Transcribing the oral tradition...

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Advice to the Three Fortunate Women - Unchecked

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by Sangharakshita

... with Buddhism has stirred up. So we need to make that transition in
broad principles not say in sectarian terms, from the Hinayana come Mahayana to the
So this is why Padmasambhava is called the second Buddha. 'Then Ngan~ Chung, the
glorious noble queen, invited the Guru, that second Buddha into the temple of turquoise
dedicated to her tutelary deities.'
Airight, next sentence.
Sona; "Piling up on a precious throne fine silks and tables of divination and regaling him
with many pleasing things, she greeted him respectfully and made this request:"
So 'piling up on a precious throne fine silks and tables of divination and regaling him
with many pleasing things, she greeted him respectfully and made this request-' . So what sort
of impression does one get from this?
_______ She has a lot of respect for him.
She has a lot of respect for him. Not only has respect but 7he shows it in a particular
way. In what sort of way does she show it?
John R.:
Making offerings.
Roger Jones; She seems to be offering the very best that she possibly can.
S; Yes right. Piling up on a precious throne fine silks. I'm not sure what these tables of
divination are. They occur a number of times in the course of the biography. I'm not quite
sure about the translation here but it may well be one or another of the sort of chequer boards
which Tibetan lamas do use for throwing dice and according to the throw of the dice, making
predictions and so on. It probably refers to something of that sort.
Nevertheless his throne is equipped. They're not ment~oned but presumably there's a
bell, there's a dorje and there's a little
A3 7container for holding the rice which is used for throwing and there's this board for divination.
Everything that he might require is Sort of set out.
In the Vajrayana,especially in Tibetan tradition they make quite a big thing of this
pleasing of the teacher. It looks superficially like putting the teacher in a good mood. What
do you think is the significance of this?
Roger Jones; It really appeals to me that she seems to have found herself in a position which
is not very good but all she's doing is recognising that fact and giving of herself just saying
this is the very best that I actually possibly have and I'm offering mys~f up to it and that's all I
can do. This is it.
Right, Well there is this very strong devotional element or aspect. The queen clearly
has this strong devotion towards the Guru and the fact even that it's a queen who is asking is
perhaps not without its significance because the female personality so to speak, is more often
used symbolically to represent the attitude of devotion and acceptance and receptivity and so
on so that might be as it were brought in here for that sort of reason. But it's not only a
question of being devoted because you can be very devoted without being very intelligent but
it specifically says and regaling him with many pleasing things'. Here it's a more sort of in a
sense tantric aspect. Presumably she gave him something to eat, she gave him something to
drink, lit some sticks of incense. So what does this suggest. In addition to the fact that she
does it out of devotion?
Roger; Perhaps she feels that it's really rather necessary for him to be in a certain kind of
mood, to be amiable to answer her.
It's like when you invite somebody to pay you a visit and you invite them just as a
guest, you usually offer them food. Why is that? They've got food at home and they could
have eaten at home. So why is that? Why do you feed them?
Sona; To sort of show them that you're Open, you're receptive to them.
Yes that is true but what sort of effect does it have. When Wou' ve invited somebody
as you surely must have done at least those who've got households of their own, invited
somebody for a meal, and then after the meal you've really laid on a fine spread for them and
they've enjoyed it, what sort of mood are they in?
________ Happy.
They're happy so what effect does that have upon the communication? Roger; It's very
Yes. Supposing for instance for the sake of argument when Thhey'd turned up
the food hadn't been ready and then maybe when it was served it wasn't very good and you'd
forgotten to order some wine and maybe the table cloth was dirty and you kept having to rush
off and answer the telephone during the meal, what sort of mood might your guest be in?
(Laughter) So what sort of possibility of communication would there have been between
you? So it's as though, take it that the guru is enlightened, yes, and he's not going to take
exception to anything that might be lacking, but nonetheless it's as though any sort of possible
wrinkle in the communication, has to be smoothed out so that he Is in a perfectly
A3 8so to speak good mood and really feels like answering the queens question. There's nothing
disharmonious. She's received him with all due respect. She's created the best possible
environment. Here he is in her very own temple, and. she's put him up on a nice throne and
laid out everything in front of him and she's not only bowing down with great devotion, she's
making offerings of food and she's lighting incense sticks. In other words she's trying to
create the very best conditions for an ideal communication, a completly harmonious and
positive atmosphere, and this is very irnportant.
Dhammamati; It shows the importance of preparation.
S: The importance of preparation. I don't know how many of you have read the
Yastasastrikaprajnaparamita, Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines, but there are
several chapters there which deal with the question of how disharmony may arise between
pupil and teacher. The text attributes it all to the workings of Mara, but here within the
tantric tradition steps are taken to obviate that sort of thing. There' 5 a lot of emphasis and
sometimes it's almost going to extremes, of pleasing the teacher and sort of really feeding
him, sometimes regaling him with wine and whisky and all the rest of it. They take it as far
as that. Sometimes they treat him so well that he's almost incapable of speaking.1 (Laughter).
So you get the idea. It also suggeststhat you mustn't overlook the so called human aspect.
You mustn't think oh yes the minute the guru walks in without waiting for him to get
comfortably seated, without even offering him a cup of tfl:a, you're right there asking your
question. This doesn't help communication. It's self defeating in a way so the Vajrayana and
tantric tradition and so on emphasises this very much and it applies to all human
communication. Suppose you want to talk to a friend about something well don't sort of
pounce on them as soon as he enters, this is not the best way to handle the situation. Not the
best way to get his opinion. Let him settle down. Let his mind become a bit calmer, a bit
clearer and approach the subject gradually. You1ll get much more out of him then.
So the same applies with the guru.
Roger; It is a two way thi~9 isn't it. You get the best out of both of you.
S:Right yes. So therefore it says, 'piling up on a precious throne fine silks and tables of
divination and regaling him with many pleasing things, she greeted him respectfully and
made this request.' You notice it's a request. She's not going to extract teaching from him by
force so to speak. She's just asking.
Alright what does she ask?
Dhammamati; "Give me a few words of reat im ort, an effective verse which I can
Though I have not renounced the world, I would like to cherish within me a Doctrine which
at later time would lead me to Buddhahood."
S: So what does she say. 'Give me a few words of great import, an effective verse which I
can memorise.' So she wants a few words of great import. In other words she's asking for a
sort of concentrated teaching and she also says, an effective verse which I can memori~e.
What do you think is meant by an effective verse?
John R: One that has a practical implication.
A3 9S:
Yes one which has practical implications, which can be put to practice and is
spiritually efficacious. Which I can memorise. Give me something which is short enough for
me to be able to memorise it. Learning by heart is traditionally considered very important and
especially anything that you want to reflect upon or meditate upon you learn it by heart.
There' S an interesting article by Dr.Conze recently published and he's going on rather about
the laziness of people in the west who want to study Buddhism and he points out that in the
east the first thing you do when you want to study or meditate upon a text, is to learn it by
heart. He suggests that all those who are interested in Zen and so on, the first thing that they
should do is to learn the Heart Sutra by heart and he recounts an experience when talking
about Buddhism and about Zen apparently to a group of Buddhists in the west. He asked how
many of them had taken the trouble to memorise the Heart Sutra. Of course nobody had.
Hardly anybody had read it even but there they were wanting to learn about Zen and all that.
So this learning by heart is considered quite important. Because then you can turn it over in
your mind on all sorts of occasions. It's not a question of committing things to memory ...

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