Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche

 
Accumulating Merit  -  bSod-nams-bsags-pa
 
 
Translated by Ari Goldfield
 
 
Before listening to Lord Buddha’s teachings, I want to ask you to give rise to supreme bodhicitta. Supreme bodhicitta is developed and increased by first thinking of one’s father and mother in this life and then extending the gratitude and love one feels for them to all sentient beings, even to one’s enemies. We want to attain the state of complete, perfect, and precious enlightenment for their sake. We know that in order to be able to benefit all sentient beings, we need to listen to, reflect, and meditate upon the genuine Dharma teachings with all the enthusiasm we can muster in our hearts. Please give rise to supreme bodhicitta when you listen attentively.
 
We think of our parents first because our opportunity to practice the Dharma in this lifetime is due to the immense kindness they have shown us. We think of our enemies, too, because they were the ones who gave us the exceptional possibility to practice patience when they were unkind and hurt us. Furthermore, there is not a single enemy who was not our caring father or mother at one time in the past, so that is why we remember them with gratitude. We think of the nature of the minds of the people we are associated with - our friends, our enemies, and all sentient beings. We know that the nature of the mind of every single sentient being is clear light, the enlightened heart that is the Buddha nature. Since we have the Buddha nature, we can be sure that we will benefit others immensely. Just as the nature of our own mind is clear light, the nature of our parent’s mind is also clear light. Likewise, the nature of mind of all our friends and enemies is clear light. The nature of mind of every single sentient being is clear light.
 
“Realizing the true nature of reality, Mahamudra,
depends upon accumulating a vast amount of merit.” - Khenpo
 
In order to realize the true nature of reality, Mahamudra, it is necessary to accumulate merit that accords with the teachings that Lord Buddha presented a long time ago. Arya Maitreya taught how to accumulate merit in the text entitled, Madhyantavibhanga – Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes.1 He taught that the ten ways to accumulate limitless merit are: (1) to write down the words of the Buddhadharma, (2) to make offerings to the objects of refuge, (3) to practice generosity, (4) to listen to the precious teachings, (5) to read the invaluable instructions, (6) to memorize the sacred texts, (7) to explain them to others, (8) to recite them, (9) to reflect their meaning, and (10) to meditate them.
 
We will start accumulating merit by writing down the verses I will read to you and in that way you will purify negative actions that you have done with your hands. We have written down a lot of letters and words out of attachment and aversion, and all of that has been very negative. Now it is time to do something positive. The way to go about this is to write down the verses of the Dharma with the good motivation of faith and devotion and with a pure objective. When you write down the truth of the precious Buddhadharma, then the merit you accumulate is limitless. So do write down the verses that I will read to you.
 
The first verse reads: “It is explained that by abandoning the belief in a self, mental afflictions, difficulties, and suffering, one can attain peace. However, since these are all primordially empty of essence, where are the fabrications of abandoning and of not abandoning?”
 
Now that you have written down the words of the first verse, we will recite it, which is the accumulation of merit that purifies all negative words that you have spoken out of attachment and aversion, and all of that has been very negative.
 
Please recite the following verse: “Thoughts of abandoning, non-abandoning, and so forth have never been seen to come or go. Therefore, they are said to be non-existent. Thoughts have never been seen to come or go.” Translator:  I made a mistake. Khenpo Rinpoche:  Mistakes don’t really exist. In the chapter entitled, An Examination of Mistakes, the Protector Nagarjuna proved that mistakes do not really exist. So: “The variety of doubts neither arises nor ceases." Please continue by reciting the next verse too: “Neither bondage nor liberation have ever been perceived with regard to it. However, like bondage and liberation in dreams, bondage and liberation are merely mind's imputations.”
 
The next verse we want to recite is: "The essence of the self held prisoner has never been seen, and the doubts that bind are free of arising and ceasing. Therefore, bondage and liberation are dependently arisen, mere appearances. Let clinging to them as being real dissolve into the unborn expanse." We should recite the next verse three times, which is: "This life is appearance-emptiness, like a water-moon. So, past and future lives are also appearance-emptiness, like water-moons. Therefore, feelings of joy and pain are dream-like. Know this well, and your view will be profound."
 
