PARTING FROM THE FOUR ATTACHMENTS … part 5/6 (zhen pa bzhi bral) by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

PARTING FROM THE FOUR ATTACHMENTS … part 5/6 (zhen pa bzhi bral) by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche


I will begin talking about holy war, since it‟s a fashionable thing to talk about; because, dharma practitioners are jihadists actually. We are struggling. Strugglist? Is there such word? We need to wage war, holy war. And in Buddhism, there‟s one enemy – every religion has their own enemies, infidels, you know, and in Buddhism, there‟s no exception. We have one enemy…, and that enemy in Tibetan is called “yang”. I guess you can translate this as distraction.

The constant distraction, minute by minute, moment by moment, second by second – this ongoing distraction – so it all boils down to that. So-called jealousy, anger, pride, all the emotions that we usually talk about – they are just an extension of distraction. They are different expressions of distraction. It is different, you know, different manifestation of basically one thing, and that‟s called distraction. Also, the eight worldly dharmas that we kind of briefly run through yesterday; like longing, like fishing for praise, like escaping from criticism, longing for attention, fear of being ignored.

All this is basically different manifestations of distraction. We are distracted to certain value, and this is why we put so much emphasis on trying to get what we want, and trying to avoid what we don‟t want. So distraction is basically the only thing that we are dealing with. That‟s not so simple, and the reason why it‟s not so simple is because many times, so-called “the antidotes” for distraction are just another version of distraction. And this is necessary because unless, we call it (Tibetan phrase) disciple of superior faculty, unless you have, you have such a capability to get the point of non-distraction instantly, it‟s difficult.

So we need to, like a, like if you have a thorn inside your palm, you need another thorn to take it out. Likewise, in order to throttle up more hideous and graver distraction we need more wholesome and more, eh, seemingly harmless distractions to begin with. And this makes everything so difficult. This makes the path more confusing, I guess. And I was talking about ability – unless you are the, unless you are a disciple of superior faculties, right? The superior, superior faculty is not something that you can acquire or establish through, you know, like study and contemplations and research.

Mainly the superior faculties is something you have to acquire through, in Tibetan we call it “bsod nams”, which is basically, I guess, can be translated as merit. In other words, it is an ability or a very special cause and condition. If the cause and condition is not right, it won‟t work. This is clearly demonstrated in the case of, for instance, Milarepa.

After, and by the way, I think maybe I am getting distracted; but the life and liberation, life and liberation of Milarepa is one of the best ever in the Tibetan history. Because almost all the Tibetan great masters of the past – they all appeared to be good, right from the beginning. They are all born good. They are all good right from the beginning and then they somehow become a little bit better, that‟s about all (laughter). Whereas, Milarepa is something that we can kind of identify with.

With all due respect, he was a murderer. And he wasn‟t, he didn‟t murder just one or two or here and there. He murdered a lot. He was, eh, a very unique and… Anyway, after he did what he, he did, then when he met this Dzogchen master, he received Dzogchen teachings and nothing happened, if I make the story short. And next morning, this Dzogchen master said “Even though the Dzogchen teaching itself is so precious, it looks like there is no right dependent-arising, or right conditions between you and me”. “And I think”, this Dzogchen master said, “I think you have a certain connection with this great translator, Marpa”.

And even as he mentioned the word “Marpa”, the name, Milarepa already felt ecstasy. And of course, many of you know the life and liberation of the great Milarepa. When Milarepa first encountered Marpa Lotsawa – Marpa Lotsawa wasn‟t sitting on a throne and wearing a proper hat, about to give some impressive sermon. He was, in fact, ploughing field. So he was immediately as, immediately at the sight of Marpa, Milarepa, once again felt something. That really changed not only Milarepa‟s life actually; that changed thousands and millions.

And I believe, it has changed lives and the thinking and the system of the people even in the West. Today the lineage goes on. So when we are talking about a disciple of superior faculties, we are talking that level. But for those of us, like you and me, we need to go through lots of gradual training. We need lots of gadgets. We need lots of tools, which we also have to be ready to discard, when the new toy or new gadget is given. So, anyway, as I was saying, our sole arch-rival, our enemy – the fundamental, the main enemy is distraction. Ignorance is another name for distraction, basically.

The reason why I need to tell you this is because we were talking about mindfulness, earlier. And because, our main problem is distraction, it makes sense that we also have one weapon actually. There is only one weapon and that sole weapon is called mindfulness. All the other Buddhist training, such as love and compassion, mind, you know, like immeasurable thoughts, six paramitas, ten paramitas – what else? All of these are basically an extension of different kinds of manifestation of mindfulness.

This what I have been telling you although I may have exaggerated here and there a little bit – extracted from, eh (Tibetan phrase) which I don‟t know (Sanskrit name). Do you know? So, “dran pa” mindfulness – is actually the main thing. And, by the way, when we say mindfulness, it‟s not only a remembrance. It can be, but it‟s much more than remembrance. The most profound level of mindfulness is not even remembrance. It is a pure, direct cognition. This is what we are aiming at.

And this can only be qualified as is stated by Sachen Kunga Nyingpo and Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen, (Tibetan phrase) as long as you have grasping, the moment you have grasping, you have no mindfulness. Do you know why? Because the moment you are grasping, do you know what‟s happening? When you have the grasping, you are occupied. You are engrossed. In other words, you are worked up. When you are worked up, you are busy. You are occupied. So, obviously, you are not mindful. In other words, when you are worked up, completely spaced out, often, you know, many times – almost literally, we walked around with our mouths open, flies might go in and even have time to come out. This, this level of complete spaced out – this is what we go through.

So, I am trying to connect with ( ). You know, we were talking about bodhicitta, and when we were talking about bodhicitta, we were talking about the ultimate bodhicitta. The ultimate bodhicitta is basically understanding the truth. And we talk about understanding the truth, we say truth is ungraspable. Not because there is something, because it‟s a, not because it is a mystery, but there is no truly existing truth that needs to be grasped. This is why if there is grasping, you do not have the view. As a summary of all of the, all the four points, eh, as a summary to this, I was thinking of quoting quite a good explanation of Dezhung Rinpoche‟s (Tibetan phrase) who is actually related both in the worldly sense and the spiritual to Drakpa Gyaltsen, and Kunga Nyingpo.

Ah, because we talk about if you have attachment to this life, you are not a dharma practitioner; if you have attachment to samsara, you have no renunciation; if you have attachment to the self-interest, you are not a bodhisattva; and if you have grasping, you have no view. Okay, and right at the beginning, we talk about why we are even interested in this – because we all want to be liberated. The liberation is the final and ultimate definition of happiness, according to the Mahayana. Liberation is what we are looking for.

So, in connection with this, let me explain this a little bit. Because it is a path, we have to talk about samsara and nirvana, a little bit. Samsara and nirvana, this notion of samsara and nirvana can be only established within, within the cyclic existence. I don‟t know how to put this. I will explain this. See, waking up from a dream, waking up from a nightmare can be only talked about if there is a phenomenon called sleeping and dreaming.

Then you can talk about waking up. This is important to tell you, by the way. Why? Because, many people think “Oh, yes, samsara does not exist, but nirvana kind of exist”. Because we think nirvana is so precious, that has to exist. So we have a certain animosity towards the samsara – we are talking at intellectual level – we have some kind of, we think what we are longing for must exist. Otherwise, why we should, why we even long for, why we should long for? But the great Nyingmapa master, Longchenpa said – this is a very good, this is such a good example, I am still not been able to express this properly.

I tried to with many, many different audience, but I am not doing a good job. It‟s a, it‟s written very clearly in the Self Commentary of “chos dbyings mdzod”, it‟s the, eh, Treasury of the Dharmadhatu – one of the greatest. It‟s one of the greatest text that ever came about, even on earth, I should say. Really amazing. There, Longchenpa gave such a beautiful example. He said, if you sleep and then you dream. Before you dream, whatever you have dreamt does not exist.

Let‟s say you are dreaming an elephant. Before you dream, that elephant does not exist. Of course, before we sleep, that much we understand. But even as you dream, even as you dream the elephant, actually the elephant is not there. You are only dreaming. Now you wake up. You have no more elephant, but that also is not true.

The elephant hasn‟t gone somewhere. All the while, you have not moved even one inch from that bed – before the elephant, during the elephant, and after the elephant – you are exactly sitting, sleeping in the same spot, never move one inch. It is a fantastic example. If I try to explain this – our subject here – see, what we are trying to get, we should be really, what we should be really aiming for is the realization that we have been sleeping in the bed, the same bed.

But what we have, but because, because of dualistic, you know, habits and all of that, this is forgotten. So, temporarily, we are supposed to long for goodbye to the elephant. We are supposed to long for the disappearance of the, what, the elephant, even though the elephant actually never existed before the sleep, during the dream – therefore it cannot disappear. Keep that in your mind, and then I will explain a little bit about (Tibetan phrase) – explanation on how the samsara –and- nirvana game, samsara- and- nirvana game keeps on playing.

t is quite well explained by Sonam Tsemo here. Ideally we can elaborate this – Sonam Tsemo‟s, you know, presentation. But I think this is going to take a long time. Basically it is a thorough explanation on twelve interdependent co-origination. I am some of you are familiar with this; you know, the twelve interdependent co-origination. From the “ma rig pa”, you know…, all that, mmm, “’du byed”, all of the ignorance, the karmic formation, so on so forth and all the way to birth and the death “rga shi”. This diagram, this categorization is one of the most clever categorization, I tell you.

