Prescriptions and Prohibitions: Their Mode of Abiding (Part 1) – Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche – 10-11-2011

Prescriptions and Prohibitions – These are prescribed what to do, all the virtuous deeds we are proscribed to practice, and all the non-virtues are prohibited. Buddha didn’t make rigid rules that he made up himself as ruler. He taught on the basis of the reality nature of phenomena. We don’t want suffering. Peace and happiness is what we want. That gives us a great opportunity, and opens your heart-mind. Think, ‘I was confused, but now I know the right things to do, and the wrong things to avoid. I have all the choice, now I’m so happy.’ That kind of nature.

I will try to complete this today. If not, we will finish tomorrow. If you can come both days, you will get the complete benefit, complete understanding.  This is 32 verses, very brief. This morning, we touched on the basic teaching of why we study and practice.

Their mode of abiding – How things function in the framework of causality.

When you write or do meditation practice, there are 3 things to know [three phases]:

  1. Cultivation of mind – paying respect, refuge, bodhichitta, and so forth
  2. Actual practice
  3. The dedication

1.  Introduction

May all be victorious!
I respectfully pay homage to all the lamas who
Have mastery over the objects of knowledge,
Embody compassion, are friends to all migrators, and
Show unmistakably what is to be adopted and what is to be abandoned.


The lamas who have mastery over the objects of knowledge – All lamas that know all the teachings, including the 3 pitikas of Vinaya, sutra, abidharma; the 3 trainings of morality, meditative state, and special insight; and all the aspects of knowledge- engineering, politics, everything.

Embody compassion, are friends to all migrators – Not just wisdom, but compassion pervading to all sentient beings. So, is a friend to all sentient beings.

What is to be adopted and what is to be abandoned – When you follow the path of how to purify the cause of suffering and how to adopt the cause of peace and happiness, there are no delusions or illusions.


For you fortunate ones with sincere interest in the
Dharma and an open door of intelligence,
I share this advice on what is to be practiced and what is not,
In accordance with causality’s mode of abiding.


For you fortunate ones – Anyone with a precious human life that has taken refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

An open door of intelligence – Open the door of the mind of wisdom to go farther in the dharma teachings.

Causality’s mode of abiding – Causality is samsara’s functions in framework of causality. As mentioned, samsara is the unenlightened state, and nirvana is the enlightened state. Both function in framework of causality.


  1. Precious Human Birth
This excellent body-support, with its eight leisures and ten endowments,
Enables one to attain unsurpassable enlightenment –
Contemplate the allegories and so forth of how difficult it is to obtain and
Henceforth engage in the essence of the Teaching.


This excellent body-support  – This body of a support to practice dharma and be free from suffering. Without this basis of a precious human life, there is no foundation to practice.  Even a very intelligent dog or cat, if you tell them “this is samsara, this is how to attain nirvana,” it makes no sense to them.  We have this intelligence. We have this understanding of what is the cause of happiness and what is the cause of peace.

Its eight leisures – The eight freedoms: we are not in hell realms, we are not in hungry ghost realms, we are not in animal realms, we are not in a place with no dharma, all the other unfavorable conditions, and have time to practice. [This combination] is very rare. A lot of people would like to study and practice Dharma, but have no time. So for those who can make time, it is so precious. Acknowledge the kind of opportunity we have because of this precious human life. This is the foundation to achieve enlightenment. You can discard all the delusions, if you make enough effort, so it is called endowments. These details are described in books like Jewel Ornament of Liberation and Words of My Perfect Teacher. Just see what an opportunity we have. Open your mind, open heart. When you suffer, when you are so deluded, at that time, remember: ‘I have precious human life, I have Dharma.’ Dharma means wisdom, peace.  ‘I have such an opportunity for Peace and happiness; I should rejoice in this precious human life.  I will use it in the best way.’  Sometimes I am attached to myself so much; I am in a cocoon, with no space to move around. I must break through that.

