Khandro Rinpoche 2012 annual retreat – talk 1: part 3:Intro to Patrul Rinpoche practice text based on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara: Devotion and Compassion

(continued from part 2)

Step by step guided meditation on the profound Mahayana text of Bodhicharyavatara by Patrul Rinpoche

The Bodhicharyavatara was taught by Shantideva first. But Patrul Rinpoche is said to have spent 80% of his life teaching this text.  He is regarded as one who lived in accord with the dharma, setting very high example for all the teachers from the later 19th, 20th century who trained in how Patrul Rinpoche taught.  He said “if there is a single text that is the life-force of the dharma, it is the Bodhicharyavatara.” He received it 108 times. He taught it in public gathering more than 100 times, entrusted to them that they needed to have it taught to them 100 times and teach it 100 times before they’d understood.  There was hardly any lineage master not untouched by Patrul Rinpoche. After he died, he had 1000s of disciples, and so forth.  The only things he had when he died was the robes he was wearing, the bowl he ate in, and a copy of the Bodhicharyavatara.  It is very important when we engage in contemplation that we don’t bring the profound teaching down to our level.

Contemplation is VERY important. It is a basis where you allow your mundane state to be elevated to highest state, highest potential. The distance between you and Patrul Rinpoche is only due to your own hesitancy. 

Changing that perspective true homage, true emulation – given birth – allowing aspiration to take flight happens when you keep in mind this is the teacher you have received teachings from – at the end of his life, he only had these 3 things, then such a person could talk about letting go of self, being availed to others. This is the example to keep in mind, when we don’t do that, we try to take them down to our level of what is convenient, of likes and dislikes, abilities and inabilities – such a gap between theory and actualization – when there is an acceptance of theory, but hesitance to put into action, then the fruition in body, speech and mind won’t happen.

“May I complete understand through reading the root verses of Shantideva and contemplated what Patrul Rinpoche talked earlier.”  It is my awakened nature.  it also make sense in relative nature, in everything we do and engage in – engaging in positive causes of happiness of self and others, from relative and ultimate, bodhichitta is the cause. With the motivation, then allow … to not be just a philosophy or theory, but actualize it in body, speech and mind.  What does “I am a Buddhist practitioner” mean? Being a Buddhist, this is what in need to generate- strong motivation to generate this insight.  Such a person truly becomes a suitable vessel within which the essence of bodhichitta can arise unimpeded.  Your mind has to be the vessel. Mind has to change, cultivate be processed so the essence can permeate. So the bodhichitta that is to arise unimpeded should be brought to actualization, where the actual main body of the text begins.


Knowing how this bodhichitta is essential.  Knowing how is it is actualizes step by step.  Otherwise, like a dog emulating a lion. A lion jumps between ledges. A dog sees, and tried, and falls down and hurts self.  Idealism and reality are 2 different things. In idea- fearlessly virtuous, untainted by obscuration, you should do it now, you will, you should, and reality is you will fail miserably. (Laughter)    Learning to work with mind step by step- diminishing and then n uprooting all the habitual patterns- self-attachment, indulgence, hope and fear- all these have to be diminished. Gradually, it becomes strong enough to uproot them… step by step reflection to uproot trust of assumptions of ego tendencies such that unimpeded bodhichitta can arise.  One need to cultivate meditations in self to decrease negatives and increase virtues in one’s self. Is then the path of generating bodhichitta – or simply making one’s mind a worthy vessel in which bodhichitta can arise in oneself.

  1. Recognizing the person, or who is the support – who is the support of bodhichitta?
  2. Learning attitude – with what kind of attitude should one engage in step-by-step reflection?
  3. Practice – how to practice the step by step bodhichitta?
  4. Result – If one should engage, then what is the result one will attain from bodhichitta?

What are the qualities such a person should have?  A person who engages in cultivations of bodhichitta has 2 qualities: devotion and compassion.  Jigma Lingpa said it was like the 2 wings of a garuda (or eagle) required for a bird to take flight.  Likewise, for a meditator to engage bodhichitta must have the wings of devotion and compassion to have the confidence in awakened view.


