“Vajrasattva practice begins with bodhichitta and refuge. Then visualize Vajrasattva sitting one cubit above your head. A cubit is about the length of a forearm, from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow. Guru Padmasambhava, all the lineage masters, and all enlightened beings— particularly the Five Dhyani Buddhas—are completely embodied in the form of Vajrasattva.
Vajrasattva is white in color, and can be visualized with or without a consort. In this version of the practice, Vajrasattva sits in the “royal relaxing posture;” his left leg is bent in, and his right leg is stretched out slightly. Although Shigpo Dudtsi does not specifically mention it here, other teachings say that Vajrasattva sits on a thousand-petal white lotus on top of a white moon disc. This instruction can be applied to this practice as well. Keep this visualization, and with strong devotion and concentration, begin chanting the Hundred Syllable mantra of Vajrasattva. As you chant the mantra, visualize that from the big toe of Vajrasattva’s right foot, bright white light descends like a stream. This stream of white light enters your crown chakra and gradually fills your entire body, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet, cleansing and purifying all your physical, emotional, and intellectual obscurations. After your body is completely filled, visualize the white light passing through the soles of your feet, descending into the earth. The white light goes to all karmically-connected beings, particularly those who harbor negative thoughts towards you because of unpaid karmic debts, real or imagined. Imagine that the white light transforms into whatever they want from you, and that this satisfies them completely. At that time you no longer have a body made of flesh and bone, but a body of glowing white light—you are Vajrasattva. Then, if you have time, recite the Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva mantra one hundred and eight times. This is a very high meditation; it will transform all your perceptions into the purity state of the true nature.
The next step is to visualize white, red, blue, and yellow multi- colored lights emanating from the third eye, throat, heart, and navel chakras of the Vajrasattva above your head, which enter your own chakras. Finally, Vajrasattva above your head dissolves into light, which descends through your crown chakra and into your heart. Shigpo Dudtsi says that when you are doing this practice you can also visualize Vajrasattva above the head of each and every sentient being. In this way, everyone is purified at the same time. And there is a third option. In some of Guru Padmasambhava’s teachings it says to visualize Vajrasattva as big as the sky, like a giant umbrella covering and protecting all beings. Chant the Hundred Syllable Vajrasattva mantra, and visualize all beings beneath Vajrasattva receiving his blessings and light. Finally, Vajrasattva dissolves into light, which dissolves into everyone’s heart, and everyone becomes Vajrasattva. Each of these three ways to perform the Vajrasattva meditation is excellent. You can choose the one that you find most comfortable and convenient.
Once Vajrasattva dissolves into light, and that light enters your heart, meditate as we instructed before. Look at your mind. The moment you look there is nothing to see. Simply relax in that state. Do not search for something better; in fact, do not search at all. Do not block thoughts. When a thought arises, do not play with it, analyze it, or manipulate it. Don’t reject it, don’t accept it, let it be, and let it go. Try to maintain the state you discovered when you first looked directly at your mind. Practice like this for as long as you have time, then at the end of the session, dedicate the merit. Pray for your family, friends, for those who are sick, for those who are struggling, and for those who passed away. Pray that all suffering will be completely eradicated, and that all beings will enjoy long life, health, prosperity, and full spiritual awakening. That is how to practice on Vajrasattva.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind: Dzogchen Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pgs 31-32)
The Meaning of Dzogchen
by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
In this video, Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche clearly defines the essential meaning of Dzogchen, offering strong advice about the importance of putting the teachings into practice.
One Month Dzogchen Retreat on Lama Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol’s Togal Instructions
Padma Samye Ling
April 11, 2018
“Meeting these teachings is not coincidental. We are soaked with so many great teachings. But this alone is not enough. We have to practice. Now is our time. Each person has to do their own share.”
Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Photo of the Sangha first greeting Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche on the 1st day of the 2018 PSL Togal Retreat on April 7, 2018.
What Is the Purpose of Going on a Meditation Retreat?
by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
One Month Dzogchen retreat on Flight of the Garuda
Padma Samye Ling
April 24, 2016
Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind from Samsara
1. Life is Precious
3. Cause and Result is inevitable
4. Life has a lot of difficulties
PBC 2018 Winter Dzogchen Retreat
Palm Beach Dharma Center
January 18, 2018
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche bestowing a Guru Dragpo empowerment at Padma Samye Ling in 2012.
Garland of Views
by Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche & Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Edited by Alan Pope
Free Download: 2010 PBC Pema Mandala Magazine
Excerpted from the Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches’ commentary on Garland of Views by Guru Padmasambhava, in West Palm Beach, FL, January 2005
“As we listen to this teaching, it is important to restrengthen our motivation of bodhichitta, joy, and appreciation, and together with that, our purity understanding of the absolute true nature. With this motivation, we will briefly discuss Garland of Views: A Collection of Esoteric Instructions (Tib. man ngag lta ba’i ’phreng ba),which was given by the great teacher Guru Padmasambhava, and is one of the most renowned works of philosophy in Buddhism. In this teaching, Guru Padmasambhava used the metaphor of a garland to represent the wide range of possible views that we can have.
What is the purpose of studying and knowing all these views? When we practice, three very connected elements are always present: view, meditation, and conduct. Among these three, our view is the most important. If our view is wrong, then our meditation and conduct will be wrong, and they will not go in the right direction. Therefore, knowing the perfect view is crucial. Try to strongly activate that view and meditate on it. Then, based on that view and meditation, good actions and conduct will naturally follow.
As Guru Padmasambhava stated in this teaching, we can summarize the vast number of possible views into two groups: (1) the worldly views of samsara and (2) the nonworldly, or Buddhist views. The worldly views are associated with the ways most of us think, believe, and act. They are known as “worldly” because they are always connected with some form of grasping or clinging.
These views are not developed outside of us—they are created by the mind and projected outwardly. Because people’s ways of thinking, seeing, and reacting to phenomena are so complex, the variety of possible worldly views is also complex. Even so, we can organize them so that every worldly view falls into one of four groups:
(1) flat views [phyal ba]
(2) rejecting views [rgyang ‘phen pa]
(3) dead-end views [mur thug pa]
(4) hanging-up views [mu stegs pa]
According to the Guhyagarbha Tantra, these four worldly views can be considered in two groups: the first two are far from the true nature, while the second two are much closer to the true nature, although they are still mistaken views of ignorance.
The first worldly view, the flat or blank view, is far from the true nature. With this view, you generally do not think about anything; you are entirely unreflective. You do not consider anything about form, foundation, or the process of cause and effect. You do not think about the past or the future, or even much about the present. You do not believe in virtues or nonvirtues. You simply are the way you are, without ideas or thoughts, enjoying this life, or struggling against it, with no real means of advancing yourself further. Because you have no ideas, you do not think that such things are of any importance. This is the basic character of the flat or blank view, although we should recognize that within this category there actually are many individual variations in views and ways of thinking.
The second group of worldly views, the rejecting view, or throwing-far-away view, is that of the materialist or hedonist. If you hold a view that falls into this group, you generally do not want to investigate or analyze too much, choosing instead to simply accept what you believe or have heard, giving complete power to “the authorities” for your knowledge and understanding. You do not believe that you can see anything beyond what the naked eye reveals; therefore, anything that you do not see, hear, feel, or sense, you reject or throw away as though it doesn’t exist. For example, you think that only this present life exists—there is no past and no future. Only this life matters. You do not think about whether there is a life before or after this one, and you therefore do not consider the past or future lives of yourself or others. You simply want to be rich and powerful in this life, and there is nothing more to consider than that. You reject or throw everything else far away.
The third view, the dead-end view, is closer to the true nature, although it is still a view of ignorance. This is the view of the nihilist. If you hold this view, you want to go far beyond to a deeper level, but you are stuck where you are. You believe nothing beyond what you can see for yourself. You investigate and analyze things, but when you do not find something, you say it doesn’t exist. For example, you do not believe very deeply in the past or the future, or in all the different types of causes, conditions, and results. You will challenge others to prove that there is a life after this one. You have no confidence in the virtues described in spiritual teachings because you have not seen good results from doing good things or bad results from doing bad things. You believe there are no reasons for things like the sun coming up because these things just happen naturally by themselves. Similarly, you would say that we are here in the same way, without reason or cause. There is nothing more than that.
