Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche - King of Samadhi Sutra
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King of Samadhi SutraKhenchen Thrangu RinpocheOral commentaries given in Rinpoche's monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal January 1993 Eric Schmid - TranslatorSutra teachings are not always clear. That is why the studying of the Treaties or Sastras, the commentaries of the words of the Buddha written by the realized past masters, is emphasized. Even more emphasis is placed on the oral instructions of one's guru, as in the dohas of the past realized beings. These are direct explanations on how and what to practice. The sutra is used in support to the oral instructions within the Mahamudra lineage. This particular sutra, The King of Samadhi, was taught directly by the Buddha, after the great bodhisattva, Youthful Moonlight, requested this teaching. Youthful Moonlight reincarnated as Gampopa, one of the founders of the Kagyu lineage, so the teachings are continuous through to the present lineage. Gampopa gave the oral instructions on mahamudra to his students, they practiced in accordance with these instructions, their experience and their realization became perfected and the lineage continued in this way from teacher to student until today. Rangjung Dorje, the Third Karmapa, included this sutra as well as other sutras, such as the Prajnaparamita and the Abhidharma and others, in the curriculum of study, within the Kagyu monasteries. The first chapter is describing the setting in which these teachings were given, and how the bodhisattva promised he will continue to give this teaching to future generations. It starts with a question from the bodhisattva to the buddha. How to cultivate all the enlighten qualities? The Buddha replies, "If a bodhisattva possesses one quality, all the negative emotions will be removed." What is this quality? The King of Samadhi. The style of the teaching is to use extensive but clear words. In the last chapter (number 42 of this sutra) the Buddha answers all the three hundred or more questions. The second chapter covers the past lives of the Buddha and how he received the vast teachings. We as practitioners within the mahamudra system must place great emphasis on cultivating devotion and strong trust in our personal teacher and all the masters of the lineage as the Buddha describes in this sutra, in order to develop devotion. The Buddha explains in this chapter how he served his former masters with performing offerings and generosity and how he received the great teaching of samadhi. When we are engaged in the preliminary practices and especially the practice of Guru Yoga, these practices make it possible for the samadhi in our mind stream to be realized and strengthened. Also within the lineage chant, it makes mention that "devotion is the head of meditation, it is taught." Without strong faith and devotion it is not possible to progress in samadhi and mahamudra. In Lord Buddha's past lives he made vast offerings and with his devotion, he was able to open himself to his teachers. He was able to realize the nature of samadhi. Anyone can make these imaginary offerings, and by offering in this way, we are able to gather the same merit as the Lord Buddha did. The third chapter is the praising of the qualities of the buddha and the practice in the training of samadhi. It is through the practice that we will achieve these same qualities as the buddha. It is important within the Kagyu tradition, in order to eliminate our own obscurations, to have strong faith and devotion with confidence in the teachings and the teachers. From the power and the truth of the teachings this will be experienced through deep trust and confidence. This teaching, the King of Samadhi Sutra, forms the background for the mahamudra practice. The depth of the overall meaning we can apply to our mahamudra practice.
