The Foundation of the Path

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Shang Shung Edizioni

Series of Teachings 230E

Original edition: 1/fondamento della via, Shang Shung Edizioni 2005 This book is a compilation from the following texts published by Shang Shung Edizioni:

The Four Awarenesses, 1989 Bodhichitta, 1996 The Three Sacred Principles, 1998 Transcriptions by Barbara Paparazzo, John Shane, Anna Pucci, Francesco Gracis, Patricia Monti The sections on Bodhichitta and The Vajra were translated from Italian by Andrew Lukianowicz Edited by Adriano Clemente and Igor Legati Cover by Fulvio Ferrari and Paolo Fassoli

© 2005

Shang Shung Edizioni Associazione Culturale Comunita Dzogchen 58031 Arcidosso GR Tel: 0564966039 E-mail: [email protected]

IPC- 394EN05- Approved by the International Publications Committee of the Dzogchen Community founded by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu


THE FOUNDATION OF THE PATH Oral Teachings given at Milan, Italy, February 1989 Tsegyalgar, U.S.A., October 1994 Merigar, Ita(v, October 1991 and July 1996

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Shang Shung Edizioni


THE FOUR AWARENESSES l.The Precious Value ofHuman Life


2. Impermanence




4. Transmigration or Samsara





BODHICHITTA The Bodhisattva's Courage


Absolute and Relative Bodhichitta


The Relationship with the Teacher


Bodhichitta of Intention and of Action


The Importance of Observing Oneself


Acting According to Circumstances




How to Follow the Teaching


The Seven Ways to Accumulate Merit


The Four Causes of Awakening


The Three Trainings












Many types of teachings, Buddhist, Hindu, and so on, exist, each of which proposes different methods of practice. We con­ sider a certain method to be better and more interesting than another in the same way that, in buying clothes, we look for what is comfortable and light in summer or warm and heavy in winter. The important thing is not to become fixed on methods, but rather to understand the deep meaning of the teaching. AtSamath, BuddhaSakyamuni taught the Four Noble Truths which are the base of the path ofSutra. Of the Four Noble Truths, the fourth deals with "method" and is called the Noble Truth of the Path. Buddha explained the other three first because, above all, it is important to have an understanding. But, in order to integrate the teaching in daily life, a mere intellectual understanding is not sufficient. What do the teachings really mean? Why do we practice them? What is the relationship between beings and teachings? If our knowledge and understanding are correct, each method, even the simplest, can be very precious in our life. If instead we practice without understanding, hunting for the most complicated methods, whether Tantric or Hindu, whether Tregcho or Thogal, we will realise nothing and these method will only be a way to pass time. The Four Awarenesses are a way to train the mind. This teaching is found in all Buddhist traditions.


Talk given at Terra delle Dakini, Milan, Italy, on February 4th, 1989.



The first of the Four Awarenesses, also described by Shanti­ deva in the Bodhisattvacharyavatara, is the precious value of human life. Shantideva describes how human birth is free from the eight conditions which impede the practice of the teaching and possesses the ten qualifications which favour the develop­ ment of practice, together forming the eighteen qualities of pre­ cious human birth which each human being possesses. One should not treat this subject matter as a simple object of study, examining and memorising it point by point like school chil­ dren. Doing this, we will only deceive ourselves that we are training our mind, possibly creating a good impression in front of others but certainly not developing a true understanding of the precious human condition. Shantideva's analysis was valid tor the conditions in which he lived. When I studied in Tibet, I found that my life did not completely correspond with all eighteen points which I was ana­ lysing. For example, I was not born in India and thus, according to the text, could not possess a complete precious human re­ birth, which is obviously absurd. Therefore it is important not to memorize the various points but to arrive at a precise under­ standing of why Shantideva speaks of the value of the human condition, which is perfectly clear even without analysing. In the West, everyone knows how to read, write and analyse, while among Tibetan nomads and farmers few have these capacities. Yet also a Tibetan fanner possesses the qualities characteristic of the precious human condition and many nomads, even though they do not know how to read and write, are excellent practi­ tioners. Therefore we are not talking about analysing, or how to read and write, but how to understand. We are human beings and we have the power to carry out beautiful things in life, but also terrible ones. Today man has


managed to create even an atomic bomb with the capacity to totally destroy the world. He can pollute the world's air and level its mountains. In Eastern Tibet, where I come from, there was a very nice little hill in the middle of a plain surrounded by snowy mountains. It really was a splendid landscape. When I returned, I saw that Chinese had literally cut away this hill trans­ forming it into a military airport. It was an enormous job and I hoped that at least it would be of some use for everyone. But it was not. When I went back to Tibet last year, I saw that the airport was only used for two or three Chinese military aircraft. Man is capable of great stupidity and of carrying out great destruction. But if he had real understanding, he could do won­ derful things, he could have realisations and be able to solve his problems because he has infinite potential. This is what we must understand. Our potentiality means knowing the meaning of the teaching. Our lives are precious and if we do not practice we will be like the merchant who went to an island full of jewels and returned with empty hands. This is what the teachings say. We should not behave in the same way. Numerous methods of practice exist, and since we have been born in an era in which illuminated beings have manifested and many masters have taught and kept the transmission alive, the teaching is not only dead history: the transmission still exists. Therefore we have all the opportunities since we find ourselves on the precious island ofjewels and it would really be a pity if we returned with nothing. If we understand this, we will help ourselves and not waste our precious human life.


The second of the Four Awarenesses is understanding im­ permanence. We have a very precious human condition, but we


exist in time, and time is passing. Once we were children, and as we grew we learned how to walk, we went to school and gradually we became adults. Some of us are still young, some of us are older and some of us are already old. This is a normal manifestation of how time passes and never goes back. Minute after minute passes and today is no more yesterday. Watching the clock or the children growing we can understand how quickly time passes. When we see a child again after a few years, we find that he has become a young man and we are surprised. "Oh, how he has grown," we exclaim. The truth is that we have grown, too, in a different way. All of this is the passage of time which is relative to our human existence. If we do not make use of our lives, time will be gone and we will not have accomplished anything. If young people understand that times rushes by quickly, they will not want to lose it and this will help them to complete their studies. And if they have a bit of spiritual feeling and wish to help themselves and others, they will react concretely in order to realise something. Awareness of time and impermanence is very important in order to understand practice; our lives are measured by the sea­ sons, after spring comes summer during which everything flow­ ers, then autumn when the flowers and leaves die and finally winter until again the return of spring. With the passage of years our lives also pass. Nothing exists in the relative condition which is not linked to time. If time was an infinitely long thread of cotton and our lives were tiny knots in the thread, we would see some knots that are bigger and stronger- the lives of those who had done something important which had been reported in their biographies. After several centuries some of them are still re­ membered, "Once there was a man called Dante". His knot may still be visible even if it is distant in time, but in the meanwhile thousands and thousands of people have died and not even the slightest trace of their knots has remained. At the moment we


are here but in a hundred years no one of us will be alive. In our place there will be another generation which will continue. When, after many years, I returned to Tibet, I tound almost nobody that I knew in my village. Since I had lived there, many changes had taken place and the people I had known had disap­ peared. I did not know anyone of the new generation. But when I exchanged a few words with people, I was immediately able to identify them because I had known their father or their uncle. There was always somebody in their family that I knew or had known. This is impermanence. However we should not get nerv­ ous when we think about this. Some people become distressed or pessimistic if they concentrate on death too much. Life seems unpleasant to them and they feel that there is nothing useful. But to let oneselffall into depression is useless. There are certain kinds of meditation, patiicularly in the Hi­ nayana and the Sutra, in which one concentrates on the human skeleton and reasons in this way, "Who was this person? Per­ haps it was a woman who was once beautiful but today all that is left of her is this skeleton". The aim of this meditation is to feel disgust for samsaric existence whose essence is suffering, and to escape from it, living like a monk and renouncing the world. This is a particular vision with a consequent way of re­ acting but in the teaching there are also other methods relative to different conditions and circumstances. A master such as Buddha Shakyamuni taught many methods and different sys­ tems not to create contradictions but because every system can be used in relationship to different circumstances of existence. When Buddha Shakyamuni went to Oddiyana, he taught the tantra of Guhyasamaja as it is described in the Guhyasamaja­ tantra. Oddiyana was a mysterious country. It was governed by

many generations of kings each called King Indrabhuti, many of whom came after Buddha Shakyamuni. The king who reigned during the time of the Buddha was very powerful and had a lot


of faith in the Dharma. Oddiyana was quite distant from India and at that time, since there were no trains or aeroplanes, it was fairly complicated to get there. Indrabhuti had already met a great number of the Buddha' s disciples who were Bodhisatt­ vas, Yogis, Mahasiddhas etc., but he wanted to see the Buddha himself. He asked some Mahasiddhas what he should do to meet him. They answered, "At the moment Buddha Shakyamuni is far away, but since he is omniscient, if you pray to him and invite him, you will be able to meet him''. (A similar story is also told in China about the sixteenArhats.) One beautiful day when the moon was full, the king pre­ pared a great ceremony with offerings and addressed a prayer of invitation to Buddha Shakyamuni. At midday, the Buddha and theArhats went to beg for food as usual and arrived at the palace ofthe king.Indrabhuti was very honoured to receive them and the Buddha transmitted some teachings to him. Then the king said, "Your teaching is fantastic and meaningful.I have a great desire to put it into practice but because I must govern a kingdom and its people, I cannot abandon everything and be­ come a monk." "It is not necessary that you become a monk,' answered the Buddha. "There are many ways to practice and obtain realisation." ThenIndrabhuti asked the Buddha to teach him how to prac­ tice in this way and, it is said, the Buddha manifested as Guhya­ samaja and taught him a method which does not require renun­ ciation but uses transformation instead. The NobleTruth of the Path includes a great many teachings of the Buddha, among which is the teaching ofTantra which uses transformation as a method to obtain realisation. Nevertheless, all the teachings, even Dzogchen, base their way of seeing on the awareness of impermanence. But one does not need to concentrate too much on death in order to understand the passage of time. For this, one can simply watch a clock. But it is not enough to under-


stand in an intellectual way that time is passing. For a practi­ tioner, the presence of impennanence should be a key to ac­ complishing something. In the Dzogchen teaching it is said that you should not force yourself but give yourself a lot of space instead. This does not correspond with what Hinayana affinns, that you should not let yourself be dominated by laziness but rather struggle against it and win, otherwise you will conclude nothing. Instead, in the Dzogchen teaching, if you feel lazy, you must "give space", which means discovering the cause of your laziness. If water is agitated, you cannot know what is submerged, perhaps a shoe or some fish or frogs etc. "Giving space" does not mean letting yourself go indifferently but relaxing and letting the cause, for example your laziness, emerge. This is not to say continuing to be an idler but, on the contrary, guiding this "giving space" with the presence of impennanence and the value of human life. Our precious human condition exists in time and if we do nothing, we will have lost it uselessly. But if we apply pres­ ence, we will be able to identifY the causes of our suffering. It is important to use the presence of impermanence well, above all in our relationships with others. After a few years of marriage, a husband and wife sometimes find those strong pas­ sions which united them at the beginning of their relationship diminishing. Once they were very much in love but after a few years the secondary causes mature and their marriage seems to fade. When there was passion it was like the fog in Milan which does not let you see the houses and streets but, with the passage of time, the tog clears and colossal buildings appear. These are our thoughts which appear. People do not always stay the same. When someone is blinded by passion he sees nothing else and says, "We are very much in agreement, we have a very similar point of view etc." But when the fog disappears, "We cannot stand each other any more."


When young people are very much in love, they want to sit on the same chair so that it may break. They are so stuck together that they even want to go to the bathroom together. How long will this last? Will they still go to the bathroom together when they are two old people? If they really have the intention to spend their lives together, they do not need to be continually stuck together and it will be better if each sits on their own chair. These are some examples of how you can become a slave to the illusion of your own passions which always have, as their consequence, desperation. But this does not mean that you should not fall in love. You should fall in love with awareness and, if you wish to spend your life with another person, you must remember that we live in relationship to time. Today we are like two beautiful flowers but one day we will be two old people as beautiful as two withered flowers. If you have this idea, you will also have the presence of time and your relation­ ship with another person will become much easier. Otherwise, when passion fades away, two people start to hate each other, "I cannot stand him/her any more. We cannot spend our whole lives together". They do not even understand what "our whole lives" means. It may be a day, a week, a month, a year, ten years, for there is no guarantee how long life may last. Perhaps after they have gone to bed this very evening they will not wake up the next morning. Some people, even if they are young, unexpectedly get ill and die. For example, at the university where I worked there was a professor of Japanese. One day I brought a bottle of wine to give him as a present. That morning I had seen him for a fleet­ ing moment and he seemed a little nervous and had left sud­ denly. After a while, he reappeared as I was talking to someone else and I called out to him. He disappeared like lightning and seemed even more nervous. Then I went and had a coffee in the


bar and when I returned I met four professors on the stairs who were carrying him out of the lift. He was unconscious. '"What happened?" "A heart attack." Someone massaged his heart and they called an ambulance. It took a long time to arrive because it is like that in Naples. They took him to the hospital. He seemed to be unconscious. The same day there was a faculty meeting. About twenty minutes after it had begun, one of the professors who had accompanied the professor of Japanese to the hospital arrived and said, "Unfortunately he has died. There was noth­ ing they could do". We were all very shocked because he was young. These things happen. So when someone says, "I cannot put up with this person for the rest of my life," he thinks that life will still last for many years. But if one has the presence of impetmanence, this knot will loosen and he will not have such a fixed attitude and his tension will lessen.


The third of the four mind trainings consists of reflecting on karma. Our precious human birth exists in time, but our lives are a product of karma and we ourselves create many causes whose consequences we suffer. Our lives are also the product of karma accumulated in past lives because when time exists, continuation exists. When we inhale, then we must exhale oth­ erwise breathing will be intenupted. But as long as we breathe, life continues. And so time continues. If there has been a past time, automatically there will be a future time. The present time in which we find ourselves is a consequence of past time. It is an effect which has had a cause. The Buddha said, "In order to understand what you have done in past lives, examine how you are in your present life".


The human body which we have now is a product of karma which we have created in the past. Today we are living the ef­ fect. By means of this effect we can discover the cause of the past, and in the present we can place new causes for the future. For example, if we have a stomach ache, this is an effect. The cause may be that we have eaten badly, or eaten something disa­ greeable. The Buddha said, "Examine your present actions in order to understand how the future will be". In the present we can carry out many actions and produce every kind of karma, both positive and negative. Negative karma comes from our distraction and our passions and, in due course, we must un­ dergo their consequences. It is important to have a presence of kanna and to under­ stand its potentiality. Many people think that karma is a pre­ ordained destiny. "What can I do? It is my karma." This atti­ tude of resignation may bring some tranquillity in difficult mo­ ments, but it is not true that karma works like this. Kanna is related to our existence. It is the product of our actions. But its potentiality, for better or worse, manifests only when the ap­ propriate conditions are present, not at just any time.

If we carry out a good action on the Path of the Bodhisattva such as giving, a positive karma can result from this. How does this come about? First of all intention arises. In the Mahayana, it is said that intention is the basis of every thing. If the inten­ tion is good, the results will be pleasant. If it is bad, they will be unpleasant. So we should take great care that our intention is positive so that it can become the cause of Bodhichitta. When one accumulates the negativekanna ofkilling, first the inten­ tion to kill arises. But in order to create the karma related to killing, intention alone is not enough. One must carry out the action of killing. Intention itself can constitute an obstacle for a positive state of mind, but it is the action itself which brings about the actual potentiality of karma. Action can be direct or


indirect. For example, in the case of killing, we can carry out a killing ourselves or we can get another person to do it, in which case we have applied an indirect action. The same principle is valid in the case of a good action. If, for example, we want to carry out an act of generosity towards a group of starving people in India but we do not have enough money to help them, we can ask a wealthier person, "Please help these people". If we do this in such a way that these Indi­ ans actually receive some benefit, we will have carried out an indirect positive action. The third condition which completes kanna is satisfaction in the completed action. If, after we have killed someone, we think, "Oh, finally, I have got rid of this person," the negative karma of killing will be complete. Intention, action and satis­ faction create the complete potentiality of both negative and positive kanna, whose effects will manifest when circumstances in favour of their maturation present themselves. That is not to say that kanna manifests as soon as it is produced. It can pro­ duce its effects at any moment, either immediately or later on, depending on when the secondary causes present themselves. If, for example, I have the negative karma which will produce a stomach ache, it will manifest under certain circumstances such as being in a very hot, wet climate or eating bad food. If these secondary circumstances come together, that karma will mani­ fest. The Buddha said, "Karma follows us like a shadow follows the body". When a secondary cause is present such as a lamp or the sun, the shadow manifests. The body is the principal cause of the shadow but, if there is no secondary cause such as the sun, the shadow will not appear. There is no chronological rule for the manifestation ofkatma which matures according to cir­ cumstances. In the teaching it is said that one must have a pres­ ence of kanna to avoid producing negativity. We should be


present in all the circumstances of our lives otherwise we will have to suffer the effects of kanna. Yet kanna is not something that one must only pay. It can be purified, transfonned, elimi­ nated or blocked. There are many ways to act in regard to kanna. In all the Buddhist traditions, the mantra of Vajrasattva is taught for the purification of negative karma. Practising the mantra, the effect of kanna and obstacles are diminished and one develops clarity. Sometimes one hears about kannic ill­ nesses, that is to say incurable illnesses such as cancer, etc. But in the teaching nothing exists which cannot be purified. It is just that we do not know how heavy the kanna to be purified is. We do not know if it weighs a hundred, a thousand or a million kilos. That is the problem. But no kanna exists which we can­ not eliminate. If we are practitioners we must be aware of the circumstances under which karma manifests. For example, if we want to make a seed genninate, we must plant it in the earth, fertilise it and water it. It also needs the light of the sun etc. If we do not plant it under the appropriate conditions, even if the seed possesses all the potentiality to ger­ minate, we will get neither flowers nor fruit. If we plant ten identical seeds in ten pots of earth, but we water some, leave others without water, put some pots in the sun, others in the shade, leave some without fertiliser etc., we will never get ten identical flowers. Some of them will thrive, others will be suf­ focated, while others will not grow at all. We will obtain differ­ ent results even though all the seeds have the same potentiality to produce. Everything is detetmined by the various secondary circumstances. Therefore if karma matures, this is due to the fact that the secondary causes are favourable to its manifestation. If we are aware of this, we can behave accordingly. If we are growing a flower which we do not want, we can block its growth by not watering it. By being aware of the circumstances which favour karma, we become active in our practice and develop wisdom. 18


The Fourth Awareness or mental training is understanding transmigration as a consequence of kanna whether it is positive or negative. In India, for example, there are hundreds of thou­ sands of people who are starving while in other parts of the world there are people who are very rich and lack nothing. The children who are born to poor families suffer every type of pri­ vation while those born to well-off families can enjoy many things. Why is there this difference? On what it depends? It depends on kanna. In 1953, when I was studying in China, I heard some debates which criticised Buddhism. Someone argued, "The Buddhists justifY injustice by saying that everything is caused by karma so the rich can enjoy their privileges because they have a positive kanna while the poor have a negative kanna and thus must suf­ fer. In this way the masters are well-off in any case". Recognising the action of kanna does not mean maintaining that it is just for the rich to take advantage of the poor. But if there was no kanna how could we explain that Mao Tse Tung was in command and that others obeyed? And that some Chi­ nese officials, even today, live like princes, spending piles of money on banquets, their offices furnished with precious car­ pets, while many peasants have no food or sufficient means to live decently? To what is this difference due if not to karma? If we have an understanding of kanna we can do our best to fight against injustice. Denying karrna is not very useful. When there is a cause, an effect will follow. This is the law of karma. And it is in this continuity of cause and effect that transmigration is founded; beings continue to create new causes which will have new effects. In the West, many people are struck by the principle of trans­ migration or rebirth, because Christianity does not speak about


it. Perhaps the early Christian fathers considered transmigra­ tion but today the church does not officially recognise the va­ lidity of transmigration. This concept is not part of Western culture and when people hear about transmigration, they find a lot to discuss, "How can I accept transmigration?" etc. In my opinion, transmigration is not something we must accept or re­ ject. For me it is something normal and we do not have to spend energy to believe it or not. In the teaching, there are many sto­ ries of beings who had a certain kind of existence but, after their death, were reborn in other ways. If we believe in this, that is fine, but believing or not is not a determining factor. What is important is the principle of continuity: what is now present will become past and the future will continue to enter into the present just as an inhalation follows each exhalation. This con­ tinuum is related to karma. 'Transmigration' is the same as 'continuation'. It does not matter if you believe in the details of reincarnation. It is not a subject to go into very deeply and believing in it is not very important. What is important in the teaching is mindfulness. If we want to concentrate on the subject of reincarnation for three days or a week, that is fine, but it should not become something to worry about or to cause anxiety and pessimism. What counts is understanding that the continuity of our lives is linked to kanna. Therefore it is very useful to have an understanding of the meaning of the Four Awarenesses or 'mind trainings'. With this understanding, diligence and presence in daily life will arise in every moment and will develop not only when we sit and do practice but also when we walk, talk, eat, in the various mo­ ments of each day. If we manage to integrate this mindfulness, this presence, into our lives, the four mind trainings can be­ come very useful to understand the meaning of the teaching which is not only that of learning a method, but which is based on a real understanding. 20

After all there may be many methods and the teaching may be presented in many different forms. There are many religions, many philosophies, many types of mysticism etc., but the real meaning of things is a single principle. Understanding this leads to realisation but we must also understand what realisation is because it is important in order to understand the meaning of the teaching. When we go to a market, we find clothes there but there are also other items such as food etc. In the same way, in this world there is the wonderful teaching of Buddha Shakya­ muni but also that of the Sufi masters, as well as that of the great Hindu yogis. All of them can teach us many things, but if we do not understand the principle of the teaching compared to all these methods, we will only become confused and meet a lot a problems. The teaching is not an object but it is linked to the individual, and since there are many different characters, con­ ditions and desires, likewise there are many different teachings.



The three sacred principles, or tampa sum in Tibetan, are three fundamental aspects of the teaching that are always ex­ plained right at the beginning. This is true not only in the Dzog­ chen teachings, but also at the levels of Sutra and Tantra. The first of these Three Sacred Principles is Refuge and Bodhichitta; the second is Contemplation, and the third is the Dedication of Merit. At a practical level what the first and the third of these three principles mean is that when we start a practice, we begin it with an idea or thought, and similarly, when we finish a prac­ tice and return to our normal activities again, we begin those activities, too, guiding ourselves with an idea or thought. The fact is that we are not always in the state of contemplation (which we also ca11 the 'primordial state' - the second of these Three Sacred Principles). Even if we have some experience or knowl­ edge of this state, most of the time we are distracted. So in or­ der to find ourselves in the state of contemplation, we start by guiding ourselves towards it with an idea or thought. Let's assume, for example, that we have at least intellectu­ ally understood that our real nature is like that of a mirror which has the capacity to reflect everything without judging it good or bad, without accepting or rejecting anything. How can we, on the basis of our intellectual understanding, actually discover this real nature in ourselves? How can we enter into the true state of knowledge and thus come to a real ex perience of how our thoughts and emotions are actually like reflections in a mirror? The way we do this is to begin by guiding ourselves with a

These teachings were given at Tsegyalgar, U.S.A., on October 1994. 23

thought. Just as to enter into contemplation we always begin with the thought of wanting to enter that state, in the same way we begin our practice with Refuge and Bodhichitta. It is important, particularly in Dzogchen, to understand what Refuge and Bodhichitta really mean and how to apply them concretely, not just remaining at the level of words and external forms. The origins of the practices of Refuge and Bodhichitta are to be found in the Sutra system. And in both the Hinayana and Mahayana systems of the Sutra the way in which one takes Refuge determines whether an individual is considered to be Buddhist or not. In the Sutra, if a person takes Refuge in the Buddha, Dhatma and Sangha, then such a person is considered to be a Buddhist. I, for example, have personally been criticised by some people who claim that I am not a Buddhist because I use another fonn of Refuge- taking Refuge in Guru, Deva and Dakini instead of taking Refuge in Buddha, Dhanna and San·

gha. But such criticism is based on a fundamental misunderstand­ ing of the principle involved here, because Guru, Deva and Dakini do not mean something different from Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The principle of the teachings does not depend on the superficial level of the names by which things are called, but on the real sense and meaning behind those names. And so we must understand what Guru means, what Deva means and what Dakini means. These are terms used in the Tantric system. Generally speaking, when we use the word 'Buddhist' what we are referring to is someone who follows the teaching of the Buddha himself or something related to the teaching of the Buddha himself. At least this is what is meant by the tenn 'Bud­ dhist' in the Hinayana. The official Buddhist teaching is con­ sidered in that tradition to be only that knowledge and under­ standing which the physical Buddha himself actually transmit­ ted. But there are many other teachings. The Buddha transmit-


ted teachings in other manifestations, not just in his physical body. And this is the origin ofTantra. How did the Buddha manifest to transmit the Tantra? To transmit these teachings he did not manifest in the fonn of Bud­ dha Shakyamuni, the physical, historical Buddha. A Buddha can manifest in different ways, he works with circumstances, not just according to someone's idea of a rule. For a Buddha, there is no rule that his form must be a figure like that of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. The form he will manifest de­ pends on what the circumstances are. A Buddha will works with the particular circumstances in which he finds himself. A Buddha will sometimes manifest in a form like those be­ ings to whom he is trying to communicate knowledge and un­ derstanding. When a Buddha communicates to an elephant or a monkey, for example, he may manifest as that kind of being. He can do this because he is free. He is able to work with any circumstances, he never remains limited by rules. People who are limited do not understand this and they believe a Buddha can only manifest on the physical level. They believe that if the physical form of the Buddha is not the one they are familiar with, then this is not a Buddha at all. But it is nothing other than the Buddha who manifests as Deva or as Dakini, he can mani­ fests in many different ways, not only in the form of a human being. There is a saying in the sutras that the Buddha some­ times manifests as a bridge or as a boat in order to save people; it is not necessary that he should always manifest as a human being. There are many possibilities of manifestation. This is the principle of Deva and Dakini. In the same way, Refuge is not limited to the taking of a vow, as it is in the Hinayana view. Many people like to say that they have taken Refuge with this or that Lama. Or there are teachers who travel widely and give Refuge vows everywhere, claiming that they have converted enormous numbers of people


to Buddhism. They seem to think of Refuge as if it were a mat­ ter of conquering people. But this is not how the teachings should be spread. Spread­ ing the teaching should really mean helping people to wake up and understand something, it should not become another means of conditioning people. That is not to say, of course, that it is not useful for people to take a vow ofRefuge if they understand its real sense and meaning. But when they do not understand its meaning, then they can deceive themselves into believing that something has changed in them, when it has not. If they really honestly observe themselves they will see that their condition­ ing, their attachments, their problems and so on are all still there and are just the same as before they took their vow. Nothing has changed. What then is the benefit of taking Refuge? The real point is to know and understand what Refuge means. Refuge can be taken with a vow. If someone doesn't have the capacity to control themselves, then they need to take a vow. The Hinayana system is specifically aimed at helping human beings who have a lesser capacity. Such people take a vow, and through it they are enabled to control their emotions and their problems, so that they can avoid creating negative katma. Any of us may have a weak point. We should not think that since we are Dzogchen practitioners we are very highly devel­ oped people and that we therefore do not need such a thing as a vow. Many people have this idea, but it is not true. We must observe ourselves well. We have many weak points. If an indi­ vidual wants to stop smoking or drinking, for example, he may never succeed for a long time. Why? Because it is his weak point. Sometimes it is necessary to take a vow to deal with such a situation. There are people who are not in the Dzogchen Com­ munity who have told me that my students are very arrogant because they feel they are on a very high level and do not need to do the Ngondro, or Preliminary Practices, that are commonly practised. 26

To think that just because we are Dzogchen practitioners we do not need a vow is completely wrong. When we discover we have a weak point we may need a vow to help us overcome it. This is why it is said in Dzogchen that we should work with our circumstances. What do we mean when we speak of working with our circumstances? What we mean is that even if we un­ derstand that at the absolute level spontaneous self-perfection is our own inherent condition and that rules and vows are not necessary at that level, if in our own particular circumstances we find that there are problems we cannot overcome without such methods, then we apply a rule or a vow. The difference between Dzogchen and other levels of teaching is of course that these relative methods of rules and vows are not considered to be the main point. They are not the fundamental method of prac­ tice of Dzogchen as they are of the Sutra. In the Hinayana system, for example, receiving a vow is con­ sidered to be the single most important aspect of the training. When an individual has taken a vow, he feels different from others. We can observe a difference in attitude. For example, monks tend to consider themselves superior. They become ac­ customed to receiving respect from others, and thus they never feel like ordinary people. Why? Because this is the attitude and education prevalent in the Hinayana. Such individuals feel that they have changed after taking a vow of Refuge, and they act accordingly. But in Dzogchen we proceed differently. The main method is not to take a vow, although a vow might be used if necessary. But of course if it should be the case that someone has received a vow of Refuge from a teacher other than myself, then they need all the same to understand what its meaning and function are. Then it will make sense. But if we think that just because we have taken a Refuge vow we have become Buddhist, that is ridiculous. It has no meaning or sense. What does it mean to


say we are Buddhist in such a way? It doesn't mean anything. The Buddha never asked anyone to become a 'Buddhist'. The Buddha never proposed these kinds of limitations. These are our own limitations projected onto the teachings. We must try to understand the real sense of the teaching. The real meaning of Refuge is to know that we are on the path. We take refuge in the path. How do we find that path? We find it fi·om a teacher. Ifthere is no teacher there is no path. Whether we speak ofSutra, Tantra, or Dzogchen, the root of the path is always the teacher. When we take Refuge in theSutra system, the first words we recite are NAMO BUDDHA Y A. Thus we take Refuge in the Buddha, then we take Refuge in the Dharma and in theSangha. In Tantra, the way of seeing Buddha and the way of seeing the teacher or Guru is a little different, however. In the Sutra, the Buddha is understood to be the origin of the teaching, the source of the path. The final goal is seen as the state of the Buddha, or the Dhatmakaya. For this reason we take Refuge in the Buddha at this level of the teaching. In Tantra and Dzogchen we take Refuge principally in the Guru. This is because, even though it is the teachings of the Buddha that we are following, we have received them from our own teacher. We can never receive teachings directly from the Buddha. We do not even have direct contact with the Buddha's direct students. But his students taught other students and so on, and in this way the teachings have continued until the present day, when our teacher taught them to us. Tantra is also pat1icularly related to special transmissions such as empowerments. In Dzogchen the principle is to give a direct introduction of knowledge and understanding. The stu­ dents receive this transmission, this introduction from their teachers. Even though we may receive explanations or methods that have been handed down from the Buddha, we can only


receive direct transmissions from our own teacher. We can never receive such transmissions from the Buddha. For this reason, our teacher is extremely important for us. That is why he is referred to as the 'root teacher'. By root we mean the source from which something originated: our root teacher is the source of all transmissions, knowledge and understanding. Therefore, when we take Refuge in Tantra and Dzogchen, we first take Refuge in the Guru. In Dzogchen in particular, when we take Refuge we do so in the Guru. This means that the teacher is considered more im­ portant than other persons. If there is a Guru, there is a teach­ ing. This is the principle of transmission. Then there are the practitioners: when we speak of the Sangha, what we are refer­ ring to are the people with whom we collaborate on the path. In Dzogchen, Sangha can also refer to the Dharmapalas or Guard­ ians, beings who help us on our path to obtain realization. In the Sutra system, when we speak in terms of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, the teacher is considered to be part of the San­ gha. What does Sangha mean? In Sutra Sangha is a group of at least four monks. For example, if an individual wants to re­ ceive a fu]] vow of a monk or nun, he receives it from a Sangha of at least four monks. Three monks is not enough. One cannot receive a full vow from only the teacher. A Refuge vow can be taken from the teacher, but a fu]] vow of monk or nun can be received only from the Sangha. Similarly, in the Sutra system, if we make a mistake, we con­ fess it to the Sangha. We cannot confess to the teacher. In order to make a confession, we always need a Sangha. This is a char­ acteristic of Sutra level. For this reason, the teacher is part of the Sangha and the Sangha are considered to be the people who help us. In Dzogchen, on the other hand, the teacher is indispensa­ ble. In the Sutra system, if there is no teacher we nevertheless


still have the teachings of the Buddha. As long as we have the possibility of studying with a group of people, learning words, reading books and so on, we can still go ahead. That is not pos­ sible in Tantra and in Dzogchen. If we want to follow the Dzog­ chen teachings we must receive an introduction from a teacher, otherwise our knowledge is not connected with the transmis­ sion and there can be no enlightenment. This is also true in Tantra. In Tantra it is necessary to receive empowerment from the teacher. Otherwise, even if one knows many Tantric meth­ ods, one's situation remains like a ploughed field in which no seeds have ever been sown; even if one works it for years and years, nothing will grow from such a field. Whether one takes a vow of Refuge or not does not matter, but we must understand the meaning of Refuge.



The practice of cultivating Bodhichitta is an essential aspect of the Mahayana teaching. The Mahayana is considered as the base ofDzogchen and ofTantrism. In fact, at the beginning of a Dzogchen practice, too, we do the Refuge andBodhichitta, but clearly the Refuge and Bodhichitta do not consist solely in re­ citing some verses. As I always explain, the principle ofBodhi­ chitta is tied to one's intention. Mahayana is thegpa chenpo in Tibetan. Thegpa means one who bears everything, chenpo means great or total. Sometimes this term refers to the ea11h, because the earth bears everything. On the earth there are the beautiful and the ugly, the big and the small, anything, but the ea11h never says, "Now I'm tired, I can't bear any more." So, this is the principle of the Bodhisattva. In Tibetan Bodhisattva is changchubsempa. In Tibetan the San­ skrit word sattva is sempa, which means courageous. However in this case it does not mean someone who is always fighting and arguing with others, rather it means someone who bears all suffering and difficulties right up to total realization. But he or she doesn't bear it all out of self-interest but for the good of others. One of the most elevated ways to cultivate Bodhichitta is to cultivate it like a shepherd. What does this mean? In this case, shepherd does not refer to someone who dominates or is condi­ tioned by the sheep, but instead someone who follows the sheep, staying behind to the last. In samsara there are infinite beings who have not got knowledge and who thus live in the dualistic 3

These teachings were given at Merigar, Italy, on October 19'11-20'11, 1991. 31

condition, conditioned by the emotions and the passions. Some­ one who has knowledge also understands the condition of suf­ fering and sees that all beings are suffering in samsara. So the Bodhisattva behaves like the shepherd who takes the sheep to pasture and then brings them home, taking care that they do not get lost, protecting them from predators and always walking behind the flock until the last sheep has gone into the fold. The Bodhisattva has the courage to help beings, waiting until they attain realization. This is the Bodhisattva's courage, it is not practising for one's own realization without caring about oth­ ers. Someone who does not care for others has not got Bodhi­ chitta. As Bodhichitta is linked with understanding and knowledge, in the Dzogchen teaching knowledge is talked about more, rather than the cultivation of Bodhichitta. Sometimes people do not understand this and they think that in Dzogchen Bodhichitta is less important. If we think this way we can practise as much as we like, but day by day our egoism will go on increasing. We talk a lot about collaborating, but collaborating does not just mean organizing something, it means collaborating for the practice and for realization. Often we don't succeed. How come? Because we are dominated by egoism. Sometimes we don't even notice it, or even if we do notice we can't do anything about it. This is why it is very important to understand what is meant by Bodhichitta. If it is hue that it is necessary to understand the true sense of the teaching, it is equally true that it is necessary to understand Bodhichitta from the very beginning. In fact we live in dualism. It is enough to observe ourselves for a minute or two to see how much reasoning we come up with. What is reasoning? It is the activity of the mind that is in time, and time is the relative condition. The application or cul­ tivation of Bodhichitta belongs to the relative condition, but true Bodhichitta is the knowledge of our true condition, of our primordial state. 32


Bodhichitta also has two aspects in the Mahayana Sutra: rela­ tive and absolute. Absolute Bodhichitta is the knowledge of the true state of emptiness or shunyata. This is equivalent to being in the state of contemplation, and when we are able to be in the state of contemplation we discover our real condition. In this case the state of Dzogchen, or primordial state, is true Bodhi­ chitta. This is the case not only in Dzogchen, it is so in the Sutrayana too. But we are always living in this condition, and it takes a lot of effort to find some moment of calmness. We live in agitation and distraction, and are conditioned by everything. This is the relative condition. We live in this condition, reasoning and fol­ lowing the mind that thinks and creates intentions. We have all sorts of intentions, good and bad, and in following them we get distracted, accumulating a lot of katmic deeds. This is what actually happens. If we understand this then we can understand what Bodhichitta means. Relative Bodhichitta concerns intention: we must examine what our intention is, and if we see that it is not good, then we have to cultivate a good one. In this way right from the stati we have to learn to cultivate Bodhichitta. The Hinayana teaching, the Smaller Vehicle, is based on the vow system, because by taking vows we are able to control the three aspects of exist­ ence: body, voice and mind, so as not to create any negativity. The Mahayana Sutra too talks about the Bodhichitta vow. In reality the Mahayana is not based on a vow, but as the Bud­ dha's teaching is based on the Hinayana, the Bodhichitta vow was also developed in the Mahayana, that includes two main systems. The first is linked with the Madhyamika, a teaching origi­ nally transmitted by Manjushri to Nagarjuna. Nagatjuna is the


founder ofthe Madhyamika school, considered one of the most important schools ofBuddhist philosophy in the Sutra. Shanti­ deva, too, belongs to this school: he was a wonderful master who wrote a famous book called Bodhisattvacharyavatara, The Guide to Bodhisattva Conduct. Unlike other texts that are based only on philosophy, above all this book describes the applica­ tion ofBodhichitta. According to Shantideva, too,Bodhichitta is linked to a vow, because at its origin there is the Hinayana Sutra. In the Hinayana teaching there is the Vinaya, a code of rules for the different levels of monks. Originally there was no Vinaya in the Mahayana, but as the Bodhisattvas, or Mahayana practitioners, knew the Hinayana, that is the base of theBuddhist teaching, the Mahayana adopted the Vinaya from the Hinayana, adding the principle of inten­ tionality to it, that is a principle based on the view rather than on rules or on form. In conclusion, the Mahayana too speaks of the Vinaya, and it includes the opportunity to take vows for ordination as a monk. The second system is linked to theYogachara school, a teach­ ing transmitted byBuddha Maitreya, the FutureBuddha, to the famous master Asanga. In Tibet this teaching was transmitted by Atisha and is very widespread in general, and in particular among the Kagyiipa, Kadampa and Gelugpa traditions; the Madhyamika system is more widespread in the Sakyapa tradi­ tion, while both are found in the Nyingmapa.

THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE TEACHER The views of these two systems are slightly different. For example, in the Madhyamika the vow can also be taken without a teacher present, using visualization and intention. If I want to take the Bodhichitta vow, I imagine the presence of Buddha


and of all the Bodhisattvas, and sometimes also a suppmi such as an important statue of Buddha, and with the Bodhichitta in­ tention I take the vow. If after having taken the vow I commit a transgression- for example, if I don't have compassion for certain beings, that is a very serious transgression for Bodhisat­ tvas- then I forfeit my vow. In that case I have to do purifica­ tion and retake the vow, acknowledging, for example, that it was not my explicit intention to forfeit it. The purification too is valid if it is done visualizing Buddha, the Bodhisattvas and all the Refuge Tree, even without a teacher being present. In our practice we too sound A and visualize Guru Padma­ sambhava as the union of all the teachers, surrounded by Devas and Dakinis. In this way it is possible to take the Refuge vow as well, and if we commit a transgression we can confess it and purifY it taking the vow again. Naturally, of course it is consid­ ered better to take a vow before a teacher who has the transmis­ sion of the lineage and who knows how to explain the true mean­ ing of what one is doing, so that one can understand it. But this is not always possible. Perhaps at the beginning one can find a teacher who explains how to cultivate Bodhichitta, but one can't expect always to have that teacher by one's side. Many people have this habit, and they want to have the teacher present all the time, but the teacher is necessary above all when you need to receive teachings or to ask for clarifications. You shouldn't treat the teacher like a rubbish bin. What do I mean by this? A rubbish bin is where you throw all your rubbish. In the same way, sometimes someone who is agitated and tense dumps everything onto the teacher. Cetiainly, when you can't resolve some big problem you can ask the teacher for advice, but you shouldn't dump everything onto the teacher, treating him or her like a rubbish bin. Some people write me two or three letters a week. I don't know how they find the patience to write so many letters and the money to buy all those stamps,


and when I read their letters I can't make any sense of them. It is quite clear that they only serve to discharge some neurosis. This means considering the teacher to be like a rubbish bin. Usually I go on reading the letters these people write me for months, but after a while I no longer even open them because I already know what is written inside. Anyway I have kept them all in a big box, so that maybe one day they will end up in the Dzogchen Community archives and could serve as case stud­ ies, like those done by psychoanalysis. The teacher is useful for receiving teachings and for realiz­ ing ourselves. As it says in the Dzogchen teaching, the teacher is your best friend, but here friend does not mean someone with whom to go for walks, to chat and pass time. A lot of people have this tendency. Some practitioners who have been in the Community for many years say that it was better before be­ cause they could spend more time with the teacher, complain­ ing that now you need an appointment to see me and everything is more complicated. But these people should remember the way things were before and the way they are now. There were about ten of us when we set up Merigar, and we used to sleep in a row in the same room. People who want to go back to that time should do the same thing, but in that case not even the Gonpa would be enough for us all to sleep together: we would need a whole concert hall. So, we have to think about this a bit. And those who say that seeing the teacher is compli­ cated should not think only of themselves, they should consider that there are many others too. Nowadays I am in contact with thousands of people in the Community, not just thirty or forty, and among these thousands there are many who, instead of giv­ ing me something to strengthen me just want to take. Those who want to give are very rare. In this way the teacher becomes like a cow for milking: you milk the cow one day and the next, and when there is nothing left to milk you slaughter it. You see,


what happens is something like this. But as it is better not to slaughter anyone, you have to leave some room, you have to respect the teacher's space. I have heard someone say, "The teacher is enlightened, and so he never gets tired." But I have never said I am totally enlightened, that I am not made of flesh and blood. And this doesn't apply only to me. I see that even if they are said to be enlightened and perfonn miracles all teach­ ers eat, sleep, go to the toilet and do everything just like other people. You must have your feet on the ground and reflect a bit. Teachers can get tired, and even if they are courageous like Bodhisattvas they have physical bodies that have limitations. So you shouldn't think that the teacher is distant and that you can't talk to him or her. Certainly, if you have something important to say you can talk to him or her, but if it is only to chatter nonsense that means treating the teacher like a rubbish bin. In general, before talking to the teacher it is better to ob­ serve yourself a bit, in that way you might find the answer for yourself. It is better to be one's own teacher or master rather than assigning this job to someone else. That is why the teacher, and above all a Dzogchen teacher, teaches us to observe our­ selves and to discover our own condition, and always asks us all to become responsible tor ourselves. Why do teachers ask these things? It is not because they are worried about being both­ ered, but because they know very well that always turning to one's teacher is not a solution. The solution lies in observing ourselves and resolving our own problems by ourselves. Then, if we have no way of finding a solution, the teacher can cer­ tainly help us. If everyone did this it would be much easier. Anybody who has something to say to me can come and speak to me directly, they don't need to make a big ceremony and take me aside to talk in private. I don't like this. Often people claim to have something very confidential to tell me, so we make an appoint-


ment. Every now and again someone has a serious problem, but in most of the cases there is no need whatever for so much se­ crecy. It is just that person who thinks that what he wants to talk about is so secret and confidential. And every now and again someone even comes and tells me, "I haven't got anything in particular to ask you, I just want to spend some time with you"! Maybe some people are afraid of the teacher, but I don't un­ derstand why, I have never tried to frighten people. Maybe some people tend to see the teacher as a general and themselves as soldiers and so they are afraid and don't know whether they can talk to the teacher. So, in the relationship between the teacher and those who follow the teaching there are all these problems, but the root of the problems is that people do not observe them­ selves. What is lacking is the Bodhichitta principle. If we culti­ vate Bodhichitta we know how to observe ourselves. In the Dzogchen teaching the principle ofBodhichitta is not the vow, that we can anyway take by ourselves, but training in observing ourselves.


Mahayana, the teaching of theBodhisattvas, talks about three trainings. In this case first of all one has to understand and then to apply. The first training is morality, that consists in learning to control one's existence. This can be done in two ways. Peo­ ple who are not able to understand circumstances must apply rules such as the Vinaya, and in this case they need to take a vow. Whereas someone who is able to understand circumstances can cultivate Bodhichitta, that is of two types: monpa andjugpa. Monpa means intention,jugpa means entering into action, ap­ plying. So, there is Bodhichitta of intention and Bodhichitta of action.


The Mahayana Sutra contains many analyses of these two kinds ofBodhichitta. In certain cases it says that Bodhichitta of intention is tied to relative truth and Bodhichitta of action to absolute truth, but these analyses are not the main thing. The true meaning of monpa is that, whatever we do we always have an intention, but that to act on that intention first of all we must discover that all our actions start from an intention. For exam­ ple, if we see a man suffering from want of food we think of offering him something to help him. So, first we have the inten­ tion to give, then the action and finally satisfaction tor the ac­ tion we have done. In this way we accumulate a positive kanna, but the same holds for a negative kanna. If we hate someone the idea might arise to do him some hann: this is our intention, then come the action and the satisfaction. So first of all there is always the intention. CultivatingBodhichitta means examining our intention and in certain cases changing it. The authentic principle of Bodhichitta is knowledge of our true condition, but knowing our condition means also knowing that we are living in the relative condition. Buddha says that everything is unreal, like a dream or an illusion. This is not an intellectual explanation: Buddha says this because this is the way things are. If we really understand this then we realize true Bodhichitta. But how can we reach this understanding? First of all by understanding the relative condition. In the Dzogchen teaching, when we use the example of the mirror we say that to understand the potentiality of the mirror we need the reflection. To have a reflection we need an object in front of the mirror. So, thanks to the interdependence be­ tween the object and the mirror the reflection manifests. The reflection is unreal, but through it we can discover the infinite potentiality of the mirror. In the same way through relativeBo­ dhichitta we can understand absoluteBodhichitta.


You can see how important relative Bodhichitta is, and it is also very important in order to live well, to have a harmonious life. But it must be applied, it shouldn't just remain an idea. Many people say that Bodhichitta is a very nice concept, but this is just to glorify or to promote Bodhichitta. Instead our aim is to understand and to find ourselves in true knowledge. If we were to start studying relative Bodhichitta and absolute Bodhi­ chitta, analysing their meaning according to the different schools, then our knowledge would be merely intellectual, and our con­ dition would not change at all. Instead if we understand the true meaning of Bodhichitta, then automatically our attitude also changes. This is true above all for people in the Community who fol­ low the teaching and sometimes jump to levels that are too high, forgetting the base we start from. Maybe someone hears about kadag and lhundrub, they hear that from the beginning every­

thing is perfect, and after having received this introduction from the teacher they think they have understood it and are satisfied, completely forgetting they are in the relative condition. Then they get a bit stale, and externally no longer manifest as they should.


On the other hand someone who has understood correctly the principle of Bodhichitta behaves properly whether or not they are bound by a rule or a vow. If the sun rises then infinite rays manifest and darkness cannot manifest, because this is the nature of light. In the same way someone who understands real Bodhichitta cannot manifest a condition that is the utter oppo­ site. So I always tell practitioners that by observing themselves they can notice whether or not the teaching is working, whether


or not they are getting realized. Someone once asked me, "How can one know when one gets enlightened?" This means think­ ing that enlightenment is something mysterious hidden some­ where, but enlightenment is like the sun: if there is the sun there is no darkness. And ifthere is no darkness how can there be any doubt? Having doubts means being in the dark, clearly there is no sun, but as soon as the sun rises we notice it and the doubt disappears. Through the three aspects of existence: body, voice and mind, we can notice whether we really understand Bodhi­ chitta. But let us remember that there is not only absolute Bo­ dhichitta, the state ofkadag and lhundrub, there is also relative Bodhichitta. In the Dzogchen teaching we always talk about integration and of the importance ofintegrating all the aspects of existence in contemplation. Tantrism speaks ofMahamudra: through the symbols knowledge arises and thus all of our existence is inte­ grated in the great symbol from which nothing is excluded. The same takes place in the state of total contemplation that cotTe­ sponds to absoluteBodhichitta. Until we have this capacity we must distinguish between relative and absolute, but when we no longer have any consideration of anything left apart called the relative, then we are in integration. This also underlies the understanding ofBodhichitta. In fact, as I often say, from the crystal many coloured lights manifest that are the symbol of tsal energy. What, then, is real­ ity? Reality is our energy. And what is the compassion of Bo­ dhichitta? Compassion, too, is our energy, it is like the light emitted by the crystal. Where does the light arise from? From the crystal. Where does compassion arise from? From our con­ dition, our potentiality, so it is one of its qualifications. If we don't understand this we can't find ourselves in integration. In our everyday life we have a lot of confusion and problems that we cannot bear, and in this way we worsen our situation. Why


have we got so many problems? Because we don't understand Bodhichitta. In the Mahayana Sutra relative Bodhichitta is also cultivated by thinking about the suffering of all beings and thinking that all beings are our parents. It is true, all beings have been our mother sometimes, our father sometimes, our children some­ times. In fact, when did samsara begin? Samsara is said to be infinite because it has no beginning or end. However some teach­ ings say that samsara has no beginning but it can have an end: so Bodhisattvas take the commitment to transmigrate until sam­ sara is completely empty and have the courage to bear suffering for the good of others. The Mahayana says that total realization manifests after three infinite kalpas. A kalpa is a very long duration of time made up of innumerable years. So it is said that courageously and tire­ lessly a Bodhisattva accumulates merit acting for the good of others, and after three kalpas manifests realization. Here, this is a good example. We, on the other hand, do not bear anything even for a year, let alone three kalpas! Sometimes a man who has to sacrifice himself for some years says, "I've had enough, I'm fed up, I can't stand it any more." And maybe he looks for some other situation, thinking he can bear it, but there is noth­ ing in samsara that can be borne unless one has some great aim. And such a great aim is that of the Bodhisattva, who bears any­ thing for the good of all beings. Let's see, for example, what happens in families. At a cer­ tain point the husband cannot bear the wife any longer, or the wife cannot bear the husband; first they bore each other very well because they were blinded by passion, but passion is tied to time, �nd time to circumstances. So, as time passes and cir­ I

cumstances changle the passion diminishes and the condition I


1 manifests somewhat differently. What happens is like a flower:

, even though it is

Jery beautiful at a certain point it withers and 42

falls. In this way one cannot bear it any more. And if this hap­ pens between two people who live together because they have decided to bear each other, you can imagine it can happen in a group. Two people have only two different opinions, but in a group of ten people there are ten different opinions, making it much harder to bear each other. At the start, people who take the commitment to work for a community are very enthusiastic and want to do many things, but after a few days they feel that someone is criticising them, that someone else doesn't agree with them, and in this way, charging themselves up and brooding they end up incapable of bearing anything or of going on. If we pass from a group to a country we can see that there are lots of political parties, of trade unions and groups fighting against each other. So, day after day they create a lot of confusion and finally, when they somehow come to a decision because in some way they must get by, they say that that is the solution. And if we move on from one nation to the whole world, maybe someone might think that uniting the nations will resolve all problems, but actually not even the countries that make up the United Nations agree among themselves. Problems are not resolved in this way. Usually everyone looks outwards, they never look at their own condition, and they think the solution will come from outside. But it is not so, the solu­ tion must come from within. Understanding this, Buddha Sha­ kyamuni and all the Bodhisattvas started by first observing their own eg01sm.


When there is egoism there is always fear. Whenever we have to do something we are always afraid something could happen. Why so? If I want to do something I must have the


courage to do it without going after everything said or every­ thing that happens. This does not mean I don't act according to circumstances. Acting according to circumstances is an essen­ tial point of the Dzogchen teaching as well as of the Mahayana. For example, as the act of killing is always harmful to beings, there arose the vow not to kill, but even the Mahayana accepts that in certain circumstances it is possible to kill. For example, if by killing one person I save one hundred others, it is much better to eliminate that person, otherwise those other hundred will die. If I have understood the situation and have the possi­ bility to act, but I don't because I am afraid of harming myself by committing a negative action, this shows I am very egoistic and my view is very limited. But Bodhisattvas are very coura­ geous: even if they have to suffer in hell due to the karma of having killed someone, in order to save one hundred people they would eliminate the dangerous person and are not limited in that way. This is what is meant by working according to cir­ cumstances. This story is recounted in the Hinayana. One day a monk met a woman who wanted to sleep with him. The monk told her it was not possible, because he was a monk who had taken a vow of chastity, but she insisted, saying she didn't care at all about his vow. The monk repeated he could not accept, even at the cost of his life, but the woman answered that if he didn't take her she would commit suicide. Then the monk told her that he didn't care if she committed suicide because he didn't want to break his vow. You see, in this story there are two views. According to the Hinayana view th� monk's behaviour is perfect because vows have to be kept even at the cost of one's life. Why so? Because if one breaks one's vow this creates a hindrance. The monk took the vow on the basis of this principle, and so he had to comply with it. However this view is a limited one. In Mahayana,


too, vows are very important, but in certain cases it is possible to break them, because in spite of the negative consequences that may arise from doing that in the same life or a future life, the principle is that of acting for others' good above all rather than one's own. So, to retum to the example, it is preferable to break one's vow in order to avoid another person's suicide. According to the Mahayana view this is not wrong. You see, that is the difference. Many people say that Ma­ hayana practitioners have great compassion and Hinayana prac­ titioners haven't, but this is not true. There is compassion in both vehicles, but in Hinayana vows are foremost, and when one adheres closely to vows then behaviour becomes a bit ego­ istic. Conversely followers of the Mahayana courageously put themselves at others' disposal. In this case the basis cannot be a rule but must be circumstances, and if it is necessary to take risks they are ever ready to do so. On the relative plane, cultivating Bodhichitta intention means cultivating the intention to realize ourselves for the good of all beings. This is the root. Applying and cultivating this intention we accumulate good actions. Why is it necessary to accumulate good actions? To lessen hindrances. If we accumulate a lot of merit we have the possibility to develop clarity and to under­ stand true Bodhichitta. If we control our intentions, when we commit some action that opposes the principle of acting for others' good, or simply of not disturbing others, then we notice it.

PURIFICATION When we notice we have done a negative action, we have to purify. We can do it, for example, by visualizing Vajrasattva and reciting the hundred syllable mantra, on the basis on four principles or tobzhi: 1. The deity before whom we confess our transgressions; 2. The means of purification, such as the hun45

dred syllable mantra; 3. Regret about the misdemeanour com­ mitted; 4. The intention not to do it again. Through these four principles we purifY everything. For example, at the beginning of the Thun we visualize the Refuge Tree and then we say Namo Guru Bhya etc.: it is also possible to purifY in this way. Remember, karma is created only when there is an intention. Suppose I am walking along a road, and without noticing it I step on a frog and kill it. In this case, even though I have cer­ tainly not committed a good action, because in any case the frog has suffered, I have not created the potentiality for a nega­ tive karma because it was not my intention to kill the frog. Rather, when I noticed it I was sorry. This is the difference be­ tween a negative action and a negative karma. Negative karma has the potentiality to produce something, to become a primary cause and not simply a secondary cause. A primary cause is like the seed that, once it has been sown, produces a certain plant. Conversely a secondary cause facilitates the growth of some­ thing else, but in itself cannot produce anything. For example, fe1iilizer that gets put on fields is a secondary cause because it makes what has been sown grow. A negative secondary cause ripens negativities and so is not positive, but on its own it can­ not produce something negative. It is very important to distinguish between primary causes and secondary causes. Without intention it is not possible to create any kind of primary cause. So it is very important to con­ trol the intention. And in the Dzogchen teaching, and, all things considered, also in the Mahayana, intention must be governed by presence. That is why we speak not only of examining our intention but we always say we should be aware. In fact, a good intention does not always correspond to a good result. I always use the example of a story told by the teacher Sakya Pandita. There is a kind of bird whose young grow up in the nest and they love their mother very much, but at a certain point


they grow up and have to fly away. But before they go they want to show their affection towards their mother, and as they don't know what to do, with great love and good intention they tear out all her feathers. At the end her children are very happy and fly away, thinking they have shown their great affection, but the featherless mother can't fly any more. As we can see from this example, a good intention does not always produce a good result for others. So in Dzogchen we talk about awareness, which essentially means understanding circumstances. But in this case too there are risks, because awareness is still based onjudgement of good and bad, that depends on conscience. However conscience is tied to logic, and so sometimes it can make mistakes. So what should one do then? The only way not to run any risks is to develop clarity, but clarity isn't developed in a couple of days. We follow the teaching and practise all our life to develop clar­ ity. Some practitioners feel their clarity increase, but many think they are not making any progress and get discouraged. In some cases this happens because they start with certain fantasies that do not correspond to reality, in others because they do not ob­ serve themselves properly or because they don't practise. In this case there is little to get discouraged about, because if there is no practice there is no effect. In general it is not easy to reverse samsara completely, and a practitioner should know that it is not possible to change every­ thing at once. But if we reduce our tension a bit, if our life is more relaxed and less complicated than before, then the prac­ tice is working. If instead our life becomes more and more com­ plicated and tense, then we are not practising properly. The prac­ tice doesn'tjust consist in reciting some words or doing Gana­ pujas and rites for the Guardians. All of these things are rela­ tive, but the most important thing is to observe ourselves and find ourselves in our true dimension. This is the principle of


Dzogchen, and when we have this principle then it is not im­ portant to recite a lot of words. But the only thing that people who pretend to have this principle and don't do any ritual prac­ tices obtain is an 'armchair realization'. Some people say, "I am a Dzogchen practitioner and so I am not interested in collective practices." Why limit oneself in this way? The principle of Dzogchen is not to limit yourself, on the contrary it is to find yourself in your own dimension, which is like the sun. The sun has infinite rays that radiate everywhere. We too have this qualification and can manifest in infinite ways, so there is really no reason to limit oneself saying, "I am such and such." However not limiting oneself does not mean not having a principle. People who have not got a principle and say they are interested in everything are just passive, like an ashtray into which everything can get thrown. Maybe a Chinaman walks past and spits into it, someone from the West puts a cigarette out in it and a child throws a sweet wrapping paper into it. But we practitioners have a precise aim, total realization, which means being in our real dimension. In this dimension a realized being can manifest as a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. What does this mean? It means that each individual has infinite potential­ ity and infinite qualifications. This is called absolute Bodhi­ chitta. If we find ourselves in true Bodhichitta these qualifica­ tions manifest automatically without any need to make any ef­ fort or plans. Nonnally we don't manifest our qualifications because we are full of hindrances. First of all we are ignorant of our poten­ tiality: that is why we need the teaching and the teacher. The teacher transmits the teaching to us and enables us to discover our potentiality, so we open our eyes and discover the true mean­ ing. This is realization, which thus is not a matter of obtaining something more, something special reserved for people inter-


ested in spirituality; it means simply finding ourselves in our condition as it is. Until we are in our true condition we do not even have any peace. Why so? Because we live in dualism, and there is no peace in dualism. John has his idea, I have another and together ' we try to make our ideas agree. For a while this can work all right, but then our agreement breaks down and a battle breaks out again. So peace does not really exist in samsara. However each individual can find inner peace by discovering the true condition and abiding in it stably. To this end instead of watch­ ing and judging others we should observe ourselves and dis­ cover our limits. The root of all problems is our ego, the so-called capital 'I'. I consider myselfbig and important, in the first position. Maybe

I don't say it because other people might think I'm rude, but I always think it. When we want to shrink the I a bit then we talk in the plural, we say 'WE', which refers to those on our side. We are the most important, the others are separate. So, usually we never give up the boundary of I and WE, and in this way everything gets gigantic: attitudes, thoughts, everything. I have an idea and I want to do something in a certain way, but ifsomeone else doesn't agree I insist and don't give an inch. What is this attitude? It is precisely a manifestation of the ego. If I relax instead, then I also find the way to respect others be­ cause I know that others have egos too. As Buddha said, taking yourself and your experience as your example you learn what the condition of others is. So, thanks to Bodhichitta I unques­ tionably understand the condition of others, I have Jess tension and I can work together with everyone, becoming flexible and relaxed instead of being like a stone in water. If we observe well we can see that most of us are not like this. Maybe we talk about Bodhichitta, about acting for the good of others and many other nice things and live in a rosy atmos-


phere, but then we remain like a stone. Usually things that are left in water get soft, but not a stone, it always remains hard because that is its condition, it never relaxes and even after cen­ turies it does not have the least idea of integrating with the wa­ ter. Even if it stays in the water for thousands of years, if we break it open it is still dry inside. In this way our ego never integrates with the teaching, all it is capable of doing is uttering a lot of nice words, like a scholarly professor who gives a talk and everyone says, "Ah, how erudite you are, what a good talk." But really he has not integrated anything in himself and his con­ dition has not changed one jot. So, the teaching must not become like this, we must inte­ grate it in ourselves, but in order to integrate it we must open a bit, that is, we must observe ourselves and understand our con­ dition. If we have understood the true sense ofBodhichitta, then reciting the Bodhichitta verses is very valuable, otherwise we do it just like a parrot that can say many things without know­ ing what they mean. Buddhist philosophical logic says that what characterizes humans is knowing how to talk and to reason. Just knowing how to talk is not enough, because parrots too can talk, and nor is just reasoning enough because some animals are able to rea­ son. In any case, it is important to understand what we do with our reason as well. In general, on taking theBodhichitta vow or cultivating Bodhichitta there are some verses to recite. In this case we must understand the meaning of the verses and follow it with our intention, otherwise it is not of much use. In general there is not much sense in Western practitioners reciting a lot of words in Tibetan without knowing what they mean, rather it is better to understand the meaning properly. It is different in the case of mantras, because mantras are universal and can always be used.


Let's take the Short Thun or the Medium Thun as an exam­ ple. In these Thuns there are only mantras, there are no verses for visualizations. In the same way in the practices of Garuda, ofVajrapani, ofVajrakilaya etc. there are only the mantras and the syllables for the transformation. There are not even expla­ nations of how to do them and how to do the transtonnations, because before doing the practices it is necessary to get the trans­ mission. Receiving the transmission does not mean just getting the mantras, there are also the explanations of how to do the visualization and the practice. Many people don't understand this, and ask me just to give a transmission and a lung, leaving it up to a student to explain the practice in detail. Sure, when I haven't got the time and there is no other possibility then I do this, but every time I have the opportunity I explain the practice to people who are interested because this too is a transmission. Otherwise it would be enough just to listen to a cassette and everything would be simpler. For the same reason it is not enough just to have a book that explains everything you have to do. Above all in the Dzogchen teaching, the principle is not visu­ alization but having knowledge and integrating everything. For example, in our Thun we do instantaneous transfonnation in the Anuyoga style by just pronouncing the seed syllable. In this case there are no explanations in the practice book because they are not necessary. If there were a lot of explanations people would ascribe greater importance to the words than to the trans­ missiOn.




