T H E
W I S D O M
J O U R N A L
S U M M E R / F A L L
2 0 1 9
C O N T E N T S
F R O M T H E P U B L I S H E R In this issue of the Wisdom Journal, I’m excited to share with you a very special announcement. We’ve been publishing exceptional Dharma books for over thirty years, including beloved titles from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Bhante Gunaratana, and Bhikkhu Bodhi. Now, we’re launching a new initiative: a cutting-edge subscription platform called the Wisdom Experience that features a digital reading library, exclusive video content, and more. Serving you and serving the Dharma—publishing those great Dharma sparks from the Tibetan, Theravada, and Zen traditions—has been our sole mission for decades. As the world has changed, the needs of practitioners have changed as well. We’re expanding our view of what it is to be a publisher to meet this need. Printing books is still at the heart of our mission, but the Wisdom Experience will make our content more accessible, interactive, and educational for audiences around the world. We’re calling our subscription model the Wisdom Experience because it is utterly immersive. Our elegant video display showcases films, lecture series, interviews, and even many of our online courses. Our reading room provides a seamless experience for reading our favorite titles. We’ve crafted the Wisdom Experience as a whole; subscribers will discover a curated,
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The Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron
2 8 A B O U T T H E M E D I C I N E B U D D H A A N D T H E T I B E T A N A R T C A L E N D A R 2 9 D E A L I N G W I T H D I S T R A C T I O N S D U R I N G M E D I T A T I O N
4 I N T R O D U C I N G T H E W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E Daniel Aitken 1 4 R E M E M B E R I N G P A S T L I V E S
Daniel Aitken CEO/Publisher Wisdom Publications
M E T H O D S F O R D E V E L O P I N G B O D H I C H I T TA Lama Zopa Rinpoche
T H E N I N E S TA G E S O F S U S TA I N E D AT T E N T I O N
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An interview with Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche 1 6 T H E B U D D H A' S S K I L L F U L M E A N S Translated by Gene Reeves Illustrated by Demi 2 0 T W O V I E W P O I N T S F R O M T H E F A U LT S O F M E AT
3 F T K
8 I N V I T I N G R E S H N E S S H R O U G H N O T N O W I N G
Koshin Paley Ellison 4 0 I S M A H Ā M U D R Ā E X P R E S S I B L E ?
Roger R. Jackson
3 1 T H E R A V A D A D E V O T I O N A L P R A C T I C E AT H O M E
4 2 M O N A S T I C D E B AT E AT S E R A M O N A S T E R Y
José Cabezón and Penpa Dorjee
3 2 I N T H E B U D D H A’ S W O R D S
4 3 T H E I M P O R TA N C E O F C R E AT I O N S TA G E I N TA N T R I C P R A C T I C E
Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi 3 3 T H E F O U R D I V I N E A B O D E S
Tsong Khapa Losang Drakpa 4 4 K O N G T R U L’ S T R E A S U R Y O F K A G Y Ü M A N T R A
Bhikkhu Bodhi 3 4 T H E W I S D O M H O L I D AY G I F T G U I D E
Cécile Ducher 4 6 B O O K CO L L E C T I O N S
3 6 A G U I D E D S H A M AT H A M E D I TAT I O N
A selection of our favorite books from the Tibetan, Theravada, and Zen traditions, as well as perennial bestsellers and new releases.
B. Alan Wallace
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow
Translated by Karl Brunnhölzl
2 4 M A N J U S H R I ’ S I N N E R M O S T S E C R E T
2 2 A N E X C E R P T F R O M L U M I N O U S M E L O D I E S
E M P T I N E S S A N D C R E AT I V I T Y
Translated by David Gonsalez
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
THE WISDOM EXPER IENCE I N S P I R AT I O N . A D V E N T U R E . AWA K E N I N G .
his summer, Wisdom went through one of the most important evolutions in our over thirty-year history. This summer, we changed the game entirely.
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stage. Generated at the beginning of the session, mindfulness stabilizes the mind on the object and prevents distraction so the fourth stage is attained. 4. Introspective awareness (saṃprajanya) sees the faults of discursive thoughts, auxiliary afflictions, and distraction to sense objects, and does not allow the mind to go toward other objects, thoughts, or emotions. It helps to tame and calm the mind and becomes prominent during the fifth and sixth stages. 5. Effort (vīrya) exerts energy to eliminate even subtle discursive thoughts and auxiliary afflictions and prevents the mind from getting involved with them. Preventing restlessness, laxity, and so forth from interfering with the flow of concentration, effort enables the meditator to focus the mind by releasing distractions. It is prominent on the seventh and eighth stages. 6. Through complete familiarity (paricaya) with the above powers, the mind spontaneously remains in samādhi. This power is found on the ninth stage. The four types of attention determine how the mind engages with the meditation object. 1. Tight focus (balavāhana) is used on the first and second stages of sustained attention to reinforce mindfulness.
Image credit: Olivier Adam
T H E N I N E STAGE S OF SUSTA I N ED AT T E N T ION AN EXCERPT FROM F O LLO WING IN THE BUD D H A’ S F O OTSTE PS BY THE DALAI LAMA AND THUBTEN CHODRON
he nine stages of sustained attention and six powers are explained in Asaṅga’s Śrāvaka Grounds (Śrāvakabhūmi) and Compendium of Knowledge (Abhidharmasamuccaya). The nine stages of sustained attention (navākārā cittasthiti) are stages of concentration on the way to serenity. The six powers and four types of attention (mental engagement) help to overcome faults, stabilize the mind on the object, and increase clarity. In doing so, they enable meditators to progress sequentially through the nine stages. The six powers (bala) are: 1. Through hearing (śruta), we learn the teachings 8
on the method to cultivate serenity and place our mind on the observed object as instructed by our teacher. The first stage of sustained attention is accomplished by hearing. 2. Through repeated reflection (cintā) on the meditation object, we become able to stabilize the mind on it for a short while. Reflection accomplishes the second stage of sustained attention. 3. Mindfulness (smṛti) repeatedly brings the mind back to the object and accomplishes the third
2. When there is more stability, interrupted focus (sacchidravāhana) is used to attain the third through seventh stages. 3. Uninterrupted focus (niśchidravāhana) corresponds with the eighth stage. 4. Spontaneous focus (anābhogavāhana) is present with the ninth stage. Maitreya outlined the nine stages of sustained attention in his Ornament of Mahāyāna Sūtras. Each line describes the activity of one stage. 1. Having directed the mind to the object of observation, 2. do not allow its continuum to be distracted. 3. Having noticed distraction, quickly return [the mind] to that [object]. 4. The aware also withdraw the mind inwardly more and more. 5. Then, seeing the good benefits of concentration, tame the mind in concentration. 6. By seeing the faults of distraction, pacify dislike for [concentration].
7. Desire and so forth as well as discomfort and so forth likewise should be pacified [immediately] upon arising. 8. Then, those who make effort at restraint [of faults need only] make [a little] effort to [concentrate] the mind. 9. Natural arising is attained. Aside from familiarizing with that, one desists from activity. Let’s look at the nine stages of sustained attention and the role the six powers and four types of attention play in them. 1. Placing the Mind (Cittasthāpana) To begin, we must identify the observed object and place the mind on it, even though our attention may not remain on it for long. To do this, withdraw your attention from external objects and with mindfulness place it on the meditation object. Do not follow distracting thoughts, sounds, and so forth. The appearance of the object isn’t clear, and the mind is filled with discursive thoughts, one coming after the other. Our mind may seem noisier than usual, although in actuality it isn’t. It’s simply that for the first time we are aware of how busy the mind is. For example, someone living near a highway is so familiar with the sound of traffic that he does not usually notice it. Only when he goes to a quiet place does the noise he is accustomed to become apparent. Discursive thoughts are automatically pacified in the process of progressing through the nine stages, so do not be discouraged. As your mindfulness strengthens, the flood of thoughts will gradually subside. The first stage of sustained attention is accomplished by the power of hearing, for we apply the mind to the instructions we have previously heard from a teacher and set our mind on the object. Tight focus helps us to gain a strong hold on the object. 2. Continual Placement (Saṃsthāpana) Initially our goal is to keep our attention on the object and not let it stray. Through practice and employing the power of reflection, the mind is able to continually stay on the object for a short while. This marks the second stage of sustained attention. Tight focus is still necessary to keep the mind on the meditation object, but now the mind can remain on the object a little longer. Still, the time spent in distraction exceeds the time the mind abides on the object, and our concentration is constantly interrupted by scattering to other objects.
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once, so its duration is shorter and our ability to remain on the object increases. At this time, the third stage of sustained attention arises. 4. Close Placement (Upasthāpana) As we develop more familiarity with the object, forgetting the object greatly decreases. Mindfulness is generated at the beginning of a session and attention remains on the object with fewer distractions. The mind becomes subtler and is more easily drawn inward, away from the expansive diversity of thoughts and objects. Coarse restlessness and laxity are present, so our focus on the object is still interrupted. Nevertheless, the power of mindfulness is strong. Now the fourth stage of sustained attention arises.
However, distractions and discursive thoughts begin to take a rest and their force weakens. We begin to experience a little peace of mind. 3. Repeated Placement (Avasthāpana) Now our aim is to recognize when the object is lost due to distraction and reset it on the object more quickly. Gradually, distractions decrease, and when they do arise, we are able to recognize them. Previously we couldn’t immediately regain concentration on the object once it was lost, but now, due to developing mindfulness on the previous two stages, mindfulness easily returns to the meditation object and attention returns inward. Our focus is interrupted because concentration is not continuous. Still, scattering is recognized at
5. Taming (Damana) The mind is disciplined and tamed so that it can stay on the object almost continuously. The power of introspective awareness stops the mind from wandering to destructive emotions and discursive thoughts about sense objects. Coarse laxity and coarse restlessness are no longer problems. Previously subtle laxity wasn’t a problem because singlepointedness was difficult to attain. However, now the mind may become too absorbed in the object so that subtle laxity occurs. Subtle laxity and subtle restlessness interrupt the focus, but concentration is easily restored by the power of introspective awareness. Being aware of the benefits of concentration, we take delight in it and attain the fifth stage of sustained attention. 6. Pacifying (Śamana) Through the power of introspective awareness, conviction that distraction is to be abandoned becomes firm, and all resistance to or dislike for single-pointed meditation is gone. During the previous stage, concentration was tightened in order to eliminate laxity. Now it may be too tight, making the mind restless and causing subtle restlessness. Subtle laxity may still arise occasionally,
so both subtle laxity and subtle restlessness cause interrupted focus on the object. Having matured through practice, the power of introspective awareness can sometimes identify and deal with restlessness and laxity before they arise. The sixth stage of sustained attention, pacifying, now arises. 7. Thoroughly Pacifying (Vyupaśamana) Even if subtle thoughts or subtle destructive emotions such as attachment, resentment, lethargy, and so on manifest, they are easily pacified. Subtle laxity and subtle restlessness arise occasionally, so focus is still interrupted, but the power of effort easily and quickly stops them. Mindfulness, introspective awareness, and effort are well developed, but nonapplication of the antidotes may still occur. At this point the seventh stage of sustained attention arises.
enable the mind, which is generally fluctuating and moving from object to object, to abide on its meditation object. The second three stages are the means to stabilize the mind that is already abiding on its object, although stability can still be disturbed by coarse restlessness and laxity. The last three stages are means to gain full control of the mind that has achieved stability. As we progress through these stages of sustained attention, the strength of our mind and the power of our meditation increase in dependence on each other. Clarity and stability correspondingly increase, resulting in mental and physical peace and happiness. Our complexion becomes youthful and radiant, we feel light and vigorous, and dependence on coarse food decreases.
8. Making Single-Pointed (Ekotīkaraṇa) As a result of mindfulness and effort, laxity and restlessness are not able to interrupt concentration, so focus is uninterrupted. After sitting down to meditate, we can immediately apprehend the meditation object and concentration remains on it continuously. Only a little effort is needed at the beginning of a session to discern the details of the object and to guard against laxity and restlessness. After that, the mind stays on the object without faltering through the power of effort. The eighth stage of sustained attention now arises and singlepointed concentration can remain for a long time. 9. Placement in Equipoise (Samādhāna) Gradually the power of complete familiarity becomes stronger and effort to maintain mindfulness and introspective awareness is no longer required. The mind engages with the object willingly and the ninth stage is attained. Just the wish to meditate is required at the beginning of the session. Once mindfulness is placed on the object and the mind enters meditative equipoise, it effortlessly and naturally remains in singlepointed concentration without having to evoke mindfulness. The focus on the object of meditation is spontaneous, and single-pointed meditation automatically continues for a long time. The sense consciousnesses are totally absorbed and no longer respond to external stimuli during meditation. This is the highest concentration attainment with a desire-realm mind. It is a similitude of serenity; fully qualified serenity has not yet been attained. According to the Tibetan scholar Chim Jampaiyang, the first three stages are means to
FOLLOWING IN THE B U D D H A’ S F O O T S T E P S THE LIBRARY OF WISDOM AN D CO M PASSION, VOL . 4 BY THE DAL AI L AMA AND THUBTEN CHODRON PA G E S 1 9 6 – 2 0 1
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aving seen that bodhichitta is the sole gateway to the Mahayana and hence the sole route to attaining enlightenment and profoundly benefiting others, we then practice either one of the two principal methods of developing it—the seven points of cause and effect, or equalizing and exchanging self and others—or we practice a combination of these two methods. The first of the two methods for developing bodhichitta, the seven points of cause and effect, was transmitted from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha through Maitreya Buddha, Asanga, Chandrakirti, and the other pandits. Lama Serlingpa passed it on to Atisha, and from him the lineage passed to the Kadampa geshes and then to Lama Tsongkhapa. I will use Lama Tsongkhapa’s explanation of the seven points.
METHODS FOR DEVELOPING B O D H I C H I T TA AN EXCERPT FROM B O D H I C H I T TA : P R A C T I C E F O R A M E A N I N G F U L L I F E B Y L A M A Z O PA R I N P O C H E
“We usually think of ourselves as special, and we take care of ourselves better than we take care of others, thinking our life is somehow more important than theirs. In [bodhichitta practice] we see that there is no reason for this and that all others are just as important as we are.”
These two techniques are usually seen as quite separate, but Lama Tsongkhapa put them together. This combined method starts with the equanimity that is the prerequisite for either method: seeing all sentient beings as equal. From there we see all beings as having been our mother; we see their great kindness and then resolve to repay that kindness. These steps all come from the technique of the seven points of cause and effect.
The other technique, equalizing and exchanging self and others, also comes from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, passing to Manjushri and to those other pandits such as Shantideva and Atisha, who handed the lineage of these teachings to his disciple Dromtönpa. Then it passed to Potowa and from him to his disciples, Langri Tangpa and Sharawa.
We then equalize ourselves with all others. How are we equal? We usually think of ourselves as special, and we take care of ourselves better than we take care of others, thinking our life is somehow more important than theirs. In this method we see that there is no reason for this and that all others are just as important as we are. In that way we equalize them in our mind.
During those times, the equalizing and exchanging technique was kept secret because it is very profound and it was thought that ordinary people of limited intelligence would be unable to understand it and so fall into heresy. However, when he received the technique from Sharawa, the Kadampa geshe Chekawa was worried that the technique would be lost if it remained a secret. Because of that he propagated the technique. That doesn’t mean he publicized it with big ads in newspapers and magazines, but rather than just giving the teaching on it to one or two people, he gave public teachings to big groups in the monasteries. It’s generally considered that the seven points of cause and effect is best suited to a person of lower intelligence, whereas equalizing and exchanging self and others is for a person of higher intelligence, whose mind can handle the concepts of exchanging oneself with others.
Then we generate compassion and love for them and develop the special intention, which leads to the effect of bodhichitta.
B O D H I C H I T TA PR ACTICE FOR A MEANINGFUL LIFE B Y L A M A Z O PA R I N P O C H E PA G E S 1 0 3 – 1 0 4
Image credit: Deposit Images W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
made me sad. I felt I was missing something and people were not giving it to me. I said I was missing my sword, and my mom said to me, “Somebody told you about it.” But nobody told me. Because this was attachment, [this sort of memory] was not a good sign. But I really missed my sword. The monks wanted to get it for me—and I knew the color, I knew the size, and I even told them what kind of sword it was. The monks, the old monks, they would look at me in kind of a funny way. But then they took me to this one place, to Mahakala’s puja rooms, where they put offerings of that kind—knives and other weapons. When I looked [up in the puja room], I found it hanging quite high. They all laughed and asked, “Which one?” There were no stairs in that room, so they put me up on their shoulders. Then—for me it was very clear which one it was—I just picked up the sword. Then they all cried. I thought this was very funny; I didn’t understand why they were crying. I thought it was because I was taking the sword, so I said, “No, I won’t take it.” They said, “No, no, take it, take it.” So I took it. My mom was not allowed to stay in the monastery because it’s for monks, so she stayed in a different area, in a retreat place. I always slept there with Mom, not in the gompa. When the monks brought the sword to my mom, she was so angry. She said, “Why did you let him bring back such a big knife?”
Image courtesy of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Chris Zvitkovits (Photographer)
R E M E M B E R I N G PA S T L I V E S A N INTERV IEW W ITH CHOK Y I N Y IM A R INPOCHE
n a recent episode of the Wisdom Podcast, host and Wisdom publisher Daniel Aitken traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal, to speak with revered Tibetan teacher Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, founder of the Rangjung Yeshe Institute. In this interview, Rinpoche discusses the unmistakable signs in his youth about the truth of past lives. This conversation has been edited and condensed for the Wisdom Journal; some of the conversation was translated from Tibetan. Daniel Aitken: Rinpoche, I believe you left Tibet when you were eight years old. Do you remember anything about Tibet? Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche: I think this is not only my experience. I have very clear memories from when I was a child. Even at two, three, up until I was seven, I remember very clearly the landscapes, the rivers, yaks, deer, horses, and what we call khyang, a rarely seen type of animal. These are
very clear in my mind. One thing I have to share—please don’t believe this is special—there is definitely [such a thing as] past lives. When I was a child, I couldn’t distinguish this life from my past life. When I saw some things I thought, “Oh, that belongs to me. Why was it missing until now? Where was it?” And when I saw someone, I’d think, “Oh, I knew that person a long time ago.” So there is a past life. I am the past Chokyi Nyima’s mind—but that is not something special. This is the one thing I would really like to share here—that there is [such a thing as a] past life. That I can say with confidence. But having those memories made me uneasy; they did not make me happy. They made me more confused. DA: How, Rinpoche? CNR: Because there were things I felt were missing, and that
But when you ask me about my memories [about Tibet], that’s the one thing [that comes to mind]. The rest is normal. But that’s very funny. DA: Rinpoche, did that come very naturally to you? Just remembering like it was last year?
The reason we need to practice the Buddhadharma is that this consciousness is deluded. All that we experience is delusional. We think that something that is actually not real is real. We think that things that don’t endure, that don’t last, are lasting and permanent, don’t we? We think that things that are actually unclean are clean and things that aren’t enjoyable are. Those are all facts, aren’t they? Where there is no self, we think that there is a self. So when it comes to correcting that error, when it comes to letting the deluded consciousness become free of delusion, where can we learn about that? There is no ordinary place in the world to look for that kind of knowledge, is there? There’s no place where this is taught, no ordinary school, right? At least there’s no source of learning where you get that kind of understanding presented so clearly and in so much detail, with so many skillful methods for us to use, as we find in Buddhism. It’s a real treasury of extremely clear and accurate knowledge about the nature of things and the way of coming face to face with the nature of things. That’s important to acknowledge because this time that we live in is a dangerous time. We need to make sure that we live our lives in a way that is wholesome for ourselves and for the people around us, and that we can do something meaningful in the world. It’s very easy to live a life that is not like that these days. There are so many factors that will make us get into a process that just leads to destruction. What we really need now is to focus on learning that can teach us how to be kind, teach us how to be compassionate. And how to see things exactly as they are, discovering reality.
CNR: Yes, exactly. A natural thing. Between the things that were around me in my present life and the people that I knew from this present life, and then those from my previous life, I felt no distinction at all. It was like they were all people that I knew in this present life. And all the things that I had in my past life I felt were still my things and that I just hadn’t gotten them yet. So it was just this sense of no distinction at all. It was all just this life. Whatever you want to call it, the continuity of consciousness, it’s certain, it’s a fact. So who are we? We are a consciousness that from time without beginning has been roaming about from one situation to the next. And now we have to say we are here in a particular situation associated with a particular body. So this poor helpless consciousness has now arrived in this particular guesthouse and is sitting here for some time until it will have to leave and go on again blindly into the future. While we are here, we think so much of whatever name and position we have now— the way we look, our abilities, our influence, and so on. We think that this is what we are. But all of this is just a temporary passing of events, and before long we are off again, just this confused, blind consciousness roaming on into the future.
