PARTING FROM THE FOUR ATTACHMENTS … part 6/6 (zhen pa bzhi bral) by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche –
THE FINALE Student: I was taken you to mean literally we have to believe in a next life, because if we didn‟t, we‟d run round raping people. You said that this morning.
Rinpoche: Yah, yah, yes, you better believe you might be reborn as a butterfly, yes.
Student: That doesn‟t make sense to me, either, because you said we have buddha nature – so why should we worry that we should worry that we‟d be so crazy like that?
Rinpoche: No, no, buddha nature is your – what do you call it – it‟s your, your wealth, you understand? But whether you will use it or not – we don‟t know. Butterflies also have buddha nature but as they are not tapping on it, it‟s totally un-functioning, you understand. You can’t, you talk almost as, you know, you are looking at milk, right? You’re talking as, you‟re talking like this. You are looking at milk and said “There is butter in it – let‟s wait.” You have to churn. Of all the people, you should know this. So just, you can‟t bank on the buddha nature, buddha nature because it has to be appreciated. It has to be worked on. By the way does that does make the buddha nature better also, this is something you‟d need to know. You, working and practicing the dharma and all of that, does not make the buddha nature better. And you going round, roaming round, robbing banks and doing all kinds of things for life after life, is not making the buddha nature go worse. It stays as it is. What you can do, so through the practice of dharma, the spiritual path, what it does is it uncovers that potential; you know that. So what was the question about reincarnation, going back?
Student: Well, it‟s taking you literally to mean that it had to do with this sense of giving up attachment to this life. That kind of scares me to give up attachment to this life. It seems that it‟s all I have.
Rinpoche: And then, so…
Student: And there seems, I don‟t know, it‟s the language thing, right? Eh, eh, you said just sitting was less dangerous.
Rinpoche: Could be – then.
Student: Could be – like that because it‟s simple – that kind of language.
Rinpoche: Okay, what‟s that got to do with reincarnation?
Student: Because when we start talking about we‟re giving up this life, it seems easy to….
Rinpoche: No, just sitting could be, just sitting could be very well a method of giving up attachment to this life. Goodness, you know, you should, sitting on a cushion, hours by hours, hours after hours, any normal people will think you’re really wasting your time.
Student: And it‟s the useless thing too. I mean I don’t like the idea of giving up ambition.
Student: You know, to be useless. That’s a hard one to swallow, because then you‟d be…
Rinpoche: Of course, yah, from the worldly point of view. From the worldly point of view, dharma is useless. And if you want to be a spiritual person, you have to do that and that is scaring you, is it?
Rinpoche: Oh, I see. Oh. well, then I will take a bit of credit. I’ve done a job. What is it?
Student: Right, I think I have run out of steam.
Student: I‟d been working for an environmental, non-profit. Example of an egg; so, I was thinking when you said “it‟s never too late…” (inaudible) So, what do you mean by that?
Rinpoche: Never too late…you mean. Oh, just there‟s lots of raw cake, raw, raw eggs
Student: Rinpoche-la, as Rinpoche mentioned at the beginning of this course, the “Freedom from the Four Attachments” belong to the Mahayana teachings, so would you please briefly explain to us what are the differences between the teachings “Freedom from the Four Attachments” opposed to the Vajrayana teachings? And I personally hope that this brief information would be an auspicious connection for Rinpoche to come to Seattle again, maybe in the future to give us some teachings. And also, what are the methods to do self-examination on ourselves to know if we are actually practicing Tantra teachings properly based on a proper base of Mahayana practice?
Rinpoche: Okay (long pause) You know, all the sutras begin “Does have I heard” (Tibetan phrase). There’s a reason for this. It’s a, it‟s an amazing setting for the beginning of speech, I should say – really. Also it is one of the greatest and most skilful disclaimers (laughter). Ananda is saying “Thus, I have heard”. We don’t know whether the Buddha said this. “I have heard this”; it goes on (Tibetan phrase) “at one time”, meaning Buddha may have said something else, in a different time. And that the disclaimer is again swiftly strengthened by bringing some richness – when the Buddha was on the Vultures Peak, places mentioned, surrounded by maha-bodhisattvas, bodhisattvas, arhats, so on and so forth.
