THE ELEVEN INSTRUCTIONS OF GAMPOPA

In TRUE BOOKS by Erik Pema Kunsang12 Comments

The Tibetan master Gampopa is famous for being the foremost student of Milarepa, the great yogi. He is unique in that he fused and combined the practice of mind training, which many of you know from the Dalai Lama’s lectures, with realization of the nature of mind. His writing style is very much down to earth, advice for simple living and easy to understand guidelines for making sure that we are on the right track. Some of his advice takes form of small handy lists to memorize, ponder and measure oneself against. The unusual trait in the following list is the tendency to reject things in our life, which instead easily could be used as fuel, like an uninformed gardener, who throws perfectly fine vegetable away believing that they are weed.

At the beginning we feel inspired to go deeper in life, due to meeting an unusually kind and wise person. Or it could be triggered by one inner extraordinary experience. Later on we want to reconnect with that, which is another way of saying that we got disconnected by something and may therefore believe that something must be renounced or rejected in order to be spiritual. While the most important thing to renounce is ignorance, it happens that other components in life become victimized or targeted for blame quite unnecessarily. Even though Gampopa dictated these lines to his students a thousand years ago, their timeless value becomes reactivated when we understand them and let their meaning inspire our life, mind and heart.

 I like to explain number nine a little bit more. The path of means is a synonym for very specific tantric practices involving visualization, breath work, yoga, exercises and control of inner subtle energies.
Here are the eleven pieces of important advice not to be rejected by Gampopa.

  • Don’t reject compassion, since it is the basis for helping others.
  • Don’t reject experiences, since they are the natural radiance of your mind.
  • Don’t reject thoughts, since they are the play of your innate nature.
  • Don’t reject disturbing emotions, since they are the reminders of wisdom.
  • Don’t reject sense-pleasures, since they are the water and fertilizer for experience and realization.
  • Don’t reject sickness and suffering, since they are your spiritual friends.
  • Don’t reject enemies and obstructors, since they are inspiration for realizing your basic nature.
  • Don’t reject whatever comes naturally, since it is a sign of success.
  • Don’t reject any type of path of means, since it is a stepping-stone for knowledge.
  • Don’t reject the physical activities of a spiritual nature which you are capable of accomplishing.
  • Don’t reject the intention to help others, even if your powers are feeble.
    These were eleven things not to be rejected.

Featured image: Gampopa painted by Chogyal Rinpoche of Tashi Jong, India.

About the Author
Erik Pema Kunsang

Erik Pema Kunsang

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Translator of ancient Buddhist scriptures, author, bridge-builder to modern life, Buddhist teacher & meditation instructor. Board of director at 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha. Founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications and LEVEKUNST art of life. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author. Erik's website & retreats.

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  1. In reference to number 9. Is there open information on the visualization for the first vajra as practice by lama norbu. Am believing it is the same as basic purification breath but very uniquely performed. Thanks baldo

  2. Erik Pema Kunsang Author

    Received from Zoldy Parra:

    El camino de los medios es un sinónimo de prácticas tántricas muy específicas que incluyen la visualización, el trabajo con la respiración, el yoga, los ejercicios y el control de las energías sutiles internas.
    Aquí están las once piezas de consejos importantes que no deben ser rechazadas, escritos por Je Gampopa:
    No rechacen la compasión, ya que es la base para ayudar a los demás.
    No rechacen las experiencias, ya que son el resplandor natural de su mente.
    No rechacen los pensamientos, ya que son el juego de su naturaleza innata.
    No rechacen las emociones perturbadoras, ya que son los recordatorios de la sabiduría.
    No rechacen los placeres de los sentidos, ya que son el agua y el fertilizante para la experiencia y la realización.
    No rechacen la enfermedad y el sufrimiento, ya que son sus amigos espirituales.
    No rechaces a los enemigos y obstructores, ya que son la inspiración para realizar tu naturaleza básica.
    No rechaces lo que viene naturalmente, ya que es un signo de éxito.
    No rechacen ningún tipo de camino de medios, ya que es un trampolín para el conocimiento.
    No rechacen las actividades físicas de naturaleza espiritual que son capaces de lograr.
    No rechacen la intención de ayudar a otros, incluso si sus poderes son débiles.
    Eran once cosas que no debían ser rechazadas.

  3. HI Erik, thanks. Can you give a hint to what he means by “physical activities of a spiritual nature”? Thanks!

  4. it is a beautiful image of Gampopa. thanks for the viewing

  5. All of the nine advice resonate familiar for all human beings, I can say that because I am one of them, and the advice sound all very easy but they are not easy. It takes a life time with humility to absorb it if one is lucky to live that long. Thank you very much for sharing. I really enjoyed it!

  6. #7 is missing the last word of the sentence. I think it should say basic nature?

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