News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume 6, Number 11
November 8, 2006
For easy reading, we recommend that you print out "The Voice of Clear
A printable PDF version of this month’s edition of VOCL, in readerfriendly
newsletter format complete with color photographs, will be
available online after Nov. 20. Please check the link for VOCL on
Ligmincha Institute's home page at www.ligmincha.org. You can also
access an archive of previous issues at:
IN THIS ISSUE:
“Relating to the nature of our three root poisons” – an edited excerpt
from oral teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, 2006
Excerpts from Buddhist writings on the first root poison: ignorance
Retreat Reminders – “Early-bird” registration date for Ligmincha’s
Winter Retreat and Ngondro Practice Retreat is November 15
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche teaches over Worldwide Web live for first time
“Enjoying a Dark Retreat at Chamma Ling” by Darlene Sessions
2007 Ligmincha Calendar now available!
“RELATING TO THE NATURE OF OUR THREE ROOT POISONS” – an edited excerpt
from oral teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, summer 2006
Ignorance, desire and hatred are called the three root poisons because
all of samsara begins from there. Ignorance is the primary root, and
from ignorance arises its two offspring, desire and aversion. Desire:
If you like something, you try to get it. Hatred: If you dislike
something, then you try to get away from it. The many manifestations
of these three root poisons arise in our lives without effort – they’re
Not only do we have these three within us, but we have also created
many variations on them. For example, not only have we created the
list of people we hate, but also the lists of those we dislike, those
with whom we feel uncomfortable, as well as those with whom we wish we
could have a relationship but can’t. The list of everything we don’t
have but we want is a very long one. And, if you happen to start
thinking too much about the things you don’t want, you may end up
wanting them! It’s also not uncommon to first have the desire for
something, then actually get it, and then find that you don't really
want it anymore. You see, once you finally have something you lose
your desire for it. That is the nature of desire.
Through these three root poisons we have created a lot of problematic
situations for ourselves as individuals, a lot of collective situations
as families and groups, and a lot of global situations as nations.
Often we feel we have been thrown into these situations. We take them
very personally, and we direct our emotions outward toward a specific
object or person: “I don’t like you – you did this to me and I can see
that you are planning to do it again!” Every experience of hatred or
aversion seems to have its own independent existence, but where is it
really coming from? Try tracing a very specific experience all the way
back to its root. Its root is not in the person you are angry at, or
even in the thing that person did - the root is in you.
We engage in the three root poisons a lot in relation to others. In a
bad relationship there may be constant fighting. How many hours, days,
weeks, even years can you relate in that way? A lot! When you engage
in that negative way, you feel bad much of the time, and you affect
your surroundings negatively. But one day, one moment, say, on a quiet
Sunday morning, you may wake up and think, “Where is all this negative
experience really coming from?” In that space just close your eyes: No
one else exists there in that moment, just you. Look into yourself and
reflect: How do I feel when there is no story here in this space? How
do I feel when there is no object of the desire or aversion here? How
do I feel when there is no situation here that creates the desire or
hatred? How do I feel?
In that space, breathe in deeply and then imagine as you exhale that
you are breathing out one of the three root poisons, such as ignorance.
Imagine and feel the ignorance as a form of energy related to your
self-doubt, to your lack of confidence, to the lack of confidence that
allows your anger to arise. When you feel a lack of confidence, how
does it feel? It is deep inside, almost invisible, manifesting as a
very subtle energy block. The origin of your emotion is not your
relationship with a particular person. It is a subtle energy block
inside you, which you are now releasing with each out-breath.
If you can come to see the root causes of the various types of
relationship that manifest in your life, then naturally your
relationships become much better - better in the sense that they become
more workable, more understandable, more clear in a deep way.
The quality of awareness that we generate in this simple breathing
practice has great depth to it. We have been doing the practice of the
nine breathings of purification for a long time, haven’t we? Each time
we do it, it’s an opportunity for all of us, for me too, to reflect
more deeply and among other things, to develop a real understanding of
the subtle workings of the three root poisons within us.
