Good morning everyone. So this morning we did a session of shamatha as a way of reminding ourselves that without the foundation of stable calm attention, simply learning produces a lot of mental excitement. It is very easy to lose calmness, awareness, effect on environment. We are trying to balance a lot of material, learning history, including history not by practitioners. Who were the ancestors? What did they teach? How were they preserved? How is all that integrated? hear, contemplate, and integrate by taking that knowledge in in non-conceptual space of awareness. That becomes power when it is part of your mindstream. Shamatha–vipashyna is the bridge.
Just like that beautiful stupa in the slideshow, we know stupa has symbolism – bhumis at the spire. Can’t have that without the foundation. You need shamatha for stability and vipashyna for wisdom. [First, practice the] Four Foundations of Mindfulness, to see experience as non-substantial yet apparent. Then, practice the 4 Limitless Ones to build compassion. Then, practice the Vajrayana, [to] let it manifest, seeing things as they are. Instead of waiting for things to be perfect, which is the samsaric approach, we are seeing them as perfect, which is Vajrayana approach.
Yesterday was the start of the Mahayana, the prajnaparamita. We are learning to hear history as practitioners. [We need to] avoid hearing “is one right and one wrong?”, but instead, hearing it as different expressions. Ask, ‘what were they trying to teach?’ They are different jewels. If it wasn’t authentic dharma, it wouldn’t change our minds, it wouldn’t defeat ego. If it doesn’t lead to expansive compassion, if it doesn’t completely undercut solid perceptions/conceptions of “me mine me me me” and also build expansiveness ability to extend to others, it isn’t buddha-vinaja.
Mahayana arose, not because the shravakyas and Buddha didn’t achieve enlightenment: if not, they wouldn’t be Buddhists. Buddha said “do this, avoid that, you will be same as me.” What is different, what we regard as the Mahayana innovation is seeing the fullness as needing to be expressed. This is the proper attitude. Yes, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness have the capacity with wisdom mind to purify self and others. But there can be more tools added to make sure you have a more complete job. So, there is the focus on deconstructing the world out there better, besides one-fold egolessness, the selflessness of self. Other ones also take apart outside world. Madhyamaka was seen as supreme for deconstructing reality. This is what went to Tibet.
Yogacarans vs. Madhyamaka
Yogacarans are also known as the mind-only school or Chittamatrins. They worried that Madhyamaka was simply deconstructing. Nagarjuna said what was left was complete bodhichitta, complete non-conceptual reality: unformed, uncompounded, the space of great bliss and peace. Nagarjuna said “I am helping to get there: not eternal, not nihilism, not one, not many…”
The Yogacarans concern was that while the Madhyamaka was a way to lead to resting in emptiness by not positing anything, it could go into nihilism. So they decided, “We are going to remind people that all experiences happen in mind.” We as Westerners get confused with all this. “Yes there is a world out there, verified through scientific methods.” Yogacarans said we can’t validate any experience except through knowing it. But the knowing is only happening in your mindstream. This is not “I made everything up;” it’s just that you can’t know except through the sense-gates, and in mind. It is helpful because it helps us not to get lost in a heady dissection of reality. It comes back to “It comes back to my mindstream.” You think you are experiencing this room, the same coughing, the same words, and same smells as everybody else. This isn’t so. Everyone is experiencing differently based on your karma, your emotional reactions: it all shapes your present moment. No one but us can purify our mindstreams. It comes back to ”it’s an inside job.”
And then there is a back and forth. Madhyamaka said about Yogacarans, “you are positing a reality that simply isn’t there.” Yogacarans said about Madhyamaka, “you are negating responsibility to mindstream.” And so it goes back and forth.