If you reflect the meaning of the words in the verses while reciting them, then you are practicing profound analytical meditation. We are not going to practice meditation separated from recitation because reciting and analysing is meditation - yes. Sometimes one needs to take a break and rest. So when you get tired of writing down the precious Dharma, then recite the verses, and when you get tired of reciting them, then just let go and relax.
 
We continue reciting, reflecting, and meditating: "These are the ways that the relative is empty of a very essence and the genuine clear light, the enlightened nature of mind, is empty of the stains of relative fabrications and of all concepts of conventional terms. Therefore, this is known as ‘the empty of other,’ the great middle-way." Let us recite this verse together three times: "In essence, it is originally and perfectly pure and free of the fleeting stains of conceptual fabrications as well, and therefore the enlightened essence of the stainless result is called 'the transcendent perfection of genuine purity.'" Let us recite this verse together three times, too: "Since it is beyond the self that ego-clinging mind believes to exist and beyond the selflessness ascertained through analysis of inference, therefore it is called ‘the transcendently perfect, genuine self.’ Where are the thoughts of self’s filthy clothes?"
 
We continue by reciting the following verses three times: "Samsara and nirvana are imagined to exist in dependence upon each other and therefore neither the one or the other has an essence. Realizing reality of samsara and nirvana’s equality is explained to be transcendently perfect, genuine permanence. 
"Joy and pain are just dependently existing concepts. Their lack of an essence is the way relative things are empty. When the reality of joy and pain being equal is realized, this is called 'transcendently perfect, genuine bliss.'"  
"The way the relative is empty of its own essence, the way the genuine is empty of other, and the reality that is pure self, bliss, and constant - may precise knowledge realizing these three increase."
 
Now let us recite them all and practice recitation-meditation. If you do recitation-meditation, you won’t get tired of meditation - your meditation won’t fall into dullness or stupor. Getting tired of meditating can be very dangerous. If you get tired of working, you can rest. If you get tired of studying, you can meditate. But if you get tired of meditating, that’s dangerous. That’s why analytical meditation is excellent.
"It is explained that by abandoning the belief in a self, in all afflictions, difficulties, and suffering, one can attain peace. However, since these are all primordially empty of essence, where are the fabrications of abandoning and not abandoning? Thoughts of abandoning, not abandoning, and so forth have never been seen to come or go and therefore they are said to be of the nature of primordially empty space. The variety of doubts neither arises nor ceases. Neither bondage nor liberation has ever been perceived with regard to it. However, like bondage and liberation in dreams, this bondage and liberation is merely mind's imputation. The essence of the self held prisoner has never been seen, and doubts that bind are free of arising and ceasing. Therefore, bondage and liberation are dependently arisen, mere appearances. Let clinging to them as being real dissolve into the unborn expanse.”
            “This life is appearance-emptiness, like a water-moon. So past and future lives are also appearance-emptiness, like water-moons. Therefore, feelings of joy and pain are dream-like. Know this well and your view will be profound.”
            “These are the ways that the relative is empty of its very essence and the genuine clear light, the enlightened nature of mind, is empty of the stains of relative fabrications and of all concepts of conventional terms. Therefore, this is renowned as 'the empty-of-other,' the great middle-way.”
            “In essence, it is originally and perfectly pure and free of fleeting stains of conceptual fabrications as well. And therefore, the enlightened essence of the stainless result is called 'the transcendent perfection of genuine purity.' Since it is beyond the self that ego-clinging mind believes to exist and since it is beyond selflessness ascertained by means of analysis and inference, therefore it is called ‘the transcendently perfect, genuine self.’ Where are the thoughts of self's filthy clothes?”
            "Samsara and nirvana are imagined to exist in dependence upon each other and therefore neither the one or the other has an essence. Realizing the reality of samsara and nirvana's equality is said to be transcendently perfect, genuine permanence.”
            “Joy and pain are just dependently existing concepts. Their lack of any essence is the way relative things are empty. When the reality of joy and pain being equal is realized, this is called 'transcendently perfect, genuine bliss.'"
            “The way the relative is empty of its own essence, the way the genuine is empty of other, and the reality that is pure self, bliss, and permanence - may precise knowledge realizing these three increase."
 
In the next teaching I will explain some important verses from the text called The Ocean of Definitive Meaning of Mountain Dharma by Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen.2 There will be time for questions and answers after further teachings. It is important to leave time for questions at the same time that doubts arise. If we take time for questions before doubts arise, then that doesn’t help very much.
 
Let us continue now by singing the song called The Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition by Jetsun Milarepa. In this song, Jetsun Milarepa teaches the view of Shentong, the empty-of-other school, so it is very good for us to sing. Everyone needs to analyse and judge for himself and herself, so we should reflect and ask ourselves, "Is this song really in harmony with the view of Shentong or not?"3 The Buddha himself said, "Just like a merchant examines gold by rubbing, burning, and melting it, so you should examine my speech. Accept nothing on blind faith." These are Lord Buddha’s own teachings, and we must examine the words for ourselves. Translator: I will sing one verse and then we can sing it together.
 
 
“The Ultimate View, Meditation, Conduct, and Fruition” by Jetsun Milarepa
 
"The view is original wisdom which is empty,
Meditation clear light, free of fixation,
Conduct continual flow without attachment,
Fruition is nakedness stripped of every stain.
 
This view, the original wisdom that is empty,
Risks getting lost in just being talk and no more.
If certainty which is in touch with what’s meant does not follow,
The words will not manage to free you of clinging to self,
And that’s why definitive certainty means so much.
 
The meditation clear light, free of fixation,
Risks getting lost in just being settling.
If original wisdom does not emerge from within you,
You might settle steadily, but this will not set you free.
But wisdom does not come of dullness and agitation,
And that’s why non-wandering mindfulness means so much.
 
This conduct, continual flow without attachment,
Risks getting lost in only being a pretence.
If the view and meditation are not included,
The eight worldly dharmas may mix with your yogic pursuits,
And that’s why freedom from clinging and veils means so much.
 
Fruition as nakedness stripped of every defect
Risks getting clothed in the garments of attributes.
If delusion is not overcome from its source on the inside,
Your practice may aim very far but fall very short,
And that’s why correcting delusion means so much."4
 
 
 
May virtue increase!
Instructions presented at Vajra Vidya Thrangu House in Oxford, 2000,
 transcribed and edited by Gaby Hollmann
 
 


1  See Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche, Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes by Asanga, based on the inspiration of the Buddha Maitreya. A Commentary, translated by Jules Levinson, Namo Buddha Publications, Crestone, Colorado, 2000.
2  Dol-po-pa Shes-rab Rgyal-mtshan (1292-1361), known simply as Dolpopa is often seen as the founder of the Jonangpa Tradition. However, the origins of the Jonangpa tradition in Tibet can be traced to early 12th century master Yumo Mikyo Dorje, but they became much wider known with the help of Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen. Dolpopa was one of the most influential and original Tibetan teachers. He developed the Shentong School and is considered to be one of the greatest exponents of the Kalachakra. In Mountain Doctrine: Tibet's Fundamental Treatise on Other-Emptiness and the Buddha Matrix by Dolpopa (Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, 2006) Jeffrey Hopkins wrote, „Dolpopa was one of the most influential figures of the 14th century Tibet, a dynamic period of doctrinal formulation. His works were monumental and seminal in that they present a penetrating and controversial re-formulation of doctrines on emptiness and Buddha-nature influential through to the present day.”
3 See Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche, Shentong, in the last issue of Thar Lam. See especially Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche, Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness, translated and arranged by Shenpen Hookham, Longchen Foundation, Oxford, 1st edition 1986, 2nd edition 1988, and Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Trust Publications, Auckland, N.Z., 2000.
4 Translated by Jim Scott, in: Selected Songs of Realization, Marpa Translation Committee. Printed by AKTUELL-Copyshop, Hamburg, 1995, pages 66-68.