“As King Indrabhuti approached Oddiyana, he and his men saw a beautiful rainbow light by the shore of a lake. The king said: “I had such a beautiful dream last night. A nine-pointed golden vajra with many lights appeared in the sky. I grabbed it and felt the sunshine streaming into my heart.” Then the king and his minister took a small boat out to explore the lake. In the midst of that lake, they found a young boy with a brilliant and beautiful complexion, glowing with light. The king and his minister were amazed. Calling to him they said: “Emaho! You are such a noble child. Who is your father and who is your mother? Where do you come from? What is your clan? What do you eat? What do you do?”
The boy, who was Guru Padmasambhava, answered: “My father is awareness wisdom. My mother is the blissful emptiness of Samantabhadri. My country is the unborn dharmadhatu. My clan is the union of awareness and emptiness. My food is dualistic thoughts. My work is to subdue the negative emotions of sentient beings.”
Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Praise to the Lotus Born: A Verse Garland of Waves of Devotion
“In the famous Uttaratantra, Buddha Maitreya taught that the Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha have six qualities: (1) rare, (2) supreme, (3) stainless, (4) powerful, (5) ornament, and (6) qualified.
Among these six qualities, the Tibetan word for jewel is konchog, which includes two: rare and supreme. “Rare” refers to how very, very rare it is for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha to appear. In a way, the Buddha is the source: first the Buddha comes, then the Dharma, followed by the Sangha. Without the Buddha there is no Dharma for us to learn. Of course, without the Dharma there is really no Buddha either. But in this case, the Buddha worked so hard for three countless aeons until he reached enlightenment, and then the Dharma came, followed by the Sangha.
The Three Jewels are “supreme” because they aren’t just ordinary precious jewels. They bring not only temporary happiness, but complete happiness to all living beings. An ordinary jewel may bring happiness for a short time, but it may also create more negative emotions. The Three Jewels bring lasting happiness and are therefore supreme among all that is supreme.”
Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1:
Chapter Twenty: Foundation Practice (pg 252)
Photo from a Refuge Ceremony bestowed by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche at the Palm Beach Dharma Center on November 18, 2017, by Mark McDonnell.
On March 29, 2013 at Padma Samye Ling during the One Month Dzogchen Retreat on Mipham Rinpoche’s Vajra Heart, Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche taught on the “Four Reliances.”
(1) Don’t rely on the person, rely on the teaching.
(2) Don’t rely on the words, rely on the meaning.
(3) Don’t rely on the provisional meaning, rely on the definitive, ultimate meaning.
(4) Don’t rely on conceptual mind, but rely on wisdom.
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche teaching during the 2015 Tibetan Calligraphy Retreat at PSL.
“Mindfulness is like a guardian or protector that reminds us, “Do not get lost in that thought—look at it!” Be mindful, and no matter what arises within the space of mind, do not become mesmerized. We don’t need to do anything more than this—awareness alone is sufficient. When we look directly at a thought, it simply dissolves and we instantly reach the center of the true nature. Then just relax.
Although this is a very simple meditation, it’s not easy. The moment one thought is liberated, another one erupts. When this happens, do not feel bad. Use the same technique. Use your mindfulness like radar. Hone in on that thought and gaze right at it. The thought will naturally dissolve. Again, relax. Maintain the natural state—that’s the intention and the practice. Do not fabricate additional thoughts about what just happened. Do not anticipate or strategize about what may lie ahead. Do not judge or analyze your meditation. Be free from past and future, hope and fear. Stay in the center.
Here the great master Shigpo Dudtsi reiterates that whenever a thought arises, all we need to do is look at it and relax. Nothing more is necessary. To achieve stability in this, we need continuous joyful effort and devotion, courage and commitment. Cultivate these beautiful qualities without grasping, and then let them dissolve into the natural state just as you would any other thought. It’s important to remember that we must be patient. We cannot expect immediate results—we have to practice continuously, over time. And we need to gather and focus our energy. If we’re always busy, we won’t have much time for meditation, or we’ll be too tired when we try. This is not good for a practitioner.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 145)
Photos from Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche’s public talk “Healing Medicine for an Abundant Life” sponsored by the Palm Beach Dharma Center on November 11, 2017. Photos by Mark McDonnell and Karin Kearney.
