Drikung Kagyu Ngöndro Teaching
By Lama Sonam Jorphel Rinpoche

Without bodhicitta, perfect enlightenment is not possible. To give rise to bodhicitta mind is to have loving-kindness, compassion and patience for all mother sentient beings. All mother sentient beings are considered the object of the bodhicitta mind.
Basically there are two levels of bodhicitta. They are the absolute bodhicitta and the relative bodhicitta. The relative bodhicitta is the wish or vow that all mother sentient beings attain Buddhahood. After making the vow or aspiration, one should engage in the actual activity of bodhicitta to actualize the vow or aspiration. Merely by making the vow is not enough.
When we give rise to the bodhicitta mind, we vow to help all mother sentient beings attain perfect enlightenment. How do we actually help them then? Right now, we are as blind as other sentient beings. We do not have the capacity to help beings the way a Buddha can help beings. Therefore, we need to quickly attain complete enlightenment before we can lead all mother sentient beings to happiness.
We now have the opportunity as human beings to cultivate the Buddha Dharma. Human birth is powerful and useful. However, a human existence without Dharma only leads us deeper into samsara. Therefore, we should make meaningful use of our human existence to give rise to the bodhicitta mind and benefit all mother sentient beings.
All Buddhas were once sentient beings. But, they gave rise to the bodhicitta mind, accumulated merits, purified their negativities and finally attained perfect Buddhahood. After that, they turned the Dharma Wheel three times teaching different teachings to suit the capacities of different sentient beings. Therefore, there are 84,000 Dharmas taught for the 84,000 sentient beings.
The Buddhas also taught the teaching of Buddha-nature or Tathagata-garbha. Without the inherent Buddha-nature, it is impossible for one to attain enlightenment. Buddha-nature is the capacity for enlightenment and we all have that.
There are three essentials that we need to attain enlightenment. They are basis, conditions and methods. The basis is the human body. And the conditions are the teachers; while the methods are the teachings.
In listening to the teachings, one's motivation must be pure. In other words, one must have the bodhicitta mind - listening to teachings so that one can one day attain enlightenment based on those teachings and then liberate sentient beings. One must also have discipline while listening to teachings. Attentiveness is extremely important.
When listening to teachings, one should not be like an upside down vase, a vase with holes or a poisoned vase. To be an upside down vase means not listening to the teachings at all. One might be physically at a teaching, but one's mind in somewhere else. Thus, like pouring water into an upside down vase, any amount of teaching given by the teacher cannot enter a student who is not listening. A vase with holes in it cannot be filled no matter how much water one pours into it. Likewise, there are some people who do not remember anything they hear during a teaching. It just goes right through them without registering anything. Finally, a poisoned vase is useless no matter how sweet a kind of nectar is poured into it. Similarly, no matter how profound or wonderful a teaching is, if it is given to someone who clings on to wrong thoughts and ideas , the teaching will only be poisoned and distorted.

While listening to teachings, one should have four positive thoughts. One should consider the:
1. Teacher as doctor,
2. Student as patient,
3. Dharma as medicine and
4. Delusion as sickness.
One should also give up pride. Thoughts like "I'm better than the teacher" or "I'm better than everyone else" must be given up. Furthermore, strong devotion and faith are like the legs to walk and hands to accumulate virtue. Without strong devotion there is no attainment. Of course one needs to have interest in the Dharma first before one can start to learn anything.
The mind should be kept free from distractions. Keep it from going wild in the ten directions at the same time. The body is like a prison while the mind is like a wolf running wild from mountain to mountain. Laziness, boredom, sloth and indolence are a few hindrances to practice. One should always listen to the Dharma with joy and happiness. The Dharma is the antidote to our poisons.
The Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel for the first time at Varanasi. There he taught the Hinayana teachings of renunciation. It is there that he taught the Four Noble Truths. Later, the Buddha again turned the Dharma Wheel. This is the second turning and it occurred on Vulture Peak. On Vulture Peak, the Buddha taught the Prajñápáramitá teachings of emptiness (shunyata). This is the Mahayana. Finally, the Buddha turned the Dharma Wheel for the third time. This time he gave the Tathagata-garbha (Buddha-nature) teachings. These teachings were given so that sentient beings won't fall into the false teaching of nihilism (which can result from misunderstanding shunyata as absolute nothingness)
. The Mahayana can be further divided into Sutra-yana and Tantra0yana (or Vajrayâna). So, we have the three yanas (vehicles) - Hinayana, Sutra-yana Mahayana and Tantra-yana Mahayana. All three vehicles were taught according to the capacities of beings. They are all useful and inseparable. For example, a baby without teeth will choke when it is given solid food. So, a good parent slowly introduces different food to the baby according to its capacity in digesting them.
Vajrayâna can be divided into kriya-tantra, carya-tantra, yoga-tantra and anuttarayoga-tantra. In the anuttarayoga tantra class, there are three further sub-division. They are the father-tantra, mother-tantra and non-dual tantra. The four tantras (kriya, carya, yoga and anuttarayoga) are similar to gazing, smiling, touching and union respectively. These four antidotes are the four tantras.
Empowerment (wang) and practice are important in Vajrayâna. Traditionally, one cannot practice without first receiving the proper empowerments.
The difference between the Buddha Dharma and non-Buddha Dharma is that there is Refuge in Buddha Dharma but there is no Refuge in non-Buddha Dharma. The difference between Mahayana and Hinayana is that Mahayana has bodhicitta mind while Hinayana don't. Finally, the difference between Vajrayâna and Mahayana (Sutra-yana) is that Vajrayâna has empowerments while Mahayana don't.
There were eight different Buddhist schools in Tibet but only four main ones are left today. They are the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug. All these schools have lam-rim practice (graduated path to enlightenment).
The Kagyu school originated from Dorje-chang (Vajradhara Buddha) and was first transmitted to Tilopa. Tilopa in turn taught Naropa. And Naropa was the teacher of the Tibetan householder-translator Marpa. Marpa's most famous disciple was the ascetic Milarepa. Milarepa in turn transmitted the Kagyu lineage to the monk Gampopa. Gampopa had many disciples and one of them was Phagmo Drukpa. Gampopa's immediate disciples started the different Kagyu lineages. It was Phagmo Drukpa's disciple, Lord Jigten Sumgon (also known as Ratna Shri) who started the Drikung-Kagyu lineage. Among the various Kagyu lineages, only four lineages are active. They are the Drikung, Karma, Talung and Drukpa.