Ringu Tulku Rinpoche's Bodhicharyavatara Teachings

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Listing of Ringu Tulku Rinpoche’s teachings on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara

Teachings on Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara, based on the commentary The Nectar of Manjushri's Speech by Khenpo Kunzang Palden (aka Khenpo Kunpal). English translation used—The Way of the Bodhisattva. Padmakara Translation Group edition 1997, published by Shambhala.

Lerab Ling 1997

•16 July 1997, 11:00
Homage. Explanation of the main topic. Three points of how to enter into the text itself. Five points of the Nalanda tradition. Stories of the life of Shantideva.

•16 July 1997, 17:30—1 tape
Preparing the ground for the teachings:—Motivation, Conduct. 3 containers. 6 stains. 5 wrong ways of remembering. 4 metaphors. 6 transcendent perfections of Tara. 6 paramitas—student and teacher.

•17 July 1997, 10:30—2 tapes
The title of the text:— Meaning. Origin. Description. Reason for having title. Homage in the title.

•17 July 1997, 17:30—1 tape
Division of Bodhicharyavatara into 4 sections relating to Bodhicitta prayer. How to generate Bodhicitta. Reflection on precious human life. 4 Bases.

•18 July 1997, 11:00—2 tapes
The benefits of bodhicitta. The Buddha shows the way, it is up to us to follow. How the buddha first generated his bodhicitta. The story of Norsang and the teacher Maitreya. Increasing the positive intention. The story of the buddha image on the ground. Positive and negative deeds. Aspiration bodhicitta and application bodhicitta. Relative and ultimate bodhicitta. The characteristics of bodhicitta. The story of Marpa who was angry when he was young

•18 July 1997, 17:30—1 tape
Ultimate Bodhicitta: Entrance to ultimate Bodhicitta—aspiration and action. Different definitions of aspiration and action. The Bodhisattva’s vow and the three disciplines. Benefits of aspiration and action Bodhicitta. Of the merit of taking vows. Story of the four helldogs. Lung. Questions:—About relative and absolute. Is Bodhicharyavatara Vajrayana? Is enlightenment for all sentient beings attainable? About the structure of the teaching. Is it normal to feel other people’s suffering? About the wisdom of compassion. Is wisdom without compassion something possible? How to tell someone who is suffering that suffering is not real?

•19 July 1997, 11:30—1 tape
The benefits of relative bodhicitta. The story of Pumo. Questions.

•20 July 1997, 17:15—1 tape
Summary of the first chapter so far. Active bodhicitta. Bodhisattva wants to help out of their own will. The King and the hermit. The enthusiastic bodhisattva who gave up saying “no”. To be compassionate is to be helpful, not always nice. Title of the first chapter. Question: What happens if you break the bodhisattva vow? Never give up on anyone.

•21 July 1997 17.30—1 tape
Chapter 2—Confession. The four parts of the second chapter. The five kinds of offering. The first stanza. The main cause for arousing bodhicitta is accumulation of merit. One of the powerful ways of accumulating merit is by making offerings. ‘The three pures’. Pure motivation. Pure object of offering. The purity of the offerings. The second way of offering. What to offer. To whom do I make these offerings. The power of offering to great beings with pure heart. Why offering is necessary. About offering to the Buddhas and giving gifts to people in need.

•22 July 1997, 17:30—1 tape
Chapter 2—Confession. The offerings. Offering our body. The example of Milarepa. The creation of your mind, creating a bath. The clothes to offer. Offering through the power of prayers. The music. The offering of Stupas. The eight Stupas. The four Stupas. Questions. Support of offering. Difference of mind training aspect. Offering beyond conception. Origins of the visions of the bath offering, etc.. Dharmakaya. Suffering and how Buddha sees it.

•23 July 1997, 17:30—1 tape
Chapter 2—Confession. The fourth offering: the unexcelled offering. The purpose of offering. The fifth offering: the offering of the melodies. The importance of concentrating on the good qualities. Prostrations. The benefit of doing prostrations. Refuge. It is the entrance into all the dharmas. It is the basis of all ordinations and precepts. It is the source of all positive qualities of Buddhist practices. It is the main difference between Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Atisha, the refuge-pandita. The general understanding of refuge. Questions and answers . About offering to the pretas. About karma.

•24 July 1997, 10:30—2 tapes
Chapter 2—Confession. The General Refuge. Transcendental Refuge. Cause Refuge. Worldly Refuge. Hinayana & Mahayana Refuge. The Vajrayana way of seeing things. The difference between Mahayana aspiration and Mahayana Refuge. Eight qualities of the Buddha. Eight qualities of the dharma. The teaching dharma and the experience dharma. The six qualities of the sangha. Buddha as the source of dharma and the sangha as those who kept the dharma alive. The five sense and the five eyes.


