Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ocean Eyes

Today is Dakini Day, and I send the above photograph along to absent friends. And now, time for today's particularly special post. Like the song says, this is dedicated to the one I love.

When we are young, twenty years seems like a very long time.

When we are older, it seems like the blink of an eye.

Linearly-experienced time has the quality of accelerating: as we age, time goes faster and faster.

The year that seems like ten years to you seems like a month to me. But, there is a paradox: the minute that seems like a second to you, feels like eternity to me. This is the minute just before I hear your voice or see your face.

However, today I have a gift for you. I have recently been disguised around people again, noticing my foibles and pitfalls. I want to give you something that will help you pierce through such foibles and avoid such pitfalls, so that the connection between us remains meaningful.

In the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, with which I have some enduring link, during the twentieth century there were two particularly great masters: Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, and Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche the Elder. Through the inestimable kindness of the latter, I was able to meet the former. Through the inestimable kindness of both, I was able to study a composition popularly known as the “Confession Prayer” of Dudjom Rinpoche. This is sometimes known as the “Vajrayana Confession Prayer.” In particular, I was fortunate enough to privately receive oral commentaries and pith instructions upon this theme when I was quite young---when I was your age, in fact. To hear it once is sufficient. To hear it twice is joy. To place it into use is to invite success.

So great are your inherent treasures, and so sublime is your compassionate manifestation in samsara, that I know you have no real need of my counsel. Still, since you graciously permit me to instruct myself by seeming to instruct you, I will do this anyway. You are one of the only human beings I have ever immediately recognized: you shine so brightly that even a blind dog like me can see. Although the connection with you was instant, the reunification with you is gradual. It is made of eternal minutes that inhabit speeding years. In your omniscience, which is the omniscience of the true wisdom dakini, and about which there can be no mistake, you already know my heart. You already know the nature of my intention.

This photograph is for all those who have requested a picture of Tenpa Rinpoche: this is a picture of his heart. Actually, today's post is dedicated to the person in this picture. Please also note that if you click the link on Dudjom Rinpoche's name, above, you will be taken to a spectacularly interesting video taken during the 1960s. If you watch it all the way through, you will find some other, equally spectacular images.

Herewith is a very poor translation of a very great work. Henceforth, it will always be available to save you from popular delusions and the madness of crowds. If you take these words earnestly to heart, you need never be embarrassed when meeting a teacher who relies on the authenticity that comes from direct realization of the nature of mind. If you put these words into practice, mistaken guides will have no hold over you. If you practice perfectly, you will see your own faults and have no wish to see the faults of others, precisely as the prayers’ own entreaty indicates. Then, others will clearly see that you are the shining jewel of the Nyingma School: the holder of the lineage and the keeper of the samaya.

My beloved friend: make no mistake that this is the hour of darkness and we are set upon in every direction by specters of perverted view. Those who writhe in insecurity, born of reliance solely upon abstract authority, lash out in order to protect their own self-interest. Those who sell the Vajrayana, to maintain themselves in comfortable surroundings, even seek to hound the shawled practitioners from forest caves. Those whose language is harsh, and who are incapable of matching action to view, dishonor the sacrifice of dead bodhisattvas. Those, who believe their own instability is a closely guarded secret, continue to deceive themselves in the hope they may continue to depend upon credulous sycophants. Sometimes, it seems justified to wail in anguish, and ask why the old grandfathers have left us alone in this strange world. So few…so very, very few… are those who can travel to the far-off places with only the welfare of others in mind. So few… so very, very few… are those with the courage to look at themselves and fearlessly add up the shortcomings.

Against all odds, I have found you. That it happened once is no guarantee it will happen again, as much as we might both earnestly wish. Death is a door in a wilderness of doors: you and I live in a wilderness of mirrors. To you, so supremely gifted, I give this admonition: time is far too precious to waste with mistaken approaches. If you are so fortunate as to have a plethora of diamonds, then by all means, pick the one that is flawless.

Dearest Rinpoche… may this find you in excellent health. I share it with others only because I know the generous nature of your heart and the things that might bring you pleasure on Dakini Day.

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche,
the Great Terton Jigdral Yeshe Dorje
Supreme Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism

I pay homage to the guru.

Shakyamuni, Victorious One.

Supreme guide of the realm for this fortunate aeon,

Sons of the Victorious one,

Assembly of noble Bodhisattvas who tame sentient beings,

Lord guru, matchless savior of beings in the dark age,

The three Roots and oath-bound Dharma guardians…

Again and again, I ask from my heart,

Recalling you with longing and one-pointed mind.

Please turn your attention toward me.

Take hold of me with your loving kindness

And with the power of your unhindered compassion

Grant your blessings that my thoughts and aims

be carried out in accord with Dharma.

Through past acts, not without merit,

I have obtained this precious human birth.

Through past merit, not slight,

I have met the sublime Dharma.

Accepted by the guru, I was able to obtain empowerments,

Blessings, and the essential instructions.

All this wealth I now hold in my hands.

But my mind, like a babbling monkey, falls under the sway

Of the enticing, deceptive demon of distraction

And I cannot take advantage of the wealth that is my own.

Thus, this free, well-favored human birth

And the lama's teaching are both wasted.

Now I am at a turning point:

All the teachings that I've asked for,

All I've received, are like a myth.

My body has the appearance of a practitioner,

And I have a practitioner's conceit;

My mind cannot fathom the true teachings.

Lacking even a trace of common Dharma, much less holy Dharma,

The sixteen rules for ordinary social behavior

Are just something that I've heard of.

