“On this week-long retreat, Rinpoche will take us through the whole Buddhist path, from the simplest meditation practice to the vast view of our potential for complete enlightenment, touching on a dazzling range of teachings and techniques along the way.
Teaching directly in English and drawing on classic sacred texts, Rinpoche will share his personal understanding of each of the three yanas, the three traditional Buddhist paths, which can be encapsulated as peace, compassion and wisdom. He will reveal the vital role of each yana in the attainment of genuine realization, and show how the three yanas combined offer a complete, coherent, integral path. Rinpoche will show how, wherever we are on that path, whether we are just beginning or very experienced, we can use the wisdom embodied in the three yanas to meet the challenges we face in our lives.
Everyone is welcome to attend this retreat regardless of your faith background or experience.”
This retreat was organised by Rigpa Australia in Tuncurry (Australia) and on Zoom.
Part 1: A public talk Peace, Compassion and the Natural World
Part 2: The actual retreat begins. The basis of the Buddhist teachings.
Part 3: Q&A [no sound in the video – this will be fixed soon]
Part 4: The Four Noble Truths
Part 5: Q&A
Part 6: The Noble Eightfold Path
Part 7: Eightfold Path continued
Part 8: Q&A
Part 9: A Bodhisattva’s path. The Six Paramitas.
Part 10: Q&A
(Part 11: Rinpoche bestows the empowerment)
Part 12: Mahamudra and Dzogchen Ngöndro
Part 12: Guru and Guru Yoga. Q&A.
Photos thanks to Rigpa Australia Facebook page and also Ger Reinders (on Zoom).
by Maggy Jones
Part 1: Peace, Compassion and the Natural World, Tuncurry, Rigpa
I think Buddhist teachings can make a contribution to the problems of the relationship between people and the world. The world is the container and we are the contents so we must take care of our “container”; we are interdependent. We are both created from the 5 elements and we have a responsibility to maintain the balance. There is a Buddhist contribution at most high level conferences on the environment.
Compassion is being useful to others; you improve yourself and it is essential for co-existing. “Peace” is not just absence of war, it means contentment, harmony and this can spread from person to person. However bad things are, you can always do something constructive. Worry, misery – these help nothing.
Daring Steps: Walking the Path of the Buddha
“Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Buddhism” By Ringu Tulku. Bodhicharya Publications. ISBN 978-1559392259 www.bodhicharya.org
The inspirations behind this book. Advice on teaching Dharma. Practice at the level where you are. Story of origins and motivation behind Buddhism; Buddha’s enlightenment. Everyone is unique but also interdependent. The key teaching is discovery of how you experience things and how you can transform your reactions to help others. There is no one single way. If you are helping people – that is all that is asked. Anyone can be transformed and purified. Story of Anguilemara and the 999 fingers.
We must understand from the heart, then train our mind and work on our failings. Study with a good teacher. 3 different reasons for seeking enlightenment.
Q & A postponed from previous day. Reincarnation – Tibetan and other cultures. Story of Karma Pakshi. Is there life after life? How? Five examples of the reincarnation continuum. Examples of remembering past lives; birthmarks corresponding to memory. What is the “I” that incarnates? We are physically changing all the time. Can you describe “mind”? What is it like?
What you need to do to become enlightened. Purification is endless because during this long process you commit many more negative deeds. You must transform. Story of Anandas’s appointment as Buddha’s main attendant and transcriber. Buddha left strict instructions on how his teachings should be recorded. Stories of links with Guru Padmasambhava and Sikkhim. Buddhism and environment and vegetarianism.
The first teaching of the Buddha after enlightenment was the Four Noble Truths. Indian mythology behind amrita. Background to the teaching. The 16 aspects of the 4 Truths. There is a vast number of teachings of the Buddha but these 4 are always the foundation for all three Yanas. Disagreements between use of Pali – mostly Theravadin – and Sanskrit – Mahayana and Vajrayana. Buddha taught different approaches for different people, and these are kept clearly apart.
1st approach of the Four Truths is for normal everyday life.
I do not say “Life is suffering”, I say it is a series of problems which we solve one by one. Story of Shariputra and Mogallyana. Ignorance of the true nature causes our problems, our kleshas and karma. Cessation can be achieved by following the Eight-fold Path. Dharma Practice is transforming our Kleshas, It is not work – it is a joy.
Q & A From previous day. The way something exists is like a dream – it is “there” but it is “not there”. The question is, “in what way is it there?” It is beyond concept. Guru / student relationship – this will vary with the nature of the student. There are 3 recognised types, most people will need a knowledgeable teacher. “Karma” means “action” – your actions create your karma. Karma is NOT reward and punishment. You cannot change what you are now but you can affect what you will become. “Bardo” is a state of transition; there are many both in this life and after death. Meditation, mindfulness help you distance yourself from the violent emotions that cause the trouble.
The Path. The origins of the ordained sangha. The rules arose out of incidents. 1st turning of the wheel is mostly Vinaya. The 2nd is Prajna paramita sutras and the Bodhisattva path. Stories of the early sangha. The 3rd turning focuses on Buddha Nature and connects more with Vajrayana. 8-Fold Path can be condensed into 3 – 1st Right View (including Karma) 2nd Right Thoughts (including emotions) 3rd Right Actions (including Speech). If you understand why these are wrong, both for yourself and others, strict self-discipline will not be necessary and the path will not be difficult. Q & A
8-Fold Path is about training for usefulness. The 3 types of laziness. Be aware that your actions all have purpose. Notice your motivation. Make your practice your hobby. Mindfulness exercise. A jug of water will be unclean but let the water settle and it will become clean – our mind is the same. This is Shamatha meditation Vipassana develops from this to a deeper insight, how things really are. Chandrakirti, Chandragomin story; they debated for 13 years then discovered that Manjushri was coaching Chandragomin, and Chenrezig was coaching Chandrakirti. The 4 pillars of Sangha – ordained monks and nuns, 1 & 2, living in solitude; householders, men and women 1 & 2, who have taken the 5 basic vows. History of the growth of ordination.
Q & A From previous day. To gain the experience of shunyata – It is not a belief. 3 steps 1st Study and listen 2nd Reflection and investigation 3rd Meditation. Science has proved the Buddhist belief that everything depends on something else for its existence. Anyone can become a Bodhisattva. Hell realms? Do they exist? Does our human world exist? In what way do they exist? If you even have a small doubt about existence – that is a start. When you truly realise, then you will have no worries and no fear. Stories of great practitioners. Anyone can become a Bodhisattva; the concept existed before Buddhism and was developed by the Buddha. The benefits of following Bodhisattva path for self and others.
Bodhisattva Path follows the 6 Paramitas rather than the 8-fold Path, but the messages are identical. In the Path, the View is the first; in the Paramitas it is Generosity; the second is Discipline. NB the Paramitas are the ordinary virtues taken to an ultimate level. Why do we dislike ourselves? Rinpoche discusses. We must prepare, and train ourselves to be Bodhisattvas. The Vinaya emphasises not doing wrong, Mahayana focuses on doing what is right. Jataka tale – always do what you can. Listen before you “help”. We must not only know the 6 paramitas – we must live by them. ALL teachings are contained within these. Appreciate the attractions, let go of bad experiences.
Q & A From previous day. Precepts according to Vinaya, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Commitments are inherent in empowerments. All traditions should be studied and practised but you need a special kind of application for Vajrayana. Dzogchen or “skilful means” is yogic practice for the direct experience; Mahamudra is the liberation path working on the mind. Intellectual understanding is like looking at a map, the experience is actually going there. It is the same with the mind. Devotion is 3 things – 1st inspiration; 2nd you want to become like that; 3rd absolute certainty (no doubts). Mandala offering is a training, both in generosity and your relationship with the Higher Beings.
What are the books? They are teachings but just information. You can spend 50 years studying the sutras and tantras but there are other approaches which identify the pith instructions and are briefer e.g. the purpose and importance of contemplating the Four Thoughts (Precious human life; Death & Impermanence; Karma; Samsara). Renunciation is not giving up things (unless you are ordained sangha) but giving up within. Similarly, Samsara is within you. “Dharma practice” is the training for the real practice – your life. Feel compassion for everyone – even those who do evil. Killing them does not solve the problem because they will be the same in next life. You must transform them with compassion. Buddhist approach to compassion is the wish to free another from pain.
Ngöndro is the main practice; some great masters do this their whole life through. “Guru” and “Guru Yoga” are two different things, The Guru is your teacher, the Guru Yoga is the practice. You can learn from anyone, such as a sincere scholar, even if they are not enlightened. In Guru Yoga, invite all the enlightened Beings, if you do this strongly enough they will come. Sometimes the words do not mean so much, so you should “speak” from your heart. Always, always watch your mind, is your compassion growing stronger? Is your patience more tolerant? How do you react to others? These are the marks of a high practitioner. Story of 2 Jalpos – which one can do most harm. Q & A Teachers of Sogyal R and Ringu Tulku,
For further information on the 4 Noble Truths and the 16 Aspects please see