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The origin of the Thrangu Rinpoche incarnations
began in the 15fh century when the 7lh Karmapa founded the Thrangu
enthroning Sherap Gyaltsen, the re-established emanation of Shuwu Palgyi
one of the twenty-five great siddha disciples of Guru Padmasambhava, as
abbott and first Thrangu Rinpoche. The present Thrangu Rinpoche is the 9th
one of the highest scholars in the Kagyu Lineage, tie has been responsible
the education of the four Kagyu Regents and most recently has been
personal tutor to H. H. 17th Karmapa.
THE FOUR INFINITE CONTEMPLATIONS
To have love for other beings and compassion for
them is very, very good. But not every form of love and compassion is
necessarily good. In particular, if love and compassion are limited and
then in the end they can actually be harmful because if one only loves
one excludes others and in the end they become enemies. Some people have
love for their ´own´ family, their ´own´ country, their ´own´ race, their
religion. The very fact of this partial love means that ´other´ families,
´other´ races, ´other´ religions and countries are excluded from
one´s mind and eventually they can be sources one needs to harm in order
benefit those one loves. For this reason love and compassion need to be
impartial. Love and compassion should not be passionate and involved. The
himself taught that when we develop love and compassion it should not be
passionate, highly involved, partial love, rather it should be an even and
all-embracing compassion. So, by only wishing to help a specific group of
hundred people and by excluding the rest, not caring is not all-embracing
compassion. When our love, care and compassion are partial and involved
help some very much and our specific help in one direction increases,
the nature of partial love, often our harming others increases too.
In the Buddhist teachings we have the four infinite
contemplations. One is impartiality. Actually when these are expressed in
prayer impartiality is the last of the four in the sequence of love,
sympathetic joy and impartiality. But in the actual practice of these four
impartiality must come first. It is by developing the quality of
that afterwards the love one develops will be good; impartial love is a
consequence. The compassion and sympathetic joy one develops will also be
impartial compassion and sympathetic joy. They have the quality of
It is interesting that the Tibetan word for impartiality also
2. 6- 3. Love and Companion
As we actually develop our practice of dharma then
love and compassion need to increase greatly. Besides developing in their
strength and breadth, they need to be accompanied by wisdom. If our love,
compassion and care for others are not accompanied by wisdom, then it is
possible that the things we will do to try to help others will not be of
to them or that perhaps they may be even harmful to them; this is quite
if it is unwise love, unwise compassion. So in terms of the four infinite
contemplations and wisdom we recognize in our prayer and in our loving and
compassionate wishes that just being happy is not enough. The definition
is to long for other beings to be happy. Wisdom is recognizing that in
find lasting happiness living beings need to create the causes of future
happiness. It is a recognition of the process of interdependence. The
aspect is not only longing for beings to be happy but generating the
future happiness. The same applies to our development of compassion. The
definition of compassion is to long for beings to be free from their
feeling that they really must get out of all the suffering. But just that
is not enough. It needs to be accompanied by wisdom, whereby one
recognizes that compassion is not only longing for others not to suffer
also recognizing that they should not create any more causes for
they need to free themselves from the causes of suffering.
As one cultivates love and compassion, wisdom in
terms of prajna and jnana, ´excellent wisdom´ and ´profound wisdom´, are
necessary. If wisdom is present in one´s love and compassion, those
will be very beneficial for oneself as well as for others. If the wisdom
present, then it can be quite harmful because one can start with a loving
compassionate wish and become easily discouraged because one sees that
cannot actually be happy, that one cannot do anything about the suffering
So many circumstances can cause one to lose heart.
This leads us on to the fourth infinite contemplation, which is infinite
4. Infinite Joy
Infinite joy has much to do with the presence of
wisdom because through wisdom and a greater perspective on a matter one
that even if one cannot get rid of suffering now one can bit by bit help
removing the causes of suffering. Gradually suffering will be removed to
extent. Even if one cannot bring happiness to others in the present one
one´s utmost to establish the causes of future happiness in other´s minds
hearts. So this confidence through the wisdom of impartiality can bring a
feeling of great joy rather than a feeling of despondency and
Infinite joy reaches out to all beings in all circumstances, the fourth of
infinite contemplations in this order.