Sydney 1997

•28 September 1997-Tape 1/4
Welcoming address. Introduction. The young prince Shantideva. The young scholar. The busuku at Nalanda. The public discourse. The Bodhicharyavatara. Tanjur and Kanjur. Shantideva’s essentialising commentary. Short life story of Patrul Rinpoche . Khenpo Kunpal. The first chapter. The meaning of bodhi. The term ’citta’. The ultimate bodhicitta. The relative bodhicitta. Generating bodhicitta. The second chapter. The life stories of Buddha Shakyamuni. Heaven and hell. The Buddha’s way out of hell. Compassion is not just being nice. Understanding interdependence. Offering, prostration, refuge, confession. The bodhisattva who was too enthusiastic.

•28 September 1997—Tape 2/4
Don’t be too enthusiastic. Offering confession and letting go. Confession and purification. Real confession. Results, deeds, karma. The natural negative and Tschepa. Ego.

•28 September 1997—Tape 3/4
4 Powers. Questions. Concepts, n.o.m., Dzogchen. Incarnation and karma. Vajrasattva practice. Story of Atisha Dipankara. Chapter 2— Confession from stanza 32—41. 41—47. Question re awareness.

•28 September 1997—Tape 4/4
Strong habits demand constant exercise to change them. Practice and praying is training the mind in the right way. Little progress encourages more effort. To join with people with other way of life must not influence your own way, it’s a matter conviction. Don’t talk about compassion in the pub! Not talk, do it! It is reciprocal: as the people are important, if you take interest in other people’s interest, then they might be interested in yours. “Renouncing Samsara” is a state of mind. Working and working with people is practice. Every time is a time to practice.

•29 September 1997—teaching for children [check]

•30 September 1997 —Public talk [check]


•02 October 1997 [tape 1/3 transcribed and checked]
In this teaching Ringu Tulku gave a brief introduction to the Bodhicharyavatara and the life of Shantideva with a summary of chapter one and the first part of chapter 2. The main part of the teaching was on the second half of chapter 2 (starting at verse 47) on the four powers in as the four parts to purification.

•02 October 1997 [tape 2 &3/3]
Importance of studying the Dharma. Listening and meditation. Chapter 2—Stanzas 49—58 and tape 2 stanza 58—65, end of chapter on Confession.

•03 October 1997
Public talk on the attitude of a Bodhisattva. The step-by- step work we need to do on ourselves, in calming the mind, forgiving ourselves, being realistic as to our current condition and to be strong. He illustrated this by telling different stories of Bodhisattvas and to see them as role models.

Melbourne Weekend Seminar

•04 October 1997
Bodhicharyavatara Chapter 3 'Commitment". Brief review: Chapter 1, excellence of Relative and Absolute Bodhicitta; Chapter 2, confession, offering, prostration, refuge and purification. Chapter 3: The holding on or Commitment. Part 1: Preparation for the Bodhicitta attitude. a) The accumulation of merit through positive deeds: the seven branch offering. b) Training the mind.

•05 October 1997
Part 2: The main commitment: Taking the Bodhisattva vows. Three levels of the Bodhisattva motivation. Traditions of Asanga (aspiration and action vows are separate) and Nagarjuna (both together). Different descriptions of the gradual training. Taking vows everyday to increase awareness of your actions. Part 3: Rejoicing in what we have done. The Bodhicitta prayer, encourage and support yourself by maintaining renunciation, seeing what gives purpose to life, and reinforcing the sense of having found a great treasure.

London 1998

•13 May 1998
Most of the evening was devoted to an overview of the Bodhicharyavatara to start the next series of teachings beginning with chapter 4—Awareness. Rinpoche briefly taught on the following subjects: the bodhisattva, bodhicitta, helping others, offering, mind poisons and going for Refuge. Chapter 4 onwards covers the six paramitas and the generation of bodhicitta which is the heart of the Mahayana vehicle.

•14 May 1998 19.00
In this teaching Rinpoche covered stanza 1-14 of chapter 4.

•15 May 1998 19.00
Continued from stanza 15-28

•16 May 1998 10.00
Continued from stanza 28

•16 May 1998 14.30
Conclusion of chapter 4 on awareness

•17 May 1998 10.30
Chapter 5 to verse 14

•17 May 1998 14.30
Chapter 5 verses 14—22

Dzogchen Beara 1998

•05 June 1998 20.00 [1 tape]
Introductory talk giving an overview of what has already been covered within the cycle of teachings on the Bodhicharyavatara. He pointed out that the Bodhicharyavatara is one of the most important texts to study . He ended the teaching with a Q/A session.

