“The third paramita trains us to be steady and open-hearted in the face of difficult people and circumstances. Patience entails cultivating skillful courageousness, mindfulness, and tolerance. In general, when we feel that others are hurting or inconveniencing us, we react with various forms of anger and irritation, instantly looking to strike back. When it comes to the paramita of patience, however, we remain as unwavering as a mountain, neither seeking revenge nor harboring deep resentment inside our hearts. Patient tolerance is a very powerful antidote to anger.
The three categories of patience are (A) patience with enemies, (B) patience with hardships on the path, and (C) patience with the ups and downs of life.
(A) Here we must learn to tolerate three types of enemies: those who are stronger than us, those who are weaker than us, and those who are equally strong as us. Towards enemies we cannot overcome, we avoid harboring jealousy or resentment; towards enemies we can overcome, we avoid cruelty; and towards enemies that are our equals, we avoid endless competition and squabbling.
(B) It often happens that no matter how faithfully we perform all the practices on the path of Dharma, we feel like we have achieved nothing. We are so focused on the idea of gain—the goal of enlightenment—that we become discouraged, frustrated, and tired when we begin to realize the difficulty of actually attaining it. To cultivate the patience necessary to eventually realize buddhahood, we must focus instead on compassion for others, while continuing to perform our practices without expectation of immediate results.
(C) We also need to train in applying patience to whatever circumstances arise during the course of our lives. All the difficulties we encounter should be considered important aspects of the path. Ups and downs are inevitable in samsara, and if we can see them as manifestations of our own karma that, in essence, are no different than our experiences on the cushion, we will not be shaken or overwhelmed by these ups and downs any more than we are by the movements of our own thoughts. To remain firmly on the path to enlightenment, we should patiently move forward, facing the responsibilities of this life with spiritual dignity and courage of heart.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Ceaseless Echoes of the Great Silence: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra Prajnaparamita (pg 71-72)
Photo of Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches leading the morning practice of Mipham Rinpoche’s “Buddha sadhana” at Padma Samye Ling around 2005.
Answer: “I think you all know that Yogachara is a synonym for the Mind Only school, which is called sem tsam pa in Tibetan. The terms Yogachara and Cittamatra are both Sanskrit words. Roughly translated, yoga refers to an inner state of concentration and is deeply connected with the mind. Chara means “conduct” or “action.” So Yogachara can be translated as “action of the mind.” The Mind Only schools sees everything in the world and beyond as none other than the emanations and activities of mind. There are two ways to understand this. First, all schools agree that one’s own perceptions, conceptions, and ideas are mind. These are associated with the perceiving subject. Next, we have to look at seemingly “objective” phenomena, such as mountains, the world, the galaxy, and other objects. What are these? You may wonder how these phenomenal objects could be projections of mind.
The Mind Only school teaches that our habits patterns of grasping to phenomena as substantially solid and inherently existent have been continually imprinted in the subconscious storehouse (Skt. alaya), or the eighth consciousness. Based upon these imprints, our perceptual habit patterns reflect back to ourselves and others as phenomenal appearances. Although objects seem to be distinct from mind, they all begin with mind. Generally, we have accumulated habit patterns: (1) the habit pattern of (perceiving things) as singular and solid, which is the universal habit pattern; (2) the habit pattern of perceiving phenomenal appearances, which are the objects of the senses; and (3) the habit patterns of individual, physical characteristics. Even though these three habit patterns appear to be different from mind itself, they are actually imprints that have been stored in the alaya for a very longtime. At the present time, these imprints (objects) are reflecting back to ourselves (subjects), despite the fact that they are manifestations of mind previously registered in the alaya. In this way, external objects and all phenomena are actually part of mind’s own display; on the absolute level, nothing substantially solid has ever existed throughout beginningless time. phenomena are like illusions or magic. This is the principal philosophy of the Yogachara schools.