EXCERPTS FROM BUDDHIST WRITINGS ON THE FIRST ROOT POISON - IGNORANCE
From “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche:
As the Buddha said in his first teaching, the root of all our suffering
in samsara is ignorance. Ignorance, until we free ourselves from it,
can seem endless, and even when we have embarked on the spiritual path
our search is fogged by it. However, if you remember this, and keep
the teachings in your heart, you will gradually develop the discernment
to recognize the innumerable confusions of ignorance for what they are,
and so never jeopardize your commitment or lose your perspective.
From “Luminous Mind” by Kalu Rinpoche:
The mind’s ignorance of its true nature, that is, the simple fact that
it does not recognize what it truly is, is called fundamental
ignorance. It is the basic inability of the conditioned mind to
perceive itself. We can compare the pure mind having the three
previously discussed essential qualities to calm, transparent waters in
which everything can be seen clearly. The veil of ignorance is a lack
of intelligence, a kind of clouded state, as an opaque vase causes
water to lose its transparent clarity. Such an obscured mind loses the
experience of lucid openness and becomes ignorant of its essential
Fundamental ignorance is said to be innate, because it is inherent to
our experience; we are born with it. It is, in fact, the point of
departure of duality, the root of all delusions and the source of all
From “The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones” by Dilgo Khyentse
It is because of ignorance that we are the slaves of our thoughts and
cannot tell right from wrong. It is because of ignorance that we are
blind to the law of cause and effect and refuse to believe that every
action has a result. It is because of ignorance that we cannot accept
the existence of past and future lives. It is because of ignorance
that we have no confidence in the beneficial results of praying to the
Three Jewels. It is because of ignorance that we do not recognize the
truth of the Dharma. Ignorance is at the very root of the eighty-four
thousand negative emotions, for as long as we fail to see that the true
nature of everything is voidness, we insist on believing that things
really exist; and this is the source of all deluded perceptions and all
However, ignorance is not everlasting like the permanent darkness of a
cavern deep underground. Like any other phenomenon, it can only have
arisen from voidness and therefore can have no true existence. Once
you recognize the void nature of ignorance, it turns into the wisdom of
the absolute expanse. This is the wisdom mind of Chenrezi, the Buddhanature,
the essence of the Tathagatas, which is present in all beings.
Only because of ignorance, as the Buddha demonstrated, do we believe
our deluded perception instead of recognizing this, our own nature.
From “This Precious Life” by Khandro Rinpoche:
If you have any attraction or devotion to the path of practice, any
sense that it is really helpful and beneficial, you must ask yourself,
“How well do I truly understand suffering?” The purpose of these
teachings is to help us see the depth of suffering in the world and the
cause of that suffering, which is ignorance. Ignorance is the one – if
very invisible – cause of unhappiness in this world. It is the one
thing that prevents simple awareness and genuine human goodness and
kindness from arising without obstructions. In the form of habitual
tendencies, it distracts us from our fundamental nature – which
nevertheless remains constant and complete, like the luminosity of the
Sogyal Rinpoche. “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.” Edited by
Parick Gaffney and Andrew Harvey. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco,
Kalu Rinpoche. “Luminous Mind.” Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1997.
Dilgo Khyentse. “The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones.” Boston:
Shambhala Publications, 1992.
Khandro Rinpoche. “This Precious Life.” Boston: Shambhala
**”EARLY-BIRD” REGISTRATION DATE FOR LIGMINCHA’S WINTER RETREAT AND
NGONDRO PRACTICE RETREAT IS NOV. 15
Dec. 27, 2006-Jan. 1, 2007
Ligmincha’s Annual Winter Retreat
THE FRUITION OF DZOGCHEN - The Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung
- Part Three, Chapter Seven of the Chag Tri
with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
This winter, Rinpoche will present the teachings and methods contained
in Chapter Seven: The Fruition of Dzogchen. This chapter reveals how
the fruition of developing confidence in the three kayas and finding
“one’s own place” provides the accomplishment of the Great Perfection.