Often Western people are a bit strange and think the teach­ ing is like something to take or to steal. As I have already said, they consider the teacher like a cow for milking. Certainly teach­ ers are a bit like a cow, because they give all their energy to


enable others to understand the teaching, but there are different ways to use a cow. If we try to get something out of it at all costs and then slaughter it because it doesn't give any more milk, that is not right. In the Longchen Nyingthig Ngondro it says that to follow the teaching it is necessary to have three right intentions and to avoid three wrong intentions. The right intentions are: considering oneself to be like someone who is ill, the teacher like a doctor, and the teaching like a medicine. Until the patient has been cured the doctor is necessary. Our illness is suffering and the samsaric condition, and when we realize ourselves then we don't need the teacher any more. When we take Refuge we take it until total realization, we don't say we want to take it afterwards as well. The wrong intentions are: considering the teacher to be like a deer, oneself as a hunter and the teaching as the deer's pre­ cious antlers. In this case the hunter is only interested in the antlers and doesn't care at all about the deer. Many people have this tendency and think of the teaching as something to steal and to use for themselves. Some people take one method from here, another from there, put them together and then start teach­ ing. But the foremost purpose of the teaching is self-realiza­ tion. Sure, some people want to help others, but how can they help if they are not realized and they haven't got any capacity? In that case instead of helping they just create a lot of problems and confusion. How can someone who is ill be helped by an­ other person who is ill and is not even a doctor? Moreover, the teaching is not suitable for therapeutic activi­ ties. The teaching is not a therapy, not because therapies are not valuable but because the teaching serves to discover one's true condition. Someone who has this knowledge is realized and can help others. If you want you can call this therapy too, but what I mean here by therapeutic activities is opening a practice, doing some advertising and healing people, doing a job that


gives a person a living. This is something completely different. One of Buddha's names is Great Doctor, menpa chenpo in Tibetan, but this does not mean that Buddha is a doctor who is famous and impmiant. Buddha is called Great Doctor because he is able to cure all our emotions and our samsaric condition, it doesn't mean he does some kind of workshop with some peo­ ple, curing them with massage and other things. It is important to distinguish these things well and not to confuse them. The teaching has its principle and its transmission and the teachers who transmit it do everything possible, with the greatest com­ passion, to help people who are interested in it, but they would never use the teaching for their own subsistence because this does not correspond with the principle of the teaching. Cer­ tainly, teachers eat, live in society and have to earn a living in some way, but their source of income will never be the teach­ mg. At heart, not only in Dzogchen but in all the teachings such as Hinayana, Mahayana, etc. you must get to the essence and not stop at the words or the form. In this way, for someone who understands its sense properly the Short Thun is much better than the Long Thun because it is more essential. The Long Thun works with the different aspects of the body, the voice and the mind and sometimes it is necessary, but this is not the principle. I have often said that simply being in the presence of the A is

enough, there is no need to do anything else. But this doesn't mean becoming a lazybones on the pretext that there is no need to do anything. It is enough just to observe oneself well. In one day there are twenty-four hours: how many minutes are we able to stay present and how many minutes are we distracted? Some­ one who notices these things is already a great practitioner, but anyone who does not notice even them, living in the clouds, is running the risk of becoming a lazybones.



At the beginning of the practice there is always the Refuge and Bodhichitta. The Sutra talks about seven ways to accumu­ late merit or tshogsag yanlag dumpa. The first is to hail or greet the Realized Ones. After the mantra for purifying the elements we sound A and visualize the Refuge Tree, and before all the Realized Ones we recite Namo Guru Bhya etc. Naturally it is not always necessary to use words, we can also greet the Real­ ized Ones just with our intention because they have the wisdom of quantity and quality and discern the greeting even without words. There are many ways of greeting, also with prostrations, but in any case the sense is always to show respect. The second way to accumulate merit is by making offerings. We can offer flowers, candles, incense and many other things as we usually do, but actually these offerings are based on the consideration of what our senses enjoy. However in practising the Ganapttia the main offerings are those we make with our mind, because the mind has no limits. So we make infinite of­ ferings of all kinds. The third way is confession. If we have committed trans­ gressions or accumulated negative actions we should not re­ main indifferent, because transgressions become secondary causes that can create other negativities. It is much better to purify everything before the Refuge Tree with the intention not to commit the same transgressions any more. The fourth way is to feel satisfied, and not envious, about others' happiness and success. In general we do exactly the op­ posite, and if people do something good we are envious and try to criticize them in some way. The Mahayana says that if I am satisfied because of another person's good deed I accumulate an equal amount of merit, and conversely if I am envious I just accumulate negativity.


The fifth way is to ask for the teaching, that is, to ask a quali­ fied teacher to turn the wheel of the teaching. As real teachers never look for people or pursue them to give teachings we must always ask the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas to turn the wheel of the Dharma. In this way people who are really interested can create the cause for the teachings. In tact without creating the cause there cannot be the effect. Remember, when we do the practice with the A we radiate infinite lights to receive the wisdom of all the Enlightened Ones. This is equivalent to creating the cause. The Buddhas and Bo­ dhisattvas never come knocking on our doors saying, "Here we are, do you want some teaching?" They are not travelling sales­ men selling goods door to door. People who are interested in receiving the teaching of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas must participate. If there is no participation then the first capacity is lacking. The sixth way to accumulate merit is to ask the teacher to forgo nirvana and to continue turning the wheel of the teaching for a long time. To return to the previous example, if the teacher is a cow then instead of slaughtering it we should try and make it live a long time so that many people can drink its milk. That is why we recite long life invocations for the teachers. The seventh way is to dedicate the merit to all beings, and you already know how to do this in the practice. These are the main means of accumulating merit. When one takes the Bodhichitta vow in the Yoga Tantra style, for exam­ ple, there are many verses to recite that state these means one by one. However it is important to remember these principles and to apply them in daily lite too. To take the Bodhichitta commitment we can use some verses by Shantideva in which we start by taking Refuge in the Bud­ dha, the Dharma and the Sangha. These verses say:


Until I attain the essence of Enlightenment I take refuge in the Buddha,

And in the same way I take refuge in the Dharma And in the multitudes of Bodhisattvas.

Why the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha? Because this prac­ tice comes from the Hinayana system. Usually in theDzogchen teaching we take refuge in the Guru, Devas and Dakinis. In fact in this case the Guru is everything: the teacher's body is the Sangha, the teacher's voice is the Dharma and the state of the teacher's mind is the Buddha. This is the true state ofDharma­ kaya. Taking refuge in the teacher means taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The teacher is considered in a very different way in the Hi­ nayana than in Dzogchen and Tantrism. In the Sutra one's teacher belongs to the Sangha, that is a community of at least four monks. Actually in the Hinayana the true Sangha should be made up of Arhats, Realized Ones who do not return to sam­ sara any more. In the Mahayana the Sangha is made up of Bo­ dhisattvas, but here too there is a distinction. For example, if we understand Bodhichitta and cultivate it, making it arise in our dimension then we are Bodhisattvas, but we are still on the path. Conversely the true Bodhisattva has reached a level from which there is no more returning into samsara. We don't know that we won't return into samsara: if we accumulate a lot of transgressions and are always distracted then we will have to pay the kannic consequences. In fact we are conditioned by sam­ sara because we have a kannic body and we have to eat and sleep. This means we are not realized. For example, in the Ma­ hayana only Realized Ones can donate their physical body. If someone goes to a Bodhisattva and asks for her or his head the Bodhisattva can have it cut it off and also put it back on be­ cause she or he is a Realized One. We, on the other hand, can­ not put our head back on if someone cuts it off, and we lose our life. 56

So the true Sangha is made up of Realized Ones, but sym­ bolically it can also consist of a group of at least four monks. To take vows or to confess transgressions it is necessary to do it before such a group, to which one's own teacher should belong, according to the Sutra. But as well as the Sangha there are also the Buddha and the Dharma. The Buddha is the Realized One who transmitted the path, the Dhanna is his teaching. Those who follow the teaching are the Sangha. In this case the Sangha are not considered to be totally realized like Buddha. Conversely in Tantrism and in Dzogchen the teacher also represents the Buddha and the Dhanna and is considered to be totally real­ ized. When we say NAME GURU BHY A we already are tak­ ing refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. There are other verses by Shantideva which say: Just as the Tathagatas of the past Generated the altruistic aspiration to Enlightenment Training gradually in Bodhisattva conduct, For the benefit of others I too Generate the altruistic aspiration to Enlightenment And will gradually train In the same way as they did.

Thus we observe our intention and cultivate the idea to real­ ize ourselves for the sake of all beings. Usually these verses are repeated three, five or seven times, but what is important is to concentrate on the meaning and to train our mind in this inten­ tion. Then there are other verses which say: This time my life has proved fruitful: I have perfectly obtained a human existence.

In fact the positive karma of previous lives has ripened, be­ cause if I had not done any good, in the first place I would not have been born human, and second, even being born a human I


would not have met the teacher and the teachings. The verses continue: Today I have been born in the Buddhas' family,

I have become a child of the Buddha (a Bodhisattva). From now on, at all costs

I will always act congruently with my family And in no way will I stain This pure and virtuous lineage.

In this case one can very well think of oneself as a Bodhisat­ tva: not in order to become proud and consider oneself better than others but to be careful and constantly observe oneself. The Mahayana says to act for the benefit of all beings and not just for a group. In general this is very difficult because we are very limited and always have the concept of friendship and of groups of friends. But if there are friends there are certainly also enemies, and then we are already outside the principle of acting for the good of all beings. Certainly, that doesn't mean that as soon as we start cultivat­ ing Bodhichitta all concepts about enemies disappear, but slowly they can diminish and we can open ourselves more, getting out of certain limits. In Dzogchen we talk about Vajra sisters and brothers to denote persons who are closely tied to the teaching, but really we shouldn't be too limited because who knows what relationships, including spiritual ones, we established in previ­ ous lives. The Mahayana says that all beings could have been our mother and father because samsara is infinite. If this is true then all beings could also have been our Vajra sisters and broth­ ers. As it is not very easy to get used to think in this way, there are many wc.ys to train in this. For example, in the Bodhisattva­ charyavatara Shantideva says we should train in thinking that

we and others are equal. Then gradually we should train in think-


ing that others are more important than us. For example, we can think that as we are already on the path we have the chance to realize ourselves whereas others, being totally conditioned by the passions, are ignorant of their true condition: in this way compassion arises and we give greater importance to others than to ourselves. This is already more difficult than simply thinking of being equal. More important still is mentally exchanging ourselves with others and taking the place of someone who is suffering. Even if we can't actually do it physically we train in thinking it and in having this intention. For example, once when a famous Sakya teacher called Rongton was giving teachings on the Prajiiaparamitalankara a dog started whining very loudly because someone had thrown a stone at it. Everyone was amazed when Rongton immediately started shouting too, but when they got him to lie down they saw that he had been hurt like the dog. This means that Rongton had realized that aspect of the training. It is not easy to reach such a level, but we can train in it mentally, so that the capital 'I' diminishes and finally we relax and learn to respect others

and to co-operate with them. Once taken, the Bodhichitta commitment should be culti­ vated the same way we cultivate a seed planted in fertile soil. In this case the fertile soil is the human condition that allows us to cultivate Bodhichitta and to belong to the family of Bodhisatt­ vas. The Dzogchen teaching says that the condition of the indi­ vidual is perfect from the beginning, but that if we are not aware of this then it does not correspond (to the individual's present condition). Remember the example of the beggar, who lived in a cave and went to the town every day begging for food. After having lived in the cave all his life, one day the poor man died in the direst misery. Shortly afterwards, through his clarity a realized Bodhisattva who lived on the other side of the moun­ tain saw that the stone on which the beggar rested his head evety


night to sleep contained a big diamond, but the beggar didn't know and died a pauper. In general this also happens to us, who are unaware of hav­ ing the seed of the Tathagatas or, as it said in Dzogchen, infi­ nite potentiality. We have to awaken this knowledge, cultivat­ ing Bodhichitta the same way we cultivate a seed that has the capacity to produce a fruit. It is not enough just to sow it, we also have to protect it from animals that could eat it, provide it with the water and light it needs etc. This is the view of the Mahayana, but we do the same in Dzogchen. In fact every day we do various purification practices because purifying means developing clarity, and by developing clarity we can awaken the knowledge of our potentiality.


The first cause of this awakening is awareness of belonging to the family of the Bodhisattvas. The second is meeting the teacher and the teaching. It is not enough to be born in a perfect condition in which we know how to speak and to reason and study and are intelligent; if we are very square and do not at all want to get out of our limits then we cannot receive the teach­ ing. Receiving teachings is an exceptional opportunity. Some understand it from the start, but then as time passes they no longer appreciate it or maybe they get bored. This means they no longer know how lucky they are to have had the possibility to receive teachings and to practise them. Really they should be very happy and would do better to work on themselves a bit. The third cause is compassion. Mahayana talks about infi­ nite compassion. Let's recall the difference between Hinayana and Mahayana. The Hinayana principle is controlling one's ex­ istence so as not to harm others. Conversely, the Mahayana prin-


ciple is actively doing things for the good of others. If you think about it there is a big difference. The Bodhisattva does not re­ main within the limits of vows and rules, and if he or she can act for the good of others does so at any cost. The Mahayana always gives this example. There was once a merchant who knew that a man wanted to kill five hundred merchants in order to become richer, so he decided to kill that man for two rea­ sons: first of all to save the lives of those five hundred people, and second to stop that person committing such a grave act and accumulating such heavy negative karma. After having killed the man the merchant, who had previously taken a vow not to kill, went to Buddha to confess having broken his vow; but after having heard all the facts Buddha told him not to worry because he had done that action with a good intention and not out of self-interest. So, in this case a heavily negative action is even considered positive. The fourth cause is courage. When the Hinayana talks about impermanence it says that one must devote oneself to the teach­ ing and the practice like someone whose head is on fire. If your hair is burning you can't take it calmly, you must put out the fire immediately without letting yourself be overcome by lazi­ ness. In the same way we don't know whether we will get the opportunity again to be born in a human body and to liberate ourselves, so the best thing is to escape from samsara as quickly as possible. In the Mahayana on the other hand I don't only think of myself, instead, knowing that I am already on the path and that I have the possibility to liberate myself by cultivating Bodhichitta, then I commit myself above all for the sake of oth­ ers, and I am ready to suffer, not just for one or two days but until the end of transmigration. This is the great courage of the Bodhisattva. These four causes are subsumed in the Tibetan word chang­ chubsempa, which means Bodhisattva. Chang means to purify,


and so it includes our potentiality, true Bodhichitta. Without purification there is no Bodhichitta. Chub means to understand, but how do we understand? By reading the Bodhisattvas' scrip­ tures, but above all by following a teacher and the teaching. In general


is the mind, in this case the mind that examines

intention by reasoning and is thus the base of compassion. Pa means pawo, a hero who fears nothing and is prepared to risk passing many lives in samsara for the sake of others. All these things concern the relative Bodhichitta of inten­ tion. Cultivating all these intentions strengthens our determina­ tion. But then there is the Bodhichitta of action or of applica­ tion. Any activity we carry out with our body, voice or mind that is guided by a good intention becomes Bodhichitta of ac­ tion.


