The Trustworthy Teacher

The Trustworthy Teacher

Spring Teaching 2023 • Two Autobiographical Praises by Mikyö Dorje • Day 5
8 April 2023

This was the final day of the Spring Teachings to be given during the Arya Kshema. However, the teachings would continue until the Gyalwang Karmapa had completed his commentary on the texts. As summer approached in Varanasi, it would become intolerably hot, and therefore it was wiser for the nuns to disperse to their home nunneries as scheduled.

The focus was on Sangye Paldrup's commentary on verses 27 and 28 of the Good Deeds. These verses form parts two and three of the section on how Mikyö Dorje practised the path of the greater individual. They describe how he purified his own continuum and then aroused the intention to develop bodhichitta, meditated on the two types of bodhichitta, both aspiring and engaged, and trained in the precepts of the two types of bodhichitta.

How he trained in purifying his own continuum
As long as you hang on to your intractable character,
You will not tame the mind streams of your followers.
So I focused on my own accumulation and purification
To increase accumulation and purification among my students.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (27)
The Gyalwang Karmapa paraphrased Sangye Paldrup's comments. First, Sangye Paldrup criticised all those lamas who do not live up to their name. These so-called lamas who are claimed to be unrivalled in getting others to serve the Three Jewels, bringing the defenceless to happiness, and teaching the path to excellence, should be able to recognise the difference between virtue and non-virtue. They are known as 'spiritual friends' and famed for bringing benefit to beings. However, in actuality, their title is an empty nomenclature. Once they have gained a certain status, they no longer teach with pure intention and even lead their followers astray. They teach them how to practise non-virtue rather than virtue. Part of the problem is that they themselves lack certainty in what constitutes non-virtue, and they are unable to see the faults of non-virtuous behaviour.

In contrast, Mikyö Dorje believed that in order to be able to tame sentient beings, he first needed to cleanse and tame his own mindstream.

Another fault of these lamas is to pay no attention to future lifetimes and only consider happiness and short-term benefits in this lifetime. They may have looked like they were performing Boddhisattva activities that benefitted others, but their short-term perspective turned their actions into pseudo-benefit and pseudo-Bodhisattva actions. Sangye Paldrup uses the simile: This is like a leper teaching a garuda sadhana. The Karmapa explained that leprosy is seen as a naga illness in traditional Tibetan medicine, and the antidote is a garuda sadhana. It would make no sense for a leper to teach a garuda sadhana because they wouldn't be a leper if they knew how to practice it correctly. Hence people would be suspicious of the leper. Likewise, it is impossible to tame other beings until you have tamed your own mindstream.
Furthermore, Mikyö Dorje understood the critical point that "in order to bring vast benefit to other sentient beings, and to practice true dharma, if you wish to do that, then it's essential to think about the next and future lives." He could clearly teach what people should and should not do because he practised this and gained experience and certainty. He had an excellent understanding of the main point of the dharma he was teaching. Once he had understood the main point, he was not satisfied with a mere understanding, but he put it into practice and developed experience. Because he then had absolute certainty in this dharma, he was able to teach others effectively.

The Karmapa warned that too many teachers lack even a basic idea of the main point of the dharma, let alone put it into practice. They are overconfident. They give empowerments, transmissions, teachings, and organise retreats, but in actuality in their own lives, they have not developed any experience or even a partial understanding of the dharma. They receive many offerings, count the number of their students, see the respect they receive, and so on, but they fail to examine whether there is quality or not in the result of their teachings and empowerments. Has it changed the students? Have the students internalised the teachings? Has it benefitted them? This is the true yardstick of success as a dharma teacher.

Lord Gampopa predicted:
In the future, when gurus have no experience and students no devotion, when they just give instructions as transmissions, my teachings will disappear.
The Karmapa commented that in this situation, you have a lama who has no practice of the dharma and thus no experience or realisation of the dharma, and the students have no faith and devotion in the dharma or the lama, but still the lama pretends to be giving instructions and giving transmissions. That would be a sign that the Dakpo Kagyu teachings have disappeared.

The converse is a lama who has experience of the teachings and has incorporated them into their being. Then, you will have the guru with the blessings and the students with devotion, and the dharma will be good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end; that is the sign that the actual teachings of the Dakpo Kagyu are still extant.

