GURU YOGA: The Practice of Pure View*
Afternoon 21.10.2019, Vietnam
I. Three Important Qualities of a Good Student: Sincere, Intelligent, Dedicated
I often mentioned the qualities of the student. They’re not many. Of course, there can be many but there are some very important or three principal qualities for students to be good students. The student has to be sincere. Not [sincere to] whatever but sincere to the Dharma teachings. And the student should be intelligent – who knows the meaning of the teachings, the instructions and who knows the meanings of the conduct, different conduct of the Guru; and [should be] a dedicated listener, or sincerely listen to the teachings, listen to the speech of the Guru; not [to be] picky: [being] only dedicated to what one wants to listen and some things doesn’t want to listen then doesn’t listen. That’s not a dedicated listener. So that kind of dedicated listener is whatever, even though it’s difficult to accept and to apply, still need to apply, still need to try. That is a dedicated listener.
II. With Jealousy and Dishonesty in Mind You Cannot See Good Qualities of Others
Everything is the interdependent origination, which means everything is dependent on something [else], or dependent on its parts, its causes and its conditions. So, our Dharma practice also depends on many conditions, such as the Guru, such as the qualities of one’s mind, one’s understanding, and diligence. If there is not enough conditions, the result cannot be good. We, students, always talk about the Guru: how good or how bad the Guru is and we usually don’t examine ourself. We think we are good but the Guru is bad (laughing). Because the Guru is bad, my practice doesn’t go anywhere, though I’m still good. This is our view, right? (laughing).
Sometimes people are very strange, very ignorant, so sometimes they see a good lama or good teacher as a bad teacher, and a bad teacher, bad lama they see as a good [one]. So that’s ignorant. That’s very ignorant. And that may also be jealousy and dishonesty. Therefore, in particular, this sincerity is the most important among the three qualities of students. If you do not have sincerity, then it would be very difficult to see good qualities of others. Even when you do see someone is good, still you do not want to believe in them. Tsongkhapa, an emanation of Manjushri, a very famous scholar and very important practitioner, said: “Sincerity means not being best. If you are [best], then that will be an obstruction and you will not see the good qualities [of others]. And therefore, you will not realize the meaning of the teaching”. Basically, dishonesty is a very strong cause for not seeing good qualities of others. Jealousy and dishonesty – these bad emotions – can [make us] perceive things in an ugly way, incorrect way.
So, the qualities of the Guru and students are very important. Since we want to receive some achievement on the path, we need all these important factors. Otherwise, achievement will not appear.
III. The Foundation for The Pure View Practice: External Purity and Internal Purity
Guru Yoga is the main practice of this ngondro text. Now we understand the importance of Guru and Guru Yoga. You visualize: externally, you look like vajra Yogini, but your essence is Yeshe Sogyal. [She] has red body, one face, two arms and she is naked wearing some adornments like a flower garland. Above her head, in an expense of a rainbow light, is your root Lama in form of Guru Rinpoche, encircled by the eight Vidhya-daras and His twenty-five principal disciples. This is a brief explanation for visualization. You read this text and at the same time you also think of the meaning of these words.
“Emaho! One’s perceptions spontaneously arise as totally Pure Land.” This means now your vision is suddenly changed. You are no longer in this ordinary place but you are in Pure Land of Guru Rinpoche. Then you visualize yourself as holy Vajra Yogini. This is the training to have pure perception. We have to think: “I am in Zangdok Palri, the Glorious Copper Mountain, the Pure Land of Guru Rinpoche.” We think and believe in this way so that slowly, eventually you develop a pure perception. Not at the beginning – it takes a lot of exercises, a lot of training.
Because of our ignorance, we see everything in an ordinary way. We don’t see Him as very pure and we don’t see Him as having a lot of rainbow. We don’t see in a very pure way but we see him in the ordinary way and physical way and this and that. That is not pure perception. There are two reasons for us to train oneself to have pure perception. And also there is a possibility for us to have a pure perception. How does it look like when one has pure perception, that one doesn’t perceive things in ordinary way? Those noble beings, such as Maha-siddhas, Guru Rinpoche, have pure perception. When the King of Zahor punished Guru Rinpoche and threw him into a big fire, because of Guru Rinpoche’s pure perception, there was not really a physical fire. The fire could not attack Him at all. Guru Rinpoche was safe and fine. The reason is that He’s already achieved great pure perception toward all phenomena. And [there is] the possibility for us to have pure perception as phenomena are naturally pure. There is a purity of each phenomenon. That’s one reason. And then second reason: the nature of the mind is also pure. Because of those reasons, the external purity and the internal purity, there is always a great opportunity for us to develop pure perception.
