Sakya Chronicles

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H.E. Asanga Rinpoche and the Auspicious Rainbow

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On the 27th of April, when H.E. Asanga Rinpoche was on the rooftop of his residence in Manali preparing for the Guru Yoga Puja for the 29th of April, Rinpoche was looking at the text. Then, as if knowingly, he suddenly looked up at the sky and said: now let's look up and see what's there. And when everyone looked up, they all saw a circular rainbow above them. Rinpoche said that he knew there would be something special because usually when doing things in relation to H.H.Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche, such as making offerings on his parinirvana, or even preparing for such occasions, such things occur.

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H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche Bestows the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada Teachings

By Kirsten Throneberry

 

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On February 5th, 2017 the Sakya family, ordained sangha, and Sakya Monastery members were overjoyed to welcome His Eminence Khondung Avikrita Vajra Sakya Rinpoche and His Eminence Khondung Abhaya Vajra Sakya Rinpoche back to Seattle. The Dhungseys were warmly greeted by Her Eminence Dagyum Kusho, their paternal grandmother, and wife of our precious guru the late His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang as well as their parents H.E. Zaya Vajra Sakya Rinpoche and Dagmo Lhanze Youden. Traveling with the Dhungseys were their teachers.

It has become a much-anticipated tradition for the Dhungseys to visit Seattle during their university’s winter recess. Both are attending Dzongsar Institute in Bir, India where they are engaged in rigorous studies of the varying aspects of the Buddha’s teachings. Even though the visit took place during their break, the Dhungseys, as usual (and in true bodhisattva fashion) gave tirelessly of themselves in order to bring benefit to others.

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On February 12th H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche arrived at the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism an hour before the scheduled Sunday Chenrezig practice in order to spend time with the youngest members of the Monastery. Children from the Sunday Dharma School spent time with both of the Dhungseys in a relaxed environment talking and working together to create origami. On the same day, after Chenrezig practice, Avikrita Rinpoche offered a refuge ceremony.

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A few days later, H.E. Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche bestowed the initiations of the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada over a three-day period, starting on February 18th and lasting through the 20th. The teachings began with a preliminary teaching given by H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, which focused on the importance of creating the proper state of mind before taking part in the initiations (or any similar Vajrayana practices).

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Abhaya Rinpoche reminded us that as Vajrayana practitioners, we must consider the suffering not only of ourselves and those we love, but of all sentient beings. He reminded those present that the Mahayana is called the “greater vehicle” because it asks its practitioners to consider the greater goal of enlightenment for all, rather than the liberation of just oneself.

He explained that although all beings are good by their nature and hold within themselves the seed to become enlightened, not all will have beneficial circumstances in which to practice the Dharma. Many experience obstacles that prevent their spiritual development including; bad habits/defilements, negative associations which lead away from the path, deprivation or being led from the Dharma, and/or being oppressed so that they cannot access the Dharma.  For others, they won’t even have had the great good fortune to attain a human birth. Even for those who have had the good fortune of a human birth, there are many who do not understand the laws of karma, the true nature of impermanence, or the reality of the pervasive suffering of samsara.

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Abhaya Rinpoche’s reminders helped elucidate the great opportunity that lay before those present. His Eminence explained that Shakyamuni Buddha taught that purification is the result of one’s conduct, not one’s birth.  Therefore, we must nurture our inner goodness and recognize the need to work to overcome defilements rather than feed them and make them stronger. He counseled those present to develop a sense of urgency about releasing oneself and others from samsara, noting that in every single moment there lies the opportunity to practice the Dharma for the sake of all beings.
 
After H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche’s preliminary teachings, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche began the instruction on the practice of Marici (the Goddess of Dawn) the first of the Six Vajrasanapada practices. He explained that these practices comprise a rare set of teachings within the Sakya traditions and were brought to Tibet by the great translator Bari Lotsawa, who later gave them to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (the first of the five founders of the Sakya tradition).

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Avikrita Rinpoche shared that the Marici practice was used with great results by many Sakya masters for centuries, and has offered vital protection on the path. He also expressed dismay over the fact that such a singularly effective method for pacifying outer obstacles isn’t more well-known and strongly hopes for its revival within the Sakya tradition.
 
Avikrita Rinpoche reminded us that, although in samsara, it is possible to experience occasional moments of happiness—these moments are fleeting and impermanent by their very nature. Whereas, Arya Marici represents true, unrelenting bliss. He shared that the introduction of Marici to the world, came from Shakyamuni Buddha himself and can offer profound help by removing outer obstacles as well as discordant emotions such as anxiety, stress, fear, and anguish. Avikrita Rinpoche said that even just by knowing her name, one’s problems could be pacified.

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However, he cautioned those present that the key to success while engaging in her practice (as well as all Vajrayana practices) is the cultivation of true bodhicitta. In contrast, when we only think of our own benefit, or the benefit of those we love, we will not be able to unlock the power or blessings of such practices.
 
The second initiation bestowed by Avikrita Rinpoche was of Blue Acala (also known as the Immovable One) in the kneeling form. Avikrita Rinpoche shared that Bari Lotsawa told Sachen Kunga Nyingpo that he needed wisdom to succeed in his spiritual endeavors and said the best way to cultivate such wisdom was through Acala’s practice (a profound endorsement of this practice indeed). Consequently, this practice was used by the Sachen Kunga Nyingpo to overcome obstructions during his first retreat. Blue Acala, he said, is the foremost in defeating Mara (the archetypal force of negativity) and offers profound efficacy in clearing away inner obstacles. By reciting daily just one mala of his mantras, one can overcome the most series degradations.

At the start of the second day of the Vajrasanapada teachings Avikrita Vajra Rinpoche, gave teachings on the Long-Life Buddha at the Bodhi Tree practice. The Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya India was where Shakyamuni Buddha manifested perfect enlightenment and his blessings, streaming through this unbroken lineage, remain available to practitioners today.  

Avikrita Rinpoche began this part of the teaching by sharing that he is often asked what the idea of the Buddha actually means. He explained that in Tibet, the word for Buddha is Sang-gye. The first syllable of the word means to purify all that needs to be purified. Whereas the syllable ‘ye’ means to develop all that needs to be developed. Therefore the Buddha, he said, is ‘one who possesses the two kayas, or wisdoms.’ The first of which is the Dharmakaya—primordial purity—an expression of clarity and voidness as inseparable.  The second is the Rupakaya and has two aspects, the Sambhogakaya—an expression of the complete enjoyment body arising through immense accumulated merit, and the Nirmanakaya—an emanation body that arises in Samsara to help ripen and liberate wandering beings.

Avikrita Rinpoche also emphasized that specific manifestations of the Buddha’s energy, i.e. wrathful, female, male and so on, should not be regarded as different in nature (less than or greater than). The variety of manifestations have to do with our disposition rather than the actual nature of that enlightened energy. He also cautioned that we should not view the Buddha as our omnipotent god but rather we should correctly see him as our teacher. And although he can point the way, we must walk the path.

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The fourth initiation/teaching given by Avikrita Rinpoche was on Buddhalocana (the Goddess of the Buddha’s eyes). Her practice is considered to have profound healing power. He acknowledged that for some in the West, there might be feelings of skepticism about the ability of a mantra or meditative practice to heal disease. However, he reminded those present that there are different kinds of medicines, some that tend to the outer issues (or the physical) and some that address the inner issues (the mind). He explained that is important to keep in mind that even though they may appear unrelated, outer afflictions are in fact expressions of inner afflictions. Which is why it’s so important to get at the root issues of each illness. He cautioned that the aim of such healing practices is not to look for a panacea but rather to create conditions in which one can live long enough and well enough to be of help to others.
 
