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Entries in Tibetan Buddhism (15)

Tuesday
Feb182014

The Eight Bardos

Milarepa (detail) Courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art

Milarepa (detail) Courtesy of the Rubin Museum of Art

According to Tibetan Buddhism, all life and death take place in the gap, or bardo, between one state and another. Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen presents a commentary on Milarepa’s song of realization “The Eight Bardos.”

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Tuesday
Feb182014

Forum: Your Teacher and You

Thank you to our readers for contributing the photos included in this forum.

Thank you to our readers for contributing the photos included in this forum.

Your relationship with your teacher can have a profound and lasting effect on your practice. But it can also be difficult and confusing to navigate. Our panel looks at what it means to have a teacher today, how you can make the most of the relationship, and what you can do when it’s not working out.

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Tuesday
Nov122013

Journeys: What About My Retreat?

When my teacher, Karma Yeshe Wangpo, told me that he would be happy to teach a weekend retreat if I organized it, I was thrilled. At this point in my life, I had been medi- tating for just over two years. I would finally be attending my first retreat.

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Tuesday
May212013

True Blessings

In this commentary on a traditional Guru Rinpoche visualization, the contemporary Dzogchen master Tulku Thondup Rinpoche reveals the deep nontheistic essence of Vajrayana practice. We receive the true blessings of the enlightened ones when our mind and theirs become one.

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Monday
May162011

Beyond All Attachment

It’s not enough just to renounce attachment to this life, says the Sakya Trizin. To be truly liberated we must transcend the idea of a solid reality altogether.

If you have attachment to this life, you are not a religious person.
If you have attachment to the world of existence, you do not have renunciation.
If you have attachment to your own purpose, you do not have enlightenment mind.
If grasping arises, you do not have the view.

                        —Root verses of Parting from the Four Attachments

                            Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092–1158)

This teaching is from the category known as mind training (lojong). It was given directly by the great bodhisattva Manjushri to the great Lama Sakyapa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, who was the first of the five great founders of the Sakya order.

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Monday
Feb072011

Thanks to Gene Smith

Gene Smith dedicated his life to preserving Tibet’s literary heritage, and played a key role in its survival. In December he passed away, at the age of 74. Janet Gyatso remembers the man and his historic contribution.

Gene Smith was an academic maverick and preeminent pioneer of Tibetan Studies who singlehandedly preserved for posterity the vast heritage of Tibet’s texts on philosophy, history, and culture. For decades, he had been recognized by scholars around the world as the de facto dean of Tibetan Studies and held in the highest regard due to his extraordinary accomplishments in protecting and sharing Tibet’s imperiled literary treasures and his dedication to making Tibetan literature universally accessible. Smith had extensive knowledge of Tibetan religious history, and provided generous assistance to scholars worldwide for more than forty years.

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Wednesday
Jun012005

The Haunted Dominion of Mind

In old Tibet, practitioners went to charnel grounds, springs, haunted houses, haunted trees, and so on, in order to reveal how deeply their practice had cut to the core of their fears and attachments. The practice of cutting through our deepest attachments and fears to their core is called nyensa chödpa. Nyensa chödpa means “cutting through the haunted dominion of mind.” It is not that I am encouraging you to go to these haunted places to test yourself, but it’s important for all practitioners to understand the view behind nyensa chödpa, because until we are challenged we don’t know how deep our practice can go.

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Wednesday
Jun012005

Endless Lifetimes, Endless Benefit

Venerable Tenzin Palmo is best known as the British nun who meditated in a Himalayan cave for twelve years, as described in the popular book, Cave in the Snow, by Vicki MacKenzie. Though she left retreat in 1988, she still finds herself describing that solitary life to others, and sometimes defending it. Her one request in granting this interview was: “Please, let’s not talk about the cave.”

Born in London, Tenzin Palmo was drawn to Buddhism from an early age, and in 1964, at age twenty, she sailed to India. There she met her guru, the eighth Khamtrül Rinpoche, and became one of the first Western women to be ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

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Tuesday
Mar012005

Tiny, Slippery Spot of Mind: The four foundations of mindfulness in the Mahayana tradition

In the Mahayana tradition, mindfulness is regarded as wisdom, transcendental knowledge, which is known in Sanskrit as prajna. Mindfulness is also a method of working with our mind. It is the method of recollection, of watchfulness, which develops into the stage of awareness. But if you look at this mindfulness and awareness, you will see that there is not much difference between them. Once you have developed the discipline of mindfulness, awareness is simply the continuity of that mindfulness.

There are several stages we progress through in our study and cultivation of prajna. These become the means for integrating our understanding into our experience, and progressively developing that experience into the full state of realization. In this article, I will discuss the four foundations of mindfulness as they are understood and practiced in the general Buddhist approach and in the Mahayana tradition.

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Tuesday
Mar012005

Spring Comes, the Grass Grows by Itself: Remembering Zen Master Seung Sahn (1927-2004)

I remember him best bowing. For years he rose at 3 a.m. to do five hundred prostrations before the regular 108 with the group at morning practice. He was a sturdy figure in his short, grey bowing robe. His arms swung freely both on the descent and ascent. His forehead pressed against the mat for a precise moment before he rocked forward on his hands to rise. “Much bowing,” he used to say, “your center becomes stronger and stronger.”

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