A Talk by His Eminence Namkha Drimed Rinpoche
February 20th, 2009
[This is an edited transcript of Jigme Rinpoche's translation of a talk given by His Eminence at the end of the Mahayoga section of the Rinchen Terdzo.]
It is important to understand that what abhisheka does is ripen our mindstream and the state of our body, speech and mind altogether. What does an unripened mindstream mean? An unripened mindstream is our ordinary state, which is very hard, very arrogant, and very difficult, like infertile, very hard soil. Over time, over the days [of the Rinchen Terdzo], the abhishekas pour into the mindstream so that it becomes more soft, gentle, and transformed, so that we are able to sow the crop and reach the fruition of enlightenment rapidly, without any obstacles. Basically, we are taking our mindset or mindstream, our rough state or condition, and making it more soft, gentle, and workable. This happens not only due to the blessings of the gurus, but also through the power and strength of one’s trust and devotion.
One of the most difficult obstacles to this is pride and arrogance, the ego. One can see that ego is an inevitable part of everyone; you can even see a child displaying ego. The ego has always brought us into unfortunate states, into problems, into pain and suffering, rather than doing any good. So it is important that we try to bring our ego down by transforming it with the power of devotion and trust. Then, over time, the blessing of the abhishekas will help us to go through further transformation.
Back in Tibet, when I was receiving the Rinchen Terdzo from Trungpa Rinpoche, his chopon, the one who handles the mandala set up, used to come and see me often. He used to come by just to chat and talk.* The chopon said that he had seen a marked change in the monks of Surmang. He told me how the monks of Surmang used to be quite arrogant, quite unruly, full of ego and not really humble. But the monks changed once Khenpo Gangshar was sent there as a tutor and teacher at the request of Trungpa Rinpoche. Like Trungpa Rinpoche, Khenpo Gangshar was a student of Shechen Kongtrul. He was also Shechen Kongtrul’s nephew. Both Shechen Kongtrul and Khenpo Gangshar were regarded as having accomplished the fourth and highest stage accomplishment of Dzogchen.
The reason the chopon said Khenpo Gangshar had brought a change to Surmang was that when the chopon returned to monastery, he found it had totally changed. It had become much more quiet. The monks had become much more gentle and more silent, and it seemed that everyone was observing their own minds a lot. The chopon found a big change in Surmang. This is what I was told, and I believe this happened due to the power of the teaching, the teacher, and also, most importantly, due to the power and practice of devotion.
When I received the empowerments from Trungpa Rinpoche, I never had the feeling of seeing him as just an ordinary person even for one instant. I have always believed in and been able to see through pure vision, pure perception, which is essential on the path of tantrayana. Even though sometimes Trungpa Rinpoche would sleep on the throne during the abhishekas, I never had ordinary feelings about him. I always felt that when he was sleeping he was not in this world, but was communicating with numerous pure realms and deities and so forth. I never saw him in an ordinary way, even for one second. I always felt that when he taught, a lively, living bodhisattva was giving all the precious teachings and empowerments. This is because I know what pure vision means; I have felt it myself, I have experienced it myself.
When pure vision actually enters into you, you are moved by the sheer power of purity, the sheer power of the wholesomeness of the blessing deities, and then your body begins to shiver, you begin to have tears. But these tears are not coming because you have pain, or because you have suffering; they are coming out of the power of the purity and because you are so moved by the deity that you come into contact with this whole world of pure phenomena.
When you come into contact with pure phenomena, what happens is that impure perception, impure vision, stops. When there is no more impure vision, when impure perceptions stop, that is exactly the mind of the buddha, the mind of enlightenment. The only difference is that after enlightenment, the buddhas are never separate from, they never look away from, that state of mind. Ordinarily, beings can look away from that mind, they can have a glimpse of it but look away from it. That’s the only difference. Besides that there is no real big difference.
I would like to say once again to everybody to put the focus back on devotion, back to keeping samaya. Otherwise, even if there is a real buddha is in front of us, it will be just like in the time of Shakyamuni when his own nephew and student, the gelong Legpe Karma, never really saw anything good in the Buddha even though he spent a great many years with him. He never saw any good quality in the buddha and that was his loss. Without having real devotion, trust and observance of one’s own mind and samaya, it is impossible to actually see the full qualities of the lamas and the deities. Therefore I want to ask you all once again not to forget that the purpose of the abhishekas here is to help us ripen our heart, our mindstream, our being, into a soft and gentle nature so that we can then actually use our mindstreams to become enlightened, possibly in this very lifetime, or at least to produce better causes and conditions to reach enlightenment in future lives, and most importantly to develop compassion for all beings.
The way that your practice will go well is when you stop caring so much for this life alone. When your whole focus is on this life alone, you forget the next lives. For the real practitioner, the next lives are more important than this life. When everybody just sees and works and thinks only of this life, enlightenment will not be accomplished. Every practitioner of the past has in fact reached enlightenment because they cared for and were concerned about—they understood the implication of—the next lives. For this reason observe the causes and conditions of karma well. Do please remind yourself about these things. Then they will definitely produce a real good practitioner. At the same time, continue to do all the mantras I entrusted all of you to accumulate. This is my advice.
[* This is likely the chopon that Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche mentions in Born in Tibet. The main chopon for the Rinchen Terdzo at Yak Gompa was the uncle of the thanka painter, Noedup Rongae.]