Guru Rinpoche Day Teachings

Kunkhyen Jamgön Mipham Rinpoché’s Advice for Beginners

Dear friends near and far

May this message find you happy and healthy on this first Guru Rinpoche Day of the Tibetan lunar year. These first 15 days of the year until the Full Moon are especially precious opportunities for multilying the merits and positive effects of our practice. Considering this, I would like to share with you some short advice for practitioners from Kunkhyen Jamgön Mipham Rinpoché. This advice in four verses correlates with the Four Dharmas of Longchenpa, also known as the Four Dharmas of Gampopa.

Advice for Beginners by Mipham Rinpoche

Advice for Beginners
by Mipham Rinpoche

Kyeho! All activities within saṃsāra are pointless and hollow—
Unreliable and fleeting, like lightning’s streaking dance,
And there is no certainty as to when death will strike.

Still, since death is certain, limit idle plans and speculations, 
Allow the teacher’s instructions to hit home and strike a chord,
And, single-pointedly, in solitude, seek perfect certainty of mind.

Mind, which is like lightning, a breeze, or passing clouds,
Is coloured by its various thoughts of everything under the sun,
But when examined thoroughly is found to lack a basis or origin.

Just like a mirage on the horizon, it is devoid of essential nature.
While being empty, it appears; and while appearing, it is empty.
Left to settle, naturally, by itself, mind arrives at a genuine state of ease,
And, when familiarity grows stable, mind’s natural condition is seen.

If devotion to the teacher grows vast, blessings will enter and inspire the mind,
And when accumulations are gathered and obscurations purified, realization will dawn—
So take this practice to heart, carefully and with constant effort!

When some beginners asked me for advice on practice, I, the one called Mipham, wrote this for their instruction. May virtue abound!

Translation from Lotsawa House, by Adam Pearcey.

Reflecting on the first verse turns your mind toward the Dharma. Samsaric actions have no essence or meaning, everything is impermanent, and death will certainly come though the timing is uncertain. Seeing this, you should not rely on long-term planning, and instead be diligent in your practice now.

With the guidance of the second verse, your mind and your Dharma practice will align with the path. Learn the Dharma from your gurus and apply it correctly. Go to retreat places and practice with decisiveness. You will notice that mind and its distractions behave like lightning or wind.

The third verse shows how the path dispels the obscurations. When you check this impermanent mind, which is like lightning, like clouds, you see that there is no substance; it is not truly existent. Everything is like an illusion. What you see is empty by nature, and the empty nature is what you see. That’s why you need to meditate and maintain the natural state.

When we follow the guidance of these first three Dharmas of Longchenpa, then wisdom will arise; confusion will dawn as wisdom. The fourth verse explains that when you maintain the natural state well, you will see your nature. When you have great devotion, you will receive blessings. When you accumulate and purify correctly, you will gain realization. Because of this, we should all apply effort and practice well.

Sarva Mangalam,

Phakchok Rinpoche

Image courtesy of HAR


Bahasa Indonesia

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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.