“Without devotion, there’s nowhere we can go because devotion is the recognition and trust in our own goodness qualities, and how we glorify and share them with others.
Eventually our interest, joy, and appreciation develop so much that they become confident and unfailing devotion, which is so deep and powerful. By using our reasoning and the experience and knowledge we gain by applying the teachings, we develop a confidence in our own goodness qualities and in the genuine goodness of others. We really feel that this is how the nature is, and we want to express our true nature of love and compassion without any fear or hesitation. Based on this understanding, we begin to engage in the teachings with an incredible sense of joy and appreciation.
When we have this kind of devotion, realization and the blessings of the Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava come so easily. Their blessings directly enter our hearts and minds, and our realization grows very quickly and naturally. As we continue to apply the teachings, eventually we will cultivate this kind of devotion, and then even a simple Dharma teaching will become so powerful and strong, and we will progress very well.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Preface to The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1 (pg 48)
Photo of Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche from the 1990s.
“Everything that we perceive and conceive of now is deluded. All of the appearances that the beings of the six realms experience are deluded. Wisdom will never come from delusion; we cannot remove delusion through delusion. Also, we cannot develop anything new from the state of delusion because the original nature is pure. The deluded nature is empty and pure from the beginning since there is no true, solid core that exists in anything. Everything is emptiness. In other words, we can say that delusion is emptiness. Emptiness is free from all labels, imputed phenomena, and mistaken perceptions. It is therefore called originally pure. We only have temporary mistakes in our mind. But where are these mistakes really? They are only in our mind. If we start searching for these mistakes in our mind, eventually we will realize that there are no permanent mistakes that we can find because their nature is emptiness.
What we are pointing out is our grasping. But where does grasping exist? There is no substantial, solidly existing grasping. Grasping and all of our mistakes are originally empty. We don’t have to go far away to find this emptiness. It is right here. Our grasping and dualistic conceptual mistakes are empty. They have no true foundation. That is why the Buddha and so many great masters said that grasping and obscurations are like clouds in the sky. They develop temporarily without any base. They are just hanging over the sky-like nature of mind. If we recognize this nature and abide in the nature as it is, then grasping will naturally be removed and cleared away.
In the Beacon of Certainty [nges shes sgron me], Mipham Rinpoche said that obscurations do not truly exist because they are empty. The nature of obscurations is empty, and the nature of emptiness is pure. Impure emptiness does not exist. Therefore impurity does not actually, solidly exist. It is empty.
Mistakes and obscurations are merely misconceptions that sentient beings hold onto. The nature is pure and free from these obscurations. For that reason, Buddha Shakyamuni taught that form is emptiness by form, sound is emptiness by sound, smell is emptiness by smell, and thought is emptiness by thought. Forms, sounds, smells, thoughts, everything is naturally empty. The nature of obscurations is empty, so we can purify them. If they were not empty, we could not purify them. Of course, ‘pure’ and ‘impure’ are just labels of duality mind. In truth, obscurations are self-empty. They do not become empty through practice—they have always been empty and pure from the beginning. This is why in Tibetan Buddhism there is a philosophy called Rangtong, which means self-empty or naturally empty.
In Dzogchen, every teaching always says that things are self-liberated or originally liberated. There is not a single word in the Atiyoga yana about things being liberated by others, or that somebody else has to liberate our duality conceptions. They are self-liberated, originally liberated. These are the famous pointing out teachings. Therefore, there is nothing that has to be removed from this deluded state because delusion itself is in the state of emptiness. Every delusion is in the originally pure state of the Buddha and is empty. There is nothing to be removed from this. Relaxing our mind in this state of emptiness—the original state of one’s own mind—that is the Buddha. While we rest in this natural state, we will begin to perceive things. These are known as the pure, divine, original appearances of the nature, or the body, speech, and mind of the Buddha.
