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Entering the Tibetan Buddhist Path


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In a sense, taking the bodhisattva vow is a trem endous pretense. W e

are uncertain that we are able to tread on the bodhisattva path, but we

still decide to do it. That leap is necessary in developing basic confidence.

The situations we encounter in our everyday lives are both solid and

workable. We don't have to shy away from them, nor do we have to

exaggerate them by rolling in like a tank. We work with each situation

simply and directly, as it happens.

This kind of bodhisattva activity is traditionally described in terms of

the six paramitas, or transcendental virtues: generosity, discipline, pa-

tience, exertion, meditation, and transcendental knowledge.

The paramita of generosity is particularly connected with the notion

of sharing knowledge, or teaching. In fact, everybody who takes the bo-

dhisattva vow is regarded as a potential teacher. If out of paranoia, em-

barrassment, or a sense that we want to possess our knowledge we

refuse to teach, we are abandoning sentient beings. Even if we feel we

are not up to becoming teachers, we should be prepared to become ap-

prentice teachers. W e should be w illing to share what we know with

others. At the same time, we have to control ourselves to the extent that

we do not share something we do not know.
In the bodhisattva ceremony, we express our generosity by making

an offering to the three j ewels: the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

Fundamentally, we are offering our own ego: we are offering our sense

of sanity to the Buddha, our keen perception of the nature of the path

to the dharma, and our sense of companionship to the sangha.

A traditional way of developing generosity is to offer our food to

someone else. Even if we are hungry, we hold our plate of food in our

hands and give it away mentally before eating. At that very moment of

giving something away, we are actually beginning to practice the para-

mitas. By giving away something personal and significant in our lives,

we are helping to clarify our attachments and to overcome the habitual

pattern of spiritual materialism. And in fact, we are also abandoning the

attainment of enlightenment at that point.

The paramita of discipline, or morality, is based on a sense of trust in

oneself. In contrast, traditional morality is often based on a lack of trust

and a fear of one's own aggressive impulses. When we have such little

confidence in our own intelligence and wakefulness, so-called immoral

persons pose a tremendous threat to us. For instance, when we reject a

murderer as an immoral person it might be because of our fear that we


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might murder somebody as well. Or we might even b e afraid to hold a

gun, which represents death and killing, thinking that we might shoot

ourselves on the spot. In other words, we do not trust ourselves or our

own generosity. That obsession with our own inadequacies is one of the

biggest obstacles on the bodhisattva path. If we feel w e are inadequate

bodhisattvas, we do not make good bodhisattvas at all. In fact, that ob-

session with a moralistic, guilt-ridden approach is a form of being

trapped in the hinayana perspective. It is an attempt to confirm one's

ego. The sense of trust in oneself allows the bodhisattva to work skill-

fully with whatever is happening, to the point of being willing to commit

immorality out of compassion for sentient beings. This is obviously quite

delicate, but it fundamentally involves trying to work with people in an

intelligent way.

Bodhisattva discipline arises from a sense of trust in oneself, but it

also involves arousing trust in others. There is a sense of heroism, of

raising the banner of sanity and proclaiming an open way. If we are too

mousy or small, we do not know who we are or with w h om we are

communicating. There is still a feeling of t erritoriality, of keeping things

to ourselves. And since we base our trust on some feeling of being spe-

cial, we are afraid of arousing the confidence of those around us. W e do

not want to destroy our own p etty base of power. In contrast, the bodhi-

sattva path is expansive- a great vision of openness in which there is

tremendous room to work with p eople without one-upsmanship or im-

patience. Since our vision is not dependent on maintaining ego, we can-

not be threatened. W e have nothing to lose, so we can actually give an

inch in our relations with people.

The paramita of patience is the willingness to work with our own

emotions through the practice of meditation. This in turn allows us to

begin to work peacefully with others. Usually we don't want to work

with aggressive people because we feel they will not give us an easy

time. They are a threat to our unbodhisattvalike mentality of looking for

pleasure and security. And when we encounter somebody who wrongs

u s, we harbor tremendous resentment and refuse to forgive him. Our

tendency is always to view such aggressive people, rather than our atti-

tude of holding back, as the problem. But the paramita of patience re-

quires that we stop the ego-centered approach of always blaming others.

Quite simply, the practice of patience means not returning threats,

anger, attacks, or insults. But this does not mean being purely passive.

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Vajrayogini shrine (continued)
co-emergent wisdom and, 187
conch shell, 191
leburn, 191
mirror mandala, 190- 91
painted mandala, 188, 190, 191
phagmo tormas, 191
seven offerings, 191---92
skull cup/ amrita, 190, 191
thangka, 192
tsobum, 190

Vajrayogini: The Sovereign of Desire, 118
Vase (kalasha) Abhisheka, 122-23, 190

crown abhisheka of, 123
five buddha families and, 122-24
ghanta abhisheka of, 123
name abhisheka of, 123- 24
vajra abhisheka of, 123
vase abhisheka of, 122- 23, 190

Vipashyana meditation (Skt. lhakthong),
8- 9, IO, 108

sampannakcama and, 128
Visualization practice

emptiness and, 127-28
iconography and, 126, 127
sampannakcama (fulfillment stage),


utpattikrama (developing stage), 127,

confusion and, 126

self-existing, ofVajrayogini, 187, r88
See also Bodhichitta

Warnings (vajrayana), 6o
Wisdom, 16

of all-accomplishing action, rr6, 123
of all-encompassing space, rr~ 124
of bliss / emptiness, 134
definition of, 15
of dharmakaya, 134
discriminating awareness, II5, 123, 133
of equanimity, II5, 123
as ghanta/bell, 187
nondual, 134
See also Intuition

Working with others, 8o, 87, 88- 89

mind's, 23, 38
psychosomatic, 42
of self-existing messages, 187

Yeshen (Bon deity), 179- 80
communicating with, r8o

Yi (sixth sense consciousness), 21-22
Yidam(s), no, n6, 125

basic sanity and, no
buddha family principles and, n6
definition of, rro
as embodiment of vajra nature, rro
enlightened mind as, 127
practice, 126- 28
vajra master as, 121

Za (Bon deity), r82
Zen Buddhism, IJ


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n The Heart of the Buddha. the Tibetan meditation master

Chogyam Trungpa presents the basic teachings of Bud-
dhism as they relate to everyday life. The book is divided

into three parts. In "Personal Journey," the author discusses the
open. inquisitive, and good-humored qualities of the "heart of
the Buddha." an "enlightened gene" that everyone possesses. In

"Stages on the Path," he presents the three vehicles-Hinayana,
Mahayana, and Vajrayana-that carry the Buddhist practitioner
toward enlightenment. In "Working with Others," he describes

the direct application of Buddhist teachings to topics as var-
ied as relationships. drinking. children, and money. The Heart
of tile Buddhn reflects Trungpa's great appreciation for Western
culture and deep understanding of the Tibetan Buddhist tra-

dition, which enabled him to teach Westerners in an effective,
contemporary way.

(•94o-1987) was a meditation master,
teacher, and artist who founded Naropa University in Boulder,
Colorado, and an international association of meditation centers
known as Shambhala International. He is the author of numer-

ous books.

0 2010 Sbamblula Publlcauo os, lnc.
Pnntcd m U.S.A.

US$16.95 Can $1 9.95

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