The fifth initiation given during the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada teachings was on the Three and a Half Syllable Avalokita mantra, a practice to help in the development of undisturbed sleep as well as cultivating peace, longevity, and healing. When speaking of the importance of Avalokiteshvara, Avikrita Rinpoche immediately referenced his precious grandfather, the founder of the Sakya Monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Seattle, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Dorje Chang. He shared that at the last meeting between his grandfather and H.H. Sakya Trizin, he carefully studied the interaction and exchanges made by these extraordinarily precious teachers. One of the things that struck him most deeply (while witnessing the beautiful and special way that they interact with one another) was when his grandfather shared that one of the things he was most grateful for in his life was having been able to introduce so many beings to Chenrezig.  Avikrita Rinpoche explained that this is why it is so important that here, in Seattle specifically, we keep this mandala.

Avikrita Rinpoche explained that Chenrezig remained H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang’s primary practice to his very last day before entering parinirvana and it also remains the main practice of the Sakya Monastery.

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On the final day of the teachings Avikrita Rinpoche  bestowed the last of the six sacred Vajrasanapada practices, Trisamayavyuha or the Buddha Establishing the Three Vows. This practice allows initiates to purify negativities that might otherwise hinder spiritual practice or the ability to maintain vows. He explained that six deities comprise the essence of practice—six aspects that we need to focus on when mediating and practicing sadhanas.  We should also keep in mind that the tutelary deity is the sum of these six deities.

He emphasized that it might feel overwhelming at times, working with the gross mind to gain wisdom, but he encouraged his students not to give up. He said that if we just apply ourselves even a little, it can cause profound effects which lead us ever closer to our Buddha nature.

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Following this final initiation, Avikrita Rinpoche bestowed (to those who were able to attend all six initiations) a special transmission and instructions for all of the practices. This was followed by a long-life mandala offering for Avikrita Rinpoche in gratitude for the profound and rare Vajrasanapada initiations that he gave with such great compassion and clarity.

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Only a few days after the completion of this retreat, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche performed a special Sakya version of the Mahakala puja on February 25th. Mahakala is the protector deity of the Sakya Monastery and although those without his initiation are typically unable to attend his practice, on this special occasion they were allowed to be present.

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On the following day, H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche gave a Chenrezig initiation, the very expression of the quintessence of the Buddha’s compassion. The children of the Dharma School were invited as his special guests for this initiation, where he expounded on the importance of developing bodhicitta for the sake of all beings. The initiation was followed by a farewell potluck for the Dhungseys who returned to India (and their studies) on the 1st of March.

As students of the Buddha Dharma, we might be inclined to fantasize about what it might have been like to be in the presence of Shakyamuni Buddha over 2500 years ago, marveling at the great good fortune of those who gathered around him to directly receive the benefits of his unparalleled teachings and blessings. However, we should also marvel at our own great good fortune, our ability to gather around those who (through an unbroken lineage) allow us to have continued access to the Buddha’s profound blessings and instruction. We might mistakenly think that because this access if available now, the same circumstance will always exist. However, as the Buddha so eloquently taught, impermanence is an inherent part of existence and therefore we never know when our life will end or when our access to such teachings and teachers might be interrupted.
 
With this in mind, we can deepen our appreciation of not only our precious gurus, H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang and H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche and H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche, but of all of those of the Sakya lineage (and all ordained sangha) who have given so tirelessly of themselves that we might have this precious opportunity to liberate ourselves and others from the relentless suffering of samsara. It is truly impossible to conceive of, or show gratitude equal to, the efforts that have been made on our behalf but we do have something to offer in return—the cultivation of bodhicitta and our determination to practice with great dedication and devotion until we finally become like those who’ve shown us such boundless compassion.

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Bilingual Transcript of H.E. Abhaya Rinpoche's Preliminary Lecture for the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada

"In his illuminating introduction to The Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada in Seattle on Feb. 18th 2017, H.E. Khondung Abhaya Vajra Rinpoche outlines the all-important preliminaries required before receiving higher initiations in Tibetan Buddhism, clarifying the essential aspects of the Mahayana path to be studied, contemplated and cultivated for a fruitful Dharma-practice."

 

Firstly I’d like to welcome all of our dharma sisters and brothers here today. Personally I feel so fortunate to receive these teachings that we will be receiving this weekend from such an amazing teacher, who happens to be my brother.

For me when I receive these teachings, I don't view him just as my brother but as one of my most important gurus. And when I receive these kinds of Vajrayana teachings, I always try to remember the key points of refuge and bodhicitta, and the other factors that qualifies us to receive these teachings, so that we can ensure that we have the right mind set. And just like our Guru His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang would always say to us that before going into these things, to first go through the preliminary teachings. So today I just want to share with you what I try to remind myself.

And doing these preliminaries doesn’t just help us with our practices or these teachings in particular. But they can change our whole lives really. They can make our lives much more meaningful, and if we really put them into practice, we can live happier and we won’t die with any regrets.

And I know that many of you might be quite seasoned Buddhists, even Sakya veterans. But I think it is important to constantly remind ourselves of the preliminary teachings, and not to neglect what could be thought of as "baby steps". Because if you really feel you got this, that you are done with all of this, then congratulations, you'd be a Buddha.

And receiving these teachings is not just about the lama doing all the work, and us just sitting back and just believing in them. But we really need to put these preliminaries into our hearts and keep them in mind.

— Spiritual Family

The first thing I want to reflect on today is something called Spiritual Family. In Sanskrit we say ‘gotra’, and in Tibetan it’s called ‘rig’. Now what spiritual family means is basically the seed that all sentient beings have to attain liberation from samsara. The Buddha explained that everybody has the seed to become a Buddha, and that our basic nature is goodness. Now many people as we know may seem to be bad people. One might even think "oh, I’m a bad person". But what we are trying to say is that everybody has the potential to change.

However, there are obstacles to developing this gotra—spiritual family. The main four obstacles are firstly having bad habits of afflictions and defilements, and feeding into them. Where, for example, if one has issues with anger or feels too attached to something, but they think, "well, this is just how I am, I can’t change" where they just can’t be bothered to change. Things like that.

The second obstacle is having negative associations, like having bad friends or even teachers who we may think are good but actually influence us in the wrong way, and lead us onto the wrong path.

The third obstacle to developing gotra is poverty or deprivation. We are not saying if you are poor, you can’t practice, because even monks are generally supposed to be poor. But it means not having access to reach the dharma. Also when people are in poverty and have overwhelming needs, they can only be just focused on surviving, and can’t practice properly with all the preoccupations.

And the fourth obstacle is being under the power of others, not having freedom. Like in some countries where people are oppressed and can’t practice properly. So these are the four obstacles to developing gotra—spiritual family, which we must overcome.

And then for people who have this gotra, there are normally four signs that would implicate its potential, which are naturally having great compassion for sentient beings; showing in interest in the Triple Gem— the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha; having strong patience; and then, being virtuous. So when one has these signs, it means one has gotra.

So each of us has the same potential to join this spiritual family and attain enlightenment. And gotra does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, caste or whatever you are born into. We are all equal in that way, which everybody already knows. But the fact that the Buddha said these things, that he taught and promoted social equality in ancient India, that was actually revolutionary. For instance, the Buddha once said that, “purification is the result of conduct, not of birth.”