The great Shantarakshita incorporated this Mind Only view of conventional reality in the Yogachara Madhyamaka school, which therefore describes relative reality in precisely the same manner as the Mind Only school. On the absolute level, however, Madhyamaka describes everything as empty. Even mind itself it seen to be empty and devoid of inherent self-existence. Shantarakshita united these two profound philosophical systems—the Yogachara view of conventional reality and the Madhyamaka view of absolute truth—without any hardship or contradiction. To summarize, on the relative level, everything is a display of mind; on the absolute level, everything is completely beyond all characteristics and complexity.
In the Madhyamakalankara, Khenchen Bodhisattva himself describes the Yogachara Madhyamaka school as “riding the chariot of two great philosophical systems, holding the reins of logic and reasoning.” And what are these two great chariots? They are the profound Madhyamaka system of Nagarjuna and the vast philosophical system of Asanga and Vasubandhu combined together in a single state of practice. Based upon this profound system of logic and reason— applied in meditation—we will proceed directly to the perfect state of buddhahood.”
Opening the Wisdom Door of the Madhyamaka School (pgs 22-23)
“About 2,550 years ago the great teacher Buddha was born in India and around the age of 29 he left the kingdom. Then, at the age of 35 he attained buddhahood, becoming a fully enlightened being. After his enlightenment, he began to share his realization and experience with his followers. His realization was absolutely based on loving kindness, compassion, and wisdom for all living beings with no discrimination.
When he gave the teachings on love, compassion, and wisdom, it’s not that he was trying to be nice or polite to the others. The Buddha saw that the very nature of every living being is love, is compassion, is wisdom; that is enlightenment. He also saw that everyone needs to discover true nature in order to remove their difficulties, challenges and suffering. There’s no other solution except to discover one’s own inherited nature. He practiced love, compassion, and wisdom and discovered our beautiful nature. He saw that it is the highest form of religion – there’s no higher Dharma than true love, true compassion, and true wisdom.
This nature is the basic nature of every living being, not just the human beings, but every single living being. Whether we see it or not, this nature is equally pervasive and inherent in all beings. And this is the nature we have to reveal if we’d like to be beautiful beings for one’s self and for others. That is why we really have to shine. This nature is also something that we have to work to reveal, because our nature is hidden within so many illusions or habitual patterns that we’ve created with our minds. They have nothing to do with our true nature. We create them and make fabrications, layer over layer like onion skins, so that our true nature is hidden underneath. We have to peel back all the skins of the onion to reveal our innate nature.
In order to reveal this beautiful nature, we have to apply the natural way not an artificial one, nor by fixations, nor by creating something completely unrealistic. We have to follow the path of the true nature to discover that nature. The artificial fabrications will not discover it, but will take us a distance from it. To follow the path of that nature as it is, is known in Buddhism as Dharma. Dharma is simply following that nature perfectly, beautifully, with balance and joy.
To follow this natural path, Buddha gave many different teachings, he laid out different techniques so that everyone can connect with it according their readiness and their connections. One of the most sophisticated and powerful ones is the Vajrayana teachings. They are considered to be a very powerful and direct way to discover our innate nature. It is following the path of that nature.
The nature of the Vajrayana teachings is very powerful in directly approaching the original nature, because, according to them, the original nature of everything is enlightened. It is very pure. There’s nothing that really needs to change from the way things are, the way we experience them. The only thing we need to change is the duality mind. We have to adjust the duality mind, because it is making a very strong blockage to realizing and connecting to this nature. It is like walls between our nature–the way things are, and the way we see things. That is the big blockage, the wall between us. And the duality mind is not something that comes from outside-it is created by our own mind. Mind creates this regimented conception of duality, and then we continue it by holding, grasping, and clinging. That is the big hindrance to realizing the true nature as it is.”
