Introduction To Longchen Nyingthik (Part I)*
Morning 16.10.2018, Sui Pagoda
There are quite a lot of traditions of Tibetan Buddhism and each tradition has its own ngondro practice. And ngondro practice is important for all Buddhist traditions. Maybe it is not said to be ngondro or set up as a ngondro text but the meaning is still there. As Buddhist practitioners, they are practicing the same meaning that is practiced in ngondro practice. Ngondro or preliminary practice is basically the foundation of renunciation or realization. Therefore I said it may not be called ngondro practice or ngondro text in your tradition but the meaning stays the same and you practice what [people] are practicing in ngondro [stage]. For example, the 4 thoughts to turn the mind for Dharma. Those are basically, by meaning, the same as Four Noble Truths. And the Four Noble Truths are very important for Vietnamese Buddhist tradition as well.
The differences between Sutra Yana and Tantra Yana is ME THOD. In Vajra Yana there are more options, more methods. Methods that are more simple and convenient. But in Sutra Yana unless one practices a lot, one study a lot, it is not easy to bring all the things together to practice. For example, the Four Noble Truths. This is a great teaching that takes the whole first Turning of Dharma Wheel. I mean a very large subject. But how do masters teach in Vajrayana? They bring everything together, and put all the important things together in a small way, small portions that are easy to practice, easy to understand. That is called METHOD. Vajrayana teaches have more methods and gives more convenient practices to people than Sutrayana. So this is the difference between the two traditions.
The 84000 different teachings [were] given by kind Buddha and that is a great size. Very large! When we say 84000 different teachings, it is very large and it is difficult [for us] to pick something and to put into practice. As an ordinary [person], like [us], with our mental faculty, it is difficult to do that. So the kind masters, so kind that they made this convenient practices. All these 84.000 teachings are put into a small practice in a very convenient way for practice. And that makes it much easier for us to practice. For example, 84.000 teachings. How big it is? We have the collection of these teachings about 100 volumes. But now because of these wisdom masters, they are so kind that they make it much more convenient for us. They take the essence of all these teachings and put into one small book for us to use for practice. And we will get the same result as we have studied all of these books, all of these teachings. So that is called METHOD in Vajrayana. Vajrayana is very rich and very colorful in different ways. They have many methods, many unique ways to practice, and to give a very effective practice and [practice of] power.
Longchen Nyingthik is a tradition in Tibet, is a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. It is a very important tradition in Tibetan Buddhism. It is practiced everywhere in this world. And there are many accomplished masters. Great masters who accomplished such high result through Longchen Nyingthik practices. The highest result one can achieve through Longchen Nyingthik practices is called is rainbow body. That is the highest result that [can be achieved] through [practicing] LN teachings. What is the highest of Longchen Nyingthik teachings. The highest teachings of Longchen Nyingthik is Great Perfection, or Dzogpa Chenpo. Dzogpa Chenpo is the essence of Longchen Nyingthik teaching.
I usually say people that that all Dharma equally good. Because Dharma is pure, is stainless. Dharma is free from attachment so Dharma is pure, is good. All Dharmas are equally good. Because of that we should have pure view toward all Dharmas, that we should have faith and devotion in all Dharmas. But there is nothing wrong to say that Longchen Nyingthik, Dzogpa Chenpo is one of the most profound and [most] important teaching, one of the most pure and bless-full teachings on the Earth.
How can one practice any Dharma effectively. The answer is one should have confidence, devotion, pure view in whatever one does. If one does that, if one practices faithfully one receives the result, reaches the goal. Therefore, without having devotion or faith, it is not possible to achieve the goal, the power and blessing of the practice. Dharma practice depends on one’s understanding, and one’s pure vision, pure motivation.
Therefore, as a Dharma practitioner it is basic thing to have devotion, to believe strongly in the practice. Buddha repeatedly teaches about the importance of having pure vision and devotion. This is true. We can learn that from many great masters, great practitioners. Because of their devotion and pure vision they have reached such high accomplishments. And we can learn from other people that they cannot received blessing of the practice because they do not have pure vision or devotion. So that shows us the importance of devotion and pure vision. So we, Vajrayana practitioners, should try hard to have pure vision and to see the importance of devotion and pure vision.
The history of Dzogchen teaching is very great. One can talk about it for many day. But one can put that in a simple way. In the Buddhas’ realm, there are three Buddhas important for the lineage of Dzogpa Chenpo. The first one is the Buddha Samantabadra, the second one is Buddha Vajrasattva, the third one is Vajrapani. In the human realm, there are three important Dzogchen Masters. The first one is Garab Dorje, the second one is Guru Rinpoche, the third one is Longchen Rabjam.
It is said that Buddha Samantabadra taught Dzogchen to all Buddhas in the Buddha realm. And Vajrasattva taught Dzogchen to Vajrapani. Vajrapani taught Dzogchen in God’s realm. It is how they established Dzogchen teaching in Buddha realm and God’s realm. Then, Garab Dorje received all the tantras, scriptures, instructions of Dzogchen from Vajrasattva and Vajrapani in person. And [He] became the first human Vidyadara in Dzogchen lineage. And Garab Dorje reached the state of complete enlightenment through the, we call, effortless Great Perfection or Dzogpa Chenpo.
What is the connection between Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings and Dzogpa Chenpo. Buddha often taught Vajrayana teachings in different forms. Not in a bikkhu’s form, but in a deity’s form, like Kalachakra, [for example]. when He taught Kalachakra’s teaching He was not wearing a monk’s robe, but he eminated as Kalachakra. In the case [of Dzogchen teaching], many teachings, many texts say that Buddha eminated as Garab Dorje. Garab Dorje was emanation of Buddha Shakyamuni and Vajrasattva. And He turned the wheel of Dzogchen teaching.
When we say we believe in Buddha then if one really believe in Buddha one must believe in inconceivable ways of Buddha. Otherwise, it is not true to say that one believe in Buddha. Activities and mind of Buddha, the nature of Buddha is inconceivable. And the power of Buddha is beyond imagination of an ordinary man. Therefore, when we trust in Buddha we must think that Buddha is something that we can think with our ordinary mind, but [also] Buddha has a lot of secrets and power that are beyond our thinking.
Buddha Himself said that if anyone wants to fully understand, fully know about the Buddha then one must see that Buddha is formless, Buddha is soundless, Buddha is nothing, but Buddha is inconceivable. Buddha is nothing. [You] shouldn’t think Buddha is something, but Buddha is inconceivable. Buddha is not nothing but Buddha is not something, either, because Buddha is beyond concepts. Therefore, because Buddha is beyond concepts, Buddha is inconceivable so He has many many ways to teach Dharma. And Buddha is able to give great great Methods, instructions according to beings’ faculties.
Therefore, for us it is not smart to say that Buddha taught only Hiayana, or Buddha did not teach Vajrayana teachings. Because we do not know actually. Sometime we make mistakes with our ordinary minds. Sometimes to say that Buddha did that, only that, that much, no more than that, as if we make decision for Buddha (laughing). That is not a very smart way because Buddha is beyond the mind of conception. Buddha has many ways to liberate sentient beings, to benefit sentient beings, so whatever benefits sentient beings, Buddha definitely does. Therefore, Buddha taught all levels of teaching, different levels to different levels of people.
That is how we should understand Buddha and how we should put our confidence in Buddha. And whether one receives benefit from teachings of Buddha, as I always mention, [depends on one’s] believing and confidence. Whatever Dharma practitioners do we should do with confidence and faith. Only by that we will receive some benefit, otherwise [there is] no benefit. So it is important to do things with understanding. So when we say believe in Buddha, or [we have] confidence, devotion, that kind of faith depends on [good] understanding, not that something we do not know but we still put our belief in; that is not the [right] way [of faith].
Therefore, Buddha always teaches people: first, you hear the teaching. Hear and hear repeatedly. And then you can hear the meaning [of the teaching]. And second, you have to think, think over and over repeatedly so that you could really understand what Buddha is saying. Thirdly, you have to meditate on what you have learned, on what you have understood. [In order] to get some real experience from what you understand one should meditate on that, meditate diligently. Therefore, HEARING, THINKING, MEDITATING, those practices are always important to understand Buddha well and understand the teaching of Buddha.
Everyone knows the importance of study. Study is always good, especially study of Dharma. Because Buddha’s Dharma gives wisdom, teaches how to be a good person, a nice person, an honest person, how to be a beneficial person. When it comes to study Dharma we have to read books, texts to have correct understanding. Otherwise we may go wrong, may take a wrong path. To protect oneself from that danger – to go in the wrong direction – one must study as much as one can. Nowadays there are too many books, too many writers. They write many things, with too many different views. And some of the books I think they are not that meaningful, not that useful, because they teach something wrong, something not really good. So to read really good books is very important. The Chinese philosopher Confucius said: “Do not read books from any writers, but read [only] the books of noble beings.”
Today the program is to discuss on the short version, very brief text of Longchen Nyingthik ngondro: Opening the Door to the Naturally Present Inner Clarity. The essence of Dharma, any Dharma, any practice is to introduce to the nature of mind. But different teachings have different ways to introduce that. Some of teachings introduce that very directly, in a short way, some of other teachings do that in an indirect way. There are many ways of doing that. The very direct and very short way to open the door to the nature is called profound teaching or instruction, good instruction. Because, not all teachings describe the nature very clearly, or very closely. Some of the teachings go indirectly, go around, around and slowly, eventually take to the nature. Some teachings take very directly and steely to the nature, in a very short way. So there are two ways to teach and to introduce to the nature. And Longchen Nyingthik or Dzogchen teachings are the most direct way, the shortest way to show, to take to the nature.