Dusum Khyenpa, Pakmodrupa, Gotsangpa and their disciples said precisely the same. In the words of Gotsangpa:
I have never taught anyone even a single word of dharma that I have not practised and gained experience in myself.
This shows that they taught experiential dharma, not dry words; Mikyö Dorje repeatedly told others that this was the only way to teach the dharma. He taught the dharma that he had practised himself until he had developed experience and understanding and had the confidence that it would benefit his students in this and future lifetimes. For this reason, his students considered every single word of his teachings or advice extremely important. He set his students to practice accumulation and purification in order to make them receptive to the dharma, but he himself also worked hard at these practices in order to be of benefit to beings. He was a powerful model for his students and demonstrated his great devotion to the Three Jewels in all his activities, such as prostrations or making a mandala offering. This had a powerful influence on them. Mikyö Dorje advised that the greatest concern for lamas should be whether they could tame their students' afflictions and make their minds supple or not. Worrying about a student's everyday welfare and happiness in this lifetime was not the work of the lama.

The student's response should be to trust themselves fully to the lama and have the confidence that this is someone who can be a lasting refuge and hope for this and future lifetimes, who can give them direction in this and future lives. Without that perspective, the student is not a real student, no matter how many offerings they make to the lama or how many teachings, empowerments or transmissions they receive.

The Karmapa reminded everyone that in order for it to be true dharma, "it has to be for the sake of the next and future lifetimes."

Mikyö Dorje had no attachment to sensory pleasures. He was never distracted by diversions and so forth. He had no interest in the concerns of the world. He never tried to fool or deceive other people. He never acted like a charlatan. It just naturally occurred, it just naturally stopped. Likewise, he never lied about superhuman qualities or mistaken dharma. If he made a mistake, he admitted the fault. He would confess the fault and express regret. The Karmapa cited the example of how Mikyö Dorje admitted that some of his debate positions and refutations had been wrong. He confessed this directly and clearly without resorting to eloquence to obfuscate. His actions were sometimes criticised and misunderstood. He would not teach an area of dharma unless he had developed an understanding and realisation of it, and this was misinterpreted as showing a limited education in and lack of knowledge of the dharma. He would only teach the profound dharma and give empowerments to those with sufficient merit; his critics claimed this demonstrated his lack of training and inability to give instructions and empowerments.

Yet, for those fortunate ones who became his students, even a single word could inspire them with the wish for liberation from samsara and faith in the Three Jewels. They would know how to carefully choose what to do in karmic cause and effect, how to train in bodhichitta, and the training of the paths and levels. He would inspire them with the confidence that he was someone they could trust, someone who could show them the path to Buddhahood. Many developed this certainty.

Mikyö Dorje showed genuine affection and compassion towards his students. When people put their hopes in him, whether for dharma or for material things, without deceit or guile, he would treat them well and do as much as he could for them.

Even when he went to bed, he would be thinking of how to benefit other sentient beings: teaching dharma to those who requested dharma or fulfilling the needs of those who wanted material things such as food and clothing. Some came to him pretending to want dharma and asked for transmissions, empowerments and so forth when their real motivation was to gain kudos by receiving these from a high lama. In that case, he would try to mollify them but would limit what he gave. If, on the other hand, he encountered someone who really wanted to practise dharma from the bottom of their heart or who had the potential to become a good practitioner in future, he would pay them a lot of attention, spend time with them and do his best to nurture them. Sometimes he could be very informal with them, just talking and joking, but always with the aim of using different methods to benefit them and improve their minds.
How he trained in the ways of all bodhisattvas
Therefore, since all the activities of entering
The ways of enlightenment are inconceivable,
I made the prayer to follow in harmony
With the deeds of all the bodhisattvas.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (28)
The Karmapa then moved on to verse 28. He explained that 'to train in the ways of all bodhisattvas' entailed taking their conduct and behaviour as the model and striving to do the same:
According to Mikyö Dorje's Instructions in Training in the Namthar, in order to tame others' beings, you first have to tame your own being.
In order to cleanse and purify others' mindstreams, you have to cleanse and improve your own mind. You need to recognise what your faults are, recognise them as faults, and recognise your qualities as qualities.
For faults, you need to do whatever you can to decrease them.
For qualities, you need to do whatever you can to increase them.
That's what you should do.

However, when it comes to the faults and qualities of other beings, we must be wary.

We see other people's faults but fail to see our own. We blame other people for their mistakes but never acknowledge and take responsibility for the ones we make. Instead, we consider ourselves as having qualities and never making mistakes. The Karmapa highlighted how dangerous this attitude is, particularly as we do not understand how great bodhisattvas act to benefit beings. We might unwittingly criticise a bodhisattva because of our wrong views. If we do, we will destroy all the roots of virtue we have accumulated. Until we have the clairvoyance of telepathy, when we can really understand a person's thinking, aims and motivation, we are mistakenly holding our five senses to be authoritative and judging by external appearances. There are many times when these five senses are not reliable sources of information. Consequently, we should only concentrate on our own faults and always try to see the qualities in others. We should consider that all sentient beings have buddha nature, and that is sacred. They are precious and an inexhaustible source of qualities.

In One Hundred Short Instructions, Mikyö Dorje repeats this advice.

Do not speak about worldly faults, such as being disabled or dharma faults, such as violations of discipline. In brief, do not think anything about others' faults. If you see a fault in someone else, you must pray fervently that no such fault should reoccur and that you may never see that fault in the future. In brief, you must purify whichever affliction is strongest in your being. When asked what your greatest affliction is, you should tell your guru. The guru should also teach all dharma as the antidote for it. For example, just as when in the world, you sometimes have to go to war. No matter how you are going to fight, you must surround them with your forces on the outside and get them to revolt internally. Similarly, when practising dharma, on the outside you must attack the affliction with the armies of the Kagyu gurus and the dharma, and on the inside, you must stir up the revolt of the antidote within the students' mindstreams. You must do what you can to get the dharma to arise through determination, devotion, and diligence in their beings.
The Karmapa explained that in the same way that we should not disparage someone with a disability, we should not disparage those with dharma faults such as breaches of discipline. Instead, we should make the aspiration that the person never commits that fault again and that we never see such faults in future.

When we see a fault in another person, it is because of our karmic connections with that person, our karmic imprints, our afflictions and our confusion; others may not see that same fault. The Karmapa compared it to how a hundred people looking at the colour blue will each see it differently. Buddhas and bodhisattvas who have exhausted their karma and afflictions do not see others negatively as we do. So, when we see something negative in another being, there may be a fault, but at that same time, it is also a fault in ourselves. This is the reason we should pray not to see that fault again.

As practitioners, we must first work to eliminate our most dominant affliction. We should not try to conceal it from our lama; we should be totally open with our teacher. Then they can teach us the dharma we need and effective antidotes.

Mikyö Dorje compares the battle to overcome the afflictions with strategies in warfare. It's a two-pronged attack. One force attacks from the outside while the other works within, fomenting rebellion and destabilising the country. The external force is the gurus and the dharma. Internally, we need to have a rebellion in our mindstream which recognises the affliction as a negative rather than positive quality. Combining the two together gives us the power to overcome the affliction.

Some people raise objections: Seeing something good as bad is indeed wrong. But if the fault you see is definitely a fault, isn't it wrong not to point it out?

The Karmapa explained that there are people who have committed many mistakes but we have to be able to distinguish the individual from their mistakes. They will also have accumulated good deeds, so it would be wrong to denigrate them. This would be a form of disrespect. It would be like the action of destroying a clay buddha image. Of course, the image is not the buddha's kaya, but it's said that by destroying the clay image, you incur the misdeed of destroying the non-composite kaya of a buddha.

It is extremely difficult without clairvoyance to know the outcome of what we perceive as positive or negative deeds. Sometimes, in the world, when a good person performs what seems to us a terribly bad action, it can become beneficial to sentient beings. When a bad person does something good, it can become the karma for destroying the Buddha's teachings. It is very difficult for us to determine quickly whether something is good or bad. And if the person committing the action is a bodhisattva, if we feel hatred and anger towards them, and criticise them, we incur a huge misdeed.

A passage in the Noble Mahayana Sutra Called Entering the Seal of Determinate and Indeterminate Beings states:
Manjushri, compared to a son or daughter of noble family who gouged out the eyes of all sentient beings in the worlds of the ten directions, a son or daughter of noble family who was angered and looked at a bodhisattva with a malicious mind would produce an incalculably greater misdeed.
"We need to be very careful," the Karmapa warned." We don't know who is a bodhisattva, so it's possible that there's a bodhisattva among the ants. It's possible that there are bodhisattvas among cats and dogs. It's not necessary that a bodhisattva be human, so we shouldn't look at any being in negative terms." He continued, "If we can, we should try to make good, virtuous connections with them; otherwise, if we are unable to make a good connection, we should at the least suspend judgement. In terms of attachment and aversion, it is not good to develop bias."

