THE ESSENTIAL PATH OF ALL TRADITIONS

DEVELOPING RENUNCIATION

   THE ESSENTIAL PATH OF ALL THESE LIMITLESS DHARMA VEHICLES,
some of which have just been briefly described, is to DEVELOP RENUNCIATION
of the sufferings of Samsara 24. The basis for such renunciation is to follow the code
of the conduct set forth in any one of the seven acts of Self-Liberation (Skt: Pratimoksa)
Vows.

- The Precious human Rebirth and Impermanence

   Meditate on the difficulties of receiving a precious human rebirth and on whether
this excellent condition of free time will continue. Think about how difficult it will be
to obtain another human form, endowed with such leisure, in the future. Right now,
we have it and our rebirth has such great meaning that it is as precious as a Wish-
granting Gem. But this life will not last. Death approaches quickly. It is uncertain
whether we will die when we are old, young or middle-aged. The circumstances and
conditions for death are many, but the conditions maintaining life are few. Days,
months and the four seasons, friends, relatives and enemies etc. all change and
pass away. By thinking again and again of all these changes, please remember
impermanence.

- Karma

   You should not think that after death you will just dissolve into the middle of space.
Nor should you think that humans are necessarily reborn as humans, or horses as
horses. All sentient beings are thrown by their actions (Skt: KARMA) into the many
different places and forms in which one can take rebirth in cyclic existence: in high
or low realms; with great or small enjoyments; property or power; with a good or bad
body. In this Samsara there are a lot of different karmas and results. All these various
appearances amd aspects of existence arise due to different deeds of virtue, non-virtue
or some combination of the two. These deeds can be considered into the ten virtues
or non-virtuous 25 actions.

   The result of virtuous and non-virtuous actopms ripens in four different ways:

   (i) as the matured result
  (ii) as experience in accordance with the cause
 (iii) as activity in accordance with the cause and
 (iv) as the (personal and collective) environmental result 26.

   Virtuous and non-virtuous actions ripen only in their own specific results 27. If
you have not done the action (karma) you cannot meet with its result, but the
results of all the actions that you have done throughout time, will not vanish of
their own accord. It is certain that the result will come 28, and that it will come to
the one who created the karma.

   All the phenomena seen in your experience are the result of karma. You can
experience the result of your karmic actions during the same life, the next life
or any life after that. There are karmic results which are certain to ripen and
ones which are uncertain. Please refer to the Sutras and their Commentaries
for more detailed explanations of all the various aspects of action (karma) and
their results.

   The practice of adopting and abandoning (the appropriate) causes and their
results is the heart of the Buddha's Dharma, and the Four Noble Truths and
the Law of Interdependent Origination 29 are the Dharma's profound and
essential points.

- Cyclic Existence and Suffering

   Thrown by the force of karma the six classes of sentient beings wander, lost
through the three lower and the three upper realms 30. In the Three Spheres
of Existence 31, there is nothing, not even one atom, which is not conditioned,
and, as a result, the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change and the
pervasive suffering of conditioned existence 32 torment the beings reborn there.
In particular, each realm is afflicted with its own specific sufferings 33.

   Non-virtuous actions result in sufferings, while defiled virtuous actions 34, cause
rebirth in the upper realms, and especially unwavering Worldly Concentration 35
which throws one into the highest realms, the Formless Realms. But even these
beings, who are in such high states, must take rebirth again because they have not
abandoned ignorance (the root of Samsara). They will fall into lower states in their
next rebirth. That is why remaining like this in cyclic existence is like staying in a
fire, or a nest of poisonous snakes. Do not wish or pray for samsaric happiness.
Instead, please develop a sound renunciation of the causes of suffering, always
wishing to be free from the circle of rebirths.

THE SPIRITUAL MASTER

  The root of entering the path to Nirvana is the SPIRITUAL MASTER. Stay
near and rely upon him. Choose a Master who has tamed himself through
having heard many teachings. He must be skilled in the practice of the Law of
the Way (Tib: Tsul.trim or Discipline of Morality) and Bodhicitta 36, having a
Pure View of Reality and Great Compassion. He should have the ability to cut
the doubts of others. Then, after having received Initiation and Tantric Samaya
(sacred viws and committments) from this Lama, you should do whatever he
says. As your faith and devotion grow, good qualities will be accomplished.
Therefore, stay close to an excellent Lama, cherishing the opportunity to serve
him.

   The Lama's speech and advice are the same as the nectar of immortality.
As much as you have heard, none of it should have been in vain. So, without
abandoning any of it, adopt it into your own practice. Think and meditate
upon his advice, because no benefit will come from merely hearing, just as
water cannot quench your thirst unless you drink. For this reason, you should
stay in an isolated and secluded place.

REFUGE

   Taking REFUGE is the foundation of the Path and of all the vows. It distinguishes
Buddhists from non-Buddhists, providing one with the protection of all gods and
humans. It causes one to achieve the accumulation of all good and auspicious things
in this and later lives. We should entrust our minds to the Three Jewels of Refuge:
Buddha, the teacher, Dharma, the protector and Sangha, the liberator. When taking
Refuge, do not deceive yourself by merely mouthing the words, but develop a real
confidence in the Objects of Refuge. Then, carefully guard all the commitments of
the Refuge.

BODHICITTA

   The main practice of the Mahayana is BODHICITTA, which is the essence of the
churned milk of the Holy Dharma. If there is no Bodhicitta, your practice, whether
Sutra or Tantra, will be as 'essenceless' as a banana tree. Not only that, you should
also remember that, wherever space pervades, there are sentient beings (who are
searching for happiness). One's own rebirths, taken sequentially, are beginningless,
and so we have had parents countless times. Each sentient being has been our mother
and father innumerable times, and so, the amount of benefit we have received from
them is inconceivable. Therefore, we should meditate on Love and Great Compassion
for all sentient beings: enemies, friends, relatives and strangers. Develop equilibrium
which is free from holding some close with desire and others distant with anger. By
thinking with a good heart of the benefits of others, you must use your body, speech
and mind to practice virtue, always making special and noble prayers.

DEVELOPING THE PURE VIEW

- Methods

   The methods for developing the PURE VISION withtin oneself are to completely
accumulate all the merits and to purify obscurations. It is extremely useful to exert
yourself in these. Practice the Seven Branches 37, do prostrations, circumambulations,
read Sutrasm recite Mantras and practice the Bodhisattvas' Confession of Downfalls 38,
which is complete with the four Opponent Powers 39. Do this with diligence and all your
negativities, obscurations, broken vows and downfalls will be purified. The essence of
the accumulation of merit is the mandala offering, so you should do this also.

   By joining all these accumulations of conceptualised merit with the Wisdom which
realises the lack of self-nature of the three (subject, object and action), we accumulate
the Collection of Wisdom. From the Collection of Merit comes the accomplishment
of the Form Kayas of the Buddha, and from the Collection of Wisdom, the Dharmakaya
is attained. Therefore, if you work with diligence in both purification and accumulation,
the Pure View will grow withtin you.

- Concentration

   Firstly, search for CALM ABIDING (Tib: Shi.nay, Skt: Samatha) using the method
of progressing through the Nine Stages of Abiding Mind 40. Abandon the five downfalls
41 by relying on the eight compounded mental faculties 42. Concentrate one-pointedly,
either with, or without an object. Bliss, clarity and non-conceptualisation will grow in
deep meditation. All these, however, will just press the head of your defilements,
(temporarily suppressing them).

- Wisdom

   Then, establish the VIEW OF EXTRAORDINARY INSIGHT, (Wisdom). The root
of beginningless Samsara is self-grasping and in order to destroy this ignorance from
the root, you must meditate on establishing Emptiness (Tib: Tong.pa.nyid, Skt: Shunyata)
with certainty. From the support of the compounded collection of the five aggregates 43,
the imagined 'I' is spontaneously born. In order to destroy, from the root, all the different
aspects of grasping to this self, it is essential to analyse each of the various examinations,
such as whether the aggregates and the self are the same or different etc., which are
set forth in the logic of Madhyamika 44. First establish the realisation of the selflessness
of the person and then the selflessness of phenomena. Do a detailed analysis of the
many different parts of the self of phenomena, included in which are both the (objects)
grasped and the (mental aggregates) grasping. Obtain a certainty in your understanding
of the meaning of selflessness.

   Then, finalise the realisation that all phenomena which are included in Samsara
and Nirvana are by nature unborn, and all arise in equality. Understand the deep
logic of Interdependent Origination by knowing that all phenomena of appearance
and sound unobstructedly self-arise from the state of unborn Emptiness. By having
an understanding of the unity of Emptiness and Interdependent Origination, and
not mixing this understanding with grasping, you should stay in the non-conceptual
meditation of the Middle Way. Meditate like this as much as you can.

