Ever since I arrived and established the Dharma Center here we have done retreat every year for a few days with Dharma friends. This year from February 13-16 I had the chance to do retreat, again, with Dharma brothers and sisters. I gave commentary on Dza Patrul Rinpoche’s Self-Liberating Meditation: A Profound Method for Attaining Enlightenment According to the Ultimate Great Perfection. On Saturday my Dharma Friend, Anam Thubten Rinpoche, a scholar and lord of adepts, came and taught the Heart Sutra. The retreat went well and on the 16th I arrived back at the center. After bringing things from the center, giving Dharma commentary, and leading recitations for four days I was rather exhausted from so much work and went to bed earlier than usual. About four in the morning I had this dream.
I dreamt of my root Guru Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche whose kindness to me could never be repaid. His short, thin body and smiling face were filled with light. He wore the orange Dharma robes and a Dagpo meditation hat. It was in my homeland of Nangchen, Kham, in the middle of the Dokham region, filled with varicolored flowers of summer. I dreamt of him with an entourage of hundreds. As soon as I saw him I felt unfathomable joy. Rinpoche was holding a vajra and bell, blessing the place and doing some recitation. As soon as it was over the disciples lined up in a long line in front of him. Rinpoche blessed each person as he placed the vajra on their crown. I also lined up and bowed my head before him. Folding my palms together at my heart, I requested his blessing. He looked straight into my eyes, placed the vajra on my head and said,
Be diligent in Dharma and patient with your circle of disciples! Subdue and train your own mind; this is the essence of practice. You don’t need to adopt or reject, practice or abandon, anything! Become a complete master with undistracted mindfulness! There is no other meditation superior to this.
Waking up about five o’clock, my mind was filled with a special bliss.
Of course, there are hundreds of Lamas on this earth who are fully enlightened who have consciously chosen to return in the form of human beings to place sentient beings on the staircase to liberation with their hands of compassion. As the Tibetan saying goes, however, ‘There are hundreds of Lamas in the land, but only one Lama for your mind.’ Even though I am separated from the Guru’s Form Body for the time being, here is proof that I am never let go from the hook of his loving kindness! What a wonder to meet him repeatedly, not like in a dream, but just like two people actually seeing each other!
When I think about last night’s dream, for three days this year I taught Dharma to the public, commenting on Dza Patrul Rinpoche’s Self-Liberating Meditation. As usual whenever I teach Dharma, at the beginning of the session I first make prayers to my root Gurus and mix my mind inseparably with theirs. What I teach, then, is not something I’ve proudly made up by myself, but what I know through my own experience, taught with single-pointed focus. To see the root Guru again this time I think is a sign that he was with us as a ‘wisdom being’ during our retreat watching over us with eyes of wisdom, and that he was delighted with our four days of retreat teachings and practice. Even though we don’t see him with our physical eyes he is watching over us like a sighted person taking care of the blind! I don’t have the slightest doubt about this.
Whenever I do important work, or work that is very difficult to decide about, when I go to sleep I pray to the Lama, and that very night wondrous dreams like this will occur. I believe them and decide accordingly. There is a saying: ‘Don’t ask just anyone; pray to the Lama!’ It is like that. I always entrust my mind to the Guru and make single-pointed prayers. That is the reason I often see him in dreams. Some people might say, dreams are just dreams. If they wonder why I would believe them, maybe they are right. Dreams are one of the eight examples of the unreal, illusory nature of things.
There are different kinds of dreams, however. Some dreams are definitely special blessings of the Guru’s compassion or signs of accomplishing the Yidam Deity. Most dreams are imprints amidst feelings we have during our life which appear to us in dreams at night; those are deceptive and we label them as such. In general, however, there are many instances when Kagyu Lamas such as Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa found their Lamas and developed qualities of realization during their dreams.
In any case, in Tantric scriptures it is said that if there is faith and unbroken commitment between Guru and disciple, and the disciple has heart-felt gratitude and aspiration towards the Guru, no other virtuous quality is necessary. I think this is a real sign of the results of not just verbal but sincere requests that I make to the Guru whose kindness is impossible to repay.
These days some Dharma practitioners first sit before the Guru and receive profound initiations of the nectar of the Guru’s wisdom, the life of the Yidam, the heart-blood of the Dakinis, and attend teachings on Mahamudra or Dzogchen for many months and years. Then, if the Guru says something that they don’t quite like, they suddenly start disparaging them and develop distorted views. In these degenerate times, to not have to act like that is a priceless quality; I think I am so fortunate.
Anyway, for me, in this life there is nothing greater than entrusting my mind to the Guru, being befriended and supported by the Dakini, and entering the path of Dharma. This is the unmistaken choice I have made. For as long as I live, it is my unchanging, indestructible commitment to follow in your footsteps, O Father Lama, and to become just like you.
It is your kindness that my mind has turned towards Dharma.
It is your kindness that Dharma has become the path.
I promise to clear deception from the path
And pray that deception may arise as innate wisdom.
If we are not distracted from the meaning, and know how to settle
By dropping into this timeless wisdom, the mind’s primordial true nature,
That will carry us to Buddhahood, (the Seventh Karmapa) taught.
This teaching of Tantra will not deceive or fail us.
Father Lama, for the moment you have left for the sake of others.
Your son calls to you from afar, from the ends of the earth.
If you see me with your eyes of wisdom
Don’t forget your son, O Protector of Beings!
Taking this body was not mistaken; I rely on pure conduct (brahmacarya.)
To whom I pray is not mistaken: the excellent Lama.
The path I’ve taken is not mistaken: the holy Dharma.
Now I am blissfully happy; what a marvelous wonder!
When I think again of you appearing in direct perception,
Visions, or dreams to your disciple with stable faith,
Accompanying me like my shadow, O Father Lama,
This child of yours is very fortunate.
Having had the opportunity for four days of February 13-16, 2020, together with Dharma brothers and sisters, to listen, contemplate, and meditate on Dza Patrul Rinpoche’s Dzogchen Self-Liberating Meditation, Accomplishment of Sukhavati, the Heart Sutra, and Venerable Tara practice, when the retreat was over, on the night of the sixteenth, I was tired from teaching and reciting so I went to bed early. In the course of the night, about five o’clock in the morning, awakened by the dream recounted above, my mind was filled with joy, and I wept uncontrollably with strong memories of my Lama. Afraid I would forget it, and in order to remind myself of it, this least of the Lord’s disciples who sits at the end of the line of all his disciples, who only bears the title of Khenpo Karten, immediately wrote it down in my daily blog. May beginners on the path like myself quickly receive the blessings of the glorious Lama, and may all beings be pervaded by the light of perfect happiness!
Written by Khenpo Karten Rinpoche, posted to his Blogspot on March 4th, 2020