Guru Rinpoche Day Teachings

Dza Patrül Rinpoche’s Heart Advice

Dear friends near and far,

As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. On this Guru Rinpoche day, I would like to share with you a few verses of advice from the great nineteenth century non-sectarian Dzokchen master Dza Patrül Rinpoche.

These are pithy verses that strike the very core of the teachings and that have greatly benefited my practice and personal development. I would like to remind you all to not only receive such great Dharma teachings, but to also try to become the Dharma. Just receiving the Dharma is not sufficient, your whole being should be Dharma. Great Dzokchen masters say, the teachings can be Dzokchen but if the person is not Dzokchen, then it’s of no help. The person needs to be Dzokchen too.

So please take time to contemplate these verses:

Train your mind, train your mind, train this mind of yours.
When you train your own mind with bodhicitta,
Though you may not accomplish a single good deed with body or speech,  
Your own and others’ benefit will effortlessly be fulfilled.


Tame your mind, tame your mind, tame your mind with Dharma.
When you tame your own mind with the four mind changings,
Though you may not master the view, meditation, recitation, generation or completion,
You will not stray away from the path to liberation.


Though you may master generation, completion, and samadhi,
If they are not combined with pure bodhicitta resolve,
Aside from causing further rebirth within samsara’s deluded experience,
They will be of no help for reaching the state of omniscience.

Please take this essential advice to heart.

With all my love wherever you are,

Sarva Mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche

Image from the murals of Shechen Monastery


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1 responses on "Dza Patrül Rinpoche’s Heart Advice"

  1. Wonderful advice. It seems most students don’t understand the difference between intellectual comprehension and realization. They don’t understand what it means to get beyond concepts, to get beyond the words. This is the case even for most of the teachers below the guru level. They teach what I call “fill in the blank dharma.” (I use this term because in the Western school system, teachers often give fill-in-the-blank quizzes to students; in these exams, knowing the correct information (correct words) gets a high score.

    It is not sufficient to know the dharma “out there” as if it were arithmetic on a blackboard. Even if you memorize a thousand sadhanas and can expound perfectly on the meaning of each one, that is not enough. The dharma has to come into you and you have to become it. Ultimately, that is all that matters; becoming dharma is the real goal, not becoming “smarter” so you can show off all the fancy esoteric sounding words that you know. So how do you become dharma? How do you realize that the dharma is not “out there”? In my experience, the only answer is devotion to the guru. Morning, noon and night, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Then death will not part you. Then the guru will never let you off the iron hook of his compassion. You will be inseparable from him? And who is he? Who is this guru? He is dharma. Becoming one with him is becoming one with the dharma.

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.