Jun 14, 2014

Pith Introduction

Tulku Chokyi Nyima and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, with Erik and Namdol, in Hong Kong, 1981.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's main job in life was to teach Dzogchen, the pith instructions of Dzogchen to as many people as possible. That was the command he had been given, not only by the sixteenth Karmapa but also by his own root guru who was a reincarnation of Vimalamitra, an Indian master, matchless, only comparable to Padmasabhava.
That was the type of guru he had grown up with and been taught by. When Tulku Urgyen was young he was asked to teach by his guru some lay people and though still a teenager he did it gladly, he just gave pointing out instruction with great confidence and joy. Soon his guru said “You seem to be someone who has no hesitation. You seem very confident. Perhaps you will teach this a lot.”

Later his guru told that that was his main task in life and he taught up to he passed away thousands and thousands of people, the view and the practice of Dzogchen and Mahamudra. And if people wanted teaching on Prajnaparamita or Madhyamika, he would teach that, using almost the same words. Because as far as Tulku Urgyen was concerned there’s absolutely no difference in the view of Prajnaparamita, Madhyamika, a particular style of madhyamika (Ngedon Uma Chenmo) known as the Great Middle Way of The Definitive Meaning, the Essence Mahamudra, and then the excellence of Dzogchen. He often told this:

“Since you can become enlightened by any of these four views, would that mean that there are four different types of Buddhahood? Not at all. It is the same identity that one is supposed to recognise and train in and become stable in. And stability in the view of knowing the nature of this mind, that is another word for Enlightenment, Buddhahood.”

That was how he taught and it benefited so many people and it has been my greatest joy to see the light being switched on in peoples eyes from not knowing to knowing. He knew that button and how to press it.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche knew how to introduce the view of the deepest teachings in the tantras not as a theory only but in actuality and I can vouch for that being the greatest kindness that any teacher can bestow on a student.

He often compared, that the path of Mahamudra and Dzogchen is like a wet rope in a lake, a thick long rope; it’s impossible to pull it up out of the lake, it’s too heavy. But if you get hold of one end of the long rope and you slowly pull it in, one foot at a time, then you end up with having the entire rope up on dry land. You need to get hold of the one end and that is called the pointing-out instruction.

These days Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche often corrects me when I use the words ‘pointing-out instruction’. I had coined that phrase many years ago for the Tibetan sems ngo sprod pa which means bringing face to face with the nature of mind, so I thought ‘pointing out’, meaning “that’s it”, and then ‘instruction’ would be fine. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has now re-edited it to be ‘Pith Introduction.’

I know that some of you have already received this type of instruction, perhaps many times but I also know that once or twice may not be sufficient, so ask for it again when you have the chance to meet a wisdom master, and if you have not received it before, pray to create the merit to receive it and when there is a chance, go there, get off your butt, travel, ask for it and receive it. Get hold of the one end of the rope and pull it in before you die.
I’m still pulling and mine is very wet and heavy.

For some people, and we’re not able to judge who’s who, that process is very fast, for some it is very difficult to comprehend, for some it takes a long time. It is different from person to person but it’s absolutely worthwhile and there are teachings that, if you don’t have merit to receive it, there are teachings on how to create that merit very fast like during one month, two months, half a year, a wonderful practice called ngondro which is specifically designed to make anyone who is not ready, ready.

This ngondro process is a very effective set of instructions. The first time it is mentioned is in one of the earliest Dzogchen tantras that appeared at the beginning of this world aeon. It’s called the Longsal Barma Nyimey Gyu--The Tantra of The Blazing Sun of the Vast Expanse.

It exists in this world in several versions. The longest version is perhaps one revealed in Bhutan by a great master known as Dorje Lingpa, but there are shorter versions, one revealed by Ratna Lingpa. The longer version has more than one hundred chapters and in Dorje Lingpa’s version there’s one chapter for each of the Five Preliminary Practices that together make up the ngondro: refuge, bodhisattva vow, mandala offering, Vajrasattva recitation, and guru yoga.

In the early tantra, mandala offering and Vajrasattva are switched, so the mandala comes first, Vajrasattva after, don’t ask me why, and finally the most important part, guru yoga. These five aspects of practice together, make it so that almost all the hindrances that exist in this mind for becoming face to face with itself can be almost totally removed. After the person has gone through the ngondro training in a genuine and complete way, or some practice that has the same ability as the ngondro training, he or she can, when receiving the pointing out instruction, recognize the nature of mind almost immediately and that is indeed wonderful!

--from a talk given at Rangjung Yeshe Gomde, Doncaster, U.K.

For more about Longsal Barma Nyimey Gyu--The Tantra of The Blazing Sun of the Vast Expanse, see Wellsprings of the Great Perfection.

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