I’ll come back as time permits and share some of my notes from these wonderful teachings, given in five sessions May 29-31, 2018, at the awe-inspiring Riverside Church in New York City. Not only did they provide an excellent, concise review as our class approaches the end of the text (7 verses to go!), but His Holiness the Seventeenth Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, the head of our Karma Kagyu Lineage, also shared some insights not seen in other commentaries we have been studying. I was especially struck by His Holiness’s presentation of the six paramitas (verses 25-30) and the clarity of his explanation of ultimate bodhicitta (verses 22-24), aided by the precise translations of Lama Yeshe Gyamtso. Both of these topics are found in session 3, but please listen to all the teachings in sequence if you possibly can (link below).
Two participants in this class mentioned that in listening to these teachings, it became clear for the first time that the point is not just to know about the 37 practices but to actually put them into practice. This is the blessing of His Holiness Karmapa! And I hope that through these teachings everyone comes to understand the importance of engaging in all three aspects of transcendent wisdom: study, contemplation, and meditation, the very first of the 37 practices.
In fact, His Holiness advised us in session 4, “Sometimes people engage in the first two [study and contemplation], but without the third [meditation]. This can sometimes create an artificial understanding, somewhat outward-directed. Such a person understands a great deal, but it is not mixed with their mind because they have not actually applied it to their own mind. It is present in the brain but has not penetrated the heart. So we need to remember that the primary focus or intention is the examination of our own mind, learning how to look at our own mind.”
More later, and meanwhile, here’s the link to session 1 of 5: