Saturday, February 19, 2011

Teachings on Gong Chik's 1st Vajra Verse

These are my personal notes on teachings given by His Eminence Dagpo Chenga Rinpoche, recently given in Singapore. Any mistakes are my own.

All 7 chapters of the Gong chik from causal to the resultant stage of liberation are all about view, meditation and action.

Turning the Wheel of Dharma:
The first chapter is on turning the wheel of dharma. The 1st vajra statement is – All the Buddha’s teachings are in accord with the nature of phenomena. Not something against nature. Why the Buddha renounced the world was that he saw the suffering world has a cause and an ending and how it end it. Individuals who wish for happiness should give up committing unwholesome deeds. He was also searching for a lasting happiness. At last he saw that what created wholesome and unwholesome actions and karma ultimately can be attributed to the mind or related to it. That’s why all the Buddha’s teachings are to tame the mind, which will mean taming the body, speech and mind.

Before Buddha’s time, there already exist in the people’s mind how good and bad karma is created but people do not fully understand how they are due to the mind. The Buddha showed us the path on the universal law of good actions bring good results, bad actions bring bad results. Our happiness and suffering ultimately depends on our fundamental mind. Not on external environment. So, in the 1st turning of the wheel, the Buddha taught the 4 Noble Truths. We need to get rid of the suffering we are experiencing. He taught us to achieve enlightenment. The word “Buddha” is enlightenment or in Tibetan is “Sangye”, means rid of causes of suffering and accomplishing all happiness as well as one who knows all the causes and results of actions (karma). All the Buddhas teachings can be summarise into the 4 lines –

Avoid all evil,
Do all good,
Purify the mind,
This is the teachings of all the Buddhas.

For the 2nd turning of the wheel, the relative and ultimate truths are not something created by the Buddha. This is also in accordance with nature of phenomena. When we go through the relative teachings – good things we need to cultivate and bad things we need to avoid. But ultimately everything is empty of inherent existence. When we can understand that, we are able to eliminate our own suffering. Another name of the Buddha is “leader”. He leads us to practice what is good and avoid what is bad. He is not giving us orders. He is just leading us to that state. So in Buddhism we do not believe in a Creator. What we are experiencing, are not created by someone else. If at all we need to blame, we need to blame ourselves. He has never considered himself as God/Creator. Whether we believe or not, positive actions lead to positive results and vice-versa. This is nature of phenomena. Not something he created. Not something somebody else created either. So we become our own protector when we do positive deeds, and become our own destroyer when we commit wrong. So Buddha said he had shown the path and whether we attain it, depends on ourselves, i.e. our own effort. This means that by praying only to the Buddha, we will not be able to attain liberation. Only by practicing the path shown by the Buddha can we attain liberation. Suffering of sentient beings cannot be reversed/ washed by the Buddha nor can it be transferred to someone else like a machine. So the Buddha gives us wisdom to distinguish what is right/wrong. This means that by merely giving the buddha’s teachings to another, this will by itself not be able to liberate the person. That sentient being must have the potential to get rid of his/her causes of suffering and attain liberation.

For the 3rd turning of the wheel, the tathagatagarbha – every sentient being can attain liberation due to the Buddha nature in everyone. Just by itself, we will not be able to attain liberation. We need to work on the Buddha nature. So, back to the instruction on how to avoid evil, practice good, we must rely on instructions of past great masters. For example, by taking refuge alone, it’s not going to help much. But we must understand what is the three refuge meant. Ultimate protection is dharma. Dharma tells us what action to abandon and what to cultivate. Just by having faith in the 3 refuges, is not going to help us much. Only by practicing the dharma, it is like going inside a house. Not just admiring it from the outside. Sangha is the 3rd refuge – those assisting in the path to liberation. One to whom we can take example in the path to liberation. We are not referring to ordinary Sangha, but Arya Sangha. If we do not understand properly, we will not know what taking refuge is all about. The principle behind the 3 Refuges is the dharma. Only practicing the dharma can liberate, i.e. by contemplating and meditating on the dharma can we practice the dharma. No need to go here and there to listen to the dharma. Just study and practice the Gong chik, which contains all the teachings of the Buddhas. So, we can listen to the teachings, it is important we understand how the teachings can be contained in the Gong chik. Just like when we understand how all the teachings of Buddha is in its own fundamental phenomena. In this one line, everything is included in this one line of vajra verse. But the Buddha’s teachings are very deep. Despite this, if we can understand this verse and understand that everything are created by the mind – and if we can just change our mind, we can change or end our suffering. Then its not that difficult to understand the Buddha’s deep teachings to attain liberation. Avoiding evil, and doing good is something that everyone like us can practice. Very much related to us like being more peaceful, avoiding war, and can apply in other daily situations.

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