In the words of the Kadampa master, Geshe Neu Zurpa:
These days everyone says they have run out of dharma to practice and do whatever they can do to get all the dharma they can. But among them, they do not think, "I’ve gained experience of this practice, I haven’t of that one.” Among them, I haven’t ever seen any who, at the same time as they say verbally “I go for refuge to the Three Jewels,” do not criticise the khenpos, teachers, sangha, and so forth whom they ask for refuge.

These poisonous lips will themselves cast us into hell. If someone cared for me, they would put a lock on these lips, give the key to someone else, and only open them when I ate or drank.
The Karmapa commented that people were getting as many dharma teachings as possible, asking for transmissions and empowerments, but never practising them, as if, once the lama had placed the vase on their head, that was sufficient. Actually, when the lama gives an empowerment, a teaching or a transmission, we need to practise it. If we don’t practise, no matter how many empowerments or teachings or transmissions we receive, they are all empty and go to waste. Moreover, people were going for refuge and then being critical of those who had given them refuge—the sangha, the lamas, the khenpos and so forth. What they said was condemning them to hell, so it would be better for their lips to be completely sealed except at mealtimes.

2023:04:08: The Trustworthy Teacher
Two Days of Akshobhya Ritual

Two Days of Akshobhya Ritual

7th Arya Kshema

5-6 April 2023

༄༅། །ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པ། དེ་རིང་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་སྒྲུབ་དཔོན་བདེ་ཆེན་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་དང་། རྩོད་དཔང་དུ་གདན་དྲངས་པའི་མཁན་པོ་རྣམ་པ་ལྔ་དང་། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་གི་མཁན་པོ་དང་། བཙུན་དགོན་བཤད་གྲྭ་ཁག་གི་མཁན་པོ་དང་བཙུན་དགོན་འདུས་མང་སྤྱི་ནས་མགོན་པོ་མི་འཁྲུགས་བའི་སྒོ་ནས་ལས་ཀྱི་སྒྲིབ་པ་རྣམ་པར་སྦྱོང་བའི་ཆོ་ག་ཚོགས་པའི་ཉིན་གཉིས་པའི་བརྙན་པར། ༢༠༢༣/༠༤/༠༦

The Arya Kshema Spring Gathering for Nuns always features several major rituals. In a change to the original programme, the Sarvavid Vairochana tantra was replaced by the Akshobhya (Tib. Mitrukpa) ritual. Drupon Dechen Rinpoche led two days of the ritual in the main shrine hall of Vajra Vidya.

The five adjudicating khenpos for the nuns’ debating competition, the khenpos of Vajra Vidya Institute, and the khenpos from the different nunnery shedras joined with the nuns in offering the ritual which is used to purify karmic obscurations.

The Gyalwang Karmapa decided to change the programme because the Sarvavid Vairochana ritual is complex and includes many specific mudras, whereas the Akshobhya ritual is more straightforward with fewer special mudras, so all the nuns would be able to join in.

2023.04.05: Two Days of Akshobhya Ritual
Transcendent Dhyana and Purifying One’s Continuum

Transcendent Dhyana and Purifying One’s Continuum

Spring Teaching 2023 • Two Autobiographical Praises by Mikyö Dorje • Day 4
2 April 2023

His Holiness began the fourth day of teachings by explaining that he had to spend a few days resting and preparing the text for the Five-Deity Tara practice. He announced that the sessions will continue until he has finished teaching the texts.

Today’s teachings centered on the twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh, and twenty-eighth good deeds from the Autobiographical Verses “Good Deeds.” According to the outline from attendant Sangye Paldrup’s Commentary on the Meaning (Drepung manuscript), these are in the portion discussing how Mikyö Dorje practiced the path of the greater individual. This has three parts:

a) The intention: rousing bodhichitta (v. 9)

b) The action: meditating on the two types of bodhichitta (v. 10–21)

c) How he trained in the precepts of the two types of bodhichitta (v. 22–33)

The Transcendence of Dhyana

His Holiness had arrived at the third part, which has seven sub-divisions. The first is on how Mikyö Dorje trained in the six transcendences, and we have discussed until the fourth transcendence. For the fifth on dhyana, the root text is:

