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23June2017

My Crazy Tale

An Autobiographical Poem by His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa

Original Tibetan © Drukpa Publications Pvt. Ltd.
English translation © Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche and Steven Goodman

A HO!
The mind is the door to everything:
Free from the net of errant duality
The primordially liberated dimension -
To this, the ultimate Lama
I sincerely pay homage.

To the Lord of Compassion, Chenrezig,
To the sole protector, Mahaguru,
To Glorious Naropa and Tsangpa Gyare,
And to the continually incarnating teachers of the past,
I pay homage.

To the great teachers of the snowy realms
And emanations of former times,
To their play of knowledge and compassion,
Like the dancing reflection of the moon in water,
I pay homage.

They are the world's eyes,
And I take shelter in the blessings
Of their three secret dimensions (of body, speech and mind).
This, my humble tale, was composed
At the request of my friend Kunzang Tenzin.

These crazy ideas of mine
Are not important to recount,
But I jot them down anyway
As a joke, just to ruin your eyes.

The Lotus Lake in India
Was my birth place,
The great sacred spot of the Mahaguru
And the dance floor of the dakinis.

Who was present when I was born?
Padmasambhava's regent Dudjom Rinpoche was there
Surrounded by many male and female wisdom holders
Turning the wheel of the profound Dharma.

At sunrise on the auspicious tenth day,
During the performance of Padmasambhava's
Dance of the eight aspects,
At this wonderful moment, due to prior prayers,
I issued forth from the dark constraints of the womb.

Due to favorable karma
I emerged onto the lap
Of Zhi-chen Bairo, my father,
And so met the Dharma at the moment of birth,
And was blessed by a sign from Dudjom Rinpoche.

Due to past good karma ripening at this time,
I was quite happy as a child and,
Without instruction, I naturally had
A little kindness and compassion.

I've met many great teachers and studied many texts,
Easily getting the ultimate meanings,
But I still don't get many conventional meanings.
Maybe that's why it's said there's no end to what can be known.
Anyhow, I'm glad to study and learn about everything,
But especially about my own practice.

If I don't become certain about it through listening and reflection
It's like having no hands and trying to scale a rock -
If I can't grasp hold of the meaning, I can't properly practice.

So if you don't first listen and reflect
But just stay in retreat to meditate,
You're like a lost helpless prisoner
Knowing neither what to meditate on nor how.
Not knowing even the meaning of the word faith,
The chance of insight arising from practice
Is as rare as seeing a star in daylight.
These defects I've experienced myself
So I'm quite motivated to listen well and reflect.

Whatever virtuous actions I've done
Are for the benefit of others and the next life,
So I avoid actions of self-interest and the eight worldly motivations (Footnote 1)
And I'm glad that I'm strong enough to resist such obsessions.

Whoever bestows teachings and empowerments
Should be cherished as your very own eyes.
If you insult the teacher's consort or attendants
It's obvious your realization is far away.
Watching the actions of your teacher
And hoping they'll coincide with your wishes -
This will be the source of every misfortune,
So regard every action of the teacher as perfect.

This "perfect view" sounds great,
But it's rare to find anybody correctly practicing it.
That's why the "Practice Lineage" is degenerating
And just adding numbers to the ranks of the vow breakers.

It's essential to grasp a vital point -
What is it?
In the Pure Realm Buddhas appear in perfect form
To train pure beings
But impure beings like us
Have no chance to see a perfect Buddha
Nor to hear his voice.
For beings like us could not be tamed
By Buddhas of the past,
And that's why our present teacher was reborn
In ordinary human form -
To help tame us.
That's why our teacher's kindness
Is far greater than that of other (Buddhas) -
A kindness beyond reason & logic.

The point is this:
Buddha activity is beyond conception.
The import of this vital point really astounds me!

