Khandro Rinpoche 2012 annual retreat – talk 2: part 1: Patrul Rinpoche practice text based on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara – 7 Branch Offering: Prostrations, Offerings, Confession/purification

(continued from Talk 1)

A Step by step guided meditation on the profound Mahayana text of Bodhicharyavatara by Patrul Rinpoche called “The Sun of Brilliant Clarity”

We are continuing with the step-by-step guide to integrating meditation and Post-meditation practice with Shantideva’ s guide to the Mahayana the Bodhicharyavatara. This guide was given by the great 19th century master Patrul Rinpoche. We have been talking about the preliminary stages of what is bodhichitta, how valuable it is the purpose, the result because of which one engages the path. Most importantly, bodhichitta is not to be seen as a philosophy to be admired or as a quality to be respected but actuality has to be emphasized in oneself. Recognize one’s own mind has to be a suitable vessel in which it can connect the qualities of Bodhichitta, awakened heart for bodhichitta. Patrul Rinpoche says “the 2 qualities of devotion and compassion are what is needed to become a suitable vessel to become a vessel for Bodhichitta to arise purely, without fabrication or self-indulgent ego tendencies.”

We talked about devotion. What is compassion? There are two kinds: Aspiration compassion and application compassion.

Aspiration compassion must be a momentum that is uninterrupted for a meditator. You can’t be only doing it sometimes, or when it is easy, or when you are able to remember. It should be held as the main reason we are practicing. One should hold and strengthen that aspiration by keeping a strong continuum as uninterrupted as possible.

How uninterrupted should it be? It should be all the time uninterrupted. How do you keep that continuum? Apply and take support of the many different methods:  recitations, reflections, daily, morning, and evening practices.  This is why we emphasize being in the shrine room, this is why we emphasize different mantras, this is why we emphasize different body postures. If one is surrounded with so many Skillful means or reminders, that keeps the flow of aspiration uninterrupted. Wherever your body may be, wherever your speech might be, wherever your mind might be, the undercurrent of the actions of your 3 doors must generate these 8 qualities, especially the last four of loving-kindness, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity.   Even within normal activities, be sort of praying “May all begins be happy.” There are moments when you find others eating, sleeping, talking, laughing. Reflect on all the good qualities in the world, reflect on the qualities of the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, reflect on the qualities of the great lineage masters, reflect on the qualities of the enlightened beings, and finding joyfulness. Finding joyfulness in that recollection of qualities enhances the minds own wish to emulate and adopt these qualities.

Keeping mindfulness, how to be observant, bringing that watchful quality in daily life is VERY important. But simply being mindful is not very constructive.  That approach of developing mindfulness needs to be given a healthy approach, given a healthy direction of not only keeping mindfulness and awareness, but being seeped in loving-kindness and compassion. This makes you work harder at working with impartiality, where senses are not absorbed, but are facing expectantly to hear ways to be of help to others, how to come up with ways to teach your own ‘lazy mind’ to think how it can be of help to others.  Aspiration is not a passive hope.

Aspiration shouldn’t be seen as just hoping, not only wishing, but allowing the wish to have the right direction, thinking of kindness, wishing to repay kindness, and finding ways to repay kindness.  You say “I wish all have happiness” – and then I joke that it seems like “good luck,” (laughter)   and leaving it to the sentient beings how they may attain it.

Wishing “may they all be free from suffering” and then you are done, they must find it on their own.  But if you aren’t going to nurture it, and then project an idea…Then one trains one’s mind. That wish has to be pushed, put into a genuine aspiration.  That makes it different than hoping for kindness.  Aspiration and engaged Bodhichitta – application compassion – shouldn’t be very distinct. Aspiration fuels the wish to application.  Aspiration complements and enforces the application. Application is refueled and strengthened by aspiration.  Both of them are arising in oneself.  Patrul Rinpoche says through working with every moment, keeping continued momentum, one should come to a point where aspiration is so strong, you find yourself almost restless in not bringing application to fruitions.  There is a sense of being propelled to engage in application Bodhichitta.”

Application bodhichitta is the body of the text.  To apply compassion into action, one should engage in these 3 progressive steps of cultivation of bodhichitta:

1)      Generating enthusiasm.

