“Through aeons of time we have created vey complex pattern of negativity. These prevent and obscure the emergence of the Absolute Mind to view things with equanimity and act with compassion, always guided by Bodhicitta. All practises is directed at becoming aware of and breaking through such negative thought pattern - that is to become aware of the voids.”
VAJRAYANA STUDENTS NOTE BOOK
Tom Dummer, an ardent and serious student of the dharma, in this book unravels the profound teaching of the Vajrayana form of Tibetan Buddhism in a very lucid and step by step approach.
The first part of the book deals with the basics for the students of the Vajrayana, both beginners and those on path. Refuge prayers, meditational techniques, phowa, prostrations etc., are thoroughly dealt with. Significance of the ritual implements and artifacts are also explained in detail.
The second part of the book dwells on the seven pitfalls to enlightenment. Veiws of some of the great comtemporary Buddhist masters on the subject of mudane affairs like sex, life styles, eating habits etc. are also laid bare.
A very handy and precise guide book for those on the path to enlightenment.
Most of the material in this book is either based on or abstracted from an actual notebook I have kept since 1974, in which I recorded the pith and kernel of Dharma teachings as given around that time by my earliest buddhists mentors: principally, Lamas Chime Rinpoche and Geshe Rabten, and Alf Vial and Michael Hookham (now Lama Rigdzin Shikpo). I was fortunate enough to receive oral teachings personally rom their Holiness’ The Dalai Lama, The 16th. Gyalwa Karmapa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse and Sakya Trinzin, as well as many other Lamas including Trungpa Rinpoche and Bokar Rinpoche.
There are also included a minimum of quotes and abstracts from certain Dharma publications and I have, in good faith. either acknowledges the source of these or given a guide for reference and study: Hopefully, I have not failed to mention (as far as I am aware) any other source of Dharma teachings. If this should be the case, however, then any omission has been entirely unintentional and most certainly not by design.
Finally, I wish to stress that this is neither a definitive work nor a textbook vis-a-vis the various topics mentioned. It is, as the title suggests, a note book for lay Vajrayana students rather than learned scholars, for whom the appropriate academic tomes are readily available in Tibetan, English and many other languages.
Almost thirty years ago, while on a visit to colleagues and friends, I found myself for the first time in India. Apparently by chance, I happened to be staying only two hour’s drive from Kusinagra where, at sometime around the year 543 B.C., the historical Buddha attained Paranirvana. Just a few miles further on, beyond the Nepalese frontier at Sonali, began the perilous journey through the Himalayan foothills to Lumbini where Buddha Sakyamuni was born in 623 B.C. With such exalted tourist sites so close at hand, my host, Dr. Vithal das Modi, suggested that I might like to follow the traditional pilgrimage route to the four holy places of Buddhism, and, to this end, he volunteered his eldest son, Dr. Murari Modi, to act as my chauffeur and tour guide for the next two weeks. However, the journey proved to be almost as narrow and difficult as the path to enlightenment itself Travelling in India in those days outside and in-between the main cities was always a hazardous venture. By Western standards, the steep ascent from Sonali to Lumbini was so treacherous - needless to say, before a proper road and bus service existed - that it almost defies description. Indeed the Modi family car, pristine by Indian standards when we started out, was almost a wreck when we got back to base. To my astonishment, some six years later I returned to India with AIf Vial to find this car still in service, and we repeated the same horrendous experience, all over again!
Fortunate indeed are those present day pilgrims to Lumbini - or are they? In spite of the new tarmac road, with its relatively straightforward flow of buses and taxis, I feel somehow privileged to have made the journey twice the hard way; for, as a result of these efforts, I had ‘discovered’ the Dharma.
Upon returning home to the U.K. I joined the Buddhist Society, where I attended various classes and group activities involving a wide range of Buddhist perspectives: Theravada, Mahayana and ultimately the Vajrayana. My journey was now well on route, and in 1974 I formally took refuge with the Ven. Lama Chime Rinpoche.
In taking refuge one becomes a Buddhist. This automatically means that precepts and obligations common to all sects and disciplines are solemnly undertaken. One opts to renounce Samsara (the realm of circular existence) and to adopt a Buddhist way of life. In every tradition and at every level of practice, whether Theravadin, Mahayana or Vajrayana, the vows and undertakings are basically the same. They comprise the Precepts (rules governing personal conduct) and the Noble Eight-Fold Path. All of these guidelines apply regardless of the discipline in which the Dharma practitioner happens to be involved. Historically the Bodhisattva ethic and ideal evolved as part of the Mahayana, but Theravadins do not need formally to become Mahayanists in order to lead the Bodhisattva life. I recall the yen. Acarya Trungpa Rinpoche once saying that when one enters the Dharma, in other words becomes a Buddhist, all labels and ‘tickets’ are automatically dispensed with. That, by the way, is the first lesson in ‘ego-trimming’ to be dealt with in chapter ten. Nevertheless, this is a book concerned primarily with Tibetan Buddhism.
Some twenty years ago at a Buddhist Society summer-school, the late T. Christmas Humphreys remarked to me that in 1924, the year he founded the society, there were no more than two or three books on Buddhism available in the English language. How things have changed! In 1951 his own outstanding and informative book, entitled quite simply Buddhism, appeared in a widely available paperback format. Although it covered virtually every aspect of the subject, Tibetan Buddhism was granted minimal coverage; for no other reason than at that point in time Tibet remained a closed and self-isolated Himalayan dominion. It was not long after this, following the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet in 1959 that the rich store houses of Tibetan Buddhist culture came to the West. Thus it so happened that I entered the Dharma at a time when many great Tibetan Lamas first began to make their teachings available to westerners. As a consequence, my ‘student’s notebook’ follows the Buddhist path from the outset according to the Vajrayana.
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