Advice Series

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A series of texts of advice and practical instructions on the path in general as well as more specific topics such as the intermediate states (bar do), Dzogchen, Mahāmudrā and retreat:




Simple advice on investigating the origination, presence and departure (byung gnas 'gro gsum) of thoughts and resting without fabrication or contrivance in order to see the essence of mind.

This brief advice on the practice of the Great Perfection and the importance of devotion was written for the king of Lowo in Ngari in 1750.

In this short instruction in verse, Khenpo Pema Vajra explains the key points of the path in general and of the Great Perfection in particular. His practical advice includes what to do in the intermediate state, or bardo.

One of the better known instructions from the collection known as Responses to Questions, Advice from the Guru's Direct Instructions (bla ma dmar khrid kyi zhal gdams zhus lan skor), which is included in the Precious Treasury of Revelations (rin chen gter mdzod). The text contains simple advice from Guru Padmasambhava for his elderly disciple, Ngok Sherab Gyalpo.

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche recalls the advice of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, who managed to encapsulated the Dzogchen practice of Trekchö (khregs chod) in a single pithy instruction.

In this short essay, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche explains the theory behind the Dzogchen preliminary practice known as Khordé Rushen ('khor 'das ru shan), or separating the domains of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.

Definitions of the five wisdoms (ye shes lnga), i.e., the wisdom of dharmadhātu, mirror-like wisdom, wisdom of equality, wisdom of discernment and all-accomplishing wisdom, according to the oral tradition of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, aka Khenpo Ngakchung.

Pith instructions on liberating thoughts, translated from a rare manuscript in the library of Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje.


In this brief advice the great scholar Butön Rinchen Drup (1290–1364) explains what it is to be truly wise, a true bodhisattva, and a true adept of the secret mantrayāna.

In this song of yearning devotion, or prayer of 'calling the guru from afar' (bla ma rgyang 'bod), the late Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche offers his followers some profound advice related to "the swift path of the luminous Great Perfection."

Important words of advice for all serious Dharma practitioners from the great Dzogchen yogin Chatral Sangye Dorje.

Composed for the sixth Drikung Chungtsang, Könchok Tenzin Chökyi Lodrö (1801–1859), this short text offers straightforward advice on measuring one's progress on the Dharma path.

In these four short lines, written in 1989, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche encapsulates the entire Buddhist path, which includes the cultivation of devotion, non-distraction, the recollection of death and impermanence, and compassion.

In this brief text, Jigme Tenpe Nyima explains the most important reasons for regarding the teacher as a buddha, a central tenet of the Vajrayāna.

On the basis of classical sources, Jigme Tenpe Nyima warns of the dangers of sleep and drowsiness; he also offers some practical suggestions for cutting down on sleep and enhancing diligence.

A candid, somewhat comical description of what it means to take a limited and superficial approach to scholarship, which Jigme Tenpe Nyima tells us is based on his own experience.

In this very short text, Jigme Tenpe Nyima describes the best, middling and inferior ways of using pain and illness as part of the Mahāyāna path.

In this short text, Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche explains some important points of conduct to be observed by the saṅgha of monastic practitioners and the saṅgha of vidyādhara yogins. It was written with a view to preserving aspects of tradition in danger of being lost forever.

Six lines of essential advice from the Fifteenth Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje to his spiritual consort, the celebrated ḍākinī Urgyen Tsomo (1897–1961).

This general advice from the great Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé covers every level of the spiritual path. Drawing upon famous statements by Atiśa and Śāntideva, he offers ethical guidance and practical instructions for watching the mind, cultivating renunciation, compassion and devotion, and realising the nature of all phenomena.

This simple advice covering the entire Buddhist path was composed at the request of Degyal Rinpoche (b. 1937).

In the form of an address to himself, Jamyang Khyentse delivers some urgent and uncompromising advice, before offering a heartfelt prayer to his teacher and concluding words of aspiration.

A simple instruction based on the so-called Four Dharmas of Gampopa: 1) turning the mind toward the Dharma, 2) making progress along the path, 3) clarifying confusion, and 4) allowing confusion to dawn as wisdom.

In response to a question from his spiritual consort, Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Jamyang Khyentse explains the essence of the path in just a few lines. (Khandro's question is in the form of an acrostic poem, the opening syllables of its four lines being the first four syllables of the Tibetan alphabet).

A short song of advice on the theme of the 'Three Greats', i.e., Great Middle Way (Madhyamaka), Great Seal (Mahāmudrā) and Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo).

Verses of general advice on how to practise the path, from the preliminary contemplations through to the more advanced practices of the generation and completion phases, written for an unnamed student.

These verses of advice for renunicant meditators (spong ba bsam gtan pa) cover the entire Buddhist path, from instructions on following a spiritual friend through to the most advanced generation and perfection phase practices.

In this brief, practical instruction written for a disciple, the great Khenpo Tashi Özer explains the root of meditation, which he described as "mind looking into itself".

These words of advice from Khenmo Rigdzin Chödrön of Larung Gar were recently shared widely on social media.

