Dzogchen and building a foundation

Dzogchen, or “the great perfection”, is a practice commonly practiced within the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In order to practice Dzogchen, it is often said that one needs to have a good “foundation.”

Alan Wallace talks about how he encountered the Dzogchen teachings, and how his years of study within different traditions and his time as a monk helped create a foundation for this practice, giving insight on how others may also create a solid foundation.

The Bodhisattva’s Jewel Garland

The Bodhisattva’s Jewel Garland was composed by Lama Atisha, who was known for revitalizing Buddhism in Tibet. What makes this text interesting is that it is a set of “pithy” instructions on how one is to conduct one’s life on a day-to-day basis, according to the Bodhisattva principles.

Here is a commentary on the text by Ven. Khangser Rinpoche:

Here is the original text, a translation by Lotsawa House:

The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels

by Atisha Dipamkara

In the language of India: Bodhisattvamaṇyāvalī
In the language of Tibet: changchub sempé norbü trengwa
In the English language: The Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels

Homage to great compassion!
Homage to the deities who inspire faith and devotion!
Homage to the masters!

Be done with doubt and indecision,
And embrace your practice with all your heart.
Shake off lethargy, dullness and laziness,
And strive always with enthusiasm and joy.

Mindful, vigilant and careful,
Guard the doorways of your senses at every moment.
Three times each day, three times at night,
Again and again, examine your thoughts.

Make plain your own failings,
But don’t look for faults in others.
Make known the good points of others,
But keep quiet about your own best qualities.

Let go of craving for gain and honour,
And give up the urge for profit or fame.

Cultivate love and compassion,
And make your bodhichitta stable.
Avoid the ten unwholesome actions,
And make your faith and confidence be strong.

With few wants, be content with what you have,
And with gratitude repay any kindness you receive.

Overcome anger and arrogance,
And let humility rule your mind.
Give up any unwholesome kind of living,
And pursue a livelihood in keeping with the Dharma.

Do away with your addiction to material things,
And adorn yourself with the riches of the Aryas.

The wealth of faith, of discipline,
Generosity and learning,
Decency, self-control,
And wisdom—such are the seven riches.
These most sacred forms of wealth
Are seven treasures that never run out.
Do not speak of this to those who are not human.

Leave all busyness and distraction behind,
And dwell instead in seclusion and solitude.

Refrain from meaningless chatter,
And always keep a check on what you say.

Whenever you see your master or preceptor,
Offer to serve them with devotion and respect.
Those who possess enlightened vision
And those first setting out upon the path—
Regard them both as your spiritual teachers.

Whenever you see any sentient beings,
Regard them as your parents or your children.
Don’t befriend those who act in harmful ways;
Instead rely on true spiritual friends.

Drop any feelings of hostility or ill will,
And be happy, wherever you choose to go.

Avoid getting attached to anything at all,
And stay free from craving and desire.
Attachment not only keeps you from happy births,
It kills the very life of liberation.

Should you find a way to peace and happiness,
Strive constantly to put it into practice.
Whatever task you set out to do,
Accomplish that very thing first.
This way, everything will turn out well;
If not, nothing will succeed.

Never take pleasure in acts that harm.
And when thoughts of superiority creep in,
There and then, deflate your self-importance,
And recall your master’s personal advice.
Or whenever you feel discouraged or inadequate,
Raise your spirits and encourage yourself.
And always meditate on emptiness.

Should the objects of attachment or aversion appear,
View them as no more than illusions or projections.
Should you hear unpleasant words,
Consider them nothing more than echoes.
Should you suffer physical harm,
See it as the result of your past actions.

Keep entirely to solitude, far away from town,
And, like the carcass of some wild animal,
Stay hidden in nature by yourself,
Free of all entanglement and attachment.

Always keep up your pledges and commitments,
And should laziness or procrastination strike,
Immediately take note of your errors, one by one,
And remind yourself of the heart of your discipline.

Whenever you meet another person,
Speak calmly, sincerely and truthfully.
Take care not to frown or glare,
And always wear a cheerful smile.

And when you’re with those you see every day,
Don’t be stingy, but be happy to give,
And banish all feelings of envy.

So as to protect others’ peace of mind,
Stay clear of quarrels of any kind,
And be patient and always forbearing.

