Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos


Natural Liberation:

Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos

Padmasambhava

Gyatrul Rinpoche (Commentary)

B. Alan Wallace (Translator)

Wisdom
Publications
(Dec 1997)


 

Contents

 Translator’s Preface

PART ONE  Introduction and Preliminaries

Introduction: Motivation

1. Preliminary Practices for Subduing
Your Own Mind-Stream


  Pondering the Suffering of Cyclic Existence

  Pondering the Difficulty of Obtaining a Human
Life of Leisure and Endowment


  Meditating on Death and Impermanence

2. The Natural Liberation of the Mind-itself: The
Four-Session Yoga of Spiritual Activity of the Secret Mantra Vajrayana


  Going for Outer, Inner, and Secret Refuge

  Generating the Mahayana Spirit of Awakening

  Cultivating the Four Immeasurables

  Reciting the One Hundred Syllables to Purify Sins
and Obscurations


  Offering the Mandala

  Prayer to the Lineage

  The Contemplation of Receiving the Four Empowerments

  Colophon

PART TWO  The Profound Dharma of the Natural
Liberation through Contemplating the Peaceful and Wrathful: Stage of
Completion Instructions on the Six Bardos

3. The Natural Liberation of the Foundation: Experiential
Instructions on the Transitional Process of Living


  Quiescence

  Settling the Body, Speech, and Mind in their Natural
States


  The Actual Practice of Quiescence

  Insight

  Revealing the Nature of Awareness

  Engaging in the Search for the Mind

  Identifying Awareness

4. The Natural Liberation of Confusion: Experiential
Instructions on the Transitional Process of Dreaming


  Instructions on the Illusory Body

  The Impure Illusory Body

  The Pure Illusory Body

  Nighttime Instructions on Dreaming and the Natural
Liberation of Confusion


  Apprehending the Dream State

  Training in Dream Emanation and Transformation

  Dispelling Obstacles of Dreaming

  Stabilizing the Transitional Process of Dreaming
and Instructions on Transforming the Dream State into the Clear Light:
Training in the Natural Liberation of Confusion

5. The Natural Liberation of Awareness: Experiential
Instructions on the Transitional Process of Meditative Stabilization


  Meditative Equipoise of the Threefold Space

  The Self-Liberation of Everything that Appears
Following Meditation

6. The Natural Liberation of Mindfulness of Transference:
Experiential Instructions on the Transitional Process of Dying


  Training

  Application

  The Dharmakaya Transference

  The Sambhogakaya Transference

  The Nirmanakaya Transference

  Forceful Transference

  Ordinary Transference

7. The Natural Liberation of Seeing: Experiential
Instructions on the Transitional Process of Reality-itself


  Striking the Critical Points of the Body, Speech,
and Mind


  The Critical Points of the Body

  The Critical Points of the Speech

  The Critical Points of the Mind

  The Alighting of Direct Perception upon Oneself
in Dependence upon the Three Critical Points


  The Critical Points of the Apertures

  The Critical Points of the Object

  The Critical Points of the Vital Energies

  The Ways in which the Four Visions Arise Due to
Such Practice


  The Direct Vision of Reality-itself

  The Vision of Progressing Experiential Visions

  The Vision of Consummate Awareness

  The Vision of Extinction into Reality-itself

  Concluding Advice

8. The Natural Liberation of Becoming: Experiential
Instructions on the Transitional Process of Becoming


  Closing the Entrance of the Womb as a Divine Embodiment

  Blocking the Person Who is Entering

  Blocking the Entrance of the Womb that is to be
Entered


  Closing the Entrance of the Womb by Imagining
Your Spiritual Mentor with Consort


  Closing the Entrance of the Womb with the Practice
of the Four Blisses


  How Those on the Path of Liberation Close the
Entrance of the Womb with the Antidote of Renunciation


  Closing the Entrance of the Womb with the Clear
Light


  Closing the Entrance of the Womb with the Illusory
Body


  Colophon

PART THREE  Supplemental Prayers

9. Three Prayers Concerning the Transitional Processes

  Prayer of Supplication

  The Natural Liberation of All Attainments: A Prayer
Concerning the Transitional Processes


  The Prayer for Liberation through the Narrow Passage
of the Transitional Process


  The Prayer for Protection from Fear in the Transitional
Process


  Colophon

  Prayer of Calling for Help to the Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas

10. The Natural Liberation of the Vast Expanse of the
Three Embodiments:
A Prayer of the Natural Liberation through Contemplating
the Peaceful and Wrathful


Colophon

11. The Natural Liberation of the Three Poisons without
Rejecting Them:
A Guru Yoga Prayer to the Three Embodiments


Colophon

Epilogue

Notes

Glossary

Bibliography


Translator’s Preface  (complete)

 This book contains a translation and commentary
on the great Indian Buddhist tantric master Padmasambhava’s text, entitled
The Profound Dharma of The Natural Liberation through Contemplating
the Peaceful and Wrathful: Stage of Completion Instructions on the Six
Bardos
. Presumably composed some time in the late eighth century, the
text was dictated by Padmasambhava to his Tibetan consort, Yeshe Tsogyal.
Tibetan tradition views Padmasambhava as an emanation of Amitabha, the
Buddha of Infinite Light, and refers to him as Guru Rinpoche, or Precious
Spiritual Mentor. His name, Padmasambhava, means “born from a lotus,” indicating
his miraculous birth from a lotus in the midst of a lake in the region
of Udiyana. Adopted by the king of Udiyana, Padmasambhava dedicated his
life to the study and practice of esoteric, or Vajrayana, Buddhism.

In the eighth century, the Tibetan king Trisong Detsen
invited Padmasambhava to Tibet to assist the Indian abbot Santaraksita
to build the first enduring monastery in that land. In Tibet, Padmasambhava
devoted himself to subduing the many malevolent forces that were obstructing
the study and practice of Buddhism there, and he gave numerous teachings
to his disciples, among whom twenty-five became renowned, accomplished
adepts in their own right. When his work in Tibet was completed, tradition
says, Padmasambhava departed to the west in a body of pure light to the
buddha-field known as the Glorious Copper-colored Mountain, where he resides
even to this day. Padmasambhava concealed many of his teachings in the
manner of “spiritual time-capsules” known as “treasures” (gter ma; pronounced
terma) to be gradually revealed over the centuries when human civilization
was ready to receive them. The delayed revelation of these teachings parallels
the manner in which the Mahayana doctrine came to be eventually revealed
to the general public several centuries after the passing of the historical
Buddha, and the way in which many Buddhist tantras came to be revealed
for the first time in India in the centuries following that. Some of Padmasambhava’s
hidden teachings–known as earth treasures (sa gter)–were written down
and concealed underground, in caves, or even inside large boulders. Other
teachings–known as mind treasures (dgongs gter)–were mystically secreted
in the mind-streams of his own disciples, awaiting their conscious discovery
in the disciples’ subsequent lifetimes. During the centuries following
his departure to the Glorious Copper-colored Mountain, numerous “treasure
revealers” (gter ston; pronounced tertön), who have generally been
regarded as emanations either of Padmasambhava or of his chief disciples,
have discovered great numbers of these treasures and have subsequently
propagated these teachings.

