Guru Rinpoche Day Teachings

Heart Essence of Mahaguru Padmasambhava

Dear friends near and far,

As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. For today’s Guru Rinpoche day, I would like to share with you some key words of advice from Maha Guru Padmasambhava himself, from his Wisdom Essence of Oral Instructions in the Stages of the Path (Zheldam Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo), the quintessence of all of his Heart Practices:

Moreover, emphasize unbearable devotion, ༔
Arouse impartial compassion and bodhicitta, and ༔
Seek out the actual key points with profound knowledge. ༔
Through resolving with the view and distinguishing with the conduct, ༔
The major hindrance of privileging either of the two truths will be self-liberated, ༔
And the qualities of the path will naturally and effortlessly manifest. ༔ 

Padmasambhava, Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo (Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2016), p.42.

Moreover, emphasize unbearable devotion: the foundation of all Dharma practice is trust. First, we need to believe in karmic cause and effect, knowing that we will have to experience the results of all our actions. Then, we need to have faith in the power of mind, which creates all of our experiences, whether of suffering or of happiness. From this, we come to understand that the essence of mind is awakening, and its nature is primordial wisdom. Trusting this, we see that all phenomena are likewise in essence primordial wisdom. This of course includes the guru from whom we receive instructions, empowerment, and transmissions, whom we believe is the buddha in person because his essence, like that of all things, is emptiness, or primordial wisdom. Thus, devotion means trust in the primordially awakened nature of all phenomena, which entails that the nature of mind and the nature of the guru are indivisibly one as primordial wisdom.

Arouse impartial compassion and bodhicitta: Compassion starts with feelings of love and empathy for others, and evolves into the heartfelt wish for all beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. Based on this, we then give rise to the profound motivation to apply all of our body, speech, and mind to the attainment of enlightenment for the sake of liberating all beings from suffering and the causes of suffering, that they may all achieve the quintessence of reality, the kaya of primordial wisdom. Bodhicitta should thus be cultivated with total impartiality with respect to all phenomena.

Seek out the actual key points with profound knowledge: Profound knowledge first arises from studying the authentic Dharma with an authentic teacher, in a genuine manner. Based on correct knowledge of studying, one reflects in order to cultivate the knowledge of contemplation. If one then puts this knowledge into practice in the right manner, cultivating the unmistaken view and meditation, one acquires the knowledge of meditation, the wisdom that knows the true nature of things exactly as they are.

Through resolving with the view and distinguishing with the conduct: Maintaining this practice, we then need to resolve the view. The view of Buddhadharma consists first in selflessness, then emptiness, and finally the primordial wisdom of original awakening. This view needs to be ascertained in a decisive manner. In parallel, we need to discriminate our conduct with mindfulness and vigilance, so we do not commit any of the ten non-virtues, but apply ourselves to cultivating the ten virtues. In terms of the Secret Mantra, this also means keeping our samaya and maintaining pure perception. That is how one correctly distinguishes one’s conduct.

The major hindrance of privileging either of the two truths will be self-liberated: As our correct conduct assists us in ascertaining the view, we avoid privileging either conduct or view. That is to say, we do not fall into the extreme of nihilism, focusing only on ultimate reality and neglecting all else, dismissing the relative as unimportant. Nor do we fall into the extreme of essentialism, forgetting the ultimate and grasping onto the relative as truly existent.

And the qualities of the path will naturally and effortlessly manifest: If one practices the path in this way, all qualities will effortlessly arise. So please practice in this very way.

Sending you all my love.
Sarva Mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche

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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.