The Most Important Sign of Realizing Mahamudra – Garchen Rinpoche

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_o

So there may come a time when you may ask, “What is the sign of accomplishing this mahamudra practice, perhaps clairvoyance, perhaps levitation?”

The most important sign of realizing mahamudra is compassion.

The great Khenpo [Munsel] Rinpoche from whom I received teachings said things like clairvoyance, levitation, and so forth are not the qualities of mahamudra. The most important sign of realizing mahamudra is compassion. The more there is compassion in the mind, the more it enhances itself, and that is the sign of the arising of mahamudra realization.

Garchen Rinpoche

Quotes From the Precious One

GarR_Meditating_OutsideQuotes From the Precious One

This book is a collection of insightful quotes, inspirational sayings and heartfelt advices from His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche – a Tibetan lama of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, a highly accomplished and realized yogi, a skillful teacher, and the beloved Guru of many of us – whom I dearly call “Apa-la”.

The current 8th Garchen Rinpoche was the incarnation of a 12th century highly realized yogi named Gar Chodingpa, one of the heart disciples of the famed Jigten Sumgon, Kyobpa Rinpoche – founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage that traces back to the great translator-yogi, Marpa Lotsawa, and the greatest poet-yogi of Tibet, Milarepa.

Garchen Rinpoche, well-known for his vast realization, kindness and compassion, is highly revered not only by masters and disciples of his own lineage but also masters and disciples of other traditions.







The book contains 108 exceptional insights and wisdom on the essence teachings of the Buddha, addressing the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, the infallible law of karma, and the ultimate practices of the relative Bodhicitta and the absolute Bodhicitta. It is hoped that these quotes of love and wisdom can spread far and wide with the sole wish to bring peace and happiness into the world and to benefit all sentient beings without exception.

Each quote is illustrated with a special photo of Garchen Rinpoche – just that we always remember vividly and diligently follow the wonderful qualities, enlightened activities, profound teachings and direct instructions of our Guru.

This book is not possible without the unconditional support from many Dharma teachers, brothers, sisters, translators, friends and Centers around the world that have graciously shared these special words and photos of Garchen Rinpoche through various media channels and social networks. Special Thanks go to Ina Dhargye for translating and transcribing Rinpoche’s quotes and making them available to everyone.

Our deepest gratitude goes to Garchen Rinpoche for all of the precious teachings especially the examples and experience of his life that he has been providing and sharing with all of us.


May I never be separated from the precious Bodhicitta. May I always follow in the footsteps of the Precious One to benefit all beings and to help eliminate the sufferings for as long as space endures and for as long as living beings remain.

With Prayers and Love,


Drikung Dharma Surya Center
Centreville, Virginia, U.S.A.
November 2013


Garchen Rinpoche reviews the Book while sangha members are watching

If beings are already enlightened, why do they still suffer the misery of conditioned existence? Saraha’s Doha states: The natural condition is not seen by the childish. Due to deception, the childish are swindled.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

QD.EThe chapter called “Pristine Awareness” in the Kalachakra Tantra, for instance, states:

All beings are buddhas. Another supreme buddha does not exist in this universe.
And the Hevajra states:
Sentient beings are actually buddhas
But are obscured by adventitious stains.
When these are cleared away, they awaken.

If beings are already enlightened, why do they still suffer the misery of conditioned existence?

Saraha’s Doha states:
The natural condition is not seen by the childish.  Due to deception, the childish are swindled.

The point of tantric practice is to overcome habitual emotional patterns and, in particular, coemergent unawareness of the essence of enlightenment.

When the adventitious stains that cloud one’s nature are removed by means of the path, the essence reveals itself as the real buddha, and one reawakens into one’s state of primordial enlightenment.

As long as the state of enlightenment is not recognized, beings continue to experience illusory birth and death, along with the happiness and suffering inherent in conditioned existence.

However, whatever the experience, the essence of enlightenment remains unpolluted, unobscured, and unmodified, just as sunlight maintains its nature of light regardless of the type of object it strikes. The essence is not conditioned by any form of embodied life, whether fortunate or miserable, nor is it conditioned by any act, good or evil, or by knowledge or lack of knowledge.

Although the essence is attended by impurity, its nature, like gold embedded in ore, remains always pure, untouched by emotional afflictions and conceptions.

Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé
Systems of Buddhist Tantra
The Indestructible Way of Secret Mantra

Receive empowerments from the guru in the practice of Guru Yoga

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: Yesterday Rinpoche spoke about different levels of the guru. When one receives the empowerments in Guru Yoga practice, are there different levels of empowerment corresponding to this?

Please explain how to receive the empowerments from the guru in the practice of Guru Yoga.?

Garchen Rinpoche: There is no separate empowerment for the Guru Yoga practice, but during the Guru Yoga practice we take the four empowerments from the visualized guru. These are self-­empowerments and are included in the sadhana. The essence of this is devotion to the guru. The guru empowerment is devotion.

The fourteen fundamental mantric downfalls

Drikung Dharma CenterAt the command of Kyabje Garchen Triptrül Rinpoche

QD.EDisclosure of the fourteen fundamental mantric downfalls:

  1. The vajra holders have taught that accomplishments follow after the master. Because of that, to mistreat the master is explained as the first fundamental downfall.
  2. To transgress the commands of Those Gone to Bliss is said to be the second downfall.
  3. To be angry with vajra siblings is the third [point] described as a fault.
  4. The Conqueror taught that to abandon love for sentient ones is fourth.
  5. The root of Dharma is bodhicitta. To abandon it is fifth.
  6. To demean the teachings [that are] one’s own or others’ doctrines is sixth.
  7. To proclaim that which is secret to sentient beings who are wholly immature is seventh.
  8. The aggregate is the very nature of the five buddhas. To abuse it is eighth.
  9. To give rise to skepticism about naturally pure phenomena is ninth.
  10. Always treating evil ones affectionately is held as tenth.
  11. To conceptualize about phenomena that are free from name and [form] is eleventh.
  12. To elicit weariness in the minds of sentient ones who have faith is twelfth.
  13. As for the samayas, not attending to how they are acquired is thirteenth.
  14. To engage in demeaning women, who are the nature of transcendent awareness, is fourteenth.

When these are abandoned by mantrins, accomplishments will surely be attained.

I reveal and relinquish degraded and broken samayas of Body, Speech and Mind [in their] fundamental and auxiliary [aspects], and every downfall [arisen] from faults, together with their mass of defilements.

Please bestow your blessing that they be cleansed and made pure! This was composed by Āchārya Bhawila.

At the command of Kyabje Garchen Triptrül Rinpoche, this was translated into English by the disciple Ari-ma. © 2009 The Gar Chöding Trust. All rights reserved.

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

“mahamudra of devotion” in relation to Guru Yoga practice?

Drikung Dharma Center260966725_6c10456c48_oQuestion: Could Rinpoche please explain the “mahamudra of devotion” in relation to Guru Yoga practice? How does one approach this?

Garchen Rinpoche: When you realize that your own mind and the mind of the guru are one, then you have uncontrived devotion. First, we give rise to devotion by thinking of the guru’s qualities, even to the point where tears come to our eyes. However, we do not grasp at this thought, but instead rest in the natural state. Within Mahamudra, our mind, the mind of the guru, and the mind of the Buddha are one.