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News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume IV, Number 1
January 4, 2004
For easy reading, we recommend that you print out "The Voice of Clear
"The Sense of the Sacred" - an excerpt from Tenzin Wangyal
Rinpoche's book: "Healing With Form, Energy and Light: The Five
Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen."
"Bodhicitta and Great Compassion" - an edited excerpt from
oral teachings given by Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche during the
Ngondro Retreat at Serenity Ridge, November, 2003.
Related Excerpts on Compassion.
Announcement for the Annual Spring Retreat at Serenity Ridge, April
21-25, 2004.
A Personal Experience at The Second International Congress on Tibetan
Early-bird Date for the February Calm-Abiding (Zhine) Retreat is
January 14.
A Peek Inside Ligmincha's New Calendar for 2004.
"THE SENSE OF THE SACRED" - an excerpt from "Healing With Form,
Energy and Light: The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and
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Dzogchen" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
"How can we develop the sense of the sacred? By remembering that
the source of all is sacred, that space and light are sacred. Every
appearance is beautiful if we go beyond prejudice and recognize the
vibrant, radiant nature of phenomena. Remember that all beings have
the buddha-nature. Remember the sacredness of the religious
tradition. Spend time in nature, particularly places special to you,
and open yourself to the beauty of the natural world. Begin each
practice period with prayer and open your heart. End each practice
period by dedicating yourself to the benefit of all beings. Engage
in the practice as a way to help alleviate the suffering of all those
you care about. Spiritual practice is an activity meant to benefit
all; it is not only for yourself. Look into the night sky when the
stars can be seen, feel the immensity and magnificence of the
universe. Think about the complexity of your own body, the
mysterious functions that support your existence. Broaden your mind
enough and you necessarily come to mysteries that are so much bigger
than everyday concerns that to encounter them is to experience awe,
to experience the sacred."
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's book "Healing with Form, Energy and
Light, The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen"
is available online from the Ligmincha Bookstore at: or by calling toll-free 866-522-5269.
"BODHICITTA AND GREAT COMPASSION" - an edited excerpt from
oral teachings given by Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, the Abbot of
Triten Norbutse Monastery in Katmandu, Nepal, during the Ngondro
Retreat at Serenity Ridge, November, 2003.
To practice bodhicitta is to generate and to develop enlightened mind
on the basis of great compassion. That is, to develop buddha mind or
enlightened mind for the benefit of all sentient beings.
We are practicing not only for our own benefit, not only for our own
peace, but in fact, we have to think that our practice is for the
purpose of helping all other beings, not only a few beings, all
sentient beings in all universes, not just this universe. We believe
that there are thousands, billions of universes. So we have to think
of helping all sentient beings in all those billions of universes.
So it is a very big mind, very huge! It seems to be impossible.
On the basis of great compassion we develop this mind. If you
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don't have great compassion, this kind of mind, this intention,
can not come. So, first we have to develop great compassion within
Great compassion is very, very important. It is one of the two main
pillars of the path of liberation. These two pillars are known as
method and wisdom. Similarly, there are two kinds of bodhicitta,
relative and absolute. Absolute bodhicitta manifests with one's
development of wisdom, the meditation on and knowledge of the
absolute truth. Relative bodhicitta, this great intention to help
all sentient beings, is what we refer to mainly as method.
Without this great compassion, we can not get fully enlightened. In
order to get fully enlightened we have to be liberated from two
extremes - the extreme of samsara and the extreme of nirvana.
You see, sometimes, we are too peaceful. This can be dangerous as it
can lead
us toward falling into the extreme of nirvana, or thinking only of
own benefit. Upon experiencing some level of realization, we may
then fall into a level of meditation like a cessation type
of contemplation in which we are very peaceful and seem to have
completely purified our negative emotions. We may easily remain
in this situation for eons and eons. It is said that one sentient
being from hell will attain enlightenment much faster than one who
has fallen into this type of meditation.
This extreme is a kind of nirvana, but it is not the final result,
not full enlightenment. We call it causality nirvana, relative
nirvana. There are still many things we have to purify, very subtle
defilements. But in this state, because it almost looks like we
don't have any defilements, if we don't also have this
practice of
method, of great compassion, we're in trouble. Great compassion
is something that reminds us not to simply look out for our own wellbeing
or to only look for our own peace. It actually brings about
our getting reborn back into samsara in order to help all other
beings, and this leads more swiftly to our own enlightenment.
Therefore, great compassion is a kind of antidote, a practice which
can protect us from falling into the extreme of nirvana.