Wherever there are difficulties- habitual patterns, lacking in mindfulness, not changing, if you look at what causes these impediments, then it should be simple – it is inherent. Why is it so difficult? The answer is lack of devotion.  Now many say, “How to generate devotion?” it is when you understand the qualities of what you are entering into. What are qualities of Buddha? If you bring down to your level, won’t allow you to emulate.  Contemplate qualities of masters, sentient beings, dharma itself, when the quality is understood, it allows wish to surrender to it. Then leads to letting go of trust of neurotic self to trust of better….at point of needing to decide to this and that, reference of basic sanity is weak.  You know it as Buddha, but don’t know what qualities are. Don’t have any defense against diversion of neurotic mind. In east, little monks and nuns, they say “Buddha is best.”  Ask why, that don’t know.  Why are you monks and nuns? “It’s a good thing to do.”  We have the same answer.  We Buddhists have an arrogance of trying to make other Buddhists. But ask yourself the same question.  It usually is “it is good to do.” A lot of our trust and devotion is weak because we haven’t reflected on qualities.  One of the main qualities of a suitable vessel is devotion. Not  blind faith, but unless one knows the worth of what you are engaged in, you will find many loopholes where the ego will resist the change spend ample time reflecting, so the mind develops sincere wish to take refuge to surrender qualities.  Devotion, for that to arise- general definition- must be humility, patience.   His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche defined devotion as humility and patience.  Being able to see immense qualities of body, speech and mind. The pure reference you wish to be, devotion is to actually want to be the Buddha, live the dharma, live to example of sangha.  Humility is the humble inspiration connected to patience of step-by-step engagement. Recognize your own potential highlights …wish to transform into qualities.  This is the general definition of devotion.

Patrul Rinpoche in Words of My Perfect Teacher and training the mind defines devotion as ‘uninterrupted receptivity.” This is a sense of continued receptivity or outlook that would constantly want the truth. Where there is a mind that wants the truth, that goes beyond supposition. Strong wishes to see the truth.  Evident in many of you there there is a wish to see the truth. “This doesn’t sound right; this way of living doesn’t answer my questions.” Patrul Rinpoche defined this as devotion.

The problem in our world, we get lost in the cultural trappings of dharma. We never let go of the exploration.  An unbroken awareness to the truth is not being sidetracked by a false disguise of the truth.  This is whatever religion makes you feel good at.  You identify your self-worth by the trapping.  There are some who sit like mannequins or statues, but in their mind, I don’t know.  Such a meditator will often be tense and uptight about everything. This is getting lost in the appearance that looks like meditation. Especially in the East in our lives, we meet old men and women who we think: “they don’t know how to read, how to write, and how to sit.” We have a condescending attitude to them -but then we see that by their conduct they are better than the people sitting on the throne!!! They are people who embody the qualities. Truly how important to work with one’s own mind, is the whole difference if the mind is kind, you have learned the dharma. If the mind isn’t kind, you have destroyed a life in a grand display.    Being able to cultivate- think, reflect, analyze- how much of truth as it is is important to one’s oneself? Reflect on qualities of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas that the truth of dharma became manifest. Seeing the truth isn’t as important to us as “Being on a picnic with dharma.” The cutest things are much stronger. The connection of self-worth as a dharma practitioners more important that actualizing it. There is no devotion. The ego has ample nourishment to sustain its supremacy.  Working in developing [real] devotion requires 3 kinds of devotion.

1)      Clear devotion

2)      Longing devotion/ confidence

3)      Confidence

1. Clear devotion/ faith: reflect on the qualities of the guru, Buddhas, dharma, shravakas, masters, great practitioners’ life stories. We call them the Buddhas and bodhisattvas for no reason but their success in actualizing the teachings.  Transforms into the longing faith/devotion.

2. Longing faith:  You long to have these qualities.  Some traditional places have walls filled with images of masters. Not for decoration, or art, protocol. It’s to stare into their face and say, “what is the difference between you and what I am doing?”  Does Prostrations to the Padmasambhava painting make Padmasambhava in some realm chuckle? (Laughter)   You prostrate because you see the weight of their qualities, and in that Prostration, you express wish to become like them.  A longing so strong that you engage in practice. The problem occurs when you are charmed by teachers- For example, HHDL. Being charmed by charisma is built on fragileness. The next time when that teacher does something seeming contradictory, your motivation is thrown out too.  Writing birthday emails are very cute, but if you are still running around fearful, neurotic, then you will divorce the teacher soon. (Laughter)    Until the longing actually confident to no longer longing, but embody it.  Need to dwell in that longing for a long time, where it makes you get up and engage in it, that is truly taking refuge is truly devotion.  It is truly bringing that quality into oneself.  This quality is 3. Devotion/Confidence.