2)      Engaging in the practice of the 7 branch offerings.

3)      Mind training.

1. Generating enthusiasm. The first chapter of Bodhicharyavatara root verses forms the view of generating enthusiasm. Read the first chapter completely.  Prior to sitting in meditation should be basis of giving rise to enthusiasm. All are profound, but especially the 18th verse:

“Just as in a dark night blanked by clouds, there is a flash of lightening,
which, for just a single instant, sheds its brilliant light,
rarely, through the Buddhas’ power,
a mind of virtue arises, Brief and transient in the world.”

As the verse says when you sit in meditation, contemplate and reflect just how true this 18th verse is. “Just as in a dark night blanked by clouds, there is a flash of lightening. For a brief moment, there is illumination.” Likewise, in all of us, for a brief moment, mind is kind able to evoke these qualities; mind sees its true nature.  Therefore, a meditator should be sitting down in meditation and seeing that one should be kind, let go of grief, let go of aggression. That one should be more flexible, that one could love another without the agenda of ego. Those should be seen like lightning strikes and for a moment there is clarity.  Likewise, briefly, really recognize those moments where you can do it, giving us the clue “this is the kind of mind that should be strengthened.”  Kindness is not totally absent; it’s bogged down by the busyness of a chaotic, neurotic mind. The wish to be kind, the wish to have compassion and be a source of happiness to others.  In the beginning, recognize those moments, then treasure them, and then come to a clear understanding of how those moments of freedom from ego clinging need to be strengthened.

Like a candle you try to protect with both palms in a strong gust of wind, in the same way, a meditator must nurture, make strong such a mind, pull in all the resources, pull in all the methods, pull in all the references to strengthen that fleeting thought of kindness that arises from time to time.  It is just as important to recognize Bodhichitta, in same way knowing that although very fleeting, how powerful it is, how powerful it can be, still, if one is able to recognize and treasure it, like it says in the 19th verse of the Bodhicharyavatara:

“When with irreversible intent, free multitudes of beings…a great unremitting stream of merit ….”

The virtue is true selflessness, free of self agendas, where genuine loving-kindness arises.  Shantideva says in the Bodhicharyavatara 19th and 20th verses:

“Virtues such as this that arises can’t be equated with anything; from that, a genuine stream of genuine merit arises.”

For meditators, all of the lifetimes of different practices, they are all methods, and beneficial, but the path of truly loving another person, and through it, letting go of hurt, grudges, irritations, personal agendas of ego: if they can be left, or at least relaxed a bit in that moment, that is source of genuine benefit and happiness for beings. So, placing a mind seeped in the Four Immeasurables is the most perfect practice.    We don’t need to read, write, learn lineages, and so forth.  If you can just sit with that genuine compassion, you have actually gone directly into getting the essence of the teachings.  Instead of doing a lot of things, striking the heart of Buddha dharma is that moment when you can do nothing but be kind; develop genuine compassion to all sentient beings. Without saying a word of Buddha, dharma and sangha, without knowing many practices, without doing a number of days of retreat, you have the heart of Buddha dharma.  Those moments of kindness, if treasured, one holds them. However, the 19th verse of the Bodhicharyavatara has an important line:

 “With an irreversible intent-“

Once having the thought “I should love everyone,” you can’t take your word back.  You should have loving-kindness to all sentient beings.  If you let yourself retract your promise or intent- sometimes we develop aspiration, but our aspiration is different from the bodhisattvas’ intent simply due to power.  The power of the intent is similar to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, but it doesn’t last. If we encounter a difficulty, we pretend we never said it.

Where there is an irreversible intent, where the mind embraces compassion, and is willing to set others free from suffering and causes of suffering. If joined with strong aspiration to remember that, and we are fully engaged no matter how difficult it might, that courage itself allows the mind to hold the bodhichitta. So, reflect on how important it is in meditation.   But, according to the 19th and 20th verse of the Bodhicharyavatara combine with courage and momentum, that keeps it mindful, not forgetting easily, continually strengthen it, and know how important it is.  In the 27th verse, it says:

“Even if the simple thought of being of help to others exceeds the worth of supplicating all the Buddhas, what need to talk about actually benefiting beings?”

It is said by Shantideva in the Bodhicharyavatara, also said by Buddha himself and all the great masters, more the worshiping, more than paying homages, more than reciting deities mantras, it’s all very nice, but nothing can be compared to the generation of genuine compassion, the wish to help other beings.

It is very important to, as Patrul Rinpoche says, “sit down and reorganize your mind.”  We say this, but still, if numbers are more important to you, if we say take “1 ½ hours and generate compassion,” if you are at level of Vajrayana, many of you will say “is this instead of my samaya? Can I give up other practices?” We get those others ideas out of fear and attachment to practices and hope of attaining something, all of those contrivances become very strong, and eventually we don’t let ourselves understand the profoundness of making the mind, making the heart kinder. The religiosity of Buddha dharma will become an impediment. Your love for the method will become a hindrance for most people at some point. Doing dharma will become more important than making the heart, the mind more loving, more compassionate.  Patrul Rinpoche encourages prioritizing, reorganizing your own mind and saying “more than anything else, cultivation of kindness is the most important practice.”

It is more important than love of teacher, more important than going into retreat, more important than doing anything else in the realm of Buddha dharma itself.  If it is so important, then are you working on that?  The practice of loving-kindness becomes so important, that to be able to engage in loving-kindness, are you willing let go of attachment to yourself, are you willing to let go of attachment to your ambitions, doing those things that won’t let your fears go to fruition?  Become of recognizing importance of kindness and compassion in yourself, you can actually let go of anger, let go of irritation, let go of competition.  Choosing between self and others, do you choose the others?   Do you choose the convenience of others; do you choose the happiness of others over self? Does your mind function as “how can I be a source of happiness to the others because you have received so much from the others?”

Cherish? Working with that generation with enthusiasm for the holding of compassion, loving-kindness, building up bodhichitta, building up thinking of all the qualities of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha.

So, this First chapter says to carry it in your mind that like a flowers whose beautiful fragrance lingers in a room. In same way, hold in one’s mind to do everything in ones power to direct to the generation of Bodhichitta in oneself.

Hold in one’s mind to do everything in one’s meditation to direct the generation of bodhichitta in oneself.   In order for such a quality as Bodhichitta to truly arise in one’s own mind, then one needs to actually engage in those practices for a practical approach to actualizing the practice of Bodhichitta.

Patrul Rinpoche says “up to this point, you have worked on your own mind.”  He now says, “Only thinking is not sufficient, you need to challenge yourself to actually engage to see how sincere that aspiration is, to understand of purity of Bodhichitta is.”  For that, in formal meditation, need to do the practices of the 7 branch offering.

7 branch offering.

In the excellent 7 branch offering, is bridge between contemplation and actualization. Much is done while sitting.  There is lots of recitation and contemplation – lots of thoughts. But also a skillful way to generate those thoughts. It becomes a very good bridge between aspiration and actualization. This would be generosity in daily life and ethics in body, speech and mind.  When 7 branch offering is not done enough, it is often like a dog copying a lion. The mind hasn’t understood what is to be generous. Must be complete opening of oneself to other. Because we have not progressed on it, it may cause tremendous feeling of overwhelmed. Then fear sets in, and then ego says ’you aren’t cut out for Mahayana. Go back to thinking of yourself.” This defuses your courage. This feed into human psychology to not feel —- not feel at ease with trusting the basic goodness with oneself. The popular thinking is basic goodness is alien, and basic badness can be seen easily in oneself. Is enhanced where it is easier to be jealous, distracted, and so forth.   We find it difficult to be generous, patient, … feeds onto popular belief that basic goodness is alien. Whereas Buddhist teaching is the natural inclination of humans is to goodness, while badness, which we are familiar with, is not our nature. The sense of being repulsed by negativities is natural. One doesn’t have to be Buddhist to see sense of revulsion of pain and suffering. No one likes it.  Why is happiness easier to connect to? It is our nature. But there isn’t time given to it.  It is easier to give to repetition of negative qualities. To really be able to rest and trust basic goodness, but knowing it is feeble.  Give step by step to manifest full potential of generosity, ethics, patience, diligence.  To really generate full potential of bodhichitta, to train progressively towards that through 7 branch offerings.