Chapter four begins with the teaching in which the principal state of samadhi is taught. The bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight asked the Buddha, "What is samadhi?" And the Buddha gives a clear definition of what it is. Most teachings of the sutras are given in a way which can be understood through reasoning and deduction. Just like the mahamudra system, what is being taught is to realize the definite state of mind. The primary difference between the sutra approach and the approach of the vajrayana is that in the sutra approach, we take inferential reasoning as our path and in the vajrayana approach, we take direct experience as our path. When looking inwardly what is this consciousness of the mind? When we do this we are unable to find anything. The mind is nothing other than this emptiness. We're working directly with our own mind, which is obviously, utterly empty, we have no need for any kind of analysis whatsoever because it is very easy to directly experience our own mind's inherent emptiness. In this sutra there are some words to describe this emptiness. Next the wisdom or the Buddha Nature is taught. The basic nature of our mind is ever present and there are nine different examples use to describe this. One example which is used is the lump of gold located under the dwelling of a poor person. The person doesn't know its there and they continue to suffer until some other person points out to him that the gold is located below the house. What the Lord Buddha is teaching is that all beings have this basic nature and we don't recognize it until someone teaches this nature to us. The Buddha Nature is our basic state, which is covered with the obscurations, such as attachment and desire. When the mind does possess true existence, the disturbing emotions seem to be non-existing or insubstantial. Look into the desire and it becomes naturally liberated, by doing this, the dullness is also cleared away. When our state of mind is extroverted we are within one of the three states of ignorance. When within samadhi, the ignorance is cleared and this sutra is describing this. Within the state of samadhi you are not using intellectual mind, you are using the natural state to dispel the confusion. These are some of the qualities that the Buddha is describing when in samadhi. Then the Buddha gave the advice, "I have now fully explained to you this principal state of excellence, samadhi. You should not just leave it here as heard and understood, this needs to be cultivated. Rinpoche then talks about what Marpa taught Milarepa, "Buddhahood is in your hands, its up to you whether you practice or not." This concludes the teaching on chapter four. The next section explains the meaning of samadhi in this sutra to be the same as the samadhi within the mahamudra system. The only difference is in how the instructions are given. The fifth chapter is a story told by the Buddha, in one of his former lives, when he was a world ruler named Great Strength. He met with the Buddha called Melodious Splendor. He was able to gain a strong amount of faith and devotion for him, by making vast offerings. The Buddha, Melodious Splendor, gave teachings and from those teachings the Buddha understood the state of samadhi. The main principal of this chapter is to engage in strong motivation, this is achieved in the Kagyu system by the performing the four preliminary practices. By taking refuge, we are assured of taking the proper path. Within this first preliminary is the bodhisattva vow. From our habitual lifetimes we have only been involved with benefit to oneself. We need to change this motivation and direct it to all beings. In order to do this we need to direct our minds to others. We, being students of the Buddhadharma, have received teachings and understand that others do not have a method on how to remove suffering, so we must try through our aspirations to help them. The sixth chapter is on thoroughly training in samadhi which entails removing the obstacles. This is done by making vast amounts of offerings and then dedicating these offerings to the
outcome of the merit to the full enlightenment. This will help to remove all of the obstacles hindering us, which were created in our previous lives. Within the preliminary practices the Vajrasattva (Dorje Sempa, Tib.) practice will enable us to thoroughly train in samadhi. Chapter seven is on the necessity of patience. The Buddha talks about three types of patience. The first one is the patience of diligence for the results of the dharma practice, training in samadhi and receiving teaching. Extreme diligence is needed to attain greater stability in samadhi. The patience is enduring and undertaking hardships in the practice of samadhi and the other vajrayana practices like deity yoga, the generation and completion stages of practice. The third type of patience is the willingness to share and teach the Dharma with the motivation of helping others. We need to train in being harmed by others to strengthen our compassion toward them and reduce our passions. For this is the nature of samsaric existence. This concludes the seventh chapter. (The chapter that demonstrates the insubstantiality of phenomena is the eighth chapter). Previously, the Buddha taught substantiality, such as virtue and unvirtuous deeds to people whose minds would cling to things as concrete or permanent substantiality. Where do we find the teaching on the insubstantiality of all things? In the Prajnaparamita Sutra and the sixteen aspects of emptiness is where it was taught. Why did the buddha teach emptiness? He