Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: Listening and Contemplation as the Path

Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: Listening and Contemplation as the Path

2023-2024 24th Annual Kagyu Gunchoe 11 January 2024

The third day of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s teachings during the Winter Gathering for Monks was the concluding session of the sequence of teachings on The Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs (part of Mikyo Dorje’s Hundred Short Instructions), divided into 7 topics:

1. The instructions on Shamatha
2. The instructions on insight
3. The instructions on freedom from elaborations
(The transmission and explanation for which were given in previous sessions)
4. The instructions on the natural liberation of movement
5. The instructions on one taste
6. The instructions on continuous meditation
7 The instructions on putting meditation into practice

His Holiness then gave the reading transmission of the text, and followed it with a short commentary.

He opened by recalling Gampopa’s statement on how quintessential it is that beginners should apply themselves assiduously to listening and contemplation while those with experience should apply themselves to meditation.

The forefathers of our Kagyu lineage primarily engaged in the practice of meditation but that doesn't mean that they omitted listening and contemplation entirely. It is not quite clear whether those exalted masters applied themselves to the same studies of the great philosophical texts as we do in our monastic colleges. However, they were able to teach the meaning of these texts in the form of pith instructions. They received many profound pith instructions.

In like manner, our own gateway into studying the profound Dharma is the pith instructions.

Those great forefathers were predominantly the people of sharp faculties, expansive knowledge and extraordinary intelligence. They competently understood the great philosophical texts. But we don’t have such sharp faculties. In fact, our faculties are rather dull and our faith, diligence and prajna lesser in strength.  

But we are not like them and so for us, it is vital to engage in a certain degree of listening and contemplation and to study many different philosophical texts. Due to the lack of our minds’ capacity or the power of our prajna in comparison to them, it is paramount that we apply ourselves harder and work harder than they did.

Now, if we listen and contemplate while looking outward – we are looking in the opposite direction.

We listen and contemplate while we are also engaging in a lot of debate, so we become very quick at verbal responses. It even appears as if we are focusing on the faults of the other person – a sign that we haven’t taken our listening and contemplation as the path. It has not become Dharma.

Instead, it is indispensable for us to become someone who can examine our body, speech and mind.

Regardless of the amount of listening and contemplation we have done, we should always be able to turn our minds inwards and look at ourselves to see what our faults are. Looking inward and examining is the sign that we have taken our listening and contemplation as the path. We need to ascertain:

- Is our listening and contemplation dharmic or not?
- Has it become the path or not?
- How peaceful and subdued have we become?
- Is our listening and contemplation of benefit to our mind?
- Has our understanding of the dharma become better?
- Do we have greater consideration for karmic cause and effect in our daily life?
- Does it help us develop faith in the great gurus?
- Do we have more compassion for sentient beings?

It's not a question of whether we’ve become more fluent with our tongues. One can’t tell if a debate participant is engaging in listening and contemplation from inside or outside just by looking at them. While we are wearing the clothes and robes of a Dharma practitioner, the main thing is how much we are able to tame our wild minds.

We need to put our efforts into making our rigid mind more malleable, if we are unable to do anything else. This is of the essence. If we are unable to do that, then, from the perspective of the Dharma, it is not correct.

In any case, no matter how much listening and contemplation we engage in, there is only one destination, and that destination is to look within our mind. This is where we transform and improve our mind. We need to know our mind clearly, to understand our ultimate aim. It should be unmistaken else all our extensive efforts would be amiss. We ought to keep this in mind.

The Karmapa moved on to the topic of the Winter Gathering with words of encouragement for the participants and expressed his joy because the number of monks is very high with new shedras joining in to take part in the debates. He then drew a parallel by touching upon the history of monastic colleges.

Many of the early Karma Kamtsang shedras developed around the time of the 7th Karmapa Chӧdrak Gyatso [1454–1506 CE]; Drukpa Kagyu shedras were founded in the time of Kunkhyen Pema Karpo [1527–1592 CE]. Thus, the community of study was very strong at that time. However, during the time of the 10h Karmapa there came the Mongolian invasion. While there was much destruction of Kagyu as well as Jonang gompas, it was Karma Kamtsang gompas (with Drukpa Kagyu gompas next to them in number) that suffered the greatest devastation, and which turned many of the progressive monasteries founded by 7th Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso and the 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje into nothing more than ruins. Indeed, it is even impossible to identify where some of them were.

Such grave external circumstances obstructed greatly the development of fully-fledged monastic colleges for over 300 years.

But these days, as we are not subjected to such harsh conditions, we have a truly wonderful opportunity to restore the Kagyu community of study and uphold the teachings. We could make the present time into the age of great revivals. This point is crucial.

After a short break for the tea blessing, the Karmapa reiterated that this is a decisive time, when everyone should work to restore the Karma Kagyu. The times are changing rapidly and it is uncertain what will happen in the future or whether as many people will be interested in Dharma compared to the past. Neither do we know how many monks there will be in future. His Holiness was of the opinion that achieving something like this in the future could be difficult.

Following that, he addressed a few more points.

First, he expressed his wish to continue the Summer Teaching this year as he was unable to do so this past summer.

Further, he conveyed his happiness about Chamgon Vajradhara Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche's arrival In Bodhgaya to preside over the 38th Kagyu Monlam. It is a wonderful and great fortune.

The next point concerned the Arya Kshema Spring teaching. Following some recent discussions, he has chosen the 50 Stanzas on the Guru among many suggestions. He gave a very profound reason: At the time of the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje and the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, in the monastic collages they studied the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra and, in addition, there existed tantric colleges specialising in tantric studies. Though their curriculum is not entirely clear to us now, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that the first topic was the 50 stanzas on the Guru.

The reason is that, in Tantra, the relation between the student and the guru is of the utmost importance. The samaya they keep and the respect they pay is most invaluable. The best text that teaches this topic is the 50 Stanzas.

The second topic, which is also related to that, is the root downfalls of the secret mantra. His Holiness expressed his wish to teach The Ocean of Samayas, a text by the 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (most likely used by the tantric colleges for this purpose) in the future for the great relevance this text has on the topic.

Further, he noted his satisfaction with the teams who had produced very good results and he had personally signed their certificates, which were presented to them by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.

The mandala offering followed, as well as the concluding prayers and a transmission of texts which the Gyalwang Karmapa himself authored.

Finally, expressing his hopes and wishes to attend the conference in person in the future, His Holiness brought the Winter Gathering teaching to a conclusion.

2024.01.08-11 The Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings: Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs
Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: How to Meditate

Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: How to Meditate

Kagyu Gunchoe Teachings 2024 • Mikyö Dorje’s Hundred Short Instructions • Day 2
10 January 2024

On the second day, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued the teachings on the Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs according to the Hundred Short Instructions of Mikyö Dorje, the topic for the Kagyu Gunchoe this year.

