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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We have to destroy our tendencies in order to become enlightened. “Tendency” in Tibetan is called bakcha, the force or power of a thought or emotion. Emotion itself is not a threat to our well- being. The threat actually comes from our tendencies. Anger without the tendency, without the force behind it, is not so powerful. Think of actors in a play. The actors get angry, but there is really no bakcha or tendency of getting angry and, therefore, the anger is not harmful. It’s just a play. Unless we as practitioners make changes to our tendencies, destroying one, two, or three thoughts is not going to get us enlightened. We have to destroy our tendencies.
Now how do we destroy our tendencies? We must first recognize the tendency, like when we can’t stop thinking about something or feeling a certain way or when we think of many disturbing things and we can’t get a grip on ourselves. At this point, realize first that you are Buddhist and that you have taken refuge. You have taken refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha ultimately. You have, of course, taken refuge in your own enlightened nature, but until you have come to that point you have taken refuge in the Buddha and Dharma and Sangha outside of you, the noble ones and their power and their blessings.
So, first supplicate and see the difference in your state of mind. In just the moment of surrendering to the Three Jewels out of your own egotistical system of mind itself makes the tendency of your mind or the bakcha generally lose its power or grip. Just supplicating, however, will not destroy the tendency. Tendencies are like an insistent thief. They come back! They come back again and again and again like a rat or a mouse. You chase them away, and they come back. You catch them and take them away, and they come back. Tendencies are going to come back. So in the ultimate scheme of things, just praying is not going to do it.
But relatively speaking, supplicating will give you leverage to actually find peace and strength within to seek a deeper recognition of your Buddha nature, your own Buddha nature. And when you recognize your own Buddha nature, then thoughts and emotions become powerless.
Children get scared when someone wearing a mask walks up to them and says “Boo!” As we get older, we see the person wearing the mask and not just the Frankenstein or some other scary figure. This knowledge of the person behind the mask is relative. We have to know the nature of all thoughts and emotions. There is not one nature for one thought and another nature for another thought. All thoughts’ nature is one.
So, you only have to know that nature by experience in order to have some impact on the tendency or the bakcha. If you know that nature with true experience beyond conceptual mind, then this will automatically have an impact on the tendencies of the thoughts and emotions. And this will destroy the negative tendencies. You will then begin to see how wonderful thoughts and emotions can be—even in their most ugly forms—as a display of that basic nature.
From the nature’s point of view there are no judgments such as “Oh, this is a good display of myself and this is a bad display of myself.” There is an equilibrium to everything. Everything, from the nature’s point of view, is a manifestation of luminous mind, with the nature being the dharmakaya, the luminous mind being the sambhogakaya; and everything else, world or mind, being the nirmanakaya. But this has to be free of intellect. Intellect itself can be a mask. You can’t, without really knowing the person wearing the mask, know the true self-image.
So, in some sense, surrendering is a very good thing to do when we are trying to be Superman or Superwoman. We all have a tendency to be Supermen or Superwomen. By surrendering, I think we become more accepting of our capabilities, of what we are able to do and not able to do. We become, in some sense, much happier being ordinary. However, because of this tendency of wanting to become Superman or Superwoman, we worry not just about our own minds but also about those individuals with whom we are codependent.
Remember that even Buddha Shakyamuni could not save his cousin from negative thoughts and emotions toward the Buddha. So, how could we save the world—or anyone, for that matter—from negative mind and negative emotions? It’s kind of pointless. Superficially trying to save people’s minds and emotions in the name of Dharma or practice could be very deadly in itself and could be a cause for lower births.
When you feel incredibly unsure of how you are with someone, maybe the best thing is to really let it be. We seem to want to be the “good” guys, the “right” guys, the ones with all the excellent qualities. But at the same time, if we all want to be that way and, on some deep level, need to be that way, and our views don’t meet, then how could we ever be on good terms with ourselves? We won’t!
So, the best way is to reflect on the big picture. As Shantideva said, “There’s going to be one out of thousands who will like you and the rest won’t. So why be bothered by trying to convince thousands of people how good you are? And if there are only a few who don’t like you and the rest of the world pays you homage, why bother trying to convince the few of how good you are?”
On a deeper level, perhaps what I’m trying to say is that we live in this society, and we are very codependent. Our minds are brought up that way, trained to be codependent. But as serious practitioners, at some point we have to be able to turn our mind toward our own self and to our own tendencies and to our own nature, and to have the nature work against all the odds and ends of our wrong samsaric tendencies.
Generally speaking, caring is good. But caring could also go overboard and become neurotic. If that happens, then this neurotic caring must also be destroyed. A great Nepali yogin sang this song to Milarepa, “What is the point of observing nature of mind all day if it doesn’t break apart the tendencies of our thoughts and emotions? What is the benefit?” Truly, we should ask ourselves these questions.
“The Unknown” Personal Link Teaching April 11, 1999.
“The Unknown Part 2” Crucial Point Volume One, Issue 4 May/June 2000.