taught this to show that it is possible to abandon the cause of the disturbing emotions and the cause of suffering. It is possible to avoid suffering by realizing the insubstantiality of all phenomena. That is the reason the Buddha taught this subject. Rinpoche then uses the example of the rope located in the grass in a poorly lit up area. The person gives rise to the rope being a snake. The person will panic and experience fear. If on the other hand we realize the rope is not a snake, the fear will vanish. By recognizing that all things have the nature of emptiness we are able to experience things as they truly are and the disturbing emotions will vanish .If we wish to awake to the unsurpassable state of complete enlightenment what should we do? We should become skilled in the wisdom that sees the insubstantiality of all things. During that time the Lord Buddha was born as a bodhisattva called Great Compassion and he received the teaching of the insubstantiality of all things from the Buddha of that time named Arisen From The Insubstantiality. Because of the Buddha's great devotion he received the teachings and he attained a high state of realization. By using intelligent reasoning the great masters of the past such as Arya Nagarjuna came to understand the insubstantiality of phenomena, and we can also understand this through reasoning. It is important to use reasoning to become clear on how things are. There are two reasons for this, not to become swayed by others, and to have a clear conviction of it. Not just because the Buddha said this and the sutras mention this. Rinpoche then talked about the analyzing of all things being dependent arising. He then pointed out two sticks of incense; one the short and the other longer, or the example of near or far. The principal also covers good and bad. These attributes are created in our minds. It's how we label things. When understanding this we realize that there is no point in being attached to them. "Analyze identity of phenomena" is the next subject of Rinpoche's teaching. His example is the hand. For some reason our minds think that all things are of a single identity. These examples are called "taking deduction as the path, or taking inference as the path." It is possible to establish how things are through analyzing them. This is seen as the long path to arriving at true enlightenment. When training in samadhi we need to view the mind that perceives that which feels happy or sad, to discover how it is. We can look directly at it. What color or shape does it have? Where is it located, inside our body or outside? If the mind is located inside the body, is it in the head or one of the outer extremities? We will come to discover that the nature of the mind doesn't possess any shape, color or location. This way of looking at the mind is different from the path of deduction. This is called direct perception of the mind. In order to convince our self that all things are empty; we use the path of deduction, analyze and come to the conclusion that all things are empty. But
when it comes to personal experience, to understand we use direct perception. Milarepa attained enlightenment through the practice of mahamudra, direct perception or experience of one's mind. The ninth chapter explains how, due to dependent origination, all manifestations unfold like a dream, even though they are empty of true existence. The tenth chapter is entitled "Departing for the City." This chapter describes the bodhisattva Youthful Moonlight who makes a request to the Buddha to place the Buddha's hand on Youthful Moonlight's head. As soon as this happens Youthful Moonlight receives the realization of perfect understanding and great awareness. He receives the direct blessing of knowing the state of samadhi. Through devotion and training, we too, can also receive great blessing from the realized beings and understand or improve our state of samadhi. After having received these blessings from the Buddha, Youthful Moonlight gives the Buddha and Bodhisattvas an invitation to visit his home. In doing so Youthful Moonlight prepares his surroundings by cleaning and making the way beautiful, with decorations, for the arrival of the Buddha. The chapter also describes how Youthful Moonlight made offerings and showed great devotion in order to receive these teachings. When we request teachings from a master we should think of our selves as a sick person and view the dharma as medicine for the cure of the illness. The Buddha said "Give rise to the teacher as a skillful person who is learned in the dharma. Keep the notion of the practice as steps to curing a sickness." We should show respect by decorating, cleaning and beautifying the surroundings to purify everything as a preparation for receiving teachings. After Youthful Moonlight invited the Buddha, he offered verbal and mental praises, and asked, "How is it possible for an aspiring bodhisattva to proceed and develop qualities?" And the Buddha replied by saying, "A bodhisattva who possesses one single quality will quickly awaken to the true enlightenment." "What is this single quality?" asked Youthful Moonlight. "It is to understand the essence of all things," said the Buddha. What does this mean? It is the empty nature of phenomena. That all things are empty of any substantiality and identity, and all things are beyond words. We can not formulate by a name how things are. This chapter is called Retaining the Sutra. It means to experience the meaning of which these words refer to. The next chapter, the twelfth, is the chapter on wholly training in samadhi. The Bu...