If you understand the twelve interdependent co-origination, you will understand the necessity of reincarnation. You will also understand how the game of samsara and Nirvana is being played by our mind. But today we are making, we are going to make, let‟s make it very simple. First, Sonam Tsemo said (Tibetan phrase), first you will look at an object. Let‟s say this is a, okay, oh, you know, you see the object. And as me when I am looking at the subject, instead of seeing it, seeing this as in parts, you know, atoms, molecules, and just all different kinds.

Instead of seeing this as in parts, instead of seeing this as interdependent phenomena, insisting this is as ever-changing, not even one moment lasting as a permanent, instead of seeing that; and also instead of seeing as a – what call it – aggregate of several transitory collection – due to my habit, due to my education, the first thing I will think of “Ha, strawberry”. This is what happens. I will see it as a whole. I will see it as a permanent – really. I believe that from the time that I picked up this strawberry until now, I’m holding the same strawberry – see.

There’s an element of thinking that it is the same strawberry. So on and so forth. So, there is abundance of ignorance already, even as I look at the strawberry. Now, after that, – then what do, then what? Craving – I really like to eat this; and because “sred pa” is the craving, and then of course, I have already taken it – “len pa”. These are what we call (Tibetan phrase). I don‟t know how to translate this. I don‟t know, maybe (Tibetan phrase and words) How should I put this? Ah, mm, defilement, defilement of defilement, or defilement of emotion – something like that, I think. Anyway that is what we call defilement of, this is the first defilement.

You understand – it‟s very important. Now what? After that, after this (Tibetan phrase), defilement of emotion, I think so – then this leads to, this breeds action. Not only mundane action of chewing and putting it into the mouth, but buying, sorting, worrying about whether is organic or not – all of things like this. All kinds of action and of course, the action then give birth to “srid pa” the existence, becoming. This is what we call (Tibetan phrase) defilement of action or karma.

I hope this will make you realize that when the Buddhists talk about karma, in fact, Buddhists are talking about different kinds of emotion or defilement. Karma is actually a defilement. It is a defilement –karma. Okay. Then once you develop this action and once this is now become good strawberry, bad strawberry Japanese strawberry, American strawberry, whatever – when it becomes something, becoming “srid pa”, then comes labelling – form, of course, corresponding consciousness. “Skye mched” is like an element. “Reg pa” – touch, feeling, eh, touching, touching (“reg pa”) and “tshor ba” which is the feeling and then gives birth, and of course birth leads to death. And this, this last, this last thing that I have been telling you is what we call (Tibetan phrase) the defilement of arising, of birth.

So when we say it defilement, we are talking about three kinds of defilement – defilement of emotion, defilement of action and defilement of becoming or birth. The fact that it exists; it has coming into existence. Okay, once you have that, once you have this game, you know I was using a strawberry – even a mundane object such as strawberry can have complete three sets of emotion or three sets of defilement.

Once you have that, then you have the samsara. And where there is samsara, there’s also a nirvana. Why? This is big subject. I don‟t know why I brought this up. You know in the Mahayana and also in the Shravakayana, you know, we call it (Tibetan phrase). When we try to understand how the samsara and nirvana function, what I have just explained very briefly.

First the ignorance, then – creates the action and so on and so forth, and all the way to the birth and the death – right? Now a monk, let‟s say, this is a classic example. A monk, usually in ancient India, during the Buddha‟s time, or maybe even after that – a monk is usually given a small piece of bone or maybe, big piece of bone, I don‟t know, a bone basically.

And then the monk would put this bone in front of him, look at this bone and ask what is it? Obviously it‟s a bone – eh, sign of death, death. So then the next question you ask is where does the death come from? Birth – where does the birth come from? So you go backwards. You go backwards and then you try, you finalize it all emerged from one thing – which is defilement of emotion, distraction basically. So the samsara and nirvana game is played or not played this way.

If you play, you encourage the defilement of emotion, which will encourage the other two emotions. If you want to stop, you discourage the defilement of emotion, which then discourage the other two. This is how you play, you play the, what you call it, the game of samsara and nirvana. And it‟s for this reason, all the teachings, but especially (Tibetan phrase) – if you have attachment to samsara, you have no renunciation; if you have attachment to the interest, to self-interest, you are not a bodhisattva; if you have grasping you have no view. This is specially taught because of this, what I have just explained to you. I think this has really made you so much confused a lot.

I will let you ask some questions. How‟s that? Yes.

Student: Actually, just now, you have talking about the question I was thinking this morning (some parts – inaudible)..Just now, you said that the elephant never exists when we were dreaming. So what we supposed to long for, to be awakened?

Rinpoche: Yes, hmm, longing – longing is only necessary. We talk about longing; okay, we talk about the longing because we are assuming you are dreaming the elephant. That‟s why we have to talk about longing. If you are not dreaming the elephant, then no need. You don’t have to wake up from that. Yes, you know.

