Author Archives: Neo Zen

About Neo Zen

Interested in the Mind ever since I was young. I remember my second grade teacher discussing the “big-bang theory” and that started it all for me. As a young kid, I was totally blown away by this concept. I refused to sleep at night until I figured out where that leaves me – before the universe was created. It was a great challenge and I was excited at finding a solution; even frightened at the enormous implications. If there was only a pinpoint of matter and nothing outside - how could I breathe? For months I contemplated that problem until I had my first out-of-body experience where I could intuit the solution. A few years later, I discovered Paul Brunton's works at the age of eleven and read everything I could on spirituality. He inspired me to deepen my meditation, uphold good ethics, and search for a physical Master. Over the next decade, I practiced almost every meditation that was out there until I came to a dead end. Shortly after college, I stumbled on the path only to become more determined to achieve wholeness with the assistance of several important alternative-healers. Finally, after going through this extensive holistic therapy I found my Tibetan Buddhist Master in 1997. Under his guidance, I completed five years worth of shedra studies and eleven years of month-long retreats beginning with the Ngondro accumulations, Tsa Lung meditation, and then the advanced classes until his parinirvana in 2009. I continue to do solitary or monthly retreats and received permission to write. Now, I wish to give back what I discovered while helping others avoiding the common pitfalls and dangers that beset every seeker on the Quest.

Kalu Rinpoche’s Parinirvana


Another important master that has come to this Saha world is Kalu Rinpoche.  His Parinirvana is tomorrow, May 20th.  Not without controversy, we certainly can learn a lot from this great, compassionate master.

Kalu-Rinpoche

Beneficial Quotes:

From the book The Dharma: That Illuminates All Beings Impartially Like the Light of the Sun and the Moon

Kalu Rinpoche tells us, “Whether we follow the scholastic or meditative approach really depends on our inclination, but regardless of how extensive or specialized our interest may be, some intellectual basis is certainly necessary. ”

“It is said that someone who tries to meditate without a conceptual understanding of what he or she is doing is like a blind person trying to find the way in the open country: such a person can only wander about, with no idea how to choose one direction over another.” — Kalu Rinpoche

From the Kagyu website:

“If we can practice bodhicitta, develop patience, and pacify all disharmony in our own home, then we have prepared the way leading to the development of limitless bodhicitta.”  He continues…

“If, on the other hand, we cannot maintain patience and harmony in our own home with our own family, then it is very unlikely that we will be able to do this with respect to all sentient beings, who are infinite in number.” — Kalu Rinpoche

From the book Gently Whispered: Oral Teachings by the Very Venerable Kalu Rinpoche

“In the current general cultural milieu of the Western world, expression of desire allows emotions to be actively encouraged, actively stimulated, and over-blown, all within the contextual appreciation of this as something healthy. If one has a desire, one is encouraged to fulfill it.”  He goes on to say:

“If one has an emotion, one is encouraged to stimulate it, to bring it to development by expressing it. Generally, this is seen as a healthy thing to do, while actually, in terms of karmic development, this approach tends to create a disproportionate exaggeration of desire and attachment. — Kalu Rinpoche

The Four ‘Faults’ of Natural Awareness:

  1. So close you can’t see it.
  2. So deep you can’t fathom it.
  3. So simple you can’t believe it.
  4. So good you can’t accept it.
A pith instruction:

“The pure nature of mind – emptiness, lucidity and intelligence without limit – has always been inside us.” — Kalu Rinpoche

Offerings:

Offering candles, incense, butter-lamps with a good intention (to the Lama) will create a lot of good karma and positive merit but offering the Tsok Feasts will generate the most merit and wisdom together that will forever be stored in our mind-stream.

The Kalachakra Tantra of Holding the Qualities of the Lama teaches:

“The merit accumulated by making offerings on the anniversary of one’s lama will dispel negative karma and obscurations accrued for countless eons, like the rays of the sun dispelling darkness.

This merit is superior to that accumulated by all beings in the three thousand world systems who gained merit through venerating and serving the Buddha.

Moreover, this merit is greater than the merit accrued by donating eyes, curing disease, and dispelling the sorrow of beings who are blind, ill or tormented by suffering in the hell realms and who are as numerous as the dust particles of the three thousand world systems.”

Tsok Dates:

Kalu Rinpoche passed into parinirvana on May 10, 1989 which falls on the 5th day of the 4th Month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar.    Previous Ganachakra ceremonies have fallen on these days:

  • 2016: May 11th
  • 2017:  May 30th

The parinirvana date for this year is: May 20th, 2018

Once again bringing forth awareness of the wrong intention and bad behavior within the mind of deluded sentient beings, Kalu Rinpoche’s yangsi (present incarnation) speaks out.  With a sincere heart and good intention he raises our understanding what is happening in the hearts of evil people.

 

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Kunzang Dechen Lingpa’s Parinirvana


Kunzang Dechen Lingpa Rinpoche (1928-2006) was a tertön of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.  He was renowned in his homeland of Northeastern India as a realized master of Dzogchen and terton.  He was especially famous for the special healing ceremony known as Chöd practice.

KDL bumpa

Kunsang Rinpoche was born in the Earth Snake Year – 1928, in Southern Tibet in Lhodrak.  He was the13th reincarnation of the Buddha Rinchen Tsug Tor Gyen.  From childhood he was only interested in spiritual things.  At 16 he went into full time spiritual retreat, and studied with Dudjom Rinpoche for 10 years.

He became a terton or treasure revealer at age 20.  Rinpoche was recognized by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche as the Lodhak Terton, the reincarnation of Terton Longsel Nyingpo, of the Drubchen Melong Dorje lineage.

Healing Chod

From the Zangdokpalri website:

Rinpoche was fond of performing the Healing Chöd for masses of Buddhist disciples who were instructed just to lay down and rest for about forty minutes or however long the ceremony lasted.

Chöd is a unique spiritual practice and a path to complete enlightenment.  It is an extremely effective method for healing our body, mind and spirit.  The chief way it does this is by clearing the karmic obstacles and blockages arising from our negative interaction with others in countless past lives.

Normally, obstacles stem from taking lives, vitality, property, honor, confidence or hope from others.  They may also arise from past actions, speech and thoughts, based on greed, attachment, apathy or egotism.

Similarly, the limitless ways in which humans disrespect or despoil the material and spiritual forces of nature, the planet, or the elements (fire, water, air, earth) are the basis of numerous difficulties and life obstacles; socially, materially, physically and mentally.  The way these many debts are repaid in Chöd is by offering our most previous and closely guarded possession – our own bodies – to the universe.

A Short Story:

I had the good fortune to meet Rinpoche back in the summer of 2004.  There are many stories about Kunzang Dechen Lingpa (KDL) but this one stood out in an overwhelming way because of Rinpoche’s compassion and his heroic action knowing his health might diminish.

One time, KDL had met a native Shaman and both got to know each other quite well and after some time became good friends.  Since the Shaman was amazed at the qualities KDL possessed and learned that the Bardo Ceremony would be useful to help deliver his soul during the intermediate stage, he requested help should he pass away before him.

When the Shaman actually did pass away, his disciples notified Rinpoche to fulfill his duties.  As KDL visited the home where the deceased body lay, the Shaman’s disciples said, “OK, now get in bed and lay next to our teacher and for the next few days perform the death ritual.  This is how things have to be done according to our tradition.”

To the horror of Rinpoche’s disciples, they protested vehemently believing that this would severely affect Rinpoche’s health for hygienic reasons.  Despite everyone’s objections Rinpoche acquiesced saying, “Since I made a promise, I have no choice but to uphold my word and perform the Bardo Ceremony and do it according to their needs and fulfill their wishes.”

After this, Rinpoche came down with an illness which affected his knees so much that he always had trouble walking after that day for the rest of his life.  It was obvious that KDL took on the karma without concern for his own well-being.

Namthar:

It’s also good to investigate the various namthars that are available in print to really aide us on our own spiritual path.  A namthar is a spiritual biography or hagiography and in Tibetan Buddhism it can gives us great insight in the conduct of extraordinary Mahasiddhas on their path to liberation.  Namthars can be outer, inner and secret in scope.  Here is a portion of KDL’s Namthar and the rest of the biography can be found here: Namthar

One night, just before dawn, I dreamt of a lama with a body slightly bigger than a human and with an overwhelming and extremely peaceful shining presence.  I was wondering whether or not this was actually Pema Jungney, then he spoke to me, saying “Son, eat this peach” and immediately gave me three peaches.

 I suddenly rose up, and, holding on to his index finger, just like that, we arrived instantly to Zangdokpalri, in the Southwest land of Orgyen.  At the door of a great gonpa, he said to me “Wait here, son, I will go request for you an audience with Guru Rinpoche.”  After saying this he went up a staircase.  Although I waited for a long time no one came.

Now I was wondering where that Lama was, so I went to see.  He was seated on top of a throne, in front of him were placed empowerment implements such as bumpas and so on.  I thought to myself “He is actually Guru Rinpoche”.  Then, while I was requesting vase empowerment, I suddenly arrived back in my bed.

Parinirvana Dates:

KDL passed away on March 28th, 2006 and sat upright unassisted for 2 and half days in what the Tibetans call Tukdom.  The anniversary of his passing is traditionally held on 29th day of 1st month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar.  The ganachakra feast (tsok practice) ceremony is the best way to generate vast stores of merits.  Tomorrow is the day to make butterlamp offerings, light candles, offer incense and especially perform the grand ganachakra tsok feast to honor this great master.

The Kalachakra Tantra of Holding the Qualities of the Lama teaches:

“The merit accumulated by making offerings on the anniversary of one’s lama will dispel negative karma and obscurations accrued for countless eons, like the rays of the sun dispelling darkness.”

Previous Tsok dates have fallen on these dates:

  • 2016 – March 8th
  • 2017 –  March 27th
  • 2018 – March 16th

Texts & Prayers:

LU MED KON CHHOK RIN CHHEN KUN DU PA
The embodiment of the infallible Precious Jewels,

TSHO KYEY PEY JYUNG YAB YUM JYIN LAB KYIY
The Sole Father and Mother Lotus-Born, Pema Jyungnye;

DRO DUL KUN ZANG DE CHHEN LING PA YI
By your blessings may the tamer of sentient beings, Kunzang Dechen Lingpa’s

GYAL SEY TRUL KU NYUR JYON SOL WA DEB
Bodhisattva reincarnation manifest swiftly, I pray!

These four lines are the brief form of the prayer commonly recited in the assembly.

Other rebirth prayers can be found here: Rebirth

Light,
Neo

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Guru Dragpo Puja


From the Kopan Monastery website:

As Buddhists, Tibetans believe that if you want good circumstances, you yourself need to establish good conditions.  Losar rituals are concerned with inspiring a creative attitude, to establish a basis for a good new year.  On these first days of the year Tibetans engage in specific virtuous actions, and acts that are considered auspicious.

Losar-Puja

Moreover, in the days that precede Losar, the last days of the old year, everyone in the community is concerned with pacifying and removing left-over negativity.

During this time, Tibetan monasteries and temples undertake specific rites to expel negative habits from the old year, so these will not be carried into the New Year.  The lamas and monks will do a week of rituals, some of which culminate in the well-known lama dances. Moreover, in their homes, families prepare for the New Year by cleaning, and making new clothes.

From the Amitabha Foundation’s newsletter:

The annual Guru Dragpo puja at Ayang Rinpoche’s monastery in Bylakuppe, India, begins February 8 and continues through February 14, 2018.  Guru Dragpo is practiced at the end of the Tibetan lunar year to dispel obstacles and purify any remaining negativities in order to usher in happiness and prosperity for the New Year (Losar), which is February 16th this year.

