May bodhicitta, precious and sublime, arise where it has not yet come to be. Where it has arisen may it never fail, but grow and flourish more and more.
Unbroken lineages of wisdom traditions are rare in these times, and Kongtrul Rinpoche descends from a pure lineage of the Dzogpa Chenpo Longchen Nyingtik tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
We have two main study and practice centers in America: Phuntsok Choling in Colorado and Pema Osel in Vermont. Rinpoche teaches the core MSB programs at these two centers. In addition, MSB has several city centers or groups around the world where people gather for group meditation and study, and to listen to the LINK teachings together.
Browse to any of the calendars to find out more about the teaching schedules of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Dungse Jampal Norbu, or Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel. View the upcoming events at Phuntsok Choling, Pema Osel, or find out who is giving the next LINK talk.
MSB is a part of the Longchen Nyingtik and Khyen-Kong-Chok-Sum lineages. (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, and Terton Chokgyur Lingpa, collectively known as Khyen-Kong-Chok-Sum, were the heart of the Rimé, or nonsectarian, movement, which did so much to preserve and harmonize all schools of Tibetan Buddhism in the nineteenth century.)
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When we speak about refuge, it is important to recognize that we’re taking refuge in order to serve the purpose that has already become very clear in our mind, which is to genuinely renounce suffering and the causes of suffering.
Generally, if you’re inspired to work with your mind, which at this stage is caught up in suffering and the causes and conditions of suffering, it is important to have some guidance. Without a guide, it is very difficult to travel in a foreign land. Similarly, without having the Buddha as a guide – certainly the most supreme of all guides – it is going to be quite difficult to make this journey.
Buddha as the Guide
Confusion creates all of our reactions. Confusion creates the entire chain of reactions. And this confusion discourages individuals on the path about whether they can really “go beyond,” even though they may have renunciation, and even though there is inspiration.
Once we are caught up in confusion, and have our usual experiences, it becomes very difficult to remain confident that we can go beyond. This confusion and the consequent chain of reactions take over our mind and our emotions. Because our clarity and wisdom are weak and immature in the first place, we become easily overwhelmed. We have this experience all the time in our everyday life. In particular, the emotion of feeling discouraged can be overwhelmingly strong, and often we have a tendency to indulge it, as though by simply giving up we won’t have to deal with the situation.
That process in itself is a chain of reaction. We feel discouraged, and experience the need to give up, feeling that somehow we will then be in a better place. Of course, this is totally unwise and happens due to the ignorant aspect of our mind. However, during the course of our confusion and the chain of reactions, we cannot just stop and say, “Oh how stupid,” or, “This is pretty dumb,” because it is what it is, and we’re consumed by it.
When we realize there is someone who can see through all of this, and can guide us properly, giving us a sense of knowledge and wisdom from which we can work with our mind in all its different aspects, then we can develop a tremendous confidence beyond ourselves. We can rely temporarily on the certainty that there is someone who does see through our confusion and understands what is going on in our mind. We can essentially adopt this certainty as our own, as our temporary internal model or guide.
Of course, ultimately you need to have confidence in yourself; this sense of confidence in someone beyond yourself is just temporary. Temporarily at least, you will have the assurance that you won’t go astray. You can at least recognize that you have the means to understand your mind, and that you can access the wisdom which enables you to see into the dark corners of your own mind. After all, even though your own mind may be a mystery to you, it is not a mystery to the buddhas. Our sense of confusion may nonetheless seem overwhelmingly powerful at times, and we may become trapped in our own sense of ignorance and stupidity. From the enlightened ones’ view of us, all this is very clear because they can see through all the obscurations.
Obscurations cannot hinder their ability to see our potential, as well as whatever is obscuring that potential. When we have no sense of this potential ourselves, the obscurations almost appear as the essence. When you don’t know there is a nut or grain inside, then all you see is the husk or the shell. But when somebody can see the grain inside, the husk is viewed as merely temporary and removable. The essence of the thing itself is the kernel, whether it is a walnut or whether it is a grain like rice or barley. So we need to have this experience. We need to have the experience of reaching into the essence, to penetrate the obscuration, seeing that the obscuration is an obscuration, and not the entire thing itself. Therefore, we need a guide. A guide like the Buddha is essential to the path of liberation.
When we speak about the path of liberation, we’re not referring to the attainment of liberation from the outside. We’re trying to attain liberation within our own mind, no matter how confused this mind seems right now. Even though this mind seems so powerfully consumed by negativity right now, it is, nevertheless just within this very mind that we have to find liberation. This doesn’t mean the confused mind itself is the refuge. Nor does it mean that our negative mind is our refuge.
What it means is that the essence is the refuge. But in order to be able to access the essence, first we have to remove the obscurations. In order to remove the obscurations, we have to rely on a guide who has already done this himself, and who has gained full confidence in the process. From that point of view, we really need this guide, a guide such as the Buddha.
Excerpt from Talk 2 “Like a Diamond: Transformation in the Three Yanas”
Learn more about this study topic on the MSB Lineage Training page
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