We concluded the teaching of Gampopa’s Thargyen – the Jewel Ornament of Liberation, which I taught over the course of a year and nine months.
Some of my students have now expressed to me that the teachings were beneficial to them and asked that I teach the text again. I was very happy to hear this because in the Buddhist tradition and even during the time of the Buddha, a teaching was always first requested by the student to the teacher. The student would take heed of the teaching, then wish to hear it, have the intent to listen to it and then request the teacher for the teaching. This is the proper way to approach a teaching and the correct way to hear it. I have noticed that in some traditions, people go door-to-door providing information about their faith. That is not the Buddhist way. So, I am very happy.
Even in my case, my experience was different at each time I heard a particular teaching. At the first time, it seemed difficult to understand, especially when the teacher was different, the teacher’s dialect was different and the method of teaching was different. Then when I heard it for the second time, I understood more words and the meaning, and it was different from the first time. That is my experience. So when we hear the teachings for the first time, we simply gain knowledge of the teaching, however, as we hear it for the second and third time, the teaching begins to sink into our minds, and then when we hear it for the fourth and fifth time, it begins to transform our hearts, minds and actions. Ultimately, the teachings must not merely remain within the pages of a book but should really transfer to and within us. That is the reason why Buddha said that one must not be content with listening only once. The more one hears the teaching, the more it will be of benefit. I see this as very important. These days people talk about receiving this or that teaching in the past, and do nothing after hearing it once. That is not the right way. As I mentioned before, the teaching should not remain within the book and with the teacher. Instead, it should be absorbed by our minds and must transform us. It is not helpful if while reading the text, one feels some sort of short term sensibility or benefit. This would be referred to as the understanding remaining within the text. With persistent practice, if ultimately the teaching sinks in within us and transform us, then the goal of receiving teaching is achieved. Unless this happens, one must hear the teaching again and again.
I am very happy and inspired by your request and will begin the teaching at some point in time.
Written by Khenpo Karten Rinpoche, July 24, 2017