Mind in Comfort and Ease - Foreword
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet is one of the great spiritual leaders of our age. He has devoted his whole life to furthering the well-being of humanity and for nearly forty years has traveled all over the world, sharing his message of human values, universal responsibility, and compassion. It is a message that grows more pertinent and more vital as each day goes by. What His Holiness has shown, and so many people respond to with alacrity and joy, is that altruism and caring for others hold the very meaning of life and that by training and transforming the mind with compassion, we can become better human beings, we can treat others with love and respect, and we can find happiness and peace. With his sincerity and his humanity, for countless people His Holiness is the still center in a chaotic and violent world.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s first visit to the West was in September 1973. He met Pope Paul VI in the Vatican, who declared in his welcome that His Holiness’ presence would “contribute to the furtherance of mutual love and respect among the adherents of different creeds.” I will never forget that occasion, as I had the honor of serving His Holiness and helping to organize his visit. But we could never have imagined then, as we welcomed him onto the soil of Europe, the impact and influence that he would have on the world. At that time, his message was one of universal responsibility, kindness, and the good heart, and it is a message he has tirelessly continued to deepen and expand, to address the many dimensions of our changing world. His Holiness’ vision, which the Nobel Peace Prize Committee called his “philosophy of peace,” embraces the whole theater of human affairs, encompassing understanding between religions, peace and reconciliation, the protection of the environment, human rights, economic equality, education, and science. I often feel that these deep concerns of his, to use a Buddhist image, are like the rays that stream from the blazing sun of his wisdom and compassion. The scale of both his vision and his achievements is simply staggering; you only have to look at the list of countries he visits, the amount he accomplishes, and the sheer number of people he reaches. His Holiness tends to describe his international activities modestly, in terms of sharing his understanding of the importance of basic human values, advocating interreligious understanding and harmony, and promoting the rights and freedoms of the Tibetan people. Yet of all the Dalai Lamas, I feel there has never been one who has accomplished anything comparable with what he has achieved.
One dimension in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama has played a unique and critical role is the development of Buddhism in the West. He has personally taken an extremely active interest in ensuring that the study and practice of Dharma flourish authentically in the West, as much as in the East. His continuous commitment to teaching in different countries has proved, for students of the Dharma, an unceasing source of inspiration. He is a master scholar whose teachings are studied like those of the learned panditas of the past, but at the same time his knowledge and experience allow him to translate and relate the Buddhadharma to modern life in a persuasively immediate and accessible way. His brilliant and far-reaching dialogue with the world of science has demonstrated unequivocally the extraordinary depth and power of the Buddhist teachings and what they have to offer. And he has taken a lead as well in building a road to real interaction and openness within Buddhism and between Buddhism and the other faith traditions. If over the last two decades Buddhism has won greater respect and acknowledgement in the world at large, it must be largely because of his leadership and example. Without him, the world of Buddhism would be quite different.
In September 2000, His Holiness visited our international retreat center, Lerab Ling, in the south of France, to give a major Buddhist teaching entitled “The Path to Enlightenment.” We had invited him to map out the path of study and practice from the beginning up to the Great Perfection, Dzogpachenpo, with its key elements and reference points, and so provide a blueprint for a complete spiritual path for modern people. With his learning, his familiarity with the different Buddhist schools, and his ability to adapt and relate to the modern world, we knew that he was uniquely placed to give such a survey of Buddhist teachings and practice.
I remember so vividly the whole ten days of His Holiness’ visit. It was the first time that he had been to Lerab Ling, and he arrived one day early in order to devote some time to quiet retreat in the rural surroundings. As he told us later, “I have found this to be a delightful place, secluded, beautiful, full of blessings, and with its natural environment well preserved…” This was 2000 and a year of anniversaries. As well as being the millennial year, it also marked the sixtieth anniversary of His Holiness’ enthronement and the fiftieth year since he was invested, at the age of fifteen, with the rule of Tibet. Seeking to find a way to celebrate the importance of this occasion, I invited thirty of the seniormost monks of the Dalai Lama’s own personal monastery, Namgyal Dratsang, to Lerab Ling to conduct a special Vajrayana practice, the complete drupchen (group practice) and mendrup (consecration of medicine) of Vajrakilaya, the yidam deity who embodies all the buddhas’ enlightened activity. Never performed before outside of Tibet or Dharamsala in India, this particular practice is from a terma treasure called Phurba Yang Nying Pudri, concealed by Guru Padmasambhava and revealed by Tertön Sogyal, Lerab Lingpa, who conferred the whole of this teaching on the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and entrusted him as its custodian. What is significant about this practice, as His Holiness explained, is that it has a unique connection with the wellbeing of the Dalai Lamas, the future of Tibet, and the flourishing of Tibetan Buddhism.