As he had explained the previous day, there are three main sections to the Seven Pointing Outs:

1. An homage pointing out the purpose and thus determining the nature.

2. A long explanation of the meaning of the text.

3. Concluding advice for others.

The second, the main section, is the long explanation of the meaning of the text, the Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs with seven topics:

1. Instructions in shamatha

2. Instructions in insight

3. Instructions in freedom from elaborations

4. Instructions in the natural liberation of movement

5. Instructions in one taste

6. Instructions in continuous meditation

7. Instructions on putting meditation into practice.

The Karmapa gave the oral transmission of the instructions in shamatha previously, so today he would give some explanations of the actual text. He began with the three instructions on shamatha:

1. How to rest the mind

2. Sustaining it evenly without fabrication

3. Taking thoughts as the path

1. The First Passage: How to rest the mind

The Karmapa read a passage from Lord Yangönpa’s verse on how to rest the mind, explaining how the passage is composed in the form of a song.

Fortunate children who long to meditate,
Don’t look outside for meditation; look inside.
It won’t happen by placing it; let it go.
You won’t catch it by grasping; rest relaxed.

He then referred to two leaves of the Tibetan text, which he had used during the oral transmission, the first from the edition of Gyalwang Yangönpa’s Collected Works and the second from the Hundred Short Instructions. There are slight differences between the two. Since they are different manuscripts, the words to the song are slightly different:

He explained that this passage teaches the methods for how to rest the mind:

Fortunate children who long to meditate:

“Children” are the students who entrust themselves to their guru and consider him authoritative. For example, in a worldly society, the child who listens to their parents and does what he is asked is a good child. Here, child is the student who entrusts themselves to the guru. This is an example of good students: “fortunate” ones are diligent about practicing the profound path and long to meditate or have a very strong wish to develop meditation. They really want to meditate. They think they’d like to be able to meditate well so they have a strong interest to seek this out.”

             Don’t look outside for meditation; look inside.

Gyalwang Yangönpa says that if you want to develop meditation, meditation won’t come from looking outside. Turn your attention inward and give up attachment to external appearances and examine your mind.

It won’t happen by placing it; let it go.

The mind does not stay in one place or rest in a single place. Like an ant on a leaf being carried away by water, the ant has no control over where it's going, it will go wherever the water takes it. Likewise, thoughts won’t stay in a single place. It’s difficult for the mind to rest in a single place, many different thoughts occur, so if mind wants to go, then let it go. Like the ant on top of the leaf, the ant must let the water carry it wherever it will go since the ant doesn't have any control over the leaf. However, if it’s not careful and runs back and forth and jumps up and down, there's a danger the ant will fall into the water. The ant must be careful.

Similarly, you must be careful with your mind. Like the ant on the leaf, stay on the leaf: if you run back and forth and jump up and down, there’s the danger you will fall into the water. Likewise, you should never be without your mindfulness and awareness, and then in that way, let your mind rest comfortably when you meditate.

You won’t catch it by grasping: rest relaxed.

This means that when we think that the mind needs to stay stable someplace, or that it needs to stay on a single point, you must not let it go anywhere, that it needs to stay where you want it to stay; even if you work hard on this, it still won’t stay. The more you are afraid that thoughts will occur, the more thoughts you will have. There’s an even greater danger that you will get even more distracted. In brief, it will get worse. Instead of making much distinction between the meditator and what you’re meditating on, be in a state of non-distraction, be in mindfulness. Rest relaxed without specifically meditating or trying, just relax and loosen. Don’t follow the tracks of the past and don’t anticipate the future. Let the mind be as it is without altering or fixing. Just let it rest naturally.

This is the teaching on how to let the mind rest.

2. The Second Passage: Sustaining it evenly without fabrication.

If you wish to meditate, there are appearances
Of nonmeditation; look at them.
Do not cut meditation into chunks; rest evenly. T
he nature has always been meditation; don’t alter it with your mind.
Let it be: do not distort it with fabrication.
Deep-rooted clear meditation cannot be changed by circumstance.

The Karmapa noted this second passage has six lines in the English translation and five lines in Tibetan.

If you wish to meditate, there are appearances
Of nonmeditation; look at them.

The Karmapa combined the first two lines of the English translation into one, as it appears in the Tibetan. Then he explained the line in the following way:

When you are meditating, you think, “I want to have a good meditation, I want to find a good meditation.” We all naturally have a hope like this, right? If we have that hope when we think about it, if we let the mind rest in appearances, we need to let the mind just relax. When you rest in that, between the time when the previous thought has ceased and the next thought starts, there's the mind that's not grasping at an appearance of objects. It is a very clear awareness. It is clear but unidentifiable. So, without any attachment you need to sustain the essence of that. That is what we call meditation.

When we have experience of good meditation, it is not something that has to be done separately. Non-meditation—or lack of meditation—is what we need to give up. Everything appears as meditation. Sometimes there are meditations that are not meditations, there are not any appearances that are not meditation. Everything is an appearance of meditation and see if there are any things that aren’t meditation. So, everything is an appearance of meditation. You can develop this sort of superior experience.

Do not cut meditation into chunks, rest evenly.

We think that there is a meditator and the object of our meditation. It is the object that we focus on, and the mind that we are looking at is very clear. We make distinctions, this is the subject, and this is the object. But when you make so many differences or distinctions, there is a problem. Instead of dividing and making a boundary, however the subject and object appear, you should rest evenly without altering them. Instead of dividing meditation, you should rest evenly with however they appear without altering them. This is a crucial point.

Also, when you feel good, you feel comfortable, or when you're not feeling well, you don't meditate. Sometimes you might feel you're meditating well in one meditation, but poorly in another meditation. Instead, you should have moderate diligence that never slackens. Just like when you're playing a guitar. The guitar string has to be tuned just right, not too tight, nor too loose, at a moderate tension.

Similarly, your diligence should be the same, it should be moderate. If it's too tight, your mind and your body will both get extremely tight, and easily exhausted. It should also not be too loose, or you will fall into slothfulness and laziness. Instead, meditate with a moderate level of tension. Sometimes you get too confined when meditating. Rest evenly, your mind relaxed and loose, and when the mind is resting, just stay with it. And if it's not staying, then you make that not resting, not staying, the focus of your meditation, but rest exactly with that without changing it.

The nature has always been meditation; don’t alter it with your mind.

There is a lot that could be said about this, but to explain it easily, the nature of the mind has always been free of elaboration. It is always staying and abiding in that fashion. When you are meditating, you need to rest in the nature of the mind and habituate yourself. Do not make something new, or change your mind, you shouldn’t try to fix it or distort it. The nature of the mind is the way that it is, it is free of elaboration, just experience that. Just rest right in that, get used to that, or habituate yourself. Basically, you should not be altering your mind.

Let it be: do not distort it with fabrication.

