Visiting eminent Buddhist teacher Dzogchen Rinpoche’s insight into the resting of the mind, which he says is the path to happiness.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Dzogchen Rinpoche is one of the highest Lamas and an authentic holder of the Dzogchen lineage — part of the Nyingma school of Buddhism. Trained in one of the oldest and highest Tibetan wisdom traditions, Dzogchen Rinpoche is an advocate of the resting of the mind. “When we rest our mind, happiness is the natural outcome,” he says.
Born in the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim in 1964, he was recognised at an early age as the 7th Dzogchen Rinpoche by His Holiness the 4th Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Thupten Trinley Palzang. This was confirmed straightaway by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. In 1976 Dzogchen Rinpoche joined the Buddhist School of Dialectics in Dharamsala, completing seven years of intense training in both the Nyingma and Gelug schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen Rinpoche’s education was personally supervised by H.H. the Dalai Lama and many other great masters, including H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and H.H. Trulshik Rinpoche. Having mastered many of the great texts of Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche obtained the title of Rabjampa (Masters of Tibetan Buddhism) at the young age of 19. At 21, Rinpoche took full responsibility of Dzogchen Monastery, re-established in South India, which has more than 280 branch monasteries in Asia mainly in Tibet, India, Nepal and Bhutan and in the West. It is said that the people of the Himalayas consider Dzogchen Rinpoche to be a living Buddha and they hold him in such high esteem that people travel for many days just to catch a glimpse of him in the distance.
In Australia for a series of lectures and retreats, Dzogchen Rinpoche aims to explain the difference between following the mind and the heart. He believes it is crucial to understand the contrast between the two if we want to make good decisions and lead a happy and fulfilled life. At the retreats, Rinpoche will focus on how “through the practice of mindfulness and meditation, we learn to be more present in what we are doing. We are less distracted and have less judgement of anything we feel and experience”. In an exclusive interview with The Indian Weekly, Dzogchen Rinpoche talks about happiness, meditation and other new age issues.
First of all, welcome to Melbourne. What is the highlight of your visit?
Thank you. Connecting with people on a personal level is always a highlight for me particularly in this age of digital living. I enjoy seeing old faces and seeing how the people I have connected with in the past continue to apply the wisdom teachings to their lives. On a very physical level, I look forward to visiting Uluru and doing ‘kora’, paying homage to the traditional custodians of the land.
What does being a Buddhist mean? Is Buddhism the road to happiness?
For me, Buddhism means turning the mind in, ‘nangpa’ in Tibetan. Dzogchen in particular, one of the oldest and highest Tibetan wisdom traditions in which I am trained, highlights the resting of mind. When we rest our mind, happiness is the natural outcome because our decisions come from a place of wisdom and peace rather than the emotions and agitated states of mind we are all too familiar with. But happiness too is an emotional state and equally as transient, so in Dzogchen we talk about everlasting peace.
We live in a culture that pursues materialism. How can someone attain true happiness in such a culture?
There is nothing wrong with having but what we need to ask is, are we taking more than we need? Are our material pursuits necessary and what are the consequences of our choices to have more? Are we just thinking of our short term gain or should we be also thinking of the long term consequences of our choices? I think it is clear for all of us that as landfills overflow, our planet is struggling, and mother earth’s resources are being stretched. On the mind level, we can also ask ourselves whether we have the capacity to take care of yet another ‘thing’. Do we define ourselves with having these material items and can our mind rest if we were not able to acquire the item we so long for?
For people who do not understand meditation, could you please explain what value meditation has for everyone?
The terms meditation and mindfulness are being thrown around these days as if they’re the latest go to trend but we mustn’t forget the roots of these practices and acknowledge the masters and teachers from centuries past that brought these wisdom teachings to the world – great masters such as Padmasambhava, the Indian siddhi who brought Buddhism to the Himalayas. Meditation is not just sitting on a cushion and focusing single pointedly. Meditation can be experienced in all that we do, where the three times of past, present, and future dissolve as we rest in primordial awareness.
We live in times filled with terrorism and war. At times, it can be seen that the roots of the current wars reside in the difference between religions? What is your view on this?
When mind is not resting no matter what religion we follow or do not follow, it can harm. Despite our beliefs, where we are born or our socio economic status, we all have mind. Mind is how we relate, what connects us to one another and the world we live in. Unless mind is truly resting, we will always have disharmony and conflict and not just on the global scale, but in our relationships, families, and our work environments. Isn’t that were it all starts from, with ourselves?
What could be your special message to our readers – young and old?
The main point is not to harm, to not assume our actions are helping and to be honest with ourselves but also to have genuine fun no matter what our age.
(Dzogchen Rinpoche will share his Buddhist wisdom in Hawthorn on Friday, August 4 at Hawthorn Arts Centre)