Over the past three years, Rinpoche has introduced students of the
Experiential Transmission to the boundless view, the spontaneous
meditation, and the flexible behavior of dzogchen in preparation for
this retreat. During this time, the community of practitioners has
grown as more students have committed themselves to the Experiential
Transmission teachings, completed Parts One and Two, and entered into
Students who have attended a previous Part Three retreat as well as
students who have received the Part Two teachings are invited to attend
Retreat Cost (includes meals): $400 if received by Nov. 15; $450 if
received by Dec. 6; $500 if received after Dec. 6
**To register for any of these retreats please contact Ligmincha at
Dec. 27, 2006- Jan. 1, 2007
NGONDRO PRACTICE RETREAT
During the winter retreat, students who have received Part One: Ngondro
teachings and transmission are warmly invited to attend this practice
Tenzin Rinpoche highly recommends this retreat for those students who
received the ngondro teachings from Khen Rinpoche as well as for
students who have received ngondro transmission in recent years and are
practicing in preparation for Part Two of the Experiential
The ngondro practice section of the winter retreat offers a wonderful
opportunity to experience the benefits of group practice within the
boundary of our blessed and protected retreat land. The presence of
Tenzin Rinpoche and students engaged in study and practice of the Chag
Tri will add a powerful support for deep engagement with these
beautiful and essential foundational practices of our lineage.
Students who have received ngondro from other lineages may request from
Tenzin Rinpoche entrance to the Experiential Transmission ngondro
Practice leader to be announced.
RETREAT COST (includes meals): $200 if received by Nov. 15; $250 if
received by Dec. 6; $275 if received after Dec. 6
TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE TEACHES OVER THE WORLDWIDE WEB LIVE FOR THE
On Oct. 21, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche for the first time broadcast
a teaching live over the Internet. As Rinpoche explained, “The purpose
is to find different ways to keep in contact and be close together as
an international sangha, so people can have contact with each other
The Mexican sangha worked very hard to coordinate this pilot Webcast.
Rinpoche’s teaching was on the meaning of the Bon stupa. His hope is
to raise much needed money for the Great Bon Stupa in Valle de Bravo.
Rinpoche emphasized that the stupa's construction has been going well,
but more funds are needed from each sangha for its completion.
According to the event's organizers, most of the participating sangha
and other invited guests were very happy with the experience. The
organizers were surprised to find out afterwards that there were
exactly 108 connections: 82 in English, 18 in Spanish and eight in
The next Webcast will be on Saturday, Nov. 25. Details concerning the
time and how to sign-in to the WWW teaching will be posted in a special
bulletin on the VOCL in about a week.
We asked Rinpoche about his experience teaching through this new
"My experience was very powerful and very moving. I felt a sense of
breaking boundaries or limitations in connecting with the whole sangha.
Tsering’s sister was listening in her kitchen in Sweden, and she said
she felt as though there was a lama right in her home doing prayers.
We have found another way to connect with each other and on a much
broader level as an international sangha.
I feel that through these Web broadcasts, we will as a sangha be able
to connect more often, and there will be more support for those who
cannot easily come to a teaching and those who are sick and in need of
instruction for practice. We are in a developing process, but these
teachings will be done to support the sangha."
A sangha member describes the experience:
Upstairs in his home office, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche speaks into his
computer. Downstairs in the kitchen preparing lunch, Tsering listens to
her husband on her laptop. A county away, a greeting is typed onto the
office computer at Serenity Ridge, where retreat participants are
lunching in anticipation of Rinpoche's afternoon presence. The greeting
instantly pops up on Rinpoche's screen adjacent to a list of scrolling
names: Woiczek in Poland, Bob in L.A., Silvia in Canada, Karoline in
Austria, Eustaquio in Mexico ... 100-odd computers across the globe,
each with a screen name, are at once receiving his words in homes,
offices, gompas and other locales, as Rinpoche gives his teaching about
the meaning of the Bon stupa.
The stupa reflects the entire path to enlightenment and the fulfillment
of all the teachings; yet we ourselves as individuals and as worldwide
sangha should also be reflections of the stupa, Rinpoche explains. We
are all one - and we are all connected through this web of chakras
known as the Internet.
In some cases, a single screen name represents dozens of sangha seated
before one computer. In another case, it represents a bed-bound
student. On all the screens and through all the speakers arrive words
of devotion, of thanks, and of amazement that these far-flung brothers
and sisters could all be connected so directly with Rinpoche and each
other. In these brief shared minutes, a whole new series of channels
have been opened to the teachings of the Bon tradition. The teacher's
words now reach people who can't reach the retreat centers, and sangha
are brought together with their teacher as one … together to the stupa
displayed on their screens. How amazing, and how wonderful!
- Polly Turner
ENJOYING A DARK RETREAT AT CHAMMA LING
One of our sangha members from California, Kallon Basquin, recently
completed a dark retreat at Chamma Ling in Crestone, Colo. His was the
first dark retreat held in the newly constructed retreat cabins, and we
were curious to hear how things worked out.
Kallon chose Chamma Ling because he wanted a secure, protected and
powerful environment to support his experiences. He has completed
numerous previous dark retreats, logging a total of approximately 80
days in complete darkness, including a long retreat in Nepal at Triten
Norbutse Monastery under the guidance of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak
Kallon reports that his retreat cabin at Chamma Ling was small but
cozy, with hot and cold running water, a shower, toilet, bed and
practice area, and small refrigerator, sink, and stove. An attendant
was available to bring food twice a day; however, Kallon brought his
own food for the three-week retreat. Cabin climate control was
reasonable, and Kallon made some great suggestions for improvements in
air circulation and light control that are now being implemented.
The surrounding environment brought daily thunderstorms, driving rain
and howling winds. Night sounds included those of coyotes and
raccoons, as well as the movements of a doglike creature, perhaps a
fox. Anyone practicing on this land will experience its raw, direct
and uncompromising energy, Kallon notes; yet, he believes that in most
cases, experienced practitioners or those who are connected to the Bön
lineage should be able to easily adjust. For the first time ever, he
says, he experienced what he’s heard Tenzin Rinpoche say many times:
“We are not alone.” The energy and sense of presence on the land
invited him in, welcoming and protecting him from the worst demons his
mind could ever manifest.
In closing, Kallon said he intends to return to Chamma Ling many times
before he dies, including perhaps a three- to four-week dzogchen
retreat in the light of day.
Those who visit Chamma Ling to do sky gazing or other retreats “in the
light of day” can use their breaks to take walks, drive themselves to a
grocery store, or just prepare their own food in their cabin’s great
kitchen. For more information on Chamma Ling, for a virtual tour of
the cabins, or to request retreat space, visit www.chammaling.org.
2007 LIGMINCHA CALENDAR NOW AVAILABLE!
To read descriptions and see photographs of the newest items at
Ligmincha Institute’s Bookstore and Tibet Shop and for order
information, please go to www.ligminchastore.org and click on "search
by category or description" and then click on "New items." Or, go
We are very pleased to announce this year's wall calendar: Ligmincha
Institute's 2007 calendar of Tibetan Bon and Buddhist auspicious days:
The Bon Dzogchen Masters of Zhang Zhung.
The pages feature hand-painted images of the renowned dzogchen yogis of
Zhang Zhung, along with their meditation instructions from the Zhang
Zhung Nyen Gyu (Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung). As usual, we have
included both Western and Tibetan dates, as well as major Bon and
Buddhist auspicious days, and U.S. and Mexican holidays. The calendar
is 9" x 11", 18" x 11" when opened. Price: $14.95. International
To contact Ligmincha’s Bookstore and Tibet Shop, e-mail: