About Shang Rinpoche
Rinpoche’s spiritual pursuit began at a very young age and has spanned many years, in which he received lineages of all four major Vajrayana Buddhist schools—Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug—from numerous lineage holders and great yogis of our time in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche has acquired all the necessary empowerments, transmissions, and teachings to become a fully qualified Vajrayana master. Furthermore, Rinpoche is a recognized tulku (reincarnate lama), authenticated by eminent lineage holders and distinguished masters of our time.
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Learning to Bow to Our Habits
Please keep in mind this maxim from past sages: “Pride comes before failures, and a frenzied mind leads to falls.” Countless afflictions are accumulating mainly because we are unable to observe inwardly and inspect our habits thoroughly, and knowing so little about ourselves results in our repeated falls in the journey of life. Another reason is that we cannot face our ignorance and foolishness with humility; we are overly self-conceited and lack modesty and, gradually, we become increasingly blinded and perplexed by our own habits.
An unwise person goes out of their way to seek the attention, understanding, appreciation, praise and approval of others; on the contrary, a wise person is always modestly observing himself inwardly, looking for self-discovery and seeking self-realization. A humble person is deferential and has, therefore, much fewer afflictions than those who are driven by selfish agendas, always finding faults in others. The latter also consider themselves the victims being burdened with any pressure and setbacks that might arise. In fact, no one can bring you afflictions but yourself. Take a look around — those proud, self-conceited, and self-righteous individuals, are any of them totally at ease and truly happy? It is inevitable that what goes up must come down at some point.
Westminster Abbey in the United Kingdom is one of my favorite buildings and has been playing host to almost all royal weddings and funerals. It is also the burial place for quite a few British monarchs. The reigning monarchs were the most notable figures in their time and exerted strong political influence, but where are they now? Taking a look back at the life of the monarchs in history, they squeezed the blood out of their people and plundered their wealth for the most part. Their thrones are built from the blood and skulls or their people. Evident from history, their hands became tainted with blood in reinforcing their sovereignty. Therefore, the monarchs all bear heavy karma and now they lie in a cold church with no one to come and pay respects. Where is their soul? Are they really resting in peace?
It reminds me of the great achieved practitioner Langli Dangba, who lived 800 years ago. The way he practiced was different from others and none understood why he did so. He gave up his wealth and lived alone in retreat, fasting constantly. Unlike other practitioners in retreat, he suffered greatly every day. Those who visited him knew that there was not a second when his face was not twisted in terrible pain. He unceasingly wept for the bad karma of all sentient beings. Before he attained enlightenment, he kept on in this way to atone for the crimes of all sentient beings, repenting and dedicating merits to them. This was not unlike the Venerable Patrul Rinpoche, who recalled that he was a prostitute in India in one of his previous lives. Once she spent all her savings on a golden bracelet and, with all modesty, deference, and not the slightest trace of selfishness, offered it to a practitioner. Patrul Rinpoche said that ever since, from life to life, he has never been foolish. He eventually became a great pandita to benefit sentient beings. Is this not completely different from those who would use any means to pursue power, lust, fame and dignity, regardless of the harm they cause to others?
The most venerable person is not the one wearing a diamond crown atop a golden throne; success is not defined by how much applause and praise one garners. The noblest of human qualities does not lie just in a modest appearance, ample generosity and dignified discipline; better than these qualities is the person who understands clearly how to bow to their attachments selflessly and humbly. This symbolizes that this person is already far detached from them. When an object is grasped in the palm of your hand and all of your attention is fixed on it, all you possess is a mere object. If you cannot release your grip, you lose your chance to attain enlightenment. If the mind is settled upon or attached to something, one’s enlightenment can only reach a certain threshold.
From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche