VISIT BY KHENPO NGAWANG DHAMCHOE 21-23 APRIL 2023
“It was a joyous occasion from the moment that Khenpo la flew into Brisbane on 21 April to give a weekend of teachings on The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas – his first visit to our Brisbane centre since 2019 due to the pandemic. Many of those who attended the teachings had not seen Khenpo la or one another since before the start of the pandemic, so the atmosphere was one of great happiness, excitement, and gratitude to be able to finally meet face to face once again, and to deepen the sacred connection with our teacher and the rest of our Dharma family. Special thanks to those members of the Gold Coast sangha who travelled up for one or both days of the teachings, and to Aylar who came all the way from northern NSW with her delicious chai!!
“The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, which is one of the most famous mind training texts in Tibetan Buddhism, was written by Gyelsay Togmay Sangpo at the beginning of the 14th century and summarises the teachings of Shantideva’s ‘Bodhicaryavatara’ and other sources in order to present the path of the bodhisattva in just 37 four-line verses. Khenpo la explained that the text is divided into three main parts: the preliminary part (the first 7 verses), the main part (verses 8-37), and the conclusion. The author begins by paying homage to the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara (Chenrezig), as one needs to receive the blessings of the Buddha in order to teach the Dharma correctly; paying homage to Avalokiteshvara also indicates that this text reveals the practice of the Bodhisattvas.
“The main body of Gyelsay Togmay Sangpo’s text can also be understood with reference to the three levels of intelligence – those of small, middling, and great – with the emphasis on the path of the great person who practises the Mahayana teachings for the benefit of all. This compares with the person of small intelligence who does not see beyond this life, and the person of middling intelligence who wants to attain liberation from suffering only for herself/himself.
“Khenpo la pointed out that the author wants to teach the correct techniques and method so that we as Dharma practitioners can attain both the temporary and ultimate benefits; therefore, we need to understand and apply the teachings correctly in everyday life as a result of study, contemplation, and meditation in relation to this text. It is vital for us to be constantly checking one’s motivation or intention for all of our actions, and to always be vigilant in checking whether defilements are arising in our mindstream.
“Another point which Khenpo emphasised was that compassion and kindness are the root of the attainment of Buddhahood for the sake of sentient beings, and that our compassion should be greater for those who have enmity towards us, as they need more help than those who are our friends. It is only through the practice of loving-kindness and compassion that bodhicitta can arise, and it is only through the practice of relative and ultimate bodhicitta (including The Six Paramitas or Perfections) that one can attain the fully enlightened state of a Buddha – all of which is covered in the main part of Gyelsay Togmay Sangpo’s teaching on The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. Therefore, the most important point that Khenpo la made was that the main ingredient to attaining Buddhahood is kindness to others.
“On behalf of Rongton Buddhist Centre and all those who attended these teachings, I would like to thank Khenpo la for his great kindness in agreeing to teach from this ancient Text, and for the richness, clarity, and depth of his guidance through this profound text, including all the wonderful examples and analogies he used to elucidate the meaning of each of the Thirty-Seven verses. Through the dedication of merits and by the blessings of this teaching, may all beings gain both the temporary and ultimate benefits without exception!” ~Robin M.