Dear friends near and far,

Today’s Guru Rinpoche day is the first in the new lunar year of the Wood Dragon, so I first want to extend to all of you, my Dharma friends, my heartfelt wishes for a happy and auspicious new year!

These Guru Rinpoche day messages are intended for anyone who already has a genuine Dharma practice, or path, as well as for anyone who is interested in gaining some understanding of this transformative path, as it was taught by Buddha Shakyamuni and Maha Guru Padmasambhava. For all of us to be able to follow this path of liberation from samsara, it is crucial for us to first understand what we actually mean by samsara, or cyclic existence. In this message, I therefore want to share with you the three aspects of samsara: outer, inner, and secret.

To understand the outer samsara, we must first see that all our experiences depend on our minds. Whatever we see, hear, or feel is connected to our mind state: if we are in a positive mind state, our experience will be positive. If we are in a negative mind state, our experience will be negative. This shows very clearly that our mind state determines the world as we experience it. This world of our experience is the outer samsara, the world as we know it. In order to gradually improve and extricate ourselves from it, we must learn to observe and reflect on how our minds influence all our experiences.

Once we have reduced negative thoughts and emotions by observing our minds, we start to see the inner samsara, the inner world of our ego and our sense of identity. Seeing through the outer world of our experience, we begin to understand that none of it is substantially existent, but that it is created by our own ego-clinging. This is the inner samsara.

By practicing meditation, we can loosen this sense of self and come to see through the inner samsara to the secret samsara, which consists in every single one of our thought processes. Each thought process constitutes its own world, on a subtle level, so as long as we engage in thoughts, we are experiencing samsara. But as soon as we see that every moment of awareness, every thought, feeling, or emotion instantly dissolves by itself, we see through the secret samsara as well, realizing its hollow nature.

This is how the meaning of samsara gradually changes for us as we progress on the path, and how we can reach its subtler layers in order to eventually see right through it, thereby freeing ourselves. Practicing the Dharma is not about parroting some words or holding to certain beliefs. It really is about following this path to deeper understanding and realization. The way to progress on this path is to rely on the blessings that come from supplication, to gather conducive conditions, and to practice genuine, selfless compassion.

So, for this Tibetan new year, I wanted to share with you my understanding of the deeper meanings of samsara. As I do so, I make aspirations that all of you may gain experience and realization, and find guidance on the path.

With all my love and prayers,

Sarva Mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche

Please read the message below:

Chokgyur Lingpa

Dear friends near and far,

Phakchok Rinpoche and the Samye Translations team extend heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for your generous support towards Samye Translations. Your contributions play a vital role in preserving and spreading the teachings of the Dharma. For those who wish to continue making offerings during Bumjur Dawa—the auspicious Miracle Month where merit is multiplied 100,000-fold—you can do so by joining us on Patreon or through a one-time donation.

Warm regards,

The Samye Translations Team


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