Once our mind is the natural state of purity and great emptiness free from all duality and grasping, then all of our perceptions will arise in that state, and all appearances will be experienced as pure expressions of great emptiness. This is called chilkhor in Tibetan and mandala in Sanskrit. Mandala refers to the pure body, speech, and mind of the Buddha—one’s original nature. In Tibetan, chil means “center” and khor means “circle,” so we can roughly translate this into English as “coiling to the center.” The entire display of body, speech, and mind are always coiling to the center of the nature, which is emptiness. For sentient beings, all tangible appearances, intangible sound systems, and the entire spectrum and variety of thoughts and emotions, without exception, are coiling to the emptiness nature. In terms of the pure perception of the buddhas, all enlightened forms, sounds, and awareness, or deity, mantra, and dharmakaya, are coiling to and within the divine, pure state of the buddha-nature. It’s not that emptiness is in the center, and everything is moving toward it. Everything—from the center to the edge—is within the state of emptiness.”
Learn more about the “Meaning of Mandala” from Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche during the 2013 Vajrayana Ritual Review Retreat at PSL:
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Turning the Wisdom Wheel of the Nine Golden Chariots:
Chapter 14: Summary of the Nine Yanas According to Atiyoga (pgs 191-193)
Photo of a sand mandala created by the PBC Puerto Rico Sangha for the 2013 Vajrasattva Retreat led by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche at Pema Tsokye Dorje Ling. Photo by Pema Nyingje.
1. First Turning
Morality (Vinaya or Shila)
= Morality; Karma; Cause and Effect
= Interpretive Meaning (Ngedon) = changeable
2. Second Turning
= Definitive Meaning (Drangdon) = unchanging
3. Third Turning
= Mixture of Interpretive and Definitive Meanings
= Both Relative and Absolute
= what changes and what is unchanging
Three Ways the Buddha Taught
1. Directly Speaking
2. By Blessings (via body, speech, or mind)
3. By Giving Authority to Someone Else
Heart Sutra Dzogchen Retreat
Padma Samye Ling
July 24, 2017
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche leading the 2012 Medicine Buddha Revitalization Retreat at the PSL Medicine Buddha Vajrakilaya Temple.
“The purity or impurity of our vision is, of course, related with duality. Presently, our dualistic tendencies are exceedingly strong, dense, and gross. Thus, our visions are very gross and impure, since duality itself is impure. Duality is fabrication, duality is grasping, and duality is clinging. When our visions are registered, mixed, and filled up with the strength of our grasping, they are known as “habitual patterns.” In this context, our habit patterns are the built up stains and shadows of duality, grasping, clinging, or whatever else we call it.
Duality is very dense, circulating throughout the body on the winds. Right now our winds are so deluded with duality that they are nearly indistinguishable from duality itself. These powerful, blowing duality winds make their imprint on everything they contact, including ourselves. They cast a shadow on our experience, reflecting back to ourselves and mirroring our duality everywhere we look. Duality feeds on itself in the same way that a jaundiced person sees everything as yellow and completely blurry. So while we are covered up by duality, even though we may talk about the “purity nature,” it is almost like we are just telling stories, because the density of the duality surrounding us is blocking the light of our inner wisdom. In terms of the winds, this situation is known as “very regular attachment” or “grasping perceptions with duality wind.” These are the gross duality obscurations we have to purify. Why? Because they are blocking and overshadowing our realization of great blissfulness-emptiness, or the three mandalas. This is all thoroughly explained in the Anuyoga teachings.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Key to Opening the Wisdom Door of Anuyoga (pgs 57-58)
Photo of the Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches bestowing empowerment in Russia in 2001.
Enjoy wonderful thoughts and actions of love, compassion, and wisdom!
Watch Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche explain the meaning of this special day:
“By learning the wisdom of the lineage, we appreciate, honor, and respect the teaching. We also learn to joyfully embrace it as unique, beautiful, and precious, while also seeing how anyone with true devotion and bodhichitta can actualize the result. This is not just for a select group of people. The Tantra of the Great Display of Ati, or Ati Kodpa Chenpo Gyu (ati bkod pa’i chen po’i rgyud) says that if we don’t teach the lineage history, students will not develop full confidence in the teachings. In that spirit, we share this so that we can remember these great masters while feeling great joy and appreciation for this teaching of ours, yours, and everyone’s.
The Buddha gave many teachings that the Nyingma school summarizes into the nine yanas. The ninth and highest yana is Dzogchen. As you all know, Dzogchen is known as Great Completion or Great Perfection because all the other eight yanas—from the Hinayana to Vajrayana—are concluded and completed within it.
Beginning with the Hinayana there are the (1) Shravakayana, (2) Pratyekabuddhayana, and (3) Bodhisattvayana, followed by the three Outer Tantras of (4) Kriyayana, (5) Upayogayana, and (6) Yogayana, and finally the three Inner Tantras of (7) Mahayogayana, (8) Anuyogayana, and (9) Atiyogayana. Atiyoga is where the ground, path, and result of all the other eight yanas are completed and included without missing anything.
These teachings were brought to us by the great compassionate teacher, Buddha Shakyamuni, who came into this world over 2,500 years ago.
Some people say that the Buddha only actually taught the Hinayana. Even Mahayana teachings say that the Buddha never taught the Mahayana. Why is that? The Buddha didn’t reveal all of his teachings to the general public all at once because many people were not yet ready or suited for all of them. So the Buddha didn’t force it. Given the highly structured caste and social systems of that time, only the basic Hinayana teachings were appropriate to give openly.
For this reason, the Mahayana and Vajrayana teachings were kept secret— the Buddha only gave them to highly capable people in certain areas and different realms. The common public teaching was the Hinayana, which is now known as the Theravada of the southern schools of Buddhism, and the Sarvastivada (thams cad yod par smra ba) of the northern schools of Buddhism. These two schools continue to exist, and what the Buddha taught in the Hinayana are the basic, essential teachings that are common to all the yanas. The Tibetan and Vajrayana teachings came later.
After the Buddha’s mahaparinirvana, there were Seven Patriarchs, or seven representatives of the Buddha. The Buddha himself appointed Mahakashyapa as his regent, and after that seven different great arhats came one after another. During this time, four Hinayana schools called the “four roots of the Hinayana” came into being, and from them, a total of eighteen different Hinayana schools eventually developed.
Among these eighteen schools, only two are left: the southern Theravada schools in places like Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, and the northern Sarvastivada schools in Tibet, Mongolia, and China. Basically, all Mahayana Buddhist schools that follow the Vinaya are Sarvastivada schools.
According to the Mahayana, the Buddha gave Mahayana teachings during his lifetime in many different areas to select groups, but they were kept secret. But about a hundred years after the Buddha’s mahaparinirvana, there was more interest in the Dharma, so these teachings began to shine through, but still very secretly.
About 250 years after the Buddha’s mahaparinirvana, there was a very famous bodhisattva named Vasumitra who came together with as many as 500 other bodhisattvas and recorded all the Mahayana teachings in a higher realm. It was said they collected an elephant load of Mahayana texts of original teachings by the Buddha.
The Vajrayana teachings were kept even more secret than the Mahayana. Although some people were practicing the Sutra Mahayana, not everyone was practicing the Vajrayana. The Vajrayana teachings existed, but were kept very secret, again because of the social structures and the lack of readiness of the people. Many of the great teachings that we know today like Kalachakra, the Eight Herukas, Chakrasamvara, Hayagriva, or Vajrakilaya were kept completely secret.
However, as times changed and people became more ready, the Vajrayana gradually began to shine through more and more, very subtly, but very beautifully. Many who connected with these teachings reached enlightenment within a single lifetime, and in many cases, in just a matter of years. This is how Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism developed—very beautifully and perfectly as people gradually became more suitable for the teachings in India and beyond.”
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Supreme Wisdom: Commentary on Yeshe Lama (pgs 177-179)
Photo of Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche turning a Dharma wheel at Tashi Choling in 2015, by Lama Jomo Lorraine.