in this section:

The Ratnakuta Sutra

The Ratnakuta Sutra

Teachings given in Kagyu Samye Ling

by Khenpo Lekthong

from 22nd August until 14th September 2023

What follows below are brief summaries of each day’s teaching 

Day 1 22/08/2023 

Khenpo Lekthong began his teaching at Samye Ling today.

First introducing how the sutras were taught by the Lord Buddha. In the afternoon, Khenpo talked about how he received the oral transmission from Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche when Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche offered it to His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa at Gyuto Monastery in 2010.

Khenpo got the inspiration for giving oral transmission and teaching the Ratnakuta Sutra from the life of Tenth Karmapa Choying Dorje, who when he was in exile in Eastern Tibet, gave the oral transmission and teachings of the entire Kagyur, which took around three years.


Day 2 23/08/2023

Name of the Sutra: Trisamvara (Sutra of Three Vows)

Location: Vultures Peak at Rajgir, Near Bodhgaya.

Main questioner: Mahakasyapa

Main Subject: Morality of sangha and laity in Mahayana Buddhism.

Series Number: The first Sutra of Ratnakuta (Konchok Tsekpa Collection དཀོན་མཆོག་བརྩེགས་པ)

Translated into Tibetan by Jina Mitra, Surendra Bodhi and Yeshi De

Number of Pages: 107 (Kagyur Pedurma)

Khenpo Lekthong gave teachings in the morning, discussing the importance of authentic teachers and authentic dharma. He emphasised the significance of the sutra tradition in general, as it is the safest path to enlightenment. This is especially crucial in the West, where it is difficult to find authentic Lamas who can teach Vajrayana practices. In the afternoon, he continued the oral transmission of the Trisamvara sutra.He pointed out that since this sutra begins with elaborate details about the environment where Buddha taught it — encompassing birds, animals, flowers, and more — it might have been intentionally placed as the first sutra among the forty-nine sutras of the Ratnakuta collection.

Regarding the biography of Drigung Jigten Sumgon, the founder of the Drigung Kagyu lineage, it is mentioned that when he was informed by one of his two chief disciples, Chennga Sherjung, that the Drigung area also boasts all the animals and plants mentioned at the beginning of the Ratnakuta sutra, Khenpo Lekthong suggested that this reference might pertain to this specific sutra due to its extensive information on this subject.

The actual content of the sutra commences with the question, "How does one seek enlightenment?" This question was posed by the Buddha's disciple Mahakasyapa. The entire sutra is structured around questions posed by Mahakasyapa and the Buddha's responses. Initially, the Buddha discusses how Bodhisattvas should grasp the concept that even enlightened qualities do not exist as inherent possessions of the Buddha on an ultimate level. The Buddha then delves into the importance of understanding selflessness, asserting that lacking this understanding disqualifies one from considering oneself a Sangha member or a Bodhisattva. The Buddha also emphasises the significance of impermanence, using the example that even the Dharma itself is impermanent.

Another central theme of this sutra is the vows of the sangha and laity in Mahayana Buddhism. While discussing the sangha, the Buddha predicts a future decline in the monastic community due to a growing interest in material gains over spiritual practices. He foresees a reluctance among them to accept sutras condemning their conduct and viewpoints. Additionally, the Buddha outlines the practices lay followers should emphasise to achieve enlightenment. These include refraining from disturbing those giving dharma teachings, urging their teachers to teach more dharma, and offering lamps.

Today, Khenpo Lekthong completed the oral transmission of the Trisamvara sutra, highlighting its significant and intriguing portions.


Day 3 24/08/2023 

Name of the Sutra: Teaching the Purification of Boundless Gateways


Location: Bamboo Grove in Rajgir.

Main questioner: Kodpa Thaye (The Boundless Array)

Main Subject: Qualities of Buddha, the path of Bodhisattvas and power of dharanis

Series No: Second Sutra of Ratnakuta (Konchok Tsekpa Series)

Translated into Tibetan: By Surendra Bodhi and Paltsek Rakshita

Number of Pages: 129 (Kagyur Pedurma)

Khenpo Lekthong continued the oral transmission and teaching of the Ratnakuta Sutra. He began by discussing the different versions of the Kagyur, the collection of Buddha's teachings that had been translated into Tibetan. Following this, Khenpo proceeded to provide the oral transmission of the "Boundless Gateways" sutra. He summarised the essence of this sutra by emphasising that in order to attain enlightenment, which encompasses innumerable noble qualities, a bodhisattva must engage in countless practices. These practices involve entering numerous states of samadhi and gaining an understanding of the diverse aspects of reality. Khenpo further elaborated that the teachings of Buddha, as preserved in Pali, translated into Chinese and Tibetan, represent only a small fraction of what Buddha actually taught. The teachings available encompass only the fundamental and basic practices required. Beyond these, the sutras indicate that even the samadhis of Buddhas are countless in number. 

In the "Boundless Gateways" sutra, Buddha mentions that one of the strategies employed by bodhisattvas to attain boundless qualities is the practice of limitless prayers. Khenpo recommended that for beginners who are unable to engage in the countless practices of the bodhisattva path, it is highly valuable to read prayers, particularly the "Prayer of Noble Conduct." This prayer elucidates the conduct of highly advanced bodhisattvas who are capable of actions akin to those of Buddhas. For instance, within Mahayana sutras, the concept emerges that a single atom could contain countless worlds, with each world housing numerous buddhas and bodhisattvas. The prayers encompassing these potentials are encapsulated within the "Noble Conduct" prayer, which is why it is regarded as the supreme among prayers and referred to as ‘The king of Aspirations.’