•06 June 1998 10.15 & 16.45 [3 tapes]
After giving an introduction on how the whole teaching came about, Rinpoche began teaching on chapter 5—Vigilance, verse 24. He went all the way up to verse 58 in the morning and in the afternoon session he continued up to verse 81.

•07 June 1998 10.15 & 14.30 [3 tapes]
Rinpoche covered verse 82-104 in the morning and in the afternoon he completed chapter 5—Vigilance at verse 109.

Lerab Ling 1998

27—28 June 1998
Open weekend of teachings to weekend retreatants and the three month retreatants, followed by teachings on Bodhicharyavatara

•29 June 1998 11.00 & 17.00
Ringu Tulku began his teaching on the Bodhicharyavatara beginning with chapter 6 on patience for the three month retreaters. There are three main parts to this chapter: 1. To abandon anger and hatred 2. How to meditate on patience 3. Showing respect to sentient beings. Anger is the most important emotion that we need to abandon. He taught on from verse 1-17. He ended the afternoon teaching with a 10 minute sitting session.

•30 June 1998 11.00 & 17.00
Two sessions on this day covering verse 18-47.

•01 July 1998 11.00 & 17.00
Two sessions on this day covering verse 48-75.

•02 July 1998 11.00 & 17.00
11.00 session Verses 76-89. 17.00 session verses 90-111.

•03 July 1998 11.00 & 17.00
11.00 session Verses 112-120. 17.00 to end of chapter

•05 July 1998 17.00
RTR's final session in Lerab Ling was a teaching on “Retreat”. He gave a very basic, yet profound and complete insight into the meaning of retreat, meditation and integration. This was a very good introduction and overview for the new people and a wonderful summary and recap for the 3 Month Retreatants.

Berlin 1998

13 October 1998 20.00

14 October 1998 19.45
Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence

15 October 1998 19.45
Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence

San Francisco 1999

16 April 1999 19.30
Overview and what covered so far. Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence Stanza 1

17 April 1999 10.00
Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence Stanzas 2-16

17 April 1999 15.00
Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence Stanzas 17-31

18 April 1999 10.00
Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence Stanzas 31-62

18 April 1999 15.00
Chapter 7 Heroic Perseverance/Diligence Stanzas 63-76

Dzogchen Beara 1999

27 August 1999 20.30
Chapter 8 Meditation Verses 1 & 2

28 August 1999 10.00 & 16.30
Chapter 8 Meditation 10.00 session 3-24 . 16.30 session verses 25-29 [seems to be a gap in verse numbers here- double-check—dm]

29 August 1999 10.00 & 15.00
Chapter 8 Meditation 10.00 session verses 79-90. 15.00 session verses 91-110

London 1999

25 September 1999 10.00
Chapter 8 Meditation verse 90

25 September 1999 14.30
Chapter 8 Meditation verses 90-110

Lerab Ling 2001

25 June 2001 19.00
Chapter 9 verse 1

26 June 2001 11.00
Chapter 9 verse 2 and different schools of Tibetan Buddhism - 2 truths - story of Naropa

26 June, 2001 17.00
Chapter 9 Concerning those who establish the two truths The four ways of direct perception according to the Sautantrikas Rang tsen and chi tsen How the indivisble moment of consciousness is refuted by the Chittamatrins

27 June 2001 11.00
Chapter 9 Story of Nagarjuna; story of Asanga - imputed, dependent and truly existent - The Cittamatrin School: Definition of ‘truly existent’ (cont.) - The Fourth School: The Madhyamikas (Umapa) - What does predication mean? Translation of the Tibetan word drupa - Definition of Hinayana and Mahayana according to Taranatha - Emptiness - Compassion with wisdom - Emptiness - The four types of direct perceiving -Emptiness and appearances

27 June 2001 17.00
Chapter 9 Refutation to the objections to the two truths - Refutation to the objections to the two truths by ordinary people - Refutation of the objections by the Shravakas - The story of a man who went to a magician and experienced a different life

28 June 2001 11.00
Chapter 9 Refutation of the objections to the two truths by the Chittamatrins - Two kinds of Chittamatrins: those who believe in a certain reality to the mental image and those who do not - Main objection of Madhyamikas is that the mind cannot be self-existing and independent - The mind cannot see itself like a sword cannot cut itself - Like light can light itself, mind can be aware of itself - A sapphire is not blue by nature, but through interdependent arising - Memory occurs in connection with a perception - The nature and experience of buddha nature - The debates were about how to put the truth into words: The debate of twelve years between Chandrakirti and Chandragomin - Regarding memory -The key-word in Madhyamika is interdependence - Investigating the mind - The schools have differences, but all are a path

28 June 2001 - 17.00
Chapter 9 stanza 30-34, Wisdom, Two Commentaries pag 57-59 The importance of understanding emptiness. The essence of the whole wisdom chapter is stanza 34. Second point of refutation of the objections with regard to the path. The benefits of undserstanding emptiness. The 4 or 5 reasonings, also called ‘Diamond splinters’.