We are protected from falling into the extreme of samsara mainly by
the antidote of wisdom, the knowledge of the absolute truth. The
real root of samsara can only be cut by this wisdom, and not by any
other practices. Other practices help to purify many negative
emotions, which then help bring us into knowledge of the absolute
truth, but these practices themselves can not cut the root of
samsara. The root of samsara can only be cut by knowledge of the
absolute truth, also known as the view. Therefore, view is most
important on the path, and this view or wisdom must always be
combined with method, or great compassion and bodhicitta. Always!
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Therefore, we call the path of liberation a unification of method and
From "Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the
Dead" by Francesca Fremantle:
"Emptiness and compassion are completely intertwined. The
relationship between them has been compared to that of a flame and
its light or a tree and its leaves. Activity in the world is not
truly enlightened unless it springs from the awareness that, in the
absolute sense, nothing is being done or needs to be done. Yet at
the same time, the awakened heart feels as its own the suffering of
all who are not yet awakened. The bodhisattvas embody this activity
for the welfare of all beings. Through wisdom the bodhisattva knows
that samsara is illusion, and through compassion helps those who are
under its spell. Both aspects go together all the way along the
path. We cannot wait until we attain wisdom to manifest compassion.
Simply being as compassionate and skillful as we can at every stage
is what deepens our realization of emptiness. They grow together,
they mutually inspire each other, they are the two indispensable
elements of the awakened state."
From "Buddhism Without Beliefs" by Stephen Batchelor:
"Insight into emptiness and compassion for the world are two
sides of the same coin. To experience ourselves and the world as
interactive processes rather than aggregates of discrete things
undermines both habitual ways of perceiving the world as well as
habitual feelings about it. Meditative discipline is vital to dharma
practice precisely because it leads us beyond the realm of ideas to
that of felt-experience. Understanding the philosophy of emptiness
is not enough. The ideas need to be translated through meditation
into the wordless language of feeling in order to loosen those
emotional knots that keep us locked in a spasm of selfpreoccupation.
"As we are released into the opening left by the absence of selfcentered
craving, we experience the vulnerability of exposure to the
anguish and suffering of the world. The track on which we find
ourselves in moments of centered experience includes both clarity of
mind and warmth of heart. Just as a lamp simultaneously generates
light and heat, so the central path is illuminated by wisdom and
nurtured by compassion.
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"The selfless vulnerability of compassion requires the vigilant
protection of mindful awareness. It is not enough to want to feel
this way toward others. We need to be alert at all times to the
invasion of thoughts and emotions that threaten to break in and steal
this open and caring resolve. A compassionate heart still feels
anger, greed, jealousy, and other such emotions. But it accepts them
for what they are with equanimity, and cultivates the strength of
mind to let them arise and pass without identifying and without
acting upon them."
From "Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Real
Happiness" by Robert Thurman:
"We already feel our own pain and are powerless to do much about
it. How much worse it is to feel the pains of others and be helpless
to do anything for them. But when one makes the commitment to attain
enlightenment for the benefit of all, a compassionate energy is
released and the artistry for living transforms immediate
relationships from struggle into living play. As our empathy and
love flow out to embrace all living beings on earth, the galaxies,
and beyond, we come up against not only black holes of despair but
also vast suns of confidence and determination. By becoming a being
of radiant blissfulness, a bodhisattva is a living instrument that
can effectively bring about the aim of all true lives - the happiness
of infinite beloved others. This goodwill moves to tame the whole
society, the whole world, even the universe so that it becomes a
place in which the maximum number of people can attain the highest
level of happiness. Since the universe is infinite, containing
infinite beings in infinite universes within it, that will becomes a
kind of messianic madness that explodes in the form of a vow to
create a universe that itself works to liberate souls - a buddhaland
or buddhaverse."
From "Cultivating Compassion" by Jeffrey Hopkins:
"Compassion is called the seed because it is the beginning of the
path for bodhisattvas - those dedicated to becoming fully enlightened
to be of benefit to other beings. Bodhisattvas are distinguished
from other Buddhist practitioners in that they have great compassion,
in that they themselves will free all sentient beings from suffering
and the causes of suffering. They also have great love, in that they
themselves will join all sentient beings with happiness and the
causes of happiness.
"The seed is what begins the harvest. Without the seed, one
cannot have the fruit. The source of Buddhahood is compassion.
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Though wisdom is required for the attainment of Buddhahood,
unshakable compassion is the differentiating factor. Other types of
practitioners must also understand the final nature of reality in
order to attain their respective, but lower, types of enlightenment.