Ayang Rinpoche Puja 2017

We invite you to make an offering to help support the puja.

Ayang Rinpoche has said that anyone sponsoring Dharma activities gains the same merit as the practitioners.

Make a donation online here, or send a check made out to Amitabha Foundation.

You may include a dedication for your offering in the name of a loved one, living or deceased, including pets.  All names must be submitted to the Amitabha Foundation by February 12 at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Your donation of any amount will be appreciated and will be like a drop of water mixed in an ocean of merit!

Becky Loy
for H. E. Chöje Ayang Rinpoche and the Amitabha Foundation

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Heart Advice


H.H. Yangthang left a letter to his niece’s daughter before he passed into nirvana.  This letter was found in his personal bag after his parinirvana.  We believe that this letter is also the last teaching he bestowed to all of us.  We are very grateful to Sangye Khandro, who translated this letter into English for all of us.

Yangthang Rinpoche3b

~ A BIT OF ADVICE ON PUREST INTENTIONS FOR TASHI CHOTSO:

Although you are still young, this is the time when your mind is fresh and clear. Now is the time to carefully consider your present human life and what will follow this.  The wise ones of the past have said, “If you plan ahead, it is smart.  If you regret later it is dumb.”  So, that means you must carefully consider finding the correct direction to take that will benefit this life and the future.  Once you have found this then it is extremely important to pursue that path whole heartedly.  Once inadvertently entering the wrong direction it is difficult to turn around and reenter the right way even if you want to.  You won’t be able to instantly turn around so from the onset it is best to get this right.

In short there are two paths to take, the worldly and the spiritual path.  If you take the worldly path both this and the future life will be involved with suffering.  This direction is very challenging because it involves the path of negativity and non-virtue.  The spiritual path is the direction that illuminates fully endowed happiness and wellbeing both temporarily and ultimately.  Even though that is the case, these days there are very few who chose to enter this illuminating path.

Among the seven point three billion inhabitants of this planet, there are only several hundred thousand who are following the path of dharma.  Everyone else is pursuing the worldly path.

By only establishing non-virtue, then due to the power of negativity they must powerlessly pursue a misguided direction that leads to suffering.  Having attained this precious human life just this once, they are distracted by meaningless activities on the path of cyclic existence and without even noticing their life is wasted.  One day when death arrives they must leave behind this world, their loving parents, relatives, abundance and even their cherished body and enter their future life with eyes full of tears.

Having spent their life only accumulating non-virtue they can only take rebirth in the three lower realms.  Revolving within the three lower realms repeatedly, after some hundreds and thousands of human years they may take rebirth just once in a higher place.  Experiencing continuous suffering for such a long time, by circling throughout the six realms, there will be no chance to achieve freedom from this.

relaxation

This kind of worldly direction is a vast heap of suffering.  Since it endures for so long it is actually a very frightening path.  Due to the power of negative karma all humans will powerlessly proceed down this undesirable direction.  That is why you, young girl, must make prayers that you can avoid this direction!  If due to your karma you end up having to go there, please keep this advice strongly in your heart:

Don’t react with frustration and try to make decisions by yourself; listen to the advice of your parents and elders who have good intentions; respect the advice of those with knowledge and learn to trust the Triple Gem and divinations concerning your future.

Always look within yourself with careful consideration and walk with firm steps in the positive direction without mindlessly engaging in chaotic activities.

If you wish to choose the path of the sublime dharma, that would be the best!  That is the correct illuminating path and it is the unmistaken way to go!  First it is important to single pointedly trust in the Triple Gem and firmly cherish the advice of parents and elders, and listen and guard the teachings given to you from compassionate masters, monks and excellent practitioners.  Keep your own mind stable and focused and without wavering enter this luminous path.  First purely accomplish your own purpose and then work to benefit others.

Meditation with Universe

If you, young girl can enter this path of the Buddha then in order to practice dharma you must study and learn the Tibetan language.  This is very important.  You must be diligent in studying Tibetan.  Although it may be challenging, it will allow you to accomplish a greater purpose.  Right now your focus is on worldly subjects in ordinary school.  Through this knowledge you will only learn that which benefits the practical aspects of survival for this life alone.  For example, you will learn how to get food, wealth, name, fame reputation and status.  All those philosophers who are learned in western subjects such as science are able to identify that which is invisible to ordinary people.

Nevertheless, although they see and extract that which is precious among the external four elements, have made medical discoveries that cure diseases, are able to benefit and protect their own direction and deliver that which is harmful to others, are expert in discovering substances that bring both benefit and harm into this world; their capacity to be omniscient is still extremely limited.

If we compare that to the omniscience of the Buddha, then from a spiritual perspective the capacity of the buddha is equal to space.  There is not even a hair’s worth of anything that cannot and is not known.  That is called being fully and completely omniscient.

If you come to understand the dharma that is taught by such an omniscient Buddha then your own mind will become like the sky and will never be rigid. Your entire being will be open and free.  Since the teachings of the Buddha are full of such temporary and ultimate benefit to yourself and all others if you can learn even a little bit of this dharma that will bring tremendous achievement.

Please hold this advice deep within your heart.

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Losar Celebration


Tibetan New year, also known as Losar, is the most important festival in the Tibetan calendar.  It is mainly celebrated over a period of 3 days in late January or February, according to the Tibetan calendar.  This year, Friday February 16th, will begin the year of the Earth Dog.

Losar-Celebration

Buddhist Tradition:

From the Chagdudgonpa website:

Kilaya rituals are traditionally practiced during the final lunar month of the Tibetan calendar to dispel obstacles before the new year begins (Losar).  At Rigdzin Ling we will practice three days of Padgyal Lingpa’s terma of Padmakilaya, followed by three days of HH Dudjom Rinpoche’s terma of Vajrakilaya, The Razor that Destroys at a Touch.

