Revered Tibetan Buddhist meditation master and annual teacher at the Garrison Institute Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche gave these teachings in March 2020 in his personal audience room at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery in Kathmandu. The audience was a small group of students from the Rangjung Yeshe Institute, an institute for the study of Buddhism founded by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche in 1997, which has since 2002 also served as Kathmandu University’s Centre for Buddhist Studies.
In these teachings, Rinpoche briefly addresses the coronavirus pandemic, but focuses mostly on the fundamentals of Buddhist practice and the importance of cultivating the qualities that allow practitioners to take the Buddhist path to the final result of ultimate awakening. For realization to occur through the Vajrayana vehicle, Rinpoche says, a qualified student must meet with a qualified teacher. Ultimately the student must have utter revulsion for ignorance, and utter devotion for the opposite of ignorance, namely, rigpa, the natural state.
In this comprehensive teaching Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche tells us that the Buddha taught the Dharma of the two truths: the relative truth of convention—the way things appear to us—and the ultimate truth of how things actually are. The problem, Rinpoche says, is that when we are divorced from a correct understanding of reality, we continue to engage the world from a place of delusion. Within this delusion, we perpetuate our own and others’ suffering. Rinpoche teaches that we need to bring together the conditions that both support that understanding of reality as it is and simultaneously begin to protect us from our immediate experience of suffering. We gather those conditions by avoiding the ten non-virtuous actions, engaging in virtuous conduct, and cultivating love and compassion. Rinpoche goes on to explain the various vehicles of Buddhism and how they operate, moving through the Foundational Vehicle, to the Mahayana Vehicle, to the extraordinary methods of the Vajrayana Vehicle.
In the second part of this teaching, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche enters into a thorough presentation of the essential points of Vajrayana practice. Rinpoche describes three different approaches to the teachings: the tradition of studying and reflecting upon the view, the tradition of training in the pith instructions, and the tradition of the direct transference of blessings. Then Rinpoche emphasizes the incredible value of recognizing, sustaining, and realizing the nature of mind. For this to take place, devotion and pure perception are of paramount importance. Rinpoche says that the nature of mind is none other than the realization of the Buddhas. When we recognize the nature of mind, we are recognizing the first of the Buddhas’ two types of wisdom, that which knows the natural state, just as it is. When the strength of this recognition is fully developed, we gain the second wisdom, which knows everything there is to know. This, Rinpoche says, is how we ourselves become Buddhas.
Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche is a world-renowned teacher and meditation master in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born in Tibet in 1951 as the oldest son of his mother Kunsang Dechen, a devoted and accomplished Buddhist practitioner, and his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, an accomplished master of Buddhist meditation. As a young child, Chokyi Nyima—“Sun of the Dharma”—was recognized as the seventh incarnation of the Tibetan meditation master Gar Drubchen.
In 1959, following the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Rinpoche’s family fled to India where Rinpoche spent his youth studying under some of Tibetan Buddhism’s most illustrious masters, such as His Holiness the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen, and Rinpoche’s own father, Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
In 1974, Rinpoche left India to join his parents in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he assisted them in establishing Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery. Upon its completion in 1976, H.H. the Karmapa enthroned Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche as the monastery’s abbot. To this day, Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, the home of more than 500 monks, remains the heart of Rinpoche’s ever-growing mandala of activity. Rinpoche is also the head of Nagi Gompa Nunnery, a nunnery of some 200 nuns in the Himalayan foothills outside of Kathmandu. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has founded eight Rangjung Gomde Buddhist centers—in the US, Denmark, Austria, France, England, Scotland, Russia, and Ukraine—as well as Dharma Houses in city centers all over the world. Rinpoche is the founder of the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in Kathmandu, stewards Buddhist translation initiatives as the head of the Dharmachakra Translation Committee, and engages in compassionate social work through his organization Rangjung Yeshe Shenpen.
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