From the very beginning, the mind is self-aware and self-illuminating. You should just let it be as it is.  You just need to rest in that ordinary mind, without altering it.  People think that there's a massive difference between meditating and not meditating. Ordinary people think that it's something that we don't usually do but need to do. If we need to have something that really stays, we want it to stay better, we want it to be more luminous, we want it to be clearer. If it is not clear, we think it should be clearer. We specifically fabricate and contrive it to make it that way. All such meditations are like dead ends in meditation. They are faults that can occur when you are meditating.

Deep-rooted clear meditation cannot be changed by circumstance.

The nature of mind itself, the way that the mind actually is, is self-luminous and self-aware. So, when you're meditating, whatever your experience, whether high or low or over-agitation, you should not let these circumstances steal your meditation, or affect it.

If you have a good experience, you should not be attached to it. If it's a bad experience, you should not be displeased. It is important to be like this. The reason is that these experiences of bliss, clarity, or non-thought happen. They arise when they occur. But getting attached or fixated on experiences of bliss, clarity, and non-thought is the cause for rebirth in samsara again.

Likewise, you might have a bad experience when you feel like you have more appearances than you did before, or stronger afflictions that create hatred and division than before and become even stronger than before. These feelings occur, but they are not entirely bad, because they are enhancements to Mahamudra practice. It's not impossible that you can change them into something that will improve your meditation.

So, if you have a good experience, and you get attached to it, it can be a fault. If you have a bad experience, and you're able to take it as the path, then it can be like an enhancement to Mahamudra, or a way to improve your Mahamudra meditation. It is possible for it to be beneficial.

Whether high or low, a good or bad experience, you should not think, something really good happened and be excited or something bad happened and be disappointed or unhappy.

3. The third passage: Taking thought as the path.

Without viewing conceptual mind as a fault
Or specifically meditating on nonthought,
Let mind be as it is and post a lookout.
Your meditation will reach the pith of shamatha.
The first line:

  Without viewing conceptual mind as a fault

When meditating, particularly when doing shamatha meditation, you often feel like you are having more and more thoughts. Your mind seems to feel more frenzied. We have this feeling that we are unable to rest peacefully, rest calmly. Suddenly a thought occurs, and you think you are not able to rest calmly. So, we worry. However, when a thought occurs, don’t see it as a fault. It is like a wave arising in the water. The thought, no matter how it arises, will naturally disappear. We don't need to follow the thought. We shouldn't think, “Oh, a thought happened. I'm terrible.” This is not okay. You shouldn't worry about that. You should understand that it's like a wave arising from water.

Milarepa sang a poem about meditating on the ocean. When you meditate on the ocean, the waves are like an emanation or a manifestation of the ocean, they are not separate from the ocean. The waves are like the manifestation of the water. Likewise, thoughts are like the appearance or manifestation of the mind. They are one of the infinite types of manifestations that the mind can make. They don't transcend the nature of the mind, they just let the mind be alone as it is and let them disappear on their own.

We shouldn’t specifically look at them as being a thought or try to focus on stopping thoughts or pacify our thoughts. If we meditate that way, it's difficult to overcome the thought of needing to pacify thoughts, and the thoughts become more and more numerous.

The next line is:

Or specifically meditating on non-thought

If you want to have a mind without any thought, without any investigation, you've got to hope for that, then specifically try to make your mind thought-free, non-conceptual. If you work at that, you have not transcended a dualistic thought.

So specifically meditating and trying to meditate with the hope that your mind will be free of thought is not good. You should not meditate in that way.

Let mind be as it is and post a lookout.

As the Karmapa said earlier:

You're supposed to look at it. You shouldn't specifically grasp that thought-free mind. You shouldn't specifically make an effort to have a thought-free mind. Don’t try too hard. You don't specifically abandon thoughts. That means if a thought occurs, if there's something you need to do to get rid of it, something you need to do to abandon it, you shouldn't do that either. Just let the mind rest as it is without changing at all, no matter what the mind is like, no matter what thoughts occur. Let it be as it is, in whatever its nature, in whatever situation it is. Leave it as it is. And when you leave it there, you should not let yourself be distracted. When you rest there, sometimes if our awareness is not clear, we get distracted, our mindfulness and awareness are not clear. That is not good. So instead of trying to change the mind, you need to relax, let it be as it is, with just mindfulness and awareness.

Your meditation will reach the pith of shamatha.

When all thoughts and afflictions naturally subside, and the mind naturally rests in a thought-free state, this is shamatha meditation.

The actual meaning is you need to receive instruction from someone who has experienced it. It’s not something I can teach. Also, instructions on such an experiential meditation should only be given to a few superior individuals. Otherwise, it won’t work. So that is the completion of the instructions on shamatha.

Then the Karmapa continued with the reading transmission of the section on insight from the Hundred Short Instructions:

The nonsense of, as is said these days, saying that the unaltered mind naturally settling is shamatha is the type of talk that makes all those who want the liberation of knowing the secret points of the true dharma cry and shed tears when they hear it.

The essence of the prajna or insight that becomes the path to buddhahood is engaging all that is knowable and, having engaged all that is knowable, fully discerning all phenomena. It focuses on and engages in the five sciences of Buddhist science, logic, healing, grammar, and the arts and crafts.

To classify it, there are two types of the bodhisattvas’ prajna, worldly and supramundane. They should be viewed, in summary, as three types: realization of the suchness of the knowable, being learned in the five sciences and the three categories and benefiting beings.

The first begins with ineffable selflessness of dharmas. It is resting in supreme peace when the truth is to be realized, being realized, or has been realized. It is thought-free, free of all elaborations, and engages the great universal characteristic of equality that is consequent to all phenomena. It has reached the end of knowledge and eliminated the two extremes of projection and denial. Thus, it is the path of the Middle Way.

The second is being learned in the five sciences and three categories—being learned in the categories of phenomena that are meaningful, meaningless, and neither meaningful nor meaningless. Benefiting sentient beings is the prajna of being skilled in the Mahayana activity of the great noble beings.

The capacity of such prajna or wisdom to permanently discard the seeds of the discards of seeing depends upon the prajna born of meditation elicited by the superior samadhi of shamatha. As the Great Regent said:

After achieving the utterly pure fourth dhyana,
One rests in thought-free wisdom.

Lord Milarepa said:

Without clinging to the pool of shamatha,
May the flower of insight grow.

Thus, the view of the prajna of listening and contemplation can suppress manifest discards but can never discard their seeds. Therefore, the Tokden Shamarpa said in a song:

No matter how fine your philosophical view,
It’s wrong about the nature of reality.

Then, regarding the prajna born of meditation:

The empty expanse of mind that cannot be identified;
The ways of awareness, unceasingly clear;
The empty, luminous nakedness free of intellect:
While letting this be, look at yourself.
Your meditation will reach the pith of insight.

