Parting From the Four Attachments: Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen's Song of Experience on Mind Training and the View

The following article is from the Spring, 2003 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

images

The following excerpts are taken from the new Snow Lion title Parting from the Four Attachments: Jetsun Drakpa Gyaltsen's Song of Experience on Mind Training and the View by Chogye Trichen Rinpoche. The first piece is part of an introductory biography that precedes the text.

Another incident in Chogye Rinpoche's life that might also be mentioned in regard to the meditation deity (yidam), concerns Rinpoche's trip to Kuching, Malaysia in 1989. Rinpoche was invited to give the great initiation of Kalachakra according to the Jonangpa tradition, as well as the complete instructions on the six-branch yoga (sadan- gayoga) of the Kalachakra of the Jonangpas, according to the practice manual of Jonang Taranatha.

It is customary that in preparation for an initiation, the chopon or ritual attendent must set out and array the physical representation of the mandala for consecration in the ritual. Generally, Chogye Rinpoche would allow the chopon to simply follow the textual instructions and prepare the mandala as he has been taught, without adding many instructions. However, on this occasion, Rinpoche instructed the chopon, his attendant named Guru, to make the mandala very properly. Rinpoche sat with him and guided him in detail how to prepare it. A metal plate was brought and coated with a thin layer of butter to make it slightly "sticky," and on it were arrayed pieces of corn to represent all the deities of the mandala. Then, as Rinpoche was doing his preparations for the initiation, his appearance became quite powerful.

During the initiation of Kalachakra, at the time of the consecration of the physical representation of the mandala by the deities of the wisdom mandala, Rinpoche explained that the deities of .the mandala of Kalachakra were now actually present above the physical mandala on the shrine. One of those present remarked that when Rinpoche said this, his words had unusual weight, as though he were clearly seeing this for himself.

Following the initiation, as the chopon was clearing the shrine, he noticed clear markings on the mandala plate. The markings were not below the film of butter nor were they on top of it, but they appeared within the film of butter. There were eight clear flower shapes at eight points around the edge of the plate, and two in the center of the plate making a total of ten flower patterns or "lotuses." This was seen by everyone, and was photographed.

In the mandala of Kalachakra, there are the two central deities of Buddha Kalachakra and his consort Vishvamata, surrounded by the eight dakinis, or "shaktis" as they are called in Kalachakra, just as one finds in the mandalas of other tantric Buddhas such as Hevajra or Chakrasamvara. Thus the flower markings are understood as signs of the actual presence of the deities. In the biographies of the lineage masters, one of the signs of accomplishment is "flowers" in the mandala. These are described in the texts in two ways, either as naturally appearing on or within the mandala, as was the case in this instance, or else as descending or falling onto the mandala.

*  *  *

From the text:

How does impure morality function in the experience of a practitioner?

There are many excellent examples that help us to recognize these kinds of problems. One example would be that a person might maintain a set of vows but at the same time make disparaging remarks such as, "Oh, those people have taken vows but they don't, keep their vows carefully. They certainly have let themselves down. However, my own conduct is really exemplary." Faulting the behavior of others through demeaning comments, while at the same time finding ways to praise one's own behavior, is one fine example that indicates the defiled or insincere practice of ethics.

Another variation on how this impure form of morality reveals itself is that not only will one tend to look down on "transgressors" who are deemed inferior to oneself, but one may also regard those who keep superior discipline with a jealous attitude. One will be unable to restrain oneself from making comments such as, "Well, I suppose he keeps his vows intact, but he hasn't really studied or meditated."

In more extreme cases, practitioners of artificial morality may actually become very jealous of others who are known to keep strict moral discipline. They may say, "Oh, he or she seems to be very true to the precepts, but...," and then go on to list their supposed defects, such as greed and so on, proceeding to slander the person. Although the discipline of the one they are criticizing may be very admirable, the superficial practitioner may find himself unable to tolerate that worthy person, and feel compelled to look for faults in the other person's affairs.

A further degeneration of this type of attitude is that one may notice someone who makes small errors in the observance of their vows, and will try to pinpoint the person's faults, even speaking of him or her sarcastically in the presence of others. One may try to place doubts in the minds of people who would otherwise respect the person due to his or her faithful adherence to the precepts. One whose morality is artificial is always looking for an excuse to put someone down. They will always find something to criticize. Such a person will be much more concerned with judging the conduct of others than they will be with guarding and protecting their own. People like this will never find anyone to inspire their pursuit of virtue, but will at the same time never fail to find someone to disparage. These are the sorts of results that come from the insincere practice of ethics, and we would do well to avoid them.

These kinds of attitudes we have mentioned so far all arise toward those who actually observe precepts. hi addition, it is clear that one whose discipline is artificial, due to attachment to this life alone, would be very critical of others who do not observe any discipline. Such persons may be very judgemental and condescending toward those who make even small mistakes in their behavior. They will tend to chastise others for the terrible weight of their sins. They will be neither understanding nor forgiving toward the accused transgressors, since in reality their own moral conduct is practiced in order to attract respect, gain, and happiness for themselves in this life alone. All of these are examples of the sort of attitudes that may arise in relation to others when discipline lacks pure motivation and intent.

*  *  *

Endorsements:

Another great benefit of knowledge, acquired through proper study that is pursued with sincere intentions, is that one becomes able to allay fears and anxieties in oneself and others. With proper motivation, the more knowledge one acquires, the more fear and insecurity one will be able to eliminate. The more fear you are able to dispel, the more you are able to increase the happiness of others as well as your own sense of well being. Learning is not just a chore undertaken to acquire knowledge, it is in itself something enjoyable, something that brings satisfaction to oneself and can benefit others.

In short, if one acquires knowledge for the selfish goals of this life, it will lead to adopting a condescending attitude toward the unlearned and jealousy toward the more erudite. Study and the acquisition of knowledge will then serve to inflate the ego, which will simply increase our own suffering through binding us to worldly phenomena. Erroneous study, like artificial morality, engenders arrogance that may even lead to one becoming abusive toward others.

"Quintessential teachings on how to genuinely enter into the practice of Dharma and get to the very core of the path, by one of the last Tibetan masters of the old generation, commenting on classic verses of the Sakya tradition."—VEN. MATTHIEU RICARD, author of The Monk and the Philosopher

The teaching on Parting from the Four Attachments is universally regarded as one of the jewels of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche leads the reader through a detailed and lucid exploration of the nature of mind, pointing out inevitable pitfalls in spiritual practice and showing how they can be avoided.

Chogye Trichen Rinpoche is a primary teacher of the Dalai Lama, Sakya Trizin, and other great lamas.

Back to all Snow Lion Articles