The reason, the use of Dzogchen or Longchen Nyingthik is to introduce the great Nature, the absolute nature of the mind. And the mind has two parts. The first one is called emptiness. The nature of mind is empty. If one tries to see through the mind, to see what it is the mind, then one sees only emptiness, [he] sees nothing. That is the first part of mind. That part of mind is emptiness.
The second part of mind is not only emptiness, nothingness, but mind naturally establishes many qualities. For example wisdom. The mind, even though it is empty but it is very clear about everything. It has power to hear, to see, to taste and to think. Those [qualities] are called naturally established or inner qualities. So two parts, two main parts. To understand that reality, the real nature of mind is important for one to liberate from all of concepts.
So, even when we try to see through the mind we see nothing but it becomes empty like space. But on our ordinaty level we do not think that way. We think mind is something real, something that can create happiness or unhappiness. We think that mind is something real, but the real mind is not like what we think or how we see. It is very different from what we think. We need to see the reality, the real nature of the mind. When we say the mind is emptiness and clarity, two parts, two qualities. Emptiness is like primordial, original purity. [It is] all the time pure. Nature of mind is never poluted by any emotion. Because of that purity, mind has power to see everthing. So it is like the clarity is there, present, being never separated from mind. Mind is always clear and empty naturally. But it is not [empty] like the space or empty like this room, but it luminates. Because of that luminosity it is pure. Because of that emptiness and luminosity combined – the nature of mind is luminosity and emptiness [united] – nothing can pollute it. Like the sky is empty and nothing can polute it.
When we see clouds, winds, dust that cover or pollute the sky. [We should know] these [emotions] are external things, not something that can really polute [mind’s] nature. So our emotions arise in the emptiness of mind but it doesn’t affect the nature of mind. Eventhough it is naturally pure, since we have the naturally pure mind in us all time, why are we not pure? The mind is like pure land. But we are not in that pure land. We left the pure land behind somewhere and came to a different place. We are not able to remain there. We are with emotions and thoughts. We need to bring oneself back to the original position, the Mother Nature.
The instructions of Dzogchen Teaching gives a way to [reach] the nature, to that purity, very directly. And the liberation is not something far from oneself but within oneself. The Dzogchen teachings give instructions to that liberation in a short way, and introduces the most effective method, very sincerely. There are no other conditions, no other things, but a very direct instruction. That is why these teachings are very profound, very direct, and very important. Because liberation is not something, not a place far away from onefself, but it is a part of mind. This instruction gives a way how to break through the thoughts, emmotions, to recognize the nature and to remain in that purity. As soon as one recognizes that purrity and able to remain in that purity, one is already in that nature, one is liberating oneself. So it is so close, so simple to rest naturally. That is how to recognize, how to remain in nature, to relax, to rest in the nature without emotions, without concepts.
The nature of that mind is pure and that is liberation. Therefore, you do not have to go anywhere but stay within your nature. Do not stay with thinking too much, but stay without thinking. Do not push oneself to be there but to relax, to remain, to rest. That is how it [Dzogchen] teaches a very simple way. But of course that is not easy to be there to rest in your nature naturally. That is the way to do that. But we need a lot of accumulation, otherwise that is not easy. Therefore, conditions for us to remain in the nature is called practice of accumulation.
That is general introduction on Dzogchen Longchen Nyingthik teaching. It is important to have a general idea, general understanding of Dzogchen Longchen Nyingthik, because we want to practice Longchen Nyingthik. We want to rely on this teaching so it should be good, effective, pure, otherwise we should not rely on that practice. Therefore, we need this general instruction, general understanding. As for specific meaning, we need more specific instruction.
As I said, the highest result one can achieve from Dzogchen Teaching is rainbow body. What is rainbow body? Often time we see, even Shakyamuni Buddha when He passed away He left His body behind. But these great masters of Dzogchen lineage, they did not leave any remain behind. They passed away and their bodies became rainbow. They left nothing behind, nothing to be burnt up, nothing to be buried underneath ground but rainbow body. That is very special instruction and teaching. It continues to go on in Tibet. Many great and humble Dharma, Dzogchen practitioners when they died sometime their bodies became rainbow body. Sometimes their bodies became very small, very small, like not more than 10 pound. Very small. The power of Dzogchen teachings still shows a lot of good results. If you honestly, with honest mind, honest understanding, investigate, you do not see thoses results related to any other tradition but Nyingma tradition. That is true if you go around and study. So these teaching, the Great Perfection, Dzogpa Chenpo Teachings, are very effective, not only in the past but it reamains the same essence and same power. It is still going on.
The end of the Teaching on 16.10.2018
English transcript and English-Vietnamese translation: Lotsawa, 24.1.2019.
* The title is created by the translator of this script for the convenience of the reader.