Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche: Letter of Advice to Jamyang Gyaltsen

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–1991) was a highly accomplished meditation master, scholar, and poet, and a principal holder of the Nyingma lineage. His extraordinary depth of realization enabled him to be, for all who met him, a foundation of loving-kindness, wisdom, and compassion. A dedicated exponent of the nonsectarian Rime movement, Khyentse Rinpoche was respected by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and taught many eminent teachers, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. 

Letter of Advice to Jamyang Gyaltsen by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. 

The following is offered to Jamyang Gyaltsen, who is virtuous and possesses the qualities of discipline and liberation!

I was delighted to learn that you are well. I too am in good health.

When practising The Bright Lamp of the Heart Essence, remember that the enlightened body, speech and mind of all the buddhas pervade the guru’s body, speech and mind. This is because his body, speech and mind are primordially pure, in both appearance and reality. There is no difference, therefore, between the guru’s body, speech and mind and those of all the buddhas.

Our own body, speech and mind, too, are, in their nature, pure, enlightened body, speech and mind. Yet, in their appearance, they seem to us impure and deluded. This is like someone with jaundice perceiving a white conch shell as yellow. Although they are the pure enlightened body, speech and mind in both nature and appearance, still, due to our confusion, they appear to us as the three impure doors. Such impurity, however, is not found either in the nature or appearance of the three doors themselves; it is simply how they seem to us from a deluded perspective.

Therefore, when you realise the natural state of both the pure body, speech and mind of the guru and your own seemingly impure three doors, you will see that they have always been beyond good and bad.

The pure enlightened body, speech and mind of the guru are wisdom alone, manifesting as enlightened body, speech and mind. This means that enlightened body and enlightened mind are indivisibly united, and so too are enlightened speech and enlightened mind. In brief, all three—enlightened body, speech and mind—are simply one primordial wisdom.

If you recognise this single wisdom, it is the ordinary, momentary awareness of the present. What we call “ordinary awareness” is the mind that we all possess, which in its essence and manifestation is pervaded by dharmatā. It is the nature of this that we must recognize. We don’t need to produce anew some form of wisdom that is distinct from our present mind.

If we determine decisively the nature of our present confused mind, we find that it is wisdom; and that wisdom is the guru. Just as we are never apart from our mind, so we are never apart from the guru.

Rather than purifying our deluded experiences of body, speech and mind through the tantric practices of the generation and perfection phase, it is much easier, more convenient and swifter to recognize how the guru’s body and speech are inseparable from our own mind; how our mind’s nature, which is without basis or origin, is the guru’s wisdom mind; and how this mind’s natural manifestations are the maṇḍalas of the three vajras of enlightened body, speech and mind.

It is enough simply to know that your own mind is inseparable from the guru, and to have continuous yearning and vivid devotion. You don’t particularly need to meditate on the guru seated on the crown of your head and remember all the details of his face, hands, posture and so on.

When you understand that the delusory appearances of birth, death and the intermediate state are mere appearances, which in reality are devoid of any basis or origin, you will also understand that this delusion cannot alter or affect the mind’s basic condition in any way. If you gain confidence through experiencing the fundamental condition of mind, delusion must be self-liberated—there is simply no other possibility. It is vital, therefore, that you train so as to become familiar with this crucial point.

All the practices of the generation and perfection phases and all the pith instructions are there to purify confusion, but this profound instruction on resolving mind’s confusion once and for all brings together the vision underlying the practices of all the various traditions, ancient and modern.

I have no experience of this personally, but still I have offered these instructions that I received from my kind teachers so that you will be able to practise as well as possible with some understanding of these crucial points.

In the current age of degeneration, it’s rare to meet a guru like ours and to receive such instructions, so be sure to recognise this. You have found a human existence, entered the door of Buddha’s teachings, and developed an intention to practise. Now that you’ve already begun, it’s crucially important, as they say, that you continue to apply all your energy to the task until it comes to fruition. That is just how it is.

For my part, since death has not yet come for me, I will gradually offer you whatever I know. For the time being, I think this will suffice to clarify your practice.

With continual prayers for your protection and the hope that we may meet again before long, I, an old man, offer you this glib explanation from afar.

| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2020.