Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Introductory Talk to the Teacher Trainings and Authorizations – November 12, 2016
Teacher Trainings and Authorizations
November 12-19, 2016
Good day for everybody and everywhere. Here we are in Dzamling Gar. This is the start of our retreat of the Teachers’ Training You already know our program, we are going to do a teachers training of Santi Maha Sangha, and related to that we also have Vajra Dance and Yantra Yoga. In this case it is very important that we know what Santi Maha Sangha means. Santi Maha Sangha is in the Oddiyana language. But in our ordinary language, particularly in the Western world, we say Dzogchen Community. This is important to know and understand. Otherwise people are thinking Santi Maha Sangha is some books, some study, something we do in an intellectual way; something we are learning and doing.
We more or less have an idea of what the Dzogchen Community is. The Community is almost arriving to a half-century old. We study, we develop, we collaborate with each other; this is the Dzogchen Community. Most people have the idea that the Dzogchen Community is a kind of dharma center. The principle of the Dzogchen Community is not a kind of dharma center.
You know what Dzogchen means. Dzogchen is what we are learning for years and trying to apply. The real nature of Dzogchen is our condition and for discovering and getting in that state we have the Dzogchen teaching. I have been trying to teach and communicate that for many years. Also most of our people are trying to learn that. The purpose of Dzogchen is for getting in our real nature, so first of all we are discovering our real nature. If we are not discovering it, then we cannot get in that state. So for that reason we are studying and applying that method and teaching. Maha Sangha means Community; Maha means total and that is the same in Oddiyana language and Sanskrit, but the way of using that word in Oddiyana language and Sanskrit is not the same. For example in Sanskrit they apply the adjective in a different way. The way they use adjectives in Oddiyana is very similar to how they use them in Tibetan.
It is not so very difficult, for example, when we are learning the Dzogchen Tantras, most of the titles are in Oddiyana language because the origin of the Dzogchen Teachings from Oddiyana, not India. Also most of the Vajrayana and high Tantric teachings come from Oddiyana. If you want to study in a more intellectual way, then you can understand in ancient times that almost all the famous mahasiddhas from India traveled to Oddiyana. Many mahasiddhas arrived in Oddiyana, received teachings, studied and then they introduced Vajrayana in India. Some teachers never arrived to Oddiyana, but they received teachings on the way there. Oddiyana is the source of Dzogchen and Vajrayana teaching.
You know very well the history and biography of Garab Dorje. Garab Dorje is the source of the Dzogchen teachings in our epoch, in our human condition. Guru Garab Dorje was born and taught in Oddiyana. For that reason, the Oddiyana language is important for Dzogchen teachings. For example, when Guru Padmasambhava arrived in Tibet, he taught Vajrayana, higher tantras, lower tantras, and everything. Particularly when he taught Dzogchen, he gave the advice to his students that for the future they should go to Oddiyana to learn the Dzogchen teachings, and they should translate from the Oddiyana language into Tibetan. Then we have the very famous translator Vairocana, for example, Vairocana and his collaborators, traveled to Oddiyana. They received Dzogchen teachings in Oddiyana and they translated all Dzogchen teachings from the Oddiyana language into Tibetan. So the Oddiyana language is a very important source of the Tibetan teaching of Dzogchen and Vajrayana.
You see, for example, in Sanskrit the adjective is used before the names. When we say Mahayana for example, Maha is total and yana is vehicle, also Vajrayana, everything, they always use adjectives before the nouns. In Tibetan we use adjectives after names, not before. If we say there is a good man, a good person, for example, person in Tibetan is mi, good is yagpo – we say mi yagpo, mi is noun, yagpo is the adjective. Santi Maha, in Sanskrit or Oddiyana language, the adjective is after. It is not necessary we use Santi Maha Sangha but it is important to understand, so we don’t have some mysterious idea. Particularly if you are learning Dzogchen teachings, everything should go in a more concrete way, not in a mysterious way. For that reason, first of all we need to know what Santi Maha Sangha means.
We started to study and learn Santi Maha Sangha when I started to make the program of Santi Maha Sangha. I know very well that in order to study Santi Maha Sangha well, we need a background of all global knowledge. We cannot stop when we learn something saying that this is all. The ancient tradition in Tibet that is called Nyingmapa comes from what Guru Padmasambhava taught when he was in Tibet. Everything Guru Padmasambhava taught that is maintained and continuing is called the Nyingmapa school. In the Nyingmapa school, when we are talking about all teachings we say nine vehicles. That is considered global for all teachings of Buddhism related to the Tibetan tradition. For example, we are studying Hinayana and Mahayana, the vehicles that are the Sutra tradition, which means the oral teaching of the Buddha Shakyamuni. Then there is the Vajrayana tradition, with higher and lower levels, and that is also related with the teachings of the Buddha or Buddhist, but the main point of that teaching is not the oral teaching of the Buddha.
Oral teaching means that Buddha was a human being. Buddha was talking, the students were listening and they wrote something down. For example, like we are doing today, teachers explain and students listen; that is oral. But the Vajrayana principle is not that. This is Sutra, oral teaching of the Buddha. Buddha’s manifestations, through manifestations, transmitted that knowledge and this is all the Vajrayana aspect. And in this case we have the lower and higher tantras. When we say lower, in the Nyingmapa traditions, we say outer tantras and there are three series, kriya, ubaya and yoga, which are always the same in all schools. But when we are saying higher tantras those are different schools in Tibet. Higher tantras in the Nyingmapa tradition are the three series called nang gyud de sum, which means the inner tantras. They are called inner tantras, because kriya, ubaya and yoga are outer tantras. Inner tantra means going more deeply into knowledge or a little higher aspect. So they are not called tantras particularly, they are called nang gyud de sum, the three yogas. Yoga means knowledge and understanding. These classifications are only in the ancient Nyingmapa tradition that was divided in that way and then became the nine vehicles.
In the higher tantras there are Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga; the three series of the Vajrayana. But these series do not exist in the other ordinary schools. They have only the first one, which is called Mahayoga, because Guru Padmasambhava started to teach Mahayoga. For example in the time of Padmasambhava many root tantras were translated. These tantras were translated, like Guhyasamaja tantra, and then later other schools said these are old translations. They called these translations old because later they went to India and searched tantras and still there were practitioners and some experts of this knowledge of the tantras so they had the opportunity to study directly from India and they translated the tantras again. So these are called new translations; sometimes there is a slight difference and sometimes there is no difference.
Sometimes the translations are slightly different because the more modern scholars who translated were going in a very intellectual way. They gave too much importance to the vocabulary and what the words were saying. Ancient translators like Vairocana went into the essence and knew the real sense. For that reason, sometimes you can find little differences. But the essence of that teaching is a more authentic translation. So this is called the nine vehicles in the Nyingmapa tradition.
We are Dzogchen practitioners and we are following the Dzogchen teachings. In the Dzogchen teachings we refer to the three inner tantras, and the last tantra, the most essential, is ati yoga, the Dzogchen teaching. The second of the three inner tantras is anuyoga. Anu and ati yoga are not diffused in the modern traditions of the schools. Particularly in the Gelugpa and Sakyapa tradition, they are not diffused. In the Kagyupa school it was more diffused later because there had been many tertons and the origins of these tertons is coming from the Kagyupa. They discovered many teachings of Guru Padmamsambhava and he taught many kinds of teachings that were aspects of Dzogchen, and of Anuyoga. Then, of course, they discovered that this teaching belonged to the Nyingmapa school and then it was also diffused in the Kagyupa school. In the Sakyapa there had been very little of this aspect.
There was one terton called Tsharchen Losal Gyatso, who originated one of the sub-schools of the Sakyapas called Tshar. For example, Tsharchen Losal Gyatso had some visions, and a kind of terma teaching of Guru Padmasambhava, but even if he is considered part of the Sakyapa tradition, the Sakyapa considered these teachings part of the Sarpa tradition, which is the most essential but not officially accepted. For that reason it was not very much diffused, like the Anuyoga teaching and Dzogchen teaching. Of course that does not mean there are no practitioners of Dzogchen in the Kagyupa, Sakyapa, and Gelugpa schools, there are. Particularly in the Gelugpa tradition, they discovered the Dzogchen practitioners after they passed away. They always did these kinds of practices secretly. If they officially performed these practices openly, many Gelugpa teachers would not agree because the Gelugpas go very much in an intellectual way.
If you are trying to go into the essence of the teaching you will not find any of these kinds problems. But we live with dualistic vision, in our society everything is completely limited. So in this case we should accept and pay respect to that, otherwise we would not be able to do very much. Then we should understand that what we are trying to do is to learn the Dzogchen teachings. For that reason, I started to prepare the Santi Maha Sangha study and practice. It is not sufficient that we study one of the Dzogchen tantra books. We need a base of the global knowledge. I know very well this is not so easy, especially for Westerners; you don’t know the Tibetan language and there are so many different books and ways of explaining. I couldn’t ask you to read a book of Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa. We could not go ahead that way.
For that reason, I studied and prepared the base of Santi Maha Sangha. For years I researched, read many texts, and looked for the most important points from here and there. After that, we translated that text into the Western language. Then I transmit this for people and they are able to study and apply that. So, for today for example, we are saying we should study the base of Santi Maha Sangha. There is a book and when you study this book you will learn many important aspects of the teaching of the Buddhism in a global way. So then going ahead step by step I am doing training, first and second level, etc.
Many people say, “I am doing Santi Maha Sangha to become a teacher”; this is not correct, this is your idea. You should not think first of all that you want to teach someone; you should think, “I want to discover my real nature first of all. I want to be in that state, and when I am familiar with that state, I can teach.” If you are not in this kind of knowledge and you are only reading a book, this is an intellectual way and it is said, “You are dancing on a book.” You cannot communicate anything of the real essence of the teaching. So you should learn the Santi Maha Sangha base in that way.
First of all you should construct your knowledge and your base concretely. Of course, if you have that base then you can communicate and do your best to help others. So it is very important for learning that we qualify ourselves for knowledge and then secondly that you try to giving teachings for others. In this way, we are training to be a Santi Maha Sangha teacher. First we do an exam of the base, then first level and second level, etc, and then we go ahead. We are not calling this a Teachers’ Training. Teachers’ Training means we did some teacher training and we should become a kind of teacher; we need to teach others.
We should observe ourselves a little. How can I teach others? We teach others through the three aspects of body, speech and mind. We have three existences and these three existences must correspond with the base. We should learn and apply what is explained in the base of the teachings. If I want to teach something for others, first of all I need to have a little sufficient knowledge for teaching that in a concrete way. Second of all, I should know I am in a relationship with this person I am talking to and communicating with. In this case, what I do must correspond with that.
At least these small things we should think about a little, our attitude and our way of being present. If you are becoming a teacher you cannot be a strange person. At least you must be a normal person. A normal person, it means you look around and see how they are. I am not asking you become monks or nuns or that you cut your hair, etc., but that you present as a normal person and you apply your attitude in a normal way. If you are doing strange things then it is very difficult to accept, really. A teacher must not be strange. I am not strange. For example, I am trying to teach the Dzogchen teachings presenting that I am a teacher, at least. I am living and doing everything in a normal way. What do you do? If my attitude is acceptable for you, then I can communicate with you.
If I am doing strange things, you could not accept me. You could not believe what I am talking about, for example. This is related to our physical level, our body. Of course, after that, we have the aspect of our voice. So teaching means we are communicating and talking, talking means we should know and communicate the real sense of the teaching; and in which way we communicate and collaborate with that person, that person’s desire and their idea, etc. It is not sufficient to say I learned in a book that you should do like this and now you have to do that; everything goes in a relative condition. Working with circumstances in the Dzogchen teaching is very important. So that is also connected with our aspect of the voice. And of course with the aspect of the mind we try and do our best – first of all we know what the main point of the teaching is. We observe ourselves, how we can integrate with this and correspond with our attitude, our way of thinking, everything.
So I am very happy when you say you want to be do the Santi Maha Sangha teacher training. You are doing this seriously and of course it is very important. For years and years I am trying to make the real sense of the teachings understood for my students. I am not doing this to create myself as a teacher and so I have some students. I know very well our human condition. We have so many problems. So between all this thinking how our problems are and since the Dzogchen teachings are very precious, it is really something that can have benefit for overcoming all these problems.
You know that the first thing we learn in the Dzogchen teachings is that we observe ourselves. When we observe, what do we discover? We discover how many kinds of limitations we have. I told you many times repeatedly that when I met my teacher Changchub Dorje, before I met him I had met many teachers. I received many teachings of Sutra and Tantra, etc., I was not thinking that these teachings I already received were not important. All of these teachings are very important; and not only important but I thought I understood everything. When I studied in the college for many years I was proud, I became an expert on Buddhism; I knew all the teachings of Sutra and Tantra. But later when I met my teacher Changchub Dorje, he introduced me to the real sense of the Dzogchen teachings. I thought that I had the understanding of everything, but in the real sense I was not being in that knowledge.
For example, when we study in different schools, in each of these schools we learn tawa, gonpa and chopa, and then application and attitude. These are very important points in schools. When we are saying point of view, different schools have their own point of view. When I am following the Sakyapa tradition, I learn the point of view of the Sakyapas. The most important teacher of the Sakyapas is Sakyapandita. Sakyapandita explained his knowledge of the Buddha. But all the other schools, the Kagyupas and Gelugpas, they do not accept what Sakyapandita is saying. They are following their way, a different way.
So each school has their point of view. They maintain that point of view and they think it is very important. How were these points of view produced? With logic and study. There are three logics: direct, indirect and the logic of belief. They established everything with these three logics. When they established their point of view with this logic they were one hundred percent sure that this is the real condition. So you see each school has a different point of view. If it is something real and concrete, why are there differences; they are always confirming this is the teaching of the Buddha. Buddha did not create these different schools. They developed later.
