Dear friends near and far

I hope you are all well and peacefully wandering through samsāra. As I write this monthly message to you all, I have all these thoughts going through my mind: “Oh… it’s almost nearing midnight… but then in Asia it’s already the 11th… are people actually reading these messages? Or even opening them? Hmmm. If they do actually read it, does it make any sense to them? Is this helping them in anyway? Alright, concentrate; you only have half an hour left before it turns midnight!”

But, if I look at the bigger picture, if I can impact one friend to remember the practice and remember the Dharma on this GRD, I am happy for that. So, please remember your practice and remember the Dharma. Right now I am a wandering, crazy, half-cooked Yogi. I am thinking of my teacher and remembering his teachings like an old widow who has lost her husband.

Today is the first day of the Nine Yanas retreat of the Bodhisattva Level, here at Gomde New York. Today is also a cause for celebration because it joyously marks the miraculous birth of Guru Rinpoche in a lotus bed on Lake Danakosha and the birthday of my father, Tsikey Chokling. Here in Cooperstown, we sealed the day with a bountiful Tsok offering and aspirations for the happiness and wellbeing of all sentient beings.

My teachings today will be the heartfelt teachings from my loving Guru, secret Yogi, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. He said, remembering our motivation is most important, and that the five fingers of the hand can be used to represent our motivation.

First we start with the little finger, the pinky. This is the smallest finger and in Tibetan culture considered the most offensive. The pinky has two meanings; the first is the motivation of being free from fear in this life. The second is for worldly success and pleasure.

The ring finger is neutral: neither virtuous nor non-virtuous. For example, being motivated by others or social influence. Like when being invited to a retreat by a friend and going “just to check it out.”

The middle finger represents the motivation of wanting to be free from the three lower realms. Another way to say this is to practice in order to avoid doing the ten non-virtuous acts.

The index finger represents the motivation of wanting freedom from samsāra: the individual liberation path.

Finally, we arrive at the thumb. The thumb represents the supreme motivation, bodhichitta. This is practicing for the benefit of all sentient beings so they too may be free from samsāra and suffering.

Please be mindful in your practice, don’t forget compassion and the view of emptiness. And most importantly, check your motivation as I mentioned above.

I send you love and my prayers. May your virtue increase. May your Dharma dignity become firmly established. May your understanding of emptiness become luminous.

Sarva Mangalam,


Phakchok Rinpoche