Dear friends near and far,

As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. On this Guru Rinpoche day, I would like to share with you a few pithy quotes on the importance of uniting skillful means and wisdom.

In his Lamp for the Path to Awakening, Lord Atisha wrote:

Method without wisdom,
and wisdom without method
are said to be what keeps us bound.
Therefore, never forsake either one.

In the Sutra Requested by the Naga King Sagara, it is said:

The work of Mara is twofold: method without wisdom, and wisdom without method. Knowing these to be Mara’s work, give them up!

And elsewhere, it is said:

Ignoring karmic cause and effect, you claim the view of emptiness, but it is only nihilism. Bound by reification, you claim to have realization, but it is only the view of eternalism. The inseparability of emptiness and compassion is free from both nihilism and eternalism.

These quotes all tell us of the necessity to balance method and wisdom. For a beginner practitioner, this means balancing our belief in karmic cause and effect with our understanding of selflessness. Further on, it means balancing the practice of emptiness and that of compassion. Finally, it means practicing the generation stage and completion stage, or devotion and emptiness, in union. Therefore, a genuine practice of loving kindness, compassion, or devotion needs to be infused with emptiness. And a correct practice of emptiness needs to be mingled with the generation stage, compassion, devotion, and so on. In this way, method and wisdom are always interconnected and should never be separated.

This is a crucial point of practice: the accumulation of merit brings about the accumulation of wisdom; the cultivation of compassion brings about the realization of emptiness; the generation stage leads to the completion stage; the dharmakaya brings about the form kayas, and so on. All of these aspects are inherently interconnected.

Therefore, my advice to all of you, which is based on so many great teachers’ advice, is to always be vigilant not to fall into either trap, of privileging method over wisdom or wisdom over method. The first means believing so much in karmic cause and effect that one completely forgets the view of emptiness. The second means putting so much emphasis on the view that one completely disregards karmic cause and effect. Both of these are dangerous pitfalls, as method and wisdom are two sides of the same coin, and should always be balanced in our practice.

Sending all my love and prayers,
Sarva Mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche


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