- Conclusion

   In conclusion, the two methods of Analysing and Focussing Meditation should be
mixed. By having discriminating Wisdom, we should unite together, one-pointedly,
unmoving Calm Abiding and Insight Wisdom Meditation. We call this the Pure View.
It is the actual meaning of the meditation of the Perfection of Wisdom (Skt:
Prajnaparamita), the mother of the Buddhas. By doing this Focussing Meditation,
where the mind is placed without mental wandering on the view, free from all the
illusions of the eight extremes 45 and free from all mental fabrications, we are
engaging in the action of the excellent and holy path of the Bodhisattvas. From this,
we shall achieve the result of the completion of the Five Paths 46 and the Ten
Bodhisattva Stages (Skt: Bhumis) 47. We shall attain the realisation of Enlightenment,
abiding in neither Samsara nor Nirvana, spontaneously accomplishing the two purposes
of self and others.

   ALAS! Nowadays, in the depths of the five degenerations, many of the great Dharma
Holders have passed away to another sphere and this earth isfilled with a lot of gossipers,
like myself. All the anti-gods are laughing with joy (when we are naughty) and the gods
and goddesses favouring the white side (virtue) have scattered and escaped far away.
The teachings of the Buddha are like the drawings of a butter lamp. This is how it has
become.

   All Great Compassionate Ones, please pay attention to us!

   Those who hold a great love for the Buddha's Dharma should work diligently with
the scriptures, realisations, explanations, practices, renunciations and readings,
never going beyond the ten virtuous actions. Make prayers and offerings, acumulating
the Collections as quickly as possible.

THE NON-SECTARIAN APPROACH

   The Sangha should be friendly with each other. DO NOT HOLD ANY SECTARIAN
ATTITUDE towards the different lineages. Do not create differences and contradictions
amongst the different teachings. Abandon criticism of the Dharma. In short, avoid taking
sides and being sectarian. By understanding that the many different ways of explaining
the ocean-like Dharma are all for the purpose of taming one's own mind, please practise.
Always keep your body, speech and mind in a tame, calm, relaxed and peaceful state.
With mindfulness and understanding, please be careful.

   King Krikri had a dream 49 which signified that Buddhism in India would become
a doctrine disputed by the eighteen schools of the Hinayana. And so it happened
that gradually Buddhism declined in India. Even in the northern direction of Tibet,
the seeds of sectarian disagreement were sown in the Traditions of the Sakya,
Gelug, Kagyud and Nyingma. Such sectarian disputes cause people to become agitated,
disturbed and confused. They harm both this and future lives, creating negatives for
oneself and others. There is not even the slightest meaning or essence in holding
these sectarian views, so we must abandon all such attitudes in order to protect and
preserve the Buddha's Dharma.

   Since the Buddha has attained a state of fearlessness, no one has the power or
ability to destroy his Dharma from the outside. But, just as small insects consume
the stomach of a snowlion from the inside, destroying his health, in the same way,
it was predicted in the Sutras that the Buddha's Dharma would be destroyed from
withtin.

   Remember this advice and keeping it in your mind, abandon whatever is contrary
to it and adopt whatever is in accord with it.

   Householders should make offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and,
with the intention of benefitting others, enthusiastically persevere in doing virtuous
actions. In this way, the present life and all future lives will be happy, virtuous
and auspicious.

   I (Chokyi Lodro) am close to death now. I am old. All I can do is to have a good
heart, with devotion for the Buddha's Dharma. I really do not have any power to
benefit the Dharma or sentient beings. All I can do is to pray earnestly for the
flourishing of the Dharma.

   The highest source of benefit and happiness in the Land of Snows is Tenzin
Gyatso (Holder of the Ocean of Dharma), the fourteenth Dalai Lama. May his
lotus feet remain on this earth for a very long time. May Amitabha protector
Panchen Lama, the Gyalwa Karmapas and the Manjushri (Tib: Jamyang, sweet-
voiced) Sakyapas (His Holiness Sakya Trizin) and all other Dharma Holders
have long lives and may their Dharma activities constantly increase and become
vast.

   May the Prime Minister, President, Ministers and peoples of the Noble Land
of India have wealth, happiness and enjoyment and may the Buddha's Dharma
flourish there once again. May the sounds of the great drum of the Dharma's
Sacred Writings spread from here to the top of the Universe. May all be auspicious.

This "Opening the Dharma" was written at the request of the Governor of
Sikkim (Upa Sahib), by a Tibetan holding the name of Jamyang Khyentse's
emanation (from Dzongsar), stupid Chokyi Lodro, who, with an extremely
good heart, wrote uninterruptedly. May this virtue bring benefit to the Holy
Dharma and to all those wandering in Samsara.

                                                           Sarwa Mangalam.


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