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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2015年7月6日 星期一

The Difference Between an Elephant and a Rabbit

Master Yong Jia’s "Song of Enlightenment" contains a few lines that could be very meaningful for people of this generation, namely, “The great elephant does not loiter on the rabbit’s path; Great enlightenment is not concerned with details; Don’t belittle the sky by looking through a pipe; If you still don’t understand, I will settle it for you.” Many people take this phrase as an excuse for their erroneous words and actions. But in reality, all well-known practitioners from all the schools, even if they were to follow all virtuous teachings, must first understand wisdom and emptiness and have the experience of having entered into the void. Without this foundation, practicing Dharma can lead to obstacles and to going astray, thus making the practice meaningless. In this lies the goal of all esoteric practices that take wisdom dakinis as the principal deities. The accomplishments of all buddhas originates in the root practice of the Buddha Mother (Dharmas which lead to the attainment of Buddhahood), rather than the physical form of either a male or female Buddhist image. Wisdom is the lamp of the six paramitas, on which all achieved buddhas of the three realms rely. Even when they are involved in worldly affairs or are going against the grain, for a practitioner possessing a foundation in wisdom, everything amounts to all skillful means. As a Buddhist verse states:
When we realize actuality,
There is no distinction between mind and thing
And the path to hell instantly vanishes.
If this is a lie to fool the world,
My tongue may be cut out forever.
Once we awaken to the Tathagata-Zen,
The six noble deeds and the ten thousand good actions
Are already complete within us.
In our dream we see the six levels of illusion clearly;
After we awaken the whole universe is empty.

No matter where they apply their skillful means, true practitioners have a mind as continuously immovable as a mountain and don’t use Buddhist names and appearances to deceive. They wholeheartedly apply themselves to keeping strict precepts, because they’ve already broken through the gross and subtle afflictive obstacles of sight, thought, etc. Therefore, even if they move freely within the eight worldly preoccupations (of disappointment and delight) of the mundane world, they are like a pure lotus flower in the midst of this profane world, a task not easy to accomplish. If Vimalakirti had immersed himself in mundane affairs without fully controlling his mind, then wouldn’t he have been just like an ancient fox spirit who, having gotten drunk, might easily reveal it’s cloven feet? In the real world, even those old master artists who avoided society from the Wei, Jin and North-South Dynasties such as Ruanji, Jikang, Shantao, Liuling, Ruanxian, Xiangxiu, Wangrong and the like, with their emotions dwelling in the mountains and rivers, indulged in (the Way of) Laozi and Zhuangzi, while never before having even heard of such evil acts as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and such. The reason for this being that they were clear about what they had read in the holy books with regards to how they should behave. Although they didn’t bother about the trifles of outer appearance, living in savage exile, they still actually possessed a code of conduct for how they ought to comport themselves.
How much more so, then, of practitioners who abide in Avalokitesvara’s compassion, Samantabhadra’s vows, Manjushri’s wisdom, Mahasthamaprapta’s courage and the vows of all bodhisattvas? Just like the Sixth Patriarch Huineng as he lived with hunters -- although unable to stick to a vegetarian diet, he ate what vegetables were there alongside the meat; or like Chan master Dao Ji who, although his behavior was beyond anyone’s imagination, still did everything to benefit sentient beings, adapting to worldly phenomena with wisdom -- otherwise he would have kept on incurring extreme karma. As for the Mahayana and Theravada, they should be regarded as the same, otherwise this is akin to the idea that when one praises oneself while slandering another, it brings nothing but disgrace to oneself. There is an old story of a person who had come into contact with the Theravada sutras, yet did not realize that the Mahayana texts also came directly from Buddha Shakyamuni. Later, when he heard them being recited by good knowledge holders, the sutras profoundly affected his mind and he was so ashamed that he wanted to cut out his tongue to atone for his slander. At that time, Asanga Bodhisattva consoled him, saying, “Because you’ve disparaged Mahayana texts in the past, with this very same tongue you should now recite them all. Would that not be true repentance?” So he did just that, writing hundreds of Mahayana commentaries. This is a true story.

A Buddhist verse says, “A virtuous mind gives rise to virtuous words and deeds, an evil mind gives rise to evil words and deeds, mind is the origin of all dharma (worldly phenomena), investigating the mind is the good advice of the Buddha.” From this we clearly see that no matter the school, sect or religion, everything comes from the mind. If our thoughts are impure, all the practice that we undertake becomes demonic. We must observe our minds at all times, reflecting on ourselves constantly, not allowing the mind to become attached or caught up in external circumstances. Gradually our mind will become concentrated, so that at all times, in all states, we can be clear and unhindered, proceeding till we arrive at an understanding of enlightenment and unsurpassed emptiness, abiding in this state until our meditative stillness becomes strong, unrestrained, proficient, without any excuses; these are the concepts practitioners of all faiths should understand.