GURU YOGA - Guru Yoga from Longchen Nyingthik Lineage [i]

Morning 20.10.2019, Vietnam



This time, the main teaching is on “Guru Yoga” – Guru Yoga from Longchen Nyingthik lineage. There are quite many lineages of Tibetan Buddhist traditions. And each of those traditions has its own ngondro practice. Even though the names or titles are probably different but the meanings are pretty much the same. “Ngondro” means preliminary practices, and “Guru Yoga” has the same meaning: practicing a guru. When different traditions have a different “guru”, different objects that we meditate on or we pray to, it’s still “guru” and “practice” therefore it is also yoga. Yoga means “regularly practice”. So, this is a lineage, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. So, there is no big difference in terms of the meaning on how to practice ngondro and guru yoga.

So, Guru is a teacher. And not only a teacher, but a teacher who is able to introduce to the nature of the mind, or Buddha’s nature. Of course, there are many kinds of teachers: some are important, some are very important, and some are less important. But when we talk about a Dharma teacher, especially a root guru, it means a very important guru.

I mentioned earlier that [Guru is] someone who is able to point at one’s nature; someone, who is able to show you the path to the nature of the mind. And therefore, it is a very important person in one’s life, because for a Dharma practitioner, most important is to realize one’s own nature; and that has to go through teacher’s instructions and guru’s blessing. In the history of Buddhism and the stories of the great Masters or great Dharma practitioners [it is clear that] one of the most important thing for those great masters is to rely on a qualified guru and to follow the instructions of the guru correctly and exactly. We are Vajrayana practitioners, we should try to have a correct understanding, which comes from study and real investigation. [Thầy nói vậy] because sometimes people do not have enough foundation to have a good understanding, [and they] do something before having that foundation. Therefore, people sometimes make mistakes because there is not enough understanding. So, we need to study first and try to get the most important or essence of that practice and that lineage, or one’s own practice.

By the definition, Guru is someone who has higher qualities, higher realization and deeper compassion, and higher wisdom. Everything has to be higher than the students, for example. And then come the “Root” I actually explained earlier. One student may have many teachers but “Root” means the main teacher. Then come to “Yoga”. “Yoga” is like a union in fundamental reality. “Yoga” is the realization of that happy state. For a dharma practitioner, the main reason to go for dharma practice is to have that realization, the genuine realization. And that has to rely on the meditation. What kind of meditation? That is meditation on the instructions of the Guru, the meaning of the instructions given by one’s Guru. If one is able to follow the instructions exactly, and if one is able to be diligent to practice, or to be enough diligent to practice the instructions, then one can realize, or can have that realization. That’s the goal. That’s at the highest goal you can achieve on the path. That highest achievement is actually gifted by the Guru.

So therefore, the guru is the most kind of person, most important person, and most main person, main teacher, because many other teachers they are not really able to give such realization. Our homeland, motherland is the nature of mind. Our pure land is the nature of the mind. Samsara is not our homeland. Even though we live here, for countless years, and it’s a very difficult for us to be able to leave this place – samsara. We are stuck in here but this is not our friend or our of place. Our final place is our homeland that is one’s own nature, which is obscured by our own negative emotions and negative thoughts, ignorance. So practicing Dharma, and the use of Dharma, the meaning of practicing Dharma, specifically practicing Vajrayana, is to be in our homeland quickly. Sutrayana is also a way to take us to the homeland, but it takes much longer. Vajrayana is more powerful, have more conditions for us to be in our homeland sooner. So, Guru Yoga is mainly taught in Vajrayana, since the samsara is not the place that we should be, even though we are being here [laughing].

Because of all that, it is difficult. There are many troubles and sufferings we have to go through because this is not our land. This is not the land that we want to be, and it’s not a good place. But the contradictory part is that even though we do not want to be in the samsara too much, we have no freedom to not be. So, the reason is that, of course, we believe (trust) in our thought, our ignorance too much so that we are brought to samsara. And the Buddha was very kind to give us the instructions on how to go back to our own homeland and the Buddha reminds us that we’re in the wrong place. So therefore, Buddha is very, very kind. So now we need to understand that the kindness of the Buddha and to repay his kindness by practicing and following his instructions.

When we feel unhappiness and suffering in our life, in the Samsara, the reason for us to [be able to] have such feelings is because of the Buddha nature. Buddha nature is in our own mind. There is the Buddha nature that exists there, because with that [nature] we are able to feel the essence samsara. If there was no such nature, such purity in our mind, then we were not able to feel the suffering. Even though it is bad, we don’t see, we don’t feel that. Since of you see this, there is an option for us to realize the reality, and to realize the suffering, to understand the reasons for us to have these difficulties.

