In 1998 from Sep 6 to 26 Rinpoche gave students an extended opportunity to discuss any topics that they felt would be of value; following Rinpoche’s morning teachings on the 4th Section of the 6th Chapter of The Treasury of Knowledge.
These 14 recordings document these amazing afternoon Q&A and discussion sessions, and are not only as useful for students in the 21st Century, as they were when recorded; they serve as a tribute to the late William Greenock Trotter (13.2.46 -16.12.23) who recorded and archived all of Ringu Tulku’s teachings at Samye Ling from his first visit in 1989, up until, and including, Rinpoche’s teaching visit of June 2023.
Bill Trotter died at the end of 2023, but thanks to his diligence and meticulous devotion to the Dharma over 40 years, Ringu Tulku’s decades of teachings at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland can be shared with you now and for generations to come, via this online Archive.
Q. 02:25 Previously you have said that to have trust in Tantra, we should undertstand Tantra. How should we go about that? A. Rinpoche then explains the 3 stages that this entails.
Q. 15:11 How can we overcome our habitual tendencies? A. Rinpoche explains that most practices in Buddhism have this specific aim; to overcome negative habitual tendencies.
Q. 33:30 Is this life do we have a few people who can act as guides for us? A. Rinpoche explains how our capacity to learn, shapes how receptive we are; potentially everything can be a teaching, if we learn from our experiences. Rinpoche talks about Vajrayana’s emphasis on Pure Vision; and how this isn’t slavery or blind faith, but about how our way of seeing, shapes our life.
Q. 42.50 Please can you expand on the analogy of birth and death within sadhanas and the tantras? A. There are 4 (Nyingma 6) Tantras, based on the 4 types of birth (womb, egg, heat + moisture, miraculous/spontaneous)
Q. 55.58 Is the practice: doing puja; or what the puja is doing to you? A. Puja is purely the method!
Q 1:00.34 Please can you explain the role of the teacher in redirection and connecting us to the teachings? A. The teacher’s role is to guide and show what is Dharma practice, and point out your weak points, where there is scope to improve! The teacher is appointed by the student.
2. In the second recording on the afternoon of 8/9/98:
Q: If someone attends an empowerment before they take refuge, what does that mean? If they then take refuge, do they have to take the empowerment again?
Q. 05:15 Do you have to have the intention that you are actually taking an empowerment?
Q. 10:11 Can you explain a bit about the Path empowerment?
Q. 13:56 Is it almost like a process? How do body, speech, and mind work together?
Q. 22:00 I have a friend who doesn’t believe in reincarnation. How can I give her proof of it?
Q. 35:00 Is the karma we created in our last life, stronger than karma from previous lives?
Q. 39:42 With karma is there free will? Is karma atendency to make certain choices?
Q. 43:00 How do we work on our consciousness whilst we’re asleep?
Q. 47:30 If we are not to “get rid of anything”, how does karma eventually come to an end?
Q. 51:31 How is it possible to develop faith in the teachings, without developing attachment to them?
Q. 59:57 Is the deepest condition our self-obsession?
Q. 1:01:01 How do you explain forgiveness in Dharma terms, if someone has harmed you? How do we forgive?
3. In the third recording from 10/9/98: karmic theory and free will are discussed.
Q. 02:07 Can you explain how: if thoughts are shaped by karma; there can be free will?
Q. 07:06 If the prison is a concept of “I”, with a perception of “I”, where is our free will?
Q. 11:37 Who is this “I” that thinks “this is me”? Is free will bound up with a concept of “I”; bound up with karma and relative truth?
Q. 14:18 Is it that there is no such thing as completely free will, unless there is complete liberation?
Q. 16:14 Does the idea “to become free”, lead to a chain reaction of positivity, that doesn’t require free will? Is that choice always dependent upon karma?
Q. 21:19 Is free will not required to make new karma? Or should we call it self-determination or choice?
Q. 29:25 Surely there couldn’t be karma, unless there was free will?
Q. 37:32 What qualities of our actions, determine the time of their subsequent karmic fruition? A. The result can comes in this life if action is strong. Stronger actions come first.
Q. 40:52 Buddhists believe in reincarnation, but there is no self to be reincarnated; so what is reincarnated? A It is an illusory, dream-like, rebirth!
Q. 47:25 Although we have to do the work on our own karma; it possible for enlightened beings to interdependently assist and help us?
Q. 52:30 If much of our suffering results from our dualistic tendency to attachment and aversion; is our instinct to help someone, also coming from that tendency to aversion & attachment?
Q. 1:00:34 In assisting others, are we actually relping to resolve others’ karma; or are we merely postponing a negative fruition for them? A. We cannot dissolve others karma, but we can help.
Q. 1:01:45 So how is it that Tara can help us?
Q. 1:02:18 So when Dorje Sempa (Vajrasattva) purification practice is done by ourselves, can that help us to purify our own karma, more swiftly?
4. In the fourth recording from 11/9/98: Rinpoche discusses how suffering can finish; and even how positivity can be generated within a Hell realm. The ego is defined as a false sense of a “me” that is a distinct entity, seperate from everything else. Dream yoga is discussed as a method for working on habitual tendencies. The nature of dreams are discussed as refecting habitual tendencies or indicative of potential future events. The importance of Pure Vision is discussed, as are the dangers of harming oneself more through retaliation, when there is more benefit to be had through developing tolerance. Rinpoche emphasises how thoughts and emotions are momentary. How we react in dreams, gives a good indication of how we may react in the Bardo.
5. On 12/9/98 Rinpoche discusses the Alaya consciousness in the context of the 8 consciousnesses. Beings suffer, because they don’t realise that they’re Buddha; akin to a neighbour having a nightmare. We can know: that the dream is unreal; but recognise that they’re still suffering. Our instinct is to wake them up, but also appreciate that they’re currently inherently safe. For us to meaningfully help someone, that “help” must be from the perspective of the receiver, not merely the “helper”.
6. On 13/9/98 Rinpoche describes how to usefully help someone after their death. Rinpoche then discusses the bardo experiences. Amitabha’s Pure Realm of Dewachen is described and the 4 causes of being born there are explained.
8. On 15/9/98 Rinpoche describes how whatever we focus and concentrate upon becomes stronger and stronger in us. If we focus upon positive qualities (such as buddhas and bodhisattvas) they will predominate. Rinpoche then explains the process of Creation & Completion. If we are overpowered by the 5 senses then we are at their mercy; whereas if our mind becomes more stable, then we are less likley to become overpowered by the 5 senses. Adherence to the specifics of visualisation are explained as maintaining the tradition of mahasiddhas rather than the concepts of dualistic artistic creative people! In the actual practice of Creation & Completion, the View is vital; increasingly more emphasis is given to completion. Prayer is important as motivation and aspiration is a transformational exercise in itself. We are not praying to anything, rather we become more like Buddha; and we invoke their dedication and blessings to assist us on the path, to manifest our own potential already within us. In essence we are praying to become the Buddha, that in actuality we already are. So there is nothing to acquire as such. With devotion and trust within Guru Yoga practice we can open up. If we have faced suffering we can relate to our own experience with empathy for others.
9.17/9/98 Rinpoche clarifies how thought, emotions and concepts are all manifestations. Rinpoche then describes Tara and Tara practices at length, and how colours are associated with activities and action. Rinpoche describes how Atisha consulted Tara before travelling to Tibet.
10. 18/9/98 Rinpoche discusses the Kangyur and Tengyur; all compiled after Buddha’s passing. Newer commentaries can’t be added to Tengyur. Guru Rinpoche’s main teachings are Terma (treasure found) teachings; Jamgon Kongtrul collated 100 volumes. There are 40 volumes of Karma teachings brought from India; not all in the Tengyur. Nagarjuna rediscovered the Prajnaparamita Sutras and wrote commentaries on it. Rinpoche then discusses the two different approaches of: rangtong “devoid of self” (where phenomena are analysed; more from a relative truth perspective; as preferred by the Gelong school) & shentong “devoid of other” (where ultimate truth has been meditatively experienced by a realised being; often supported by Kagyu masters) views. Holding onto “emptiness” is a mistake.
11. 19/9/98 Rinpoche discusses Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, his life, and the non-sectarian Rime outlook. How 5 reincarnations came to be identified; associated with monasteries such as Palpung, Shechen, and Dzogchen. Renunciation is then explained.
12. 20/9/98 Rinpoche discusses the variety of Kagyu Lineages (both Marpa -6 Yogas of Naropa and Shangpa Kagyu -6 Yogas of Niguma) The 4 great and 8 other lineages from Gampopa’s teachings. Rinpoche explains Shambhala. The Terma of Guru Rinpoche.
14. 23/9/98 The final Q&A session where Rinpoche discusses the timing of Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment; and how it is viewed from a Vajrayana perspective (cf a Shravakayana persective) and the concept of empowerment at the point of enlightenment. The significance of teachers appearing within our dreams. If we can develop a state of mind without aversion and attachmnet it results in bliss. Up to the point of non-attachment there is still ego-attachment eg “I am the compassionate one“!
Photographs of Ringu Tulku with Bill Trotter by taken by Conrad Harvey.
For more information, visit: https://bodhicharya.org/teachings/archives/the-treasury-of-knowledge-part-vi-book-six-part-4