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Advice to Pathgate Students - 2005

At the end of the Ngondro retreat at the Namdroling Monastery in 2005, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche gave an audience to Lama Dondrup Dorje and his students from Pathgate Institute of Buddhist Studies. His Holiness gave the following advice in the presence of Ajam Tulku who acted as translator.

“Now we have this Precious Human Birth it is very important that we do something about it. Whatever kind of aspiration or attainment that we may achieve in this life, the only thing that really counts is what we do in this present time. At the end when we die, we can take nothing with us. Even though a person may have wealth comparable to that of the USA, he is unable to take even a small needle with him when he dies. When our time comes, we have to leave our spent body behind. If you have been practicing Dharma, then Dharma is the only thing you can take with you. But if you have committed non-virtue then the karma you generated through that will be the only thing you can take with you. Whether this is true or not, all you have to do is to reflect upon it thoroughly, then you will know for certain how true it is. For this reason, it is very important to have faith in Dharma and practice accordingly. If you have doubts about the practice, then you can gain nothing from it. If you practice Dharma without doubt and with wisdom, then only positive results will ripen up for you. Buddhist Dharma has many special qualities; in particular, the practices in which you have just joined this year are part of the practice of Dzogpa Chenpo, which belong to the most supreme, most precious part of Dharma practice.

It is very difficult to practice Dharma due to the karmic and emotional defilements which keep us attached to the mundane worldly kind of existence, it is as if you have to climb a mountain with a burden of heavy baggage on your back. You have to undertake a very long and arduous journey in your Dharma practice, but it is very easy for you to lose your footing and fall down on the way. Furthermore your fall back down again will be very swift, much swifter and further than for those who do not carry much of this kind of baggage. When you climb up a steep mountain, it is very difficult and very tiring, similarly the practice of Dharma is also challenging. To reach the ultimate happiness you have to maintain Dharma practice diligently. When you practice Dharma, you have to abandon any doubts and practice it with a single-pointed mind. There is no need to have doubt concerning Dharma because, since time without beginning, an ocean of practitioners has already attained enlightenment through this kind of practice. These people also had the strong wish to attain happiness and they put all of their efforts into the practice. You only have to listen to what they have achieved, to realise the vast number of realised masters who have already succeeded in their endeavour to achieve lasting happiness and realisation. For you, it is impossible to actually check the nature of the qualities of Dharma, to judge whether they may be good or bad. If you possessed qualities higher than those of Guru Padmasambhava or Lord Buddha, then you might have a more objective view of the qualities of Dharma. At the moment it is impossible for you to have such an objective perspective, for it is no different from a blind person who says he wants to visually check his own body - how is it possible? Instead of having doubt in Dharma, it is better to have faith and trust and to practice as much as you can.

Right now you have a very good master in Lama Dondrup Dorje, I have known him for many years. It is very beneficial for you to follow your master and listen to his teaching. He does not have so many faults as you yourselves have. Most people have many faults and doubts, but this kind of thinking about the faults of others bears no good fruit.

It is very important that we always check ourselves to see that our mind is free from the three poisons. If you do not check your own mind, then it is as if you are capable of seeing only what is outside yourself, noticing only what mistakes others have made, while remaining unaware of your own faults. You can only see how others walk, what they say, and what they do. Do not become angry because I speak to you so directly about this, I am not scolding you but hope that this advice can help you in your practice.”