Listen to the full interview and others with guests Bhikkhu Bodhi, H. H. the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and more at wisdomexperience.org/podcasts/
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T H E B U D D H A’ S SKILLFUL MEANS AN EXCERPT FROM T H E I L L U S T R AT E D L O T U S S U T R A I N T R O D U C E D A N D T R A N S L AT E D B Y GENE REEVES I L L U S T R AT E D B Y D E M I
If anyone, for the Buddha’s sake, Designs and erects images Carved with appropriate features, They have fulfilled the Buddha way.
Even if little children at play, Use reeds, sticks, or brushes, Or even their fingernails, To draw images of Buddha,
Some use the seven precious materials, Or nickel, copper and bronze, lead and tin, and the like, Or iron, wood, or clay, or resin and lacquer To make or to adorn buddha images.
All such people, Gradually gaining merit, And developing their great compassion, Have fulfilled the Buddha way.
All such people Have fulfilled the Buddha way.
Just by transforming people into bodhisattvas, They have saved countless beings.
Some paint buddha images of many colors And adorn them with a hundred signs of good fortune. Whether done by themselves or by employing others, All have fulfilled the Buddha way.
T H E I L L U S T R AT E D LOTUS SUTR A T R A N S L AT E D B Y G E N E R E E V E S I L L U S T R AT E D B Y D E M I PA G E S 9 3 – 9 5
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E M P T I N E S S A N D C R E AT I V I T Y AN EXCERPT FROM C R E A T I V I T Y, S P I R I T U A L I T Y & M A K I N G A B U C K BY DAVID NICHTERN
e Buddhists talk a lot about sunyata, or emptiness. Others might take this to mean that Buddhism is negative or even nihilistic, but that’s not actually the case. Emptiness is just a word used to describe a certain aspect of our reality. When we look at a cloud, for example, we could easily come to the conclusion that the cloud has solid form, that an airplane would bounce off it. To an untrained mind, a cloud appears to have solid form. That’s how it appears. But if we look at the cloud over time, if we really study the cloud, we discover its characteristics: 1. It’s always changing shape. The form the cloud appears to have is temporary and continuously morphing. At first it looks like a rabbit, then it looks like a hat, then it looks like a blob. It’s continuously changing shape. 2. It exists in relationship to the other clouds around it, to the sky, to the lake below it and its reflection in that lake, to the mountains it wraps its form around and sometimes even merges with. The cloud doesn’t exist independently. It exists interdependently.
3. It’s made up of smaller and smaller components. There’s no singular entity that we can call the cloud—a few puffs here and there, a darker base, a wisp of smoke . . . oops, now it has merged with another “cloud”; two “clouds” are now one. A cloud is impermanent, interdependent, and multifaceted. Even though it may appear otherwise, essentially it lacks (is empty of) permanent existence, independent existence, singular existence. [. . .] The relationship between form and emptiness is at the center of one of the most universally chanted Buddhist teachings: the Heart Sutra. This teaching is the cornerstone of Mahayana Buddhism and is chanted by Buddhists around the world. It’s like the “Amazing Grace” of the Buddhist world. It’s a tune almost everybody knows and has a version of—different translations, different languages, different melody maybe, but there it is—it’s what we call a classic in the music biz. I think it’s fair to say that Zen Buddhism (Chan in China) has an important relationship to the notion of emptiness. In a way, the Zen Buddhism tradition conjoins it to the idea of appreciating the spacious quality of existence. There’s room;
there’s space; you don’t have to fill every corner, fill in every detail; you can create and then leave some space. In Japan they even have a word for this kind of open space. It’s called ma. I’m not sure there’s as good a word in English because in the West, this kind of space tends to get tagged with a negative connotation: a feeling of something missing, something left out; we could be more busy, more active, more proactive—fill it in! But in Japanese culture, this notion of ma is thoroughly ensconced. It’s an important element of art and culture such as noh theater, ikebana (flower arranging), chado (tea ceremony), calligraphy, haiku, and especially the practice of formal meditation such as Zen. This idea is deeply embedded in Japanese culture, but these days it’s kind of taking a beating. The notions of productivity, efficiency, and precision—also part of the zeitgeist—have become dominant. Ma, once a precious and singular aspect of life, has become somewhat sidelined in the modern ethos, but it’s still there lurking, and it might be a good time for us to bring it off the bench and put it back into the game—both in the East and in the West. Let’s make it a slogan:
What we’re saying here is that, in your creative project, don’t cross every t and dot every i. Leave some room for your audience’s imagination (your customer, if you’ve gone pro). Leave some room for your story to unfold; leave some space between the notes if you’re a musician, etc., etc., etc. In the Buddhist way of thinking, creativity itself arises from space and dissolves back into it. Inhale, exhale: everything in life has those two elements.
C R E AT I V I T Y, SPIRITUALIT Y & MAKING A BUCK BY DAV I D NI CH T ERN PA G E S 1 8 1 – 1 8 4
Leave some space.
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
T WO VIEWPOINTS FROM
T H E FA U LT S OF MEAT EDITED BY GEOFFREY BARSTOW
W H E N I S E AT I N G M E AT N O T A TRANSGRESSION?
A C R I T I Q U E O F M E AT I N TA N T R I C R I T U A L
BY KHEDRUP JÉ
B Y M I K YÖ D O R J É , T H E E I G H T H K A R M A PA
T R A N S L AT E D B Y A N N A W O L C O T T J O H N S O N
T R A N S L AT E D B Y G E O F F R E Y B A R S T O W
t is a thing of great, supreme amazement when someone who has generated Mahāyāna bodhicitta becomes aware that when they eat meat, their great compassion declines, their mental strength deteriorates, and craving for the taste of meat for their own benefit arises. And in order to eliminate all of those obstacles, that bodhisattva does not eat any meat at all, regardless of whether it has threefold purity and whether it was from an animal that was killed or died naturally. However, there are some bodhisattvas for whom eating meat does not induce those obstacles in their minds. They eat meat for the purpose of sustaining their bodies in order to support acting with intense effort for the benefit of others while maintaining the conception that it is unsuitable, that it is the flesh of their child, and so on. Also, a monk who holds the prātimokṣa vows might eat meat that has the threefold purity, meaning that he has not seen, heard, or suspected that an animal was killed for him, and that is not a restricted type of meat, such as from a single-hooved animal, but is from an animal that was killed. He relies on recollection and awareness to ensure that the craving for the taste of the meat does not arise. He eats meat according 20
to what is permitted in the Vinaya, conceiving of food as medicine and holding in his mind the ten recollections. There is no transgression whatsoever in either of these cases. Thus for intelligent ones who are not dependent on others whose minds are agitated by the demon of bias, there is supreme beauty in the path free from the two extremes. The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra also says that you should not eat meat because it is an obstacle that causes the teachings to be denigrated. If monks are seen eating meat in certain times and places, some might say that Buddhist practitioners are inferior to non-Buddhist naked ascetics and others who do not eat meat. This could cause them to lose faith in the teachings in general.
onks these days make offerings of blood and the like. They say they are making offerings to Mahākāla, but they are actually creating an ongoing stream of sin. This is a sign of demonic blessings and corrupt teachings. In the Vinaya texts of the holy Dharma it says that this must be stopped, even if it is only the monks’ servants who actually do it. If you are not able to stop it, then you should go and live elsewhere, with other monks. Since the Buddha said this, such practices should also be stopped in these present times. Therefore when I myself act like a lama and make offerings to the worldly deities, I offer appropriate tormas made with pure flowers, medicinal fruits, rice, and similar ingredients. This is what the Vinaya teaches.
This tradition is not found in the three lower sections: it is only found in the Unexcelled Mantra.” In Unexcelled Mantra, is it appropriate to make offerings to worldly or to transcendent deities? If you offer a torma, it should be a torma that has the nature of suchness: an offering of the nectar of samaya indivisibly united with the nectar of the wisdom of the nature of reality. In this context, the offering could not possibly be ordinary food! [. . .]
More specifically, do not include meat or alcohol in the particular torma used in the gutor or similar rituals. If you do, then do not consider me your teacher. It is not suitable for you to be among my disciples. Do not treat me as your lama. Someone might argue with this, saying, “putting meat and alcohol in the gutor is the Buddha’s tantric system.” Ask them, “Where in the four sections of Tantra is this found?
T H E FA U LT S O F M E AT
In summary, when thinking about putting actual meat and alcohol in the torma, I say that since you are unable to truly transmute them into suchness, you should not use real meat or alcohol. This is my prayer.
T I B E TA N B U D D H I S T W R I T I N G S O N V E G E TA R I A N I S M EDITED BY GEOFFRE Y BARS TOW PA G E S 1 5 2 ; 1 7 8 – 1 7 9
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
A SYNOPSIS OF MAHĀMUDRĀ B Y N Ā R O PA , THE ERUDITE DROPOUT
I pay homage within the natural state of great bliss
AN EXCERPT FROM
LUMINOUS MELODIES ESSENTIAL DOHĀS OF INDIAN MAHĀMUDRĀ I N T R O D U C E D A N D T R A N S L AT E D B Y KARL BRUNNHÖLZL
he mahāsiddhas and others who sang these songs were a very mixed crowd. We find kings and queens, princes and princesses, top-notch Buddhist scholars, dropouts, philosophers, housewives, shoemakers, courtesans, monks, male and female lovers, farmers, weavers, prostitutes, cowherds, fishermen, gamblers, musicians, thieves, male and female hermits, male and female hunters, alchemists, rich merchants, barmaids, male and female outcastes, brahmans, gluttons, fools, pearl divers, and many more. Besides the officially recognized mahāsiddhas, there were other male and female yogic practitioners as well as ḍākinīs who uttered songs of realization. This shows that the teachings and the path of mahāmudrā are accessible to and can be practiced by anyone from any walk of life— whether a king, a servant in a brothel, or a housewife—often even without having to renounce their day jobs. It is obvious that most of these songs were composed and sung spontaneously on the spot, and many betray quite unconventional if not outrageous thinking and conduct.
They often use rich symbolism with profound metaphors, as well as examples from the daily life of ancient India. As far as their style goes, a lot of them sound more like modern poetry or song lyrics than traditional Buddhist texts. They do not always have a clear story line or theme and are generally more about creating a certain atmosphere or being evocative rather than being systematic or conventional teachings. Many of them use a rhetoric of paradox, attempting to beat the dualistic mind with its own weapons and point to something beyond our usual black-and-white thinking. Frequently, the songs are pith instructions for particular persons or group audiences set to melody, and as such their meaning might not be immediately clear to the rest of us. In general, a scent of boundless freedom, openness, and bliss, paired with a deep caring for suffering beings, wafts through these songs that are expressions of supreme awakening.
Here’s what is to be expressed as mahāmudrā: All phenomena are your own mind Seeing outer objects is the deluded mind— they are like dreams—empty of essence  Mind is the sheer movement of discursive awareness, lacking a nature of its own, the display of the vāyus It is empty of any essence, similar to space All phenomena abide equally, just like space  What is expressed as “mahāmudrā” cannot be shown through its own essence Therefore, the suchness of mind is the very state of mahāmudrā  It cannot be contrived or changed If someone sees and realizes this true reality, all that can possibly appear is mahāmudrā— simply the great, all-encompassing Dharmakāya  Letting this nature be, loose and without contrivance, it cannot be conceived—the Dharmakāya If it is let be without searching, that is meditation— meditating while searching is the deluded mind  Just as with space and its miraculous displays, as there is neither meditation nor nonmeditation, how could there be separation or nonseparation? Yogīs realize that it is just this way 
How could there exist a time of going or staying? What about dhyāna if you have gone to a hermitage? Except just temporarily, you will not become free without realizing true reality, no matter through what  If true reality is realized, what is it that binds? Apart from remaining undistractedly in the natural state, there is nothing to fix or to meditate on with a remedy in the sense of “resting in meditative equipoise” or “not resting”  In this, there isn’t anything at all that is established Appearances free in themselves are the Dharmadhātu Thoughts free in themselves are great wisdom The equality of nonduality is the Dharmakāya  Like the steady flow of a great river, however you may behave, it is meaningful This is the buddhahood that is everlasting— great bliss without any place for saṃsāra  Phenomena are empty of their own essence The mind that clings to being empty is pure in its own place This mental nonengagement free of mind constitutes the path of all buddhas  For the most fortunate ones, I put my heartfelt advice into words Through this, may every single being come to abide in mahāmudrā 
All actions that are virtues and wrongdoings will be free by knowing this true reality The afflictions are great wisdom as with a forest fire, they are the yogī’s aids 
LUMINOUS MELODIES ESSENTIAL DOHĀS OF INDIAN MAHĀMUDRĀ BY K ARL BRUNNHÖL ZL PA G E S 2 – 3 ; 2 7 – 2 9
t is well known that Lama Tsongkhapa had been in direct communication with Manjushri since the time of his retreat with Lama Umapa at Gadong, located about three miles from Lhasa, when Lama Tsongkhapa was around the age of thirty-ﬁve. It was from the time of this retreat onward that Manjushri acted as his direct guru, giving Lama Tsongkhapa many profound instructions. Because of this, the Gelug tradition contains many unique and unexcelled oral instructions. These lineages fall into two main streams, consisting of the Ensa tradition (stemming from Gyalwa Ensapa Losang Dondrup) and the Segyu lineage (stemming from Je Sherab Sengye). The teachings of Lama Chöpa come down to us through the Ensa lineage. The practice of Lama Chöpa contains all the most treasured and secret oral instructions within the Gelug lineage and was directly revealed to Je Tsongkhapa by Manjushri himself, who is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ wisdom. Manjushri instructed Tsongkhapa to combine the teachings on the clear light and illusory body from the Guhyasamaja Tantra, the teachings on inner ﬁre and the use of an action mudra from the Chakrasamvara Tantra, and the practice of Vajrabhairava, using these as a means of increasing wisdom and overcoming obstacles. With this as the foundation for his tantric practice he should establish a basis of lamrim and lojong that is centered on the practice of guru yoga. Manjushri proceeded to give Tsongkhapa detailed teachings on all aspects of the aforementioned teachings and advised him to consolidate them all into a single practice. This was the impetus for the origins of Lama Chöpa. From these instructions there arose a very secret system of guru yoga that was transmitted orally from guru to disciple.
MANJUSHRI’S INNER MOST SECR ET A N E XCER PT FROM M A N J U S H R I ’ S I N N E R M O S T S E C R E T: A P R O F O U N D C O M M E N TA R Y O F OR A L INSTRUCTIONS ON THE PR ACTICE OF LA M A CHÖPA BY K ACH E N Y E SH E G YA LT SE N T R A N S L AT E D B Y DAV I D G O N S A L E Z
It was the very heart essence of practice for the greatest siddhas and scholars of the Gelug lineage such as Togden Jampal Gyatso, Baso Chökyi Gyaltsen, Chökyi Dorje, Gyalwa Ensapa, and many others on down to the First Panchen Lama, who compiled them into the ritual text known today as “Lama Chöpa.” Later, the Third Panchen Lama, Palden Yeshe, requested Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen to set in writing, for the ﬁrst time, all of the detailed oral instructions with regard to the practice of Lama Chöpa. While there had been other commentaries prior to this, such as that by the Second Dalai Lama, they did not give details about the secrets of the oral lineage. Since the time of its composition, this commentary by Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen has served as the foundation for all subsequent commentaries, making it similar to a “root text” with regard to the lineage of commentary, and it is one of the greatest literary contributions within the Gelug lineage. Today many regard Lama Chöpa as a ritual that is performed on tsok days and nothing more. It saddens me deeply to see that one of the most treasured teachings of the Gelug tradition has been largely reduced to a ritual
done twice a month. In fact, the practice of Lama Chöpa is the most skillful way to combine the practice of the three main deities of the Gelug tradition, established on the ﬁrm foundation of guru yoga and guided by lamrim and lojong. More speciﬁcally, it was traditionally used as a preliminary to the completion-stage practice. The great siddhas would streamline their practice by bringing everything into the practice of Lama Chöpa and then focus on the completionstage practices that combine the essential features of Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, and Vajrabhairava. There are even very secret oral instructions for practicing the completion stage based on the teachings that Manjushri revealed to Tsongkhapa, which Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen briefly touches on in this commentary. For those who are interested I would like to suggest that you try to receive detailed oral instructions from your own guru. When hearing that the practices of Guhyasamaja, Chakrasamvara, and Vajrabhairava are the three most important deities within the Gelug tradition, it may seem overwhelming to consider taking on all three of these practices. Yet the beauty of Lama Chöpa is that you can consolidate the essential features of all three of these deities, as well as guru yoga, lamrim, and lojong, into a single practice. In this way we are not left with the task of ﬁlling our days with hours of recitations. Instead we can practice Lama Chöpa and focus on meditation, which is where the real transformation takes place. While receiving teachings on Lama Chöpa from Ribur Rinpoche, he mentioned that Lama Chöpa was Pabongkha Rinpoche’s main practice and that Pabongkha would spend four hours every day meditating on Heruka–Lama Chöpa. Someone asked Pabongkha if this were true and he replied, “Of course! Lama Chöpa is the very heart of everything taught in the Gelug lineage.” Arapachana Manjushri Kham Province, Eastern Tibet; 19th century Pigments on cloth Rubin Museum of Art Gift of Shelley and Donald Rubin C2006.66.464 (HAR 925)
MANJUSHRI’S INNERMOST SECRET A P R O F O U N D C O M M E N TA R Y OF ORAL INSTRUCTIONS ON THE PRACTICE OF L AMA CHÖPA B Y K A C H E N Y E S H E G YA LT S E N T R A N S L AT E D B Y D AV I D G O N S A L E Z PA G E S 1 – 3
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
2 0 2200 2200 2 0
DEALING WITH DISTRACTIONS D U R I N G M E D I TAT I O N
M E D I C I N E B U D D H A སངས་རྒྱས་སྨན་བླ།
T I B E TA N A T IRBTE T A N A T IRBTE T A N A R T C A L E N D AC R A L E N D AC RA L E N D A R
ABOUT THE CENTERFOLD IMAGE
he Medicine Buddha cures suffering with the medicine of his blessings, and his practice is said to be especially powerful at the time of death. Medicine Buddha is blue and sits on a white moon disc atop a multicolored lotus. He is seated in the vajra posture wearing the robes of a monk. His right hand holds the stem of the arura plant, and on his left hand rests a lapis lazuli bowl filled with healing nectar. Upon achieving buddhahood, the Medicine Buddha vowed that whoever chanted his name or mantra would have their prayers fulfilled, especially the sick and the poor. The power and blessings of the Medicine Buddha are said to be greater and swifter in degenerate times like our own. This image was painted by Tashi Dhargyal and appears in the Tibetan Art Calendar 2020.
AN EXCERPT FROM S TA R T H E R E , S TA R T N O W B Y B H A N T E G U N A R ATA N A
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A B O U T T H E T I B E TA N A R T CALENDAR 2020
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US ISBN $14.95 978-1-61429-538-9
US ISBN $14.95 978-1-61429-538-9
Asking these questions in response to an arising allows us to divorce ourselves from it, take a mental step back from it, disengage from it, and view it objectively. We must stop thinking the thought or feeling the feeling in order to view it as an object of inspection. This very process is an exercise in mindfulness, uninvolved, detached awareness. And then we return to the breath. The distraction itself can be anything: a sound, a sensation, an emotion, a fantasy, anything at all. Whatever it is, don’t try to repress it. Don’t try to force it out of your mind. There’s no need for that. Just observe it mindfully with bare attention. Examine the distraction wordlessly, and it will pass away by itself. Do not condemn yourself for having been distracted. Distractions are natural. They come and they go. And each time they do, return to the breath.
