News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume IV, Number 6
June 2, 2004
For easy reading, we recommend that you print out "The Voice of Clear
"Advice on Developing as a Dzogchenpa" - from Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
in "Wonders Of The Natural Mind" and from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
in "The Dzogchen Primer" edited and compiled by Marcia Binder Schmidt.
"Working From One's Relative Condition" - an edited excerpt from oral
teachings given by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche at Ligmincha's 10th Annual
Summer Retreat, 2002.
Ligmincha's Annual Summer Retreat at Serenity Ridge starts JULY 4!
About the Upcoming Fall and Winter 2004 Schedule at Serenity Ridge.
Ponlop Thinley Nyima Rinpoche, Lopon of Menri, to teach in the U.S.
in June and July.
Sangha Sharing
"Transcription" a poem by Dean Grantham.
"A First Meeting" by Aline Fisher.
From "Wonders of the Natural Mind" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche:
"It is very important to discover through self-observation which
level of integration we are capable of practicing and to apply that
level, otherwise there will be a gap between the Dzogchen teachings
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and our aspirations as Dzogchen practitioners. When my master Lopon
Tenzin Namdak gave teachings on the 'Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud' in Italy
in 1989 he said, 'The teaching is Dzogchen, we are not Dzogchen.' He
was speaking about the gap between the explanation of the state or
base given in the teachings and the dualistic condition in which we
live in our conceptual mind. We can easily see if there is this gap
when a passion such as anger arises. When we receive teachings, we
learn about integration and self-liberation, but very often there is
no functional relationship between what we have learned from the
teachings about passions and what happens inside us when a passion
such as anger arises. That means the teaching is not working and the
anger we feel does not correspond to the anger we speak about
according to the teachings. In practical terms, this is the gap my
master was talking about. The moment a passion arises, we forget all
explanations. To eliminate this gap when we try to apply
integration, it is important not to follow blindly what the texts
tell us about self-liberation, but rather first look at our own
condition and determine at what stage of practice we are, what level
of practitioner we are, and then apply the appropriate view and
practice. It is as if we are sick. We have to find out what illness
we have and what kind of medicine we must take. So the first step we
must take towards integration is to determine what level we have to
work on, and not try immediately to apply the highest view of the
teachings on integration and self-liberation, otherwise the gap will
arise between the teaching and our capacity to apply it in the way we
live. In this way, integration is one thing, and what we do is
something else. We must connect what we learn about liberating the
passions in the teachings and what we actually experience when we
feel the passions arising."
From a chapter entitled "Integrating View and Conduct" by Tulku
Urgyen Rinpoche from "The Dzogchen Primer" compiled and edited by
Marcia Binder Schmidt:
"The main reason you cannot only teach the view is that quite a few
people will then miss the main point by believing, 'I only need the
view! There is nothing to do! I can give up all activities!' Of
course, this may be true in some sense; however, what happens when
someone gives up conventional Dharma practice too early is that such
a person fails to do any spiritual practice in terms of purifying
obscurations and gathering the accumulations. At the same time, he
or she does not truly realize, progress in, and attain stability in
the view. The end result is that the view remains an idea while your
behavior shows no regard for good and evil. That is what
Padmasambhava meant by 'losing the conduct in the view.'
"We need to integrate view and conduct. Padmasambhava said as
well, 'Though your view is higher than the sky, keep your deeds finer
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than barley flour.' Understand the expression 'finer than barley
flour' to mean to adopt what is virtuous and avoid what is evil, with
respect for the law of cause and effect, with attention to the
smallest detail. This is to keep harmony between view and conduct.
The opposite, separating one's actions from the view, is to somehow
convince oneself that there is no need to do the preliminary
practices, no need for any good deeds, no need for making offerings,
and no need to apologize for evil actions. One can fool oneself into
believing one need only remain in simplicity. What this honestly
means, though, is that such a person will have no spiritual
progress. Ultimately, it is definitely true that there 'is' nothing
to do, but this is true only after one has passed through to the
other side of understanding, experience, and realization. To
maintain an intellectual conviction of the view without having
undergone the training is a severe misunderstanding. This is how the
self-professed 'Dzogchen practitioner' goes astray."
"Wonders of The Natural Mind" by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. Ithaca,
NY: Snow Lion Publications, 1998.
"The Dzogchen Primer" compiled and edited by Marcia Binder Schmidt.
Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2002. The excerpt is from Tulku
Urgyen Rinpoche in a chapter entitled "Integrating View and Conduct".
**NOTE: Both books are available from Ligmincha's Bookstore. See the
website: or call: 1-866-522-5269.
"WORKING FROM ONE'S RELATIVE CONDITION" - an edited excerpt from oral
teachings given by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche at Ligmincha's 10th Annual
Summer Retreat, 2002.
When we seek the truth within ourselves, it is a very natural
tendency for us to want to avoid some things and to go somewhere and
do something. It's very natural for us. Like what we are doing here
right now - we are avoiding work and are here at the summer retreat!
And here at the summer retreat, we are working with the nature of
mind, as if the nature of mind was not at the office. This is very
normal. But for sure, the nature of mind is the same at the office
just as it is here. There are absolutely no differences. All the
sacred qualities are there at the office just as they are here.
But for us, on a conventional basis, it makes a difference whether we
are here or at the office - not because of the truth - but because of
our conditions. We prefer to be in the gompa rather than at the
office. We prefer to have less thoughts than a lot of thoughts. But
that doesn't mean that when there are a lot of thoughts the nature of
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mind is not there.
When we look at the notion of "discovering within" or "awakening
within" what exactly do these popular titles mean? What
does "discovering within" mean to you?
Student: It is "there already."
Rinpoche: And what does "It is there already" mean? It means that in
any given situation, the nature of mind is there. However, even when
we think this, it is often not the way we act. Instead, we feel we
have to find a better situation to find the nature of mind. You
think, "It is not here, I have to go over there - within there, yes;
within here, no."
But if you really understand the idea of discovering within, it means
that it is in every given moment, within every situation, and in
every experience. There can never be a moment when there is not an
experience-er. Every experience has got to have an experiencer,
right? Whenever there is the experiencer, that is what I want to
connect with, that is what I care about. Sometimes there are good
experiences and sometimes bad experiences. But if you look, in every
given experience, it's just right there.
JUNE 9 FOR $550 PER WEEK (cost includes meals.)
This year's 13th Annual Summer Retreat with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal
Rinpoche will focus on Dzogchen teachings from the cherished text:
The Twenty One Nails from The Dzogchen Oral Transmission of The Zhang
The Twenty One Nails can be understood as the most direct possible
expression of enlightenment, a Buddha's own natural condition. Each
nail describes this state from a different point of view. The views
are called 'nails' or 'seals' because they stabilize the experiential
understanding of the natural state. For one who understands this,
nothing else is needed.
In addition, Rinpoche will present pith instructions on the channels,
vital breath, essential spheres, and sacred syllables from a section
of the Bon Mother Tantra entitled: "The Empty Base of the
Spontaneously Manifested Four Enlightened Dimensions." Continuing
with the same insightful approach as he did last summer, Rinpoche
will guide our tsa lung practice to a deeper level through
instructions contained in these potent tantric teachings. During the
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retreat he will also teach practices focusing on sacred syllables and
This three-week retreat is from July 4 - July 24 and you can attend
one, two or all three weeks:
Week One: Sunday, July 4 - Sat. July 10
Week Two: Sunday, July 11 - Sat. July 17
Week Three: Sunday, July 18 - Sat. July 24
**Please note that the beginning and ending days for each week are
different than in previous years. Each retreat week now begins on a
Sunday (instead of Monday) and ends on Saturday (to help travelers).
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 .
Please note: We are announcing two changes to our annual winter
retreat schedule this year. The retreat dates will be Dec. 27, 2004
to Jan. 1, 2005 (the retreat starts one day later than usual.) Also,
for the first time there will be two retreats simultaneously taking
place at Serenity Ridge during that week.
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will teach Part Three of the
Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung for the entire week, and
there will also be a Ngondro practice retreat (for those who have had
Ngondro transmission) at the same time with Geshe Lungrig Gyaltsen.
(Geshe Gyaltsen will be teaching the full Ngondro, with transmission,
in September.)
There will be more information about these retreats in the next issue
of VOCL.
SEPT. 22-26, 2004. "Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung, Part
1: Ngondro" with Geshe Lungrig Gyaltsen.
