News and Inspiration from Ligmincha Institute
Volume 6, Number 9
September 3, 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 Sept. 20. Please check the link for VOCL on
Ligmincha Institute's home page at You can also
access an archive of previous issues at:
“Taming the Wild Horse of the Mind” – an edited excerpt from oral
teachings given by Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, winter 2002.
More words of advice on taming the mind
Upcoming fall and winter retreats at Serenity Ridge
“Early-bird” date for Ligmincha’s annual fall retreat is Sept. 13
“Heart to Heart” – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche responds to a student’s
In the zhine (calm abiding) practice, the practitioner places
unwavering focus on a visual support or a vocalized sound while trying
not to follow the past, plan the future, or change the present. The
practice strengthens the attention and powers of concentration,
eventually calming the mind and allowing greater familiarization with
and stabilization in the subtler aspects of mind and the deepest aspect
of the self. In this edited excerpt from the 2002 winter retreat,
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche gives us a clear reminder of the practitioner's
first task in the zhine practice:
Your mind is very much like a wild horse. It's very hard to gain
control of it, isn't it? It is always going its own way. Sometimes
the mind starts running so fast that you have a hard time slowing it
down. Other times when you want it to move swiftly, it walks too
slowly. Or, it gallops in exactly the opposite direction from the way
you want it to go. The practice of zhine, or calm abiding, tames this
wild horse of the mind.
Importantly, taming your wild horse requires strength - in this case,
strength of focus and intention. You’d need a strong personality to
take on the task of taming an actual wild horse, right? You'd also
need to be physically strong. In addition, you would need the skills
required for properly taming that wild horse, and the knowledge of the
horse's particular behaviors.
Once you have the strength, the skills and the knowledge, only then can
you actually begin applying yourself to the task of taming this famous
horse of the mind.
An excerpt from “Wonders of the Natural Mind” by Tenzin Wangyal
Concentration practices such as zhine are found in many traditions, for
example, sutric and tantric Buddhism and the many forms of Hinduism.
In all these traditions, it is considered a necessary and fundamental
practice. In dzogchen, zhine is considered a preparation for the
essential practice of contemplation. In fact, it is very difficult to
get very far in the practice of dzogchen contemplation without first
having practiced zhine.
... In dzogchen, concentration is one of the fundamental preliminary
practices. Through it we calm and gain control over the moving mind
and, most importantly, through it we can be introduced by the master to
“the natural state of the mind.” It is also an important practice that
experienced practitioners use to help them stabilize that state. In
the Bon tradition, after completing the preliminary practices and
receiving the initiation of Zhang Zhung Meri, the practitioner engages
in the practice of zhine under the guidance of an experienced master
who introduces him to knowledge of the innate natural state of his
... Engaging in concentration practice is very important because it is
very difficult to reach understanding of the true state without it, and
even if we do gain understanding, it is very difficult to sustain that
understanding for any length of time unless we have developed
sufficient power of concentration.
From “Opening to Our Primordial Nature” by Khenchen Palden Sherab and
Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal:
The mind produces all our experiences and perceptions. When we tame
the mind so that it rests calmly and clearly, then all our experiences
are open and relaxed. When the mind is peaceful, then simultaneously
the speech and body become peaceful. But if the mind is uncontrolled,
then our words and actions are also out of control. Until we tame the
mind, experiences of joy do not last more than a short time, no matter
how many external supports we use. It is only by taming the mind that
we can truly understand ourselves and others and find ultimate peace
and joy.
From “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche:
Training our mind through peaceful abiding, we can create an alliance
that allows us to actually use our mind, rather than be used by it.
This is a practice that anyone can do. Although it has its roots in
Buddhism, it is a complement to any spiritual tradition. If we want to
undo our own bewilderment and suffering and be of benefit to others and
the planet, we’re going to have to be responsible for learning what our
own mind is and how it works, no matter what beliefs we hold. Once we
see how our mind works, we see how our life works, too. That changes
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. “Wonders of the Natural Mind.” Edited by
Andrew Lukianowicz. Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2000.
Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal. “Opening to Our
Primordial Nature.” Edited by Ann Helm and Michael White. Ithaca:
Snow Lion Publications, 2006.
Sakyong Mipham. “Turning the Mind Into an Ally.” New York: Riverhead
Books, 2003.
The first and third books above are available from Ligmincha’s Tibet
Shop. Visit:
EDITORS’ NOTE: These four upcoming retreats at Ligmincha's Serenity
Ridge retreat center offer opportunities to learn and practice methods
for taming the mind (see the full descriptions below):
Sept. 13-17, 2006: “Introduction to the Nature of Mind – the
Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung: Part 2.” (prerequisite:
ngondro teachings and transmission)
Nov. 8-12, 2006: “The Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung, Part 1
– Ngondro” (ngondro retreat)
Dec. 27, 2006, to Jan. 1, 2007: Ngondro practice retreat (prerequisite:
ngondro teachings and transmission).
Early 2007: Our popular zhine practice retreat.
**To register for any of the following retreats please e-mail:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (434) 977-6161.
Sept. 13-17, 2006
INTRODUCTION TO THE NATURE OF MIND – The Experiential Transmission of
Zhang Zhung: Part 2
with Ponlop Trinley Nyima
The Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung is the centerpiece of
Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s dzogchen teachings and is presented
solely at Serenity Ridge. The practice manual of the Experiential
Transmission, the “Chag Tri,” provides pith instructions for those who
aspire to practice dzogchen, the path of self-liberation. We are
pleased to announce that Ponlop Trinley Nyima Rinpoche of Menri
Monastery will again teach Part Two of the Experiential Transmission at
Serenity Ridge this year.
Part Two presents the third chapter of the Chag Tri, now available in
English translation for those who attend the retreat. It includes the
practice of zhine as the skillful means to establish a calm abiding
mind; the methods for stabilizing the resulting mindfulness through
practices of dark retreat and sun and sky gazing; and guidance for
recognizing experiences of rigpa – innate awareness. These meditation
practices, including physical postures and eye gazes, introduce the
practitioner to the nature of mind.
Practitioners who have already received Part Two also are invited to
attend this retreat led by one of the foremost teachers of Bon.
Students attending this retreat are eligible to attend Part Three of
the Experiential Transmission with Tenzin Rinpoche during the winter
retreat this year.
RETREAT COST (includes meals): $500
Sept. 20-24, 2006
with Trinley Nyima Rinpoche and Alejandro Chaoul-Reich
This retreat is offered to those trul khor students who have attended
all four training retreats and received a diploma of completion.
Students who have completed the first three training retreats may
attend this retreat with permission from Alejandro. (Please write to
him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to request consideration.)
During this retreat, students will practice and study under the
supervision of both Ponlop Rinpoche and Alejandro all that has been
learned in the training retreats. With Ponlop Rinpoche's additional
guidance, it will be an opportunity to refine one’s understanding of
the body’s energetic dimension – the subtle channels, the vital breath
that circulates through them, and the subtlest aspects of mind. In
addition, there will be the great benefit of strengthening this
community of Tibetan yoga practitioners.
For more information about trul khor retreats sponsored by Ligmincha
Institute and its affiliated centers, visit these two Web pages:
RETREAT COST (includes meals):
$450 if received by Sept. 6; $500 if received after Sept. 6
Oct. 18-22, 2006
Ligmincha’s Annual Fall Retreat:
SACRED ECOLOGY – Outer, Inner and Secret Teachings on the Five Elements
with Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
“Early-bird” date for registration is Sept.13
Space, air, fire, water and earth are the sacred underlying forces of
existence. Because the five elements are sacred all that arises from
them – and that is everything – is also sacred. For many years, Geshe
Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche has emphasized the importance of developing an
intimate understanding of how the elements influence our lives on an
external, inner and secret level. In his book “Healing With Form,
Energy and Light,” he explains that “the space in which the universe
arises, the space our living room couch occupies, and the space in
which our thoughts arise is the same space and is sacred.”
The Bon Buddhist teachings on the five elements are vast. At this
year’s annual fall retreat, Tenzin Rinpoche will present teachings on
the “Personality of Elements,” a system of influences similar to the
Tibetan science of astrology. His commentary will focus on our human
relationship to the sacred nature of the environment and how elemental
qualities can manifest as destructive physical and emotional forces or
as vitality and personal power.
During the course of the retreat, Rinpoche will introduce and guide
breathing and movement practices that incorporate the beauty and life
forces of nature, the practice of Sang Chod to raise one’s vital
energy, and the healing practices of the five elemental goddesses.
Tenzin Rinpoche welcomes everyone who cares about sacred ecologies of
body, emotions, mind and environment to attend this retreat.