Seeing myself behave badly, I'm without shame;

Seen by others, I'm unembarrassed;

My bond to the teachings is short as a marmot's tail.

Unable to practice properly true Dharma's ten virtuous deeds,

Harboring sectarian bias toward the one Buddha's teachings,

I slander the teachings and great beings

And gather up bad karma.

Based on Dharma

I carry a great weight of evil deeds.

The more teaching I've received,

The more my vision of myself inflates,

Though intellectual analyses cannot penetrate

The deep meaning of the teachings.

With conceit, I think, "I keep the Pratimoksha disciplines!"

But the four dharma practices have been lost without a trace.

With conceit, I think, "I posses the precious Bodhisattva training!"

But the Four Boundless Ones are just like pictures of a lamp.

With conceit, I think, "I keep the Secret Mantrayana samayas!"

But, not respecting the first root transgression,

I become careless about all the rest.

I can glibly explain the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind to Dharma,

But my attachment to phenomena

Shows that my own mind has not truly changed.

Though I rely on a teacher, respect and devotion slowly ebb away;

Instead of having pure perception, I have wrong views,

And see the guru as my equal.

Love and respect toward my vajra friends weakens;

Unable to endure a few harsh words, I complain constantly.

Lacking thorough training in bodhicitta,

The love and compassion that comes about

From seeing all beings of the six realms as my parents

Disappears like mist.

Although I act as if I practice the paths of kyerim and dzogrim,

I cannot even cope with ordinary endless delusion.

I recognize that the ultimate teaching of sutra and tantra

Is emptiness, but can't make use of that recognition;

My mindstream stays hard as horn.

When I practice remaining in mind's true condition

I am without stability, yet I mouth off about the profound view

And toss cause and effect to the winds.

On the outside I can give a show of good behavior;

On the inside, desire, attachment, and greed rage like fire.

Though my body remains in isolated mountain retreat,

My mind wanders into town constantly, night and day.

Without enjoying a real measure of certainty in myself,

Thinking to act for other's benefit is just a fairytale.

Although it is impossible that the Three Jewels betray me,

Due to my weak devotion, I fear I will betray myself.

Thus, although I am without the wrong view

Of not believing in the teacher and the holy Dharma,

In these bad times we sentient beings

Are busily perfecting our bad karma,

Knowing, heedlessly, falling under the sway of unawareness;

Failing to maintain mindfulness, we suffer a great loss.

When I examine myself, I see

That everything I've done has only added on to my confusion,

That all my thinking has been stained

By the obscuring emotions and by grasping.

Not seeing that even my virtuous acts

Are polluted with negativities

Where else is there to end up but in the lower realms?

As for the way I behave and what I've done,

Bringing these to mind, I am sickened.

Looking to others, I am only more discouraged;

There are no friends to benefit and ease my mind.

If I cannot take care of myself now,

Others cannot give me refuge when hope is exhausted

And I'm in the hands of the messengers of the Lord of Death.

To wait for a rescue that can never come,

Isn't that self-deception?

Thus, with shame and remorse recognizing my own errors,

Whatever offenses against Dharma have occurred,

Whatever samaya transgressions and violations,

I won't try to conceal from those with wisdom vision.

From the bottom of my heart, I confess;

With your compassion, please endure me.

Be my refuge from the danger of the precipitous, errant path;

Grant the deliverance of finding the perfect, liberating path.

My whole life has been spent practicing this and practicing that

With nothing in my hands to show for it,

No attainment.

From now on, avoiding the miserable path of knowing much,

And missing the one thing I need

Why not go on the path of knowing the one thing that frees all?

Certain, unfailing hope, sole, supreme Lord upon whom I rely,

Root guru who combines all refuges in one,

I supplicate you with devotion and one pointed mind;

Supreme refuge, lord of greatest kindness,

Take hold of me with your compassion.

Grant your blessing that I am able to see my own faults.

Grant your blessing that I have no wish to see the faults of others.

Grant your blessing that evil, cruel, and vicious thoughts be pacified.

Grant your blessing that wholesome thoughts arise deep from within.

Grant your blessing that desire may lessen and contentment increase.

Grant your blessing that I remember the uncertainty of the time of death.

Grant your blessing that I be unconcerned at the time of death.

Grant your blessing that I develop trust in Dharma.

Grant your blessing that I practice impartial pure perception.

Grant your blessing that I develop unfabricated devotion and respect.

Grant your blessing that I persevere, seeing that I have so little time left.

Grant your blessing that I be able to establish Dharma as my ultimate innermost goal.

Grant your blessing that I free my mindstream the innermost practice.

Grant your blessing that I have no obstacles to practice

Grant your blessing that the fruit of my practice may ripen quickly.

Grant your blessing that all conduct with those with whom I have a karmic link may be meaningful.

Grant your blessing that the duality of hope and fear be extinguished.

Grant your blessing that I see nondual wakefulness.

Grant your blessing that I recognize my own innate wakefulness.

Grant your blessing that I hold the dharmakaya citadel.

Grant your blessing that I gain the great effortless certainty.

By means of the great weapon,

Indestructible primordial wakeful awareness,

May the void life-force of samsara and nirvana

Both be severed, at once.

Then, in the unending great bliss of Nyema's feast

May we always enjoy the activity

That is beyond joining and parting.

In the pervasive space of evenness,

Even the word "suffering" does not exist

So who ought to be striving for happiness?

In the Kingdom of Samantabhadra

Happiness and suffering are of one taste;

Without grasping, they liberate of themselves.

May I attain Samantabhadra's kingdom in this very life!

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