Honoring Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche

Book coverThe family here at Shambhala Publications is deeply saddened by the loss of the incredible master, teacher, and author Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, who passed away in Australia at 12:10 a.m. on July 24, 2012, the Fourth Day of the Sixth Month of the Tibetan calendar in the Year of the Dragon. Rinpoche was a close friend and teacher of some of us and his breadth and depth of knowledge and experience on the path to enlightenment was tremendous. We will miss him so much.

Below is a short excerpt from his book Mind at Ease:

In approaching the spiritual path, we need some understanding of what the journey involves. Many different spiritual experiences may arise in the course of our journey. To make sense of them, it is important for us to grasp where our experiences originate and have some appreciation for the inconsistencies in these subjective occurrences. Some experiences may appear to be enlightened when they are deluded, and others may appear to be deluded but actually portend enlightenment.

An important method for developing our discernment is to fathom the spiritual path in terms of deluded mind and enlightened mind. We need to understand deluded states of mind as something we need to overcome and enlightened states of mind as something we need to cultivate. Only then can we confidently steer a course through the myriad subjective revelations that can and do unfold on the spiritual journey.

At the same time, we should engage in our spiritual pursuits-and indeed in whatever we do-with a sense of caring, love, and compassion as well as a sense of joy. If not, our healthy emotions will atrophy, and we will be forever trapped in our conflicting emotions, which will filter down to influence our spiritual experience and practice. Therefore, in spiritual practice, love, compassion, and joy have to be experienced in an unperturbed way through equanimity.

In the Mahamudra tradition, the notion of self-liberation is paramount. Through self-liberating our conflicting emotions and discursive thoughts by allowing them to simply arise and dissipate without any grasping or fixation, we transcend any spiritual requirement to renounce, purify, or transform them. This is the unique skillful means of path Mahamudra that inexorably leads to spiritual realization.

Thus the journey we take in Mahamudra is one that fundamentally involves returning to our true home, our original dwelling place. We can see, then, that ground Mahamudra and fruition Mahamudra are identical, because when fruition Mahamudra is realized, so too is ground Mahamudra; and when ground Mahamudra is realized, it is instantly apparent that this is fruition Mahamudra. In other words, to realize our authentic state of being is to realize the fruition of the Great Seal of all-encompassing reality.

Although the spiritual journey is a homecoming of sorts, it is still indispensable to proceed on the path in the first place. We cannot say that since our authentic state is the enlightened mind of luminous bliss, we need not embark on any kind of spiritual journey. We cannot afford to think we are already there. Although our original state of being is the same as that of the buddhas, we are not buddhas yet. We are deluded sentient beings, and our minds are layered with defilements and obscurations. In fact, due to the density of our obscurations, we are not even in a condition to catch the occasional glimpse of our original condition. There should be no doubt that we categorically need to engage in some kind of spiritual practice, one that is genuine and effective and can be systematically utilized to illuminate the darkness of our ignorance.

The Mahamudra meditation of tranquility and insight meditation is one of the most effective ways to achieve this end. If we follow this path with genuine interest and invest the necessary time and energy, we will quickly feel the effects of these practices. To really devote ourselves to this practice, it is essential to fully integrate ground, path, and fruition Mahamudra. This way, we will eventually be Mahamudra. The luminous bliss of Mahamudra is what represents our own true nature. We could even say that in our own true nature we are Mahamudra.