Day 4 25/08/2023

Khenpo Lekthong discussed his reasons for choosing the Ratnakuta Sutra, also known as the Konchok Tsekpa, as his teaching focus this time. He explained that within the Mahāyāna Sūtras, there are several important collections, such as the Prajnaparamita and Avatamsaka Sutras. Among them, the Ratnakuta Sutra, composed of 49 sutras, holds significance. However, modern scholars have debated whether this collection was initially compiled in India or in regions like Central Asia. Khenpo also elaborated on the Ratnakuta Sutra's historical importance in the Kagyu lineage.

For instance, in the biography of Lama Ngokpa, one of Marpa's four principal disciples, it is mentioned that during his second time making offerings to Marpa, the central offering was the Ratnakuta Sutra collection. In the biography of Milarepa, when Milarepa's grandfather passed away, he divided the family's property between his two brothers, with Milarepa's father being the younger sibling. This inheritance became extremely precious to Milarepa's family, and he references it in a few of his realization songs.

Khenpo further recounted stories of other Kagyu lineage figures such as Zhang Tsalpa, the founder of the Tsalpa Kagyu lineage, who, upon reading the Ratnakuta Sutra while in Kham, decided to become a monk. Gampopa, Phakmodrupa, and Lingre Pema Dorje, the founder of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, also have connections to the Ratnakuta Sutra within their biographies.

In the biographies of Karma Kagyu masters, it is recorded that the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje had a vision of the entire sky filled with the letters of the Ratnakuta Sutra while writing a summary of the sutras. Similarly, the fourth Zhamar, while in retreat in Kongpo, Southern Tibet, had a notable experience when reading the Ratnakuta Sutra. His reading was said to be heard from far away, accompanied by drum beats from the sky and a shower of flowers.

Considering the Ratnakuta Sutra's importance in Mahayana Buddhism in general, as well as its significance to the Kagyu lineage and Samye Ling, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the West, Khenpo decided to provide the oral transmission and discuss it during this time. While oral transmission holds particular prominence in Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism, Khenpo emphasized that for a long time, the Buddha's teachings were transmitted orally due to the absence of a tradition of writing on paper. Many Mahayana sutras also extol the benefits of giving and receiving oral transmission. In essence, the tradition of oral transmission stems from the Buddha himself and symbolizes the practical transmission of teachings from teacher to student.

In the afternoon session, Khenpo delved into the essence of Mahayana Buddhism and expounded on the concept of taking refuge within Mahayana Buddhism, drawing insights from Maitreya's text, "Ornament of Sutra."


Day 5 28/08/2023 

On August 28th, Khenpo Lekthong completed teaching the sutra known as "Tathagata Guhya," which he began before the weekend. He emphasized the importance of this sutra by explaining that within the history of Mahayana Buddhism, it serves as a primary source detailing the profound qualities of Buddha according to Mahayana beliefs. Additionally, it is one of the oldest Mahāyāna Sūtras that highlights the significance of Vajrapani. In Tibetan Buddhism, this sutra is often referenced to explain how Buddha initially generated Bodhichitta.

This sutra has been translated into English, and approximately 47% of the original Sanskrit manuscript still exists. It has been extensively studied by Buddhist scholars, particularly in Japan, and has captured the attention of researchers such as Lamotte, a renowned Indologist from Belgium, due to its connection to Vajrapani.

The sutra comprises twenty-five chapters and revolves around three main topics: the secrets of Buddha's body, speech, and mind; the life of Buddha according to Vajrapani; and the distinctive qualities of Bodhisattvas, particularly Vajrapani.

Regarding the secrets of Buddha's body, the text reveals that his body is aligned with reality. The secret of Buddha's speech involves the paradox that, despite delivering countless teachings, he ultimately never taught anything. Lastly, the secret of Buddha's mind entails that all actions are performed for the benefit of sentient beings, without any deliberate intentions.

The sutra also delves into how Buddha generated Bodhichitta in a past life. It recounts a story of King Ajatashatru with one thousand and two sons, all of whom developed Bodhichitta. The youngest son expressed his commitment to benefit limitless sentient beings, akin to limitless space. When predicting the order in which these sons would become Buddhas in the world, it aligned with the order of appearance of one thousand Buddhas in this golden aeon, including Buddha Shakyamuni as the fourth.

Despite jests from his brothers, the youngest son's determination to benefit countless beings led him to become a Buddha known as Sangye Moepa. It is foretold that during his era, all practitioners from prior Buddhas who hadn't attained enlightenment would achieve it.

Khenpo highlighted the importance of Vajrapani, noting that according to the sutra, Vajrapani and Brahma were two sons of the same king. Vajrapani's role involves protecting Bodhisattvas on their paths, while Brahma's duty is to entreat a Buddha to teach the dharma. Khenpo recounted a story from the sutra wherein Vajrapani demonstrated his strength by lifting a Vajra with his left hand and tossing it into the sky, then holding it with his right hand, illustrating the power of a Bodhisattva.

In the evening session, Khenpo provided the oral transmission of the "Sapna Nirdesha" sutra, which discusses the dreams of progressing Bodhisattvas. He mentioned that ancient Kagyu masters like Gampopa and the fifth Karmapa conveyed instructions and empowerments through disciples' dreams. Additionally, Khenpo transmitted the "Longer Amitabha Buddhas Sutra," noting that there are three Amitabha Pure Land sutras, and the one in the Ratnakuta Sutra Collection is the oldest, dating back to the second century CE. He also explained the significant Mahayana idea that each Bodhisattva should create or inherit their own pure land.


Day 6 29/08/2023

Before commencing the oral transmission of Akshobhyas sutra, Khenpo Leethong shared his interpretation regarding the concept often referred to as "no woman" in Buddha Amitabhas Pure Land. He clarified that while it's commonly stated that there are no women or no female beings in the Pure Land of Buddha Amitabha, the actual sutra of Buddha Amitabha doesn't explicitly state this. The sutra mentions that when Amitabha, in a past life, prayed for his future Pure Land, he wished that any woman unhappy with her current female life would generate Bodhichitta and aspire not to be reborn as a woman. Khenpo explained that this might imply that not all beings born in Amitabha's Pure Land would be men, but rather only those who don't wish to be born as women would be reborn there accordingly.

Moving on to the oral transmission of the Buddha Akshobhya's sutra, Khenpo noted that there are two primary sutras related to Buddha Akshobya, with only one being translated into Tibetan in the past, specifically the one found in the Ratnakuta Collection. This particular sutra was initially translated into Chinese around the second century, making it one of the oldest Mahāyāna Sūtras. Notably, another Akshobhya sutra has been discovered in Pakistan more recently. Khenpo also highlighted that the other sutra related to Akshobhya was translated by the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, and it stands as a beautiful translation due to its origins in ancient Tibet.

Khenpo proceeded to discuss the nature of Buddhas' pure lands. While Amitabha Buddhas pure land was created by Buddha Amitabha himself and is expected to remain almost the same when inherited by Chenrezik, Akshobhya Buddhas pure land was originally the pure land of a Buddha named Sangye Chen. As it transformed into the pure land of Akshobhya, it underwent development and change to its current form, as conveyed in the sutra. 

Following the transmission of Akshobhya Buddhas sutra, Khenpo proceeded with the oral transmission of two other sutras. The first is known as "Armor Array," which was translated from Chinese to Tibetan. This sutra holds importance within Kagyus Mahamudra tradition. Khenpo noted that ‘armor' holds significant meaning in Mahayana Buddhism, often signifying diligence. However, the most crucial armor in Mahayana Buddhism is the wisdom of understanding emptiness or reality.

The second sutra he transmitted was the "Indivisible Nature of the Realm of Phenomena." In this sutra, it's recounted that once when Buddha was in Shravasti, he asked Manjushri to teach. Manjushri, in response, expounded on reality by stating that, ultimately, there is nothing to attain or abandon. Some monks were displeased and left. Manjushri, through a monk who was an emanation of himself, engaged with these monks, discussing the nature of the mind. Through these discussions, the monks returned and continued to receive teachings from Manjushri.

Day 7 30/08/2023

On the 7th day, Khenpo Lekthong concluded teachings on three sutras from the Ratnakuta Collection. The first was the "Daśadharmaka Sutra," or the "Sutra of the Ten Dharmas." Khenpo noted that although it's a concise sutra, it holds popularity within Tibetan Buddhism, with numerous eminent scholars quoting from it. In response to a question from a Bodhisattva named Moonlight King about what initiates one onto the path of Mahayana, Buddha provided a list of ten factors: having faith, commitment, a pure bodhisattva nature, the aspiration to generate Bodhichitta, the desire for the Dharma, contemplation of the Dharma, following the Dharma, absence of ego, comprehension of teachings for specific purposes, and the absence of desire for the liberation of shravakas and pratyekabuddhas.

The next sutra was the "Universal Gateway Sutra." Khenpo mentioned that a partial Sanskrit manuscript of this sutra was discovered in Central Asia and was translated into Chinese twice. Its first translation occurred around the fourth century, establishing its ancient origin. Khenpo highlighted that this sutra teaches that anything can serve as an object of samadhi and meditation. This concept is akin to the Mahamudra practice within the Kagyu tradition, which asserts that as long as awareness is present, the arising and passing of negative emotions and various thoughts pose no issue to meditation's progress. The sutra concludes with Mara requesting Buddha not to bless it, to which Buddha acquiesces. Manjushri then inquires why Buddha agreed, to which Buddha responds that, in reality, there is nothing to be blessed.

The third sutra Khenpo covered was the "Effulgence of Light Sutra." Khenpo noted that since this sutra was requested by a Bodhisattva named Young Moonlight, who also requested the "Samādhirāja Sutra," there are biographies of Gampopa mentioning that Gampopa was prophesied in the Ratnakuta Sutra. The primary theme of this sutra is the light of Buddha. Khenpo explained the significance of visualizing beings benefiting through the radiance of light, a practice present in all four classes of Tantra. He elaborated on the symbolism of rays of light around the Buddha's body and shared insights from great masters like the sixteenth Karmapa and Gyaltsab Rinpoche, who emitted a positive energy felt by many around their presence.

In the afternoon, Khenpo began transmitting the oral teachings of the largest sutra within the Ratnakuta collection, the "Bodhisattva-piṭaka." However, the introduction to this sutra will be provided on the following day when its transmission is completed.


Day 8 31/08/2023

Khenpo Lekthong completed the transmission of the largest sutra in the Ratnakuta Collection, known as the "Bodhisattvapitaka" or "Sutra of the Bodhisattvas Practices." He began by explaining that while all Mahayana sutras are generally considered part of the Bodhisattvapitaka, there are specific sutras known by that name. Among them, the one in the Ratnakuta Collection stands out as the most renowned.

According to historical accounts, when Tang Xuanzang returned from India and began translating sutras, this particular sutra took a year for him and his team to complete. Xuanzang offered the translated text to Emperor Tang Taizong, who had sponsored Xuanzang's translations. The emperor was deeply impressed by the sutra, which ultimately changed his attitude towards Buddhism significantly.

Khenpo highlighted that as he read the sutra, he understood why the emperor was so captivated by it. The sutra comprehensively covers the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism while remaining concise and clear. It occupies a significant portion of the Ratnakuta Collection, constituting about one-seventh of the entire collection. With eleven chapters, it includes sections requested by various beings, such as lay Bodhisattvas and a Yaksha named Chijek. The chapters cover topics such as the secrets of Tathagata, the four immeasurables, and each of the six perfections.

Khenpo mentioned a scholar named Ulrigh Pagel from the UK who conducted extensive research on this sutra, which Khenpo himself has also studied. He then proceeded to give the oral transmission of the "Garbhāvakrānti-sūtra." He recounted the background story of this sutra, involving Buddha's interactions with his half-brother Nanda.

