GOING BACK TO OUR ROOTS: WATERING THE TREE OF LOVE AND COMPASSION TO REAP THE JUICY FRUIT OF AWAKENING. Bodhicitta, first of the Five-fold Māhamudrā path (8th Garchen Rinpoche teaching, January 2022)

དཔེར་ན་ལྗོན་ཤིང་སྡོང་པོ་ཡལ་ག་ལོ་འདབ་རྒྱས། །
རྩ་བ་གཅིག་བཅད་ཡལ་ག་ཁྲི་འབུམ་སྐམ། །
དེ་བཞིན་སེམས་ཀྱི་རྩ་བ་བཅད་ན་འཁོར་བའི་ལོ་འདབ་སྐམ། ༈
For example, a tree trunk with foliage, branches and leaves;
Chopping its single root, thousands of branches will wither.
Likewise, if the root of mind is chopped, the foliage of samsara withers.
—Tilopa from Ganges Māhamudrā

“The embodiment of bodhicitta, which arises from a sea of loving-kindness and compassion, bestows the way to benefit and happiness to everyone endowed with fortune: I pray to the guru—bodhicitta!”
—Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa from Five-fold Māhamudrā Supplication

“In a world where there is no water, there is also no life. We can see the suffering that arises from a lack of water in this world. Similarly it is like the water in the mind, when the water of the mind is lacking, when there is a lack of loving kindness and compassion, that then leads to suffering.”
—8th Garchen Rinpoche (Teachings on Five-fold Māhamudrā, 2022)

INTRODUCTION


Today, for Guru Rinpoche today (despite having been sick the last few days, sniff, sniff!), after having stayed up late at night to watch the 8th Garchen Rinpoche’s amazing, profound January 2022 teachings on the five-fold Māhamudrā, as well as having received several, heartfelt requests from people to transcribe them (especially for those who are hard of hearing), am happy to offer a transcript on the first of the five-fold path, Bodhicitta ( based on the oral translation of Ina Bieler, see video links for the teachings below). The transcript is available to freely download on request.

The five sections of the Five-fold Māhamudrā are:

  1. Bodhicitta
  2. Deity Yoga
  3. Guru Yoga/Devotion
  4. Māhamudrā/Nature of Mind
  5. Dedication.

Where possible, I have grouped the content in the transcripts according to these five sections, not by the day taught. For example, the teaching Rinpoche gave on the meaning of vajra, is connected to the Deity Yoga verses, so that will go in the next transcript for the Deity Yoga.

For more on the Drikung Kagyu five-fold Māhamudrā, see here. In the teaching, Rinpoche refers to two Drikung Kagyu texts on the five-fold Māhamudrā: ‘Song of Realisation’ by Jigten Sumgon and ‘Five-fold Māhamudrā Supplication’ by Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa. These texts (with the Tibetan and phonetics) are downloadable here, as a single .pdf.: Five-Fold Mahamudra – Jigten Sumgon and Chokyi Dragpa 

WATERING THE ROOTS WITH THE OCEAN OF LOVE AND COMPASSION AND THE STAMINA OF A STALLION WINNING A RACE

Although love and compassion and the wish to attain full awakening for the benefit of others [Bodhicitta] is often overlooked in the rush to practice deity and guru yoga, it is clearly the foundation/roots of the path and all samaya.  As Garchen Rinpoche has continually emphasized, love and compassion for all beings is the root samaya. Without that, then all practice, teachings, siddhis and so on lack the moisture required to be alive, healthy and well.

In his teachings, Rinpoche shares various examples (with quotes from texts) of how important love and compassion for all beings as the root and foundation of the path. He first mentions, how love is not something you can buy, or sell or fake or make:

“ For example, between friends, or between a mother and her child, there is great love. For example, when a mother loves her child, the more love there is, the more happiness there is. Love is not something that you can fabricate, and it also not a thing that if you don’t have it you can buy it, and if you have it you can sell it. Love is nothing like that but it is the root of happiness. The root of all suffering in samsara is ignorant self-grasping.  The water of the mind is love, or loving kindness, and love is something that must be developed. It cannot be bought or sold, or it cannot be conjured up through miraculous powers and so on. Like in the west, where science is highly developed you cannot just manufacture love. For example, normally when some kind of device is broken, you can fix it, or you can fabricate it but this is not how it is with love.  You can’t just fabricate it like that. That is why all the Buddhas of the three times have referred to it as the precious bodhichitta and the Buddha of this time and age, Buddha Shakyamuni also himself in the very beginning, developed the mind of enlightenment, the mind of bodhichitta. That was the starting point of his path. So here when it says this sea of loving kindness and compassion this is how we should understand it as meaning the precious bodhichitta.”

Rinpoche then refers to the Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa quote above about the ‘sea of loving kindness and compassion’ and the importance of water on this planet:

“In a world where there is no water, there is also no life. We can see the suffering that arises from a lack of water in this world. Similarly, it is like the water in the mind, when the water of the mind is lacking, when there is a lack of loving kindness and compassion, that then leads to suffering.”

Image from ‘Trees of Dharamsala’ by Nicolas Vreeland. For more on this current exhibition, see my review of it here: https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/seeing-and-revering-nature-with-love-trees-of-dharamsala-by-nicholas-vreeland/

Also, Rinpoche refers several times to the Mahasiddha, Tilopa’s quote from Ganges Māhamudrā to elaborate on the example of a tree or plant whose roots lack water or adequate nourishment, as eventually withering and dying and how lacking bodhicitta and love and compassion for all beings is similar. Even though Tilopa’s quote is saying that we should chop the root of mind (the self-clinging), Garchen Rinpoche uses the example of the tree to show how it is only by watering the roots of love and compassion that the tree can grow and bear fruit:

དཔེར་ན་ལྗོན་ཤིང་སྡོང་པོ་ཡལ་ག་ལོ་འདབ་རྒྱས། །
རྩ་བ་གཅིག་བཅད་ཡལ་ག་ཁྲི་འབུམ་སྐམ། །
དེ་བཞིན་སེམས་ཀྱི་རྩ་བ་བཅད་ན་འཁོར་བའི་ལོ་འདབ་སྐམ། ༈
For example, a tree trunk with foliage, branches and leaves;
Chopping its single root, thousands of branches will wither.
Likewise, if the root of mind is chopped, the foliage of samsara withers.
—Tilopa from Ganges Māhamudrā

“To give one example of how it is when  the moisture of water might be present but still if it doesn’t  pervade then faults will still arise from it. To give one  simple example  for myself  is simple to understand. Then also for you  it might be simple to understand is in the Ganges Māhamudrā where it gives the example of a tree. It says when the root of a tree is cut off, then all the foliage of the tree will wither. So similarly, ultimately samsara and nirvana have a single ground. On the ultimate level, there is no separation it is just like one big tree, and then the tree has upper parts that consist of the branches, leaves and the blossoms, the fruit. Then there are the lower parts of the tree that are below the earth, the roots of the tree. Then you have the tree trunk, the single basis. So even though there is a single basis, part of the tree is underneath the ground and part of it is above the ground. So in order for the water to reach the foliage and water has to be poured into the root of the tree then the tree can grow. Then the leaves and the branches and so on can grow and will not wither. However, it also happens that sometimes due to various conditions even though you do pour some water in the tree that there are still some branches that that wither, or that and catch some kind of disease that are diseased and then  get sick and then die out so there is various conditions that that can happen. Basically, though, when you deprive the root of the tree from water, then the tree will generally die out or it will catch all kinds of disease like the disease we experience now. Due to various conditions, some disease arises. However, ultimately disease arises from the disease of the mind and that is the afflictive emotions. So the Buddha had said that you have all become controlled by afflictive emotions that is why now there are these emanations of the six realms of samsara and there is much suffering, isn’t there? Even though there is a single basis.

Due to various  negative conditions, for example, a tree is cut off from water, then all the potential of the tree will not grow. On the other hand, if you do give water to the tree, if you do develop love and compassion, then many hundreds of qualities arise from that. Many different flowers, branches and leaves and so on arise from that. So then perfect good qualities arise from that. So that is how we should think about it.

It is just like this difference, between depriving and not depriving a tree from water that determines whether or not good qualities arise, or whether faults may arise. So when you think about that then you understand that is why the foliage of the tree is withering because it doesn’t have any water.  Then in terms of the mind, this means that when the mind is deprived of water it is controlled by self-grasping and the afflictive emotions.”

The other example Rinpoche refers to is that of reaping the renown and reward of the stallion-horse with the stamina to finish the race in the ‘Song of Realisation’ by Jigten Sumgon:

On the stallion-horse of love and compassion
If stamina in the race of benefiting others is not present
The applaud of multitudes of gods and humans will not arise.
Thus, earnestly strive for this preliminary mind!

“Jigten Sumgon likens Bodhicitta to a stallion-horse. These are very  profound words and you should really think about them carefully.  The excellent horse can bring you anywhere, like in the olden days, we didn’t have cars to travel, we had to go on a horseback. So the person who is traveling is the inner mind and the horse is the wind energies, which carries you all over the place. So there are two kinds of winds: the karmic winds and the wisdom winds. If we follow the karmic winds, then we will wander in the six realms of samsara. This horse of the karmic winds will bring you all over, down into the six realms of samsara. It is the path where we become very controlled by the six afflictive emotions. On the other hand, if you have an excellent horse that is donned with the armor of altruism: ‘I wish to benefit others’, then this horse will bring you to the higher states of existence. So, the mind is the person, and the horse is the winds. The horse that is the wisdom winds, is the altruistic mind, the thought of ‘may I benefit others’. That is the horse we want to follow, and if you’re riding that horse of altruism, then that will manifest as devotion to the higher beings. And in this way become an accumulation of merit and also it will manifest as love and compassion for sentient beings.  This is  where the excellent horse brings you, to a state of altruism.”

The main point being that no matter how advanced the practice is, if there is not a strong, stable, well-watered root of love and compassion for all beings, then one will be weak and easily blown away, and suffer as soon as ‘troubles’ arise in the form of ‘negative’ conditions/people.

Music? Can’t Buy Me Love by the Beatles, Mind Games by Jon Lennon, ‘Love is the flower you got to let it grow’ and Going Back to My Roots by Odyessy….’I’m going back to my roots!’ May love and health dance on and strong! OM AH HUM GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUM!

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 12th January 2022. 

 

Further Reading

Five-Fold Mahamudra – Jigten Sumgon and Chokyi Dragpa

RIDING THE STALLION-HORSE MIND IN A CLOUD-FREE SKY: Five-fold Mahāmudrā in the Drigung Kagyu tradition: ‘Song of Realization’ by Jigten Sumgon and ‘Supplication’by Rigdzin Chokyi Dragpa and 8th Garchen Rinpoche teachings

2 thoughts on “GOING BACK TO OUR ROOTS: WATERING THE TREE OF LOVE AND COMPASSION TO REAP THE JUICY FRUIT OF AWAKENING. Bodhicitta, first of the Five-fold Māhamudrā path (8th Garchen Rinpoche teaching, January 2022)

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