“Remember, you do not always have to speak or act in order to be of benefit to others—silence and stillness can be very powerful too.”
Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Inborn Realization: A Commentary on His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s Mountain Retreat Instructions (pg 168)
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Rinpoche bestowing empowerment in Kalmykia in 2017.
“Our wisdom body is not like an empty house. It’s filled with so many beautiful qualities. From our wisdom body, indestructible wisdom speech arises vividly and clearly, knocking down all our habitual patterns and dualities, crumbling the dense ice of obscurations that we’ve carried from beginningless time until now. Today we’re melting that ice, knocking down all our fixed conceptions with our vajra speech and sound. The nature of our speech is the same nature of our body and wisdom mind—it’s the sound of emptiness, compassion, loving-kindness, and wisdom.
How are we going to learn vajra sound, and experience all the sound systems in the world as vajra sound? We’re going to start with ourselves. We’re not starting from outside; we start within. That’s the beauty of the Vajrayana teachings. In visualization practice, this is known as reciting mantras and prayers. Mantra recitation is the heat of love, compassion, and wisdom that melts the ice of duality. It’s the light that clears away the darkness of ignorance. This indestructible sound is great emptiness. We can see this immediately. The moment right after sound arises, it dissolves and then reappears. It’s an ongoing, spiraling wheel carrying a tremendous magnitude of power, blessings, and abilities through every galaxy. But it doesn’t just start in some local area in our body. Of course it might appear very localized, but actually it’s a vibrating, ripple effect moving through all physical systems— our channels, winds, and the entire space of our inner body, as well as through the entire universe. All of this begins from the primordial wisdom nature of our mind, the self-born Guru Padmasambhava. The whole universe of sound is transformed into a beautiful vajra sound system. Mantra is not an isolated thing happening once in a while. It’s the ongoing sound system of the mandala. We’re discovering the infinite, continuous, unceasing sound system of the vajra.
As we continue to practice visualization, we deepen our understanding that the nature of all forms and sounds is emptiness. Body and speech are both the transcendental wisdom rainbow body. Everything is in this wisdom state. When we discover the indestructible nature of our body and speech, and maintain our realization of the empty, transcendental nature of all forms and sounds, this is visualization practice.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1 (pgs 52-53)
Photo of Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche dissolving a sand mandala in PBC Puerto Rico around 2006.
“The great master Chandrakirti was one the foremost masters of Madhyamaka in Buddhist history. He is renowned for establishing the Madhyamaka view through logic, analysis, and debate. He always said, “Do not go against the systems of samsara.” He also said that good conduct must be attuned to the needs of others. For example, when a person is experiencing great suffering and you say, “This suffering of yours does not truly exist—it is a dream,” how do you think that person will accept it? You may experience your own suffering as a dream, but if you truly want to help that person, you must be able to enter his or her world. You cannot impose your view on others. Unless you know for certain that saying, “It is a dream” will cure that person’s pain, your words are useless, and maybe even harmful. And you will be creating more obscurations for yourself.
Chandrakirti was the head abbot of Nalanda Monastic University. He was not only a great scholar, but was also one of the eighty-four mahasiddhas. The biographies of Chandrakirti tell how he could pass his arms through stone pillars, and that he could literally milk cows painted on thangkas. This great master had boundless realization of the true nature, yet he continuously emphasized the importance of good conduct to his students and practiced this himself.
Like Chandrakirti, Shantarakshita was once the head abbot of Nalanda Monastic University, and was also both a great scholar and siddha. Shantarakshita taught that we should continually balance absolute and relative truth in our practice. When Shantarakshita came to Tibet, he did not give Madhyamaka teachings right away. First, he gave instructions on taking refuge. Then he gave teachings on the ten virtuous activities, and after that he taught the five skandhas. He made certain that the Tibetan people were grounded in the relative truth before introducing them to the absolute truth.
… The practice of good conduct is always related to the laws of cause and effect, or karma. This means that as Dzogchen practitioners, we need to know what types of actions actions yield positive and negative results, adopting the positive and avoiding the negative. Yet just as our conduct must not be lost in the view, the view must not be lost in our conduct. In other words, even though we follow the systems of good behavior taught in the Dharma and practiced in the societies where we live, and even though we’re very careful regarding karma, we should not become regimented and petty. The view is as vast as space; the conduct is refined like barley flour. Be utterly open, and do what is good.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind: Dzogchen Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pgs 183-184)
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche praying at Padma Gochen Ling in Monterey, Tennessee around 2006, by Libba Gillum Miller.
