News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume 6, Number 12
Dec. 19, 2006
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IN THIS ISSUE:
“The confidence of knowing oneself” – an edited excerpt from oral
teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, 2006
Excerpts from teachings of Bon and Buddhist masters on the root poisons
of desire and aversion
Sangha Sharing – “Reflections on the summer retreat”
“THE CONFIDENCE OF KNOWING ONESELF” – an edited excerpt from oral
teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, 2006
When we talk about ignorance, especially in tantra or dzogchen, we are
referring to a lack of knowing oneself, a lack of realization of
oneself, or a lack of knowing the nature of mind. The classic
definition of ignorance is "the mind that does not know itself." But
it is hard for people to relate to that definition from an ordinary
perspective. We ask: What does “not knowing myself” mean? Or for that
matter, what does “knowing myself” mean?
What we are more familiar with is the result of not knowing oneself.
When you don’t know yourself, then as a result there manifests a lack
of confidence. “Lack of confidence?” you ask. ”Yes, that I know.”
There are people, though, who only recognize their lack of confidence
as it relates to something in particular – like their job, or their
ability to do something. They are more aware of their lack of
confidence in action than they are of their lack of confidence in the
stillness. They are more aware of their lack of confidence in
appearance, rather than in its essence. They are more aware of their
lack of confidence in objects, rather than in the subject. These are
all weaker understandings of lack of confidence. But if you can really
sense the more deep-seated lack of confidence that comes from not
knowing your true self, then you will come to understand that its
source can only be from within oneself, from one’s mistaken view.
The teachings talk about "having confidence in the view." They don't
talk much about having confidence in the action, or in the appearance.
Confidence in the view for a practitioner has nothing to do with trying
to change anything or do anything. So, having confidence in the view
doesn’t make sense to those in the Western mainstream, where the
conventional focus is all about action, about the result, about what is
produced, about the expected return. You are taught that confidence is
found in the doing.
This issue of confidence is similar to the notion of trust. Trust as
it relates to the dharma can also be confusing to Westerners.
Generally, when we think about trust in the worldly sense, it has to do
with getting some sort of return. When you lend money to someone, you
say, “I trust you to return my money, or to return the money in this
amount of time, or with this amount of interest.” Or, “I trust that
you will be nice to me because I have been nice to you.” “I trust that
you will be generous back to me because I have been generous to you.”
From this perspective a “no-return trust” in the dharma seems almost
But then we also on occasion hear people say something like, “I have
been sick, and I’ve been trying to do everything that I can to heal
myself. I am going to try this last possible thing, and I trust that
if it works, then it was meant to work. And I trust, too, that if it
doesn’t work, then it wasn't meant to work. I trust completely in the
outcome of this last attempt at healing, whatever the outcome is.”
That is a deeper kind of trust or confidence based not on externals,
but instead on oneself. It has more to do with one’s view, one's own
experiences of mind and of who one is, rather than its being dependent
on and conditioned by situations and by actions.
EXCERPTS FROM TEACHINGS BY BON AND BUDDHIST MASTERS ON THE ROOT POISONS
OF AVERSION AND DESIRE
“Seeing One’s Anger,” an edited excerpt from oral teachings given by
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, 2006:
When you feel yourself getting really angry at someone, in those
moments you feel like there’s no way out. You feel like there is no
way out because there is no clarity, no space, there’s no direction
there. In those situations, it’s as if you are suddenly trying hard to
push something very heavy, and the only tools you have to push it are
the wrong tools. And it may dawn on you in that moment of pushing
that you are, indeed, using the wrong tools. That leads to even more
stress as you begin to see the hopelessness of what you are continuing
to do, doesn’t it?
As we were saying, our first rule is that we don’t have to do anything
when we feel anger. Try just saying: “I don’t have to do anything, I
don’t have to discuss, I don’t have to argue, I don’t have to talk, I
can just walk away from this.” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come
back and reflect on it and talk about it later. It just means that
right now is absolutely the wrong time to act. By your simply being
conscious of that fact, you release yourself from that moment rather
than getting more wrapped up in your trying to do something, your
trying to push something even harder in that moment.
From the edited transcript of oral teachings given by Yongdzin Tenzin
Namdak Rinpoche during Ligmincha’s summer retreat, 2000:
So this famous “I” is the basis of anger, attachment, jealousy –
everything. When the “I” is projected out there without realizing the
empty nature, then that is eternalism. If you fall into emptiness
without any balance of clarity, then that is called nihilism.
The “I” doesn’t exist in the way we grasp and feel it. Everything you
have is “my” – my head, my nose – but where is this “I”? You might say
it depends. You can say, “I am here.” You might feel that when you
are hungry, the "I" is more in the stomach. You say, “I am hungry.”
But if you look at the stomach, at the object, you can’t find “I”
there. You create it by yourself. Sometimes when you have a headache
you say, “I have a headache.” You make your head as “I.” You create
the "I" in everything else in the same way.
When you look to the object, you cannot find “I.” When you realize
nothing exists, and you realize that everything is created by you, then
there is no need for emotion. Where is the anger? Everything is
created by you; nothing is created from the object side. Normally, we
are thinking “I” very strongly exists. That is true of all sentient
beings, even birds and insects. You can make them angry. They grasp
and have emotions even if they are unable to speak. That is real
ignorance. We are following ignorance and that is the source for the
emotions. If you pull apart this ignorance, there is no need for anger
or emotion. Just like at a cinema: You never think the screen is going
to create something real. It is the same for the emotion. So this is
the real teaching.
From “A Path With Heart” by Jack Kornfield:
When we look, we see that wanting creates tension, that it is actually
painful. We see how it arises out of our sense of longing and
incompleteness, a feeling that we are separate and not whole.
Observing more closely we notice that it is also fleeting, without
essence. This aspect of desire is actually a form of imagination and
accompanying feeling that comes and goes in our body and mind. Of
course, at other times it seems very real. Oscar Wilde said, “I can
resist anything but temptation.” When we are caught by wanting it is
like an intoxicant and we are unable to see clearly.
Like desire, anger is an extremely powerful force. We can easily
become caught up in it, or we can be so afraid of it that we act out
its destruction in more unconscious ways. Unfortunately, too few of us
have learned to work with it directly. Its force can grow from
annoyance to something that is present with us now or that is far away
in time or place. We sometimes experience great anger over past events
that are long over and about which we can do nothing. We can even get
furious about something that has not happened but that we only imagine
might happen. When it is strong in the mind, anger colors our entire
experience of life. When our mood is bad, no matter who walks in the
room or where we go that day, something is wrong. Anger can be a
source of tremendous suffering in our own minds, in our interactions
with others, and in the world at large.
From “Gates to Buddhist Practice” by Chagdud Tulku:
When you give in to aversion and anger, it’s as though, having decided
to kill someone by throwing him into a river, you wrap your arms around
his neck, jump into the water with him, and you both drown. In
destroying your enemy, you destroy yourself as well.
We often think the only way to create happiness is to try to control
the outer circumstances of our lives, to try to fix what seems wrong or
to get rid of everything that bothers us. But the real problem lies in
our reaction to those circumstances. What we have to change is the
mind and the way it experiences reality.
Our emotions propel us through extremes, from elation to depression,
from good experiences to bad, from happiness to sadness – a constant
swinging back and forth. Emotionality is the by-product of hope and
fear, attachment and aversion. We have hope because we are attached to
something we want. We have fear because we are averse to something we
don’t want. As we follow our emotions, reacting to our experiences, we
create karma – a perpetual motion that inevitably determines our
future. We need to stop the extreme swings of the emotional pendulum
so that we can find a place of centeredness.
From “Fearless Simplicity” by Tsoknyi Rinpoche:
Mind is fickle and objects are seductive, it is said. The Buddha told
us not to be that way. Don’t chase after one object, then another,
then a third. That pursuit is not your real home, your real mother.