So yeah, we all have the basic nature of compassion, of being good, even if one thinks that oneself doesn't have. Like just as when we find something in ourselves, something non-virtuous, like just a little anger, but then we feed into it more and more, and then it becomes bigger, and then we do bad things. So just like that, if we look at ourselves and find something, find a sliver of compassion or some virtue, that can also be developed, if we just focus on that and apply ourselves. Everybody has compassion, even the worst people we can think of have some, like even if it's just for their own mother or, if they can't manage that, maybe just for their dog. Some people have it whereas some are still yet to develop it. Either way we just need to nurture the seed so that it can sprout into full Buddhahood.

Now I feel this gotra is very important to contemplate, especially for us in the modern world, where there is a lot of insecurity and lack of confidence, and even self-hatred. It's been brought to my attention and I feel is more and more common. And it’s not just in the younger generation, but I noticed surprisingly a lot of adults go through it. They may just ignore it but don't realize that it is actually a big obstacle. And I think it should be addressed. So keeping this in mind - that we all have the same amazing potential - really helps.

Sometimes this insecurity can be caused by not being able to express our thoughts and emotions properly, not being heard or understood, and a lot of loneliness. Sometimes people just want to be a part of something, to give some meaning to their lives. And this won’t last forever if we choose to do something about it. You see when we deal with this, it’s not about suppression, trying to push down these thoughts and feelings, or trying to force them to stop. Even if they seem wrong, like anger or attachment, we need to know how to respond to them rather than react to them. It’s about understanding them and standing under them, as we say. The Buddha said that these afflictions are all temporary stains, and the nature of mind is clear light. So self doubt and all these things fall into the category of temporary stains, not our true nature. We just need to have trust in our Buddha nature.

For example, when we do bad things, we shouldn't judge ourselves as a whole, because that leads to guilt, which is an unhealthy affliction. Because guilt means "I am a bad person", and that can lead to wrong view. But rather, we judge the actions that have been committed. We do need to feel some remorse or shame, but it doesn’t mean we need to beat ourselves up about it. We just need to learn from them, and respond accordingly, so that our morality and wellbeing develops. So then when we commit misdeeds, we need to lay them open and lay them aside before the Triple Gem, because the Triple Gem is the object of refuge that shows the proper way. Then we can purify our misdeeds by doing more virtues.

Also sometimes people might think that they are very hard done-by, that they go through so much suffering. And maybe they do. We’re not denying what people feel. But we need to remember that it’s not all about you. The Buddha explains that there are countless beings in samsara, beings suffering in the worst states of existence possible, which we can’t even conceive of. Maybe that is a bit hard to really imagine, but if we just look at other people in the world right now, like children in third world countries, who have nothing, no education, or people living in war-torn regions like Syria, who live in constant fear. So we must be a bit grateful, especially when we do have some education and social mobility. Those hard conditions for you can change. So it’s important, like I said, to have faith in our potential to optimize this human life, so that we can become enlightened beings who can free all other sentient beings from suffering.

One of the most important parts of the Buddhist life is having spiritual companionship. And the Buddha said that, “the first and most important spiritual friend is the goodness in yourself.” Also Shantideva once said that, “when we become aspiring Bodhisattvas, we become part of this spiritual family, and so like a family, we can’t cause shame to it, and we must represent it honorably.”

One way I feel is very important to motivate ourselves is to remember that all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, they all started out just like us, filled with afflictions. They weren’t born perfect. So if we just listen, contemplate, and practice and meditate, we can definitely become just like them. And you don’t need to be a monk or a nun to practice or meditate.

Another thing I feel can motivate us, which I use a lot, is to remind ourselves every day about death. Because everything in life is uncertain, except for one thing, and that is death. Just like Jetsun Dragpa Gyatsen, one of the five founding masters of Sakya once said that, “our whole lives, we all keep preparing and preparing, but only to meet the next life unprepared.” So we must think about the future, but not get caught up in it. We must be aware that we are going to die, so what can we do that’s really meaningful? Like, we might feel like we are enjoying ourselves right now. In our normal lives, we first go to school, we graduate, and then we get a job, raise a family, and so on, and that can be very fun for a time. We do enjoy ourselves. But then we grow older, we grow older, and then we retire, and then people around us start passing away, then our children grow up and they move on, and then we are just waiting to die. It’s true. It's one of the things that made me choose this lifestyle— to become a Buddhist monk. And then before death, we get this kind of empty feeling and we feel regret and think about all the things we could have done, and it can get very depressing and scary. So when we recognize this, we naturally cultivate bodhicitta, and then we really become part of this spiritual family.

And when we are practicing, we must remember that there is nobody in the sky judging you, saying that you are a sinner, and you should do this, you shouldn’t do that, because in Buddhism, nobody can judge you. Not the Buddha, not your teacher, but only yourself. And we don’t promote the lie that you are intrinsically bad or you are destined for hell, because our nature is pure and good. The Buddha said that, “you can be your own savior or your own worst enemy.” “You are your own witness,” he says. So you don’t need to worship or surrender to some god or try to merge with some perfect being. It’s all about you realizing and recognizing your true nature, which always has been and always will be pure and good. All this imagery you see, it’s all there to represent that. The statues and paintings - sometimes it may seem quite remote, and exotic, wonderful, but it’s not for us to worship them as such.

You see the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, they are all there to help us on the path. Like the Sangha, which is the community of monks and nuns, they may sometimes seem to be like an elite group. But just like the Buddhas, they all start out just like you. And they can become a resource for merits, and they are always there to help you with your practice and answer your questions. Normally when we talk about the Triple Gem, we say that the Buddha guides us on the path; the Dharma is the path itself; and the Sangha supports us on the path. So if we can lead this kind of Dharma life, it can leave a great impact on not just others but ourselves in our next life, from all the merits that we develop.


— Refuge

Now since we are about to receive Vajrayana teachings, which are very deep and advanced, there are prerequisites to obtain an initiation. The main thing is of course refuge. So if you are wondering what is the definition of a Buddhist, it’s basically one who goes for refuge to the Triple Gem. Sometimes people say ‘take refuge’, but we really only ‘take refuge’ when we are done, once we are enlightened. So it’s better to say ‘go for refuge’. And it’s not about being a good or bad Buddhist really. It’s about whether we are going to be a Buddhist just in name or truly practicing Buddhists.

So with refuge, there are two main ways, which are the Hinayana way and the Mahayana way. The Hinayana, which means lesser vehicle, is where one recognizes the Four Common Foundations, which we will get to later on, that there is suffering and so on. And so they practice to be free from suffering and attain personal liberation. The Mahayana starts out the same, we first recognize the suffering of samsara. But then we remember that it’s not all about me, but that all the sentient beings in samsara suffer just as much, and even more than us. And just like us, they all want happiness. And they have the same right as we do, so how can we escape samsara alone and leave them to suffer? So that’s why we practice and meditate to free all sentient beings from samsara, for all of them, including ourselves, to attain full perfect enlightenment.

And here we are all Mahayana practitioners. At least we try to be. But being Hinayana doesn’t mean we are totally selfish. It’s just that they focus more on their own liberation whereas the Mahayana aspires for a greater goal, thus we say ‘the greater vehicle’. And we must remember that it’s all the Buddha’s teachings anyway, even though our motivations are quite different.

So then we go for refuge to the Triple Gem, because we know that the Triple Gem is the only source of refuge that can truly free us from samsara, the wheel of existence or cycle of life.


