Straight from the Heart

Straight from the Heart 
Buddhist Pith Instructions 

Translated and introduced 
by Karl Brunnhölzl 

This book brings together an inspiring collection of poems, songs of realization, meditation instructions, and philosophical treatises all chosen for their power to speak directly to the student. Drawn from Indian Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, as well as from all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism, some will impress with their beautiful poetry and powerful imagery; others with their profound power of instruction.

Still others share personal advice for life that seems to come directly from the mouth of the author, and some serve as immediate and profound practice instructions. Several are just delightfully unconventional, even outrageous, letting in fresh air on petrified views or musty traditions.

Each of the works is preceded by a brief introduction and a short biography of its author. Many of these are legendary accounts of supernatural feats, edifying examples meant to to expand the limited outlook of students with mind-blowing stories.

The texts include works by Atisha, Tilopa, Nagarjuna, Maitripa, Asvaghosha, Padmasambhava, Aryadeva, Chandrakirti, Rechungpa, Tangtong Gyalpo, Gampopa, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Sakya Pandita, Karma Chagme, Mipham Rinpoche, the Thirteenth Karmapa, the Fourth, Fifth and the Sixth Sharmapas, Patrul Rinpoche, Gendun Chopel, Jigden Sumgon, Longchenpa, Thrangu Rinpoche, Sakya Chogden, the Eighth Karmapa, Kunkyen Dashi Oser, and others.

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In Praise of the Incomparable

Homage to you, Incomparable One,
Who knows the actuality of the lack of a nature
And makes efforts to benefit this world
That is ruined by its views.

Nothing whatsoever is seen
By your Buddha-eye,
But your unsurpassable vision, O protector,
Beholds the actuality of true reality.

In ultimate reality, there is neither a realizer
Nor something to be realized in this world.
Ah, you have realized the nature of phenomena
That is most difficult to realize.

Nothing has been produced by you,
Nor did you terminate any phenomenon.
Through just beholding equality,
You have attained the unsurpassable state.

You did not aim at nirvana
Through removing cyclic existence.
It is through cyclic existence being unobservable
That you have found peace, O protector.

You are aware of the one taste
Of both afflicted and purified phenomena.
Since the dharmadhatu is undifferentiable,
You are pure in every respect.

Nothing, not even a single syllable,
Has been uttered by you, O lord,
But every person to be guided
Has been satisfied by your rain of dharma.

There is no attachment in you
To skandhas, dhatus, or ayatanas.
With your mind equal to space,
You do not depend on any phenomenon.

O protector, you do not entertain
Any notion of sentient beings at all,
But it is your very being to be permeated by compassion
For sentient beings immersed in suffering.

Lord, your mind is not attached
To anything in the plethora of thoughts,
Be it happiness, suffering, self, no-self,
Permanence, extinction, or anything else.

“There is no coming and going of phenomena whatsoever”—
This is what you have in mind. Nowhere is there anything compounded [either].
Hence, you are the knower of ultimate reality.

Everywhere you are being followed,
But it is nowhere that you have been born.
Great sage, you are inconceivable In both your birth and body of dharma.

O blameless one, you have realized
That the world of beings, just like an echo,
Is free from unity and mutiplicity
And lacks transmigration and destruction.

Lord, you have realized that cyclic existence
Is free from permanence and extinction
And lacks characteristics and what is to be characterized,
Just like a dream or an illusion.

O faultless one, you have vanquished the afflictions
Right down to their very roots, their latent tendencies,
But you have procured the nectar
Of the afflictions’ very nature.

Oh wise one, you have seen form
To be without characteristics, just like what is formless,
But in the sphere of form, you are seen with a body
So splendid in its [major and minor] characteristics.

It is not through seeing you as some form
That you are said to be seen.
When the dharma is seen, you are well seen,
But the nature of dharmas is not seen.

Your body does not have any cavities,
Nor is there any flesh, bone, or blood.
You [merely] display a body
Just like Indra’s bow in the sky.

In your body, there is neither sickness nor impurity,
Neither hunger nor thirst ever come up.
But in order to comply with the world,
You have shown worldly behavior.

For you, O spotless one, there are no flaws
Of the obscurations constituted by actions,
But for the sake of taking care of the world,
You have demonstrated the leap into action.

Since the dharmadh›tu is without distinctions,
There are no distinctions of the yanas, O lord.
That you proclaimed three yanas
Was in terms of introducing sentient beings [to the teachings].

Your body is permanent, stable, peaceful,
Made up of dharma, and victorious,
But because of beings to be guided,
You have demonstrated passing away.

Nevertheless, in infinite realms in the universe,
You are seen again by those with devotion
Who strive for a perfect understanding of birth and death
And the termination of the wheel [of existence].

O protector, you have neither mental cognition,
Nor conception, nor any [mental] flux.
Still, your Buddha-activity operates
Without effort in this world.

Having showered [a rain of ] flowers [describing] his qualities
On the Sugata, who is inconveivable and immeasurable,
May [all] sentient beings, through this merit obtained by me,
Be suitable vessels for the supreme and profound dharma of the Mighty Sage.