Vinayadhara Dragpa Gyaltsen

Advice to the Fortunate

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Advice to the Fortunate

Moving advice on the practice of Dharma given to a group of fortunate disciples in Tashi Rabten Monastery in 1991.

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Vinayadhara Dragpa Gyaltsen:

I have not anything special to say. You all have joy, enthusiasm and faith in the practice of Dharma, and although you could not renounce all your worldly engagements, you have renounced a considerable amount of them and given the most importance to the Dharma.

The essence of Dharma is to develop the mind to benefit others, as it says: If the mind is good, path and stages are good, if the mind is bad, path and stages are bad. It all depends on the mind.

Therefore, whatever you do, to have a good mind, a mind which benefits the others, is the principal thing. In short, in every situation to offer prostrations and offerings to the holy objects, to pay respect and make offerings to the Sangha, to give charity to the poor and beggars and to develop an altruistic mind towards destitutes, and to develop in general an altruistic and a benefitting attitude of mind to all, these are the five main points of the Dharma. So, if you keep these in your mind without forgetting them, it will be beneficial for you.

The practice of Dharma should be not for the fame and reputation and wealth of this life, it's rather for the sake of happiness in all lives; and to attain and to abide eternally in the state of lasting happiness. Otherwise, even if one attains a human rebirth or rebirth as a god and so on, it's nothing so fascinating. So, on the basis of this precious human rebirth with eight freedoms and ten endowments, through a pure practice of Dharma, one must try to get hold of a safe ground for a lasting happiness. If one cannot do it now, then again to hope for a human rebirth or a rebirth of a god and so on, is useless. It is never sure what will be the future. So this is the moment to be most careful and attentive.

So if one is asked, what one must do, one must first hear. One must have an extensive hearing. Having heard, one will understand, and then, one will also find there what to practise.

And one must hear from a spiritual friend or guide. So this virtuous friend is like the king among all the masters of the lineage, starting from the compassionate Buddha who founded this religion of ours, Buddhism, and the masters, such as the great Tsongkapa, the Lord of Dharma, emanation of Manjushri, and so forth. One regards him as the most important one and the one who has shown oneself the path, the instructions and the Dharma, and released oneself from the darkness of ignorance, and generated in oneself the interest and the aspiration and prepared all the necessary conditions for attaining the state of liberation and full enlightenment.

And one should think that all this is only due to the kindness of one's spiritual friend. Beside that I have no ability to see directly the Buddha. There is no other than this spiritual friend who shows me the false of cyclic existence and the qualities of the liberation, and all the attributes and the qualities of the Buddha. Therefore, this virtuous friend is the embodiment of greater kindness than thousands of Buddhas.

The proper practice of the Guru devotion is the common sense and the common tone of all the teachings, regardless of different traditions and the schools. The way to rely upon a spiritual friend is: For example, if one had a spiritual friend from whom one has received teachings of Dharma, and later on, if one happens to have a new Lama, if one has committed a damage of Samayas with one's previous Lama, then, there is no way whatsoever to receive any blessings from the new Lama.

It is promised by Vajradhara that a Guru is an emanation of the Buddha. And there is no difference as such that one Lama is an emanation of the Buddha and another one is not. If one has received teachings of Dharma from a previous Guru and one could maintain all the Samayas and the commitments intact with him, then, on the basis of that, even if one receives as many other Lamas as one wishes, as long as one can sustain it with one's power of merit, one's capacity of mind and one's enthusiasm, then it's quite alright; and, also each Lama has a particular quality. On the contrary, if one looses one's practice of Samayas with the previous Lamas and even if one tries to seek more and more new Lamas, there is no benefit whatsoever. One should be careful before one regards somebody as one's Guru. Having regarded somebody as one's Guru, then one should be able to see him as a real Buddha and develop the right faith and devotion.

Practice of Dharma is not for the profit, for the benefit of this life, such as wealth, fame, reputation and so forth, it's rather for the sake of becoming eternally rich and for getting hold of a safe ground forever in the future. So it should be practised for that purpose, but not for any worldly gains and profits of this life, but for attaining the complete freedom from the suffering and accomplishment of the ultimate state of happiness. And this way, if one practises Dharma, even one's wishes of this life will also be automatically fulfilled.

Dharma is very special; and it's blessing is very wonderful. By the blessing of the Gurus and the power of the Yidams and the activities of the Guardians, automatically one will always enjoy peace and happiness. As it says, that the depth of Dharma is butter; which is a wise saying of the past. So, one's mouth will be never separate from the butter. So these should be kept in your mind.

Thus one should practise faith and confidence in one's Guru, and also maintain a pure Samaya (relation or bond) free from any defects, with other fellow disciples or practitioners who are one's Vajra brothers or friends; which means, unchangeable or indestructible ones. It's not enough just to have much faith in one's Guru and show a very devotional expression of the faith towards him; and towards one's Vajra friends or brothers, if one has an attitude which is hypocritical and contradictory, then it's not correct and a great mistake.

By keeping these in your mind, you should always try to do everything in accordance to the Dharma, in every situation, outside or inside, act always in accordance with Dharma. And if one acts in that way, then, even if you do not want, you will always abide in happiness. And even if you do not want, automatically you will be free from all sufferings. So this way one should practise Dharma.

There are many who say I want to practise Dharma, I am a practitioner or I am a member of a Dharma centre, but the way how one practises is very important. If one thinks that to be a practitioner of a Dharma one must necessarily be ordained and become a Shraminera or a Bhikshu; since one is simply a layman or a laywoman, one cannot be a practitioner of Dharma. But this is not true. One should not be discouraged in that way. Practice of Dharma is something by the mind and not only by one's outfit. If one can take ordination of Bhikshu or Shraminera, it is extraordinary, it's exceptional. But on one's own part, if one thinks correctly and practises as well as one can, then I think, according to one's capacity, one will definitely achieve a very good profit and benefit. So, the good mind is the essence of the practice of Dharma. As I said earlier: If the mind is good, path and stages are good; if the mind is bad, path and stages are bad; everything depends upon the mind.

Therefore, in every situation, for the Dharma or for the material life, if one maintains a good mind, then naturally one will have more friends, more supporters and helpers. And naturally enemies and so forth will diminish. So through that way, one's wishes will also be fulfilled without difficulty and hindrances.

So, as I said earlier, making prostrations and offerings to holy objects, paying respect and making offerings to the Sangha, giving charity to the poor and those who beg, and giving help to the destitutes and helpless, and, in general, to develop an altruistic and benefitting mind towards others, those are the main points of the Dharma which should be kept in the mind and applied in the practice.

So, that is what I can advise you.

And, principally, for a pure practice of a Dharma, one should receive teachings from one's Lama, spiritual friend; teachings such as the five profound ones and the extensive stages of the path, and so forth. There are countless, endless profound Dharmas that one can learn, if one has the capacity to listen and to learn. There is such a great amount of teachings that one can even take for many aeons without satisfaction.

And also there are still many living teachers in succession. So you should keep those in the mind. In any case, if one has not broken Samayas in relation to the previous Guru, then, even if you find other masters, it is a profit and a gain for oneself. That you should keep well in your mind.

And, in every situation, either to ascend or to descend, all depends very much on the association with good or evil friends. As it says in the scripture: "A good place and a good friend, and the conditions for the comfort of your yoga." So, to associate always with a good friend is very important.

If one associates with an evil friend, an inauspicious person, with inauspicious behaviours and conducts, oneself will also be influenced by that and will end up in serious problems. So therefore, not only in Dharma matters, but always, whenever associating with someone, to associate with a noble person with good and wholesome conduct and behaviour and one who respects and observes the law of karma and effect, that will be very good.

And then, being a practitioner of Dharma, as I have mentioned before, it says in the lam-rim prayer: "Please give blessings for that: The spiritual guide who shows us the good path and the fellow-friends who practise sincerely, live long; and all the interference from outside and from inside, be pacified completely."

Since the essential points of the practice are included in that, one should know well how to devote oneself to a spiritual friend, how to associate with Dharma friends and how to practise meditation. If one thinks well on these points, it will be very good.

With regards to the meditation, if one knows how to meditate, to sit is meditation, and to walk is also meditation. If one doesn't know how to practise and even if one sits in a place where one cannot move at all, since that which practises meditation is the mind, if it is spread out all over, even if his corpse stays inside, there is not much point. If one knows how to meditate, one can meditate while walking. So therefore one should meditate well; one's meditation should be well aimed and effective by learning properly the way of practice. If the practice does not hit the target and is ineffective, then it is no more than hard work.

So, I request you to do these things properly and in accordance with the wish of the Lama. The Dharma protector, your guardian will protect all the Vajra disciples as much as he can, now and later, just as a child is protected under the warmth of the mother. And I send you all my Tashi Delegs.

Tashi Rabten Monastery, Austria 1991

© 27.05.20 Rabten Choeling • EditorialData protection