 The concluding words “Samaya. Sealed, sealed, sealed”
at the end of sections of this text are unique to hidden treasure texts,
or terma. The word samaya in this context indicates that those who handle
this text should remember their samayas, or tantric pledges. The words
“sealed, sealed, sealed” are a warning that if someone other than the treasure
revealer should accidently come across these texts while they are still
concealed, they should leave the texts alone. These words also warn the
treasure revealer who was intended to discover the texts that he or she
should make them known only at the appropriate time. Finally, those who
read these texts are warned with these words not to show the texts to those
who have no faith or to those whose samayas have degenerated. One of the
most renowned treasure revealers in Tibet was Karma Lingpa, who lived in
the fourteenth century and is regarded as an emanation of Padmasambhava
himself. It was he who discovered the present treatise–a classic example
of an earth treasure–in a cave on Gampo Dar Mountain in central Tibet.
Dealing with the six transitional processes, or bardos, this text quickly
became an important treatise of the Nyingma order of Tibetan Buddhism;
as such, it has been widely taught and practiced by Tibetans ever since,
but only by those fully initiated into this cycle of Vajrayana Buddhist
teachings. This treatise may also be considered as a companion volume to
the well-known Tibetan Book of the Dead, for both are included within
the same cycle of treasures discovered by Karma Lingpa. The Tibetan
Book of the Dead
chiefly concerns the dying process and the subsequent
intermediate state, or bardo, prior to one’s next rebirth, and in Tibet
it was commonly recited during and after an individual’s death to aid that
person in making the transition to the next life. The present work is much
more extensive in its scope, providing practical meditation instructions
pertaining to all six transitional processes, or bardos, namely those of
living, dreaming, meditating, dying, the intermediate state following death,
and rebirth. This treasure text was made available to a broader public
in the West when, during the early months of 1995, the Venerable Gyatrul
Rinpoche, a senior lama of the Payul lineage of the Nyingma order, taught
it openly to a group comprising both Buddhists and non-Buddhists at the
Orgyen Dorje Den Buddhist center in San Francisco, California. Born in
the Gyalrong region of eastern Tibet in 1925, Gyatrul Rinpoche was recognized
at a young age by Jamyang Khyentse Lodrö Tayey as the incarnation
of Sampa Künkyap, a Payul lineage meditator who spent his life in
retreat and who later gave empowerments and transmissions from his retreat
cave to multitudes of disciples. After being brought to Payul Domang Monastery,
home of his previous incarnation, the young Gyatrul was educated by his
tutor, Sangye Gön. During his extensive spiritual training, he received
personal instruction on many Buddhist treatises, including the present
one, by numerous renowned masters of the Nyingma order, including Tulku
Natsok Rangdröl, Payul Chogtrul Rinpoche, Apkong Khenpo, and His Holiness
Dudjom Rinpoche. In Tibet he received the oral transmission and instructions
on the present treatise from the eminent Lama Norbu Tenzin.

 After fleeing from Tibet into exile in India in
1959, Gyatrul Rinpoche continued his spiritual training and served the
Tibetan community in India in various ways until 1972, when His Holiness
the Dalai Lama sent him to Canada to offer spiritual guidance to Tibetans
who had settled there. Since then, he has taught widely throughout North
America, establishing numerous Buddhist centers in Oregon, California,
New Mexico, and Mexico. He presently moves back and forth between his principle
center, Tashi Choeling, near Ashland, Oregon, and his home in Half Moon
Bay, California.

 When Gyatrul Rinpoche taught this text in 1995,
he invited all those with faith in these teachings–whether or not they
had tantric initiation or were even Buddhist–to listen to them and to
put them into practice. Among the assembled students were several who were
suffering from critical illnesses, including AIDS, which made the teachings
on the dying process all the more poignant to those listening. He also
invites all those who read this book with faith to engage in the practices
described here for the benefit of themselves and all sentient beings. In
addition to the main text by Padmasambhava, together with the transcribed,
edited, oral commentary given by Gyatrul Rinpoche in 1995, this work also
includes translations of other, shorter works that are closely associated
with the treatise on the six transitional processes. To facilitate the
reader’s use of these works, they have been arranged in this book in three
separate parts. Part 1 describes the preliminary practices considered to
be necessary for engaging in the practices described in the main text.
Part 2 consists of the main text itself. And Part 3 contains a number of
supplementary prayers. All three parts also contain a transcription of
Gyatrul Rinpoche’s oral teachings. The introduction, which takes up the
topic of motivation, contains the initial advice and remarks given by Gyatrul
Rinpoche before the start of the 1995 teachings. In chapter 1, Gyatrul
Rinpoche comments on a text entitled Preliminary Practices for Subduing
Your Own Mind-stream: An Appendix to the Natural Emergence of the Peaceful
and the Wrathful from Englightened Awareness: Experiential Instructions
on the Transitional Process.
This text was composed by Chöje Lingpa,
Karma Lingpa’s principle disciple, and was written down by Guru Nyida Özer.
Although Tibetan tradition includes this work as an appendix to the present
cycle of teachings, Gyatrul Rinpoche chose to present it first for the
benefit of those who are newcomers to Vajrayana Buddhist practice. The
text entails discursive meditations for subduing one’s own mind-stream
as a necessary prerequisite to engaging in the practices pertaining to
the six transitional processes. These discursive meditations concern the
suffering of the cycle of existence, the difficulty of obtaining a human
life of leisure and endowment, and death and impermanence. The practices
of guru yoga, the purificatory hundred-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva,
and the mandala offering are also included in this work by Chöje Lingpa,
but they are not translated here, for these practices are included in the
following section.

Chapter 2 contains another related text called The
Natural Liberation of the Mind-itself: The Four-Session Yoga of Spiritual
Activity of the Secret Mantra Vajrayana
, composed by Chöje Lingpa
and written down by Guru Saryacandra. Like the preceding work, tradition
now includes it in this same cycle of teachings concerning the transitional
processes. The first of the four sessions discussed here entails meditations
on going for outer, inner, and secret refuge, generating the Mahayana spirit
of awakening, and cultivating the four immeasurables. The second session
is a meditation involving the recitation of the one-hundred syllable mantra
of Vajrasattva. In the third session one makes the ritual offering of the
mandala, and the fourth session includes a prayer to the lineage of spiritual
mentors and a meditation on receiving the four empowerments. If one is
engaging in a meditative retreat on the six transitional processes, all
the above practices may be performed on a daily basis, together with the
practices taught in the main work. If one is incorporating these prayers
and meditations in one’s daily practice while living an active way of life
in the world, these additional recitations may be done intermittently as
one wishes. After these two preliminary chapters comes Part 2 of the book,
which presents the main text, The Profound Dharma of The Natural Liberation
through Contemplating the Peaceful and Wrathful: Stage of Completion Instructions
on the Six Bardos
, along with Gyatrul Rinpoche’s commentary. Each of
the main text’s six chapters is presented separately, in chapters three
through eight of the present volume. Each of these six chapters takes up
one of the six transitional processes, or bardos, starting with the transitional
process of living and progressing through the transitional processes of
dreaming, meditation, dying, reality-itself, and becoming. Each chapter
also describes a different aspect of natural liberation, such as, for example,
the natural liberation of confusion, which occurs during the transitional
process of dreaming; and the natural liberation of seeing, which occurs
during the transitional process of reality-itself. In each chapter, the
text gives detailed instructions for practices that are designed to help
the practitioner transform each transitional process into a profound opportunity
for liberation and enlightenment.