S TA R T H E R E , S TA R T N O W A SHORT GUI DE TO M I N D F U L N E S S M E D I TAT I O N B Y B H A N T E G U N A R ATA N A PA G E S 1 2 0 – 1 2 2
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COMING SOON ON THE HOR IZON AT W ISDOM PU BLICAT IONS
The upcoming spring season of books from Wisdom Publications promises to be full of inspiration and wisdom to enhance your study and practice of the Dharma. Here is a sneak peek of what is to come at the beginning of 2020. New from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, revered cofounder of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, is The Six Perfections: The Practice of the Bodhisattvas. With Rinpoche’s guidance, we can progress in our practice of the six perfections to become more generous, patient, and wise—until we, like the bodhisattvas, learn to cherish others above ourselves. What, Why, How: Answers to Your Questions About Buddhism, Meditation, and Living Mindfully is our newest book from celebrated teacher Bhante Gunaratana, author of the bestselling Mindfulness in Plain English. In this wise and illuminating volume, Bhante Gunaratana answers everything you ever wanted to know about your practice—but never had a chance to ask. Jan Willis—named by Time magazine as one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium”—has a new collection of essays, Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra. These powerful essays span over thirty years of reflection and teaching on timely and essential topics such as women and Buddhism, Buddhism and race, Tantric Buddhism and saints’ lives, and Buddhist-Christian reflections.
F R E E
Also coming this spring season are Inspiring Forgiveness, the latest offering from Barbara Bonner guaranteed to uplift, console, and inspire; Buddha’s Single Intention: Drigung Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön’s Vajra Statements of the Early Kagyü Tradition, Jan-Ulrich Sobisch’s presentation of a compelling work of classical Tibetan literature that weaves the thread of mahāmudrā through the entire fabric of Buddhism; Geshe Yeshe Thabkhe’s The Rice Seedling Sutra: Buddha’s Teaching on Dependent Arising, a seminal teaching on the laws of karma and dependent arising that has been core to the Geluk tradition; The Tantra Without Syllables and The Blossoming Lotus (vol. 3) and The Blazing Lamp Tantra and A Threaded String of Pearls (vol. 4), the most recent volumes in Malcolm Smith’s translations of the Seventeen Dzogchen Tantras—essential reading for Dzogchen practitioners; and many more books to come! Yours in the Dharma, Brianna Quick and the Wisdom editorial team
E B O O K
HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA
ON HAPPINESS This free ebook, created from excerpts and quotes from books i n W i s d o m ’s c o l l e c t i o n , i n c l u d e s teachings from His Holiness on the subject of happiness.
HIS HOLINESS THE LAMA OnDALAI Happiness His Holiness the Dalai Lama
HIS HOLINESS THE DA LA I LA M A
D O W N L O A D
N O W
AN EXCERPT FROM B U D D H I S T S U T TA S F O R R E C I TAT I O N B Y B H A N T E G U N A R ATA N A
Image credit: Virañani
evotional practice and meditation are not very different from each other. What we experience in our meditation practice, we read and learn about in the devotional services (Vandanā) presented here. For instance, in the “Discourse on the Characteristics of Selflessness” we recite the three characteristics of all conditioned things: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness. In deep states of meditation, we experience these three characteristics directly. When we offer flowers and incense to the Buddha as part of our devotion, it helps us realize the impermanent nature of all conditioned things, an insight we also develop during meditation. As our meditation practice becomes more profound, our devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha grows; it is this devotion that we express in words in Vandanā practice. Reciting mindfully stimulates our thinking. Thinking deepens our understanding as a factor of enlightenment (Dhamma-vicaya sambojjhaṅga). Deep understanding enhances our concentration and helps us see things as they are . . . Those who wish to develop a Vandanā routine for themselves should set aside a place in their home to be used exclusively for devotional practice and meditation. If space permits, a small spare room could be turned into a shrine room. If such a room is not available, a spacious closet might be used or a small section of a room partitioned by curtain. If space is extremely limited, then a reasonably large table could be set up, or at least a corner table could be turned into an altar. Even a high shelf on a wall could be used to hold a Buddha image and be treated as the focus of devotion.
Setting off a separate place in our home for devotional practice and meditation creates a peaceful and serene psychological atmosphere. As our association with the place increases, it becomes possible, merely by entering it, to evoke a calming and soothing feeling in our minds. Our repeated practice in this place can serve as a constant reminder that beyond all our immediate aims and activities, our final goal is to attain enlightenment and liberation from suffering. When we treat our shrine area as a sanctuary where the Triple Gem—the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha—reside, we are reminded of our reverence for them. By reciting daily devotions and chanting suttas, we leave wholesome and positive vibrations in our shrine room. These vibrations also aid our practice of meditation. The area set off for devotional practice and meditation should be a quiet, pleasant, and private place. If the shrine is set up in a sleeping area, it should stand in the direction of the head of the bed, not at its foot. Entering the shrine, we remove our shoes. This is a customary sign of respect and promotes cleanliness in the shrine area. It also makes it easier to assume the correct postures for devotional practice and meditation.
B U D D H I S T S U T TA S F O R R E C I TAT I O N A CO M PA N I O N F O R WA L K I N G T H E B U D D H A’ S P AT H B Y B H A N T E G U N A R ATA N A PA G E S X X – X X I I
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
THE FOUR DIVINE ABODES
In the Buddha’s Words A regular Wisdom Journal feature with passages from the Pāli Canon
THE DEVELOPMENT OF L O V I N G - K I N D N E S S “Monks, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant. “Just as the radiance of all the stars does not equal a sixteenth part of the moon’s radiance, but the moon’s radiance surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant. “Just as in the last month of the rainy season, in the autumn, when the sky is clear and free of clouds, the sun, on ascending, dispels the darkness of space and shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant. “And just as in the night, at the moment of dawn, the morning star shines forth, bright and brilliant, even so, whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.” (It 27; 19–21) In the Buddha’s Words, pp. 176–177
C O M M E N TA R Y B Y B H I K K H U B O D H I
he practice of meditation is not only the heart of the path to liberation but a source of merit in its own right. Wholesome meditation practices, even those that do not directly lead to insight, help to purify the grosser levels of mental defilement and uncover deeper dimensions of the mind’s potential purity and radiance. [This text] declares that the type of meditation that is most fruitful for the production of mundane merit is the development of loving-kindness (mettābhāvanā). The practice of loving-kindness, however, is only one among a set of four meditations called the “divine abodes” (brahmavihāra) or “immeasurable states” (appamaññā): the development of loving-kindness, compassion, altruistic joy, and equanimity, which are to be extended boundlessly to all sentient beings. Briefly, loving-kindness (mettā) is the wish for the welfare and happiness of all beings; compassion (karunā), the feeling of empathy for all those afflicted with suffering; altruistic joy (muditā), the feeling of happiness at the success and good fortune of others; and equanimity (upekkhā), a balanced reaction to joy and misery, which protects one from emotional agitation. These meditations are said to be the means to rebirth in the brahma world. While the brahmins regarded the brahma world as the highest attainment, for the Buddha it was just one exalted sphere of rebirth. The concentration arisen from these meditations, however, can also be used as a basis for cultivating the wisdom of insight, and insight culminates in liberation. [Insight Surpasses All] thus grades the different types of merit according to their fruits: from giving (with the various kinds of gifts ranked according to the spiritual status of the recipients) through the going for refuge and the five precepts to the meditation on loving-kindness.
Then, at the very end, it declares that the most fruitful deed among them all is the perception of impermanence. The perception of impermanence, however, belongs to a different order. It is so fruitful not because it yields pleasant mundane results within the round of rebirths, but because it leads to the wisdom of insight that cuts the chains of bondage and brings the realization of complete emancipation, Nibbāna.
I N T H E B U D D H A’ S WORDS AN ANTHOLOGY OF DISCOURSES FROM THE PĀ L I C A N O N EDITED & INTRODUCED BY BHIKKHU BODHI PA G E S 1 5 3 – 1 5 4
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
Tashi Dhargyal. Tashi trained under master artist Venerable This calendar features the artwork of Tibetan thangka artist
w i t h t h e T i b e t a n A r t C a l e n d a r. s a c re d a r t t h ro u g h o u t t h e y e a r and deeply inspiring works of Enjoy authentic, meaningful,
the teachings of the buddha
philosophy & spirituality / buddhism / sacred writings
his landmark collection is the definitive introduction to the Buddha’s teachings—in his own words. The American scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, whose voluminous translations have won widespread acclaim, here presents selected discourses of the Buddha from the Pāli Canon, the earliest record of what the Buddha taught. Divided into ten thematic chapters, In the Buddha’s Words reveals the full scope of the Buddha’s discourses, from family life and marriage to renunciation and the path of insight. In the Buddha’s Words allows even readers unacquainted with Buddhism to grasp the significance of the Buddha’s contributions to our world heritage. Taken as a whole, these texts bear eloquent testimony to the breadth and intelligence of the Buddha’s teachings, and point the way to an ancient yet ever-vital path.
T H E W I S D O M H O L I D AY G I F T G U I D E
An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon
“There are two ways of looking at any work of Buddhist literature. One is to view it from the outside, as an object situated in its historical and cultural milieu. The other, more inward,
Edited and introduced by
T I B E T A N perspective A R T is to regard its potential transformative effect upon readers. C A L E N DitsA R From either one of these perspectives, this new work
is remarkable…Bhikkhu Bodhi’s introductions to each chapter strung together would themselves serve as a beautiful and accessible overview of the Dhamma.” —Buddhadharma
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Buddha’s Words An Anthology of Discourses from the Pāli Canon Edited and introduced by
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W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
To facilitate this inner silence, settle your respiration in its natural rhythm, which means to allow the respiration to flow in and out effortlessly without impeding the flow of the breath in any way. The key is the out-breath. A natural time to release, to relax, to let go. With every out-breath relax more and more deeply in the body, surrendering your muscles to gravity, loosening up.
A G U I D E D S H A M AT H A M E D I TAT I O N FROM THE WISDOM ACADEMY ONLINE COURSE S H A M AT H A : M E D I TAT I O N F O R B A L A N C E D L I V I N G WITH B. ALAN WALLACE
ach time we begin a session you hear the chime ring. Let this be a catalyst for you to set your mind at ease by allowing your awareness to descend, of a sense of its descending down into the body, down into your torso. If you’re sitting on a chair, down to the buttocks, down to the feet, in touch with the floor. If you’re sitting crosslegged, down to the legs, down to where your body makes contact with your meditation cushion. Descend into this nonconceptual, this silent field of tactile sensations. Let your awareness rest in a witnessing mode that is not cogitating, not imagining or visualizing, but in a mode approximating bare attention. From moment to moment simply be aware of the tactile sensations of your body in contact with the chair, the cushion, the floor. These tactile sensations of contact correspond to the earth element. These sensations of firmness and solidity ground your awareness in the sensations of the earth element. Then, like a fragrance filling a room, let your awareness fill the space of your body from the soles of your feet, through your legs, your torso, your arms, up to the top of the head. Let your awareness permeate this entire somatic field, being mindfully present throughout the entire body. Again, there’s no need to visualize the body or to think about the body. Simply be aware from moment to moment of the tactile sensations arising throughout the somatic field. As you do so you may note that certain regions of the body feel tight or constricted. For many people they experience this in the shoulders, the base of the neck. If you identified areas of tightness, gently attend to or focus your attention upon them as you breathe in. As you breathe out surrender your muscles to gravity. Relax. Release the muscles to the best of your ability with every out-breath.
With every exhalation release the breath all the way through to the end without holding anything in reserve. This does not entail forcefully expelling the breath, but rather releasing it and releasing it, until there’s nothing more to release. With every out-breath, whatever thoughts, images, or memories may have come to mind as you breathe out, just release them like a gentle gust of breeze blowing away dry autumn leaves. Release these thoughts and images. Let them dissolve back into the space of the mind.
The face is a veritable magnet of tension. It expresses itself in many of our facial expressions. So bring your awareness quite deliberately to the muscles of the face. Soften the muscles around the mouth and the jaws.
When you come to the very end of the out-breath relax even more deeply. And without exerting any effort to pull the next breath in, just relax and allow the next breath to flow in as effortlessly as a wave washing up on shore.
Let your forehead feel open and spacious. Let there be an openness between the eyebrows, which often contract when we’re tense or anxious.
Whether that in-breath is deep or shallow, long or short, let it be. Don’t interfere with it or try to regulate the breathing in any way. Let the body breathe. Without interference, breathe egolessly as if you were deep asleep.
Soften the muscles around the eyes. And soften the eyes themselves. In this way settle your entire body in a posture of ease, of comfort, of relaxation. And as far as you are indeed comfortable you should find it quite easy for the short duration of this session to remain motionless apart from the movements of the breath. If you’re sitting upright, let your spine be straight. Your sternum just slightly lifted as you sit at attention. Keep your abdominal muscles loose and relaxed. Relaxed, so that when you breathe in, like filling a vase with water that fills from the bottom up, the sensations of the breath flow down to the abdomen, even the lower belly, expanding as you inhale. In this way settle the body in its natural state—relaxed, still and vigilant, in a state of dynamic equilibrium. Then sequentially we settle the speech into its natural state, which is resting in effortless silence like that of a guitar in which the strings are cut. Easily done in terms of our public speech, our voice that others can hear. But what about the speech or the voice of the mind, the internal chitchat, the commentary, the rumination? What about the inner voice of the mind? Not so easy to rest in effortless silence inwardly.
To settle the respiration in its own natural rhythm means to allow the body to breathe without interference—taking in just what it needs, giving back just what it doesn’t need. In this way, gently, breath by breath, calm the inner turbulence of the mind that manifests in rumination in the obsessive, compulsive flow of thinking.
In order to bring about a state of mental ease, with the few remaining minutes of the session, to the best of your ability release all concerns, hopes, and fears about the future and the past. And allow yourself the leisure to come to rest in stillness in the present moment, simply being present. Release all outwardly directed desires and aversions, hopes and fears. Allow your awareness to come to rest in stillness in the present moment. Insofar as the mind is free of grasping to hopes and fears, desires and aversions, stillness emerges naturally. And that stillness is bright and clear; the very nature of awareness is to illuminate, to make manifest all appearances, thoughts, memories, and so on. So rest your awareness in this balance of ease, stillness, and clarity, mindfully present in the present moment, without doing anything. Maintaining this stillness of awareness, let the light of your awareness or the field of your attention once again illuminate the space of the body. Be aware of the body, the entire tactile field. Take specific note of these fluctuations within the somatic field corresponding to the in- and out-breath. The sensations correlated with respiration throughout the whole body. Feel your body breathe. Let there be a corresponding rhythm in your attention. As the breath flows in, arouse, focus, concentrate your attention on these sensations of the respiration throughout the body. As the breath flows out, deeply relax, again letting go of any vagrant thoughts or memories. Relax in body and mind with every out-breath. Above all, sustain the flow of knowing, of cognizance—not just spacing out or falling into a trance-like state. Maintain an ongoing flow of clear, discerning awareness.
And finally we turn to the mind, to settle the mind in its natural state again imbued with these three qualities of relaxation, stillness, and vigilance.
ENROLL IN THE WISDOM ACADEMY ONLINE COURSE S H A M AT H A : M E D I TAT I O N F O R B A L A N C E D L I V I N G AT W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G T O L I S T E N T O G U I D E D M E D I TAT I O N I N S T R U C T I O N S , WAT C H T E A C H I N G V I D E O S , AND MUCH MORE!
here’s a great poem from the Third Ancestor of the Zen tradition that begins, “The Great Way is not difficult for those who don’t cling to preferences.”
Right—easier said than done. Usually, our preferences rule the roost. Conditioned feelings and opinions tend to determine how we behave in all of our relationships, which means that, in our every interaction, we tend to follow the same script. Rather than taking the chance to interact with the moment as it is, we interact with the fixed ideas that live in our heads. “Not knowing” is the dropping of all of this; instead, we completely enter the moment in front of us. In Zen we call this having “beginner’s mind.”
INVITING FRESHNESS THROUGH NOT KNOWING AN EXCERPT FROM WHOLEHEARTED B Y K O S H I N PA L E Y E L L I S O N
In the first ten years of my meditation practice, I was super into the idea of being a meditator. I was always telling people, “Yeah, I’m a meditator, actually.” “I’m off to go meditate.” “Did you know I meditate?” Oh, I was so obnoxious. “You don’t meditate?” I’d ask people, unprompted. “You should try it.” Obviously, I was not at rest with myself and was compensating for some insecurity. And obviously, I wasn’t really having beginner’s mind. I was assuming I knew something that other people didn’t. In Chinese, one of the translations of the word for suffering is “walls in the mind.” Even though I was purporting to be a meditator, I was using my practice to do exactly the opposite of what it’s meant to do. I was building a wall not only between myself and other people but also between me and my own mind. Caught up in my opinions and preferences, I was creating subtle divisions, because I wasn’t being honest with myself. The whole thing had a kind of odor to it. I can recall people’s faces when I used to do this; it was this scrunchy look like they were smelling something bad, like, “Why don’t you just leave me alone?” The behavior was coming, in part, from a place of sweetness. There was that young enthusiastic quality of finding something new that was exciting and meaningful, and wanting to share it. But in a subtle way, I was creating evil. Wow. A big intense word and idea. Evil. Creating separation. I could have simply shared my authentic experience and left it at that: “I’m really enjoying what I’m doing. This meditation thing . . . I feel like it’s changing me. It’s really new, and I’m really excited.” But instead I made it about the other person and my opinions about what they should do, and with that, I distanced myself from them as well as from my own truth. There’s a beautiful quote from the American Zen pioneer and teacher Shunryu Suzuki Roshi about beginner’s mind: “In the beginner’s mind, there are unlimited possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” In every moment, there are unlimited possibilities as to what might occur. But when we follow the same old script—for me and the meditation thing, it was a habit of mine to look to other people to
validate my own feelings—there are not a lot of possibilities. It’s not a fresh interaction. It’s totally stale, and maybe even a little stinky. Now, some time later, I don’t feel insecure about my choice to meditate anymore (in fact, I’m not even sure if it is a choice anymore), and I’ve stopped pushing it onto other people. What’s funny about this is that recently I was talking to a friend who had come to the center because he
“In the beginner’s mind, there are unlimited possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” was curious about learning how to meditate. I was telling him about how I used to be that annoying meditation evangelist. He told me, “I’ve enjoyed watching how you behave in the world, and I’ve always appreciated that. That’s what made me want to practice here.” So it took some time, but I did end up learning my lesson about it, and when I did, that’s when others finally became attracted to the idea of meditating. A key part of the practice is learning how to surrender to not being in control. Allow the unfolding. In other words, we don’t need to hang up a sign. If we can live from a mindset of “not knowing,” we naturally cease from evil, and we’re left free to really get into things. I love the Japanese phrase ichi-go ichi-e, which means “one moment, one chance.” It makes me think of dew evaporating. Have you ever seen that? Right before the sun comes up, all the dew, it’s beautiful. And then—so quickly— it’s gone. The opportunity to cultivate freshness, to cease from evil, is always available to us. But just for a moment . . . and then it’s gone.
WHOLEHEARTED S L O W D O W N , H E L P O U T, WAKE UP B Y K O S H I N PA L E Y E L L I S O N PA G E S 5 3 – 5 7
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
IS MAHĀMUDRĀ EXPRESSIBLE? AN EXCERPT FROM MIND SEEING MIND BY ROGER R . JACKSON
hether as the realization of emptiness or the attainment of buddhahood, the experience of mahāmudrā is said to transcend duality, conceptuality, and predication and therefore is, strictly speaking, ineffable. Both the mahāyoga and yoginī tantras that fueled mahāmudrā discourse and the songs of the Indian and Tibetan mahāsiddhas that celebrated it are laced with reminders that the great seal is a state, or a reality, that cannot adequately be described, for description requires language, and language does violence to the nature of things. Texts such as the Drop of Mahāmudrā and the lyrics of Saraha, Tilopa, and Nāropa repeatedly insist that mahāmudrā is inconceivable and incommunicable and can only be understood when concepts are dropped and it is experienced directly. At the same time, the very authors who stressed the great seal’s ineffability wrote voluminously about it. The reason is simple: as the ultimate reality and attainment, mahāmudrā is the most important single thing a person can know; to be denied it is to continue to circle in saṃsāra, while to realize it, to open the door to buddhahood. Thus, though the great seal is inconceivable and inexpressible, it is too vital not to be thought and spoken, however imperfectly. Kagyüpa and Gelukpa exponents of mahāmudrā sometimes differed as to just how conceivable and expressible 40
mahāmudrā is, with the former putting greater emphasis on its utter indescribability, the latter granting language somewhat greater power to capture its contours, if not all of it. Yet all of them agreed that in the final analysis, because it is the ultimate, and the ultimate transcends conceptual thought, mahāmudrā is inconceivable, yet expression of it is not impossible or even paradoxical, since—Madhyamaka negative rhetoric notwithstanding—the conventional world and activity within it, including speech, are not negated by the ultimate but enabled by it. Furthermore (as Kagyüpas pointed out more often than the rationalist Gelukpas), the conventional world itself may be no more conceivable or expressible than mahāmudrā. In any case, despite the rhetoric of ineffability that pervades mahāmudrā literature, masters of the great seal in both India and Tibet felt justified in speaking of it, whether on pragmatic or philosophical grounds, and they spoke of it in some of the most compelling and evocative poems and treatises ever produced by Buddhists—works that only were deepened and enriched by their authors’ acknowledgment of the groundlessness of all that they said and did. Within Buddhism more broadly, the tension between, on the one hand, the sense that contemplative experience and the transcendent ultimate are inconceivable and inexpressible and, on the other, the need to communicate
vital truths to suffering sentient beings led to a longstanding ambivalence within the tradition about the role of language. As far back as the sūtras of Foundational Buddhism, a key epithet of the Buddha is the muni, the “silent sage,” and most early narratives of the Buddha’s life emphasize that following his awakening under the bodhi tree, he concluded at first that his achievement was so profound that it could not be communicated. On further reflection, however, he realized that there were some in the world, “whose eyes were covered with but a little dust,” that might understand what he had to say, so he set out for Sarnath, where he “turned the wheel of Dharma” for his first five disciples—and continued teaching for the next forty-five years. All of the Buddha’s many teachings were supposed to aid his followers in attaining nirvāṇa, a transcendent, unconditioned state that cannot be grasped by those who have not attained it. But because it is the final, necessary outcome of beginningless eons of sentient spiritual striving, it must be grasped. Because it cannot be described literally, it is best approached through metaphors, both positive and negative. Hence, as we have seen, in the early literature, nirvāṇa is described negatively as the unconditioned absence of all defilements and positively as true knowledge, real happiness, or an island, or a light, or the cool that ensues when a fire has been put out.
Similar tensions are evident in Mahāyāna traditions, where the Perfection of Wisdom sūtras and the writings of Mādhyamika philosophers stress the degree to which the ultimate nature of things, emptiness, and the ultimate being, buddha, are utterly beyond comprehension or predication—yet demand expression. And in Mahāyāna, more than in Foundational traditions, the ultimate is not radically separable from the conventional. The Heart Sūtra reminds us that “form is emptiness, emptiness is form,” with the consequence that even mundane words and deeds may, if understood aright, serve as an avenue to deeper realization. Given, too, the Mahāyāna celebration of the multitude of skillful pedagogical means employed by buddhas and bodhisattvas, it is not surprising that the Great Vehicle produced a wealth of stories, songs, images, and other artistic forms that were intended to bring their audience closer to a final realization that no piece of art could capture perfectly but that each work, appreciated properly, nevertheless could suggest. Whether we consider the koans, poems, paintings, gardens, and other art forms inspired by the Chan/Zen tradition; or the melodious chants and impressive Buddha images of Pure Land Buddhism; or the profound, playful, and popular songs sung by mahāmudrā masters from Saraha, to Milarepa, to Paṇchen Chögyen, to Chögyam Trungpa, we see the same process at work: Buddhists giving form to that which they know has no form and giving words to that which they know cannot be spoken, simply because a master’s suggestion, their need for expression, and their own deep compassion prompt them to do what cannot be done but must be done.
Tsongkapa as a Mahasiddha (detail) Tibet; 19th century Pigments on cloth Rubin Museum of Art Purchased from the Collection of Navin Kumar, New York C2004.16.1 (HAR 65347)
MIND SEEING MIND MAHĀMUDRĀ AND THE GELUK TR ADITION OF T I B E TA N B U D D H I S M BY ROGER R. JACKSON PA G E S 4 1 9 – 4 2 1
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
M O N A S T I C D E B AT E AT SERA MONASTERY
T H E I M PORTA NCE OF CR E AT ION STAGE I N TA N T R IC PR ACT ICE
AN EXCERPT FROM SERA MONASTERY B Y J O S É C A B E Z Ó N A N D P E N PA D O R J E E
hen monks debate, they don’t simply speak during a debate. Monks realize that all the shouting, nameto one another in monotone. Debate is a calling, and jeering is just part of the game, and they do not lively affair. It is kinesthetic, involving the take it personally. Over time they develop a thick skin. coordinated actions of body, speech, and mind. In other Debate becomes less “rowdy” as monks mature and move words, debate has a performative dimension. Certain into the more advanced classes. Debates in the Perfection debates—for example, the rikchung of Wisdom and Madhyamaka and rikchen debates that take place classes are often very loud and before hundreds or thousands of physical. Multiple challengers will monks—are highly rehearsed and often wrestle with one another, have an almost ritualistic quality jockeying for a position in front of to them. The respondent first the respondent so as to pose their puts forward a long, formal thesis questions. In the later Vinaya and statement called the “explanation,” Abhidharma classes there is much or shepa, on an assigned topic. In less of this, and in the karam and India, it has become a custom to lharam class, hardly any at all. write the shepa out, ornamenting Perhaps it is simply a matter of age. it with illuminations and framing Young men in their prime simply it as a memento. After the shepa, have more stamina and energy— the two monks debate, but in a more steam to blow off—than very reserved fashion, with specific monks in their middle or later years. rules governing each of their As monks mature, other qualities movements. For example, they are come to be valued in the debater: required to speak, to walk, and to the ability to delve deeply into a wear their robes and hold their particular subject, the complexity hats in very specific ways. Monks and nuance of an argument, the Image credit: Antoine Taveneaux in the audience might cheer on ability to subtly lead an opponent their favorite candidate—a monk into a desired position, knowing from their khamtsen or college—by when to sacrifice the smaller points to gain the larger rumbling “Awww!” if the other party hesitates or is unable victory, and so forth. Gö Lotsāwa tells us that Tsongkhapa to respond. But overall, the proceedings are relatively was known for his subdued demeanor in debate, eschewing subdued. “such practices as abusing others, shouting, running, Day-to-day debates—the kinds of debates that monks practice in the debate courtyard—are very different. They are boisterous and often filled with emotion and invective. During a debate, the respondent always remains seated, and the challenger, who stands or paces in front of the respondent, will perform a series of gestures with each point that he makes. These make him look, at times, more like a dancer than a debater. This performative element—the physical gestures, the inflection of the voice, the use of comedy and insult, etc.—is an important aspect of debate. The challenger must master it and the respondent must cultivate a sense of equanimity in the face of it. It is not unusual for monks to joke or to call each other names
jumping, and dancing.” This line also tells us that the performative aspects of debate we witness today have been around for centuries.
SERA MONASTERY BY JOSÉ C ABE ZÓN A N D P E N PA D O R J E E PA G E S 2 5 4 – 2 5 7
AN EXCERPT FROM B R I L L I A N T LY I L LU M I N AT I N G L A M P O F T H E F I V E S TA G E S B Y T S O N G K H A PA L O S A N G D R A K PA
he person who aspires to the ultimate does not fail to meditate the creation stage. One follows the order of meditation by first thoroughly cultivating the creation stage and later entering the perfection stage. [Nāgārjuna,] in the Five Stages, makes the order definite: To those well situated on the creation stage And yet aspiring to the perfection stage, The perfect buddhas taught this method Just like the rungs of a ladder. [Āryadeva adds] in the Integrated Practices, which extensively elucidates the intention of the Five Stages: “Alienated individuals such as us, through our beginningless habitual investment in the variety of outer things, are involved in the habitual investment in conceptual thinking by the cause of the [reificatory] instincts for intrinsic realities in such [things] as existence and nonexistence, one and many, duality and nonduality, neither existence nor nonexistence, permanence and impermanence. Thus if they learn the samadhi of the perfection stages, must they practice according to the usual stages? Or may they spiritually realize those instantaneously through the personal precept of the mentor?” The vajra master replies, “Practice entering by stages, and not suddenly.” Thus, when asked: if those who are engaged with objects under the influence of instincts beginninglessly invested in the four extremes should practice the perfection [stages] beginning gradually from the first stages, or should practice suddenly by means of a profound precept of a mentor, without needing such [a gradual procedure]; [Āryadeva] answers that, other than gradual practice, there is no door of sudden entrance. And he establishes that by quoting the authority of the Mission to Laṅka [Sutra] and the Heroes’ March Samadhi Sutra. Thus, even if it were thought that the finest, jewel-like disciple to enter this path would never [need to] have a beginner’s stage, there would result the absurdity that one should be liberated
from the beginning without requiring any path [at all]. It is essential that one accept [the inevitability of having] a beginner’s stage. One must accept [Āryadeva’s] statement in the Integrated Practices: In order for beginner beings To enter into the ultimate reality, The perfect buddhas created this artful system, Just like rungs of a ladder. Here some protest that the sudden practice is taught thinking of some powerful persons who practiced the lower paths in many former lives, and so [in this life] do not need to be led through lower paths but are properly led through the higher paths. This is like saying that when one investigates whether or not one needs first to go through the paths of accumulation and application to generate the insight path, one does not need any preliminary accumulation or application paths, giving the reason that one has already attained the insight path. It is a ridiculous [because so obvious] objection. Thus, just as, although one can put one’s boat aside when one gets across a river, one must still depend on it while crossing; so, although one can abandon the creation stage once one has attained the non-artificial, core realization of the perfection stage, the artificial creation stage is necessary in the process of attaining that. Thus for the beginner, the creation stage is very highly recommended and very important.
B R I L L I A N T LY I L L U M I N AT I N G L A M P O F T H E F I V E S TA G E S PR ACTICAL INSTRUCTION I N T H E K I N G O F TA N T R A S , TH E GLO R I O US ESOTER I C COMMUNIT Y B Y T S O N G K H A PA L O S A N G D R A K PA , T R A N S L AT E D B Y R O B E R T A . F. T H U R M A N PA G E S 9 4 – 9 6
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
classifies his Tibetan sources in five chronological stages. His description reads as follows:
KO N GT RU L’S T R E A S U RY O F KAGYÜ MANTRA AN EXCERPT FROM REASONS AND LIVES IN BUDDHIST TRADITIONS: STUDIES IN HONOR OF MATTHEW KAPSTEIN BY CÉCILE DUCHER
ecret Mantrayāna occupies a central role in Tibetan Buddhism. Most Tibetan lineages are constituted by the transmission of empowerments, which are considered the entrance door to the Vajrayāna. Among the four main Tibetan orders that developed in Tibet, the Kagyü lineage traces back to a Tibetan translator, Marpa (Mar pa Chos kyi blo gros, 1002?–1081?), famous for having received in India the transmission of several major highest yoga tantras (niruttaratantra, bla na med pa’ i rgyud) from two of the most important masters of the time, Nāropa and Maitripa, and for having brought back to Tibet empowerments and instructions for these major tantras. Marpa had four main disciples. One of them, Milarepa (1028?–1111?), was followed by Sgam po pa (1079–1153), and from the latter all the Kagyü sub-orders developed. Despite the preeminence of these Kagyü traditions today, Marpa’s tantric teachings were also preserved by his other disciples, chief among them Rngog Chos rdor (1023–90) and Mtshur ston Dbang nge (eleventh century). Their lineages, however, did not survive as independent orders for more than a few centuries and, as a result, are not very well known. Because of this, several tantras that Marpa brought to Tibet and that were originally propounded by Rngog and Mtshur ston were on the verge of extinction by the nineteenth century. It was to avert their loss and to spread once more Marpa’s traditions that the great nineteenthcentury polymath Jamgön Kongtrul (’Jam mgon Kong sprul Blo gros mtha’ yas, 1813–99) compiled the Treasury. Thanks to Kongtrul’s efforts and the subsequent continuation of his lineage, particularly in the Karma Kagyü order, most of Marpa’s traditions remain alive today, although some of them are very seldom practiced.
T H E
C O L L E C T I O N
The original volumes of the Treasury were xylographed in Dpal spungs, Kongtrul’s monastery in eastern Tibet. There remain today in the old Dpal spungs printing house some woodblocks dating to that period. The collection was then organized in three bulky volumes. A copy of this original edition is now available in the Namgyal Institute in Gangtok (Sikkim, India). The volumes were divided into two and first republished as six volumes in India in 1974. A few years later, a calque of the Dpal spungs xylograph was ordered by Dil mgo Mkhyen rtse Rin po che, and this new edition was published in 1982 in eight volumes. This version, abridged here as Treasury, is the one described in the present article as it is the most widespread in the Tibetan and academic communities and has been reordered according to Kongtrul’s catalogue, thus reflecting accurately the form Kongtrul intended to give to his work. As in his other treasuries, Kongtrul gathered many sources for his collection. The Treasury thus contains texts composed by Kongtrul, reprints of previous works by identified authors, and anonymous works. In the catalogue, Kongtrul states that his first sources are Indian texts. This refers to the tantras themselves as well as to the commentaries and rituals elaborated by Indian masters. These texts gave rise to various Indian traditions that were imported to Tibet and became the sources of the ensuing traditions. Marpa received his main tantric transmissions from several masters (the Padmavajra tradition of Hevajra from Nāropa, the Ārya tradition of Guhyasamāja from Jñānagarbha, the Kukuripa tradition of Mahāmāyā from Śāntibhadra, and so on) and again with key instructions from Nāropa and Maitripa. In the catalogue, Kongtrul then
1. First are the earliest Tibetan texts such as the Mdo sbyar and the Gur gyi srog shing by Marpa [commentaries on Hevajra and Pañjara]; the manuals composed by Rngog Mdo sde as well as his commentary on the Hevajratantra, called Likeness of a Precious Ornament (Rin chen rgyan ’dra); the Collected Works of Mgar and Rtsags [Rngog Mdo sde’s main disciples]; the Old Ngok Maṇḍalas (Rngog dkyil rnying), manuals compiled by later Ngokpas such as Kun dga’ rdo rje (1145–1222), Thogs med grags pa (1108–44), and Rin chen bzang po (1243–1319). 2. The manuals composed by the Third Karmapa (1284–1339) on Hevajra, Cakrasaṃvara, Guhyasamāja, Mahāmāyā, and so on, and by his successors the Sixth Karmapa (1416–1453), the Seventh Karmapa (1454–1506), the Eighth Karmapa (1507–54), the Great ’Jam dbyangs from Mtshur phu (fourteenth–fifteenth centuries), and so on, represent the main Kam tshang tradition, in which many manuals on most tantras of the Mar Ngok tradition were composed. 3. The Manuals on Ngok Maṇḍalas (Rngog dkyil yig cha) composed by Lochen Bsod nams rgya mtsho (1424–82) provide outlines and clarify practices on the basis of the Old Ngok Maṇḍalas. Based on them, the manuals of the Fourth Shamar (Zhwa dmar Chos grags ye shes, 1453–1524) have a wise vision endowed with the two forms of knowledge that thoroughly remove the stains of errors.
Rngog Chos rdor, especially his son Rngog Mdo sde. They were the most prolific commentators of Marpa’s tradition and are considered the main holders of his “exegetic lineage” (bshad brgyud), as opposed to Milarepa’s “practice lineage” (sgrub brgyud). Several volumes of commentaries and practice rituals composed by members of the Ngok family were found in the concealed library of ’Bras spungs’s Gnas bcu Temple and have been published. The second phase is represented by various works dispersed in the collected works of the Karmapas. The third phase is represented by the writings of Lochen Bsod nams rgya mtsho. He was a student of ’Gos Lo tsā ba, himself one of the major students of the last important Ngok master, Byang chub dpal (1360–1446). Lochen was responsible, with his master ’Gos Lo tsā ba and the former’s disciple, the Fourth Shamar, for the successful transition of the transmissions from the Ngok family to the other Kagyü lineages. Although stored in the Gnas bcu Temple, Lochen’s complete works have not been published yet. The writings of his disciple, the Fourth Shamar, are available and contain several rituals and commentaries related to the Ngok traditions, as are those of Tāranātha and Karma Chags med that similarly contain Ngok traditions. Among these, Kongtrul considers that the most appropriate cycles (that is to say the texts containing everything necessary for the practice of a specific tantra— empowerment ritual, main sādhana and related rites, as well as commentaries and explanations) are the ones by the Fourth Shamar and Tāranātha because they are loaded with spiritual influence, have the appropriate length, are easy to use, and are free of errors. He therefore used those as references, sometimes including the original documents in the Treasury, sometimes editing them in order to compose texts of his own.
4. Tāranātha (1575–1634) cleaned the general hybridations and crossovers in the Ngok practices and composed manuals that purely and unmistakably expound the Indian root texts and Marpa’s interpretation.
Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thayl (1813–1899) (detail) Tibet; late 19th century Pigments on cloth Rubin Museum of Art C2003.25.2 (HAR 65265)
5. Karma Chags med (1613–1618) summarized the extensive initiation texts of the Old Ngok Maṇḍalas and unified the self- and front-generation stages, thus speeding up the empowerment. Although the empowerments and reading transmissions of the latter three are uninterrupted, I mainly based my renderings on the writings of the Fourth Shamar and of Tāranātha, which are unmistaken as to the meaning and have a majestic blessing. Among the sources used by Kongtrul, many are now available and can thus be compared to the version included in the Treasury. For most maṇḍalas, the first texts written were the versions of rituals and commentaries composed within the Ngok lineage, that is to say by the descendants of
S T U D I E S I N I N D I A N A N D T I B E TA N B U D D H I S M
Reasons and Lives
in Buddhist Traditions ^)@2)6
Studies in Honor of Matthew Kapstein
REASONS AND LIVES IN U DTraditions DHIST TRADITIONS inB Buddhist S T U D I E S I N I N D I A N A N D T I B E TA N B U D D H I S M
Reasons and Lives ^)@2)6
STUDIES IN HONOR O F M AT T H E W K A P S T E I N EDITED BY DA N A RNOL D, CÉCILE DUCHER, AND PIERRE-JULIEN HARTER
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The Dalai Lama
THE COMPASSIONATE LIFE $14.95 | 128 pages ebook $9.99
PERFECT CONDUCT His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche $19.95 | 224 pages ebook $15.99
ECOLOGY, ETHICS, AND INTERDEPENDENCE $18.95 | 344 pages ebook $12.99 BUDDHISM: ONE TEACHER, MANY TRADITIONS $17.95 | 352 pages ebook $11.99 THE WORLD OF TIBETAN BUDDHISM $17.95 | 224 pages ebook $11.99 SLEEPING, DREAMING, AND DYING: AN EXPLORATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS $16.95 | 264 pages ebook $12.99
CREATION AND COMPLETION Jamgön Kongtrül $18.95 | 176 pages ebook $12.99 THE THREE LEVELS OF SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION Deshung Rinpoche $24.95 | 624 pages PRINCIPLES OF BUDDHIST TANTRA Kirti Tsenshap Rinpoche $24.95 | 496 pages ebook $18.99 THE SELF-ARISEN VIDYĀ TANTRA Translated by Malcolm Smith $120 | 736 pages
MEDITATION ON THE NATURE OF MIND $16.95 | 232 pages ebook $12.99
KALACHAKRA TANTRA His Holiness the Dalai Lama $29.95 | 528 pages ebook $21.99
THE GOOD HEART: A BUDDHIST PERSPECTIVE ON THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS $16.95 | 232 pages ebook $11.99
THE CAKRASAMVARA TANTRA Translated by David B. Gray $59.95 | 472 pages ebook $29.99
OPENING THE EYE OF NEW AWARENESS $14.95 | 160 pages ebook $9.99
VAJRAYOGINĪ Elizabeth English $42.95 | 608 pages ebook $24.99
W I S D O M E X P E R I E N C E . O R G
About Wisdom Wisdom Publications is the leading publisher of contemporary and classic books and practical works on Buddhism, mindfulness, and meditation. We trace our beginnings to the influential Tibetan teachers Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Lama Yeshe’s vision of “publications for wisdom culture” led to the founding of Wisdom.
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We are a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to • connecting you with Buddhist wisdom, • cultivating writers and teachers the world over, • advancing critical scholarship, • preserving and sharing Buddhist literary culture, • and helping people find and engage with the teachers, teachings, and practices for a wise and compassionate life. Publisher’s Office Daniel Aitken Alexandra Makkonen Marketing Kestrel Montague Brianna Quick Josh Bryant Katherine Davis Administration Logan Murray
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