One important thing: [It is said that there are] 100,000 questions. Can Dharma answer them all? If we have the ability, then all the problems, all the confusion can be solved.  There are not any problems that can’t be solved. You have heard it many times; there are 84,000 types of mental afflictions. To counteract that, Buddha taught 84,000 teachings. Look at this. Because Dharma can lead to Enlightenment, it is the answer to all problems. So, we need dedication, effort. So many people are smart and working hard, and work their entire life to bring peace, happiness just for this life.  But we are here, in the Dharma world, to try to understand and to solve the problems of samsara. So understand that, and make use of this precious human life in the best way.  With this precious life, take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, keep ethics, and cultivate the mind of bodhichitta, cultivate the mind of Buddha. Transform your whole being into enlightened state, and then realize the interdependent state. This is the most important thing. Mind is so profound.  An unlimited mind can be captured by unlimited bodhichitta. Nowadays, you get unlimited phone with unlimited calling. (Laughs)   You have unlimited mind, what joy can come from this!

How difficult it is to obtain – To achieve that great result, how many causes are needed to achieve this precious human life. See how much effort you need, so we don’t waste this precious human life. There are those allegories in books like Jewel Ornament of Liberation, so don’t treat those books as not so important. Jewel Ornament of Liberation was written by an enlightened master for us to be free from samsara. Every word is wisdom, unlike how I write, without much understanding, and thinking “I like this more.”  Gampopa wrote based on what is necessary, what is precious. Think how difficult this precious human life is to attain. Suppose you found a precious jewel, and sold it for a penny, people would think you are so stupid. (Laughs)   It cost thousands of dollars. In [the] same way is wasting the precious human life just for this life. What a waste! Look at this; pay attention.  How to use precious human life, how to uplift yourself from depression. “I am so sad, depressed, nobody appreciates what I did. (laughs)    I did so much, but nobody knows this. (Laughs)  Nobody acknowledges me. I’m so depressed.’ There is no need to be appreciated by anybody. You know it. If they don’t acknowledge, it is their problem. (Laughs)

The great bodhisattvas did like that. They are not looking for someone to appreciate them. I heard President Kennedy said something like, “don’t ask what your country can do for you…”I think this is a very good statement.  We should practice like that.

I can use my precious human life to help others, rather than be trapped in the cocoon of ego attachment and suffer helplessly. Utilize.  I used to say about this place [TMC Frederick], “it is built for all people to study and practice dharma. All people who come here [have] rights and responsibilities.” Do you see?  Practice that way, and you feel happy.

For example, if you smile at someone else, and they smile back at you, how do you feel? It costs nothing, but there is some peace, some joy there.  [This is an example of] what a precious human life can do. Animals cannot smile. Maybe they feel happy, but they can’t smile at you.  We can. Some people walk on the road, and are so forwny. Just smile at them.  [To say] “I’m fine, how are you?” costs nothing, but makes a big difference in the world. It is bodhichitta’s expression. It is most important practice in our daily life.  So, [these are] a few words about precious human life, what you can do to uplift yourself from the pits. (Laughs)  There is nothing to be proud about, but nothing wrong with joy and happiness from the practice of Dharma.


  1. Impermanence
All appearing-existing phenomena are of a
Moment-by-moment disintegrating nature –
Know oneself and all others to be impermanent and so
Strive in the changeless and sublime Dharma.


All appearing-existing phenomena are of a moment-by-moment disintegrating nature – All manifestations come and go, all that exists. In winter here [at TMC], there is a lot of snow. In spring, the snow melts, and grass grows. In the summer, plants grow.  In the fall, there are leaves in different colors. This is just manifestation. Is it a culture or just reality? (Laughs)  We are born, we get older, and then we die. Is it a culture, or reality? (Laughs)   Buddha is teaching us the reality nature. Is there anybody in the world that appreciates getting older, sick?  Or says, “I am so happy I am dying?” It doesn’t matter the culture or belief system, or no belief system, is there anybody? I doubt it. We all have resistance to aging, to getting sick, and especially to die.  All the end of birth is death. The end of meeting is separation.  The end of consolidation is dissolution.  The end of the construction, of building, is deconstruction, is falling down. [If we] talk about it, it looks bad, but it is so important to Dharma practice. When we talk about how we get old, get sick, and die, it sounds pessimistic. (Laughs)   [We are] not ready to hear these things. (Laughs)  But how much wisdom we get from this. Everything is manifestation, it comes and goes. Purify our mind. When we suffer, if we don’t know impermanence, we feel it is so real, sometime people [commit] suicide. But if you look at impermanence, you will see ‘this can be changed, this will change. It is just a matter of time.’ We can tolerate that moment of suffering. See that transitory nature is temporary. So, [there is] no need to hate. If you have such a bad person who gives you suffering, just meditate, ‘that person isn’t permanent, they are subject to change.’ Develop compassion. Look at causality; see how this person creates suffering. They have a desire for peace and happiness, but are creating the causes of suffering. What they wish for and what they are doing are contradictory.

