For the second week of the Dechen Summer Course at Sakya Changlochen Ling, Lama Jampa gave the full cycle of Vajrayana teachings for the practice of Chenrezig, from the lineage of the 12th century Tibetan master, Nyen Tsembupa. This practice, with commentary and sadhana composed by the great 19th century Sakya master, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, was being given for the very first time in Europe. Over 100 people travelled from places such as the UK, Germany, the USA and Canada to receive these beautiful, rare and precious teachings.
As Lama Jampa described in week one of the course, the mind’s nature is no different whether one is an ordinary being or a buddha. There is a continuum between where we are now, the path of practice, and buddhahood and the only difference between us and the buddhas is that they recognise the nature of mind as the union of emptiness and luminosity, and we do not. There is no change in the nature of mind itself and we do not need to create something different.
Through this practice of Chenrezig, on the basis of our buddha nature, we can remove the temporary stains of the disturbing emotions such as desire, hatred and pride and our ignorance about the true nature of reality. What then arises as a result of diligent and dedicated practice is nothing more than the basic nature itself now stripped of all obscurations so the qualities can radiate forth as Buddha, endlessly performing compassionate activities for others.
Lama Jampa explained why, given there are other major cycles of practice in the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that can also bring about such realisation, it is important to give such teachings as these. In our busy, modern lives, it is often difficult to find sufficient time to practice alongside our other responsibilities. Whereas other cycles are complex and lengthy, this practice is easier to approach and accomplish, yet contains all the necessary elements, from the preliminary reflections on our precious human life and so on, to the most profound practices of the Vajrayana. These enable the transformation of our experience of the world and the cycle of birth and death, culminating in buddhahood itself. This particular cycle also includes the practice of phowa or the transference of consciousness, along with teachings on the bardo, the stage between death and rebirth.
During the course of the teaching, Lama Jampa guided students skilfully through the instructions, answering questions ranging from technical points on the practice to how to support others – whether Buddhist or not – during and after death, and how we make sure our practice of confession is effective.
In his closing remarks, Lama Jampa thanked all involved in the running of the course and retreat and remarked that the presence of the many dharma centres across the world and the range of nationalities present indicate a great and exciting new chapter in Buddhism’s history, of which we are part. He also noted that whilst it is still a little unusual to be Buddhist in the West, we should have pride in the radical nature of Buddhism, which points to the transcendental reality in the heart of every man and woman and, in fact, every sentient being. Through being proud of our dharma inheritance and making it work for ourselves and all beings, we can become the kindest of friends and neighbours to all. In time Europeans and Americans will also begin to feature in the lineage of blessings that transmit the Buddha’s teachings from one generation to the next, following on from the many Indian and Tibetan masters before us.