A Mirror to Reflect the Most Essential - the testament of Longchen Rabjam

Mirror to Reflect the Most Essential:
The Final Instruction on the Ultimate Meaning
By Longchen Rabjam


Single embodiment of compassionate power and activities
Of infinite mandalas of all-encompassing conquerors,
Glorious guru, supreme lord of a hundred families,
Forever I pay homage at your feet.

Ema! Listen here, you fortunate yogis.

At present we have achieved the perfect human body of freedoms and riches. We have met the precious teachings of the greater vehicle. We now have the independence to genuinely apply the sacred dharma, so do not squander your life on pointless things. Instead, pursue the lasting goal.

The categories of teachings are endless. The entrance doors to the vehicles are innumerable. The words to be explained are extensive. Even if you succeed in memorizing millions of volumes of dharma scriptures, unless you are able to practice the essential meaning, you can never be sure that they will help you at the moment of death. And even if your education in studies and reflections is boundless, unless you succeed in being in harmony with the dharma, you will not tame your enemy, negative emotions. Even if you succeed in being the owner of a trillion worlds, unless you can curtail your plans from within with the feeling that nothing more is needed, you will never know contentment. Unless you prepare yourself with the attitude that your death could happen at any time, you cannot achieve the great aim that is surely needed at the time of death.

You must tame your own shortcomings and cultivate impartial pure perception, for a biased attitude will not let you shoulder the Mahayana teachings. Since all the sentient beings among the six classes in the three realms have without exception been your own parents, unless you make pure aspirations with ceaseless compassion and bodhichitta, you cannot open the jewel mine of altruistic actions. Unless you generate a devotion toward your kind guru exceeding even that of meeting the Buddha in person, you will not feel the warmth of blessings. Unless you genuinely receive the blessings, the seedlings of experience and realization will not sprout. Unless realization dawns from within, dry explanations and theories will not help you achieve the fruit of enlightenment.

In short, unless you mingle your mind with the dharma, it is pointless to merely sport a spiritual veneer. Keep to the bare necessities for sustaining your life and warding off the bitter cold; reflect on the fact that nothing else is really needed. Practice guru yoga and supplicate one-pointedly. Direct every spiritual practice you do to the welfare of all sentient beings, your own parents. Whatever good or evil, joy or sorrow befalls you, train in seeing it as your guru’s kindness.

Within the vastness of spontaneous self-knowing, let be freely, uncontrived and free of fabrication. Whatever thoughts arise, be sure to recognize your nature so that they all dissolve as the play of dharmata. Even though you practice in such a way that there is not even as much as a hair tip of a concrete reference point to cultivate by meditating, do not stray into ordinary deluded diffusion, even for a single moment. Instead, make sure that every aspect of your daily activities is embraced by an undistracted presence of mind. Whatever occurs and whatever you experience, strengthen your conviction that they are all insubstantial and magical illusions, so that you can experience this in the bardo as well.

In short, at all times and in every situation, make sure that whatever you do turns into the sacred dharma and dedicate every virtuous action toward enlightenment. By doing so, you will fulfill your guru’s wishes and be of service to the buddhadharma; you will repay your parents’ kindness and spontaneously accomplish the benefit of yourself and others. Please keep this in your heart.

Even if you were to have met me in person, I would have had no superior advice to give you, so bring it into your practice in every moment and in every situation.

Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang.