The Heart Essence of the Lake Born

The Secret Sadhana of the Great Master
Tso-kye Thuk-thik

Teachings By LAMA THARCHIN RINPOCHE 1994 Seattle, Hawai’i, and Los Angeles Translated and Edited by Yeshe Wangmo Bero Jeydren Translations 1999

Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, Shantarakshita, King Trisong Deutsen, and Vairochana were among the key figures who established the Nyingma tradition (Ancient Translation) in Tibet in the 8th and 9th centuries. The Nyingma tradition is transmitted through three lineages -- kama, terma, and pure vision. The kama lineage consists of the body of teachings that were mostly translated during the time of Guru Rinpoche. It has remained intact until the present day down to our own root lama. The terma lineage consists of teachings concealed mainly by Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal, and later discovered by karmically destined treasure-revealers, such as His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. The lineage of pure vision consists of teachings given by buddhas, deities, and spiritual masters in visionary experiences. They are not terma. The text that we are studying is The Heart Essence of the Lake Born. It is the mind terma and pure vision of our root teacher, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdral Yeshe Dorje. The Nyingma classify the Buddhist teachings into nine vehicles. The three highest are known as Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga, and are collectively referred to as Secret Mantra. To have a spiritual connection with Secret Mantra during historical periods of defilement and obscuration is the result of two factors: the kindness of Guru Rinpoche whose countless emanations fill our universe, and our own purification and cultivation of merit in previous life times. There can be no other causes for encountering Secret Mantra. The system of Mahayoga has three meditation practices -- lama, yidam, and dakini. In the collected writings of Dudjom Lingpa and Dudjom Rinpoche known as Dudjom Tersar, four sadhanas belong to the lama category. Orgyen Menlha is outer lama; Khandro Norlha is inner lama; Lake Born Vajra is secret lama; and Dorje Drolod is innermost lama. In this retreat, I will be teaching The Lake Born Vajra sadhana that was written by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche. Dudjom Rinpoche was the guru of all buddhas and more particularly, the guru of the one thousand nirmanakaya buddhas of this universe. He was the incarnate representative of Padmasambhava and Lord Shakyamuni. His past lives include many of the gurus, yogis, and scholars that are still revered to this today. His most recent incarnation was as Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (1904 - 1987), a direct emanation of the great visionary and meditation master, Dudjom Lingpa. Dudjom Lingpa (1835 - 1904) was prophesized by Guru Rinpoche to be his own mind emanation, Yeshe Tsogyal’s speech emanation and Drogban Khye’uchung Lotswa’s form

emanation. Dudjom Rinpoche himself was born in Tibet and dedicated his life to benefiting beings. He exemplified the threefold path of learning, contemplation, and meditation. As well, Rinpoche was the supreme head of the Nyingma tradition. He was highly regarded for the many teachings he compiled and composed, such as the recently translated History and Fundamentals of the Nyingmapa. Unequaled in these times, he was an exceptional meditation master, yogi, and a great visionary discoverer of hidden teachings. In particular, it was said that his teachings would have the special power of removing the defilements of beings in this day and age. Needless to say, we are very fortunate to study and practice his teachings and to receive his blessings. My reason for saying all this about Dudjom Rinpoche is so that you will not have any doubts about the power of the Lake Born Vajra practice. You should understand from the onset that this practice will purify all your defilements and bring you to Guru Rinpoche’s pureland. Now I would like to side-track a bit to tell you something about me in relation to this practice. According to a certain prophecy, if a hundred thousand Lake Born Vajra feast offerings (tsog) are accumulated, then I will truly be able to benefit beings and the doctrine in my lifetime. Of course I hope that this that the prophecy will be fulfilled. Thank you.

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THE VIRTUOUS INTRODUCTION Secret Mantra is a system of practice that teaches how to perceive ourselves and the world as enlightened wisdom. Traditionally it is transmitted in three stages:

1.
2.

the empowerment ripens the disciple’s continuum and is the basis for the oral transmission supports the disciple’s meditation; the instructions explain how to meditate in order to attain liberation.

actualizing the wisdom nature;

3.

The teachings this retreat belong to the this third stage. The Lake Born sadhana has three main sections: introduction, main body, and conclusion. The introduction has three sub-sections: title, homage, and purpose for composing the text. THE TITLE The title is a very important aspect of any Dharma text. It is said that the best practitioners can understand a text just by hearing its title without even reading it. Average practitioners can understand some general information about the text, such as what type of teaching it is, and beginners can use the title of a text to locate it. The full title of this text is The Heart Essence of the Lake Born: The Secret Sadhana of the Great Master (maha-guru sang-drup tso-kye thuk-thik shuk-so). It is usually abbreviated as The Heart Essence of the Lake Born (tso-kye thuk-thik) or as Lake Born Vajra (tso-kye dor-je). Now I will explain the title following the order of the Tibetan words maha-guru sang-drup tso-kye thuk-thik shuk-so. Great (maha) The Sanskrit word maha is rendered as great. It praises Guru Rinpoche as the embodiment of all buddhas and bodhisattvas and as the greatest mahasiddha that ever lived. It means that Guru Rinpoche is the key to everything. Many sutra and tantra support this viewpoint and extol Guru Rinpoche’s virtues. I would like to ask all of you to make sure that you read Guru Rinpoche’s biography, such as The Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava or The Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava. They were both recorded by Yeshe Tsogyal. 4

Buddha Shakyamuni himself praised Guru Rinpoche and referred to him as the ‘second buddha’. The story goes that at the time of Buddha’s parinirvana, his disciples were worried about who would replace their teacher. Buddha told them not to worry and then he said that an emanation would soon appear in the world that would be superior to himself and all other emanations. He called this emanation the Lake Born. Master (guru) Guru has been translated into Tibetan as lama which can be glossed as unexcelled. Lama or spiritual master is the unexcelled embodiment of the wisdom, compassion, qualities, and activities of awakening; the epitome of the three embodiments of enlightenment (kayas) and five pristine wisdoms. The vehicle of Secret Mantra is renowned for stating that lama is more important than the Three Jewels. The reason is that as far as we know, no one ever attained enlightenment without having first received the guidance of a spiritual master or lama. Another gloss for lama is that la is the life force of omniscience (knowledge of ultimate truth and relative truth) and ma is the motherly love and compassion that connects with sentient beings. Thus, lama is the vital life force of enlightenment and the loving guide of all beings. Secret (sang) As I mentioned, the Dudjom Tersar cycle contains four lama sadhanas: outer, inner, secret, and innermost. Sang identifies the Lake Born sadhana as the secret lama. It also implies great, unsurpassed, and exalted, in the sense that the secret lama is the extraordinary aspect of the lama that is not commonly known. Practice (drup) Drup is a contraction of drup-thabs, the Tibetan rendering of sadhana. It literally means method of gaining realization. Sadhana is a method of practice that changes our mental habits, especially the habit of viewing ourselves in an ordinary way. Sadhana proves that we are not different or separate from Guru Rinpoche. In fact, sadhana teaches us that our fundamental nature is the absolute primordial buddha replete with all the qualities of awakening. Mahayoga sadhana is often called deity yoga. Maybe this is a good time for me to bring up this subject. I’ve often noticed that people practice deity yoga thinking 5

that the deity is outside or separate from themselves. This is not right. In fact, not only is this not right, but it reinforces ignorance and can become rudra or demonic. Although it is true that Lord Buddha taught eighty-four thousand paths to enlightenment, it doesn’t mean that there are eighty-four thousand forms of enlightenment. There is only one enlightenment but many paths that lead to it. The Buddha was not trying to confuse us or play games when he taught so many paths. Rather he observed that spiritual seekers had different capacities and no single method could be effective for all. It seems to me that people are getting more frustrated and confused, although they are intelligent and work hard. They look tired, exhausted, and discouraged. I think it’s because they’ve tried just about everything and have never found any lasting success. The positive side to this situation is that maybe now they are ready to listen to my recommendation -- deity yoga. I think they might like it because it focuses on a single factor – finding the natural state. If understood and practiced correctly, deity yoga takes us directly into the core of our nature, the original state before delusion. I don’t think many Westerners have given serious consideration to this practice. Instead, they try to improve their radar system -- becoming increasingly sensitive to the outside world and increasingly insensitive to their inner nature. It seems that they are looking for butter but churning water – seeking enlightenment but working with the intellect. Since enlightenment is not in the domain of the intellect, they never find it and keep having more difficulties. We should understand that we have the choice of being buddha or not. What is this choice? When we recognize the nature of mind just as it is, pure and stainless, we are buddha and our life is characterized by beneficial activity that is beyond karma. But when we believe in duality, a perceived separation of subject and object, we are not buddha, and we have materialistic experiences that plant the seeds for endless suffering. This is the choice. Mahayoga portrays the natural state of mind as wisdom deity or divine being. Wisdom deity is synonymous with bodhicitta, a pure state not subject to the forces of clinging and grasping. We all have mind and the nature of mind. We are in essence divine. However, we are not “seeing” that because it is not obvious – it is hidden like butter is hidden in milk. Because we have not recognized our divinity for such a long time, we now have a strong habit of not recognizing it. It is hard to believe in it, let 6

alone “see” it. Yet this is just an engrained habit of ours that can be changed through deity yoga which gives us a taste of wisdom even before we are fully realized. When we begin to practice, it often seems futile. We may feel that the practice is bizarre, that the Tibetan language makes it inaccessible to us, or that there are strange movements to do with our hands. What I want to say to you at this point is that we do not need to feel this way. Deity practice is simple and not complicated if understand correctly. What is the correct understanding? Well to start with, many of us meditate without any clear understanding at all about what we are doing. Or, we meditate with a wrong or imprecise understanding. If we meditate under these conditions, without knowing it, we are enforcing ignorance. So let’s avoid this by clearly understanding the right view which is that from the onset, deity meditation is a way of experiencing the wisdom of our buddha nature. Deity symbolizes our original state -- who we truly are. The mechanics of this practice enlightens us are based on the idea that if we “see” deity, then we are deity. Try doing this as an example of how deity practice works. Every day for ten days, I want you to change your name. On Monday, ask people to call you Frank, on Tuesday, Michael and so on. After ten days, you will be wondering who you are. Similarly, deity meditation changes your name from ordinary person to deity or buddha. Once you believe your new name, your life reflects this change. In deity meditation, a new self-image is created through visualizing ourselves in the form of a three-dimensional body of unsubstantial rainbow-light. Everything else is also visualized as light. The point is that when we are engaged in these visualizations, misconceptions cannot arise and it is difficult to grasp as we usually do. Our perception of material subjects and objects changes into the perception of wisdom light that is nothing other than our true nature. That is why we have the term “naturally free” or “free in our nature”. So this is simple, isn’t it? It is simple if first we begin with good intellectual understanding and then follow through with meditative experience. When intellectual knowledge and meditative experience are fully integrated or matured, the moment of buddhahood is realized. So my advice to you before you start practicing, is to get very clear about the view and then when you practice, to stay focused on what you’re doing. Now maybe it’s time to return to the text. Lake Born (tso-kye) 7

Guru Rinpoche is the consummate expression of the three embodiments of enlightenment -- the Three Kayas. At the relative level, Guru Rinpoche assumes countless forms wherever there is space. These wisdom forms have many names such as the Eight Manifestations, the Five Thotrengtsel’s, etc. All these names are mere fragments of his activity. Lake Born is one of the Eight Manifestations.

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Heart Essence (thuk-thik) Thuk means the enlightened mind of all buddhas -- nondual wisdom and compassion. Thik means drop. As a phrase, these words mean that the wisdom mind of all buddhas is combined into a single drop which is the enlightened mind of Guru Rinpoche. Thik is also glossed as refined or distilled (dangma).

Is herein presented (shuk-so) This indicates that the sadhana will expand on the subject referred to in the title. HOMAGE AND PRAISES OM. The sublime and sovereign lord of an ocean of mandalas kyil-khor gya-tso kyap-dak chhok Is Thotrengtsel, the immortal holder of intrinsic awareness. chi-may rig-dzin tho-treng-tsel The preparation, the main body of practice, and the conclusion are the stages that present jor ngo jay kyi rim-pay ten The practices for the phases of approaching and accomplishing. gang day nyen ching drup-pay tsul SAMAYA Dudjom Rinpoche composed this verse to express his homage and purpose in composing the text. I will explain this verse phrase by phrase, following the order of the Tibetan words. The first two phrases pay homage to Guru Rinpoche. Mandala – (kyil kor) Mandala is defined as a center point (kyil) surrounded by a configuration (kor). This does not imply that mandala is a material object or concrete entity. The central point is the deity that symbolizes pure awareness (rigpa) and the surrounding configuration symbolizes the dynamic expressions that are the creativity of pure awareness. Mandala is a portrayal of the nature of mind -- unmoving dharmakaya, and its expressions -- unobstructed rupakaya. Ocean (gyatso) 9

The image of an ocean conveys vastness. Here it is the vastness of countless mandalas. Sublime and sovereign lord (kyap-dak-chok) This honors Guru Rinpoche as sovereign (kyap dak) and sublime (chok). Immortal holder of intrinsic awareness, Thotrengtsel (chi-may rig-dzin thodtreng-tsel) This establishes Guru Rinpoche’s identity as Thotrengtsel, the immortal (chimay) master of pure awareness (rig-dzin). Rigdzin is an accomplished tantric master of which there are four types, immortality being one of these. Rigdzin is also used because Guru Rinpoche’s mandala is the mandala of pure awareness or rigpa. The epithet immortal refers to Guru Rinpoche’s ultimate aspect -- indestructible pure awareness beyond birth and death, arising and cessation, old age and deterioration. Thotrengtsel, Skull-Garlanded Adept, characterizes Guru Rinpoche as a perfected adept, a faultless master of pure awareness endowed with all the appropriate qualities. This name was bestowed by the dakinis to honor his mastery of the tantric disciplines in the charnel grounds. THE PURPOSE Since Dudjom Rinpoche holds Guru Rinpoche in the greatest esteem, he states that his purpose in writing this sadhana is to help us attain the same level as Guru Rinpoche. He further states that his composition will present the methods or practices (tsul) we should follow in order to approach (nyen) and accomplish (drup) Guru Rinpoche. Then he explains that the sadhana will be taught (ten) in three stages (rim-pay): preparation (jor), main practice (ngo), and conclusion (jay). Samaya Placing the Sanskrit word samaya at the end of this verse seals Dudjom Rinpoche’s homage and purpose. It also applies the seven vajra attributes (invulnerability, indestructibility, authenticity, incorruptibility, stability, unobstructedness, and invincibility) and the three vajras of wisdom body, speech, and mind. In addition, it identifies the sadhana as belonging to the teachings of definitive meaning -- teachings that convey the ultimate truth. The word samaya also indicates that this sadhana is terma. 10

THE VIRTUOUS MAIN PRACTICE The sadhana has three parts: the yoga of preparation and preliminary practices, the main body of practice, and the conclusion. This sadhana does not include an extensive yoga of preparation. It does not explain how to prepare the mandala and arrange the shrine, how to find a sacred location and an appropriate place for practicing; what qualifications are required of a practitioner; and what provisions are needed to accomplish the practice. This information must be obtained from your personal teacher. THE PRELIMINARY PRACTICES There are six preliminary practices: refuge, bodhicitta, the ten branches of ritual, issuing the command and establishing the wheel of protection, the descent of vajra blessings, and consecrating the offerings. Refuge Refuge is the gateway and foundation of all Buddhist paths. According to Nyingma, each vehicle has its own style of refuge. I would like to explain this, but first I want to talk about the common view that refuge is a kindergarten practice because it is the beginning of the path. This is not the case. Refuge synthesizes everything, including the consummate view of Atiyoga. There are four styles of refuge. In the Basic vehicle, the sources of refuge are the Three Jewels -- Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddha is the spiritual teacher who displays the four kayas and the five pristine wisdoms; Dharma is the doctrine that presents the path to buddhahood; and Sangha is the community that comprehends the Dharma. In the extraordinary Secret Mantra vehicle, there are three variations on refuge. The inner vehicle of Mahayoga refers to the refuge of the Three Roots – Guru, Yidam, and Dakini. Guru is the root of blessings; Yidam is the root of accomplishments; and Dakini is the root of enlightened activity. This refuge destroys attachment to ordinary appearances and replaces it with the perception of the world and all beings as a vast array of purity inseparable from emptiness. The secret vehicle of Anuyoga refers to the refuge of the three aspects of the subtle body – Nadi, Prana, and Bindu. Nadi refers to channels or pathways; Prana to inner energetic winds; and 11

Bindu to essence-drops. This refuge culminates in the realization of inseparable exaltation and emptiness. In the innermost secret vehicle of Atiyoga, the sources of refuge are: the essential nature of being, its natural expression, and its powerful compassion. It culminates in the realization of the world and all beings as inseparable pure awareness and emptiness. This is the type of refuge we find in the Lake Born Vajra sadhana. It is the ultimate and infallible refuge of the Clear Light essence teachings. Since this is so special and profound, I will teach this refuge verse word by word. Homage (namo) A Sanskrit word for homage and prostration, namo is placed at the beginning of the refuge verse as a counter-balance to the foolish pride we have in being ordinary. Namo weakens our habitual reference to samsara and reminds us to recognize the enlightened nature. In the primordial, indestructible fundamental nature, do-mai nay-luk mi-shik-pa This is the first source of refuge -- the essential nature of indestructible profound emptiness. In the lower vehicles, since the sources of refuge are external, there is some distance between the sources of refuge, the refugee, and the goal of realization. In the exalted sublime view of Atiyoga, the source of refuge is one’s own fundamental nature (nay-luk) that is timelessly present. To say it is primordial (domai) means that it never arose and thus it is free of the extremes of delusion and liberation. As to indestructible (mi-shikpa), it is one of the seven vajra-like attributes of the essential nature. The other six are: invulnerability, authenticity, incorruptibility, stability, unobstructedness, and invincibility. The sphere of sheer lucidity, great basic space, o-sal thig-le chen-po ying This is the second source of refuge -- the natural expressions that arises from emptiness. The natural expressions of the fundamental nature is sheer lucidity (osal) that shines as an infinite array of kayas and pristine wisdoms. Since ordinary light is all-pervasive, it is used as a symbol of the all-pervasive lucidity of the fundamental nature. However unlike ordinary light, the all-pervasive lucidity of osal is not dependent on external factors. All-pervasive means that osal brings everything together 12

