FIVE ROOT DOWNFALLS OF VAJRAYANA* (Part I)
So you have received many empowerments this time. I also have given you many empowerments. And of course I know many of you have received many empowerments before this time. What makes the empowerment useful is to keep the commitment, the samayas related to those empowerments and to know what kind of commitments, requirements related to these empowerments, these teachings.
So I am going to discuss a little bit of what samayas are. And, generally speaking, in the Mahayana and Vajrayana systems there are many kinds of samayas. But a really common one is called “Fourteen Root Downfalls and Eight Branches”. Also, [it is included] in the tantra called “the Secret Essence”. It is also called “King Tantra” or “King Tantra of Nyingma Lineage”. [This tantra] is very common and it covers everything. It includes all yanas. So this tantra talks about five root downfalls that somebody has accepted and the ten branches. Today I am going to discuss a little bit of these five root samayas, five root downfalls.
So the first of those five it is called “not to abandon the nature or the reality”. It is difficult for us beginners to understand what the supreme nature is. What might that bring is to establish pure view toward the lineage, pure view toward the Mandala, the Yidam, and the Guru. This is the first of those five root downfalls, or samayas.
We have to check with oneself whether we have this kind of interest in Vajrayana, to practice Vajrayana, or not. Then, we go from there. Of course, it is our option to practice Vajrayana or not. But, then what we need to do is to establish a good understanding and faith in Vajrayana, to establish understanding that all phenomena has the same essence, same nature, as what is taught in Mahayana. They share the same: the emptiness part is the same in Mahayana and Vajrayana. But to understand or to believe in this, of course we have to take some examinations, some investigation, to get some ideas of what is emptiness, what is the nature of things, or things are not truly established. It is not so important at the beginning to fully realize, to have full realization of emptiness, but at least it is important to understand what is emptiness, what is reality.
And [we should know] the reasons for Mahayana and Vajrayana to say that everything has nature – emptiness. So, that is important thing for the beginners.
So, what is “not abandoning supreme nature”? That is we have to establish a belief in the pure nature of phenomena. And then, what keeps the view go well, what keeps the view reach the result, is to keep that kind of pure vision that is a very important part. And then [we should know that] with our ignorance, with our mental distractions, negative emotions, always we see things negative ways; but that is not the reality of the things, that is not the reality. The nature of your view is also pure, and the object of things, phenomena, are also pure. Therefore, to think, to believe that there is something for the phenomena, [their] nature is pure.
We, on the regular basis of perception, cannot see [the nature]. It is not the objects or the things’ problem, but it is the perception’s problem. So, when you have impure perception, when you see things negative ways, then you remember, you must remind yourself that this is illusion. And we have to try to get the point, get to the nature. And we have to remember what the Buddha says, what the teaching says, how they describe the phenomena naturally empty or pure – the purity part of the things. And then it is sometimes beyond of our perceptions. Then we must understand: “Oh, I am not there yet. It is not that this is the only reality, of course not. But the reality, the nature, is beyond my ability to see precisely.” So this is how we, generally, how we usually set up our efforts, to accept the real nature, in Vajrayana.
So let me put this in an even simple way. As beginners, people like us, real beginners, especially beginners for the Vajrayana system, then I think what we need to do is we have to believe in this. This is something truthful, real, and [it is] for bringing some positive things to yourself on your path to the liberation. And it is the shortest way to the liberation. We have to understand this way and believe in this way. If we do not have belief, then it is better not to accept, better not to attempt, better not to practice, better not to jump into this whole situation.
But we are understanding that Vajrayana is something good – that is the basis. Without having this kind of understanding there is no way to enter the gate to the Vajrayana system. So, we already have that [understanding]. That is the best. We have to keep that. We have to take care of that mind and to establish, to improve from there, to add more sort of realization, understanding and diligence, patience. These [qualities] are important for mind, for this piece of understanding [of nature].
The reason for me to say, what makes something a bit different is the realization, is the pure perception. When I say things, phenomena, do not have an independent essence, because, we, for us, at this level, fire is fire. Fire is burning. Fire burns you up very easily. But those who have high realization, high pure perception, they cannot be burned up by fire. Like Guru Rinpoche. Why? Because divinization, the pure perception makes a big difference. The pure perception protected Him from these attacks, from the big fire. But for us, of course, we always believe in it – this is real fire, and it is burning. And this is it, this is the only nature that fire is. There is another nature beyond our perception [but] we do not know. We are not capable of understanding that, therefore we get trouble. We perceive things with our emotions, the way we see, the way I want, we want. “I only accept things the way I want. I don’t accept things [like it] may be for you, but only for myself.” This is a big problem. Therefore, to understand the nature, the reality of phenomena is actually beyond our perception, our understanding at the moment. Therefore, we need to enter the education, how Vajrayana educates people, how Vajrayana sees the nature of things. Therefore, we are actually attending these empowerments, receiving these teachings and try to establish a new understanding and [get] realization.
The second, the second samaya of those five, is to respect the Vajra Master. Of course, that we know, teacher, Dharma teacher, is very important for disciples to establish liberation, or to accomplish those goals. So in the Vajrayana, especially in the Vajrayana, we request people to perceive one’s own root guru, Vajra Master, same as Buddha. This is very important. We can learn the biography, the stories like Milarepa, Naropa, those high, great masters, how they accepted things, how they see their one root guru. Therefore, the second thing is what we should not do: not to break samaya between one’s self and the guru. It is very common for Buddhist, or maybe religious society, that teacher is very important, and to see [him] as very important. So, that is very common, and everyone knows so I do not really have to repeat many things and describe more about this.