 Part 3 of this book contains a number of supplementary
prayers, all of which are considered to be part of the cycle of treasures
that accompanies the main text. Chapter 9, entitled “Three Prayers Concerning
the Transitional Processes,” consists of three prayers. The first is a
prayer for recalling the practical instructions of one’s spiritual mentor.
The second prayer is entitled “The Natural Liberation of All Attainments:
A Prayer Concerning the Transitional Process.” This prayer itself has two
parts: “The Prayer for Liberation through the Narrow Passage of the Transitional
Process,” which entails supplications to the five buddhas and their consorts
for blessings to transmute the five mental poisons into the five types
of primordial wisdom; and “The Prayer for Protection from Fear in the Transitional
Process,” which is specifically aimed at transforming the transitional
processes of dying so that it becomes an avenue to spiritual awakening.
The third prayer in this section is “The Prayer of Calling for Help to
the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,” which calls for the blessings of the buddhas
and bodhisattvas when one is at death’s door. Padmasambhava is the author
of these prayers as well, and they, too, are among the treasures revealed
by Karma Linpga.

 In Chapter 10, the reader will find a prayer of
supplication entitled, “The Natural Liberation of the Vast Expanse of the
Three Embodiments,” in which one requests the various manifestations of
the Buddha for blessings for one’s spiritual development along the path.
Chapter 11 contains a prayer entitled, “The Natural Liberation of the Three
Poisons Without Rejecting Them: A Guru Yoga Prayer to the Three Embodiments.”
This text is intended to help the practitioner to transmute the three mental
poisons into the three embodiments of the Buddha. Both of these prayers
are included in the same cycle of teachings as our main text, so their
author is Padmasambhava, and they were revealed by Karma Lingpa. The translation
of the root text was prepared in the following way: first Gyatrul Rinpoche
went over all these texts with me, line by line, to help me translate them
into English. Then he provided an oral commentary to these treatises at
Orgyen Dorje Den, reading from the original Tibetan, while I orally translated
his commentary and read from the first draft of my English translation.
This second reading and commentary enabled me to polish my original translation.
Kay Henry, a devoted student of Gyatrul Rinpoche, then volunteered to take
on the prodigious task of transcribing the entire oral commentary and coupling
this with the textual translations. Then it fell to me to edit the oral
commentary, and–together with John Dunne and Sara McClintock, our editors
at Wisdom Publications–to prepare the entire work in its present form.
I wish to express my deep thanks to Gyatrul Rinpoche for guiding me in
the translation of these texts and for his clear and accessible commentary
and to Kay Henry, John Dunne, and Sara McClintock, without whom this work
could not have been brought to completion. May our efforts be of benefit!

B. Alan Wallace

Santa Barbara, California

Spring 1997

Introduction: Motivation  
(complete)

 It seems that most of you have set your minds on
attaining buddhahood and you’re thinking, “I’m going to become a buddha.”
But, what’s that about? Why would you want to become a buddha? Are you
inspired by a patriotic motivation? Do you want to do something for your
country? Or is it something for yourself? If it’s for yourself, in what
way would becoming a buddha be of benefit to you? We want to become buddhas
because we are wandering in this cycle of existence, within samsara. But
what is samsara? A lot of people say, “Oh, it’s such a drag to live in
San Francisco.” Or people say, “Yeah, well, it’s even worse in Los Angeles.”
And other people say, “Well, it’s even worse in New York.” Is this what
“wandering in samsara” is about, going from one city to another? No, that’s
not the point.

 Samsara, this cycle of existence, refers to the
six types of sentient existence from the hell realms through the deva,
or celestial, realms. As we are wandering within these realms, we are subject
to the six types of existence, each of which has its own specific type
of suffering. In attaining buddhahood, or perfect enlightenment, we gain
release from all of these realms. In terms of the temporal well-being to
be gained, we achieve the existence of humans or of gods. In terms of the
ultimate or everlasting well-being, this is the attainment of enlightenment
itself. By achieving that, we gain genuine freedom. Ask yourself, “Do I
have that freedom right now?” I don’t have it, and I expect that you don’t
have it either. In order to attain genuine freedom, we strive for enlightenment.

 The following is an extensive teaching on each of
the six transitional processes, or bardos, that make up our experience
in samsara. This teaching is based on the primary text by Padmasambhava
called, The Profound Dharma of Natural Liberation through Contemplating
the Peaceful and the Wrathful
. The term natural liberation can also
be translated as self-liberation; it is something that occurs automatically,
spontaneously, or naturally. In this profound text, Padmasambhava teaches
us how to attain this kind of natural liberation within the six transitional
processes that make up samsara itself.

 Before we can apply these practices, however, it
is necessary for us to recognize the suffering of samsara. Each realm of
sentient existence has its own specific types of suffering that need to
be recognized. The suffering of the deva, or celestial, realm is the anguish
that occurs in anticipation of death. For, as death draws neigh, the devas
are subject to great misery because they can see where their next, lower
rebirth will be. The suffering of the asuras, or the demigods, is one of
conflict and aggression. With human beings, the suffering to which we are
specifically subject is the suffering of birth, aging, sickness, and death.
For animals, there is the suffering of foolishness and stupidity. For pretas,
or spirits, there is the suffering of thirst and hunger. Finally, for the
denizens of the hell realms, there is the suffering of extreme heat and
extreme cold. Within the context of recognizing these various types of
suffering in the cycle of existence, we must also recognize that we have
now achieved a human life of leisure and endowment. On the one hand, this
means that we now have a human body. But it also includes the fact that
we have already encountered one or more spiritual mentors of the Mahayana
tradition that can lead us to the attainment of enlightenment; and we have
obtained Dharma teachings that lay out for us the path to achieve enlightenment
in this very lifetime.

 Upon recognizing the difficulty of achieving a human
life of leisure and endowment and recognizing as well the great significance
of such a human life, we then need to pursue this contemplation in terms
of recognizing the shortness of this precious human rebirth with which
we are presently endowed. When speaking of the types of suffering of the
six realms of existence to which we are subject, we can ask, “How does
it happen that we experience such suffering whether in a human life or
in other lifetimes, in the hell realms, and so forth? Why should we have
to suffer in this way? Are we being punished by someone? Is it similar
to the brutality of the Communist Chinese regime against the Tibetans?
Is it like that? Or is it like the United States government in terms of
its brutality against the Native Americans? Is it like that? Are we being
punished in the same way as the Tibetans and the Native Americans were
being punished?” The anwer is, “No, not at all.”

 How is it that we suffer? We suffer through our
engagement in nonvirtuous actions. Suffering is the natural result of nonvirtuous
actions. In terms of the relationships between actions and their effects
called the law of karma, the result of nonvirtue is suffering and the result
of virtue is joy. So it is we ourselves who are punishing ourselves. We
ourselves are inflicting the retribution for our acts. We are experiencing
the natural consequences of our own acts. There is no external agent who
is punishing or rewarding us for them. What do all of you think?

 Regarding the situation between the Tibetans and
the Communist Chinese regime, had the Tibetans in the their previous lives
not committed certain unwholesome deeds, then they would not have had to
experience the suffering that was inflicted upon them by the Chinese government.
Without nonvirtue, there would not have been the ensuing suffering. Similarly,
for the Native Americans, when these white, illegal immigrants came over
from England, France, and so forth, and took over and perpetrated all the
atrocities on the Native Americans here, had those Native Americans not
committed unwholesome actions in their previous lives, they too would not
have experienced the suffering that was inflicted upon them by these immigrants
from Europe. If you believe in karma, then this is the situation. If you
don’t believe in karma, then anything goes.

 In terms of the relationship between actions and
their consequences, nothing is ever wasted. No action–be it wholesome
or unwholesome, virtuous or nonvirtuous–is without its own consequences.
It’s very easy to think in our present situation that we can get away with
lots of things and that our nonvirtuous actions are insignificant because
we won’t have to experience their consequences. In fact, this is an error.
For example, had the Native Americans not inflicted injury on other sentient
beings in previous lifetimes, then they would not have experienced that
suffering themselves. The same thing goes for the Tibetans. The whole cycle
perpetuates itself. As white Europeans came over and inflicted great suffering
upon the Native Americans, they committed great nonvirtuous actions for
which they will experience the consequences in future lives, maybe even
right now. In this way the cycle of existence is perpetuated, and it’s
for this reason that Guru Rinpoche said, “Although my view is as vast as
space, when it comes to the nature of actions and their consequences, I
am extremely precise, like little particles of flour.” If we fail to do
likewise, then we’re not Buddhists; or at the very least, it’s difficult
for us to be Buddhists and at the same to be unconscientious about our
behavior.

 I have been requested to give these teachings. It
is very good to request such teachings, and it’s very good for you to put
such teachings into practice. It’s very good for you to become knowledgeable
with regard to these various theories and practices, but you should also
know what the purpose of all of this is. What is the purpose of the knowledge?
What is the purpose of the practice? If what you actually implement in
your life is the eight mundane concerns, then, in fact, you will not be
on a path that leads to wisdom. It will not lead to true erudition or to
becoming a practitioner. In fact, if you are simply practicing the eight
mundane concerns, then you are no different from politicians in America
and around the world. They, too, have learned a lot. They are very smart,
they’re very knowledgeable, and they practice a lot; but what they’re practicing
is the eight mundane concerns, and you become indistinguishable from them.
In learning about and practicing the eight mundane concerns, there is no
benefit for your future lives. In comparison, the purpose of the sublime
Buddhadharma is that it is of benefit in this and future lives. In terms
of whether our Dharma practice is adulterated by or identical with the
practice of the eight mundane concerns, we must really look inside ourselves.
We must know ourselves and gain this knowledge through introspection. In
terms of our hearing, thinking, and meditation, we must check up to ascertain
the purity of our own practice. It is useless to point our fingers at other
people and say, “Oh, look how that person is going astray and this person
is getting involved in the eight mundane concerns.” There is no point in
this, and, of course, the response we get from these other people when
we do it is, “Give me a break” or “Mind your own business.” To learn this,
we learn about ourselves. Leave other people alone.

 Among Tibetan practitioners of Buddhism or among
Buddhists around the world, there are many who, in fact, are very much
involved in the eight mundane concerns. Insofar as our spiritual practice
is adulterated by the eight mundane concerns, then this is like pouring
poison into the Middle Way. By allowing our own spiritual practice to be
so adulterated and poisoned, the knowledge we acquire of Dharma becomes
wasted; and the great effort that we apply in the practice of Dharma also
becomes wasted. For this reason, please consider this carefully. Please
inspect your own understanding and your own practice to see that it is
free of these eight mundane concerns.

Motivation

 Whatever type of practice we engage in–be it hearing,
thinking or meditation–we need the proper motivation. What kind of motivation?
If we review our lives from a very early age, from infancy to the present,
and review our actions of body, speech, and mind, we can ask ourselves,
“What value did those actions have? In what way were they of any benefit?”
They may have had no benefit, or they may have had some mundane benefit.
But while producing this small portion of mundane benefit, what these actions
were really doing was simply perpetuating our wandering in the cycle of
existence. However, in terms of acting as causes for our accomplishing
the two embodiments of the Buddha–the Rupakaya for the sake of others
and the Dharmakaya for one’s own sake–it seems very likely that these
activities until now have done nothing.

 Why is this significant? The significance is that
all of us die. Whether we want to die or not, this is our destiny; and
over this we have no control. We cannot control how we will die. I guarantee
completely that I don’t have such control. I will not have control at my
death, and I suspect it’s unlikely that you will have control. On what
grounds do I draw this conclusion? Look at our daily lives. To what extent
do we have any control over the three poisons of attachment, hatred, and
delusion? Don’t these poisons dominate our actions from day to day? Even
if we have some control over our minds and activities during the daytime,
what control do we have at night in the dream-state? Do we have any control
at all? If we don’t have control in the day or night, on what grounds could
we possibly imagine that we will have some control when this life is over
and we’re wandering in the intermediate state? This is true for all of
us. We’re equally without control. We don’t have any kind of autonomy over
our lives, and there are many illustrations of this that we can see around
us in human society. For example, people get hooked on cigarette smoking
even though they know that it leads to lung cancer as well as various other
types of disorders. Their friends and relatives may plead with them, “Please
stop, we want you to live a long time,” and they may even want to stop;
yet they have no control. In a similar fashion, we can become obsessed
with alcohol, and then people say, “Oh, please, stop the drinking. It’s
so harmful.” One wants to stop perhaps, but the willpower is not there.
The control is not there.

 Moving closer to Dharma, we find that many people
say, “Oh, I’m going to practice Dharma.” However, when it gets right down
to it, we don’t practice Dharma. We just talk about getting to it when
future circumstances are more felicitous; but in the meantime, we’re awfully
busy. I’m not just pointing the finger at you; I feel I’m in the same situation
myself. In addition to this, I have students who I heard twenty or more
years ago saying, “Well, the first thing is I’m going to get my financial
situation secure. I’m going to make money, and then I can do other things.”
The decades have gone by, and I’m looking at these people. By and large,
they are in the same financial situation that they were in then. They haven’t
gotten the financial security they were looking for. What they have done
in the meantime is accummulate a lot of nonvirtue.

 These topics are worth our careful consideration.
We should hear them and think about them. While knowing this and having
gained some understanding of the distinction between virtue and nonvirtue,
if you engage in nonvirtue–knowing that it will be detrimental to yourself
and others–this is like recognizing that you have a glass of poison and
drinking it anyway. The situation is exactly like that. That is, from moment
to moment as we engage in activities that are dominated by the three poisons
or the five poisons, then these actions lead to the perpetuation of our
own cycle of existence.

The great spiritual mentors of the past are gone. Impermanence
has taken its toll and they have passed away. Similarly, kings, the rich
and the poor, the beautiful and the ugly, all perish. All of them are subject
to this reality of impermanence and death. Given this reality of human
existence, who can guarantee that we will not have to face death? Who can
guarantee to save us from the consequences of our own actions? Who can
guarantee to save us from the reality of impermanence? There isn’t anyone
who can give these guarantees, not among humans or gods.

 For these reasons, there is the need for genuine
Dharma practice, and the time for that is now. There’s no putting it off.
There can be no excuses. If we succumb to procrastination, we’re the ones
who lose out. It’s not our spiritual mentor. It’s not Buddhism. It’s not
the Dharma center. It’s not anything else. We are the losers if we procrastinate
in that way. By the way, it’s important to recognize that the way of listening
to the Dharma is different from the way of attending to other types of
teachings. For example, in high school or college, a different mode is
required. What is appropriate for these other, secular contexts is not
appropriate here. In the context of requesting and listening to Dharma,
it is important that you slow down your mind. Let your mind come to rest
and attend to the teachings with mindfulness, with introspection.

 Returning to the subject of motivation, I have mentioned
that you are all welcome to listen to and study these teachings if you
have a wholesome motivation. Even those who have not taken refuge in the
Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are welcome to study these teachings if you
intend to put them into practice. I respect these people, and I respect
people who have taken the vows of refuge and are keeping those vows. I
respect both. If there are others who, out of idle curiosity, are just
wondering, “Well, what’s going on?” I do not respect that attitude; and
those people are not welcome to study these teachings either directly or
indirectly. Do other things; this is not your business. For those people
who have a good motivation, I believe you want to learn the Dharma and
you also want to put it into practice, so I’m very glad to accommodate
you. I’m very glad to respond to this expressed desire and interest on
your part. This, in fact, helps me too. As I face my own death, these teachings
are something that is beneficial to me as well.

 There are several correct motivations. You can have
a very vast motivation that is noble, lofty, and broad as in the Mahsaysana.
This is very good. However, even if you simply strive to liberate yourself
from suffering, this too is sufficient. However, one should go beyond a
motivation that is merely adequate. The motivation that should be generated
now is the aspiration for perfect enlightenment both for yourself and for
the benefit of others. With that motivation, study these teachings and
aspire to put them into practice in meditation. In general, there are three
kinds of motivation: wholesome, unwholesome, and ethically neutral motivations.
Among these three, it’s imperative that we bring forth a virtuous motivation.
It’s important here that we don’t fall into our old habits.

 In the West, from infancy on, many of us are always
being told how good we are; and we’re praised for all kinds of things.
As we go through school, we’re praised for one thing after another and
we end up being spoiled adults. As we grow older, our bodies start to deteriorate,
and our previous good looks start to wither away. At that point, many of
us may get a little bit nervous about losing that for which people have
been praising us for so long, and we apply a great deal of effort to maintain
our external good qualities. In the process we tend to get involved with
all of the three poisons of the mind: attachment, hatred, and delusion.
We may apply all types of means to try to counteract this gradual deterioration
of our bodies. Some might even consider plastic surgery. All of this is
to try to maintain one’s good looks. In any case, all of these efforts
that we apply are expressions of our own self-grasping, which is fundamental
ignorance; and actions motivated by such self-grasping are inappropriate
for these teachings.

 Often when Westerners receive teachings, they are
very vigorously taking notes during the teachings or they’re taping the
teachings, so they have them stored when they get home. Then they share
them with others; they tell their friends about the teachings; and then,
after having done so, they totally disgard them, leaving them in their
notes or their tapes in the bathroom together with the toilet paper. This
is not useful. Rather than leading to liberation or enlightenment, which
is the genuine purpose of these teachings, that kind of disrespect just
leads to lower rebirth. You may share these teachings with those who have
an earnest desire to put them into practice, at least for the sake of their
own genuine benefit, and most nobly for the benefit of all creatures. But
you may not share them with those who would treat them without respect
or faith. If you teach such people, it will just lead to your own demise
and rebirth in a miserable realm.

 Please respect the teachings; this is what I ask
of you. Of course, if you don’t want to heed me, that’s your business.
Again, you may share the teachings cautiously. In terms of motivation,
another point is that you should consider the countless number of sentient
beings throughout space who like yourselves yearn for happiness and wish
to be free of suffering. Aspire to receive these teachings on the six transitional
processes and put them into practice so that all beings throughout space
may achieve liberation and perfect enlightenment.

 To learn the proper manner in which to listen to
Dharma, I suggest that you read the first chapter of the text The Words
of My Perfect Teacher
. Especially for those who may be somewhat new
to Tibetan Buddhism, read this and become familiar with it. There is considerable
interest these days in learning Atiyoga, which is the culmination of the
nine yanas of teachings and practice within Buddhism. If you aspire to
receive such very deep and advanced teachings, then it would be a disgrace
to not know how to listen to Dharma in a proper way. It’s a matter of Dharma
etiquette. To illustrate this, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche once told a
story of an old monk who was out traveling and needed a place to stay.
He came to one old lady’s house and asked her for a night’s lodging, which
was a common custom in Tibet. She put him up for the night and served him
some black tea. However, the tea that she offered him had neither salt
nor butter, two things that Tibetans normally put into their tea; so it
was two steps away from being really authentic, tasty Tibetan tea. The
old monk then tasted the tea, became very displeased, and said, “This tea
doesn’t even have the taste of salt, let alone butter! Throw this out!”
And he threw it out the window. The old lady saw his response and said,
“Oh, venerable monk, judging by your response and etiquette, it seems that
your deportment doesn’t even have the taste of the sixteen mundane types
of etiquette, let alone the divine Dharma. So I throw you out!” There are
proper ways of listening to the teachings, and this is a matter of Dharma
etiquette.

 Children are certainly welcome to listen to and
study these teachings as well. They get the benefit of receiving the teachings,
even if they are not really able to put them into practice at present.
It’s a similar situation when children attend tantric empowerments. They
get the blessings of the initiation even if they do not actually receive
or have the responsibility for the samaya. The samayas for children do
not degenerate nor or they preserved, so it’s a separate case for them.
I like kids. Their situation is different, and they don’t have oceanlike
attachment. They don’t have volcano-like pride. As adults, we have more
responsibility.


1  Preliminary Practices for Subduing Your Own
Mind-stream
   (excerpts)

 Now we go to the preliminary practices, which are
the very core of Dharma practice. This is not the time to cut corners.
We’ve been cutting corners since beginningless samsara, and this has led
us to perpetuate our own existence in samsara. If we cut corners in the
present as we have in the past, then in the future too, we’ll simply continue
to wander in the cycle of existence. Therefore, it’s very important to
listen and study well and put the teachings into practice. Without doing
that, if you then think that you can teach this to other people is a disgrace.
You’re finished. All of these teachings are Atiyoga teachings, and they’re
not to be treated lightly or casually in that fashion. For those of you
who are planning to skip ahead to the six transitional processes, if you
omit the preliminary practices, then you’re really making a mistake and
you’re missing the whole point.

 This introduction concerns the preliminary practices
for subduing your own mind-stream, and this begins with a prayer.


 

 

The Preliminary Practices for Subduing Your
Own Mind-stream


With faith and devotion I mentally bow

To the Dharmakaya, the original lord Samantabhadra,

The Sambhogakaya, the victorious peaceful and wrathful
deities,


And to the Nirmanakaya, Padmasambhava.

 

 

First, what is the purpose of the text’s having a title or
name? There are various reasons for that. First of all, simply by seeing
the title of a text, a person who is very well versed in Dharma will have
a very clear sense of what the text is about from beginning to end. The
title allows such a person to place the text among the three yanas and
identify what type of teaching it is.

 To take an analogy, it’s as if you have a medicine
with a label stating its name, ingredients, and benefits. That is the purpose
of the title of a text for knowledgeable people. For people who are not
so learned, the title of a text will at least give them some idea that
it is perhaps a Mahayana text. They get some idea of the contents of the
text, although they will not have a total grasp of its context and meaning.
Thirdly, when you have the title of a text, you will at least know how
to find it.

 Following the title there is a four-line homage.
What’s the homage for? Clearly, there are many types of homage: there can
be homage to the guru, to the chosen deity, and many others. What’s the
point of this? There are various reasons for including the homage at the
beginning at the text. One is that by presenting the homage, the author
is in effect asking for the permission of the enlightened beings to compose
the work that follows. It also entails calling for a blessing from the
enlightened beings, and specifically that the work in question can be brought
to culmination and that it can be completed. It is also used to pray that
the teachings that one is about to compose may be of benefit for sentient
beings and for the preservation of the Dharma.

 Next is what we traditionally call “the commitment
to compose the text,” through which the author makes a commitment to give
these teachings. Once again, what is the reason for the author to make
this commitment to compose this work? If this were an author with a modern,
worldly mentality, then the composition probably would be made for the
sake of profit. This is not the case with these great beings who composed
such texts as this. Rather, their motivation was that they would compose
such texts for the benefit of sentient beings and for the sake of Dharma.
It’s like the case of the chosen deity: you chose your chosen deity; and,with
that choice there is also the commitment to actualize that deity. In this
process when you make this commitment, you may, for example, generate yourself
as Manjusri. As Manjusri then you carry forth with the activity. That’s
one route. Another one is that you simply ask that the blessings of Manjusri
might enter into you so that you can carry this work through to its culmination.
Another major purpose for the initial commitment is so that the work can
be brought to its culmination, that it can be done well, and that it can
be done well for the sake of others. Thus, we see that all of this hinges
upon one’s motivation, and it’s important that it’s right there from the
beginning. Just as we so commonly recite “for the sake of all sentient
beings throughout space” and then carry on with whatever practice it is,
as we do in our daily practice, so is this the case in composing a text.
The motivation is of initial, paramount importance.


 

 

Due to the power of prayers, the experiential
instructions on the transitional processes


Are revealed for the sake of disciples who are training
their mind-streams.


In this there are the preliminary practices, the main
practice, and the conclusion;


And here the gradual instructions in the preliminary
practices


Will be clearly presented for those of inferior intelligence,

With the introduction and practice in accord with the
guru’s tradition.


 

 

Here, the author is saying that this is not something simply
of his own fabrication. It’s in accordance with the guru’s tradition; and,
in saying that, the implication is that it goes back to Vajradhara, the
primordial Buddha.

 There is a lot of significance in the simple words,
“clearly presented.” For some texts, you have the root, or primary, text,
as well as many commentaries. All of these commentaries are like branches
that grow out from the trunk. There may be so many that they actually obscure
the root. You get caught up in so many of the details that you lose sight
of the root. That can be a problem. There’s another problem, though, and
that is not being able to understand a text because it is so concise. When
it says “clearly presented” here, the implication is that the text will
not be so extensive that you lose sight of what it’s really about, nor
will it be so concise that you can’t figure it out at all.

 Here the subject is taught in terms of six general
topics: (1) pondering the sufferings of the cycle of existence, (2) the
difficulty of obtaining a human life of leisure and endowment, and (3)
meditating on death and impermanence are the preliminary practices for
subduing your own mind-stream. The preliminary practices for training your
own mind-stream include: (4) guru yoga, (5) the hundred-syllable mantra,
and finally (6) the spiritual activity of offering the mandala.


 

 

Pondering the Suffering
of Cyclic Existence

 If you do not ponder the sufferings of the cycle
of existence, disillusionment with the cycle of existence will not arise.
If disillusionment with the cycle of existence does not arise, whatever
Dharma you practice, it cannot be disengaged from this life, and the craving
and attachment of this life are not severed. Thus, pondering the sufferings
of the cycle of existence is extremely important.


 

 

When the text addresses the sufferings of the cycle of existence,
this is referring to the first of the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Truth
of Suffering. What needs to be done is to recognize the truth of suffering
and to recognize the manner in which this suffering is, in fact, suffering.
How is it suffering? That, too, needs to be known. Without that, there
will be no disillusionment with samsara. Without such meditation, our natural
tendency is to be attached to the cycle of existence. Therefore, it’s through
such meditation that we counteract the grasping onto the cycle of existence.
Without such meditation, whatever purportedly spiritual activity we engage
in with our bodies and our speech will be ineffectual, because it has no
foundation. Thus, it cannot free us from suffering. Without this disillusionment
with samsara, even if one engages in some semblance of practicing Dharma,
in fact there is no genuine Dharma. In the absence of any genuine Dharma
practice, there’s no liberation nor is there any enlightenment.