into one single sphere (thigle) and therefore nullifies the need for reference points such as center, boundary, size, and location. Although distinctions are perceived, they abide in the single sphere of osal. Osal thigle, all-encompassing sheer lucidity, refutes nihilism. Great (chenpo) modifies ying, the basic space of reality. Great does not refer to extent or importance, but carries the meaning of pervasiveness. The noncomposite principle of basic space is all-pervasiveness synonymous with emptiness. Chenpo’i ying, great basic space of reality, refutes eternalism. The innate deity beyond transition and change pho-gyur dral-wa nyuk-mai lhar This is the third source of refuge -- the power of wisdom compassion which is the indissoluble unity of profound emptiness and unhindered sheer luminosity. The word deity (lhar) acknowledges our recognition of the indestructible fundamental nature, the great basic space of sheer lucidity. Deity subsumes all aspects of the refuge -- the essential nature, the natural expression, and the power of wisdom compassion. Continually present or innate (nyuk-mai) means that deity is beyond transition and change (pho-gyur dralwa) and beyond eternalism and nihilism. When we recite this line, we are saying that we recognize our fundamental nature just as it is, with no doubt about it. That is what makes us the wisdom deity. In the state of natural being, I take refuge. rang-bab ngang-nay kyab-su-chi This teaches us how to take refuge (kyab-su-chi). Free of effort, we take refuge within the continuum (ngang) of natural being (rang-bab). This is in contrast to the mental effort that is part of other styles of refuge. The Atiyoga view is that knowledge of our nature cannot be gained through striving and effort, or by modifying ourselves in any way. Atiyoga practice is free of conceptual duality and conceptual nonduality. It is effortless, beyond hope or fear -- without thinking that we are together with or separate from the sources of refuge. The true Atiyoga refuge is just being present in our natural being. That’s all. So then, who is taking refuge? Our deluded mind takes refuge in the primordial wisdom of our enlightened nature. As soon as our deluded mind connects with its own primordial wisdom, it is free in the expanse of pure awareness. 13

Bodhicitta Just as refuge defines Buddhist thought and practice, bodhicitta, the spirit or heart-mind of awakening, differentiates Hinayana and Mahayana. When I taught about refuge, I listed the various views of refuge according to the different vehicles. It’s the same for bodhicitta. The sutra Mahayana tradition teaches relative bodhicitta -- the aspiration and practice of loving kindness and compassion in order to attain awakening for the benefit of beings. It also teaches absolute bodhicitta -- emptiness. The tantric Mahayana tradition speaks of bodhicitta variously but before I talk about this, I would like to make some general comments. There are many perspectives on bodhicitta. Relative bodhicitta says that all beings are the intended recipients of bodhicitta, the practitioner arouses bodhicitta, and bodhicitta liberates everything and all. It is relational. Ultimate bodhicitta, emptiness, says that there is no true subject/object relationship. According to these definitions, relative and ultimate bodhicitta seem contradictory. For example, maybe we are inclined to think that relative bodhicitta is an emotion and ultimate bodhicitta is intellectual. This is not correct. Relative and ultimate bodhicitta are complementary ways of looking at one truth. If we live with love and compassion, we will discover how to live in great emptiness, and if we recognize emptiness, we will discover effortless compassion. This is because emptiness and compassion are inseparable. Mahayana bodhicitta teaches us to include all events and all beings in our life. Because it is so all-encompassing, it can liberate all realms of unenlightened existence. So if we base our meditation practice in bodhicitta, the results of our meditation will be all-encompassing. If we don’t, no matter what profound teachings we receive, what deities we visualize, or what empowerments we receive, the result will only be a more elaborate prison. To avoid this pitfall, I want to stress the importance of always arousing genuine bodhicitta. In the final analysis, it is the one factor that distinguishes samsara and nirvana. It’s as simple as that. Now I will return to the text.

Practicing the innermost secret bodhicitta of Atiyoga as we do in the Lake Born does not imply that Mahayana bodhicitta is inferior. Each vehicle has its own view and yields its own benefits. The unexcelled Atiyoga view is appropriate for exception14

al students who have the capacity to transcend duality, essentially, the mental habit of evaluating phenomena. The most important factor is that we practice Dharma and not produce negativity. A vehicle’s suitability for students is determined by their capacities. It is not that some vehicles are better than others. The ultimate meaning of all vehicles is the same, but the capacities of students differ. Also, please remember that as Dzogchen practitioners, we transcend duality. Therefore, we do not reject anything. Being a Dzogchen practitioner is like having reached the summit of a high mountain -- we see and understand everything around us. HO! To unrealized beings, the forms created by the confusion of duality, Ho ma-tok nyi-zin trul-pai zuk Although non-existent, are apparent as the realms of beings. me-zhin nang-wa dro-wai kham The syllable Ho! means truly amazing and refers to the paradox about to be stated in the next two lines. The paradox is this. The six types of beings in the three planes of conditioned existence have not realized (ma-tok) the true nature of mind. Therefore, although external appearances are not truly existent (me-zhin), they conceive of them as if they were. In repeating this error over and over again, they create a very compelling duality (nyi-dzin). Eventually they feel swamped in an ocean of their own delusion (trulpai). This then crystallizes as the apparent perception (nangwa) of forms (zuk), such as the six types of beings and the three realms of conditioned existence (dro-wai kham). With supreme self-cognizing intrinsic awareness, the taste of equalness, rang-rik chen-por ro-nyam-pay I arouse bodhicitta as the naturally free state that extends evenly. rang-drol chyam-dal sem-kye-do Liberation is the recognition of our fundamental nature and it is simultaneous with the realization of kayas and wisdoms. Without recognition, delusion persists. The Dzogchen view is that delusion and liberation are both extremes of dualistic conception, and in that respect, they are both delusion. Therefore, Dzogchen emphasizes transcending dualism -- great emptiness, the essence of dharmakaya, free from delusion and liberation. This is expressed in the phrase equal taste (ro-nyam-pay) within which our fundamental nature is naturally free (rang-drol), an expanse of great (chen-por) wisdom of self-originated awareness (rang-rik). The six realms and the 15

three planes are of equal taste with kayas and pure lands, beyond hope and fear, acceptance and rejection. This is why this verse speaks of arousing bodhicitta (semkye-do) as the naturally free state of the all-pervasive and even (chyam-dal) dharmadhatu, the sphere of totality. The Ten Branches of Accumulation The practice of the ten branches of accumulation brings together all known methods for cultivating merit and wisdom. The ten branches are: inviting, requesting to remain, offering prostrations, making offerings, confessing, rejoicing in virtue, requesting to turn the wheel of Dharma, requesting not to enter nirvana, dedicating the merit, and the path of aspiration. AH The mantric syllable AH has both a long and a short form. This is the short form that is the sound of non-arising or the sound of emptiness. When uttered, it establishes the sphere of ultimate truth in which everything is free of coming into being, remaining, and ending. This is the timeless and partless context for the practice of the ten branches. Pervasive, expansive lama of intrinsic awareness and emptiness, approach I pray. rik tong khyab dal lama shek On a relative level, we invite the buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three times to appear in the sky in front of us. On an ultimate level, we invoke the recognition of pure awareness. In order to explain the practice of inviting, I need to explain the principle of external, internal, and secret lama. Appearance inseparable from emptiness is the external arising of the symbolic lama. Pure awareness inseparable from great emptiness is the internal arising of the ultimate lama. The external or outer lama represents all buddhas and is the skillful means that appears externally but remains inseparable from emptiness. The internal or inner lama is the body of profound teachings transmitted by the outer lama to our continuum of being. The secret lama is our realization of inseparable awareness-emptiness attained through actualizing the inner lama’s teachings. This outer-inner-secret lama principle is the basis of the practice of 16

inviting. We request the buddhas and bodhisattvas (external lama) to manifest so that they can function as symbols (inner lama) through which we can realize the secret lama of inseparable awareness-emptiness. In Lake Born, relatively, the lama is invited as the embodiment of all buddhas and bodhisattvas, but ultimately the lama is recognized as all-pervading (kyab-del) awareness-emptiness (rik-tong). The moment we say “approach (shek), I pray”, we realize the secret, ultimate lama of awareness-emptiness. When we say these words, we shouldn’t be distracted or thinking that maybe we did or didn’t realize the ultimate lama. Although literally we say “approach, I pray”, this phrase is actually a declaration of recognizing the Dzogchen view. Remain present beyond transition and change. pho gyur dral-wai den-la zhuk The practice of requesting to remain strengthens the recognition of the Dzogchen view. It refers to the unchanging aspect of the ultimate lama. We need this practice because we usually feel that we recognize the ultimate lama at some times, but not at others, or maybe we imagine that the ultimate lama was present in the past, but not now, and so on. Requesting the ultimate lama to remain without changing deepens our understanding of the nature of the ultimate lama by reminding us that it is not subject to fluctuation. The nature of the ultimate lama is evenness, free of characteristics and conceptual elaborations. I bow down within the display of equalness. nyam-nyi rol-pai chak-gi-du The first two practices, inviting and requesting to remain, present the view of the ultimate lama as unchanging awareness-emptiness. The third branch is prostration. There are three levels of prostration. Outer prostration is devotional and is based on our body, speech, and mind. It counteracts pride. Inner prostration is the creation and completion phases of meditation and it results in the realization of inseparable appearance-emptiness and inseparable exaltation-emptiness. Secret prostration is the recognition of the essence of the Dzogchen view. This is most profound because it is free of the three spheres of reference: the person offering prostration, the prostration, and the one to whom the prostration is directed. Offering secret prostration results in the realization of inseparable awareness-emptiness. 17

