Samye Ling Teachings 2018
This year, having again committed to spending a month teaching in the UK, Drupon Khen Rinpoche spent ten days in May presiding over the first UK Kagyu Monlam, and then three weeks in October at Samye Ling.
Arriving in the UK on October 2rd, Rinpoche gave his first teachings of this visit at Kagyu Samye Dzong London on the 3rd to more than 190 people. These were focused on mind training and meditation, presenting mind training as the more accessible path and a basis for the more advanced path of meditation. The following day Rinpoche participated in an international conference organised by the Compassionate Mind Foundation and chaired by its founder, Professor Paul Gilbert OBE. Having been invited to address the conference, Rinpoche expressed his immense joy at seeing so many people dedicated to bringing compassion into the world following a thorough scientific approach, and then proceeded to present the way in which Buddhists relate to and develop compassion, and overcome that which might obstruct it.
Travelling up to Scotland on October 5th Rinpoche began his stay with a weekend course over the 6th and 7th focusing on ‘The Way to Master the Mind’; here he advised as to the correct way to relate to Dharma teachings such that they do not remain a mere source of knowledge, ‘out there’ as it were and something external to ourselves. Rinpoche explained that having a proper regard for dharma lies in relating to our study and practice of the dharma with a vast and far reaching motivation, which is far beyond seeing the dharma to be some sort of therapy that will help us feel better and happier in this life alone.
The 8th of October marks the anniversary of the parinirvana of Akong Rinpoche, Samye Ling’s revered founder and a great humanitarian. On the morning of this important day for the community of Samye Ling, the Tara Garden, a project that was always close to Akong Rinpoche’s heart, was consecrated by Drupon Khen Rinpoche, Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, and Lama Katen. Then in the afternoon, Samye Ling’s annual one-week retreat began with Rinpoche teaching Nagajuna’s Letter to a Friend, following on from the teachings he gave last year. Rinpoche also gave instructions on calm-abiding meditation, setting aside time to answer people’s questions and giving general advise.
The questions flooded in and covered an array of topics from science, how and whether it would be possible to heal post-traumatic stress syndrome, to how to maintain one’s practice as a layperson in a family setting. As usual, Rinpoche responded with immense skill and humour, often giving unexpected answers and revealing the questioner’s faulty ways of thinking. These Q&A sessions became some of the most lively teachings of the retreat.
In the last teaching, with the quote ‘The Sages do not wash away our crimes with water; they do not dispel beings’ suffering with their hands; their realisation cannot simply be transferred; they liberate by revealing the true nature of things.’ Rinpoche reminded everyone that we can only develop through our own efforts. That only someone thinking; “I must change myself” can be regarded as an authentic Buddhist.
Between the 16th and 24th of October, and again following on from last year’s teachings, Rinpoche taught on Gampopa’s Precious Ornament of Liberation, presenting the third chapter on The Spiritual Friend, the condition. Here, Rinpoche gave advice on how to properly identify and follow an authentic lama, highlighting some of the pitfalls involved in this process and cautioning us to be extremely careful in how we go about it. Making it clear that the purpose of Dharma practice is to help us to become more broad-minded, easy-going and resilient, Rinpoche pointed out that the lama acts as a trainer, helping us to develop to the point where we can handle anything that arises. Again, there were lively Q&A sessions on a wide range of topics including therapy, depression, omniscience and pride.
Throughout these teachings Rinpoche took the time to remind us just how important it is to ascertain the correct view prior to practice, so that we can be sure that we are indeed practising the Dharma. He explained that we must come to know the causes of our suffering in order to be able to relinquish and go beyond them, and also cautioned against seeing the qualities of the spiritual friend as unrelated to us, instead urging us to think of this part of the text as showing the attributes that we too need to develop to be of benefit to sentient beings. How it is only by looking at our own mind that we will come to know Buddha.
Before leaving Samye Ling on the 24th of October, Rinpoche encouraged everybody, especially the Sangha members, to apply themselves in their Dharma studies and expressed his wish that the causes and conditions come together again to be able to continue with these teachings next year.
In the evening of the 24th Rinpoche taught at Kagyu Samye Dzong Glasgow, again focusing on mind training and meditation, giving special emphasis to the need to look after our parents who have been so kind to us; an area he had repeatedly highlighted throughout this year’s teaching.