Thus, compassion alone is the seed of Buddhahood.
"Compassion is also like the water that rains down and grows the
potential harvest, once the seed has been planted. Compassion
moistens the mental continuum; through the continued practice of
compassion, the bodhisattva's progress advances. In the state of
Buddhahood, it has ripened; it is like a matured fruit for enjoyment
by others in that only a fully mature compassion causes enlightened
beings to appear to others to help them in whatever form is suitable
to their needs."
From "An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion In Everyday Life" by The
Dalai Lama:
"True compassion has the intensity and spontaneity of a loving
mother caring for her suffering baby. Throughout the day, such a
mother's concern for her child affects all her thoughts and
actions. This is the attitude we are working to cultivate toward
each and every being. When we experience this, we have
generated 'great compassion.'
"Once one has become profoundly moved by great compassion and lovingkindness,
and had one's heart stirred by altruistic thoughts, one
must pledge to devote oneself to freeing all beings from the
suffering they endure within cyclic existence, the vicious circle of
birth, death, and rebirth we are all prisoners of. Our suffering is
not limited to our present situation. According to the Buddhist
view, our present situation as humans is relatively comfortable.
However, we stand to experience much difficulty in the future if we
misuse this present opportunity. Compassion enables us to refrain
from thinking in a self-centered way. We experience great joy and
never fall to the extreme of simply seeking our own personal
happiness and salvation. We continually strive to develop and
perfect our virtue and wisdom. With such compassion, we shall
eventually possess all the necessary conditions for attaining
enlightenment. We must therefore cultivate compassion from the very
start of our spiritual practice."
Editor's note: A list of the resources used above can be found at the
end of the newsletter.
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"Sacred Syllables: The Healing Power of Sound in the Tibetan Bon
Buddhist Tradition."
Since ancient times meditative practices from a variety of spiritual
traditions have used sound and its vibration as an essential tool for
healing. Through the singing and chanting of sacred syllables and
mantras - spiritual practitioners, healers and lay persons may access
purification and restore harmony to a range of physical, emotional,
psychological and spiritual dimensions. Guided by the mind and
carried by the breath through subtle channels, the power of sound
opens the potential to heal illness and dissolve energetic
The Tibetan Bon Buddhist tradition is one of the oldest and still
unbroken lineages of wisdom to make use of sound for the well-being
of its practitioners. The knowledge of how to take up the singing
and chanting of Tibetan syllables to vibrate the healing potential in
human beings is contained in a number of Bon texts, including the
revered Mother Tantra.
During this retreat Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will explain the
relationship between the sounds of particular Tibetan syllables and
their healing qualities. With the capacity to translate ancient
texts into modern western idiom, Tenzin Rinpoche will present these
teachings on sacred sounds and instruct the meditations that empower
their healing capabilities.
Register for this retreat by March 17 for the early-bird cost of $350
or by April 7 for the cost of $400 or after April 7, for the cost of
$400. Call Ligmincha at: (434) 977-6161 or e-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
As a reporter for the Voice of Clear Light, I was thrilled to be
given permission to cover one of the lectures that Tenzin Wangyal
Rinpoche was to give during a four-day extravaganza on Tibetan
medicine in Washington, D.C., last November.
Arriving at night, in the pouring rain, through snarled D.C. traffic,
I made my way past the lit up dome of the Washington Capitol to the
Second Annual International Congress on Tibetan Medicine to hear
Tenzin Rinpoche's keynote address on "Healing With Form, Energy
and Light." The hours of crawling through clogged traffic with my
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mind plagued by old issues and doubts set the stage for what was to
be a transformative experience listening to my teacher.
The 4-day conference on Tibetan medicine entitled "From Tradition
to Evidence: Research and Practical Applications" covered a wide
range of topics. Bon and Tibetan Buddhist masters, scholars, and
monks, as well as doctors, researchers and practitioners gathered to
present and discuss their methodologies regarding mental health, mindbody
medicine and neuroscience research, tonglen practice, diet and
nutrition, as well as Tibetan treatments for arterial disease, high
cholesterol, and arthritis. In attendance at this international
gathering were Tibetan scholars and practitioners such as Robert
Thurman and Alan Wallace, and medical doctors such as Dr. Choeying
Phuntsok, a senior Tibetan physician practicing in the West, who has
taught and helped many of us within the sangha. Tibetan Buddhist
masters, Gehlek Rinpoche, and Tulku Thondup presented teachings. The
highlight, though, was the warm welcome shown by this respected group
toward the inclusion of the Bon perspective on health and medicine
presented by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung
Rinpoche, the Abbot of Triten Norbutse Monastery, through various
panels, discussions and presentations.
