*Image courtesy of Rigpa

Dear friends near and far,

As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. For today’s Guru Rinpoche day, I would like to remind you of four lines that contain all of the Buddha’s teachings:

Commit not a single misdeed;
Accumulate a wealth of virtue;
Fully tame your own mind:
This is the Buddha’s teaching.

These are the Buddha’s own words. They are a condensation of the entire Buddhadharma, which consists in three trainings: the trainings of discipline, meditation, and wisdom. Thus, not to commit a single misdeed constitutes the training in discipline. To accumulate a wealth of virtue constitutes the training in meditation. And to fully tame your own mind constitutes the training in wisdom. I would like to remind you a little of each of these trainings today.

First of all, as practitioners, we all need to remember that the foundational training of discipline requires mindfulness and vigilance. Mindfulness means remembering that which is to be avoided, namely the ten non-virtues, and that which is to be undertaken, namely the ten virtues. We need mindfulness to remember these at all times and vigilance to check that we are indeed not committing a single misdeed.

In addition, to preserve one’s discipline, it is important to regularly confess all misdeeds committed in this and past lifetimes. We can confess by relying on the four powers (the powers of support, regret, remedy, and resolve) if we know how to do so, or at the very least confess to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, such as Vajrasattva.

To accumulate a wealth of virtue constitutes the training in meditation. This means staying still for ten, fifteen minutes, or perhaps an hour or two every day—however long we can. During this time, we stay quiet, relax our bodies, let our breath flow naturally, and let our minds rest on one point, not straying here and there. As we let our minds rest, we remain mindful of whether it is getting distracted or drowsy, or whether it is unable to stay in place. Through meditation, we train the mind to become steady. This can involve any object of focus in our Dharma practice, such as mantra recitation, the cultivation of bodhicitta, rituals, calm-abiding (shamatha), special insight (vipashana), and so on. If you do not know any particular method of meditation, just remain still for a while, resting with unmoving body, speech, and mind.

Your motivation for meditating is extremely important as well. If you do not have the right motivation, your meditation will not be of much benefit. The best type of motivation is wishing to realize the true nature of all things in order to free yourself and all other beings from the sufferings of samsara, in this and all future lives. That is the supreme motivation of bodhicitta.

Finally, fully taming one’s own mind is the training in wisdom, the realization of selflessness. For this, we first start by recognizing our selfishness, the self-benefit that motivates our every action. Then, once we have reduced our self-serving tendencies, we see there is still pride left behind that selfishness. And once we have chipped away at our pride, we find there is still subtle clinging to the ‘I’. All these are forms of self-grasping.

We need to understand each of these and examine them, trying to find the ‘I’ that we so desperately grasp onto. Is it located in the body, or in the mind? Is it the grasping subject, or the grasped object? Unable to find the ‘I’ anywhere, we let go and rest in meditation. This method of practice is extremely important to develop the training in wisdom.

These three trainings are the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. In fact, discipline, meditation, and wisdom are just as essential to achieving happiness on a worldly level as they are to having any success in one’s Dharma practice. And the essence of these is mindfulness of virtue and non-virtue, cultivation of compassion and loving-kindness, and examination of our innate tendency to believe in and cling onto a self.

Therefore, today I wanted to remind you of these three trainings. They contain the entirety of the Buddhadharma that was transmitted to Tibet over a thousand years ago in the form of the Translated Words of the Buddha (Kangyur). They are the essence of the Three Collections of Teachings (Tripitaka): the training in discipline constitutes the Vinaya; the training in meditation constitutes the Sūtras; and the training in wisdom constitutes the Abhidharma. Thus, all of the Buddha’s teachings can be contained within these four lines, which condense the three foundational trainings of discipline, meditation, and wisdom.

With all my love,

Sarva Mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche


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