When you reach the threshold of death ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

When you reach the threshold of death, the friends and relatives around you have no way of accompanying you any further. There is very little they can do to help you at all. Not even the richest magnate can take a penny of his wealth with him, and it would be in vain that even the most powerful of generals ordered his troops to keep death at bay — like everyone else, he will just have to surrender.

Your consciousness will leave your body and wander in the bardo. There, with an illusory mental body, you will find yourself alone in the shadows, lost and desperate, not knowing what to do, not knowing where to go. The hallucinations that torment most beings at that time are terrifying beyond description. Although they are no more than projections of the mind, they nevertheless have a powerful reality at the time.

The only possible source of comfort will be the experience you may have acquired through practicing the Dharma. That is why it is so important to make the effort to practice now. Even in times of peace, a nation foresees the eventuality of war and remains ready to respond. In the same way, stay on the alert, and prepare yourself for death by practicing the Dharma. Like an eternal harvest, it will keep you supplied with provisions for the life to come and will be the very basis of your future happiness.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Replace longing with love ~ Mingyur Rinpoche

Feeling divided from ourselves and the world around us is the deceptive narrative of the grasping mind. But we can learn to let go of false hopes that leave us yearning for ease in our bodies and in this world. We can move beyond our discontent. We can replace longing with love. As I was just beginning to discover, when you love the world, the world loves you back.

Mingyur Rinpoche

Vajra hell ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Vajra hell is a profound concept. It’s not necessarily a place where you burn in molten iron surrounded by hell guardians with hideous faces. Vajra hell can be a place where you become so attached to the logic of karma that you get entangled, so caught up by rationality that you cannot get beyond it.

In vajra hell you will never understand the profound meaning when we say shit and food have one taste because you have stubbornly and absolutely become rational. Having broken an extreme samaya vow, you may end up being reborn with a habit of not trusting the grand view. You will end up a person who needs to have the omelet assembled before you see it as an omelet.

And that, in the Vajrayana view, is even worse than burning in hell. This strong habit of no confidence in the method is a heavy loss for you.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

The Aspiration of Yeshe Tsogyal, revealed by Pema Ledrel Tsal ~ Yeshe Tsogyal

E Ma Ho

Through the merit we have accumulated in the three times
May demons, obstacles and opposing forces be pacified.
May we have long life without sickness
And may we practice the Dharma in happiness and well-being.

By the power of practicing the Dharma with devotion
May the teachings of the Buddha spread and flourish.
By establishing samsaric sentient beings in happiness
May the wishes of the holy gurus be fulfilled.

Through the guru’s kindness may we,
All Dharma brothers and sisters,
Be free from the kleshas of anger and attachment.
Endowed with the splendor of the three vows of pure discipline
May we increase the qualities of experience and realization.

By the wisdom of realizing mahamudra
May we benefit whoever we meet.
Together with all our followers may we enjoy the unconditioned great bliss,
And be guided to the lotus arrayed realm.

In that supreme and sacred blissful realm,
May we be one with the stainless victorious body
Of the guru of the three kayas, Orgyen Padma,
And realize the dharmakaya that benefits us.

Through the compassion that benefits others, until samsara is emptied,
May we tame beings by teaching in whatever way is necessary.
May we work for the benefit of all through rupakaya manifestations.
May we accomplish the benefit of beings by stirring the depths of samsara.

The three kayas inseparable, samsara and nirvana totally freed,
Unfabricated, spontaneously present, luminous and unformed,
The body of the vajra holder, changeless throughout the three times,
May this omniscient and complete enlightenment be swiftly attained.

Yeshe Tsogyal

Taking refuge ~ Mingyur Rinpoche

Taking refuge doesn’t protect us from problems in the world. It doesn’t shield us from war, famine, illness, accidents, and other difficulties. Rather, it provides tools to transform obstacles into opportunities. We learn how to relate to difficulties in a new way, and this protects us from confusion and despair. Traffic jams do not disappear, but we might not respond by leaning on our horns or swearing. Illnesses may afflict us, but we might still greet the day with a joyful appreciation for being alive. Eventually we rely on the best parts of our being in order to protect ourselves from those neurotic tendencies that create dissatisfaction. This allows for living in the world with greater ease and without needing to withdraw into untrustworthy circumstances in order to feel protected.

Mingyur Rinpoche

Become Familiar with Fear ~ Pema Chödron

No one ever tells us to stop running away from fear. We are very rarely told to move closer, to just be there, to become familiar with fear. I once asked the Zen master Kobun Chino Roshi how he related with fear, and he said, “I agree. I agree.” But the advice we usually get is to sweeten it up, smooth it over, take a pill, or distract ourselves, but by all means make it go away.

Pema Chödron

Within buddha nature ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Just as the whole world, with its mountains, continents, and everything else, exists within infinite space, so too do all phenomena appear within the buddha nature.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Preparing ourselves for certain death ~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

One of the main reasons we practice the Dharma is to prepare ourselves for certain death. For some, it is the only reason they practice – but that reason alone will make their Dharma practice worthwhile. These days various aspects of the Dharma, like mindfulness, are becoming more and more popular, but rarely as a preparation for death and definitely not as a preparation for what lies beyond death. Modern people meditate for every reason under the sun except the most important one. How many vipassana students meditate to prepare for death? And how many practice because they want to put an end to the cycle of death and rebirth for good? Most people meditate because they want to become better managers, or find partners, or feel happy, or because they long for a calm, stress-free mind and life. For them, meditation is a way of preparing for life, not death and is therefore no less mundane than their other worldly pursuits, like shopping, eating out, exercising and socializing.

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

The root of samsara ~ Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Nothing exists in reality. Nothing exists the way it appears to exist, as real from there. Everything is totally empty. It’s like a dream, like an illusion.

If we are able to meditate in this way, looking at all this as like a dream, an illusion, a mirage—all the different examples—then it becomes very interesting. There is nothing to become attached to because it is not real.

For example, if we recognize a dream as a dream, there is nothing to be attached to and there is nothing to be angry about. In a dream, somebody abuses us but if we can recognize the dream as a dream, the abuse does not bother us at all. Similarly, some object of desire appears in our dream, but recognizing it as just a dream, we are not agitated. Nothing disturbs us; our mind remains utterly peaceful. Anger and attachment do not arise, so we have a very, very interesting life.

Because things appear to us not as a dream but as real from their own side, which is how it has been since beginningless time, realizing emptiness is vital. It is more important than any job, than all the money in the world, than anything. To cut the root of suffering, ignorance, and be free forever from the oceans of samsaric suffering, there is nothing more important than realizing emptiness.

We need to cut the wrong belief that whatever object that appears to us is real, which is how it appears. As I have said, in the first moment the I appears as merely imputed; in the second it appears as real, as a real I; then, in the third moment, we believe that I to be real. That wrong concept is the root of samsara.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Toning down one’s ego ~ 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche

When practicing Dharma, it is important that you tone down your ego. If being a practitioner causes you to become more egotistic, then you have only succeeded in adding one more poison, the poison of ego, on top of what you already have. Dharma practice is not an object to sell. It is not an object to show. It is done to help one’s own nature. Listening to the teaching is done to guide one’s attitude. The meditation on the teaching is done to affect one’s mind, to tone down or to eliminate the poison of one’s own mind. Dharma practice is completely for oneself, not to tell others what to do. Anyone can practice Dharma because Dharma shows what to acquire and what to abandon. By toning down one’s ego, one practices anonymously and will achieve one’s goal.

4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche

There is always something that makes me sad ~ Gendun Choepel

When looked at, the marvels of the world seem pleasing.
When attained, each has its own suffering.
After moments of brief happiness become but a dream,
There is always something that makes me sad.

Gendun Choepel

Realistic Ambition ~ Chögyam Trungpa

I’m a very ambitious person. However, I relate with now. On that basis, you see how far you can go, how far you can’t go. Your ambition isn’t focused on the future. If you mentally jump to a conclusion about what you would like to be, rather than what you are, then you are in trouble. So there’s nothing wrong with ambition, as long as you stay with this situation, this very realistic thing.

Chögyam Trungpa

Conditioned by our positive and negative actions ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

What we must realize is that at the moment of death we are plucked from this life like a hair drawn from a piece of butter, leaving everything behind, including this body we have held so dear. Death is not like a fire that simply goes out, or like water that vanishes when it lands on dry ground.

There will be rebirth, and this rebirth will be conditioned by our positive and negative actions. If we have accumulated negative actions, we will be reborn in the lower realms.

However much we long to be reborn in the celestial realms, unless we have prepared for this by accumulating positive actions, it will be quite impossible. As it is said: “There is no result that we have experienced that was not created by past actions, and there is not a single present action that will not bear fruit.”

So we should never feel contempt towards accumulating even the smallest amount of merit and virtue, because the results can be enormous. Nor should we ever think that if we indulge in only a tiny negative action it is of little or no significance.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Self-deception ~ Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

In Buddhism, when we behave ethically, we are being true to ourselves; and when we behave unethically, we are being untrue to ourselves. In being true to ourselves, we are creating good karma, and when we are untrue to ourselves, we are creating negative karma. Normally, we think of unethical behavior as scheming, scamming, lying, and otherwise deceiving other people in one shape or another; yet, in the end, it is actually self-deception that is the root of our moral corruption. . . . Observing this in ourselves, in our nature, we can change tack and recognize the need for a different approach.

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

How to practice with duality and non-duality ~ Tenzin Palmo

Forget about non-duality. Understand duality and then from there, the mind will of itself open up into another level of consciousness. But if we don’t have mindful awareness every day, we’re never going to get primordial awareness, or if we do, we won’t be able to sustain it. So we have to start from where we are. Everybody wants the highest, but you can’t get the highest until you have the basics in learning how to tame the mind, how to make the mind more calm and clear, to be able to have a mind which is not the monkey mind, a mind which is running all over the place. We have to tame the monkey and through the mind we can train the monkey. Training the monkey transforms the mind and by transforming the mind we will eventually transcend our normal conceptual mind, but is has to go in stages. We can’t get to the top of the mountain when we haven’t even reached base camp. We have to get all our equipment for climbing.

We need to make our preparations now ~ Thrangu Rinpoche

We need to make our preparations now and be diligent about it. We may think, “I really want to practice the Dharma, but right now I’m really busy. I have a lot of things to do. I’ll get to the Dharma when my work is done.” This way of thinking is an obstacle that will prevent us from practicing the Dharma. If we are busy doing something right now, then when we are done, something else will come up to keep us busy, and when that’s done, there will be something else, and something else after that. There’s just one thing after another that we have to do, and we end up with no opportunity to practice the Dharma at all.

Thrangu Rinpoche

True compassion ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

In each of our countless lives in beginningless samsara, we must have had parents. In fact, we have taken birth so often that, at one time or another, every single sentient being must have been our mother or father. When we think of all these beings who have been our parents wandering helplessly for so long in samsara, like blind people who have lost their way, we cannot but feel tremendous compassion for them.

Compassion by itself, however, is not enough; they need actual help. But as long as our minds are still limited by attachment, just giving them food, clothing, money, or simply affection will only bring them a limited and temporary happiness at best. What we must do is to find a way to liberate them completely from suffering. This can only be done by putting the teachings of Dharma into practice.

True compassion is directed impartially toward all sentient beings, without discriminating between those who are friends and those who are enemies. With this compassion constantly in mind, we should perform every positive act, even offering a single flower or reciting a single mantra, with the wish that it may benefit all living creatures without exception.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Negativity begets negativity ~ Pema Chödron

We can rightly say that the thinning of the ozone layer is a scientific fact; it’s not simply an opinion. But if the way we work with trying not to further harm the ozone layer is to solidify our opinion against those we feel are at fault, then nothing ever changes; negativity begets negativity. In other words, no matter how well documented or noble our cause is, it won’t be helped by our feeling aggression toward the oppressors or those who are promoting the danger. Nothing will ever change through aggression.

Pema Chödron

Bodhichitta is very specific ~ Tai Situ Rinpoche

Bodhichitta is peace. Sometimes I feel people misunderstand, or do not understand clearly, the difference between basic compassion and Bodhichitta. If you are able to spend a few hours doing something for somebody you don’t even know people might call you a bodhisattva. They may say, “Oh, he or she is so kind, they are a Bodhisattva.” This is not necessarily so. A kind person is not necessarily a Bodhisattva. Being kind is very good, being a compassionate person is very good, but it does not necessarily make us a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva has to be kind and compassionate for a reason. A bodhisattva is kind and compassionate in that they are working to establish all beings as Buddhas. In this way Bodhichitta is very specific.

Tai Situ Rinpoche

The state of evenness ~ Longchenpa

When unwanted things befall you,
Rid yourself of your displeasure.
For if there is a remedy,
What need is there for it?
And if no change is possible,
What point is there in useless irritation?
Therefore simply bear with all that may befall you.

When examined, there is only space-like emptiness.
There’s no happiness or sadness and no loss or gain.
There is neither good nor bad —
What use is there in such dualistic grasping?
Strive to bring all things into the state of evenness.