Three Profound Pith Instructions
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From the murals of Shechen Monastery. Used with permission of Rabjam Rinpoche.
The Three Profound Pith Instructions
by Mipham Rinpoche
I pay homage to Mañjuśhri.
If you want victory over the battlefield
Of sickness, harmful influences, and mental afflictions,
You need the pith instructions on dissolution into the internal body,
Into the external world, and in and of itself.
1. The Pith Instruction for Dissolution of the External World Into the Internal Body
If intense fear of harmful influences and obstructing forces arises and nothing eases it regardless of what you do, lay aside the use of protection circles, wrathful mantras, and other such methods for expelling it. How do the countless harmful influences and obstructing forces present here in the three realms cause harm? Within the falsehood arising from the mind that there is a "harmdoer" and "one who is harmed." Under the influence of dualistic perceptions, we label "harm." If there were no such grasping, there could be no harm.
For instance, if someone is afraid to be next to the corpse of a person who died under terrible circumstances, they could be negatively affected by the corpse. But if a corpse were placed in a bag unbeknownst to them, they wouldn't be afraid even if they used that bag as a pillow, and likewise it wouldn't adversely affect them. In this way, we can see that everything is dependent upon whether or not we change our mind.
In particular, if one clings to oneself as someone who is harmed and to others as harmdoers, and then fears encountering them—imagining all the problems of meeting them—this fear is the root source of harm, not those harmful influences.
What's the point in trying to escape local gods or demons whose bodies are merely mentally created? And, if we know they can't hurt us, then what is the point of trying to escape? If we perceive them as harmful, even gods can act as demons; if we perceive them as beneficial, even demons can act as gods.
In the nature of things, there is nothing that can be established to exist categorically as only one thing. When examined, everything is found to be equally groundless and empty. It is due to our mind’s own concepts that something is either beneficial or harmful. So as great as our fear of a savage beast in a dream may be, to that degree we are harmed. Using reasoning to determine that harm is brought on by oneself, see the hidden meaning of this key point.
Then, imagine that whatever harmful influences you fear—their actual presence and place of residence, including all the realms of the universe and beings to the extent of infinite space—gather together all at once and completely dissolve into the interior of your body. Think that this is absorbed into what is called your "self," a black pea-sized sphere within the heart, which cannot withstand it and evaporates into minute particles until it vanishes, leaving nothing behind. Then all phenomena are indivisible in essence with your mind, merged as one taste. Think that there is no differentiation or separation between "myself" and "other" whatsoever.
Relax your mind. Since everything—not only the harmful influences who hurt this self, but also the benevolent gods and harm-doing spirits throughout the states of existence, and all beings of the three realms, the universe and its contents, be they enemies, friends, or neither—has merged as one single taste with the self, who could be harmed? Who could cause harm? Observing how harm or benefit could happen, when you see that there is no such thing as benefit or harm, say, "This is it." Then relax the mind within, allowing it to rest in its own naturally settled state. If you have recognition of awareness, rest within that state. If you do not have recognition, think, "I'll allow whatever happens to happen, and whatever is, to be what it is," and rest with a relaxed and open mind.
Using this example, practice the same way in response to all fears relating to the external world. If you practice in this exact way anytime fear escalates, fear will decrease. As meditative experience gradually increases, the fear of harmful influences will be overcome.
This is the first pith instruction that sprung forth from the secret awareness of Mipham Jampel Gyepa. Since pith instructions of this profundity are exceedingly rare on earth, this should be sealed in secrecy!
2. The Pith Instruction for Dissolution of the Internal Body Into the External World
When we are disturbed by intense sickness and nothing eases it regardless of what we do, why is it that we can be sick like this? It is brought on by this illusory body itself. Without a body, what could be sick? Pain is solely brought on by the limited perception that believes in thoughts such as, "This body is mine," and, "In this world, this body belongs only to me."
Furthermore, this body is superficially and newly formed dependent upon the blood and sperm of our parents. It is a compilation of a variety of impure substances, soft and tender, a collection of smaller particles. From the time of conception until death, the body continuously changes from moment to moment. As a collection of elements, it is a city of myriad sicknesses. And in the end, no matter what we do, it will be left behind to rot and break down. Determine that it possesses these attributes.