In accordance to Patrul Rinpoche text.  This is the prayer many of you do taken from the King of Aspirations. Why we do it every morning? It is seen to be the very skillful means – settles mind into strong foundation of aspiration and application bodhichitta.  When you are sitting in front of a teacher, willing to train mind in reflection, train in good qualities of bodhichitta.  You are there to learn bodhichitta.  That itself requires the vessel to become suitable. Whatever the teaching is, it must be held in a vessel. Must be trained in order to manifest those teachings in oneself. Must be humble, free of stinginess, free of aggression, wrong views, laziness, and ignorance – one who understands quality of bodhichitta in oneself.  It requires mind to be trained to hold bodhichitta in oneself. These qualities to arise to defeat opposing factors of aggression and so forth.  7 branch offering builds up these qualities.  Prostrations, offering itself, confession of purification, generation of joyfulness, requesting the wheel of dharma to be turned, supplicating all the enlightened beings to remain and not pass into nirvana, and the offering of dedication.  Patrul Rinpoche says these 7 branches must be brought into practice.

Find a suitable place, sit down, and generate compassion and devotion.  Building foundation of mind into a suitable vessel through 1st offering.  In teachings of Bodhicharyavatara, verses 1-7 of 2nd chapter are the beginning of this contemplation.

First Branch: Prostrations

Where physically or mentally doing Prostrations. Correctly, arousing first the motivation that “through Prostrations, may my mind gather all the conducive qualities and eliminate all the negative factors that won’t allow mind to hold bodhichitta.”  It is said to be the antidote to arrogance. It is said to be humility. Prostrations are always difficult, due to attachment to self. Arrogance- gross and subtle- ‘the whole world is there and you are on top of It.” This will affect generosity, kindness. There will always be a sense of ‘“I” am always loving all sentient beings’.  To defeat that arrogance, Prostrations are the perfect antidote. When the palms are in Anjali, 2 palms suggesting of the 2 truths, both the Relative of your existence, and ultimate of your true potential.  Is starting part and completion.  Relative existence and everything this moment, and knowing as a practitioner the ultimate intrinsic nature. Together with, body, speech and mind. Touching crown of head- think “from my body”, touch throat “from my speech”, touch heart “from my mind”.  When you start Prostrations, it requires 5 points of body to touch with the center of forehead, two palms, and two legs. These 5 limbs symbolize 5 aggregates. All our pride, ego, actually has no place to assert self.  You are only the totality of the 5 aggregates: Forms, feelings, Perception, mental formation, and subtle consciousness. Take one out, and no one is there. Take feeling out, you are a corpse.  Take body, you are a ghost. Take conditioned formation out, you aren’t anywhere. Take out conditioned consciousness, not even there there.  Who wins? Who loses? Is consciousness asserting something?  With Prostrations, instantly a reminder that this is the “I” we collect for, which is nothing other than the gathering of the 5 aggregates. These are the 5 aggregates.  Always think “may the earth see I surrender all the 5 aggregates- earth bearing witness, just as easily as you arise from Prostrations.  May you let go of attachment to 5 aggregates, so the obscured body, speech and mind may turn to pure body, speech and mind.  Must evoke “today’s attachment to body, speech and mind, Today I let this go. Just as I pick myself up from the earth, may I likewise let go… May pure body, pure speech to all sentient beings, pure mind thinking of kindness to all sentient beings.  How many times do you need to do a reminder of transforming obscured body, speech and mind to pure body, speech and mind?  Each time, reflecting on the essence of the qualities of the Prostrations.  Think of it, enough, and you are guiding your mind step-by-step to compassion. Otherwise, we get into the armchair Mahayanist mode. Those who will think of others, but won’t do anything for others.  The British have the term “armchair”; you Americans have “couch potatoes.” (laughs)  You are not going to be strong enough to let go of lifetimes of self-cherishing. So, as much as possible, let go of self-cherishing. Then, on to the second branch.

Second Branch: Offerings

Verses 1-7 cover myriad offerings.   Chapter divided into 8. Should be …into 8. All should be incorporated into daily practice.

  1.  Myriad offerings
  2. Offering of 3 doors. According to Bodhicharyavatara verses 8 and 9.
  3. All imagined offerings.  Given in Bodhicharyavatara verses 10-19.
  4. Offering through aspirations. Verses 20, 21 in Bodhicharyavatara.
  5. Unsurpassable offerings. BodhicharyavataraVerse 22.
  6. Offering of praise.  verse 23 of Bodhicharyavatara.
  7. Respect and homage. Bodhicharyavatara second chapter, Verse 24 and 25.  (Read on your own – you will find these in the Lotus Garden chant books in King of Aspirations.)
  8.   Taking refuge.
  1. Myriad offerings – Must allow mind to train in vast offerings- the Buddhas and bodhisattvas in front of oneself, and make vast, excellent pure offerings. Take time. No matter how fabricated. You do a bunch of fabricated things in daily life anyway, so do another one.  (laughter)  You may say, ‘I don’t feel connected.’  You do a lot of things you don’t connect to.  To be able to give to others, must really train.  This is the Primary, infant stage of offerings.  Mentally, learn to make offerings. Of flowers, gardens, anything imaginary you can come up with. Many myriad, diverse offerings.  Train mind in giving.   Buddha is kept in mind, since he is not someone you could have a problem with, but is also someone you won’t want to flatter.  He is a neutral figure.  Most often will encounter … mind.
  2. Offering of the 3 doors – The 2nd offering is the antidote to avarice, stinginess.  Building the mind in being precise in offerings. Not just flowers.  what are the colors, what varieties, can you see each of the pistils, each of the flowers? How are they arranged? Are they flowers planted? Garlands? Arrangements? Need to be very precise and particular. The precision is the antidote to laziness.  This is how to awaken mind from laziness. Spend time generating sincere aspiration to vast offerings. But then as it says in verse 8 and 9, the inner offerings of body, speech and mind are about senses and sense attachments. Whatever is pleasant to the eyes, offer it. What is pleasant to ears- music, songs, praises – whatever your ears attach to, make it an offering. Whatever is tasteful to tongue, pleasant smell, offer to Buddhas and bodhisattvas.  Textures- good feelings of attached to, offer to Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Whatever your mind likes to think about, offer to Buddhas and bodhisattvas.  Keep in mind, once you have given these up offered, try not to ask for them back. (laughter)   Don’t keep indulging in them.  No longer ambition for the forms, to see, hear, think, feel and so forth.   Empty mind from habits of sensory attachment is the point of the 2nd offering. Reading these verses, or at least get the idea that whatever you see, hear, taste, smell, feel, think,  “today, may I make an sincere offering of my attachment of these sense pleasures to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas.” You are momentarily free of attachment to these sense offerings.
  3. All imagined offerings – Patrul Rinpoche said these are a way to expand the mind beyond the confines of one’s own small world. Look at myriad world, look at how small a world we offer.  If through the Buddhas and bodhisattvas, those we venerate, the mind is limited. We hear flower, think of flowers. Butter lamps? Our mind has no idea.  All imagined offerings- verse 10-19 – in commentary on Bodhicharyavatara, actually speaks on….i remember I was 11, there are all the details of goddesses washing the Buddhas, and giving them clothing, some goddesses scattering flowers. I remember I was interested in in science. I had a wonderful atheist teacher. He knew who I was, so he seemed to think “if I can make this one to think like me.” (laughter)   The teacher tried to make me question everything; I had a wonderful Khenpo who taught details.  I said “this is childish, this is kind of cutesy. “  Yes, mind can get frivolous in this. But mind doesn’t know how to relate to being kind, we take “be kind” and off you go, we are lost and limbless. “Is this the right way, is this not right, what is encroaching (?) on others?” We don’t know. In same way, we don’t know generosity. How DO we give?   The 3rd offering allows own to go beyond your normal routine. Expanding beyond the confines of one’s own small world. Exercise the mind, so it invokes. Understand that “yes, limitless sentient beings are limitless.” When you talk of offering clothing, actually see clothing as object of generosity. In the same way, see food, music, and so forth.  as it says in verses 10-19. Invoke the qualities of these things, all these could be an offering. A flower, how you sit, what you say, could all be offerings.  “All imagined offerings” is to actually expand your mind to include all Buddhas and bodhisattvas of the 10 directions, various universes.  Invoking all the sentient beings. They are not just your cats and dogs. All sentient beings, seen and unseen. Offerings can be from must insignificant to the most precious.  What does jewels mean? What kind of food? What does it taste like? What are the ornaments? Trains the mind to work harder.  Will need mind to work harder to understand what makes others happy.
  4. Offering through aspirations – Patrul uses ‘exercises the mind training through aspiration, through soothing the pain of all sentient beings.” let the mind expand by seeing all the kinds of suffering. One of the biggest impediments to compassion is the fortunate precious human birth.  It is a blessing to have this life and all the endowments.  You can create cause of happiness for self and for others. But the downside is that most of us are too fortunate.  Many of you have sickness, financial, relationship difficulties, but in comparison to actual prevalent suffering – even in this realm, you and I can’t understand, can’t imagine.  The mind begins to thing suffering means not getting everything you want, not getting wishes fulfilled.  People who are actually suffering – these are not sufferings at all. For them, our lives would be the Buddha-field itself. Someone in extreme torment, if you told them “I am also suffering”, they would find hilarious.  ‘Keep in one’s mind, all the expansive pain and suffering.   Violence. Instigated by violence. Fears, aggression, not even a brief moment of respite.  The situation of countless sentient beings going through such torment, and send out good wishes, aspirations to sooth their pain.  Think, “May all sentient beings be in happiness, thinking of their suffering.” This is said to be the 4th. Read the 22nd verse of the Bodhicharyavatara.
  5. The unsurpassable offering – Need to generate greater courage to go beyond one’s own comfort.  Hope to emulate Manjugosha and all the other bodhisattvas. Reflect on Arya Maitraya, Shariputra, all the great arhats,…all the great masters of the 3 yanas. Shantideva, Chandikirti.  Wanting to be like them is the 1st unsurpassable offering. The 2nd is to generate strong wish to step out and test the enthusiasm in oneself. “May I truly test myself in engaging in the practices like they have.”  Strong determination to not just emulate their qualities, but engage as they did. The Bodhicharyavatara 23rd verse – not only the 4 lines, but in one’s one meditation, to generate the practice.  As I talked this morning- where there is praise, one is able to reflect on qualities, thought the Mahayana tradition, especially in Tibetan- importance of recitation.  In recitation is lots of praises. King of Aspirations, Shakyamuni practice, and so forth.   When you read the section of praise, they are clues, pointers. Praises can only be built up when qualities are clearer in one’s own mind, all of them are born – infuses in ones enthusiasm to practice.
  6. Reflect on qualities of Buddha, dharma and sangha – These are the qualities to be built in one’s own mind.
  7. Offering of respect and homage – Recognizing the unsurpassable qualities of bodhichitta. Verses 24-25 of the Bodhicharyavatara. Reflect the essence and meaning of reflecting all the qualities of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, because of which we supplicate and pay homage.  That understanding of the immense qualities. Therefore, generating from this 7th offering is ultimate, 8th branch, taking refuge in the 3 jewels.
  8. Taking refuge in 3 jewels – This is not just as many do today ‘to become a Buddhist.’ What is the demarcation of a Buddhist vs. a non-Buddhist? If one has taken refuge, one can call self Buddhist. If not, one hasn’t.  This is NOT about ‘in or out of our group.’  A Buddhist is one who has surrendered ones state and …  Teacher, dharma that teaches how to do those qualities and the sangha that epitomizes the qualities.  Then from this moment, I let go my mundaneness and seek refuge in being able to fully manifest eh inherent potential of awakenness. The determination to embark on this journey is the demarcation. When I say ‘who is a Buddhist’? If you raise hand, you are determined to transcend from mundane thought to understand the true nature. For one who takes refuge,  the greatest offering is taking refuge, whereby can be translated as “just as the Buddhas himself by walking on the path of the dharma and these bodhisattvas have generated mind of awakened heart, likewise from this day, I will work hard, sincerely, honestly at making my body a vehicle of happiness to other, speech, mind.”  No greater generosity than giving your body, speech, and mind to all beings. Then, take refuge.  Most of you have taken refuge. If you have hesitation to generosity, you don’t have to take refuge now. (Laughter)

[Rinpoche leads the assembly in taking refuge]

No need to remind you, having just said “from now until enlightenment, I dedicate my mind to becoming a vehicle of enlightenment.” Then, we do confession.

Third Branch: confession/purification

Having promised to be a vehicle to the happiness to all sentient beings, how are we to do this? First let go of irritations and anger, in small ways and larger.  As verse 27 says, every day – freeing the mind from holding on to the grips of issues. Attachment, pain, stinginess, not just the aggression, but reverberation that doesn’t allow the heart to be truly loving to the others.   In confession, don’t just think “may my … be purified”, actualize it. This is given step by step to give precision.  Examine your own mind to allow mind to allow bodhichitta to arise unimpeded.   Contemplate the 4 powers.

  1. The power of regret

  2. The power of support

  3. The power of antidote

  4. The power of resolve

1. The power of regret

In the Bodhicharyavatara, verse 28-46 elucidates the power of regret. However, it simply means from Buddhist perspective not just regret for things done. Not much wisdom to it.  It means immediately transforming to positive by learning from it, and resolving not to do it again.  Regret is best when knowing these things.

  1. Root kleshas. Root poisons, defilements.  First, the root klesha of Anger. In the 2rd branch offering, introduce your mind to the simple fact that anger is poison; there is no good side to anger at all. Do not have luxury to harbor anger and yet have compassion. Have to have sense of anger as like a poisonous thorn, you prick your hand. You say “I don’t want poisons’, but not removing it from your hand.  There is no wisdom in retaining anger, jealousy, and so forth.   In same way, know root klesha of desire.  Trying to satiate self with salt water. Desire doesn’t satiate itself. One more and another will arise. One more and another will arise.  One more and another will arise. In moment of 3rd branch, know root klesha of desire. Likewise with  ignorance- laziness, lacking in vigilance, lacking in consideration of others – see the various marks of ignorance in oneself- come to point of ‘it’s either bodhichitta of the sustenance of these.’   Needs to be no place for these in your mind. Likewise, there is no place for jealousy. Can’t have jealousy and compassion at the same time. Also know the klesha of arrogance.  Know the root kleshas until the mind has had enough and knows “negatives need to be removed from patters of life.’
  2. Recognizes sustenance of self-cherishing from 3 factors.  Power of regret is identifying the cause of self-cherishing.  Regret for ignoring nature of impermanence, for nor recognizing cause and effect, for not remembering interdependence and selflessness.  Regret is NOT beating yourself up for being a bad meditator.  Not really regret.  Why you lose temper, and so forth.  are resultant situations from these three of not allowing the self-cherishing to diminish.

1)      Not allowing awareness of impermanence.

2)       Not allowing understanding cause and effect.

3)      Not allowing understanding of co-dependent arising. 

1. The buildup of the belief in a self is because of not recognizing that everything is impermanence. But your whole day is built on not recognizing impermanence.  You make relationships; collect things, and so forth.  This all simply a constant search to forget the impermanent nature of things.

2. In the same way, cause and effect. How many of you truly reflect on this? We say ‘may all beings be happy,’ but we don’t make any causes. So we have to be theistic and believe they will happen one day. On one hand, we put hope in cause and effect, but we never do anything to do it, is a neurotic ….  Where disregard for cause and effect happens, there will be a lot of space given to neurosis. There will not be enough antidote to be aware. Anger will bounce back. Desire will bounce back. Ignorance will bounce back.  Jealousy will bounce back.  Arrogance will bounce back.  Unless you reflect on karma.   Unless one is supplicating “may I bring misery and confusion on myself.” If that is the aspiration, we can live like we do. (laughs) But instead, we lose awareness of cause and effect but are giving space to neurosis.

