Chenrezig & Manjushri Teachings & Empowerment with HE Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche
September 6th – 8th, 2019 in Boulder, CO
On behalf of Heruka Boulder Sangha, Yeshi Pema
Heruka Boulder Sangha was delighted and overjoyed to receive HE Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche for the weekend of September 6 – 8th in Boulder, Colorado. Over the course of 3-full days, Rinpoche generously shared Dharma teachings and Empowerment in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions for sangha and local practitioners. It was a beautiful and peaceful weekend shared together, a treasure of teachings to carry in our heart and practice for the benefit of all.
Upon landing at the airport, several sangha members greeted Rinpoche as he arrived and offered flowers, khatas, hugs and smiles. In an instant, we felt relieved and incredibly happy seeing our dearest Teacher again once more. It felt like a dream to share space with our precious and kind lama and our brothers and sisters, rejoicing for the weekend ahead of Dharma teachings and instruction. Later that evening, we shared food and stories together, it was a warm and stormy night with blessings raining down to nourish the seed of Buddha nature, seeking growth and fruition.
On Friday morning, Rinpoche empowered sangha with 4-armed Chenrezig from the terma cycle of the Great Mahasiddha Thangtong Gyalpo. Rinpoche began with opening prayers and reminded sangha of our good fortune and circumstances and the blessing of having a precious human body in this life. Our karma from previous lives brought us to this moment to receive empowerment and teachings (from a spiritual Master) and to be surrounded by Dharma brothers and sisters, was a profound view and remembrance of past lifetimes together. Rinpoche explained and continued, “with this precious human body we are so fortunate and lucky, because it has taken billions of years and lifetimes to be here in this very moment”. Rinpoche then began to explain the practices and precepts of Mahayana Buddhism. First, Rinpoche reminded us of the 7-cause and effect instruction, a ‘training’ or practice which focuses on cultivating equanimity and sincere loving-kindness. By meditating on equanimity, we come to recognize all sentient beings as one’s mother. There is no distinction between stranger, lover, enemy or animal, because there is not one sentient being in the three realms and six classes that have not been one’s mother, countless times – over and over again. A mother’s love is timeless and free of duality, it is unconditional and pervasive and knowing this we can recognize the kindness of all mother sentient beings and wish deeply to repay their kindness.
This powerful wish to free sentient beings from suffering is exceptional and gives rise to bodhicitta, to Great Compassion and Wisdom (e.g., Buddha nature). Essentially, bodhicitta is the desire to obtain enlightenment for the benefit and liberation of all sentient beings. The aspiration of bodhicitta is pure and virtuous and is the foundation of Mahayana Dharma. The essence of bodhicitta is supported and realized through practice (i.e., 4 immeasurables, 6 perfections, 10-virtues) which provide structure, or ‘training wheels’ as our capacity for compassion ripens and matures into its most balanced and stable state, Rinpoche continued to explain.
Rinpoche encouraged daily practice of the 4 immeasurables (i.e., immeasurable love, immeasurable compassion, immeasurable joy, immeasurable equanimity) to develop and strengthen our vows and practice. Immeasurable and Enlightened Love, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity are the qualities in which bodhicitta is practiced, cultivated and accomplished. These 4-immeasurables represent the 4-arms of Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion. Om Mani Peme Hum. Chen meaning ‘eyes’, Re “all seeing” and Zig “watching”, Rinpoche explained. Chenrezig is always watching and protecting mother sentient beings and witnesses all, like the ‘karma camera’ Rinpoche jokingly said. It is important to practice and study the qualities of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and abandon harmful actions as much as possible, Rinpoche explained. In order to walk the path of the Bodhisattva we must abandon the 10 non-virtues and embody the 10 virtues. There are 10 non-virtues and they are divided into the 3 non-virtues of mind (i.e., covetousness, ill-will, wrong view), 4 non-virtues of speech (i.e. lying, harsh speech, divisive speech or gossip) and 3 non-virtues of the body (i.e., killing, stealing, sexual misconduct) and these non-virtues perpetuate suffering and is a cause for karmic rebirth.
No matter the vow one undertakes and commits to practice whether it be Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana, the 10 non-virtues are collectively avoided because they are harmful to oneself and to others. Alternatively, one practices the 10 positive and virtuous actions because they are beneficial to oneself and to others. Virtuous action consists of abandoning the ten negative actions and practicing their opposite, the 10 virtues (i.e., to protect life, to practice generosity, discipline, pleasant and honest speech, to bring harmony in times of discord, to speak gently and cultivate the desire to help others, to rejoice in the accomplishments and virtues of others’, and to be loving toward all). These simple and special practices of good conduct support our Bodhisattva practice and activity as we abstain from the negative actions of body, speech and mind, and dedicate the roots of merit and positive actions for the benefit and liberation of all mother-sentient beings, Rinpoche explained.
The biggest obstacle to compassion is anger, Rinpoche said. When we begin the Mahayana path, we must abandon self-cherishing, jealousy and anger, and replace self-fixation with the act and motivation of cherishing and loving others. This is the root essence and meaning of the 6-perfections, 4-immeasurables and 7-causes and effects in practice and is the fundamental antidote to counter and transform passion, aggression and ignorance into the enlightened and virtuous qualities of wisdom, love and generosity. These practices develop the motivation, enthusiasm and heroic energy of the Bodhisattvas and illuminates the courage and confidence cultivated within; like the vajra – the fire and method, it is unchangeable and indestructible, Rinpoche said.
“We have experienced lifetimes of self-cherishing and now we have the good fortune of a precious human body and the auspicious circumstances and karma to practice the Bodhisattva path. With the blessing of this precious human body and the blessing of bodhicitta, we have a great responsibility to support and benefit as many mother sentient beings as possible. Like a ship crossing the stormy ocean, our precious human body can benefit and carry countless beings across the waves of samsara” – HE Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche
The power and blessing of Chenrezig is rooted within the Mahayana principles of loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom, and is cultivated through the study and practice of the 7-causes, 4-immeasurables. 6-perfections and 10-virtues. Using these methods and cultivating virtue, good action and conduct will benefit others and protect the path and our Dharma life. “We can generate bodhicitta perfectly; in the beginning, middle and end – it is perfect. The motivation to help others is perfect. Practice the Mahayana methods perfectly with bodhicitta, as much as possible”, Rinpoche said and continued ; “Compassion is your protector. Share your compassion, love and blessings with all sentient beings throughout the universe”.
“Always remember, and I will remind you again and again of the 7-causes and effects. Recognize all beings as your mother; your lovely mother, father, lover and child. The Buddhas children are the bodhisattvas, and all spiritual beings came through the enlightened path of bodhicitta, the bodhisattva way. We put these principles into practice through the 4 immeasurables, 10 virtues & 6 perfections”- HE Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche
On Saturday morning, Rinpoche began with transmission of the Manjushri Namasangiti, particularly the preliminary requests of Vajrapani to Shakyamuni Buddha. The Great Bodhisattva and protector Vajrapani, requested teachings on top of a mountain where the Buddha gave the first tantric discourse. This text is considered amongst the most advanced teachings given by Shakyamuni Buddha. Although a relatively concise explication comprised of 160-verses, it represents the pinnacle of all the Buddha’s teachings and points to the essence of practice and completion. Rinpoche explained that there will be thousands of Buddhas in this kalpa, but only three will give teachings in the Vajrayana tradition. Again, it becomes crystal clear that the good fortune of Dharma and the Great Compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas has come to us in this lifetime, and there is no time to wait or delay practice. Rinpoche then began speaking of discriminating wisdom and the importance to contemplate and meditate on the meaning of the teachings, the essence. The three Lords or Bodhisattvas, Chenrezig, Manjushri and Vajrapani, represent the compassion, wisdom and power of all the Buddhas and are inseparable from the Buddha, Rinpoche explained. Compassion is the foundation, the essence of pure view, wisdom is the method to benefit and help others, and power to accomplish and liberate sentient beings from suffering. These three roots – the view, the wisdom and power represent the three refuges of practice and liberation.
On Sunday, Rinpoche began with transmission for Manjushri practice, the Great Bodhisattva of Wisdom, and guided a one-day retreat for sangha. It was a sunny and beautiful day, and many local practitioners attended the teaching. We began reciting the 7-limbed prayer and offering prostrations, and Rinpoche explained the importance of studying and practicing this prayer as much as possible. The nature of the seven-limbed practice (i.e., prostrations, offerings, confession, rejoicing, requesting to teach, requesting to live long, and dedication) provides the antidotes to mental obstacles and causes of negative karma (e.g., pride, attachment, ignorance, jealousy). For example, prostrations help pacify pride, offerings promote generosity and reduce self-cherishing and attachment, and rejoicing for others destroys jealousy. With these antidotes and specific practices, we gain the ability to skillfully and mindfully transform personal obstacles into an ocean of perfect qualities.
Rinpoche then began speaking of karma and the nature of interdependence, and our responsibility as Buddhists to understand, study and respect karma. Until we are free from karma, we must practice as much as we can, Rinpoche said. “Respect the Karma! Forget the crazy philosophies – What does karma really mean?” Rinpoche asked and continued; “As much as you understand karma, you understand the real Dharma – as much as you respect karma, then you can practice the Dharma more. Karma is not hiding anywhere, it is all around us, it is on our table”. Rinpoche expounded upon this and lovingly said, “cherish and support others, this is how we respect the karma”. This is the benefit of Manjushri practice, it is the discriminating wisdom that helps us to help others. It is important to meet others where they are and respect their life and karma, Rinpoche explained. There are different stages and levels, and even the same person will be different tomorrow. This wisdom of Manjushri is to take care of others and meet sentient beings where they are in their own capacities, it is compassionate, skillful and precise. Similar to Lord Buddha who gave different teachings to different people, at different times and in different places; the differences in Buddha’s teachings demonstrates the fluidity of the Dharma to reach and benefit all beings aspiring towards the path of liberation and enlightenment. The Buddha taught what would benefit and be helpful in accordance with the culture, time and current understanding. Some may see it as contradictory or paradoxical, however the root, essence and meaning of the teachings remains empty, pure and selfless, Rinpoche explained. We must open our ‘wisdom lotus eyes’, just like Chenrezig. This is the pure view of the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, seeing all sentient beings through the eyes of loving-kindness and boundless compassion. With this view we can see our karma and others karma, and be able to help and benefit others more, Rinpoche continued to explain. “The compassion and love is the center of our practice, it is the center of the universe”.
“Gaze upon all beings with Great Love and Kindness” – HE Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche
Each night following the teachings, Rinpoche and sangha shared a warm home cooked meal together and enjoyed one another’s company, wisdom and support. In these moments it becomes vastly clear to love, cherish and nourish others as much as we can each day. Our weekend with H.E. Tulku Yeshi Rinpoche went by so quickly, an impermanent dream filled with immeasurable tranquility, wisdom and benefit. We are so grateful to Rinpoche for visiting and sharing precious Dharma teachings with Heruka Boulder sangha and us young practitioners once again. May the Dharma activity of our most precious Teacher forever be auspicious and supported, I pray these virtues spread like wildfire! May it shine undiminished, stand indestructible and produce immeasurable benefit for all mother-sentient beings, I give thanks to the sangha, our beloved Teacher and the perfect teachings!