Bringing Obstacles Into The Path
by His Holiness Gongma Trichen Rinpoche

“My greetings to Dharma Friends all over the world. Tashi delek!

As we all know, a pandemic is currently threatening the entire world, and countless people are undergoing untold amounts of suffering, panic and worry.

It is important to know that panic and worry can only make things worse and that not only do they cause us harm, but that they don’t bring any benefit whatsoever.

The outcome of this situation, as of any other, depends on our personal karma. However, there is a way in which we can better our fortune, and that is to take refuge in the Triple Gem. We need to pray fervently to the Triple Gem, and we need to find the time to do it. It is paramount that we do so at this time.

As we are followers of Sakyamuni Buddha, it is essential that we follow his teachings by striving to transform obstacles into the Dharma path. How can we do this? What is most important? What steps should we take?

The first thing to bear in mind is that we can never only think of ourselves. We need to take on the suffering of all sentient beings, and we need to offer our merits and happiness to them. If we can practice Tonglen in this way, then we can transform obstacles into the Dharma path. And by doing so, we also benefit ourselves. We shouldn’t worry. It is crucial that we remain at peace within ourselves as we weather this crisis.

Parallel to this, it is equally important that we follow the directives that the medical institutions are issuing. All Dharma depends on causes and conditions. Will prayers, visualisations and mantra recitations be sufficient to carry us through? These, of course, are of huge benefit, but it is also of major importance that we strictly observe the recommended rules of personal hygiene and social distancing.

Beyond this, we need to pray to the Guru and to the Three Jewels, and especially to pray to the deities with the necessary uncommon attributes and karmic connections. For instance, in the Snow Land of Tibet, we should pray to Avalokiteshvara and Tara, and particularly during this pandemic, we should pray to Parnashavari. We should pray to these deities, chant their mantras and recite their prayers. I believe that by doing so, we will successfully be saved from this pandemic, and find happiness.

And so, I urge all to please do so!

Throughout this pandemic, we have seen how medical personnel have daily put their own lives at risk, unflinching in the face of hardship, overcoming all kinds of insurmountable obstacles. This has been an extraordinary show of courage.

In our case, courage can take the face of spiritual practice, and this is by far the best that we can do in these circumstances. The essence of Vajrayana is to practise for the sake of others; to concentrate all our efforts on others and forget about ourselves, this is the heart essence of Mahayana Buddhism.

Bearing this in mind, it is also important to inspire others to have faith, to inspire them to exercise determination, and to support them with praise.

And now, I will recite the invocation to Vajrakilaya. All deities are one, there is no difference whatsoever in their merits, compassion and the swiftness of their activities. But, from our side, there is a difference in terms of karma and aspiration.

At the time of Padmasambhava and Khön Nagendra Rakshita, long before the founding of the Sakya Order, Vajrakilaya was already the main deity of the Khön family, and it continues to be so. No matter what obstacles appear, there is no more effective practice than that of Vajrakilaya to expel them.

This invocation is directed to the Gurus in the root tantra, especially the enlightened beings, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, wealth gods, and so on. In the Vajrakilaya mandala, we request the ocean-like Holy Beings to grant their blessings and to expel the diseases and obstacles of practitioners, to increase their life span and merits, and to fulfil all their Dharma wishes. This kind of request is called invocation.”

SakyaTrizin 33.

In Buddhism, there are many ways for one to achieve the realisation of emptiness. With the arguments of the Middle Way, one can reason and observe this true reality of all phenomena. Through the pith instructions of Mahamudra or Dzogchen and relying on the guru’s blessing, one can also realise the empty nature of the mind.

No matter which method one chooses, it is essential to bear in mind that although all phenomena are empty, one should not form any attachment to emptiness itself!

— His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche

Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche (法王如意宝晋美彭措) 58.











At first, seek a learning that is vast and comprehensive, next, take all the statements of the texts as practical advice, finally, take this to heart by practising by day and night. Dedicating it all to the flourishing of the teachings.

— Lama Tsongkhapa

Embrace Your Fears
by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

We have so much to feel good about, yet we spend all our time worrying about the things that aren’t quite right, that might go wrong or that we might lose. It is the ‘not knowing’ that sends our minds into a tailspin – playing out possible scenarios and how we might react to them and wishing we could just know the outcome, rather than be faced with so much change and uncertainty in life. We try to forge a path of certainty: if we don’t take any risks, then maybe we’ll be ok and not have to face anything too difficult.

But it is often in our attempts to safeguard our happiness that we instead stifle it and become increasingly fearful or anxious. And if we do not look after our minds, then uncertainty can easily become associated with and attached to fear: fear of the great unknown, fear of death and even fear of life. Worrying is a mental drain; believing instead that anything is possible requires the same investment of energy, only channelled differently. You put your energy to good use, rather than letting it burn away for nothing.

The teachings have taught me to trust myself and to be confident, to be fearless. You need to be a little bit brave to look your idiosyncrasies in the eye and work on yourself; to develop your life and get closer to your nature. Looking in the mirror-like this can be a painful process but as His Holiness said to me once, if you don’t cut now, when? So in the past years, I have been cutting the ties created by my mind – all the fears and worries about who I am and how my life is turning out. JIGME SEMZANG


Happy is the man who has given up worrying. Attaching yourself to your worries limits you and robs your mind of the mental freedom that allows you to be happy. It’s a perpetual circle of the same kinds of thoughts feeding off each other and going around and around. They take up precious time and they stifle happiness, keeping it suffocated and invisible beneath the surface of a tense, stressed-out mind. Even small, daily worries can build up over time, leaving little room for other things. Then you feel small and inhibited, your thoughts become small and inhibited and, as a result, the same thing happens to your words and actions. So you feel limited in your potential, meaning that you are restricting yourself by allowing worries to take centre stage all the time in your mind.

If you are someone who tends towards worrying, and you certainly won’t be alone if you are, then if you begin to practise even a few minutes of meditation, focusing on the breath and releasing thoughts as you breathe out, your mind will begin to feel more calm and spacious. Instead of holding on to worries and constantly turning them over and over, wearing out your mind, you will begin to acknowledge them for what they are and allow them to dissolve or float away.

Focus on happiness

If you could take a picture each day of your happiness, what would it look like? One day it might be a familiar face, another day something completely surprising and new. It might be a challenge or fear that you embraced and stepped through. It might be a connection you made. Every day is a chance for happiness. If you take one small action each day towards your happiness, in time those small actions will change the bigger picture and transform your life.


I meet many people who feel they could do so much more if they could just throw out their fears and anxieties. But rather than try to ignore fears, perhaps there is something to be said for looking into the heart of them, accepting them and then walking through them. If you can look at your fears or worries from another angle, you will often find something inspiring, something you truly want to do with your life. Someone who is afraid to get married, for example, also knows deep down the potential for happiness in being in a loving, committed relationship. In exactly the same place we imagine failure there is success.

There should be no shame or regret when we turn away from our fears and walk away, but equally, why not jump in and use them as our inspiration? They hold great potential for growth.

Nowhere to hide

Kate does not practise Buddhism, but comes to the retreats for the philosophical teachings, to explore ideas:

I have been to Druk Amitabha Mountain three times on retreat, and each time I am confronted with the realisation that there is nowhere to hide there, physically, mentally or emotionally. The image I have of myself comes right up to the surface and then crumbles away as I quickly realise I am not special, but at the same time we are all as special and important as each other. I arrive with the labels, ‘I am not a Buddhist’, ‘I am shy’ and ‘I am not a group person. And then I realise that to the nuns I am simply a guest who is staying with them for a few days, no labels required. I remember one morning I received some bad news over the phone and I came out of the dorm room crying. As I was passing a nun, she touched my face and said, ‘Don’t be afraid’. It’s funny, with English not being her first language she made me realise just how much I can let fear and anxiety get in the way of my happiness. But I can also be quite good at letting go and jumping in, giving things a go. That’s how I ended up at this incredible place at the foot of the Himalayas in the first place, the place that reminds me to let go of the fussiness, be myself without the need for labels and keep jumping in.

Why not?

I love this question. It makes my mind happy! It is understandable that people often fall into the trap of trying to come up with excuses why they shouldn’t do what is their heart’s desire – why they should let some kind of fear or anxiety put them off. But these two little words – why not? – help to dissolve the monsters and propel us forward. Why not give it a go? Why not take that chance? Why not take a leap? Many very famous and successful business people in the world tell stories, with big smiles on their faces, of all the times they tried and failed at things. We might wonder how they can be so happy about their failures, but not one of them ever felt sad about giving something a try, even if it didn’t always work out. It seems that even bumps along the path can be a source of happiness in some ways.

I’m not saying we need to take risks to be happy, but rather that we should be less controlled by the limiting thoughts that prevent us from giving things try. Doubts will give our minds the impression they are there to protect us, but it is when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable that sometimes we do the most amazing things with our lives. We might fall in love, or accomplish something we never thought possible. We stretch the boundaries of our minds, creating new space to grow.


If you are somehow fearful of doing what you really want to do in life because you feel you lack the back-up of support or somebody to rely on in case things go wrong, then this is the perfect time to develop yourself. You are overlooking the one person who you can lean on, who gives you strength and courage. That person is you. Many people have lost confidence in themselves. They worry that if they make a big mistake, no one will be there to pick them up, so it is better to play it safe and avoid risks as much as possible. This is a very understandable position, but it relies on the fabrication or self-delusion that if we don’t change, the world around us will remain the same too – our job will be secure, our house will be safe and so on. And yet industries are changing all the time; the world economy almost completely collapsed just a few years ago.

Nothing is certain; nothing stays the same forever. So when you look into your heart, beneath the worries and the fears and the uncertainties, and see the confidence you who feels inspired by something or wants to take a new direction, allow yourself to start connecting and interacting with that inner confidence. You will see that life is too short to waste so much time working through the fifty possible scenarios that may result from one decision or choice. Why don’t you see for yourself what is going to happen and really experience the richness of your life?

Putting positive thoughts into action

Ask yourself: if you could make the world a happier place today, and you couldn’t fail, what would you do? You may want to contemplate this question or even write down your thoughts – whatever works for you. Consider what really motivates you. For me, I always feel ‘activated’ when I consider what we might be able to do when it comes to being more friendly with the environment and with nature. We have turned these thoughts into focused action by collecting all of our rubbish for recycling, putting up solar panels and asking guests to be mindful of their water usage when they visit our monasteries.

So today, I invite you to turn your own positive thoughts into positive words and actions, deepen your connections and interactions with the world around you and share all the wonderful love and kindness that you have in your heart.


We contemplate the ‘Five Remembrances’ (below) to help release ourselves from fear. These are designed to remind us of the changing nature of life, and when we reflect on that we become less clinging to our self-beliefs and our fears of what might – or might not – happen. If we are afraid to let go because we have been let down or hurt in the past, or if our past mistakes still loom large in our imaginations, we need to remind ourselves to live in the present, to appreciate everything good in our lives today, to know that we are going to do our best today and not live under the dark cloud of expectation.

1. There is no way to escape growing old.
2. There is no way to escape ill health at some point during life.
3. There is no way to escape death.
4. Everything and everyone that I love is subject to the nature of change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5. The only things that I own are my thoughts, my words and my actions. There is no escape from the consequences of these; they are the ground upon which I stand.

Contemplating these statements gently allows us to bring our fears right into our consciousness. Rather than deny them, we put them into a context that reminds us they are really the same as everyone else’s. We cannot stop time, every second we are getting older, we will experience ill health at some point in life (although, of course, there is much we can do to promote good health), and eventually, we will die. Once we genuinely accept these things we awaken to our lives as they exist right now: we rejoice in our relationships, rather than looking for the cracks; we make the most of our body and health, doing everything we can to take care of ourselves; we accept past hurts and mistakes, but no longer allow them to influence our present or our future.

The remembrances are raw and honest, and because of that, they cut through the usual layers of excuses and justifications for not facing our fears – for maintaining the status quo of life, rather than rocking the boat. As you are honest, your inner nature will come to the surface, so that you may begin to feel even more comfortable in your own skin and more fearless in how you approach your life. You will hear what is in your heart and have the courage to follow what you are telling yourself.

The realisation that the only way to change your life is by changing your own thoughts and actions, frees you to focus on what you can improve, rather than holding on to mistakes or hurts that have been and gone. Today is what really counts – come back to your present and you will come into the richness of your life.

Time waits for no man, so don’t put off your own happiness for another minute.

Gyalwang Drukpa 43..jpg

Turning our mind from samsara to enlightenment means that instead of going in circles we now decide to go straight; because if we go in circles, no matter how big or how small the circles are, we still end up in the same place.

— 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche











这十善十恶分成三品,就是三个等级。佛经说:作了上品十善的人生天道;中品十善的人生人道;下品十善的人生阿修罗道(属于天龙八部之一,有福报,有神通;但凶恶好斗)。犯上品十恶人的人堕地狱道;犯中品十恶的人堕饿鬼道;犯下品十恶的人堕畜生道。这是佛陀以慧眼观察六道轮回的现象,亲口开示的。我们绝对要深信不疑。因果规律是客观存在的,不是佛陀制造出来约束众生,而是佛发现并揭示出来教育我们的。佛菩萨也要受因果规律的制约。所以佛经说:“菩萨畏因,众生畏果。”近代高僧印光大师说:“诸佛成正觉、众生堕三途,皆不出因果之外。”虚云大师说:“因果二字,是一切圣凡世间出世间都逃不了的。”因果分为染净两类:诸佛菩萨修因证果,修的清净因,修的菩萨行,发的菩提心,所以证到的是清净的果;而我们众生造的是污染因,结的是污染果。星云大师说:“因果比电脑还准确。因为电脑会发生故障,因果是丝毫没有差错的。所以真正懂得因果规律的人,就知道没有冤假错案。憨山大师当年受了冤案,别人要帮他说人情通关系,他说,用不着,这是偿报呀!因果好像带在你身上的“窃听器” ,甚至比“窃听器”还厉害,“窃听器”对说出来的,它才能记录下来。这个“窃听器”哪怕你起心动念,它都能准确地记录下来。


《涅槃经》说:“善恶之报,如影随形;三世因果,循环不失。”(不会中断,失误。)可是,有些人认为:人生一切都是偶然,没有什么前因后果 。有人看见好人受恶报,恶人受善报,便怀疑因果。有人说:死了死了,死了便了。如果一死便了,人生就没有价值;学佛修行,就无意义;而一贯作恶的人,就太便宜了。归根到底都是由于不懂因果贯通三世的道理。佛经说得好:

欲知前世因 今生受者是(果报)

欲知来世果 今生作者是(业因)























Ven Chang Zhen (昌臻法师) 8..jpg

In Buddhist practice — and for that matter in any and all activities — the key element is motivation. Suffering saturates life, and the eventual elimination of the suffering of all beings is the main motivation. Such motivation and the activities that flow from it are called bodhicitta, the “heart of awakening.” Bodhicitta includes loving-kindness and compassion.

— Dza Kilung Rinpoche

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Through its pure light a sunlike awareness illuminates ignorance; this supreme awareness transforms every experience into sublime bliss, the way alchemy changes base metal into gold.

— Mahasiddha Saraha

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