In this story, Nanda, who was in love with his fiancée, became a monk at Buddha's urging. However, he struggled with his desires and longed to return to his former life. Buddha used various means, including showing him an ugly woman and taking him to see heavenly goddesses, to help Nanda overcome his attachment. Ultimately, Nanda chose to remain a monk.

Khenpo highlighted the significance of this sutra in Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in Tibetan medicine, where it explains the formation of human beings in the womb. It is also relevant in Vajrayana Buddhism, as it discusses wind and channels, and in the context of monastic Vinaya, as it raises the question of whether genuine renunciation is required at the time of ordination, especially in the case of Nanda. This sutra is thus a valuable source for discussions on the topic of renunciation in monastic vows.


Day 9 04/09/2023

On the ninth day of the Ratnakuta or Konchok Tsekpa transmission, Khenpo Lekthong imparted the oral transmission of two sutras: "The Teaching to Venerable Nanda on Entry into the Womb" and "The Array of Virtues of Mañjuśrī’s Buddha Realm."

Khenpo explained that the first sutra, "The Teaching to Nanda on Entry into the Womb," is similar to a previous sutra he had transmitted. However, in this version, Nanda is already a monk when the Buddha imparts the teachings.

The second sutra, "The Array of Virtues of Mañjuśrī’s Buddha Realm," delves into the concept of the pure land of Manjushri. Khenpo underscored the importance of this idea in Mahayana Buddhism. Creating one's own pure land upon achieving enlightenment is a crucial aspect of the path, and practitioners should begin preparing for it even now through prayers and other means. However, while many people are familiar with the idea of being reborn in pure lands like Amitabha's or Akshobhya's, the notion of creating one's own pure land as a Mahayana practitioner is not as widely discussed.


Day 10 05/09/2023

Today, Khenpo Lekthong completed the transmission of "The Meeting of Father and Son," which is the second-largest sutra in the Ratnakuta Collection. Before commencing the oral transmission, Khenpo shared the story of the meeting between Buddha and his father, King Shuddhodana, after the Buddha's enlightenment.

According to the sutra, when Buddha achieved enlightenment and began teaching, word of his wisdom reached his father, who sent messengers to invite him back to their hometown. However, these messengers became monks upon encountering the Buddha and forgot their mission. After several failed attempts, King Shuddhodana sent Udagi, who was a childhood friend of the Buddha, to invite him back.

Khenpo explained that there are different versions of how this meeting unfolded in Pali and Mahayana sutras. In the Ratnakuta sutra, it is described that when Buddha returned to his hometown, King Shuddhodana gathered his people to welcome him. They rode beautiful horses and carried flowers and offerings. However, because Buddha was surrounded by a vast assembly of countless beings, including various classes of gods, the retinue of Shuddhodana appeared unattractive in comparison. This was mainly due to the king's strong ego and desire to impress Buddha.

Khenpo emphasized the significance of this sutra in Mahayana Buddhism, noting that it is quoted by great Indian masters like Chandrakirti. He also shared a story from the sutra in which Buddha discusses the defects of arrogance, insatiable desire for power, and lack of contentment. In a past life, Buddha recounted how he became a universal king with the ability to fulfill any wish. However, his desire to ascend to the realm of the gods led to his downfall. As he ascended, he witnessed the universe from different perspectives, from circling to shaking to appearing motionless. When he challenged the king of the gods, Indra, he fell from heaven and met a swift demise.

This sutra offers profound teachings on humility, the consequences of arrogance, and the impermanence of power and desire.

After completing the sutra "The Meeting of Father and Son" in the afternoon, Khenpo proceeded to give the oral transmission of the sutra titled "The Questions of Pūrṇa." Khenpo explained that Pūrṇa was one of the main disciples of Buddha, known for his expertise in giving teachings. However, he is not as widely recognised as some of the other prominent disciples of Buddha, such as Ananda and Shubuti. Khenpo mentioned that Pūrṇa also plays a role in the sutra of Prajnaparamita.

Regarding the transmission of this sutra, Khenpo noted that the text does not specify the translator into Tibetan. Modern scholars, however, believe that it was translated from Chinese to Tibetan rather than directly from Sanskrit. If this is the case, it is likely that the sutra was translated from the Chinese version by the renowned Chinese Buddhist translator Kumarajiva.

Khenpo explained that "The Questions of Pūrṇa" focuses on precepts and the practices of a Bodhisattva. Buddha describes Pūrṇa as a Bodhisattva in a past life who broke his Bodhisattva vow. In the concluding section of the sutra, Buddha elaborates on his own path as a Bodhisattva, emphasising the sacrifices he made in his previous lives. Khenpo highlighted one particular example that stood out to him: Buddha mentioned that in his past lives, he would sometimes light his own finger to guide travellers through dark forests, illustrating the extent to which he had dedicated himself to the path of the Bodhisattva.


Day 11 06/09/2023

Today Khenpo Lekthong gave the oral transmission for five Sutras:

Before delivering the oral transmission, he delved into the Chinese Buddhist influence on Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in the tradition of sutra chanting. Khenpo emphasised that many well-known sutras in Tibet gained popularity because they were also revered in China, with some even being translated from Chinese into Tibetan. He mentioned two sutras, the Avatamshaka Sutra and the Lotus Sutra, which are popular in China but not widely recognized in Tibet, except for the tenth Karmapa, a Tibetan Lama known for teaching the Lotus Sutra.

Khenpo also discussed historical dating and shared the story of Kumarajiva. 