It’s a good [laugh] sometimes to understand what is really suffering and what is happiness. Many people really don’t understand what is happiness and what is not happiness. People are confused. But those people who understand this reality, there is always a better option to choose a correct path because of that understanding. And that’s something very important. And without any realization or renunciation or understanding, then it’s very difficult to see the reasons for dharma practice. Therefore, most people in this world don’t believe in Buddhism, and Buddhism is not really important [for them]. The teachings of the Buddha are not really important for them because they lack of understanding. But a lot of people and even scientists, very important scientists, also believe in the Dharma, when they understand the importance and the quality of the teachings. And those of them [who] don’t understand the quality, so they don’t believe.

So, as Dharma practitioners, especially practice in Mahayana and Vajrayana, these difficulties are not bad sometimes, because we can use them as a remedy, a good method for us to take on the path, because these suffering or these negative things [obstacles] can bring us to the correct path. Therefore, we need to have a wisdom to turn the difficulties into path. So, sometimes it’s good to have some obstacles. Most people don’t understand that if we say it is good, because they think it’s bad because it is bad [for them].

In Buddhism, there is different way of seeing things. We perceive things differently. Therefore, Buddhism is very unique. Buddhism combines with a lot of wisdom. Everything or anything when it comes to Buddhism, Buddhism has the power to turn these negative things into path. So, practicing Dharma is to accept this negativity and these obstacles into the path, to bring them into the path, to bring them as a condition for us to be on the path. So that is something good.

It is the very brief Longchen Nyingthik Ngondro. There are many root texts on ngondro, but the real root text of Longchen Nyingthik Ngondro was composed by Jigme Lingpa but after that – many Longchen Nyingthik Ngondro texts. But in this one, I wrote some parts and [in] the Guru Yoga part the visualization part is kept in Longchen Nyingthik as Jigme Lingpa’s written.

I understand that people are using different versions of Longchen Nyingthik Ngondro: the longer version and shorter version, so two versions at least. And this is the short one that I composed specifically for people who are busy in the society, busy with work, and busy because of laziness [laughing]. Therefore, I made this pretty short one. It is optional for you to use the long one or the short one. If you have the motivation to do the long one that’s good because the longer version has more instructions, more teachings and four thoughts to turn the mind into a dharma. The outer Ngondro has much more information.

The reason for me to teach the Longchen Nyingthik Ngondro is my karma. I have this great karma and aspiration to have the chance to practice Longchen Nyingthik. And not only that but also my great teachers have given me the permission to teach these profound teachings. It is one of the important conditions for a dharma teacher to teach a instructions, important instruction is to have the permit from one’s Guru.


(Question: So you said that when you teach Longchen Nyingthik Ngondro, you need to have permission from your Guru and anyone who wants to teach ngondro should also have permission, is it right?)

It’s a very common for all Buddhist teachings and especially in Vajrayana teachings, that being a Vajrayana master one must have received the words from the guru saying “you do this”, to permit or to give the authority to a student of the Guru, saying: “From now, you’re going to teach this to keep the lineage.”

I actually have permission from all of my teachers. My teachers were very important teachers at the time, like Lama Sang, and Dodrupchen and some other lamas, maybe you don’t know or maybe you have heard. There is one, a very important Dzongchen master named Tampi Wangchu. And also there is another one [named] Pema Yanzep, who passed away last year. And Tampi Wangchu passed away 4 or 5 years ago. They specifically requested me to teach Longchen Nyingthik and the teachings on the profound, the great Dzongchen teachings. These teachers that I just mentioned are not ordinary teachers but they were really important teachers, very important teachers in this century. I don’t think there will be more important or more authentic than these will appear, very difficult to appear, to have something like that. And then they did not tell me this privately, but they told me this in the public, in front of thousands of people, thousands of monks in Tibet. And it’s very necessary to have a lineage, and to have a great teacher, and to have the permission from the teacher to teach to others – the lineage and the master – to be a Vajra master. So that’s ones of the very important factors is to be a teacher. This is very important condition, for me, personally, to be a teacher of Longchen Nyingthik. Longchen Nyingthik means Great Perfection, Dzogpa Chenpo, which is very, very important. We can say the most important teaching on the Earth. So therefore, it’s equally important to have these conditions to be a teacher on this. So that’s why I’ve just let you know and given you some piece of information of my personal life.

Longchen Nyingthik, this lineage, was established by Jigme Lingpa, who was at the time from 1729 to 1792. And Longchen Nyingthik, the heart (essence) of Great Expanse or cycle of teachings, was revealed to Jigme Lingpa in three visions of Longchenpa. Jigme Lingpa had three times of visions of Longchenpa, which means he met three times Longchenpa in person; Longchenpa was a real person to talk to him. Jigme Lingpa was able to touch his feet and received very important instructions from Longchenpa. Not only that but Jigme Lingpa was a Treasure Revealer who was able to discover treasures – very deep and very profound instructions from Guru Rinpoche. So a great master, very qualified master, very, like nowadays, saying super master.

Longchenpa’s time was between 1302 and 1363. So there was about 400 years – a big gap between Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa. But then Jigme Lingpa was able to see him, Longchenpa, in person. These two masters are like the father and the son. The masters in the Longchen Nyingthik lineage and I’m sure there are information of Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa available in books, maybe in internet in your language. So if you are not too lazy [laugh], maybe you should read some of the biographies of these two masters. Some of the stories of these two masters, like Longchenpa, are very interesting. And Longchenpa had many visions of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. One time, he had the vision [of] Yeshe Sogyal, so she brought Longchenpa in her hands to show him the universe, and so such a very, very great story. When he discovered some treasures and when he was writing his collections on the Dzogchen teachings, then three principal protectors: Ekajati, Rahula and Vajrasadhu (Dorje Legpa) were attendants of Longchenpa. Ekajati was like a secretary to him [laugh]. And Rahula was the attendant to him to prepare paper and this and that. So it’s very true and it’s very, very unique and very beautiful stories that he got.

Jigme Lingpa did not go through any sort of traditional studies. He went through maybe very little study. He studied with human teachers very little, but [kept] the continuity of dharma practice from his previous lives. He was able to remember everything from the past lives. All of his knowledge, all of his wisdom just appeared incidentally, without much going through practice or exercises. Longchenpa was emanation of Manjushri and Jigme Lingpa was emanation of Avalokiteshvara. And many masters of India and Tibet, so they kept [things of] many previous lives of these masters, so he didn’t have to study too much.

Longchen Nyingthik is a very important teaching, not only in this lineage but also in many other lineages such as Kagyupa, Sakyapa and all other traditions of Nyingmapa. It’s a large school or lineage in Tibet and all over the world. But the source of this lineage is in Tibet. And many great masters still teaching this lineage and many people practice in this lineage.

Just to give some information [to you]! How many followers and how many monasteries are not really that important. Because there are many phony Buddhist traditions now developing, and many followers of phony Buddhist traditions probably in this world now. Therefore, many people are following a tradition doesn’t mean [it is] something very qualified, very good quality. But because we study about this lineage, then we need to get some information [about it]. So, if you want to know how many monasteries of Longchen Nyingthik in Tibet, I’m not really sure exactly but I think at least 700 or 800 monasteries in Tibet right now are practicing Longchen Nyingthik. And sometimes it is called “Longchen Nyingthik”, and sometimes it is called “Dzogchen monastery”. So a different ways of titling but then it’s the same thing. And then practicing Dzogpa Chenpo – there’re a lot of more monasteries. We have some main traditions in Nyingmapa, that’s Dzogchen, Katok, Palyul, Shechen, and Mindrolling.

“Longchen” means “great expanse”, which means very large, endless like the sky. Why Longchen Rabjam has this name? Because Longchen Rabjam’s view, or realization, is great expanse, therefore, the name is given after his view. His view is so large so his name is Longchenpa. Great view, great realized lama – Longchen Rabjam.

Ngondro means “preliminary practice”, or preparation, to have a real realization of the nature. To realize one’s own nature, one must go through some practices before the actual thing. So that part is ngondro. So, there are many texts of ngondro so this one opens the door to the naturally present inner clarity. The use of preliminary practice is to open the door to the nature of mind. This is the use of preliminary practices. We need a key to open the door, so the key to open the door is ngondro. And to open what? To open the door of one’s own nature.

What that nature is like? The nature is like clarity. Very clear! Clear [about] what? Clear about everything. It’s not like darkness, not like a sleeping, like a not understanding things – your mind becomes like a dumb, or dark, or sleepy. That’s not the clarity. The nature of the mind itself is naturally very clear about everything, it is not distracted by any thoughts, anything else. It’s there all the time. Since beginning until now, it has no change, no movement. It’s there like it is all the time. So, “naturally present” means it’s present now, but it’s like that forever.

But even though it’s inside our mind, it’s within us all the time, never separated from us, but we have not really understood, and we have not seen this. Because of that, it’s not working. We are not able to use this, to remind us of this clarity. Therefore, it’s not very useful right now. We’re here in the state of ignorance, so we’re using ignorance and ignorance is using us. Therefore, we are not in that state. Now, through the ngondro practice, we are hopefully able to reach that state of clarity.


End of the quoted part


Transcript by Diệu Huệ

Excerpt from MP 3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching morning 20.10.2019:


[i] The title is created by the translator for the reader’s convenience.