Letter From Patrul Rinpoche about the First Cycle Shedra


My dear precious students,

I hope all of you are doing well. And your beneficial Dharma activity is going well. That is I believe.

Now I am in Dharma City. Everyday we have some activity here: renovating of some part, continuing with Tisha Rooms Project, temple as well and doing some other developments. Here the students are doing their job very well. And I am very happy. I am resting for a short period in Dharma City.

I am writing this letter to inform you about the topic of our studies for this year. I've made decision already. We are going to study "The Mother of the Prajñāpāramitā ". It is a very-very important text to study. Of course, it is not easy. This is the teaching of the Buddha given according the second turning of the wheel of Dharma. From the perspective of the Sutras, it is the final teaching, the top teaching, the crucial point of the teaching and the principle teaching.

We can compare with the Dzogpa Chengpo Teaching. If you follow Dzogpa Chengpo, when all based teaching was transmitted, in the end you receive one direct teaching, called "Yeshe Lama" (Highest Wisdom), written by Jigme Lingpa. From the perspective of the sutras, the topic we are going to study this year is equal to Yeshe Lama. It is direct, crucial, quintessential teaching in the Sutrayana. This text about Prajñāpāramitā is very-very deep. We call it Abhisamayālaṃkāra or "The Ornament of Clear Realisation". Its principal subject is eight main topics of the Prajñāpāramitā. These principal eight main topics are categories in seventy points.

The first three topics are about knowledges: the knowlegde of the basis, the knowledge of the path and the knowledge of omniscience. This is a very important element for the study of the subject matter.

Then there are four conjunctions (trainings). They are like a principal path or a meditation or a direct teaching on empty nature. The first of the four conjunctions is called the conjunction of manifest of complete understanding of all aspects, the second one is the conjunction of the peak, the third one is the conjunction of Gradualists and last one is the conjunction of Instantists. These four types of conjunctions are topics we need to meditate on. In the first conjunction of the manifest of complete understanding of all aspects, it is of course talked about the three knowledges, but with the perspective of how we can meditate on them. The meaning is the same, but the approach is different. These conjunctions (trainings) are what we need to accomplish.

And the last chapter is called Dharmakaya. It is the fruition in achievement of enlightenment.

All these eight subjects of Prajñāpāramitā are very-very important. From the perspective of the Sutrayana, there are three very-very important texts. The first one is the Middle Way, which we have been studying few years ago. The second one is the Prajñāpāramitā. And the third one, maybe we can study that in the future: the Abhidharma. And it is said that if a person really have been studying all these three subjects, he has the quintessential point of the Sutrayana. And if one day you tell someone who knows the Buddha Dharma very well that you have been studying these three texts, this person sure will be surprised. It is 100% sure he will be happy for you.

When we will get a kind of approvement of our knowledge in the Sutrayana, we can afterward go to the Mantrayana. Then our studying of the Mantrayana will be very suitable, very relevant, very convenient. Everything will be entirely intact. That means it will not be like that some parts are good, and some are not good. Whatever we will study will become magnificent. Therefore I decided for this text.

We are preparing the book. Of course, we did not translate it ourselves, because there are different existing translations. If you haven't your own book, please could you order it? There are many translators who translated the Prajñāpāramitā. So we are going to study this root text. And then there is one Patrul Rinpoche's commentary on this text. It presents a very special way on how we can meditate on the object of the Sutrayana or how highest meditators of the Sutrayana can meditate on the unmistaken view, or on the correct and exact principal meaning of the Sutrayana. It is called "Brief Progressive Stages of Meditation, an Excellent Explanation of the Scriptural Tradition". It is already translated into English (and could be find in the book calls "Groundless Path" by Karl Brunnholzl, p. 585). If, through that, you become later a master of meditation on the Sutras, that will make me very happy.

I expect everyone to come to this course. I really request you to come and study together. Of course it is not easy, but if you will study for two weeks very intensively, even if after you will forget it for a while, by putting strong attention in your mind, it will be very easy to remind its contents later on. And also you need to get education about the Dharma.

Maybe some Dharma practitioners think they understand already the crucial point. But I have a big doubt about that. In the Dharma land of Tibet, students of Buddhist Universities need to study at least four or eight years, only after that, it is said a person can meditate properly. Due to that, you can really understand the meaning of the Dharma. And after, of course, when you have transmissions, and of course, if you have some instructions about how to teach the Sutra, you are a teacher. You can teach. You have inner qualities or ability to do it. I think it is very necessary in the future, if you are going to do some beneficial activity in Europe. Therefore, I am sending this letter. I am looking forward to see all of you in our Shedra course.

I would also like to apologize. Normally this year we have to study our the fourth year's Shedra textbook. I can promise and it is not very difficult to prepare. Next year we are going to study it. Its subject is about the outer tantras. But if you understand Prajñāpāramitā, almost you do not need to study the Outer Tantras. Then the fifth year's book is about Inner Tantras. The meaning of the teaching of the Tantra is almost the same as the Sutrayana, but skillful means are more profound. And on the sixth year we maybe study the "Yeshe Lama". Due to that, you can study both Yeshe Lama teachings: "Yeshe Lama of Prajñāpāramitā" and "Yeshe Lama of Mantrayana". Both are pinnacle teachings. Than everybody will be happy, it will make me happy and probably in the future, I suppose, it will bring marvelous results. Therefore I am sending you this message.

Thank you very much. Much love. Hope to see you this summer.

Patrul Rinpoche

P.S. Some asked me if they could join this course even if they missed some years of the first cycle and did not continue for a while. Concerning that point, I have to apologize. It is impossible. I am very-very sorry. If someone wants to join again, they can join the last two cycles, depending on the level of their progress and then receive this teaching in future years.