The 18th Sutra - The Questions of Rāṣṭrapāla:

This was highlighted by Khenpo as a crucial text in Mahayana Buddhism. He noted that this sutra is one of the few from the Ratnakuta Collection with existing Sanskrit manuscripts and an English translation. Khenpo mentioned that a famous praise to the Buddha, found in the Kagyu Monlam prayer book, originates from this sutra. He explained an important quote from this sutra, which prophesies a time when lazy teachers will be revered by lazy students, deceitful teachers by deceitful students, and ignorant teachers by ignorant students.

The 19th Sutra - The Sūtra of Vidyutprāpta's Questions:

Khenpo highlighted its teachings on the practices of both lay and monastic Mahayana Buddhists. For lay practitioners, the sutra advises them to encompass all practices by taking refuge in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. Khenpo explained that the sutra also emphasizes the importance for lay practitioners to understand the limitations of household life and to appreciate and admire the monastic life. He shared a quote from the Buddha in this sutra, which emphasizes viewing one's life partner as a companion for this life, rather than someone to accompany into the next life, and as a partner for sharing daily needs rather than karmic responsibilities. The message is to prioritise making one's partner happy rather than causing suffering.”

20th Sutra - The Sūtra of Vidyutprāpta's Questions:

Khenpo emphasised that while we shouldn't dismiss any sutra as unimportant, as they are all valuable, the Ratnakuta Collection is essentially a compilation of important sutras. However, some sutras are not as well-known because they lack Sanskrit manuscripts and have not been thoroughly researched. Nevertheless, some of these lesser-known sutras contain inspiring stories and profound messages. This sutra is one of them.

In this sutra, the Buddha initially discusses how ordinary beings are driven by negative emotions and how Bodhisattvas understand these emotions to benefit beings. For example, when faced with a person consumed by desire, a Bodhisattva might emanate as a beautiful woman, only to transform into an ugly woman or age rapidly, helping the individual let go of desire and attachment through this display of the Bodhisattva's power. 

21st Sutra - The Prophecy for the Magician Bhadra:

Khenpo shared the background story of this sutra. In Rajgir, there was a renowned magician who sought to outshine Buddha and gain fame. He invited Buddha to his home for lunch, and Buddha accepted. However, after the magician left, Mogalputra warned Buddha about the magician's potential harmful intentions. Buddha assured him that he could contain the entire universe in a single grain of rice without altering its size.

The next day, the magician created an illusion of his house, decorations, servants, and food. When Buddha arrived with his disciples for lunch, the magician believed he had fooled Buddha. Yet, some of his friends, who were actually emanations of Buddha, questioned him, claiming that Buddha was elsewhere. Realising he had been deceived by Buddha's wisdom, the magician followed Buddha to take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Buddha taught him that everything is like magic, and the magician became a monk. When Shariputra asked him why he became a monk and what he gained, the magician replied that there is nothing to gain in reality. He noted that even though Buddhas know that nothing has inherent self-existence, they teach as if things do. Although Buddhas transcend birth and death, they manifest as if they are born and die.

22nd Sutra - The Teaching of the Great Magical Display:

Khenpo explained that this sutra primarily emphasizes that everything about Buddha—his qualities, teachings, and wisdom—is miraculous. It includes a story about a king with one thousand sons. The king advised his sons to ordain but asked one to remain a layperson to rule the country. All the sons chose to become monks, except one who stayed as a lay Bodhisattva and, through this sacrifice, inspired countless beings to develop Bodhichitta.

This son who remained a lay Bodhisattva was the previous incarnation of Buddha, and the other sons became the one thousand Buddhas of this golden aeon. Khenpo emphasized that while Mahayana Buddhism acknowledges Bodhisattvas living as householders, it's essential to understand that they make this choice as a sacrifice to benefit beings. Therefore, it shouldn't be taken as an excuse to avoid monastic life or consider lay life as equivalent.


Day 12 07/09/2023

Khenpo Lekthong gave transmission of Five Sutras today.

23rd Sutra - The Great Lions Roar of Maitreya:

Khenpo explained that Maitreya is regarded as a Bodhisattva in both Shravakayana (Theravadin) Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. Unlike Bodhisattvas like Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, who are not accepted in Theravadin Buddhism, some Mahayana sources consider Maitreya to already be a Buddha. Khenpo noted that several sutras associated with Maitreya are included in the Ratnakuta Collection. In this particular sutra, Buddha and Mahakasyapa discuss Bodhisattva teachings. Buddha asks Mahakasyapa to uphold them, but Mahakasyapa, being a Shravakan Arhat, declines and suggests that the responsibility be given to Maitreya.

24th Sutra - Ascertaining the Vinaya - Upālis Questions:

Khenpo highlighted the significance of this sutra, noting that it is very old and contains the original Sanskrit manuscripts. It is also the source of the "Three Heaps" or "Three Sections of Thirty-Five Buddhas," which is very popular in Tibetan Buddhism. Khenpo discussed how the names of the thirty-five Buddhas are chanted differently in Geluk, Kagyu, and Jonang traditions. He emphasized that the main theme of this sutra revolves around individual liberation vows and bodhisattva vows. 

25th Sutra - Inspiring Determination: 

Khenpo recounted a story from this sutra about sixty monks who criticized two pure monks in the past, leading them to fall into lower realms and take a long time to regain their pure monastic vows. The founder of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage came across this sutra while reading the Ratnakuta Sutra and realized that he was the reincarnation of one of those sixty monks. Khenpo explained that this sutra is connected to the biography of Lingre Pema Dorje and discusses twenty defects of idle talk, twenty defects of unnecessary business, twenty defects of oversleeping, and more, with many of these defects quoted in various texts.

26th Sutra - The Sūtra of the Question of Subāhu:

Khenpo revealed that this sutra was taught in the Bamboo Grove in Rajgir and centres around the six perfections. For each of the six perfections, Khenpo highlighted important quotes. For example, regarding morality, he mentioned that in this sutra, Buddha states that a Bodhisattva refrains from lying not only to avoid deceiving others but also to prevent others from lying in turn. Khenpo stressed the importance of recognising our unintentional influence on others.

27th Sutra - Suratas Questions:

Khenpo narrated the story of this sutra, which revolves around a poor but virtuous person named Surata in Shravasti during Buddha's time. Indra tested Surata by hiding a jewel among garbage, and Surata decided to give it to the poorest person, who he believed was King Prasenajit. Surata argued that the king was the poorest because he was never content, always craving others' wealth, and possessed nothing that truly belonged to him. Buddha clarified that materially, Surata was poor, but spiritually, the king was impoverished. The king's material wealth couldn't compare to even a small portion of Surata's spiritual wealth. Following Buddha's teaching, the king ordered that no one call Surata poor and showed great respect to him. Khenpo emphasised the importance of considering different perspectives in our own lives.


Day 13 11/09/2023

28th Sutra - The Questions of the Householder Vīradatta:

Khenpo initially provided the oral transmission of "The Questions of the Householder Vīradatta." He emphasised its significance, noting the presence of some fragments of Sanskrit manuscripts discovered in Gandhara, which indicate its ancient origin. A quote from this sutra about the benefits of cultivating Bodhichitta is included in "Alishas Lamp to the Path of Enlightenment." The primary theme of this sutra is the impurity of our bodies. Khenpo stressed that Buddhism is not solely about comprehending reality but also about confronting it. 

29th Sutra - Questions of Udayana, King of Vatsa:

In this sutra, Khenpo discussed King Udayana of Vatsa, one of the sixteen kingdoms in ancient India. He highlighted the historical authenticity of figures from early Buddhism, dispelling the notion of them being fictional. King Udayana had two wives: one followed another religion, while the other followed Buddhism. When the non-Buddhist wife attempted to harm the Buddhist queen, she convinced the king to kill her. However, the queen's meditation and prayers to the Buddha protected her, rendering the weapons ineffective. The king questioned whether she was a witch or daemon possessing magical powers, to which she replied that her protection was due to her prayers to the Buddha.

Following the queen's advice, the king visited Buddha and requested teachings on the faults of women. Buddha's response was that the king should first understand his own faults before examining those of women. This underscores the importance of self-awareness and highlights that discussions about the shortcomings of women or wealth are only relevant if one is influenced by desires and greed. While some sutras mention the faults of women, these were addressed to male audiences. Nagarjuna's "Precious Garland" text, for example, first discusses women's physical faults before advising the king to scrutinise his own body in a similar manner. Khenpo emphasised that these discussions aim to help individuals overcome their attachments.

30th Sutra - The Sūtra of the Girl Sumati's Questions:

This short sutra features Sumati, an exceptionally intelligent and beautiful eight-year-old girl. Sumati asked Buddha questions regarding genuine beauty, true wealth, and the qualities that attract loyal companions. Buddha responded by emphasising qualities such as forgiveness, loving-kindness, faith in the Dharma, and the creation of Buddha statues as factors that contribute to true beauty. Sumati made a vow to practice these qualities and become a Bodhisattva. Despite Maudgalyayana’s attempts to dissuade her by highlighting the challenges of being a Bodhisattva, Sumati remained resolute, causing the earth to shake as she affirmed her commitment.

31st Sutra - The Sūtra of Gaṅgottara's Questions:

In this sutra, Buddha engaged in a dialogue with Gangottara, a female lay disciple from Shravasti. When the Buddha inquired about her origin, Gangottara responded by saying “What would a magical emanation say if asked the same question?” This conversation, rooted in reality, resulted in rays of light emanating from the Buddha's mouth and subsequently dissolving back into it. Ananda inquired about the significance of this phenomenon, and Buddha explained that one thousand Buddhas had  each taught a female disciple called Gangottara this same sutra in this very place.

32nd Sutra - The Sūtra of Aśokadatta's Prophecy:

This sutra recounts the story of Princess Aśokadatta, who was the daughter of King Ajatashatru of Magadha, a contemporary of Buddha. When chief disciples of Buddha, such as Shariputra, Maudgalyayana, Ananda, and Mahakasyapa, visited the palace to beg for alms, King Ajatashatru received them with respect. However, the young girl Aśokadatta, who was only twelve years old, refused to pay her respects, claiming that she was a Bodhisattva while they were Shravakas. After a profound discussion, the arhats, the king, and the princess visited Buddha, who affirmed that she was indeed a great Bodhisattva. Buddha also spoke about the pure land of Aśokadatta when she becomes a Buddha in the future.

33rd Sutra - The Sūtra of Vimaladatta's Questions:

Khenpo highlighted that Mahayana Buddhism features numerous sutras associated with female Bodhisattvas, and this is one such sutra. The narrative revolves around Vimaladatta, a princess of Prasenajit, the king of Kosala, who became a devoted follower of Buddha despite having only heard about him and his teachings through celestial beings seven days after her birth.

When she was merely twelve years old, all the principal chief disciples of Buddha, including Shariputra, Shubuti, and Mahakasyapa, as well as Bodhisattvas like Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara, embarked on an alms round, each remaining absorbed in specific meditations. Along their journey, they encountered the young princess, who engaged them in discussions about reality, defeating all of them, even the Bodhisattvas. Subsequently, they sought an audience with Buddha, and in his presence, Vimaladatta generated Bodhichitta. Witnessing her extraordinary abilities, Maudgalyayana questioned why she remained a woman, to which she retorted by asking him why he remained a man. She emphasised that enlightenment is not achieved through a specific gender, but rather by realising the nature of reality.

34th Sutra - The Questions of Guṇaratnasaṅkusumita:

Khenpo explained that this sutra focuses on the advantages of reciting specific Buddhas' names. He emphasised the idea that if we make positive wishes with sufficient merit, they can come true. Some Bodhisattvas, in their altruism, make wishes that merely hearing or reciting their names can bring benefits to beings. Khenpo mentioned that Buddhas like Medicine Buddha and the thirty-five Buddhas of the ‘Three Heaps’ or ‘Three Sections’ sutra fall into this category.

He also highlighted that many mantras consist of the names of deities, citing the Vajrasattva mantra as an example. Khenpo stressed the importance of reciting these names with respect and reverence, emphasising the power that lies in chanting them. 

35th Sutra - The Sūtra Teaching the Unfathomable Sphere of a Buddha:

Khenpo explained that this sutra primarily features a dialogue between Buddha and Manjushri. It delves into the differences in approach between followers of the Shravaka tradition and Bodhisattvas regarding negative emotions. The Shravaka tradition practitioners aim to eliminate negative emotions, while Bodhisattvas seek to understand them, empathise with them, and explore ways to use them for the benefit of sentient beings. This highlights the contrasting perspectives on handling negative emotions in these two traditions.


Day 14 12/09/2023 

36th Sutra - The Sūtra of the Devaputra Susthitamati's Questions:

Khenpo continued the discussion regarding the Devaputra Susthitamati's Questions. This sutra primarily revolves around interactions between Manjushri and a god named Susthitamati. In the beginning, Bodhisattvas remained hidden from the sight of Shravaka arhats despite their efforts to perceive them through meditation. When the Bodhisattvas made themselves visible, the arhats saw them as colossal beings.

Susthitamati asked questions, and Manjushri answered from the perspective of ultimate truth. This led to moments of doubt among the arhats about the accuracy of Manjushri's teachings. In one instance, Manjushri raised his sword as if to attack Buddha to alleviate the remorse of those individuals present who had committed heinous acts in their past lives. However, Buddha stopped Manjushri by explaining that in reality, he had already transcended existence and non-existence.

37th Sutra - Simha’s Questions:

Khenpo mentioned that this sutra is perhaps one of the shortest within the Ratnakuta Collection, consisting of only seven pages. Nevertheless, its significance lies in the fact that an original Sanskrit manuscript was discovered in Potala. Such sutras with original Sanskrit manuscripts are highly valued, as they provide an opportunity for scholarly research and increased awareness. This sutra was taught to Prince Siṃha, who was the son of King Ajātaśatru of Magadha.

38th Sutra - The Sūtra of the Chapter of the Bodhisattva Jñānottara's Questions:

Khenpo explained that this sutra explores the incomprehensible abilities of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. It holds particular importance for authenticating Vajrayana practices, as it discusses how Bodhisattvas can skilfully utilise negative emotions such as desire. The sutra also offers a Mahayana perspective on the life of Buddha, highlighting how his experiences and teachings align to create a coherent narrative.

39th Sutra - The Questions of Bhadrapāla the Merchant:

Khenpo stressed the significance of this sutra as it delves into the concept of consciousness. Understanding consciousness is crucial in Buddhism as it can lead to comprehension of rebirth, karma, selflessness, and the potential for liberation and enlightenment. He strongly recommended reading this sutra, emphasising that an English translation is available on the 84000 website.

40th Sutra - Questions of the girl Vimalaśraddhā:

Khenpo mentioned that this brief sutra features Buddha's teachings to Princess Vimalaśraddhā, the daughter of King Prasenajit. It is believed to have been translated from Chinese into Tibetan.

41st Sutra - The Question of Maitreya:

Khenpo highlighted the importance of this sutra, as it is among the most significant Mahayana sutras associated with Maitreya. It has an original Sanskrit manuscript discovered in Central Asia and presents Maitreya's aspiration, which is one of the three main prayers recited across Tibetan Buddhist lineages. The sutra narrates how Maitreya, as a child, aspired to attain Buddhahood after seeing an attractive Buddha. This aspiration prayer has become a fundamental part of Tibetan Buddhism.

42nd Sutra - The Question of Maitreya on the Eight Dharmas:

In this sutra, Buddha imparts teachings to Maitreya about the Eight Dharmas: perfect intention, perfect application or action, perfect generosity, skilful dedication, perfect love, perfect compassion, skilful means, and perfect wisdom. Khenpo explained that perfect intention, in this context, signifies unwavering faith in the Three Jewels regardless of praise or criticism. 

(The 43rd Sutra will be read tomorrow.)

44th Sutra - The Mass of Jewels:

Khenpo discussed this sutra, which focuses on monastic precepts. These precepts are meant for the Sangha that follows the Mahayana tradition. Khenpo emphasised that maybe Buddha's upbringing as a prince in a highly civilised society allowed him to formulate a refined set of rules for a community.


Day 15 13/09/2023

43rd Sutra - Kāśyapa-parivarta:

Khenpo explained the history of this sutra, stating that originally, Ratnakuta was the name of this single Sutra, and later the entire collection was named as Ratnakuta. In Tibetan it was known as "Requested by Mahakasyapa". While this sutra is sometimes called the "Old Ratnakuta," and the entire set of Ratnakuta sutras is referred to as the "New Ratnakuta."He noted that usually the names of the sutras were given by Buddha himself.

Khenpo also discussed his belief that the Ratnakuta collection was compiled in India. However, it's challenging to determine how many sutras were initially compiled, as different lists can be found even in old Tibetan catalogues of translations. This sutra's importance lies in its age, as it is one of the oldest Mahayana sutras. According to modern scholars like Fraulwallner, it's also significant for being one of the earliest to interpret emptiness or reality in terms of the Middle Way. An ancient manuscript of this sutra was found in Central Asia, and there are around seven different Chinese translations of it.

45th Sutra - Akṣayamati-paripṛcchā:

Khenpo mentioned that there are several Mahayana sutras with similar names, such as the "Akṣayamatinirdeśaḥ." This particular sutra is relatively short but holds importance within the Ratnakuta Collection because it discusses the ten stages of the Bodhisattva's path.

46th Sutra - Saptaśatikā-nāma-prajñāramitā:

Khenpo noted that this sutra is also part of the Prajnaparamita collection, and that there are some sutras found in repeated in different sections of the Kagyur. For example, Sancaya Gatha of Prajnaparamita is also a chapter of the 18,000 line Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. In this sutra, a discussion takes place primarily between Buddha, Manjushri, and Shariputra. It begins with Shariputra arriving early to see Buddha and discovering that Manjushri arrived even earlier. Manjushri talks about the ultimate perception of Buddha, which involves seeing without the concept of seeing. The remainder of the sutra contains a dialogue on the perfection of wisdom.

47th Sutra - Ratnacūḍa-paripṛcchā:

Khenpo mentioned that many sutras of the Ratnakuta are already translated into English and available on the ‘84000 - Translating the Words of Buddha.’ Khenpo mentioned that he heard this particular sutra is being translated. This sutra, although it references a popular naga named Ratnacuda, is not about a naga but a Bodhisattva. Its main theme centres around the thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment, a concept significant not only in Theravadin Buddhism and Mahayana sutras but also in the Vajrayana tradition, where Mandalas featuring thirty-seven deities are seen as manifestations of the thirty-seven aspects of enlightenment.

48th Sutra - Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra:

Khenpo emphasised the importance of this sutra, considering it very old. He categorised it as belonging to the second category of Mahayana sutras, with the Perfection of Wisdom sutras being the oldest. The Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra provides a different perspective on reality compared to the Perfection of Wisdom sutras. While the latter emphasise the non-existence of phenomena and emptiness, this sutra discusses the existence of Buddha nature.

However, in Tibetan Buddhism, scholars have debated whether this existence should be understood in terms of ultimate truth or relative truth. This sutra is a crucial source for the Ratnagotravibhāga or Uttartantra, believed in the Tibetan tradition to have been composed by Maitreya, and in the Chinese tradition to have been composed by Sthiramati. The existence of some portions of the original Sanskrit manuscripts has been confirmed, and many scholars have translated it into various languages for research purposes.


Day 16 14/09/2023

This morning, Khenpo completed the oral transmission of two important sutras:

49th Sutra - The Seer Vyāsas Questions:

Khenpo explained that the Rishi mentioned in this sutra should not be confused with the great Hindu Rishi Vyasa. It addresses three main topics. First, it discusses impure and pure generosity, a concept quoted in some Indian and Tibetan texts. Second, it delves into consciousness. Lastly, it touches upon the Trayastrimsha, the thirty-three god realms. Khenpo highlighted the Buddhist perspective on the god realms, noting that their residents believe themselves to be perfect, which prevents them from accumulating further merit. 

The Ornament of the Light of Awareness That Enters the Domain of All Buddhas:

This sutra, although not originally part of the Ratnakuta collection, was added by the third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje to round out the list to fifty sutras, a more harmonious number. The Third Karmapa considered this sutra essential for the Ratnakuta collection as it specifically addresses enlightenment, the ultimate goal of the Mahayana path, and the concept of Buddha nature.

With the transmission of these sutras, Khenpo completed the oral transmission of the entire Ratnakuta or Konchok Tsekpa collection. This collection consists of six volumes, each containing around 800 pages. Khenpo emphasised that receiving oral transmission means receiving the teachings that came from Buddha himself, transmitted through numerous great masters of India and Tibet, without any additions or subtractions.

Khenpo stressed that receiving oral transmission in Tibetan is equivalent to receiving it in Sanskrit, as the essence of the teachings lies in their meaning. Thus, it's possible to convey these teachings in English or other languages after receiving them in Tibetan.

During this transmission, Khenpo extensively discussed many important points from the sutras, focusing on topics such as generating bodhichitta and practicing the six perfections in detail. As these topics encompass the main themes of the forty-nine sutras in the Konchok Tsekpa collection, he suggested that participants can consider that they have not only received the words but also the essence of these sutras.

Khenpo explained that the original method of transmitting sutras did not involve carrying physical books but relied on oral transmission. By receiving this oral transmission, it can be seen as bringing the entire Konchok Tsekpa collection to the West. Khenpo expressed his gratitude to everyone involved, especially Katen Lama and Samye Ling, for granting him the precious opportunity to transmit these teachings. In a time when few people, including Tibetan Buddhist practitioners, open sutras, Khenpo regarded this as a significant service to the dharma. He feels fortunate to even just to open these sutras.

In the afternoon, Khenpo taught the Kāśyapaparivarta (43rd Sutra), the most crucial sutra of the Ratnakuta collection, by explaining the key points of the sutra, particularly focusing on the Middle Way and the Three Gates of Liberation.

Samye Ling is extremely grateful to Khenpo Lekthong for these transmissions and teachings over the last month. It has been the most precious and wonderful opportunity.





The Buddhist principle is to be everybody's friend, not to have any enemy.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Meditation means simple acceptance.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Only the impossible is worth doing.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Whenever we see something which could be done to bring benefit to others, no matter how small, we should do it.
Chamgon Khentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Freedom is not something you look for outside of yourself. Freedom is within you.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Hasten slowly, you will soon arrive.
Jetsun Milarepa
It doesn’t matter whatever comes, stop judging and it won’t bother you.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
Whatever obstacles arise, if you deal with them through kindness without trying to escape then you have real freedom.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
To tame ourselves is the only way we can change and improve the world.
Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Strive always to be as kind, gentle and caring as possible towards all forms of sentient life.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Every sentient being is equal to the Buddha.
Chamgon Kentin Tai Situ Rinpoche
Wherever and whenever we can, we should develop compassion at once.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche
Reminding ourselves of how others suffer and mentally putting ourselves in their place, will help awaken our compassion.
Choje Akong Tulku Rinpoche