In this way, once you have determined that all phenomena are nothing but mere mind and are not established by their own essence, you should consider whether this merely clear, merely aware mind exists as a thing or as nothing. If it exists as a thing, it is impermanent, because it functions. If it is impermanent, it must perish even as it arises, and if it perishes as it arises, then arising appears to occur even as it does not. Therefore, it is proven to be unborn. That which perishes as it arises cannot function, because it does not perform an action that is different from itself. If it perishes as it arises, it does not arise, so it also does not cease.

If it is nonexistent as nothingness, it is impossible for it to be knowable, but it is proven by the mind, experience, and self-awareness of ordinary and noble beings. The nonexistence of nothing is merely an object fixated on by projection, but nothingness cannot be seen or realized by anyone, ordinary or special.

Therefore, this destroys all categories for identifying the phenomenal nature of emptiness and the phenomenal natural luminous mind as being in essence, be it existent or non-existent, permanent or impermanent, thing or nothing, common or impermanent, resting in that which is, in terms of difference being negated, the same as this eradicates the seeds and latencies that was called the cause, expanse of object or family of all noble individuals.

Thus, the mind stream of indivisible awareness and expanse has been unceasing from the period of being a sentient being in beginningless samsara. When one awakens to unsurpassed, completely perfect buddhahood, the pure fruit of it transforms into wisdom that knows things as they are and in their multiplicity. It is the highest all-aware omniscience, unobscured, mirror-like wisdom of a luminous nature.

“The ways of awareness” means the infinite boundless ways of the body, samadhis and unhindered knowledges.

With this in mind, Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa said:

Nothing appears to the greatest of humans.
He knows all from the expanse of wisdom.

At such a time, from their own perspective, perfect buddhas are free of any cognition that engages or discards knowable objects and the knowing subject, so nothing appears to them, because it would by nature be the darkness of ignorance. “Luminous great emptiness” are merely synonyms.
“Nakedness” means that it is evident, free of any covering. Therefore, during the thought-free wisdom of the path of seeing, let the objects (the four truths) be, and look at yourself with the subject, the prajna realizes the selflessness of phenomena. As Maitreya said:

The internal sacred dharmakaya
Will be seen with the eye of wisdom.

At that point, the ability to display the twelve hundred qualities and so forth is merely in accord with the path of the transcendences. In terms of the path of seeing of the supreme siddhi of mahamudra, such qualities are hardly even a fraction of the causes, examples, or number.

These days, some claim, “I have realized the wide-open knowledge of the mahamudra path of means, but I don’t have any qualities, because I have not sought them out.” To you who, not believing in karmic cause and effect, seek material gain and fool yourself about the supreme human qualities, I say, “O dear, that is true. Accepting your faults out of your own deluded nature is to ruin yourself with everything ruinous.”

Regarding the insight of seeing one’s nature, in the Kagyu tradition of Gampopa, seeing the nature of mind is the thought-free wisdom of the path of seeing, and merely seeing the mind’s surface is the wisdom of warmth on the path of joining. Some Dakpo Kagyu gurus call them the wisdom of experience and wisdom of realization. When compared with the unexcelled mantra, it would be acceptable to correlate them with the analogous wisdom and actual wisdom.

Following the wisdom of the path of seeing, are the nine levels of the path of meditation, the lesser, medium, and greater latencies of the cognitive and afflictive obscurations are all divided into three sets each and must be abandoned through the nine undefiled paths of no obstacles. For this reason:

Post undistracted mindfulness as a lookout.
Don’t alter the nature of nonmeditation.
Don’t wish to talk about inconceivable awareness.
Sustain experience giving it free reign, undistorted
By conceptual consideration and examination.
You will see meditation’s own, unelaborate nature.

In the samadhi of the equality of all phenomena having attributes, no characteristics, no origin, and no arising; being void, primordially pure, and unelaborate; lacking anything to accept or reject; being the same as illusions and so forth; and the indivisibility of real and unreal, post the lookout of undistracted mindfulness. This means having confidence in each instant in the foundation of mindfulness of the words, meanings, dharma, and dharanis of secret mantra within the inconceivable engagements of the manners of samadhi.

Without meditating on any attributes of samsara or nirvana, anything that is not the absolute is merely a projection on the nature. Because it is not the nature, it is not correct to change it with anything. It is not categorically unproduced in being a negation of being produced that cannot possibly cease. There is nothing in it to be known and thus nothing that knows, either. So, what could be known through words and thought? Instead of distorting the worldly post-meditation elicited by such equipoise by considering and examining it, sustain it freely, like an illusion or dream.

At that time, the mother-like wisdom of the sixth level and the child-like wisdom of the first five levels mix as a single flavor. Prajna eliminates the extreme of samsara, and compassion eliminates the extreme of nirvana, so through the equality that is free of all complications of existence and peace, you should not dwell in either extreme. On the sixth level, you can rest in equipoise in the great cessation of suchness free of the two extremes. As Chandrakirti writes:

On the Approach, their minds abide in equipoise,
And they approach the qualities of perfect buddhahood.
Here, they see the suchness of interdependence,
And, through abiding in prajna, will attain cessation.

On the seventh level, they have the great power to enter and arise from that cessation in each instant. As Chandrakirti writes:

Here on Gone Far Beyond, the bodhisattvas
Can enter into cessation in each moment.
They also attain blazing transcendent means.

Even for noble bodhisattvas, this meditation of the cessation of all elaborations about the highest truth is extremely difficult to attain.

These days, some have written a new song by Milarepa:

Marmots meditate on cessation.
Crows do the vajra recitation.

They assert that the absorption of cessation and the like are pitfalls for enlightenment and liberation. But there is no danger that such children of noble family will stray into such pitfalls by sustaining the crucial points in that way.

The Karmapa stopped the reading transmission at this point and began an explanation of what Mikyӧ Dorje had written regarding the Instructions on Insight.
According to the outline in the commentary by Bar Rawa Gyaltsen Palsang, this has two parts: 1. Teaching the nature; 2. Teaching how to look at it.

1. Teaching the nature

The empty expanse of mind that cannot be identified;
The ways of awareness, unceasingly clear;
The empty, luminous nakedness free of intellect:

These three lines teach the nature of insight.

The Karmapa then gave an explanation of these words:

The empty expanse of mind that cannot be identified.

Usually when we consider what something is like, we think about its shape, color, about scent, food, flavor, taste, or what it feels like to the touch.  If we ask if the mind is a thing that exists substantially, it is not. We can’t describe it like a phone, or shoes or clothes— it doesn’t exist like a thing. We might think it is a feeling. But it is not. A feeling is just a function of the senses without thinking about it, so that is not all it is. Pleasant or unpleasant feelings are functions of the faculties of the mind; it’s difficult to think of the mind as only that.

So, is mind just thinking and thoughts? The mind has other functions beside thinking, it has many different functions. It has vast aspects, so it is not merely thought and thinking, but we cannot identify it as “this is its real essence or nature,” or “this is its nature.” There’s nothing to be found, so in this respect it is emptiness. It is the emptiness of mind that cannot be identified. This is difficult, right?