Secret ultimate prostration is often called encountering the view. We prostrate (chak-gi-du) to the ultimate lama within the display of the nature of evenness (nyamnyi rol-pai). This last phrase means that our prostration does not have any consideration of inferiority and superiority. For example, on page 15, the text says ati-pu-ho as we prostrate to the deity, and then pra-tit-tsa-ho as the deity prostrates to us. Here we are speaking of the equalness of existence and quiescence, appearance and emptiness, and oneself and others. Same-in-nature means nonduality. Everything is the nature of nonduality including the innermost secret prostration that is of one taste with the great expanse of the ultimate lama. The word rolpa is also glossed as enjoyment. This is the enjoyment that arises in the sphere of the ultimate lama in which there are no distinctions. I present the offering of the world of all possible appearances emergent as the ground of being. nang-si zhir-zheng cho-pa-bul The general offerings are categorized according to outer, inner, and secret aspects. Outer general offerings are antidotes to attachment and avarice. They consist of the cosmos of a billion universes; all beings (human, non-human, devas, and nagas); all forms of wealth; the eight auspicious symbols; the seven attributes of royalty; vajra goddesses; celestial happiness; human pleasures; and so forth. With the intention of pleasing the enlightened mind of all buddhas and bodhisattvas in the ten directions visualized in the sky above us, everything within samsara and nirvana is offered. General inner offerings consist of the physical body, life span, wealth, and the roots of virtue we have cultivated in all lifetimes. General secret offering refers to the array of the pure realms of the Three Kayas. The extraordinary offerings of Secret Mantra are divided into outer, inner, secret, and innermost secret. Outer offerings are the sensory experiences of the five sense faculties. This is the same as in the sutra tradition, but in tantra, they are offered without separating the perceiving sense faculties from the perceived objects. Like sutra, they purify greed, attachment, and clinging to sensory experience. Inner 18

offerings are men, rak, and torma; secret offerings are union and liberation (jor drol); and innermost secret offering is the true nature or dharmata. This line specifically addresses the innermost secret offering beyond subject, action, and recipient. The world of all possible appearances subsumes all phenomenal existents -- all realms and all beings. The ground of being is the basis of both samsara and nirvana. When the ground manifests as appearances (zhi-nang) and is not realized, appearances become the outer vessel and inner contents (the universe and all beings). But in this line, we offer (chopa-bul) the world of all possible appearances (nang-si) emergent as the ground of being (zhir-zheng). This means that we are offering ground-appearances that are immediately or directly liberated in their own ground. This unsurpassable offering is free of conceptual elaboration and the three spheres of reference. It’s timeless transcends samsara and nirvana arise, cause and result, liberated buddhas and deluded sentient beings. I acknowledge and confess not knowing my essential nature. rang-ngo ma-shey thol-lo-shak Confession is the antidote to aversion and conceptual obscuration. Its relative aspect has three points of reference: sins that are confessed, the act of confession, and the result of confession. Negative actions that are confessed include the ten nonvirtuous actions, the five actions of immediate retribution, and infractions and impairments of the vows of outer Hinayana, inner Mahayana, and secret Vajrayana. The act of confessing is the practice of the four powers, and the result of confessing is liberation. The Lake Born presents the practice of confession according to the view of Dzogchen beyond the three points of reference. In this view, not recognizing our own nature is the root of delusion. This is universally true for all beings in all realms and at all times. Because non-recognition is a “root”, it has offshoots -- subtle and gross forms of delusion. Confession dispels delusion because it recognizes delusion and in that act, ends delusion. Therefore, the text says that we confess (thol-lo-shak) nonrecognition (ma-shey) of our true nature (rang-ngo). Just as Dzogchen confession occurs in the nondual expanse of confessor and confession, Dzogchen samaya (dam-tshig) is nondual, without separation between the holder of samaya and the samaya. Whenever we recognize our fundamental na19

ture, all Dzogchen samaya are perfectly and completely upheld. There are four special samaya of the innermost Dzogchen: non-existence, oneness, all-pervasiveness, and natural manifestation. Non-existence means that Dzogchen samaya are beyond the conventional action of keeping or guarding. Since there are no causes, conditions, and interdependent arising in the fundamental nature, the only samaya is the realization of pure awareness. There is no samaya as such to be guarded. Oneness means that the ground, path, and result of the samsara and nirvana are not separate, but perfect and complete in a single sphere. All-pervasiveness refers to the allencompassing nature of the liberated state -- freedom from dualistic subject and object. Natural manifestation means that the kayas and qualities of primordial wisdom are atemporally, effortlessly, and perfectly self-manifest. Now is probably a good time to talk about the dangers that can arise from misconstruing the view of Dzogchen. Although there’s no basic difference between East and West, it is true that the entire Buddhist doctrine is not yet firmly established in the West. Therefore, it’s easier for things to go wrong in the West. I’m not judging Westerners as individuals, but I want to tell you about some of my experiences teaching Dzogchen in the West. Some people have told me that they have realized the profound Dzogchen and are Dzogchen yogis. They also say that they don’t need to do the relative practices that purify defilements and accumulate merit and wisdom. It seems to me that they have developed a wrong view about the common vehicle and the unsurpassable Secret Mantra. They also ask me: “If I follow Dzogchen, I don’t need to do anything else. Isn’t that true?” Then having said this, they ask if they must keep their tantric samaya since now they have Dzogchen samaya that cannot be guarded. In fact, they are asking the same question someone once asked to Saraha: “If I am in the condition of pure awareness, is it okay to commit negative actions?” Saraha answered: “If you are in the condition of pure awareness, how could you commit a negative action?” Please understand clearly that holding the Dzogchen view goes hand in hand with keeping a high ethical standard. If you have Dzogchen view and a low standard of conduct, this is a negative path. View and conduct must both be of excellent caliber. Always remember the words of Guru Rinpoche: “My view is as vast as the sky but my actions are as refined as a grain of flour.” Since we are his followers, we must heed his advice to cultivate an expansive view while at the same time upholding a strong sense of ethics. I rejoice without ordinary coming together and separation. du-dral me-pa jey-yi-rang 20

The practice of rejoicing in the virtuous activity of others is an antidote to anger and jealousy because it helps to overcome our sense of impoverishment. The general practice is to cultivate a profound joy in the virtue of the activities of buddhas and bodhisattvas as well as in the virtues of sentient beings which are such thing as glory, wealth, enjoyment, and virtue itself. When we rejoice in these virtues, our own virtue is pooled with others’ virtue and becomes more powerful. Without rejoicing, we are susceptible to fits of jealousy that create the karma for re-birth in the realm of the jealous gods. The metaphor that explains this is that the virtue of others is like a vast ocean and rejoicing in their virtue is like adding a drop of water to the ocean -- the two become indivisible. Whenever we practice rejoicing, we need not doubt that this kind of merging is actually occurring. The practice of rejoicing in virtue applies to the virtue of defiled merit and the virtue of undefiled wisdom. Defiled merit pertains to relative truth and is accumulated through our body, speech, and mind. As a composite, tangible deed, it arises and eventually fades. Even virtue that is accumulated through the mind is defiled because it is not wisdom but conceptual thought. The virtue of undefiled wisdom is ultimate truth. It is beyond mind, immaterial, and free of the forces of coming together and separating. The Lake Born text describes the ultimate way of rejoicing. In the expanse of the view of Dzogchen, we recognize the nature of pure awareness for which there are no causes and conditions, no substance, no virtue, defiled or undefiled. That is why this line speaks of rejoicing (jey-yi-rang) without ordinary coming together and separation (du dral mepa). I beseech you to turn the Wheel of Dharma, the nanda of sound and emptiness. drak tong nan-day cho-khor-kor The practice of beseeching the buddhas to turn the wheel of Dharma is the antidote to confusion and ignorance. According to relative truth, the practice consists of entreating the buddhas and bodhisattvas to manifest as rupakaya and turn the wheel of Dharma in order to liberate sentient beings. We imagine that we are in the presence of all buddhas and bodhisattvas. Then we emanate hundreds and thousands of replicas of our physical body. We imagine each one holding a thousand-spoked gold21

en wheel and beseeching the buddhas and bodhisattvas to continually turn the wheel of Dharma. Lord Buddha said: “In truth I was not born in Lumbini. I did not attain enlightenment at Bodhgaya. I did not teach at Varanasi or pass into nirvana at Srinigar.” This is meant to indicate that the true speech of the buddhas is not the sounds, words, and meanings of the Dharma that we hear at the ordinary level. It is unity of sound and emptiness, never verbalized, never arising, remaining, or ceasing. Sound is of the nature of sambhogakaya. When the words and speech of ordinary beings are exhausted in the sphere of undefiled wisdom, what remains is inseparable sound and emptiness -- inexpressible sambhogakaya inseparable from nirmanakaya and dharmakaya. Nanda means emptiness and it indicates that the speech of all buddhas is inseparable from the Three Kayas. Within nanda, sound and emptiness “turn” for the benefit of beings. This is the ultimate meaning of the practice of requesting to turn the wheel of Dharma (cho-khor-kor), the nanda of sound and emptiness (drak tong). [I request] you remain in spontaneous presence. lhun gyi drup-par zhuk-sol-deb According to the Basic vehicle, the practice of asking the buddhas not to pass into nirvana is an antidote to a short life span which is itself the result of having taken life previously. The principle on which this practice is based is the example of the ring and the hook -- the spiritual merit of beings is a ring and the compassion of buddhas is a hook. This portrays the relationship between sentient beings and buddhas. To do this practice, again we emanate countless replicas of our physical body and imagine that stand in before all the buddhas and bodhisattvas. They entreat them not to remain statically in nirvana but to compassionately serve as the field of merit and wisdom until samsara is emptied. Sometimes this is called “ten shuk” – “remaining firmly”. Because it ensures that beings will always receive the guidance of buddhas and bodhisattvas for aeons of time, it creates inconceivable benefits. The Lake Born text is describing the ultimate aspect of this practice. It acknowledges the essence of all buddhas as an infinity of kayas and primordial wisdoms. Without departing from the array of purity, their awakened qualities are perfect and complete in the vast expanse of pure awareness and are expressed impar22

tially without reference to the three spheres (buddhas, beneficial activity, sentient beings). Since buddhas and bodhisattvas never depart from pure awareness in order to benefit beings, the text says that they always remain (zhuk) in spontaneous presence (lhun-gyi-drup-par), the sheer luminosity of pure awareness. I dedicate my accumulated virtues in the space of original purity. ge-tsok ka-dak ying su ngo The practice of dedicating merit is an antidote to selfishness because it gathers our positive merit and virtue and gives it without attachment to others. There are three ways of doing this practice: our merit can be dedicated to all beings; it can be dedicated according to the example of sublime beings; or it can be dedicated in the sphere of original purity. The first two methods are relative and the third is ultimate. It is not correct to dedicate merit to oneself or to a particular person or persons. Actually, it’s not correct to dedicate merit to anything less than all beings coextensive with space. There are two main reasons why we dedicate merit to all beings. The first is that all beings are in dire need of great amounts of merit in order to attain enlightenment. The second is that dedicating merit ensures that it will never be lost or destroyed from the moment it is created until buddhahood is attained. This is very important in light of the fact that just one moment of anger destroys oceans of carefully accumulated merit. However, if the merit is dedicated to all beings, it has been shared and can never be destroyed. The practice of dedicating merit according to the example of sublime beings, means to dedicate the merit while reciting a prayer such as: Emulating the heroic Manjushri, Samantabhadra, and all those with knowledge, I too make a perfect dedication Of all actions that are positive. The Lake Born text presents the ultimate method of dedicating merit. The space of original purity (ka-dak ying) is free of the three spheres of reference: a person dedicating merit, the merit that is dedicated, and the goal towards which it is directed. By presenting the ultimate method of dedicating merit, I am not saying that the relative way is inferior. The relative dedication of merit is directed towards all be23

ings who fill the infinity of space. It is based on bodhicitta. The infinity of space in which all beings abide is the same as the space of original purity referred to in the ultimate method of dedicating merit. The wordings are different -- space and original purity -- but they are referring to the same idea because of the interdependence of form and emptiness, relative and ultimate. May I awaken to the Youthful Vase Body. zhon-nu-bum-kur jyang-chhub-shok Prayers of aspiration ensure that the ultimate fruition of buddhahood will be attained. In fact without such prayers, buddhahood can never be attained. Buddhahood (jyang-chhub-shok) is glossed as the purification (jyang) of afflicted states and ignorance simultaneous with the emergence of all-encompassing (a-ub-chub) kayas and primordial wisdoms. The expression “youthful vase body” is a Dzogchen term for buddhahood. Youthful (zhon-nu) means that enlightenment is unstained by relative characteristics, such as arising and cessation, transition and change. Youthful refers to the unchanging essence of primordial wisdom. Vase (bum) refers to the inherent potential or indwelling radiance of primordial wisdom that functions as the emanational basis for the phenomenal body (kur) of samsara and nirvana. Issuing the Command and Establishing the Wheel of Protection In order to practice any sadhana effectively, we must understand what is meant by the eighty thousand kinds of negative forces. This is not an easy subject for Westerners, but it was popular in Tibet and now we have brought it to America! Whenever I mention “demons”, people look surprise and seem doubtful. They immediately think: “Do demons and spirits really exist? How can there be 80,000 kinds?” Now for a Tibetan person with a background in Vajrayana, it is easy to relate to spirits and demons. But in the West, people have to stop and think about it for a while. The point is this -- this kind of constant doubting and thinking is itself the demon of the West! While Westerners are busy thinking, they are not doing the practices that will dispel their demon of conceptuality. How will they ever go beyond thinking? Another common Western demon I want to mention while I’m at it is doubt about the inconceivable qualities and beneficial activities of the buddhas. 24

The next point to address is how negative forces manifest according to the two levels of truth. If practitioners meditate with the idea that demonic forces do not exist, they are holding a nihilistic view. Worse than that, this nihilistic view prevents them from doing the practices that eliminate the negative forces of nihilism. How can they ever attain ultimate realization? Simply denying the existence of demons does not eradicate them, therefore, we must examine closely whether or not enemies and demons exist. Ask yourself: “Do I exist?” If you answered “Yes”, then enemies and demons do exist because that “I" is the king of all demons. We don’t have to look any further for the eighty thousand kinds of demons. The king of demons, clinging to a self-identity, is right there! As to the eighty thousand kinds, this refers to all the emotional and confused ways we have of clinging to a self-identity. And come to think of it, any discursive thought or confusing emotion is a demon, so actually there are far more than 80,000 types of obstructors and 21,000 kinds of demons! Why is belief in a selfidentity demonic? It’s because it supports the erroneous belief that the phenomenal world is external. This in turn eliminates the possibility of liberation which is only found within oneself. Maybe the English phrase “enemies and demons” is not the best way to convey the Tibetan meaning, but I think that it works once it has been properly explained. Do you know the story of Vajrakilaya and Rudra? Vajrakilaya, the king of wrath, symbolizes wisdom -- no self-identity. Rudra, the embodiment of enemies and demons, symbolizes clinging to self-identity. Once upon a time they battled each other. One after the other, their bodies became bigger and bigger and bigger. Finally, Vajrakilaya severed Rudra’s body into eight parts -- the four limbs, the head, and so forth. They symbolized the eight forms of consciousness. Then he threw them up into the sky and they fell down into our universe. The places where they fell are known as the eight sacred places. HRI I am the primordial King of Wrath; The world of all possible appearances arises in a wrathful form. O hosts of hindrances, believers in a self-identity, listen! Accept the self-occurring adorned torma of ransom And be gone into the basic space of non-arising! OM SHRI VAJRA KRODHA HUNG HUNG HUNG DHARMADHATU RAKYA AH 25

This verse is based on the story of Vajrakilaya and Rudra that I just told. Its purpose is to expel the negative forces (don) and the hindrances of duality (gek) and it also establishes the wheel of protection. The primary demons are wrong view, the rudra of self-identity (duality habit). The secondary demons are the other forms of delusion within conditioned existence. Since Lake Born is a Guru Rinpoche sadhana and Guru Rinpoche belongs to the Lotus Family, we now visualize ourselves as Hayagriva, the wrathful deity of the Lotus Family. Then we consecrate an obstacle torma (gek-tor) through the power of mantra, mudra, and samadhi. The torma assumes the immeasurable qualities of primordial wisdom and has power over the three poisons. At the end of the verse, we cast out the obstacle torma and command the negative forces to leave. Relatively we say: “Be gone into the basic space of non-arising!” But ultimately, identifying ourselves as the wrathful Hayagriva, we destroy our confused emotions and discursive thoughts that are the forces of karma. HRI I am the primordial King of Wrath. hri nga ni ye-nay thro-wo gyal The ultimate practice is to recognize our nature as the wrathful Hayagriva, the clear light of wisdom. Relatively we meditate as follows: 1. We arise as Hayagriva. 2. The three syllables RAM, YAM, KHAM emanate from our heart center; we establish the continuum of shunyata and purify all forms of clinging to duality.

3. We consecrate the torma.
4. The dynamic expression of Hayagriva arises -- the universe arises in a wrathful form.

5. We command all demons to leave immediately and to stay away until we have attained final realization.

6. We expel them into the realm of dharmadhatu, the basic space of phenomena.
HRI is a mantric syllable that engenders the immutable life force or heart essence of Hayagriva. The moment we say HRI, we arise as Hayagriva, the King of Wrath (thro-wo gyal). Let me clear up a common misconception about wrath or trowo in Tibetan. It means wisdom of egolessness. It is not the same as ordinary anger which is she-dang in Tibetan. Anger is an aggressive energy projected from one person to another with malicious intent. Wrath is the clear light of wisdom completely devoid of ignorance and dualism. 26

This practice destroys clinging to the concept of a self–entity by creating the “vajra pride” of identifying with the wisdom deity. Without this practice, we run the danger of clinging to ourselves as ordinary beings despite our meditation. We should know that viewing ourselves as ordinary is exactly that – just a view or concept. Of more serious consequence is the pride we feel in this concept and how we embellish it with other concepts, such as my family, my possessions, and my reputation. When we do this practice, as soon as we view ourselves as the primordial Hayagriva, free of defilements and endowed with wisdom and inconceivable expressions, our false concepts and stupid pride are immediately destroyed in the basic space of nonduality. The world of all possible appearances arises in a wrathful form. nang-si bar-wai chhyak-gyar shar This destroys clinging to the conceptual identity of other. Since we have recognized ourselves as Hayagriva, the dynamic expression of Hayagriva now arises, or as the text says, “the world of all possible appearances arises in a wrathful form.” The word bar literally means blazing, but it is also an epithet for Hayagriva’s wrathful energy that destroys all demons. The word chhyak-gyar means mudra in the sense of form. The entire line means that duality is dissolved; all beings and all phenomena of the three levels of existence (nang-si) assume (shar) the wrathful form of Hayagriva. O hosts of hindrances, believers in a self-identity, listen! nyon-chik dak-tai gek-kyi-tsok As Hayagriva, we demand that the negative and demonic forces (gek-kyi-tsok) listen (nyon-chik) to our command and leave. We visualize countless wrathful emanations issuing forth from ourselves, commanding and destroying all obstructors. Finally, these emanations dissolve back into us and we then establish the protection sphere. There are four types of philosophical views: the views of unrealized beings; wrong views; partial views; and the completely pure view of ultimate truth. The views of unrealized beings are various ways of believing in the self-identity of the self and the self-identity of other. Only the thoroughly pure view can destroy this type of view. Kuntuzangpo symbolizes the completely pure view -- freedom from belief in false identities. Sentient beings symbolize delusion and the belief in false identities. They 27

are their own worst enemy. Although there are no demons other than their own beliefs, they continually wander in samsara. What wanders? Just their erroneous beliefs! Accept the self-occurring adorned torma of ransom rang-jung gyen-gyi lu-tor long The ransom-torma (lu-tor) with self-arisen adornments (rang-jung gyen-gyi) is the expression or radiance of Hayagriva’s pristine awareness. And be gone into the basic space of non-arising! kye-wa-me-pai ying-su deng When we offer the obstacle torma, we are not bribing someone to go away. We are practicing non-arising natural liberation. If we ask where demons come from, where they remain, and to where they vanish, we will not find any satisfying answers. This forces us to conclude that there must be no demons and therefore no place where demons can be liberated. This “no place” we have indirectly identified is the basic space of non-arising (kye-wa-me-pai ying-su). Thus, the text says, “Be gone (deng) into the basic space of non-arising.” The boundary of supreme primordial protection is established. ye-sung chen-por tsham-chay-do In many sadhanas, there is a relative protection boundary made of vajras and so on, but in this practice, the protection boundary is the state of dharmadhatu, the sphere of all phenomena. When we arise as Hayagriva and the phenomenal world arises as wrathful energy, this is not limited to just that moment in the sense that one instant we are ordinary and the next we are Hayagriva. We are not changing into Hayagriva. If we think of ourselves as demons, that's our perception. The truth is that there is no ignorance in wisdom, only Clear Light. There is no harm, obstacles, and obstructors, only the basic nature of phenomena, the dharmadhatu. This is the timeless, primordial (ye-sung) protection boundary (tsham-chay-do) of great (chen-por) emptiness. OM -- invokes the three kayas SHRI -- glorious VAJRA KRODHA -- Hayagriva 28

HUNG HUNG HUNG -- the self-occurring sound of primordial wisdom that liberates confusion DHARMADHATU RAKYA AH -- establishes dharmadhatu as the ultimate protection sphere

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The Descent of Vajra Blessings The descent of vajra blessings shifts us from an impure mode of perception to a pure mode. Impure refers to perceiving the three realms of conditioned existence filled with beings that create karma with their body, speech, and mind through the power of ignorance. In this practice, the impure mode “is blessed” into its own pure mode. The key to this shift is our personal devotion and deep yearning to shift. There really isn't anything outside ourselves that bestows a blessing. This just depends on us. Although it is true that buddhas and conditioned beings are inter-related like parents and children, and that buddhas have vowed to help sentient beings, still, beings must first desire help and be receptive to it. The Descent of Blessings is practiced by imagining that rays of light emanate from our heart center and strike the heart center of all buddhas and their heirs in the ten directions and three times. The light we emanate is specifically directed towards the pureland of Guru Rinpoche where we visualize him seated in his palace and surrounded by retinues. The light invokes the wisdom of Guru Rinpoche and all buddhas. Countless emanations of Guru Rinpoche’s wisdom body now appear in the form of Guru Rinpoche. Countless emanations of his wisdom speech appear as mantric syllables and countless manifestations of his wisdom mind appear as symbolic emblems. All these emanations gather together in the sky above us and send us their light that dissolves into us. We are blessed by their light and we assume the three vajras of wisdom body, speech, and mind. Our place of residence or practice is now a celestial mansion, the universe as the pure realm of Lotus Light. All beings are dakas and dakinis and the offerings and accomplishment-substances on the shrine are wisdom nectar. While reciting this verse, we play ritual music and send up clouds of incense smoke. This special tantric ritual for invoking blessings is based on the teachings of Guru Rinpoche who promised to appear before anyone who invoked him with sacred music and incense. When the music is over, then we recite the mantra. Although it may seem that there are many aspects going on at the same time in this practice -visualization, recitation, incense, music and so forth, the main point is to be receptive and to generate faith and devotion. Above all, we should feel a strong connection to Guru Rinpoche and all buddhas. If we don’t have such a feeling, how can they work with us? They themselves do not give or withhold blessings. They have no intention one way or the other. Whether we receive blessings or not is entirely up to us. Reach30

ing out to the buddhas is called devotion. Faith and devotion are like wisdom eyes that see the qualities of enlightenment. Without faith and devotion, the seed of Dharma cannot bear fruit, just as a seed burned in a fire cannot sprout. Not having faith and devotion is said to be like sitting in a cave that faces north – the sunlight can never enter. In short, faith and devotion is the relative level of the Descent of Blessings. It means to have a positive feeling about Dharma and a happy feeling when we are involved with it. It is very basic. All of you already have this kind of devotion. If you didn’t, you wouldn't be here. Just being here means that you decided that to do this retreat because at some level you felt it would be helpful and make you happier. This is the faith and devotion I am talking about. Relatively speaking, the Descent of Blessings is based on the power of imaging. Everything is based on that when you get down to it. In Mahayoga we openly state that whatever we imagine is reality. Ultimately, the Descent of Blessings is the realization that ordinary concepts are wrong. For example, most of the time, we probably think that we are sentient beings and not buddhas. The vajra blessing here is to realize that this is not the case. HUNG From the glorious mountain of self-manifest purity, In the blazing pure realm of supreme bliss, O Immortal self-arisen Lotus-face, And hosts of oceans of the Three Roots – Arouse your enlightened intent from non-apparent basic space. In this superb place of the sublime secret, Bestow the supreme empowerment which sends down vajra blessings. Dispel discordant hindrances and obstacles; Show wondrous signs and indications; Bring about the fruition of practice! OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PEMA DEWA DAKINI JNANA ABESHYAYA AH AH HUNG is the life force or essence mantric syllable of all buddhas. Beginning this verse with HUNG is like calling all buddhas on the telephone and saying, “Hello.” Actually, it's more like calling yourself and saying hello to the vast expanse of wisdom. In the Tibetan script, HUNG has five components that represent the five aspects of primordial wisdom. The circle at the top represents the primordial wisdom of 31

the sphere of reality. The crescent moon represents mirror-like primordial wisdom. The consonant HA represents the primordial wisdom of equality. The vowel AH under the consonant represents the discerning primordial wisdom, and the vowel U at the very bottom represents the primordial wisdom of natural manifestation. From the glorious mountain of self-manifest purity, rang-nang dak-pa pal-gyi-ri This means that we are invoking a pure reality with heartfelt devotion. All reality is self-manifest or naturally occurring and can be understood impurely or purely. The impure mode is the perception of the six realms of beings ranging from the hellbeings, hungry ghosts, animals, all the way to humans, demi-gods, and gods. The main characteristic of impure perception is clinging to a subject that perceives and grasps to an object that is perceived. The purpose of deity meditation is to change this impure habit into the habit of pure perception in which self-manifest reality is recognized. Then it is called pureland. Thus the text refers to self-manifest (rangnang) purity (dak-pa), the glorious mountain (pal-gyi-ri). In the blazing pure realm of supreme bliss, de-chhen bar-wai zhing-kham nay The glorious mountain is a blazing (barwai) pure realm (zhing-kham) of supreme exaltation (de-chhen). Impure perception is filled with suffering, but pure perception is permanent and unchanging supreme bliss. A wheel often symbolizes bliss because it is beginningless and endless. The image of blazing describes supreme bliss as a mass of light that radiates all-pervasively. Immortal self-arisen Lotus-face, chhi-me rang-jung pe-mai zhal This is Guru Rinpoche’s name. It does not only refer to his face per se but to his presence in our universe. Immortal (chhi-me) is synonymous with dharmakaya; Self-Arisen (rang-jung) with sambhogakaya; and Lotus-Face (pe-mai zhal) with nirmanakaya. Conventionally, Guru Rinpoche is immortal because he was not really born at all. He appeared miraculously from a lotus. On an ultimate level, immortality refers to Guru Rinpoche’s enlightened mind that is immutable and free from birth, aging, sickness, and death. Self-Arisen means that Guru Rinpoche is luminosity that 32