Student: Do we have the safety to be awakened anyway, when the time is up?

Rinpoche: We have a safety? You mean do we have alarm clock to wake up?

Student: We have to be awakened when the time is up. When the whole world awakens…

Rinpoche: Oh, when the time is up will. (Laughter) No, no, no, this is good. This is good. This time is up is very interesting. In the Buddhist, in Tibetan we call it (Tibetan phrase). It‟s actually very interesting – almost, unbelievable, unviable so to speak. For instance, when the great Shariputra, you know, great master – when he was asked by a merchant, very old man to be, to become a monk, requesting him to become a monk – Shariputra, with his kind of mediocre omniscience, looked at him and he didn‟t see any base of merit so that he can receive these vows. So, he said no need. “You know, I can’t give you”.

And then the poor old man – he cried and all of that. And then Buddha found out and Buddha said “Oh, Shariputra couldn‟t, didn‟t see. His omniscience is still not developed. He didn‟t see far enough”. Once this merchant was a pig. He accidently went round a very holy relic, stupa. And because of that, just because of that, he, almost by accident, he accumulated some kind of link. And based on that, all kinds of merit can be established. So basically, my answer to you is the alarm clock is built in.

Student: Why is…the Buddha, dharma, sangha (inaudible)? I heard another version of this story– this old man who has 84000 lives and…went round stupas…

Rinpoche: Oh, to make it louder, that‟s all. Okay. Yes, yes, many, many stories like that. This is why we should build stupas. No, no, actually, it‟s true. This is we need to build stupas, or you know, clear representation. Okay

Student: Rinpoche, in the third point in the text, you say if someone who has no bodhicitta, you have been translating…as if you are not a bodhisattva (inaudible)? Is there a difference?

Rinpoche: Oh, I think it‟s my mistake. I think we should say bodhicitta. If someone who has bodhicitta is a bodhisattva. So I can get away with that.

Student: My second question was if you meet a bodhisattva – how would you know?

Rinpoche: Oh, unless you are a bodhisattva of the first bhumi, or maybe at the end of the path of application, very difficult to know – very, very, very difficult to know. This is actually stated by the Buddha himself that no one can tell. Okay.

Student: I have a question about why reincarnation is important, as you were talking about and it is also connected. This is a question that when I go home, leads to doubt and loss of confidence, generally. The other part of it is that I am supposed to learn liking a shirt, I am supposed to accept uselessness, and eh, longing for what can‟t be longed for, longing for what can‟t be longed for. Basically, that‟s the human situation, those things – you have ambition, passion, so…mm, it seems a little dangerous sometimes to use the language of attachment and talk about what‟s unknown,

Rinpoche: Oh, that‟s one thing that is definitely we know; but actually I don‟t know, I shouldn‟t say definitely. One thing that is obvious is that we suffer. And obviously, people like you and me – we don‟t want to suffer – right? So the path is “mya ngan las ‘da’ ba” as we call it. “Mya ngan” means suffering. “Las „da‟ ba” means goes beyond. Actually that‟s the common term that we use for Nirvana. It‟s not so much to get something – it’s more to do with transcending something, something else. Really Nirvana – nirvana is maybe more – “mya ngan las „da‟ ba” is a good word. “Tathagata” is also good. Mmm – anyway going beyond suffering. What we know is that we do suffer. We know the cause and condition of suffering, we know we suffer. This much we know and we can long. This is what Shantideva said (Tibetan phrase) in order to dispel the suffering, one ignorance you are allowed to keep right now. That‟s what I‟ve said .Anyway what was that reincarnation business?

Student: It seems like you almost got to the point in saying that it‟s – I don’t know why I have to believe in reincarnation beyond, beyond the impermanence and dependent arising explanation of it.

Rinpoche: Can you elaborate this a little bit?

Student: Well, dependent arising seems to imply death is going on all the time.

Rinpoche: You mean, if you are hearing dependent arising, if you are including reincarnation within that, that‟s fine. Then you don‟t have to hear it separately. Okay it‟s this. If you – I know what, what’s bothering you, I think. You know what qualifies “nihilism”? Nihilist, nihilist, nihilists are someone who believe certain things do not exist; you understand? Certain things do not exist. You understand? That‟s nihilist. If you believe nothing exists including the nothingness you are not another body, you are not a nihilist. You understand. If you believe that nothing, you know (Tibetan phrase) you know, everything – remember if you believe that nothing exists including the non-existence, then you are not a nihilist. Now, if you don’t believe in reincarnation, but you believe in this thing going on here – me and you talking like this – then you choose to believe this but you choose not to believe what you don’t see. Now, that‟s nihilism. That‟s why we have to talk about reincarnation. Is that the one that you are going on about?


To Be Continued……


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