I want to tell you this because it also indicates that when Buddha taught, there are many different listeners – listeners of all different capacities. In the Tantra, it‟s believed, it is said, when Buddha taught the first Four NobleTruths, (‘bden pa bzhi) – when Buddha said “Samsara is suffering and the cause of the suffering is emotion”, you know – the four, the five arhats (Tibetan phrase), they heard it, you know, in the context of Four Noble Truths.
But the vidhyadharas, (Tibetan phrase), we call it vidhyadharas – they heard it totally opposite. They heard Buddha said “Samsara is bliss, emotion is the wisdom”. Ah, this is how the tantra departs from this kind of statement, you understand. So, this is just sort of backdrop on how the tantra differs from the sutras. Also in the sutra, problem, problem and the solution looks quite different, like the pencil and eraser. They look different, you understand? So they are different in the sutras. But in the tantras, problem and solution look very, very similar.
In fact in the Mahamudra and Mahasandhi tradition, problem is the solution – you understand? And this is stated in the tantra again and again, like the Heruka Galpo, Hevajra Tantra, Chakrasamvara Tantra like so many, many ways. In the Chakrasamvara Tantra, Buddha said, the Vajradhara, I should call him – by then, he has, he was the head, Vajradhara, no more Shakyamuni – he said, “One that binds the idiot, the things that bind the idiots liberates the wise”. Things like that. So yes, tantra is very, very, very different.
And you ask the second question which is a very important question. Having said all of this, never ever, ever, ever imagine tantra without the bodhicitta; which is the core of the Mahayana practice. There is no such thing. If you lose the bodhicitta, all the tantric practice such as the deity practice like Chakrasamvara or Kalachakra – it is as obscure as any kind of shamanist practice.
In fact many of this Tantric could be, you know, increasing your pride, ego, desire and this is why we have seen a lot who they say they want to practice the tantra – but in fact, they would just want to use their sausage, more than usual. And within this pretext, they say that, they claim and this happens a lot. The bodhicitta is so crucial, so crucial. Since we are talking about this, we can actually even go to the root. Actually we cannot forsake Shravakayana also. So no tantrika should say “Oh, you know, Shravakayana, Theravada, Hinayana – we don‟t need this” – because if you get rid of them, you have lost your root.
If you have no root then the tree, the Mahayana is lost. If there‟s no root and the tree, where is the fruit and flower of the Vajrayana – so all of them are important. And this is one of the great things about Buddhism that has been translated into Tibet. Because somehow in Tibet, the tradition, all the traditions like Sakya, Kagyu, Nyingma – all traditions have the complete message and the skill to practice the Shravakayana, Mahayana and the Tantrayana together. They even call it “sdom gsum” three vows in one go. And this is quite precious. And this is something that you will not find in places like – of course not, of course not, I would – you know, they don‟t have this – places like Burma, so to speak. Okay.
Student: ( Not audible)
Rinpoche: Okay, okay, this is a good question, so I should carefully answer this. Eh, you have to read a lot. Because the karma, reincarnation, if you really want to understand thoroughly, because it is taught in all different pockets of sutras and shastras. But from the top of my head, I would strongly suggest that you read Madhyamakavatara or Madhyamika Karika by Chandrakirti or Nagarjuna.
Chandrakirti, I am sure somebody could help later, yes. It‟s very important because it is a really good analysis about original cause, the Genesis. And you‟ll end up, realizing that none of them believe in Genesis. Okay. So this is very important but then where does all these things fit in – like incense, the lamps and the flowers, circumbulation and the rosary, and all of this? For this you have to read like Jatakamala Sutra. It‟s actually quite nice to read those because it is all full of stories like monkeys and elephants, and… And, mmm, if you can, if you can, I don‟t know, if you have the guts because some of these books, my goodness, so dry.