In order to develop the Bodhichitta of action, in the Mahayana there are three trainings: morality, contemplation and wisdom. These three points are like a synopsis of the principles of the Mahayana. Morality consists first of all in avoiding negative actions, either through a vow or through awareness. In Dzog­ chen all the activities ofbody, voice and mind must be control­ led by presence. In the absolute neither good nor bad exist, but on the relative plane we have to develop clarity in order to un­ derstand what is good and what is bad according to circum­ stances. Until we have developed clarity we must do our best, on the basis of what is normally considered good and of good intentions. Training in wisdom or praj fi.a consists in developing knowl­ edge through the teachers and the teaching. Just using our rea­ soning is not enough. Even though we believe we are very in-


telligent, our analyses are always very limited. True knowledge is beyond reasoning and analysis. Remember the example of Milarepa in the yak hom: Milarepa had not become small, nor had the yak hom become large, yet Milarepa was sitting inside the yak hom. Telling this story it seems like a fairy tale because the ordinary mind cannot understand it, but Milarepa maintained that it was the truth. To understand this truth we must get out of the limits of our mind. In the Dzogchen teaching when we practise integration we discover that good and bad have the same principle. The Drugpa Kagyii school too has a very famous teaching, called Ronyom Kordrug, for discovering the same taste in all the activities of the six senses. Usually with our eyes we see beautiful and ugly objects, with our ears we hear pleasant and unpleasant sounds, with our nose we smell fragrances or stinks etc. How can we say that a fragrance and a stink are the same thing? Usually


remain within these limits, but when we know how to go be­ yond them we can discover that all these opposites have the same taste. So the training of wisdom or prajfia is something for reaching a level beyond reasoning. If you ask people what two plus two makes everybody answers four, it seems there is no other answer: maybe another one exist, but to find it we need to be more open. The third training is contemplation, that is the basis for un­ derstanding absolute Bodhichitta, but on the relative plane Bo­ dhichitta has an energy and a function that manifest in acting for the good of others. For this reason the Sutra, but also Maha­ mudra, insists a lot on the fact that emptiness or shunyata is meaningless unless it is connected with compassion. In the Sutra this aspect is called the union of the two truths, the relative and the absolute. In this case it may seem a matter of joining two things together, but if that were so it would always be a mental construction. This point can be easily understood in the Dzog-


chen teaching. Each individual is in the condition of Dharma­ dhatu, in the state of absolute emptiness that is the same for all beings and for all dimensions. This dimension is also called Dhannakaya. My Dharmakaya is the same as that of all other beings, but it is not only empty: it also has uninterrupted energy and function. When we discover that our essence is empty we see that movement too immediately manifests. In fact, as soon as a thought disappears another arises, and this goes on infi­ nitely. What is this continuity? It is energy manifesting uninter­ ruptedly. Compassion is part of this energy that arises from emptiness. So, these two aspects are naturally present together, they are not a mental construction. When you are in this condi­ tion you discover that everything has the same taste. The greatest help we can give others comes after having at­ tained absolute Bodhichitta, but this does not mean we have to wait until we have attained it. If I see someone falling down in the road because he is very weak and hasn't got any food I can help him get up and offer him a plate of food, but when I go away that person is back where he started. It would be better to teach him how to get his own food every day, and better still to teach him how to resolve his problem radically, maybe by us­ ing chU/en. But in order to teach him about chiilen I myself must have the capacity to use it. So, as I continue to practise and realize something, I manage to help others more and more: in the meantime I help them in any way I can. As I have already said, when we have a problem we can overcome it by purification. In Mahayana purification and con­ fession can be done both in front of a teacher and the Sangha­ like they do in the Kadampa school, tor example- and in front of the Refuge Tree, visualizing the Three Jewels, like they do in Nagarjuna's Madhyamika tradition. In any case the most important thing is the intention to confess transgressions. If there is this intention one can purify anything, there is nothing that


cannot be purified, and it is sufficient to do it in the presence of the Refuge Tree. Often Community practitioners argue among themselves, but they don't pay any attention to this because they are used to living in the social condition in which one discriminates be­ tween friends and enemies. So they are ready to argue with those they don't consider friends without thinking that among all prac­ titioners there is a spiritual relationship that is bound to last until total realization. So those practitioners who argue and in­ sult each other create many hindrances and negativities and also ruin the Bodhichitta commitment. In fact, if I really have the courage to act for the good of all beings I must start with those nearest me. If I can only stand those who are far away it means that my compassion is false, it is not genuine. Whoever has this compassion can purify any transgressions with confession. Remember, when we do Ganapuja we recite the hundred syllable mantra and do the samaya mudra, and in this way we communicate with all the Realized Ones. Why do we do this? To purify ourselves, to find ourselves in a truly pure dimension. This refreshes the spirit of our practice and allows us to observe ourselves better. It doesn't matter if every now and again we get angry and swear at someone: we are in samsara and we have our defects and our distractions. This is not


problem. The problem only arises if we don't notice it, if

we have no presence, if we aren't even able to keep our samaya that consists in the commitment to seek continuity of presence. If we have this commitment, even if we get distracted a mo­ ment, immediately afterwards we can say, "Ah, I've insulted a practitioner with whom I am connected by my samaya, I have done something wrong, I'm sorry." If there is this recognition then there can also be purification. Maybe someone might think, "I know I've done wrong, but I don't want to say so to the per­ son I've argued with so as not to appear weak." You see, this


means making the capital 'I' gigantic and becoming ever more twisted and selfish. If instead we open, it becomes easier to co­ operate with others, and training in this way day by day life gets simpler and Bodhichitta becomes something concrete.



Of the three sacred principles contemplation is right at the centre of them, and in fact it is really the main point of them all. Whenever we begin a session of teaching in theDzogchen Com­ munity we always sing the Song of the Vajra. We do this in order to bring ourselves into the state of contemplation. This is particularly important for those who already have knowledge of the state but do not yet remain in that state all the time. En­ tering into the state of contemplation together through the Song of the Vajra at the beginning of a session of teachings reawak­ ens us to the fact that the process involved in receiving teach­ ings from a Master is one of working together in collaboration through transmission, and not one in which the student is either merely passive or only engaged at an intellectual level. Following the teachings ofTantra or Dzogchen always in­ volves the principle of transmission, and this transmission is not something one can receive through reading books or through the words of an oral explanation alone. That kind of approach is more characteristic ofhow one might follow the teachings at the level of the Sutra. In Dzogchen, transmission is the life of the teaching; one cannot attain realisation without it. There are three kinds of transmission: direct, oral and symbolic. Garab Dorje was the first human teacher ofDzogchen on this planet in this time cycle. Before concluding his life in the realisation of the Body of Light he summarized his teaching in what became known as theThree Statements of Garab Dorje. The first of these statements isDirect Introduction. In this Direct Introduc­ tion the teacher introduces the student to the state of contem-


These teachings were given at Tsegyalgar, U.S.A., on October 1994.


plation through experiences of body, voice and mind. The sec­ ond statement is Not Remaining in Doubt. The student experi­ ences the state of contemplation through the transmission he or she has received in the Direct Introduction and no longer re­ mains in any doubt as to what contemplation is. The third state­ ment is Continuing in the State. This means that the student seeks to remain in the state of contemplation all the time, re­ maining in the natural condition of instant presence without correcting it when it is there, and applying practices as neces­ sary according to circumstances to re-enter the state when she or he has become distracted from it. Thus when we practise Guruyoga what we are trying to do is to find ourselves, through our practice, in the state which the teacher has transmitted, the state in which the teacher remains all the time. When we are in the state of contemplation there is no separation between the teacher and ourselves. Through Gu­ ruyoga we can enter the state of contemplation, but the teacher is indispensable in Dzogchen because without receiving direct transmission from the teacher there can be no realization. Parallel to the Direct Introduction I have just explained there are in fact two other kinds of transmission spoken of in the Dzogchen teachings. When we listen to general explanations of the teachings or to particular instructions relating to various methods such as, for example, instructions for visualizations, special examples etc., that is called Oral Transmission. And then there is what is known as Symbolic Transmission, which refers to the use by the Master of objects such as a crystal, a mirror, or a peacock feather as symbols to help the student dis­ cover the nature of the inherent potentiality of their own state, and how that potentiality manifests as energy in various way. The reason we sing the Song of the Vajra so often in the Dzogchen Community is to enable us to find ourselves in the ·

state of contemplation. When we are in that state, we are in


union with our Master, united in the experience of the knowl­ edge that he or she transmits, united in contemplation. In con­ templation we find ourselves beyond the distracted state of our habitually confused minds, completely relaxed in the naked awareness that is our natural condition. In this natural condi­ tion thoughts or emotions can arise, but they do not disturb us: we remain in the non-dual state integrated with whatever arises, without accepting or rejecting anything. Practising in this way we are able to remain in contemplation working with whatever situation or circumstance we find ourselves in. In the state of non-dual contemplation there is really nothing to do, nothing to apply. There is no need to struggle with any­ thing, everything can be left just 'as it is', with nothing to pu­ rify or transform. Then we discover for ourselves what is meant by The Great Perfection, or Total Perfection, which are both ways in which the Tibetan word Dzogchen can be translated. When we discover the self-perfected nature of our own state we understand that Dzogchen is a word that, rather than referring to a tradition or school, really refers to our own inherent condi­ tion, the 'self-perfected state' that is always there in each of us, but which is only experienced in contemplation. So contempla­ tion is the most important of the three sacred principles.



Our true nature is also called Vajra. The meaning of the word Vajra is very important for the teaching. As you know, Tan­ trism is called Vajrayana, the master who transmits this teach­ ing is called Vajracharya and everything connected with Tan­ trism is designated by the tenn Vajra. In the Dzogchen teaching the Ati Buddha symbolised by Samantabhadra is represented by the Vajra and in Tibetan is called Rangjung Dorje. In the Dzogchen Upadesha there are detailed explanations of this. Rangjung means self-arising and

dorje (Skr. vajra) denotes the true condition: this is the Ati Bud­ dha. But Ati Buddha does not refer to a particular type of being, it is a symbol of the primordial state of all sentient beings: this is the true Ati Buddha represented by the Vajra. The image of the vajra, that represents the Ati Buddha, or knowledge or un­ derstanding of the actual principle of the teaching, is only a symbol. For example, when we speak of the vajra and bell we con­ sider the vajra to be the object we use, but in the true sense the material vajra is only a symbol. The vajra I am holding in my hand right now is a symbol of the Vajra, it is not the true Vajra; nevertheless by means of this symbol we can actually under­ stand what our true nature, our true potentiality, is. When we follow the teaching and engage in the practice, the knowledge we obtain is called Vajra, and the three dimensions we realise: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Ninnanakaya, are the three Vajras. In fact, our physical body is an ordinary body, but the Vajra of the body is the true state, the true nature, of our body,


These teachings were given at Merigar, Italy, on July 1996.


that is then no longer made of flesh and bone, etc. because the flesh and bone have developed from the nature of the elements. And when we dissolve and return to our true nature our body too returns to the nature of the elements. In our real condition the five elements are represented by five colours, and the three Vajras too, symbolised by the three letters: white OM, red AH and blue HUM, are always represented within a five coloured thigle. In fact the thigle is a symbol of the Vajra because it rep­ resents the potentiality of the five elements. The same applies to the dimensions of the voice and of the mind, whose true na­ ture is called Vajra. What is the reason for the form of the Vajra? As you can see, in the middle there is a sphere that represents our true nature and our potentiality. In the real sense this is the thigle, that is a sphere without corners to connote that it is beyond all limits and has infinite potentiality. This is our true nature. If we speak of Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya, which are the three dimensions of the Vajra, the central sphere symbol­ ises the Dharmakaya, the five prongs above represent the Sam­ bhogakaya and the five prongs below represent the Nirmanaka­ ya: these are the three Kayas. Calling the prongs above or be­ low depends on our way of thinking: we often relate above and below to the concepts of good and evil. In the West people have the idea that above there are the superior things, such as para­ dise, and below there are the inferior things. With regard to the physical body, too, we deem the head to be the purest and most important thing and the feet to be impure. That is why this sym­ bol is depicted in this way. Our condition is said to have infinite potentiality. In fact this potentiality does not pertain only to Samantabhadra or the Bud­ dhas; in the first place it is our true nature. However this poten­ tiality does not always manifest because every manifestation depends on secondary causes. For example, a reflection mani-


fests in a mirror because there is an object in front of it; if there is nothing in front of the mirror then nothing will manifest. In the same way, even though our true nature has infinite potenti­ ality in the absence of secondary causes nothing will manifest, while if secondary causes are present it can produce two types of manifestations on the basis of each person's condition and capacity. In any case our true nature, or our presence, is always in its original condition because all manifestations arise from the central sphere of the vajra. It does not matter if it tends above or below, it is always our manifestation. In the same way the reflections that manifest in the mirror, whether beautiful or ugly, are always and only manifestations of the mirror. However when something manifests we immediately fall into dualistic vision: we are here and the object is there. In this case the manifestation tends below and is called 'impure vision'. In terms of the three dimensions this could be said to be the Nir­ manakaya manifestation, because the Ninnanakaya dimension is connected with the kannic potentiality. When we fall into the dualistic subject-object vision we are utterly conditioned by this idea, and this is called samsara. If instead we do not fall into dualistic vision, when there are the secondary causes everything manifests just as it is. Resuming our metaphor above, in the mirror anything can manifest with its own size, colour and form. The mirror never has the idea of being the subject with the re­ flection as object; everything manifests as a characteristic of the mirror. When we remain in the state symbolised by the cen­ tral sphere of the vajra, due to secondary causes everything manifests as it is, and this is the Sambhogakaya dimension rep­ resented by the five prongs above. According to the tantric view, the five prongs above are 'pure vision' and those below are 'impure vision'. But even though there are these two different visions their source is the same, and whatever the mode of manifestation may be- pure or im-


pure - the original condition never changes, it is always the same. In the case of the mirror, too, it makes no difference if before it there is a pig or a Buddha, but it makes a big difference for those living in dualistic vision. Seeking to be in the state of contemplation means trying to be in the thigle or sphere so as not to be conditioned by pure or impure vision. But on account of dualistic vision we have infinite karmic potentialities and in general instead of being in the nature of the thigle we are dis­ tracted and fall into the dualistic condition. The principle of the Vajra is very important. When we prac­ tise and seek to understand the principle of the teaching we need to know that all our existence is tied to the three Vajras. In tantric practice, too, if for example we transform ourselves into a peaceful, wrathful or joyous form we seek to be in the condi­ tion of the five prongs above. In fact all the Enlightened Be­ ings, who have infinite potentiality, manifest at the Sambhoga­ kaya level, and in this way their manifestation becomes a sort of example for us to follow. Nowadays many masters give initiations like Kalachakra, and many people interested in the Dharma go to receive them. The masters speak ofKalachakra as a manifestation of Buddha Sha­ kyamuni and say that even though Kalachakra is a teaching of the Higher Tantras it is still a teaching given by Buddha. We might have heard such an explanation, but in fact what is Kala­ chakra? It is the manifestation of an enlightened being, we don't know whether of Buddha Shakyamuni or of someone else, but in any case we can say that it is a Dhannakaya manifestation, that is of the sphere of the Vajra we have just spoken about. In consequence of secondary causes there arose that manifesta­ tion. In fact the Dharmakaya is like a mirror before which a human or any other type of being can stand; in every case the mirror reflects what is before it. The true Kalachakra is beyond fonn and colour: this is called Dharmakaya. When there are the


secondary causes a fonn can manifest, and thanks to that form practitioners and Bodhisattvas with the capacity to enter into contact with the Sambhogakaya can receive the transmission of Kalachakra. In this case the form of Kalachakra is the Vajra of the body; what is received in the dimension of the voice, such as the sound of the mantras, is the Vajra of the voice; and the knowledge acquired by means of this transmission by the disci­ ples with the capacity to do so is the Vajra of the mind. So you can understand that Kalachakra has the three Vajras, and this becomes an example enabling us to discover our own three Vajras. In fact when the master gives you the transmis­ sion ofKalachakra he or she introduces you to this knowledge and empowers you with the transmission. In that way, by apply­ ing the method and practice every day you start to enter into the dimension of Kalachakra. We could say that the three Vajras belong to Kalachakra, but in reality the three Vajras of Kala­ chakra are in you. In Tantrism all of these methods are the way, and the symbol itself is the way; by making use of the symbol one can achieve the corresponding realisation. Thus by means of the tantric methods it is possible to attain every kind of realisation. One of the most important commitments in Tantrism is the samaya of pure vision. In general we live in the dualism of pure and im­ pure vision and seek to be in pure vision at least during the time we are practising the transformation. Afterwards we fall back into dualistic vision, but that is our condition at present. In the tantric system, when we receive the teaching we also take a precise commitment or samaya. In the Lower Tantras like Kriya, Ubhaya or Yoga Tantra one takes the commitment to do the practice every day, and if one cannot do the whole practice at least to recite the mantra every day. But at a higher level the real meaning of the commitment is not only reciting the mantra but is above all to enter into the