RETREAT COST (includes meals):
$400 if received by Sept. 13; $450 if received by Oct. 4; $500 if
received after Oct. 4
Nov. 8-12, 2006
The Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung – PART ONE: NGONDRO
with Khenpo Tenpa’i Yungdrung Rinpoche
Part 1, the Ngondro, from the Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung,
is the entrance to a cycle of Bon dzogchen, or “Great perfection,”
teachings, which until the past decade were part of a secret
transmission passed one-to-one from master to student.
This year we are again very fortunate to have Khenpo Tenpa’i Yungdrung,
the abbot and head teacher at Triten Norbutse Monastery, Kathmandu,
Nepal, teaching these beautiful and essential practices to us.
The ngondro teachings, a complete set of practices in themselves, offer
instructions for “taming” oneself, for purifying, and for perfecting;
and are the prerequisite for further study of the Experiential
Transmission of Zhang Zhung. The transmission for the practices will
be given by Khen Rinpoche at the conclusion of the retreat. We invite
everyone to take this opportunity to be in the presence of this kind,
joyful and knowledgeable teacher.
Retreat Cost (includes meals): $400 if received by Oct. 4; $450 if
received by Oct. 25; $500 if received after Oct. 25
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
Each year Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche devotes his winter retreat at
Serenity Ridge to those students committed to following the teachings
and practices of the Experiential Transmission of Zhang Zhung. These
Experiential Transmission retreats allow Tenzin Rinpoche to continually
guide and nurture a growing community of practitioners devoted to the
authentic Bon dzogchen path handed down from the Masters of Zhang Zhung
– a lineage unbroken from ancient times to this day. The wisdom and
skillful means for these retreats come from the Bon experiential manual
known as the Chag tri, which Rinpoche has often referred to as “the
only manual one requires.” Rinpoche’s lucid, intimate, and often
humorous commentaries on the pith instructions contained in this manual
render them immediately within the reach of understanding and
experience. The retreats are enhanced by the translation of the
chapters of the Chag Tri into English (available only to students
attending the retreat).
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
Part Three.
Students who have attended a previous Part Three retreat as well as
students who have received the Part Two teachings are invited to attend
this retreat.
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 e-mail:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (434) 977-6161.
“HEART TO HEART” – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche answers a student’s question
EDITOR'S NOTE: In the July 2006 issue of VOCL, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal
Rinpoche emphasized that no matter what method a person uses in
meditation practice, in a way everyone approaches practice from the
right place. "It cannot be the wrong place," Rinpoche explains,
"because it is the only place that exists at that moment for you, so to
be there is the right place to be." At the same time, he adds, one
must recognize that other, higher experiences are possible. Below, a
student responds to his statement. (Both question and answer have been
edited for clarity.)
STUDENT: It’s a real relief to say to myself: “The best I can do in
my practice at this moment is naturally the perfect place for me to
be.” Still, I experience frustration because I can see where I want to
go in my practice and the work I need to do. This frustration can be
an impetus for me to keep trying, so isn’t even my frustration actually
the best place to be?
TENZIN WANGYAL RINPOCHE: Well, that depends. You can look at that
word frustration in many different ways. Certain types of frustration
are completely unnecessary and unhealthy; for example, the kind of
frustration that doesn’t understand the situation or the circumstances,
that has no skill or means, no knowledge or experience. It’s the pure
frustration of desiring something different than what exists. That
kind of frustration is unhealthy.
Another kind of frustration is this desire to always do better. I don't
know that I would even call it frustration; it's more based on
enthusiasm, on openness, on our wanting to learn more skills. It’s
full of joy. It’s not based on a sense of competition or a lack of
self-esteem. It’s not colored by a lack of inspiration, rather the
opposite - there’s some sense of feeling uplifted, feeling positive,
there’s a feeling of fire there. So, let’s change our vocabulary and
instead of frustration, call it aspiration. Aspiration is important to
have in one’s practice.
We’ve been saying that where you are in your practice is the perfect
place for you to be at the moment. That is not saying, “Just be happy
wherever you are; it’s fine,” as if development is not helpful; I’m not
suggesting that. But it’s clear that giving ourselves a hard time about
where we are often just obscures the many possibilities available to us
for further growth. We need to be careful not to develop that
negative, judging type of frustration to the point where it becomes the
most vivid part of our experience, more so than the practice itself.

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