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
PBC Georgia in Carollton
February 1, 2006
“Master Patrul Rinpoche says that some practitioners may not understand the meaning of Vipashyana at all. They might not have faith and trust in Vipashyana. In some way, they might be uncomfortable and unfamiliar with the teaching. At the same time, their stability is Shamatha practice is not strong. Even when they are sitting in good posture, their minds are easily scattered with conceptions, and become dull, weak, and confused. In other words, meditation—whether Vipashyana or Shamatha—does not come easily. Whenever this happens to you, ignite the skillful means, or “appearance” practices, such as loving-kindness and compassion, joy and appreciation. In other words, cultivate something positive and substantial that can be held in mind. Invoke these thoughts vigorously, and then sit down on your meditation cushion. Even if you are already sitting, renew the clarity of your body, speech, and mind. You can do this by reviewing and re-applying the seven postures of the Buddha Vairochana. These are:
(1) Sit cross-legged in the “vajra posture,” or if you prefer, sit on a chair.
(2) Sit up straight, with your neck bent slightly forward, so your entire spine is aligned.
(3) Place you hands in the equanimity mudra, or place them palms down on your knees.
(4) Let the tip of your tongue gently touch the upper palate.
(5) Keep your arms relaxed, with the elbows off the ribs.
(6) Open your eyes and gaze toward the tip of your nose, or if you prefer, close your eyes.
(7) Breathe naturally.
In this posture spend a minute or two clearing your mind—try to let all of your conceptions simmer down. Then do the breath purification exercise we do every morning. This exercise cleanses the three channels from impure winds associated with attachment, anger, and ignorance. After that, relax. Abide in the nature of mind without conceptions for a minute or two. Then in the sky in front of you, or if you prefer above your head, feel the presence of your teacher in the form of Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava is the embodiment of all buddhas and teachers of the three times and ten directions. Feel strong devotion to him and the recite the Seven Line Prayer, as well as the prayers to the lineage masters and root teacher. Then, after praying, visualize that blessing lights come from Guru Padmasambhava, which cleanse and purify all your negativities, obscurations, and habitual patterns. Doubt, hesitation, dullness, weakness in meditation—these and all other hindrances to your realization are completely removed. Feel this very vividly. Then Guru Padmasambhava dissolves into light. This light enters your crown chakra, moves down your central channel, and enters your heart center where it merges with your awareness. At that moment let your mind look at your mind. What happens? The watcher and the watched merge, and there is no longer any subject and object. Now release your muscles and nervous system. Let everything go. Abide in the inexpressible nature of the mind, beyond categories and characteristics.
As you are relaxing in this state, suddenly thoughts will come up. As we said before, in the Dzogchen teachings thoughts are known as the display of the mind; they are the expressive energy of awareness. Do not regard thoughts as being bad. Do not prevent them, and also do not follow them. Let them come, be, and go. With regard to meditation experience, do not get excited over what might seem to be achievement, and do not despair over what might seem to be poor progress. These are just more thoughts. Instead of adding more thoughts, relax in the natural state. Do not expect good meditation; do not fear bad meditation. If dullness comes, reconnect to the energy of your awareness—re-invoke the clarity aspect of your mind. Let that power and its qualities arise anew, supported and checked by mindfulness. Employ any of these techniques as needed, with joy and devotion.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Nature of Mind
Photo of Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche in meditation.
DE DANG TSÜL TRIM TONG LA GOM PA DANG
… By practicing devotion, morality, and generosity,
TÖ PE JÜ DRÖL TREL YÖ NGO TSA SHE
Ripening the mindstream with study, self-respect, and respect for others,
SHE RAB PÜN SUM TSOG PE NOR DÜN PO
And by realizing perfect wisdom, these are the seven wealths.
SEM CHEN KÜN JI JÜ LA RANG ZHUG NE
By these qualities spontaneously arising in the mindstreams of all sentient beings,
JIG TEN DE CHI DEN PAR UG JIN DZÖ
May the world be rejuvenated with happiness and peace.
SAM PA NYUR DU DRUB PAR JIN JI LOB
Grant blessings that my wishes are swiftly accomplished.
Excerpted from the Prayer that Swiftly Accomplishes All Wishes (SAM PA NYUR DRUB) by Guru Padmasambhava, translated in the Venerable Khenpo Rnpoches’ book, Liberating Duality with Wisdom Display: The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava (pg 114)