The Mirror of Essential Points by Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche


Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche


The Mirror of Essential Points
Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche

A Letter in Praise of Emptiness
From Jamyang Dorje to his Mother




I pay homage at the lotus feet of Tenpey Nyima,
Who is inseparable from lord Longchen Rabjam
And who perceives the natural state of emptiness
Of the ocean-like infinity of things.


A letter of advice I offer to you, my noble mother Paldzom.
Listen for a while without distraction.
Staying here without discomfort,
I am at ease and free from worries
In a state of joyful mind.
Are you well yourself, my mother?


Here, in a country in the west,
There are many red and white-skinned people.
They have all kinds of magic and sights,
Like flying through the skies
And moving like fish in the water.
Having mastery over the four elements
They compete in displaying miracles
With thousands of beautiful colors.
There are innumerable spectacles
Like designs of rainbow colors.
But like a mere dream when examined
They are but the mistaken perceptions of mind.


All activities are like the games children play.
If started, they can never be finished.
They are only completed once you let them be,
Like castles made of sand.


But that is not the whole story.
All the phenomena of samsara and nirvana,
Although thought to be permanent, do not last.
When examined, they are but empty forms
That appear without existence.
Although unreal they are thought to be real.
But, like an illusion when examined, they are found to be unreal.


Look outward at the perceived objects.
Like water in a mirage
They are more delusive than delusion.
Unreal, like a dream or a magical apparition,
They resemble a rainbow or the reflection of the moon.


Look inward at your own mind!
It seems quite exciting when not examined.
But when examined there is nothing to it.
Appearing without existing it is nothing but empty.
It cannot be identified, you cannot say, "that's it,"
Because it is evanescent and elusive like mist.


Look at whatever appears
In any of the ten directions.
No matter how it manifests,
The thing in itself, its very nature,
Is the sky-like nature of the mind
Beyond the projection and the dissolution of thought and concept.


Everything has the nature of being empty.
When the empty looks at the empty,
Who is there to look at something empty?
As it is illusion looking at illusion
And delusion watching delusion,
What is the use of many classifications
Such as `empty' and `not empty?'


Whatever you do is all right.
However you rest, you are at ease
In the effortless and sky-like nature of the mind,
The vast expanse of awareness,
The natural state of all things.
This was said by Jetsun Padmasambhava
And the great siddha Saraha.


All conceptual thought constructions
Such as duality or nonduality,
Leave them to be spontaneously dissolved in themselves
Like the waves on a river.


The great demon of ignorant and discursive thought
Causes one to sink into the ocean of samsara.
But when freed from this discursive thought
There is the indescribable state beyond conceptual mind.


Other than mere discursive thoughts
There are not even the words `samsara' and `nirvana.'
The total subsiding of discursive thought
Is the suchness of dharmadhatu itself.


Not made complex by complex statements
This unfabricated single sphere
Is emptiness, the natural state of mind.
Thus it was said by the Sugata.


The essence of whatever may appear,
When simply left to itself,
Is the unfabricated and uncorrupted view,
The dharmakaya mother of emptiness.


All discursive thoughts are emptiness
And the observer of emptiness is discursive thought.
Emptiness does not destroy discursive thought
And discursive thought does not obstruct emptiness.
The mind nature of fourfold emptiness
Is the ultimate of everything.
Profound and quiescent, free from complexity,
An uncompounded, luminous clarity
Beyond the mind of concepts.
This is the depth of the mind of the victorious ones.


In this there is not an object to be removed
Nor something that needs to be added.
It is merely the natural
Looking naturally into itself.


In short, when the mind has fully severed
The fetters of clinging to something
All the points are condensed into one.
This is the tradition of the supreme being, Tilopa,
And of the great pandita Naropa.


Such a profound and natural state as this,
Among all the different kinds of bliss,
Is the one known as the wisdom of great bliss.
Among all kinds of delights
It is the king of supreme delight.
Among all the tantric sections of the secret mantra
It is the supreme fourth empowerment.
This is the ultimate pointing out instruction.


The view of samsara and nirvana as inseparable,
And that of mahamudra, dzogchen, the middle path and others,
Has many different titles,
But only one essential meaning.
This is the view of Jamgon Mipham.


As an aid to this king of views
One should begin with bodhicitta
And conclude with dedication.


Through skillful means, in order to cut off
The fixation of ego, the root of samsara,
The king of all great methods
Is unsurpassable bodhicitta.


The king of perfect dedication
Is the means of increasing the root of virtue.
This teaching is the specialty of Shakyamuni,
Which is not taught by other teachers.


More than this is not necessary
To accomplish complete enlightenment,
But less than this will be incomplete.
This swift path of the three excellencies
Called the `heart, eye and life force'
Is the approach of Longchen Rabjam.


Emptiness, the wishfulfilling jewel,
Is unattached generosity.
It is uncorrupted discipline.
It is angerless patience.
It is undeluded exertion.
It is undistracted meditation.
This emptiness, the essence of prajna,
Is the meaning of the three vehicles.


Emptiness is the natural state of mind.
It is the nonconceptual refuge
And the absolute bodhicitta.
It is the Vajrasattva who absolves evils.
It is the mandala of perfecting accumulations.
Emptiness is the guru yoga of dharmakaya.


