Apr 5, 2020

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 54 Comments

Letter to Disciples No. 287: NORMAL LAMP, DHARMA LAMP ( Thư gửi các trò 287: ĐÈN THẾ GIAN, ĐÈN ĐẠO PHÁP)

Letter to Disciples No. 287: NORMAL LAMP, DHARMA LAMP ( Thư gửi các trò 287: ĐÈN THẾ GIAN, ĐÈN ĐẠO PHÁP)

Dear disciples!

I often look up at the crown-shaped crystal ceiling lamp in the living room to admire its rarefied light radiated from one main lamp and five sub lamps. The lamp body and branches are made of crystal pendants ornamented by small clear glass globes swaying in the fan’s wind. The typical feature of this lamp lies in its six-petal lotus-shaped tail. What impresses me most is its base attaching to the ceiling that forms a shadow as if “resting back against a stainless moon” (a verse from the Prayer by Tangtong Gyalpo). Sometimes I think without the base, how can we have the lamp or get the light from it?

Dear disciples!

As written above, this thing does not exist without that thing (the lamp, branch, tail.. cannot exist without the base), just like during the cultivation, without a kalyanmitra, we shall have no spiritual result, sometimes even get the reverse effect. This has been warned by HH. 12th Gyalwang Drukpa: “Dharma needs practicing correctly or it will cause troubles” (quoted from “Dharma is life” by Thinley-Nguyen Thanh, Religion Publishing House). Notably, refraction produces a beautiful optical effect with the appearance of three crystal ceiling lamps of the same fashion in the living room, kitchen, and hall. Without knowledge of refraction, one would not know where this phenomenon comes from.

 

Likewise, many Buddhist bhikkhus have a look-alike, thus hard to distinguish between good and bad if we look from outside. Therefore, the Buddha and holy saints have conferred on us a method which is called “bodhyanga of discrimination” (i.e., eyes that discern the correct doctrine of Buddha (Saddhamma), including canons and dharmas). Without it, the Buddhist, particularly laypeople who are seeking for the right path, shall fall in disastrous mistakes, as warned by Guru Rinpoche: “The enlightened one does not have a special appearance for easy recognition. The defrauder, on the contrary, owns much hypocrisy that is hard to recognize. Do not mistake copper for gold.”

Dear disciples!

As I looked at the real lamp in the living room, making a comparison and found out characteristics for distinction so as not to be “cheated” by refraction. Equally, if bhikkhus and lay Buddhists have a similar appearance, internal aspects should be considered as necessary and sufficient conditions for the verification. Some bhikkhu says, “vegetarianism is the basic doctrine of Buddhism,” while others declare “vegetarianism is a method of practice in Buddhism”; or “a vegan diet is the only way for external tantra practice.” Some bhikkhus have denied the existence of samsara or the Western Pure Land; some bhikkhunis say only those who live a monastic life are qualified for expounding Dharma or laypeople are not eligible to be Master… . Such faulty thinking is the distortion of four ultimate truths, showing the ungratefulness and denigration towards the Shakyamuni Buddha; narrow mind and jealous attitude toward those who have a better capacity. They’ve broken the precept of lying, thus creating and incurring consequences caused by bad karmas, falling into grievous failures that Master Gampopa has pointed out. Unfortunately, not all of us recognize this, which has been covered carefully under monastic robes or academic titles that are acquired from “education exchange programs”.

 

I feel sorry for those who have faith in Buddha Dharma and aspiration for liberation but fall in the trap of “papamitra” (bad or evil spiritual friend or teacher), which merely leads to rebirth in human and deva worlds. Their aspiration is impeded by the monk’s wish on spiritual monopoly. Still many aspects I can analyze to expose such fake “spiritual mask” but I just give out some methods of examination and distinguish between good and bad that the Buddha and holy saints have equipped us, a kind of magic mirror for followers to reflect themselves and others:

1/ Four noble truths

2/ Four dharma seals

3/ Four reliances

4/ Five interferences in Buddhism logics

We can quickly realize and change a fake lamp, but if the false light of wisdom shines us, we will be spiritually dazzled and even blind, thus falling into the evil path. I would end this article by the sharing of Tantra Upatissa: I am born as a human being, I have the eight freedoms and the ten advantages, I have two eyes to see the light of the sun, the moon as well as the fire. If I do not practice the Dharma, I cannot have a happy life. If I do not get the wisdom, I will never be free from the samsara. The light of your wisdom and compassion is radiating over the world, and I am lucky to get the good opportunity to practice the Dharma and get the light of right view day by day.”