It's difficult to identify the mind. We don’t need to speak about it in terms of science, we describe it in terms of experience.

The ways of awareness, unceasingly clear

Although the nature of mind is empty, the aspects or functions of mind can be unceasing. The emptiness of mind does not prevent the aspect or functions from occurring. The reason for this is that appearance is the same in essence as emptiness of the mind: it is merely appearing, its nature is empty. It is empty, like the back and front of an Indian roti. Emptiness also cannot be established outside of appearance. The difference between the essence and the aspect is like the two sides of roti, it is not like the right and left horns of a yak. They are not completely different things.

The empty, luminous nakedness free of intellect:

The actual nature of mind is as said in the “Ganges Mahamudra:”

The meaning beyond mind is not seen with mental dharmas.

Our present ordinary mind transcends everything. Such inseparable appearance and emptiness, the nakedness of the mind has no duality of subject and object, or the vivid clarity is what is meant here.

2. Teaching how to look at it

The two lines on how to look:

While letting this be, look at yourself.
Your meditation will reach the pith of insight.

This is the method of how to look at the mind. Whatever the nature or state of the mind itself, do not alter it, do not fabricate or be distracted, just rest naturally in that state, however it is, without mentally wandering. Without any division of “this is what I’m looking at; this is the looker.” There should be no distinction between the looker and what’s looked at. You must look at the nondual nature as much as you can. By looking in such a way, at some point you will see the dharma nature in a manner without any seeing, with clear insight, without the duality of subject and object. This is how you look during insight.

3. Meditation on Freedom from Elaborations

This has two topics: 1. Teaching undistracted meditation   2. Teaching that it is ineffable, inconceivable, and indescribable.

1. Teaching undistracted meditation.

Post undistracted mindfulness as a lookout.

The root text in Yangönpa’s Collected Songs reads, “Don’t lose the lookout of undistracted mindfulness.” The lines are a bit different. As explained in Yangönpa, rest naturally without altering it, whatever the nature is, however it is, without being distracted. In addition to resting naturally without altering, apply the power of mindfulness as a sentry against being distracted. You must not lose this lookout.  This is a level of mindfulness and awareness. You must not let that diminish. Whether your meditation is good or bad depends on whether it is caught by mindfulness or not. Mindfulness is extremely important. If you catch sight of the essence of meditation but do not catch it with mindfulness, there is the danger you will slip into ordinariness. In particular, during post-meditation, if you lack mindfulness, your mind stream will become ordinary, and you will not be able to take your actions as the path. Therefore, applying mindfulness and awareness is the foundation of qualities.

Don’t alter the nature of nonmeditation.

Aside from leaving the mind itself natural, there is no special focus of, “I need to meditate on this in my mind.” Rest evenly, free of the elaborations of mentally acting on the nature of the mind. Without specifically mentally fabricating something, or nothing, or changing anything. But instead, and without any alteration, rest and relax, letting go. Without any mental work, let it go completely. Without any antidote, relax and rest. Without any holding, rest freely. Without letting go, you should sustain the lookout of mindfulness. You should not be too tight or too loose. You need to have the perfect moderate attention in the mind.

2. Teaching that it is ineffable, inconceivable, and indescribable.

Don’t wish to talk about inconceivable awareness.
Sustain experience evenly, undistorted
By conceptual consideration and examination.
You will see meditation’s own, unelaborate nature.
   Don’t wish to talk about inconceivable awareness.

This means that, after sustaining the mind essence as above, do not speak much about the inconceivable nature of the mind, saying it's this or it's that. You don't need to think about that. Also, you don't need to speak a lot about that. If you think about it, and you think, “Is it this?” or “Is it that?” and you talk about it a lot, then there's a danger that you are going to make either projections or denials about the nature of how things are. It creates an obstacle to seeing the nature as it is.

Sustain experience evenly, undistorted
By conceptual consideration and examination.

With these instead of saying, “This is the mind, this is emptiness, this transcends mind, this is unborn, this is free of extremes,” if you think about it too much, then this is a pitfall of meditation. Don’t think of it as something “I need to do.”

Sustain experience, giving it free rein.
Undistorted by conceptual examination.

When it says: “Sustain experience, giving it free rein,” it means to let the mind go wherever it goes. Someday, you will see the elaborate nature of the mind. Do not examine it too much, thinking, “This is emptiness, this transcends mind, this is unborn, this is free of extremes.” Do not do much evaluation of it as “This is a pitfall. This must be accomplished.” “Giving it free rein,” means letting it go wherever it pleases. However, you must never be free of mindfulness. By meditating in this way, the superior experience of the unelaborate arises in your being.

The words in Yangönpa’s Collected Songs read, “The mother and child freedom from elaborations will meet.” This means that when meditating on the path, the wisdom realizing the freedom from elaborations and the unelaborate object will, like water poured into water, come together like a mother and child.

The Karmapa said this was a brief explanation of the text, and gave some details about Gyalwa Yangönpa’s life:

When Gyalwang Yangönpa was very young, he naturally had the prajna to meditate. He had a natural ability and started meditating at the age of five. He was able to rest in meditation and sustain the essence for a very long time. His father had guided him when he was very young, probably before he was even born. His mother and sister were extremely worried when they cared for him because a five-year-old was sitting like an adult. They thought he was possessed by a spirit, so something was wrong in his body, because his winds and pranas had gone wrong. They decided they would do anything they could to stop him meditating. Gyalwa Yangönpa himself said he hadn’t met an experienced lama to receive any experiential instructions. If he had, he would have immediately been able to sustain the essence of meditation, but his mother and sister became an obstacle to developing realization.     

The Karmapa then began to speak about insight and shamatha meditation generally and its connection with mahamudra meditation:

Firstly, it was necessary to speak about the union of shamatha and insight. He related how this topic was clearly explained in the life story of Lama Shang Tsondru Drakpa, founder of the Tsalpa Kagyu, and how he developed realization:

When Lama Shang was thirty-three, he met Gampopa’s nephew Dakgom Tsultrim Nyingpo. As soon as they met, Tsultrim Nyingpo gave him the pith instructions on co-emergent union. Co-emergent meditation is a little different from mahamudra, but he received this first. The co-emergent mahamudra instructions are at the beginning of Mikyö Dorje’s Instructions on the Seven Points.

When Lama Shang Tsondru Drakpa first meditated on this, he saw that he had flaws. What he saw was that until the time he was 33 years old, he had received teachings from many different gurus and done a fair amount of listening and contemplation. He had meditated a great deal. But he realized that all his meditation previously had been directed outward, so it was incorrect. He thought, “Now I need to determine what is the meditator.”