IV. To Reach Liberation We Have to Develop Pure View
This Guru Yoga has seven parts and the first part is to understand the essence of Guru Yoga, the result of Guru Yoga. The result is to receive blessing from the Guru and to become one, inseparable with Guru. The second part is purifying the impure perception of the location. It means we visualize the location where we are as Pure Land. That’s how we purify, how we train our impure mind. And then third one is purifying the impure perception of oneself. We always think: “I am me and I am a human being, and that’s why I have emotions, and I have desires. And I must have this.” (laugh)
This is what we see ourselves. And this is not a great way of seeing oneself. Therefore, we need to purify that impure perception of oneself. If we don’t exercise to improve our impure perception, then pure perception is very difficult to have. Therefore, we need to train. It’s difficult to understand why we need to have pure perception. Many people have this question. “Why do I have a pure perception toward you since I am ordinary person and you are a just a person?” Why do I need to see you as a Buddha?” (laugh). That’s a really natural question. The question that often comes naturally in the mind of the people. But the key is the purity of the phenomena. Every phenomenon, all phenomena, everything is naturally pure, because the nature of everything is emptiness. If you try to investigate how things exist, if we try to find our own mind, we don’t find. That’s not something to find. Because even though you may be very angry like going crazy at the moment, if you look at your anger, there is no anger. It’s empty.
Emptiness is the nature of the mind. Emptiness is in everything. That’s the main nature of the things. That emptiness is very pure, because there’s no stain in that emptiness. It is not obscured. There is no obscuration for that emptiness because it doesn’t contain any stain, any obscuration. It’s empty from the beginning. There’s no pollution in its nature. So, its nature is pure.
The reason for us to purify our impure perception is that we will be able to develop our pure perception. When we develop pure perception we are able to perceive things purely. So maybe samsara no longer exists. Samsara becomes the Nirvana because when you liberate your thoughts, that means liberate your anger. When you don’t find your anger, you see your anger becomes empty, the anger does not really act and doesn’t have power to create any karma because it’s already liberated into the space, into the nature. So that’s a very important practice and it’s a very difficult practice. It is not very easy to get there unless we do a lot of exercises, a lot of training. If we examine ourselves to see how self exists, then there’s no existence of the self. This is sort of very rough reasoning, not very profound reasoning. Though a very rough reason but it’s still very understandable.
V. What Actually Sees that Emptiness is Wisdom, Not the Mind
What is “YOU”? Which part of you is really “you”? Is your mind the “YOU”? Is your body is the “YOU”? Is your speech the “YOU”? No. Is your head, the upper part, bottom part [you]? If you search [you can see] there is none. You don’t find yourself on you. That shows that the “self” does not exist. But why then we see oneself and we think: “I’m really here, and I’m hungry, and I’m angry and I’m thirsty and everything?” This is called “illusion”. That is really illusion because your mind is making up everything. Something that does not exist but your mind made up everything. Some people think: “Maybe my head is not me and my hand is not me. There’s no me in my part but the whole thing is ME.” Something like that (laugh). Some people think that way, too. I have received too many questions like that, but then of course in the rough way, to answer when we die, we lose this body, we lose the speech and many other parts disappear. But that doesn’t mean we completely disappear somewhere. We stay there. Our consciousness is still there. Therefore, we are still there. We have a next life. We have bardo to go through. There are many happiness and unhappiness we have to go through.
So, really everything is like a dream. Self is like a dream. But if you try to see the nature of things – the nature of things is, as I said earlier, emptiness. So therefore, to recognize the reality of phenomena, reality of things, we need to take some training first, to exercise first. It’s not too visible – actually you cannot see that through your physical eye. It is not something that really understand by your mind sometimes. But the most profound realization is not concept. It’s not mind anymore. Not in those categories of the mind. But still, we think our mind is understanding this nature. “My mind can see the emptiness of this phenomena.” What actually sees the reality, that emptiness of phenomena is wisdom. It’s not really the mind. It’s a difference. But at the beginning, it’s difficult to distinguish between these two [things]: wisdom and the mind. So, it’s okay to use our mind and to take examinations of each part, of each phenomenon.
The fourth, [this practice] also gives [pure] perception of the lama in the same way. We don’t have a pure perception on anything and that creates a lot of bad thoughts. So, pure perception is very needed and very important to achieve liberation because liberation is the pure. So to reach liberation, one must to have pure view. Samsara is impure and because of our impure perception we are in Samsara. There is a strong connection between Samsara and impure perception. So, to get rid of Samsara, we need to get rid of impure perception first, only then there is a possibility for us to remain in this purity of the mind.
And first of all, for us to be able to keep pure perception toward the Guru, one must be wise in the training, or in examining the lama to find the qualities of the lama. The lama has to be qualified. And then, once one is able to see these qualities and one is able to see that the lama is qualified, then we accept the lama as Guru. And then we try to be wise in training in the view and conduct. Purifying the impure perception of oneself means one doesn’t see [oneself] as an ordinary person like oneself right now, with the physical body and with a very nasty mind – one should see oneself as Vajra Yogini. And purifying the impure perception of the Lama is to see the Lama as a Guru Rinpoche. In this text, not seeing the Lama in ordinary form but to see the Lama as a deity, rainbow body, beautiful body.
The fifth part is to train your own through the Seven Branches practice. We practice Seven Branches to accumulate merit and to purify negativity. And then the sixth one is to pray sincerely to the Guru and then the seventh [part] is to receive empowerments from the Guru.
VI. You Do That Hour and Hour and Hour, and Again and Again
Since you are beginners it’s difficult to know the details of the visualization. For example, when Guru Rinpoche is wearing many layers of different clothes, wearing different ornaments and holding different Dharma tools. So, it’s difficult for us to remember, to see each object in the mind clearly. But don’t worry. The only thing we need to do is just train [ourselves] to visualize clearly – that takes time. We have to understand that to have a clear visualization depends how much time you spend on it. It’s impossible at the beginning to have a very clear visualization. That’s very normal. Therefore, I said: “No worries. It’s normal.” Not something very bad because we’re already very bad. (laughing)
So, there is nothing worse than that happen to you. One of the good ways to support our visualization is to look at a beautiful thangka – a very clear picture of the Deity or Guru Rinpoche or Vajra Yogini or Manjushri or whatever. Look at these beautiful thangkas and try to remember the whole picture. At the beginning, you don’t have to see very detailed but just the whole picture. And then bring that image, that you have seen through your physical eyes, in your mind. Try to keep that picture as clear as possible in your mind. You do that hour and hour and hour, and again and again, so that then you will get the whole picture. The image of that Deity stays in your mind, and from then you improve your visualization slowly.
VII. This is a Gift from Guru Rinpoche
On the page 35 there is Seven Line Prayer. There are hundreds of invocations (invitations or prayers) of Guru Rinpoche but this Seven Line Prayer is one of the most powerful, most popular and most blessing-full. So this is a very important invocation of Guru Rinpoche. Guru Rinpoche has no option not to come when you read this [prayer]. You can chant this [prayer] anytime you need, any time you are lonely. You should remember the power of Compassion and Wisdom of the Buddha, and of Guru Rinpoche, and of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in ten directions and three times. Their commitment is to come [to help] whoever says prayers to them. They definitely will come and they come instantly. So it’s very important to think of Guru Rinpoche and to pray to Guru Rinpoche to remove obstacles within you, with your practice, with your motivation, with your faith, with your understanding. Guru Rinpoche will be very powerful and blessing-full and useful for us. And since this is a very important prayer of Guru Rinpoche, a lot of Guru Rinpoche followers repeat it many, many times. It’s a very important practice. Some of the lamas in Tibet today have repeated this prayer many millions of times.
There was a lama who passed away a few years ago in our monastery. This prayer is the main practice for him. And he repeated this prayer many, many millions – more than a hundred million of times. And then he has become a very knowledgeable at the end. He did not really study anything. He was a very ordinary Tibetan nomad. But then he became someone who could see through the future. Then when people asked him why he became like that. He said Guru Rinpoche gave him that gift.
The end of the excerpt
Transcript by Diệu Huệ
Excerpt from MP 3 Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche teaching afternoon 21.10.2019: https://lienhoaquang.com/q_043ani5
* This is an excerpt from the teaching given by Rinpoche at afternoon 21.10.2019, in Vietnam. The title is created by the translator for the convenience of the reader.