A rainy afternoon on the peak of Phu Van Mountain, June 16, 2019

Thinley- Nguyen Thanh


Vietnamese version: Thư gửi các trò 287: ĐÈN THẾ GIAN, ĐÈN ĐẠO PHÁP

  1. Tantra Mashita says:
    Dear holy, revered, respected and honorable guru,

    I bow my head down for you! Je baisse la tête pour vous ! Ich neige meinen Kopf für Ihnen ! Inclino mi cabeza por ti ! Con cúi đầu đảnh lễ dưới chân sen của Thầy!

    Thank you so much for sharing this letter with us ! That’s so kind of you ! I really respect and appreciate your noble efforts which you always do in order to share the dharma teachings with us. Your articles always change my points of views about the things which surrounded me. Thank you so much again in fact you’re a role model for the four noble truth.

    May you have good health and live long for the benefit of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    May the pandemic caused by corona virus soon end

    Om Mani Padme Hum

  2. Tantra Amitara says:
    Dear guru

    I bow my head before your lotus feet. I am thankful for this article.

    I am very fortunate to have kalyanmitra. Even though I use not read article and comment. This is very bad for me. But I use to see in my mind over situation. I have seen it is easy to read but experiencing hard. Or we can say that when we experience some thing ,we are not in present moment at that time. If we stay in present moment, every experience will become our teacher. We are always traped in in old habitual pattern and thus distraction attacks easily. Yes there are many options in our society and thus get confused between right and wrong. I think who lead us to non attachment is right one. I am sorry guru for my bad English.

    May guru and his concert live long for well being of all. May guru teachings illuminate all over the world.

    May this epidemic corona will pass soon.

    May all sensient being attain enlightenment.

  3. Brian Audinett says:
    Dearest dearest Guru,

    thank you for this advice in this powerful article. The enlighten one does not have a special appearance for easy recognition. I think the western saying of do not judge a book by its cover can be applied here. Dearest Guru my biggest fear, really the only fear I have is rebirth. If I do not get the wisdom I will never be free from samsara. Dearest Guru, this article is a light on the path. May all beings be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.

    Om mani padme hum.

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      Yes! If You do not get the wisdom you will never be free from samsara. But if you want it, you need to comment after reading on chanhtuduy.com because right view is first step!

  4. Tantraupatissa says:
    Dear Guru thanks for sharing this article. I pray all beings be protected from getting in touch with papamitra. We are lucky to have good base in Dharma as we found you as our Guru. And thanks for accepting us as your desciples. Likewise all beings get good and wise kalyamitra.

    May the epedemi of this Corona come to an end.

    May Guru and his consort live long for sake of other beings.

    May all beings be free from suffering and get enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum…

  5. Tantra Dhamitra says:
    Thank you, dear Guru for the article. When we enter the path of Vajrayana Buddhism we can be very excited about all the practices presented to us. It is very pleasant, for example, to practice sadhana, with songs, drums and cymbals, but if our motivation is just to feel pleasure, we can feel that the practice of dharma is just a hobby that at some point we will no longer need it. May the corona outbreak cease in all nations Om Mani Padme Hum
    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      Dear Tantra Dhamitra!
      You’are wrong when You thought about this: “t is very pleasant, for example, to practice with songs, drums and cymbals”. No, we practice without all these things! I have invented six methods of spiritual practice (referred as “Six Wonderful Dharma Gates”), namely:

      1/ Eight Dharmas of Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels (Eight methods of relying on the Buddha)

      2/ Samyagdrsti-prabha Samadhi (method of spiritual practice on seeing-understanding in the light of Buddha’s wisdom so as to make means and wisdom indivisible)

      3/ Uninterrupted Offering (method of spiritual practice on making offering uninterruptedly, not missing even one day)

      4/ Lotus Walking Dharani (method of spiritual practice on reciting mantra following footsteps to accumulate spiritual power)

      5/ Meditation on Bodhicitta (method of spiritual practice on meditation (both Samadhi and Vipassana) on Bodhicitta to cultivate pure mind)

      6/ Five Degrees of Deity Yoga (a practice of simple visualization of fully enlightened being at the fifth degree, which prepares for next degrees).

      This is a few of my words to you!

  6. Tantra Ashihata (Simon Michael) says:
    Dear holy Guru,

    My name is Tantra Ashihata.

    I thank you for this wonderful article which you have given to us.

    May you help us to practice dharma in the right way so that we can avoid disasters in our lives.

    May Guru live long for the goodness of all sentient beings.

    May the soul of my mother and others who have died rest in peace  and May corona virus come to an end soon.

