Continuing Tibetan Culture

Rinpoche’s Talk About the Importance of Khaita at the Teacher Authorizations

Dzamling Gar – January 31st, 2015

In the program for this retreat [the Teacher Authorizations – Jan 30-Feb.4, 2015] we also have the program of singing and dancing. This may surprise many of you, for example, that many times during retreats I not only explain the Teaching and we practice together, but we also sing and dance. When I start singing and dancing most people go away. They think, “I do not enjoy this singing and dancing, this is not Dzogchen, this is not teaching”, and some people may also think, “Oh, our Teacher is doing stupid work, always singing and dancing instead of doing practice.” I imagine they have this kind of idea and that’s why they do not remain and are not participating.

I am getting old now. I started learning Tibetan when I was three years old. After I was seven years old, I started to learn the spiritual path. Until now I have had my experience and I have learned many things. For that reason I am giving Teachings and many people follow me today. I am teaching Dzogchen. Maybe you think, “Now he is getting old and he doesn’t think and judge well and then instead of doing practice, he is dancing and singing.” I imagine that people have this kind of idea because they are not participating. But I am not doing anything stupid. With my experience I do my best in everything.

We are singing and dancing Tibetan songs. You remember that I started this more or less three years ago; before I did not sing and dance. Today I am singing, but I cannot dance anymore. When you get older and arrive at my age and have my condition at the physical level, you would also not be able to dance, it is not so easy, even if you have that idea. Today I see in my students that there are many people who are not in this condition. What I can do is sing. Also I can show and teach how we should dance. You remember that I dedicated writing all these songs, choosing from hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of Tibetan songs and I prepared a book. First there were 108 Tibetan songs. Now our second book is prepared with 180 songs, and I am dedicating to this work before I disappear from this globe. I also sing myself to convince people to follow and sing.

There are many reasons I do this. One reason is, you should remember, that today, particularly in the Western world, people are very interested in Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan teachings and Tibetan culture. Why? Because Tibet is a country that remained isolated for centuries. Even if Tibet is an underdeveloped country economically and technically, in the ancient times there was a spiritual path, knowledge, etc., which came from India, Oddiyana, Shambala, and Tuja. All this knowledge was introduced in Tibet and Tibetans still keep it alive today. Tibetan culture is related to that. Tibetan people are also connected to that. If you are interested in these things, you must also understand that Tibetan culture, language, everything, is important to remain and continue on this globe.

Many Tibetans who are singing and dancing in Tibet show what their problems are, and how important it is to continue the Tibetan language and culture, and they are communicating this with melody. I discovered this only three years ago. Before I had no idea, because I was more concentrated on the spiritual path or history etc. After that I started to prepare Tibetan songs, singing and dancing, showing how important it is to keep Tibetan culture alive.

So singing and dancing, [using] the Tibetan language etc., is a support to maintain Tibetan culture. We are not doing something politically, what we are doing is more normal, through evolution. We are showing and living that; how the condition is. For Westerners, since they do not know how to read the Tibetan language, not only for singing and dancing, but also for Tibetan practices, many practices, just like Tibetan chöd and many ritual practices, we should learn all of this in the Tibetan language. So for this reason I prepared the Drajyor phonetic transcription system, the way of pronouncing. Not all different nations are preparing this way, and therefore no one is really pronouncing in a perfect way. For that reason I prepared this system and since the beginning of the Dzogchen Community I presented it and people are learning. To learn to pronounce in a perfect way takes only three days. This is not so difficult. So I prepared all these Tibetan songs and dances for Westerners also. These all are a kind of work. You know, it is not so easy, you get a book and read it, but you should think, “Who prepared that book?” Namkhai Norbu. “Why?” You must think a little about this.

You are trying to learn the Dzogchen Teaching. What is the most important aspect of the Dzogchen Teaching? I repeat this hundreds and hundreds of times every day. First is that you are being in the state of contemplation in Guruyoga, this is a simple way, this is number one. But after that what is more important? Being present. What does it mean, being present? Being present is related with your body, when you are moving, for example, related with your voice when you are talking, you are singing, when you are doing anything you are integrated with your mind, judging, thinking always; being present and not distracted. What is singing and dancing? Singing and dancing is a practice if you are in the knowledge of the Dzogchen Teachings, and if you are not in the knowledge of the Dzogchen Teachings, then you think that you must only chant a mantra or make an invocation. Then you concentrate and think only that activity is very important. When I ask you to sing and dance, you escape. That means you are not practitioners of Dzogchen and then it is much better you forget Dzogchen and do something else. This is the reason I am singing and dancing. I put the singing and dancing also in this program [of Santi Maha Sangha, Yantra Yoga and Vajra Dance authorizations], so every day we have singing and dancing. If you want to know and understand Dzogchen, you participate. If you don’t want to, then it is better you forget all.

This is the reason we are singing and dancing, I have repeated this many times but people are not participating. Some people say, “I do not like singing and dancing”, so are you Dzogchen practitioners or not? If you are Dzogchen practitioners what is the worst thing, number one in the Dzogchen Teaching? It is limitation. Why do you limit yourself by saying, “I like and I don’t like”. This is a limitation, you are accepting and taking only what you like, you are refusing what you do not like. Is this the Dzogchen way? It is very far from the Dzogchen teaching.

So it is better if you really want, you learn the correct way. I am still alive and I am collaborating with people. If you don’t want to, that is ok, there is nothing to do, but this is the reason we are singing and dancing. Now I have explained, if you want to follow that way, we will start with singing and dancing now.

Transcribed by Luna Lattarulo and edited by Liz Granger and Naomi Zeitz