What does one do if they might be ready to get rid of (or move on from) an attachment, but it might be harmful to those who are attached to you; like older children? Chronic illness etc. may cause you to stay longer.

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: What does one do if they might be ready to get rid of (or move on from) an attachment, but it might be harmful to those who are attached to you; like older children? Chronic illness etc. may cause you to stay longer.

Garchen Rinpoche: The point is not to be attached. If you are already not attached to them, there is no need to abandon them. If they need your help, then you must not abandon them, but should take care of them. This becomes your practice of compassion, and this is more beneficial than to abandon someone that you are already not attached to.

If you take care of them with love, you will naturally practice the six paramitas.

You will serve them with your body, which is generosity.

You will not hurt them, which is moral conduct.

You will not be angry with them, which is patience.

You will always love them, which is meditation.

From your love and compassion, wisdom increases.

And you will persevere in all that, which is diligence.

Once again remember that Longchen Rabjam said, “When mental arisings settle in their natural state, there is no need to abandon samsara.”

When your passions are subdued, there is no need to abandon samsara. Then it is time to take care of beings. If you abandon them at this point, it would be a transgression of your bodhisattva’s vow [bodhisattva vow].

What to do when you lose your patience over and over again

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: I have heard very clearly the importance of patience on the path to protect love. Can you give some pith advice on what to do when you lose your patience over and over again.

Garchen Rinpoche: When you lose your patience, you should recognize this and feel regret. Every time you should make the commitment that next time you are going to do better and that I will not lose patience again. Then you might not lose it the next time, but eventually you will lose it again. It is a training of habituation. You will not be able to miraculously stop being impatient without any training. 

The pith instruction is habituation, perseverance. If you persevere in practice, your practice will definitely improve, and in the end you will never lose your patience. It is just like learning anything: it may be difficult in the beginning, but if we keep doing it over and over again, it becomes easy.

 As your patience increases, you can take a vow: ‘”No matter how much they provoke me, I shall not get angry.” This is the essence of the bodhisattva vow.

It is a slow process, and you have to persist even if you fail in the beginning. No matter how often you fall, you must get up and do it again. As your patience increases, you can take a vow: ‘”No matter how much they provoke me, I shall not get angry.” This is the essence of the bodhisattva vow. But patience does not only apply to anger, it must be practiced with all emotions. When desire arises, you must not give in, but forbear; when jealousy arises, you must forbear; etc. If you are able to be patient with all thoughts and emotions, you will not fall under their power again. If you lack patience, you will again and again fall under the power of these emotions. Diligent forbearance is mindful awareness.

The Thirty Seven Bodhisattva Practices

Drikung Dharma CenterHUNGThe Thirty-Seven Practices of a BodhisattvaBy Ngulchu Gyalsas Thogmed Zangpo (1245 – 1369)


Namo Arya Lokeshvara I always respectfully prostrate through my three doors to the Supreme Guru and protector Lokeshvara, who although seeing all phenomena as a devoid of going and coming, Endeavours one-pointedly to benefit sentient beings.

First Practice
The possession of this human base, this precious vessel so difficult to obtain, in order to liberate others and ourselves from the ocean of samsara, allows us to hear, reflect, and meditate day and night without distraction. This is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Second Practice
Toward our friends and those we love run the waters of attachment, toward our enemies burns the fire of aversion; in the obscurity of ignorance, we lose sight of what should be abandoned and what should be practiced. Therefore renunciation of one’s country and home is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Third Practice
When we abandon our harmful surroundings, our illusions diminish, and because we have no distractions our practice of virtue develops spontaneously, leaving us with a clear mind. Our trust in the Dharma grows. To live in solitude is a practice of a Bodhisattva.

Fourth Practice
One day old and dear friends will separate, goods and riches obtained by great effort will be left behind. Consciousness, a guest of the body, this temporary dwelling, will depart. From this moment on, to renounce all attachment to this life is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Fifth Practice
If we have harmful companions, the three poisons are increased, our reflections and meditation becomes degraded; love and
compassion are destroyed. To abandon dangerous company is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Sixth Practice
To rely on a spiritual friend who has eliminated all illusions, whose competence in the teachings and practice is complete, and whose qualities increase like the crescent moon; to cherish this perfect guru more than one’s own body is a practice of a Bodhisattva.

Seventh Practice
How could the gods of this world possibly liberate us, being themselves tied to the prison of samsara? Instead let us take refuge in that on which we can rely. To take refuge in the Three Jewels is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Eighth Practice
The intolerable suffering of the lower realms is said by the Buddha to be the fruit of Karma; therefore, to never commit unwise deeds is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Ninth Practice
The happiness of the three worlds is like the dew on the tip of a blade of grass, disappearing in an instant. To aspire to supreme, immutable liberation is a practice of the Bodhisattvas.

Tenth Practice
Since beginningless time, our mothers took care of us with tenderness. What use is our happiness when they still suffer? To generate Bodhicitta in order to liberate infinite beings is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Eleventh Practice
All suffering, without exception, comes from the desire for happiness for oneself, while perfect Buddhahood is born from the desire to make others happy. This is why completely exchanging one’s happiness for that of others is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Twelfth Practice
If, in the grip of violent desire or cruel necessity, an unfortunate person steals our possessions or incites someone else to steal them, to be full of compassion, to dedicate to this person our body, possessions, and past, present, and future merit, is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Thirteenth Practice
Even if we are beaten or tortured, we must not allow any aversion to arise within us. To have great compassion for those poor beings who out of ignorance mistreat us is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

Fourteenth Practice
If, without reason, certain people slander us to the point where the entire world is filled with their malicious gossip, to lovingly praise their virtues is a practice of a Bodhisattva.

Fifteenth Practice
If in the company of several people, one among them revels a fault that we would have liked hidden, to not become irritated with the one who treats us in this manner but to consider him as a supreme guru is a practice of the Bodhisattva.

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What would Rinpoche recommend for a lay practitioner …. family obligations … difficult to do extensive retreat?

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: Milarepa is said to have achieved liberation in one lifetime primarily through the practices of Tummo and Mahamudra. Is it possible to engage in these practices seriously and in depth if one cannot do extensive retreat, such as 3-­year retreat? What would Rinpoche recommend for a lay practitioner with minimal job commitments but with family obligations that make it difficult to do extensive retreat on these practices? What commitment is required to follow Milarepa’s path?

Garchen Rinpoche:

Whether you have a family life, work, or are in retreat, you must practice the 37 Bodhisattva Practices. If you maintain awareness during all worldly activities, they will become a practice of the six paramitas. 

Remain inseparable from compassion, and in particular, practice patience. If you are able to do that, there is no need to put your body through hardships.

These days we cannot endure the hardships Milarepa endured, but we can train our minds nevertheless. If you make an effort to practice, it will lead to enlightenment, either in the first, second, or third bardo or within several lifetimes. It is most important to cultivate a wish to help others. If you cannot generate an altruistic mind, even extensive retreat will be of not much benefit. Conversely, if you do cultivate an altruistic mind and patience, even engaging in mundane activities will become dharma practice. 

Longchen Rabjam said: “When mental arisings settle in their natural state, there is no need to abandon samsara.”

When emotions and thoughts are rendered powerless, there is no need to abandon the mundane world. When the cause of enlightenment is practiced, it will result in enlightenment, even if one does not isolate one’s body from the mundane world.

Genuine devotion and understanding the teachings

Drikung Dharma Center

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

For the sake of all the sentient beings, one must see the truth, and eliminate this clinging to the self of the person and the self of the phenomena.

Most of the time, our inspiration and devotion are very emotionally oriented.

To do that, one has to have tsültrim, discipline, and then one must hear and contemplate teachings like Madhyamakavatara.  This is even more important in our modern society because, most of the time, our inspiration and devotion are very emotionally oriented. Normally we think devotion is a bit like faith; like believing in something without much reasoning.

Devotion is trusting cause, condition and effect.

But Saraha, in one of his Doha, described devotion as lé gyündré la yi chepa (las rgyu ‘bras la yid chad pa), which means trusting cause, condition and effect. If you have the causes and conditions, and if you don’t have any obstacles, then the result has to follow.
For example, if you have an egg, and enough water and heat, and nobody disturbs it, then the egg will be cooked. That’s a fact. You cannot dismantle that sort of logic or law, and according to Saraha, trusting that rule or law of phenomena is what we call devotion.

If you have merit and genuine devotion, of course, we don’t have to talk about this. But for most of us beginners, although we might have some fleeting temporary devotion, it’s good for us to have a good ground of understanding the teachings through hearing and contemplation, because it will always be like insurance.

Emotionally oriented devotion can easily fall apart, so it is good to study the teachings as an insurance

Emotionally oriented devotion can easily fall apart: we are such weak beings that conditions can easily defeat us. Today we may think that our master or the Buddha is wonderful. Tomorrow, a ridiculous or trivial circumstance could arise, such as your guru not liking onion on his pizza, and just because you like onion so much, you might think, what kind of guru is this? That’s so pathetic, but that’s what I mean by emotionally oriented devotion.

Similarly, we need to understand the teachings until we can transform the master into the path

We discussed that we should not rely on the teacher, but on his teachings. We should not rely on conception, but on wisdom. We should not rely on expedient teachings, but on absolute teachings.

Until we manage to transform the master into the path, we should always have the insurance of having a good ground of understanding the teachings. For most of us, the guru is usually just some kind of big boss, and not a path; taking the lama as the path, lama lam du chepa (bla ma lam du byed pa), is very difficult. So, until we manage to do that, it is good for us to have a little insurance.

As we discussed, conceptions have no end. Things like reincarnation or no reincarnation, whether the mind is brain or not, whether things have beginning or not – all these are conceptions. It’s endless. What we need to really finalise, or actualise, is chö tamché gyi zhiluk (chos thams cad gyi gshis lugs), the reality or the absolute truth of all phenomena.

Conceptions are endless; we need to realise the absolute truth of phenomena

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

How do we cultivate love without it being contrived?

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: Rinpoche, you often mention the importance of compassion and love as the essence of practice and realization. How do we cultivate it without it being contrived? I have been taught that compassion is a naturally arising quality of the spontaneous nature of mind, so is it more important to spend time trying to rest in the natural state, or to try to cultivate relative bodhichitta through other methods?

Garchen Rinpoche: Although the quality of unconditioned compassion is inborn to our nature, temporarily our buddha nature is like a frozen block of ice. Its nature is always like pure water; it has neither turned into a rock nor has it ever become defiled.
Nevertheless, due to the condition of self-grasping—which is like cold weather—it has frozen into a block of ice. Ice has the quality of water, but it must be actualized by melting.

We melt the ice of self-grasping by cultivating the warmth of compassion. When the ice is melted and becomes flowing water, we realize the actual quality of water, the vast oceanic dharmakaya within which all buddhas are one.

We all have love, but due to self-grasping, it manifests as attachment. We love, or are attached to, those beings that are pleasing to us. We feel compassion for them because we love them. But because we cling to a self, this love is not all embrace, but is biased through the ego’s wishes.

However, we can utilize this biased love and consider that all sentient beings have been our kind mothers. How does this love feel as the limitation of bias collapses? It is very natural. Everyone is the same; there is a compassion for all beings, even if they are not in your field of vision. When this is eventually habituated, it will become effortless.

However, if we allow it to be interrupted by the ego, if we get jealous and angry, then the mind becomes narrow again.

If you really love someone, no matter how troublesome they are, you will always love them and thus will tolerate their temporary moods. When you love others, your mind is very relaxed and happy.

When you get angry, your mind becomes unhappy and narrow like a block of ice. The very nature of love is happiness. That is what it is. The very nature of self-­centered emotions is suffering.

What is the best way to practice during the mantra recitation?

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: If one has recited many prayers, praises, offerings, and supplications to the guru in order to arouse and cultivate devotion, what is the best way to practice during the mantra recitation?

Should one, for example, put aside thinking about the qualities of the guru and focus more on maintaining the clarity of the visualization and listening to the sound of the mantra, while resting the mind in awareness, allowing devotion to arise spontaneously? Or, should one actively try to arouse devotion?

Garchen Rinpoche: The deity’s mind and the guru’s mind are inseparable. When you practice the deity and recite the mantra, you should not think about different qualities. The essence of the deity, bodhichitta, is the guru.

The mind is the lama; the body is the yidam; and the speech—the mantra recitation—is the dakini.