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 share with you just a few words from the Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo (The Gradual Path of Wisdom Essence), which encapsulate the entirety of the paths of the three types of beings.

The Lamrim Yeshé Nyingpo says:

The master should give the teachings suited to the mind of the disciple
Who has faith, renunciation, and compassion.

These three qualities are the essence of the paths of beings of the three types of capacity, which condense all of the Buddha’s teachings.

First, one enters the path with faith, which here refers to belief in karmic cause and effect, the very foundation of the Buddhadharma. Belief in karma means understanding that all of our happiness and suffering is the result of our virtuous or non-virtuous actions, and that virtue and non-virtue depend on the mind, that is, on the presence or absence of the three poisons of ignorance, anger, and attachment. Actions motivated by the three poisons are non-virtuous, and those motivated instead by loving kindness and compassion are virtuous.

Understanding this is the root of the teachings, and it is therefore crucial to reflect on karmic cause and effect and know the ten virtues and non-virtues as taught by the Buddha. Moreover, one needs to reflect on the nature of one’s own action, dedicate all virtue accumulated, and confess any non-virtue committed. To this aim, mindfulness, vigilance, and carefulness are essential.

Building on this foundation, one can then generate renunciation, the entry-way into the path of beings of middling capacity. Renunciation is based on an understanding of cyclic existence (samsara) and its cause. Samsara circles around under the influence of the eight worldly concerns, which cause us to act out of attachment to those close to us and aversion to those more distant. All of this arises out of ignorance. Renunciation is born from recognizing this process and wishing to be free from it.

Renunciation is essential because without it, there can be no freedom from the three realms of samsara, which are rooted in ego-clinging. Just as someone who is ill has to have the desire to be free from their illness in order to recover, or they won’t put any effort in getting better, so one needs renunciation in order to strive for and eventually achieve freedom from the sufferings of samsara, by cutting through their very root: ignorance. Without renunciation, one cannot enter the path of beings of middling capacity.

Finally, compassion is the root of bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment. Simple compassion however is not sufficient: it needs to be progressively trained until it generates bodhicitta, which defines the path of beings of highest capacity.

All of the Buddha’s teachings, Guru Rinpoche’s teachings, and the Sacred Dharma in general are based on this progression of the paths of the three types of beings, respectively based on faith, renunciation, and bodhicitta. The three types of paths are entirely determined by the mindset and motivation of the practitioner, and not on the type of practice that is being done.

It is therefore always important for you to check your own motivation in order to see where you are at in your practice, and on the paths. It doesn’t matter what type of practice you do, if you do not have renunciation, you have not yet entered the middling path, and if you do not have bodhicitta, you have not yet entered the highest path. Thus, your progress in your practice is entirely based on how you see things: your perception of karma, your perception of samsara, and your perception of beings. That is what determines which path you are on.

Therefore, on today’s Guru Rinpoche day, it is my hope that you will all to look into your minds and examine your perceptions in order check which path you are on.

With all my love,

Sarva mangalam.

Phakchok Rinpoche


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