How should we ordinary beings validate things as reliable?

Tsongkhapa and his two main disciples

Tsongkhapa and his two main disciples

Button_Eng[An excerpt from a talk given on the 18th of July, 1980] Generally, if you follow the Geluk system of philosophical approach to reality, you have to accept realities in conformity with how they are accepted at large. However, the truth about inconceivable secrets is a different matter. As it is said by Tsongkhapa in The Golden Rosary [lekshed Ser Treng], which we covered yesterday [His Holiness gave a teaching on this text], it would not be tenable for us to rely on truths such as ‘the ability of the exalted Boddhisatvas to bless a moment as long as an eon, or an eon in a moment’ as doing so will invalidate all our worldly conventions. Also, we won’t be able to practise engagement and abandonment based on the subtle secrets of the Tathagathas [Buddhas] that are perceptible to Tathagathas themselves only. Hence, we have to base our convention on how things are accepted at large in this world. Having said that, based on this conventional reality, it is doubtful if Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was born as Gyalchen [voluntarily]. It is also doubtful that Tulku Dakpa Gyaltsen was the reincarnation of Dulzin Dakpa Gyaltsen; even if it was true, that he was born into a wrathful form was because of having fallen out with His Holiness the 5th Dalai Lama; it definitely did not happen because of mutual harmony between them. This you will come to know if you read the biography of the Great 5th Dalai Lama. If you were to argue that what we read in the biography were written in conformity with ordinary perception while the inconceivable secrets remain something exclusively unique, first we need to reach that level of attainment to perceive the inconceivable secrets; its only once we have reached such levels that we can engage with the inconceivable secrets. However, as long as the perception of one who apprehends reality remains ordinary, there is no way he can engage with inconceivable objects. As such, while our perception is ordinary, we have to go by worldly convention, and rely on truths that are widely known.

These practices concerning the Dharma protectors have been taught in Tantric scriptures. Ideally, we would associate the practices concerning protectors with a deity yoga practice in which the practitioner arises as a particular Tantric deity and then, while being fully immersed in the pride of being that Tantric deity, enslaves the protectors to different kinds of activities, such as peaceful activities and others. This kind of practice becomes a method for others’ as well as one’s own attainment of enlightenment. With no such power, even if you beat the ritual drum to the point of complete breakage, there would be no hope of deriving any benefit from this. Instead, with faith in the infallibility of karma and by being vigilant of your daily activities, if you were to emphasise on building your refuge mind, not only will there be more benefit, but it will also add more expressions to your Buddhist outlook.

As there aren’t any commonly accessible rituals in connection with Buddha Shakyamuni for amassing wealth, extending longevity and succeeding in business, some amateurs [who consider themselves Buddhists] with very mundane mindsets of concerns for the welfare of this life, consider the worldly spirits and gods as highly indispensible in the face of difficulties or when it really matters, and if this gets carried on, there is a risk of submitting themselves to them from deep within: If this happens, the Buddhist refuge mind in them is forsaken. If this refuge mind is forsaken, the result is that you no longer remain a Buddhist. So it is very important to be careful. One must keep these details in mind and then engage with or abandon things accordingly.

However, if there are some among you who have received the life-entrusting initiation in connection with Gyalchen, there is no need for you to stop your practice. It is fine for you to propitiate him. However, you should not conduct your practice overtly, and neither should you consider him as the king of all protectors. You should know his real status and propitiate him in a manner that accords with the respective ranks of the protectors. For those of you who have not received the life-entrusting initiation, there is no point in taking your own neck to buy a set of ropes to hang it with. Far better than this would be the tradition of Kadampa masters, in which there is Buddha Shakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism; Arya Avalokiteshvara as the deity of compassion; Arya Tara as the deity that provide swift assistance and Achala as the deity that pacifies obstacles. On top of these four deities, they have the three categorical teachings [the three baskets]; thus the combination is called the ‘seven Dharmas of the Kadampa’. This tradition in its originality does not include any propitiation rituals such as incense or libation offering to kingly or godly spirits. Although we have not achieved the attainments our past masters had, we still vainly attempt to practise many methods of propitiations that even our past masters weren’t qualified to practise. However, we never get rewarded with swift actions or attainment of spiritual feats. As far as Gyalchen is concerned, I have this much to say today. I don’t see any point in unnecessary elaboration. If you are someone who could understand it when properly explained, I would have explained at great length. Otherwise, it is best to keep it low. I feel better to avoid talking about it unnecessarily.