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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I often say to people, “If what you are hearing is authentic, it has to be a sound that makes no sound. Similarly, if the things you see are genuine, then you are seeing something that cannot be seen.” I also say this to people, “You can tell that your mind is completely free of obstruction when your inner world constantly and naturally takes in everything around you, including the most minute details; and with utter ease, not giving rise to any differentiating thoughts, you carry on with life as usual: washing hands, putting on clothes, eating, etc. This means that you are getting along well with your mind. Then, you should just keep it up without holding any expectations as nothing has ever happened anyway.”
The most dreadful thing in life is when flames (of emotions) flare up without any warning since in an instant they can burn up an ocean of inconceivable prajna wisdom. We must beware of the dark forces in our life that are often overlooked by most. They are like a thick mountain fog constantly clouding our mind, originally peaceful and clear, until it is completely hypnotised, deep in confusion. At the same time, we should vigilantly guard our consciousness at all times and places, so as to avoid plunging into the incessant stream of desire wholly unaware. Additionally, we must strive to never, under any circumstances, harbor even a shred of anger and arrogance as they will land us in the limbo state of the asura realm. Regardless of gender and age, everyone should cultivate a virtuous and humble mindset since jealousy and attachments will turn into snowstorms in the bardo (the in-between state right after death) sweeping us into the hell realm. Therefore, it is safest to always stay mindful of our thoughts in our daily life, cultivating a perfect awareness.
From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche
Once Buddha was residing at Jetavana Grove. There was a renunciate in the sangha named Juntou who because of karma became so ill that he needed assistance with even eating and other basic activities. Before attaining enlightenment, people’s faith is prone to waver and might even regress when things are not going well especially if they are suffering from ill health. Likewise Juntou was at a low point in his life, he even felt he didn’t receive any blessing from the Buddha. The medication he was taking was of no use and his emotions were therefore in flux and he would often complain. The Buddha took some disciples to visit him to see how he was doing. The Buddha then asked Juntou, "In the past you've heard the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, could you share your understanding of them with us?" Juntou started reciting from memory the teachings he had heard. In the process of reciting he started to feel much better and by the time he had finished reciting, all of his mental and physical ailments and afflictions were completely cured. Buddha then explained to everyone in attendance that when the karma of a practitioner comes to fruition he must joyfully accept it with unmoving faith, and especially towards the Three Jewels he should not harbor any doubts. The Seven Factors of Enlightenment teaching is a miraculous ambrosia that can cure any incurable mental or physical illnesses. It can also liberate sentient beings from the sufferings of life and death.
In fact, many practitioners don't fully understand the principles of karma and samsara: when things are going well for them, they are naturally brimming with faith and presume that their body, speech, and mind are in perfect alignment with their faith. From my personal experience over a long period of time, it is all too common to see students joyfully giving praise to the guru and the Three Jewels during favorable times; but as soon as there are any setbacks, their attitudes will inevitably take a turn for the worse and they might even express resentment or start to doubt the teachings. Actually this is a very sad situation since all suffering and afflictions in life actually come from our own lack of awareness, lack of clarity, and overindulgence in the five skandhas, which over time causes us to drift away from the blessings of the correct dharma, the master and the Three Jewels. This causes us people to be ill at ease and only adds to people’s afflictions causing them to become lazy and perhaps even stop their practice. This then leads to having less and less wisdom and joy from Dharma practice which naturally brings about illness caused by karmic obstacles.
Life is unpredictable with highs and lows, good and bad times. To live a life on the path means to completely meld with adversity. There can be no doubt or fear in the mind since fear, resistance, and attachment will only create more negative tension in an already upstream battle causing you to feel as if you’re going against fate where troubles of all kinds descend on you. A wise person is unhindered by fear of failure and instead muster all their courage and wisdom in dealing with life's pitfalls and adversities. They will also spend even more time contemplating the wisdom teachings of the Buddha, practice awareness and self-reflection during these times－which are precisely the part we are most likely forget completely whenever afflictions set in or adversities attack.
From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche
The greater majority of people hope for freedom. However, the only freedom that we seem to be achieving is external freedom. This kind of freedom cannot compare to the freedom attained by internal self-liberation through wisdom. If we can agree that this way of thinking is correct, then we should direct the energy of our entire lives into unlocking this capability within ourselves.
There are some philosophers who would deliberately twist the superficial meaning of happiness, believing that happiness is simply the point at which another form of suffering begins. They also describe the happiness which people talk about as being a temporary sense of relief for the mind that has long been confined and shackled. Perhaps many people can be persuaded to accept this kind of explanation from philosophers. In actuality, how much true happiness a person is able to experience is decided by how much she is able to let go of internally. Saints are able to see through all worldly gain and loss and the hollow nature of the myriad things, so they are not at all influenced by the external environment but are drawn closer toward the inner nature. Therefore, they are truly able to see clearly the external environment, the stage play which is human life. Only then will they be able to take care of their inner self. Most particularly, in a time where superfluous and nonsensical discourse is rampant, temptation of all sorts are at an all-time high. At this time, one huge issue is how we are to bring benefit to our self-nature and exhort people to do good deeds. Yet, this is the only way to manage this world compassionately.
Recorded history can be divided several stages. In the beginning there were the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors. During the time of the Three Sovereigns (Fuxi, Shennong, and Suirenshi), ethics existed throughout the world, and the people were endowed with a completely natural state of mind, uncontaminated by falsity. Upon entering the age of the Five Emperors (The Yellow Emperor, Zhuan Xu, Ku, Yao, and Shun), they began to rule over the land with laws. Human interaction began to follow a set code of conduct and negotiation became necessary, which gave rise to a world wherein benevolence was of prime importance. From this to the time of the Three Kings (Yu the Great, Shang Tang, and King Wen of Zhou), the emphasis was placed upon ethics and behavioural norms. At this time the world could still be called benign and human temperament was still mild. Gradually came the Spring and Autumn Period. The avarice of human nature slowly began to express itself. Desires for things beyond food and shelter emerged. Cravings beyond standard profit also arose. Fortunately, there were still benevolent and virtuous rulers striving to stabilize the minds of the people. Fatuous ones had not yet come into existence. You may say that this was still a peaceful era.
