Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche at Bongeunsa Temple (part 1)

Well, this is three months over due, but I'd finally like to transcribe the Khyentse Rinpoche talk at Bongeunsa in parts. It wasn't a groundbreaking talk by any means, but still worth while and I know at least a couple of people interested in Avalokiteśvara (Guan Yin/Guanseum) who will enjoy it. There were a couple of lines I just couldn't decipher, but I did my best not to lose any meaning. 

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche:

Everything I'm going to tell you I learned from my teachers. I didn't find on my own. I'm not a good practitioner. I should practice more. And I say this also not out of humility, I have so much pride, but I say this as a disclaimer so that you won't have any excessive expectations.

I'd like to make this be more of a discussion, so please feel free to ask questions, debate or argue content with me. Buddhism is one very rare religion in that it is a religion of reasoning. Buddha himself encouraged to analyze and be critical of his speeches and that is what we must do to get knowledge.

The point of discussion that we are going to have today is about everyday meditation and also Avalokiteśvara; the sort of concept, the spirit, the world, the phenomenon, if you like, of Avalokiteśvara. And I think these two are quite important points. Everyday meditation, meaning that we must make our spiritual path integrate with our day-to-day life. That our sole spiritual path should not be done only in the church or the temple or the monastery. That the spiritual path can be done while you are sipping your tea, while you are doing the laundry, while you do all the mundane stuff so the mundane becomes sacred. As easy as it sounds, it's quite difficult because always we end up limiting our spiritual path into something very minimum like on the cushion, a few minutes of meditation in front of the shrine, but the moment you are [off] of the meditation cushion, out of the shrine, then you forget all of that.

I think the culture of understanding of Buddhism seems to have misinterpreted these things a lot. For instance, generally when Buddhist talk about the modern practitioner, what means the modern practitioner? You know, a great practitioner? Usually it's always a monk or a nun or a "renouncent" person. The image of the serene, simple monk, like a Śāriputra is very appealing for us. But do you know, in Buddhism, especially in Mahayana Buddhism, there are many other models, too. Like Mañjuśrī or Avalokiteśvara. They are not a simple monk. They have more earrings than you do! And they wear really beautiful costume! Are they are very important, equally important to Śāriputra, if not more. And, also, if you look at the Buddhist history, most of the credit of Buddha-Dharma is given to the monks. But if you look at it carefully, the flourishing of the Dharma has also a lot to do with the kings, like Ashoka of India, Harsha of India, Trisong Detsen of Tibet, and the Mongol kings, many Chinese emperors, and I'm sure that also in Korea many great kings had a big hand in the propagation of Buddha-Dharma, so they need to be appreciated. Do you have one such King in Korea? You are saying so many kings! See, very good. This proves my point even more. And these kings, they must have done all what kings do. They must have waged war, they must have partied, they must not always be sitting on the cushion or inside the cave. Yet they are Buddhist. Not only Buddhist, they are very important Buddhist practitioners. So this is what I'm saying when I say day-to-day meditation.

Our second point is about Avalokiteśvara. Now, I don't need to tell you how important Avalokiteśvara is. For instance, in the Mahayana, one of the most important sutras is Prajñāpāramitā Sutra. Now if you read it, you will realize the main person who is actually answering all the questions is Avalokiteśvara. Avalokiteśvara is everywhere. When you go to places like Burma or Sri Lanka, Avalokiteśvara is understood as the Gate Keeper. This layboy, layman who holds the lotus. A very nice layboy who is a disciple of the Buddha. Now in Tibet, Avalokiteśvara is a very big deal. Almost everything about Tibetan practice is related to Avalokiteśvara. And when Avalokiteśvara arrives in China, it looks like Avalokiteśvara has a sex change! And Avalokiteśvara suddenly is a female. So, Avalokiteśvara is not a deity only, it is a phenomena, it is the phenomena, it is universe.

So, I'm going to combine these two.

Now, usually, during the day-to-day situation, what do we have? What do we experience? Who is Avalokiteśvara? It's very important you know Avalokiteśvara is not a god or mighty creator. It is not a truly existent guy that came a long time ago which we worship. It's not just that. So who is really Avalokiteśvara? Nationality? Name of the father? Place where the mother's from? Birth date? If you ask me this, I have no choice but to answer you in many levels. Ultimately, Avalokiteśvara is none other than your own innate, naked mind. We all have a mind, don't we? This is important. We need ask this question, "Do we have mind?" Especially we need to ask if we have teenagers because many children forget we have mind. So, when we have a mind this mind that we have, the absolute nature of this mind is Avalokiteśvara. It's beyond form, beyond colour, beyond shape, beyond any conceptions. Actually, for this reason to express Avalokiteśvara is beyond form, beyond colour, beyond shape, many times we also have a different variety of Avalokiteśvara; with 1000 arms, with four arms, with eleven heads, as woman, as man, as a pig, as birds, everything. There is Avalokiteśvara is the form of a horse. Sometimes in order to express the inexpressible we have to express in many myriad ways. When I discovered that Avalokiteśvara is a female in China, I was so happy. This alone proves the non duality of Avalokiteśvara.