— Bodhicitta

Then we have bodhicitta, of which there are two types, aspiring bodhicitta and engaging bodhicitta. Aspiring bodhicitta is the motivation, the aspiration to attain enlightenment; and then engaging is applying ourselves onto the path to enlightenment for that purpose.


— Four Common Foundations

And then what motivates us on the path to start with is contemplating on the four common foundations, which are 1) the difficulties of obtaining human birth, 2) the law of karma, 3) impermanence and 4) the suffering of samsara.

Now human birth alone is extremely rare, as told in the classic Buddhist story of the blind turtle in the ocean that only surfaces once every hundred years, and the likelihood of him popping his head through a randomly floating yoke or ring on the sea's surface. So not only do we have this human birth, but we also have the 18 leisures and connections, such as having a healthy human body, access to the dharma, and so on. So this really is the perfect chance to practice the dharma. And we might as well say this is the only chance because once we die, there is no telling where we will be reborn and how long it will take for us to obtain a human birth again.

So we must balance the fact that life is rare but death is also certain. And the worst part is that we don't know when we are going to die. It’s one of the annoying things about impermanence. Some people live for very long time whereas some die before they are even born. There is no telling when it will happen.

Now we do talk about how everything is suffering. But then some might think "if everything is suffering, then why do I feel happy sometimes? Why do I feel happy when I listen to a nice song or eat cake or something?" We are not saying we never experience happiness. Life can be pleasurable. But all of the happiness that we experience is all reliant on these outer objects, our sense pleasures, whereas the uncontaminated bliss which we are striving for isn’t reliant on anything on the outside but comes from within. Like we can enjoy ourselves by going to a party one night, hanging with our friends. But then the next morning, it’s all over. It just becomes a memory. It’s like a dream that has been dreamt, as we say. So how does all the pleasure and fun we had affect our future and the next life? And since the cycle of samsara is beginning-less, we can assure ourselves that we have had all the pleasures in all our countless past lives countless times. We’ve had everything; we’ve been in the heaven realms; we’ve been kings and queens; we’ve been the richest people of all… So there really isn’t any worldly experience that we haven’t experienced any more. And we can’t even remember all those pleasures we had, so it won’t make a difference for the next life. But that’s why now we have the dharma. So we must take this rare opportunity to finally get out of this cycle of suffering.

There is also the Buddha’s life story, which many of you already know. But one important part we can learn from is when he was Siddhartha, he had everything really, he could’ve literally been the king of the world. And he had all of the money, power and fame possible. But he still wasn’t happy. And he saw that that was not true happiness. So the more we understand and see that we are suffering, the more we can deal with it, whereas by just ignoring it and kidding ourselves, we are only creating more suffering. And the suffering of samsara is evident even in the small ways, which we can see, like with wealth. When we are poor, we want what we don’t have, and we suffer to get it. But then when we do have wealth, we are in constant fear of losing what we have. That’s why the Buddha taught the Sangha to be content with what we have. Basically any kind of wanting for something or desire is suffering.

So it’s not about denying yourself pleasure, or forcing suffering upon yourself but it’s about facing the truth. Sometimes we say that the first and most important thing is to be dispassionate, disenchanted, and really just sick and tired of samsara, because we know that our whole lives and all our lives are bound by what these four common foundations are about. That’s why the Buddha saidthat we need to develop this sense of urgency to get out of samsara. And as Mahayana practitioners, we should want it even more, as we see that everybody is suffering.

— Four Noble Truth

Now this may all seem quite sad and gloomy, but this is only the first truth that the Buddha taught – the truth of suffering, because then the Buddha taught the second truth—the origin of suffering. Now most religions talk about the origins of human kind and universe, but the Buddha taught the origin of suffering, which is desire. Here desire means the basic affliction of attachment that conditions our lives due to the root grasping at duality, the mistaken idea of self and other. So it’s that conditioning that needs to be abandoned, because once the cause is gone, the result is also gone. So once we transcend desire, there is no more suffering.

And then the Buddha taught a way to end suffering as a whole rather than temporarily, and that end or cessation is nirvana. And how we get there is the path. There are many ways to explain the path, such as the five paths, the eighth-fold path, but today we can break it down into three main parts, which are view, meditation and conduct.


— View – Four Axioms of Buddhism

Now view covers so much, but the main thing is to understand the four axioms of Buddhism. Normally along with refuge, one who accepts the four axioms can be called a Buddhist. So the four axioms are that 1) all compounded phenomena are impermanent; 2) everything contaminated is suffering; 3) all things are empty and selfless; and 4) nirvana is true peace.

It is easy to say that everything is impermanent and empty, but actually throughout all the years that we spend in colleges of higher Buddhist studies, like in Dzongsar, all of our studies essentially revolve around these four axioms of what they mean and entail. And it can take many more years to fully understand the depths of what they convey. So when we say compounded, it means that any kind of form that can be seen or anything that is heard, it is all perceived by our senses, so compounded really refers to how all these things are compounded of interdependent factors, of many atoms and molecules; and how nothing comes into being on its own, but is interdependent, produced by causes and conditions. So this is the part where you can brag to your friends on how Buddhism is just like science, because it is. And because phenomena are produced by causes and conditions, they aren’t permanent, as they are ever changing. Sometimes people feel that science is the enemy of religion, but for us, it’s actually the opposite. Buddhism is a science of mind, and it can complement modern science, which is why usually when I come back here, I take science lessons from Dr. Chris Rebohlz, who I’m very grateful to.

Then we say things are contaminated, because they all depend on the senses. So they can’t truly satisfy us by giving us only temporary happiness, because we always end up falling back into suffering.

And then we say things are empty and selfless. This doesn’t mean we are nihilistic, saying that nothing exists. The problem with self is our grasping to it, grasping dualistically, thinking that something has it’s own invisible and illogical identity. We are not suggesting that I’m not me, or you are not you, but it means that because everything is interdependent, nothing is on it’s own, thus it’s empty of it’s own inherent or intrinsic nature. So when we see things as permanent, it becomes a wrong view. Another mistake would be if people go for this idea of non-self, but only because they don’t like themselves. But it’s not about that. It’s about stopping the grasping that occurs when we don’t understand reality. So once we’ve destroyed this grasping at its roots, we then have nirvana, which is freedom, because nirvana means the end or cessation of all grasping or karma. And as a result, there is no more suffering.


— Meditation

Now it’s not enough to just know all of these intellectually or to just believe in these axioms out of mere faith. But we need to practice in order to realize them. These four axioms must become not just ‘a’ view, but ‘your’ view. And thus to make it our view, since that can’t be done with ordinary intellect or intuition, we go into meditation. There are many ways to meditate, but normally they all fall into two main categories, which are calm abiding and special insight. Although special insight is the main way to achieve the view, the two go together and are equally as important.

So why we need calm abiding is because if we don’t learn to calm our minds, and try to go straight into special even hear songs playing in my head, even ones I don’t like. So that's why it’s important to train our minds to access a subtler awareness. So when you practice this, it makes the mind and body calmer, and blissful. As we develop it, the mind becomes clear and reduces negative emotions. Because if we just want to be just relaxed or just chilled out, we can just visit the local spa or go for a drink with our buddies. But things like that, drinking and intoxicants, they only make the mind dull and just indulge the senses, whereas calm abiding makes the mind clear and aware, which is much more blissful.

Calm-abiding meditation is not something you can just learn from a book. But to really meditate, you do need a teacher. So once you find the right teacher, you then listen, contemplate and practice. And so you start with short sessions, then progress to longer sessions gradually. And as we practice more, we’ll notice our negative emotions are fewer, and the mind becomes clear. So once we have this, we use that clarity and calm for developing actually realization. It’s like if you have a dirty telescope, and if the lens is dirty, we can’t see what we are trying to look at. But if we wipe away the dirt, everything becomes clear. So with a clear mind, it’s like having new eyes, as we achieve a kind of higher level of vision. So once you have this, you then go into special insight where you take a topic like impermanence or non-self. And so with these new eyes, you understand it more, and you see it in a whole new way without having to think about it.

There are many stages for calm abiding, but the foundation of it is to first establish the seven-point posture, to find a quiet place to practice, a comfortable seat and so on. But most important of all, calm abiding can only start when we cultivate mindfulness, which is being in the present moment. And not just in our formal meditation sessions, but in all of our everyday lives, to keep our negative thoughts out but keep in virtuous objects in mind. We practice mindfulness when we are walking or lying down, all the time in fact, so there really isn’t any time when you can’t practice.

And we don't do this just for our own benefit, it’s the way of practice that we need to keep loving-kindness and compassion in our minds. One method we can employ to keep a stable, proper loving-kindness and compassion is to first think about your most loved one, the person you love the most in your life. Not like how you would love Taylor Swift, but somebody you feel personal love for, that who has been the most kind to you. And then you extend it to somebody you feel neutral for, someone we don't know, like a person you see walking down the street. Then we extend even further to somebody who is harming or has harmed you the most, who might be hard to have a compassion for, and might be termed as an enemy. So in that gradual process, we then recognize that just as our mothers in this life has been so kind, so every single sentient being in the samsara has at one point being our beloved mother, father or partner, friend, child and so on. So then we can spread that immeasurable loving-kindness and compassion throughout the world.


— Conduct

Now it won’t work if we just sit down, think about compassion and call that Buddhist meditation, when we just punched somebody in the face earlier on. That’s why we go into conduct. In our conduct, we are accumulating merit by living a virtuous life, so that our practice becomes stable and focused, and our mind isn’t flooded with negativity or guilt. So with the proper conduct, the main things to refrain from are the ten misdeeds, which are killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, deceitful speech, abusive speech, divisive speech, malicious gossip, ill-will, covetousness and perverse views. So we refrain from these behaviors, because we recognize the results it has upon ourselves and others. And then the ten virtuous deeds come into being when we live a life free from the ten unwholesome deeds. So on that basis in the Mahayana, we then practice engaging bodhicitta through the Six Transcendent Perfections, like generosity, morality, patience and so on, as well as the Four Matters of Gathering. Like for generosity, the Buddha said that, “if everybody knew the karmic result of being generous, nobody would not give at least a little of everything they had.” And the Buddha didn’t say these things like commandments, where he gave a list of rules that we need to abide by whether we like it or not, but he explained the results of these actions which we can see for ourselves, and so we choose whether we want to live by these virtues or not.

So this is all the accumulation of merit, and this is combined with the accumulation of wisdom. Now one can get rid of negative emotions with just the accumulation of wisdom to an extent. But with both accumulations combined and completed, we can be rid of all mental blocks and poisons, even the most subtle imprints in our consciousness. And only then we can become fully complete Buddhas. And we need to manifest as complete Buddhas in order to be of optimum benefit to help free all sentient beings from suffering, which is why we cultivate the two bodhicittas as diligently as possible.


—  Resultant Mahayana

So all these things I say are in the category of causal Mahayana, which is needed for the resultant Mahayana, which the Six Dharmas of Vajrasanapada are in the category of. The resultant Mahayana is more commonly known as the Vajrayana, and with the Vajrayana, we take initiations to bring about much quicker transformation of body, speech and mind, and become Buddhas much quicker than is possible in the causal Mahayana alone. And we call it causal Mahayana because we are cultivating the cause of enlightenment in our practice whereas in the resultant form, we take the actual result of enlightenment as already present in our continuums and cultivate it. We are allowed to do this advanced form of practice once our continuums have been ripened through initiation, which is why the Gurus who bestow these upon us are so amazingly kind.

So in that way, we are all so incredibly fortunate to receive not just one but six very special initiations and the profound instructions on how to practice them from Avikrita Rinpoche. So I hope that we can all keep these points, especially on love and compassion, and then have every confidence that we can make the most out of this special weekend. So whatever merits may have come from these reflections I have sharedwith you today, and from your diligently listening and contemplating, let’s now conclude by reciting the dedication prayers together.

 


MANDARIN CHINESE

2017年2月,萨迦法王子无变金刚仁波切在西雅图萨迦寺给予了金刚座尊六法灌顶。灌顶开始之前,由其胞弟萨迦法王子无畏金刚仁波切给予前行开示。在这段发人深省、条理清晰的教法中,法王子强调了在藏传佛教中接受灌顶之前所必需的皈依、发菩提心等受法准备,同时也是行者在大乘修习道路上直至成佛都需要不断闻思修的要点。

 

首先,我要欢迎所有今天到场的法友。我个人感到非常幸运,这周末将从如此令人赞叹的上师处接受这些法教,而这位上师刚好是我的兄长。对我而言,当我接受这些法教时,我不仅将他看作兄长,而且将其视为最重要的上师之一。当我接受此类金刚乘法教时,我总是试着回忆皈依与菩提心的要点,以及令我们有资格受这些法的其他要素,以确保自己拥有正确的心态。就像我们的上师金刚持 吉札·达钦法王总对我们说的,在开始这些之前,要先完成前行教法。所以今天我只想与各位分享我试着提醒自己的内容。

修持前行不仅对我们的修法或这些法教特别有帮助,而且可以真正改变我们整个生命。前行可以让我们的生命更富意义,而且,若真正将之付诸实修,我们会活得更快乐,不会带着任何遗憾死去。

我知道你们许多人可能都是老弟子,甚至是萨迦派老修,但我认为不断以前行教法提醒自己,不忽略可能被认为是婴儿学步的内容,是很重要的。因为若你真觉得自己懂了、完全掌握这些了,那么恭喜你,你就成佛了。

而且,接受这些法教,不是仅由上师来完成所有工作,而我们只要闲坐着相信上师就好,而是意味着我们需要真正把这些前行法铭记于心。


— 灵性种姓

今天我想要思维的第一项内容叫做“灵性种姓”,梵文里称为“郭德拉”,藏文叫做“利”。基本上,“灵性种姓”意指一切有情众生都具有的、从轮回中解脱的种子。佛陀解释说,每个人都有成佛的种子,我们的本性都是善。而我们所知的许多人可能看上去是坏人,有人可能甚至觉得自己就是个坏人。但我们试图要说的是,每个人都有改变的潜能。

然而,发展这种灵性种姓存在障碍。障碍主要有四种,第一种为具有烦恼和染污的坏习气,并喂养它们。例如,某人有嗔怒的毛病,或过于执着某些东西,但他们认为:“我就是这样的人,没法改变。”其实他们只不过是不肯费心去改变,诸如此类。

