Go forth, for the good of the many,
for the happiness of the many,
out of compassion for the world,
for the benefit, for the welfare,
for the gladness of holy and ordinary beings.
Let each of us go a different way
to share the Dharma that is beautiful in the beginning,
beautiful in the middle, and beautiful in the end.
Let us declare the holy life in its purity,
completely, both in word and in deed.
—Buddha Shakyamuni, Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka
Don’t be surprised at those who never practice universal compassion, or at those who do so for a time, and fall away.
In this age of the five corruptions, be surprised at those who remain firmly rooted in compassion.
—Kyabje Tashi Norbu Rinpoche
The true reason that we grieve for them is not that they have died, but rather that we miss their presence in our lives, and what they shared with us. If we truly grieved death, we would grieve for all who die, and yet we only grieve for our loved ones.
At these times, the mind tends to focus on our “loss”, but it is truly the experiential “gain” our loved ones brought to us that makes us miss them. However, no one can take that away from us. It is part of us, forever stored in our consciousness, life after life.
We can then turn our attention from our grief to the wellbeing of our departed loved ones, reciting prayers for them, as well as performing virtuous acts and dedicating the merit to them.
We can perform acts of generosity, rescue lives (for example, sponsoring human refugees, or animals at a sanctuary), recite mantras (om amideva hrih), or sponsor Dharma activities (publications, teachings, retreats, etc.).
That they are no longer with us in this realm cannot stop us from being their true friends.
During the summer, many of us will travel back home to visit family and friends. ‘Back home’ is not a particular location —it is the place where our attachments reside. Unless we are truly detached, old habits assert themselves, and the cognitive and affective afflictions can return full-force. If that is the case, it is best to stay away.
If we can avoid attachment during our visits back home, we will have wonderful opportunities to practice the Dharma and demonstrate to ourselves how much we have advanced along the way. We may have developed a different perspective on reality and learned techniques to eliminate or reduce our affective and cognitive afflictions, but unless we have the opportunity to apply them, they remain mere conceptual formations.
Since the strength of the bonds and habits is greater back home, it is precisely there where we can more easily realize how far we have advanced, and how much farther we need to go.
- I shall repeatedly take Refuge, recollecting the qualities of the Three Jewels.
- I shall make daily offerings to the Three Jewels of all I eat, drink, or otherwise accept.
- I shall not forsake the Three Jewels, even at the risk of my life.
- Having taken Refuge in the Buddha, I shall not take refuge in lesser beings.
- Having taken Refuge in the Dharma, I shall not harm sentient beings.
- Having taken Refuge in the Sangha, I shall not rely on those with wrong or lesser views.
- I shall honor and respect the Buddha in every representation.
- I shall honor and respect all Dharma texts.
- I shall honor and respect the Sangha of the Bodhisattvas and the ordained.
- I shall not take life.
- I shall not take what is not given freely.
- I shall not engage in sensual misconduct.
- I shall not lie or speak harsh words.
- I shall avoid intoxication leading to heedlessness.
- I shall not rest on elevated seats and beds.
- I shall not eat improper foods at inopportune times.
- I shall avoid adornment and mindless entertainment.
Fundamental Bodhisattva Vows
- I shall awaken numberless beings.
- I shall end inexhaustible delusions.
- I shall open boundless Dharma gates.
- I shall become the Great Middle Way for the benefit of all.
Additional Bodhisattva Vows
- I shall not praise myself or denigrate others.
- I shall not withhold material aid, protection, and the Dharma from those in need.
- I shall not resent and punish the transgressions of others.
- I shall never abandon the Great Middle Way.
- I shall not usurp what belongs to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
- I shall not disrobe the ordained under my care.
- I shall not destroy the dwellings, property, or livelihood of others.
- I shall not hold wrong views regarding the Noble Truths, karma, rebirth, and emptiness.
- I shall not teach that which is beyond another’s capacity.
- I shall not undermine another’s faith.
- I shall not cause others to regret or abandon skillful vows.
- I shall not disparage the preparatory teachings of the Dharma.
- I shall not claim sublime attainments for myself.
- I shall not exploit the generosity of others.
- I shall not favor the lesser with gifts meant for the great.
- I shall not give up the Supreme Aspiration.
- I shall respect and serve my Root Teacher with body, speech, and mind.
- I shall respect and obey the precepts laid down by the Buddha and the Jonangpa Masters.
- I shall respect and support Vajra brothers and sisters.
- I shall cultivate certainty in Buddha Nature.
- I shall cultivate and sustain love for all sentient beings.
- I shall never abandon or exclude a single sentient being from my compassion.
- I shall study, reflect, and meditate on Other Emptiness.
- I shall prioritize spiritual practice, without distraction.
- I shall observe the fundamental daily[i], monthly[ii], and annual[iii]
- I shall avoid intimacy with those inimical to the Dharma, and seek their correction.
- I shall transmit only the authentic Great Middle Way, without fear or calculation.
- I shall transmit the teachings only after receiving explicit authorization.
- I shall sustain body and mind, without attachment or aversion.
- I shall never despise or refuse rebirth as long as sentient beings remain.
In short, I shall conduct myself in such a way as to sustain and increase the faith of the faithful and gladden the hearts of all sentient beings.
[i] Refuge and Seven Branch Prayer
[ii] Full Moon Guru Yoga, Dark Moon Protector Yoga, Monthly Healing & Memorial Prayers
[iii] Appearance Anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni (Saga Dawa)
During one of his last conversations with a prominent disciple, the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, co-founder of the non-sectarian Rimé movement, humbly stated:
My life’s work is complete. If I were to die tomorrow,
there would be nothing more for me to worry about.
Even if I cannot hope to be reborn in some pure realm,
I might at least gain a human rebirth.
I pray that I will be reborn where I don’t have to eat meat.
—Nesar Karma Tashi Chopel, The Marvelous Gem-Like Vision
Exaggerated expressions accentuate and intensify afflicted emotions. Don’t say “I adore this food” or “I love this car” when a simple “I like” is enough to describe your emotional relationship with a mere object. Don’t say “I hate the heat” or “I detest this music” when you simply dislike them.
Modulate your emotions while describing them. Use language with precision, and you will discover that extreme emotions are conceptual fabrications.