But it is also sometimes difficult for people to see one’s own guru always being very pure. Even though we know that [pure view] is important, but sometimes we see mistakes of the guru, or maybe sort of not very impure behaviour or action of the guru. So that time we have to tell that: “Oh, this is a time I have to train my mind. This is the time for me to establish my pure vision toward the guru.” If you see mistakes of the guru, but then you cannot say: “Oh he is really making [mistakes]. He is really bad. Now I am going to break up the samaya or the connection.” That is not a very good idea, not a very smart way of doing. Therefore, the only thing we need to do is to understand, and to understand that our perception is not being pure, not being pure enough. This is the only way, the only option we have now. Because we already built the strong connection, received many teachings and many instructions. So now if you say: “Oh no good, I stop here”, that is a big mistake, for yourself. So the only option, I said earlier, the only option that we have now is to change the thought, the vision that we have toward the guru, the lineage, the school, the teachings. And then I think we have to slowly, slowly make some progress, make some improvement with our pure perception. It takes some time, but that does not really mean there is no hope to improve that [view]. There is a hope always, a big hope. Because those people in the past, they were able to do that, why I cannot. Of course, we can. But the only thing, or what brings us back, what makes us slower, is the laziness. [It] really is the laziness. When laziness comes you do not train your mind, you do not really want to establish your pure perception. You just sit there and you want to guess it. That is a big problem. That is a very bad, and a very bad way of being a Dharma person. So, what is practical, what is really necessary for us to do is to really try, really hard to really sort of establish that kind of understanding, interest, really strong interest for yourself to do things continually. To be diligent all the time. Not this time and the other time, but all the time [diligent].
So, diligence, patience, we actually, for us to be able to have that kind of pure perception toward the guru, toward the lineage. We need to have many things. Patience is the first thing. Diligence, of course. Those two make a big difference. But the other thing is understanding, [it] is more important. And to see that as important, is important. Many times our habitual tendency [comes], because of that we don’t remember the important things. We forget everything. But you do not really realize that you are forgetting things. You think: “I’m fine.” “This is the reality. He’s the bad. She’s the bad. I am good. I understand everything. You don’t tell me what to do.”
This is American way. (Laughing) But this is a problem. Therefore, we need to see ourself simple. To be humble as much as possible, simple as much as posible so that we can see others higher, especially the guru, the teacher, the instructor are much more higher, much more important than oneself. But the problem we usually have is that we have a big ego. “I know everything. I see you bad. I see her bad.” We make this kind of judgement. This is contradictory to the Vajrayana system. Therefore, we need to be patient, dilligent and understanding. Those three you have to remember, from now, forever.
So it is has always been very important to do this way and to respect all the time, at any time, the Vajrayana master. Why do we call that master Vajrayana master? Because the master instructs you the Vajralike, the nature of the mind. The nature of the mind is like a Vajra, it is changeless. But changeless. That part of the nature, it is difficult for sentient beings to understand that. And that is called ignorance. Since ignorance arises, all sentient things take departure from that nature. That is same as sentient beings jump into samsara. Suffering. Therefore, to respect Vajra master is to rebuild the strength of the mind, the strength of understanding and the nature. This is the only way, as Buddha said. Without having these Vajra masters, instructors, there is no way to see the nature, the nature or one’s own mind. Without having this understanding it is difficult to reach the liberation. So, if the liberation is important for someone, the Vajra master is the same, equally important. To see that important, as important, is, so-called, good disciple, a Vajrayana disciple. And this is the only path that we need to take. This is the only path that we have. Any other path, may be very crooked, may be too far, may be even the wrong direction. So, the shortest path, the straightest path, the easiest to take is the one that the instructor, the Vajra master instructor shows.
The third thing. (explaining about the schedule). I think it is very important, because we are Vajra brothers and sisters right now, so it is really important to understand these things, to clear these things. So the third of those five root samayas is called not to stop reciting mantras. So what is the meaning? That means that since you already became a Vajrayana practitioner, so what is the responsibility for us to do is to practice daily, of course to practice those three root, so-called Lama, Yidam, Dakini. We must practice, one of those, or three of them, daily. That is very important. If someone is seriously practicing, a really genuine, good practitioner of Vajrayana, they want to practice four times a day, or six times a day. Because those who dedicate their life for Dharma, they are able to do that. Unfortunately you are not (laughing).
So, recitation of mantra is something very important. But you can include those three as I mentioned earlier. I know many of you are practicing the guru yoga, which is very good, because actually it includes Three Roots. Guru Yoga itself is the Guru practice. And then the Vajrasattva practice is the practice of Yidam. And then one self being Vajrayogini, realization of Vajrayogini, is practice of Dakini. So, if you are doing the complete ngondro, which means you are really doing the three together. It is something very practical. Therefore I always say “ngondro, ngondro, ngondro.” People say, “What is wrong with that guy, he always say ‘ngondro’.” But I know [that is] the important part, I know your laziness also (laughter). I actually made the long version, the longer version into a shorter version. Some people also complain, “Oh, this is too short”. I know when they are in a good mood, this is too short, when they are in a bad mood, even the shorter one is too long for them. (laughter).
The end of the teaching on 24.8.2013
Transcript taken from MP 3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching, 24.08.2013, Golok.
* The title is created by the translator for the reader’s convenience.