Gedun Chopel, the author of the song.


In INSIGHTS by Judith Amtzis4 Comments

It was in the early ’90s I first heard of Gedun Chopel. I was immediately fascinated by him and tried to learn all I could about him, especially after I learned that he had spent time in Sri Lanka and actually translated the Dhammapada into Tibetan from Pali, and that his life ended so tragically after the Tibetan government had jailed him. I tried so hard to learn about him that I actually struggled through Heather Stoddards book in French, which I hadn’t read since I was in college. At that time he hardly was translated much, except for his book on the Kamasutra, and that was kind of derivative. Since I was trying to learn how to translate at the time, I thought I should try to do something myself.
Gedun Chopel’s song: Instructions on Practicing the Essence of Holy Dharma.

The compassionate power of the three precious abodes of refuge
Is unfailing when relied upon.
By pacifying all confused appearances of pointless samsara
Grant the blessing of turning our minds toward the holy dharma.

Whatever worldly activity you think of entering into
Has not even as much essence as a sesame seed.
Turning your mind from this brief worldly life,
Practice the essence of the holy dharma.

Youth is like a summer flower
And bright beauty a winter rainbow.
There is no longevity in human life;
Thus, practice the essence of the holy dharma.

When suffering, wishing for a way to be happy;
When happy, fearing suffering’s return.
From the abyss of hope and fear, there is no time for liberation;
Thus, practice the essence of the holy dharma.

Cherished dearly, it is the basis of sickness and disease;
Adorned with ornaments, its nature is filth.
There is no essence to this impermanent body;
Thus, practice the essence of the holy dharma.

The rich from their vantage of wealth speak of suffering;
The poor from their place of poverty cry in misery.
Every human mind has its own load of sorrow;
The abode of samsara offers no chance of happiness.

In general, all outer appearances of happiness and suffering
Are magical displays of the single mind itself.
Other than inner reflections arising from outside
Outer features come from nowhere else.

By understanding well that this is so,
When cutting through with intelligence the all-ground, the root of mind,
You actually remain in the sky of the truth of dharmata, reality itself
Beyond this mist of appearances.

Saying ‘is’, we are contriving, and
Saying ‘is not’ is contrivance itself.
Unpolluted by any such artifice
The nature of mind is perfect enlightenment.

Thoughts of ‘is’ and ‘is not’ are like ripples in water
Continuously following one after another.
When they fall apart, by letting go in the state beyond reference point
The primordial ocean of dharmadhatu is reached.

In short, appearance is mind’s magical creation, and
Mind is emptiness, with neither ground nor root.
Holding on to a self in baseless phenomena,
We wander through the realms of samsara.

When we don’t chase after appearances
But look directly at the perceiver itself
We see the inexpressible natural face
And the path to enlightenment is not long.

In this way, through the blessings of the three root deities
May we quickly resolve the emptiness of our own minds,
And from the royal seat of the primordial pure Great Perfection
Vastly benefit limitless sentient beings.

This was written by the wanderer Gedun Chopel in the company of Drolma Yangzom, whose mind has turned towards the essential Dharma.

About the Author
Judith Amtzis

Judith Amtzis


A long term student of the Dharma, I met both Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche in 1976, and have lived in Asia since then, primarily in Kathmandu, Nepal. On the request of Holiness Penor Rinpoche, I collaborated with Khenpo Sonam Tsewang of Namdroling Monastery in Mysore to translate the Liberation Story of Namcho Migyur Dorje, the terton who discovered the treasures that make up the core of the Palyul tradition. This biography is entitled The All-Pervading Melodious Sound of Thunder, and was written by the first Karma Chagme Rinpoche.

Featured image: Gendun Chopel in India, 1936.
Books by or about Gendun Chopel
A detailed biography of Gendun Chopel compiled by Heather Stoddard.

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  1. Jigme Lama

    wonderful !

  2. Avatar

    Super cool!

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