Friday, January 30, 2015

New photos of Song River Dharma Ashram

One of my friends, Ven. Tenzin, very kindly spent a lot of time taking photographs of the Ashram and then editing them.  I have now posted them as a new album on Facebook.  If you are not a member of Facebook, you can still see them.

Here's the link:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


After many years of resisting, due to much pressure from students, I have started a Facebook account in the name of Lobsang Namgyel and a page for Song River Dharma Ashram.

I tend to use it to give quick news - which is that I am currently in New Delhi, attending teachings given by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.  

A pick me up

I came across this the other day:

I stumbled across this on somebody’s blog a few years 
back (I can’t remember who), but I always read it when 
I get in PLOM disease mode (poor little ole’ me). 

The title is called: “IF” 


If you can start the day without caffeine, 

If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains, 

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your 

If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it, 

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to 
give you any time, 

If you can overlook when those you love take it out on 
you, when, through no fault of yours, something goes wrong, 

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment, 

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor 

If you can face the world without lies and deceit, 

If you can conquer tension without medical help, 

If you can relax without beer, wine, or liquor, 

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs, 

If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no 
prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender preference, 
or politics, 

Then you have reached the same level of development 
as your dog. 


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Song River and Vajrasattva

We are preparing for the Vajrasattva Retreat and soon the people will be here and settling into three months cleaning (of the mind) and removing all those delusions and negative karmas!  If you cannot participate in such a retreat, it is very good to rejoice and think every day about the brave and wonderful work these people are doing.

Thanks to Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive ( I offer you some thoughts by Lama Zopa Rinpoche:

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche at Dharamsala, India, June 1982 (Archive # 081, Last Updated Jan 23, 2013)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave this teaching at Tushita Retreat Centre, Dharamsala, June-July 1982, to students doing the Vajrasattva group retreat that took place right after the IMI Sangha's Guhyasamaja group retreat, which followed the First Enlightened Experience Celebration. Edited by Ailsa Cameron.

Please note that the meditation on the three kayas should be practiced only by students with a highest yoga tantra initiation.

First Discourse (29 June 1982)

I planned to speak just one time, that night after puja if it finished quite early. I did not intend to speak another time. However, some people have asked similar questions about doing retreat and others have asked questions about the kindness of mother sentient beings. I think everybody has heard enough about the kindness; everybody has heard about this many times from different teachers.

The subject of kindness is contained in the outlines of the lam-rim and in the lam-rim commentaries, but if you don’t read each subject skillfully, even though the books do explain the kindness, it won’t appear to you that they are talking about kindness. The kindness of mother sentient beings and how they are so precious are explained very extensively and effectively in such texts as A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life in the section of exchanging self for others.

Because it might help some people, I thought to talk a little on the fundamental retreat rather than on such specific points as the recitation of mantra. I have no advice to give other than what was taught by Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, or other than what is in the lam-rim. There will be nothing new in what I explain.

However, even though I will be talking on subjects that you have heard before, each time you hear lam-rim again it can be very effective for your mind. It can go right inside your heart. For example, if you have a recurrent fever for which you have taken medicine many times before, the medicine still helps when you get the fever again. Even though what you hear is nothing new, it can still somehow change the mind.

When His Holiness Zong Rinpoche gave a commentary here on Lama Tsongkhapa’s lam-rim, The Lines of Experience, Rinpoche said that when you hear that someone else is dead, you should think, “This is advice to me that I’m also going to die.” Rinpoche was saying that hearing that someone has died should persuade you to practice Dharma. It is advice to you that, like this person, you will also die unexpectedly one day, so you should hurry up and practice Dharma.

Because I have accumulated a little merit, I have heard lam-rim teachings many times from the holy mouths of highly realized gurus. In regard to the words, I don’t hear anything new, but each time I hear these teachings I find them very effective for my mind, so I write notes.

Before talking on the main subject of mental retreat, I thought first to talk a little on the essence of Vajrasattva, on what Vajrasattva is. It might benefit some people.

In Vajrasattva, one meaning of vajra is emptiness only, or tong pa nyid in Tibetan. Emptiness is permanent and indestructible; it cannot be changed through a cause in the way the impermanent phenomena can. Because it is indestructible, emptiness received the name “vajra.”

“Sattva” refers to the Buddha’s holy mind, the transcendental wisdom of great bliss, which single-pointedly focuses on its object, emptiness, or the vajra. Another way of expressing this is to say that emptiness is covered by the transcendental wisdom of great bliss. Vajrasattva means the transcendental wisdom of great bliss (sattva) abiding single-pointedly on emptiness (vajra).

There are three types of enlightenment mentioned in the Madhyamika teachings. The small enlightenment of the Hearer; the middle enlightenment of the Self-Conqueror; and then sublime enlightenment. Arhats who have achieved the small or middle enlightenment have the wisdom that fully realizes emptiness and concentrates single-pointedly on emptiness, and so do arya bodhisattvas. However, their wisdom does not concentrate single-pointedly on emptiness without subtle dual view. Even though they have the wisdom that fully realizes emptiness and concentrates single-pointedly on it, subject and object are not one, without the slightest dual view, like having poured water into water. The wisdom that realizes emptiness of the arhats and arya bodhisattvas is not the definitive meaning of vajra. It is not the transcendental wisdom of the vajra in Vajrasattva; it is not the definitive meaning of vajra.

