Rebirth Explained

Lama Jampa recently gave a talk in Stuttgart entitled ‘Death and Dying from a Buddhist Perspective’ and a recording of this talk can be found on SoundCloud here. This post provides a brief synopsis of the Lama's talk using much of his own introduction to the topic.

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Learning how to live properly we need to learn how to die properly. In Buddhism, life and death are seen as twin faces of reality.

“In the modern world the sight and significance of death have been put out of view and we have come to see it as a fading away into nothingness or an abrogation of everything wondrous about life. That leads to embarrassment or fear about the subject as well as other emotions. This not only impoverishes our lives but is a foolish move, since we all will come to know death in the most intimate of ways.

“What Buddha discovered on the night of enlightenment was the state beyond birth and death, the clear light, unborn and unceasing, which is the fundamental nature of our mind. To experience this freedom from birth and death, we need to learn to pass through the gates of death.

“The way to do that is to become aware of how death and birth are woven into every moment of our existence. In this way we prepare for death at the end of this physical life. Every moment there is the opportunity to awaken to the space beyond birth and death. It is the space that is there between death and rebirth.”

The technical term for this space is bardo (intermediate state) and, in his talk, Lama Jampa goes on to describe what are known as the three bardos: the bardo of life, the bardo of death and the bardo of dream. It is possible to recognise the fundamental nature of our mind, the clear light, in each of these bardos. Hence it is possible to attain the deathless state in this life and great masters have done so throughout the history of the Buddhist tradition.

It is clearly difficult for us to awaken from the bewitchment of self into which we have fallen in this physical life but, as Lama Jampa explains, at the time of death, when the sense of physical identity dissolves, there is greater opportunity to recognise the deathless state.

We can prepare for that opportunity simply by the practice we do in this life and by knowing about the intermediate states. Lama Jampa emphasises that preparing for the bardo of death is the most natural thing in the world and not some extraordinary or esoteric excursion. In this, we are returning to the fundamental, simple state, the actual nature of mind as it really is.

In his talk, Lama Jampa delineates the processes of dissolution in some detail, including how, as explained in the Tantras, each of the dissolutions results in a kind of hallucination. Having described these bardo experiences, Lama Jampa then explains how the process of rebirth occurs. This happens through the force of karmic imprints, through which one’s consciousness is impelled forward into the ‘next life’ -  which, in the case of a human birth, is into union with the unifying male and female elements, the sperm and the ovum.

In summary, the Lama says that in his talk he has tried to highlight the parallels with our own experience in this life to show that the bardo, the intermediate state, is just an encounter with the true nature of reality, which is always there between each thought, between one moment and the next, between one emotion and the next. The bardo is always there.

No Self Found

It comes as a shock to us when we hear the Buddhist teaching of non-self. How can we deal with that? And what does it mean?

On YouTube, as part of his answer to the question “What is the Essence of Buddhism?”, Lama Jampa Thaye explains that it is the false notion of self that leads us into frustration, disappointment and suffering. Whereas if we learn to abandon this false belief we can awaken to our natural state and thus gain freedom from suffering.

Since the habitual belief in a self and our apparent need for one are so strong, we need to gain conviction that the notion of 'self' is indeed a fiction. Such conviction will not be gained simply by hearing someone say there is no self. A more effective way, one that has been taught by Buddhist masters for centuries, is to actually search for the existence of a self, using the power of reasoning.

How are we to understand the emptiness of self?

How are we to understand the emptiness of self?

In Bristol on Saturday 21st January, teaching from his book, “Rain of Clarity”, Lama Jampa carefully walked students through the classical Buddhist method of applying such reasoning. We will then be able to apply this in our  own study and practice of the Path, and hence in our own experience.  

What do we mean by self? We first need to be clear about what it is we are looking for. As Lama Jampa explained, a self is something or someone that is independent, autonomous and permanent. With this in mind we can then examine our experience to find out if such an independent, autonomous and permanent entity can be found anywhere within it.

