On a wet wintry Seattle evening, December 11, Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche welcomed Sogyal Rinpoche to NalandaWest with a traditional tea and rice ceremony. The two Tibetan teachers lit up the room with their presence and warm humor, sharing stories about their connection through Dzogchen Monastery. Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” then gave a weekend of teachings on the natural freedom of mind.
Over 120 people attended the two-day talks on understanding the nature of mind and the wisdom of meditation. Two senior students introduced Sogyal Rinpoche, describing his background as a student of several Nyingma masters of the 20th century and as a master of the Dzogchen tradition. They said Sogyal Rinpoche, who is known for his spontaneous and lively teaching style, focuses on pith instructions from Dzogchen and the wisdom that transcends conceptual mind.
Sogyal Rinpoche began his talks by elucidating the idea of finding inner peace and contentment. He emphasized the importance of working with one’s ego mind to purify perceptions and ultimately to realize the true nature of mind. If you transform your ego mind, he said, then you transform your perceptions, and you will experience life differently. Mind is the root of everything, he said, our happiness and our suffering. If we fall prey to negative emotions, then our mind becomes our nightmare. On the other hand, if we overcome negative thinking, then our mind becomes our best friend.
The tools to tame the mind were listed as being mindful, present and aware, meditation, devotion and prayer, loving-kindness and compassion. His two senior students led the group in meditation, followed by a special session of meditation with Sogyal Rinpoche.
On day two, Sogyal Rinpoche read and discussed questions and comments he received from his audience. He then gave a teaching on Guru Rinpoche, who introduced Buddhism to Tibet, and emphasized the importance of staying aware of the present moment, not lost in past memories or speculations about the future.
“When we leave our mind in its natural state,” Sogyal Rinpoche said, “and do not alter it with thinking or grasping, then we can experience profound peace.”
Join NalandaWest January 8,9 and 10 for a weekend teaching on the Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness with Acharya Lama Tenpa Gyaltsen. Lama Tenpa has been one of the main teachers at Nitartha Institute and is a professor of Buddhist studies and Tibetan language at Naropa University in Boulder.