29 June 2001, 11:00
Chapter 9 Buddhas activities are spontaneous and non conceptual - Buddhas blessings remain even after they passed away - Power of Buddhas activities depend on our own openness - How can offerings made to Buddhas who have gone beyond discursiveness bring merits? - Non conceptual state means seeing things very clearly - Seeing things clearly frees from aversion and attachment - Merits happen because of interdependence - The proof of the supremacy of the Mahayana and the debate with the Shravakayana - According to Shravakas, emptiness is useless; understanding selflessness is enough to get liberated - Selflessness enough doesn’t allow to go beyond duality and karma - Voidness is just a step forward to selflessness - Proof that the theory and practice of emptiness is the real solution - A Bodhisattva remaining in samsara will not be polluted by it because of his understanding of emptiness - Emptiness as a practice makes lot of fears come out because it is not ego comfortable - But there is nothing to fear as emptiness destroys the basis of fear itself - To understand emptiness, first create a doubt - Devotion and pure perception - The meaning of the word tathata. - Devotion and compassion as means to erode the ego - The usage of the word ‘I’ as a way to solidify our ego - Perceptions as a trap that keeps us from realising the egolessness of self - Designation of phenomena is a matter of perception, not of their nature - Distinction between egolessness of self and egolessness of dharma - Does space exist?

29 June, 2001 17.00
Chapter 9 The story of how Patrul Rinpoche came to teach the Bodhicharyavatara - Meditation on the co-emergent self - Believing is not enough, you have to examine in order to understand - The story of Gampopa testing the first Karmapa’s understanding of the teachings - The difference between co-emergent self and imputed self - Space does not exist, it is only defined through phenomena - If things get created, there must be a creator - If space doesn’t exist, it cannot have qualities, so how come it is curved? - If the Buddhas are waiting to help us, why do we run after them through practice and studying?

30 June, 2001 10.30
Chapter 9 Story of teaching the Bodhicharyavatara around the world - Meditation on egolessness - The main point - Try to look at our motivation - We need to work with how we react - Doing something about this is the basis of the spiritual practices - We all think we are the center of the world - Trying to find self in the body - We have different cultural backgrounds, but on the experiential level we are the same - Trying to find the finder - “I am like a process” - The experience of a self is not debated, but that it is not a permanent thing - The Buddhist way of seeing rebirth - Reincarnation and selflessness - Consciousness of hearing and consciousness of seeing - Consciousness is not something permanent - A little about Samkhya philosophy - Is self a non-conscious thing? - Self and karma Karma is the process itself -How we develop -Self and compassion - The beginning of the dualistic view; fearfully solidifying experiences - Assuming and confirming the ego - What we need to find out experientially - Ultimate security – greatest joy - Questions: Reincarnation as insects -Fear of losing life - Pity and compassion - Freedom of decision - Duality and the equality of women

30 June 2001 15.00
Chapter 9 Meditating on the selflessness is a gradual approach - Why, even if there is no I, we still have to care for one self - Establishing the emptiness with « neither one nor many » reasoning - Uniting analytical approach and experience - The four mindfulness - The mindfulness of the body - The purpose of this examination is to relax and let things be - Can eye and ear consciousness simultaneously? - Mindfulness of DNA - How to accept death - Karma vs. free will - Four types of karma

1 July, 2001 11:00
Chapter 9 Wisdom has to do more with looking in; and so, with experience, how to be. - Reasoning as a guideline to see afresh and go beyond concepts, to true experience - About mindfulness: just being aware of what is going on - Wisdom is learning how to be, not how to think - Awareness is the only way to do anything with ourselves - While you are aware of now, you can't hold on to things - We need to analyse and then rest more with awareness, learning what it means to be nonconceptual - It is very important to have the basics clear, not to become chö dred - The ‘totally very big problem’ - Examining the feelings: they are not as dependent as we think. - The whole thing is, how we react - Feelings are momentary, changeable, not solid; so no reason to be upset about - Learning to relax: letting the feelings, good or bad, come and go - The key to happiness - "To come to a clear-cut conviction that feelings are without inherent existence" - When you examine the cause of the feelings, you find there is no real contact - Holding on so strongly, we disempower ourselves - When we understand deeply the nature of the feeling, then we can relax - We don't experience the feeling; we are just remembering it. - Ordinarily our experiences are built on our concepts, not actual contact - The meaning of the mantra of interdependent origination - Can we decide about what we do or not? Who decides? - Choosing liberation - How to be sure to arrive at vipashyana?