His Holiness arrived to preside over the final day of the two-week drupchen, which included the receiving of the blessings of the practice and the consecration of a large quantity of medicinal amrita. On the following day, he conferred the empowerment of Phurba Yang Nying Pudri on the 1,400 people gathered in the drupchen tent situated at the heart of Lerab Ling. At that moment, I could not help feeling tremendous hope and promise that this very powerful practice, executed so perfectly by the Namgyal monks and presided over by His Holiness, would indeed have an effect for the long life of the Dalai Lamas and their work, the resolution of the question of Tibet, and the future of the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. A number of propitious signs accompanied the drupchen, and His Holiness confirmed how auspicious it had been.
How wonderful it was, too, that Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche, one of the most eminent and highly revered masters in Tibetan Buddhism, was also present at this time. A great upholder of the Vinaya lineage of the Nyingma tradition, he was a disciple of my master Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and the heart son of both Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche and Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. For a number of years he has been giving His Holiness rare teachings and transmissions from the Nyingma and Dzogchen traditions. Soon after His Holiness arrived at Lerab Ling, he paid a number of visits to Trulshik Rinpoche, from whom he was receiving the transmission of The Trilogy of Finding Comfort and Ease by the great Dzogchen master, Longchenpa. I remember that Trulshik Rinpoche auspiciously offered His Holiness a photograph of Gangri Thökar, the hermitage in Tibet where Longchenpa had composed his masterworks; I offered him a portrait statue of this great master made from life, which had been revered by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khenpo, two of the foremost exponents of Dzogchen of our time. His Holiness seemed to decide spontaneously that he would teach on Longchenpa’s Finding Comfort and Ease in Meditation on the Great Perfection, one of the texts in the trilogy, as a principal theme during his five-day teaching.
Over ten thousand people attended His Holiness’ teachings, from twenty-one countries and from as far away as Australia and the United States. There were over a hundred lamas and geshes, and many were struck that His Holiness had chosen such a profound text on which to comment. All of us were moved by the depth, relevance, and accessibility of his teachings; there were those who considered them among the most remarkable they had ever heard him give. In a wholly original but always authentic way, His Holiness brought a sense of his own personal quest, as he explored the entire Buddhist path and particularly the pith instructions of the great masters of the Great Perfection. Like an expert jeweller, he set the teaching of Dzogchen within the context of the other traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, highlighting their parallels and their common ultimate aim of realizing the clear light nature of the mind; in so doing, he seemed to continue many of the themes from previous teachings on Dzogchen he had given in the West. During the course of the teachings, His Holiness conferred the empowerment of Padmasambhava and his Eight Manifestations from the pure visions of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama, which he had granted at our request in 1982 in Paris and in 1989 in San Jose, California. As Guru Padmasambhava is so often invoked as a powerful source of peace and transformation, this represented an immense blessing for the whole region and for France itself and seemed to seal the dedication of these extraordinary teachings to peace in the world.
One of His Holiness’ great gifts is his ability to show the distinctive features of the teachings and practices of the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism. At Lerab Ling he spoke of his own deep commitment to the open-minded, unbiased spirit of Rimé, which I have always sought to make a defining feature of Rigpa’s work, considering it as the legacy, in a way, of the great Rimé master Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. At the same time, too, His Holiness gave precious advice on the importance of maintaining the integrity and authenticity of the Buddhist tradition of Tibet. “At Lerab Ling,” he said, “a center has been born that is destined to make Buddhist culture, as developed in Tibet, known in an authentic manner. For what counts is that it is an authentic representation of Tibetan Buddhist culture and so can provide an example and bring about intercultural exchanges in France and in other places. I am convinced that this center at Lerab Ling is already making a contribution and will continue to do so, more and more, toward a greater knowledge of the rich culture of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.” As ever, His Holiness’ presence had an indelible impact on the hearts of everyone, whether experienced Dharma students, local people, politicians, VIP protection officers, or the local gendarmerie. And as often happens, it opened the door to a new sympathy and acceptance for Buddhism in the whole region.
For me it is the greatest possible privilege to introduce this book and also an immense blessing as His Holiness is one of my principal teachers; and for all Tibetans, he is our leader, our guiding light, and our inspiration. All His Holiness’ precious teachings in September 2000 are included in this volume, which is being published to celebrate His Holiness’ second visit to Lerab Ling and his inauguration of its temple and monastery. The temple was constructed on the very site where the drupchen took place in 2000, and I am certain that it is thanks to His Holiness’ blessing that it came into being so swiftly and auspiciously. Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche has named this temple Palri Pema Ösel Dargyé Ling, after the Copper-Colored Mountain with its Palace of Lotus Light, the heaven of Guru Padmasambhava. It is here at Lerab Ling that I will be leading my students in a three-year retreat, beginning this year.
All of this, the temple and all our work, I dedicate to His Holiness’ long life and good health, to the fulfillment of his aspirations for Tibet and humanity, and to the thriving of the Buddhadharma here in the West. I pray that, for all who read this book, the nectar of His Holiness’ teachings infuses their mindstreams, inspires them with new understanding and enthusiasm, and leads them unerringly along the path to enlightenment.
July 6, 2006
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© The Tertön Sogyal Trust and Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, Mind in Comfort and Ease (Wisdom Publications, 2007)
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