A Brief History of the Practice Center at Thrangu Tashi Chöling
Vasubhandu also spoke of practice, “By correctly listening and reflecting on the teachings, one will perfectly connect with meditation.” In the presence of special teachers and students who have the two qualities of being stable and expert, a person suitable to receive the three stages of the vows takes the novice and full ordination either for this lifetime or until enlightenment. With a firm commitment that is maintained without deterioration, one then needs not only the knowledge that comes through listening and reflecting, but also all of this has to be brought into ones experience. Situ Chökyi Jungne said, “Knowing the view, but not able to meditate is like a rich person bound by stinginess: the result required for oneself and others does not emerge.”
Generally, it is excellent to know what the genuine Dharma is; however, if one does not meditate, the ultimate result will not be obtained and, so practice is very important. Further, rather than practicing alone in a solitary place, it is better to practice in a group. Repa Shiwa Ö has said: “The basis of virtuous activity is compatible Dharma friends.” Through the encouragement of lamas and friends, who truly follow the Dharma, faith and diligence grow, laziness and discouragement are turned around. From the time of a beginner, one must practice according to the stages of the path. So that Dharmic habitual tendencies arise and remain stable, one first begins with the common preliminary practices of the Four Reflections, meditating on impermanence, and so forth. The very basis of all paths is refuge, which is recited along with prostrations. The purpose of Vajrasattva practice is to pacify negative karma from the past, present afflictions, and coarse conceptualizations. The purpose of mandala practice is to gather the accumulation of merit that creates the right circumstances for experience and realization to arise in one’s mindstream. Through the practice of cutting through, one’s body is made into an offering. Since whether meditation goes well or not depends on blessings, one practices the general and specific guru yogas.
Mind training is to give rise to the special motivation of loving kindness and compassion, and to give rise to bodhicitta where it has not arisen and where it has arisen, to practice so that it does not decline but develop further. One meditates on exchanging oneself for others, on the equality of self and other, and that others are more important than oneself. Those are the preliminary practices.
The main practices are from the great classes of tantra with the general practice of the generation stage of the yidam deity, and especially, the practices Lord Marpa Lotsawa received from Naropa. In one of his songs, Marpa said, “I received Hevajra, the profound tantra, and Chakrasamvara, the heart’s essence.” According to this, the generation stage of Chakrasamvara is the heart and the heart’s essence. Further, there is the practice of the aspect of the father, who is skillful means, and the aspect of the mother, who is wisdom. Of these, it is the practice of Vajrayogini that mainly emphasizes superior wisdom and primordial wisdom. It comes from the whispered lineage and the generation stage is brought to perfection based on the accomplishment of the outer, inner, and secret practices. The completion stage is practiced based on the profound path of method, including the practices of nadi, prana, and bindu found within the Six Yogas of Naropa. On the path of liberation, after having been introduced directly to the nature of the mind itself, one practices mahamudra.
So that one does not get lost in mere talk, dry understanding, or mere study, nor in a fool’s meditation, blind faith or a mistaken path, one then receives empowerments that mature, explanations that liberate, and reading transmissions that support. The necessity of staying in retreat is so that the lineage will not in any way deteriorate and, in particular, that the lineage of the practice’s blessing remains unbroken. In three years, the best retreatants fully accomplish the practice; the average one attains qualities, such as the signs of heat, and the lowest one without error, takes ahold of the start of the path leading to liberation and omniscience. In this way, retreat is endowed with many special benefits.
- This was written by the one with the name Thrangu Tulku. May it be a cause for the flourishing of the teachings on study and practice.
The Daily Schedule at the Retreat Center of
Thrangu Tashi Chöling at Tagmo Lüjin
3:00 to 6:00 Dawn session 6:00 to 7:00 Torma offerings to the four guests 7:00 to 8:00 Breakfast 8:00 to 11:00 The morning session 11:00 to 12:00 Lunch 12:00 to 1:00 Break 1:00 to 3:00 Afternoon session 3:00 to 4:30 Mahakala puja 4:30 to 6:00 Offerings to Vajrakilaya 6:00 to 6:30 Dinner 6:30 to 9:00 Dusk session 9:00 to 10:00 Chö practice
Under the guidance of Thrangu Rinpoche, translated by Michele Martin and Klaus-Dieter Mathes