More practically, again, if you ask the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, right this very moment, for instance, you have thoughts. You must be thinking. You are hearing this humming sound of the air conditioner. You are hearing the cicadas. Or you are thinking about the breakfast that you had. Or maybe you are thinking of the stocks you are going to buy or sell. You must have a thought. Look into it. Look into it without hope and without fear. Without hope that it has to be something so special. A very simple mind that you have that is not tainted, that is not contrived. Moment of thought come and then if you are entangled with a certain other thought that is not counted. We hear cicadas. The one that cognizes the cicadas. But the moment you think it's annoying, then you are a step away form Avalokiteśvara. So I'm trying my best to introduce the ultimate Avalokiteśvara. This is Avalokiteśvara. And this naked mind, uncontrived mind. If we were only able to maintain with mindfulness, then almost all other suffering disappears like steam evaporates. See, usually, a thought comes. Maybe hunger. Then we think which restaurant. Then we think about diet. Then you think about your weight. Things like that, you get entangled. Entanglement then leads to emotion; deception, passion, jealousy, all of that. Now, there are hundreds and hundred of ways to develop this mindfulness of Avalokiteśvara.

I'm here to just give you some general picture, any kind of practical advice. Sitting here, meeting some other teachers here, you have Buddha-Dharma. It's better to have a group or some guidance. But just to share a few ideas, of ordinary people. First of all, when I say this mind that you have, this very naked mind, is Avalokiteśvara, you will not believe it. You'll say, "How can it be? Avalokiteśvara is a very sublime, beautiful, clean, pristine. I am a defiled, bad human being." But that's actually a very dualistic way of thinking. Many Christian, and Judaism, they think like that, that God will save us. So, to maintain and even to have trust that Avalokiteśvara is our nature is difficult. And on top of that, it's too simple. Therefore, it cannot be conceived. So, for this reason, now we have not so simple Avalokiteśvara, with four arms, with thousand arms, Avalokiteśvara who asks the questions, Avalokiteśvara who answers the questions, Avalokiteśvara who came as a woman, as a bird, all these.

And of many, many, many techniques, there is one really good technique of chanting the mantra. The mantra is Om Mani Padme Hum. The study of mantra is very big in Mahayana. How does chanting Om Mani Padme Hum help us to maintain the worth of Avalokiteśvara? Now, let us go back to our other topic, day-to-day enlightenment, day-to-day life mindfulness. Because om-ma-ni-pad-me-hum, these six syllables, actually bring the presence of God. These six syllables manifest six kinds of experience. Now, what are the six experiences? Broadly speaking, Heaven-Hell experience, hungry ghost, animal, god, human, and Asura (demon). These are the six different experiences or perceptions. Now, I want to talk about Heaven-Hell. In Mahayana Buddhism, Hell is not outside. In fact, all six realms are not outside. This is the point of our discussion today, day-to-day mindfulness, everyday, day-to-day, we go through the six realms. Just to give you a brief example, probably when you when you wake up in the morning, because previous night too many drinks, too many parties, I don't know, in the morning, you are groggy, you are really dumb. You don't even recognize who's the person beside you. You must be going through animal experience. Then you jump into the shower, shave, mascara, lipstick, all the grooming, dress-up, then you think you are so beautiful, your are presentable, at least. - God-realm experience! Then you're late, you miss the bus, you jump into taxi, a traffic jam, and then you are losing temper. Then you shout, something like this. Maybe, Hell-realm experience. Then at last, you reach your company, office, what ever, and found out your peer got promote or is doing better than you and you got jealous. Maybe Asura experience. And then Friday night, Saturday night, we all become a little frisky and kinky, a little naughty. The neon lights, the bars, they all look very attractive. You feel like impressing others by paying the bills. This is the general phenomena of the experience or the perception we have. This leads to the next set of perceptions. More hope, more fear, more negative emotion, more engaging in reaction, action then leads to the certain effect, the effect then gives birth to more cause of punishment. That's how we endlessly go round and round and round.

In order to counter and manipulate these six realms, we have Om-ma-ni-pad-me-hum.

I've been talking a lot, so I'm about to go into the animal realm a little bit, so lets have a ten minute break. What do you think?


  1. My friend. Many thanks for taking the effort to posting and transcribing this talk by Rinpoche (which didn't appear on his official teaching "schedule")

    May you one day, "find" what a man called Siddhartha "found" in the not too distant past...

    1. Thank you, you're welcome and same to you too! ^_^