OCT. 27- NOV. 3, 2004. "The Heart of Realization" with Yongdzin
Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
(Registration for this retreat is closed at this time; we have a
waiting list.)
NOV. 10-14, 2004. "Trul Khor (Tibetan Yoga): Introduction - Harmony
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of Body, Speech and Mind" with Alejandro Chaoul-Reich.
DEC. 27, 2004 - JAN. 1, 2005. "Experiential Transmission of Zhang
Zhung, Part 3 " with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.
DEC. 27, 2004 - JAN. 1, 2005. "Experiential Transmission of Zhang
Zhung, Part 1, Ngondro Practice Retreat" with Geshe Lungrig Gyaltsen.
Ponlop Thinley Nyima Rinpoche, Lopon of Menri Monastery in Dolanji,
India, is here teaching in the United States this month and next.
Ponlop succeeded Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche as Lopon of Menri
beginning in 1992. He was born in a remote area of Dolpo, in Western
Nepal. His family name, Yangton, traces back to Yangton Shenrab
Gyaltsen, a famous dzogchen and tantric master born in the year 1077
CE. It was Yangton Shenrab Gyaltsen who first wrote down the
Dzogchen Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung (Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyu), the
sacred Bon text and source of so many of our teachings and
practices. After completing a traditional three-year retreat in
Dolpo, Ponlop went to the great Bonpo monastery in Dolanji to become
a monk. He received his Geshe degree in 1989, and then taught there
at the monastery until becoming the Lopon or Ponlop, three years
NOTE: See the website for The Bon Foundation where Ponlop's
schedule is listed, and much more valuable and interesting
information, including the Fall schedule for His Holiness Lungtok
Tenpai Nyima who will also be coming to the States! The website is: Thanks for their wonderful work in helping bring
our teachers here!
Here is Ponlop's Teaching Schedule:
Houston, TX - June 2 Public Talk
June 5-6 Five Elements Teaching
Contact: Alejandro Chaoul-Reich: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Los Angeles, CA - June 12-13 Topic TBA
June 15 Topic TBA
Contact: Dika Ryan: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Berkeley, CA - June 19 Yun Lin Temple Topic TBA
Contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
San Francisco, CA - June 20 Five Elements Teaching
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Contact: Laura Sherkijian: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Portland, OR - June 25 Public Talk
June 26-27 Dzogchen Teaching
June 30 Chod Practice, Lecture
July 2 Matri, Lecture
Contact: Margaret Frison: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
St. Louis, MO - July 9 Matri, Lecture
July 10-11 Five Elements Teaching
Contact: Andrea Norton: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Like a spider dropping, walking, winding
Tethered to softly spoken words
I trace with tapping fingers
The last repose of flesh on bone
Chod trumpets call from caves above
Dark-feathered wings descend to stone
Chants bless the empty vessel
Drumbeat echoes come to rest
Dakinis rise to fill the air
On Six-Peaked Mountain's crest
I follow lettered paths
Thought's footprints scuffed in snow
And circle slow the sacred place
Where words can never go
This fragile map of dust
Points me toward hidden height
I climb up to a silent ledge
Belayed on threads of inner light
But then the traces come to mind
Of what I fear or hope to find
I cling to footholds where I stand
Forget to take my teacher's hand
So wrapped within my web I'll face
Each new repose of flesh on bone
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Until I learn to hear both voices
My precious master's and my own.
- Dean Grantham.
The winter of 2000, my husband, Jeff, and I traveled to Nepal and
India. It was an amazing journey, filled with wonder and challenge.
One of my most memorable experiences was first meeting Ponlop Thinley
Nyima Rinpoche, the kind, generous, and very wise Lopon of Menri
Monastery in India.
The visit to Menri culminated a trip that began with our arrival in
Kathmandu, Nepal, for the 2000 Millennium Retreat hosted by Tenzin
Rinpoche and Lopon Tenzin Namdak. At the heart of the retreat was a
beautiful introduction to Sherab Chamma through the precious
teachings of Yongdzin Rinpoche and Tenzin Rinpoche. The sense of
kinship was palpable amongst the whole group of students from around
the world as we listened and practiced together as one great Sangha.