The Bodhisattvas such as Manjushuri, Avalokiteshvara, and Vajrapani are not mentioned in foundation-yana. As historians say, they were deities in part of what is now Pakistan and Kashmir. The Mahayana says the Buddha is timeless: unborn, timeless, radiated. The 8 great Bodhisattvas are the manifestations. The Buddha is the diamond, and the Bodhisattvas are light reflected. Are these real? Can we not see them? Explore possibilities. For today, I will say Manjushuri is a representation or embodiment of the quality of wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t have a birthday. But it exists. We are drawn to it like moth to flames. Avalokiteshvara is a representation or embodiment of the quality of vast compassion. Does anyone want to refute existence of compassion? It has no birthdate, no GPS location, but it exists. Vajrapani is a representation or embodiment of the quality of power, movement. So these are the capacity for thought, heart, and wisdom. Every sentient being has responsiveness, empathy, mobility. When mobile, able to do so. Even animals, even tiny bugs have it embryonic. The three are the full-blown- we supplicate, see out teachers as emanations, see them as energy. They are a vibration. You’re trying to get your dead flat tuning fork to resonate the same sound, the same color of these 3 fundamental capacities.
Now, are these not Buddha? They are Buddha; the perfection of wisdom, the perfection of compassion, the perfection of skill. The relationship to Bodhisattvas is skillful means. Some of us are like a bar graph, with a lot of head, a little heart, and no movement. Or a little head, lots of heart, a little movement, and so on. Mahayana gives vast skillful means to reach the different capacities.
I am not going to talk more about Madhyamaka or bhumis. Here’s why. The bhumis are not mentioned in 7-branch prayer. Also, we were asked to study Dzigar Kongtrol’s teachings on Chandrakirti’s teaching on the bhumis. Take these as your homework for study groups. See how the 37 limbs relate to bhumis. People are studying it – how bhumis relate to 37 limbs to enlightenment. All the questions, “no more learning is what bhumi?” find a version of the 37 limbs that speaks to you, opens you up. Take responsibility for finding – the 37 limbs are your map- if you don’t understand a word, find a way to make that world open up, so it says “oh, it’s a skillful means to help get to step 27. I can’t quite do it, but I am beginning to see how these open.” In the time remaining, we will talk about the great exemplar of Mahayana Perfection of skill, Shantideva.
We are getting closer to 750 AD when the Dharma got to Tibet. Shantideva, we know, we have studied him with Dzigar Kongtrol. The text zipped into Tibet soon after it was spoken. Some of you know part of the story, but I am going to tell you more. It is also within his life, we are beginning to see the union of the monastic and yogic traditions, from saffron monk to Nalanda philosopher to the yogic feats of Vajrayana practitioners. The only way to understand part B of his bio, is not only was he accomplished in logic, but also in profound path of Vajrayana.
In his biography, according to the Padmakra translation group, he was born around 750 AD-ish. He was born the son of king. He was born shanti barmon, and devoted to the religious life from an early age. He had great respect for the Mahayana and monastics. He asked for a Manjushuri sadhana from an ascetic yogi outside the palace and practiced it day and night until he beheld the yidam deity, [which is a way to say he experienced] the wisdom [directly].
The night before he was to become king, Manjushuri appeared in dream and said “there is only room for one throne.” He choose the throne of wisdom, so he departed to Nalanda and became Shantideva. Practiced Manjushuri through the night, and got taught by Manjushuri and wrote 2 volumes, which he put them in attic of tiny brick cell.
The other monks nicknamed him ‘Gushuki’ – one who eats, sleeps, and “potters about.” (Note: this is also said “eats, sleeps, and poops.” :)) He appeared as a total slacker. The bhikkhus wanted to get rid of him. So, there was a debate coming up. The other monks set up a big stage, hoping he would go and be humiliated and leave. He asked “you want traditional or a new composition?” They laughed, but turned around, and he ascended throne – no steps. It is said he recited this text with no notes. At wisdom chapter, Manjushuri appeared in sky – two monks had perfect memory – he started ascending to sky, and vanished. Nalanda had a collective OMG moment (Laughter) and they wrote is down immediately.
2nd part- was later discovered living in south of India. 2 panditas tracked him down and confirmed- 1000 verses, 10 chapters- the hutzpah, the clarity to recite something like this- especially the 9th chapter- poetic deconstruction of all schools to emptiness.
Began manifesting magical powers. If you don’t know Madhyamaka, won’t get this part. Now, if you could get the previous part, but then this section was too much…
We are bound by conventional reality because we believe in it. If you didn’t believe in it, who knows what you could do?
1) Shantideva had 500 followers, who had been holders of outlandish non-Buddhist opinions. He saved them from a natural disaster, filled there bowls, they followed them.