I arrived minutes before Tenzin Rinpoche was to give his keynote
address to an audience of a couple hundred people in one of the large
ballrooms there. After Mary Lanier of the Bon Foundation introduced
Rinpoche, he devoted the next 2 hours to teaching about healing
through the five elements as well as guiding us in a meditation
practice. Clear, direct, funny, and personal in a deeply moving way,
Rinpoche literally captured the attention and enthusiasm of a very
diverse audience.
Rinpoche told the audience how he grew up with a strong connection to
nature and to the elements during his training as a monk at Menri
monastery in the mountains of Northern India. He said that, just as
Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche had advised he do several years ago, he has
focused on the teachings and practices of the elements more and more
as he's been leading retreats throughout the world. His latest
book, "Healing with Form, Energy and Light: The Five Elements in
Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra, and Dzogchen" published in 2002 in
English, Russian and Polish will soon will be published in
French, German, Japanese and Korean.
After my ordeal of getting to the talk, I found myself basking in
Rinpoche's great words. He explained that on all levels,
physical, mental and spiritual, one's health and well-being are
greatly affected by the balance of the elements within oneself. When
the elements are unbalanced or lacking, we experience blocks,
problems, pains, and diseases. By connected to the elements,
invoking their essence through practices, we can correct the
imbalances within ourselves on the form or physical level, the
energetic or pranic/emotional level, and on the level of light or the
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most subtle level of the mind.
As Rinpoche writes in his book, "Healing With Form, Energy and
"Study of and practice with the elements is meant to positively
affect our well-being by giving us the tools to bring the elements
into the balance that underlies health and wholeness in any dimension
of experience. It does not take great intuition to know when we are
in or out of balance. We all know these experiences. They fall
along a continuum from the most disturbed imbalance - psychosis or
serious illness - to perfect balance, which occurs only when we can
abide in the nature of mind, the buddha-nature. in our daily lives
we are somewhere in between, moving from being more in balance to
being more out of balance, and back again.
"The idea of balancing elemental energies can be usefully applied
to any human function, quality, or activity; health, relationship,
spiritual practice, psychological make-up, emotional state, physical
environment, and so on. Using imbalance of the elements as a primary
metaphor, we can understand illness and unhappiness as well as
obstructions on all levels of spiritual practice. Balancing the
elements then becomes a metaphor for healing, for the development of
positive qualities and capacities, and for the elimination of
negative qualities."
Within the course of his presentation that evening, Rinpoche guided
us in a healing meditation for balancing our element of space.
With his guidance, we invited the openness of the space element into
our bodies (especially into any areas in pain), into our hearts, and
into our minds. There was a palpable shift in the
audience and almost immediately, I experienced great openness as the
knots of tension that had developed on my way there, melted away. It
was truly healing and uplifting. Just what the doctor ordered!
Rinpoche concluded the meditation practice on space, by emphasizing
that this sense of openness is most associated with our unchanging
essence, and thus our subtlest sense of self. But we habitually
associate more with the grosser levels of self which are greatly
influenced by conditions, and therefore fluctuate dramatically.
I left for home that evening feeling as though Rinpoche's
presentation was made for me. Now, free of congestion, the traffic
mirrored my own energy flowing effortlessly. I was no longer clogged
on the inside. Blissfully balanced the whole trip home, I was
certain that my healing was just one of many within the
audience that night. Who could know all the great benefits that
would manifest over the next few days as the conference continued to
heal, inspire and connect the many people in attendance to the
effective practices of these ancient Tibetan traditions?
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- Aline Fisher
EDITOR'S NOTE: We would like to hear about your experiences with
healing and the elements. Share a poem or article about your
experience with all of us through our newsletter. Send your
contribution to me at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
You can order Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's book "Healing with
Form, Energy and Light, The Five Elements in Tibetan Shamanism,
Tantra, and Dzogchen" online from the Ligmincha Bookstore at: or call toll-free 866-522-5269.
Register for this 4-day retreat on: "Calm Abiding: The Foundation
for Dzogchen Practice" to be held at Serenity Ridge, February 26-29,
2004 with Gabriel Rocco, senior student of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
More information is available on our website: or in
the latest brochures.
If you register by the early-bird date of January 14, the cost is
$200; or by Feb. 4 for $250; or after Feb. 4 for $275.