With those we are attached to, there is also impermanence, so there is nothing to attach to.  [For example], in summer, all the flowers are so beautiful. Maybe you are attached to it. “I want to buy that beautiful flower.” But in a few days, it is finished, [and we] throw it in the trash. Especially a rhododendron.  (Laughs)   Everything manifests impermanence. ‘Everything is impermanence, I must purify because I need peace and happiness. Develop compassion.’   No matter how powerful modern technology is, there is impermanence. It looks impressive: ‘if you do this, you can do all this.’  But, at the end of the day, it is not permanent. I’m not saying don’t have those things. We need phones, we need internet. But don’t expect them to create lasting peace.   When you are involved so much in the internet, then mind is so speedy.  Then the winds come up, and when mind is more easily irritated, then blood pressure goes up. (Laughs)  Look at the impermanence.  What I am saying is how to relax mind by contemplating impermanence.

Milarepa on Impermanence

Milarepa’s father was a very successful businessman. His father built the best house in the village. After Milarepa went to study and practice with Marpa, after 8-10 years, he came back.  His father had died when he was young. His mother had died when he was away, and his sister had wandered. His family house was now a haunted house.  The dharma texts where eaten by birds, his mother was a skeleton sitting in a corner in clothing. His heart was breaking [when he saw all this], he missed his mother. He cried, but reminded himself of impermanence. This is how it is. ‘Now I must practice what Marpa taught me, I must got to the mountain to do retreat.’  It is a great gift of wisdom, knowing all is impermanence, all will change.  So he said ‘from fear of death, I escaped to the mountain. Once on the mountain, I meditated on death. I mediated on the unchanging nature, and now I am free from the fear of death.’  Once you are in retreat, there is no guarantee you will get it, so you need to practice. Remind yourself every day, watching your mind every moment.  I usually say, Milarepa left everything behind, except a pot to cook nettles. One day he [tripped] on a rock, and dropped the pot and it broke.  It was such a vivid reminder of impermanence to him. He reflected on that. ‘The pot I had is now broken into pieces.  This symbolizes all composite phenomena, including precious human life. I am so grateful for these teachings. I will make every effort to practice.’  He wasn’t worrying about getting a new pot. (Laughs) Sometimes, we get an intellectual ‘yes, things change.’  At that time, Milarepa got a felt sense of how everything is so fragile. It reinforced his realization, and confirmed his realization. So just look at this, meditate.  Reading the life stories of masters is good. See how they were successful, and how we can expect. Impermanence is such a subject, the reality nature.  Look at our minds, see how many thoughts are coming.   Nowadays, see we can see the four elements coming up as typhoons, hurricanes, storms, earthquakes. There is so much impermanence, it is so vivid. Look at this and meditate.

In the past, there were great practitioners.  In Tibet, cups were turned upside down when people died. So great practitioners turned their cups upside down when they went to bed, thinking ‘I don’t know if I will be alive tomorrow.’  Release all tension. In the morning, when you wake up alive, ‘I rejoice at another day to practice Dharma.’ So, make the best use of precious human life. Impermanence is such a positive way to improve and develop ourselves.

I lived to this age, I am so fortunate to have precious human life. Now I can’t waste, must practice more to help self and others. If don’t have practice of impermanence, no experience, you can see it intellectually. It is described in Jewel Ornament of Liberation. Gross and subtle, very subtle impermanence, impermanence of all sentient beings, is described so clearly.  If no experience, we can talk about those things, but there is no feeling. But if you meditate, you can release your attachment, anger, pride, jealousy.

Changeless and sublime Dharma – [What is] changeless is virtue and non-virtue. This is the demarcation Buddha described. No matter what culture or lifestyle, the cause of suffering is still cause of suffering, then and now. Peace, same.  This is the reality nature.  It means adopt all causes of peace and happiness and avoid all the causes of suffering and meditate. Feel fresh and rejoice, ‘I am so grateful I have the opportunity.’  It isn’t complicated. It is in front of us.


5) Causality

All those appearing phenomena, which bring happiness and suffering,
Arise from the basic character, inexorable karmic causality –
With a fully pure wisdom eye, be
Unmistaken with regard to acceptance and rejection.


Have such wisdom, understanding based on reason. This is Empirical wisdom. Investigate the 10 virtues. Is all Buddha taught 2500 years ago not applicable now? [Look at the] 10 non-virtues, are they ok now? Investigate this. Sometimes people say using drugs [is good].  The teachings say drugs are no good.  Some say in the West, you don’t know our culture, we use drugs. Do people appreciate [drug abuse] or not? Do they respect it or not? In your life, is it peaceful or not? Is it productive or not? This is why governments make laws that drugs are not good.  In any culture, not matter what belief or religion, drugs are not so good. [We] may believe that, but need wisdom.

Inexorable karmic causality – We function in a framework of causality. Isn’t it? If you want to have a nice lunch, you have to cook. You need to collect ingredients you like and put them together. Then you cook. But that is not enough. Then you have to eat it. (Laughs)   Then, it is scrumptious. (Laughs)   Delectable cuisine. (Laughs)  This is based on causes and conditions.  If you farm in a cornfield, you need to have corn seed. If you want to farm wheat, you need wheat seed. [There are also based on] all interdependent causes and conditions. If you make a computer, you need all causes and conditions. If one wire is missing, it doesn’t work. (Laughs)   You need to have complete causes, and right causes. These are not from incomplete causes, and not from Buddha causes. It is based on causality. This involves such powerful wisdom. When you are convinced of causality understanding, you will find “I must practice Dharma.”

Milarepa did such black magic, creating hailstorms. [Immediately afterwards, he thought] “If I die with these causes, I will be reborn in the hell realm.” He was completely convinced of causality.  So he went for Dharma teachings. First, he went to a Dzogchen teacher and got the highest teachings, “After a week, you will get Buddhahood in daytime, and Buddhahood at nighttime.” After a week, nothing happened. It was gibberish.  (Laughs)  The words meant nothing. Milarepa was told, “You should go meet Marpa, a student of Naropa, a great yogi. “ Marpa knew exactly what needed to be done, and taught step-by-step.  The highest view of emptiness cannot transcend causality.  Cause is emptiness, emptiness is the cause. This is why we need to practice dharma.  This will give good reason why we practice. Dharma is not just religion; it is a way to be free from suffering, founded on the practice of causality. There are 10 virtues and 10 non-virtues. You can’t treat them as an unimportant preliminary!

When Milarepa attained enlightenment, his disciples said “we see you as Vajradhara. Are you a great emanation?” Milarepa said, “You have great devotion, but that is wrong view. I was convinced of the infallible nature of causality, and practiced Dharma.”  Karma is such a profound teaching. Precise karma can only be taught by Buddhas mind. Our minds can’t describe the details.  We can only understand the gross level. Once we know karma more, we appreciate. Nowadays, we all accept karma. In the 60s, karma was seen as a Buddhist belief system.  “If you believe in karma, there is karma; if you don’t, there is none.” Just leave it, its baggage. But this is not the case. It is better to explore karma.  Milarepa said, “emptiness is easier to understand than karma. “ Like the Big Bang is proof of emptiness. Milarepa said, “but in emptiness, subtle point of karma is so hard to understand.”  Lord Jigten Sumgon said, “It is not enough to realize emptiness. Within emptiness, should know the causality functions distinctively.” Only Lord Jigten Sumgon could explain that. Read his Gong Chik.  Some teachers say “after exhaustions, [one is] finished.” But see how much manifestation is coming.

(To be continued)


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