The solid constituents of the body, such as flesh and bones, are no different than the external elements of earth. Likewise, its heat corresponds to fire, its respiration corresponds to wind, and its blood and liquids correspond to water. The body becomes sick from the changes in these four elements. Even though that aggregation of elements plainly appears as this body, the elements can be broken down into parts and subparts, down to the subtlest particles. Each and every one is discrete, in its own location, can be destroyed, can be broken apart. They are all on the verge of separating, soft and tender without any core, and like bubbles on water. The body is without an actual foundation or base because when examined down to the subtlest particles, even those can't be established to exist.
Yet, having become habituated to solidifying concepts, which have perceived a body throughout beginningless time, the body truly appears and has become a basis for benefit or harm, and the doorway for perpetuating pleasure and pain. If examined, even though it doesn't exist, it continuously appears, just like the moon's reflection in water, a dream, or an illusion. Reach certainty through seeing this.
Then, in order to collapse the grasping to a body, say, "P'HAT!" and think that all the internal elements of flesh, bones, and so forth, release and scatter into the external earth elements, merging with them. Continue, and with each P'HAT do the same for every element, blending blood into water, heat into fire, and breath into wind. Think that your body is entirely gone.
Finally, with a single utterance of P'HAT, blend your mind with space. Rest without grasping to anything whatsoever, free of thoughts.
During post-meditative awareness, repeatedly focus your attention on the thought that the five internal elements have merged indivisibly with the five external elements, and that your ephemeral body is no more.
By doing so, all painful discomfort and problems, such as those caused by sickness, harmful influences, evil spirits, and defiling substances, will be completely expelled.
This is the second profound pith instruction that sprung forth from the secret awareness of Mipham Jampel Dorje.
3. The Pith Instruction for Non-dual Dissolution in and of Itself
When mental afflictions and discursive thoughts arise in the mind and no methods can remove them, think as follows: Because these thoughts bubbling and churning inside me are a composite of causes and conditions, they are intermittent. They come about through the construct of dualistic perception. If this construct were absent, they wouldn't arise, similar to space. While the diversity of possible phenomenal appearances is boundless, amongst these, we grasp to the narrow mind and body as the experiencer and to the diverse good and bad objects as the experienced. See the hidden flaws of the many concepts that arise based on that.
Then, blend the inner body and mind, [external] objects, space, and the universe and beings in their entirety, as one taste. Thoughts of "this" and "that” and the thinker and what is thought are not different; instead they are equally and pervasively open like space. Sustaining that experience, rest for as long as you can without thinking about anything, while everything has vanished into the primordial fundamental nature.
Familiarize yourself by practicing like that repeatedly, and eventually through relaxing so that thoughts stop rising, the thoughts will vanish in and of themselves. Wellbeing will blaze forth from within and obstacles to śhamatha and vipaśhyana meditation will subside by themselves.
This is the third profound pith instruction that sprang forth from the secret awareness of Mipham Jampel Dorje.
If you are afraid of others, dissolve the external world into yourself.
If your body is in pain, disperse it into the elements of the external world.
Rest in the space where self and other are non-dual.
These three modes of dissolution are the profound pith instructions of Mañjuśhri.
These three profound pith instructions on dissolving the external world into the internal body, dissolving the internal body into the external world, and non-duality dissolving in and of itself, constitute a profound dharma, which emerged in the ocean of Jampal Dorje's mind at the base of Dza Dorje Penchuk Mountain on the twenty-third day of the eleventh month of the Earth Pig Year.
| Translated by Paloma Lopez Landry, 2022.
mi pham rgya mtsho. "man ngag zab mo rnam gsum" In gsung 'bum/_mi pham rgya mtsho. 27 vols. Paro, Bhutan: Lama Ngodrup and Sherab Drimey, 1984–1993. (BDRC W23468). Vol. 5: 584–590
It is the express wish of Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche, under whose guidance this text was translated, that we display a restricted text warning. The profound methods outlined here should only be studied and practised by those who have received appropriate transmissions and guidance. ↩
As stated above, the elements of flesh, bones and so forth merge with the earth element; blood merges with the water element; heat merges with fire; breath with wind; and the mind with space. ↩
Corresponding to 24 January 1900. ↩