Just as if we had taken hallucinogens, whatever happy or sad appearances we see are samsaric, confused appearances of the mind. Even when we are not intoxicated, everything we perceive in this life comes out of confusion that arises from the power of karma. Whether we have the perception of being a human or animal, whether we perceive the appearances of earth, water, fire, or air, whatever appearances we see, come out of the power of a mistaken mind. All the external forms we see or sounds we hear are just emptiness. Whatever appears internally within our mind is also emptiness — none of it is actually there. Thus, all of the different experiences of the six classes of beings, whatever they may be, are empty images, nonexistent, yet appearing.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
The guru must have pure perception of his own guru and, if possible, of all phenomena. On a more individual level, the guru must have pure perception of his or her students. Pure perception is the foundation of the Vajrayana. Even in the Mahayana, pure perception if the driving force behind working with a disciple. As Lord Maitreya said, a bodhisattva must know that other sentient beings have buddha nature and that they can be enlightened. So a guru must have confidence that the student’s defilements, no matter how hideous, are temporary; they can be purified and removed. No matter how long it takes, no matter how tedious a job, a guru with a strong view of pure perception will not give up on the student.
I claim to be arousing bodhicitta, but still do not have it.
I have trained in the path of the six perfections, but have remained selfish.
Bless me and small-minded beings like me,
That we may train in the sublime bodhicitta.
14th Dalai Lama
It is frequently said that the essence of the training in guru yoga is to cultivate the art of seeing everything the guru does as perfect. Personally I myself do not like this to be taken too far. Often we see written in the scriptures, “Every action seen as perfect.”
However, this phrase must be seen in the light of Buddha Shakyamuni’s own words: “Accept my teachings only after examining them as an analyst buys gold. Accept nothing out of mere faith in me.” The problem with the practice of seeing everything the guru does as perfect is that it very easily turns to poison for both the guru and the disciple.
Therefore, whenever I teach this practice, I always advocate that the tradition of “every action seen as perfect” not be stressed. Should the guru manifest un-Dharmic qualities or give teachings contradicting Dharma, the instruction on seeing the spiritual master as perfect must give way to reason and Dharma wisdom.
Nothing is intrinsically or ultimately bad. Any situation that arises is only relatively good or bad based on many factors, including — most significantly — how you perceive the situation and how you respond to it.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the in-between state. It’s the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid. Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle, compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not acting like we know what’s happening, we begin to access our inner strength.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Praying to the guru is not necessarily a matter of chanting mantras or reading a supplication composed by others. The real prayer, on the relative level, is just thinking of the guru — his form, his name, his activities, his color, his shape, even his movement.
If you forget to pray to the guru for a long time, he will not complain that you haven’t been offering enough prayers. But the moment you remember the guru, he is there; his compassion is there, and his blessing is there. The notion of the guru being there comes from remembering the guru. Remembering is the presence of the guru.
We can supplicate to the guru for mundane things like longevity, prosperity, good health, materializing Rwandan hunks. The main aim is to have compassion, bodhichitta, renunciation mind, and to experience the enthusiasm and joy of supplication itself so that we will have devotion. We supplicate to understand the meaning of nonduality, beginning with actualizing the nonduality of guru and student.
It helps to recite supplication prayers in a loud voice with all kinds of tunes, so as to penetrate your stubborn shell of impure perception.
Striving at the Dharma means being diligent about the Dharma. How do we do that? We need to do it with our body, speech, and mind – all three. Is it enough to be diligent with just our body or just our speech or just our mind? No, it is not enough.
We not only share the world; many of us also share similar attitudes and behaviors. When enough people think and act in similar ways, the effect of those actions is amplified. We can refer to this dynamic as cumulative action or collective action. In Buddhist terms we call this collective karma, which in this case simply refers to the fact that many people engaging in the same intentional action has a cumulative effect that impacts us all.
We do not generally spend much time thinking about the wider impact of our collective actions and attitudes. When we can see the immediate results of our personal actions, we take more care. But the connection between collective actions or shared attitudes and their longer-term or indirect impact is more obscure, and for this reason we fail to concern ourselves with these wider consequences.
The world has always been interdependent. But in the twenty-first century, communications technologies help make that fact more readily visible to us. Globalization promotes — and global society seems to embracing wholeheartedly — a consumer culture that is spread instantly through communications technologies. This lends an added force to shared attitudes and actions. Our individual lifestyle choices are greatly amplified as consumer trends and values are expressed online and carried rapidly to all corners of the globe. More and more people seek to embrace the global consumer culture they see articulated online, believing such a lifestyle will bring them personal happiness and social success.
We urgently need to recognize that we are not making choices for ourselves alone. When we choose for ourselves, we are also choosing for many others. Therefore we need to take much greater care what we decide and how we behave. Many individuals acting out of personal wants and desires have far-reaching collective effects on the world as a whole.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
We cling to the entity of a body that even a tiny prick from a thorn makes us miserable. When there is warm sunshine outside, we feel comfortable and the body is pleased. We are constantly preoccupied with the comfort and attractiveness of our body and treat it like the most precious thing. Clinging to the body is the reason we experience such reactions to the pleasant and the unpleasant.
3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche
When one realizes the ultimate nature of mind, there are no longer any moments that fall outside the sphere of meditation. However, the only way to achieve this realization is through meditation. One is free from the struggle to give up afflictive emotions or to “attain” wisdom. At this point, meditation as such no longer exists, because there is no longer any separation between meditator, meditation, and an object of meditation.
A star, a defective view, the butter lamp flame,
an illusion, a dew drop, or a water bubble,
a dream, lightning, a cloud —
see all causative phenomena like this.
If we had no negativity in our mind, there would be no opportunity for suffering to arise. The first thing to do is overcome the inner enemy: the real enemy isn’t outside of us, it is the negativity within us that leads us to do negative things that cause suffering. If we can overcome this inner enemy, we will really be heroes who can find happiness and who can go beyond suffering.
Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche
Just thinking, “all is empty,” without a system of proof based on sound reasons arrived at through valid reasoning is not emptiness. That is just belief about emptiness. In this particular context, entertaining a supposition about emptiness and holding a belief about it come down to more or less the same. Just to think, “all phenomena are empty,” is pure supposition; it is turning emptiness into a belief. For emptiness to be more for a given individual than just another system of beliefs, the first two characteristics of complete practice, namely, listening and reflection, are required. In the context of listening and reflecting, the way emptiness is defined necessarily derives from a process of logical thinking built up on valid reasons. Without that, what you think is emptiness is your own supposition.
The downside of the perfection of discipline is called “the demon of austerity” — taking on discipline as a hardship and making it into a struggle. Done right, discipline is taken on joyfully and with a clear understanding of why engaging in it is good…
Whatever we give up or whatever we do, we should first feel a connection to the practice and then be very clear why we are doing this and not something else. When we act this way, our discipline becomes very inspiring.
3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche
The bardo of death is a successive process. Our physical body is an aggregation of flesh, blood, etc. and deteriorates at death. Mind, on the other hand, does not die since it isn’t composed of particles. The physical components of our body are formed at birth and disintegrate at death. Our physical body only functions as long as it is sustained by our mind. Every physical body is dependent upon many causes and conditions and is only appropriated in dependence upon them. For this reason, our body is subject to decay and collapses in the absence of our mind, our consciousness. Mind, which isn’t an aggregation of particles, doesn’t cease when it leaves the body. Its nature is clarity and awareness.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
Your fields need to be worked, or your business needs to be attended to, or your search for a suitable partner may be your main concern — I can only guess at the things you spend your time on. But remember, the more your life is taken up by such concerns, the more you run the risk of death robbing you of what little time you set aside for Dharma practice. Do not allow the weight of ordinary preoccupations to divert you from the pursuit of Dharma. If the thought of practicing occurs to you one day, start that very day. If it comes one night, start that very night. Whatever the place and the time, do it there and then.
Loving-kindness and compassion shine through the shutters in those moments when we spontaneously give aid or comfort to someone, not out of self-interest or thinking we might get something in return, but just because it seems the right thing to do.
None of us wants to be miserable; we all want to be happy. But we can’t achieve this aim if we stay stuck in biased, narrow-minded thinking. No matter how much we long for joy, it will elude us if we continue buying into concepts of right and wrong, good and bad, acceptance and rejection. What ultimately frees us from these constricting patterns is to stop reifying our experience, and to connect with the ineffable, groundless nature of all phenomena.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
There is so much benefit in requesting teachings, especially if you supplicate not just for your own benefit. If you request teachings with a motivation triggered by renunciation and compassion (bodhichitta) — if you are requesting the teachings to benefit all beings — this is the supreme way to request.
But if the guru is a proper, brave, qualified master, he might not give the teaching even if he seemingly has all the knowledge, time, and place to give it.
I requested specific tantric teachings from Kyabje Dejung Rinpoche many times over the course of two years. Finally, one day in Nepal, instead of sending me away, he told me to wait. He appeared to go through the hassle of searching his suitcases and summoning his attendants to search for his almanac. I think I had to wait an hour. He didn’t answer my questions—he didn’t even look in my direction as he was reading the almanac and making notes. Finally he said, “Good. This is the seventh time you asked, so I will teach you.”