is not caused by dharmakaya, but arises of its own accord inseparable from dharmakaya. Lotus-Face is an honorific form of expression that acknowledges the palpable presence of Guru Rinpoche’s nirmanakaya form which is very much needed since sentient beings cannot see buddhas as such. And hosts of oceans of the Three Roots – tsa-sum gya-tso tsog-dang-chay As I said before, the Three Roots (tsa-sum) are lama, the source of blessings, yidam, the source of accomplishments, and dakini, the source of enlightened activities. Ocean (gyatso) describes the vastness of the Three Roots – not just one lama, one yidam, and one dakini, but oceans of them. The word hosts (tsog-dang-chay) also has the same function. At a relative level, Guru Rinpoche is the principle deity and he is surrounded by a retinue, but ultimately, Guru Rinpoche is self-occurring primordial awareness replete with dynamic creativity -- fundamentally our own nature. Arouse your enlightened intent from non-apparent basic space. mi-ngon ying-nay gong-pa kyo This refers to dharmakaya and rupakaya. Dharmakaya is non-apparent basic space (mi-ngon ying), the ultimate sphere endowed with potential but having no characteristics in and of itself. Rupakaya is enlightened intent (gong-pa) or enlightened mind that benefits sentient beings. Rupakaya is very important, because dharmakaya has no attributes with which to communicate with sentient beings. When we say these words, we are invoking unmanifest dharmakaya to show itself as manifest rupakaya of nondual compassion. We use the word arouse (kyo) which literally means to move, in the sense of asking the dharmakaya to move or show itself to us! Kyo also has a sense of “raise up” in the sense of invoking the rupakaya to arise from dharmakaya. In this superb place of the sublime secret, may-jung sang-wai-nay-chok-dir Superb or wondrous (may-jung) means that we are endowed with the five aspects of purity: the excellence of environment, time, teaching, teacher, and retinue. These five aspects of purity constitute the sublime secret abode (sang-wai-nay-chokdir). Secret refers to the hidden or not commonly understood aspects of the five as33

pects of purity. For example, in terms of the purity of the environment, the five natural elements -- space, earth, water, fire, and wind -- are the five secret dakinis: Yingyi Wangchukma, Sangye Chenma, Mamak, Go Karmo, and Damsig Drolma respectively. Bestow the supreme empowerment which sends down vajra blessings. dor-je jyin-phob wang-chhen kur Blessing (jyin-phob) literally means “wave of splendor”. It refers to the realization of the five aspects of the sublime secret -- the shift from impure to pure perception in which our ordinary body, speech, and mind become the three vajras. Vajra (dor-je) means unchanging. In contrast to material reality in which the natural elements and our physical bodies are always changing, pure reality does not fluctuate. For example, through realizing vajra blessings, our impermanent physical body is transformed into the indestructible rainbow-like body. Empowerment (wang) is explained by saying that we are presently controlled by our compulsive tendencies and are not living independently. Empowerment confers authority. It opens the gateway of pure perception. For example, the five pyschosomatic constituents are empowered as the five masculine buddhas and karma is no longer created. Ultimately, the ground of being manifest as appearances is empowered or understood to be the expression of primordially self-originated awareness. In this way, empowerment is very effective in bringing about the realization of primordial wisdom. Dispel discordant hindrances and obstacles; mi-thun-gek dang bar-chay sol In the section, Issuing the Command, I spoke about hindrances and obstructors (mi-thun-gek). Now I will say something about obstacles (bar-chay). There are three types: outer obstacles related to the five elements; inner obstacles related to the body; and secret obstacles related to the mind, such as confused emotionality, wrong views, and doubt. Since obstacles might interfere with the effectiveness of the descent of blessings, we now ask that they be dispelled (sol). Show wondrous signs and indications; ngo-tsar-tak dang tshen-ma ton 34

There are some general indications (tak) that occur when we receive vajra blessings. For example, we may just feel good so to speak or feel mentally stable, and so forth. There are also specific outer and inner signs (tshen-ma) such as having auspicious dreams which is an outer sign. There is no criteria for what constitutes an auspicious dream, but some examples are: reaching a mountaintop, flying in the sky, ferrying people across a river, and finding crystals, mirrors, and treasures. Inner signs include having greater faith and devotion, deeper renunciation, acting compassionately, and praying for all sentient beings. Bring about the fruition of practice! drub-pai dray-bu chhiy par dzo

This formulates our aspiration to attain both the ordinary and sublime results of practice. The ordinary results are the four enlightened activities and the eight accomplishments. The sublime result is the Three Kayas. When we attain these results, we also attain what is called the two benefits -- the benefit for oneself and the benefit for others. OM AH HUNG OM AH HUNG JNANA ABESHYAYA AH AH OM AH HUNG -- awakened body, speech, and mind OM AH HUNG -- the Three Roots JNANA -- pristine awareness ABESHYAYA -- please send forth AH AH -- two repetitions of the mantric syllable of non-arising effects the descent of blessings Consecrating the Offerings HO! Through the magical sky-treasury of meditative absorption, ting-dzin nam-kha dzo-kyi thrul The outer, inner, and secret offering-clouds chyi nang sang-wai chho-trin ni We emanate (thrul) these offerings through the power of one-pointed concentration (ting-dzin) and we do not think of them in a material way, for example, as 35

they appear on the shrine. This is because material offerings deteriorate whereas offerings emanated from the sky-treasury of mind (ting-dzin) are stainless and inexhaustible. These are the eight outer (chyi) offerings that are pleasing to the five senses:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Drinking water (argham) is an offering for the mouth; it contains the three white substances and the three sweet substances. Foot-washing water (padyam) is an offering for the body. Flowers (pushpe) are an offering for the eyes. They include flowers that grow in soil or water. Fragrance (dhupe) is an offering for the nose. This includes existing and manmade fragrances. Light (aloke) is an offering for the mind. This includes sunlight, moonlight, jewel-light and also the light of pristine awareness. Perfume (ghende) is an offering for the body. Food (newidhe) is an offering for the tongue. This contains a hundred tastes and a thousand powers. Music (shabdha) is an offering for the ears; it refers particularly to sacred or ritual music. By the way, music is not represented by a water-offering bowl on the shrine (hence there are only seven water offering bowls) because it is the actual sadhana music of bell and damaru and so forth. To present these eight outer offerings, we visualize countless goddesses ema-

nating from our heart center, each one carrying an offering. These goddesses emanate other goddesses who also emanate other goddesses. The offering goddesses continue multiplying until the entire sky is filled with these eight outer offerings. The three inner (nang) offerings -- men, rakta, and torma purify the three poisons -- anger, desire, and ignorance respectively. Men (amrita) is a samaya substance and can be translated as medicine. Also called dutsi, it is made with a hundred primary substances and a thousand secondary substances. Looking at the word dutsi, du means demon or mara, and tsi means light of wisdom. So, dutsi is actually the light of wisdom that destroys mara. Men is mixed with alcohol and kept on the right-hand side of the shrine in a metal skullcup that rests on the mandalas of wind and fire. The offering of men is connected the practice of liberation through taste – upon tasting, all mara and defilements, and in particular all samaya, are purified and 36

the light of pristine awareness arises. We offer men in the same way that we presented the outer offerings and we imagine that the mandala deities to whom it is offered experience inexhaustible bliss and emptiness. The second inner offering is rakta or blood. It is not ordinary blood, but the rakta that comes from earth, stones, emptiness, and so forth. It contains thirty-five types of blood and it is mixed with black tea and place on the left-hand side of the shrine in another metal skull-cup. Although blood contains the desire-attachment of the three realms, its actual nature is free from desire-attachment. Its nature is desireless great bliss and that is why it purifies desire and attachment. To offer rakta, we meditate that the mandalas of wind and fire under the skullcup begin to move, causing it to boil over in the skullcup. A red dakini emanates from our secret center and at the same time, the three realms of samsara become a vast ocean of rakta. Countless goddesses who are holding spoons move about throughout the universe, filling their skullcups with rakta and offering it to the mandala deities. The third inner offering is torma, a ritual cake that is placed in between men and rakta on the shrine. Torma has several functions. Sometimes it represents a deity, a celestial palace, or realization, and sometimes it is an offering. Here, it is a great mass of offerings that are pleasing to the senses -- beautiful forms, melodious sounds, sweet fragrances, delicious tastes, and pleasant sensations. Like men, it is liberation through taste. When you make torma, it’s good to mix in some dutsi. To offer it, we meditate that again offering goddesses emanate from our heart center holding and offering torma to the mandala deities. The secret (sang) offerings are union and liberation (jor-drol). They are not represented on the shrine. To offer union, we meditate that countless feminine embodiments of awareness who are young, beautiful, seductive rigmas, emanate from our heart center, one for each mandala deity. The rigmas enter into union with the mandala deities and the four joys of inseparable emptiness and wisdom arises. The offering of liberation is also called annihilation. It refers to killing the physical flesh and blood body that accumulates negative karma and liberating the consciousness into a pureland. Of superb sensory experience arises as the substances of samaya, may-jung do-yon dam-tshik dzay 37

