhism,

keskiviikko 18. joulukuuta 2019



By Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Foremost I would like to tell you that an enlightened essence is present in everyone. It is present in every state, both samsara and nirvana, and in all sentient beings; there is no exception. Experience your buddha nature, make it your constant practice, and you will reach enlightenment. In my lifetime I have known many, many people who attained such an enlightened state, both male and female. Awakening to enlightenment is not an ancient fable. It is not mythology. It actually does happen. Bring the oral instructions into your own practical experience and enlightenment is indeed possible; it is not just a fairy tale.

From ”Repeating the Words of The Buddha”

sunnuntai 15. joulukuuta 2019

When One Sun of Dharma Goes Down, Another Comes up

When One Sun of Dharma Goes Down, Another Comes up

"We are in an age when anger, craving, ambition, stupidity, pride, and jealousy are the rule of the day. It is an age when the sun of Dharma is already sinking behind the shoulders of the western mountains, when most of the great teachers have left for other realms, when practitioners go astray in their meditation, and when neither lay people nor the ordained act according to the Dharma." - Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

What Dilgo Rinpoche says in the first paragraph above, is precisely why our method has been brought out. It is alarming, to use the correct word, what the state of vajra dharma is.

Within few short decades the strong flame of Tibetan vajrayana has almost gone out. For example, Dilgo-la himself, did the whole tantric ngondro for 17 times, on top of many other practices and turned into a buddha because of his great efforts, just like many many others in the old Tibet. The moment Tibet was forcefully taken over, it started going downhill incredibly fast. Numerous great yoginis and yogis were killed and died because of the Chinese occupation. It is unimaginable how this stronghold of dharma was destroyed in such a short time, and in such a devastating manner.

Now, just 60 years after the occupation, it is nearly impossible to find a real yogi in the Tibetan vajrayana community. When there used to be hundreds if not thousands of men and women who spent decades in retreat, mastering their practices and becoming mahasiddhas, now there is just one or two who have done and accomplished that. Comparing Tibetan buddhism in Tibet to Tibetan buddhism in the West, is like comparing alive person to a dead corpse. I can't say how sad and heartbroken I am to say this.

It is precisely as Dilgo Rinpoche says it is. For this very reason, we have our terma.

-Kim Orgyen Pema, 15.12.2019

lauantai 14. joulukuuta 2019

Buddhahood In This Life

Buddhahood In This Life

All sentient beings have buddhanature or potential of freedom, in both psychological and existential sense. The purpose of spirituality or dharma is very simple: to know and become familiar with this potential. Tantric buddhism takes it further and states that it is possible within one lifetime to familiarize with this buddhanature to the extent that all karmic bubbling of the mind becomes extinguished. In this way one can become a living buddha, like thousands of women and men throughout the history have. The beauty of it is that it still keeps happening. To some, buddhism is museum practice where the potential is seen to belong to the great practitioners of the past in distant lands but actually, according to Guru Padmasambhava (can't remember the exact quote), this time of great chaos and confusion has even more potential for spiritual realisation than peaceful times and places. Ha! Him being a wrathful guru, it is a very typical thing for him to say, but of course, it is true.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

The core message and meaning of the path is easily lost. Before we know it, we have gotten distracted by externals. Do yourself a favour and don't get lost in forms and rituals. Avoid getting enchanted by foreign cultures, languages, clothing or names. Also never read more than you practice meditation. Actually, if you read 10% and practice 90% of your study time, then the scales are right. Make sure you sit in meditation and do your practice as much in your daily life as you can. If you stick to these points, you manage to avoid some pitfalls but even then it's not like you'd have any shortage of obstacles.