The search takes us into our body and mind, to see if the self exists within them or outside them. Investigating the five aggregates of classical Buddhist psychology that make up all possible physical and mental experience, Lama Jampa showed that no such self can be found to exist.

Lama Jampa explains

Lama Jampa explains

It is crucial for us to learn from the teacher how to use analytical tools such as these, as it helps us move a step closer to the liberating understanding we seek. This was felt in a short period of meditation when we sat together on Saturday having heard the teaching.

Lama Jampa will resume his explanation from Rain of Clarity, looking at the second of the two kinds of non-self, that of all phenomena, on Saturday 25th March in London.



'Rain of Clarity'

This year, at Dechen's Sakya centres in London and Bristol, Lama Jampa has been giving detailed explanatory teachings based on his text 'Rain of Clarity' that covers the entirety of the Buddhist path.

He continues to teach from the text this coming Saturday, 5th November, in London when he will go through its fourth chapter, Viewing Emptiness.

As well as teaching at Dechen centres in the UK, US, Mexico, Germany and France, this year, Lama Jampa has accepted invitations to teach in Hong Kong, Dharma centres in the West and East coasts of the US and in France and Germany. See lamajampa.org/news to read reports of Lama Jampa's extraordinary teaching programme which has embraced all aspects of the Buddhist Path, as followed in both the Kagyu and the Sakya traditions, from its foundation practices through to subtle Mind Training and Vajrayana teachings.  

Lama Jampa teaching the Sakya Mind Training teachings, Parting From the Four Attachments, in Stuttgart 

Lama Jampa teaching the Sakya Mind Training teachings, Parting From the Four Attachments, in Stuttgart 

Lama Jampa answers questions at the Sakya Centre, Bristol following teachings on 'Rain of Clarity'

Lama Jampa answers questions at the Sakya Centre, Bristol following teachings on 'Rain of Clarity'

Receiving teachings on the Kagyu view of Zhentong in Manchester

Receiving teachings on the Kagyu view of Zhentong in Manchester

Lama Jampa gives a public talk hosted by the Dechen centre in Los Angeles, Sakya Samten Ling

Lama Jampa gives a public talk hosted by the Dechen centre in Los Angeles, Sakya Samten Ling

Teaching The Tantra Sets at Sakya Changlochen Ling, Le Bugue, France

Teaching The Tantra Sets at Sakya Changlochen Ling, Le Bugue, France

Students receive teachings in Harrogate on Milarepa's Song of the Middle Way

Students receive teachings in Harrogate on Milarepa's Song of the Middle Way

Students receive teachings in Bristol from Rain of Clarity

Students receive teachings in Bristol from Rain of Clarity

The images above  offer a glimpse of Lama Jampa's  teaching events at Dechen centres to date, this year. 

Read more about Lama Jampa's wider activities and ongoing touring and teaching programme at lamajampa.org.

Teachings on Rain of Clarity (part 2) in London

On Saturday 12th March, Lama Jampa Thaye continued teaching Rain of Clarity, his text on the Buddhist path, in the pristine setting of the Wetlands Centre in London. Lama Jampa completed the first chapter of the text with the explanation of the Pratimoksha vow and provided invaluable insight into how Buddhist view and morality relate to the modern age and the issues of the 21st century. Lama Jampa then went on to teach the second part of the text, which focuses on the development of bodhichitta and entering into the Great Vehicle, the Mahayana.

Following the methodical and gradual pattern of the text, Lama Jampa expounded on how one develops the wish to become a Buddha for the benefit of all beings and how this wish is formalised through taking the bodhisattva's vow. Rain of Clarity provides an extraordinarily sophisticated, yet accessible explanation on the meaning and the strength of the vow and how practitioners can train in the aspiration and application of bodhichitta. This particularly useful part of the text provided guidance on how students can deal with the obstacles that are commonly encountered on the path of bodhisattvas.

Over the two sessions in London, Lama Jampa presented this chapter in a gentle and relatable manner while explaining sophisticated concepts such as the significance of Buddha nature and the two types of bodhichitta, alluding to the following chapters on the Six Perfections and the Madhyamaka view.

The next part of Rain of Clarity will be taught in June in Bristol.  Study Groups will be held on Saturday mornings in London and Wednesdays in Bristol.

In the afternoon, Lama Jampa bestowed the Vajrayana initiation of Red Tara from the Sakya lineage, a deity related to the achievement of magnetising siddhi.

Teachings on Buddha Nature at the Mikyo Dorje Shedra

Last weekend Lama Jampa taught a text by Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, ‘The Correct Discrimination of Zentong Madhyamaka’. 

People came from all over to hear Lama Jampa explain this very subtle way of  viewing the world. The purpose of this is to enable us to gain freedom from suffering by uncovering our Buddha nature and thereby experiencing the true nature of one’s mind. As ever Lama
Jampa was able to give the explanation of this deep subject matter, in a way that made it accessible even to those new to the dharma.

On the Sunday afternoon Lama Jampa gave the initiation of Namgyalma from the lineage of the 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje for the first  time.

Lama Jampa will continue teaching this text at the next shedra session in Manchester on Saturday July 2 and Sunday July 3.

‘Rain of Clarity': teachings on the Buddhist path by Lama Jampa Thaye

“A gateway into Buddhist spiritual thought.” His Holiness Sakya Trizin on ‘Rain of Clarity’

Saturday 6 February in Bristol saw the first in five teachings by Lama Jampa Thaye on the stages of the Buddhist path in the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Attended by around 150 people from across the UK, this first session outlined the purpose of the text, which serves as a map to the destination of Buddhahood, from becoming a Buddhist through taking Refuge and then practising the path, to the wisdom, compassion and power of enlightenment itself.

This first instalment focused on what it means to become a Buddhist through taking Refuge and why people decide to do this. It could be a wish to find some happiness in this life; for some it may be the recognition of the suffering in the world, and, for others, a wish to help others find a way out of such misery. The concept of Refuge – protection from suffering – was also explained, as well as how the Buddha, his teachings and those who practise them can provide a reliable refuge, in contrast to other more changeable sources of happiness such as relationships, possessions and so on.

What faith means in Buddhism was also defined, in that although being inspired by beautiful images and knowledgeable teachers is helpful, actually it is only through applying our reasoning to the teachings that we can develop real confidence. Finally, because the potential to become a Buddha dwells within our mind right now, Lama Jampa explained how enlightenment truly is possible.

In the afternoon, Lama Jampa gave the vajrayana initiation of White Manjushri, a deity renowned for increasing wisdom, from the lineage of Mati Panchen. Mati Panchen was an elderly and illiterate buffalo herder who, through the power of this practice, went on to be a great scholar, dedicating the rest of his life to teaching others.

Sunday morning saw a well-attended Chenrezik puja at Sakya Buddhist Centre, with Lama Jampa and his family in attendance, followed by tea, cake and conversation.

The next part of ‘Rain of Clarity’ will be given in London on 12 March, with Lama Jampa returning to Bristol for part 3 in June. The next part of ‘Rain of Clarity’ will be given in London on 12 March, with Lama Jampa returning to Bristol for part 3 in June. For further details,  see our What's On page for details of further teachings on this text. 

Lama Jampa teaches at the Mikyo Dorje Shedra in Manchester

On the weekend of 5th and 6th December 2015 Lama Jampa completed his teaching of the Third Karmapa Ranging Dorje’s text ‘Showing the Buddha Nature’ at the Mikyo Dorje Shedra in Manchester. Using the commentary 'Clarifying the Thought of Rangjung' by the eminent 19th century master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, Lama Jampa explained this profound view in great detail and with perfect clarity. 

Lama Jampa reminded the appreciative audience that receipt of the teachings is just the first stage, and that having received them we must go on to study and meditate on their meaning in order for them to have their full benefit.


Lama Jampa's visit to Yorkshire, September 2015

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Lama Jampa's second visit to Yorkshire this year was a joyful mixture of formal and informal teachings. On Saturday he taught at St Aidan’s C of E High School, where their new Sixth Form concert hall made a beautiful setting for the occasion.  Lama Jampa discussed the special contribution of Gampopa to the nascent Kagyu tradition, combining as he did his Kadam ‘graduated path’ inheritance with the Mahamudra transmission of his great yogic teacher, Jetsun Milarepa.  Lama Jampa then taught the first two instructions of 'The Four Dharmas of Gampopa', focussing on the Four Thoughts which turn the Mind to Dharma and the development of the Mahayana attitude. This teaching was open to all.

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In the afternoon, Lama-la gave the initiation of Amitabha from the Sky Dharma of Mingyur Dorje and Karma Chagme.  It felt especially poignant that Lama should bestow this initiation at this time because, as well as several sangha members losing their parents recently, we have recently said goodbye to the Community’s oldest member - Jean Burgoyne -who died last month.  May all be reborn in Dewachen!

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Then on Sunday 13th there was an opportunity to meet the Lama in a more informal setting in the elegant surroundings of The Old Swan Hotel. Lama Jampa began by giving a brief and direct talk about overcoming negative situations and obstacles in our lives. This talk was recorded and can be found at soundcloud.com/lama-jampa-thaye . Following this there was a broad ranging question and answer session, some of which will be published at a later date.

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Over the course of the weekend Lama Jampa also found time to give private interviews to new and old sangha members from the Yorkshire area.

 

Lama Jampa's next teaching event will be at Sakya Sechen Ling in Stuttgart - visit www.dechen-sakya.de for details.

Lama Jampa teaches in Manchester

11667453_460527800791157_5702636285793973728_nOn 4 to 5 July Lama Jampa began teaching Jamgon Kongtrul's commentary (Clarifying the Thought of Rangjung) on the Nyingpo Tenpa. The weekend of teaching was hosted in Manchester by Kagyu Ling. This was the first session of this year’s Mikyo Dorje Shedra following the completion of the Namshe Yeshe in 2014. The Nyingpo Tenpa, the ‘Shastra Showing the Essence of the Tathagata’, was composed by the third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339), and stands alongside the same author’s Namshe Yeshe as one of the most influential texts in the Karma Kagyu intellectual tradition. It sets forth the existence of buddha nature within all sentient beings as the abiding truth of ultimate reality.

Clarifying the Thought of Rangjung was composed by the great master Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye (1811–1899) and is the most eminent commentarial exposition of the Nyingpo Tenpa. This commentary may be considered to have played a very important part in reviving the Zhentong Madhyamaka view and once more disseminating this view amongst the Karma Kagyu Tradition of Buddhism.

Lama Jampa is currently in the United States where he is giving teachings in Chicago and Santa Barbara, at the request of Bodhipath. He is also giving teachings in Santa Monica, hosted by Sakya Samten Ling.

Lama Jampa Thaye visits Bristol, 20 and 21 June

LJT-Bristol-June-2015-1 For this midsummer weekend, Lama Jampa visited Bristol to continue teaching Sakya Pandita's pithy and clear 'Reply to Nyimo Gomchen' and give the initiation of Green Tara, (Shakyashribhadra tradition), followed by a relaxed and insightful questions and answers session on Sunday morning.

This was Part 2 in the series of teachings on Sakya Pandita's text, with this section dealing with profound questions about the nature of mind and how authentic experience of the nature of reality can be achieved. Lama Jampa also reminded students about how helpful this text is for Buddhist students today, 800 years after it was composed. Through his responses to the meditator Nyimo Gomchen, Sakya Pandita addresses many of the mistaken ideas about Buddhist practice around in the early years of Buddhism in Tibet, which can also be seen today in the West.