three Vajras. From this point of view we can perform the sa­ dhana or a long puja transforming ourselves into the deity and visualising everything, or in a more essential manner we can seek to always be in the threeVajras. This means being in pure vision. In conclusion, we could say that in the Higher Tantras the samaya consists in training oneself in always being in pure vision. Being in pure vision or training oneself to be able to do it will certainly lead to having less problems. For example, all those who receive the transmission ofthe teachings or the rela­ tive initiations together have a collective relationship ofVajra sisters and brothers. Unlike a normal relationship, that one can change or alter, theVajra relationship cannot be undone. In gen­ eral after a few months even very close friends can become en­ emies, or one can live with someone for many years and then leave them and go and live with someone else. We cannot say that these things are terrible, the end ofthe world or things that cannot be done. Conversely with ourVajra sisters and brothers this kind of behaviour is not possible because even if we sepa­ rate theVajra relationship endures, and as it is indestructible if we do not respect those with whom we have this relationship we create many problems. Thus practitioners should always re­ spect each other, above all practitioners of teachings like Tan­ trism and Dzogchen. For a tantric practitioner keeping samaya means being in pure vision; in fact in that dimension there is no reason to have any problems with one's Vajra sisters and brothers. Conflicts only arise when we are not in pure vision. When we think and make the judgement that our friend is wrong and his ideas and atti­ tude are mistaken, in fact we are in impure vision. From these convictions arises criticism, one starts to fight and argue and problems arise. If we have such problems and are good tantric practitioners we can transform the tension and conflicts into pure vision so that the tension and conflicts dissolve. Neverthe-


less we continue having impure vision, because training one­ self to have pure vision does not mean that one has already realised it. But as in fact everything depends on our intention it does not matter if the impure vision persists. Certainly, if we think someone is bad and we do not transfonn this judgement into pure vision, all we are doing is developing our tension. That is why in Tantrism we always seek to be in pure vision. Instead in Mahayana Buddhism the essential point is to ob­ serve our intentions. By observing our thoughts we can cer­ tainly discover if we are thinking something negative about someone. If we maintain this thought we will certainly enter into action and create a negative karma. So what can we do? We can transform the negative intentions into positive ones: this is called cultivating Bodhichitta. In general it is always possible to cultivate Bodhichitta because it depends on our in­ tention. If we do not succeed in doing it because, in spite of observing and discovering that we have negative intentions we are not able to transform them, this means we are very much conditioned by emotions. In that case we need to take note of this, and bearing in mind Buddha's words that everything is unreal and illusory like a dream we should not give too much importance to what we feel. If we believe at least a bit in Bud­ dha's words we can change our ideas and not give too much importance to things, and if we are good tantric practitioners we can transform our problems into pure vision and thereby liberate them. This is a very important practice. Applying the Vajra every day consists in being aware of the Vajra. In the relative condi­ tion everything is connected to the three Vajras: material things and what we can perceive through our senses are connected with the Vajra of the body; sounds and vibrations we can per­ ceive are connected with the Vajra of the voice; and what we think, dream and judge in the day and night is connected with


the Vajra of the mind. When we really know what Vajra means we can always be present. This is the essential practice. Many people say that when they first started to follow the teachings they did their practice but that now they can no longer do it because in the evening they are tired or they have not got much time and so on. But it is not true that we haven't got time. We can't say that we haven't got time to think because we think continuously, we can't say we haven't got time to breathe be­ cause we breathe in and out continuously, and we can't say that we can't move because our physical body moves all the time. Practice consists in integrating with the three Vajras, so as to always be present. This is the most important thing. Many people think that when we speak about practice it means doing a transformation or visualisation, or a puja with chants etc., but these are relative things that depend on one's circumstances: when we have the time and opportunity we can do them, but they are not the main point of one's practice. If we are conditioned by doing pujas, chanting or doing transforma­ tions, many problems can arise because there are some prac­ tices that cannot be done in all circumstances; for example in a bus or train or car we cannot do a puja with all the offerings. So if we are travelling it may happen that we could have to wait several days before having the chance to practise. In that case we would only be able to practise on few occasions and on few days. Therefore we should not deem the more elaborate prac­ tices to be the main ones: the main practice consists in entering into our true nature, and we can find our true nature in the three Vajras. That is why the Vajra is important. The vajra has five prongs. Why are there five? Because they represent the five aggregates: form, sensation, etc., and also because in our existence there are the five elements. When we transform this condition, the five Dhyani Buddha Yab-Yums manifest. In our condition we have the five aggregates and the


five elements, that, when transformed, manifest in the Sam­ bhogakaya dimension. Why do we say that the Nirmanakaya is in the dimension of samsara? As all our potentiality and all our manifestations are contained in the three Kayas, whatever mani­ fests due to cause and effect manifests at the Nirmanakaya level: in this way impure vision arises. For example, Buddha Shakya­ muni was a Nirmanakaya because albeit enlightened he had a physical body. His state was also Dharmakaya and Sambhoga­ kaya, but in his Ninnanakaya manifestation he slept at night, woke up in the morning and in general lived in the ordinary manner. At that time in India ordinary people could have con­ tact with him because in order to see or speak to Buddha Sha­ kyamuni there was no need to have any special realisation. Bud­ dha was a normal person even though in the real sense his state was that of a totally realised being. Thus Buddha Shakyamuni is a symbol, an exemplar of the Ninnanakaya. Other exemplars are the trulkus or reincarnated Lamas ofTibet; they may not be like Buddha Shakyamuni but in some way they are deemed Nir­ manakayas. To reincarnate means to be reborn after death: according to this meaning all sentient beings reincarnate and are thus trulkus, but are not recognised as such. In Tibet the term trulku is used only for important Lamas, so what is the difference? The differ­ ence does not lie in the fact that they are Tibetan, because not even all Tibetans are trulkus or reincarnations, but rather in the consideration that a teacher is realised, and whoever has attained a high level of realisation is no longer conditioned by the po­ tentiality of kanna. Nevertheless, due to his or her great com­ passion a realised teacher reincarnates all the same to help all sentient beings, thus his or her rebirth is a free and voluntary act. In such a case that teacher is called a reincarnation and is deemed in some way to be a Ninnanakaya.


Conversely, ordinary rebirth is tied to karmic potentiality. Buddha himself said that the condition of one's present life is the product of past karma, and that one's future life depends above all on one's deeds in the present life. In fact, in this life we can accumulate fresh negative karma or, vice-versa, purify the great quantity of negative karma we have accumulated and thereby change our kannic condition. It is very important to know what kanna is and how we can intervene on kanna in our daily life. In this regard it is well to know that not all negative actions produce kanna. In order to create a karma, there have to concur intention, the consequent action and the ensuing satis­ faction. Negative karma is always connected with the emotions such as anger, attachment, jealousy, etc. When we accumulate these negative states we produce a karmic potentiality that can cause rebirth in the Animal, Hell, Preta or Asura realms and so on. This is the true meaning of samsara and of impure vision. If we are in impure vision the true cause is distraction. In fact, when the secondary causes are present our kannic potentiality brings about our fall into dualistic vision, and when we have accumu­ lated a large amount of negative karma we have little clarity and many problems. That is why we do many purification prac­ tices. Purifying means removing the obstacles that diminish clar­ ity and hinder us from more easily understanding our condi­ tion. So we have to work with the three Vajras in daily life. We are also working with the three Vajras when we practise Gu­ ruyoga connecting with the state of Body, Voice and Mind of our teachers: these are the three Vajras, and when we visualise and recite OM AH HUM we are in the state of the three Vajras. Furthermore, in the Medium Thun there is the Vajra Recita­ tion, that is one of the most important practices. The three Vajras do not pertain only to the realised ones, because the principle of all Vajras is always the same. If I am in the state of my three


Vajras it means I am also in the state of the three Vajras of Garab Dorje, otherwise I could not enter into the state of the three Vajras. When we know this then we find ourselves in this state, and at the same time we are connected with the three Vajras of Garab Dorje and with the transmission. Thus we are in the state of the three Vajras not only of our teacher but also of all the teachers, of Samantabhadra, of all the Tathagatas and of all the enlightened ones. There is no difference between the three Vajras of all be­ ings. For this reason in Dzogchen we purify the negative kanna of previous lives through the mantra OM AH HUM, consid­ ered the most powerful mantra because it represents the three states of all the enlightened ones. To practise purification it is enough to visualise a white OM, a red AH and a blue HUM in our three seats and pronounce the respective sounds. If we are also able to integrate the three Vajras with our breathing, apply­ ing what is known as the Vajra Recitation, this will make the practice even more effective. In this case we inhale indirectly, closing our glottis some­ what so that we can hear the noise made by the air, and imagine the sound OM. Those who do not know how to do indirect breathing can have some idea of it from the noise we make sometimes when sleeping. If we inhale indirectly automatically we can hear the sound OM and can connect it with the idea we have of OM. When we have finished inhaling we hold a little with the presence of the sound AH, closing our glottis. Thus we hold a little with AH, then we exhale indirectly with HUM. Naturally we should always maintain the intention to breathe with OM AH HUM. This practice is very important because it is easy to do. For example, when you are walking or doing something, if you are not distracted you can always do the Vajra Recitation, also while breathing normally. In a practice session you can apply the Vajra


Recitation in a more elaborate manner, inhaling slowly with OM, holding for a longer time with AH and exhaling very slowly

with HUM. After the exhalation repeat the exercise five or seven times. Instead in daily life, such as while walking, it is possible to do this practice in a very simple way, inhaling and exhaling normally. In this case under no circumstances should you get distracted. If you are not distracted, it is bett�r to breathe a little more deeply; in particular the exhalation must be deep and com­ plete. This also serves to improve health, to be less confused and to enter into the calm state. Our breathing is very impor­ tant. In general it is said that breath is life: in fact when the breath stops life ceases. We know that after the inhalation there is the exhalation and so on. Even if we are distracted we never forget to breathe. So it is very important to conjoin our breath­ ing to presence by means of the Vajra Recitation. If we are able to do this practice, by means of its power we can purify our negative kanna. Even if we cannot practise very much or do a purification retreat of Vajrasattva, by applying this practice in our daily life we really have the chance to purify ourselves and to obtain the signs of practice as if we were doing a Vajrasattva retreat. Moreover this practice is very powerful for co-ordinating our energy or strengthening it if it has become weakened. In general we need some protection and often we try to do the practices of Vajrapani, of Guru Tragpo and so on. If we can do the protection practice at the same time integrating ourselves in the clarity of the transformation then these prac­ tices are marvellous, but if we practise Vajrapani or Simhamu­ kha solely with the idea of seeking protection, basically we are engaging in a kind of very dualistic struggle. Thinking that out­ side us there is something negative or someone disturbing us, we manifest as a very powerful Vajrapani to destroy that outer negativity. Practice done with this dualistic view does not work very well; practice only works if we are able to govern it with


contemplation. But in general in order to have protection it is better to strengthen our energy. This is a more natural system. Thus, instead of entering into dualistic vision we simply strengthen our energy, and one of the most effective ways of doing this is the Vajra Recitation. There are various energy disorders, and those tied more to the physical body and to our dimension are related to the five elements. Some function of the elements may be lacking or be out of order. These problems can be tied to circumstances of time and place. According to Tibetan astrology, in the different periods of the year different elements are active; furthermore the characteristic elements of each individual, such as those of one's birth, too have to be taken into consideration. When the element of the year and our own elements are in conflict the functioning of our elements can be impaired or uncoordinated; but it can also be damaged by the secondary causes in which we live. When we have a weak point we can receive all kinds of negativity and become very passive, so all sorts of problems and illnesses can manifest. In this case we need to strengthen our energy. When our energy is perfect, even if there is negativ­ ity in our circumstances it is difficult for us to receive it. For example, when there is an infectious illness only some of those who come into contact with the diseased are infected. It depends on the individual's condition. Sometimes we can receive a negative provocation aimed at our family by some powerful being or by a practitioner of magic, but such provoca­ tions do not strike all the family members in the same way. Those with a weak point toward that type of energy will be the first to be struck, then gradually the others will be too. In such cases the Vajra Recitation is very important because the energy of the sound of the three Vajras is integrated with the breath that is connected with the prana and the vital energy and thus with the whole physical body. This is the best protection there is. Furthermore it is very important to maintain one's presence. 83

Even though we know how important this is we are nearly al­ ways distracted, but if we remember to do the Vajra Recitation we also maintain our presence. Thus you will notice that there are many things to learn about the Vajra. In its true meaning the Vajra is something that can­ not be changed or altered: in fact it is our own condition, that is beyond everything. It is said that the Vajra has seven qualities, such as that of the diamond that cannot be cut and so on, but in any case what you must remember is that the Vajra is our true nature. In the Dzogchen teaching, the primordial state and the Vajra share the same principle, such that the Vajra is also used to represent the state of Samantabhadra, who stands for our po­ tentiality that is infinite like that of all sentient beings. Infinite potentiality here does not mean something that can be con­ structed or produced, like a computer programme. By its very nature the primordial state has infinite qualities and thus can manifest any thing. In Dzogchen the metaphor of the mirror is used to connote infinite potentiality. It is not easy to understand what 'going beyond limits' means using a metaphor, but the mirror is a very effective metaphor. A mirror, however small, is able to reflect all kinds of things, even a very big mountain. Big is not small and small is not big, but in a small mirror we can see a big mountain: this is an example of how it is possible to break out of limits. Thus we can also understand the meaning of the term 'beyond', easy to use but not so easy to understand. If we study a tantra we often read that in the beginning there was a Sambhogakaya manifestation. For example, Samantabha­ dra manifested as Vajrasattva or Kalachakra who in tum trans­ mitted the teaching by manifesting to a practitioner. Then the tantra explains the entire mandala dimension and the path in all its details, concluding however by saying that Samantabhadra never manifested Vajrasattva and that Vajrasattva in tum never


manifested to anybody, never gave any transmission and never will. What are we to think at this point? At the start it says that everything will be explained and at the end it says nothing is true! We find it difficult to understand these things because we don't really understand what 'beyond' means. It does not mean that Vajrasattva comes out ofSamantabhadra and then explains everything. In a mirror, too, the shape of a human being or what­ ever is before it manifests, but the mirror never changes, it al­ ways remains a mirror: this is the Dharmakaya, this is what 'beyond' means. A metaphor for the Dharmakaya, that is for the central sphere of the Vajra, is a crystal ball that is always pure, clear and limpid, but which on a red table seems red and takes on the different colours of different coloured tables be­ cause those are the circumstances. Thus the crystal ball can manifest in many ways but it never changes and always remains as it is: pure, clear and limpid. This means that the Dharmakaya is thus from the beginning but that it possesses infinite potenti­ ality thanks to which it can manifest countless things without any problems. We have the same potentiality as Vajrasattva or Samanta­ bhadra: the difference lies in the fact that we have fallen into dualistic vision and have accumulated many problems. So now we receive the teachings and through the transmission we seek to reverse our condition in order to return to our own original state. We learn to enter into the state of contemplation, but we are not yet likeSamantabhadra because we have infinite kannic potentialities to purify. To purify them it is not necessary to always do the practice ofVajrasattva, prostrations or other pu­ rification systems. When there are the right conditions we can apply all these methods, but the best, most powerful and most effective purification practice is contemplation.