In this text from his miscellaneous writings, Khenpo Shenga offers advice on visualizing oneself as the tutelary deity, or yidam, and cultivating what is known as vajra pride.

In this famous poem Könchok Tenpe Drönme offers a powerful and moving contemplation on impermanence and mortality, inspiring the reader to focus on Dharma practice without delay.

Essential advice on every stage of the path from beginning to end. As Longchenpa puts it in the text itself: "Even if we were to meet in person, I would have no greater instruction to give you than this. So take it to heart, all the time, and in any situation."

Longchen Rabjam tells us that he composed these thirty verses of heartfelt advice for himself and others like him, out of a sense of renunciation. In what has become one of his most famous and popular teachings, he advocates simplicity, ethical discipline, humility, and, above all, diligent practice.

This very short yet practical set of instructions, composed in verse, was written at the request of several beginners.

Mipham Rinpoche gave this text in thirty-seven verses to the Third Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima as a sealed scroll while they were both at Dzongsar Monastery. Although the precise date is unclear, it seems likely that this was in or around 1886. The text is a mixture of personal, often cryptic advice and prophecy.

In a few lines of verse, Mipham explains the essence of Dzogchen Atiyoga, which is, in turn, the essence of the 84000 approaches of the Dharma.

This short advice in verse explains the perfect equality (mnyam pa nyid) of the dharmadhātu (chos kyi dbyings), the space-like nature of phenomena, which, Mipham says, is a crucial point to understand in both sūtra and tantra. Mipham wrote this text in 1901.

This short song from Nyala Pema Dündul explains that whether or not we have realised the truth of the teachings and progressed along the path is apparent in our character and our actions.

In this brief song Nyala Pema Dündul advises his audience how to give up the eight ordinary concerns, or 'worldly dharmas' ('jig rten chos brgyad), i.e., hope for happiness and fear of suffering; hope for fame and fear of insignificance; hope for praise and fear of blame; hope for gain and fear of loss.

This poem explains the tell-tale signs for determining whether the common preliminary practices (sngon 'gro) have penetrated the mind of a practitioner.

In a few simple verses, Palyul Choktrul sets out the basic elements that make human life meaningful, from thoughts that generate renunciation to cultivating devotion for the guru.

In this important guide to Mahāyāna ethics, Patrul Rinpoche elaborates upon nine points or criteria that a follower of the bodhisattva path should consider when seeking to act for others' benefit.

In this brief series of verses, Rongtön explains the benefits of the six transcendent perfections, or pāramitās, and shows how they incorporate many other aspects and qualities of the Mahāyāna path.

The Viśuddhadarśanacaryopadeśa (lta spyod rnam dag gi man ngag) is a very brief work included in the Tengyur. In it Śākyaśrībhadra discusses the empty, illusory nature of reality and recommends meditation on 'emptiness with compassion as its core' (stong nyid snying rje'i snying po can).

This short text in verse offers a clear and concise description of the liberated experience that results from practising the path of the development and completion stages.

Pithy verses of advice on the need to practise the path by letting go of attachment to saṃsāra and, upon the foundation of bodhicitta, meditating intensively in solitude.

Pithy verses of counsel covering the entire path, which Shechen Gyaltsab composed for the bhikṣu Jampa Dargye at Lhodrak Kharchu.

This short instruction on relative and absolute bodhicitta was composed at the request of the English monk Tenzin Jamchen (Sean Price).

These four lines of advice that encapsulate the entire path were requested by Tulku Pema Wangyal Rinpoche on behalf of his students.

In this brief text Yukhok Chatralwa explains the common outer and uncommon inner preliminary practices in very simple terms.

Guru Yoga

Heart Advice

In Jest




In this teaching, which was originally intended for participants in a three-year retreat in Chanteloube, in the Dordogne region of France, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche discusses the importance of faith, renunciation, compassion, and looking into the nature of mind.

A very short text on the best conduct and attitude to adopt when practising in meditative retreat.

Longchenpa describes this text as a letter sent from his mind to itself, and, as befits such a personal message, it is heartfelt and candid. The core of the message is simple enough: to leave behind the busyness of saṃsāra and set out instead for the peace and tranquility of the forest, where "meditation naturally grows" and "one can find the bliss of inner peace." Yet while Longchenpa makes this point uncompromisingly, his language, particularly in describing the kind of wild woodland sanctuary he recommends, is often beautifully evocative and poetic.

In this poem Nyala Pema Dündul praises the peace of isolated mountain hermitages and retreats, contrasting it not only with the hustle and bustle of towns and villages, but also with the everyday comings and goings of ordinary monasteries.

Written for his close disciple, Alak Dongak Gyatso (1824–1902), this text of Patrul Rinpoche offers advice on the purpose and significance of solitude. Brief as it is, the work is of interest not only for its comments on retreat, but also for the clues it holds about Alak Dongak's life, especially as no complete biography has yet come to light and his writings have not survived.

Yukhok Chatralwa records the pithy advice of the Nyarong Lama, i.e., Tertön Sogyal Lerab Lingpa, on the subject of how to remain in solitary retreat.

Ethical Guidelines



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