To abide in the natural state of emptiness
Is the `calm abiding,' shamatha.
To perceive it vividly clear
Is the `clear seeing,' vipashyana.


The view of the perfect development stage,
And the wisdom of bliss and emptiness in the completion stage,
The nondual great perfection,
And the single sphere of dharmakaya
Are all included within emptiness.


Emptiness purifies the karmas
and dispels the obstructing forces.
Emptiness tames the demons
And accomplishes the deities.


The profound and natural state of emptiness
Dries up the ocean of passion.
It crumbles the mountain of anger
And illuminates the darkness of stupidity.
It calms down the gale of jealousy,
Defeats the illness of the kleshas
And is a friend in sorrow.
It destroys conceit in joy
And conquers in the battle with samsara.
It annihilates the four Maras,
Turns the eight worldly dharmas into same taste
And subdues the demon of ego-fixation.
It turns negative conditions into allies
And turns bad omens into good fortune.
It causes true and complete enlightenment
And gives birth to the buddhas of the three times.
Emptiness is the dharmakaya mother.


There is no teaching higher than emptiness.
There is no teaching swifter than emptiness.
There is no teaching more excellent than emptiness.
There is no teaching more profound than emptiness.


Emptiness is the `knowing of one that frees all.'
Emptiness is the supreme king of medicines.
Emptiness is the nectar of immortality.
Emptiness is spontaneous accomplishment beyond effort.
Emptiness is enlightenment without exertion.


By meditating on emptiness
One feels tremendous compassion
Towards the beings obscured by belief in a self
And bodhicitta arises without effort.


All the qualities of the path and levels
Will appear naturally without any effort,
And towards the law of the unfailing effect of karma
One will feel a heartfelt conviction.


If one has but one moment of certainty
In this kind of emptiness
The tight chains of ego-fixation
Will shatter into pieces.
This was said by Aryadeva.


It is more supreme to meditate on emptiness
Than to offer all the infinite buddhafields,
Filled with the wealth of gods and men,
To the sugatas and their spiritual sons.


If the merit of resting evenly,
Just for an instant in this natural state,
If it would take on concrete form
The element of space could not contain it.


Shakyamuni, the peerless lord of the Munis,
Threw his body into pyres of fire,
Gave away his head and limbs
And performed hundreds of other austerities
For the sake of this profound emptiness.


Although one fills the world with huge mounds
Of gold and jewels as offerings,
This profound teaching on emptiness,
Even when searched for, is hard to find.
This is said in the Hundred Thousand Verses of the Prajnaparamita.


To meet this supreme teaching
Is the splendid power of merit
Of many aeons beyond measure.


In short, by means of emptiness
One is, for the benefit of oneself,
Liberated into the expanse of the unborn dharmakaya,
The true and complete enlightenment
Of the four kayas and the five wisdoms.
Then the unobstructed display of rupakaya
Will ceaselessly manifest to teach whoever is in need,
Stirring the depth of samsara for the benefit of others
Through constant, all-pervading and spontaneous activity.
In all the sutras and tantras this is said
To be the ultimate fruition.


How can someone like me put into words
All the benefits and virtues of this,
When the Victorious One with his vajra tongue
Cannot completely elucidate them all, even if he speaks for an aeon?


The glorious lord, the supreme teacher,
Who gives the teachings on emptiness,
Appears in the form of a human being
Though his mind is truly a buddha.


Without deceit and hypocrisy
Supplicate him from your very heart.
Without needing any other method
You will attain enlightenment in this very life.
This is the manner of the all-embodying jewel
Which is taught in the tantras of the great perfection.
When you have this jewel in the palm of your hand
Do not let it go to waste meaninglessly.


Learning, like the stars in the sky,
Will never come to an end through studies.
What is the use of all the various kinds
Of teachings requested and received?
What is the use of any practice
Which is superior to that of emptiness?


Do not aim at many disciplinary costumes,
Such as carrying a staff, wearing braids and animal skin.
The elephant is already in your house,
Do not go searching for its footprints in the mountains.


Mother, meditate on the essence of mind
As it is taught by the master, the vajra holder.


This is the quintessence of the essence
Of all the eighty-four thousand teachings.
It is the heart substance of a billion
Learned and accomplished ones.
It is the ultimate practice.


This advice from the core of the heart
Of the fallen monk Jamyang Dorje
Is the purest of the purest essence
From the bindu of my life blood.
Therefore keep it in your heart, mother.


These few words of heart advice
Were written in a beautiful countryside,
In the palace of the spacious blue sky
That competes with the splendor of divine realms.


To the devoted Chokyi Nodzom,
My dear and loving mother,
And to all my devoted students
I offer this letter of advice.


This letter to my students was composed by one who goes by the name Khenpo, the Tibetan Jamyang Dorje, in the Dordogne herbal valley of great bliss, in the country of France beyond the great ocean in the western direction. May there be virtue and auspiciousness!

Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, 1982.



Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche's book: The Fearless Lion's Roar: Profound Instructions on Dzogchen, the Great Perfection