If you amass a multitude of profound texts, such as scriptures, commentaries and oral instructions, and you don’t practice them, they will be of no benefit at the time of death.
‘To watch your mind’ is my heart advice.
As it is said, “The human form with its freedoms and advantages is hard to find.”
Thinking over and over about death and impermanence,
Give rise to certainty about the infallibility of karma and its effects.
When you see or hear of another’s death
Know it to be a warning for you.
When you notice the changes from summer to winter
Recall that everything is impermanent.
When you catch sight of bees with their honey
Know that possessions are unnecessary.
When you see a house or town that is empty
Consider it as your own home or dwelling.
When you see others have parted ways with their friends
Recall your own close relations.
When things suddenly happen to others against their will
Remember that such things could happen to you as well.
Self and other—everything—is as a dream;
There isn’t even the slightest thing which is truly established.
When you maintain the natural state as it is
Without spoiling or fabricating your mind,
The emptiness of all inner and outer phenomena
Is realized to be the sky-like union of clarity and emptiness.
That is ultimate bodhicitta.
Migrating beings who do not realize this
Wander in saṃsāra under the influence of dualistic apprehension.
Limitless and unfabricated compassion
Naturally arises for those who undergo such torment.
This is relative bodhicitta.
Without grasping at compassion, realize its emptiness.
Compassion, the spontaneous energy of emptiness, will emerge.
Union is the essence of the teachings of sūtra and mantra.
You should engage in this profound practice.
The method for having such things arise in your mindstream
Is to accumulate a wealth of merit, take all of it into your own hands.
Pray to the Three Jewels.
Take devotion to the guru as the vital point.
Encourage yourself and others to avoid wrongdoing
And, however you can, engage in virtue.
Do not separate yourself from the bodhicitta of the Great Vehicle
Nor from pure dedication of your merit.
JAMGÖN KONTRUL LODRÖ THAYE
***Excerpt from: Advice Given To Lhawang Tashi.
Translated by Joseph Faria, 2015.
It is the sign that you have understood impermanence as being the stamp of samsara, if you are unhindered by sufferings and obstacles.
As a result of unwavering diligence you arrive at the gate of Chan. Before the gate stands a gatekeeper who says, “First you must put down your weapons.” Being determined to pass through the gate, you give it no second thought, so you drop all your defenses. After that the guard says, “Next you must take off all your clothes.” You think for a moment, and then you drop all your remaining attachments. Then the guard says, “Now you have to put aside your body.” You have been working hard for a long time so you decide that enlightenment is even worth dying for, so away goes the body. Finally, the guard says, “You still have your mind; that too must go. There can be nothing left of you when you enter.” Because you are determined to succeed, you agree to this final demand. The instant that you let go of your mind, the gate disappears. There was in fact no gate to pass through and nothing to enter.
Venerable Sheng Yen
Unless you are a yogi like Milarepa you should definitely plan and prepare as if you are going to live another 50 or 70 years or whatever; you should plan that way. But in you, you really should know that that might not be the case. And not only that, we should not only think of our impermanence, but also everything else. Any kind of situation, you name it, everything is impermanent. That way it is about everything.
So how do we handle this? I say take a deep breath and take it easy. The most important thing is to do your best with every moment of your life. Be good, sincere, kind, honest and hard working. If you are meditating, meditate well, if you are doing something, do it well. Do your best in every moment. That is how to take care of the understanding of impermanence. If you just sit there and worry that you might die in the next hour, that’s not the best use of the understanding of impermanence. Make the best out of your lives, even if you are going to die in the next hour you will not have any regret if you have done your best. That is how to handle it.
From “Essential Teachings of Gampopa”
“Bhikkhus, there are these four lights:
the light of the moon; the light of the sun; the light of fire; the Light of Wisdom…among these four lights, the Light of Wisdom is Supreme.”
Anguttara Nikaya Sutra
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreased by being shared.”
After spending a considerable amount of time with your prospective guru, the following is a list of questions you should ask yourself before you finally decide whether to take initiation: ￼
▪️How much is this guru really generating bodhichitta within me? ￼
▪️How much of this guru’s influence and teaching is turning my non-virtuous thoughts and actions into virtuous thoughts and actions? ￼
▪️How much of this guru’s teaching and manifestation is managing to turn my virtuous action into the path of liberation? ￼
▪️How much of this guru’s manifestation is helping me realize the union of compassion and emptiness? ￼
▪️How much is this guru’s presence and influence making me less interested in worldly endeavors and glory? ￼
▪️To what extent are this guru’s teachings making me nonsectarian? ￼
▪️How much is this guru’s teaching generating in me devotion to the Buddha? ￼
▪️How much is this guru’s teaching making me fastidious when it comes to not harming other sentient beings? ￼
▪️How much of this guru’s teaching makes me value devotion to the guru, triple gems, and karma? ￼
▪️How much does this guru’s teaching make me appreciate other students who have other good teachers?
~Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
(The Guru Drinks Bourbon?)
A real genuine dharma practitioner is always hiding, always trying to benefit others. A prideful practitioner is always talking about their practice, or their guru, or their empowerments. Giving others credit is how you directly reduce your pride.
Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche
My own way of thinking is that when we are meeting with angry or stubborn people, we should bring even greater understanding to bear. The more closed-minded or hardheaded someone seems, the more reason there is for us to be open-minded and gentle when interacting with them. We can recognize how difficult and painful it is to live with anger or narrow views, and this allows us to feel compassion for them.
– 17th Karmapa
from the book “The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out”