3. In the same way, not understanding co-dependent/interdependent origination. Tremendous interdependency that goes into one single moment. When understanding of interdependence is not there, mind becomes very blunt and gross, thinking only in likes and dislikes.  A blunt mind that doesn’t have the refinement of understanding the ….. Where grossness is sustained, there is only me and mine. Gross dualities continually. That is the birth of aggression. We dislike, and there is aggression. We like, and there is attachment.  The whole life of humans is these two. The birth of accepting and rejection factors of not recognizing impermanence, cause and effect, and interdependence.  Self-cherishing, grasping, ego-grasping – are simply sum totality, the resultant state of one who ignores impermanence, cause and effect, and is absolutely lacking in awareness of interdependence.  Regret must point to lack of understanding at root level.  Regret for not being aware of impermanence, cause and effect, and interdependence. Think “I must be more mindful of impermanence.’  These are building up tremendous rigidity; instead, let things dissolve.  Mindful of cause and effect, generate strong determination of effect.   That is wisdom enough.  You don’t need a Buddha to tell you ‘in the next moment, you are going to create a negative effect.’ Instead of ignorance of interdependence, think of all the factors that give birth to each experience – beyond the bluntness of discrimination of self and others.  See everyone’s contribution.  When regret for these three factors changes into more awareness, this is the moment when the mind goes through transformation.  You don’t confess to a Buddha. It isn’t like catholic confession. Buddhist confession happens with determination to invoke a greater intrinsic wisdom to change negativities to positive.  Patrul Rinpoche said not only should there be regret, but it must be sustained.  To be sustained, regret needs a support.

2. The Power of Support.

Patrul Rinpoche lists 6 supports.  What supports your regret to the degree of not repeating again and again? Verses 47 – 53 of chapter 2 of Bodhicharyavatara.

Six Supports

1)      taking refuge,

2)      daily chants,

3)      regular disciplines practice,

4)      reflection and examination,

5)      Holding in mind examples of bodhisattvas – This is often translated as ‘admiration of bodhisattvas.’  However, a fan club style admiration is not it.

6)      Time and again, being aware of one’s own true nature, intrinsic of itself, not requiring the defilements.

Throughout the day, a practitioner should know that trainings to intro to true nature of mind are to reduce the negative qualities, the recounting of the life examples are to help mind reflect bodhichitta.  Allow mind to give rise….daily practice are a support, chants should be the greatest support. Whenever the mind goes back to indulging, one should be immediately going back to taking refuge, to remember Buddhas and bodhisattvas as examples. Read chants so mind has support. Relying on support allows one to have friendship.  It allows one to have guidance to not fall back into having to have regret of not remembering of impermanence, cause and effect, and interdependence.

3. The Power of Antidote.

Not only that, but doing the 3rd branch, make strong determination- of power of antidote.  Verses 54-65 of Bodhicharyavatara. ‘Dharma is given and must be fully engaged in in every moment of life.  Dharma itself is the antidote to habitual tendencies that uproots familiarity with the kleshas, although “I am a dharma practitioner” remains one.  You are working to dissolve the heavy influence of desire, the heavy influence of aggression, the heavy influence of ignorance, the heavy influence of jealousy, the heavy influence of arrogance.

4. The Power of Resolve.

In the Vajrasattva cycle of teachings, it says:

 “Complete purification of anything negative is possible. If it wasn’t, one wouldn’t talk about liberation. It is dependent on determination of meditator.”

How do you conclude this branch? To be mindful is good, but not complete. To be mindful of antidote is good, but not complete. What seems complete is the moment you resolve strong resolution to not repeat it again, and if that is too much, to not repeat is often, (laughter)  to promise to not do it again is to arrest it, is purification. Everything is about you, about how you see things.  It is essential to generate a strong resolve.  Throughout the traditions of the 3 yanas, commitments – samayas – are highly regarded. There should not be a need for a preceptor. But, precepts, vows, samayas are considered very supportive to power of resolve. Where it is strong, it makes power of antidote strong.  Where antidote is strong, support is strong. Where support is strong, then and only then is regret powerful enough as purification.

So, incorporating the 4 powers is the 3rd branch offering which each meditator in meditation should being to contemplation.  This is then leading to the 4th branch of Joyfulness.



1 Comment

Filed under Dharma teachings, Khandro Rinpoche

One response to “Khandro Rinpoche 2012 annual retreat – talk 2: part 1: Patrul Rinpoche practice text based on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara – 7 Branch Offering: Prostrations, Offerings, Confession/purification

  1. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful words of wisdom.

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