Monthly Archives: July 2017

The most effective way to meditate, and the 12 links of interdependence

This is a brief summary for the KDC class on the Ornament of Precious Liberation, where we are studying the paramita of meditation, within the general heading of action bodhicitta. (Or for anyone else who is interested in these topics.)

I found a pretty good image of the Buddhist Wheel of Life with the 12 links of interdependent origination. Other resources: Kalu Rinpoche, Luminous Mind (with image) and Tai Situpa, Awakening the Sleeping Buddha, chapter on karma and reincarnation (no image, but a very clear and concise explanation).

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37 practices: the first 7 verses

  1. To study, contemplate and meditate
  2. To leave your homeland
  3. To rely on solitude
  4. To let go of attachment to this lifetime
  5. To give up negative friends
  6. To rely on spiritual friends
  7. To take refuge in the Three Jewels

Audio for verses 1-7. (Click where the play button should be.)

Preparation for the path: We’re halfway through the first 7 practices of a bodhisattva, and this seems like a good time to take another look at the structure of the book.

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37 practices: verse 3, part 2

Verse 3: To rely on solitude, along with class notes for part 1, is here.

Commentary: Dilgo Khyentse advises us: “If you wish to concentrate entirely on the Dharma instead of being constantly tossed hither and thither by waves of attachment and aversion, give them up and go to a solitary place.” As we discussed last week, and as the verse states, if we simply isolate our body and mind from disturbance and distraction—if we just sit down every day in our practice space and apply ourselves to study, contemplation, and meditation for an allotted time—the rest of the path will unfold naturally. We have Togme Zangpo’s word for this, and Dilgo Khyentse’s; in fact, all our teachers tell us the same thing. Waking up is so simple. We just have to roll up our own sleeves.

But wait! Many of us find it challenging to engage in formal practice even when we have time on our hands, and for that reason I suggest we ask ourselves, honestly and without judgment: Do I wish to concentrate entirely on the dharma and disengage from the endlessly fascinating waves of emotional turbulence?

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Lama Tenam at PTC: How to deal with emotions

You can see the video of this teaching by clicking here. In fact, if you click you will find a small and growing treasure trove of teachings in the PTC PPV video archive. The cost per video is $20 to help support teacher visits and the cost of livestreaming. The archive includes two wonderful teachings by Khenpo Donyo about the enlightened female teachers who inspired the Shangpa lineage, Niguma and Sukhasiddhi, and their Vajra songs expressing the nature of mind. (The video archives are unavailable at this time.)

Now, back to Lama Tenam:

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Lama Tenam at PTC: 7 things that make us Buddhist

Lama Tenam, who is Guru Vajradhara Kenting Tai Situpa’s longtime executive secretary and a beloved friend of PTC Monastery, gave a teaching at PTC this afternoon, and summarized for us his thoughts on the seven essential characteristics of a Buddhist.

I saw it via livestream, the video of which is available on demand by clicking  here (the fee is $20 to support livestreaming costs). More good news: a second teaching on “How to Deal with Emotions,” is now available via the same link. Both teachings are in English, and though Lama Tenam occasionally double-checks with the audience to make sure he’s got the right word, his English is quite excellent.

Here are the 7 characteristics that make us Buddhist, according to Lama Tenam. The full explanation is on the video. (Note: this video may not be available anymore.)

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37 practices: verse 4

4. To let go of attachment to this lifetime

Old friends I’ve known as long as I remember, / One day we’ll have to go our separate ways.

Material possessions I’ve worked hard for / Will be enjoyed by someone else one day.

This consciousness, a guest, will leave my body, / The guest house where for all my life it’s stayed.

To let go of attachment to this lifetime: / This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 4 chanted 3x

verses 1-4 chanted 1x

Alternate second line, offered by Kathi Rogers:

“Material possessions I’ve worked hard for / Will end up in the dumpster anyway.” 🙂

The fourth preparation for the path of awakening is to study, contemplate, and meditate on impermanence. We are all very familiar with the idea of impermanence by now. Truly understood, it is the single most powerful motivator to seek a place of solitude and engage in practice without delay. Why it often doesn’t work that way, according to a Western teacher I studied Tibetan with in the 1980s, is that understanding impermanence intellectually isn’t enough to stop us from continuing to relate to everything in our life as solid and permanent. We still get upset over passing trivialities, and/or waste our entire precious human existence on busyness and distraction.

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37 practices: verse 3, part 1 of 2

3. To rely on solitude

When I avoid conditions that disturb me, / Emotional afflictions lose their strength.

When there are no distractions to engage me, / My dharma practice grows to fill the space.

Awareness – knowing – rigpa clarifies, / And certainty in dharma dawns and thrives.

On solitude and silence to rely: / This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

verse 3 chanted 3x.

verses 1-3 chanted 1x.

Verse 3!  I think this may the hardest challenge of all in our 21st-century lives so rich with technology and other distractions. We will spend another week on verse 3, so please continue your study, contemplation, and meditation on it.

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37 practices: verse 2

2. To leave my homeland

While those I love can stir up a tsunami, / And those I hate can burn me up like fire,

When I don’t care I lose my moral compass / And dark delusion permeates my mind.

To give up all my habits and reactions — This homeland where I’ve dwelt from life to life:

This is the way a bodhisattva trains.

Verse 2 chanted 3x.

Verses 1 and 2 chanted 1x.

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