Guru Rinpoche Day Teachings

Tsangnyön Heruka’s mind instructions

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 a song of realization, which the master Tsangnyön Heruka sang to his disciple Bönpo Dorjé Nyingpo as he was giving him mind instructions:

One day, at the time when Tsangnyön Heruka was giving instructions to Bönpo Dorjé Nyingpo on how to search for the mind, he sang the following song as a pointing out:

Listen son, Dorjé Nyingpo, you who search for the mind!

The very one who is searching—that itself is the mind,
So how will you ever find it by looking elsewhere?
A sword, though sharp, cannot cut itself.
The eye, though clear, cannot see itself.

Don’t be the thirsty man who searches for water as he is drowning;
The person who struggles to undo a knot tied up in space;
Or the barren woman who weeps at the death of her child…
Just so is searching elsewhere for the mind you never lost!

The perfect Buddha is nowhere but this very mind.
Therefore, you must trust yourself!
Listen to this song about the true nature of your mind:

The essence of your mind, the unborn all-ground,
Without cause in the beginning, is present while causeless.
Without cessation in the end, it is present while essenceless.
While free from all bias toward samsara or nirvana, it is present.

It is free from substance, characteristic, or color.
Not existing as one, while appearing as many, it is present.
Though it is inexpressible, while I express it in words, it is present.
Concealed when searched for, still it remains, and is present.
When you let go and settle, it shows its face, and is present.

With this pointing out of the mind, Bönpo became a Dharma practitioner.

Now, I would just like to briefly add that all of you are probably doing some sort of Dharma practice. Whether you are meditating on a regular basis or not, the crucial point for you to understand is how important the mind is. Becoming a good Dharma practitioner is entirely dependent on the mind. So please master your mind.

With all my love,

Sarva Mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche

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2 responses on "Tsangnyön Heruka’s mind instructions"

  1. Hi, I love Tsangnyön Heruka’s mind instructions! Thank you for sharing!

    i) Is there a commentary / source for this text? as can’t find on google.

    Personally I would love to hear more about Mind (not) Seeing Mind (knowingly)….especially anything related to ‘self-existing wakefulness’?

    ii) So would appreciate pointers for any similar or related texts, commentaries, or books about resolving and refining this seeming paradox:

    “A sword, though sharp, cannot cut itself.”
    “The eye, though clear, cannot see itself.”

    ie. ‘not finding is finding’ / ‘not seeing is the great seeing’

    vs.

    Being able to settle in one’s own mind – knowingly?
    eg. ‘like a candle flame illuminates itself’ (eg. Khenchen Thrangu).

    I guess its pointing to the same thing but any text that elucidates this would be very interesting for me.
    Thank you

  2. Beautiful pith instructions, it remind of the 24th Bonpo Dzogchen masters Instructions from the Zhang zhung Nyengyud Dzogchen tradition whom all of them achieved rainbow body . By the way who is Bönpo Dorjé Nyingpo and what period did he live? I am wondering if he was converted from the Bonpos to the Indian Buddhism as taught by Padmasambhava?

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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.