Gongchig Teachings at Drikung Kagyu Institute: First Week

kheng06At Drikung Kagyu Institute in Dehradun India, a teaching has commenced on the subject of the Gongchig ("The Holistic Enlightened View"), the core philosophy of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

This teaching, by Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön, the founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, organized and written down by his direct disciple Chännga Dorje Sherab as "The Lamp of Wisdom Illumination", and currently being taught by Khenchen Könchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche to more than two hundred participants, presents a revolutionary approach to actualizing a direct and authentic perception of reality and to engaging in a path of practice that brings about the best possible benefit for oneself and all others.

This first week of the teaching started by setting up a stark contrast between the way that the philosophy and practice of Buddhism is typically presented and this Gongchig style of teaching. In general, the Buddha, "The Thus Gone One" (Sanskrit tathāgata), is presented, either explicitly or implicitly, as a kind of Buddhist God, similar to the all-powerful creator God of Hinduism, Christianity, and other traditions. This religious style of presentation, understanding, and practice of Buddhism brings about much benefit, and is vitally important to the tradition. Here though, the Gong-chig style of presentation, that of the Holistic Enlightened View, starts with non-dual reality, as it is, and opens up from there, naturally and comprehensively unfurling into whatever level of detail is required for each practitioner to come to engage authentically with reality. This style of presentation is a scientific way of approaching reality, from first principles, and is one that does not require any need for blind faith and accords well with the modern mind.

kheng04The first Gongchig presentation of reality was a single sentence: "It is generally accepted that the Thus Gone One is the God of the Dharma; and held to be like that, is taught as like that, and so becomes just that; but here it is accepted that all of the buddhadharma reveals solely the mode of abiding of the basic-character / disposition (reality as-it-is)."
Next, the Gongchig opened up to a seven-fold presentation as:

1) Wheels of Dharma
2) Interdependence
3) Vowing for Individual Liberation
4) Training as a Bodhisattva
5) Tantric Accomplishment
6) View, Meditation, and Conduct
7) The Result, Buddhahood

This seven-fold presentation was illustrated by the example of an umbrella with seven ribs: From the top it is seen as a unified whole, but look underneath and the seven supporting ribs can be seen distinctly and individually, but interdependently, working together to make the umbrella useful. In addition, these seven ribs come together into a single handle so that the whole thing may be grasped as once.

The practice aspect of the Gongchig was presented by corresponding these seven to the pinnacle practice system, the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra:

1) Bodhicitta Motivation: (4) Training as a Bodhisattva
2) Yidam Deity: (5) Tantric Accomplishment
3) Guru Yoga: (6) View, Meditation, and Conduct
4) Mahamudra: (1) Wheels of Dharma and (2) Interdependence
5) Dedication: (7) The Result, Buddhahood

Supporting all five aspects of the practice: (3) Vowing for Individual Liberation

The seven-fold presentation of the Gongchig then opened up further into one hundred and ninety "vajra statements" (one hundred and fifty main statements and forty supplementary statements) divided into seven sections. These were introduced this week, and will begin to be explained one by one in the second week of teachings.

"The Lamp of Wisdom Illumination" is the earliest of the ten or so commentaries on the Gongchig, and was written down by a direct disciple of the founder, and so the teachings this week have included a wealth of detail about the founding teacher Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön, his life and teaching style, and how the Gongchig presentation of reality as-it-is and its path of practice are truly a non-dual pair.

The teaching is progressing well, with Khenchen Rinpoche energetically presenting the Holistic Enlightened View, as well as adding many engaging insights, stories, and advice. A number of sponsors have contributed to offer support to all the monastics in attendance, and morning tea and a complete lunch is being offered daily to everyone by Khenchen Rinpoche – so all are well contented and participating with full attention and interest.

Acharya Kinley Gyaltsen and Terence Barrett, 18 November 2012
The Office of the HH Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang

Follow the Gongchig Teachings

The Birth of Buddha
Buddha's Renunciation
In Search of Truth
Turning the Wheel of Dharma
Buddha's Parinirvana
Buddha's Teachings

The Four Noble Truth
Dharma Practice

What is the Mind?
Loving Kindness and Compassion

What is Vajrayana?
Why Practice Vajrayana?
Authentic Vajrayana
Levels of Vajrayana
Attachment and Vajrayana
What to Meditate On
Sitting in Meditation
Preparing for Meditation
The Meditation Session
A Meditation Schedule

The Kagyu Lineage
Meaning of Hung Symbol
Meaning of Drikung
Life Story of Achi
The Three Protectors