The newest publication from Sacred Sky Press is now available through Ligmincha Store: Forty-Three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind and Other Divine Writings, by Kundun Sonam Lodro, the 22nd Menri Trizin, translated by Raven Cypress Wood.
The book presents four short texts by the 22nd Menri Trizin (1784-1835) and a series of appendices by the translator that offer valuable context, background and explication for the reader. The main text, the Forty-Three Mind Trainings, outlines in a clear and quintessential way the conditions necessary to experience and realize one’s own nature of mind, the methods for developing and expanding it, and the fruit of practice.
Through his boundless wisdom and compassion, Kundun Sonam Lodro’s teachings reflect the views of sutra, tantra and dzogchen all at once. He teaches the paths of renunciation, transformation and of leaving it as it is. As such, his verses are not easy to paraphrase or summarize. Almost every verse can stand alone and merits reflection.
Consider Verse 4: Attachment to friends and relatives is like boiling water. Hatred towards enemies is like a blazing fire. Designating what to accept and what to reject is like being enveloped in the darkness of close-mindedness. By abandoning the homeland, the root of virtue is established.
Here we see advice to turn away from worldly attachment in the first sentence, in keeping with sutric teachings. In the second sentence he warns about the poison of anger and aversion, but also brings in a tantric viewpoint, transforming that energy into bodhicitta, or unbounded compassion. Abandoning what to accept and what to reject, we move toward the nonduality of the dzogchen view. Finally we are advised to abandon our homeland. This can be read as a method of renouncing outer obstacles of home and place, or of allowing one’s own naked awareness to become empty and rootless, similar to the advice found in the Invocation of Tapihritsa. Every verse of this text is equally rich and worthy of contemplation.
Without exception, suffering and misery arise from desiring happiness for only myself. A perfect buddha arises from a mind that benefits others. Because of that, I will develop the doubtless ability to exchange my happiness with the suffering of others.
Forty-Three Trainings, page 22
While Forty-Three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind is a largely analytic text, guiding us to see and understand the causes of suffering and the path that leads from it, it is followed by three more experiential prayers that lead us to contemplate our own suffering and its causes and to seek dharma as the medicine. The first is a meditation on the causes of worldly suffering and a prayer to the root lama to lead us to great bliss. The second is a prayer to the lama to remove the obstacles along the spiritual path that lead to suffering or block realization.
The third and longest of the prayers begins with a supplication to Kuntu Zangpo and the ultimate state of one’s own realized mind. This is the goal of practice. Taking refuge in all worthy beings and objects, it then guides us to purify our mindstream by experientially encountering the enlightened wisdom of the buddhas in each of the six lokas and chakras of the subtle body, and then realizing the inseparability of all the buddhas from one’s own awakened awareness. Finally, His Holiness the 22nd Menri Trizin reveals how awakened awareness manifests. This beautifully translated prayer can inspire one to a deeper place of devotion, connection and commitment to practice and benefit others.
Forty Three Trainings for an Enlightened Mind is a very short text, with 27 of its 92 pages the Tibetan language version of the four translated texts. Following the Tibetan texts, the translator provides four explanatory appendices and a glossary of terms. But in that space it unpacks all aspects of practice, from what is needed to practice successfully in the first place, to the outer conduct and meditations that will tame our mindstream, to all the inner signs of realization. One would be hard pressed to find a more clear, concise or beautifully rendered description of the path of practice.