On the eve of the new millennium, right around midnight, after an
intensely moving practice of Sidpe Gyalmo that included the Sidpe
Gyalmo invocation being recited aloud in about 20 languages, Rinpoche
asked one member of each of the various communities present to offer
prayers and wishes in their native language for both their country
and for the world for the new millennium. A beautiful offering.
Starting at midnight there was much celebration and delicious food
(including my first momos), then more practice and finally, we were
able to catch about 2 hours of sleep before we all headed up to
Lopon's monastery, Triten Norbutse, at the break of dawn for the
lungta and other ceremonies. The experience was dreamlike for me
from the early morning sang chod offerings led by Yongdzin
Rinpoche, to my first step into the monastery's gompa, to the
sacred sound of chanting monks, to seeing Lopon sitting on his throne
there with an enormous golden Buddha statue behind him.
Later that morning we participated in the enthronement ceremony for
Tulku Jorge Rene. Every single monk and lama as well as all the
visiting students lined up in a processional to pass by Jorge who was
flanked by his parents and Rinpoche to pay homage and to personally
offer him a khata. He sat on a small throne wearing robes looking
bright-eyed and amazed. All the while the sound of monks incanting
the mandala offering prayer filled the room and echoed down the
hallways. The shared sense of gratefulness we all had in being there
that misty morning felt like it must have made the monastery glow
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brightly from its perch there on the slopes of Nagarjun mountain
overlooking the Kathmandu valley.
A few days later, Jeff and I left the bustle of Kathmandu for 10 days
of wonderful hiking with John Massie up in the Himalayas. As we
hiked ridges and valleys, the incredible natural beauty of the
landscape combined with the special kind of exhaustion that comes
with high altitude hiking cleared my mind perfectly. We called
it "unwinding the tapes." Repeating mantras throughout the days and
feeling the fresh cool air, the quiet, the warm sun and the bluest of
skies there, so easily kept me present as we hiked, one step at a
time. Periodically, cheerful sherpas in flip-flops sang
out "Namaste!" to us as they advanced past us, ascending steep grades
effortlessly while carrying large bundles of goods strapped to their
heads and shoulders. They were a great reminder that whatever path
we are taking, it is only as easy or as hard as we decide to make it!
We then traveled to India from Nepal for the last portion of our trip
to visit Menri, the Bon monastery in Dolanji where Rinpoche grew up.
We approached, hiking up the final hill and through the archway of
the monastery, exhausted and a day sooner than we had planned. Not
having seen anyone from Menri yet, we were suddenly surprised by the
beautiful voice of His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima who was out
playing with a single monk in the courtyard. "Who are you there?" he
jokingly called out to us. Hugs, smiles, and joy as H.H. welcomed us
back to what felt like our home and family.
Our stay in Menri seemed timeless. We saw the places where our
teacher, Tenzin Rinpoche, had lived and studied diligently, the
courtyard where he debated and practiced, and the tiny cinder block
room where he spent 49 days in dark retreat. Walking the dirt path
down the mountainside from the monastery that Rinpoche took daily for
teachings at the home of his first teacher, Lopon Sange Tenzin, made
me even more grateful that Rinpoche had after all this made it to the
West and out into the world to cross paths with those who like me
were fortunate enough to wander across his pathway.
And I still feel the blessings we received from Ponlop Rinpoche that
one rainy afternoon we visited him in his home at the monastery.
With much glee and laughter, he welcomed us in like old friends,
instantly making us feel right at home. Affectionately holding our
hands from that very first moment, he radiated happiness as his hands
found ours over and over again throughout our visit. Although we did
not speak the same language, nor did we have similar cultural
backgrounds or life experiences, nevertheless we were like family
there. Having tea and gazing from Ponlop's balcony over the rain
soaked valley below felt like the only thing in the world to do.
Nearing the end of our visit, I was sitting on the floor in front of
him in his living room, listening to him as he spoke so easily about
the natural state, conveying its qualities not just through his
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broken English, but also through his clear eyes and his beautiful
hands. Time had stopped. There was nowhere else to be or anything
else needed. I don't remember the questions we asked, but holding
his hand I will never forget. Love and wisdom flowed through him and
all around us in that space, and to this day, I still carry that.
- Aline Fisher
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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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For books, tapes and transcripts of teachings by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche as well as other books and items
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