Summer course, third week – Changing the Object of Focus

7 August 2018 | Chronicles from the Institute

Over the days, Khenpo Chodrak Rinpoche has carried out his teaching by explaining the Diamond Sutra based on the Kamalashila commentary, while also bringing in his own knowledge. Summer University is now over. Each day was an immersion in the Dharma. As with each year, it is over the course of the sessions that the meaning appears, that the discernment that comes from listening arises, and that the material for reflection sinks in.

Changing the Object of Focus

An Image of the the Arhat Subhuti

The premise of the sutra is to allows us to move from a so-called worldly object of focus to an enlightened object of focus. A worldly mind is filled with all kinds of content that preoccupy it, and what’s more the self is the center of these preoccupations. The object of focus of a worldly mind is essentially itself in the quest for happiness, which, at the end of the day, turns out to be ephemeral. The quest becomes Sisyphean, and the seeker never finds happiness. In short, a worldly mind, though it is looking for wellbeing, finds disappointment and dissatisfaction. The sutra proposes a progressive change of the object of focus, a way to become less self-centered and more interested in enlightenment. The object is twofold: others and knowledge. In other words, we must cultivate compassion and discernment. This begins by cultivating a firm intention to realize enlightenment in order to acquire the means to concretely help others. Then, intention leads to action: hands-on training in enlightened mind. And, at the same time, we must cultivate discernment in order to discover the true nature of what is happening, the illusory dimension of all things—emptiness.

The Three Discernments

The Buddha in the Posture of the Mudra of Teaching

Khenpo insisted several times on the fact that changing the object of focus occurs through the process of study, reflection, and meditation. These three aspects generate three discernments, which make change possible. Listening allows us to acquire intellectual knowledge of the subject; we become aware of what we do not know. Next comes reflection; we must contemplate the meaning of the words taught by the Buddha—the profound meaning of the explanations. Through this, we acquire definitive knowledge of the subject in question. We have understood the subject in a profound and detailed way by exhausting all doubts based on reflection. Thus, we are certain of the meaning of what is taught. Then, we cultivate this meaning to become more and more familiar with what it conveys. This is what we call meditation—in other words, getting used to this meaning so that it is familiar to us. The practitioner develops a more and more anchored habit; the orientation of the mind changes and becomes less worldly, leaving space for enlightened mind.

Slow Progress

As we must take time to reflect on the meaning of the words, we must first take time to hear the explanations. The Diamond Sutra, which is not very long, includes eighteen points to adopt in order to practice the Bodhisattva’s path. After three weeks of teachings, we have studied the first four points. Khenpoe Rinpoche applies himself to giving all the necessary details for us to understand what the Bodhisattva’s path is and to give us the means to achieve it. But, we’re not done yet. There are still fourteen points to go. He assures us that he will be back next yet to continue this well-named course: Treasures of Buddhist Knowledge.


Puntso, responsable du programme de Dhagpo

Photo de groupe : les participants du cours d’été 2019

Group Photo: The Participants of the Summer Course 2018


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