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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
fall 2005| 30 |buddhadharma A MessAge to HuMAn Beings From Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche A German film crew once asked Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche to say something that would be heard by people all over the world. Here, published for the first time, is his response. FiRST i woUlD liKe To Tell yoU that an enlightened essence is present in everyone. it is present in every state, both samsara and nirvana, and in all sentient beings; there is no exception. experience your buddhanature, make it your constant practice, and you will reach enlightenment. in my lifetime i have known of many, many people who attained such an enlightened state, both male and female. awakening to enlightenment is not an ancient fable. it is not mythology. it actually does happen. Bring the oral instructions into your practical experience and enlightenment is indeed possible; it is not just a fairy tale. To realize our buddhanature, we need the support of three principles. First is the precious Buddha, the primal teacher who showed the enlightened essence to others. next is the precious dharma, the teachings on how to train in experiencing the enlightened essence. lastly, there is the precious sangha, the people who uphold and spread the teachings. additionally, there are three roots: there is the guru, the root of blessings; the yidam, the root of accomplishment; and the dakini, the root of activities. They possess all-knowing wakefulness, all-embracing compassion, the activity of deeds for the benefit of beings, and the capacity to protect and save others. Sometimes we may have doubts and hesitation when relating to the Buddha’s teachings, but do not leave it with that. it is very important to validate what is trustworthy and what is not. my teachers mentioned four kinds of validation. First are the words of a fully enlight- ened being, such as the Buddha, whose statements are never unwise. Then there are the teachings by the great masters of the lineage, passed from one to the other until today. Third are the instructions we receive from our personal teacher. Finally, to decide with certainty, we need the validation of our own intelligence. Do not leave anything to blind faith or conventional belief. examine for yourself what is really the truth. what is the reason for the misery and pain every living being undergoes? what is the cause of samsara’s delusion? it is nothing other than lacking the experience of our enlightened essence. we ignore what is primordially present; we neglect what is continually present within us: our buddhanature. instead, immersed in confused emotions, we chase illusory aims that endlessly result in more deluded experience. That’s called samsara. we have already done that for countless lifetimes, life after life, death following rebirth. Unless you now take this opportunity, while you are still a human being, to realize what is fully possible, you will continue in the future in the same deluded way. Please understand that the buddhanature is present within everyone. nobody lacks this potential, not even a single person in this world. Unless you learn how to bring it into your personal experience, train in that, and realize it, you remain deluded. Delusion never disappears by itself. Spinning around on the rim of samsara’s vicious wheel, on the twelve links of dependent origination, you will continue life after life. you will die, be reborn, and die again, countless times. But, in this present life, you can learn to experience your enlightened essence, and if you do that, you can, before passing away, attain the perfectly and fully awakened state of a buddha. The method to transform this human body into rainbow light at the moment of death is only through recognizing and realizing your buddhanature; there is no other pos- sible way. The instruction for how to do that is still available. Place your trust in the three jewels: the precious Buddha, dharma, and sangha. Receive this teaching from someone who holds an unbroken lineage; this lineage is still intact. otherwise, everyone dies; there is no exception. in the past, everyone who lived in this world died. Right now everyone alive will die. everyone born in the future will also die. everything in the world changes; nothing remains the same, nothing is permanent, nothing lasts. if you want to be successful, if you really want to take care of yourself − recognize your enlightened essence. From the fourteen years you spent living with him as a translator, what can you say about him as a person? Tulku urgyen is more like something I have under my skin than an external per- son. Although he really did get under my skin, he was incredibly mild and gentle. Did Tulku Urgyen know you were going to make this book into something like a biography? There are many styles of biographies of teachers. At one end of the spectrum is a story written in the very lofty language of Tibetan philosophy and poetics. It is composed in a highly respectful, politically correct way that introduces the teacher as completely otherworldly: His feet never touched the ground. He was not of this world. He was basically a buddha who never left his buddhafield, but could still be seen in this world. This style is filled with quotations from scriptures and poetic phrases. That’s a very dignified way of writing, but it wasn’t Tulku urgyen’s style, and I don’t have that ability either. I have been asking other masters to write another book, a more traditional account, of Tulku urgyen’s life. That’s why we call this book his “memoirs,” because in it he recollects the people and events he witnessed with- out himself being the central figure. He witnessed the events himself or heard of them directly from someone who did. So these are essentially eyewitness accounts of important people who lived in recent times and who had tremendous impact on Buddhism as it is practiced in the Tibetan tradition. We do know that some of the accounts in Blazing Splendor were things that Tulku urgyen was told by his teachers. I find that fascinating, because you see peo- ple who lived recently who had reached what is very close to the final level of enlightenment − real enlightenment, not just the “enlightenment experience,” or the altered state that one labels “enlight- enment.” This enlightenment corresponds to the words of the Buddha, as described in the tantras, especially the dzogchen tantras. This realization has been con- firmed and verified in every link in the chain, from the time the tantras were set down until now, and the masters we’re getting the inside scoop on in Blazing PhoToGRaPheRUnKnown