The transcendental wisdom of great bliss of supreme enlightenment focuses single-pointedly forever on emptiness, but has no subtle duality between subject and object. Subject and object are inseparably one, like having poured water into water. This transcendental wisdom of great bliss does not last for a certain number of years but forever. It focuses single-pointedly and forever on absolute nature. This transcendental wisdom is the definitive meaning of “vajra”; the Buddha’s holy mind, the dharmakaya, is the definitive meaning of vajra. The transcendental wisdom of great bliss is called “vajra” because it is forever inseparable from its object, emptiness, or absolute nature. It does not move even for a slit-second; it is oneness forever with the absolute nature of all existence.

Now, if the Buddhas simply abide in this state of dharmakaya and do not manifest, they cannot do works for other sentient beings. So, in order to work for sentient beings, this transcendental wisdom of great bliss, this dharmakaya, the definitive meaning of vajra, manifested in the interpretive meaning of vajra, the pure illusory holy body of the sambhogakaya aspect, which is white in color, has one face and two arms, and is single or embraces a wisdom female. This aspect is composed of pure subtle wind.

The definitive meaning of vajra, the transcendental wisdom, manifests in this aspect to do works for us and to guide us. The “vajra,” the transcendental wisdom of great bliss, this holy mind of dharmakaya, is unified inseparably with “sattva,” the holy body of the rupakaya. The holy body, the rupakaya, has this particular aspect, which is white in color and has one face and two arms. It is the Highest Yoga Tantra aspect, it embraces a wisdom female. This holy body of rupakaya is inseparable from the holy mind of dharmakaya, the vajra, just like our present subtle wind and subtle mind are inseparable. The holy mind of dharmakaya unified with the holy body of rupakaya is Vajrasattva.

The tantric teachings use the term Shri Vajrasattva, Glorious Vajrasattva, or pal dorje sempa in Tibetan. Vajrasattva is glorious because he has perfected all the cessations, so that not even the slightest stain remains, and he has perfected all the realizations.

When we recite one Vajrasattva mantra each day with faith that the mantra has the power to purify negative karma, our negative karmas and obscurations are lessened. Even this small amount of purification is the start of the process of accomplishing the “Shri” in Shri Vajrasattva; it is the start of completing the quality of the cessations. Each time we plant seeds on our mind by hearing teachings on emptiness, by meditating on emptiness, by remembering or using the words “empty of true existence,” or just reciting the word “emptiness,” we are engaged in the process to achieve “Shri,” the completion of realizations. Each time we meditate on emptiness or even read about emptiness we leave impressions on our mind. And each time we generate compassion for all sentient beings, or even for one particular human being with a problem or one particular animal, we are accomplishing the “Shri.” We are increasing the very small quality of “Shri” that we already have.

The same applies to each time in our daily life that we try to stop the arising of negative minds such as pride, anger, and attachment. Each time we control our mind and transform it into virtue by applying the remedy of the lam-rim meditations, each time we try to stop even a small mistake of the mind, we are accomplishing the “Shri” in Shri Vajrasattva. Each precept we protect every day is also a means of achieving Vajrasattva’s qualities, or “Shri.” And each prayer we make to Vajrasattva is part of the process of accomplishing Vajrasattva’s state, “Shri.”

To achieve Vajrasattva’s state, the unification of the pure holy body of rupakaya and the pure holy mind of dharmakaya, the unification of no more learning, we must first achieve the unification of learning. To achieve the unification of learning, we must first receive the word initiation, which leaves the potential to achieve the path of the unification of learning and which ripens the mind to meditate on this path.

To achieve the path of learning, we must accomplish separately the paths of the clear light and illusory body. In order to achieve the path of the clear light, we must receive the wisdom initiation, which leaves the potential to achieve the path of clear light, of which there are two types, the clear light of example and the clear light of meaning. Receiving the wisdom initiation ripens our mind to meditate on the path of clear light.

To achieve the illusory body, we must receive the secret initiation, which leaves the potential to achieve the path of the illusory body and ripens the mind to meditate on the path of the illusory body.

In order to accomplish to the paths of the clear light and the illusory body, we need to accomplish the preliminary realizations of the graduated path of the generation stage. In order to accomplish this, we must receive the vase initiation. Receiving the vase initiation leaves the potential in the mind to generate the realizations of the generation stage and ripens the mind to meditate on the graduated path of the generation stage.

These four initiations have to be received from a vajra guru. The conclusion is that to achieve such the state of Vajrasattva, a vajra guru who reveals the four initiations is essential. The vajra guru is the very root of our achieving the Vajrasattva state, of our becoming Vajrasattva. Therefore, in order to become Vajrasattva for the benefit of other sentient beings, to accomplish the works for sentient beings, the very root is correct devotion to the gurus who reveal the Dharma. And among these gurus, we must follow very carefully the vajra guru, who reveals the four initiations. Our whole achievement of the state of Vajrasattva depends on this root.

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