Words of My Perfect Teacher
Teachings on the Ngondro of the Longchen Nyingtik
The Words of My Perfect Teacher was written in the mid-nineteenth century by Patrul Rinpoche, in his retreat cave high in the mountains of Tibet. His observations about the human condition and his steadfast encouragement to spiritual practice are so genuine and direct that, even today when reading the text, it feels as if he is speaking straight to us.
This weekend program, a tradition in Mangala Shri Bhuti for over 20 years, will consist primarily of reading the text aloud and contemplating on its meaning as we go. Given the book’s length and the time available in the weekend, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche’s commentary will not be extensive, yet his pithy and essential observations open pathways to making these teachings personal and applicable, if not urgent. Attendees are strongly encouraged to have a copy of the book with them, whether they attend in person or via live stream.
More about the Text: An Exhortation to Honesty
The essential thrust of The Word of My Perfect Teacher, as Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche elucidates in his commentary, is for us to be honest with ourselves. The book charts the course of that honesty, with reflections on precious human birth, impermanence, karma, and the suffering of samsara (known as “the four thoughts that turn the mind toward the dharma”). In sum, while the momentum of modern existence may pull us away from addressing these facts of life, to be responsible practitioners means that we do not shy away from looking inward to identify our attachments and fears. Rinpoche comments, “When teachings dig into us and we want to escape, at that point we see there’s something inside of us that we are not facing or are not ready to face.” The goal is not to become hard on ourselves but to integrate a growing self-awareness into our path so that we can let go, rather than be forced to let go by the events of life. Rinpoche continues, “It’s OK if you are not ready to let go now. At least we know we are not ready, and we can face this over time.” And over time, we will find more freedom and joy in a life without attachments and fears.
The “four thoughts that turn the mind toward the dharma” form the gateway to the ngondro, or preliminary practices, of the Longchen Nyingtik, which Words of My Perfect Teacher also covers in depth. Throughout his commentary, Kongtrul Rinpoche ensures we understand the fundamental point of these practices that prepare us to enter the main path of the Vajrayana.
Ultimately, we can use this treasured text as a guidebook, a “teacher on our pillow” as is traditionally said, to take us as far as we can go in making the most of the time we have left and the opportunity we have been given by encountering the buddhadharma and a spiritual friend.
A portion of a powerful talk from Words of My Perfect Teacher, "Openness and Receptivity: What It Takes to Be a Student of a Teacher"
The program includes a full reading transmission (Tib. lung) of The Words of My Perfect Teacher, commentary, question and answer time with Kongtrul Rinpoche, and periods of meditation.
For MSB students, full attendance in person is required before beginning the ngondro practice. Please check with your SPR for more information, or write to MSB Study and Practice for details on the practice aspects of attending this program.
If you are currently practicing ngondro, we highly recommend the Ngondro Compilation, a remarkable collection of teachings, carefully selected and compiled from over twenty years of Rinpoche's commentary on The Words of My Perfect Teacher.
Download a copy of the Daily Schedule here or from the right sidebar. All times are listed in Mountain Time Zone, USA. For more information about Phuntsok Choling, directions, and accomodations, download the PC Visitor's Guide and FAQ, also found in the right sidebar. If you have any questions about this program please write to the Phuntsok Choling Program Coordinator.
Please bring a copy of The Words of My Perfect Teacher with you to this program.