The Twelve Links of Dependent Arising
Dear friends near and far
I hope you’ve all been well and that your dharma practice is flourishing. On 10th April, here at our main monastery in Boudhanath, Kathmandu, Chokling Rinpoche kindly began bestowing upon us the empowerments and oral transmissions for Konchok Chidü (The Embodiment of the Precious Ones), a set of blessed treasure teachings focused on Guru Rinpoche that were revealed by the great master Jatsön Nyingpo (1585 – 1656).
These empowerments were specially arranged for the lamas and practitioners from all the villages in Nepal, and lamas from more than forty states in Nepal made the journey down to Kathmandu for this precious event. While the five hundred+ guest lamas were seated inside the main shrine hall together with our own monks and nuns, the monastery’s entire front lawn and courtyards were jam-packed with other lamas, monks, nuns, and laypeople who had come to joyfully receive these rare transmissions.
The entire event was sponsored by the Foundation, and this included giving lunch to everyone present (1300kg of rice per day!), as well as water throughout the day and afternoon tea. Of course this was a great expense, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to practice generosity, and on top of this it was inspiring as always to witness the relentless generosity, devotion, and gratitude of the Himalayan people, who in spite of being relatively poor made unstinting offerings day after day.
We concluded yesterday with a long-life empowerment that was attended by more than 15,000 people, all of whom devotedly queued up in the monastery for six or more hours in order to receive the blessings in spite of the heat, dust, and crowds. At nine pm when everyone had finally received the blessings, I then began the final teaching session for the Nine Yanas retreat which was attended this year by many international students as well as about thirty of our young monks and nuns.
During the Nine Yanas retreat, with teaching sessions crammed in between the intense schedule of empowerments, we talked in detail about the twelve links of dependent arising which are the focus of the Pratyekabuddhas (self-realized buddhas). The twelve links are an extremely profound teaching, something that all of us practitioners need to reflect on repeatedly. These twelve links are explained in great detail by Buddha Shakyamuni in sutras such as the Rice Sprout Sutra which I would recommend you all to study and contemplate. In particular, we should understand the benefits of understanding the twelve links, which in short are as follows:
By gaining an understanding of the twelve links of dependent arising, automatically you will become very skilled in practicing the dharma because you now see and know that samsara and your suffering are in fact created by your own ignorance, nothing and no one else. Having understood that you will also know that the ability to relinquish samsara and gain liberation lies in your own hand;
You will naturally gain compassion, and not just superficial compassion but an authentic, grounded compassion towards all sentient beings who are trapped and suffering in this cycle of samsara because of not realizing the process and function of the twelve links;
You will gain deep-felt trust in the Buddha’s teaching which reveals to us so clearly the path to liberation; and
You will gain an understanding of capacity, how causes and conditions give rise to results; for example, how performing certain actions of body and speech (for example, practices such as prostrations, offerings, and supplication) can lead to profound changes in your own mind.
Keeping the swift and powerful blessings of the Lotus-born One, Guru Rinpoche in my heart, I would like to request all of you to keep the points I have mentioned in mind – generosity, devotion, and gratitude, and the twelve links of dependent arising – and to endeavor each and every day to bring them to mind and let them seep deep into your heart.
As always, with many prayers and aspirations.