Skype address to participants at Lotus Garden Ngondro program – 2-21-11 9:15 AM
A message that the lopons should all sit down a little bit more. (They keep spraining ankles (laughter)) Practitioners must believe in the power of purification of karma. That’s why you are all intellect (?). If you didn’t believe it, there is no way you could having confidence in possibility of enlightenment.
Exertion on path has to be honest, whole-hearted. Very strong confidence in accomplishment stage of realization that becomes cause of liberations of all sentient beings. The full enlightenment, freedom from samsara for self and other.
Of all practices, ngondro emphasizes this most important. What kind of a result we all believe in. must encourage meditator- to have the power to hold the result in your hand – results in purification of karma and attainment of merit. I think western practitioners have an immense emphasis of intellectualization of dharma. They are swinging between believing the view and having difficulties believing in it. Trying to have confidence to maintain the view- takes so much time, so actualization takes a backseat. Maybe because of that, modern meditators are overwhelmed by obstacles quickly. They want to believe in power of practice. But many of you encounter diseases- obstacles to self and those around, it is easy to be overcome by the Samsaric happenings. Overcome – it is crucial as we encounter different stages of like, encounter obstacles use that moment for greater encouragement to practice the dharma even more. So, the possibility of holding retreat is good. I hoped there would be a serious of retreats at Lotus Garden, and then more. Lotus Garden was intended to be a retreat land, for deepening of practice. 4-5- days is really very wonderful. Early, when I talked to lopons, there was skepticism that so many people would come and do all these. One said, maybe 2 will show up, maybe 10. But have been consistently strong. The lopons and the residents have been great. And senior practitioners– Judy, etc. (lopons here) – have encouraged themselves to practice.
I don’t know point of doing this talk since the lopons are doing great talks. I sometimes think the lopons can do a better job than me. But I will say something anyway. (laughter)
I know you are terrified; you get one point, and then hang on to one point. So, comfortable relationship with lopons – tremendously helpful for our students. You have matured as practitioners; become trusted students of dharma, able to hold the precious teaching, I can no longer say you are all intellectual. We have 100 people in retreat from 18 countries here in India. Interesting mixture of nationalities, interesting to see if practieons – similarities, AND yet the difference of culture. But the sameness is in the somewhat different understanding of what it may be to be in retreat. Ex. They traveled from many places to come to a monastic setting for intensive practice, but at the same time, they want to shop, see interesting things. Getting chubas has been a big thing for the women. (laughter) you are all very sincere, – but what it mugs mean to be in retreat. Often, retreat seems to be so much dominated by finishing the technicalities of the practice. More hours, numbers of practices. Devote more concentration to the practice. If it doesn’t help, always emphasize the actions part – the body, the speech – keep a watchful mind esp. on the thought process- generated emotions, feeling – how you act on them. If you don’t, mindfulness on these, then sometimes your intention to practice more will become neurotic. And the neurosis will affect practice. Then strange thing of knowing the view but not holding the view. Meditating yet not meditating. There’s the good part of you and the selfish part of you. Retreat needs to Buddha nature place to break free of everything in mundane life. No matter how much dedication to path of practice, humbly accept that samsara is very powerful.
Our old Habitual patterns are strong, or responsibilities are very powerful. So powerful, we can’t refuse to respond to them. Accept with humility the immense pull of – and our sincere aspiration to practice dharma – then in that situation… (Senior manager there waves that Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche needs to sign checks) …See, the pull of samsara! (Laughter)
When practitioners go into retreat, generate a strong intention to go into situation conducive to retreat. But only physically removing yourself, no so good – when you come, you must let go of Habitual ways of action – aggressive physical movement, physically strong in grasping, cynical pleasures – soft bedding, ex. – be watchful of kleshas – laziness, obstructions, jealousy, arrogance- all traces of these kleshas must be checked, if they are there. Coming into a retreat – now must make every strong intention to break free of conventional Samsaric way of behaving, and coming into environments of ….
Where the body is….
Where you embody culture of dharma- look like a dharma practitioner, speak with more thoughtfulness, keep your mind clean – clean from negativities which, other than your habitual tendencies, there is no need to nurture them in practice retreat. A whole mode -whether you are doing solitary retreat, group – as soon as you say “I am in retreat”, what are you retreating from? Habitual patterns. Samsara. The root causes that bring confusion, suffering onto self and others.
The time to formal practices must be then, in same way, take refuge from samsara, usual habits of surrendering to samsara. Shift that to taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are nothing more that the essence of your own awakened nature. Dharma is the sound of that nature. The qualities of that expression are Sangha.