Kilaya Drubchöd

(Padmakilaya:  February 10 – 12, 2018 | Vajrakilaya:  February 13 – 15, 2018)

 

Padmakilaya was directly transmitted to Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche from Padgyal Lingpa, where it became the wrathful guru practice that Rinpoche practiced for decades.  It was then passed on to Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche who bestowed it several times at Rigdzin Ling, authorizing Lama Padma Gyatso to uphold and propagate this powerful antidote to harmful influences and emotions.

Chagdud Tulku quote

Vajrakilaya brings the practitioner into direct contact with the display of compassionate wrath, the intense energy of enlightened activity that subdues the forces of negativity.  Guru Rinpoche transmitted this method of accomplishing Vajrakilaya to his heart disciple, Yeshe Tsogyal, who made it her main practice and was the source of her extraordinary spiritual attainment.

If you are unable to attend the event but would like to participate, it is meritorious and virtuous activity to offer Butterlamps and tsog

Dedications will be read during the event.

Click here for more information.

Butter Lamp Offerings:

H.E. Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche explains:

“What is the meaning of butter lamp offerings? 

We do not offer the lamps because enlightened beings need to see them.  Rather, the offering of light is a means of dispelling the darkness of our own ignorance, giving rise to clarity and wisdom.  We offer them with the wish that their light will illuminate the lower realms and the bardo, assuaging the torment of beings who suffer in darkness.

“Of all the methods for accumulating merit through generosity, offering butter lamps is second only to the practice of tsok.” — Chagdud Tulku

We also aspire that all beings will develop greater mental clarity in order to discover the causes of long-lasting happiness in virtuous actions of body, speech, and mind.  Finally, we offer them so that the inner light of great knowing will arise in all beings’ minds and remove the darkness of ignorance and intellectual obscurations.”

Buddhas Great Miracles:

From the Kalachakrablog website:

The first full moon (March 2, 2018) in the Tibetan lunar calendar is celebrated as the Day of Miracles, or Chotrul Duchen, which commemorates the final day of miraculous display by the Buddha which lasted 15 days.  The Buddha performed the miracles in response to a challenge from six rival teachers.  These 15 days are merit‐multiplying days in which any virtue created is magnified millions of times.

“This is the best and most exciting time, whatever practice or virtue we do, the merit is increased 100 million times.” — Lama Zopa Rinpoche

The Day of Miracles is also the most special day of Monlam Chenmo, the Great Prayer Festival, where thousands of people, lay and ordained alike, pray, and make offerings of food, tea, lights or money to the Sangha.

Tashi Delek
Neo

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Longchenpa’s Parinirvana


This Saturday, February 3rd is the parinirvana date of the great scholar, master and vidhyadhara Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364).  Longchenpa was a major teacher within the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.  Longchen Rabjampa was born in Central Tibet.  He passed on the 18th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar in the year 1364.

Longchenpa_likeness

Longchenpa wrote many works.  But he is probably best known for compiling the essence of Buddhism within the anthology known as the Seven Treasures.  This Collection of Seven Treasures is a synthesis of the entire path to liberation within Tibetan Buddhism. The Seven Treasures are as follows:

  1. yid bzhin mdzod: The Precious Wish-fulfilling Treasury.
  2. chos dbyings mdzod: The Precious Treasury of the Dharmadhatu.
  3. theg mchog mdzod: The Precious Treasury of the Supreme Vehicle.
  4. gnas lugs mdzod: The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding.
  5. tshig don mdzod: The Precious Treasury of the Meaning of Words.
  6. man ngag mdzod: The Precious Treasury of Oral Instructions.
  7. grub mtha’ mdzod: The Precious Treasury of Philosophical Systems.

I’m proud to say that our late Holiness Penor Rinpoche was considered be a very powerful emanation of Longchenpa.

Poem:

Taken in part from Longchenpa’s Song of the Enchanted Wildwoods:

Wherever I look,
Apart from people putting their energy into the material world,
Those practicing the Dharma path are as rare as a supernova.
Having seen this to be true,
If I’m going to accomplish the true Dharma,
I can’t stay any longer — I’m going to the wildwoods.

Compared to those who seek distraction with every thought,
People who care for themselves according to the Dharma are altogether rare.
Those who actually practice it are bullied and disregarded.
Thus, I can’t stay — I’m going to the wildwoods.

Even if you spend this life in introspection,
It passes so quickly, without pausing day or night.
Having seen that laziness always gets the better of my virtue
And that this mind won’t settle even a little,
I’m off to the wildwoods right now.

Books:

While he was on retreat, Longchenpa had many pure visions where he was given direct instructions from Guru Padmasambhava himself.  Longchenpa lamanted that he wasn’t famous in his own time and therefore his writings weren’t of much benefit to others in a vast way.  Yet, as the centuries passed and all of his works translated and handed down; he is now considered one of Tibet’s most renown and precious teachers.

AZ Quotes

Here are a few links to research and enjoy some of the greatest works that beginner, intermediate and advanced Yogis and Scholars alike have cherished and benefited from. We are fortunate, in these degenerate times, that the most important texts are now translated into English.

Shambhala – Several nice books including the short and helpful You are the Eyes of the World

Lotsawa House – which includes free links or downloads to read

Life of Longchenpa – Biography of the Omniscient Dharma King

Seven Treasures – Where the two, must have, treasures can be found which are: The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding & The Basic Space of Phenomena

Tsok Practice:

From Rigpa Wiki:

The main benefit of tsok practice (ganapuja feast) mentioned in the tantras is the accumulation of merit with conceptual focus as well as the accumulation of wisdom beyond focus. There could be no greater benefit than this.

In the termas, we also find mention of unimaginable benefits.  For example, it is said that Guru Rinpoche himself will come and bless the tsok practitioners, or that the place where tsok is performed will become exactly the same as the Zangdokpalri heaven of Guru Rinpoche.

Longchenpa Parinirvana Tormas

And Yeshé Tsogyal said that to practice tsok just once closes the door to lower rebirths.   It is also said that disease, famine and warfare will be pacified, and all the practitioners’ wishes will be fulfilled without the slightest obstacle.

