A Letter in Praise of Emptiness From Ven Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje to his Mother
I pay homage at the lotus feet of Tenpai Nyima, Who is inseparable from Dharma-lord Longchen Rabjam and perceives the natural state of emptiness of the ocean-like infinity of things.
A letter of advice I offer to you, my noble mother Paldzom; Listen for a while without distraction.
Staying here without discomfort, I am at ease and free from worries In a state of joyful mind. Are you well yourself, my dear mother?
Here, in a country to the West, there are many red and white skinned people. They have all kinds of magic and sights, like flying through the skies and moving like fish in the waters. Having mastery over the four elements, they compete in displaying miracles with thousands of beautiful colours.
There is an endless amount of spectacles, like designs of rainbow colours, but like a mere dream, when examined, they are the mistaken perceptions of the mind.
All activities are like the games children play; if done, they can never be finished. They are only completed once you let be, like castles made of sand.
But this not the whole story; all the dharmas of Samsara and Nirvana, though thought to be permanent, they do not last. When examined, they are but empty forms, that appear without existence. Although unreal, they are thought to be real, and when examined, they are unreal like an illusion.
Look outward at the appearing objects, and like the water in a mirage, they are more delusive than delusion. Unreal like dreams and illusions, they resemble reflected moon and rainbows.
Look inward at your own mind! It seems quite exciting, when not examined. But when examined, there is nothing to it. Appearing without being, it is nothing but empty. It cannot be identified saying, "that's it!" But is evanescent and elusive like mist.
Look at whatever may appear In any of the ten directions. No matter how it may appear, the thing in itself, its very nature, is the sky- like nature of mind, beyond the projection and dissolution of thought and concept.
Everything has the nature of being empty. When the empty looks at the empty, who is there to look at something empty? What is the use of many classifications, such as 'being empty' and 'not empty' as it is illusion looking at illusion, and delusion watching delusion?
"The effortless and sky-like nature of the mind, the vast expanse of insight, Is the natural state of all things. In it, whatever you do is all right, however you rest, you are at ease." This was said by Jetsun Padmasambhava and the great siddha Saraha.
All the conceptual designs, such as "it's two!" or "it's not two!" Leave them like the waves on a river, to be spontaneously freed in themselves.
The great demon of ignorant and discursive thought causes one to sink in the ocean of samsara. But when freed from this discursive thought, there is the indescribable state, beyond conceptual mind.
Besides mere discursive thoughts, There is not even the words of 'samsara' and 'nirvana'. The total calming down of discursive thought Is the suchness of Dharmadhatu.
Not made complex by complex statements, this unfabricated single bindu is emptiness, the natural state of mind. So it was said by the Sugata.
The essence of whatever may appear, when simply left to itself, Is the unfabricated and uncorrupted view, the Dharmakaya, emptiness mother.
All discursive thought is emptiness, And the seer of the emptiness is discursive thought. Emptiness does not destroy discursive thought, And discursive thought does not block emptiness.
The fourfold emptiness of the mind itself Is the ultimate of everything. Profound and tranquil,free from complexity, uncompounded luminous clarity, beyond the mind of conceptual ideas: This is the depth of the mind of the Victorious Ones.
In this there is not a thing to be removed, nor anything that needs to be added. It is merely the immaculate looking naturally at itself.
In short, when the mind has fully severed the fetters of clinging to something, All the points are condensed therein. This is the tradition of the supreme being Tilopa And of the great pandita Naropa.
Such a profound natural state as this, Is among all the kinds of bliss, the wisdom of great bliss. Among all kinds of delight it is the king of supreme delight. It is the supreme fourth empowerment of all the tantric sections of the secret mantras. It is the ultimate pointing out instruction.
The view of 'Samsara and Nirvana Inseparable', and that of Mahamudra, of Dzogchen, the Middle Way and others, have many various titles but only one essential meaning. This is the view of Lama Mipham.
As an aid to this king of views one should begin with Bodhicitta, and conclude with dedication.
In order to cut off through skilful means the fixation on an ego, the root of Samsara, the king of all great methods is the unsurpassable Bodhicitta.
The king of perfect dedication Is the means for increasing the roots of virtue. This is the special teaching of Shakyamuni which is not found with other teachers.
To accomplish complete enlightenment more than this is not necessary but less than this will be incomplete. This swift path of the three excellences, called the heart, eye and lifeforce, is the approach of Longchen Rabjam.
Emptiness, the wish- fulfilling jewel, Is unattached generosity. It is uncorrupted discipline. It is angerless patience. It is undeluded exertion. It is undistracted meditation. It is the essence of prajna. It is the meaning in the three yanas.
Emptiness is the natural state of mind. Emptiness is the non-conceptual refuge. Emptiness is the Absolute Bodhicitta. Emptiness is the Vajrasattva of absolving evils. Emptiness is the Mandala of perfect accumulations. Emptiness is the Guru Yoga of Dharmakaya.