1 July 2001 15:00
Chapter 9 Separating four mindfulnesses is mainly for analysis, not necessarily for practice - Mindfulness of mind - What is the use of understanding this? - Great joy of total freedom and complete clarity - ‘Unborn nature’ of mind - Using the ‘diamond splinter’ to understand this - This reasoning is to show how interdependence works - Mindfulness of phenomena - Heart Sutra: going through meanings of words - How the Sutras are divided into volumes - Prologue: ‘Thus have I heard...’ - Three kinds of teachings of the Buddha - About Avalokiteshvara - Form and emptiness - If this is understood, Prajnaparamita is understood - Emulating Machik Labdrön - ‘Unborn and unceasing’ - Aggregates, ayatanas and dhatus: include everything we experience - Twelve links - If you really understand this, then there is nothing to attain - Prajnaparamita is having the understanding experientially - Nothing to get or get rid of - No more fear - No more than this - Prajnaparamita mantra Question and Answer session
The Five Paths - Path of accumulation - Path of joining - Path of seeing - Path of meditation - Path of no more learning - Feelings and perceptions - Bodhicitta: increase and decrease of

2 July, 2001 11.00
Chapter 9 Refutation of objections to the unoriginated nature of phenomena - The two truths are not divided according to how they actually are, but on how they appear - By understanding the relative truth we eventually understand the ultimate truth - Refutation of the objection that analysis must result in a regress Refutation of the argument of those who believe in true existence - ‘Without a father, there cannot be a son’ - You have to know what a seed is to relate it to a plant - Refutation of the belief in uncaused origination - ‘Extraneous production’: permanence or impermanence of cause - Ways of defining ‘permanent cause’ Question and answer:
Co-emergent cause and effect - Not destroying others’ views or beliefs - About using relative analysis and arguments to refute God or a creator -The source of all the problems in the world - Is there a creation and a creator ? - Logical reasoning is itself conceptual - Not getting stuck one way or another, being open - Co-emergent ignorance - Jesus and Buddhahood - Buddha has devotion to whom?

2 July, 2001 17:00
Chapter 9 Getting fed up with too much logic - Reasoning and intuition - Analysing to discern provisional and definitive truth - Refutation of the belief in self-production - Samkhya philosophy - Prakriti, the primal ‘soul’ - Main refutation of self-production - Result of all these arguments = to loosen our strict ways of grasping - Refutation of the four extremes - Studying the whole Bodhicharyavatara gives understanding of basic Buddhist tenets and practice - About shedras and traditional Tibetan educational methods - Subtle levels of existence, karma and interdependence - The ‘four or five reasonings’

3 July, 2001 11.00
Chapter 9 The difference between Western logic and Buddhist logic - Pramana, Buddhist logic - Investigation of the nature: the ‘great interdependence’ argument - Investigation of the result: the argument which refutes the origination of the existent or the non-existent - Something cannot be born out of nothing - The story of the purification of Ajatashatru - The importance of not misunderstanding emptiness in a nihilistic way - The eight worldly considerations - The story of the two monks and the evil spirits - Naturally less aversion and attachment when we have this understanding - Questions & Answers: - Clarifying the ‘three examinations’ - What is meant by ‘magic-like’ - Can coming into existence be explained in terms of absolute? - About knowing when to explain or try to convince others - Shunyata as ‘fullness’ or ‘interdependence’ - Plants as sentient beings? - What about love? - Ways to practise Prajnaparamita

3 July, 2001 17:00
Refuge ceremony and conclusion of Chapter 9 Explanation of what it means to take refuge - Taking refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - Refuge ceremony - The effortless display of Great Compassion - Motivation of a bodhisattva—how and why it strengthens - Compassion and wisdom growing together: is first seen in how easy you are with yourself - Practising rejoicing, we can always have good reason to be happy - The two kinds of pride - Strong clarity and therefore strong incentive is the main benefit of wisdom - The purpose: Trying to understand clearly in order be useful for oneself and others; so there’s no need to become arrogant