The Kalachakra Tantra of Holding the Qualities of the Lama teaches:

“The merit accumulated by making offerings on the anniversary of one’s lama will dispel negative karma and obscurations accrued for countless eons, like the rays of the sun dispelling darkness.”

Making offerings such as lighting candles or preparing butter-lamps on that day would be a simple way to generate much merit.  However, preparing a more elaborate tsok-feast would definitely be the superior way to generate merit as well as wisdom simultaneously gathering all the right blessings to assist us on our spiritual journey.

Past dates have landed on:

  • 2015 February 6th
  • 2016 January 26th
  • 2017 February 13th

The next ceremony will be held on: February 3rd, 2018

Next year I will post Longchenpa’s Tsok date according to the Tibetan Lunar Calendar.

Light,
Neo

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Being a vegetarian


“You have recorded my conversation, so you should relate it to the people.  We are here at the place of Guru Rinpoche’s cave.  At this place, we are exchanging questions and answers.  It will be nice for other people to hear this.  When you make your book, put my interview at the beginning.  Thank you.”

Chatral-prayer

COMPASSIONATE ACTION – Chapter Two

Chatral Rinpoche’s Steadfast Commitment to Ethics

Chatral Rinpoche is renowned in the Tibetan community for his peerless spiritual discipline, especially when it comes to refraining from eating meat.  Meat eating is an entrenched aspect of Tibetan culture and there are very few who can do without it for long.  His Holiness the Dalai Lama became vegetarian in 1966, but when he got Hepatitis B the Tibetan doctors who support him insisted he start to eat meat again, which he continues to do today in moderate quantities.  A few contemporary masters—such as Kangyur Rinpoche—were also known for being strict vegetarians, but they are the exception.  When I was on the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Year in Nepal Program in 2000, I was studying how Tibetans view the cultural convergence of Buddhism and meat eating and Chatral Rinpoche was one of the main people I interviewed.  Here are some excerpts from that interview:

Question:  Why did you decide to stop eating meat?  How old were you when you made this decision?

Answer:  It is written in many Theravadayana and Mahayana texts that one should not eat meat.  There is also a Vajrayana text that says the same thing, that one should not enjoy meat or alcohol.  Because of this I am following the instructions of Shakyamuni Buddha.  Being a religious person, I don’t take meat or alcohol and at the same time I try to tell other people not to consume these things.  This is my reason—I’m just trying to motivate other people.  I was 47 years old when I went to Bodhgaya and made a vow to all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to give up meat and alcohol.

Question:  Why do you think vegetarianism is an important aspect of practicing the Dharma?

Answer:  If you take meat, it goes against the vows one takes in seeking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  Because when you take meat you have to take a being’s life.  So I gave it up.

Question:  Some claim that one can help the animals one eats by praying for them, and thus eating meat is compassionate.  Other than for the most accomplished yogis and lamas, what do you make of this claim?

Answer:  With supernatural powers gained through certain meditations, it is true that there are some realized beings who can revive animals from the dead and help them reach a higher rebirth or Enlightenment by consuming small amounts of their flesh.  But this is not done for sustenance, only for the purpose of helping that animal.  I personally do not have that power and because of that I never eat meat.  Eating meat in one’s diet is much different than eating flesh to liberate a being through supernatural powers.  I am just an ordinary practitioner who really doesn’t have these qualities.  So, if I ate meat it would be the same if you or any other lay person ate meat.  I would be committing sin and I would be getting negative karma.  I don’t pretend as if I have special powers and eat meat, I just avoid it altogether.

Question:  Do you know other lamas who are vegetarian?

Answer:  I know many of them from Tibet.  There are Nyingma, Sakya and Gelukpa vegetarians in Tibet. Compared to the many meat-eating lamas, vegetarian lamas are very few though.  I’m 88 and during my experience I have come across many lamas in Kham, Amdo—all parts of Tibet—who don’t eat meat.  There are lamas who eat meat and those who don’t.  At my monastery in Tibet there are also lamas who take meat and those who don’t.

Question:  Many Buddhist practitioners in the United States eat meat because their Tibetan lamas eat meat.  What do you make of this?

Answer:  Many great siddhas in India drank enormous amounts of alcohol and developed magical powers.  One of these mahasiddhas (Virupa) kept drinking alcohol all day and suspended the sun in the sky and kept it from setting.  Naropa, Tilopa—these were great masters.

If you can acquire supernatural powers, you don’t need to follow the same standards of normal people and you can drink alcohol and eat meat.  Those who have supernatural powers can still give great teachings and benefit all sentient beings.

So, if the teachers in America are of that level, ask all your friends to join them in drinking alcohol and eating meat (Rinpoche was being sarcastic with this response).  It all depends on the level of realization one has achieved.  A lama who enjoys meat and alcohol can still bring people on the right path, so long as they have developed supernatural powers.

Question:  Do you see Tibetan Buddhists in exile making a sincere effort to reduce their meat consumption and become vegetarian, or has meat eating become an entrenched aspect of Tibetan culture?

Answer:  In Tibet, there’s only meat and tsampa (roasted barley flour)—there is no other staple food. Tibet is at a high altitude and the climate is tundra-like.  There are not many fruits and vegetables.  After coming to South Asia, you really don’t have to follow the Tibetan custom of meat and tsampa.  There are many types of fruits and vegetables, nutritional supplements—all kinds of good foods.  Everything is available.  So there is really no need to talk about the customs of Tibet as an excuse for eating meat.  From my experience, not eating meat has many benefits.  I’m 88 and ever since I stopped eating meat, I haven’t had any major sickness.

When I sleep, I sleep well.  When I get up, I can walk right away.  When I read religious texts, I can see them properly.  I have very good hearing and can listen attentively.  These are the qualities I have experienced from not eating meat.  I didn’t get sick or die when I stopped eating meat; no negative consequences came to me.  I can travel by vehicle, airplane or train without getting nauseous or dizzy and I never get headaches.