And then Sangha is the ability to allow that expressivity to manifest through your body, speech and mind. Outer refuge of outer Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and inner – your own Buddha, Dharma and Sangha – when you take refuge, must be sincere moments of surrendering to your own Buddha-nature. Prostrations should remind you of humility – of being connected to Buddha-nature. Ego can be tricky. Even moments of being remaining united with one’s basic nature could be warped by ego to self-absorption.
Humility is further enhanced by bodhichitta. Andre’s analogy – when you give birth to bodhichitta, the expression – selfless kindness – should be as nature as a mother’s milk for a child. Abiding in the awakened nature of your Buddha nature. Expressivity has to be kind. Beyond all the beautify words? You are all intrinsically quiet, calm, wakeful, generous and gentle to yourself and others. That gentleness – a very brilliant awareness of your environments. When all these qualities are embraced by flexibility, then you really understand the 1st stage of ngondro, the refuge and bodhichitta. Prostrations should make the body, speech and mind of meditator supple, and genuinely kind.
A perfect bodhisattva should come out of the session of Prostrations. If that meditator never lets go on that knowledge of karma. Particularly to the lay practitioners, since you are all lay. Lay, how can you forget that you live in the thick of samsara – being fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, etc. Easy to see how easy karma is created and the impact of its manifestation. There is that, and the business of karma that doesn’t let us to get merit. Humility must be there in the wisdom and knowledge that karma doesn’t allow good qualities of refuge to arise unimpeded. Need to have practical and honest approach to looking at your storage of….in that regular, don’t come up with beautiful words.
We lose our ground in different kinds of abstractness. We may have some awareness of karma, but we come up against…
Down to earth practical attitude to karma and merit. How many karmas do you accumulate each day, and how many do you purify? And even how much do you even see the karmas you create every day.
Practical and straightforward approach- how much your action reminds you. Nobody is going to experience this but you, this is what you will take into life, death and afterwards. Merit- do you mindfully exert each day in virtuous actions of body, speech and mind. As a lay practitioner, when reflecting on this, see how create karma seamlessly. Of course sometimes we try, sometimes people make a check, make a donation to a charitable project, and then you don’t think about merit until you hear another talk on it.
It has to be in every aspect of your life, every activity – when merit is being accomplished, and sees the power of karma, then meditator with responsibility of knowing how much one must train themselves – awakened kindness is further enhanced. And we find we have given ourselves little time to heart- always awake, always flexible.
Vajrasattva gives us the chance to familiarize with awakened nature, which is pure, and doesn’t need kleshas to do something for ourselves and the others. Allows us to become confident of Buddha nature, and less attention to kleshas which ego is trying to convince us are needed for survival in samsara. Our great teachers didn’t just survive, they maintains 1000s of others. Look at your lives- just to work, pay bills – fear of making it. Work. In comparison – the teachers survived very beautifully in this world, and created this environment where 100s of people can sustain a life of practice. They are confident in their own nature to the point that they don’t rely on kleshas. As meditators, think about this. If the great masters can do this, what do they know? There karma is purified, and they engage in activities that are nothing but meritorious. They have no fear, because they trust their Buddha nature, which has Buddha nature supported by formal practice.
Vajrasattva- just as amrita flows from HUM, the rotation of the mantra garland creates a force that overflows. From navel of vajra, amrita flows. Rotation of mantra garland. It’s not necessarily an analogy, – but – again the aspiration of force. Force of aspiration to be free from overwhelming karma, and the strong force of aspiration to have virtue at one’s heart. The rotation is sort of the strengthened force of one’s aspiration. Power of devotion, diligence, genuine effort, genuinely wishing for the end of suffering for all being, the power of aspiration. In the Vajrasattva amrita being enforced by the circling mantra garland, generating a powerful strong wish to generate inseparable awakens we talked about in refuge and bodhichitta. You have a really have strong understanding of negative actions and qualities of virtuous actions. After the accomplishment of the practices of Vajrasattva, the outcome should be strong natural distaste for habitual neurosis, and much more genuine wish to nurture those actions which are expression of bodhichitta, which is merit.
To be free from belief that we need to depend on kleshas for survival in samsara. When mind is free from grasping patterns, then naturally mind has more merit, which is nothing more that engaged bodhichitta.
