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H.H. Jigme Phuntsok’s Last Teaching

The last teaching by His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok was, “Do not lose your own path; do not disturb others’ minds.” Although these few words appear simplistic, they actually convey a much more profound message that has become a life principle for the thousands of disciples of His Holiness. And for anyone in this world, these succinct words provide insight and inspiration as to how to live one’s life and not get lost.

H.H. Jigme Phuntsok's Last Teaching

“ Do not lose your own path;

Do not disturb others’ minds.”

I studied under His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche for many years and these were his parting words.

At that time, His Holiness had a heart operation and was staying in a hospital in Chengdu. He made a phone call from Chengdu to Larung Gar, in which he said a lot to us disciples, the tens of thousands of disciples at our academy, and this is the very last teaching he left us.

On the surface, these words seem almost too simple, but they contain a very deep and profound message. Tens of thousands of disciples of His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche treat these few words as a revered message that continues even after his passing. This reminds us of when the Buddha was approaching parinirvana and he said that “During my lifetime, I am your teacher; after I pass away, vinaya will be your teacher.” Likewise, we value and appreciate the guru’s teachings as the principle, an instructive guidance and norms of conduct in our life.

Each disciple applies this teaching in their own way. For example, from my Tibetan perspective, the inspiration is that I cannot lose my own culture, my language, my tradition, and my religion. Such ideologies and norms of my own culture and tradition, including my inner qualities, are things that I just cannot give up. Additionally, all life is precious, even those of plants; I should not harm them but should try to protect them.

For other cultures, you can also learn from these words that it is important not to forsake your own culture and traditions, as well as to refrain from harming sentient beings.

Similarly, for a teacher, one needs to remember one’s identity as a teacher and not give up the corresponding responsibility. For a monk, one cannot abandon what a monk is supposed to do. For a doctor, one also has one’s own ethics that cannot be ignored. For a pilot, a waiter, a nurse, a government officer, or one of any profession, the interpretation is similar, that whatever one does, one should never discard one’s individual duty, nor can one forsake the general “path” of humanity, i.e. qualities of being human, such as kindness, compassion, etc.

“Do not lose your own path; Do not disturb others’ minds.” can be understood in this way.