I am a human being formed with flesh and blood like anyone else and am proof that giving up meat does not make one ill like many Tibetans seem to think.  I’m telling you from my own experience; only good things have happened to me from giving up meat.

Question:  Many Tibetans quote a sutra passage that says if one does not hear, see, or suspect that meat has been obtained especially for you, then it is acceptable to eat.  How do you respond to this?

Answer:  If the animal being killed is unseen, then it is something like stealing something without being caught.  That would also be deemed acceptable if you used this rationale. You could say something dirty without being heard—as if you need evidence to judge whether it is a sin or not.  What they say is not right.  Killing, stealing and other negative actions can never be gotten away with.  Even if other people don’t see you do them, the deities, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas see you doing these things.  There is a Tibetan saying that even if one does not get caught committing a sin, that the gods catch you every time.  It is impossible to do anything without being seen—you’re always being watched by the deities.  They see and understand what you did—they know that you helped to kill an animal by buying meat.  This is my answer.

Question:  Some monks have told me that since insects are killed in the production of rice and other vegetables, then there is really no difference in eating those things and eating meat.  What do you think about this?

Answer:  This would mean that you wouldn’t eat anything and would starve to death. If you say you were going to go for a month without killing insects through the food you eat, then you would die.  If you die, this precious human life is wasted.  So if you just let your body be destroyed, that means you are taking your own life, which is killing in itself.  You can always take the insect from the rice when you see it and let it free outside.  You don’t necessarily have to kill beings to eat.  Although, when we walk we crush many insects under our feet.  We may not see them or observe them, but still we must be killing them.  Not being aware doesn’t mean that we haven’t created any sin, because after all, cause and effect are always there.

After the interview, Rinpoche said to me, “Today you came to ask me these things and I answered them.  It is very good.  I am very happy.  You have recorded my conversation, so you should relate it to the people.  We are here at the place of Guru Rinpoche’s cave.  At this place, we are exchanging questions and answers.  It will be nice for other people to hear this.  When you make your book, put my interview at the beginning. Thank you.”

Rinpoche’s monastery at Yangleshöd has two signs posted on it related to meat eating.  The first is in Tibetan, Nepali and English and is one of the first things you see when you approach the monastery.  The sign, a full four square meters in size, reads:

IN THIS BUDDHIST MONASTERY THE CONSUMPTION OF
MEAT, ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE & TOBACCO AS WELL AS
PLAYING CARDS OR GAMBLING IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED.

One of the principal vows in Buddhism is to refrain from consuming intoxicants, along with refraining from killing, stealing, lying and sexual misconduct.  Not many Tibetan Buddhists outside of the monastic tradition take this vow seriously and Nyingma practitioners are known to drink alcohol.  Rinpoche does not tolerate this at all among his disciples.  There was an incident a few years ago where a photo of a late lama was placed in Rinpoche’s room by the disciples of this lama, who were asking Rinpoche for blessings.  When Rinpoche saw the photo, he said, “This person was an alcoholic and had broken his precepts, don’t leave this photo in my room; take it away!”

When the attendant removed the photo from the wooden frame, there was another photo beneath.  Rinpoche asked who was in the picture and was told it was the son of the late lama, who was also a heavy drinker.  Rinpoche proclaimed, “Like father, like son. Take away both of their photos!”

In regards to smoking, Rinpoche said,

“The major defect of smoking is that it will close the Brahma’s door at the top of one’s head.  So at the moment of death, it will be extremely difficult for one’s practice of phowa in trying to let one’s consciousness out from there, either to liberate oneself from cyclic existence or to go to the three upper realms.  It is most advisable for all Dharma practitioners—for the sake of both themselves and others—not to smoke at all!”

The second sign is posted outside of the main worship area and reads in Tibetan and English, “How can we practice true compassion while we consume the flesh of an animal to fatten our own flesh?  Stop this filthy habit for your health, for the environment and for the animals.”  This large poster placed in a protective frame was made by an animal rights group at Dzogchen Monastery in South India and shows how highly Rinpoche values this ethic.

The daughter of the great Nyingma figure Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche named Pema is a close friend of Chatral Rinpoche’s family.  She gave me some insights on the importance of vegetarianism in Rinpoche’s practice of compassion in my interview with her in 2000.

She said, “Meat eating is high on Chatral Rinpoche’s spiritual radar.  Rinpoche is so connected with animals.  He loves animals.  He loves watching wildlife videos on T.V.  His great compassion caused him to stop eating meat.  He gives all his money to save 70 truckloads of fish in Calcutta.  It is his most important yearly activity.

He prays for every bucketful he dumps into the ocean, trying to bring them to a higher rebirth.  In the Dharma, it is not just a matter of not doing something—eating meat for instance—but actively protecting life.  Rinpoche lives this.  He is so connected on a vast level to sentient beings and their suffering.”

Rinpoche is drawn to dark, sinful, murderous places—to Hindu animal sacrifice areas.  He took his daughter Saraswati and myself to one once.  It was beautiful on the outside, with flowers and carvings.  He bought some birds in a cage and released them at the top of the roof.  Then we came to the goat sacrifice place.  At first I had my eyes closed, but then I saw it—innocent goats being murdered and blood everywhere.  I was horrified.  Rinpoche calmly walked over the goat blood as if he was doing walking meditation.  He wasn’t a bit fazed by it.  I think he was trying to teach us the lesson of being fearless and patient in the face of suffering.

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Dudjom Rinpoche Parinirvana


From wiki website:

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Jikdral Yeshe Dorje, was one of the most outstanding yogins, scholars and meditation masters of recent times, who inspired not only awe in those who met him, but also devotion and deep affection.  After the flight of the Tibetans into exile, it was Dudjom Rinpoche who was the first master to be accorded the title of Supreme Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, the ‘oldest’ school introduced into Tibet in the 8th century by Guru Padmasambhava.

Dudjom Ripoche1b

Biography:

In his previous life, he was identified in the 18th century as Dudjom Lingpa who was the combined  manifestation of Padmasambhava’s mind; Yeshe Tsogyal’s speech; and Keuchung Lotsawa’s body.

As Guru Rinpoche told Yeshe Tsogyal, an individual would be born who would be the Master of the 1002 buddhas of our aeon.

From the Vimala Video website:

Predicting the birth of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Orgyen Dechen Lingpa said that:

“In the future in Tibet, on the east of the Nine Peaked Mountain, in the sacred buddhafield of the self-originated Vajravarahi, there will be emanation of Drogben, of royal lineage, named Jñana.

“His beneficial activities are in accord with the Vajrayana, although he conducts himself differently, unexpectedly, as a child with astonishing intelligence.” — Orgyen Dechen Lingpa

He will either discover new terma or preserve the old terma.  Whoever has connections with him will be taken to the Ngayab Ling (Zangdok Palri), the Copper Colored Mountain.”

Other termas hold that Guru Padmasambhava and dakini Yeshe Tsogyal reincarnated together, combining their actual presence in the birth and form of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche.

Heart Advice:

Dudjom Rinpoche explains the dharma with this wonderful pith instruction:

“Calm and self-control are signs of listening to the Dharma;
Few passions, signs of meditation;
Harmony with everyone is the sign of a practitioner;
Your mind at ease, the sign of accomplishment.” — Dudjom Rinpoche

Parinirvana Dates:

The Kalachakra Tantra of Holding the Qualities of the Lama teaches:

“The merit accumulated by making offerings on the anniversary of one’s lama will dispel negative karma and obscurations accrued for countless eons, like the rays of the sun dispelling darkness.

This merit is superior to that accumulated by all beings in the three thousand world systems who gained merit through venerating and serving the Buddha.

Moreover, this merit is greater than the merit accrued by donating eyes, curing disease, and dispelling the sorrow of beings who are blind, ill or tormented by suffering in the hell realms and who are as numerous as the dust particles of the three thousand world systems.”

As many of his students know, Dudjom Rinpoche passed into parinirvana on January 17th, 1987 which falls on the 18th day, 11th Month of the Tibetan Lunar calendar.

  • 2015: December 28th
  • 2017:  January 15th

The parinirvana date for this year is TODAY: January 4, 2018

I will update the dates every year when I learn of it.

Tashi Delek,
Neo

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Benefits of Saving Lives


Tibetan_monk_dog

Chatral Rinpoche writes:

I bow down before the Lama, Buddha Amitayus,
And the bodhisattvas in training.
I shall now in brief describe the benefits
Of freeing animals and ransoming their lives.

To save animals from slaughter or any mortal danger,
With an entirely pure motivation and conduct,
Is without doubt a practice to be taken up
By all followers of the Buddha Shakyamuni.

Many sutras, tantras and commentaries
Describe in detail the advantages it brings,
And countless learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet
Have stressed the value and importance of benefitting beings.
Even in the basic vehicle one avoids inflicting harm on others,
In the mahayana this is the very training of a bodhisattva,
And in the secret mantra, a principal samaya of the ratna family.

The reasoning behind this is as follows: in this world,
Nothing is as dear to someone as his or her own life,
So no greater crime is there than taking life away,
And no conditioned virtue brings greater merit
Than the act of saving beings and ransoming their lives.
Therefore, should you wish for happiness and good,
Exert yourself in this, the most supreme of paths,
Which is proven through scriptures and through reasoning,
And is free of obstacles and potential dangers.

Consider your own body and with this as an example,
Avoid doing anything that might bring harm to others.
Make every effort not to kill any living creature,
Birds, fish, deer, cattle and even tiny insects,
And strive instead to save their lives,
Offering them protection from every fear.
The benefit of doing so is beyond imagining.
This is the best practice for your own longevity,
And the greatest ritual for the living or deceased.
It is my main practice of benefitting others.

It dispels all external and internal adversity and obstacles,

Effortlessly and spontaneously, it brings favourable conditions,
And, when inspired by the noble mind of bodhichitta and
Completed with dedication and pure aspiration prayers,
It will lead one to complete enlightenment,
And the accomplishment of one’s own and others’ welfare
Of this you need to have no doubts at all!

Those whose minds incline to virtue and acts of merit,

Should prohibit hunting and fishing on their land.
Some birds, in particular, such as geese and cranes,
Are impelled by their karma to migrate
And fly south in autumn, north in spring.
At times, weary from the efforts of their flight,
Or having lost their way, some are forced to land,
Distressed, afraid and anxious; when this happens,
You should not throw stones or shoot at them,
Nor try to kill them or do them any harm,
But protect them so they may easily fly once more.
To offer care and affection to sentient beings
In desperate situations who lack protection
Brings just as much merit as the meditation
On emptiness with compassion as its core
So it has been said by glorious Lord Atisha.

Lamas, officials, monks, nuns, men and women,
In all the places over which you have control,
Exert every influence and do all within your power
To release animals and ransom their lives,
While encouraging others to do the same.

In all those places where this is done,
Sickness among people and livestock will cease,
Harvests will be plentiful and life will be long.

All will enjoy happiness and wellbeing in abundance,
And at death let go of deluded experience,
Before finding an excellent rebirth within the higher realms.
Ultimately, there is no doubt that this will lead one easily
To find the supreme and perfect state of awakening.

In response to the request of Doctor Dordrak,
Who offered a pure silk scarf and a hundred Nepali rupees,
The one called Chatral Sangye Dorje,
Who strives continuously to ransom lives,
Wrote down spontaneously whatever came to mind.
By the merit of this may all sentient beings
Come to practise enlightened actions!

Mamakoling samanta!

Translated by Adam Pearcey, Rigpa Translations, 2005.

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Chatral Rinpoche’s Parinirvana


Chatral Rinpoche1

From the Compassionate Action website:

Early Life:

At the age of 15, Chatral Rinpoche decided to leave his family (circa 1928) in order to study and practice Buddhism with the masters of the area.  This act of renunciation began his life-long journey as a carefree yogi seeking Enlightenment at any cost in order to effectively help other beings with compassion.  From the onset, Rinpoche was highly principled, traveling exclusively on foot and refusing a horse when offered. He stayed only in hermitages, caves or his small tent to avoid involvement with householders and their worldly preoccupations.

Chatral Rinpoche met his root guru, Khenpo Ngawang Palzang (1879-1941) of Kathok Monastery.  The great Khenpo had been the heart disciple of Patrul Rinpoche’s main student, Lungtok Tenpai Nyima (1829-1901), and was considered to be a manifestation of the 9th Century Dzogchen master Vimalamitra.

Khenpo Ngakchung gave Chatral Rinpoche many teachings and transmissions particularly of the Longchen Nyinthig tradition.  For the next six years Rinpoche studied under him, completing his ngondro and practicing trekchod and togyal, which are some of the most advanced practices of Dzogchen.

Recognition:

Khenpo Ngawang Palzang knew Rinpoche was very special and acknowledged him to be his closest disciple, explaining that, his mind and my mind are no different.  He bestowed upon Rinpoche the name Chatral Sangye Dorje, which means “Indestructible Buddha who has Abandoned all Mundane Activities.”

The first time Chatral Rinpoche’s greatness became revealed to others was at a large worship service at Kathok Monastery, attended by several high lamas sitting on lofty thrones. Rinpoche sat in the back on a simple meditation cushion with a few hundred other monks.  Khenpo Ngawang Palzang remarked during the service: “Among all of you here today, there are less than ten people who have one-tenth of my realization.  Then, there are less than five of you who have half of my realization.”

“Finally, there is only one person here whose realization is no different from mine, and he is Chatral Sangye Dorje.  He can now represent me to transmit the teachings and his merits are the same as mine.” — Khenpo Ngawang Palzang

This proclamation caused quite a stir in the assembly hall and afterward people came to congratulate Rinpoche.  Preparations began for a grand ceremony to honor Rinpoche in his new status.  Rinpoche was not one for all this attention and praise and so snuck away in the middle of the night with his tent to continue his practice alone in the wilderness.  The next day when they came to honor him, they found his room empty with no trace of where he went.  Once again, he lived up to his name Chatral, which can be translated as hermit.

Chatral Rinpoche once explained, “We abide nowhere, we possess nothing.”   In the ultimate sense, this is a profound statement on the impermanence of life and emptiness of all things.  In the conventional sense, this is how a yogi like Chatral Rinpoche actually lived in Tibet.  Having no household or possessions to weigh on one’s mind, one is completely free to practice the Dharma.

Strict Principles:

Chatral Rinpoche was renowned for being incorruptible and insistent on doing things the right way.  In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, when someone dies, it is standard to leave them for three days to allow ample time for the consciousness to leave the body and hopefully enter into a Pureland realm or at least a high rebirth.

From the AnimalPeopleForum Chatral Rinpoche exclaimed:

“I was the first to become vegetarian since we came to India. The first year of the Nyingma Monlam in Bodh Gaya was non-vegetarian.  In the second year I came there and spoke at a meeting of all the high Nyingma Lamas.”

“I told them that Bodh Gaya is a very special place which is holy to all Buddhists, and if we say we are gathered here for the Nyingma Monlam and yet eat meat, this is a disgrace and the greatest insult to Buddhism.  I said they should all give up meat from now on, during the Nyingma Monlam.” — Chatral Rinpoche

He went on to say, “Even the Tibetan lamas and monks eat meat!  What a shame if even the lamas can’t give up meat! First the lamas should commit themselves to being life-long vegetarians.  If the Lamas become vegetarian, then you can address the lay people. Then also you should urge the monks to become vegetarian. Otherwise if knowledgeable religious people eat meat, how can one expect the ignorant public, who follow along just like sheep, to become vegetarian?”

Chatral Rinpoche was very selective about those he actually gave teachings to.  He was fully aware that most of the people who ask him for teachings are not a fraction as serious about their practice as he is, so doesn’t bother to waste the precious nectar of his teachings on an unsuitable vessel.

“There are three kinds of Dharma practitioners: firstly, there are those who look like practitioners outwardly, but inwardly they are not real practitioners; secondly, there are those who talk very high, but have no realization at all; thirdly there are those who do not look like practitioners outwardly, but who are in fact genuine practitioners inside.” — Chatral Rinpoche

Therefore as a strict rule, Rinpoche never transmitted any higher-level teachings to those who have studied with him for less than six years sufficient time for them to prove themselves as genuine practitioners.

Humility:

Despite the adulation of countless thousands in the Himalayan region, Rinpoche remains as humble as ever.  He once said, “I am just an ordinary sentient being and there is nothing special about me.  I just follow the teachings of Lord Buddha.  Without any cheating on my part, I stand firmly on the ground in practicing the Dharma and in helping all sentient beings.”

“I wish that all sentient beings could let go of the acts of self-deception and self-aggrandizement, so that they can really practice the Dharma in order to liberate themselves from cyclic existence and to help other sentient beings.  Otherwise, it will be too late when they are feeling remorseful!” — Chatral Rinpoche

On December 30th, 2015, Kyabje Chatral Sangye Dorje begin the transition to Parinirvana.  He remained in tukdam meditation until January 5th, 2016, when he attained Parinirvana.  Chatral Rinpoche passed in the 10th month on the 20th day of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar.  This Friday, December 8th, will be a great time to make butterlamp offerings and ganachakra tsok feasts in honor of this great master.

Tsok Dates:

  • 2016 – December 18th
  • 2017 – December 8th

Texts & Prayers:

Some writings of Chatral Rinpoche that include prayers, practices, pilgrimages, and words of advice:  Lotsawa House

 

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