Fast Five: Tibetan Lama Tharchin Rinpoche offers five ways to reconnect with your peaceful inner self

BY DANA OLAND, Idaho Statesman, Aug 19, 2008

Boise, ID (USA) -- Peace is elusive for many of us, even in the best of times. Now with escalating concerns about the environment and the economy, and the world political situation, peace may seem next to impossible to achieve.

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Lama Tharchin Rinpoche

The reality is that we already know the way - we have just forgotten the path that winds down ancient roads, says Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, a Tibetan teacher and yogi who will teach at a Buddhist retreat Aug. 29-Sept. 3. He also will give a public class Wednesday, Aug. 27, titled "Creating Peace in Ourselves and Our World."

"The wisdom exists in ourselves in a perfect form. We just need to recognize it, become aware that peace is a natural state that lies within us," he said recently from his California home.

At 72, Lama Tharchin is one of the oldest Rinpoches in the West. Rinpoche means "precious one" and is reserved for special teachers.

Tharchin was born in and lived in Tibet until he was 25. He escaped to Nepal in 1960 and moved to California in 1984.

His connection to the dharma - the teachings of Buddha - is called the Nyingma school and is mingled with the old ways of Tibetan mysticism.

Many younger Lamas today simplify the practice, said LiAnne Hunt, who is helping arrange the Boise retreat. That is a necessary evolution for our busy lives, but if someone wants and can handle more complex ideas, Lama Tharchin is here, she said.

Tharchin draws on the rich history of his practice, finding that the journey into the future leads back to his ancient teachings.

For this week's Fast Five, Tharchin offers five ways to reconnect with your peaceful inner self.

"I was surprised to hear you wanted five," he said.

The number five is sacred and mystical in Tibetan Buddhism. The mandala symbol has a center and the expressions of four directions for a total of five, Tharchin said.

In Buddhist thought there are five elements - inner and outer- five emotions, five wisdoms, five colors and five directions that all work together to connect our inner and outer worlds.

Tharchin offers five things to meditate on or just ponder that may unlock the way to peace.


There are five outer and five inner elements that correspond to one another. Becoming aware of them helps us find our place in the flow of things.

The five outer elements are earth, water, fire, wind and space.


The five inner elements are flesh, blood, warmth, breath and mind.

Here is how the inner and outer elements connect: earth-flesh; water-blood; fire-warmth (body temperature); wind-breath; space-inner mind.

"They are interdependent and connected," Tharchin said. "What we must do now is become aware of this connection so we can positively manifest in the world."

These have negative and positive manifestations that become both the impure and what Tharchin calls the "perfect aspects" of wisdom, he said.


There are five secret, afflictive emotions that are at the root of suffering, he said. These are the impure aspects of wisdom. Understanding them is the first step in mastering them, instead of letting them master you, he said.

Ignorance, anger, pride, desire and jealousy: These negative aspects can undermine our path to peace.


Here are the five pure aspects of wisdom. In Buddhist teaching, "wisdom simply means awareness," Tharchin said. "Having awareness of why we are suffering, recognizing it will mark the beginning of the journey to peace."

Dharmadhatu wisdom (Chying Yesh, color blue, at the center of the mandala), is the most secret and divine aspect of awareness. It is the pure expression of the afflictive emotion of ignorance. It is knowing in the profound and vast sense. Lack of awareness (ignorance) of our true nature creates great turmoil, Tharchin said.

Mirror-like wisdom (Mlong Yesh, color white, direction is east) is the pure form of anger. It is clear, luminous wisdom that is objective and simply reflects and accepts what is.

Wisdom of Evenness (Nyam Nyee Yesh, color yellow, direction is south) is the pure side of pride. Being prideful creates unevenness.

Discerning wisdom (Sor-tok Yesh, color red, direction west) is the pure form of desire. This is understanding the nature of a phenomenon by simply knowing, being aware, without intellectualizing it.

All-accomplishing wisdom (Ja-droob Yesh, color green, direction is north) is the pure form of jealousy. It is the natural base of the mind that will allow the accomplishment of everything without effort, Tharchin said.

To think of these aspects as opposites is too simplistic, Tharchin said. "It is not that dualistic. There is a pure and impure form of each. One helps you. The other creates suffering.


To make it practical is the work, Tharchin said.

The outer, inner elements and pure aspects of wisdom become clear when you put them into practice.

So, understanding that maintaining and caring for the environment, or the outer elements, is a way of nurturing our inner elements, or physical health.

Tharchin recommends meditation as a way to help people recognize how the five inner and outer elements, secret emotions and wisdoms live within ourselves.

"The journey inward will lead you to the manifest peace in the outer world," he said.

If you go

WHAT: Lama Tharchin Rinpoche "Creating Peace in Ourselves and Our World"
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27
WHERE: Nazareth Retreat Center, 4450 N. Five Mile Road
ADMISSION: $10-$20 at the door. Proceeds benefit the Pema Osel Ling Retreat Center, which was damaged during the Santa Cruz, Calif., fires.


WHAT: Dakini Heart Essence Retreat with Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Aug. 29-Sept. 3, Nazareth Retreat Center.


$475 for full five-day retreat.
$315 for three-day retreat Aug. 30-Sept. 1.
$115 for one-day retreat, does not require preregistration.
$40 for evening teaching sessions.
INFORMATION: (888) 517-7121.