Lord of Great Kindness,
Sole Protector dwelling in my heart,
For a mind free from doubt, blessings come,
But for one plagued with doubts, there's no chance.
On this it's said, "The tantras and updesas both agree."
That's the counsel of Choje Ongpo,
And I have complete trust in it.

It's as if I've been given the wish-fulfilling jewel
By the savior of beings,
Kyabgon Ontrul of Zhichen
Who is inseparable from my heart,
Filled with the three forms of faith.
This is my understanding.

These things are just a sketch of what I know,
Today's crazy ideas,
So please don't be bored by all this
And listen some more:

Toward the Great Lord Guru - my father and mother -
And toward his spiritual descendants and lineage holders
I naturally had single-minded faith, even as a child.
As a child, whenever I had good food and nice clothes
I thought they were bestowed on me
By my Great Father Padmasambhava.

These days, due to hindrances of Kor (Footnote 2)
My devotion is not as pure as when I was a child.
Repeatedly receiving this poison Kor is bad,
And I'll have more to say about this presently.

In my own life I have met no enemy
Worse than such Kor;
I've been with this enemy a long time
And I know his faults.
So it's appropriate for me to remark on these faults.
I'll explain how I got caught up with such Kor.

Though starting with a store of good karma,
I ended up with bad results,
But somehow prior karma and prayer
Created this lama form of mine.

At the age of three and four I had some memories:
The messenger of demon deceit entered me,
Going straight into my infant heart.
Thus before I could talk,
I began to give blessings with my hands,
And was thrilled when I was put on a high seat;
Even though my father struck me, trying to stop such action,
I continued to do it behind his back.

When I was able to speak, I proclaimed that
I had a monastery and a lama's residence,
And I spoke many pointless silly things.

Right before my actual recognition (as an incarnation),
I blurted out it was now time to depart for my monastery.
Saying farewell to my family and offering scarves -
Through such behavior this "lama" form was created without true Dharma.

Set on the throne of the eight worldly dharmas,
These hands of mine collected offerings and bestowed blessings.
At the age of eight I gave a public empowerment
Without having the proper qualities of a teacher.

At sixteen I gave a teaching on Hevajra, the king of Tantras.
I gave teachings before knowing the meaning of the words,
Before doing any practice I gave empowerments:
Doing these things was like a child's game for me
And I'm not interested in recounting everything.
This is how I got involved with Kor,
The poison Kor which gradually burned my mind.

Even though others said, "this lama is really good"
They exaggerated:
These days a "good" lama is anybody
Skilled in the eight worldly dharmas.
Whoever is known as "authentic" is just
Skilled in deception.
Whoever is known as "learned" is merely
Expert in oratory -
Learned, authentic, and good
Are the three qualities of a sublime lama
Which are so loudly praised.

Thus the stream of poison Kor pours down like rain
And the door to hell is wide open.
So whoever lacks the three qualities
Can't be counted among the sublime lamas -

"You're a bad person, have a bad temper, and are from a bad family."
Thus, on and on, the mountain of abuse crashed down upon me
And I gathered the bad karma of having rejected true Dharma.

As the glorious Great Guru said:
"The times don't change, people change."
It's very sad that this is coming true.
It's really sad that the power of evil forces is increasing.
So I pray that I will not be praised and honored with the
Poisonous virtues of being falsely learned, authentic and good
For this praise and honor is the cause of being dragged into samsara.
They cause pride to increase
And disturb the development of true qualities.
Without recognizing the smell of my own rotting head
Yet pretending to help someone else:
Both of us are doomed.
This is how I've gathered terrible karma.

There are many ways to gather poison Kor, but mainly two:
Offerings from devotees and offerings for the deceased.
When I received these, I laughed and enjoyed myself,
But neglected (my obligations) both to the dead and to the devotees -
And this is terribly sad.

To block the development of the three kinds of wisdom;
This is the worst, isn't it!
To block the development of the three kinds of faith;
This is the worst, isn't it!
To block the development of the three kinds of contemplation;
This is the worst, isn't it!

I can't explain it all, but
In short, Kor is the real enemy and demon of practitioners.
It will not give a moment's peace.
It will torment the body with strange diseases,
Ruining changes of practice.
Yet when not practicing, the body and mind are fine,
Being quite healthy while doing unwholesome things
And not caring about the next life:
So whether one receives poison Kor oneself,
Or "benefits" from the poison Kor of someone else -
Teachers say it's the same thing.

So Kor heaped on top of Kor,
A lama's Kor is multiplied over and over,
Until even dogs start "honoring" you.

If I really think hard about the meaning
Of this poison Kor, then I'm doing
Neither real Dharma practice nor worldly work.
I'm in between, wearing Dharma robes
Which cover this body of mine infested with poison Kor:
I'm like a pretend lion, having no essential qualities.

A TSA MA!
O dear, this really upsets me!

I have some idea how to avoid this poison Kor,
Which I've discovered through my precious Lord Guru's kindness.
This kind teacher is truly a Buddha,
His supreme qualities of three secret aspects [of body, voice and mind]
I, his fortunate student, can remember,
And with great respect I can follow his way.

Oh precious Lord Guru, I call on you
To bestow your compassion!
Please don't let me fall into the pit of poisonous Kor!
May I be able to practice the Dharma like you!
Grant me blessings to accomplish my Dharma practice!

I have been nourished by the kindness of my father Guru
And many other teachers.
I have found the wisdom eye to discern
The difference between defects and qualities.
This achievement I realized through the kindness of my teachers.

However, regarding the path shown by the Buddha,
It is said: "Liberation depends totally on us."
So, accordingly, I understand that it's up to me
Whether I go for it or not.

Whoever doesn't take this path is no better than an ox.
Whoever does take this path is the best among humans.
I have the complete freedom to choose whatever I wish to do,
This is an amazingly rare chance I've got.

The habit of noting others' faults is completely wrong
And for many years I've had this terrible custom.
For far too long I was plagued by this, the source of all wrong actions.
Until my kind mother showed me that all the faults of others
Are one's own faults: the more one has,
The more one finds them in others -
Like reflections in a mirror.
So rejecting one's own faults is best.

Fault finding is the cause of broken samaya between Dharma friends.
It creates terrible karma, resulting in the rejection of the Dharma.
This and lots of similar advice I received from my mother.
Her tender council was absorbed in my heart
So that whenever I notice someone's faults,
I've vowed not to mention them.
This is my tale.

There are both good and bad stories,
And I should speak of them equally.
But I have far too many bad stories,
Some almost as bad as those of dogs and pigs -
So I don't want to elaborate on them.

Talk about visions of deities and the like
Are the business of worldly lamas.
I keep silent about my experiences;
If one leads a simple and happy existence,
One can actually accomplish great things
For this and future lifetimes.

In brief, [a word about my teachers]:
The regent of the Lotus Born Lord,
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche;
And the lineage holder of the Drukpa Kargyud,
The most kind teacher, Lord of Speech [Drukpa Thuksay];
And the Vajra Holder of the three vows, Thrulzhik Rinpoche;
Lords of the Mandala, actual Buddhas who eliminate all delusion -
They introduced me to the nature of existence
Through the direct experience of the Base.
The kindness of these Vajra Masters was measureless.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is sole refuge
And protector of our social and spiritual welfare.
From Lama Khyentse Gyatso, I received the oral transmission of Mahamudra,
Opening the Eye of Wisdom,
Discerning the difference between Dharma and non-Dharma,
Through vast kindness bestowed on me,
Great holder of the three vows,
Lord [Zhichen] Ontrul, you are the eyes of the world.

I was fortunate to receive transmissions from these Buddhas,
These roots and branch teachers.
Though I have not achieved
Confident realization of their teachings,
I have not displeased them.
And though I haven't had prophecies induced by trance,
I'm sure that I've received the blessings of their compassion.

As is said:
"You don't need to visualize the Lama,
For he is inseparable from you;
You don't need to remember anything,
For he is always in your heart."

Though I can't boast I have that view,
I always remember these teachers with longing -
Sometimes by recalling them ordinary thought ceases.
Recalling their qualities often increases my faith.
Recalling my faults with remorse, I confess and renew my vows:
Reaffirming my vows with prayer,
This is my natural style.
Apart from that, I don't have much more to say.

In order to make favorable conditions purposeful,
One needs the eye which discerns and does not confuse
The actual intent of the causal and resultant vehicles.
Being clear and applying the meanings according
To the (particular) vehicle,
Through deep analysis the essence of all the teachings
Is shown to be emptiness and compassion.

The fruit of realizing this meaning comes
As the spontaneous fulfillment of benefiting others.
Until now I haven't come to that,
Because of my endless busywork -
So I yearn to be in a remote hermitage
And to practice single-mindedly the Dharma I've understood.

I would like to practice in a remote place
By myself or with a Dharma friend;
Though I don't have the favorable situation of physical seclusion,
Whenever I have the chance, I do practice in the seclusion of my mind.

Being amongst many "friends" who are contrary Dharma,
Doesn't provide the context for mental seclusion,
So I wish to avoid such "retinues" with their many activities
And to just practice alone on the ultimate essence.
Friends who are uncertain about Dharma practice,
Disciples who are not enthusiastic about receiving teachings -
Such acquaintances damage both teacher and student,
And I never want to be in such a situation.

At first they see the lama as a Buddha,
Then they see the lama as a helpful human;
Finally they see the lama as their enemy, and use harsh words of abuse:
I want to avoid such disciples and go into a remote place.

Expert in praising if it benefits oneself,
Clever in avoiding what benefits others,
Clever in sowing seeds which break samaya -
I wish to avoid such friends and go to a remote place.

Unless I'm hoping for fame, I don't need the entourage of today,
And unless they're looking for misery, they don't need a teacher like me.
As long as it's not time to benefit others
It's not right to have disciples:
This is repeatedly said in the sutras and tantras.

Therefore I wish to live in a remote place.
I wish to observe the real nature of things free from thought.
I wish to crush the shell of deluded ideas.
I wish to contemplate measureless compassion.
I wish to realize Buddha nature which is naturally present.

I should not practice Dharma for fame or profit,
And should dedicate the merit of doing practice to all beings.
Whether or not it's difficult depends on one's attitude -
If a decision is made, it's easier.

I have too many opinions;
It's impossible to write them all down.
Since so many past teachers have said,
"All appearance and existence should be seen as a teaching,"
I need to really think about the meaning of this,

Even though I don't have the sharpest of minds.
Yet knowing my own emotions create both pleasure and pain,
With conditions and companions always changing,
Impermanence and suffering, karma and its results,
Interdependence and the union of appearance and emptiness -
These I know as true teachers, showing what's real.
These I know as true teachers, pointing out defects.
These I know as true teachers, crushing arrogance.
These I know as true teachers, driving one towards Dharma.
These I know as true teachers, causing compassion to grow.

When I sometimes have a bit of insight about this,
According to my training, I feel this is truly
Receiving the Guru's blessings.
So to the Gurus I intensely pray
And am quite happy when I feel their kindness.

Apart from this, receiving a guru's "blessing"
Is merely like the pleasure of sex
Or the bliss of being drunk or dizzy,
And this kind of "blessing" is not useful.
I've never received a blessing like this from my teachers
And don't expect to in the future.

In fact, all appearance arises as the bliss state;
And the essence of this bliss being emptiness,
How can the net of attachment and aversion trap it?
How can the lasso rope of grasping and clinging tie it up?
Common bliss binds one through attachment and grasping -
Even dogs and pigs have this kind.