 A lot of people may respond, at least internally,
that they’ve heard about the preliminary practices many times already,
and that they are thoroughly familiar with them. You may think you know
it, but in reality you may not. What would indicate that? You’re still
attached to samsara. The very fact that you’re still attached to this cycle
of existence is itself proof that you do not know the preliminaries. You’ve
not gotten the real result from the practice of the preliminaries. You’ve
not turned your mind away from samsara. If you look at the Four Thoughts
that Turn the Mind, the sufferings of samsara are discussed there. Just
having heard about them or having done a little bit of meditation does
not mean you’ve understood this yet. If you had understood it, you wouldn’t
still be attached to samsara. It’s very straightforward, but here we are;
we’re still in samsara. We’re still attached to samsara, and the reason
for that is we haven’t fathomed the preliminaries.


 

 

First, go by yourself to a place that arouses
disillusionment. If possible, go to a deserted place, broken-down ruins,
a field of dried grass rustling in the wind, or an eerie place, or else
go where there are pathetic ill people, beggars, and so on who were previously
prosperous and later fell on hard times. If that is not possible, go by
yourself to a place of solitude. In terms of your posture, sit on a comfortable
cushion with one leg folded. Plant your right foot on the ground, press
your left leg against the ground, rest your right elbow on your right knee,
press your palm against your right cheek, and clasp your left knee with
your left palm. This posture of despair will lead to stark depression.

 Then with your mind ponder the sufferings of the
cycle of existence, and with your speech occasionally utter these words,
letting them arouse your mindfulness, “Alas! Alas! Wretched me! This cycle
of existence is suffering! Nirvana is joy!” Ponder in this way, “O dear,
I am trapped in the sufferings of the cycle of existence, which is like
a fire pit, and I am afraid! Ah, now the time has come to escape from within
this life. This suffering of the three miserable states of existence is
impossible to endure, and it is limitless. Occasions of joy do not occur
even for a moment. Now is the time to prepare for a quick escape.”

 Imagine this: “This cycle of existence is a great
fire pit of intense heat. It is deep, broad, and high. In such a terrifying
fire pit, I cry out as I am trapped, together with every other sentient
being in the cycle of existence.” Verbally express this ardently, with
a grieving voice: “O dear, I’m afraid in this great fire pit of the cycle
of existence. Since beginningless time, I am still burning, and I am afraid.”
While you are uttering these words of lament, in the space above that pit,
imagine your primary spiritual mentor, whose body is adorned with the six
types of bone ornaments, and who holds in his hand a hook of light rays.
Imagine him saying this to you: “Alas! The joyless cycle of existence is
like a fire pit. Now the time has come to escape from it. The sufferings
of the three miserable states of existence are limitless, and occasions
of joy do not occur even for a moment. Now is the time to escape from the
pit of fire.”

 Simply by hearing these words, the thought arises,
“Alas! Long have I been trapped in the fire pit of the sufferings of the
cycle of existence. Now, heeding the words of my spiritual mentor, I shall
escape from this, and I shall also liberate every one of these sentient
beings.” As soon as you sincerely bring forth this spirit of awakening,
imagine that you are caught by your heart with the hook in your mentor’s
hand; and you are instantly liberated into the realm of Sukhavati. Instantly,
a hook of light rays appears in your hand as well, and one by one you save
every sentient being in the fire pit. Earnestly cultivate compassion for
all the sentient beings in the cycle of existence.

When you’re meditating in this way, you should apply other
teachings you’ve received in more extensive presentations of these preliminary
practices in which the individual types of suffering pertaining to the
six realms of existence are all taught. What is the effect of such meditation?
It serves to make your mind turn away from samsara, and it also helps you
progress in the cultivation of the two types of spirit of awakening: the
spirit of aspiring for awakening and the spirit of venturing toward awakening.


 

 

Continually reflect in that way upon the fire
pit of the cycle of existence, and ponder all the sufferings of the cycle
of existence. Day and night, bear this in mind without being distracted.
A sutra states, “Joy is never present on the tip of the needle of the cycle
of existence.” Thus, meditate on the problems of the cycle of existence
until disillusionment arises. Once your mind has turned away from the cycle
of existence on which you have been meditating, you will ascertain the
need for Dharma; and meditative experience will arise as there is no craving
for this life. If your mind does not turn away from the cycle of existence,
meditation is pointless. Meditate on this for three days, and then return.
By meditating on this, for the time being, your mind will withdraw from
the cycle of existence, and ultimately it will ascend to nirvana. Practice
this! The meditation on the sufferings of the cycle of existence is the
first session in the Natural Liberation through Contemplating: Experiential
Instructions on the Transitional Processes
.


 

 

When the text uses the term “all the sufferings of the cycle
of existence,” this refers to the suffering of every type of sentient being
within samsara throughout the six realms. Once your mind is turned away
from samsara, then phrases like “I will practice Dharma” or “I need to
practice Dharma” or “I want to practice Dharma” will really be true. Your
aspiration will be authentic, and it will lead you to the genuine practices
of hearing, thinking, and meditation.

 Whether you’re meditating in retreat or at home,
this is the place to start. This type of meditation lays a foundation;
and, if you cultivate this well, what follows from it is very meaningful.
You’ll have good results if you establish a solid foundation in this type
of meditation to turn your mind away from samsara. If you do this, you
won’t be like the person who is always eagerly anticipating “what’s next”
in terms of the practices, as if you are watching a movie and are wondering
how it will turn out. Rather, you will have a firm foundation, and you
will progress well. However long we have been practicing Dharma, whether
it’s for twenty years, ten years or eight years–or like in my case, about
sixty or sixty-five years–we can look at what is actually arising in our
minds right now. What have we realized? Spiritual realization has still
not arisen in many peoples’ minds, and this is due to failing to comprehend
the fundamental point that we’re not yet enlightened. This is the reason
why we’ve not accomplished our own ends. Why have we been unsuccessful
in accomplishing our own self-interest? Because we’ve not sufficiently
laid this foundation.

 If we’re looking for peace of mind, we should look
to such practice, for it is by this means that the mind comes to equilibrium.
The spirit of awakening arises from this type of meditation, and it also
leads to the attenuation of our own mental afflictions. When Dharma practitioners
find that their minds are really transforming, it’s because they’ve established
a firm foundation in such meditations as this. It is through this that
Dharma actually arises in the mind. Otherwise, without this, one might
be very arrogant about one’s knowledge and experience and so forth. This
attitude is like the rack of antlers on a deer–it reaches out in an impressive
display. However, all of that is an indication that the Dharma has fallen
into one’s mouth and not into one’s heart.

 Padmasambhava says, “Meditate on this for three
days and then return.” A number of you have been meditating on this for
quite a bit longer than three days. However, this is something you can
meditate on for three days, three months, or three years. After you become
a buddha, you don’t need to meditate on it any more. Through this practice,
the mind turns away from samsara. Through the practice of hearing, thinking,
and meditation, you eventually do achieve nirvana. How is it that the nature
of samsara is suffering? What does that mean? The first point is to recognize
the very nature of samsara itself. On that basis, you seek out the causes
of samsara. In this process, it’s very important to distinguish between
the genuine causes of happiness and the genuine causes of sorrow or suffering.
These you need to know for yourself, so identifying the causes of happiness
and sorrow is most important. It’s not enough just to say, “Oh, I don’t
like suffering” or “I don’t like samsara.”

