This Song of the Roar of the Mountain Lion That Is Not Yet a Snow Lion
His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa indicated that it was his wish that Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche present Karma Chakme’s Mountain Dharma to Western students. In accordance with this wish, Khenpo Rinpoche taught this text over the course of four years at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, the North American seat of His Holiness in Woodstock, New York.
The mahasiddha Karma Chakme Rinpoche (1603–1677), who lived at the time of the Tenth Karmapa, was one of the most highly realized and accomplished individuals in scholarship and meditation. In order to benefit all practitioners pursuing the path of the Dharma, he composed over one hundred volumes of teachings, of which this text, Mountain Dharma, represents the essence.
This is an excerpt from Volume Two of Karma Chakme’s Mountain Dharma as Taught by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, the chapter on Mahamudra titled, “A Song of the Path for Travelers Who Are Going a Long Distance: the Practice of Meditation and the Manner in Which Realization Arises”.
Karma Chakme Rinpoche now gives instruction on the practice of meditation and the manner in which realization arises. This is indicated by the initial homage, namo mahamudraye, “Homage to Mahamudra.” The song begins, as usual, with the words, “Listen carefully, Lama Tsondru Gyamtso.”
The text begins, “Having received practical instruction in either a combination of Mahamudra and Dzokchen or either one of these . . . .” Karma Chakme Rinpoche is saying that in order to practice this type of meditation, you need to receive instruction in either Mahamudra or Dzokchen or in a mixture of both. Having received instruction in the technique of meditation and having practiced it a little bit, you need to go back to your teacher and discuss what your experience is, because you may not have understood it.
The point is that the practice of meditation is completely unlike any other kind of study you might do. It is not something you learn out of a book. It is not something you simply try to comprehend intellectually. You have to get it right. Having received the instructions and having actually practiced them, to be sure that you get it right, you go back to the teacher and present what has happened. The teacher will tell you whether you are doing the right thing or not. The first point is that having received the instructions, you need to practice the instructions until it becomes evident to your teacher that you have fully understood them. Then you can continue further.
It is extremely important to cut through complexity. Initially this refers to the coarse level of mental complexity, which is thinking about many different things. First addressed here are all the sorts of things you might come up with as excuses for not practicing meditation properly once you have gone into retreat. Karma Chakme Rinpoche continues, “Even in this life, up to now, you have exerted yourself in such concerns, but you have never accomplished a state of mundane happiness and security. “The way to prevent your mind from wandering to mundane concerns during meditation sessions is to establish what in the Kadampa tradition is called the “impassable vajra of commitment,” which is like a door or gate that cannot be opened, even by force. It is the commitment that, “Under no circumstances whatsoever will I think about these things while I am meditating, no matter how hungry I get, no matter what.” Chakme Rinpoche concludes by saying, “Therefore understand that you have nothing to do other than maintain the recognition of your own mind that has been pointed out to you by your guru. From this point of view, everything else is a waste of time.”