“According to the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava, “benefitting others now” refers to this very lifetime. “Benefitting in the future” refers to lives after this lifetime. Life doesn’t end when we die.There is a continuous spiral of life that goes on until we reach enlightenment. Throughout these lives, there are always ups and downs, so we dedicate our merit for now and for all future lives of change and movement. “During all the waves that beings go through, may this merit positively affect them all the time—like multiple time-release capsules! According to their needs, may this merit continually benefit all beings. Not only may it benefit them, but may it ignite their buddha-nature, their own inner goodness, so they’re not relying on something completely outside of themselves. May they develop their positive energies and abilities, which come back to all beings, including ourselves, so there is an unending abundance of enlightenment qualities and good things unfolding all the time for everyone’s benefit.” Sincerely wish this.
We dedicate this merit and every good deed we do with our body, speech, and mind, including all our good deeds of the past. This is why dedication is the final touch of our meditation. We conclude our practice session and then continue. When we dedicate the merit, whatever we did that was good is never spoiled by any future circumstance. In a way, we’re securing and sealing it up to make sure it remains all the time—not just for now, but so that life after life it touches every living being. When we dedicate, we can highlight our friends, family members, or whoever we’re specifically praying for, but we should also dedicate the merit to everyone so that it connects to every sentient being.”
Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1:
Chapter 20: Foundation Practice (pgs 286-287)
Watch: How to Perform a Simple Riwo Sang Chod Fire Puja Meditation Practice at Home
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche teaching on the Riwo Sang Chod fire puja meditation practice at Padma Samye Ling on May 31, 2014.
“Bodhichitta can be divided into two forms: absolute and relative bodhichitta.
Relative bodhichitta has to do with the intention of wanting to help people—we develop a feeling of concern toward those who are suffering.
Absolute bodhichitta is related to fully actualizing bodhichitta after we embark on the bodhisattva path. Rather than simply having the intention to remove suffering, eventually we become capable of actually removing others’ suffering. This happens when we realize the true nature of bodhichitta, which is currently only a potential.
Bodhichitta is divided into the cultivation of merit and the cultivation of wisdom. The five paramitas [pha rol tu phyin pa] of engaging in generosity, morality, patience, joyful effort, and concentration are based on the accumulation of conceptual merit. The accumulation of nonconceptual wisdom is based on the last paramita of prajna or wisdom. Prajna sheds a whole new light on how we understand each of the paramitas.
For instance, while practicing the paramita of generosity we might engage in giving. As we reflect on the activity of giving, we begin to realize that ultimately there is no giver, no recipient, and no gift. In this way, we come to understand that everything is insubstantial. There is no true substantiality in the conceptual divisions that we make regarding giver, recipient, and gift.
Sometimes the six paramitas are classified differently according to the three principles of ethics, concentration, and wisdom, otherwise known in Sanskrit as shila [tshul khrims], samadhi, and prajna.
Ethics is when we refrain from harming others. Ethics has to do with how our mind relates to things.
Concentration is whenever we are able to keep our attention on what we are doing in the present moment. Strictly speaking, for us to be in meditative concentration it does not matter what sort of object our mind is directed toward.
Wisdom covers a broad range of things, beginning with ordinary intellectual exercises such as accumulating facts and figures, and learning mathematics, medicine, logic, and so on. Gradually, wisdom includes understanding that the true condition of things is insubstantial and empty, and realizing that there is no permanent, substantial ego that endures through all of our temporary experiences.
We should not be too rigid in our thinking about what is and what is not Dharma practice. Sometimes people think that Dharma practice means to throw oneself into some formal practice for years and years, and that if we don’t do that we are not practicing at all. But this is not true. The practice of Dharma has to start off with whatever we are doing. Being mindful and aware, and trying to acknowledge and correct mistakes in our life is itself Dharma practice.
In a teaching on Vinaya, the Buddha said that we should not look at small, wholesome practices as something that can be ignored, and only pursue what we believe to be formal practice. Instead, we must accustom ourselves to doing small, good things so that the whole process starts to build on itself. He gave the example that if we place a pot underneath a leak in the ceiling, over time water will come through the ceiling, drop into the pot, and before we know it the pot will be full. Similarly, if we are able to predispose ourselves in a particular manner, and become familiar with doing certain things, eventually we will be used to doing those things in that way.”
Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
Turning the Wisdom Wheel of the Nine Golden Chariots (pgs 58-59)
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche bestowing the empowerment of Lake Born Guru Padmasambhava in Portland, Oregon on September 18, 2016 by Derek Sarno.