From a different perspective, he was delighted because he had received profound instructions. However, when meditating on co-emergent union, he could not distinguish the borderline between experience and realization, so he went to ask, “What is experience and what is realization?”  His guru replied, “Supplicate with extreme fervor. Supplicate the guru. I have the hope that this dharma of mine has the blessings of the guru to produce realization. Now you need to supplicate with great fervor. Then practice mahamudra.”

Then he was given instructions in mahamudra. When given the actual instructions on mahamudra, all the experiences were different from before. By meditating on that, a kind of prajna or wisdom occurred. He thought, “That’s how it is. It’s like that,” He asked the guru who said, “Don’t examine it. Examining it will obscure it.”

By continuing to meditate, as he went deeper, he realized that his previous ‘realizations’ were just thoughts, they weren’t actual true realizations. When he realized that, he stopped following them. He relaxed and rested without following them, and realization naturally arose from deep within. Unlike all his previous realizations, these were completely different.

The borderline between experience and realization became completely clear, and he understood that all his realizations had been mere understanding, examinations, and words. There was no difference from the earlier in terms of words, but he understood them as mere words, mere understanding, not real realization. He realized then that previously his mind and the meaning were not mixed, all his previous realizations were like the outer husk. There was a separation between subject and object, a distance between the two. As the outer husk, they were not the actual thing.

Now that they had mixed fully with the meaning, he developed certainty from deep within. How did this realization come about? While in a state of resting without altering the mind, many thoughts occurred. Instead of following them, he relaxed and rested, so those prajnas that were not real realizations disappeared on their own. He saw the nature of mind that is free of arising, ceasing, and enduring.

Only then did he have this subtle wisdom. This subtle prajna had become manifest and visible. Lama Shang Tsondru Drakpa was very well known in Tibet, and this is what he wrote in his own life story.

The Karmapa concluded the teaching by saying there was quite a bit to understand. He said this would be enough for the day and thanked everyone.

Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: Shamatha Meditation

Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: Shamatha Meditation

Kagyu Gunchoe Teachings 2024 • Mikyö Dorje’s Hundred Short Instructions • Day 1

8 January 2024

Types of Transmissions

After representatives of Kagyu monasteries made offerings of body, speech, and mind to His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa, the anticipated 24th Kagyu Gunchoe Teachings began. His Holiness offered his warm wishes to all and explained that he would continue with the teachings on the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s Hundred Short Instructions. Previous teachings on this subject covered the Essential Meaning of the Three Essential Points, and we have currently arrived at the Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs.

On the topic of transmission, or lung, he explained there are many types including reading transmission, explanatory transmission, and instructional transmission. In the Vinaya, a reading transmission is referred to as “giving transmission.”  

Karmapa explained, “Originally the scriptures of Buddhism were not written down in words and letters. The Buddha would say something orally, and the students would memorize what he said. Students who had achieved the dharani power of perfect memory would recite them to each other from memory. This was the tradition at the time.” 

Students would teach by reciting the texts they had memorized to new students or monastics. For the students to memorize a text, they had to recite it a minimum of three times. Those of sharp faculties probably were able to memorize it after only three or four times, while those of lesser faculties needed to recite it multiple times until they had it memorized. 

In brief, the transmission had to be recited as many times as necessary until it was memorized, and that was called ‘having received the transmission’. They had to recite it over and over again so as not to forget it. This is what was meant by giving a transmission at that time. “But in Tibetan, all the scriptures were written down, so there is no need to go to such lengths,” Karmapa pointed out. “Giving a reading transmission is probably a remnant of that earlier tradition when the scriptures were not written down on paper.” 

An explanatory transmission means reciting all the words of the scripture clearly three times and occasionally adding a brief explanation or commentary. An instruction transmission is when a guru himself gives an explanation according to the experience that they have developed in their being.

The main point for a transmission is knowing the words, whereas the primary focus of instructions is knowing the meaning. The distinction between transmissions and instructions was not recorded clearly in any sutra or tantra, remarked Karmapa. “When we look at the sutras, the tantras, or the texts by the Indian masters, there is nothing clear about transmissions or instructions in those texts.” As the quality of students’ minds declined over time, there came a point where it was necessary to give the transmissions and the instructions separately. 

Karmapa explained, “What I'm giving today is like an explanatory transmission. Primarily, I'm going to be reading the text Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs by Mikyö Dorje. Occasionally, I will share a few opinions or thoughts if I have them.”

His Holiness noted that since Mikyö Dorje’s commentary is on the root text written by Gyalwa Yangönpa, he would now give a brief introduction to Gyalwa Yangönpa before speaking on the text itself.

Introducing Gyalwa Yangönpa 

Who was Gyalwa Yangönpa? Within the Dakpo Kagyu, there is the Drukpa Kagyu, one of the lineages passed on from Phagmo Drupa. At one time in Tibet, the Drukpa Kagyu teachings spread very widely, and many people had a great interest in these teachings. The founder of this tradition was Tsangpa Gyare. His first two great students were Pa and Kyang, followed by two more great students called Gya and Dre, as well as the later two great students named Lorepa and Gotsangpa.

Gotsangpa had several students; among them was Yangönpa who, it is said, was equal to him in realization, Orgyenpa who was equal to him in austerity, Chilekara who was equal in his resolve, and Ringpa who was equal in devotion. 

Yangönpa was known all over Tibet as both a scholar and meditation master. He was born in Ladong, the southern part of Lato, where there is a monastery. He came from an unbroken family line of Nyingma siddhis, all of whom were Ngakpas. He was born in 1213 CE; his father's name was Josam, and his mother was named Chotong, His Holiness speculated that his father had already passed away by the time he was born, so he was raised primarily by his mother. 

“Even while he was in the womb, his mother had many extraordinary visions or signs in her dreams. In particular, she also naturally developed samadhi without needing to meditate on it,” His Holiness pointed out. Not long after Yangönpa was born, he was able to speak, and he said, “I go for refuge.” He naturally knew how to read and write without needing to be taught.

Even while Yangönpa was young, he would encourage people to practice the dharma. When he was five years old, he began singing songs with extremely profound words and meaning that greatly benefited other people. These are all within the collected songs of Yangönpa. Because he was different from other children and did many amazing things, everyone thought of him as a nirmanakaya (tulku). At that time, the word “tulku” did not refer to a reincarnate being, but rather meant someone who was extraordinary and different from other children. 

At the age of six, he met a guru named Phul Marwa, from whom he received the Maya empowerment, the instructions on the Tantra of the Great Perfection, instructions from the Kadampa, the Shiche and Chöd lineages, and the essential topics of the path and its result. When he reached the age of nine, he began to give teachings and was able to instruct other people.

“If you are an ordinary person at the age of nine, forget about giving instructions to anyone else. First of all, you don't even know what you are doing. But he was different from anyone else,” remarked Karmapa. Yangönpa was able to care for many students and give them instructions.

