In 1995, Ringu Tulku continually taught in residence at Kagyu Samye Ling in Scotland from 2 to 22 April. Following the Easter weekend of 15 -17 April 1995, Ringu Tulku gave a series of teachings on “Good in the Beginning, Middle & End” by Patrul Rinpoche (Orgyen Jigme Chokyi Wangpo, 1808-1887). The text has the additional title of “The Practice of View, Meditation, and Action, Which Is The Heart Treasure Of The Enlightened Ones“, and is best known in the West thanks to both the sublime commentary by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and translation by the Padmakara Translation Group, published by Shambhala in 1992:
The root text is in the form of a poetic letter from Patrul Rinpoche explaining View, Meditation and Action to one of his students, and is 82 verses in length. A large part of the text is dedicated to explaining the skillfulness of reciting the six syllable mantra: ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པདྨེ་ཧཱུྂ༔.
The direct transmission for this text was passed from Patrul Rinpoche, to Shechen Gyaltsab Rinpoche, to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (who taught this text regularly as the quintessence of teachings), to Ringu Tulku Rinpoche.
In the First Recording:
Ringu Tulku initially discusses the life of Dza Patrul Rinpoche, before commentating on the text itself. He recites verses 1 to 17 then at 35minutes, Rinpoche discusses how our unrealistic expectations of others can lead to disappointment; including Falling in Love With the Right Person! Similarly Buddhist Centres may not necessarily be full of realised Bodhisattvas! Whereas many attend such Centres, aware that some improvements need to be made in themselves. At 44min, Ringu Tulku explains how he historically unintentionally annoyed the Queen of Sikkim… Then Rinpoche takes Q&As:
Q. 47min Can you say something about Rime? Is Patrul Rinpoche a Rime Lama?
Q. 50.44m Who taught you this text? Can you talk about Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche?
Q. 54.39m Is it pointless for us to serve others expecting appreciation?
Q. 56.22m How do you see a practitioner practicing these teachings, when living in Western civilisation?
Q. 58.06m How do you ensure that you keep to a middle road or path: open; but not expectant?
Q. 01:02:34 On a personal basis, how do we avoid ending up thinking: “Why am I bothering?”
The first session ends at 01:05:29; the second session commencing at 01:10:05.
Rinpoche discusses renunciatiation of the samsaric state of mind. There can never be a time when we have nothing to do with “the world”; that is not possible. Rather if we have an understanding of the samsaric state of mind, we understand that no solution to suffering is possible for as long as we perceive in such a way.
If a fly is trapped at the top or bottom of a bottle; it is still trapped. Our first step is to realise that we’re trapped or we will never escape. So a sense of renunciation of the samsaric state of mind is vital to motivate us.
At 01:21:30 Rinpoche reads verse 18 and references Thinley Norbu Rinpoche’s earlier translation into English: “Practice of the Essence of the Sublime Heart Jewel, the Propitious Speech from the Beginning, Middle and End by Patrul Rinpoche” Jewel Pub House (June 1984) ISBN-10: 999070242X. Rinpoche commences verse 19 just before the end of the recording.
In the Second Recording:
Rinpoche continues verse 19, discussing our understandings of relative and ultimate truth. He explains how we enter enlightenment through”The Gateless Gate”.
At 06.44 in verse 20 Ringu Tulku Rinpoche clarifies that Patrul Rinpoche is giving this advice to himself. At 08:50 Rinpoche pauses to take further Q&As:
Q. 10:24 How helpful is the use of imputed concepts (such as a “flower”) symbols or metaphors when pointing toward truths?
Q. 19.54 Is there a danger of us seeing a snake and thinking it’s a piece of rope? 😀
Q. 22.00 I can understand being without fear, but aren’t hope or enthusiasm useful? Are things not a bit flat without them?
Q. 24.00 In the West, we often think that our teacher is going to be Our Prince On A White Horse to rescue us! That’s a misconception isn’t it?
The base of all renunciation is the hopelessness of the samsaric state of mind; and to be disillusioned with that.
The second session concludes at 31.54 ; the third session starts at 36.50; when Rinpoche starts discussion of the essence of these teaching on Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig) and the six-syllable mantra from verse 22; where hopelessness becomes fearlessness.
Verse 26 discusses purification within the Ngundro practice at 1:00:00. Q&As start at 1.22:24:
Q. 1:22:24 Can a flash of realisation appear, but then go?
Q. 1:26:35 Rinpoche, you say we react all the time. If we can get over our conditioning, do we respond instead of reacting?
Q. 1:27:00 Can I ask a question about empowerment? If we don’t understand the language the empowerment is given in, how does it work?
Q. 01:31:15 Can a samsaric state of mind come and go? Do you feel calm all the time?
Q. 1:32:10 I say mantras all the time. Sometimes I don’t know why! Should I still keep on doing it? Is that normal?
In the Third Recording: the third session continues until 03:33.
Q. 00:00 Should I keep on saying mantras if I don’t feel anything?
Q. 03:14 Can we have the lung for this particular text?
The fourth session commences at 08:37 with Rinpoche discussing how our happiness is interdependent and interconnected with others. He then describes how we can develop Bodhicitta and gradually embody the qualities and aspirations of a Bodhisattva. He continues the text at 33:09 from verse 30. At 42:55 Rinpoche is asked:
Q. 42:55 Is it true that Jamgon Kongtrul perceived many monks as snakes? (continued at 56:20)
(A chaffinch flies into the shrine room and contributes to the teachings thereafter, until it decides to return outside again.)
Q. 48:53 When we’re confronted with people who are doing something dreadful, how can we possibly see them as pure?
Q. 50:58 If you see people doing something terrible, do we see them as having Buddha Nature, but just obscured?
Q. 55.20 Is wisdom needed for compassion?
Q. 58.33 Sometimes people do things that are so unbelievably bad, if we say that they did so because of this, this and this, it’s almost like excusing it? I find it very difficult to be compassionate, when, what has been done may cause someone to suffer for the rest of their life.
Q. 01:02:36 Is there simply a need to re-educate people, if they have done something wrong?
Q. 01:03:10 Once we had a symposium here, and some people attended from quite an extreme sect –and they were quite unpleasant really. Is it important to recognise how dangerous some people really can be?
Q. 01:06:29 to 01:10:45 I feel very strongly that anger has a place, and I honestly believe that, without anger, we will not get things changed in this world, against people who have done immense harm and damage? I believe that anger can be constructive, so that I can get things done! I feel that when my anger comes it gives me force and determination to actually do something!
The fourth session concludes at 01:11:58, and the fifth starts at 01:17:33; resuming discussion of the text at verse 33 on the two obscurations of: mind poisons/afflictive emotions; and patterns of habitual tendencies. Rinpoche then discusses how practicing the six-syllable mantra is sufficient to result in attaining both common and supreme siddhis.
In the Fourth Recording:
The fifth session continues at verse 34, with Rinpoche explaining up to verse 40, and the first stage of Mahamudra at 22:05.
The final Q&A session starts at 28:20:
Q. 28:20 In this text, is a “thought” not just thinking, but anything that appears through the senses?
Q. 29:53 On the same subject, is there not a difference between; hearing a sound; and being involved with it enough, to think about it?
Q. 35:11 Is there an unfortunate association between mind training and enforced discipline?
Rinpoche then discusses the mistranslation and unintended connotations of Buddhist schools as Buddhist “sects”.
Ringu Tulku later returned to teach the complete text in extensive detail at Kagyu Samye Ling’s Purelands Retreat Centre from 23 to 28 April 2006.
Rinpoche has also taught this text in Kagyu Samye Dzong Dublin in recent years:
Photography of Samye Ling by Dr Conrad Harvey.