Common emptiness is like the empty cup.
But real emptiness means there's nothing whatsoever
To establish [as empty],
And yet the internal pulsing of
Real emptiness vibrates everywhere:
This is the union of emptiness and clarity, as I understand it.

A RE TSAR!
The bliss state is amazing!
But the union [of bliss and emptiness] is even more amazing!
Well, actually it's not so amazing.
We should really wonder about our assumptions,
For the really amazing thing is our habits of inquiry:
We perceive as dual the non-dual state.
We perceive as separate the unified state.
We perceive as existing things which don't exist
And we perceive as non-existing things which do exist!

Existing and non-existing things are creations of the mind.
And these magical things are truly amazing.
Their ultimate view is the extreme of eternalism;
Their meditation is trapped in the shell of clinging;
Their conduct according to the eight worldly dharmas is quite active -
Such yogis are truly amazing!

We are the real magicians
For in actual fact nothing exists.
Pleasure and pain are created by attraction and aversion,
Grasping attractions magically creates things,
And if we analyze this thoroughly,
We can't be certain that even we exist.

I laugh when I think about daytime happenings;
I laugh when I think about continual change;
I laugh when I think about attachment and aversion;
I laugh when I think about pleasure and pain -
Maybe I'm possessed by demons, I'm not sure.

I call on you, my teachers - regard me with compassion!
I sincerely wish to receive your blessings.
Please regard your child's long desire.
Please bless me with the resolve [to attain realization].
Please bless me to have a steady and smooth mind,
So that for this life and those to follow,
As a true practitioner whose heart and mind are in accord,
The special intention [to help others] is spontaneously present.
May I be able to benefit measureless beings.

Without the toxic stains of a competitive mind,
Without the intoxicating liquor of anger and lust,
May I be able to practice the peaceful and soothing Dharma.
May I be able to give teachings diligently.

Through listening and thinking and examining,
Especially about those teachings I practice,
May I be able to precisely determine their meaning;
Raising the victorious banner of ultimate practice,
May I be able to accomplish great service to the Dharma.

This is the way I pray, all the time,
And I request all of you to support my prayers.
These are my insane suggestions,
These are my crazy ways of thinking,
The shapes of a madman's musings.

The words are boring,
And the composition is lousy.
So there's nothing admirable here
For all those learned ones.

Since there's no mix of the eight worldly dharmas,
It's difficult to satisfy worldly-minded people.
This chatter is neither for the learned, nor for the worldly -
It's only suitable for crazies like me.

By spreading this kind of nonsense
May all innumerable beings be freed from their endless activities.
May they reach the state free from birth.
This, my own tale, is a lunatic's sketch, drawn from the heart,
I wrote down whatever came to mind, without distortion.
It has nothing to do with "benefiting beings;"
It's pure gossip.

This was done in the Maratika Cave (in Nepal)
Known as Great Bliss Dharmadhatu
By one holding the name Kyabgon Drukchen XII
Commonly called Padma Wangchen,
At the age of twenty-eight.
On the twenty-fifth day, the feast-day of the dakinis,
I wrote this during a break in my practice.
May it transmit the auspicious
Union of bliss and emptiness!

Translated from the handwritten original, at the request of H.H. the Gyalwang Drukpa, by Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche and Steven Goodman, on the 25th day of the first month of the Water Monkey Year (March 28, 1992) in Berkeley, California. May it benefit all beings!


(1) The eight worldly motivations: pleasure and pain, loss and gain, fame and shame, praise and blame. - click here to resume reading -

(2) (As explained by Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche): Kor/Kor-nag (dkor-nag) = lit. "offerings," "black-offerings"; a key point throughout this tale. It refers to offerings and requests poisoned by the impure motives of devotees and the spiritual obligations placed on the lama who receives such poisonous "gifts" yet is obliged to respond to requests of blessings. It also refers to the negative karma which results from accepting offerings but neglecting to perform the requested spiritual activities. - click here to resume reading -