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Buddhadharma : Fall 2006
buddhadharma| 37 |fall 2006 Son, there are four instructions for using things as the path. As it is said in the Six Prerequisites for Concentration: On account of material possessions one suffers. To own nothing is supreme bliss. By abandoning all its food, The pelican becomes ever happier. For someone engaged in a life of contempla- tion, possessions and material things are simply a disturbance, a cause of difficulties. To have no possessions is supreme bliss. When we have noth- ing, we have no enemies. We are happy because we do not have the problem of first acquiring wealth, then protecting it and trying to increase it. As we find in the saying: Base your mind on the dharma, Base your dharma on a humble life, Base your humble life on the thought of death, Base your death on an empty, barren hollow.3 So if we give up all possessions, practice becomes very easy and we will find sublime happiness, like the pelican. The pelican can collect a lot of fish in its bill, but it is prey to being chased by other birds that try to make it give up its catch. It does not get a moment’s peace until it surrenders the fish to its pursuers. But once it has done so, it is much happier. Similarly, when we have no possessions, we are free to remain comfortably at ease. On the other hand, with possessions we become preoc- cupied with having more, and we worry that we might lose them to enemies and thieves. Accordingly, Make freedom from attachment the path, as exemplified by the pelican carrying fish. Now, in order to actually progress on the path, we have to be free from afflictive emotions, for it is afflictive emotions that bind us in ignorance. Since afflictive emotions can arise as primal wisdom, Make the five poisons the path, as exemplified by the recitation of mantras over poison. This does not refer to the ordinary emotions as they normally present themselves. It refers to finding their true nature, the ultimate nature of wisdom in the depth of these afflictive emotions. Once wisdom has truly arisen within us and we recognize the empty nature of the afflictive emo- tions, they cannot harm us, just as when an accom- plished yogi recites a mantra over poisoned food, the poison is rendered harmless. By recognizing the empty nature of the afflictive emotions, they are liberated as wisdom and we can use them as the path. If we experience afflictive emotions in the ordinary way, they can only bind us down in samsara. But if we can recognize these emotions as wisdom, they will become helpers in our practice. Now, afflictive emotions arise in the mind by means of the eight consciousnesses. If we recognize the eight consciousnesses as unborn, we cut the root of existence, the notion of a self. This idea of a self, the thought of “I,” is the very root of samsara. It is this that has to be cut. When a tree is cut at the roots, there is no need to cut the branches, leaves, and flowers; they all fall at the same time and dry up. At present we have not been able to realize that the eight consciousnesses are unborn and we have therefore been unable to cut the belief in an “I” at the root. But once we know how to get rid of this notion of an “I,” then whatever happens to us – suffering, happiness, attachment, or revulsion – it will all help our prac- tice progress: Make the unborn nature of the eight con- sciousnesses the path, as exemplified by cutting a fruit tree at the roots. The unborn absolute nature is completely empty, like space, unstained by relative phenom- ena, such as the notions of permanence or nihil- Born in eastern tiBet in 1910, Dilgo Khyentse rinpoche was a renowneD lama in the nyingma traDition. he DieD in 1991 at age 81. this excerpt is from Zurchungpa’s testament, By Dilgo Khyentse rinpoche anD translateD By the paDmaKara translation group. forthcoming in novemBer from snow lion puBlications. Teachings By Dilgo KhyenTse on Zurchung sherap Trakpa’s 1 Eighty Chapters of Personal Advice, based on shechen gyaltsap’s 2 commentary. The lines from Zurchungpa’s root text appear in bold and shechen gyaltsap’s notes and structural outline appear in italics. Dilgo Khyentse’s commentary appears in roman text. ú 1 Zurchung Sherap Trakpa, also known as Zurchungpa, lived from 1014 to 1074. 2 Shechen Gyaltsap (1871– 1926) was Dilgo Khyentse’s first principal teacher. 3 In other words, die alone in a remote place where there are no disturbances. RoBeRTDelTReDici