When Buddha turned the wheel of the Dharma, he began the teachings that would lead sentient beings away from suffering and toward enlightenment. The teachers that followed him have kept the tradition of the Dharma alive and relevant to their time. We are fortunate to have ZaChoeje Rinpoche, a true lineage master, to guide us in our exploration of Buddhist teachings and spiritual life.
A sampling of the workshops offered by our teachers over the past several years are described below.
Based on Chandrakirti’s Madhyakavatara and Shantideva’s The Bodhisattva Way of Life, these teachings are designed to explore the limits of our ordinary intellect and then show us the path to go beyond our conceptual mind.
Ultimate reality is not separate from the world around us; it is the very nature of our world! The two truths are not separate; when they merge, the result is harmony. It is useful to keep in mind that the final aim of our study of the Madhyamika and the Perfection of Wisdom is to lead us to ultimate Enlightenment, a state free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
LAM RIM CHEN MO
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim Chen Mo) is one of the brightest jewels in the world's treasury of sacred literature. The author, Tsong-Kha-Pa (1357-1419), completed this masterpiece in 1402 and it soon became one of the most renowned works of spiritual practice and philosophy in the world of Tibetan Buddhism.
Tsong-Kha-Pa took great pains to base his incisive insights on the classical Indian Buddhist literature, illustrating his points with classical citations as well as with sayings of the masters of the earlier Kadampa tradition. In this way the text demonstrates clearly how Tibetan Buddhism carefully preserved and developed the Indian Buddhist traditions.
Nagarjuna's Precious Garland
Nagarjuna was born 400 years after Buddha passed away and is renowned for his penetrating analysis of reality. Through his vast insight, we get glimpses of the Prajnaparamita and the very essence of the Buddha's teaching. In the Precious Garland, Nagarjuna offers intimate guidance to, over the span of lifetimes, perfect personal happiness, develop compassion, and realize emptiness. As Nagarjuna encourages, these practices will ultimately release us from the suffering of Samsara into enlightenment.
Rinpoche selected this workshop to help support our understanding of the teachings on Wisdom and for anyone who seriously wants guidance on how to help themselves and others live happier lives. As ZaChoeje Rinpoche often tells us, "Knowing what you need to do is not enough. It is not amazing until we put into practice."
Commentary on Atisha's Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment
The great Indian master Atisha (982 - 1054) is revered as one of the greatest masters of Buddhism. The king in Tibet made a request to Atisha, whose sincerity and simplicity is said to have pleased him. The King said "we do not want teachings that are so vast and profound we shall never be able to adopt them. What we need is something that will tame our minds and enable us to deal with everyday impulsive behavior."
Four centuries later the great Tibetan master Lama Tsong Khapa wrote about Atisha: "Wherever the doctrine had disappeared he re-established it; where it had diminished he revived it; and where it had become stained by wrong interpretations he purified it. Thus he brought Dharma in Tibet into a state free from distortion."
Death and Dying and the practice of Phowa. This is a teaching that will increase our understanding, help us to remove fear and allow us to become familiar with the stages of death so that we may more easily help others and ourselves at the time of death.
The Four Noble Truths
The Buddha’s first teachings. The Four Noble Truths are
- The nature of suffering
- Suffering’s origin
- Suffering’s cessation
- The way leading to the cessation of suffering
Understanding these truths is the first step on the path to the end of suffering.
One takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha in order to lead oneself away from the pain of samsara. Refuge can be taken in the presence of a lineage master such as Rinpoche.
Bodhicitta, the compassionate mind that aspires to enlightenment, sees all beings as the essential catalyst for true happiness. Great compassion is the root of the Mahayana path, the vehicle that leads to the realization of our ultimate potential. It is said that if one has Bodhicitta every action no matter how small serves as a cause for great happiness.
Lojong Mind Training
The Lojong practice, initiated by Atisha in the 11th century CE, is part of the Mahayana school. The practice consists of training the mind to release negative habits and adopt positive ways of thinking that will ultimately lead one to enlightenment.
Buddhist Methods of Meditation
Meditation is the art of living in the present moment. There are many different meditation techniques, including those that calm our minds, those that help us analyze different situations, and those that help us identify with our potential to experience an enlightened world.
The tradition meditation practices of Calm Abiding, Analytical Meditation, and Phowa, Transference of Consciousness, will be taught.
Mahamudra, a Sanskrit word meaning “great seal,” refers to the true nature of all phenomena.
One of the uncommon methods, Mahamudra is a technique that leads us to reflect upon the very nature of mind itself. When we apply a discriminating awareness that sees the illusory nature of all phenomenon to the mind itself, we gain a strong clarity of our skylike nature.
Guru Yoga, also known as the practice of merging one’s mind with the mind of the master, is one of the most important in Vajrayana Buddhism. It brings us to trust, through the blessing of the teacher, our own enlightened nature. The word Guru means master. It infers not only the external master but our own individual Buddha nature. The word Yoga means the practice of unifying the master’s and our own Buddha nature as one. The result is a firm spiritual foundation that gives us new tools to deal with fluctuating changes and unexpected challenges. We learn to harness our Buddha nature.