I applied antidotes to all the subtle and coarse afflictions,
For they are not conducive to inspiring myself to virtue.
Beside focusing one-pointedly on the causes and results
Of perfect buddhahood, how could I think of anything else?
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (26)
This is the twenty-sixth among the thirty-three good deeds described in the autobiographical verses Good Deeds. According to Mikyö Dorje’s Instructions in Training in the Liberation Story, as Karmapa had emphasized previously, we need to meditate on patience and be diligent in order to abandon what needs to be discarded, develop the antidotes, and completely discard the negativities of the obscurations. Nevertheless, arousing patience and diligence is insufficient; we also need the samadhis, the dharanis, the great gates of liberation and so forth that the buddhas and the great bodhisattvas have in their beings. In addition, we also need to be able to rest in the absorption of the dhyanas and have the wisdom that knows all phenomena as they are and as many as there are.

Nevertheless, Karmapa explained, many different obscurations prevent us from developing such qualities.

To eliminate all of them, we need to be able to rest in the equipoise of the luminosity free of thoughts. Many adverse factors prevent us from achieving the workability of mind and body. To rid ourselves of these obscurations, we need to apply mindfulness, awareness, and carefulness. We also need to make sure that we don't lose the qualities we already have and that we are able to increase them by achieving the ones that we still have to gain.

In brief, this means that we need to be very diligent about our practice of samadhi.

Dhyana According to Sangye Paldrup’s Commentary

His Holiness then turned to Sangye Paldrup’s Commentary on the Meaning. He explained that in the current age and in the past, many people from different countries, including Tibet, claim they have reached a very high level of realization. This leads others to regard them as a source of refuge, and they themselves pretend to be able to grant people refuge and protection.

Karmapa explained,

The root of what produces suffering for ourselves and others is the minds of attachment and aversion to the world. It comes down to whether the afflictions have been pacified or not. If we want to pacify or eliminate the afflictions, we must achieve the worldly or supramundane dhyanas.

We need to attain the worldly or super-mundane dhyanas if we intend on pacifying or eliminating the afflictions. There's no choice but to achieve the dhyana meditations. We need to have the antidotes for the various afflictions belonging to the different levels—the lesser, middling, and greater. This depends upon having a workable mind or shamatha.

He stated that those claiming high realization do not understand this critical point. On the contrary, they are audacious enough to boast that they have achieved the shamatha of the insight of the buddhas and the bodhisattvas, claiming they have the same level of realization. Furthermore, they declare they are completely free of the obscurations that impede that realization.

Karmapa pointed out that Mikyö Dorje felt like that was the most painful thing that he saw, for people to be charlatans and pretend to be something they were not. It was not a question of him not liking the people, but the fact that they acted as such charlatans. He explained,

The worldly dhyanas cannot completely eliminate afflictions, but can at least pacify the manifest afflictions. As long as you have the realization of dhyana, then the manifest afflictions of attachment and aversion won't arise. But these people who claim they have high realization haven't even developed the worldly dhyanas, much less the super-mundane or transcendent dhyana. Nevertheless, they are audacious enough to say that they have the same level of realization, the same qualities of absorption that all the buddhas and the bodhisattvas have.

Karmapa pointed out that we will accumulate unvirtuous actions if we are unable to block even the manifest afflictions. This in turn makes it difficult for us to even achieve the states of gods or humans in the higher realms, making it impossible to achieve the dhyanas. Without a higher realm birth as a god or human, there will not be a support or basis to achieve the dhyanas. Mikyö Dorje understood this point.

To pacify the afflictions, at the very least the manifest afflictions, achieving worldly dhyana is extremely important, emphasized Karmapa. To do so requires eliminating the adverse factors to it and having all of the various causes complete. He pointed out,

If we look at what that is, it comes down to not seeing the sensory pleasures as faults or problems, which is the main impediment to achieving shamatha. To abandon such faults of attachment and aversion, you need to look at the thoughts of the sensory pleasures being like poison, like an enemy. You need to be very assiduous about your practice of being free of desire.

Mikyö Dorje realized that the afflictions of attachment and aversion prevented him from achieving the dhyanas. He applied the antidotes of mindfulness, awareness, and carefulness to torpor, excitement and so forth to purify all of the contaminants that contaminated his mind and made it intractable.

Mikyö Dorje had a lot of conscience and propriety at all times. He always put a stop to thoughts of the eight concerns and self-interest. He had a boundary that kept the thoughts of the eight worldly concerns or self-interest outside, and worked hard to never fall away from Mahayana thoughts and actions. In addition, he never had any pride or tried to say, “I'm this great person; I'm a Karmapa, a great being.” Neither did he behave as if he was some great or impressive person. Instead, His Holiness described, Mikyö Dorje always associated with humble people who were gentle and had little greed or hatred, and he did not like to trouble others either. He was always very authentic and genuine no matter what he did. Some people act differently when they are in front of other people, but not Mikyö Dorje.

Likewise, Karmapa explained, “Mikyö Dorje always maintained mindfulness and awareness. He clearly knew what he was doing, so he was always able to accomplish what he was working on. As a result, he never had any regret later, regardless of whether the task was finished or not.”

Mikyö Dorje also spoke to his students in ways that inspired renunciation. He talked about the problems of samsara, the suffering that beings experience, and praised the qualities of the Three Jewels. Karmapa pointed out that no matter what Mikyö Dorje did, it was to lead beings to a path to liberation. We can observe it through the aspirations and instructions that he gave, and the examples that he showed.

One of the great examples Mikyö Dorje gave was that he had a really strong bodhicitta. Due to the power of his love and compassion, people around him were never displeased no matter how much time they spent in his company. Karmapa clarified,

If there's someone who comes and spends a few hours with you, sometimes you get a little bit bored, right? You get a little bit irritated and say, ‘It’s better if you go; I can't stay.’ But no matter how long you spent in Mikyö Dorje’s presence, because of his bodhichitta, you never felt bored or frustrated. At the same time, people felt as if their afflicted thoughts just stopped, and faith and enthusiasm for virtue increased greatly.”

By spending time with Mikyö Dorje, people naturally and continuously felt faith and enthusiasm for the dharma. People never felt like they had spent enough time with him; they still wanted to see and hear him even if they have already spent a long time with him. As a result, Karmapa explained, people were really delighted and really enthusiastic whenever they went to meet Mikyö Dorje. Once they left his presence, they would think, “Oh, I didn't spend enough time with him. The hours just passed by so quickly.”

Another feature of Mikyö Dorje, as said by the great beings of the past, was that the focus of Mahayana dhyana is bodhichitta. When you meet Mikyö Dorje, Karmapa described, you feel like he was always completely within bodhichitta and remains unwavering from it.

It is said in the Buddha’s words and treatises that when people achieve the dhyanas, they receive miraculous powers and clairvoyances. But Mikyö Dorje never displayed such activities. His students, such as Sangye Paldrup and others said that he never did anything that anyone else could not do. Karmapa said,

When you looked at him from the outside, he seemed like someone on the lesser path of accumulation. You can tell that he had bodhichitta, but he didn't show anything that would astound everyone else. He didn't show any of the supreme human qualities like doing miraculous things or being telepathic.” Mikyö Dorje spoke just like a regular person. He did not fly in the sky or burrow into the earth; he didn't even pretend to have anything like that.

Many people came looking for Mikyö Dorje from all different places, mostly seeking the dharma. Sometimes they would ask for teachings on Prajnaparamita, the Secret Mantra or Mahamudra. He would personally teach everyone who came to ask for the dharma, and gave the pith instructions for a beginner to enter the dhyanas. He taught the teachings found in the general scriptures, but would not give them meditation instructions on Mahamudra or some amazing instructions that no one else could teach.

Karmapa pointed out that Mikyö Dorje taught his students according to his experience, and refrained from start talking about great topics like Mahamudra. He explained,

As a result, some people criticized him for this, and said that Mikyö Dorje doesn't know how to teach them Mahamudra meditation. They claimed that the reason is that Mikyö Dorje never went to a guru who had realized Mahamudra, and had never practiced the meditation that establishes the view.

These people believed that Mikyö Dorje did not have the experience in Mahamudra to give direct and precise instructions, and as a result, there were very few among his students who are realized meditators. No student of his could touch rocks and break them in half or split the earth by merely touching it.

According to Sangye Paldrup’s text, Karmapa pointed out that there are people who don't have the capacity even to develop the preparations for dhyana. Nevertheless, many gurus still teach them Mahamudra, Dzogchen, and other great practices. But Mikyö Dorje did not do as others wished. He did not give instructions or teach the view on Mahamudra to those who lack the capacity to practice it.

To illustrate this, Karmapa raised the following example: You can call a beggar by the name of a king, but who is going to think that the beggar is a king? Merely having a name of a king is just something that everyone will laugh at and think of as strange.

Likewise, teaching Mahamudra to those without the fortune and capacity to develop it is pointless. They do not have all the preparations that they need, so it is too early to teach them. Sangye Paldrup himself stated the following:

I can't say whether Mikyö Dorje has achieved the actual practice of dhyana or not. I have no way of knowing it because I don't have the experience of achieving dhyana, so I don't know what it's like. Some people say that if you've achieved the actual practices of the dhyanas, then you would be able to produce miracles and clairvoyances, but I've never seen any signs of Mikyö Dorje having done so.
But, for those who desire liberation and omniscience, I know that he is someone able to teach them the methods for developing them—the methods of dhyana and prajna. I'm certain of this because no matter what method of the Mahāyāna he teaches, it is all for the sake of achieving buddhahood.
In order to achieve buddhahood, you need the focus of bringing all sentient beings to buddhahood. Whatever dharma Mikyö Dorje taught, he only taught in order to bring all sentient beings to buddhahood. Likewise, Mikyö Dorje was very well-versed in the stages of the path to achieve buddhahood and omniscience as he was always thinking about it.

How He Trained in Purifying His Own Continuum

His Holiness reiterated that prajna was already taught during the verse on ultimate bodhicitta, thus it was not specifically mentioned here. The next point is how Mikyö Dorje trained in purifying his own continuum.

As long as you hang on to your intractable character,
You will not tame the mind streams of your followers.
So I focused on my own accumulation and purification
To increase accumulation and purification among my students.
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (27)
According to Mikyö Dorje’s Instructions in Training in the Liberation Story, His Holiness explained that in order for the practice of dhyana or yoga practice to progress along the path to great enlightenment, it depends primarily on seeing your own and others' faults as being faults. Karmapa said, “Once you recognize that a fault is a fault, then you need to strive at uprooting the fault or eradicating it completely. You should seek to see whether the gurus whom you follow have the qualities to protect you.”

When we recognize what a fault is, then we can see how to eliminate them and what are the qualities we need to develop. Karmapa pointed out that in order not to waste the virtues we and others have accumulated, we need to dedicate and rejoice in them. We need to check to see whether we are doing this or not.

As Karmapa mentioned earlier, merely having dhyana is not enough. In order for it to become a cause of great enlightenment, we need to recognize what is going to benefit ourselves. With the roots of virtue we have, we need to try and make them more powerful and stronger so that the results can ripen visibly, meaning in this lifetime. We need to be diligent about such thoughts and actions.

In addition, Karmapa reminded us, “You shouldn't get conceited about having a few qualities. If this happens, then you have been seized by the great mara of satisfaction. This will prevent you from developing the qualities of the higher paths and levels.” Therefore, we need to always be examining the faults and qualities in our own being.

It is the same with our current day and during the time of Mikyö Dorje, His Holiness pointed out. Whether it is how people are serving the Three Jewels or trying to protect defenseless sentient beings and bring them to happiness, there are many people who said that they are unrivaled, that they are really great. But in actuality, in order to do so, we need to be able to recognize its opposite, which is non-virtue, but they are unable to do this. Karmapa explained, “They get a lot of people to practice, accumulate merit and do virtue. Nevertheless, they themselves are unable to recognize that unvirtuous behavior is unvirtuous. The sign is that they verbally say they are getting people to do virtuous things, but actually encourage those who have faith in them to do unvirtuous things.”

These people boast about taming others without having tamed themselves, and they do not know how to think for the sake of future lives but consider only the pleasures of this lifetime. They seem to benefit others, but Karmapa likened this to lepers doing the garuda practice: Leprosy is a disease said to be caused by the nagas, and the antidote for naga illnesses is by doing the garuda practice. If someone actually knows the garuda practice, they will not catch it. Thus, before we teach other people the practice, we should first cure ourselves of leprosy. His Holiness then concluded today’s teachings by pointing out that it is overly bold and very laughable if we claim that we are working for others' sake without seeking anything.

