“If we think about our conceptions, they are not stable or something we can rely on. They are not firm because they are dualistic, and duality is deluded. Therefore our conceptions are not perfect. For example, in the early part of our liveswemayhavebelievedinsomething100%,thinking that it was perfect.Yet later in life we might completely refute this and adopt the opposite idea. So what happened? Who created that? Who made that? It was none other than our mind. Deluded mind is not reliable. If we think something is 100% beautiful,and then change our mind 100% the other way, it is not real. Every creation and division comes from our deluded, unreliable mind.
The Dzogchen and Vajrayana teachings say that the first thing practitioners must realize is that all appearances and everything they hear and think is their mind. This does not mean that we have to think that this tree is our mind, this stone is our mind, or this building is our mind. At this time, just think that the perceptions of the tree are our mind, the perceptions of the stone are our mind, and the perceptions of the building are our mind. Similarly, the perceptions of happiness are our mind, and the perceptions of suffering are our mind.
In thinking this way, we may wonder where all the stones in the earth come from. As we have heard so many times, they come from atoms, and atoms come from emptiness. Each atom is in the state of emptiness. Therefore trees are emptiness, stones are emptiness, and mountains are emptiness because they are all constructed from emptiness. Everything is empty—even our ignorance and perceptions of duality. Our intellectual knowledge doesn’t see it this way exactly, but that is the reality, whether we believe it or not. Our experience is structured by our conceptions, names, and labels, which we turn into compounded things. However, if we investigate deep down, we see that these names and labels come from the mind. For this reason, the Prajnaparamita teachings say, “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.”
This knowledge of appearance being the mind is very important. It is not just important to think this way—we must also really believe that all appearances are mind, whether they are good or bad. We should not think this way just because the Buddha or Jigme Lingpa said it. We need to look closely at this point and realize it ourselves. Why do we have to think this way? Why is this realization important? Because it completely breaks our ego fabrication, our perceptions of duality, and our clinging to things as solidly existing. This is what Dzogchen is pointing out. It undermines the solidity of the ego and the solidity of grasping to subject and object by pointing out and knowing that all appearances are our mind. Mind is unreliable and mind is not firm, therefore appearances are unreliable and appearances are not firm.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Supreme Wisdom: Commentary on Yeshe Lama (pghs 196-198)
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche at Tashi Choling.
Palm Beach Dharma Center
February 24, 2019
The topics discussed include:
1. Three Kayas
2. Where does karma begin?
3. Relationship of Negative Emotions and Wisdom
4. How long can the mind be separated from a body before it reincarnates?
5. What are the four extremes of existence, nonexistence, both, and neither?
6. What does the “dharmakaya beyond mind” mean?
7. Does wisdom mind guide us during karmic rebirth and our life?
8. How do we integrate our practice with our work?
9. Does the sense of there being a “perceiver” during meditation lessen with practice?
10. How to cut through attachment and aversion once you’ve been introduced to the “view”?
11. Pure relative truth vs. impure relative truth?
Photograph by Greg Kranz.
“In ancient times, Buddhism flourished in India as a brilliant sun rising in every direction, unobstructed by any clouds or fog. During this peak of Buddhism in India, the great master Vasubandhu was appreciated and honored by all great masters as the “Second Buddha.” Vasubandhu taught many different teachings that deal with both the Hinayana and the Mahayana. This particular teaching is a Mahayana teaching on the Mind Only school. The Twenty Stanzas explains that everything is mind—actually nothing but mind. In order to bring about this realization, in the Twenty Stanzas Vasubandhu explains that everything is mind by using logic, reasoning, scriptural study of the Buddha’s teachings.
Lung means “support from the scriptures of Buddha’s teaching.” Rigpa (rigs pa) is “support through the logic and reasoning of one’s self or others.” By putting these supports together, Vasubandhu establishes that everything is mind. This claim is not just in the Mind Only school. Madhyamaka, outer tantra, inner tantra, and inner Dzogchen are all based on the view that everything is mind. In the Vajrayana, one begins to see that everything is mind. If we don’t realize that everything is mind, then we begin to make distinctions between subject and object. We begin dividing. We create divisions in the nature instead of finding the nature’s reality. Therefore the Mind Only school’s philosophy is essential to all the views of Mahayana teaching. We should remember and think about this”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Opening the Clear Vision of the Mind Only School (pg 45)
“During your visualization and meditation, three things are necessary. In Tibetan, they are called: (1) salwa, (2) dagpa, and (3) tanpa. Salwa means “clarity,” dagpa means “purity,” and tanpa means “fearlessness.”
Clarity means to maintain your visualization clearly and meticulously. All the details should be there. In order to do this, you need to have good Shamatha and Vipashyana meditation, which is difficult. That’s why the teachings say that purity and fearlessness are more important than clarity. The visualization might be challenging, and it might not come clearly, but if you feel dedicated and committed to your practice, and strongly feel the presence of the buddhas, that’s enough.
There are one hundred buddhas in this Zhitro practice and it’s difficult to visualize all of them. Even when we try to visualize one buddha it’s hard to maintain perfect clarity. For this reason, if you want to, you can focus on the self-visualization of Vajrasattva, or on Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri in union in your heart center. As the teachings say, when you invite a king, their entire entourage naturally comes along as well. Similarly, if you attend well to a president, their secretaries and ministers will automatically be in the picture too. So when you meditate, if you visualize only the principal deity, such as Vajrasattva or Samantabhadra, everything will go well. And even if that visualization is not so clear, you will do well as long as you have purity and fearlessness.
Purity means that the buddhas you’re visualizing are not ordinary sentient beings. They’re the embodiments of true love, compassion, and wisdom.They are transcendental wisdom rainbow body beings. As we discussed, all of their costumes, ornaments, and gestures have great meaning. These are not mere decorations, but pure displays of bodhichitta. Every aspect and characteristic of a buddha benefits sentient beings. Keeping this understanding in mind during your visualization and recitation is purity.
Fearlessness, or stability, means having no doubt or hesitation. When you’re practicing, you shouldn’t be asking all kinds of questions like, “Why is this?” and “What is that?” That is timidity. It means you’re not fully embracing the teaching and practice, and the ground is shaking beneath your feet. When there’s no stability it’s very difficult to make progress. For these reasons, you must develop great fearlessness and confidence. During your practice don’t waste time analyzing or hovering around particular thoughts. This will spoil your practice. Have faith in the practice and have faith in yourself. Release all of your thoughts, follow the instructions exactly, and soar.
When you practice the Vajrayana teachings, clarity, purity, and fearlessness are all very important. Work joyfully to develop a clear visualization, a deep understanding of the perfection of the buddhas, and become free of all doubt and hesitation. If you have all three of these qualities it’s excellent. But again, even if the clarity of your visualization isn’t perfect, purity and fearlessness are more than enough.”
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Vol. 1: Chapter Twenty-One: Main Practice (pgs 339-340)