Don’t flatter, or be a fickle friend,
But be steadfast and reliable all the time.
Never disparage or belittle other people,
But treat everyone with respect.

When giving advice or instructions,
Do so with compassion and a genuine wish to help.
Be sure never to criticize the teachings.
Set your sights on what inspires you most,
And, through the ten forms of Dharma practice,[1]
Exert yourself in sessions, day and night.

Among others, keep a check on your speech;
When alone, keep a check on your mind.

Whatever virtues you amass in the past, present and future,
Dedicate them all towards great, unsurpassable awakening,
Share your merit among all sentient beings,
And with the seven branch practice,
Continually make great prayers of aspiration.

Practising like this, you will complete
Accumulations of both merit and wisdom,
And eliminate the two forms of obscuration.
You will make this human life meaningful,
And, in time, gain unsurpassable awakening.

This concludes the Bodhisattva’s Garland of Jewels, composed by the great Indian pandita Dipamkara Shrijnana.

Buddhist Logic on Quiting Intoxicants

Lama Zopa Rinpoche explains, through the Buddhist framework, the mindset someone can take on quit intoxicants. As he explains:

This advice can be applied to alcohol addiction or smoking cigarettes, and I also think the same psychology can be applied to drug addiction. Once you get the idea, you can just change the object; the idea is the same.

Click here to read the article.

Vesak 2015

June  1, 2015 marks Vesak day, or a traditional celebration day for Buddha Shakyamuni’s Birthday. Here is an interesting video by Venerable Thubten Chodron done on Vesak a few years ago, to help give more meaning to this special day. Her talk is entitled: “Why did the Buddha do Spiritual Practice?”

Here is a video from Sri

Lanka, showing the festival of lights that shows how it is celebrated in this traditional Buddhist country:

Save Geshe Tashi Topgey’s Life

Geshe Tashi Topgey is a monk at Sera Je monastery that needs a life saving surgery. Some information about his situation:

Geshe Tashi Topgey urgently needs your help.Geshe Tashi Topgey is a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition who lives at Sera Jey Monastery in Karnataka State in the south of India.  Born in the Monpa village of Surbi located in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, Geshe Tashi has been a monk at Sera Jey for around 30 years.  During his years at Sera he has worked tirelessly to serve his monastery in various capacities.  Currently Geshe Tashi serves as manager of Drati House, a section of Sera Jey that houses, educates and looks after 400 monks, old and young.

On May 27, 2015, Geshe Tashi suddenly collapsed unconscious while  working at the monastery.  He was rushed to Narayana Multispeciality Hospital in the city of Mysore, a distance of two hours by car from Sera.

Doctors have determined that Geshe Tashi has suffered an acute subarachnoid hemorrhage.  A subarachnoid hemorrhage is bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain. The doctors feel that most likely this hemorrhage was caused by a ruptured cerebral anneurysm and have planned to do a CT scan to confirm their diagnosis.

However, Geshe Tashi was found to have hypertensive nephropathy (high blood pressure) when he was brought into the hospital.  The doctors stated in their report…”As doing a contrast CT cerebral angiogram will worsen the kidney functions and (Geshe Tashi) might require post procedure dialysis it was decided to be planned only after obtaining proper consent from (his) relatives….The surgery (to address) the anneurysm would be a high risk surgery…”

The doctors have said that this surgery has a 50-50 chance of success. Geshe Tashi’s family is en route to south India from Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh and should arrive in 3 days.

Geshe Tashi comes from a simple family of farmers.  His father died in July of 2014 and his mother is elderly.  The family does not posses adequate finacial resources to cover the cost of the surgery and the additional care Geshe Tashi will require if the surgery is a success.

We are humbly asking for help to provide this wonderful monk the care he desperarely needs so he can have a chance to live.

On behalf of Geshe Tahsi Topgey’s family and friends we deeply appreciate any help you can provide.


Click here to donate funds to his possible life saving surgery.

Saka Dawa 2015

Saka Dawa starts this year on May 19, and continues to June 16. Its meant to celebrate Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth, death and enlightenment. A special feature of this month is that all the virtuous practices that one does during this time is multiplied, and is therefore known as the month of merit. Some suggestions from Lama Zopa and FPMT on for generating merit during this time include:

Here is an interesting video with some prayers and Praises to 21 Taras done at Tsengdok Monastery during a previous Saka Dawa.


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