I just returned from Spring Retreat 2016 at the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick, Maryland. At that retreat, Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen taught in the mornings and Khenpo Tsultrim taught in the afternoons. Khenchen taught on a couple of topics – the first, a little booklet he handed out called “How to Live in Happiness,” he taught from for 3 days. Then he taught on a couple of Vajra Songs by Milarepa and Lord Jigten Sumgon on the other 2 days. I had to leave on Friday unfortunately. I loved being up there, I missed many of my friends from years past. It felt like being at home in a way. I do hope to get up to TMC again in the next 6 months.
At the retreat, he said several pointedly insightful things or he used metaphors I had not heard before. So read these and see if you agree that they are wise and / or witty / insightful / sharp, etc.
You can go here: https://www.youtube.com/c/drikungtmc/live to see the videos of Khenchen and Khenpo teaching from TMC’s live stream.
If I have made a mistake, it is due to my personal obstacles and obscurations. I believe Khenchen Rinpoche has realized the three kayas and attained ultimate realization. Therefore any mistakes are my fault. Please comment if you feel my interpretation of Khenchen’s words is far off the mark!
I love how Khenchen emphasizes that Buddhism is not really a religion, but rather it is a method to cut through the causes of suffering. It provides the path or the steps to realize lasting happiness. He mentioned that taking refuge (in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) looks like someone is converting to Buddhism, but they are also taking refuge in cutting off the causes of suffering. That was a nice zinger to start off my retreat.
One of the members of the audience related a story they had heard from a great Master: he said that you want to invite the Emperor of all virtues, which is Great (ultimate) Compassion. And we want to make certain to invite the Emperor rather than the King. That is because, when you invite the Emperor, it is understood that his retinue is to come along with him. If you invite a King, you must specify whether or not he is to bring his retinue. And since Great Compassion is the emperor of all virtues, when you invite Great Compassion into your heart and your life, then all the other virtues will also tag along as they are the emperor virtue’s retinue.
Khenchen also emphasized that the pure mind, the uncontrived mind, the natural state, is joyful and peaceful without any effort. Once one realizes Buddhahood, there is no need to go pursuing joy and happiness and peace – these are the mind’s true nature. We can just rest the mind and eventually rediscover the mind’s pure imprint. And then happiness will arise naturally without effort.
I work in a particularly stressful environment (at least on certain days) which is in food and beverage service. At times, people get angry and other times, it is relatively easy and calm. Khenchen Rinpoche mentioned that we should see the mind, at times, as being like a hurricane. From the ocean, this massive storm develops. It sweeps over the land and it might destroy entire cities. Then within a day or two, the storm dies down and dissolves. The storm arose from emptiness and it dissolved by into emptiness after it did its damage. Where did it go? Where did it come from? Likewise, the mind can have little hurricanes rushing through it. Other people might experience little hurricanes of anger. But it will die down, it will pass. My own reactions might be like a hurricane. Notice this! Have compassion when other people are experiencing little hurricanes, practice patience if possible.
The last anecdote or metaphor that I will share has to do with sand castles. [From Khenchen] Children build sand castles on the beach. Then if other kids or adults come and kick them over, the child who built it might get very upset and frustrated and angry. Likewise, when we buy a house or even just rent, when something goes wrong with the house, we can get so upset, so angry, so whiny. The plumbing might go or the electrical wires might be old. But if we realize that our houses are similar to sand castles, that a massive earthquake could take them out at any moment, then we can be less attached to whether or not bad things happen. It does not mean don’t care – we need shelter, most practitioners need a shrine area in their home, if we have a family then we probably require a good house! But just don’t get so attached that you get hot with anger when something unexpected happens. Rather relax the mind and realize that this is an opportunity to see impermanence in action.
Thanks for reading!