2) Shantideva saved the lives of 1000 beggars who were about to starve to death.
3) Shantideva was a bodyguard to king of maghygana. Imbued wooden sword with power of Manjushuri. Brought harmony, but were jealous ministers. They said “ask him about the wooden sword” – he said, “You don’t want me to”- he said, “Cover one eye” – the sword is blinding bright and makes his eye fall out! He restored it. Manjushuri’s sword is wooden, not aggressive. Trying to cut root of ignorance.
He goes to south; another king tries to find him. They find him barely clothed, living on wastewater. – Now in Vajrayana territory – every time the water splashes on him, it hisses and boils due to his inner heat (tummo) practice. The king needs a debater, and summons Shantideva. Shantideva asks for a jug of water, 2 piece of cloth, and a fire. The Hindu yogi drew a mandala in the sky. Shantideva went into Samadhi – a hurricane appeared, –
(Just put the chapter from the book.) “ “
We are now in the territory that is totally fantastic, makes a good story. I have no idea what that was about. (Laughter)
The thing to realize is, we are bound by conventional reality because we have solidified forms. We take forms as real. Our own solidification forms the prison cell. Liberation comes when you see the bardo are no more solid than dreams, and we created them. If a mind really could articulate the philosophy of Madhyamaka, why couldn’t mind do anything? Why wouldn’t it have power to “accomplish whatever mind desires?”
Now, not based in wisdom compassion, it is rudra- they become cosmic terrors.
Before going into Mahayana contemplation, 2-3 remembering contribution – from intro to Way of Bodhisattvas – Nagarjuna “who said, and Shantideva elaborated” –
“May the precious bodhichitta arise in those in whom it has not arisen. Having arisen, may it not diminish, but ever expand, more and more.”
In foundation teachings, stop unwholesome, cultivate wholesome. This is ornamented. Chitta means “brave heart-mind” – Bodhi- stop doing list a, bring to perfection list b. – full flowering of capacity. Same thing as 4 restraints, but different feel. Something in your heart opens up with word “bodhichitta” – adds a bit of depth, meaning, inspiration.
That verse is heart note of “way of Bodhisattva.”
Devotion – “as when a flash of lightning…”
Realize how rare for one to embody- lama- heavy with virtue- devotion to lama is devotion to one heavy with virtue. This is anyone who makes well-being of others more important than self.
“When a flash of lightning rends the night, and in its glare shows all the dark black clouds had hid, likewise, through the Buddha’s thought, ….into this world.”
Connection to shamatha-vipashyna – “ 5.3- if with mindfulness rope, the elephant of mind is tethered…” Hyperlinks to Mahamudra- mindfulness rope of the traditional “how to tame an elephant” images.
Potent – why you need to buck up thinking you have ample time – “the hells in which the molten ….how can you lie back free of care.” “errrrrrrrrrrr!” not like description in Patrul Rinpoche or Jewel Ornament of Liberation– “I don’t like that part, won’t read it, don’t believe.” In here –“it’s already here, you created it!”
8.210 – heart of Mahayana – “those desiring speedily to be a refuge for themselves and others should interchange the terms of I and other … and thus embrace a sacred mystery”. All the joys the world contains come from wishing well for others. …”
The basis for Tonglen, cultivating 4 limitless ones, it all flows out of Madhyamaka analysis. The whole point is to take away what blocks one from helping others.
“I renounce enlightenment” is a cynical approach. Another way, to stop thinking about self. Don’t make it a new cocoon. One way through head, another through the heart.
Simple analogy. When hand gets near fire, you don’t say “I will save this one!” you experience the hand interconnected with “I’. If you weren’t deluded, you would realize all sentient beings are fingers on one hand. We love our teachers- we feel our teachers care for us as much as they love themselves. Taking what you know how to do, love animals is easy, strangers…
With that, 15 minutes- take into contemplation. 4 Limitless Ones- Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche did beautiful teaching on this last year- they were presented from Longchenpa – Vajrayana point of view.
Page 150- Jigme lingpa’s Treasury of Precious Qualities.
Using heart of Avalokiteshvara to get to Manjushuri. Those were all happening in your mindstream you are doing these practices to allow the basic awareness of sympathetic ability to become more aware. Just the act of thinking about other people equal with ourselves works for opening your awareness you do have that capacity. You go “I want to alleviate suffering but I have limited ability.” so many of us tries to help – we study, exhaust ourselves. it’s helpful, but wisdom – the habitual patterns will take them back. I can prop them up and give them a chance. Can provide acupuncture, home for battered women, but if they don’t make changes and ‘do the work’ themselves, they will go right back to where there were before in suffering.
Social action as an intentional strategy wasn’t traditionally done. But, it’s misnomer to say Mahayana were the only ones to do compassionate action. Theravadas hold Bodhisattva idea at supreme. Also, look at Thicht Naht Hahn; look at the healing work he’s done. The 1st turning folks had 4 Limitless Ones. Mahayana encourages to do what you can. It is tough for us, because we don’t have faith that we could get enlightened. If we did, it would be such a vast capacity. We can purify our fixation on understanding of compassion. It’s worth taking time to remove emotional obscurations. Jamgon Kongtrol said “sentient beings will still be there when you get enlightened.” But then you will be able to help many more beings. This is hard for us to understand. It isn’t an either/or. We shouldn’t assume those in retreat aren’t helping all sentient beings, and those in the world aren’t helping all sentient beings. We also shouldn’t assume those in retreat are really ON retreat, and those in the world are not on retreat.
Question and Answer
Comments- it undoes knot- between aspiration bodhichitta and futility of effort that doesn’t need to be there. You can’t do it all. The beings need to help themselves, but you can be there for them. Don’t have to feel selfish. I encourage people to do simple things like ‘just relax.’ get out of their minds. To me, direct correlation between work and practice.
We can’t help everyone yet, A good example- Rinpoche- we feel deeply she has really helped us. And it’s not social do-gooder stuff. Our connection helps – deeply helps. (Laughter) If Rinpoche hadn’t done HER homework, we wouldn’t be able to see that. I also have difficulty with trying to help suffering, leaving little time for formal practice.
One of the lopons’ main responsibilities is to say many recitations of “liberate your notion of practice.” Maybe come up with new word. Like we were saying yesterday, saying “devotion” triggers other things in Americans. Likewise, when we think of “practice,” we think the formal thing between gongs. Or especially ngondro practice, we think of a thing that takes 90 minutes that is very complicated.
If we say “my job is to wake up, become present, become kind,” take whatever you can – relaxing, be kind, remember one line of dharma. Mindfully eating. “Open, relax, and be kind.” That is all we are trying to do. Can do at stop sign, eating, acupuncture, in middle of argument.
“Open, rest, and be kind.” It is difficult when as form practitioners, it gets so unwieldy.
Khenpo tsultrim gyatso said “practice is bringing the view to fruition.” Can’t do that simply by sitting still and counting things. From point of view of open, relax, be kind. That’s why view is supreme. I think of Yana as being like in a jungle, you have no machete. A guy in saffron comes and says “here’s a map, go up there, all will be revealed.” Then, you run into a Nalanda professor, “here’s a map, go up there, all will be revealed.” Then, you run into a man in a brocade cape and vulture feather, and he says “here’s a map, go up there, all will be revealed.” The point is not to try to see how they work together there sitting in the dirt.
A Fully realized master would have no problem being a perfect bikshui, or anything else required. A Fully realized master is like water. water can fill any container. Patrul Rinpoche could see a 1000 headed deity quickly. We are very solid, so it gives us a headache, water, air, space – fills any container.
In the local study group, Lama Rohr repeated, calm mind, clear mind, kind mind. Need to be calm, then be clear on view to have calm mind. He said them over and over. “calm mind, clear mind, kind mind.” If your practice is not helping you do these things, you need a different relationship with your practice. – Jann
Khandro Rinpoche said “Every time we do a mala, we should stop at lama bead and say “may my mind be kind.”
Go for a walk, Buddha Park, think of the beautiful footprints from last night. walk mindfully, simply. So taking complexity fall apart. You are walking behind Mindrolling Jetsün Khandro Rinpoche, walking behind His Holiness Mindrolling Trinchen Rinpoche, walking behind lineage behind Shakyamuni. Relax in simple joy.