In order to cultivate love and compassion along with
wisdom successfully one needs to control one´s activity of body and
needs to check one´s body, speech and mind and see whether they benefit
particularly do not harm others. One needs to be very careful that one´s
does not harm others physically, that one´s speech is not causing
them and that one´s mind always has a good and healthy motivation. The
made this very clear in his teachings. He taught what we need to get rid
what we need to cultivate, the two main areas of practice
THE FOUR NON-VIRTUES OF SPEECH
The four areas of un-virtuous activities of speech
- to lie,
- to slander,
- to speak harshly and
- to engage in useless speech.
4. TO LIE. Normally one lies in order to deceive
other people. But, in fact, when one examines it the person one is most
deceiving is oneself. Sakya Pandita said: ´One thinks by lying that one is
deceiving and misleading others. But, in fact, the person mostly misled is
oneself because by telling lies one is cheating one´s own
The being inside oneself wants to be clear, straightforward and
honest. One is
oneself the victim of one´s own lying. Also, the person one misleads
one´s lies more likely than not will suffer and experience
their suffering and confusion is caused through one´s lying. Also it means
the next time one says something that person will have no trust. Telling
negative and unhealthy from many angles.
5. TO SLANDER. The second area of non-virtuous
speech is usually called ´slander´, more accurately ´divisive speech´. The
point is that through jealousy, the main mind poison associated with this
non-virtue, one wants to create disharmony amongst those who get along
well with each other. One says things which make people feel not very good
each other; one says things that turn people against each other. Because
one´s own jealousy one does not want harmony among others to
obviously causes trouble to others. Disharmony is an unwholesome thing, an
unwholesome motivation within oneself. Again, it is something negative all
6. TO SPEAK HARSHLY. The third area is harsh and
wounding speech. This means saying things which hurt others. Of course
harsh words cannot hurt others physically but they wound their mind; they
others feel hurt, wounded, angry, disturbed. It brings negative
others as well as to oneself.
7. TO ENGAGE IN USELESS SPEECH. The fourth area is
chatter and all sorts of speech which have no particular value. When one
deeper it is usually motivated by a negativity or mind defilement. It is
waste of time and leads people into defiled ways of thought.
As for the physical non-virtuous actions, the four
factors of karma need to be combined in order to bring karmic results: the
which is another sentient being, the negative motivation, the action needs
done, i.e., spoken in this case, and it needs to be completed. Then it
bring a karmic result. If one has a pure motivation, then it is possible
perform an action of speech which is positive and not negative. For
can well be that one tells what is called ´a white lie´ so that one
some people and avoids harm. It might be that if one had to tell the
lot of harm might ensue. So, there might be a good motivation to say what
true so that some benefit takes place. In this case it does not belong to
category of un-virtuous action, even though one is lying.
THE THREE NON-VIRTUES OF MIND
Finally we have three areas of mental activities
which are un-virtuous. Because they are mental they do not have an
consequence upon others, whereas un-virtuous physical and verbal actions
Here our mind is intimately concerned with ourselves alone. By their
there are three states of an un-virtuous mind. One cannot have an
mind with a good motivation; it does not work. An un-virtuous mind is
un-virtuous and there is no exception whereby it can ever become positive
What are the three areas?
8. COVETOUSNESS, we could say ´greed´ but that is
not quite right. It is based upon desire and because of this main
taking place one here longs to have others´ goods. One thinks, ´If only I
the things which make others happy!1 One wishes they were one´s own and
them, quite different from greed.
9. MALEVOLENCE is wishing others harm. Anger and
aggression are the main defilements taking place here. One wishes, ´If
others are hurt, get sick, suffer a bit!1 One diminishes their qualities
wishes harm upon others.
10. DISTORTED UNDERSTANDING means one does not have
the clarity of understanding actions and their consequences, the cause and
effect of karma, virtue and non-virtue. One´s mind has distorted beliefs
the nature of reality.
All ten of these are un-virtuous ways of acting with
body, speech and mind which need to be given up.
Originally published in the sept 2000 edition of
Lama Kathy response
Question: What should one do if, after practicing for many years, no changes
or benefits are received?
Answer: If, after years of practice, one does not notice benefits, then one
has to ask whether one has been practicing correctly, or enough.
First of all, we may have received instructions from a qualified master, but
we may not have completely understood the instructions, or perhaps developed
doubts about our ability to practice them. Sometimes, mistakes can creep into
our practice when we least expect it-one person I know once said they had a lot
of trouble meditating, but after talking with them, I learned that whenever they
experienced thoughts passing through their mind, they became lost and
frustrated. If they had learned the technique correctly, and then applied the
technique correctly - that is, noticing thoughts and then gently bringing their
mind back to the technique-they could have avoided a great deal of frustration
Other times, the problem lies in our attitude toward the dharma. Perhaps we
wonder if it is truly effective. Or perhaps we wonder whether we are capable of
being helped by the dharma. One of the most difficult things to fight is
self-doubt and self-dislike. If we remember that all beings (including
ourselves!) have Buddha nature, we will know that self-doubt and self-dislike
are not logical or useful attitudes, and will set them aside.
Once we have found which attitudes are most helpful to us, we will invest our
thought-energy in those attitudes; once we find which attitudes are least
helpful, we will reduce our investment in those thoughts. If our thought-energy
were like money, we would learn to make a wise investment in attitudes that
bring us strength, happiness and wisdom!
Lastly, we could be expecting a quick result from the dharma when we have not
truly spent a great deal of time practicing. If we typically spend one-half hour
a day practicing, and multiply that by 365 days in a year, we will have about
183 hours of practice. When we compare this to the practice done by great
masters, who practiced 4 to 12 hours a day, we will see that the yield of 183
hours versus 1,460 to 4,340 hours of practice a year makes quite a
If we look at our busy daily lives and say, \"we could never practice 4 to 12
hours a day!\" we might despair. But if we take hold of the special practices of
the Mahayana and Vajrayana, we can turn even daily activities into practice.
One of the most powerful practices of the Mahayana is Lojong, or Mind
Training. Through this practice, we increase our altruistic motivation and our
understanding of the illusory nature of thought and phenomena - all by using our
daily life situations!
For example, one Lojong slogan says, \"In postmeditation practice, be a child
of illusion.\" If we are experiencing pain or difficulty in our lives, rather
than being a drain on our energy, it can be an energy boost - if we can just
remember to see all things as being dream-like. This is what the words ‘be a
child of illusion’ mean.
Next, we can use the Lojong slogan that says, \"Three Objects, Three Poisons,
Three Bases of Virtue,\" and practice altruism whenever we experience happiness
Usually, the three objects (things we like, things we dislike, things we are
neutral toward) trigger expression of the three poisons (attachment, aversion
and ignorance). If, instead of grasping or pushing away our experience, we use
it to trigger altruistic feelings, we can practice all the time!
For example, when we are happy, we can imagine that our happiness flows out
to others. If we are unhappy, we can imagine that our unhappiness contains
within it all the suffering of all sentient beings. Then, we dedicate our
practice of altruistic thinking to all beings’ attainment of enlightenment.
In this way, even mundane emotional states can become the basis of
And if we are practitioners of the Vajrayana, we can also practice all day,
every day, by practicing visualization and mantra. If we are waiting in line, we
can think of the mantra of Chenrezig, OM MANI PADME HUNG (OHM MAH KNEE PEH MEH HUNG). Or we can visualize
ourselves as having the illusory, light-made body of Chenrezig at any time of
the day, while we are engaged in any activity-washing the dishes, feeding our
If we continually look for these \"dharma practice opportunities,\" we will not
need to despair about our inability to spend long hours on the cushion.
If we want to know if our practice is \"working\" the masters say we only need
to look at our attitudes and behavior. Jamgon Kongtrul the Great said that the
only measure of a Dharma person’s practice is whether they have reduced their
ego-clinging and selfishness. If their practice is causing them to become more
opinionated, more prideful and so forth, their practice is going in the wrong
direction! One’s practice should make one less reactive, more gentle and more
kindly disposed toward themselves and others.
If we want to know whether practice is working, we should look over a long
period of time-weeks, months and years. If we look back at our lives as they
were \"before Buddhism\", generally we will see an improvement. We should not be
like the impatient farmer, who plants a seed and then digs it up 5 minutes later
to see whether it has grown!
Having faith and confidence in the dharma, and confidence in our Buddha
nature, and good understanding of the teachings, is the beginning of good
practice. If we add this to a constant wish to benefit others, and a constant
watchfulness for \"dharma practice opportunities,\" our practice should bear fruit
for us, both in this life and in the future!
May all beings benefit!!
- Lama Kathy Wesley