Question: If we want to practice the Dharma for our entire life – and not just start strong and fizzle out – what are the main things we need to make this happen?
Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche: Starting out strong with Dharma practice and then losing momentum happened to practitioners in ancient times as well as now. As the great master H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche said, if we’d like to keep our practice strong for our entire lives, we should practice what are known as the “Four Wealths of a Dharma Practitioner.” (1) First, we should always have strong devotion to the lineage and the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. (2) Second is a very strong understanding of purity, or some degree of pure perception. (3) Third, we should feel love and compassion for all beings and help them as much as we can. (4) Fourth, we should understand that everything in samsara is impermanent—it’s changing all the time, and having a life with the 18 endowments is very precious. If we keep these four wealths close to our hearts—devotion, pure perception, bodhichitta, and appreciation of our life and situation—we’ll continue to keep our practice as strong as when we started. They will be a fuel that always re-energizes, reactivates, and restrengthens our motivation. Not only that, but they’ll make our motivation deeper and stronger, and will bring more joy, appreciation, bodhichitta, and a greater feeling of preciousness.
In addition to the Four Wealths, we should remember the “Four Mind Turnings.” These are very similar to what H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and many other great masters have said: (1) precious human life, (2) impermanence, (3) samsara has a lot of difficulties and troubles, and (4) causes and their results are inevitable. If we can keep up the Four Wealths and Four Mind Turnings, we are definitely on track, and will continue on the beautiful path of enlightenment and compassion, giving a beautiful reward to ourselves and sharing a lot of good things with others.
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche offering the bodhisattva vow ceremony at PBC Palm Beach Dharma Center in 2013, by Greg Kranz.
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