Should result in the fruition of Vajrasattva. The result must rise from it. When you do Vajrasattva more and more, you find your mind trusting that you could refrain from Habitual patterns, but still survive in samsara. Then virtuous action is the natural expression, this is the natural result of the bodhisattva vows. As a bodhisattva what are you going to do? What does the career of a bodhisattva look like? Not only bodhichitta intent, but bodhichitta in action.
The whole purpose of the first two stages of ngondro should be seen this way. But still, should be seen more as aspiration, we have been in samsara for a very long time. You will need to work with lessening self-grasping, and support of the wisdom of all the practices.
Mandala practice is that part which best enhances the reminding quality that what you are doing must never be manipulated by the ego mind to self absorption. Self-absorption will step in easily, makes you trapped in self-importance. Almost isolate yourself in retreat. You see retreat as some kind of ambitious project. Must be acutely aware of this distraction. Never realize how one who makes retreat, silence, ½ session, Buddhahood into an ambition project. The antidote is selflessness, lessening self absorption and the paraphernalia we expect from outside world. Generosity – in that form, give away all those things that are most excellent to Buddhas. Fearlessness of lessening of self grasping must arise – I need good teachers, I need guidance, I need answers and so forth. There are all these many different things we think are important before we can be free from self-grasping, self-absorption, if you are afraid you need all demands met first, then. …if you have very little, you have even less to let go.
Have to be suitable vessel for vajrayana. Suitable vessel – fearlessness and gentle calmness. A mind that is lacking in confidence will always be trait of someone very much in love with self. Greater in arrogance is lesser in confidence. Arrogance and selfishness are actually cover-ups of weak mind due to immense attachment to samsara. Encourage yourself to know you don’t need things, concepts, things from active mind to remain inseparable from awakened nature. Give up moon, family, all wealth, even worries about your future. Doesn’t mean throw them away, but attachment can do without. Even without self-grasping, you can be a good father, a wealthy person without attachment to wealth. If you are endowed with relations or not, should be the same for a vajrayana practitioner, you trust the awakened nature more than anything else that surrounds you.
Teachings wouldn’t be possible without the immense kindness of all our masters.
Guru yoga gives us enormous support in knowing who to emulate, who’s example to follow, and enriches the mind with experiences. (note – missed 1st point).
4 reminders, and 4 aspects of inner ngondro, imagine what a jewel like mind could arise, to the point that you may not need anything else. It should never be regarded as a time and number-dominated practice. You have only one life to practice, if you can bring 8 aspects to life is good. Get ngondro done in 2 months? Sure you can – and Buddha nature is flexible, and kind and endowed with generosity and suppleness….
Some people think they can do it with 100,000. Some think in 100 days. Many of us think we will do ngondro again and again due to strong karma. Heart connection to practice is most important. Nobody knows how stubborn your tendencies are but yourself. No one knows how your accumulation of merit is but yourself. No one knows what you need but you, eventually, this is your path of practice, and you should be responsible for it. Also, integrated ngondros, etc. No difference in any ngondro long or short. Most of the time, the only reason you have many ngondro is you keep asking for practices. Someone asked about samaya practices, like you need more. (Laughter, audience laughter) many of you that have been doing some other ngondro, keep doing it. Keep in mind samaya.
Question: relationship between KGZ ngondro and foundational ngondro.
I keep hearing this, everything doesn’t need a relationship, the KGZ ngondro is the cousin of the Ati Zabdon ngondro. (laughter, audience laughter)
If your life is long, do all of them, if you feel you have less time, always appreciate what you are holding right now. There is no harm in keeping aspiration, but what you can do, do that wholeheartedly as it has been talk. Then fruition will come. Mindrolling Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche’s mother has fruit trees, with many monkeys. Every morning, she finds monkeys trying to get fruit, have both hands w fruit, and they try to eat both and run at the same time. Sometimes, I think practitioners are like that, sometimes, the monkeys when being chased have both hands full, and can’t grab limb, so they fall flat on their face. (Laughter, audience laughter)
I hope you all keep well, thank you to lopons Andre, Helen, Judy Wolfer, Jessie, Laurie, Chris. Despite limited number of staff, manage to do this program. Many people have been stepping up to help. You are coming to Lotus Garden as your home, a dharma home where you can be true to practice. Flexibility. As you come more and more, and less and less deliberateness, pretentiousness, to bring, it has been done by efforts of many people, until I see you again. Take care of each other. Point out neurosis, and more importantly, take it in good spirit. the older ones should take care of younger ones, and the younger practitioners, respect older ones. Have a harmonious Sangha, it brings blessings of Buddhas.