Mar 19

1st Kalu Rinpoche | A Good Path Traveled by the Fortunate

A Quintessential Drop of Spiritual Advice Based on the Kindness of My Genuine Lama in Conjunction With My Own Experience

Composed by Kalu Rinpoche Karma Rangjung Kunchab (1905–1989)
Translated by Sarah Harding

Namo Guru!
Embodiment of the bountiful ocean of the Three Roots,
Treasure from whom arises all power and blessing,
Revealer of the very face of manifest dharmakāya;
Unequaled, supreme Guru, grant your blessing!

Grant that I and all those who will be my students
Of varying aptitudes, will come to the genuine dharma,
And seeing well our own minds as the very face of awareness,
Will attain fully the powers of consummating the two benefits.

In order to practice dharma perfectly, first of all you must know indisputably that karmic cause and effect is inevitable. Then, knowing full well that these three realms of cyclic existence are the ocean of suffering itself, reverse attachment from deep inside.

Your unique attainment of this gifted and free life is very difficult to find, as can be seen through the three reasons of its cause, rarity and example. Even when found, it is like a candle in gusts of wind, likely to be snuffed quickly by inconstant death. Right now, at this juncture which abides like the sun rays shining for a moment between clouds, think with absolute profound conviction that nothing but meditating only on the guru’s instructions is of any benefit whatsoever.

If these four thoughts which turn the mind around are not integrated into your being, it makes no difference whether or not you spend years practicing dharma and meditating. It is certain that nothing will happen other than the increasing attachment to cyclic existence and the increasing hardness of your being. If you have not maintained this as the basis of meditation, it is just a sham.

So for those fortunate ones who have developed definite renunciation of cyclic existence in this way, the practice subject is what is called “dharmakāya mahamudra”: let the mind—that is, the one that arises as various memories and thoughts in your stream of being—rest freely in its own way without any kind of adjustment at all. Then, without external or internal focus anywhere, and without any fixation that thinks “this is like clarity, emptiness” and so on, indeed without any mind-made meditation subject at all, there is just that glow of bare recognition.

When you rest in that utter transparency without losing it, that transparent emptiness, the essence of mind’s basic mode of being with no real existence whatsoever, is dharmakāya. Its utterly unimpeded radiance is the clear, lucid, awakeness of bare awareness. That is nirmāṇakāya. Clear, aware and empty — these three inseparably interbeing in total openness is sambhogakāya. Therefore when this mind is still, it is the nature of the three kāyas.

Even when any thoughts and appearances of the six groups of consciousness arise, being essentially without any real existence whatsoever, its radiance is unimpeded as form. The dynamic arising of various thoughts that apprehend those forms is nirmāṇakāya. That itself, without any real external or internal existence, is transparent emptiness, the dharmakāya. Those two inseparable since forever, clear, lucid, and awake, is sambhogakāya. If this mind is moving, it is also not beyond the nature of the three kāyas.

Mind-as-such, free of all contrivance, manipulation, concern and fixation — this awake, empty, aware mind of bare recognition—is called the mind of nowness in the present moment, or ordinary mind. Being primordially pure of delusion, apprehending attributes, and so on, it is not defiled by thoughts of the three times and is free of mental constructs. Since it never leaves the present moment of apprehending the fourth aspect of time or the timeless, it is also called primordial purity free of three aspects out of four.

All phenomena of samsara and nirvana are in mind, the Great Completion. Since it is straight down the center, beyond all extremes such as existence, non existence, both or neither, it is the Great Middle Way. Since it is like the life force or heart, it is the Precious Absolute Awakening Heart. The primordial wisdom which is not beyond emptiness, clarity and awareness is the mahamudra.

In the beginning, it is that which is revealed. In the middle, it is that which is constantly maintained. In the end, it is that itself which is actualized and stabilized as the fruition. Thus it is that all great beings of the past, by maintaining river-like continuity in all activities of just this eternal great completion of the three kāyas in the mind of nowness, have come to the domain of the great union in a single lifetime.

Therefore, when this kind of practice is revealed, it is “mahamudra, the single white substance which cures all,” which means that if you have it, it is enough; but if not, then nothing is. You are the heir of such a profound instruction that you could not repay it even if you offered the triple universe filled with gold.

The boy with his quiver is awakened buddha. The girl with her ball of yarn is awakened. The householder with his products is awakened. The leader with her advisors is awakened. The cowherd with his livestock is awakened. Gifted ones with good fortune are awakened without rejecting pleasures. When this quintessential profound instruction is revealed, you hold the wish-fulfilling jewel in your hands. So don’t waste it. Commit yourself.

Nowadays practitioners, having almost recognized the mind, assume that just having mindfulness or awareness once in a while suffices, and they have no need of refuge, bodhicitta, devotion, compassion, liturgy, recitation, deity meditation, mantra, accumulation of merit, purification of obscurations, and so forth. Thus they increase their wrong views and fixated attachment to a much greater degree than before, and those thoughts of sufficiency proliferate even more. So unless you want to wander endlessly in samsara, do not go astray into that kind of thinking. Constantly examine yourself.

Until you attain stability in your practice, refuge, bodhicitta, dedication, and aspiration prayers will ensure that the dharma does not become anti-dharma. This is the profound method to turn whatever you do to the spiritual path and make all the roots of virtue increase rather than diminish. It is wrong to be without it.

Liturgical recitation, prostrations, circumambulation and offerings bring the accumulation of merit to speedy completion and quickly purify the obscurations. These are profound methods to easily realize dharmakāya mahamudra. You cannot do without them.

Moreover, knowing that all appearances are invalid, the nature of illusion and dream, your own appearance in this body can be the form of the yidam deity, such as Vajravārāhī, with face, hands, ornaments, and all aspects completely perfect: appearance without intrinsic nature, clarity without concept, bliss without attachment.

Arising as the innate radiance of the emptiness of your own mind, the mind and the deity’s body are inseparable. The nature of these three: basic character, radiance, and expression, is the essence of great pristine wisdom in the aspects of the three kāyas: nirmāṇa, sambhoga, and dharma. Maintaining the pride of knowing this as originally inherent in oneself, form, sound and thought are realized as the nature of deity, mantra, and pristine wisdom. This instantly vanquishes fixation on ordinary reality. The habitual patterns of fixation on self are drawn out and expelled. Attachment, aversion and obsession are destroyed at the roots.

You are awakened as unborn dharmakāya. The expression of awareness manifests as the array of sambhogakāya. The deeds of nirmāṇakāya arise for those to be tamed until the end of samsara. It is an indispensable authentic practice.

What a pity, all those sentient beings throughout space who don’t realize their true nature in that way and are forever sinking in the great ocean of samsaric suffering. Focus your compassion with that thought. Sometimes think that all of their suffering, both as cause and result, melts into yourself, and they become free of suffering.

All your own happiness and merit melt into them. For the time being they gain happiness and ultimately they attain awakening. Do this sending and taking again and again. This is called the lord of all purification of obscurations, the best of all protections, the armor of love, the helmet of compassion, emptiness with the heart of compassion. Without this cause of awakening, there is no way. This is a profound crucial point.

It is the genuine guru who gives all these instructions, and especially who introduces your own mind as the very face of the buddha. In terms of qualities, the guru is the crowning glory, the confluence of the abundant ocean of the three roots, the embodiment of a million freeing and ripening qualities. In terms of kindness, the guru is the embodiment of greater beneficence than all the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the three times.

Knowing this, then view whatever appearance arises as the guru’s display, whatever happiness and sadness occurs as the guru’s kindness, and be utterly convinced that other than your guru, there is no hope. With the attitude that “you know all that occurs,” always cultivate completely surrendered devotion to the point of tears. Then all impediments will clear away, all benefits accrue, and all blessings, spiritual powers, meditative experiences and realizations spring up lush and strong like the grasses of summer.

This is the profound method for completing all the qualities of the levels and paths at once and easily gaining the citadel of the great accomplishment in this life. Devotion to the guru is indeed the indispensable profound path.

All of these methods should be used together. Each will benefit and support the other in the accomplishment of the welfare of both yourself and others. You need have no doubt about it. All of the 84,000 dharma teachings of the victorious one are but means to tame the one mind itself. All who feign meditation without taming mind are supplementing the eight worldly concerns. Throw it far away. Without great attachment, fixation, and obsession to unreal, illusory samsara: Renounce this life, and become an aimless beggar, gather the crucial practices explained before, and apply them again and again to your being.

Clerics who think “I am learned, I am fine”, yogis with great attachment to their fixed realities, mendicants who deceive others with lies, fine-mouthed bad-minded bodhisattvas, lama look-alikes eating black donations like tsampa, saffron-clothed cheating hypocrites, fools who cling to specific schools, big time teachers attached to pedantics, abbots with sectarian likes and dislikes, and so on—this terrible sin of slandering dharma, throw it out like poison, and every day pledge yourself not to uphold this kind of karma.

At this time, having attained the free and gifted human life, whatever virtue or vice you do is in your own hands. This chance is unmatched even by finding a wish-fulfilling jewel. Carry the non-sectarian teachings like a crown on your head. Again and again, imbibe the elixir of ripening and liberating dharma from the teacher who joins your mind-stream to the dharma, and the guru who possesses the blessings of the lineage. Take up the unbiased instruction like the flower’s nectar.

When training in the short path, don’t circle around all over the place; Focus on a single instruction which contains the crucial points, one that can separate you permanently from this cycle and hold it in your heart no matter what. Students, if you don’t keep in mind the guru’s instructions, filling the triple universe with letters will just cause my exhaustion. If you apply these instructions in your being, they will carry you to the state of Vajradhara.

In response to the repeated requests of many fortunate ones, such as the faithful disciple, the chanting master Soga, I, Rangjung Kunchab, unbiased and free of activity, with the heart-felt intention to help, disclose clearly whatever instructions I have integrated. By this virtue, may all beings renounce this life and realize the meaning of clear light mahamudra.