    May all sentient beings be free from suffering.

    Om Mani padme hum.

     

  7. Petra says:
    Dear Holy Guru

    I thank you for this article and its lesson. To see what is real instead what appears to be.

    May all sentinent beings be free from suffering and may the Corona virus soon end

    May Guru have a blessed and peaceful day

  8. Tantra Dhamitra says:
    Thank you Guru, I really need guidance to get out of all my confusion. Om Mani Padme Hum
  9. paul yawney says:
    Dear Holy Guru, Thank you for another wonderful article. I try to live by the rule of Cause No Harm.the way of Buddha and your teachings have helped me to stay on this pass. if I get upset or angry i find my self going back to what I remember of the teachings. I let the bad feelings go. Back to Neutral.May Holy Guru and consort Live a long and Happy Life. May this virus end soon. OM MANI PADME HUNG. TANTRA HIMATARU.
  10. Mật Diệu Hằng says:
    Dear Guru,

    I would like to express my deep gratitude to you for writing such a wonderful article. From the image of normal lamp, you have taught us the valuable lesson about practicing dharma in the right orbit. Paying attention to the appearance,  many Buddhists found the wrong masters or Gurus. Clinging to appearance leads practitioners to the circle of birth and death. Only wisdom and bodhichitta can bring the true happiness to Buddhist practitioners. And these two factors lit the light for the dharma lamp shining the path of enlightenment.  Without compassion and wisdom,  the lamp become normal and secular.

    Therefore,  the three main factors of the path includes renunciation,  bodhichitta and transcendent wisdom. The first factor is renunciation. If there is no renunciation from Samsara,  the practitioners can not develop bodhichitta, let alone the last factor of the path. Likewise, practitioners have attachments on things from Samsara like shaved heads,  yellow robes,  big temples, ect,  they never touch the noble qualities of a true Buddhist to enter the city of liberation.

    Thank you so much for your teaching.

    May you and your consort have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings awake in the state of enlightenment

    May the covid 19 pandemic be soon over.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  11. Mật Chánh Tấn says:
    Dear holy Guru!

    I would like to express my gratitude for reading your guidance in this article, which has shown me the importance of right thought, right understanding via the metaphorical example: normal lamp, Dharma lamp.

    As you have pointed out in the article “without the base, how can we have the lamp or get the light from it?”. That meaning also led me to the thinking of Dharma as if without the teaching of Buddha and the Guru’s instructions of Pure Mind Yoga, I could not know how to approach or apply right thought, right understanding into real life. Also, like what you have mentioned in the article “without knowledge of refraction, one would not know where this phenomenon comes from”, from the point of Buddhism, without the right thought and right understanding, we could not distinguish between the good or bad and might make mistakes when assuming copper for gold. Through this article, I now know the methods that the Buddha and holy saints have equipped us to expose fake “spiritual masks”: (1) Four noble truth; (2) Four Dharma seals; (3) Four reliances; (4) Five interferences in Buddhism logics. Thank you the holy Guru for giving us such a valuable lesson. I understand that by diligently reading and commenting Chanhtuduy.com, I would accumulate and nurture the right thought and right understanding, which would help me to not fall into the trap of “papamitra”.

    May holy Guru and his consort live long for the sake of other sentient beings.

    May the epidemic of Covid-19 come to end soon.

    May all sentient beings be free from suffering and get enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum!

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      I like your the sentences: “As you have pointed out in the article “without the base, how can we have the lamp or get the light from it?”. That meaning also led me to the thinking of Dharma as if without the teaching of Buddha and the Guru’s instructions of Pure Mind Yoga”.

  12. Mật Chánh Tấn says:
    Dear Guru,

    I would like to express my gratitude to your encouragement. Thank you Guru for letting us to have a valuable lesson through this article.

    May the Guru and his consort live long for the sake of other sentient beings.

    May the epidemic of Covid-19 come to end soon.

    Om Mani Padme Hum!

  13. Jason Cook says:
    Dear Guru, this is welcomed into my mind, thank you Guru.
  14. John Mruk says:
    Dear Guru, thank you for this article and this lesson. You continue to open my eyes and further my understanding.
  15. tantra mahavita says:
    Dear Holy Guru … I bow my head at the feet of the Holy Guru … Grateful for your wonderful articles … Taking refuge in the Buddha Dharma through the compassion and wisdom of a spiritual master we can quickly realize the light of the wisdom that illuminates us through the practice of Dharma and thus obtain the light of the correct vision day by day. May the Guru have a happy life and live a long time for the benefit of all you are sentient. May all beings find Buddha nature. Let the virus crown pandemic end soon. OM MANI PADME HUM
  16. Rekaya says:
    Very interesting and well-written article

     

  17. Sonam Tshering says:
    A drop of water fallen into the ocean will never disppear untill the ocean itsself disappear. A drop of water clinging on leaves are most beautiful and far better than on other surfaces. likewise your few golden like supper words will never disappear from your follower untill their karmic marits are gained. Your words are so power that it enters our life not the parts of our body.

    We appretiate your selfless effort for every sentient beings and yes, your effort toward everyone really entered our darkest life.

    Thank you …🙏🙏🙏 ཨོྃ་མ་ཎྀ་པད་མེ་ཧཱུྃ༔

  18. Sonam Tshering says:
    Dear guru

    A drop of water fallen into the ocean will never disappear untill ocean itself disappear. A drop of water clinging on the leaves are most beautiful and far better than on other surfaces.like wise your few golden like super words will never disappear from your followers untill their karmic merits are gained. Your words are so powerful that it entered our like not even our body.

    We appretiate your slefless effort for the well being of every sentient being and yes. Your effort towards everyone helped our darkest life.

    Thank you.🙏🙏🙏 ཨོྃ་མ་ཎྀ་པད་མེ་ཧཱུྃ༔

  19. Mật Khả Phúc says:
    Dear Guru,

    I’m delighted to read this beneficial article.
    The article has linked from the normal lamp and its refraction to the Dharma lamp. Guru Rinpoche warned “The enlightened one does not have a special appearance for easy recognition. The defrauder on the contrary, owns much hypocrisies that is hard to recognize. Do not mistake copper for gold ”, so that’s not about the appearance, the title which are so obvious. However beings would be distracted easily by the false light of wisdom and they could be blind and fall into the evil path. Thereby, I have realized the importance of having wisdom and knowledge through Buddha’ teaching and Guru’s instruction of Pure Mind Yoga in order to have right understanding, right view to see through those fake spiritual mask. Thank you Guru to giving us methods which Buddha and Holy saints have equipped us to distinguish between good and bad 1) Four Noble Truths 2) Four Dharma seals 3) Four reliances 4) Five interferences in Buddhism logics. Thank you Guru for inventing and creating the beneficial chanhtuduy.com so sentient beings in this whole wide world have opportunity to gain wisdom, to equip “bodhyanga of discrimination” through reading and commenting on chanhtuduy.com.

    May Guru and your consort have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May Covid-19 pandemic will be end soon.

    May all sentient beings be free from suffering and get enlightened.

    Om Mani Padme Hum!

  20. Sonam Tshering says:
    🙏🙏🙏
  21. Saliu Abdulmumin says:
    Dear holy guru

    Thank you for the teaching and for this article.

    May Guru live long to be giving beings more motivational and inspirational article.

    I pray for quick end to Corona viruse.

    May Guru live long and have good health for the sake of beings.

    May beings be free from suffering and have enlightenment.

  22. Sati says:
    Dear Guru,very interesting Article,the Base is the main Foundation of everything in Life.
    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      “The enlightened one does not have a special appearance for easy recognition. The defrauder, on the contrary, owns much hypocrisy that is hard to recognize. Do not mistake copper for gold.”

  23. Alex says:
    Thank you guru.

    I enjoy your articles and I admire your perspective on the Dharma

    Sadhu

  24. Jason says:
    Very powerful teaching 🙏
  25. Tantra Nikakuwa says:
    Dear Respected Dhamma Guru,

    With due respect and Guru’s permission, i want to say something here.

    Believed to have been conceived by the Enlighten One, these Four nobel Truths are,

    1. The Thruth of Suffering,

    2. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering,

    3. The Truth of the End of Suffering,

    4. The Truth of the  Eight Fold Path that Leads to the End of Suffering.

    It is said that if a teaching contains the Four Dhamma Seals then it can be considered Buddha’s Dhamma. These Dhamma Seals were all introduced after the Mahaparinibbana of the Enlighten One. The Four Seals can be variously translated as follows:

    1. All compounded things are impermanent, Everything conditioned is impermanent
    2. All emotions are painful, all contaminated things are suffering, Everything influenced by delusion is suffering
    3. All phenomena are without inherent existence, all phenomena are empty and devoid of self. All things are empty and selfless.
    4. Nirvana is true peace, is beyond description

    The four slandered of the Saddhamma which Buddhists abide by or to rely on,

    1. The Dhamma, not the person. Or to rely on the law, not upon the person.
    2. The sutta of ultimate truth, not the sutta of incomplete truth or rely on the meaning of the teaching and not upon the words.
    3. The meaning, not the word or wisdom and not upon discriminative thinking.
    4. The wisdom and not the consciousness or to rely on sutta that are complete and final, not rely upon those that are not complete and final.

    Among the important properties, these are five logical systems can have are:

    1. Consistency means no theorem of the system contradicts another.
    2. Validity means the system’s rules of proof never allow a false inference from true premises.
    3. Completeness means if a formula is true, it can be proven,
    4. Soundness if any formula is a theorem of the system, it is true. This is the converse of completeness.
    5. Expressivity means what concepts can be expressed in the system.

    Thank you very much again Dhamma Guru for this beautiful article

    May the Buddha Dhamma Sangha bless us all & bless all beings in our province; town, village, country & world live with peace & harmony

    “Om Mani Padme Hum”

    Tantra Nikakuwa

     

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      Yes, that’s all right but don’t “Carry coals to Newcastle”!1, Three principal aspects of the enlightened path: Renunciation, Bodhicitta and Emptiness

       

      2, Four Dharma Seals are the four characteristics which reflect true Buddhist teaching. It is said that if a teaching contains the Four Dharma Seals then it can be considered Buddha Dharma although the Dharma Seals were all introduced after Gautama Buddha died.

      Four Dharma Seal includes: (1) All phenomena are empty, (2) All stained emotions are painful, (3) All compounded things are impermanent, (4) Nirvana is true peace. It can be considered (1) and (2) as Emptiness, (3) as Renunciation ; and (4) as Bodhicitta.

      The Four Seals are as follows:

            * All phenomena are empty: All phenomena are non-self, mutual dependence and no permanency.      * All stained emotions are painful: All conditioned phenomena and experiences are unsatisfactory      * All compounded things are impermanent: all dharma and their functions are impermanent in nature. Everything is a result of the convergence of the seed and the maturing conditions. Converging conditions are ever changing, too – no permanency.      *  Nirvana is true peace: Nirvana is the ultimate tranquility. Nirvana is beyond all terms of duality and relativity. It is therefore beyond our conceptions of good and evil, right and wrong, existence and non-existence.

  26. Tantra nikakuwa says:
    Thank you very much dear Compassionate  Dhamma Guru for your compassionate instructions.
  27. Andreas Stegemann says:
    Dear Master,
    thank you for sharing this inspiring article!
  28. Chukwugozie Maduka says:
    Dear Learned Guru,
    Please how can we distinguish a genuine Guru from a non+ genuine Guru. Next, what do we make of the many online programs on meditation and mindfulness? Should one subscribe to them? Do you have a provision to teach meditation and mindfulness to your disciples?

    Most respectful.

    Maduka

     

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      Please, read works ” 50 verses devotion Guru” of Avaghosa to distinguish. Second question, pardon, I haven’t an any anwser because you are not object!

  29. Tantra Mashinaga says:
    Dear Guru,

    Thank you for this article. I enjoyed reading this article. Please pray for us Dear Guru and the end of the Corona virus.

    May Guru live a long and happy life

    May all beings be free from suffering and attain happiness

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    Tantra Mashinaga (Mark Hamilton)

  30. Mật Khải Nguyên says:
    Dear Guru,

    I am delighted to read this article. The comparison between a normal lamp and dharma lamp helps me realize the benefit, as well as the importance of having bodhyanga of discrimination. As you said, “we can realize and quickly change a fake lamp, but if we let the false light of wisdom shine upon us, we will be spiritually dazzled and even blind, thus falling into the evil path”. This insightful concept helps me realize that there are many sources of spiritual light out there, thus it is easy for a sentient being like me to choose the wrong one. It seems like not a big deal at first, but with time, that “fake lamp” will gradually lead me into a wrong path, or even an evil path. Acknowledge this, I cannot help but feel grateful, as Guru always taught me to not be easygoing when it comes to spiritual matters, don’t be a spiritual slave, and above all, don’t trust my selfish thoughts once I haven’t reached enlightenment.

    Thank you for this article. May Guru and his consort live long for the sake of all sentient beings.

    May all sentient beings attain happiness of Buddha’s nature.

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  31. Mật Huệ Bích (8 tuổi) says:
    Dear Guru,

    I have read the whole article,

    Thank you Guru,

    I pray for the health and longevity of Guru and your consort for the sake of being,

    Pray for the Coronavirus disease to be eradicated soon,

    I pray for all beings to attain the happiness of Buddha nature,

    Om Mani Padme Hum.

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