 When we speak of samsara, it seems to be something
bad. What is samsara? What do you point to when you want to identify samsara?
Who is samsara? If you’re wondering who samsara is, you can point to yourself.
Each of us is our own samsara. Is it the same or different from ourselves?
It’s not to be found anywhere else from our own existence. We are the ones
who experience suffering; we are the ones who experience joy. Moreover,
we are the ones who create our own samsara. Is samsara created? Yes it
is, and we’re the ones who create it. How does this take place? With such
mental afflictions as the three poisons of attachment, hatred, and delusion,
we create samsara. The nature of all of these poisons is delusion. That
is what creates our samsara.

 All of us here have attachment. We grasp onto one
thing after another. All of us are subject to jealousy, we all have hatred,
and we all have pride; and the nature of all of these poisons is delusion.
This is what we have. We possess a composite of these five poisons. The
nature of these is grasping onto a real “self,” whereas, in fact, no real
inherent self exists. That’s one form of delusion. Another form of delusion
is the dualistic grasping onto the real existence of subject versus object.
Those are the nature of delusion, which is itself the nature of all of
the five poisons.

 We are now endowed with a body created out of the
four or five elements, and this body itself is the basis of suffering.
On this basis, we engage in various types of nonvirtues. Within a tenfold
classification, there are three nonvirtues of the body, four of the speech,
and three of the mind. Of course, there are not only ten nonvirtues, but
these ten lead to a great variety of other nonvirtues. Engaging in nonvirtue
leads to rebirth in various miserable states of existence. Depending upon
the intensity of the motivation, such nonvirtue may lead to rebirth in
one of the eight hot hells or eight cold hells. Also, such deeds may lead
to rebirth as a preta, or spirit. They may lead to rebirth as an animal,
of which there are countless different species. Within the human realm
we see a tremendous diversity of individuals. Beyond the human realm are
the asuras, or demigods, who are especially characterized by the pain of
aggression and competition. Finally, there are the devas, or gods, who
experience intense suffering when their lives are about to come to an end.

 Diversity is especially evident in the human realm.
Even in one family, there are tremendous differences even from one member
to another in terms of their merit, lifespan, and their degree of suffering.
All of these variations in human life and in these other life forms are
a result of our own previous actions. We are the ones who have created
this. We are the creators. In terms of the wide variety of sentient beings,
we can look at the people gathered here. On the one hand, there are the
obvious differences between men and women; and there are other differences
in the ways you appear and so on.

 We ourselves are the creators of our own suffering.
This being the case, it’s very difficult to find any people in positions
of authority, like kings or world leaders, who are without suffering or
without the five poisons. Even among lamas, it’s difficult to find. The
greatest lamas are really inconceivable; but most of the rest have suffering
and are still subject to the five poisons. Whether one is powerful or rich,
pretty or handsome, there are no grounds for being puffed up about one’s
position. If one becomes filled with self-importance, this simply leads
to one’s own disgrace. Even if you’re in a position of great authority
like a president or a king, if you become arrogant about this while you’re
still subject to suffering and to these five poisons, this just leads to
your own disgrace. Moreover, if after a while spiritual teachers develop
a sense that they are really quite special, then they too are making a
very big mistake.

 All of the previous instances mentioned can lead
to disgrace if you’re not careful. The way to be careful is to check up
on your own mind. If you’re not conscientiousness about that, you’re bound
to fall into disgrace. Even if you’re acting under the guise of serving
sentient beings with a motivation of altruism or for the sake of Dharma,
if you’re not checking up on your own mind, then the chances are that you’ll
come to resemble the subject of a Tibetan aphorism that speaks of people
presenting an outer semblance of being of service, while inwardly they’re
conniving to get things only for their own self-interest. What’s coming
out your mouth is altruistic, but what’s inside is really still self-centered.
If one operates in that devious way, it actually leads to disgrace for
sentient beings, and it’s a disgrace for Dharma as well. By presenting
an outer semblance of being of service while in fact trying to twist things
for your own benefit, you wind up damaging your own self-interest. If you
try to deceive people, you may, in fact, be effective for a couple of months;
but after a while, they’ll catch on. The buddhas and bodhisattvas are all-knowing,
so you can’t deceive them at all! There’s no tricking the buddhas and bodhisattvas,
nor can we trick the Dharma protectors or the various spirits who accompany
them. There’s one person, though, who’s been tricked; and that’s yourself.
If you’re trying to trick other people, the first person you can be sure
you’re deceiving is yourself. The result of this is that you lose. If you
feel you are a compassionate person, it’s most important, first of all,
to look to see whether you really in fact do have compassion. At the beginning,
it’s very difficult. Insofar as we have strong self-grasping, that really
precludes compassion. Therefore, look carefully. Buddhas and bodhisattvas
have abandoned this self-grasping tendency and genuinely strive for the
welfare of others.

 When I was a little boy, I used to lie to my own
spiritual mentors. I would fib to them and make up stories, and they would
listen and say, “Oh, I see, I see,” as if they were admiring everything
I was saying. I would feel that I had tricked them, whereas in fact they
knew all along what was going on. They were just leading me on. Later on
in India, there were great lamas with whom I had contact, including His
Holiness Karmapa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche,
and so on. When speaking to such lamas then, even if they are saying, “Oh
yes, oh yes,” as if they’re agreeing with us and accepting everything we’re
saying, if we are lying, this simply leads to our own disgrace. From their
perspective, what they’re seeing is that all composite phenomena are impermanent.
They are viewing the world in light of the ten analogies of the world being
like an illusion, like a reflection in a mirror, and so on. Some of these
lamas are actual masters of Atiyoga and are living the experience of the
Great Perfection. The point of all this is that, if one tries to deceive
others, it really is only one’s own loss. In India and Tibet there were
a lot of people who lied to the great lamas. A lot of aristocrats would
go to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and tell all kinds of stories; and they
would think they had succeeded. However, all they really succeeded in doing
was to bring disgrace upon their own heads. Be careful about how you speak.
It’s important not to deceive. On the other hand, you don’t have to be
so honest that you run off at the mouth, telling everything that you’ve
seen or heard and so forth. You don’t need to do that either. Sometimes
you can just be quiet.

 When we look at the situation of the six realms
of existence and consider that we are the ones who create this, it makes
us look like we’re really intelligent and powerful. In a way, yes; in a
way, no. When we are judging other people, we say, “He did this. She did
that. They did this. I’m good, but they did this.” There is some satisfaction
when we point out others’ faults and put them in their place. However,
for the person who is listening to us as we’re slandering another person,
we are falling into disgrace. Other people will see the kind of person
we are, getting a thrill out of slandering other people. It seems as if
we have some inconceivable power in being able to create these various
realms of samsara.



 

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