The fourth classification of worldly views, the hanging-up view, is also closer to the true nature, but it falls short as well. This is the view of the eternalist. If you hold this view, you make exaggerated or extreme claims and hold onto them. You analyze and investigate all kinds of systems, but then fabricate something that you claim is there, such as the existence of a permanent ego or soul, or a principle force that has created everything. In addition, according to this view, things such as permanence, permanent existence, and causes and results are not really connected together. For example, the permanent ego or “I” has no cause, which implies that even though there is no cause, there can be a result, and that result is permanent. It is even believed that there can be a cause without a result. Although individuals holding this view are looking beyond the present to the past and future, and beyond where the five senses can go, they nominate the idea that suits their own beliefs or philosophy and then grasp onto it, even in the absence of logic or proof.
The nonworldly or Buddhist views are divided into two categories: (1) the views of the causal Sutrayana, which are the beginning or foundation of the Buddha’s teachings; and (2) the views of the Tantrayana or Vajrayana, the advanced teachings that are the most direct, detailed, and complete teachings. Either way, the teachings of the Buddha are liberative and lead practitioners beyond the world of samsara.
The Sutrayana is called the “Causal Yana” because in this practice you mainly focus on the causes and conditions required to produce a good result. Even though you may look forward to having a good result, it won’t come to fruition if you do not establish good causes and conditions. Therefore, in the Causal Yana teachings, Buddha emphasized that we should be wise with regard to causes and conditions. If causes and conditions are good, a good result will come without any difficulties. If causes and conditions are not good, a good result will never come even though you are looking for it. Therefore, it is important to be very wise and careful in gathering and activating good causes and conditions.
While the Causal Yana focuses mainly on the causes and conditions, the Vajrayana or Resultant Yana focuses principally on the result. In this vehicle, you connect directly with your innate awareness—the indestructible nature of mind that is beyond duality. For example, when you practice the Vajrayana, you instantly visualize yourself as an enlightened deity and see the universe as a pure land; in other words, you adopt the same vision as that of a buddha. Through these techniques and through your meditation, you try to jump into that state of awareness instantly. This does not mean that you are making up something that is not there; instead, you are going directly and forcefully, yet skillfully, through all of your habitual patterns to the inner state of your own true nature. This true nature is the original, authentic, pristine, enlightened state—which is the nature of all beings—yet only enlightened awareness fully recognizes this. Therefore, Vajrayana practice is the true and ultimate practice, direct and powerful. If you are able to continually maintain this view without doubt and hesitation, then you will achieve enlightenment very soon. For this reason, the Vajrayana is known as the swift diamond path. By residing in the free, brilliant awareness of our authentic nature, we chop down every habitual pattern and every bit of grasping instantly within its own natural state. This is known as the Resultant Yana.
Our view is very important in determining how our meditation and conduct unfold. In presenting and describing all of these different views, Guru Padmasambhava is not saying that you should do this or avoid doing that. He explains these views so that Buddhist practitioners can understand them better, so that, as Vajrayana practitioners in particular, we can refresh and restrengthen our Vajrayana view and realization.”
Photo of the Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches in Oregon in the 1980s.
“Maitreya clearly states that buddha-nature, or tathagatagarbha has four different qualities. We have seen that some of the great early Tibetan scholars explained buddha-nature almost as though it were a state of negation. One scholar countered that such a view is incorrect, given that Maitreya clearly showed how Buddha Shakyamuni did not explain buddha-nature as a state of negation. Some of the early masters dismissed this point in low-key way. In any case, what are the four qualities of buddha- nature?
(1) First, ‘Buddha-nature is great purity beyond all concepts of pure and impure.’
(2) Second, ‘Buddha-nature is the great self beyond all beyond all concepts of self and no-self.’
(3) Third, ‘Buddha-nature is great blissfulness of pleasure and pain, or suffering and bliss.’
(4) Finally, ‘Buddha-nature is the great permanent state beyond all concepts of permanence and impermanence.’
We can summarize this in a simple way by saying, ‘Buddha-nature is beyond duality mind.’ Characteristics such as permanent and impermanent, clean and dirty, pure and impure, self and no-self are all dualistic conceptions—they are the labels, restrictions, and distractions of duality mind. In reality, tathagatagarbha goes beyond each and every one of those boundaries. The Buddha taught this very specifically throughout his Prajnaparamita teachings. If you have the time or opportunity, it is good to read the one hundred thousand stanzas of the Prajnaparamita; I think this text has been translated into English. In this teaching, the Supreme Teacher states, ‘O Subhuti, noble sons and daughters engage in the Prajnaparamita, the wisdom that goes beyond. If you hold on to form as permanent, you are grasping; if form is impermanent, you are grasping; if form is clean, you are grasping; if form is unclean, you are grasping.’ When the Buddha taught this, he was uprooting the dualistic conceptions to which we normally cling. Duality will never discover the true taste of reality itself. By making and holding on to labels, we get caught and bound up in delusion; whatever we do will be like a pigeon who walks in a cotton field and gets caught in the cotton, or a pigeon who gets stuck in a lamb’s wool. We have a Tibetan word that refers to when a pigeon tries to walk on a lamb and gets stuck in its wool—that big pigeon can’t get out!
The mind of the Buddha is known by many different names in the Buddhist scriptures. Sometimes it is known as ‘the union of the two truths’ or ‘the great absolute truth that is the union of the two truths.’ Other times it called ‘great emptiness with all inherent good qualities’ and ‘great wisdom that goes beyond all conception.’ It is also called ‘mother of the buddhas of the three times,’ ‘tathagatagarbha,’ and ‘buddha-nature.’ The beginning of the Heart Sutra briefly explains this nature, stating, ‘Inconceivable, inexpressible prajnaparamita, unborn, unceasing, by nature like the sky. Experienced by self-reflexive awareness discerning pristine cognition…’
When we discuss buddha-nature and study it according to the different systems of philosophy, it almost looks as though buddha-nature exists somewhere else, somewhere outside ourselves. Nonetheless, we are actually discussing our own innate nature. Buddhist philosophy establishes tathagatagarbha by means of logic and valid cognition, arriving at conclusions about the truth of the nature in this way. This is exactly what the Buddha taught; he said we should use logic and reason to examine the truth of his teachings, discovering and actualizing the nature in our own experience. In order to practice correctly, we need to develop certainty wisdom. Certainty and trust in the teachings will bring about the result of realization. Without the confidence of certainty wisdom, our practice will become shaky.
In his Beacon of Certainty, the great Mipham Rinpoche asks, ‘If you don’t engage in detailed analysis of the teachings, how can you be free from doubt? And if you haven’t freed yourself from doubt, how can you practice? Being full of doubt, how will the continual chain of karmic winds and actions be stopped? Even if you somehow manage to stop general reactions based upon these karmic winds, how can you go beyond or renounce samsara?’ Upon developing realization of the great dharmadhatu, we will no longer discriminate between samsara and nirvana, because we will perceive both as a display of the beautiful nature; samsara and nirvana are the completely pure display of the innate nature of our buddha mind. The teachings refer to this as the ‘one taste of samsara and nirvana,’ in which both merge into a single state. This is buddha-nature, the authentic nature of mind.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Opening the Wisdom Door of the Rangtong & Shentong Views (pgs 93-95)
Photo of Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches bestowing a Tsasum Lingpa Vajrakilaya empowerment in New York City in 2009.
“Once the Tibetan Queen Ngangyung Palje Gyalmo asked Guru Padmasambhava for teachings on the nature of mind. He introduced her to the nature of mind, and at the end he said:
Practice many times and in short sessions, like an old leaking roof,
While continually maintaining joyful effort.
Meditate by resting in rigpa for short periods according to your capabilities. Repeat your recognition many times, with an emphasis on the quality of your practice rather than striving to practice for a long time. Between formal sessions of sitting meditation, cultivate devotion to your teacher, pure perception of your fellow practitioners, and see the whole universe as unreal and like a dream. Reactivate all of these points during post-meditation, and then return to Dzogchen meditation. By carefully considering the seven nails again and again, you will develop a deep sense of impermanence, karma, and the futility and unreality of samsara, as well as joyful effort on the path, devotion to your teacher, and proper presence in meditation.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Forthcoming: The Seven Nails: The Final Testament of the Great Dzogchen Master Shri Singha (pg 97)
Photo of Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche meditating in 1992, by Nancy Roberts.