The Six Sharecroppers’ analogies.

Without devotion, one is like a burnt seed. Without devotion, one is like a sheep stuck in a dry well. Without devotion, one is like a blind person in a shrine room. Without devotion, one is like a boat without a boatman. Without devotion, one is like a rock at the bottom of the ocean for a 1000 years that will still be hard. Without devotion, one is like a limbless man on an island of gold.

  1. Without devotion, one is like a burnt seed will never germinate. Devotion will make you want to transcend habits. It is a seed. You will learn dharma, understand, but won’t engage.
  2. Without devotion, one is like a sheep in a dry well. It can only rotate, making a lot of noise.  May have a respect for dharma, but stuck in well of habitual patterns, your own habits will become stronger- very important. Not we think bodhichitta is less important, but it is weaker.
  3. Without devotion, one is like a blind person in a shrine room. Without eyes, one isn’t able to see the beautiful paintings and statutes. Without devotion, one will meditate, learn, but won’t see the qualities of BDS. Cynicism and critical ideas that blinds ability to appreciate others- not able to see qualities.
  4. Without devotion, one is like a Boat of a precious human birth without a boatman. All you with your intelligence, able to manifest so many qualities, it has met the dharma. But lacking devotion. Lacking appreciation of qualities. Still a feeling of ‘I can always do this tomorrow’. Are a wealth of qualities never used.
  5. Without devotion, one is like a rock stuck on the bottom of the ocean for 1000 years that will still be hard.  Heart won’t get softer without devotion. Reluctance to devotion is reluctance to self-less altruism.  Keeping rigidity of self. May be slippery, but not soft.
  6.  Without devotion, one is like a limbless man on an island of gold.  You return from an island empty handed.  Sadly, many of us may live with dharma for 4-5 decades, but if this was our last day, what have we gotten?

These were the sharecropper’s analogies.


Know how important it is to take refuge into the 2nd wing, compassion. As much as devotion is required, compassion is too.

Compassion is not the previous compassion, when I talked about ‘untainted by all obscurations.’   We aren’t going to make that enormous demand to start with that.  Here, compassion is the emotional form.  The previous was the resultant state.  This is a tainted compassion, but it is the best we can come up with. Compassion needs 2 components, aspiration and application.

Aspiration is generated with intention of happiness. Simultaneously, must also imbue compassion in oneself.

For compassion to be in a meditator, a mind must develop aspiration to imbue these 8 qualities, which gather together.

  1.  To be able to think and consider all sentient beings  as ones mother
  2. Reflecting on the kindness that one has received from others
  3. Reflect/ponder on how you need to generate gratitude in one’s mind to other sentient beings
  4. Examine how you can repay that kindness  – Further qualities of:
  5. wishing everyone happiness and the causes of happiness,
  6. Compassion,
  7. Joyfulness
  8. Equanimity/impartiality.

How can you repay kindness, giving birth to 1th immeasurable. Can only be repaid from “may all sentient beings be free from suffering and causes of suffering.”  This is compassion: a mind/heart that does everything it can to remove sufferings from other.

May all sentient beings never be free from unhappiness. Whenever you see others happy, being able to be happy in their happiness. In their relaxation, attainment, accomplishment.  This isn’t “all sentient beings should be free from suffering, but I should have a part in this.” There is a supposition that many meditators get into where an aspiration is made in accomplishment of others. Then, not partial, not separated between what you can you and other, or into…

In short, to say your thoughts are bodhichitta, when we say your mind is emotional state of compassion- regard all sentient beings  as kind as your mother the kindness you’re trying to give back is the least you can do due to the kindness of all other sentient beings. How to do that? By filling mind with loving-kindness, compassion, joyfulness and equanimity.

(Continued in talk 2)


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