When I met my teacher Changchub Dorje, I really believed I knew everything. When my teacher introduced the Dzogchen teaching, he said, “Now I introduce you to the point of view of Dzogchen. Before you receive that you must distinguish the difference of the function of the eyeglass and the mirror.” The eyeglass is for looking outside. If you have very powerful and strong eyeglasses you can see even very tiny things. But in this way you concentrate outside, dualistically. You are looking and you are seeing something. This is called dualistic vision. Then he said that this kind of logic and point of view has no value. Of course relatively for maintaining schools and traditions, it is ok, but if we want to go into the essence of the real teaching of the Buddha, it has no value.
What is the value of the Dzogchen way of seeing, of that point of view. The example is the mirror. The function of the mirror is different from the function of the eyeglass. In the mirror we are looking in the mirror, we are not looking outside. You look, you think the mirror is in front of you, but what appears is your face. What you discover is your face, not the mirror. Or some object outside of you. So it is a good example of how we should observe our aspects of body, speech and mind. When we observe ourselves we discover all aspects of our body, speech and mind, and the infinite limitations that we have. All of these limitations are the source of samsara, the source of suffering.
You see also our relative human condition. Every country says, “We have government”, for example, how is the government, there are the parties of the right and left side. They are always fighting. So what does this mean? This is a limitation. When we speak about the peace of the world, it is very nice when we say, “Oh we like peace very much.” Everyone likes peace. But how can we have peace? We can only have peace if we are going beyond these limitations. If you are on the right, on the left, either one, there is not peace. If you have dualistic vision, I am here, they are there, there is no peace. If we want peace, we need to go beyond that. This principle is taught by the Dzogchen teaching directly. This is not only for doing meditation, but also relatively for living in our society. This knowledge is indispensable. For this reason I am trying to explain and make this knowledge understood. And I am saying what we should learn is the Dzogchen teaching, and its application, for example, we are doing Ati Guruyoga for example, so when we learn Ati Guruyoga we apply it, and when we apply it, in what state are we? We are in the state beyond limitations.
Being in the state of Ati Guruyoga, even if we are in that state for only a few seconds, we are being beyond that limitation. Of course we can do that practice very often. But we are not always in that state. We have a physical body and that body needs to move, needs to eat, needs to sleep, if we do not do all of this there is no continuation of our life. So it is indispensible we pay respect to our relative condition. So we can learn and apply Ati Guruyoga, but after a few seconds after doing the practice, we are again in dualistic vision. But if you are fortunate to learn the Dzogchen teaching, and since the beginning the teacher introduced you, this is called mental condition, the nature of mind.
When you are being beyond your limitations, you are being in the nature of mind. When you are judging and thinking you are always inside time and space. This is called mental concepts. You already learned that. Then you know, “Ah yes, now I understand, the principle of the teaching is being in the state of contemplation.” Being in the state of contemplation means being beyond limitations and beyond judging and thinking. That represents being in the state of Ati Guruyoga, even if we are only being in that state for a short time. After that, then we are in dualistic vision. In this case we are thinking that this is normal life. Then we are going after mind. We believe what mind is judging and thinking and then slowly we develop and we become one hundred percent sure and we become a slave of our mind. Then we have so many problems.
That is why I am saying always, what is most important after Ati Guruyoga? Being present. So this is what we should learn and what we should apply. For example for being present you don’t need to go in a temple or do a particular position with your physical body. You don’t need to chant mantra or something. You don’t need to do a visualization or something you need to learn with your mind. You can be present with what is happening with your life. If you talk with someone and you are present, you know you are talking, if you are walking, you know you are walking, you are sleeping and you know you are going to sleep. Everything you are doing, you know you are doing it. This is called presence. Presence in the Dzogchen teachings means we are observing what we are doing. If you have this kind of presence you can do your best with everything.
So if you want to learn to become a Santi Maha Sangha teacher, you should have this kind of attitude. You know we live in dualistic vision. In dualistic vision everything is interdependent. So we are being present with that. And when we know that, we know how we should pay respect to others. How their dimension is. You are becoming a teacher by yourself and you know how to work with all sentient beings. This is what we should learn and what we should do.
The aim of our Santi Maha Sangha training and what we are learning is this. For example, when we are doing Santi Maha Sangha teacher training tomorrow, you will receive a question and you should answer that question based on what you have learned in the Santi Maha Sangha base book. You should explain that. But we are not only doing an examination of what you are explaining. We also need to understand your attitude and your way of thinking. We also need to understand your way of communicating to the people – your knowledge of the interdependence in your dimension. If you are missing these things, even you are very clever for repeating words and reading books, and explaining, this is not sufficient. We have also many Santi Maha Sangha teachers here and they have already had this experience, and they have done this for many years. In this exam I am not the only one judging, also they judge you, so you should know that and you try to do your best. This is our Santi Maha Sangha training.
Transcribed and edited by N Zeitz