Advice on the Path - Tsoknyi Rinpoche
Teachings given at Swyambunath, Katmandu, May 2006
Good morning, I would like to begin the teaching with a short meditation. Then you can ask some questions. But first, please bring your "lung" down, below the navel.
I have been teaching Westerners for about 15 years. In the beginning I didn't realize that Westerners have so much "lung". "Lung" and clarity are connected, the clarity-mind. Tibetans in the east don't have so much clarity; so that doesn't bring up so much "lung". "Lung" means speed, wind, restless energy in your body. Between the gross body and the mental, there is the subtle body. It is connected with "tsa", "lung", and "tigle". The lung's main place is below the navel. But because of lifestyle circumstances, subject and object, with the fear and wanting to accomplish so much within a short time, all your attention goes out through the five senses, just flies outside and lands on the five objects and then there is glue there, strong glue. You glue onto the objects and then there is a mixture of glue with hope and fear. And that comes back to you as lung. Then you have this buzzzzzzzzz.
When you stay in New York City, there is buzzzz, speed-buzz. Although you think "I have no job, but I have plenty of money, my relationship is good", but New York City's blessing is buzzzzz, you feel you must do something! That is also connected with the fear. So we have this I think.
I call it "fear of existence". And that creates some kind of speed, restlessness and then worse, it becomes anxiety. I think that is the major disease in this speedy world, and it needs to be brought down. If you don't bring it down - even if you practice meditation, then it becomes like the car-engine, without going. Just wheeee ! You are not going anywhere! So you sit there with this speed and you chant mantras, and it becomes worse. You try to meditate, but it becomes worse…I think the mind, needs to connect with the body, the subtle body. And then find this lung and breath it down. There is traditionally a technique called jamlung that might help. If not, just mentally find that restless energy in your body. Not in the mind. Of course the mind and the body are connected but sometimes the lung is not connected with the mind. It just becomes a physical buzz. And that is also sometimes connected with tightness. So find that and bring it down.
This is becoming your weak point and ego tries to own that. So ego, the speed, the fear, all becomes one lump. And then it becomes very tight, tight inside. And it becomes your life-program. You always live with that, no matter what you are doing. Even when you are talking, listening, reading, even when you are in an airplane, there is some tightness there. That tightness is actually connected with the wind.
We have five different winds. One is called upper-going wind and that wind is supposed to stay below the navel. So it goes up and connects with the nerves and then becomes locked up. Then it gives you muscle-problems and creates a lot of emotions at the wrong time, in the wrong place. When this wind goes up, it becomes very emotional. It's like a bottle of mineral water - half is water, half is air. So your head is like half is the brain and half is like open air. Your head feels so big… That is wind, which went up in the head. And then the face becomes red, eyes becomes burning, then agitation. All this is the subtle body's problem. Of course it is created by the mind. But once it becomes physical, although mentally you think, "Oh, no problem, I am fine", this problem remains in your subtle body. So basically you need to bring it down.
Loving kindness, compassion, devotion and feelings are very good for bringing this lung down. If you do it authentically, it gives another kind of buzz - devotion-buzz: "Om mani peme hung, om mani peme hung"… It's like listening to good music. So this blessing settles the lung down. Clarity will not necessarily bring the lung down. But if you do very good rigpa or Mahamudra-practice, free from any clinging, then there is nothing that can get hooked. So the stress or restless lung just drops. But sometimes there is an undercurrent of some ego-clinging. Although you think your clarity is up here, deep down you are still holding something on the view. So there is one thread, subtle thread…
When lung is up here, then your lifestyle is like that of a teenager:" What to do - new boyfriend - new girlfriend?"…. So hope and fear brings lung up all the time. Then when you sleep, it goes down. In the morning when you wake up - zoom - up again! Because the lung already knows how to go up. You already made a habitual pattern in your physical system. As soon as you grasp, this lung comes up. I have had this experience because I did one project and then this lung came up. I worked 15 years with Drukpa Kagyu-book project. So that was very tough. But then I developed a method to bring the lung down.
There is no way without going through the mind. Mindfulness on the mind and then sort of scanning to find this speedy lung and then mind, speedy lung, again connect. My example is: if you have children and if the children stay in the childrens’ room, then there is no problem. But if the children come into the shrine-room, then there is a problem. Is it the children-problem or the location-problem? It is the location-problem, not the children problem. So lung actually is no problem, we need that lung. But if it goes in the wrong location, then it makes problem.
The best way to bring down lung is rigpa, but rigpa is sometimes too open, too much clarity, it's easy to be distracted. So you need some focus, subtle focus. So mind, mindfulness connected with the mind and mind slowly scans down the lung, with the help of external breathing.
There is a technique where you can hold your restless lung down and then also smile. If you can do that, then it's very good. I think H.H. Dalai Lama is always smiling, but I don't see any lung in his face. He is a always clear, not cloudy, not burned, red, watery eye. His eyes are always bright. Very engaging but I think he knows how to bring his lung down. Some lamas because of their lifestyle, like H.H. Khentse Rinpoche always sat like a mountain. So his lung was like a solid rock and then he engaged within that. H.H. Dalai Lama - always engaging - that kind of style is easy to bring lung up. But being motionless like Nyoshul Khen or Khentse Rinpoche, that doesn't create so much lung. But our modern lifestyle creates too much lung. So bring it down.
When you have too much lung, you have almost two personalities. It is like a big screen CNN showing something and then below there is a message-wave. But it doesn't connect. One is talking about Mr. Bush, an other is taking about the Share Market in Taiwan. So you have this double personality. When you have lung and you are engaging with something, the subtle, undercurrent is talking about something different. Then you are really tight. That's a sign of lung or non-focus. So fully synchronize, focus on your body, bring lung down and then rest in Shamata without support, Mahamudra, Dzogchen or do visualization. Then everything becomes very good, because of clarity, there is full potential. Otherwise it brings up a lot of cloudiness and extra emotions. The whole point is you need to have guts. I think a lot of people have no guts. They become hollow, easy to scare, almost like panic will come. So when there are no guts, you become very emotional, very cloudy. This is the problem. So bring lung down. Make very solid guts here and then this becomes clear, and the emotions are not upside-down. The mind is pure clarity. Based on that structure you have to practice Buddhism. It is not even Buddhism yet; just the foundation.
When you bring lung down, you should not feel dull. If there is dullness, that means your lung and also your mental cognition is down here. Then it becomes stupid meditation. So be sure…Between the Dzogchen and Vipassana we have this problem. Dzogchen is trying to be very clear, clarity went down here and this becomes numb. Vipassana tries to work here but in the end mind and mental cognition also gets absorbed into this stillness. So there is a middle way. Just keep your body completely relaxed. Rest lung in its own place and keep mind totally free from any concepts, any method or technique. Just freely rest, then lung doesn't come after the clarity. When the mind is active, normally the lung also becomes active, like tail. So we don't need the lung: "You stay here, this is your place (below the navel)". So you keep it there. Then the active clarity, openness will be very, very useful I think.
A lot of people who have lung, are usually clever people. They are very active. So because of their active clarity, their emotional life becomes upside down. Anytime I give Dzogchen or nature of mind-teaching, in the retreat they practice very well. Then when they are out of the retreat, of course they have lung-problem. Then they take all the other methods trying to bring the lung down. They try to do yoga, they do Vipassana, and they do breathing and all kinds of scanning. So during the whole year they try to focus on their physical comfort. But you can maintain physical comfort mainly by bringing the lung down. With this scanning, with this gentle vase breathing, if you do it well, it will stay. It can save a lot of time. And when you hold that, even when you go to the office, you will not suffer from restlessness. Otherwise if you stay in three-year-retreat and then you come out - a bit crazy, because the lung went up. So the challenge is that the raw material of lung sits here, below the navel and the heart is open. Mind, nature of mind, the cognition becomes clear. Then I think it can make a very good basic practitioner.
So now ask questions: what is the most difficult area in your life, or the most difficult when you practice meditation. (Three western monks arrive to the teaching) Oh, three "Nepalese" came! One hour late! So these three monks do not have any lung-problems..! So can we discuss what is the most problematic area in your general life? Maybe there is some advice from the Buddhist path. Or when you come onto the meditation path, maybe you have some difficulties. Or when coming to the Vajrayana, or to Mahamudra or, Dzogchen. So what is the most difficult practice of your life? Based on that then we can discuss. Otherwise you have heard thousands of teachings already, so it becomes just another technique.
Student: Rinpoche, in dealing with the emotions I have heard for so many years that the different yanas have different approaches. And in the Vajrayana it always says we take the emotions as the path. In Jamgong Kongtul's "Creation and Completion" text he mentions that when we have a particular emotion, we should visualize ourselves in the form of the deity. But honestly I don't know how to apply that or the whole idea of taking the emotions as the path…
Rinpoche: I think you have to have a certain attitude first. An attitude towards the emotions. Not as an enemy, not as abandoning them. And then sort of bring it in. But there is a trick. Don’t truly follow them but bring them in. It is a little bit like the Aikido method - you go with it and then kick it out. At the end you have to kick out the emotion but not bang it. So first you welcome the emotion and then it becomes part of you and it becomes a little bit relaxed. Then you apply the method so it is taken as the path. The emotion and you are going in the same direction at first. Then slowly you say bye, bye.
Within the emotions there are five poisons. Within the five poisons, there is one predominant element - the ego. You have to abandon that, no matter what. Remove ego and the five poisons become transformed. I think that is the best way. When you are joining with the emotion, it really transforms the ego, and it freaks out. Ego is very happy when you are challenging it, because ego then becomes important, and is holding onto the method, - object and method - so ego becomes very spiritual, very holy. But underneath is the same root, same wire…
When the emotion comes, we are sort of cheating the ego: "Ok, I am also emotion, I don't mind, emotion is good, actually I follow it". So the ego freaks out, and doesn't know what to do. And from there you go out through the nature of mind. First welcome, transform a little bit and then look in. When the ego doesn't know what to do, recognize rigpa. Then rest. To recognize rigpa at the beginning is sometimes difficult.
Student: is it better to live with the emotions for a while rather than acting upon them?
Rinpoche: Emotions come from your investment, from the alaya, habitual pattern stored in the alaya. Sometimes emotions are not created, but you just sit there and from your alaya - pop- it comes out. We need to know how to deal with that also. A lot of emotions come when you practice preliminary practice, ngondro. Some can cope with it, some cannot take it. So it is very challenging through that time. But when any obstacle comes, any emotion comes, this method is the best, to at first welcome it. Do not confront, just welcome. But don't stay too long. Then you become part of the emotion. You understand more or less..? Technically you understood, but whether you can do it or not, that depends on your skill of practice.
Student: Is the emotion always based on a thought?
Rinpoche: Some emotions, particularly pure emotions are not necessarily created by the mind, but when the emotion comes, it informs the mind. Then you know it is emotion. But it comes sometimes not necessarily through the mind. Some emotions are already in your physical system, so when the physical system "clicks", it comes up.
Student: Like fear, when you walk and suddenly you trip up….
Rinpoche: That fear we need, Buddhism also says. It's called healthy fear. Until you become a rainbow body you need that fear. That fear is part of our relative truth wisdom. If you sit there and a tiger comes, then do something with your clarity. Run is better? Pretending you are dead is better? Or make funny noise is better? You have to do something to protect your physical body. If when a tiger comes, you can do like this "Oh, transparent, it doesn't obstruct", then it is ok. The tiger will not eat you because you’re a rainbow body. Until then, we need this fear. But what I am talking about is this buzz-fear. That fear is very unhealthy.
Student: When fear comes you feel it from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head. You feel this kind of adrenaline rush. But I find with some emotions like anger, it is more than something I can intellectually talk myself out of, because it takes hold in the body. Your face becomes red or you feel some tightness. Then I try to think how to deal with that. It's almost more overwhelming than any kind of intellectual fear…
Rinpoche: This kind of anger has two systems, you have to deal with both the emotional system and the mental understanding. You have to "click" both otherwise it will not go. You have to do something with your physical body, like therapy, not Buddhist therapy. And then the mental understanding: "Oh, why is this anger?" So you have to enlighten this understanding and still stay in your physical body. Then you do some mantras, some visualizations, and some transformation practice. Understanding practice and feeling practice need to go together, like loving-kindness, compassion, devotion. There is a feeling in your physical subtle body and there is one with no feeling. Just understanding, just clarity. You need both in order to work with the emotions.
Student: It seems that you can let go of the object and mentally try to reach a state of loving-kindness or tranquility. But at least in my own experience, the body seems to take longer time to settle back.
Rinpoche: That's ok. As long as you stay in the mind, the ego grasping is gone. The feeling will not give you any karmic pattern. But it becomes uncomfortable for you. But it is not a sin. Sin, "dikpa" is created in the mind. So when your mental grasping on the anger is gone, that is not really "dikpa", but it is distracting for your physical body if you don't take care properly.
Student: How do you separate your personality from the ego?
Rinpoche: Buddhism talks about two things: cause and condition. Some personality comes from your past life package. Some personality comes from the environment where you live, how you are brought up. As long as you have the five skandhas, ego is in charge. But actually it is not really there. So I think the best way of understanding of the five skandhas, is by an understanding of impermanence, understanding of non-solidity. So when you sit down and look: "Oh, this is the five skandhas, this is thought, this is emotion, this is I and this is my personality", then you can see that there is a space in between, where you can find openness, insight. Otherwise everything is me, ego, my problem, my personality - we call it me, but actually it is not really me, me like holding all these things. (Rinpoche clutches a lot of different items). "This is me, my personality". But then you start to see: "Oh, this is the air-condition controller, this is Rinpoche's blessings, this is a statue"…Then slowly, there is no me. The grasping is a little bit loose and within that you see space, then you just rest. But still there is knowing, cognizance and you know that all these are connected. So the ultimate wisdom knows the relative phenomena. Ultimate wisdom, egolessness knows…In the Mahamudra we call it "rochic toma" - one taste, many. And "toma-rochic"- from the many, one taste. "rochic toma, toma rochic".
So it is very important to balance the relative and the ultimate understanding. It is not like a black and white understanding. I know in the West you like to put everything in black and white, systematically. It works very well when running a country, but sometimes it does not work so well in the individual life. Too organized is maybe not so good, some organisation is good. So make everything so there is a connection, but not one lump. There is connection with the space and the knowing of the relative function through not holding everything as one lump, as "me".
Student: To take the mind as the path or to take the awareness as the path..?
Rinpoche: The mind as the path has two steps. Awareness as the path has only one step. If you are skillful, awareness as the path is better…one time I had a very good photographer in California. And I asked, what is the key-point of photography? He said:" Relax, be natural, look, and take". When I did that, all my photos were up here! But for him that is his talent. He knows all the other techniques. Because he becomes very natural, he becomes himself, he looks at the view in the lens very openly, and then he can take a picture. Then it becomes a very good photo. When his inner lens, his mind, is not cloudy, then he uses the other lens to take the picture. But when his inner lens is very cloudy, it doesn't know how to cooperate with the other lens.
So I think once you have a good stable rigpa practice, that is the best way. Just recognize rigpa, that's it. Any emotion comes, just re-recognize rigpa. There is no other way. The emotions naturally become purified. It's called self-liberation, liberation upon arising, liberation without benefit or harm. So that's the best way. If there is still something lingering there, although you are totally in rigpa, then: "Oh, hello, I am sorry, I didn't know you were here". Then you engage with that and make some kind of handshake so the emotion doesn't feel left out. It’s a big thing in America, left out - must include. If you don't include then it’s a big problem. With this method you include the emotions:"Oh honey!" Just say honey, it doesn't mean much but they will be happy, just like a mantra: honey, honey. Just say honey to your emotion and then you do what you want to do. Same technique we always use: "Oh honey, why don't you clean my shoes". You are persuing the honey but at the end you do what you want to do.
This is just one hand, this side and that side. Both sides are ok. You more or less have to accept it. Emotions are your emotions, whether you are skillfully managing them or not. But it is your thing, the emotion is you. Emotions are your production but used properly or used wrongly that is it. From the Mahayana or Vajrayana point of view emotions are fine. But if you use them wrongly, these emotions are harmful. You need to know how to welcome emotions. It doesn't mean that you follow all the way. That is the samsaric way of welcoming. If whatever the desire is, you follow it completely, then there is no freedom. This is close to Homeopathic and Aikido-technique, poison taken as medicine. It is poison material, but if you take the right dose, it becomes medicine for the disease. That means you are following the poison, but you also transform it.
Student: Rinpoche, you said that sometimes we can have emotions without thoughts. Is that because we all have "tsa", "lung" and "tigle"?
Student: Emotions come with that because our bodies are made with those. So then meditation practices involve "tsa, lung, tigle", is that another way of taking emotions as the path?
Rinpoche: It is suppose to be that. But you need to know the right way, otherwise it doesn't function. This Tibetan "tsa, lun, tigle" is designed for the Tibetan mind.
Student: Do I have different "tsa, lung, tigle" than Tibetans?
Rinpoche: No, but sometimes in modern life we have this subtle restlessness, an emotional problem which we don't have in Tibet. So they assume you don't have that problem and then they teach a lot of jumping, a lot of breathing. Sometimes it's too much, you might get more lung. So instead you go a little bit like yoga: you really take your time, scan yourself and loosen up the knots. Over the years there is the collection of restlessness and underneath there is one's ego. And you need to let it go. It takes a few months, a few years to really let it go. Then seal it by the mental understanding and it will stay there. So before we practice Tibetan "tsa-lung", I think it is good to practice the preliminary practice, the Jamlung, subtle vase-breathing.
Most Tibetan people don't have this speed-problem. They have a dullness-problem, opposite problem. In most of the three-year-retreats they sleep. When they come out of three-years-retreat, expert on sleeping! So a lot of "trulkor" works for the clarity. In the West the clarity is quite ok. But if clarity is mixed up with emotions then there is a problem. Anything harsh doesn't work for the body. But a very long time of gentle nurturing opens up. Then the heart is very good. So I think there needs to be a little bit of a new design. But both methods are in Buddhism. And chanting too much is no use in retreat. In some retreats they chant for the whole three years. But if you chant properly, with the feeling, then it is very good for the lung. But if you chant without feeling and the mind is thinking something else - from the mouth restlessly chanting - that is also very bad for lung.
Student: That's still relative level. When you say chant properly, that means resting in rigpa..?
Rinpoche: Rigpa or with the mood. With Vajrayogini's mood. The mood is very important. Vajrayogini and you and in between, the communication is the mood, with the mantra. It's like acting. A good actor could have the whole of Gandhi's mood when he is acting. So although he sleeps, it’s with Gandhi's mood. Tomorrow he wakes up, he drinks just like Gandhi. So slowly, slowly, he can become exactly like Gandhi. If you stay 12 years in retreat practicing Gandhi's visualization, with full trust, full love maybe you become like Gandhi. So it is the same. You have Vajrayoginis enlightened qualities, Vajrayogini's love and compassion. Then there is communication, communication, acting, acting, with the feeling. Not dry acting, like Nepali actors:"Trululli lu"…No crying, no juice, nothing. Even 100 years of that kind of practice, it cannot become Vajrayogini. Some good Hollywood actors are told:" Please cry", they cry immediately, it will not take more than three seconds: their high accomplishment of visualization, with the feeling. I think when Tibetans visualize; they come naturally with some feeling. In the West I think you are cut off from the feeling of the body. So you have no feeling, still you visualize but are dry. You must have feeling, appreciation, devotion and compassion. Every sadhana-practice is like that. But with no feeling then it become a mental drama. That is very bad for the lung. And that is why Vajrayana practice gets a lot of complaints: "So much chanting, so much visualization". Because you could not get the full feeling. Then it becomes useless.
For westerners I think it is very good to first bring your mind into the body, fully into the body so that your mind becomes emotional, feeling, and sensitive of the body. From there bring the clarity- practice Dzogchen. Otherwise Dzogchen becomes maybe a little bit spaced out.
One way is to bring in clarity and then zoom down, close. That is not good. It's called stupid meditation. A few hours practice, nothing happens. One other way is: "I want to practice Mahamudra, Dzogchen". The clarity zooms up, so the heart is cut off. So please practice correctly.
What is the most difficult - emotion, restlessness or discipline? I think discipline is the problem.
Student: Do you have any advice about discipline?
Rinpoche: I think discipline is the major problem for old practitioners. At one level you don't practice, always staying there somewhere. It doesn't go very far. People who come to the Dharma are usually quite smart people. They have some kind of understanding of emotions and negativity. Something is bothering them. Then they come to the spiritual path and after they practice a few years, they get this technique:" I know how to bring lung down, I know how to liberate a little bit". You are quite happy with this technique and then you are stuck there. So you are satisfied with the wrong thing. From a Buddhist point of view, it is a wrong limitation. "This practice gives me joy. Morning one hour and then daytime here and there connect with the rigpa. For rigpa-practice no need to sit in one place, I can go many places, even go shopping". You think you are practicing when shopping but most of the time you don't. So you have some assurance that "I can practice any where, any place, any time and I am quite ok". That becomes the major obstacle. Not going further. Do you understand? That's why there is a danger for the "Grand Samsaric Master. Through the spiritual practice you know samsara well and the spiritual practice helps samsara to run better! So when you have accomplished that, then you don't practice any more. When you have problems, lung comes up, bothering you, then emotions, then you practice. When everything is ok, then it is enough. So that is becoming a mundane therapy without having to pay others! That will not really give you a full picture of enlightenment.
If you think "I have achieved this, but I want to achieve more". Then the next jump to enhancement is the bodhicitta-practice. "I am quite ok. If I can become better, do more practice, do more retreat, maybe I can help sentient beings". So that's the click we need. When you have that, then discipline naturally comes. (Rinpoche stops the noisy air condition). The lung went down. This lung we have all the time, with the fear. When you practice, then you turn on the aircon also: "Om benzra satu.."When you switch it off, then relaxed. This is a big difference, very important I think. If my practice goes well, when I practice I become more rested. Then the more you practice, you will not get tired. When this is "on", then you get really tired. This is, I am sorry to say, just stupid practice, there is no insight at all. You don't need this in order to function. But when you become addicted to this, without it you almost cannot function, and then you are very sick already. Then you have to spend so much money on therapy…You understand? But maybe you don't have this problem. You have stayed too long in Nepal. Maybe you have the opposite problem. "Huncha, Huncha, no problem". Today always the same, tomorrow always the same. I have one gardener, he always says: No problem, I will come tomorrow at four o'clock". But he never comes. So my gardener is really Nepali. One day I had a big talk with him, really rough Nepali way of talking. I never talk like that:"If you don't come, I will kick you out". But however roughly I say, he answers: "Huncha, Huncha"… He said he will come - still he didn't come! Every time when taking money, then he comes…
Student: Rinpoche, when you practice and get a bit tired, could that be a sign that actually…
Rinpoche: There are two ways of being tired. One way is that you sit too long, the blood circulation is not so good, and the body might be tired here and there. This is a different way of being tired. The other is being exhausted mentally, with no mood, no uplift.
Student: So there should always be an uplifted feeling after practice?
Rinpoche: Yes uplifted, but not like black and white uplift. Not like that. Instead a very pure, clear kind of uplift. Almost unconditional openness. Not like taking coffee-uplift or sugar-uplift. Not like that. But very subtle and normal uplift. When you see Trulsik Rinpoche, Khyentse Rinpoche, Tulku Urgen Rinpoche, there is always uplift somewhere in their mind. In their computer-program there is always openness, uplift, juice. But they are not hyper-uplifted. It is very gentle uplift, organic uplift…
Student: Sometimes Rinpoche, I think maybe I am fooling myself and I think I am recognizing rigpa when really I just achieved the calm state. So should I just carry on as if?
Rinpoche: Carry on but with the three excellences: refuge, bodhicitta, meditation. At the end dedicate. Then you will not go wrong. Just carry on. To make sure your recognition is authentic you can depend on three things: your own experience, the oral instruction from your teacher and an authentic book, like Longchenpa. If these three things go together, then there is no way to fool yourself. You have to check that with the help of your intellectual mind.
Student: Rinpoche, if we did some connection with the formless as the path in Mahamudra, what is the benefit of still doing for example, "Kyerim" or "Tsalung"-practise? For example you see the great masters who really are resting in rigpa, but they still keep the form aspect of practice. So what does that add to Mahamudra and Dzogchen?
Rinpoche: It is a little bit style but actually once you have very authentic, pure understanding of mind nature, either from Mahamudra or Dzogchen, then honestly if you only practice that, within that all the other qualities are naturally included. Then I think you don't need so much. Within the rigpa, the essence rigpa is emptiness; the expression of rigpa includes all the other qualities like love, compassion, devotion, and pure perception. All these are within the rigpa. But if you also do some accumulation of merit, it will help to give better opportunity. Maybe the merit will give you a father who supports you the rest of your life. Or maybe you will have the right girlfriend or a wife who supports you and both of you practice the whole path. Or maybe you teach in the future, maybe you will have better students. So merit makes all these arrangements keep going. But if you really have all the qualities within the rigpa I think it is sufficient. But Tibetan people they don't want to take such high risk, so they do both.
Student: Because the best way of accumulating merit is to just rest in rigpa?
Rinpoche: Yes, if you really can. But sometimes you cannot. It could become a dry rigpa, completely dry. Not expression rigpa, no display. Purely dry, with no thoughts, no emotions, just dry, vacant. That is not good. You have to have the juice, full juice. One great khenpo called Khenpo Munsel didn't chant, he didn't do anything for 20 years except for resting in Trekcho. But most of the Tibetan lamas they are a little bit scared. They don't want to take a high risk so they do both. Khyentse Rinpoche is different you can't count him. If he was chanting or not chanting or just sat there, for him it didn’t matter. So why not chant within rigpa. And maybe there is also some commitment, so he didn’t want to break that. When he got teaching, maybe the teacher asked him to practice this for the rest of his life. I think Khyentse Rinpoche followed such commitment. Some sadhana you also have to keep up in order to be able to give the teaching. Like the Sakyapa's: everyday you have to chant the whole thing. If you miss it one day, then you cannot give the empowerment of that deity to other people. So that also makes a lot of lung..!
In the west I think you really need simple deep relaxation. Really, this is very important, I think. Your lifestyle makes you tight, very subtle; the tightness is rooted deep, deep down. Because of that you become successful in everyday life. Somewhere there is "Work, work, I must do it, I am not happy, do more, do something"…Because of that you do a lot of things and then there is success. But sometimes it is distracting for you. There is a way where you can do both I think…I call this modern civilization disease. In America children around 11-12 years old they already have these problems. Because the education is very high on clarity, not so much on emotions. The emotional development is very messed up.
One time I was flying from New York to California, it's about five hours. Behind my seat was a girl about 12 years with her father. The father made the girl cry all the way, with a honey-smile. But she cried because he gave so many reasons why she was here to her. She understood the reasons, but she needed some flexibility with emotional freedom. So that is very suppressive. The more you get very high education here, then it is suppressive, you lose the carefree, lose the cute, wild openness…15 years old children are already like this:" What is the life?" Seed of worry already planted. That is very bad for opening the heart. But I am sorry; we are all too late already. But there is a way we can clean up. Bring the lung down and every time the bus comes: "Oh bus, let it go". Then you walk and move without the air conditioner "on".
Student: Can you say more about how to bring the lung down?
Rinpoche: First you have to make the connection between the lung and your mind. Just make connection, connection, just long breathing. Then once you have made this connection, then you bring it down with the mental scanning of the lung, with the help of the external breathing, slowly breathing in and out. Then it goes into the center channel and becomes purified. So restlessness, lung, need to become normal lung and then go into the center channel. If you train in that, one day you will naturally know. After 1-2 months practice, the breathing might help you to come down. I think yoga teaches a little bit like that. When you have good lung coming down, all the big muscles in your body also loosen up. You become quite light. Especially you will not become chicken-hearted, not that scared. Some guts is there, some bodhisattva-elements, heroic element.
I think we need to practice renunciation and a little bit modern way of renunciation. The old way is: "Life is too complicated, there are 1000 yaks and I don't know how to handle it. In order to have yaks I need to go to the fields, go to town"…In order to maintain the lifestyle, there is some kind of suffering. But now this life is changed. If you have a bank account and money in the account, you will get a lot of immediate pleasures. Like this air conditioner - immediately on, immediately off. So we are caught by this now. Sometimes because of no air conditioner we might not practice. If you are a little bit dull, you don't try to clear it from inside. You immediately depend on external clarity. So with a lot of dependence on that, you become caught by immediate comfort and you like it, it gives some immediate pleasure. So the real renunciation is gone. Do you understand? So a new way of thinking become: "Because of all these circumstances I cannot practice the Dharma". So this is my renunciation object". You feel sad about that.
"Oh, how I spend my life. The day I became a Buddhist I thought that after 20 years I will have accomplished something". Now 20 years has gone. How you spent it: a little bit here, a little bit there… And now again you think: "After 20 years something will happen". So last 20 years it didn't happen. It might not happen after again 20 years if you don't change lifestyle…Do you understand? Honestly, if you practice Dharma well, the Dharma will transform you. Look at many beings. Kalu Rinpoch, Chatral Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche are not born as rinpoches. They are just normal beings and they started from the beginning. And if you end up like Tulku Urgen Rinpoche I think there is no regret. If I end up like the Karmapa or Khyentse Rinpoche I have no regret at all even if the Dharma is wrong, even if the path is completely wrong. So the Dharma can achieve something. But the lifestyle is not like that. So the last 20 years, every single day more or less you think: "After 10-15 years I will have changed, I will have achieved some Dharma". But then the days, the years are exactly the same. Yesterday is gone, today is gone similarly, tomorrow is similar to yesterday, day after tomorrow is also similar…2007, 2008, 2020! Who are you?!! So you can reflect. All these obstacles are not the suffering obstacles. All these obstacles are the pleasure obstacles, immediate pleasure.
Although you want to practice you think: "I need the best view and the best" kuti" with the right water. Good air, no one bothering, good view, good tree, no Mao problems, then I will practice". But if you really work hard you might achieve this kind of location. You can find it in Thailand; you can also find it in Katmandu. It is achievable but then it becomes the obstacle sometimes. So you think of all these circumstances. Then you reflect on renunciation based on that.
When you have a real inside change, then renunciation is not a problem at all. You will be very happy and delightful wherever you are. Wherever you practice there is some joy with that simplicity. Because this unsatisfied fear with the ego-lung is changed, is transformed. For example yogis in Tashi Jong have a very simple life but are very rich in their mind stream.
You should use your practice and many of you know how to, but if you don't, your life becomes a little bit like a hippy. Hippy-practitioner as a lifestyle. If you are happy with that then it is ok. But there is a possibility that you can achieve enlightenment also. That is missing.
Student: How can you use discipline so it improves your practice and also find a balance?
Rinpoche: You need to have discipline mainly on your action, not inwardly, otherwise it becomes uptightness. The focus of discipline is the laziness. "Oh I need to practice, this is my practice, I want to do". Just thinking with your mind very tightly, but you don't do it and you feel a little bit guilty. That kind of discipline is torture. But with healthy discipline, you drop everything even for only ten minutes. During those ten minutes you completely let it go and then practice the Dharma.
You need to apply immediate action. That kind of discipline is very good, without worry.
"Oh I need to practice. Last 20 years are gone like that. Now Tsoknyi Rinpoche told me and I finally realized it. Now these coming 20 years might also go like that. That will happen exactly at year 2020. So I worry"... But you are not acting; just to keep worrying won’t help. Just do! Just do it! Action! Just do it chanting, do it meditation. Just immediately do it. At any occasion, any time, just do it. In the taxi, in the home, when cooking, any time, just do it. And also see what creates more obstacles for not becoming disciplined. Try to change that through organizing yourself and then make discipline. I think daily practice is very good, three hours sitting every day at least. It is not so much, you need to sacrifice a little bit, and you need to change lifestyle a little bit.
You wake up at 5 o'clock. HH Dalai Lama wakes up at 3 o'clock every day. But he organizes it; he goes to sleep a little bit early. If you are a householder you organize it as a team, children, everybody. All talk together, big talk first so there is a common ground. Then respect each other and follow the system. Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche practiced at any place and his wife also practiced. Everybody becomes like one team of Dharma-practitioners. That is very good.
But please don't follow the way I am exercising, then you will never practice. It is a psychological problem. I need to go to an exercise place but I have only 15 days in Katmandu. No point of going, I think. I should have at least two months time. So I am waiting for that. But there is almost never two months. Actually if you go 15 days regularly and when you are outside of Katmandu, you can do home-practice. Like Mingyur Rinpoche, he is so disciplined. Everyday he practices exercises. He is so slim, so thin, so shiny, no belly… So even if he only has ten minutes before eating, he practices something like jumping 100 times. And that is enough. I could do that also, I have more time than him. But I am waiting to join a club. And so I end up like this (points at his belly). Mingyur Rinpoche travesl more than seven months a year, but he still keeps that discipline, that health club. 20 minutes is so easy, you can find many places. So it is a state of mind. So the kind of mentality that is not OK for practitioners is: "I need to do retreat, to have a good circumstance, I have to talk to the family, and then I will practice". But this never happens! Never ever happens.
Student: What is the best way to exercise for reducing lung?
Rinpoche: "Trulkor" - Tibetan yoga and walking in the forest is very good. Everything is green and then just walk and rest in the nature of mind. But when trekking sometimes there is a bad road, and then you have to think. That is not so good, and then the lung will also come up. Better not to use so much mental grasping. At the same time there is some clarity in order for maintaining walking but your mind is not activated.
If you have lung, shopping is very bad, especially for men's lung. For woman it's OK. The best way for woman's lung to come down is to go to the department store. Then lung comes down. For men, one day inside the department store, you go crazy, so many things! In the department store they have a special light that makes you very tired. But it is different if you go as a practitioner. Then it's OK. Then you go relaxed and that is also a very good practice. But everywhere, anything you are doing you have to have an inside program, a Dharma program and based on this program, you run the whole world.
Student: Program - does it mean the same as motivation?
Rinpoche: Motivation, plus your mobile phone is "on", your rigpa is "on", and your compassion is "on". You are the computer and then you put in a program. "Today my program is generosity, today my program is resting in the nature of mind". You go with that program. Then there is no problem. With motivation and attitude you then turn the mobile "on", then you have what is called in Tibetan "sungjuk". Then you have consecrated with the help of "yeshepa". When you consecrate it means the wisdom being is brought into the statue. Otherwise it is just a statue, an object of reminder for the Buddha. But there is not much blessing. Here you are consecrated by the Dharma and with that "statue" then you go shopping! You should live your whole life like that! Then you become a spiritual being. Otherwise you switch off your mobile, come home in the car and then there is nothing, just hollow, no center. Then everything you see is distracted by that kind of state. Then there is no center-point. So you are lost, exhausted, scared. This kind of people the shopping centers really love because you keep buying! Otherwise if you are self-centered and relaxed, you look into the shopping mall and do offerings. When you see nice shoes, you offer: "Sazhi pocho jugshing metog tram"… You are not giving any money to the shop-owner, but you still offer! They don't like you. When you are completely lost and hollow: "Wow, how nice, ok where is my credit card?" They really welcome you!
When you go into a big supermarket, you can make merit anyplace, anywhere. In a big food market in America, one section has 40 different toothpaste, 100 types of toilet paper, 50 different kinds of shampoo. So many fruits, nuts, dry, fresh, organic, flowers… You see it and feel a whole different world. Then immediately you offer it: "Sazhi pocho"…Let it go, appreciate the goodness of all these things. That is also Dharma-practice. You are changing the concept.
I can do that in America because I am not American. But I cannot do it here in Nepal. Whenever I see a bumpy road I get angry at the government because I was born here. I should offer the road also and practice compassion… When I am in America I am so happy. Those people are very intelligent but they often have emotional problems. If we could change that, then America is the best place to live I think. They have a lot of freedom and they can live in many different ways. The country is very open, the cars are very big, the roads are very big, and people's thinking is very big…After three years I become American, I get citizenship. But I can't become president, because I was born outside. Yangsi Tulku Urgen Rinpoche can become president! I thought I was ahead of him but he already has citizenship. He is still the father. For me so much struggle, stay one year, applying. He just came out in Washington DC. It's close to the White House!
Anyway, please be happy, it's important! Not stupid happy, but really happy. Loose the lung down and then apply a lot of discipline. Then I think it will be good. Life is a big thing but when it comes down to the simple basics, it's just surviving. Just one dahl-bat, that's it really. Dahl-bat is the basis of life. If that is gone, then there is big problem.
In the world there are a lot of unhappy people, more and more unhappy people. If you can make people happy, then maybe many people can become peaceful, unconditionally happy. The essence of love is just really to be fully open, now, just being happy. Our basic "buzz" needs to be like that. Then you engage with other things. But if the basic "buzz" is unsatisfied, fear, guilt and restlessness, then that is your main source of suffering. In the morning you wake up, something is wrong. Every morning you wake up, something is wrong. But what is wrong you don't know. You look at many things, compare your life with other peoples’ lives and then it looks quite ok. But something is wrong. That is the disease of lung. So clean that let it go. If you do, it doesn't slow down your lifestyle. You can still carry on with your project, your family, your Dharma, but without this extra unnecessary force. It’s very unhealthy.
In Nepal we have a different drive: "Oh, it cannot be done, it will not happen, it is so difficult, I will not manage this". They have this fear. There is some kind of dullness in Asian people's mind. I think the Dharma need to address all those things otherwise it goes "switch". Your problem is here, the Dharma flies over it and you pretend "I am fine", especially in front of the teacher "No problem, fine". Smiling an artificial smile. But you still have the "buzzz".
So completely look within and let it go. I think it's a big jump if you can do that. I am trying to force that to happen and I am trying to make world-peace based on that. That really cools things down and then it is very peaceful for you. I am writing one book about this, connected with loving kindness, compassion and with this restless lung, how to bring it down.
Today the main subject has been lung. The symptom of lung is speed. But I am not talking about action speed, just mental speed, restless speed. That is unhealthy. First we need clarity but the symptoms in your physical speed we don't want. That is the cause of stress, anxiety. In the West we don't have so many methods to bring down the lung. Except for holidays! Go on holiday, make a lot of love, drinking, taking drugs, those things. It makes you happy and brings your lung down temporarily. But the side effect is so strong. You drink alcohol and you feel a little bit relaxed because the mind becomes a little bit drunk, so it doesn't hold you, it gives a little bit of guts. But then you keep drinking, keep drinking and become alcoholic. You have a lot of relationships. Every time a new person comes, your lung goes down. But that person has also a lot of problems: yes, no, different opinions. Then your lung is brought up again. "This person is wrong, the other one is better". So you go with the other person. In the beginning everything is fine and lung comes down. Then again: "This person is wrong. I'll go to another". So your relationship always changes.
When you have a good lung, guts, then everything becomes stable. The character of lung is instability. For the speed of mind and the subtle body, there is not so much advice. But once it becomes very bad "tsoklung, nyinglung", then there is Tibetan medicine. If it is a very bad lung, then it is maybe not so helpful, so do, for example Tai Chi. Just sitting is good, stupid meditation is good, just sinking down. Like a cow in Boudha at Chabahil (the traffic-junction near Boudha), no lung at all if you look at them. If you have a very strong lung you need a good sleep, a good relationship and to do stupid meditation.
Student: Warm oil massage also brings the lung down.
Rinpoche: Tibetans say that to eat meat helps but meat makes you dull. Protein gives some earthy element, grounding. Because lung is light, it needs some grounding. And deep, deep down all these problems are grasping, ego-grasping. Really. Any of these problems are self-ego-grasping. You need to let it go, and then everything cools down.
Student: You were saying that bodhicitta and loving kindness-practice was good for bringing lung down. So maybe that?
Rinpoche: If you know how to do it in the correct way, otherwise it will bring more lung. So slow down and think: "I have 100 days of doing nothing, I have all the time in the world". That is very good for the lung so then practice bodhicitta. I am talking more or less from my own experience. When I have lung, it is always connected with timing: "I have to do this, to do that, to go here to go there". All this brings lung up. So the antidote is "Ok, I have all the time". Talk a little bit to your restlessness. It is really important. Otherwise because your system already has a pattern for this restlessness, when you practice Dharma you will follow the same pattern. I make a big deal of this as a preliminary practice for anything you do. Sit down and talk to yourself. Even though you have only one hour, you think it is 100 hours. "If I finish the practice it's OK. If I don't finish it's also OK. I am not just going to practice. I am really, really going to relax". OK, do that!
Rinpoche begins with meditation.
Bring in your feeling or sensation into your body and then settle down. The root of the visualization is appreciation for the Buddha, Dharma and the lineage-carrier in the form of Sangha. So you have a strong appreciation and based on that visualization you can visualize Buddha Shakyamuni in front of you. Buddha is looking to you and is free from all obscurations. Buddha is the embodiment of love, compassion and wisdom. Vividly visualize Buddha in front of you, life- size and looking directly at you, then communicate between your inner Buddha and the external Buddha. Then supplicate: "From now until I reach full enlightenment I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha". Really do this with the devotional emotion. That will be very helpful for you to transform your neurotic emotion, your uptightness. Then you will feel safe and secure. The ultimate refuge makes you feel completely safe from your own negative thoughts and emotions. You feel utterly and basically safe and that is different from subject and object. So the relative refuge and the ultimate refuge sort of work together. Based on that mood and that understanding orally we take refuge.
And then slowly Buddha melts into light, and the light dissolves into you. You, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are inseparable. If you can, rest in the nature of mind. Within the nature of mind the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha's qualities are there. So you rest with that.
You are not stuck by the method, or clinging to the technique or the meditation. So let it go. But at the same time don't be distracted and don't meditate. If you meditate, your mind becomes conceptualized. If you are distracted, then that is how you spent all your life. So there is no distraction. Simply rest within the essence of mind. I think you can pursue phenomena through the five senses and understand through the clarity of the mind, but without registering. So it is called “knowing without grasping”. If you grasp, you are registering. But if you don't know, you are cutting off one part of the omniscience. So especially in the Dzogchen meditation you are allowed to perceive the five sense phenomena. The sixth conscious memory is also allowed to come. Not only that, but all the 84,000 emotions are allowed to come in. But don't follow, don't record. Don't push the saving button.
If you can rest without concept, that's the best. Concept means understanding based on subject and object. Here knowing, understanding or being aware is without relying on an object. The subject itself is the understander. Fully rest.
You record, but don't press the saving-button. It just comes up on the screen. Then let it go. This is called liberation based on arising.
If you can, don't do anything. This is very subtle. The emptiness is very casual, knowing is very lucid but not intoxicating. So just be here but without being. Your butt is on the ground but not stuck, not glued.
Especially your eyes need to be very alive, just like fresh flowers. If the eyes become a little bit two-dimensioned, then it affects the brain cells, then it affects the mind. So nowness without stuck on the now. 360 degree open but you are not stuck on the openness. When it's stuck you are missing one quality of the rigpa, the third quality - empty essence, natural clarity and unceasing compassion. So you are blocked and that mind cannot be omniscient.
So we are looking for this kind of cognition. Cognition without grasping, without subject and object. And the senses are very fresh in the nowness, and you are able to rest and to continue. Knowing that is called the view, trying to sustain that is called meditation. Whenever you are lost, coming back into the view is called conduct. Keep doing that for a while.
Keep on with this but not blocked, not stuck and with a very normal consciousness. If you practice this well then there will be the juices of rigpa. Without losing the essence rigpa, the expression rigpa comes as devotion, love, compassion, and sometimes it comes as insight. If you have that, then I think your meditation is going well.
Even if you practice for very long, six to seven years, no juice at all, that means that any time you practice something is stuck in the rigpa. So you have to break that. It could be the alaya, it could be shamata without support, it could be a little bit spaced out, and so unceasing compassion is not there. So you have to destroy the stuckness. I can see sometimes people have these problems. Not only you, sometimes I also get stuck! You know that you are stuck and you have to practice.
There are different ways to break this stuckness. Sometimes you do a bit of rushen or you do the three-fold space practice. But that could make you stuck again in space. You do a bit of enhancement practice. Then one day I think you will be very normal, but very rich. Very clear but not like light clear. Very mineral water clear. Not electric light clear. Very clear from the bottom and even clear from your bones. Clarity is when all the senses are very normal; all the currents in your body are very normal, very in harmony. Within the harmony, deep down there is clarity. So please try that.
When you come to Katmandu, there are many religious things you can get stuck with. In the West you are stuck by external obligations. When you come to the east, you get stuck by the methods. Some inner holding is useful, there are many different methods, but somehow you get stuck by the method itself. In the East many people and teachers are also influenced by different techniques. In Tibetan Buddhism we have so many techniques so everyone says: "this technique is good, that technique is better, you should do this, do that". Of course you should do that but then you get stuck and overwhelmed by Tibetan Buddhism's many methods. Then you lose the key-point again. It's called a spiritual trap. You run from the worldly economical trap and then you come to the East and to the religious Buddhist method trap. I think it's slightly better than the other one. You need to let it go but not abandon it: "Oh, I'm not going for "kora", not doing mantra" - Then you abandon the Dharma. Within it you have to find the essence. Our human mind has this black and white understanding.
Khyentse Rinpoche did all the methods but he was not caught by them. He was not really emotional about his chanting or got stuck with his chanting. It was just part of his practice. But he also had the translucent clarity of rigpa. Within that he practiced.
I think if you really want to use your time properly in Nepal, you use both the practical and the spiritual path, both methods. At the same time understand the essence of nature of mind. When these two are combined, then it is useful. I think that many students are stuck by so many methods. And now Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche is not here so you will not get so much support for practicing the nature of mind. He is one of the heroes in Katmandu valley. So he really supports you. If you do all the methods, then he also supports very much just resting, sitting in the nature of mind. Nowadays you cannot find so many Dzogchen teachers. They are a little bit afraid of talking about it and instead, say: "Oh, you must do all the regular practices first otherwise it is very dangerous". Then you start to feel: "Oh, maybe I am doing wrong, maybe Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was wrong, maybe simply resting the mind is not sufficient, maybe I have to do all this first, do all that first". To attend many years in the Shedra, do again the whole Ngondro, do billions of mantras - maybe too old for that. So I feel this is very much happening, in the West and in Nepal also. Less guts to go directly to the nature of mind. Teacher afraid, student afraid!
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche always said you should do one Ngondro and have one good yidam, nature of mind practice, accumulation, and devotion. Upper, devotion, lower, compassion, in the middle, the right view supported by one yidam and then go on. Keep going, Jonny Walker! Just keep walking, keep going, keep going! You who received Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's teachings and did not study all these things, it's ok. Just keep going with his teaching. Full devotion to him and the Dharma and keep walking. And practice with the discipline.
Those days at Nagi Gompa arriving at three o'clock, at seven o'clock there are already teachings on the nature of mind. So happy going up to the mountain! Nowadays when I go and see other teachers, there is a lot of tantric smell, very good and pleasant. But you cannot hear at all about nature of mind. The nature of mind is hidden or maybe not there… Maybe they don't know, who knows. You cannot be too much romantic about lamas. Maybe sometimes they do not know about nature of mind! The West has a romantic feeling about Tibetan Buddhism, which is very good. Not against it, but…
Please come back again and again. Do the yidam-practice, bodhicitta, compassion - they are so important. But at the same time, the non-conceptual clarity view is extremely important! Our mind is very conditional, like a hungry dog. Wherever there is a smell of food, you go there and then you are stuck there. It is very dependant. Long time ago I didn't understand about the Western concept of having support. Nowadays I think support is very important, spiritual support.
Before I didn't want to buy a computer but now I have bought three times. Why? Because of so much influence and support from advertising that you should have it. If you don't have it you are not OK! So they sell by instilling fear - "You are not happy because you don't have a computer". You are caught by that, buying a computer because your inside is hollow – no love. You are looking for conditional love all the time. Because no human value, no inner value is there, so you are looking for external value all the time. For a short time you become happy. You think it is inner value when you get your new computer and for the first few days, so happy! But when it gives a problem, you think, "My inner value is giving me problem". But actually it is the computer. So everything is mixed up. Not such a wise way of living. So you must have an inner chip, inner program. Buddhism is set up very well with an inner chip program. And rigpa's program is like a mini chip. Everything is there, everything is included. So if you really practice nature of mind well, all the Dharma is included there. It's like a mini chip. But you can also have different discs. You can buy refuge disc, compassion disc, but then they are left here and there. Better to have one small, click! So please have more guts on the practice.
The computer sellers are doing their job so well and we have to do our job - not to become sucked in, not to promote our lung. Looking too much into a computer promotes your lung. Because you can do so much in the computer within a short time, you become greedy and then you want to do a lot, have full information authenticity. But you can't, it takes time. So you rest, you change attitude and be more patient. "Ok I know it takes time, I'll work slowly, if page comes or not, no problem. Ah so good, I have opportunity to rest in the nature of mind in-between"…
Anything you do I think has to have an inner program to deal with that. Then I think you will transform. Like Shantideva said: "You can't transform the whole world and cover it with leather, so instead you put leather under your feet”. That is beneficial for you.
Student: When practicing, there are undercurrent thoughts…, I can feel the clinging is definitely still there. How can one be free from that?
Rinpoche: There are two ways. One is the traditional way; another is a modern way. The traditional way is: because you are not fully in the ripga, sometimes the clarity is resting but not fully united with the emptiness. That's why you give some opportunity for the undercurrent thought. It is very important not to mix up the undercurrent thought with the normal thought. If you are in rigpa, as soon as the normal thoughts come they are self-liberated. So there is no problem. Everything is done on the spot. But with undercurrent thoughts, you just stay in rigpa but here it makes some story. It does not really come to the surface but behind is some story. There is some clinging, some hope, some fear. That means that natural clarity is not unified with emptiness. Then you re-focus so it becomes a little bit sharp, full. Then this undercurrent thought will go. Sometimes this undercurrent thought is worry and you have already built up a quite long history in the form of undercurrent thought. Although you are resting in nature of mind, because of the undercurrent thought, it becomes like two departments. So when you are resting in nature of mind, this other one is doing its own thing. They say it's caused mainly by worry and fear and that makes subtle tensions in its own way. So when you practice and have this that is not good. So what you do is that everything goes down into this. Also the clarity - zoom - join it. Try not to cut it. Just let the upper practice really go into the undercurrent thought and join it, so one level drops down. Do you understand? You come down and really relax completely and look into the core of the fear, the fundamental core of the uptight fear. And within that you find rigpa.
This undercurrent thought - we call it thought but actually it is lot of subtle emotional fear. Fear, work and connection with different project: building monastery-project, translation-project, running Gomde-project. On the surface it is the practice but there is another mind working with this project. That needs to be brought together. If you don't bring these two together, then it’s not healthy and that will create some major problem in the future. So either way - you synchronize or you go into that emotion, that worry and from there join, make peace talk between them. Then you make this into a habit.
Sometimes by resting in nature of mind it’s perfectly fine, no undercurrent thoughts. But then depending on your lifestyle, sometimes some worry comes because rigpa is too open. So rigpa gives too much freedom for thought and emotions, they are allowed to come. In shamata, you don't give any freedom, it’s like a monarchy. Rigpa is fully democracy. If everybody is well educated, then there is no problem. If not, so many things come. All the time there are demonstrations because you are not occupied with one thing. So anything can come. So if you have a major big worry, that can also come into the rigpa, because you are not blocking or suppressing. There is no suppressing at all in rigpa. Everything is fresh and open. But then anything can come. So if something comes, forget about rigpa. Then turn your awareness to that, then within that you find rigpa.
All the cells, all the senses, all the thoughts, and all the emotions they are looking for liberation. All sentient beings look for well being or freedom. Anger needs love and compassion. So every cell in your body is looking for some well being. So happiness is our basic sentient beings’ right.
If you have a project this undercurrent thought comes up easily as lung, speed. Then it’s sometimes good to practice loving-kindness. Really go down to the undercurrent thought: "I think you need some love, you need some ice cream of compassion, and you need some moisturizing cream". So you fully rest with that and then when they have become quiet, then I think you need the clarity also. "You are quite moisturized but you look stupid! You need some clarity". Then you can approach emptiness, egolessness within that.
Sometimes Dzogchen gives you the impression that clarity is up here. Of course clarity is here. But if you are caught up down there, it you don't bring down the clarity, it has its own world. Maybe the palace is very clean, but it doesn't know what is happening in the street. That's why the streets become the problem for the palace. So between the palace and the streets, it’s cut off. The palace stays so rich, so much food but the street is the problem and sooner or later there will be problems there. So zoom down, moisturize, therapy, yoga and then give clarity. Then in modern language: mind and heart are working together. New age way of talking, without religion. I think it is very important.