At the age of 22, he took full ordination from Khenpo Lhatsun Sokhawa. The master of the ritual was Kodragpa, the private questioner was Drochung, and a sangha of 80 students was present. He was given the name Gyatson Pal, and subsequently founded a monastery at Shri Namding. Later on, he spent one year continuously meditating while seated in the vajra posture.

In essence, he spent his time in isolation and solitude, and giving instructions to his students. People from all areas of Tibet, and in particular from Central Tibet, came to him, and he reportedly had over 10,000 students.

Due to requests from his students, he wrote the Three Cycles of Mountain Dharma and many different texts that have unique features. Karmapa shared, “For myself, I have read many old instructions by Yangönpa. They are really special and different from anyone else's.” 

In 1256 CE, he passed away at  the age of 46. He had many students, and among them two were the primary ones. Chenga Rinchen Den met Yangönpa when Yangönpa was five years old, and began studying with him. The other student was Lore Chokyong Pal.

Chenga Rinchen Den had a student called Zurpugpa, who later had a student named Barawa. The upper Drukpa Kagyu lineage was primarily spread by Barawa. In this way, the activities of Gyalwa Yangönpa were very broad and vast.

The Origins of Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs

His Holiness then began discussing the origins of Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs, as the 8th Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s Instructions is a commentary on this root text. 

During the year Yangönpa founded the monastery in Lhading, 25 new students came to receive instructions from him. Before he had even taught the main instructions, five of these students developed realization upon just hearing the preliminary instructions. All of the students who received the instructions were able to develop shamath, Yangönpa was absolutely delighted, and sang the song of the Seven Pointing Outs.

The song has an homage at the beginning and advice to others as a conclusion, which are not included in Mikyö Dorje’s commentary but are recorded in the Collected Songs of Yangönpa and in a commentary by Barawa Gyaltsen Palsang on this text, called The Torch of the Precious Instructions.

Karmapa explained, “Since they are not in Mikyö Dorje's commentary, I will fill them in according to how they are in Gyalwa Yangönpa’s collected texts and then according to Barawa's commentary.” He divided the text into different sections, taking Barawa's The Torch of the Precious Instructions as the basis.

The text is named The Seven Pointing Outs because the instructions are in seven categories:

  1. Instructions on shamatha
  2. Instructions on insight
  3. Instructions in freedom from elaborations
  4. Instructions in the natural liberation of movement
  5. Instructions in one taste 
  6. Instructions in continuous meditation
  7. Instructions on devoting oneself to practice

According to Barawa's commentary, there are three main parts to The Seven Pointing Outs:

  1. An homage pointing out the purpose and thus determining the nature
  2. The long explanation of meaning that presents the paths and levels
  3. Concluding advice for others

The first part is the homage and the request for blessings. The text reads:

Namo Ratna Guru
Lord incomparable precious guru

Who enjoys the pleasures of samsara and nirvana

Through the naturally clear awareness with no object

And has gained mastery over appearing, empty phenomena,
I prostrate at the feet of your sambhogakaya.

Karmapa elucidated, “From the line ‘Namo Ratna Guru’ to ‘I prostrate at the feet of your sambhogakaya’ is the homage. Then there's the line ‘Bless me with deep clear experience’ which is the request for blessings.”

The Transmission of Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs

His Holiness then began giving the transmission for the Instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs

Gyalwang Karmapa’s Commentary on the Text

After pausing briefly for a tea break, the Karmapa continued with an explanation of the text:

There are many different things we need to understand here. He is speaking about Mahamudra, the teachings on shamatha, and the instructions from Atisha passed down through Gampopa and given the name of the co-emergent union of Mahamudra. The Instructions of the Seven Pointing Outs are giving instructions on the paths and levels of Mahamudra, and about the four yogas with the three parts each, for twelve stages.

One text by Gyalwang Kunga Rinchen, which is very similar to Yangönpa’s, points out the realization of the paths and levels of Mahamudra. The paths and levels of Mahamudra have many different names. We talk about the four yogas of three stages each; the one-pointedness, simplicity, one flavor, and non-meditation.This is how we refer to the progression of the paths and levels of Mahamudra and it is essential to know them. 

Karmapa shared an encounter:

The Dalai Lama once said to me, “What are these one-pointedness, simplicity, one flavor, and non-meditation that Kagyus talk about?” At that point, I knew only a little bit about the terms of these four, but I didn't really know how to identify each of these. At that time, I was unable to give an answer directly. When we talk about one-pointedness, simplicity, one flavor, and non-meditation, what are these? The presentation of this is something to keep in mind.

Yangönpa’s instruction on the four yogas and the three parts each were thought highly of by Lord Tsongkhapa, who took a great interest in the presentation of the paths and levels according to Yangönpa. 

When speaking about this presentation of the four yogas, many people make objections to them, including within Kagyu itself. Nevertheless, there are instructions on the co-emergent union of Mahamudra that were passed from Atisha to Gönpawa, and later passed down to Lord Gampopa and Phagmo Drupa. At that time, there were many students who were a little degenerate but had great delight in the highest vehicle, and they called these instructions ‘the co-emergent union of Mahamudra’.  

Generally, we speak of the sutra tradition of Mahamudra, the tantra tradition of Mahamudra and the essence of Mahamudra. The pith instructions of Mahamudra are taught in different ways, so that is why they are categorized in this way. 

Some people say that there is no difference between sutra and tantra Mahamudra. Karmapa pointed out that Mikyö Dorje discusses the sutra and tantric traditions of Mahamudra in the beginning of the Chariot of the Practice Siddhas. He wrote that empowerments are not needed to practice sutra Mahamudra, and we call this ‘the path of liberation of Mahamudra’, which follows the thought of the Sutra of the King of Samadhi and developing Mahamudra through that.

Instructions on Shamatha

Next, Karmapa pointed out that the main text now begins with the first of the seven topics — the instructions on shamatha. According to Barawa Gyaltsen Palsang’s commentary, this can be divided into three: 

  1. How to rest the mind 
  2. Resting evenly without fabrication
  3. Taking thoughts as the path  

Karmapa then presented scanned images of an old printed edition of Yangönpa's collected works as well as one from Mikyö Dorje's Hundred Short Instructions, which differs slightly. His Holiness then continued with the transmission.

He emphasized that this should be taught by combining it with one's own experience; just reading the words and explaining the words is not all that beneficial. He then clarified:

When we are speaking about these methods of resting the mind, if you're looking for meditation in some external object, you can't find it. If you're looking outside, you can't meditate. Meditation means you need to turn inward. To look and take care of your mind, that's what we mean by meditation.

Karmapa emphasized that instead of having thoughts of “What is this, what is that?” and thinking about the outside like that, we need to turn our mind inward and say, “What is my mind? Let's look and see, well, what is my mind?”

Therefore, we need to turn inside and look inside ourselves. We look at the state that our mind is in, what thoughts are moving in our mind, or what is the nature of our mind, and what is the mind. It is important for us to think about this, in particular when we are meditating on the shamatha of Mahamudra.