第二种障碍是不良的交际。例如往来于恶友,甚至我们可能觉得是好的上师,但其实对我们有负面影响、引我们误入歧途。

灵性种姓成长的第三种障碍是贫穷或匮乏。我们不是说你如果贫穷,就不能修行。

因为一般来说,哪怕僧人都本应是贫穷的。这贫乏的意思是指无法接触佛法。当人们贫穷、被需求压倒时,他们只能专心谋生,心存所有那些思想负担,无法好好修行。

第四种障碍是被人统治、不具自由。比如在某些国家,人民受到压迫,无法好好修行。这些就是发展灵性种姓的四大障碍,是我们必须克服的。

而对于拥有灵性种姓的人来说,通常有四种迹象暗示着它的潜能,分别是:1)对有情众生自然具有大悲心;2)对佛法僧三宝显露兴趣;3)有很强的安忍力;以及4)具有善德。当某人具有这些迹象时,便意味着他具有灵性种姓。

要成为这个灵性种姓的一份子并臻得证悟,我们每个人都拥有相同的潜力。灵性种姓并不因不同的种族、性别、世袭种姓、出生背景而有所差别,我们在这方面完全平等,这所有人都已知晓。但佛陀在古印度阐述这些,教导和提倡社会平等,那其实是具有革命意义的。例如,佛陀曾说:“清净是行为的果,而非出身的果”。

是的,我们都具备慈悲本性、善的本性,即使你认为自己并不具有。就好像当我们在自身发现一些不善的东西,比如仅仅一点嗔怒,而我们却喂养它,越喂越多,它就会变大,于是我们就会做坏事。就像那样,若我们观察自身,发现一丝慈悲心或一些善德,若我们专注于此,并努力培养,那慈悲心或善德也可以成长。每个人都有慈悲心,即使我们能想到的最坏的人也有一些慈悲心,即使只是对自己的母亲。如果连那都没有,也许他们对自己的狗会有些慈悲心。一些人已然具有慈悲心,而另一些人则尚待开发。无论何者,我们都需要培育那颗种子,让它萌芽,长成圆满佛果。

我感到对灵性种姓进行思维,是非常重要的。尤其身处现代世界的我们有许多不安全感、缺乏自信,甚至是自我憎恨。我注意到这个现象,而且感到越来越普遍。我惊讶地发现,不仅年轻一代,而且许多成年人也在承受这些,他们可能只是忽略了它,却没有意识到这其实是个很大的障碍。我认为这个问题需要被处理。所以记住:“我们都具有同样不可思议的潜能,”这真地能够有所助益。

有时这种不安全感的成因可能是无法恰当表达自己的思想和情绪、不被聆听或不被理解,以及强烈的孤独感。有时人们只是想要成为某些东西的一部分,以赋予人生些许意义。如果我们选择采取行动,这种情况就不会一直持续下去。当我们处理这种情况时,这无关乎抑制。不是试图压抑这些想法和感受,或试图强迫它们停止,哪怕它们看起来是错误的,比如嗔怒或贪执。我们需要知道如何“回应”而非“反抗”它们。这关乎所谓的“理解并立于其下”(understanding them and standing under them)。佛陀曾说这些烦恼都是客尘(暂时染污),而心的自性是澄明的光。自我怀疑等所有这些,都属于客尘的范畴,并非我们的真实自性。我们仅仅需要相信自己的佛性。

例如,做了坏事时,我们不应对自己整个人进行批判,因为那会导致罪恶感。这是不健康的烦恼,因为罪恶感意味着“我是个坏人”,而那会导致错误的见地。相反,我们应当对所作所为进行评判。感到一些懊悔或羞愧是确实需要的,但这不意味着我们得苛责自己。我们需要的仅是从中学习,并相应做出回应,从而德行成长,安乐增上。然后,当我们犯下恶行,我们需要在三宝前坦承忏悔并放下,因为三宝是指明正确道路的皈依对象。之后我们可以通过更多地行善来清净恶业。

另外,有时人们可能觉得自己境遇不公,蒙受诸多苦难。事实也许的确如此,我们不否认人的感受。但我们需要记住,这一切并非只关乎你。佛陀解释说,轮回中有无量众生,一些众生在我们甚至无法想象的最糟糕的生存环境中受苦。也许那真的有点难以想象,但我们可以看看现今世界上的其他人,比如第三世界国家的孩童,一无所有,不能接受教育;或在饱受战争摧残的国家,例如叙利亚,人民生活在持续的恐慌中。所以我们必须心存些许感恩,尤其我们确实能受些教育、有一定的社会流动性,你的那些难处是可以改变的。如前所述,相信我们的潜能,可以充分利用这个人生,以成为证悟者,能令一切其他众生从痛苦中解脱,是很重要的。

佛教徒人生中最重要的部分之一,就是要拥有善知识(精神友伴)。佛陀曾说:“首要的善知识就是你自身的善。”另外,寂天也曾说过:“当我们成为发心菩萨时,我们就成为了这灵性种姓的一份子。所以就像一家人一样,我们不能让家族蒙羞,而必须体面地代表家族。”(“今生吾获福,幸得此人身;复生佛家族,喜成如来子。尔后我当为,宜乎佛族业;慎莫染污此,无垢尊贵种。”——《入菩萨行论》第三品 受持菩提心)

我觉得能激励自己的一个重要方式在于,要记得,所有诸佛菩萨一开始都和我们一样,充满烦恼,他们不是生而完美的。所以我们只要听闻、思维、修行与禅修,就一定能变得与他们一样。而且你不需要成为一名出家僧尼才能修行或禅修。

另一个我自己常用的、觉得可以激励自己的方式,就是每天提醒自己死亡这件事。因为生命中一切都不确定,除了一件事,那就是死亡。正如杰尊·札巴·坚赞,萨迦五祖之一曾说:“我们终其一生都在不停准备、准备,但面临来世却措手不及。”所以我们必须思考未来,但不要陷入其中。我们必须意识到自己终将死亡。那么有什么真正有意义的事是我们能做的?我们现在可能觉得过得挺愉快的。在正常生活中,我们首先上学、毕业,之后找到工作、养家糊口,等等。那些可能一度非常有趣,我们的确过得很快乐。但之后我们变老、退休,周围的人开始去世,孩子长大成人,他们离去,然后我们就只能等死了。这是真的。这是让我选择出家这种生活方式的其中一个原因。于是在死前,我们有种空虚感,感到懊悔,思及自己本来能完成的所有事情,可能会非常压抑、恐怖。所以当我们认识到这点,就能自然而然地培养菩提心,于是就能真正成为这灵性种姓的一份子。

当我们修行时,必须牢记,并没有人在虚空中评判你,说你是个罪人,说你应该做这个,不该做那个。因为在佛教中,没人能评判你,佛陀不能,上师也不能,只有你自己可以。而且,我们不宣扬你性本恶或注定下地狱这样的谎言,因为我们的自性是纯净善良的。佛陀曾说:“你可以是自己的拯救者,或最大的敌人。你是你自己的见证人。”所以你无需敬拜或臣服于某些神明,也无需试图与某些完美者相融合,这完全是关于你了悟、认出你的真实自性。你的真实自性一直以来、以后一直都是纯净美好的,你看到的所有这些塑像和画像都是为了表现这一点。那些形象有时看起来非常久远、奇异、美妙,但它们本身并非用于供我们敬拜。

佛法僧都在道途上帮助我们。例如僧伽,即僧尼团体,他们有时看起来像个精英团体,但就如佛陀,他们一开始都和你一样。他们能成为你的福田(福德的来源),一直与你在一起,帮助你修行,回答你的问题。通常当我们谈及三宝,我们说佛在道路上指引我们;法是道路本身;僧在道路上支持我们。所以如果我们过的是这种佛法人生,那么源自我们长养的所有功德,能极大影响他人及自己的来世。


— 皈依

由于我们即将接受非常高深的金刚乘教法,获得灌顶是有前提条件的,主要当然是皈依。如果你想弄明白佛教徒是什么,其定义基本就是皈依三宝的人。有时人们说“受皈依”,但只有当我们已完成、已证悟时,才真正接受了皈依。更好的表达方式是“寻求皈依”。此外,这真的不是关于做一个好佛教徒或坏佛教徒,而是关于要做个名义上的佛教徒还是真正实修的佛教徒。

皈依主要分两种方式,即小乘与大乘。小乘,意为较小的车乘,承认四共基础,我们晚点会讲到,即存在苦等等。所以他们修行的目的是离苦,达到个体的解脱。大乘的出发点相同,我们首先承认轮回之苦。然后我们要记得,这不是全都关于自己。轮回中一切有情众生都同样在受苦,甚至比我们更苦。就像我们一样,他们全都想要快乐,他们与我们享有同等的权利。那么我们怎能独自逃离轮回,留他们于此受苦呢?因此我们修持、禅修,是为了让一切有情众生,包括我们自己,都从轮回中解脱、都臻得圆满正觉。这里我们都是大乘修行人,至少我们试着成为大乘修行人。但修行小乘并不意味着完全自私,只是他们更多关注于自身的解脱,而大乘发愿达到更宏大的目标,所以我们称之为大乘。我们必须记得,无论如何,即使我们的发心颇为不同,这些都是佛陀的教法。

所以,我们向三宝寻求皈依,因为我们明白三宝是唯一能够真正令我们从轮回中解脱的皈依处。轮回意即存有的转轮,或生命的循环。


— 发菩提心

然后,灌顶前行的第二个要义是菩提心,分为两类:愿菩提心与行菩提心。愿菩提心是动机,是达到证悟的愿心;而行菩提心是为了这个目标而在证悟道上努力而行。


— 四共基础

能在修道上激励我们的,是对四共基础的思维,即:1)人身难得;2)因果业力;3)无常;4)轮回之苦。

仅是生而为人就极其希有。正如经典佛教故事所述,生而为人的概率,就犹如大海中有一只盲龟,每一百年浮出海面一次,刚好将脑袋从一只在海面上任意漂浮的牛轭或圆圈中钻出的可能性那样低。而我们不仅拥有人身,而且还具足“八有暇、十圆满”,比如拥有健康的人身、能接触佛法等等,所以这真的是修行佛法的完美机会。不妨说这是唯一的机会,因为我们一旦死亡,便不可预料将转生何处、要多久才能再获人身。

所以我们必须权衡人身难得而死亡却必然这两件事。最糟的部分是我们不知何时会死,这是无常的一个恼人之处。有些人非常长寿,而有些人还没出生就死了,死亡何时发生无可预料。

我们说一切皆苦,那有些人可能会想:“如果一切皆苦,那为何我有时会感到快乐呢?为何我听一首好歌,或吃蛋糕时等等,会感到快乐呢?”我们不是说我们从不会经历快乐。生活可能会很愉悦,但我们体会到的所有快乐全然依赖于这些外物和感官愉悦。而我们所追求的无垢大乐,则不依赖于任何外物,而是来自内心。例如,我们可以参加一晚派对,与友人共度快乐时光。但第二天早上,一切都结束了,就变成回忆而已,就好似所谓的一场梦。那么我们曾经历的所有乐趣如何影响未来和来世?而且既然轮回的循环是无始的,我们可以确信自己在无数次的过去世中,已然无数次经历了所有乐趣。我们曾拥有一切,我们曾生活在天道,我们曾是皇帝、皇后,我们曾是最富有的人……真的没有任何世俗体验是我们没经历过的,但我们甚至记不起曾拥有的所有那些快乐,所以对来世也不会造成什么差别。但这就是为何我们现在拥有佛法,我们必须利用这希有的机会最终脱离这苦的轮回。

还有佛陀的生平,你们许多人都已了解。但我们能从中学习的一个重要部分是,当他还是悉达多的时候,他真的拥有一切。他本来的确可以做转轮圣王,而且拥有可能的一切钱财、权利和名声。但他仍不快乐,他看到那些不是真正的快乐。所以,我们越能理解和认清自己在受苦,我们就越会处理它;相反,若仅仅忽略它、欺骗自己,我们只是在制造更多的苦。轮回之苦哪怕在小处都显而易见。我们都能亲眼看到。比如说财富,当我们贫穷,就想要自己没有的东西,我们为了得到它而受苦;而当我们拥有财富,却不断恐惧会失去所拥有的,所以佛陀教导僧伽要对自己的所有感到满足。基本上任何种类的渴望或欲望都是苦。

这不是说要拒绝享乐或强迫自己受苦,而是要面对实相。有时我们说最首要的事是不动感情、不抱幻想,真正地厌倦轮回。因为我们知道我们整个人生、生生世世都被四共基础所约束,所以佛陀说我们需要生起这种脱离轮回的紧迫感。而作为大乘修行人,我们应当更加希求这点,因为看到所有人都在受苦。


— 四圣谛

现在这一切可能看来颇为悲伤阴郁,但这只是佛陀教导的第一条真谛——苦谛。接下来佛陀教导了第二条真谛——集谛,即苦的来源。多数宗教讨论人类和宇宙的起源,但佛陀教导苦的起源,那就是欲望。欲望意为支配我们生命的基本的执着烦恼,源于对自他二元错误见地的根本执着。这就是需要抛弃的那个制约因素,因为一旦原因消失,结果也将消失。所以一旦我们超越了欲望,便不再有痛苦。

接下来佛陀教导了彻底而非暂时结束痛苦的方法,那结束或息止就是涅槃(灭谛),如何到达彼处就是道(道谛)。道的解说有许多方式,例如五道、八圣道,但今天我们可以将之分成三个主要部分,即见地、禅修和行为。


— 见地——四法印

“见地”涵括了许多内容,但主要是要理解佛教四原理(四法印)。通常除了皈依,接受四法印者可以称为佛教徒。四法印是:

1)一切和合现象都是无常(诸行无常);

2)一切受染污的都是苦(诸漏皆苦);

3)一切都是空性无我(诸法无我);

4)涅槃是真正的寂静(涅槃寂静)。

一切都是无常与空,说起来容易。但其实我们在高等佛学院,例如宗萨,花那么多年时间,所有的研习本质上都是围绕着四法印的意涵和推论。要完全理解它们传达的深度,可能还要再花上许多年时间。

当我们说“和合”,它的意思是,因为任何能被看到的形相或听到的事物,都是由感官所感知,所以“和合”意指所有事物是由相互依存的因素合成,由许多原子、分子合成。没有任何事物独立存在,而是全部相互依存、由因缘而生。谈及这个部分,你可以跟朋友夸耀佛教就像科学,因为的确如此。因为现象万法是由因缘而生,所以它们不是永恒的,它们一直在改变。有时人们感觉科学是宗教的敌人,但对我们来说,恰恰相反,佛教是心的科学,能够作为现代科学的补充。所以常常当我回来西雅图时,我会跟克里斯·莱博兹博士上科学课,我对她充满感激。

然后我们说事物是受染污的,因为它们全都依靠感官。所以它们只能提供暂时的快乐,而无法真正满足我们,因为我们总会最终堕回痛苦。

然后我们说事物是空、是无我的,这不意味着我们是虚无主义者,宣称任何事物都不存在。自我的问题在于我们对它的二元执着,认为某些事物具有它自己无形的、无逻辑的身份。我们不是在暗示说我不是我、你不是你,而是说由于万物相互依存,没有什么是独立的,所以事物没有俱生的或内在的自性。因此当我们将事物看作永恒时,这就成为一个错误的见地。另一个错误是,有人主张这个无我的概念,仅仅是因为他们不喜欢自己。但这与那无关,这是关于断除执着——在我们不明实相时生起的执着。所以一旦从根本上摧毁了这执着,我们就达到了涅槃,那即是自由,因为涅槃意味着一切执着或业的结束或息止。结果是不再有苦。


— 禅修

仅在智识上知晓这一切,或仅出于信仰而相信这些原理都是不足的。为了了悟这些原理,我们需要修行。四法印不仅是“一个”见地,而且必须成为“你的”见地。要让它成为我们的见地,不可能通过普通的智力或直觉办到,所以我们需要禅修。禅修的方式有很多,但一般都划分为两大类,即“止”(寂止)和“观”(胜观)。虽然“观”是达到见地的主要方式,但止观二者并行且同等重要。

我们之所以需要寂止,是因为如果我们不学着安定自己的心而试图直接进入胜观,那就没什么特别“胜”的,那就只会是深层思考而已。这是因为我们的平常心太习惯于走神,或无法停止思考,或被昏沉所影响。例如有时我们发现自己在回忆或幻想身处某地、做某些事,而这可能会很令人上瘾。甚至有时我能听到自己脑海里在播放歌曲,甚至是我不喜欢的歌。因此训练我们的心来达到更加细微的觉知,是很重要的。这会让身心更加平静、喜乐。随着我们培养寂止,心变得明净、负面情绪减少。如果仅仅想要休息或放松,我们可以去洗温泉浴或与伙伴喝一杯,但饮酒这种事只会让心昏沉、让感官放纵,而寂止让心明净觉醒,这是更高程度的大乐。

止的禅修不是能从书本上学到的。要真正禅修,你需要一位老师,一旦你找到了正确的老师,那么就应当闻思修。禅修每座时长从短开始,逐渐越来越长。随着越来越多的修习,我们会注意到自己的负面情绪变少,心变得明晰。一旦达到这个状态,我们便可运用那明净与寂静来发展真正的证悟。就像若你有个脏望远镜,若镜头是脏的,我们就看不见想要看的东西;但若我们拭去灰尘,一切就变得清晰可见。所以具有明净的心就像有一双新的眼睛,就像获得了一种更高阶的视力。一旦做到了这点,你便可开始修“观”。选一个主题,例如无常或无我。用这双新眼睛,你能理解得更好,你会以一种全新的方式看它,根本无须思考。

“止”有许多阶段,但基础是首先确立七支坐姿势,找到安静的修行地、舒适的座垫等。但最重要的是,“止”只能在我们培养出正念的时候开始。正念就是安住当下,以抵御负面想法、将善念留在心中。不仅在正式禅修座上,而且贯穿日常生活。行、卧时都可修习正念,其实一直都可以修,真的没什么时间是不可以修习的。

而且我们这么做不只是为了自己的利益,这是种需要心怀慈悲的修行方式。为了具持稳定、真正的慈悲,我们能使用的一个方法是,首先思维你生命中最爱的人,不是像你爱慕泰勒·斯威夫特那样,而是你个人生命中最爱的人,对你最亲切的人。然后再扩展到中立对象,例如你在街上看到的路人。再进一步扩展到正在伤害或曾经伤害你最深的人、难以对其抱有悲心的人、可能被定义为敌人的人。所以在那个渐进的过程中,我们意识到,就如我们这世的母亲般慈爱,轮回中每个有情众生都曾一度做过我们亲爱的母亲、父亲或伴侣、朋友、孩子等,于是我们就可以将那无量的慈悲心延展至全世界。


— 行为

但若我们仅仅坐一坐、想一想悲心,而早前却刚刚在某人脸上揍了一拳,就称之为佛教禅修,那是行不通的。这就是为何我们要谈“行为”。在行为中,我们通过善德的生活积累福德,于是修行才能变得稳定而专注,心便不会被消极或罪恶感淹没。谈到正确的行为,主要需避免的是十不善行,即杀生、偷盗、邪淫、妄语、绮语、两舌、恶口、嗔恚、悭贪、邪见。我们之所以远离这些行为,是因为意识到它们对自他的后果。当我们的生活远离十不善行,十善行就产生了。所以在这个基础上,在大乘中,我们通过六出世间圆满(六波罗蜜多),例如布施、持戒、安忍等等,以及四摄[布施、爱语、利行、同事],来修持行菩提心。以布施为例,佛陀曾说:“如果每人都知道布施的业果,就没人会不布施至少一点儿自己的所有。”佛陀并非把这些说得像诫命一样,他不是给了个规则列表,无论喜欢与否都得遵守;而是解释了这些行为的结果,我们自己可以看到,然后自己选择是否想要遵循这些善德。

这些都是福德资粮的累积,这要和智慧资粮的累积结合起来。仅累积智慧资粮,能在一定程度上摆脱负面情绪。而通过福慧二资粮的结合与圆满,我们可摆脱所有的精神毒障,甚至是意识中最细微的印痕,只有那时我们才能成为圆满的佛陀。       

为了最大程度利益众生,帮助一切众生从苦中解脱,我们需要示现为圆满佛陀。这就是为何我们要尽可能精进地培养两种菩提心。


— 果乘

以上谈的所有这些都在大乘因乘的范畴内,大乘果乘需要这些为基础。金刚座尊六法就在果乘的范畴里。大乘果乘更常被称为“金刚乘”。在金刚乘里,我们接受灌顶,是为了加速身语意的转变,成佛的速度比仅在因乘里快得多。之所以称之为因乘是因为,行者在修行中培养证悟的因。而在果乘的形式中,我们视真正证悟的果已经存在于自己的相续中,并培养这个果。一旦我们的相续通过灌顶成熟,我们就获允进行这种高阶形式的修持,这就是为何给予我们这些灌顶的上师是如此不可思议地慈悲。

因此,从这个角度说,我们都幸运得不可思议,能从无变金刚仁波切处接受不只一坛而是六坛非常特殊的灌顶,以及修持方法的深奥窍诀教授。所以我希望大家能记得这些要点,尤其是慈悲心;并具有满满的信心,相信我们能充分利用这个特别的周末。那么通过今天我与大家分享的这些思考,以及大家精进的闻思,无论有何福德,现在让我们一起以念诵回向祈请文做结行。

Losar (Tibetan New Year) Prayers - Free Live Streaming

The Tibetan Year of the Fire Bird begins February 27, 2017. Sakya Monastery and the Tibetan Association of Washington are pleased to welcome in the New Year with the 2017 Losar Prayer Service. In addition to the prayers, there will be a few brief Losar Greetings from H.E. Avikrita Rinpoche as well as other lamas and guests. The Losar Prayers will begin at 10:00 am. All are welcome to attend.

In you aren't able to participate in person, you can view the prayer service online for free. Please visit our Losar 2017 streaming page at losar2017.sakya.org

 

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Photos from Cremation Ceremony

Here are a few photos from the cremation ceremony for H.H. Jigdal Dagchen Dorje Chang which was held in New Delhi, India on November 11, 2016.

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.sakya.org/newsletter.html#sigProIdefef77f314

 

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