In Tibet if the mind is OK, then naturally the heart becomes part of that. So many teachings are on the mind, to make mind clear, because mind is not that clear sometimes in Tibet, sleepy. If you practice much feeling, mind becomes naturally clear also. But in the western world there is quite a big gap between the physical and the mental. The mental does its work; the physical does its work. No communication between them. Then the foundation will go down, without communication.
It’s a very good point, this undercurrent of thought. It is very problematic and we take a lot of advantage of it also. Because the undercurrent thought is somewhat connected with a hidden agenda. So the hidden agenda is working with this undercurrent thought: "Hi, so nice! But the undercurrent thought: "Maybe this person is not so good". So there are two worlds and we give quite good right to the undercurrent thought to go on.
So what is Buddhism's hidden agenda? In everything we do there is a hidden agenda. I think Buddhism's hidden agenda is bodhicitta, compassion. If anything you do is to achieve bodhicitta - relative and ultimate bodhicitta - then it’s fine. That's the whole point. When you look at the bodhisattvas way, they teach bodhicitta. In order to fulfill bodhicitta you have to do the six paramitas, visualizations, prostrations, mandalas, all these different methods to achieve bodhicitta mind. In any Buddhist practice if you don't have this hidden goal, it does not go the right way. If you don't bring bodhicitta into the prostration and the prostration’s hidden agenda is to be healthy: "I am doing spiritual practice", but secret agenda is "maybe I'll get some muscles', maybe my blood sugar will go down"…So its ok, but your hidden agenda is not bodhicitta. Sometimes this hidden agenda is missing I think. In any Buddhist practice the final focus is bodhicitta. In order to fulfill bodhicitta we do millions, billions of different methods. So we should not forget our mission, the hidden agenda. That's why Nyoshul Khen always says: "Good motivation, check your motivation". In the middle of the teaching he says: "Ok stop the teaching now, check your motivation". He changes his motivation and he asks us to change our motivation. So this is to not forget our mission.
Sometimes practitioners’ motivation is quite selfish. High class selfishness: "Me peaceful, me joyful, me happy, me well being. In order for my well being I use other people because it’s interdependent. If I don't make her or him happy, I will not become happy". It is peace, selfish peace. Selfish peace becomes our hidden agenda most of the time I think. That's why beings are always stuck in samsara.
Sometimes when you do many things externally it destroys your hidden peaceful selfishness. Then you lose the motivation to help others also. Quite often it’s like that. You want to help a project, "Wow, so happy", but somewhere halfway - also everything goes well, but it doesn't go according to the fulfilling of your hidden agenda - then you create some problems. Then halfway: "I am sorry, I am going". Especially voluntary work, easy to get out. If you get paid, then it is different. Although you don't like it, you cling to the cash! So you become tolerant: "Although I don't like it, I must do it because I need these US dollar in order to survive. So I think your hidden agenda is very important to change. Then I think you will really have inner strength. Tulku Urgen Rinpoche, Khyentse Rinpoche and HH Dalai Lama they never get tired, exhausted to see people, to help people. If the people are happy, they are happy. It the people are not happy, they are happy also! So it means they are really well established in their hidden agenda, with bodhicitta and sealed by unconditional love, really sealed by unconditional love. Then you get real strength and you are not becoming like a Tibetan prayer-flag. Wherever the wind blows, the flag goes that way. No wind, no support, no excitement, nothing, then it goes down.
Whenever I get mentally tired it’s because of not having really good bodhicitta. One time Tulku Urgen Rinpoche stayed at Osel Ling for six months and I was staying about two months with him. He sees people, he put consecration in the statues, and he gathered all these things and he sent people to Kha-Nying and Nagi Gompa. So many things he did from morning to evening and I worked with that. I got really, really completely exhausted, really tired. So I said: "I would like to go to Pokhara". He said: "What?" Really in my mind came the idea of wearing normal cloths and going on the lake, drinking some Coca Cola, just resting, looking at the lake with no obligations. So I said "I want to go to Pokhara". He said: "What?". I said it three times and he said "Why?" Then I felt a little bit funny. He asked: "Why are you going?" I said I like to go there a bit to rest, relax…"What, why?" So he asked all the reasons why I need to be relaxed and rest in Pokhara. Why not rest here. And he pretends he doesn't understand. He takes advantage of his lack of hearing. Which he don't like so much he said "What?" Then you ask two, three times and then your mind becomes loosened up or something. He used that method quite often. So then I gave up, I didn't go to Pokhara. But there is a big thing in my mind: he is about 70 and I was about 30. I am really exhausted, he was not exhausted. He was still full of enthusiasm. I think it’s the mind, deep down where you really stay. Your hidden agenda is not fulfilled: To rest in the folding-chair with remote-control, sit there and drink coffee, watch the news and relax… So maybe you have this kind of agenda sometimes in the mind, hidden. But he doesn't have that. So when his lifestyle doesn’t fulfill my hidden agenda, then I got exhausted. All the time I was looking for some gap to relax, some gap for a folding-chair… So you want this kind of lifestyle sometimes I think.
His inside is really motivated by helping people, seeing people. No matter what people are offering - money or not money. Money is not the issue. People who don't have money, he gives back the money. He is quite famous for that. If people are quite poor then he checks with the nuns: "How much does this cost?" Then the nun will go and calculate. Then he added a bit more than that and when they come and say the final bye-bye, he put the money - prepared before - tied in a kata and put it around the person. So I think giving teaching is not really for making money. His fully hidden agenda is bodhicitta. Then he doesn't get tired. I am talking about the emotional tired, the mental tired, not the physical tired.
In town I see many people whose eyes are really hopelessly exhausted and a little bit sad down there. That is the poison, take out that. The standard problems are anger, attachment, jealousy, pride and ignorance. We have these standard problems, all sentient beings, wherever we go. But the culture problem, the environment, new problems like restless lung - some countries have, some don't. To feel bad about yourself all the time, like hollow - some countries produce it, some don't. But all have the five poisons; these are the standard for all sentient beings. But sometimes you have to take out this culture-created suffering before you practice authentic Buddhism.
Tibetans need more clarity, westerners need more emotional healing. I call it wounded love. In the west it is very high. The love-area is very hurt. Wrong expectations, wrong approach and in order to feel love, you have to have some external thing to love you.
Essence love is together with nature of mind and Buddha-nature, unconditional love. I call it essence love, expression love and boundless love. I think essence love we are missing completely. We are only experiencing expression love, which comes with attachment. The pure essence love is gone. The essence love is almost like well being, just love, why love, how love. Love is like a noun, not as a verb. When you have this then you practice engaging love or expression love and that is coming from the essence love. So it’s more pure love. And that you practice together with the four boundlessnesses. Otherwise just jump to the boundless, I think it might not work, because it will not start from the essence love.
I think human beings are really sensitive about love in general and their love is completely mixed up without the essence love. All love is connected with attachment and it becomes subject and object. Then there is the wound, hurt and it becomes very sensitive, a big confusion of love. The fundamental unconditional essence love is missing in all cultures. In the western culture more so because your wounded love comes from expression love with attachment. You are not satisfied with that but there are no other alternatives. There is no teaching, no one talks about it. So it becomes unclear. Some poems might tell something or some song might point to something, but there is no full technique or support for that. Then it comes back into the attachment love.
Boundless love is what Buddhism talks about - to share, to feel the same love for all sentient beings. What you feel for your child, for your parents, you should feel for all sentient beings exactly the same.
Student: What is essence love?
Rinpoche: Essence love is important. It’s just well being like love, love to your cells, to your body. There is no restlessness; your mind is not harsh. Just rich, well being, love, lovable. Then when you are there then you love. Then it’s not so much me, me, me. You become the love. No need to feel me happy, me important because you are sort of imbued with love.
Student: Rinpoche that sounds like a quality of Buddha nature.
Rinpoche: Yes one part of Buddha nature, loving-kindness. Every quality is in the Buddha nature: the fundamental peace, the fundamental clarity, the fundamental love, the fundamental compassion. So these things are missing. Because everything is subject - object love, subject - object peace, subject - object compassion, subject - object clarity. Then there is no basic ground.
You feel very peaceful with this incense. When this incense is finished then you are craving more. You put so much value on this incense. Why? Because it gives you some mental peace. But this mental peace is temporary and the real value is not on the incense, it is on the mind and this incense is emptiness. Support and life are different. Life means you are addicted, without this you cannot stand it. Support means if you have, it’s good, if you don't have, it’s also ok. That attitude we also find in the Vajrayana, where you are not abandoning the merit circumstances. You use that circumstance to do more prayer, more offering, more dedication and more merit-recycling. You should recycle your merit, otherwise your merit will be exhausted. One time used - gone!
Student: Could you give a definition of merit.
Rinpoche: Merit is making better opportunities in your everyday life. That kind of energy is created.
Student: Opportunities for experiencing your own mind?
Rinpoche: Opportunities for your mind, for your life according to spirituality. Focus on the spiritual path in order to be successful on your path.
Student: So whether something achieves that or not is the function of both action and motivation?
Rinpoche: Action and motivation, both and dedication also. I think it is a little difficult to understand merit but one easy way is that it makes habits. That kind of merit is easy to understand. In Tibet wherever you go it gives you a spiritual merit or habit. You see the rock and there is a mantra with "Om mani peme hung". You see the water where some "Mani"-mantra are running with the help of the water, you see monastery… It’s like advertising. Advertising makes some kind of merit. Like buying Sony-computer. Accumulation of that, then after four, five years I bought it one day. You plant seed in the alaya and one day all these seeds and maybe you also have some cash, then boom - you buy! Instead of buying something else, like a statue, you buy Sony. So merit works like that. Every time you conceptually pray "mani", you dedicate it. This makes you a spiritual person. Because of all these circumstances of merit it is easy to rest in the nature of mind, because good circumstances are there. One day you might want to go for a three year retreat. If you don't have the merit, you will not go. There is the visible accumulation of merit and there is the invisible way of accumulating merit, like doing "tsok", prayers for Mahakala. I think in order to live a proper life you need to have both the visible and the invisible accumulation. So merit does both of these. Sometimes you prepare everything but then something else happens. So the invisible force is not enough.
Student: We didn't have enough merit for it to happen..?
Rinpoche: Sort of. It’s out of your plan. Your planning condition is very good, but something happens. That is not enough merit and not enough aspirations. Aspirations are important. It seems like aspirations are not important but I think they are very, very important. So please pray at the stupa. There are two great stupas here in Katmandu. Make aspirations really authentically: "May I have time for practice in retreat". If you have good aspiration you will not get so many problems. Even though you stay six years in retreat, it’s just easy! You don't need to force so much because the aspiration merit gives you good circumstances. You will not get tired, you will not get exhausted…
Student: The circumstances might not be different but my attitude to them might be…
Rinpoche: The circumstances might change also!
Student: Could you speak about the essence of coemerging wisdom - emptiness and appearance as a unity?
Rinpoche: Theoretically you can explain it in one way, experientially you can explain in one other way. If you want to explain through experience, you have to understand the nature of mind. First empty essence and within empty essence of mind you look, you come to the phenomena. The phenomena are there but they are not really there, like solid. So emptiness and phenomena are a unity and these phenomena are mere reflections of your karmic experiences. They are not really there but right now there is no choice because your karmic experiences did not yet become exhausted. So at this point you deal with it by respecting it relatively. The clarity of the empty cognizant, "nangtong sungjuk". "Nangwa", appearance, "tongpa", emptiness. "Sungjuk" means unity, inseparability. It’s not like two things coming together. So within the phenomena, just realize the emptiness. Emptiness and phenomena, then there is unity. If you give up appearances then it cannot be a unity with emptiness.
Student: Why do they call it co emergent?
Rinpoche: Coemergent wisdom is: the wisdom is never separated from you. It’s together; it’s intrinsically there. Buddhism's intrinsically doesn't mean permanently. It is independently co emergent, called wisdom. We are not talking about the ground; we are talking about the path. On the path there are always experiences. Otherwise recognize rigpa: no need to recognize, it’s always there. Why do you need to recognize? Is rigpa a new thing? No, but in language we use recognize rigpa or not. Coemergent wisdom is the same. In language you have to divide it into three: ground, path or fruition. Ground is used a little bit different; fruition is used a little different. Path always has an action, subject and object, realize, understand, achieve, practice. It’s always verbs.
Student: How can one identify and find one's root-lama?
Rinpoche: Sometimes it’s very easy, sometimes it’s not. Traditionally you have to search for three or nine years they say. But I think this is also connected with the karmic system. If you have a strong package of karma, then you will see. Just "shopping" around here and there and one day it just clicks in your mind: "Oh, this is my root-teacher!" But if you can't find, then you have to study: what I am, the teacher's background, the teacher's lineage, reputation. Your teacher's style, your style, your condition and then you see. Maybe you can't find or you don't have the capacity to see that the teacher is 100% correct. So if you see that 75% is good, then go for it! If you only see that 10% is good and 90% is not ok, then don't go! It’s same like marriage! If you see the wife is 75% good, just marry! If you see she is only 10% good and 90 %is not ok, then don't marry.
When you really have a realized understanding and you become almost the same as the teacher, then you will see the teacher as 100% ok. Until then, you can't. So you look around. See the different web sites and then you go one month here, one month there. Then you also look at the style of the teacher: systematic style, more loose style, more yogic style, more scholarly style. And what type of person you are. If you are very scholarly and you see a yogi, you might get fed up. If you have a real yogic kind of approach and you see a scholar, your head becomes boiled. This you also have to check. Then there are some standard teachers you can go to, world recognized teachers with a bit of standing. But they are not necessarily very helpful for you. Sometimes a hidden yogi will have a lot of time. If you meet a very simple yogi or yogini with teeth upside down, a lot of puss in their eyes, digging their nose, they might have a very good insight, a very high understanding. Some yogis in Tashi Jong are exactly like that.
It you really want to practice, go to a small teacher, a really good small yogi teacher and then you can get a lot of time with them. If the teacher has no time, then there is no use. Like me, if you look at my web side then you will know: "Oh no!"
Student: You say that the teacher doesn't have a lot of time, it’s no use, but it’s also said that the blessings of the lama don't depend on being with him.
Rinpoche: That's also possible, but if you really like to study then you need time. There are different types of people. For some that is ok. But for some other they need the physical time. Some students have psychological problems: "I must have time with the teacher. If you are this type of person, then the teacher who doesn’t have time for you is the wrong teacher. Some students you see at the teaching-time and a little bit private and that's it. Private or not private time is not so different sometimes, but the human mind needs the private time: "This is my private teaching". But actually it’s exactly the same teaching as in the group teaching. Teachings from Tulku Urgen Rinpoche in groups are even better then private. But your emotion: "This is one- to -one". Me, me, you are proud, egos game again. But when you have a special experience then you might not want to share it with others. Then you talk private, maybe it’s useful. But in my own experience teaching in a group is much better. Khyentse Rinpoche, Tulku Urgen Rinpoche, Adue Rinpoche gave group teachings. And these days I think there is more chance to get group teaching then one to one teaching.
Student: How is the experience of being caught by the alaya?
Rinpoche: The subtlety of stuckness is there. Stillness and stuckness are two different things. Rigpa has also stillness, very pure stillness. But when there is a bit of gross stuckness - no thought, very clear, then it’s alaya. When there is a very normal translucent state, then it’s rigpa.
Student: Can the experience of the alaya also be somewhat open?
Rinpoche: Open and aware, yes. Alaya is quite a good thing, it’s close to rigpa. Many, many meditators are staying there, different traditions of meditators. Even non meditators are sometimes resting there, in the Sauna, somehow resting in the alaya. Alaya has different degrees.
Student: I thought alaya was more dull.
Rinpoche: The gross alaya is very dull but the subtle alaya is not dull, it’s very close to rigpa. But sometimes there is no choice. You stay in the alaya and from there through the devotion, through the effort, the understanding it will shift automatically to the rigpa.
Student: The key to the shift is trying to generate devotion?
Rinpoche: Devotion and merit and depending on some good book. Maybe there is some danger for coming into the alaya, so try not to. But don't fear it, alaya is also ok, it’s not a bad thing. But stupid alaya is very, very, very bad, like dull, stupid. Stupid meditation, that's not good. Dzogchen and Mahamudra are against that.
Rigpa and alaya are depending on two different materials, but they are very similar. For example, one is cotton, the other is plastic. The color is very similar but the basic material is different. One is nirvanic material, the other is samsaric material. But they look similar, like real flower and plastic flower. Quite often I thought the real flower was plastic because plastic is made so good. It’s two completely different materials but very similar in some areas.
Student: So samsara and nirvana aren't so different, it is easy to mistake?
Rinpoche: It’s two different materials until the absolute nature of the alaya is realized. The absolute nature of the plastic flower and the real flower are both emptiness. The absolute nature of samsara and nirvana are not different, but the relative nature is different.
Student: I have found that the wisdom is something that doesn't arise within the meditation but during the post-meditation. So if you rest in the alaya there is no quality of wisdom or insight that arises from that or is there?
Rinpoche: To some extent, but not real wisdom. Peaceful, some kind of awakemess, some kind of clarity. But not real omniscient wisdom but some siddhi might come. Siddhi comes from the stillness. Actually Shamata is also some form of alaya, alaya with mindfulness. Close to rigpa there is subtle alaya. I don't think you need to meditate even . Just sit there and then you come into the alaya. But then there is always some kind of subtle glue, a little bit murky, not really crystal clear. So it is hard to distingue. But don't worry about that. Just pray not to go there and make accumulation of merits. And then try your best!
End with Dedication
"Advice on the Path"
Copyright Tsoknyi Rinpoche 2006
Teachings given at Swyambu, Katmandu May 2006
Transcribed and edited by Lodro Palmo and Madhu under Rinpoche’s supervision.