Buddhists logic or pramana – pramana – logic? – Buddhist logic, very important, eh, like inferential logic, direct cognitive logic; those are very important. I think those will help us to understand how the Buddhists think. Bottom line, the Buddhist think – I am talking about generally – Buddhist think nothing comes accidentally, nothing. And this nothing even includes exhaustion.
So like mind, for instance, and the body are two separate entities; body exhausts because it decays or somebody chops you on the head or something like that. But mind – the only way to discontinue the mind – kill the mind, if you like; destroy the mind is by getting enlightenment. Until then, it will continue. So things like that; you have to understand the cause and conditions of logic. And it‟s actually, it‟s actually…yes; and we Buddhists are very proud that we are the followers of cause, condition and effect.
And just to make the matter, the matter very complicated here – since the lady has asked something to do with the tantra – but even though we are so proud that we are the followers of the cause, condition, effect and logic; once you embark on the Tantrayana, especially in the Mahamudra and Mahasandhi tradition, then none of the logic, cause, condition and effect work. None of them because by the time you reach to this level, they will say logic is the, logic is responsible for making everyone stupid. So really, you know, logic, we go beyond the logic. And this is only the tantra, I mean, not only the tantra but definitely the Tantra. Because, then, then, then, you know, that‟s enough, I think I‟d said enough. Okay, are we finished with the questions? Yeah. Okay.
I think we have like maybe some time left which I will conclude the “zhen pa bzhi bral” (Parting from the Four Attachments) here. Everything what we have been discussing, I try to extract from the writings of mainly Shantideva, and as you have noticed, I also quoted other Masters, probably, at least vaguely on the intellectual level, some of these may have make sense. But to practically apply any of these is very difficult.
As earlier, the gentleman has said – to get rid of attachment to life, this life – is very scary. When we hear these things, we kind of see some truth in it, but to actually wanting, to actually apply this method is difficult. And of course renunciation, renunciation of samsara – wow, it gets even more difficult; and then attachment to the self-interest – even more difficult to get rid of. Then of course grasping – that‟s almost like our nature. Without that we cannot function.
So how are we ever going to really apply these methods practically, in our day-to-day lifetime, in our day to day situation? This is probably worthwhile to discuss. Eh, Maitreya said towards the end of (Tibetan phrase) Uttaratantra, “Hearing the dharma so important” And this is what you have been doing the past two days. You should hear the dharma, again and again. Bad news towards the ego; bad news towards attachment to the self; depressing news towards the, depressing news, you know, going against self-cherishing, all this. You have to hear it again and again, even if you don’t like it.
You should make time and space and energy to do this – really important. Hearing the dharma Is like the door to the path. Hearing the dharma closes the door for the wrong view. Hearing the dharma protects you from all kinds of doubt. So yes, keep on hearing the Dharma. Next contemplation – discussing, arguing, contemplating, how much is this going against your attachment to this life, attachment to samsara, attachment to your own self-interest, grasping? How much of this hearing is going against all these attachments?
You should do that that also. Because what this will do, this will make, this will help you to make use of what you have heard. You will become skilful in making use of what you have heard – the information. Now the hearing and contemplation alone is not enough. That is very good but that‟s not good enough. If we have time, let’s say one hour, just an example – the hearing and contemplation should take over, this two should take over about half an hour.
The next half-an-hour should be spent on meditation (Tibetan phrase). Now, the meditation is a very, very vast term. At the moment, meditation immediately rings the bell of sitting straight, shoulders straight, all of this, isn’t it? Actually, that‟s not necessary the case. Even in the sutras we have read (Tibetan phrase), you know things like even the chanting, reciting – these are all considered meditation.
Not necessarily sitting straight and quiet and you know. So within this context, I have to tell you something quite important. One the reasons why even though everything that Is said here kind of intellectually makes sense, but difficult to apply – is habit – and the habit, the on-going habit and of course, the attachment itself. So habit, habit is, habit makes you weak. You know, I think we know this quite well; because if you, you know, like an addiction.
Basically habit is an addiction. When you are addicted to something, means you are slave of something. You are not at all together, you understand. You have a habit of smoking, habit of drinking, habit of gambling, meaning part of you or all of you is controlled by a certain situation. So when you have this on, this habit, you have no ability. Because the small amount of ability you have is already occupied by whatever your habit wants you to do. So then what do we do now? How do we counter that? We have to create the ability, create the ability. How do we do that? This is, I don‟t know the, “bsod nams” is the right, I mean – merit is the right word to translate “bsod nams”.
We should create; we should accumulate merit, anyway for now “merit” is what we would use. Yes merit, you need the merit. You need the merit to create the ability. You basically need to take over the territory that you have lost to the habits. This is basically what we call accumulation of merit. And I will tell you why. You may be thinking all this offering that is made here, like few cups of water, bowls of water; you may think that this is sort of “I guess, we have to make offering of water to the Buddha, because he likes water? – Or because he’s thirsty? – Because he needs some food time to time?” But that is never the reason.
The offering we make, when we make an offering, lots of things are being involved. Lots of things are being done and you …that‟s lots of involvement. Of course, there is the expenditure, there’s effort, there‟s a time, and then there is the, you know: yah, the effort of trying to put it properly, clean beautifully, aesthetically, all of this – and going back to the uselessness. From the worldly point of view, from the Wall Street point of view, from the Wall Street point of view – every day changing seven bowls of water in front of a non-blinking bronze Buddha statue is totally useless.
Why do we do that? Much better if you change the fish – what do you call it? – fish bowl water; at least there is one being inside who requires changing of water. But this Buddha statue – it doesn‟t drink, it doesn‟t understand what we are doing – why do we offer this and change this; and make such a big hoo-ha of, you know, how many bowls, the bowls should be this way and that way? But this is precisely why we do this. We do these for the sake of doing it, not because we are longing for some kind of reward.
Oh, yes, for seven years, finally Buddha said to you “You have been diligently putting those offering bowls properly.” Nothing like that – we know this. All our merit-making devices, all our merit-making methods are basically to counter the habit – attachment. This is why it is so important that you accumulate merit; so important – really. If you don’t have the merit, 99.9999 per cent things you cannot do. What do you do? Forget dharma; even in the worldly situation, if you don’t have the merit, you can‟t do anything. You can‟t even, eh, you can‟t even have a good date, I tell you, if you don‟t have a merit, a proper merit.
If you have, if you don‟t have merit to listen, you know, you will not hear, you know, first of all, you will not even know the existence of the Dharma, the existence of the Buddha. From this point of view we are very fortunate – especially you, you guys. Shakyamuni Buddha came miles away, 2500 years ago; under the Bodhi tree in Bodhgaya a long time ago. And you, you have nothing to do with Shakyamuni Buddha but you are attached to this, you are kind of attached to this Shakyamuni Buddha and what he said instead of, you know, doing some exciting things these past two days, weekend here – there is so many juicy things to do out there. But instead of doing all that, you decided to spend time here.
That means you have a certain link or karmic, karmic link or connection with this. And that‟s, that‟s already, the lady was talking earlier, that‟s already a base for the merit. Based on that one should really accumulate merit because, as I was going to say, if you don’t have the merit, even if you know, if you know the existence of the dharma – to hear the dharma and to hear it properly, to hear it so that you will not misinterpret, and so much so that the merit is so important. If you don’t have the merit, just as you‟re about to hear something so important, somebody in front of you coughs and you‟ll miss it. It works other way round too.
If you have the merit, just at the right time when you should not be hearing something, somebody will, with the blessings of the buddhas and bodhisattvas and your merit, you will not hear it. And this is good. Merit, accumulation of merit therefore is important. So how do we accumulate merit now? Since we are sticking with the Mahayana tradition, I will only explain on the Mahayana level.
According to the Mahayana tradition, we call it (pause). You know, Mahayana, “Maha” means greater, supposedly greater; and there is a reason (Tibetan phrase). You know, like motivation is greater and the means is greater. So how do, how do we qualify the greater means? Accumulation of merit can be done easily, swiftly, painlessly and accumulate so much merit within a small time with very little effort There are many methods in the Mahayana but most popular is what we call “yan lag bdun pa” the Seven Branch. This you should do.
Prostrations to the buddhas and bodhisattvas – basically surrendering your body, speech and mind; accepting them as superior than you, is the prostrations. In other words prostration is going against your ego directly, pride. You can visualize your body into billions and prostrate and that amount of merit you can accumulate easily. Making offerings of imagined and unimaginable and real offerings such as incense and flowers to the buddhas and bodhisattvas – that‟s one way – this directly goes against miserliness. Again you can be as creative as possible. Exposing your misdeeds in front of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, not hiding them, exposing it, then rejoicing after the good deeds of eh, other beings; not only the good deeds, the result of the good deeds.
And then asking the buddhas and bodhisattvas to teach and then asking the buddhas and bodhisattvas to remain in samsara until the samsara is exhausted. And then finally dedicate all the merit to enlightenment of sentient beings. These are called Seven Branches of making the merit and this is something for those who are practicing the buddhadharma. These are indispensable. So through this, if you do that, you will surprise yourself one day when you wake, you will find easy to get rid of attachment to this life, get rid of attachment to samsara, get rid of attachment to the self-interest, just like how an adult would get rid of attachment to a sandcastle.
Renunciation, the definition of the renunciation would be changed. You‟ll realize that renunciation is doing good things to you. It‟s no more a sacrifice. And then you will also see the fault of grasping and therefore you will pursue the non-grasping path and the non-grasping will also become your second nature. And when that grasping free, frees you from itself, liberation, enlightenment, nirvana, Buddhahood is achieved. Starbucks coffee will still go on, not to worry; the local grocery shop will still go on; nothing, none of these are going to turn into gold or silver – it doesn’t matter. Everything is as it is. But your attitude towards everything has changed forever. And that‟s called liberation.
And I feel like a deaf musician – I’m playing the music but I’m not hearing. I’d never been to this liberation that I’m talking about; but I’m talking about liberation. I hope and pray that you will achieve this liberation. Before we close this, as some of you know, initiated by some of the lamas, my friends and especially Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche here – god only knows how we end up into this, but anyway we are initiating a major work of translating the words of the Buddha. Eh, we feel that it‟s a, it is a very, very, very humongous project.
The finishing of the translation might happen after about hundred years; and even that we feel that it is like long winded in one way, big vision if you want to put it nicely. But we also feel that should that there is, there is urgency because most of these older Lamas, Rinpoches, and the scholars, monks who understand the classical Tibetan works that are found in old texts like Kangyur and Tengyur, are slowly, slowly evaporating. And therefore we have formed this task of translating the Kangyur, and I am sure my colleague, Jhinwei, will explain to you.
But I want to tell you I do this with a big bravery. For those of you who have the time and energy and inclination – try to become a translator so that you can also contribute to the work of translation because… And for those who have younger children if you can also brainwash them into becoming the future translator, would be really good. So this is my request but I think there are more information with Jhinwei who will tell you now. And then that‟s it. I‟m very happy to be here. I‟d been dragged into this by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. The only thing I managed was to bar him from the teachings I am giving here (laughter).
Dedication of Merit
ge war di yi nyur du dak
Through this merit, may I quickly
orgyen lama drub gyur ne
Accomplish the level of the Oddiyana Lama and through that
dro wa chik kyang ma lü pa
May all beings, without exception,
de yi sa la gö par shok
Be established at that level.
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