This futile pursuit is steered by, influenced by, and affected by
circumstances. Whenever something feels unpleasant, one gets disturbed
by it; if it’s pleasant, one gets caught up in it. Throughout this
course of events, we are so unstable, so unsteady. Sometimes the
obsession becomes so intense that one can lose one’s own life. This
way of being creates incredible anxiety. One experiences fear, worry,
feeling lost, feeling uncared for: “Nobody loves me, nobody takes care
of me, nobody worries about me.” This lonely frame of mind is because
of being unstable, being steered by objects, being oversensitive in a
Instead of this relentless chasing about, we ought to take a break.
From “The Hundred Verses of Advice” by Dilgo Khyentse and Padampa
Generally speaking, we feel attachment to our family, to our
belongings, and to our position, and aversion to anyone who hurts or
threatens us. Try turning your attention away from such external
objects and examine the mind that identifies them as desirable or
hateful. Do your desire and anger have any form, color, substance, or
location? If not, why is it that you fall so easily under the power of
It is because you do not know how to set them free. If you allow your
thoughts and feelings to arise and dissolve by themselves, they will
pass through your mind in the same way as a bird flies through the sky,
without leaving any trace. This applies not only to attachment and
anger, but also to the experiences of meditation – bliss, clarity, and
the absence of thought. These experiences result from perseverance in
practice and are the expression of the inherent creativity of the mind.
They appear like a rainbow, formed as the rays of the sun strike a
curtain of rain; and to become attached to them is as futile as it
would be to run after a rainbow in the hopes of wearing it as a coat.
Simply allow your thoughts and experiences to come and go, without ever
grasping at them.
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. An edited excerpt from oral teachings
given during Ligmincha’s summer retreat, 2006.
Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. An excerpt from the edited transcript
of oral teachings given during Ligmincha’s summer retreat, 2000.
Jack Kornfield. “A Path With Heart.” New York: Bantam Books, 1993.
Chagdud Tulku. “Gates to Buddhist Practice.” Junction City, Calif.:
Padma Publishing, 1993.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche. “Fearless Simplicity.” Compiled and translated by
Erik Pema Kunsang and Marcia Binder Schmidt. Edited with Kerry Moran.
Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2003.
Dilgo Khyentse and Padampa Sangye. “The Hundred Verses of Advice.”
Translated by the Padmakara Translation Group. Boston: Shambhala
SANGHA SHARING – “REFLECTIONS ON THE SUMMER RETREAT”
I've been to America twice, and both times for half a year - onetwentieth
of my entire life. And for the first time, I found such nice,
generous, sometimes funny, never frowning, always kind and willing-tohelp
people - I found them at Serenity Ridge. I didn’t hear a rude word
from a single person there. It was a little shock for me to get back to
the ordinary world. But something changed in me - I quit finding the
reason of my worries and obstacles in the outer world, and I started
finding them inside. And that's great: One always should know he
should change the inner first when trying to change the outer.
And that's just one thing I loved about being on this retreat. All the
practice I did affected me somehow. Maybe I didn't feel it at once,
but it's like a glass that is not full till the water reaches the brim.
You don't feel progress with each drop of water added, but with a
single drop, you are fulfilled.
Rinpoche is not just a teacher. He is The Teacher, the one that I was
looking for for a long time.
I know that the time will come when I'll be at Serenity Ridge again,
because if you really try to achieve your dream, it's impossible not to
achieve it. Thank you to everyone I was so lucky to meet at the
- Alex Sudakoff (from Russia)
My Tummo Experiences
I read about the Tummo practice in the late '50s, but had given up on
the idea of ever learning it. I knew the teaching was complex, and yet
Tenzin Rinpoche made it simple. So simple that even I could do it.
Amazing clarity of teaching.
I have done esoteric training within Eastern and Western spiritual
traditions since the late '50s but never obtained such a deep level of
cleansing of karmic seeds and negative emotions.
I have attended many retreats, but never gained so much from such
clarity and simplicity of teaching as at this one. The sangha are
among the friendliest I have seen at any retreat. They made me feel at
home and welcome, even though I was from another tradition. During the
retreat I made up my mind to devote my practice fully to Bon, and with
Rinpoche's blessing, I am now doing Bon as my practice.
(Oklahoma City, Ok)