17th Gyalwa Karmapa"Buddhism is a way of life through which we develop the qualities of our mind.
This way of life is very unusual, as it is a means to attain happiness without harming others.


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Buddha Maitreya on the left and Asanga with the five treatises of Maitreya, among which the Sutra Alankara - © Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery 1979

When Khenpo Rinpoche was asked if we should celebrate 25 years of the Summer Course, he gave a rather unexpected response. Basically, what he said was: "To hold such a celebration, you need a good reason! Moreover, it should be shared by both the teacher and the students. The efforts of each one invested in studying the Buddha's teachings are to be celebrated. That begins with the interest that one takes in the teachings, the desire to study and putting them into practice. Considering the 25 years of the summer courses, we can say that no one has wasted his precious human existence. Better yet: since the goal of the knowledge gathered is to realize wisdom that is beyond this world, beyond all mistakes and misguided notions, that should be the source of celebration.". Listening to Khenpo, it occurred to me that we could activate this rejoicing every time one studies or reflects upon the words of the Buddha; that would make as many grains of liberation planted in the mindstream, each ripening in their own time.

During the first days of the course this summer, which the theme this year is enlightenment - the realization of buddhahood - Khenpo Rinpoche gave a summary of the whole path, otherwise known as the causes of enlightenment. As is his custom, he based his explanations on a text; this time it was the Sutra Alankara, from Maitreya. He described the whole path, in five steps and ten points, from confusion at the beginning all the way to full clarity at the end. One element which is worth highlighting because it is presented as the basis of the path, is the potential of enlightenment in each and every one. But the term potential, explains Khenpo, must not be understood as a grain which develops until it bears fruit. What we refer to as Buddha nature, is the heart of every being, naturally present since beginningless time. It is not a potential that we develop with efforts in order to finish in the state of Buddha. This state of Buddha is already present in us. It is the essence in the heart of each being. The problem is the obstructions which hinder beings from being conscious of their real clarity of mind. The goal of the path is to recognize and reveal this natural presence. This is our starting point: all enlightened qualities are already present!

To be even more precise, our starting point is to become aware of this enlightened presence and to cultivate a desire for the path which leads us there. That is where practice begins: cultivate wisdom through study and reflection. Study will dissipate confusion and reflection will nourish convictions. It's a process: comprehension takes place progressively, first the words, then the meaning; our wisdom will then dissipate any inner doubts. This increasingly precise and profound wisdom gives structure to our meditation. It is this combination of study and practice which gives clarity to our activity. This is what we can call a tripod of practices: study, meditation and action (training to help others), which allows us to discover ourselves, revealing our inherent qualities.

Khenpo, citing the Buddha, tells us again, "It is not Buddha nature which needs to be developed, since it is there from the beginning, it is our discerning wisdom which needs to be cultivated." Make no mistake; perseverance does not consist of forcing headlong on the path or otherwise putting pressure on oneself. It is an effort inspired through confidence in the Dharma, born of discernment which becomes the force guiding one on the path.

Lama Puntso, program director at Dhagpo

Sharing a convivial moment at snack time

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