2023.04.02: Transcendent Dhyana and Purifying One’s Continuum
Two Days of Ritual: Tseringma

Two Days of Ritual: Tseringma

7th Arya Kshema

30-31 March 2023

༄༅། །ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པ། དེ་རིང་རྩོད་དཔང་དུ་གདན་དྲངས་པའི་མཁན་པོ་རྣམ་པ་ལྔ་དང་། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་གི་མཁན་པོ་དང་། བཙུན་དགོན་བཤད་གྲྭ་ཁག་གི་མཁན་པོ་དང་བཙུན་དགོན་འདུས་མང་སྤྱི་ནས་ཕྱི་དྲོ་ཚེ་རིང་མ་ཚོགས་པའི་བརྙན་པར། ༢༠༢༣/༠༣/༣༠

Tseringma is one of the rituals always offered during the Arya Kshema. The Five Tseringma –Five Long-Life Sisters–are protectors of the Kagyu lineage. Tashi Tseringma is the principal deity of this group of female protectors who are known as the Tashi Tsering Chenga. Their special relationship with the Kagyu dates back to the time of Milarepa. According to tradition, the five sisters were originally mountain spirits living in the mountains on the Nepalese-Tibetan border. They were tamed by Guru Padmasambhava and ordered to protect the Buddhist teachings. When they encountered Milarepa, they tried to distract him from meditation in order to test him, but he resisted them. Subsequently, they received teachings from him— these dialogues are very well-known —and thus the link was forged and they became protectors of the Kagyu teachings. Milarepa declared, “In the human realm, my teachings are held by the Teacher from Central Tibet (Gampopa). In the non-human realm, they are held by Tseringma.”

During the time of the previous Karmapas, this practice was performed extensively at Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet, and the Seventeenth Karmapa has asked the Kamtsang nunneries to engage in the extensive practice of Tseringma annually.

The Arya Kshema nuns, joined by their teachers, khenpos and some students from Vajra Vidya, recited the Tseringma ritual in the afternoon sessions on 30th and 31st of March. Drupon Dechen Rinpoche presided.

2023.03.31: Two Days of Ritual: Tseringma
Two Days of Ritual: Five-Deity Tara Sadhana

Two Days of Ritual: Five-Deity Tara Sadhana

7th Arya Kshema

30-31 March 2023

༄༅། །ཝ་རཱ་ཎ་སི། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་དུ། འཕགས་མ་བདེ་བྱེད་མའི་དཔྱིད་ཆོས་ཐེངས་བདུན་པ། དེ་རིང་སྐྱབས་རྗེ་སྒྲུབ་དཔོན་བདེ་ཆེན་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་དང་། རྩོད་དཔང་དུ་གདན་དྲངས་པའི་མཁན་པོ་རྣམ་པ་ལྔ་དང་། བཛྲ་བིདྱ་གཙུག་ལག་སློབ་གཉེར་ཁང་གི་མཁན་པོ་དང་། བཙུན་དགོན་བཤད་གྲྭ་ཁག་གི་མཁན་པོ་དང་བཙུན་དགོན་འདུས་མང་སྤྱི་ནས་དཔལ་ལྡན་དུས་གསུམ་མཁྱེན་པའི་ཐུགས་དམ་ལྔ་ཚན་ལྔ་ལས་སྔ་དྲོ་སྒྲོལ་མ་ལྷ་ལྔ་དང། ་ཕྱི་དྲོ་ཚེ་རིང་མ་ཚོགས་པའི་བརྙན་དགེའོ། ། ༢༠༢༣/༠༣/༣༡

Each morning for two days, the Arya Kshema nuns, khenpos, and teachers, led by Drupon Dechen Rinpoche, offered the Five-Deity Green Tara of the Acacia Forest ritual.

This was only the second time that this particular Tara ritual had been held. The ritual is a revival of a Kamtsang tradition of five-deity rituals begun by the First Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa. There are five rituals, and each one features a principal deity with four other deities represented in the mandala; the five principal deities are Hayagriva, Chakrasamvara, Vajravarahi, Hevajra, and Tara.

This version of the ritual including the sadhana has been newly compiled and annotated by the Seventeenth Karmapa. It was first offered during the Special Kagyu Monlam, where it included a thousand-fold offering. At the Arya Kshema a different form, the sadhana ritual without the thousand-fold offering, was offered.
(For further information on this ritual c.f.

2023.03.31: Two Days of Ritual: Five-Deity Tara Sadhana