Call Ligmincha to register: (434) 977-6161 or e-mail:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Ligmincha's beautiful new 2004 calendar contains portions of
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche's journal written during the trip that he
and his master, Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, made to Tibet in
1986. Tenzin Rinpoche had just graduated from Menri monastery in
India, earning his Geshe degree, the monastic equivalent of a
doctorate, and Yongdzin Rinpoche, who had not been back to Tibet
since his escape during the Chinese invasion in 1960, was now
permitted to visit. After an audience with His Holiness the Dalai
Lama, they set out on their seven-month journey to Tibet. Rinpoche
documented their trip with marvelous photographs as well as keeping a
journal along the way to record their amazing experiences on this
Ligmincha Institute's 2004 calendar gives us a glimpse of Tibet
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through the eyes of our teachers on that trip, a most precious
gift. Although it is not possible to include photographs in this
newsletter format, I'd like to give you a peek at one of the
excerpts of Rinpoche's diary that fill each month. You'll
just have
to imagine the accompanying photographs until you see them. This
excerpt is from the month of July.
"Yongdzin Rinpoche, Khenpo Nyima Wangyal, and I traveled nearly
three days on foot to reach Menri Monastery. It was one of the most
exhausting times of my entire life. The one donkey we had was used
for carrying our bags. The first day we walked across a high plateau
and then made a dangerous crossing of the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River
in a skin boat. The second day we crossed a wide, flat desert. All
afternoon we walked in the hot sun, and in the evening we stopped in
a small village at the base of the mountain that leads to Menri
Monastery. Everyone in the village was very happy to see Yongdzin
Rinpoche again. We spent the night with a family who were patrons of
Menri Monastery. It was like a dream. I was so completely
exhausted, I simply lay down in the hay stored for the animals. All
night long I could hear people from every part of the village come to
tell Yongdzin Rinpoche what had happened during the 25 years since he
had escaped. They spoke of the invasion of the Chinese, of the
people who had been tortured, and of the many who had died. They
talked of those who had supported the invasion and those who had
resisted. They told of the destruction of almost all the valuable
scriptures and statues, and of how a few had been saved. Some of the
instruments - the conch shells and trumpets had been preserved during
the Cultural Revolution because they were used to call people for
lunch or work. Otherwise, anything connected with religion was
destroyed. There were many sad stories. People cried and Yongdzin
Rinpoche listened. Yongdzin Rinpoche was not exhausted at all, he
was full of energy and listened to all of their stories, all night
This is a full-color 11x11 calendar with the months, days and dates
in English and Tibetan, Bon and Buddhist auspicious dates and major
U.S. holidays. It is available for $15.95, plus shipping from the
Ligmincha bookstore. You can order it online at, by phone (434) 220-0060, toll-free (866) 522-
5269, or fax (434) 977-7020. For more information email us at
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . To order online, first click on
'search by category or description' and then where it says 'select a
category', choose 'calendars' in the drop down box.
Ritual items such as water bowls, butterlamps, mandala sets and more
will soon be added to our website! See the website:
Mon, Oct 3, 2005 12:08 PM
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Batchelor, Stephen. "Buddhism Without Beliefs." New York:
Riverhead Books, 1997.
Fremantle, Francesca. "Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the
Tibetan Book of the Dead." Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc., 2001.
H.H. the Dalai Lama. "An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in
Everyday Life." Edited by Nicholas Vreeland. Boston: Little,
Brown and Company, 2001.
Hopkins, Jeffrey. "Cultivating Compassion." New York: Broadway
Books, 2001.
Thurman, Robert. "Inner Revolution: Life, Liberty, and The
Pursuit of Real Happiness." New York: Riverhead Books, 1998.
Wangyal, Tenzin. "Healing With Form, Energy and Light: The Five
Elements in Tibetan Shamanism, Tantra and Dzogchen." Ithaca, New
York: Snow Lion Publications, 2002. *Available at Ligmincha's
store (
The Voice of Clear Light is a free, e-mail publication of Ligmincha Institute. Your suggestions and
contributions to the Voice of Clear Light are welcome. To contact us, simply reply to this message and
your email will reach the VOCL editor.
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For more information about Ligmincha Institute, the teachings of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, or retreats at
Serenity Ridge or our regional centers, please contact us:
Ligmincha Institute
313 2nd St. SE Suite #207
Charlottesville, VA 22902
434-977-6161 fax 434-977-7020
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Mon, Oct 3, 2005 12:08 PM
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For books, tapes and transcripts of teachings by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche as well as other books and items
supportive to Bon and Buddhist practice, please visit the Ligmincha's Online Store at or contact the Ligmincha Store at 434-220-0060
or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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