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Drops of Advice From My Heart

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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 May the youthful sun of speech, Manjushri, in his enlightened form,

With its signs and marks, embodying the secret body, speech and mind

Of all the infinite buddhas and their bodhisattva heirs,

Turn your minds towards the path to perfect awakening!


There are countless Dharma teachings, profound and extensive,

Suited to the mental capacities and inclinations of limitless beings,

Yet, by gathering all the key points together in a way that can be practised,

I offer this pithy advice to you, my friends, who I hold as dear as my own heart.


Becoming attached to this life, you will lose your fortunate connection to the Dharma.

Indulging your desires again and again, your craving will only increase,

And you will never find satisfaction. Wealth, happiness, fame and praise—

To pursue them is like buying and selling in a dream. Let go of such concerns!


By relying on a genuine and qualified teacher,

Your spiritual qualities will develop and increase,

And all your faults and failings will be cast away,

So serve him in the three ways[1][1] and others’ aims will be accomplished.


Just as gardens are not to be found growing in midair,

All the bounties of the higher realms and liberation,

Will never be yours as long as you lack moral discipline,

So with mindfulness, awareness and caution, control your mind.


Up to now, you have wandered like madmen lacking any guidance,

Through the vast darkness of unknowing in beginningless existence.

So now, in order to find the great sanctuary of peace and happiness,

It is right that you take joy in studying the vast ocean of excellent teachings.


Yet hearing alone will not be enough to eliminate misconceptions,

And confidence in the teacher and teachings will not come easily,

So take advantage of hundreds of debates, teachings and compositions,

And rely upon the elixir of mind that is the wisdom born of reflection.


Even the most erudite of teachers with vast scriptural learning,

Can repeat words like a parrot, without taking them to heart,

But when death suddenly arrives, this will bring only pangs of regret,

So rely on the essential meaning of the teachings, my heart-friends!


All the infinite teachings of the buddhas, so vast in number,

Are imparted purely as a means to subdue our own minds.

Don’t put your faith in words alone! I urge you once again:

Let the key points of the deeper meaning seep into your hearts!


This physical existence is difficult to find, like an udumvara flower,

Yet more rewarding than the discovery of a million precious gems.

It will be incredibly difficult to find another opportunity like this later on,

So don’t let it pass you by without accomplishing the highest purpose!


Our great enemy, the lord of death, arrives like a bolt of lightning in the sky,

And nobody can predict when and where he will strike next.

So you can not afford to wait for months and years.

Now is the time for virtuous practice—right here, right now!


For all beings, actions will not go to waste, but will bear their fruit,

And when karma ripens, there is no way to change its outcome.

So now, while you are fortunate enough still to have some control,

If you insist on bringing ruin upon yourself, who will ever save you!


If merely thinking of the various sufferings of samsara,

Which are so unbearably intense, can make you shudder,

Ask yourself: What will it be like when body and mind

Are actually afflicted by these countless forms of duhkha?


Only they have the power to lead us out of this great terror,

So extremely difficult to escape. No one else could ever save us!

So we should take these three most precious jewels as our refuge,

For they are undeceiving, wise, compassionate and powerful.

All the suffering of the three worlds comes from wanting happiness for ourselves,

And all virtue and happiness is born of a mind that wishes others well.

So, following the example of the teacher of all gods and men,

You should generate the supreme and unsurpassed bodhichitta.

When the glass mirror of your own mind is completely covered over,

With the thick layer of dust that is the adventitious defilements,

It is difficult for the reflection of profound and clear samadhi to appear,

So take pains to wipe it clean using the pure cloth of the four powers.

All appearance, sound and awareness are deity, mantra and dharmata.

And the view is knowing that this is how it always has been.

Without losing this view, take aim with the arrow of your meditation,

And gain mastery over the practices of elimination and development.

If you can generate bliss, clarity and non-thought as means of support,

Through the techniques of breathing and adopting physical postures,

You will come to master the illusory body of clear light,

So penetrate to the core of enlightened mind through the perfection stage.

When the darkness of the five degenerations prevails,

It is not easily overcome with the starlight of the eight lower yanas,

So shine the brilliant light of the sun of Nyingtik with its countless rays,

All drawn along by the swift carriage of the three kinds of faith!

Whatever arises, in pure awareness, unaltered and unconfined,

Look into the mind that is settled by itself, resting naturally.

If you recognize the natural clarity, always empty and without origin,

You traverse the paths and stages all at once, and seize the stronghold of the fruition.

Resting in a state of just-as-it-isness, through the right postures and gazes,

If you experience the natural manifestation of basic space and spheres of light as pure awareness,

The darkness of samsara’s dualism will disappear in absolute space,

And, passing through the four visions, you will reach maturity in the light body of great transference.

What I have said here—this plain talk arranged in verses—is my heart’s advice.

Although it lacks the poetic turns of phrase that might delight the intellectuals,

As a spontaneous and unaltered outpouring from the depths of my mind,

It is in the preferred style of the vidyadharas of the old translation school.

Through the merit of this, may all beings without exception

Receive the supreme royal empowerment of the four kayas,

And may I never be separated, even for a moment,

From the courageous strength of youthful Manjushri!

In China, at the solitary place of Wu Tai Shan (The Five-Peaked Mountain), on the peak where the supreme deity, the youthful Manjushri, turned the wheel of the profound and vast Dharma for tens of thousands of bodhisattvas, the one with unparalleled power of speech and intelligence (Khenchen Jikmé Phuntsok) set down in twenty-three minutes whatever came to mind. May it be virtuous!

Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2005. Thanks to Lama Chökyi Nyima for his kind assistance and to Matthew Pistono for his encouragement.