To abide in the natural state of emptiness Is the 'calm abiding' of shamatha, And to perceive it vividly clear is the 'clear seeing' of vipasyana.
The view of the perfect Development Stage, The wisdom of bliss and emptiness in the Completion Stage, The non-dual Great Perfection, And the single bindu of Dharmakaya, all these are included within it.
Emptiness purifies the karmas. Emptiness dispels the obstructing forces. Emptiness tames the demons. Emptiness accomplishes the deities.
The profound state of emptiness dries up the ocean of passion. It crumples the mountain of anger. It illuminates the darkness of stupidity. It calms down the gale of jealousy. It defeats the illness of the kleshas. It is a friend in sorrow. It destroys conceit in joy. It conquers in the battle with Samsara. It annihilates the four Maras. It turns the eight worldly dharmas into same taste. It subdues the demon of ego- fixation. It turns negative conditions into aids. It turns bad omens into good luck. It causes to manifest complete enlightenment. It gives birth to the Buddhas of the three times. Emptiness is the Dharmakaya mother.
There is no teaching higher than emptiness. There is no teaching swifter than emptiness. There is no teaching more excellent than emptiness. There is no teaching more profound than emptiness.
Emptiness is the 'knowing of one that frees all.' Emptiness is the supreme king of medicines. Emptiness is the nectar of immortality. Emptiness is spontaneous accomplishment beyond effort. Emptiness is enlightenment without exertion.
By meditating emptiness One feels tremendous compassion towards the beings obscured, like ourselves,by the belief in a self, and Bodhicitta arises without effort.
All qualities of the path and bhumis will appear naturally without any effort, and one will feel a heartfelt conviction regarding the law of the infallible effect of actions.
If one has but one moment of certainty In this kind of emptiness, the tight chain of ego-clinging will shatter into pieces. This was said by Aryadeva.
More supreme than offering to the Sugatas and their sons all the infinite Buddha fields filled with the offering of gods and men; Is to meditate on emptiness.
If the merit of resting evenly just for an instant in this natural state would take on concrete form, space could not contain it.
The peerless Lord of the sages, Sakyamuni, for the sake of this profound emptiness, threw his body into pyres of fire, gave away his head and limbs, and performed hundreds of other austerities.
Although you fill the world with huge mounds of presents of gold and jewels, this profound teaching on emptiness, even when searched for, is hard to find. This is said in the Hundred Thousand Verses of Prajna Paramita.
To meet this supreme teaching Is the splendid power of merit of many aeons beyond count.
In short, by means of emptiness, one is, for the benefit of oneself, liberated into the expanse of the unborn Dharmakaya, the manifest complete enlightenment of the four Kayas and the five Wisdoms. The unobstructed display of the Rupakaya will then ceaseslessly arise to teach whoever is in need, by stirring the depths of Samsara for the benefit of others through constant, all- pervading spontaneous activity. In all the Sutras and Tantras this is said to be the ultimate fruition.
How can someone like me put into words All the benefits and virtues hereof, when the Victorious One with his vajra tongue cannot exhaust them, even if he speaks for an aeon?
The glorious Lord, the supreme teacher, who gives the teachings on emptiness, appears in the form of a human being, but his mind is truly a Buddha.
Without deceit and hypocrisy supplicate him from your very heart, And without needing any other expedient, you will attain enlightenment in this very life. This is the manner of the All- Embodying Jewel which is taught in the Tantras of the Great Perfection. When you have this jewel in the palm of your hand, do not let it meaninglessly go to waste.
Learning, like the stars in the sky, will never come to an end through studies. What is the use of all the various kinds of the many teachings requested and received? What is the use of any practice which is higher than emptiness?
Do not aim at having many ascetic costumes, such as carrying a staff and wearing braids and animal skins. Leaving the elephant back in your house, do not go searching for its footprints in the mountains.
Mother, meditate the essence of the mind, as it is taught by the guru, the Vajra Holder, and you will have the essence of the essence of all the eighty- four thousand teachings. It is the heart nectar of a billion Learned and accomplished ones. It is the ultimate practice.
This advice from the core of the heart of the fallen monk Jamyang Dorje, is the purest of the pure essence from the bindu of my life blood. Therefore keep it in your heart, mother. These few words of heart advice were written in a beautiful countryside, the city of the spacious blue sky, rivaling the splendour of divine realms.
To the devoted Chokyi Nodzom, my dear and loving mother, and to my own devoted students, I offer this letter of advice.
This letter to my students was composed by one who goes by the name 'Khenpo', the Tibetan Jamyang Dorje, in the Dordogne Herbal Valley of Great Bliss, in the country of France beyond the great ocean in the western direction.
May virtue and auspiciousness ensue!
(This was put into English, with the help of Khenpo Rinpoche, by Erik and Lodro. Perigueux Retreat 1983)