On How to Take the Practice to Heart
Literary Genres › Songs and Poems | Literary Genres › Advice | Tibetan Masters › Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö | Tibetan Masters › Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
On Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen’s How to Take the Practice to Heart
by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Namo means 'homage'; ratna means 'precious'; and gurave means 'to the guru'.
With the good fortune of having acquired the eight freedoms and ten advantages, with the trust of confidence in cause and effect and renunciation that comes from fear of birth, old age, sickness and death, with the devotion of assiduously following and not abandoning the instructions of a qualified and gracious guru and spiritual friend, prudent child of bright intelligence, keep the following in mind!
Once you have eliminated misconceptions through study and contemplation, then to take the practice to heart, please avail yourself of only the bare minimum of food, clothing and conversation, exercise great determination with unflagging diligence, entirely forgo attachment to the three realms of saṃsāra, dwell alone in the mountains like a wild animal, and forsake all this life’s mundane concerns, both major and minor, and any of the superficial trappings of a practitioner.
To develop the qualities of realization related to the three trainings within your being, please keep the threefold vows that you have taken on through promises—the pratimokṣa, bodhisattva and vidyādhara mantra vows—and samaya commitments as pure as a crystal vase, untainted by the stains of faults and downfalls; minimize the arrogance of regarding yourself highly and the conceit of clinging to your own accomplishment of meagre virtue; and, having abandoned disdain, rivalry and envy, show the utmost respect to all beings, whether high, low or middling in status, by honouring them like jewels upon your crown.
To receive the blessings of the foremost one, the guru who is the essence and embodiment of all the buddhas of the three times, please abandon the faithless notion that he is ordinary and any faults of wrong view, and conceive of him as an actual buddha; take the guru’s life of liberation, including realization, conduct, the three secrets and activity, as your model, just as when creating a tsa-tsa and reproducing the patterns engraved on the mould, and devote yourself to unfailing recollection of the guru based on mindfulness and vigilance and constant prayer that is not mere empty mouthing but based on sincere, unwavering devotion from the very core of your heart.
Please avoid conceptualizing the profound view of the dharmadhātu beyond elaboration by slipping into notions acquired from study and reflection, determine with the certainty of having eliminated misconceptions that all dualistic appearances are the perceptions of one’s own mind rather than real external objects; neither reject saṃsāra nor pursue nirvāṇa out of hope or fear; and let the agent, the mind that ascertains in this way, be purified in the basic space that is beyond arising, remaining and ceasing.
Please avoid becoming fixated in meditation upon this view, as if pinned down externally or internally; within the natural condition that is beyond confinement and release do away with attachment to the ephemeral experiences of bliss, clarity and non-conceptuality; by allowing any thoughts that arise to vanish by themselves without trace, capture the natural state of pure awareness wherein the root of any identification as to what arises or ceases is cut through; and cultivate the natural state which goes beyond verbal expression and the thoughts and notions of ordinary consciousness.
Please avoid any adoption and avoidance of this or that based on ideas of good or bad in relation to the conduct of the three doors by purifying any thoughts of acceptance and rejection within basic space, since by capturing the stronghold of the view nothing wavers from great equanimity; allow dualistic conceptions of good and bad to dissolve by themselves, like a snake uncoiling its own knots; regard the eight mundane preoccupations, which consist of four favourable and four unfavourable states—gain and loss, joy and sorrow, fame and insignificance, praise and blame—as equal in value; and eschew even the ‘remedies’ of positive thoughts in which you think, “It is emptiness” or “It is illusory and dependent origination”. As the Verse Summary of the Perfection of Wisdom says, “Having destroyed and let go of concepts, one crosses over.”
Please do not hope for a fruition that it is to be attained at some distant time hereafter, but let the wisdom of one’s own pure awareness, the realization of the natural state, manifest. It is when this happens, as the fruition that is inherently present becomes clear, based on the key point that ground and fruition are indivisible, that the mere label of attaining the fruition is applied. When your familiarity with the view is stable, merge meditation with post-meditation, so that they are of one flavour, inseparable and indivisible, and let the compulsion to practice this or meditate on that, based on thoughts of daily sessions and periods between sessions, fade away.
To bring about the welfare of other beings, who are equal in number to the limits of space, please let the force of aspiration in which there is clinging to the three conceptual spheres [of subject, object and action] run its course, and the interdependence of causes and conditions for all the phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa arise unceasingly, as you master great, non-referential compassion for all sentient beings, pure and impure, out of a state in which emptiness and dependent origination are indivisible, since from the very moment [phenomena] arise they cannot be separated from the emptiness that is their absence of true nature.
This short song of eightfold request, which brings together the key points of dharma practice related to sūtra and mantra, was sung by Drakpa Gyaltsen, a yogin of the supreme vehicle, for one faithful and diligent student of bright intelligence seeking to apply himself to the practice. Rather than leaving it merely as something written on the page, keep it in your heart, and ensure in this way that it proves significant for the three doors [i.e., physically, vocally and mentally]. Generate strong determination and persevere in meditation until it does, meaning that you acquire the confidence of such experience, and swiftly attain the level of great awakening which avoids the two extremes of existence and quiescence. Samāptam iti means 'It is complete'.
These brief annotations were written by the foolish Chökyi Lodrö at the behest of Sakyapa Ngawang Kunga Sönam. May virtue abound!
| Translated by Adam Pearcey with the generous support of the Khyentse Foundation and Terton Sogyal Trust, 2021.
'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros, "rje btsun rin po che grags pa rgyal mtshan gyis mdzad pa'i sgrub pa nyams su len tshul/" in ’Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung ’bum. 12 vols. Bir: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. W1KG12986 Vol. 8: 599–605
Other Primary Source
grags pa rgyal mtshan. gsung 'bum ?dpe bsdur ma?/_grags pa rgyal mtshan/. BDRC W2DB4569. 5 vols. Pe cin: krung go'i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2007. Vol. 5: 350–351
I.e., Jigdral Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche (1929–2016). ↩