Relative View

Our own mind is what makes us deluded, unhappy, lost and confused. We are mislead by our perception which is skewed due to our innumerable preferences acquired in the past. We suffer because we are convinced that we exist as independent entities. All buddhism sets out to accomplish is to deconstruct this sense of entityness or me-ness through different means. What I have said here is according to the gradual path where it is acknowledged that there are opposites, such as delusion and wisdom, or confusion (samsara) and liberation (nirvana). This is a relative way of seeing things and accordingly one applies the practices of concentration (shamatha/shine) or emptiness insight (vipashyana/lhaktong).

Absolute View

In the tantric vehicle or vajrayana, there is also a non-gradual way of looking at things, where by recognising our true condition, the duality of confusion and liberation, and in fact any other type of duality, is transcended. If there is no confusion, why would there be liberation of it? If there is no need to become free, confusion can't possibly have ever existed.

The undisputed royalty among all yogic methods is atiyoga, literally primordial yoga. To practice atiyoga means to remain in the recognition of knowing oneself as a buddha or as someone who doesn't have the slightest idea about attaining liberation and whose mind functioning doesn't have the slightest mark of sense of self. To someone like that everyday notions such as me or you, us or them, up or down, far or wide, here or now, focused or distracted, wise or stoopid, wholesome or unwholesome simply do not arise, like they do in the samsaric mind. This, in my understanding, is the so called non-abiding nirvana. As there is no one who abides and no location or state where the abiding takes place, it is called liberation or freedom of non-abiding. Not abiding anywhere, just being free. To practice atiyoga means to know one's reality. In Tibetan, atiyoga is known as dzogchen. The term rigpa or knowing is closely associated with it.

If we take a look around, we can only see human beings whose minds are samsaric. All we see is people who chase after happiness and avoid misfortune in any way possible. This is even the case with practitioners of yoga, who by definition are samsaric and have not yet completed their dharmic paths. Because samsaric beings are so convinced that they are beings who really exist in time and space, they are unable to recognise their real condition. In other words, they cannot sustain knowing awareness or rigpa effortlessly.

In fact, even dedicated practitioners of dzogchen approach spend decades actualising the view. Actualising the view is just a way of saying familiarising with knowing that one is completely free already. Those who feel attracted to mostly practice dzogchen, get pointed out by their lama what the secret meaning of buddhanature is and then they spend their time doing practices such as rushen and semdzins, like chanting of A or shouts of Phet-syllable.

In my experience, and the reader is asked to remember that my association with the dzogchen-teachings from Tibetan vajrayana is limited, atiyoga practices are simple and concise. They are not like tantra where there sometimes is complex visualisations or long mantras and prayers. Dzogchen-practices are all about getting to the bottom of it as quickly as possible.

I am sure there are practitioners out there who have the ripeness and capacity to practice dzogchen without the support of sutra and tantra but I am not one of those. I feel fortunate that my body is strong and heavily built because my mind is so restless and suffers of outstanding stupidity, i.e. delusion. Because of my miserable condition and yet fortunate karma that has lead me to Guru Rinpoche and his teachings, I feel like sharing my positive experience about tantra and especially tantric guru yoga, that have enabled me to gain understanding of my predicament, confidence in the dharma, confidence about my potential and finally, confidence that attaining buddhahood in one lifetime is indeed be realistic.

Tantric Guru Yoga

There is no adept of dzogchen to be found who does not give praise to her or his lama and the lineage. Guru is praised and celebrated because she or he is the person who can show buddhanature to a sentient being. Because there is no samsaric being who is able to do is, is the reason why all adepts of atiyoga acknowledge the importance of transmission from a guru who represents a valid lineage of vajrayana. It is important to understand that dzogchen transmission is not like any other transmission. For more on transmission see: Transmission – Heart of All Buddhism.

Buddhism discusses three bodies or kayas of buddhanature. In my understanding, these are: 1. physical body (nirmanakaya), 2. energetic body (sambhogakaya) and 3. body of transparent empty awareness (dharmakaya). Like everything else, including me and you, also mahasiddha gurus, such as Guru Padmasambhava, have these three aspects.

Lama Karl Eikrem has written in his short terma (see full text here),

The outer meaning of Guru refers to the revealer of the teachings, the head of the lineage. The inner meaning of Guru refers to the energetic presence and blessings of Guru Rinpoche, the master. The absolute meaning of Guru refers to Self-Arising Awareness itself.”

The meaning of guru yoga in dzogchen, is to access and recognise ”Self-Arising Awareness” or rigpa. This enables one to see the needlessness of liberation by enabling one to see that all things are already empty.

In tantra, the meaning of guru yoga is to ask blessings from the guru, chant her or his mantra and to visualise her or his form. By doing this, one receives the blessings or energetic charge of the guru which over time loosens the dualistic views which then allow the vision of reality or vision of pureness of emptiness, to arise. From here then, the yogini or yogi is able to comprehend the view of atiyoga. Tantra to atiyoga is what cane is to a cripple. I feel that correct practice of tantric guru yoga is an idiot proof way of seeing the reality, that is, a certain way to attain buddhahood or non-abiding nirvana. When the presence of the mahasiddha guru fills all of one's body cells there is no option for missing it.

Since atiyoga is the absolute path that offers no relative footholds or handles of support, the inner path of tantra comes at handy to assist those who despite of samsaric faults, take seriously the promise of attaining buddhahood in this life. We should never ever forget that it is possible and we should never let anyone convince us that we couldn't tap our potential. In fact because of the fact that we can acknowledge our confusion, is the very proof that we can attain buddhahood in this life.

May Guru Rinpoche's blessings shower on you,

Thank you for reading,

-Kim Orgyen Pema, 14.12.2019

Overlooking The Yogic Aspect of Vajrayana by Jon Norris

Overlooking The Yogic Aspect
of Vajrayana

By Jon Norris

Here in the West, we Kagyupas are so immersed in the scholastic and political modalities of the lineage that we sometimes overlook the yogic or ‘repa’ aspect of Vajrayana. We pay homage to great yogins like Tilopa, Maitripa, and Milarepa, but we think of them more as historical supermen than as role models that we could emulate today. This was not how the first wave of Tibetan expatriate lamas saw things; most of them had spent some years in solitary retreat, and would gladly do even more if they could. Today, most lamas rightly perceive that only a small percentage of western students are prepared to undertake a three year retreat, let alone spend long years in a solitary retreat hut. Likewise, it is difficult to find logistical support for such long retreats in western countries. We have to wrestle with sanitation, property taxes, and zoning codes, as well as food and medicine. Such things are actually easier to set up in Tibet than they are in the US. So, the current generation of gurus has concentrated on ‘the View’ and ‘the Preliminaries’ and incorporating ‘the Path’ into the daily life of a householder. This is helping westerners to get a toehold on the Buddhist Path, but it’s not likely to produce many Milarepas.”

Read full text here.

keskiviikko 11. joulukuuta 2019

The Incomparable Gift of Buddhist Refuge

The Incomparable Gift of
Buddhist Refuge

When one chants, ”I take refuge in the Guru. I take refuge in His Pure land...” and so on, one instantly becomes a buddha. The ultimate reality becomes even more compelling when chanting, ”I am the Guru. I'm in the Pure Land...” By taking refuge, one uncovers oneself as an entirely free, selfless, timeless and yet vividly and effortlessly present being. Oh, this is the field of buddhas and bodhisattvas who dance and rejoice in the sheer purity of presence, sending out rays of healing and compassion to burdened beings. In other words, by taking refuge, one becomes the eye of wisdom that sees the emptiness of all phenomena.
This simple chant makes us discover our true being that is so well hidden by self-based misperception. The story goes that when Gautama the Prince realized and became Shakyamuni the Buddha and met merchants, who asked a teaching from him, he told them to take refuge.
Maybe the incomparable preciousness of refuge isn't obvious in the beginning but with gradual practice, one realizes that all teachings of sutrayana, tantrayana and even atiyoga are contained in, ”I take refuge in the Guru...”