In the afternoon, as well as giving Refuge to new practitioners, Lama Jampa bestowed the initiation of Green Tara from the lineage of Indian master Shakyasrhibhadra, one of Sakya Pandita's main teachers. Meditation on Green Tara is one of the most widely practised in Tibetan Buddhism. Known as 'she who is swift to liberate', this deity is the embodiment of the activity of all the buddhas and her initiation and meditation are especially effective means of awakening one’s capacity for enlightened compassion.

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LJT-Bristol-June-2015-2 Sunday morning saw some more profound questions, this time in the setting of the Sakya Buddhist Centre shrine room. Students asked about topics ranging from the nature of emptiness to how to practise dharma in the context of work and family life. Around 50 people had the opportunity to hear Lama Jampa answer each with skill, clarity and compassion, with some laughter too at times.

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The answers will be made available more widely online in the near future - follow Lama Jampa on Facebook to learn more. To keep up to date with Sakya Buddhist Centre events, you can also find us on Sakya Buddhist Centre Facebook.

Sakya Buddhist Centre will be happy to welcome Lama Jampa Thaye to Bristol again in the autumn. LJT-Bristol-June-2015-3

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Lama Jampa Thaye's visit to Sakya Dechen Ling, Stuttgart

Sakya Dechen Ling, Stuttgart hosted Lama Jampa on the weekend of the 13th and 14th of June. Lama Jampa continued teaching the Seven Points of Mind Training, using the commentary composed by Thogme Zangpo. Lama Jampa emphasised that this teaching deals with the heart of the Mahayana; it shows us how to transform our negative, self-centred attitude into compassion for others and clear sighted wisdom. On the Sunday Lama Jampa bestowed the initiation of Chenrezik, who is the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas. Lama Jampa will return to Stuttgart in September.

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Lama Jampa with Erich, the translator, and Gunnar, president of DBU (German Buddhist Union) who came to Stuttgart for the weekend with Lama Jampa.

 

Lama Jampa Thaye's visit to Yorkshire, 9 to 10 May

IM2A0414 copyLama Jampa recently visited Yorkshire to give a weekend of teachings hosted by Kagyu Dechen Dzong. In the morning of 9 May Lama Jampa taught the Eight Verses of Mind Training, a teaching on the essence of Mahayana composed by Geshe Langri Thangpa. This work is one of the most celebrated spiritual teachings in Tibetan Buddhism. It offers us a method of transforming adverse circumstances into positive aspects of the path of awakening compassion. Lama Jampa used the commentary composed by Geshe Chekawa. In the afternoon of 9 May Lama Jampa bestowed the initiation of Chenrezik. Chenrezik is revered in all traditions of Buddhism as the supreme embodiment of compassion. Lama Jampa gave the Initiation of Chenrezik from the Sky Dharma collection of Mingyur Dorje and also gave the transmission for the sadhana composed by Thangtong Gyalpo, which is performed regularly at Dechen centres.

On the Sunday morning, in the pleasant surroundings of The Old Swan Hotel, Lama Jampa fielded questions on the dharma from local sangha and newcomers to the dharma. Lama Jampa will be back in Harrogate this Autumn, when he will teach the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, a concise synopsis of the path of practice, and also bestow the Initiation of Amitabha.

Lama Jampa will shortly be travelling to Mexico to give teachings at the request of Sakya Dolma Ling.

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Lama Jampa teaches in London

IMG_20150328_155633On Saturday, 27 March Sakya Dechen Ling hosted a day of teachings by Lama Jampa in West London. In the morning Lama Jampa gave a detailed explanation of the Praise of the 12 Deeds of the Buddha. Lama Jampa emphasised the importance of learning about the life story of the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, as a means to understanding our own potential for achieving Buddhahood. In the afternoon, Lama Jampa gave the initiation of Shakyamuni Buddha from the Bari Gyatsa, the famed collection complied by Bari Lotsawa. Lama Jampa will travel to Los Angeles later this week to commence his teaching tour of the West Coast of the USA. Lama Jampa will visit a number of Bodhipath Centres and Sakya Samten Ling in Los Angeles. Please click here for further information.