After the Spring and Autumn Period, however, morals began to change with each successive age. The law of the jungle began to apply. The arrival of the Warring States period signified the advent of a world of trickery and crafty acquisition, which accounts for the beginnings of the Nine Schools of Thought and the various other doctrines which followed. From this, the wind of virtue died down, and humanity lost its internal compass. The world declined in its moral values and the effects were felt everywhere. Human nature became a pretense, therefore the split nature of humanity gave rise to more and more conflicts and contradictions. Greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt became more and more apparent. How then could one recognize one’s intrinsic nature? The morals of the time are precisely the collective karma created by the human race.
The modern environment we are in is much more complex than that of the Spring and Autumn and Warring State periods; the collective breadth of knowledge humanity has acquired far surpasses that of the Nine Schools of Thought; the wheelings and dealings of modern minds are more clever than the Daoist immortals. People may be as close as siblings but are without true sincerity. Resentment and apprehension breed. This is caused by a fear of being hurt, which in turn creates a vicious cycle. How can the human mind be settled in the midst of all the crafty tricks humanity employs, not to mention the karma created through this type of human interaction?
People ask me how, while living the everyday, to simultaneously remain unfettered, at ease and free from being wrapped up with all worldly affairs, and yet still be able to accomplish them successfully. The answer lies in a mind that is utterly capable of experiencing everything without being attached. If a person is capable of accomplishing this, then she will not fret about settling her mind either when alone, in the midst of rapidly changing circumstances or unexpected, startling incidents. If a practitioner can neither disown nor favor, hide nothing, set his mind at ease in everything with which he engages, and neither covet nor indulge, then it doesn’t matter into which era he may be born, he will always be at peace with himself.
To put this in a modern context: strive to remain relaxed and happy at any given moment, deal with everything in an organized and efficient manner, feel grateful towards both your superiors and subordinates and try not to bury yourself in sorrow and depression. Make self-confidence your priority. By accomplishing this, people will be drawn to you like a magnet. You will enjoy every day with a clear and unfettered mind. You will not let pressure linger and will be able to adapt and reassure yourself when encountering problems. Add the spiritual component that is essential for modern times, and wouldn't you say that a leisurely and blissful life is definitely within reach?
A person who has self-confidence will be able to achieve miraculous feats. Everyone comes to this world equal, born with a soul inside a physical body. Although, aside from the individual’s karma, each person is inherently provided with the same opportunities and means, most people lose their poise and cannot remain unperturbed in the face of everything that happens in life due to their fear of failure and setbacks. To non-practitioners, the fear of failure is a dark shadow forever lurking in their mind. In spite of learning a great many real life stories and proverbs about not giving in to this fear, people are still concerned with the prospect of failure mainly because of their sense of pride which can be a hefty burden. The experience of our predecessors tells us that by being appropriately open to, and accepting of our own weaknesses, we enable ourselves for even greater success in life.
Ever since a young age, each of us has been taught to strive with all our might to be successful, to be the exemplar that everyone looks up to, to gain public recognition, to win respect and admiration everywhere we go; more importantly, we must take the stage and bear witness to endless applause. It is because of these notions that we are easily unsettled in the face of setbacks. Everyone believes that success is right in front of them and the whole world is running after it. Sometimes, we should try to slow down and calmly contemplate whether success is always right there for the taking. While everybody spends their whole life charging forward, very few take the time to look around, even look back－perhaps it is your success that is having a hard time keeping up with you! If possible, we should occasionally give ourselves some space and time to catch our breath instead of manically charging ahead like a blind horse without direction or goal. In fact, many people have gone off the charts in this manner, straying miles away from the finish line in the race for success.
Human life is like clouds in the sky, fleeting and unpredictable like a magician’s tricks. When faced with life’s challenges, a Tang Dynasty poet lamented, “Drifting cloud looks a white robe, Morphing instantly into an old dog; Since ancient times, Life has always been filled with all kinds of changes.” There are just too many things in life that are out of our control; at times everything looks bright and sunny, at times turbulent and threatening; conditions can change from completely tumultuous to serene in an instant, and we can never be certain whether, in the next moment, we’ll strike gold or step on a landmine. We must understand that it is impossible to be the winner all the time. On the contrary, joyful times are often followed by a sense of guilt, just like people who consume a lot of meat are more susceptible to parasites; worries increase with wealth; concerns grow as the family grows; with followers and subordinates comes betrayal. In order to achieve liberation and enlightenment like a Zen master in this transient and fleeting human life, we must try to make peace with impermanence and coexist with it by immersing our mind equally in both happiness and suffering and allowing our mind to adjust itself－we must have faith that our mind is infinite and boundless, capable of transcending the world and beyond. Only someone who can remain unperturbed and impartial to wealth and poverty, sorrows and joy can be considered truly unhampered and free. Personally, I greatly admire a poem by Su Dongpo which goes, ”Misty rain of Lu Mountain and the waves of Zhejiang River, Before witnessing them all the longings could never be quelled; Once in their presence it turns out that there is nothing but Misty rain of Lu Mountain and the waves of Zhejiang River.” Facing the striking, rugged terrain during our journey of life, sometimes being driven along in the thrashing tides, we try to attain true happiness by wearing a smile, unfazed, pacifying the unending stream of melancholy!
from Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche