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The Bodhisattva Path

"Avalokiteshvara and Deer" by Yachi Tseng

The Bodhisattva Path

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At the last Vajradhatu Seminary Trungpa Rinpoche taught, in 1986, in the midst of the mahayana section all the participants were called into the shrine room at a moment’s notice for an unscheduled talk. During the talk, Trungpa Rinpoche said only one thing: “Never forget the hinayana.” What he was dramatically conveying was that the other yanas — the hinayana and mahayana — were not dispensed with as one progresses on the path. In fact, the vajrayana is considered a way of facilitating the core teachings of the other yanas, as it adds the view and practices of the “higher yanas.” From the beginning Trungpa Rinpoche’s teachings nearly always contained the foundation principles of all the yanas — including the hinayana and mahayana’s focus on individual liberation, and dedicating oneself to others.

Listen to the full talk: “Patience and the Third Bhumi”

The year 1972 was special, however, in that Trungpa Rinpoche dedicated a significant part of his time and energy to presenting the mahayana path of the bodhisattva to American students. This playlist contains all three extended seminars that he gave that year specifically on the mahayana for the first time. These seminars are remarkably inclusive in outlining the central paths of the mahayana: paramita practice, the five paths, and the ten bhumis. At the same time, they convey the heart of the “Great Vehicle” — the development of compassion (including for oneself), the view of emptiness, and committing oneself to others’ enlightenment. 

Of special note is that two of the seminars — “The Bodhisattva Path” given at Karme Choling in Vermont, and “The Practice of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Path” given at the newly-founded San Francisco Dharmadhatu — have never before been published. The third, “The Ten Bhumis” given at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center (now Drala Mountain Center), became the basis for the mahayana section of the classic book The Myth of Freedom. It was also, notably, the first public seminar ever given at RMDC, and concludes with a very moving opening ceremony for the land center that ends with Trungpa Rinpoche chanting in Tibetan Padmasambhava’s “Bringing Down the Adhisthana (blessings)”. Enjoy!

Bodhisattva Path Playlist

The Bodhisattva Path (Karme Choling, Vermont)

The Practice of Meditation on the Bodhisattva Path (San Francisco)

The Ten Bhumis (Rocky Mountain Dharma Center, Colorado)