28 May

Lineage and Samaya

This is the holiest lunar month in a year, started 7 days ago and today happens to be the sacred anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni’s birth. I recommend all my friends and students to keep a positive mind, do and say positive things. Birth means a new beginning, why don’t we take this opportunity to reboot ourselves.

As you must know by now that I have most of my spiritual children with me, over here in Druk Amitabha Mountain. As a leader of our ancient lineage, I have the duty of transmitting the spiritual heritage, teaching and blessing of the lineage to the young generation of teachers. Our youngest member is about 5 or 6 years old. Whenever I see these young children of mine, I feel very hopeful about our future and it is always my responsibility to take care of them, especially in the spiritual sense, just as my precious and beloved gurus have been taking care of me. I hope and pray that I will always be able guard the purity of our lineage for the sake of our future generations of teachers in benefit of all the beings who will be coming into contact with them. After all, the fourth Drukpa, Kunkhyen Pema Karpo, intentionally added an “r” to the “Kagyud” to ensure that his future generations will remember our lineage being the “Kargyud” or the “White or Pure Lineage”. Unfortunately during that time, he didn’t foresee that due to the strong influence of English or foreign languages, people these days can’t tell the difference between “Kagyud” and “Kargyud”, both sound the same and it’s not important. For me, in fact, I must say that it is very important. Though we always say that labeling is not important, in today’s world where labeling has become so important that if we are tagged with a wrong label or a misspelled label, our lineage disappears eventually. To keep things simple, pure and clean, I have decided long ago to call our Dragon order the “Drukpa Lineage”, simply to align ourselves strictly and closely to the precious purity of the lineage. Those who agree would follow, those who don’t, this is a free world, no obligation. It’s just a samsaric game.

Many people are confused why keeping the purity of the lineage is very important for us, the Vajrayana lineage holders. Imagine a lineage holder as being a vase or a container, imagine when it is contaminated, whatever and however precious the nectar of Dharma lineage being poured into it, the nectar will be contaminated. Even if the next container is completely clean and pure, the contaminated nectar from the first container will contaminate the next container. When a lineage is contaminated, that means the blessing is broken. No matter how great the present guru is, the blessing is broken. Therefore as the lineage holders, we have great responsibility to ensure that both the container and the nectar are not contaminated. This is also the reason why many of us are transmitting and teaching a lot on terma or the hidden treasures, fresh and newly revealed. From Guru Padmasambhava or other forefathers like Rechungpa through mind treasures or object treasures to our gurus then to us, the lineage is not long and therefore the risk of it being contaminated is much less. So long as we as lineage holders are determined to keep the purity of our motivation, we should be able to pass on the lineage very purely to our next generations.

Many of us are also composing new prayers, trying our best to reboot the lineage blessings. Since gurus are the important containers from which you receive the nectar of blessings, it is your duty as students or followers to check whether the gurus and their lineages are pure or not. After all, it is your enlightenment that you have to be taking care of. It is your job to check and test. Don’t give away this right by being a blind follower. I always tell my friends and students that the most important thing to check is if the teachers have kept their samaya, have they broken the bond and connection from their gurus’ mandala. You cannot get a complete and full blessing from a lineage and teachers with a broken bond. Unless you treat this as a game, enlightenment is not important for you and devotional relationship is a romantic affair and not a serious life and death matter, then you are of course allowed to do anything as you wish. Spiritual path means the path towards enlightenment, enlightenment means liberating from the suffering of samsara. Unless we enjoy suffering, I think it’s better we aim for enlightenment for the benefit of all the beings. This will make our life fruitful and meaningful.

“Samaya” is the spiritual connection that I am talking about. It is quite a serious vow. It is given by a guru to all the students and disciples in a mandala during an empowerment. Normally, these days, we hardly give serious samaya practice to lay practitioners, but among the Tulkus, this is an essential and important bondage. The Guru, if he or she is genuine one, can suffer severe illness and eventual death if the bondage is not kept nicely and harmoniously among his or her close students and disciples. Harmony is the most important key in this. This is why we always say that once you become a Vajrayana practitioner after you have done all the testing and checking, once you have taken empowerments with your Vajra brothers and sisters, avoid backbiting and avoid being with non-virtuous friends. You must always keep your mind focused on the Dharma and guru devotion. Vajrayana is a very speedy path, it takes you either directly to enlightenment or directly to hell. There are no side tracks. If you are in the company of people who always backbite about other Vajra brothers and sisters, you have to avoid them, in fact you have to run away from them, like running away from harmful snakes. If you are backbiting all the time, then you have to stop immediately, it’s not because it’s not good for others, it’s not good for your spiritual path, it will take you further and further away from your inner spiritual path, and away from your guru and from your enlightenment. Unless you are very curious to know how hell looks like, it’s better to be mindful. Actually if you are that adventurous, and if you don’t mind to be stuck in hell realm for endless period of time, then you are free to do whatever your emotions tell you to do.

My continuous advice is that keeping virtuous company is very important, because these days, people listen and follow their friends more than their gurus, their parents and their own intuition. In this month of Saga Dawa, I pray that all of you will accumulate many virtuous friends and become a virtuous friend for others.