Meditation Pith Instructions

“Taming the mind does not mean eliminating outer objects or suppressing inner thoughts. It means revealing and maintaining the natural state of the mind. Taming the mind has nothing to do with cultivating certain thoughts; it is simply keeping the mind in its fundamental state, where its clarity and wisdom are revealed. The true nature of the mind is calm and clear and full of compassion, love, and wisdom.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path (pgs 2-3)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Meditation Instructions
  2. Restrengthen Your Practice
  3. Avoiding Mistakes
  4. Signs of Realization

1. Meditation Instructions

“I prostrate to the entire assembly of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha,
Who abide in the auspicious pure lands of the ten directions,
Which are the spontaneously perfect & pure nature of all apparent existence.
May everything be auspicious for myself and others.”

Excerpt from the “Tashi Prayer” by Mipham Rinpoche

“When it comes to meditation, what is most important? Certainty. Sure, open, relaxed confidence.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche

“Meditation is the process by which one frees oneself from all that impedes a direct, ever-present experience of reality.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Lion’s Gaze

“Nature is calling us to wake up to our potential.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Flight of the Garuda retreat of 2015

Question: What is the general instruction for all practitioners?

Answer: Don’t cling to any experiences.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Discovering Infinite Freedom (77)

“As Dzogchen practitioners following in the footsteps of the Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava, we are always trying to return to our natural state of mind and be relaxed. Relax your mind and senses, and let your thoughts settle.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Discovering Infinite Freedom

“We need to develop an open vision, a simple way of seeing that is totally receptive, free of all tendencies to label and judge. This is called “the view.” One who sees in this way truly has the eyes of the universe. We pray to attain great confidence in the view. Why is great confidence needed? To open up to the infinite we must open up our mind, and to do this we must be strong. When our defensiveness and habitual beliefs are under siege, hidden fears and desires erupt. This is the time for great bravery—no matter what occurs, we want to experience it nakedly as it is, without manipulating anything or closing anything off.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Illuminating the Path: Ngondro Instructions According to the Nyingma School of Vajrayana Buddhism (pg 37)

“Our true nature—absolute, unalterable, and free from conflict and pretense—is not distinct from everyday life. We are being guided to recognize it right now, in this life and in this body. We are offered the knowledge of ourselves as we truly are. Such knowing can only take place within us, for it is self-knowing. Such knowing is sublime and certain.

The tangibility of the experience of profound clarity happens in the present moment. It is not a future paradise nor a reward for being pious. One does not have to perform austerities, go on pilgrimages, or become celibate—one need not relinquish anything at all. One can experience one’s true nature in the city, in the bathroom, in the shopping mall, at a ball game, in a synagogue, church, or hermitage—wherever one is and whatever one is doing, one’s nature is right there.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Illuminating The Path (pgs 32-33)

“The base of everything is uncompounded. Our mind is the creator of every one of our feelings, perceptions, and conceptions. As these are personal, they all come from the mind. The mind has these five qualities: it is uncompounded; it is self-arising; it is infinite, vast, and spacious; it is inconceivable or inexpressible; and it is free from the labels of samsara and nirvana.

Again, Guru Padmasambhava is not speaking of someone else’s nature somewhere else. This is his direct teaching on the nature of your own mind and our own minds. Therefore, when you meditate and practice you should not look outside searching for something you think you have to get. Remind yourself of this nature and relax your mind in that state. When you relax your mind within this teaching, then everything–all dualities, fabrications, worries, sadness, loneliness–merge or dissolve into the original state of great emptiness, the original state of the mind. Then just continue to relax. As you relax more, great joy and happiness arise, and these richness qualities radiate throughout space without blockage or hindrance. That is how Dzogchen yogis and yoginis should meditate.

It is crucial to recognize and realize the base of the Dzogchen philosophy and teachings. First, we should understand well and carefully the nature of rigpa. What is it, and what is mind? We use the term zhi or “base” for rigpa. That is important to know. And with that knowledge, we should practice or meditate. Meditation is the practice. We have to become more familiar with the nature of reality. Due to our habitual patterns, we need a lot of courage, commitment, and joyful effort to be able to recognize rigpa and become familiar with it again and again. We must continue until we realize this nature in the naked state, free from any conditions.

In summary, then, when we practice Dzogchen meditation, what is the method? We should meditate on the uncompounded state of rigpa. We should meditate on the self-arising luminous state of the clear light. We should meditate on the infinitely vast state, on the inexpressible state, and on the state beyond samsara and nirvana.

According to the Dzogchen tradition, this meditation has nothing to do with effort. We just have to relax. We have to merge into this state, and just be there in a natural way. Dzogchen, it is often said, is beyond effort and activities. This is very important. To relax means to relax all your muscles and bones, then to relax your mind and lower your blood pressure. Let your body be completely settled in a calm and alert state. Then rest in the natural state of the mind as it is. That is the method of Dzogchen.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Discovering Infinite Freedom: The Prayer of Kuntuzangpo (pgs 54-55)

“Taming the mind does not mean eliminating outer objects or suppressing inner thoughts. It means revealing and maintaining the natural state of the mind. Taming the mind has nothing to do with cultivating certain thoughts; it is simply keeping the mind in its fundamental state, where its clarity and wisdom are revealed. The true nature of the mind is calm and clear and full of compassion and love and wisdom.

We do not always experience the mind in this way because ignorance obscures our awareness of the mind’s true nature. However, the wisdom nature is always there, and it can shine through and guide us in our lives. Even foolish people have wisdom and can exhibit beautiful qualities because this basic goodness is found equally in all beings. Not only human beings, but all sentient beings have the same nature and potential for enlightenment. The problem is that temporary obscurations cover and distort the essential nature of the mind. When we completely remove the ignorance and reveal the mind’s true nature, we are enlightened.

It is important to remember that our true nature is only temporarily hidden. When we know that, we can work with courage and joy to remove the ignorance and let the essence of the mind shine forth. It is important for our diligence to be based on a joyful attitude, because without joyful effort we cannot reveal this true nature.

We need to exert ourselves now because this opportunity will not last forever. We must remember impermanence and the changing stages of life and death. Thinking about death and impermanence is often unpleasant—we usually do not like to acknowledge that everything, including ourselves, is subject to the law of incessant change. But change has good aspects as well, because without change there is no growth or improvement. With the right techniques, skills, and effort, we can learn and make positive changes. By understanding impermanence and causality we can work toward enlightenment and make the most of this human life.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path (pgs 2-3)

“When we begin to practice meditation, we’re always surprised how fast the mind runs. Yet even though it seems to be running very fast, it’s actually slowing down. Here Shigpo Dudtsi follows the instructions of the great Dzogchen master Vimalamitra, as he explains the five stages of Shamatha practice. The first stage is “like a stream running down a steep mountain.” This describes the experience of beginning meditators very well—their thoughts are boisterous, and they keep coming and going without cessation. It’s tempting to judge this as being wrong, and to willfully strive to achieve a quiet and peaceful mind. But we don’t have to choose one over the other. Having thoughts is mind, and the absence of thoughts is also mind. In both cases, the nature of the mind is emptiness.

The purpose of Shamatha practice is to regulate the mind in order to make it stable and transparent to itself. Focus your mind for a short time, and then look directly at it. Once you behold your empty, open mind, simply rest in it. At this point there’s no need to regulate anything, and you should release the regulator too. Relax and let your mind do whatever it wants to do. This is one way to discover and experience the empty nature of mind.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind: Dzogchen Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pg 78)

“Meditating on the nature of the mind is something you can do anytime. You do not have to go somewhere special to acquire the nature of the mind; you do not need to buy it from a store or dig it up from the earth; it is always available. During meditation you do not need to think any particular thoughts or make any effort to change what you are. Just simply maintain where you are and what you are, without trying to do anything unusual. If you meditate by simply maintaining the natural state, then everything unnatural will be removed. You do not have to do anything except remain on your cushion. In one sense this is something of a joke, but in another sense it is true. You simply relax on your cushion, and that’s it!”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

“Do your meditation with a relaxed mind; do not worry or force yourself to meditate. Do not be in a rush, but be concerned enough that you do not postpone it until tomorrow. If you put it off, there is always another tomorrow, and you can extend that for endless tomorrows without developing your practice. Once in a while it is good to watch your meditation and see how it is going, but do not do this all the time because that is spying too much. On the other hand, you should not be so relaxed that you are careless, since that will not bring good results either. There has to be a balance.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

“In Buddhism, we call something “positive” if it is a true quality of the nature of mind—if it is based on love, compassion, and wisdom. As Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche mentioned so many times, the sign that something is “positive” is that it makes oneself and others feel happy and comfortable. “Negative” means unnatural. A sure sign that something is unnatural is that it makes oneself and others feel uncomfortable and unhappy, either directly or indirectly.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
2014 Flight of the Garuda by Lama Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol Retreat at Padma Samye Ling

“All the great masters and practitioners said that the three kaya buddha-nature of mind is already right here with us. It is loving-kindness, compassion, and wisdom free from all duality fabrications. This was said by the Buddha, Samantabhadra, Garab Dorje, Guru Padmasambhava, the 25 disciples of Guru Rinpoche, Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol, and all the great masters, one after another. The Buddha is right here with us. We only have to recognize and be that.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
2014 Flight of the Garuda by Lama Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol Retreat at Padma Samye Ling

“The Dzogchen teachings often speak of view, meditation, and conduct. The view means you understand the nature of your mind. You know it the same way that you know your own face when you see it in a mirror—instantly, without any doubt or hesitation. This is called “certainty wisdom.” The next step is meditation. Meditation means maintaining this view by continuously recognizing the nature of your mind as a way of life. Conduct refers to your speech and actions, which are the support for your view and meditation. Whatever you say and do should reflect, support, and strengthen your understanding of the nature of your mind. The essential point of conduct is to not accept or reject the six sensory experiences. If you continue to practice like this, your view, meditation, and conduct will merge into the result: your view will become indestructible, and you will no longer be distracted by thoughts or external events. You will maintain the view perfectly at all times and in all places. This result is not far away—in fact, it’s right here. But you must release your belief in thoughts to see it.

For the view, meditation, conduct, and result to manifest properly and fully we need a foundation, and that foundation is two-fold: (1) generating bodhichitta and (2) reflecting on impermanence. This is not only Shigpo Dudtsi’s teaching, but the teaching of all the great Dzogchen masters, from Garab Dorje until now. As we cultivate vast, impartial love, compassion, and wisdom, and develop a deep understanding of both the transience and preciousness of life, we’re crossing the bridge that leads from habitual patterns to absolute freedom. Bodhichitta and impermanence are not only catalysts for realization, but are expressions of the true nature of the mind.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind: Dzogchen Lineage of the Great Master Shigpo Dudtsi (pgs 141-142)

“The main teaching of The Flight of the Garuda is divided into three principle sections of (1) ground, (2) path, and (3) result. The nature of mind is the ground and source of everything, both externally and internally. This is our foundation. The Buddha named this many different things according to the level of his teachings. He called it buddha-nature, tathagatagarbha, Prajnaparamita, Madhyamaka, Mahamudra, or simply Dzogchen. He also called it self-born awareness, ground tantra, the absolute nature of mind, ordinary mind, indestructible wisdom, the great youthful vase body, and the indestructible blissfulness of emptiness. All of these names point to the same ground: the nature as it is.

This is what we have to discover. We have to reveal the innate nature as it is. Revealing this nature is known as the “path,” and continuing to follow the path will bring the result of enlightenment.

The path is divided into three sections, which we’ve heard so many times from the great master Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, as well as from many other great masters and books: (1) view, (2) meditation or practice, and (3) conduct. These three lead us to the full realization of our basic nature. Why do we have to reveal our basic nature if it’s already here? Because we’re deluded. We don’t see our innate nature so we can’t take full advantage and benefit of it. We have to reveal it exactly according to the way the nature is without using any fabrications or conceptual constructions. This is known as the “view.”

It’s so important to reveal our nature. It’s not just important—it’s crucial if we really want to transcend and remove all the chaotic situations that we go through in samsara. There is only one thing we have to do: reveal our innate nature.”

Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
2014 One Month Dzogchen Retreat on Flight of the Garuda

“Abiding in the nature of the mind without being disturbed by thoughts or emotions is the practice of Kadak Trekcho. Trekcho means “cutting thoroughly.” What is being cut? Believing in our thoughts and clinging onto them is being cut. Thoughts are given many names in the teachings: fabrications, delusions, mental events, and duality conceptions. When you recognize and abide in the natural state of your own mind, all thoughts—or whatever name you choose to give them—come and go naturally, spontaneously, and effortlessly, and can never bind you. Those who bring their practice to this point are Dzogchen yogis and yoginis, not just in name, but in truth.

Garab Dorje, the first human master of Dzogchen, was the holder of all 6,400,000 Dzogchen tantras. He had many students, the foremost being Manjushrimitra. In the early days of Dzogchen, the complete teaching was passed from master to disciple in a single lineage. In this way, Garab Dorje named Manjushrimitra as his regent. The histories say that Manjushrimitra studied with Garab Dorje for 75 years.

At the end of their time together, Garab Dorje entered mahaparinirvana. He transformed into rainbow light and rose into the sky. Immediately Manjushrimitra began crying, and with great longing and yearning prayed to his master. Garab Dorje extended his right arm, and in his hand he held a jeweled locket the size of a thumb. He handed the locket to Manjushrimitra, saying, “The entire Dzogchen teaching I have given you should be condensed in this way.”

Garab Dorje gave Manjushrimitra what has become known as the deje, which means, “last testament,” or “legacy teaching.” It begins with a set of three instructions. “First, find out the source of your mind. Second, find out where your mind is presently abiding. Third, find out where your mind is going.” When you search for the source of your mind, for the time and place when it first came into being, you do not find anything. This is known as the “unborn” or “birthless” state. It is also called dharmakaya. When you search for where your mind is right now you cannot pinpoint it. In the Prajnaparamita the Buddha said, “Oh, Shariputra, mind is not outside, mind is not inside, mind is not in-between, nor is it someplace else.” This is known as the “nonabiding” or “nondwelling state.” It is also called sambhogakaya. When you search for where your mind is going you will once more find nothing concrete. This is known as the “unceasing” or “deathless” state. It is also called nirmanakaya.

By practicing the opening instructions of Garab Dorje’s final teaching, you realize that the three kayas are always inseparable from you—your mind is the embodiment of the three kayas. The Dzogchen teachings say, “The universe itself is in the three kaya state, which is enlightened and ever-present within your own mind.” This means that the universe is not separate from you; it is you, and you are it. To awaken this realization, in the Vajrayana you visualize yourself as a buddha and the universe as your pure land. Visualization is not a game of make-believe or an exercise in fantasy—it’s a means to reawaken to the original, indestructible perfection of the universe, inseparable from your own mind. In order to facilitate this realization with reasoning and logic, the great master Rongzompa composed a text that’s now available in English called Establishing Appearances as Divine. In this text, Rongzompa teaches that the universe is a divine mandala, and that this mandala is a display of your mind. You’ve forgotten this because you’ve been strongly clinging to your thoughts. Release all clinging and reconnect to the nature of your mind, and you will remember everything.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 80-81)

“At this time we are view our world and universe in terms of samsara and nirvana; it all looks so complex, so huge. But all of this began from one base, or zhi. And what is that one base?

You do not have to look outside. Look to your own mind, your own awareness. It is the same awareness we all have. This very awareness is the base of all this display; your vision. This is the base of your experiences, perceptions, conceptions and realization, as it is for everyone. That’s it. All has your own awareness as its base. At the moment of recognizing your own awareness and maintaining it as it is, in the completely transparent, luminous and unimpeded state, you become a fully enlightened being. Once you recognize your unimpeded nature, there is total freedom, calm, openness and great equanimity. At that moment of total awakening, the deluded states that you have been experiencing completely stop or disappear. In Dzogchen teachings it is said, “Everything disappears, as a nightmare disappears in the moment when you wake up.” All of the dream’s images are gone. You can compare the moment when you realize this nature with the moment when the cord of a spinning wheel is cut. In both cases, the “spinning” completely stops. All your deluded states and suffering instantly disappear.

And where has it all gone? Nowhere, actually. It is only a question of how you perceive or recognize. Therefore, there is really no trick. For example, when you wake up from a nightmare, where has the nightmare actually gone? Where is any reminder of the nightmare? None of this existed; there is nothing left behind. When it is over, it is just gone.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Discovering Infinite Freedom (pg 44)

“Vajrayana and Dzogchen is the quickest path to reach enlightenment. This path is powerful, energetic, fresh, and full of vitality. There’s no way enlightenment will be delayed if we are truly connected with these teachings. How should we start this swift path? With devotion, bodhichitta, and appreciation. Dzogchen is the highest teaching—there is no question at all about that. However, we need love, devotion, courage, and commitment to travel this path. Our joyful effort is like “feet” we use to realize quickly.

We are instructed to regard our teacher as a buddha. We must also love, appreciate, and honor all great masters, all the teachings, and our own selves. We must recognize this moment as a precious moment. Having those thoughts strongly in our heart, we receive every drop or word of the teachings as precious. This preparation makes practicing Dzogchen quick, swift, and effective.

This inherent quality of primordial wisdom is the ultimate lama: the lamas of the authentic lineages merged into this state. In order to fully receive teaching from a qualified teacher, we must come with devotion and readiness, filled with love and compassion for all living beings. Then we must fully absorb the teaching and use it in a state of joy and appreciation.

When we continue in this practice, every dualistic conception transforms into the three kaya states: dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya. We must shake our dualistic conceptions and our habitual patterns of body, speech, and mind. Although right now all of our ego-clinging and neurotic states may look huge and out of reach, like unclimbable mountains, this practice is like an earthquake that shakes them all loose and liberates them into the three kaya states.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Tara’s Enlightened Activity (pg 154)

“The Vajrayana is also known as Tantra. Tantric teachings are based on the Sutra Mahayana, but offer a more subtle understanding of our experience and additional methods to realize enlightenment. Vajrayana practice encourages us to take a deeper look at our perceptions, recognize our primordial nature, and maintain our mind in its natural state. In this way, the sutras are more general teachings that clarify the nature of conditioned mind and its perceptions, while the tantras reveal the secret, subtle structure of our body, mind, and all phenomena. Therefore, the Vajrayana teachings were given for more advanced practitioners. Although the sutras and tantras both share the same foundation, the Vajrayana goes further towards understanding transcendental reality as it is without being distorted by our habitual, conditioned mind. Practicing the sutras and tantras in union can bring enlightenment within this very life, even within a very short period of time. Accelerating our path to enlightenment is a principle distinction between the practices of the sutras and tantras.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Liberating Duality with Wisdom Display: The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava (pg 9)

“Patrul Rinpoche says that you do not have to travel to another place to discover the nature of your mind. Your mind is wherever you are. Why go somewhere else, when your mind is already here? Nor do you have to consult another person. It is your mind. When you are happy or sad, do you have to ask someone, “Am I happy?” or “Am I sad?” Of course not; you know clearly how your mind is doing. This natural capacity to know your own mind is called “self-knowledge,” “self-luminosity,” or “self-clarity.” It is also simply called “intelligence.” You should apply this natural capacity right now. Use your intelligence and look within—look at your own mind. When you do this, you do not see any subject or object. You do not see anything in particular. You go straight to the nature of your mind.

Realization is not far off. You can experience a glimpse of realization right now. Look at your present thought and ask, “What is the source of this thought?” This present thought is sometimes called “ordinary thought,” or “ordinary mind.” The moment you look for the source of this present thought, it immediately becomes something extraordinary—pristine awareness. Realization is your nature, and your nature never leaves you. It is ever-present and available. You can transform duality into nonduality at any time, even this very instant if you wish. Patrul Rinpoche says that this is due to the unimpeded nature of the mind.

This is your original mind. From this pristine true nature of rigpa, conceptions emanate. Chains or strings of thoughts keep coming. Yet this original mind is free from thoughts, even while it is their source, abiding place, and destination. It is the same teaching again and again: look within your own mind, understand its nature clearly, then maintain this realization. This is how to practice on the nature of the mind.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind: Dzogchen Pith Instructions of Aro Yeshe Jungne (pg 114)

“Every form of meditation must be based on our bodhichitta motivation and our awareness of original purity. These two are always essential. Bodhichitta is the foundation, and awareness of original purity is the inner structure of every practice.

Watch out for distractions, such as wandering or discursive thoughts. These are a great hindrance to meditation. Keeping your spine straight, maintain a comfortable posture and let meditation deepen into a calm and clear state. Stay one-pointed, do not be distracted by conceptions, and continue maintaining your mind this way, whatever you’re meditating on.

That’s basically it. As Guru Padmasambhava said, “No distractions, no grasping, and free of all aspects.” These three qualities are essential to every form of meditation.

Right motivation and joyful effort are also indispensable. During meditation you will be faced with obstacles, clinging, compulsive thoughts and feelings, and other hindrances. To stay on target, meditate without distraction in the limitless expanse that transcends any territorial focus, the all-pervasive nature. Relaxing into this awareness is meditation. Gain mastery of both generation and completion stages.

The division of meditation into creation stage and completion stage practices is unique to the schools of Vajrayana Buddhism. These are the means for becoming firm and strong in our meditation. Creation stage, or visualization practice helps us to understand the purity of all phenomena, including ourselves, so that everything is perceived as the buddha mandala. This mandala is not a solidly existent thing. It’s like a reflection, a mirage, a dream, or a rainbow. It is a wisdom display of clear light, the luminosity aspect of the true nature. Even in shorter Zhitro practices, all phenomena appear as the mandala of the peaceful and wrathful deities, and these deities dissolve into rainbow light; all speech and sounds are mantra, and all momentary thoughts are magical emanations of the open sky, space-like nature. This understanding characterizes the creation stage meditation. This means that you are relatively free of clinging, holding, and grasping to self and phenomena, and that you are skilled at merging with the true nature beyond all bias and limitations, where no dualities exist. Relaxing into this state of innate purity is known as the completion or perfection stage practice.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Vol. 1: The Indestructible Nature of Body, Speech, and Mind (pgs119-120)

“During the practice of Dzogchen, we should continually reaffirm our bodhisattva activities and conduct, since practitioners of the Great Perfection are always motivated by the resolve to liberate all sentient beings from the suffering of cyclic existence. All sentient beings deserve to discover their beautiful, innate nature, and become happy and joyful. Actually, Dzogchen is the practice of bodhisattvas, the practice of great love and compassion. For this reason, we must keep the bodhisattvas’ vast view and conduct at the center of all our Dharma activities.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Bodhisattva Activity & Conduct / 2007 PBC Pema Mandala magazine

“Dzogchen is the Buddha’s highest teaching of the absolute truth. It introduces the nature of the mind directly, without any sidetracks or detours. Recognize and relax into your own natural state of mind. When we cultivate bodhichitta, awareness of impermanence, devotion, and appreciation for who we are and what we have, our minds become broad, stable, and strong. Then it becomes very easy to identify and abide in the natural state.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche

“The nature has no partialities or divisions—that’s what the teachings repeatedly say. It says this in the Heart Sutra that we chant, as well as in so many other teachings. This is the same true nature, the great open, pervasive, speechless, inexpressible nature. When we recognize this state, without any further investigating or analyzing, we set forth. We just have to relax and meditate. As we extend this clear, pristine, speechless realization, that is meditation. If we can stay in that state for one minute, two minutes, or five minutes, our meditation is quite good. During that time, of course thoughts will come, but when they do we just do the same thing: recognize and stay in that state. It’s simple. Of course it may be simple to recognize this, but it’s a little tricky to maintain, and that’s why we need more practice. That’s always the practice: again and again we bring up joy, devotion, and bodhichitta, all those beautiful ingredients. These are the beautiful lights of the buddha-nature that will usher us to the deepest heart of our mind.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1: The Indestructible Nature of Body, Speech, and Mind (pg 298)

Question: What is the difference between the true nature of my mind—or the Dzogchen state—and my present mind, which includes the thought of myself being a man named Tim?

Answer: At the present moment there’s a difference because you’re distracted. But when you ask the question, “What is the source of my mind?” and realize that there is nothing to establish, you instantly return to the true nature of your mind. When this realization becomes stable there is no difference between your present mind and the true nature of your mind. The next time you think “I am Tim,” ask, “Where did the thought ‘I am Tim’ come from?” You will discover that this thought comes from your mind. At that moment look into your mind. What do you see? You do not see anything solid. At that time you are free from ideas and emotions, and totally beyond grasping. That is the Dzogchen state.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 93-94)

2. Restrengthen Your Practice

“It is important to remember that our true nature is only temporarily hidden. When we know that, we can work with courage and joy to remove our ignorance and let the essence of the mind shine forth.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

Prayer to Have a Courageous and Fearless Mind

“Throughout the succession of my lives,
May I not come under the power of unwholesome thought,
May I always gain power over my mind,
And no matter what, may I accomplish fearless indestructible mind
And space-like courage.”

By Mipham Rinpoche. Translated by Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche

“It is time to be appreciative and joyful, and glorify our nature. Every master said to sincerely reflect on the four renunciation thoughts again and again, beginning with the preciousness of human life. Why would we stay in a dark corner, thinking that everything is wrong?”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
Teaching on Song 7 of Flight of the Garuda in 2014.

“When you have difficulty stabilizing meditation, first you should focus on and re-activate bodhichitta, reflect on impermanence, and generate devotion, joy, and appreciation. When your mind is stable and you are about to meditate on the true nature, assume the seven-point posture of Buddha Vairochana, do the breathing purification, and then relax in the nature of the mind. As the oral instructions mention, you can also visualize Guru Padmasambhava, chant the Seven Line Prayer and the prayers to the lineage, and invoke and absorb their blessings. Then dissolve the visualization into yourself and merge with the natural state.

Whenever you need to increase your mental stability, use different Shamatha concentration techniques. These will definitely make your mind more peaceful. When you practice, different experiences will come up, but do not let these experiences distract you. Remember to not be too forceful—that will make you bored and tired. Be relaxed and comfortable. Bring joyful effort, courage, and commitment to your practice. Re-strengthen positive thoughts and be mindful. Again, when it comes to meditating on the nature of the mind, abide in the state beyond conceptions, beyond grasping and clinging, and beyond duality, open and free. Afterwards, dedicate the merit.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pgs 92-93)

“From the depths of your heart, generate the commitment to help all living beings. Strengthen this commitment everyday. Pray that your abilities to help others will keep expanding. Radiate good will to everyone.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 99)

The Morality of Performing Beneficial Activities

“There are four moralities or guidelines we use when acting to benefit others, to make sure our activity is well directed. (1) First, we share whatever we have: if beings need it and we have it, we give it if we have the capability. (2) Second, we must be soft-spoken, respectful, and soothing so that we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. (3) Third, we act skillfully, giving according to individuals’ needs, and with an awareness of their readiness. (4) Fourth, we are involved with others, not acting like we’re superior or detached. Basically we’re all sitting in the same boat. Our attitude should be that, “You and I are the same.” So we’re not just like an announcer on television talking about what someone else ought to do. We are doing what we’re saying, not just speaking nice words. We try to do what we say. If our activity has the context of these four moralities, it will be the activity of a bodhisattva.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Vows and Conduct in the Nyingma Tradition (pg 21)

“Why do good deeds bring good results? It’s natural.  Why do we get enlightenment by resting mind in rigpa? It’s natural.”

Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
2014 PSL Dzogchen One Month Retreat

“In actuality, we don’t want to change; we don’t want to see our life and our experiences as impermanent. According to the teachings of the Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava, this is called grasping and clinging. Nature’s true display is different—grasping and clinging always go against and obscure the nature. The result of grasping is difficulty, challenges, and sadness—all of this suffering comes from grasping. In reality, the nature itself is flexible; it’s a natural, transparent display that continually transforms itself into new displays, one after another. That’s how the nature is. Therefore as practitioners, we must look to the nature of our mind and accept its show and display.

The whole system of the universe is really just like a dream. It comes, moves, goes, and comes again. There’s nothing that we can grasp on to. Therefore, the Buddha always taught that grasping is unreal, untrue, incorrect, and that it only brings us more trouble and difficulty. Even if we try to cling and hold on to things, they won’t stay the same forever. The great Nyingma master Patrul Rinpoche gave the example of a very strong hailstorm suddenly appearing and raining down very big pieces of hail. During this storm, a young child finds a large ball of ice and picks it up, thinking, “How beautiful this is! I’d really like to keep it.” He likes the ball of ice so much that he carries it in his palm, holding it so tightly that it melts away. He wanted to hold on to this beautiful ball of ice to keep it safe and close, but soon it disappeared. Similarly, our grasping turns the world into something completely different than what it naturally is.

Whether it’s raining, storming, or very sunny outside, no matter what situations we go through in life, it’s all like a dream. Everything is a dream. We should think and see things in this way, and then relax without grasping and clinging on to the iceball of phenomena.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 2: Using Dream Yoga and Phowa as the Path (pgs 11-12)

“How should you raise up the radiating clarity of your mind? First relax your mind. When dullness is pulling down your mental state and you feel laziness and discouragement, restrengthen your motivation. Recognize your precious opportunity. This is the method to bring relaxation with clarity into your life. This is not only a method that you can use, but it is the actuality of this very beautiful state in your life. You’re surrounded by many wondrous qualities in this world. Be happy and joyful, restrengthen your courage and commitment, then relax your mind in the natural state.

What should you do when laziness arises? Neither reject it nor accept it. Look to laziness itself. What is it? Laziness is a form of discouragement. It is mental, an activity of the mind. When you look into your mind, there is no substantially existing “laziness” that you can find, and, therefore, laziness is emptiness. Laziness is already liberated–liberated at its base, or originally liberated. Laziness is unimpeded and insubstantial. Relax and restore the mind to the state of rigpa. This is the technique known as self-liberating laziness in its own natural state.

During that meditation or time of rest, due to your habitual patterns thoughts will come again, but don’t follow them. Instead of following, relax again in the natural state with the lion’s strength and courage. In that natural state, great wisdom will shine.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Discovering Infinite Freedom (pgs 125-126)

“If you cannot do the visualization as elaborately as described, just relax in the presence of Vajrasattva without thinking or analyzing. Do not be too concerned about the precise size of the vajra or the number of petals in the lotus, and so on. Put the analytical mind aside and concentrate with devotion on the warm and loving presence of Vajrasattva and his consort.

Practice feeling their presence, and that will take care of everything. Remember that all phenomena are primordially pure and arise within the mandala of awakening. Be confident in that understanding as you concentrate on the practice. To question the visualization during a session is a form of hesitation, which will not leave you any strength for the meditation. Just apply yourself courageously, full of confidence and devotion. This is the way to connect directly with the healing, cleansing power of indestructible reality.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Illuminating The Path (pgs 116-117)

Question: When we’re in the Trekcho state would we ever need to use reasoning? If we did, would it be a form of grasping?

Answer: When we have good stability in Trekcho, we continue to perceive and relate with all the objects of the phenomenal world, and mind continues to function, and so we’ll reason when reason is necessary. But now we’ll see everything with perfect clarity, so there’s no more grasping. This is known as the state of “being like an old man watching children play.” When an old man watches children play, what is there for him to grasp? He sees the children having fun, no more or less than that. The children themselves might grasp at their play, but not the old man.

Question: Rinpoche, how do we become like that old man?

Answer: Listen to and contemplate the teachings. Cultivate bodhichitta and devotion. Analyze the mind. Do sitting meditation. Through this, you’ll get a glimpse of the true nature. Then, to transform what you glimpsed into full panoramic vision, continue to practice as before with joyful effort.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 96-97)

“The reason that our conceptual constructions happened in the first place is because of the kunzhi or alayavijnana, which is also called the storehouse consciousness, or just the alaya. The alaya is the source of all of our conceptions. When we repeat different experiences over a long period of time, we accumulate traces and dispositions, or habitual patterns called bachak [bag chags] in Tibetan. The more these habits are accumulated, the more we see things in a certain manner. We construct the way that we wish to see things rather than seeing things as they are.

These habitual patterns are related to three conditions. (1) There are habits that are accumulated in relation to a place we have been in, (2) habits related to our body, and (3) habits constructed through our perception of the world from all the information we collect through our five senses.

Habitual patterns related to place happen because as human beings we believe we are located in a certain space, during a certain time, and in a particular world. Habitual patterns related to the body happen because of the particular bodies that we have. For example, since human beings do not have two horns, we do not behave in certain ways animals do. Habitual patterns related to sensory objects have to do with the information we accumulate through our five sense organs of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body.

Based on these three types of habitual patterns, we become so rigid and patterned in the way we experience the world that we begin to see things as being real and static. We forget that our mind greatly influences how we perceive and interpret the world.”

Ven. Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
Turning the Wisdom Wheel of the Nine Golden Chariots (pgs 88-89)

“Dzogchen is the highest teaching, therefore beings connected to Dzogchen are the most fortunate of the fortunate. We have this connection, so we have every reason to be delighted. Let’s use our time wisely and study and practice this teaching as much as we can. Results will certainly come. By studying and practicing Dzogchen with great joyful effort, many diligent practitioners attained enlightenment within their lifetime. Some even attained the wisdom rainbow body. They recognized and appreciated their connection to the teachings, and built on it. They practiced and persevered. They did not allow circumstances to deter them—they completed their spiritual journey. If we do as they did, we can definitely achieve the same result.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 106)

Question: I do several practices. How can I merge them into one bodhichitta practice?

Answer: One way is to meditate on Chenrezig, or Avalokiteshvara. Chenrezig is renowned as the embodiment of all the buddhas’ love and compassion. As you begin your practice, generate love and compassion for all sentient beings. If you are following a sadhana, visualize Chenrezig and chant the prayers and mantra according to the instructions. All bodhichitta practices are included in the practice of Chenrezig.

Another way is to meditate on any buddha with whom you feel particularly connected. For example, Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Tara are all embodiments of boundless love and compassion. All the bodhichitta practices are included when you practice on any one of them.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pg 138)

“Once you know about the thought of enlightenment, the next step is to increase this type of awareness. As much as possible, you should work diligently to increase your motivation to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others. In your daily practice you can pray that those beings who have not yet generated bodhichitta may quickly do so, and that those beings, including yourself, who are already cultivating bodhichitta will increase it.

Compassion is based on loving-kindness. When you feel compassion for people and animals, even for just a few of them, it is because you love them. Once you have developed true loving-kindness you no longer act violently or hurt anyone. When your loving-kindness becomes immeasurable, you want all sentient beings to be happy and you treat all of them as your loved ones.

Typically, at the present time, we love only a few people—ourselves, our family, and our close friends. This limited notion of love is an ordinary emotion. The love between two people is part of the love and compassion we are talking about, but this form of love is based on attachment and clinging. The immeasurable love of bodhichitta is based on emptiness. Since infinite love is combined with equanimity, it is not an emotion.

In order to expand your love, take your own feelings as an example and apply that to others. Just as you want happiness and peace, all sentient beings want happiness and peace. No one wants to suffer; everyone wants to be happy. By practicing loving-kindness we can help others find the happiness and peace they desire.

Buddha Shakyamuni taught that of the one thousand buddhas of this aeon, three buddhas have already come and he is the fourth. The next supreme buddha of this aeon will be Maitreya, whose name means “loving-kindness.” In the Mahayana Maitreya Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni describes him, saying that Buddha Maitreya will become enlightened by practicing only one technique—loving-kindness. Since that will be the cause of his enlightenment, his name is Maitreya.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

“Always renounce the smallest harmful act,
Do whatever good you can,
And dedicate all the merit to the benefit of beings.
This includes all the precepts of the Bodhisattva vows.”

Patrul Rinpoche

Question: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one Dharma book, what would it be?

Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche: Shantideva’s The Way of the Bodhisattva.

Question: What would you recommend for your students on a deserted island?

Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche: I would recommend the same book, The Way of the Bodhisattva, or The Words of My Perfect Teacher.

From the 2014 Spring issue of the PBC Pema Mandala Magazine.

“Since mindfulness supports what is positive, we should try to be mindful in all our activities. Along with mindfulness, we should always try to be honest and compassionate and helpful to others. If we direct our mind, along with our body and speech, in a positive direction, we will definitely become more peaceful, clear, and relaxed.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

 

“Our time in this world is not going to last forever; it will eventually run out. So there must be a sense of appreciation and urgency in our practice. Right now we have the wonderful opportunity to practice. We have time to practice. To some degree, appreciating this good fortune is part of renunciation. It touches very close to the truth of how we exist in the phenomenal world, the situations and circumstances in which we find ourselves. Therefore, all of us should maintain joyous thoughts of appreciation very strongly in our hearts and minds. This is one of the best ways to sharpen our practice.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1: The Indestructible Nature of Body, Speech, and Mind (pgs 123-124)

“In between sessions, no matter what we’re doing, we should see everything as dreams, illusions, and magic. It is also important to maintain the practice of not grasping thoughts and emotions. We should not let our Dharma understanding collapse and become careless and wild. We should continue to be cautious, mindful, simple, and gentle. We should perform activities that are beneficial. Do not let the conduct fall into the view, and do not use the view as an excuse for egotism and emotion. In this way, we will become good yogis and yoginis.

Mere intellectual comprehension of the teachings will not help us when difficulties arise, nor will practice if it is intermittent and inconsistent. Instead, let’s take the teachings to heart, and be strong and diligent in our practice. Let’s continue practicing until our minds become as vast and everlasting as the sky.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 191-192)

“It cannot be said too much—the nature itself is completely beyond grasping and clinging. Therefore, Buddha Shakyamuni taught how to release grasping and clinging in order to help practitioners discover the true nature as it is. He explained that there are two different approaches that lead to a correct understanding and direct experience of this nature: the first technique is the scholarly method of logically investigating reality so as to arrive at intellectual certainty about the nature and thereby release grasping; the second technique is to simply receive pith instructions about the nature of reality and practice according to those instructions. Both are effective methods for removing grasping and its causes.

Regardless of whether one’s approach emphasizes scholarly investigation or practice, both methods require meditation, since meditation is the actual, final goal. For that reason, Tibetan Buddhism often uses the terms che gom [dpyad sgom] and chok gom [chog sgom] to describe the two different approaches to meditation. Che gom refers to meditation that follows a thorough investigation and analysis of reality through logic and reason. After intensely investigating the nature with study, one finally arrives at certainty, relaxes, and meditates according to the view he or she has discovered. In contrast, chok gom refers to meditation based on practicing the pith instructions one has received, rather than emphasizing scholarly analysis. In either case, both approaches require meditation practice.

The teachings often warn that if we limit our spiritual path to study, investigation, and analysis, even though we may arrive at a precise intellectual understanding of the teachings, we might become like a parrot! Sometimes a parrot can say many things, but that doesn’t mean it knows what it is talking about. Similarly, a deaf person may become a wonderful musician who can play all kinds of beautiful music, but he or she cannot hear the music itself. If we study and contemplate the teachings but fail to engage in meditation, our practice is incomplete and we will not absorb the true meaning of the teachings into our hearts. Study, contemplation, and meditation must be practiced in unison.

All the Nyingma and Kagyu masters explain that the purpose of studying and receiving the teachings is to fully absorb them into our hearts. We are not here to collect good stories to tell others, to make long lists of teachings we have received, or to learn the teachings so we can explain them to our friends and look intelligent. We are here to benefit ourselves by absorbing the essential meaning of the teachings into our hearts and minds. Only then can we truly benefit others. Hence, the whole purpose of logically investigating the nature of reality through analysis and study is to discover—within our own experience—that nothing exists substantially, and that grasping and clinging are unnatural hindrances to our joy, peace, realization, and eventual enlightenment. The fruit of practice, or perfect enlightenment, will give us the unlimited ability to benefit countless beings. Put otherwise, once we have achieved some degree of intellectual certainty about the nature, we have to settle down and practice meditation. This is the purpose and goal of our study of Madhyamaka.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Opening the Wisdom Door of the Madhyamaka School (pgs 88-89)

“Dzogchen practitioners must combine their meditation on emptiness with compassion. Emptiness means egolessness. This means freedom from selfishness and all clinging. Compassion means caring for all sentient beings, and helping them find total peace and happiness. Practicing on emptiness alone will not help you reach enlightenment. There is a non-Buddhist meditation school in India that teaches that the realization of emptiness comes from completely blocking all sensory experiences. Even if this practice leads to emptiness-realization, if you have trained yourself in blocking the senses how can you practice compassion? It is not our intention to promote Buddhism and devalue other schools. We just want to remind you that the true nature of the mind is the unity of emptiness and compassion.

The Dzogchen teachings always talk about emptiness and clarity. Emptiness refers to the utter openness of the nature of the mind, while clarity refers to the rich and beautiful qualities inherent in the nature of the mind. Compassion is one of these qualities. If we accept emptiness and reject compassion, we’re knocking our heads against a wall. Therefore, don’t be partial—be open to the fullness of the teachings and the fullness of yourself. All the great teachers said this. We must practice the unity of emptiness and compassion, wisdom and skillful means, absolute truth and relative truth. When we do this, realization comes beautifully and perfectly.

Buddha Shakyamuni gave an important teaching called the King of Posala Sutra. Posala was an ancient city that is now called Shravasti; in Tibetan, it’s called Sharja. This is where the Buddha taught the Diamond Sutra. Addressing the king of Posala, the Buddha said, “Oh great king, you perform many activities, and do not have much time for spiritual pursuits, but if you keep one thing in your heart, you are practicing the Dharma—that is bodhichitta.” Bodhichitta is the core of the Buddha’s teachings, and the core of Guru Padmasambhava’s teachings. It is the essential teaching of all the great masters who followed them.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pgs 149-150)

“Calling the Lama from Afar” is a translation of the Tibetan lama jang bo. This refers to the student–teacher relationship as part of one’s spiritual development. Essentially, the teacher is the medium or facilitator for the student’s cultivation of wisdom. When the student earnestly seeks assistance in generating wisdom, this is expressed in lama jang bo. After wisdom is born and the student seeks to deepen it, that too is lama jang bo. Finally, when the student seeks nothing at all, the student has become lama jang bo.

Lama is the Tibetan translation of the Sanskrit word guru. Because both words are subject to misinterpretation and misuse, it is important to understand what they really mean. Guru means “heavy” or “rich.” This heaviness has nothing to do with pounds or ounces—it has to do with spiritual qualities. The syllables of the word lama indicate precisely what these spiritual qualities are: la means “higher,” which refers to having an intuitive understanding of reality that transcends mere intellect, and ma means “mother,” which refers to having empathy for others and caring for them. So, guru and lama do not necessarily refer to persons, but rather to a spiritual way of being. People who value the qualities of the lama, but who have not personally recognized those qualities in themselves, need someone to show them the way. In that case, they must find a human teacher who embodies these principles.

As for jang bo, jang means “long distance” or “far away,” and bo means “to call loudly.” “Loudly” does not mean noisily, but with strength, vigor, and determination. So, jang bo refers to a powerful prayer to one’s teacher, based upon devotion so strong that physical separation or the teacher’s death does not matter. If we want to expand the definition of jang bo, we can say it is the hunger for spiritual growth and realization—it is the inspiration to seek and find a teacher, to follow the teacher’s instructions, to persevere on the path, to have undying faith in the teacher. It also represents the goal itself.

Lama jang bo is never directed toward the acquisition of material things or worldly power. It is directed toward deeper understanding of reality and greater love for others. One prays to one’s teacher for support, guidance, and inspiration in these efforts. Ultimately, the teacher is none other than reality itself; the teacher is the compassionate love for others. Through devotion and appreciation for the teacher, one can come to have the same realization as the teacher and the lineage masters.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Illuminating The Path (pgs 32-33)

“Dissolving fixed conceptions and releasing our limited perceptions reveals the vastness of the true nature, the sphere of great equanimity. By breaking down the walls of rigid thinking, we merge with this evenness, seeing everything as inseparable and flowing in continuous transformation. This is also known as “interdependent origination.” In the Dzogchen teachings, it is called the ‘unimpeded openness of the true nature.’”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Liberating Duality with Wisdom Display (pg 12)

This video explains the importance of loving all mother sentient beings, including our parents of this lifetime.

This is a very sweet, heartfelt teaching on love and compassion, and taking responsibility and action to help everyone be free of suffering and achieve enlightenment.

The teaching begins by emphasizing the importance of Sangha members reminding and inspiring one another towards the Dharma.

(3:24) Next, Khenpo Rinpoche lists the three kinds of spiritual practitioners: (1) devoted, worldly spiritual practitioners interested in gaining a better situation for themselves alone, now or in the future; (2) spiritual practitioners fueled by renunciation to get out of the cycle of suffering altogether; and (3) great, courageous spiritual practitioners filled with tremendous bodhichitta (love, compassion, and wisdom) who actively work to help all beings be free of suffering forever.

(16:27) Khenpo Rinpoche then teaches on the great master Atisha’s seven points for developing and restrengthening our bodhichitta, love, kindness, and compassion for all beings without any exceptions:

(1) Mother Recognition
(2) Remembering the Kindness of Mothers
(3) Wanting to Repay Kindness
(4) Loving-kindness with Beautiful Appreciation
(5) Sincere Affection with Compassion
(6) Good Heart (Cordiality)
(7) Bodhichitta

 

The Treasure of the Supreme Yana by Longchenpa says, ‘From the dharmakaya, the self-arising energy of clear light manifests completely as the five perfect qualities of body, which are the self-luminous energy of the great possibilities of the nature. These qualities are brilliance, warmth, coolness, pervasiveness, and vastness.’

The luminous clarity is the display, or rolpa. It is how reality shows itself. This display is called “the five certainties,” which refer to the teacher, the teaching, the retinue, the place, and the time. The certain teacher is reality itself, the certain teaching is that everything experienced is open and pure reality, the certain retinue is those who are present, the certain place is here, and the certain time is now. So the five certainties are no other than the situation one finds oneself in at any moment.

Longku is the Tibetan word for sambhogakaya, which means “the body of perfect enjoyment.” The true nature is great, imperturbable happiness, unaffected by circumstances. In the true nature, any poverty, illness, notoriety, or blame do not make you sad, and riches, health, fame, or praise do not make you happy. No matter what situation you experience, ultimately you are never at the mercy of that situation.

This experience is called Dechen Dorje, ‘indestructible great bliss.’”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Illuminating The Path, from the chapter “The Prayer of Calling the Lama from Afar” (pgs 38-39)

Question: The suffering of others makes me so sad that it becomes difficult for me to help them. What should I do?

Answer: It’s beautiful to have such a compassionate heart, but it’s true what you say—when the suffering of others makes you very sad, it will compromise your ability to help them. The next time you feel such strong compassion, look into the nature of your mind and reveal the empty dharmakaya state. This will help you to be free from emotions such as sadness. The union of compassion and emptiness is the perfect foundation for beneficial activity. Remember that whatever you do to help should be based on your own abilities, as well as the needs and readiness of others. Compassion must be applied and balanced with wisdom. This is important for you, and it’s important for those you are helping.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 94)

3. Avoiding Mistakes

“You must make sure that you are continually moving forward into your future with certainty wisdom. Be clear about this point: your future is not in somebody else’s hands.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind from Samsara (pg 16)

“If you have not analyzed your own confusion,
You might put on a Dharmic façade while behaving in a non-Dharmic way.
Therefore, to continuously analyze your delusion and discard it
Is the practice of a bodhisattva. …
In brief, wherever you are and whatever you do,
Always examine the state of your mind.
Cultivating mindfulness and awareness continuously
To benefit others is the practice of a bodhisattva.”

Gyalse Ngulchu Thogme
Excerpted from The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva

“Do not be content with just intellectual comprehension—take the teachings to heart. Recognize the Dzogchen view, and maintain it at all times with mindfulness. Do not succumb to habitual patterns; let all thoughts come and go. See everything as a dream, as a magical display. With this understanding, perform all of your activities with bodhichitta. If you practice like this, you’re on retreat even while you’re working in the big city.

There are two stages of practice. The first stage is called the “practitioner chasing meditation.” This means that in the beginning and for a considerable time afterward, a great deal of effort is required. Meditation does not come easily or naturally. Our habitual patterns are still strong, and practice requires continuous acts of will. But if we continue on this path with courage and commitment, we will certainly reach the second stage known as “meditation chasing the practitioner.” At that time, there will no longer be a need for effort—no more, ‘Oh, now I must meditate.’ Now practitioner and practice have merged. Whether we’re walking, talking, sitting, or sleeping, we’ll always be unwaveringly in the meditation state. Even if we try, we won’t leave the meditation state. But until that time comes, we must exercise diligence. We must keep up our practices. We must continue to chase meditation until meditation catches us.

While we’re chasing meditation, progress will be made and some realization will come. But if we mistake this for the final attainment and discontinue our practice, whatever realization we have attained will be blown away like a rainbow the moment the stormy winds of habitual patterns return. The teachings say that we must maintain our practice with powerful, hook-like mindfulness until our realization is absolutely stable.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 177)

“Without compassion, the root of Dharma practice is rotten. If you somehow ignore compassion, even if you experience signs of progress in your Dzogchen meditation, your practice will become fragile, wither, and could even die. Therefore, in the beginning generate compassion, in the middle meditate on the absolute truth of the Dzogchen state, and in the end dedicate the merit. Practice like this in many short sessions with great joyful effort.

If you have all these beautiful components, and your meditation is still not as strong as you would like, don’t force yourself too much. Take a break and relax. Do other meritorious activities, and then return to meditation. If you keep practicing like this, with a gentle and balanced discipline, your meditation will become increasingly strong and stable. Eventually, the length of time you can abide in the absolute state during the daytime and while you are sleeping will become equal. You will naturally and continuously remain in the natural state. This is called the “full circle of day and night.” In Dzogchen this is called the “supreme state,” or namja chenpo. In Mahamudra it is called the stage of “nonmeditation.”

Remember that at any time, different experiences can arise, such as visions. Do not be distracted. No matter what happens, until your realization is very stable, continue to cultivate bodhichitta, devotion, joyful effort, courage, and commitment, along with your Dzogchen meditation. Keep practicing the union of the two truths.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pg 134-135)

“Relative truth and absolute truth are two aspects of the same nature. On the relative level, there are concepts and there is duality: subject and object, positive and negative, joy and suffering. Do not ignore this. Do not impose your realization of the absolute truth onto the relative truth. At the same time, you should not use the concepts of the relative truth to try to figure out the absolute truth. That is playing games, and the absolute truth is not attainable through concepts. Cultivate wide-open wisdom that is nondual and free of concepts in order to experience the absolute truth. Unite this effortlessly and beautifully with the relative truth, and there will be no conflicts. Blend it all into a single state. This is how we stay focused, discover our innate nature, and benefit ourselves and others.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pg 86)

“In all the practices we do, skillful means and wisdom coexist, relative truth and absolute truth coexist, and experience and emptiness coexist. The Ngondro practice is a skillful means, and it is joined with wisdom, particularly at the end of the Guru Yoga, when the lama dissolves into us and we meditate on the absolute nature. Since the lama is the one who shows the way to wisdom and is the center of the whole spiritual path, we begin every session by paying homage to the lama.

After paying homage to the lama, we contemplate the four reminders, which are four thoughts that reverse the mind from samsara. First, we think about the difficulty of gaining a precious, free, and well-favored human form, this body which is the basis of liberation. Then we reflect on impermanence and death—that everything is subject to change. Next, we reflect that no matter what we do, whether good or bad actions, the pattern of karma is inescapable. Finally, we contemplate the suffering that recurs while circling in samsara, life after life. The purpose of these contemplations is to make the mind turn away from samsara and turn toward practice. It is important to dwell on them at the beginning and to realize their truth.

Starting this way is like smoothing a ploughed field to make it ready for sowing. One then plants the seeds by taking refuge, generating bodhichitta, accumulating merit and wisdom through the mandala offering, and purifying obscurations through the Vajrasattva practice. These practices are like the seeds sown in the ground that has been prepared by the four reminders.

Without relating to the relative truth in this way it is not possible to realize the absolute truth. Without using the body as a basis we cannot realize the true nature of the mind. In the same way, we need the relative practices, the skillful means, to know the nature of emptiness. The relative and absolute coexist; they always go hand in hand. It is very important to realize this.”

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche
Illuminating The Path (pgs 19-20)

“Shigpo Dudtsi speaks here of a possible hindrance for Dzogchen practitioners, known in Tibetan as yadral ma. Yadral ma means “lonely or isolated meditation.” This occurs when you diligently cultivate nonduality, but forsake compassion. Your mind is strong, but you feel separate and distant. You might even become indifferent to the suffering of others. To avoid this problem, continue to generate bodhichitta. At the beginning of each practice session, say from the heart, “I am meditating for the welfare of all beings.” Then meditate on the true nature, with hook-like mindfulness. At the end of your meditation session, re-activate your bodhichitta and dedicate the merit, praying that all beings enjoy peace, happiness, and ultimately full realization. Guru Padmasambhava said, “Without compassion, the root of Dharma is rotten.” A rotten root cannot produce full, ripe fruit. Therefore, do not neglect bodhichitta. Continually integrate it with your Dzogchen meditation.

Here the great master Shigpo cautions us about yet another potential problem, which he calls “no ownership meditation,” or gom dagme ma in Tibetan. In this scenario, you received instructions, practiced well, and made some progress. But then you stop practicing. It’s as if your meditation suddenly becomes meaningless to you. Do not let this happen. It is important to complete what you started. Practice is precious, and the rewards of practice are profound. If you are ever tempted to stop, re-invigorate yourself by reflecting on the lives of the great masters who took their practice to completion. Also, do not use the excuse that there are outside forces that make practice impossible, because all external circumstances can be used for meditation. You yourself are the ultimate power who determines whether your practice develops or dissolves.

Shigpo Dudtsi also mentions the problem known in Tibetan as gom rejogma, which means “meditating once in a while.” This manifests in two ways. In the first way, we meditate regularly, but the power and integrity of our practice is inconsistent—it is strong in some sessions, and weak in others. In the second way, we practice very intermittently, either when the mood strikes, when the teacher is present, or on special days. The remedy for the first problem is simply to keep practicing. With joyful effort our practice will eventually become strong all the time. The remedy for the second problem is discipline. We should keep a regular, strong practice schedule that does not bend for mood swings and changing outer circumstances.

Shigpo Dudtsi teaches that the aim is gom khoryug ma, which means “meditation all the time,” or “continuous meditation.” Good practice in the day flows into the night; it even flows when we’re asleep. When day comes again and we rise, the practice continues. It keeps flowing and never stops. When we reach this level of practice, we are supreme yogis and yoginis. We will have attained what the Dzogchen tradition calls the “stage beyond effort,” and what the Mahamudra tradition calls the “no- meditation state.”

To get to this stage, we must continuously monitor ourselves. When our Dzogchen meditation becomes shaky, we should reinvigorate ourselves by accumulating merit. Every time we do something that benefits ourselves and others, whether a formal practice or an action in the relative world, we should re-activate our Dzogchen understanding. Towards the same end, some of us will find that the Tsalung and Tummo practices are very effective. There are many powerful practices that we can utilize. The essential point is to remain steadfast on the path until we attain complete realization.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 178-179)

Question: If we want to practice the Dharma for our entire life – and not just start strong and fizzle out – what are the main things we need to make this happen?

Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche: Starting out strong with Dharma practice and then losing momentum happened to practitioners in ancient times as well as now. As the great master H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche said, if we’d like to keep our practice strong for our entire lives, we should practice what are known as the “Four Wealths of a Dharma Practitioner.” (1) First, we should always have strong devotion to the lineage and the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. (2) Second is a very strong understanding of purity, or some degree of pure perception. (3) Third, we should feel love and compassion for all beings and help them as much as we can. (4) Fourth, we should understand that everything in samsara is impermanent—it’s changing all the time, and having a life with the 18 endowments is very precious. If we keep these four wealths close to our hearts—devotion, pure perception, bodhichitta, and appreciation of our life and situation—we’ll continue to keep our practice as strong as when we started. They will be a fuel that always re-energizes, reactivates, and restrengthens our motivation. Not only that, but they’ll make our motivation deeper and stronger, and will bring more joy, appreciation, bodhichitta, and a greater feeling of preciousness.

In addition to the Four Wealths, we should remember the “Four Mind Turnings.” These are very similar to what H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and many other great masters have said: (1) precious human life, (2) impermanence, (3) samsara has a lot of difficulties and troubles, and (4) causes and their results are inevitable. If we can keep up the Four Wealths and Four Mind Turnings, we are definitely on track, and will continue on the beautiful path of enlightenment and compassion, giving a beautiful reward to ourselves and sharing a lot of good things with others.

2014 PBC Pema Mandala Magazine

“Giving up doubt, we look intently at each aspect of the preciousness of the individual human life we have obtained this time. We work to increase and sustain our joy and appreciation. These are the best fuels for our path. Now that we understand the inexorable nature of death, we realize that there is no more time to waste. We have made a plan for our spiritual lives moving forward, and we should aim the full power of our minds and hearts in that direction.

It is clear that our own actions, virtuous or non-virtuous, have gotten us where we are now. It’s also clear that our current actions are setting the course for our future travels. Therefore, we now start to pay close attention to which actions of body, speech, and mind we adopt. Mindfulness, alertness, and conscientiousness are the three powerful tools we need. All great practitioners strive, with every passing day, to increase their positive actions and decrease their negative actions.

Having been shown that there is no safe haven in samsara, let’s start being truly kind to ourselves. Let’s start working to leave samsaric existence behind. Now that we know how many other beings there are, and the depth and variety of their sufferings, let’s strive to develop compassion for all of them. We must form the aspiration of a bodhisattva, one who vows to work with equanimity for the complete liberation of every single sentient being.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind From Samsara (pg 36)

“The Sanskrit word shīla means “to make correct,” “to behave ethically,” or “to discipline oneself.” To train in discipline means we choose our direction according to right and wrong, abandoning wild and negative actions in favor of gentle and positive ones. In the practice of the second pāramitā, we discipline the total expression of our body, speech, and mind.

The three categories of discipline include (A) discipline that rejects negative actions, (B) discipline that accepts positive actions, and (C) discipline that benefits all sentient beings.

(A) All negativity and virtue can be classified into actions of body, speech, and mind. Examples of negative actions of body are to beat or strike others, rob them or take their things without permission, and abuse them sexually. Negative actions of speech include lying, speaking harshly, slandering others, and causing divisions between people through words. Negative actions of mind include emotions such as jealousy, anger, pride, and so forth.

(B) Positive actions, also known as “virtues,” are the opposite of those negative actions we just described. Any activity that is based upon compassion, loving-kindness, and honesty is positive, regardless of how small or large it may be.

(C) Whereas the first two trainings in discipline are directed towards oneself, the third training in disciplined effort is on behalf of others. Bodhisattvas are committed to benefitting others without discrimination or hesitation. They are always motivated by honesty and kindness.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Ceaseless Echoes of the Great Silence: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra Prajnaparamita (pgs 69-70)

“In between sessions, no matter what we’re doing, we should see everything as dreams, illusions, and magic. It is also important to maintain the practice of not grasping thoughts and emotions. We should not let our Dharma understanding collapse and become careless and wild. We should continue to be cautious, mindful, simple, and gentle. We should perform activities that are beneficial. Do not let the conduct fall into the view, and do not use the view as an excuse for egotism and emotion. In this way, we will become good yogis and yoginis.

Mere intellectual comprehension of the teachings will not help us when difficulties arise, nor will practice if it is intermittent and inconsistent. Instead, let’s take the teachings to heart, and be strong and diligent in our practice. Let’s continue practicing until our minds become as vast and everlasting as the sky.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 191-192)

“Without wisdom, even if your conduct is perfect, you will not transcend duality. In the Prajnaparamita teachings, the great teacher Buddha Shakyamuni continually emphasized the importance of wisdom, saying, “If you do not have the sixth paramita of wisdom, the other paramitas are blind.” The other paramitas are generosity, discipline, patience, joyful effort, and concentration; they are all beautiful. But without wisdom, they are not strong. Regarding the relationship of wisdom and the other paramitas, the Buddha said, “The wisdom paramita is like the universal king, and the five other paramitas are his retinue.” The universal king needs a retinue to help him fulfill his wishes. The retinue needs the king because it needs a leader. The Buddha continued, “The sixth paramita of wisdom is the eye of all six paramitas.”

Accordingly, at the beginning of the ninth chapter in his Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, the great master Shantideva said that the Buddha gave all the many Prajnaparamita teachings so that we would actualize the sixth paramita. Later in that chapter, Shantideva said, “If you want to remove suffering totally, you must practice and attain wisdom.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pg 91)

“By joining our effort together with the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava, we can change and wake ourselves up inside. In order to activate and sizzle these conditions, we have to bring up our devotion, joy, and compassionate thoughts for all beings. All of these qualities have to start from within. Once the blessings of the Buddha’s teaching combine with our devotion, interest, and warm heart, it creates such a great powerful force to eliminate our suffering. The dark, cold duality that has been with us for so many years will begin to melt away.

This is known as “receiving blessings.” The blessings of the teaching penetrate us so easily when we prepare ourselves to receive them. Without preparing ourselves by developing our natural qualities of love and compassion, no matter how perfect the conditions are and no matter how many blessings are reaching out to us from the Buddha and other great enlightened beings, they’re not going to absorb into us or benefit us very much—they will just kind of go away. It’s like when a pot is upside down—no matter how much water we pour on it, it’s not going to fill up—the water just falls away. Similarly, if the pot is open just a little bit, then just a little bit of water stays inside.

Devotion is our joy and appreciation. It is our respect and confidence and the warm, closeness feeling we have to the teachings and the lineage. Devotion is a deep appreciation for our situation, and for the opportunity to apply the teachings and share our goodness qualities with others. Love and compassion are truly so special. Ignite your devotion and combine it with genuine feelings of kindness and love that radiate to every living being.

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.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Essential Journey of Life and Death, Volume 1: The Indestructible Nature of Body, Speech, and Mind (pgs 47-48)

“Guru Yoga is very profound, and is celebrated by all the great masters. In one voice they proclaim that even if you have high realization, you should still keep it as an integral part of your practice. The lineage instructions state that even if you have practiced Phowa without seeing any signs of accomplishment, if you do Guru Yoga five times a day you will have no difficulty when death comes—you will easily handle and merge with the last moment of your life. The great Kagyu master Gyalwa Gotsangpa in particular said that practicing Guru Yoga five times a day is the equivalent of Phowa. This means that sincerely practicing Guru Yoga will take care of all of your spiritual needs, in this life, in the next life, and in between.

The essence of Guru Yoga is devotion. If your devotion wanes, your Guru Yoga practice will become dry and your meditative stability will erode. Even if you have attained some realization, with weak or wavering devotion you won’t be able to handle obstacles well. The great masters always say, and Shigpo Dudtsi says it here, that swift and lasting realization completely depends on the strength of your devotion. Therefore reconnect again and again with your root teacher, who is the embodiment of all enlightened beings, in the form of Guru Padmasambhava. With folded hands and with great faith, visualize Guru Padmasambhava and chant supplication prayers, keeping your heart and mind on the meaning of the words. If you practice like this, awareness free from duality conceptions will burst forth from within you, and you will swiftly realize your buddha-nature.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 65)

“By generating bodhichitta and reflecting on impermanence, we are naturally led to refuge. Refuge means we feel close to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and to Guru Padmasambhava and the lineage masters. Refuge also means that we’re connecting to the true nature of our minds. This is precious and wonderful, and we have every reason to rejoice at our good fortune. At the same time, we should honor the laws of karma by keeping our conduct in accordance with Dharma, and by flowing along with the interdependent coordination system. This also means that we do not disregard the customs and values of our society, but are mindful and adhere to them. When we respect the laws of karma in these ways, the result is harmony and peace.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pg 190)

“Renunciation doesn’t mean giving everything up. It means reflecting on the way that things are, and appreciating and enjoying every part of life. When we reflect in this way, every moment becomes so precious and important. We have a window of light that is not going to last for very long. We have to use it while we can. Why should we waste our time?”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Rinpoche
2013 Annual Dzogchen Summer Retreat at Padma Samye Ling

“To cultivate the patience necessary to eventually realize buddhahood, you must focus on compassion for others, while continuing to practice without expecting immediate results.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Ceaseless Echoes of the Great Silence: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra Prajnaparamita (pg 72)

“It is very important for people who wish to follow the Vajrayana teachings to have a connection with Guru Padmasambhava, the first main teacher of the tantric tradition in Tibet. Buddha Shakyamuni promised to be reborn in the form of Guru Padmasambhava in order to spread the Vajrayana teachings in this world. The Buddha predicted Padmasambhava’s activities nineteen times in the sutras and tantras. Just as predicted, Guru Padmasambhava was miraculously born in the middle of a lotus in northwest India, in the country of Uddiyana, eight years after Buddha Shakyamuni passed away, about 500 BCE.

Guru Padmasambhava appeared in the lotus as an eight-year-old boy. King Indrabhuti came to see him and asked him five questions: “Where did you come from? Who is your father? Who is your mother? What do you eat? What do you do?” Guru Padmasambhava answered, “I came from the unborn state, the dharmadhatu. My father’s name is Samantabhadra and my mother’s name is Samantabhadri. For food, I eat dualistic thoughts, and for work, I benefit all sentient beings.” When the king heard these answers he was very pleased and asked Guru Rinpoche to come live in his palace as his son. Guru Padmasambhava went to the palace and stayed there for many years. …

Guru Padmasambhava holds a special place among the Tibetan Buddhist schools, most of which trace transmissions and blessings directly from him. He is an embodiment of all enlightened beings. Of course, all the buddhas work for the benefit of sentient beings, but because Guru Padmasambhava made the Vajrayana teachings available to us, he is considered to be the special buddha of our era.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

“It is important to understand that all the activities of Guru Rinpoche are designed to break through the rigidity of our dualistic concepts and conventions. He is beyond the limits of worldly views and traditions. In one sense, these conditioned forms are very important and special, but in another way, they are just conceptual systems developed to solve certain problems, none of which apply to the realization of the true nature. Our view of things is a creation or product of our conceptualization. Guru Padmasambhava’s activities transcend these definitions and indicate that in order to become enlightened we have to go beyond mundane approaches.

Guru Rinpoche has appeared in the world in the guise of kings and queens, royal ministers, peasants, children, and even as animals. He continues to appear in many different ways in order to help beings break down the walls of dualistic conceptions that restrict understanding, liberating them into the vastness of equanimity. That is the focus of Guru Rinpoche’s activity. As the embodiment of ultimate bodhichitta, he uses many different forms to communicate.

Bodhichitta is available to every sentient being all the time, throughout the day, from year to year, throughout all our lifetimes, and on into the future forever. It is something very special for every one of us. In developing bodhichitta, we don’t have to make any particular effort to remove negative qualities, such as anger and jealousy. The generation of bodhichitta naturally removes these obstacles, just as darkness naturally disappears the moment the sun rises in the eastern sky. Compassion is one of the primary roots of spiritual practice. Every spiritual discipline must be based on compassion, and for that reason Guru Padmasambhava taught that if you don’t have compassion, then the root of your spirituality is rotten. It might even start to smell.

Everybody needs love and compassion all the time. No one would refuse the gifts and benefits of love and compassion. These qualities are well symbolized by the lotus flower, or padma, which is always fresh and lovely. Everyone can appreciate its beauty. Sambhava means “essence” or “identity.” This means that the essence of all blessing and benefit for beings in samsara is bodhichitta. It is the essence of real spiritual practice and we should continually develop it in ourselves.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Liberating Duality with Wisdom Display: The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava (pgs 60-61)

Vajrasattva Purification Practice

“The 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. The great master Shigpo recommends doing a Vajrasattva retreat for three days, five days, or one week. Divide the day into periods, and during each period generate bodhichitta, take refuge, do Vajrasattva practice, meditate on the true nature, and dedicate the merit.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 31-32)

“Without the Sangha community we can’t practice. Sangha is the source of inspiration – in difficult ways, beautiful ways, hard ways, soft ways. The sangha is constantly giving us lessons and reminders of our ego and negative emotions, as well as our goodness qualities of joy, compassion, and bodhichitta. Sangha is helping us. Sangha is training us all the time. Therefore to move to buddhahood, definitely we need sangha. Without the sangha, there is no growth, no support, no examples, and no help. How can we become warriors – overcoming all our negative emotions with love, compassion, and wisdom – by ourselves alone? You don’t become a warrior by having Haagen Dazs ice cream sitting on some nice porch. Becoming a Dharma warrior happens by going through difficulties and hardships, and overcoming them.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
2011 PSL Dzogchen One Month Retreat on H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche’s Mountain Retreat Instructions

“Whether we have certain beliefs or not, whether we have spirituality or not, whether we have the Dharma or not, every living being goes through some degree of obstacles. Nobody can deny that. We could also call these ‘crises.’ These happen not just at the beginning of practicing or of our lives, but also during our lives – during our spiritual journey, crises come. Spiritual crises, financial crises, life crises, family crises . . . Vajrayana Buddhism calls these obstacles, but whether we call them obstacles, crises, or hindrances, we will all go through these. Therefore we have to prepare for this, and not just ignore and blind ourselves. … When you begin practicing the Dharma, it doesn’t mean that immediately you enter La La Land – that everything will be great. ‘My day is so beautiful! Everything is going my way!’ Maybe this could last for a few days or a short time, but not forever. Even great master and totally enlightened beings like the Buddha faced obstacles. But he wasn’t overcome by them. He went through them, and that’s why these great beings are known as ‘warriors.’ They defeated those obstacles. They didn’t defeat them with anger, hatred, and jealousy, but by understanding the nature itself they harmonized that situation. That is what we should do.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
2013 Palm beach Dharma Center Winter Retreat on Lake Born Vajra Guru Padmasambhava

Question: I do several practices. How can I merge them into one bodhichitta practice?

Answer: One way is to meditate on Chenrezig, or Avalokiteshvara. Chenrezig is renowned as the embodiment of all the buddhas’ love and compassion. As you begin your practice, generate love and compassion for all sentient beings. If you are following a sadhana, visualize Chenrezig and chant the prayers and mantra according to the instructions. All bodhichitta practices are included in the practice of Chenrezig.

Another way is to meditate on any buddha with whom you feel particularly connected. For example, Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Tara are all embodiments of boundless love and compassion. All the bodhichitta practices are included when you practice on any one of them.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pg 138)

“Who are the human beings Shigpo Dudtsi refers to as “fortunate and connected?” They are the ones who generate love, compassion, and devotion, as well as the commitment to remain steadfast on the path until all beings are liberated. The single word that encompasses all of these beautiful qualities is bodhichitta. The meaning of bodhichitta is “courageous for enlightenment.” When bodhichitta blossoms in the center of our hearts and we are really determined, enlightenment is not far away. During Shigpo Dudtsi’s time there were many people who met great masters, received teachings, and even practiced, yet they did not complete the journey. They missed their opportunity. This happened not only during Shigpo Dudtsi’s time, but during the times of Guru Padmasambhava and the Buddha as well. It is important that we do not let this happen to ourselves.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Beauty of Awakened Mind (pgs 11-12)

“One may ask, ‘Since we are Mahayana and Dzogchen practitioners, why should we investigate all of these different views?’ Longchenpa answers that although there is some truth to that, you will better appreciate your own understanding and approach if you know different levels of approach and various kinds of ideas. Therefore, we are using this knowledge for the growth and exploration of a deeper meaning of nature.

Longchenpa is not the only one to have said this. At many places in the teachings the Buddha said, “You must study and contemplate not only the Buddhist teachings, but even the doctrines of non-Buddhists.” Then by comparing them you can learn more and thus your realization and understanding will increase.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Opening the Clear Vision of the Vaibhashika & Sautrantika Schools (pg 22)

“The period of our particular universe’s existence in which we live is called the Fortunate Aeon because during it 1,000 buddhas will appear. All buddhas are equally enlightened, realizing the wisdom of their true natures, understanding the equality of samsara and nirvana, and being free from ego-clinging and selfishness. Their total reality is love, compassion, truth, and honesty. They arise one after another to benefit sentient beings and bring us to an awakened state like theirs. That is their purpose in appearing on earth and giving teachings. So far four buddhas have come, including Buddha Shakyamuni. Nine hundred and ninety-six buddhas are yet to come.

Within this Fortunate Aeon there will be eighteen ups and downs altogether. The peak states are the golden ages. The lowest states are the ages of degeneration. In our time, the first golden age has peaked, and our universe is moving downwards or degenerating. When it reaches the bottom of the age of degeneration, then it will start improving into the next golden age. Buddha Shakyamuni came into this world just at the turning point: the crest of a golden age and the beginning of a degenerate age. This was not accidental; he chose the time and place of his birth. Why did the Buddha choose such a time? Knowing that sentient beings would need him, he accepted the challenges and difficulties of that time to benefit us. Thus he is known as a very courageous one.

In general, the spiritual audience of that time in India was mature and ready. As soon as practitioners received the teachings, they practiced intensely and very quickly got results. It was called “the time of rapidly actualizing the result.” That period lasted for about five hundred years. With cultural and spiritual changes, our time is called “the time of studying and intellectual knowledge.” Most people will not get immediate results, as practitioners did in ancient times. Why is this? In order to get results people must practice, but as we move further into the time of degeneration, the human mentality is getting heavier, with stronger emotions and more doubt, hesitation, and laziness. All these disturbances keep us from connecting our hearts and minds to the Dharma as easily as people did in ancient times. Our hearts and minds stay hovering over the Dharma in hesitation. All is not bad: at least, from this “hovering” intellectual state we may begin to move towards practice and attain the result. But we won’t get immediate results unless we apply diligence, joy, courage, and commitment.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Buddha Sadhana Practice Guide (pgs 8-9)

“We should embrace the deep, common ground we share, and try to respect, appreciate, and have patience with one another. We’re here to learn from one another, support one another, and to grow together. Everyone is important and special.”

Ven. Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
2014 PSL Dzogchen Summer Retreat

4. Signs of Realization

The Four Qualities of Buddha-Nature

“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 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)

“AH HO!!!! There is no greater happiness and joy than relaxing in our own natural state of mind, our own true nature! The syllable AH symbolizes the great emptiness that is pure from the beginning. In the inner tantras of Vajrayana, HO always symbolizes the expression of joy and happiness. This is the same in every country, even in different languages to some degree. It is an expression of joy from the primordial sound system.

AH HO means to relax in the natural rigpa state of the great true nature, radiating unconditional love, compassion, and wisdom throughout the universe to ourselves and to all beings. This activity is great joy; it is the source of great happiness.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Discovering Infinite Freedom (pg 136)

“When you are abiding in the nature of mind many different thoughts arise. Thoughts arise because your mind, in addition to being boundless and inexpressible, is full of power and energy, and that power and energy creates, displays, and dissolves thoughts unceasingly. Your mind is active and busy—this is part of its nature. But even though thoughts keep arising nothing changes regarding the nature of your mind. The nature of your mind is empty, and the nature of thought is empty too. If you look into the heart of any thought that arises that thought will dissolve on the spot. Even if you don’t do anything at all the thought will still dissolve. That is why the great master Guru Padmasambhava said that thoughts move through the mind like wind moves through the sky. The wind moves through the sky, in different directions and speeds, stopping and starting, always unpredictable. The wind cannot be separated from the sky, and the sky remains unaffected by the wind. Therefore the high capability practitioner of the highest caliber experiences no difference between abiding and movement. When the mind moves it is fine and when the mind is still it is fine. There are no categories and no choices to be made within and for the minds of such practitioners.

Observe this for yourself. When you are meditating, how long can your mind abide? Then, when your mind moves, does that movement disturb to you or not?”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Pointing Out the Nature of Mind (pgs 29-30)

Question: What is the relationship between Dzogchen and bodhichitta?

Khenpo Rinpoches: “The Dzogchen teachings are the highest teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. From the Dzogchen point of view, everything is totally equal in one profound state, without duality and distinctions. Dzogchen is the ultimate view of the true nature of mind, which includes love and compassion. When we practice Dzogchen we develop compassion and loving-kindness; Dzogchen practice cannot be separated from bodhichitta practice. We cannot ignore relative bodhichitta and accept absolute bodhichitta; both are part of our true nature and both are part of Dzogchen.

For this reason, before we meditate, we take refuge and develop the thought of bodhichitta. After we meditate we dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. Whenever we practice or do any kind of beneficial activity, we should not cling to it. At the absolute level, everything is totally pure and perfect in great emptiness. From that point of view, we are completely free from all dualistic concepts and clinging.

Until we come to realize the emptiness nature, we continue to follow our thoughts, judging things to be good or bad, better or worse, dirty or clean. Even while we are following our thoughts, the ultimate reality does not change. It is similar to the weather. When you see a cloudy, gray sky, you cannot see the sun, but that does not mean that the sun and the blue sky are not there. They are still there; the moving clouds do not affect them.

… Every person has the enlightened nature, but to actualize that nature it is necessary to practice bodhichitta, the love and compassion for all beings. Bodhichitta is universally precious; everybody appreciates it and everybody has the potential to develop it. Enlightenment is completely dependent upon developing compassion for all beings. The wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of others is the essence of both the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths. When we develop inner wisdom, we can take care of all sentient beings, and radiate compassion and kindness throughout the universe. We can discover the true nature of the mind and of the entire world. In order to be able to do this, meditation practice is very important.

Bodhichitta is the root or the seed from which enlightenment develops. Bodhichitta is not found externally, but it is within your own mind. Although all of us have experienced love and compassion, these qualities need to be developed further. One way to increase them is to do the Dzogchen meditation of resting the mind in its own nature. This is because bodhichitta and emptiness have the same nature, the true nature of the mind. Practicing bodhichitta openly and freely will increase your understanding of emptiness because compassion and emptiness are inseparable aspects of the primordial state of being.”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path

“One sign that your practice is really going well is that your mind is happy and joyful, never becoming bored by practice. Actually, you will be excited to practice, because practice brings you closer to the innate nature you are now discovering. You will be very enthusiastic!”

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
Opening the Wisdom Door of the Outer Tantras: Refining Awareness Through Ascetic Ritual and Purification Practice (pg 179)

10 Aspirations of a Bodhisattva

(1) May I follow the example of all the buddhas, bodhisattvas, and arhats.

(2) May I serve them and make offerings to them.

(3) May I hold and practice all the Buddha’s teachings, from the foundation practices up to Dzogchen.

(4) May I be able to emanate many forms to help all beings.

(5) May I be able to travel to all the realms and pure lands, and benefit them.

(6) May I accomplish the six paramitas.

(7) May I be able to mature the minds of beings to bring forth their good qualities.

(8) May I help all beings have pure perception by removing their habitual patterns.

(9) May I act in ways that please all beings so that they will reveal their true nature.

(10) May all my actions be of benefit to myself and others. May all beings quickly attain complete enlightenment.

Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
2006 PSL Spring Dzogchen One Month Retreat