He added:

Since there are so many people together, some will like what I say while others won't. Whether people like it or not is not the main thing, but even if people don't like it, they won't feel faith. If they don't have faith, they won't develop devotion. If they don't develop devotion, they won't receive the blessings. If you don't have devotion, then it's difficult to develop meditation yourself.

In brief, he summarized, when we are meditating on the shamatha of Mahamudra, the moment we become dharma practitioners, we should not look outside at other people. We should not look at what others are doing or talking about today, at what is going on in society. Instead, we need to look inside and turn our attention inwards to our own mind. We should look at what our own situation is. This is not referring to one’s physical situation or health, but the situation of our mind. He explained, “We can talk about the health of the body; we can also talk about the health of the mind. What is the health of our mind? It's really important for us to think about this.”

We always see other people's faults, but are we ourselves free of faults? No, of course we have a lot of faults, the worst being that we don't see our own faults, Karmapa pointed out. If we can't recognize what our own faults are, we can't improve ourselves. We have to be able to see our own faults if we are going to improve ourselves. We need to look at ourselves, and ask “Is what I am doing okay? Is the way I am thinking okay? Is the way I act okay?”

Karmapa stressed that as dharma practitioners, we need to turn our attention inward and think more about the ways we are thinking and behaving. We shouldn't be thinking only about how others act or think. All of the great beings who have achieved siddhi looked at their own mind, and all turned their attention inwards and looked inside; this is a really crucial point. He pointed out, “If we can't do this, no matter how many texts we might have read, then we are the same as researchers at great universities abroad. They do a lot of research, and some of them do turn their attention inwards, but most of them are primarily thinking about a topic of study and have the aim of getting a diploma.” 

If we say that we are dharma practitioners and the ones who are authentically practicing Buddhism, then the most important point is that we look inside ourselves. If we don't, then studying philosophy and going on a three-year retreat is basically a waste, he stated. It is really important to understand this critical point.

Kagyu Gunchoe: Improving our Study and Teaching

Karmapa then touched on the competitive debates of Kagyu Gunchoe which are continuing in the same way as last year. As he had mentioned on the first day of the Gunchoe, debating is a method to improve our study and teaching, and there are also many other different methods such as to teach, write, and explain. These days, in the great universities, people do research as a way to improve their study and to gain greater understanding of the texts. If we are using our own intelligence to study many different scriptures in the Kangyur and Tengyur, the older and later texts, not only within our own tradition, we can develop a resolve and resolution through this research. This understanding is not gained through merely reading, but through assiduous study. 

His Holiness mentioned previously that Lord Tsongkhapa had studied many sutras and tantras with many different great scholars, and at the end came to his own view and philosophy. He was able to combine these particular features and was able to write many different philosophical texts. 

Karmapa pointed out:

Some people raised objections saying that it doesn't match the thought of earlier masters, but if we think about it, he used his intelligence to accomplish this. He spent a long time listening and contemplating, researched greatly, and was able to produce a result himself. This is what happens if we use our intelligence. If instead we are just following others and repeating what previous masters have said, it is difficult to make any progress or improvement. 

His Holiness then mentioned that he wishes to accumulate more pieces of writing for the Gunchoe. Apart from a few khenpos who are writing papers, students may also write about the more important topics or difficult points in the texts. He cautioned that when we focus on the important points, sometimes we forget about the lesser points which can contain key details when we research deeply into them. If people can write papers on them and thus develop their practice of writing, Karmapa believes it will definitely help us develop an understanding of the texts and be of great benefit for us to delve more deeply into the texts.

He added that whenever we debate, there is a danger that we will just be debating about the words. We might try to find a fault or something that people won't be able to respond to. If we are thinking in this way, sometimes it is difficult to go really deeply into the points of the texts. Therefore, we need to use many different skillful means to improve our studies.

His Holiness then concluded the first day of teachings by encouraging monastics to speak about their opinions on this, if they have any, during the conference.

2024.01.08 Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs: Shamatha Meditation

The Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings: Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs

The Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings: Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs

24th Kagyu Gunchoe

Kagyu Monlam Pavillion, Bodhgaya

8 - 11 January 2024

His Holiness the Gyalwang Karmapa taught for three sessions  via webcast on the Eighth Karmapa Mikyo Dorje’s “One Hundred Short Instructions”.

His focus wasthe chapter of instructions on Gyalwa Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs.

The teachings concluded on the final day of the 24th Kagyu Gunchoe. The Khenpos, student monks, and all participants of the Gunchoe gathered together in the Monlam Pavillion for the event, which concluded with a mandala offering.

2024.01.08-11 The Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teachings: Yangönpa’s Seven Pointing Outs
Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa Arrives at Tergar

Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa Arrives at Tergar

Tergar Monastery,

8 January 2024

༄༅། །སྤྱི་ལོ ༢༠༢༤ ཟླ་བ་ ཚེས ཉིན་༧བྱམས་མགོན་རྡོ་རྗེ་འཆང་ཀྭན་ཏིང་ཏྭའི་སི་ཏུ་པདྨ་དོན་ཡོད་གྲུབ་པ་མཆོག གནས་མཆོག་རྡོ་རྗེ་གདན་དུ་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད་སྨོན་ལམ་ཆེན་མོའི་ཚོགས་མགོན་དུ་ཆིབས་བསྒྱུར་བསྐྱངས་བའི་སྐབས་བཀའ་བརྒྱུད་དགུན་ཆོས་ཉེར་བཞི་པའི་དགེ་སློབ་འདུས་མང་ཡོངས་ནས་་དགའ་དད་སྤྲོ་གསུམ་ངང་ཕེབས་བསུ་དགའ་བ་རྒྱས་པའི་མཆོད་སྤྲིན།།

Before the end of the Kagyu Gunchoe, Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situ Rinpoche arrived from his monastery, Sherabling, in Himachal Pradesh.  He has come primarily to preside over the Kagyu Monlam but will participate in the closing sessions of the Kagyu Gunchoe.

Tai Situpa was received at the airport by Mingyur Rinpoche and Gyalton Rinpoche.

A Golden Procession, as befits a high lama, welcomed him to Tergar monastery. Monks strew petals on the path ahead of him, and the ground was carpeted with red rose petals and orange and yellow marigolds, and his path was decorated with a lotus and dharmachakra made of blossoms, as well as the eight auspicious symbols. 

A grand procession led him into Tergar shrine room. After he had prostrated and mounted the throne, Mingyur Rinpoche led the ku-sung-thuk mandala offering.

In celebration, sweet rice and Tibetan tea were distributed.

This event marked a momentous occasion, the first time that Situ Rinpoche has been able to attend Kagyu Monlam in recent years. He will preside over it.

2024.01.08 Guru Vajradhara Chamgon Kenting Tai Situpa Arrives at Tergar