That is why we always seek to enter into the state of contem­ plation or of the Vajra, then we chant the Song of the Vajra and remain in contemplation integrating everything: this is the most powerful purification. Furthermore there is also the Dance of the Vajra, in which we integrate all the movements of our body and energy into the state of the Vajra. In particular, there is the dance of the Three Vajras OM AH HUM, so there are many methods for entering into the state of the Vajra. The three Vajras are the totality of our dimension. Even though right now we are still living in the dualistic vision and we think, "Here is my life, there is my world or dimension and over there is the universe," we can integrate all of this through the power of the Vajra and find ourselves in the state of the Vajra by means of contemplation, ofGuruyoga or of the Dance of the Vajra. In this way we do not limit ourselves to remaining seated in silence in the state of the three Vajras but instead, knowing that in the state of the three Vajras there is also move­ ment, we apply methods for integrating movement in contem­ plation. This is very important. It is relatively easy to have some small experience of the calm state, such as Shine, and to know how to relax when there is silence. Those who are particularly agitated or restless can find this marvellous; but our condition does not consist only of remaining seated. In fact after our prac­ tice session we get up, go out, meet people, and maybe we are more restless that before. This means we do not know how to integrate practice with our life, so it is of fundamental impor­ tance to integrate any practice with the real condition of our existence in which there is also movement. That is why it is very useful to do the Vajra Recitation when walking or doing something. The same holds for the Dance of the Vajra: even though you may not know how to do it perfectly it is very important that you succeed in integrating it in the state of contemplation. In this way you will learn that it is possible to


integrate any movement in the state of contemplation. As Mila­ repa said, any word is a Doha (song of a realised one) and any movement is a Yantra. This comes to pass when we are able to abide in knowledge and to govern, by contemplation, the three dimensions of body, voice and mind, that thereby become the three Vajras. This explanation is very useful for your practice. Try to do your best in everyday life with the awareness that in this way there is always the chance to practise. You can no longer say that you haven't got the time. Then it is also useful to learn more complicated practices, because in life we encounter different circumstances so we should not limit ourselves: a good practitioner is totally free and, seeing what the circumstances are every time she or he knows how to use the appropriate methods. Staying in the sun, jumping into water or going into the mountains are very differ­ ent situations. Practitioners too need to know how to utilise cir­ cumstances as they present themselves without needing to go looking for them. Another good reason for learning different methods is knowing how to use them when needed. We use an umbrella and a raincoat when it is raining and a nice warm over­ coat when it is very cold. Even though the overcoat may be very nice we don't use it in the summer because people would laugh and think there was something wrong with us. In the same way, when we receive a teaching we should not think that we have to always practise it. In general followers of Sutra or Lower Tan­ tra teachings have that kind of attitude, and they don't want to receive many teachings because they fear they may not be able to keep all the related commitments. This can be true, because the Lower Tantras entail many commitments, but if we under­ stand the essence of the teachings we know that the final aim of all the methods is realisation, so we can use them when neces­ sary.


I always use the example of a raincoat: if we don't need it we

put it away, but if the circumstances require it we get it immedi­ ately. Our attitude should be the same when we learn teachings, so they can be of benefit to us. Even though we may learn hun­ dreds of different methods we should bear in mind that the final goal is always the same: entering our true nature. The teaching may be Sutra or Tantra or something else, but the aim is always entering into the central sphere of the Vajra: this is the main point. The teaching is important for all sentient beings. Many don't believe in it and don't follow the teaching, but this does not mean they don't need it; they simply don't know that they have to discover their true nature. People are very caught up in dual­ istic vision and are completely focused on the ego, so they don't manage to see anything else and aren't interested in the teach­ ing. In reality, everybody needs the teaching to live everyday life with less tension and problems. Many people speak of peace on earth, but there can be no peace if first we don't have peace in ourselves. Each of us is a member of society and society is a collection of individuals living together. Thus each individual must evolve as a person. Of course political and military power can change society, but only provisionally and never truly. In fact society is composed of many individuals, each with their own point of view, sensations and feelings. If we want peace, happiness and progress everybody has to work in that direction within themselves. Society is like the aggregation of numbers: when we talk of numbers we are not considering only one and two, there are millions of numbers but if we want to count we have to start with the number one, then two, then all the other numbers. If I think of society, I am the number one; if you think of society, you are the number one. So we have to start fi·om our difficulties and our limits. If we free ourselves of our limits then many others can emulate us.


For example, when I arrived in I taly from India I only had a small suitcase. Initially I worked for an institute in Rome then at the university, and in this way I met some people interested in the teaching. At that time nobody knew what the Dzogchen teaching was, there were j ust some people who had some vague ideas about Zen Buddhism. When I met people who were inter­ ested I explained Dzogchen a bit. Initially there were two or three people, and that is how things stood for two or three years. Then those people talked to their friends and slowly the number of interested people grew to a hundred, a thousand and even more. Years ago in the West nobody knew about Dzogchen, but now many people know about it and many masters teach it. In fact people have understood that in order to be able to under­ stand their true nature and to enter into their true condition Dzog­ chen is very important. So, that is an example in which I am the number one. If we want peace on earth the only thing to do is to develop awareness and knowledge of our true nature. It is not enough for representatives of two or three countries to meet in some big city and have a nice reception. I believe peace is only possi­ ble if people work on their own condition. It is very important for practitioners on the path to know these things. Becoming practitioners also means having this responsibility.




The third sacred principle is the Dedication of Merit, which is a practice that is inseparably linked to our intention. When, for example, we do a long-life practice, we do it because we want to have a long and prosperous life with as many positive factors influencing it as possible. But if that were to be our only intention, it wouldn't be enough. We need to ask ourselves why we want a long life. We should not just want to prolong our lives in order to have more time for our business or for our political interests. We should practise long-life practices be­ cause we wish to live for a long time in order to attain realiza­ tion. If we live longer we will have more time to practise, and if we are prosperous we will have less obstacles to interfere with our realization. And the purpose of realization is to benefit all sentient beings; this is why we are on the path. We must be aware that the infinite sentient beings to whom we dedicate any merits arising from our good actions and prac­ tice have no knowledge of the teachings or of the path. This means that they experience infinite suffering. So we are seek­ ing our own realization not just for our own benefit but with the awareness of the infinite suffering of all the infinite numbers of beings in samsara. If we really develop this awareness there arises a real rather than an artificial compassion. The Buddha taught that we should observe ourselves, and that through observing our own condition there would arise the wish to benefit others. If, for example, we imagine ourselves in the place of those who are not on the path we can understand how infinite their suffering is. Such beings have no guarantee of liberation, and that is very heavy. 6

These teachings were given at Tsegyalgar, U.S.A., on October 1994.


Those of us who are on the path have made a connection through which we are not only able to receive and practise the teachings but, what is more, through the power of this connec­ tion we have a real guarantee that we will one day attain reali­ zation. We have the good fortune to have learned many meth­ ods, some of which, if we use them correctly, can even bring us to realization in this very lifetime. But we must not only think of ourselves, we must remember the suffering of all sentient beings, and thus cultivate Bodhichitta, the aspiration to arrive at realization for the benefit of all those other beings, applying this Bodhichitta in a way that is alive and concrete, with a real compassion that is not just a matter of words. Sometimes people speak a great deal about Bodhichitta and love tor others but they never actually observe their own thoughts or intentions at all. Then everything they do can become a little like the games politicians play. Politicians promise all sorts of things, but often don't keep their promises once elected. For example, a certain party might continually make promises that if they are elected they will provide everything the people need free of charge. But once they win the election they conveniently forget whatever they promised to get people to vote for them. Unfortunately, we sometimes do just the same: we grandly claim to be practising compassion for the benefit of all beings, but if we were to really observe ourselves and the way we actually behave in our lives, we would notice that in fact we never even relax our tensions enough to get along with our own friends or with our sisters and brothers of the Vajra. We don't even have compassion for those close to us, let alone all sentient beings. This kind of falsehood clearly does not correspond to real Bo­ dhichitta, to the real expression of a pure intention to benefit others. We accumulate merits through practice, particularly through the practice of contemplation. In fact, when we practise some-


thing as profound as the Song of the Vajra and we find our­ selves in the state of contemplation, we can accumulate infinite merits. And then again, when I give an explanation ofthe teach­ ings and you try to understand this knowledge through your intention and through collaborating with me in the field oftrans­ mission, you can accumulate infinite merits. We should then dedicate these merits to all sentient beings. Once the merits have been dedicated, they always develop: they can never be destroyed. But ifyou have not dedicated your merits and you become distracted, losing your awareness perhaps in the experience of a strong emotion such as anger, you can de­ stroy in that one moment of anger the accumulation of thou­ sand ofkalpas of merits. That is what the great master Shanti­ deva, author of Bodhisattvacharyavatara, The Guide to the Bodhisattvas 's Way ofLife, said. But if you have already dedi­

cated your merits, they can never be destroyed, they can only accumulate. For this reason we dedicate our merits to all sen­ tient beings using the following verses in Tibetan: Geva diyis gyevo gun Sodnam yexes cog z6g xiii Sodnam yexes las jy iifivai Diimba guiiis tobbar xog1

These words of invocation were composed by Nagarjuna, and it is good to use them at the end of a session of teaching. Geva means 'virtuous actions' or 'merit', which we have

accumulated through practice, listening, sitting in a meditation posture, and so on. All these things require effort and therefore


Dge ba 'di yis skye bo kun Bsod nams ye shes thsogs rdogs shing Bsod nams ye shes las byung ba'i Dam pa sku gunyis thob par shog.


accumulate merits. Diyis means 'with these'; so the first two words mean 'with these merits' which we have accumulated. The next two words,

gyevo gun,

mean 'all sentient beings'.

Sodnam yexes refers to the two accumulations: the accumu­ lation of merit which derives from good actions (sodnam) and the accumulation of wisdom (vexes, non-dual awareness wis­ dom) which derives from the practice of contemplation and meditation.

Cog zog

xinmeans 'accumulating'. So we express

the wish that all beings accumulate the two accumulations of merit and non-dual awareness wisdom through the merits we have accumulated with our practice.

Sodnam yexes las

means 'from these two accumulations of

merit and wisdom'; andjviiiivai means 'that come', or 'that develop'.

Difmba guiiis tobbar xog means

'may they attain the

two sacred realizations or dimensions'. The realizations referred to are the Dhannakaya and Rupakaya. The Dharmakaya is the aspect of realization beyond all limits of form, the dimension of 'emptiness' that is the inherent condition of all phenomena and the state of realization of all enlightened beings. And Rupakaya means the dimension of the myriad fonns that manifest as the spontaneous play of the fonnless energy of the Dharmakaya. Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya are two dimensions of re­ alization not referred to in these verses but which are commonly spoken of together with Dharmakaya as the three Kayas. Sam­ bhogakaya and Nirmanakaya are both aspects of the dimension of fonn. Sambhogakaya is the dimension of form in the pure manifestation, in which the fonnless Dhannakaya manifests as the essence of the elements which is light, while Nirmanakaya is the energy ofDharmakaya as it manifests in the impure mani­ festation of fonn. So the physical manifestation of the Buddha as Buddha Shakyamuni is, for example, a Ninnanakaya mani­ festation. The attainment of the two Kayas, Dharmakaya and Rupakaya, mentioned here, is really the same as the attainment of the three Kayas. 94

So in this invocation, using the words ofNagarjuna we are expressing the wish that all beings may accumulate the two ac­ cumulations of merit and non -dual awareness wisdom through our accumulation of virtuous action in the teaching activity or practice that we have just participated in, and we wish that through the merits and wisdom that come from our practice all beings may attain the realization of the two bodies. Then we always add the mantra: OM OHARE OHARE BHANDHARE SV AHA JAYA JAYA SIDDHI SIDDHI PHALA PHALA 'A A HA SHA SA MA MAMAKOLING SAMANT A. This is a very powerful mantra used to empower and to make our practice real or concrete. It is not just an invocation. Since we are not yet realized beings and lack sufficient power, we need to use the potentiality of this mantra to empower our prac­ tice. JAYA JAYA SIDDHI SIDDHI PHALA PHALA 'A A HA SHA SA MA MAMAKOLING SAMANTA is a mantra with which we empower our capacity ofknowledge and understand­ ing of the Base, the Path and the Fruit, the three fundamental aspects of the teaching. JAYA means victory and represents the understanding of the Base. From the very beginning our real nature, our real Base is the 'victorious' condition of the self-perfected state, a state that has overcome all obstacles. With this mantra, we empower our practice through knowledge and understanding. We repeat JAYA twice: the first time we use it, it represents our real con­ dition, or Base; and the second time it represents the recogni­ tion that we are actually now in that real condition, in the state of presence, in contemplation. We have actually entered into the understanding of our real nature, which is what is meant by the word Base. 95

SIDDHI means 'attainments'. Here the wordSIDDHI stands for the Path, or meditation. On the path we generally meditate. Why do we meditate? To attain realization. But we must re­ member that the attainments referred to here are not something we acquire newly. They are aspects of our real nature which is self-perfected from the very beginning. All that is necessary is that we find ourselves in our real condition that has always been there from the beginning, but from which we have become dis­ tracted. So the wordSIDDHI is used here in recognition of the fact that it is by means of the practice, the Path, that we do actually find ourselves in our real condition, a condition which in Dzogchen is called the state of lhundrub, the self-perfected state. Then we repeat the word PHALA twice; PHALA means knowledge of the Fruit. We generally have the idea that it is at some day in the future that we will become realized. Realiza­ tion is seen as something that will come later for us. But in the deepest sense, our real nature is self-perfected from the begin­ ning. And actually finding ourselves in this state of knowledge is what is meant by PHALA, real experiential knowledge of our own condition as the Fruit, understanding the actualization of our practice to be realization itself. Thus using these words JAY A JAY A SIDDHI SIDDHI PHALA PHALA we empower our practice with knowledge of the Base, the Path and the Fruit. Then we continue, empowering our practice further by recit­ ing the syllables 'A A HASHASA MA which represent the six spaces ofSamantabhadra. Samantabhadra is not only the name of the Ati Buddha, the primordial Buddha. It also refers to our inherent potentiality, our real condition. This real condition has six aspects or manifestations, because it is arrived at through reversing the causes of the six realms of samsara, which proc­ ess the use of these six mantric syllables activates.


Finally we recite the words MAMAKOLING SAMANTA. Reciting this mantra, we continue in the state of instant pres­ ence empowering everything in our lives with contemplation. We continue in the state of contemplation so that every circum­ stance in our daily lives becomes practice. We can see from this discussion that whenever we practise or apply the teachings it is essential that all our intentions and activities should be connected to the Three Sacred Principles. It is important that we understand these principles and ensure that no aspect of them is missing from our practice. We must be aware of them at all times: in the practice of Dzogchen every­ thing in our lives is totally integrated, and nothing is left out.




byang chub sems dpa' 31,61


bcud len 64

Drugpa Kagyii

'brug pa bka' rgyud63


rdzogs chen 12,13,23,24,26,27,28, 29,30,31,32,33,36,37,38,39,41,44, 46,47,48,51,53,56,57,58,59,60,62, 63,67,68,69,71,76,81,86,92

Garab Dorje

dga' rab rdo rje 67,81


dge lugs pa 34


guru drag po 82


'jug pa 38


ka dag 40,41


bka' gdams pa 34,64


bka' brgyud pa 34


bla ma 25,79


lhun grub 96

Longchen Nyingthig

klong chen snying thig 52


lung 51

Menpa chenpo

sman pa chen po 53


smon pa 38,39


sngon 'gro 26,52


mying ma pa34


dpa' bo 62

Rangjung Dorje

rang byung rdo rje71


rong ston 59

Ronyom Kordrug

ro snyoms skor drug63


sa skya pa 34

Tampa sum

dam pa gsum23

Thegpa chenpo

theg pa chen po 31


thig le 72,74


thod rgal7


thun 46,51,53,80


stobs bzhi 45



khregs chod 7


sprul sku 79


rtsal 41

Tshogsag yanlag dumpa

tshogs bsag yan lag bdum pa 54