Dzogchen Teachings on Longchenpa’s You Are the Eyes of the World
by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
September 16, 2016
Dzogchen, the “Great Perfection” is the ultimate teaching of all the enlightened ones. You are the Eyes of the World, also known as The Jewel Ship: A Guide to the Meaning of the Supreme Ordering Principle in the Universe, the State of Pure and Total Presence (Byaṅ chub kyi sems kun byed rgyal po’i don khrid rin chen gru bo/bodhicitta kulayarāja ratnanāva vrtti) is a Dzogchen teaching by Longchenpa, considered to be the king of Dzogchen practitioners.
This teaching succinctly expresses the heart essence of Dzogchen, directly revealing the primordially pure enlightened nature of one’s own mind.
As a holder of the complete Nyingmapa lineages of Kama, Terma, and Dzogchen teachings, Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche is fully versed in all the schools of Buddhism, and is a master of Dzogchen, the most advanced tradition of meditation practice in Tibetan Buddhism. He is the author of several learned works in Tibetan, and has co-authored over 25 Dharma books in English with his brother Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche (1938-2010). Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche travels extensively within the U.S.A. and throughout the world, giving empowerments, teachings, and personal guidance at numerous retreats.
Portland Insight Meditation Community
6536 SE Duke St.
Portland, Oregon 97206
Filmed by Damien Genardi
The Prayer to Guru Rinpoche that Swiftly Removes Obstacles and Fulfills All Wishes
by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche
Guru Rinpoche, you are the embodiment of the supreme compassion of all the buddhas,
Our unfailing protector forever!
Quickly turn your loving attention to your praying children.
Please bestow your blessings, empowerments, and accomplishments right now.
Although we know your qualities, kindness, and enlightened activities towards us
Surpass all the other buddhas,
We don’t remember you during comfortable times.
Even when we pray, it becomes merely lip service.
Now we’re tormented by the approaching power of the five degenerations,
And unwanted suffering comes like a lightning strike.
Protector, we remember you from the depths of our hearts.
Please turn your loving attention to our crying calls and longing plea:
Earthquakes, fires, hurricanes, drought, floods, and the like,
Please remove all the outer obstacles of natural disasters externally!
All kinds of illnesses of heat, cold, wind, bile, phlegm, and their combinations,
Please remove all the inner obstacles of physical imbalances internally!
The neurotic five poisons of mind: attachment, anger, and the demon of hope and fear,
Please remove all the secret obstacles of mental imbalances into pervasive space!
When beings and the world are flooded by the waves of the ocean of suffering,
O Padmakara, please rejuvenate everything into peace and happiness!
When weapons of war threaten from the edge to the center of the Earth,
O Padmakara, please reverse the armies and disturbing situations!
When pollution, negative spirits, disease, and epidemics plague us,
O Padmakara, please uproot all sickness and negative forces!
When the prosperity of the environment and beings declines, bringing poverty and suffering,
O Padmakara, please reveal a treasure of abundant food and riches!
When the time comes to benefit all beings with Dharma, wealth, and sacred samaya objects,
O Padmakara, please hand over a father’s treasure to your heirs!
When adventuring through mountain valleys, hermitages, and hidden lands,
O Padmakara, please lead us on the path with favorable conditions!
When vicious, wild animals attack us,
O Padmakara, please drive away these ferocious creatures!
When the four elements become unbalanced and threaten us by nearing the end of their time,
O Padmakara, please restore the elements to their natural state!
When wild beings, bandits, and robbers attack us,
O Padmakara, please dispel the terror of their cruelty and greed!
When armed aggressors and killers torment us,
O Padmakara, please enclose us in a vajra tent!
When this life is exhausted and death is coming,
O Padmakara, please lead us to Dewachen!
When the deluded experiences of the bardo arise with suffering,
O Padmakara, please cause the delusion to be self-liberated!
When we go in the wrong direction towards the cycle of karmic existence,
O Padmakara, please lead us to the path of liberation!
Through all the situations of this life, the next, and in the bardo,
O Padmakara, we have no other hope than you!
In brief, rest your lotus feet in the center of the hearts of those devoted to you,
And remain inseparable with us forever.
Please purify the suffering of impurity and delusion,
And bless us to reach the fortress of everlasting blissfulness!
This prayer is offered by Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche) for the peace and happiness of the world, at a time when we are all afflicted both physically and mentally by all kinds of outer and inner circumstances. For anyone who connects to this prayer, may it pacify outer and inner obstacles, and accomplish their aspirations just as they wish.
Translated by Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche and Pema Dragpa in 2012 at Padma Samye Ling.
Excerpted from Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches’ book, Liberating Duality with Wisdom Display: The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava (pgs 119-127)