Ornaments which are the display of pristine awareness. ye-she gyen-gyi rol-mor chhar Superb sensory experience (may-jung do-yon) refers to the outer, inner, and secret offerings. They are called samaya substances (dam-tshik dzay) and through meditation, they are transformed (chhar) into wisdom substances that are the adorning display of pristine awareness (ye-she gyen-gyi rol-mor). JNANA TASKRA SAPHARANA KHANG - the wheel of pristine awareness increases When we say this mantra, we visualize the samayasattva aspect of the offerings and then we realize the jnanasattva aspect as we did before. JNANA -- wisdom TSAKRA -- wheel SAPHARANA KHANG – increases THE MAIN PRACTICE Principles of Mahayoga Of the three higher yogas, Mahayoga emphasizes the creative phase of meditation; Anuyoga, the perfection phase with characteristics; and Atiyoga, the perfection phase without characteristics. Creative phase Mahayoga works with purification. This does not mean that the universe and all beings are impure and must be purified. It means that the inherent purity of the universe and all beings must be actualized or realized. There are four parts to the principle of purification: 1) 2) 3) 4) The basis of purification: this is the fundamental ground of pure enlightened essence. The defilements to be purified: these are temporary dualistic appearances. The method that purifies: this is the creation and perfection phases of meditation that transform impure perception into pure vision. The result of purification: this is the attainment of the two kayas. Purification may seem difficult at first. To the extent that we are entrenched in impure perception, we are not aware of how to purify it. To destroy impure dualistic perception, we must realize that phenomena appear but are not truly existent. They are inseparable from great emptiness. In Mahayoga, we do this by creating the appearance of wisdom deity through visualization, mantra, and concentration. When we 38

are the creators of wisdom deity, we know first-hand that wisdom deity is non-substantial and non-existent, yet it is experienced. With practice we extend this observation to all phenomena. We begin to see the magical relationship between form and emptiness and the effectiveness of pure vision. This should come as a great relief because it proves that defilements are not real -- they are temporary because appearances and emptiness are not separate. For example, if we believe that we really have a million dollars, we will also have a million dollars worth of problems. But if we know that the million dollars is just a concept inseparable from emptiness, our relationship to it will not be problematic. Maybe it’s not easy for us to trust that deity yoga works in this way. Maybe it seems difficult because of the visualizations or whatever. Or maybe we think that it increases concepts instead of eliminating them. The essence of it all is that we are temporarily deluded and not fundamentally different from the primordial buddha Kuntuzangpo. This is inspiring and encouraging, is it not? The only difference we have with Kuntuzangpo is in relation to recognizing the true nature. Kuntuzangpo recognizes phenomena as the expression of true nature; we do not. In the absence of recognition, we have externalized phenomena and created a world and beings that are “out there” and real. This is the final outcome of ignorance and delusion. Despite it all, the fundamental pure nature is not contaminated or changed by delusion. It is always untouched by circumstances. In speaking of purification, I have referred to the pure perception of buddhas and the impure perception of sentient beings. But there is also a third mode and that is the meditator’s perception which gradually changes from 100% impure to 100% pure. In the beginning, meditators must consciously generate experiences of purity. But then as their skill improves and they begin to relax, experiences of purity arise naturally and deepen effortlessly. When the meditator and the meditator’s experience are the same, then all appearances are realized as pure. If we want to explain how the world came into existence, we might refer to science and theories of atoms and quantum particles. But the truth is that the origin of the universe is not found in atoms or particles. The answer lies in the realm of inner knowledge. The external world and the six realms of beings – “the problem” -- are created in each moment of our existence through ignorance and dualistic belief systems. However, the solution (wisdom deity and pureland) also arises in every moment. The starting points are different. That’s all. The problem starts with non-recog39

nition and the solution with recognition. So, what I am saying is that we are already capable of nonduality. What we must do is to find the starting point – recognition. I often like to tell this story about how we create our world. Once upon a time, when Buddha was teaching his disciples that the world is just a matter of perception, or in other words, that it’s all in our mind, one disciple approached and said: “Are you kidding? You mean there’s no ocean and no world? Nothing exists except concept?” In response, the Buddha told the story of a woman who had lived in Varanasi, a well known city in India. At that time, there were throngs of thieves and bandits who were continually raiding the town and harming the residents. Everyone was terrified and freaked out. The king tried to protect his subjects but he was never successful. Eventually this lady I mentioned took the matter into her own hands and started to protect herself by meditating that she was a fierce tiger. She meditated so strongly in this way that her neighbors started to see her as a tiger and of course so did the bandits. Her view took care of the problem! This story also reminds me of when I first learned how to play cards. I was very excited and tried to concentrate very hard. When I went to sleep at night, all I could see were the numbers on the cards flashing by my eyes. They wouldn’t stop. Meditation is like that too. When you focus on a wisdom deity, you see all phenomena through the lens of pure vision. Even if you dream of something scary, you recognize it as natural manifestation and you are not afraid. Dudjom Rinpoche said: “In the beginning, the meditator pursues meditation, but later, meditation pursues the meditator.” I like that.

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The Yoga of the Wisdom Body An Overview of the Three Yogas The three yogas of wisdom body, speech, and mind of the creation phase of meditation transform all phenomena into wisdom deity and pureland. They bring us into the recognition of the pure nature of our ordinary body, speech, and mind as enlightenment’s Three Kayas. This is explained under the heading of the purification of the three bardos that summarizes our entire existence: the bardo of this life, the bardo of re-birth, and the bardo of death. The three yogas of wisdom body, speech, and mind purify these bardos and eliminate our tendency to repeat them again and again. When the bardo of this life is purified, the experience of birth (body) is nirmanakaya, the simultaneity of emptiness and form. When the bardo of re-birth is purified, subtle energy (speech) is sambhogakaya, the simultaneity of emptiness and bliss -- the substanceless five purities of time, place, teacher, teaching, and audience. When the bardo of death is purified, the essence of mind is dharmakaya, the simultaneity of emptiness and awareness. The phrase ‘mudra of the wisdom body’ means that embodiment is not ordinary or substantial as it appears but is actually the appearance of enlightenment’s qualities. In this sadhana, there are six stages in generating the mudra of the wisdom body: visualizing the samayasattva, dissolving the jnanasattva, requesting stability, rendering homage, making offerings, and praises. The Samayasattva There are four ways of generating the samayasattva based on the four types of rebirth. 1) Ordinary birth from an egg is purified by projecting a frontal visualization and a self-visualization. This is an extensive method and it is intended for practitioners of least ability.

2) Ordinary birth from heat and moisture is purified by the five awakenings: visualizing the moon, sun, seed syllable, symbolic emblem, and the complete wisdom body. This is for intermediate practitioners. 3) Ordinary birth from a womb is purified through the three vajra rituals. This is for those of great ability. 41

4) Miraculous birth is purified by spontaneously generating the deity mandala in a
single instant. This is for those of the highest caliber. The vehicle of Unsurpassable Tantra emphasizes the last two methods. The Lake Born sadhana uses the three vajra rituals which I will now teach under the heading of the three samadhi. The Three Samadhi The three samadhi are the ground samadhi of suchness, the path samadhi of illumination, and the result samadhi of the causal seed syllable. They are the basis for the entire creation stage of meditation. AH The text starts with the syllable AH, the basis of the samadhi of suchness, the sound of non-arising. When we say AH, all phenomena become dharmadhatu, the basic sphere of reality. Even the meditator’s thoughts are dharmadhatu. How does this happen? Well, let’s consider for a moment that thoughts are always related to either the past, present, or future. But the past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. So where is the present? The purpose of this analytical exercise is to isolate or identify the basic space of all phenomena – to understand that phenomena are truly free of past, present, and future. Thus, with AH, duality and substantial phenomena are realized into changeless dharmadhatu. I want to stress that AH is not a concept about dharmadhatu. It is the natural sound of dharmadhatu. Words can never convey the meaning of dharmadhatu because all words, descriptions, and metaphors are rooted in ignorance and duality. Even the buddhas cannot explain dharmadhatu. This is exactly why we use a nonconceptual syllable. Even if we try really hard to explain the meaning of dharmadhatu, the explanation will never be entirely satisfactory, and after much effort, we will give up saying, “Ahhh!” Isn’t that true? To clarify how AH functions, I will refer to a short teaching that compares Dzogchen teachings with other teachings. General teachings can be very detailed, but often these details don’t amount to much understanding about the complete picture. Dzogchen teachings on the other hand, are simple and uncomplicated, but like the sky, they embrace everything and reveal the complete picture. This is how the 42

syllable AH works -- when we say AH, we are not focused on conceptual reality, therefore, the ultimate reality of the non-arising nature of all phenomena is realized. If this does not actually happen in your practice, at least remember the non-arising nature of all phenomena. Don’t be discouraged. It will happen. The Samadhi of Suchness The unmodified basic space of reality is beyond conceptual elaborations. ma-cho cho-ying tro-dang-drel This line identifies dharmakaya as the basis of the creation phase of meditation. The word unmodified (ma-cho) refers to mind. So to practice correctly, we should know that it means that the unmodified mind is the dharmadhatu (cho-ying), the basic space of reality. Why does leaving the mind alone in its natural state bring about the realization of dharmadhatu? It’s because the nature of mind is dharmadhatu, the enlightened essence free of conceptual elaboration (tro-dang-drel). The nature of mind cannot be changed and if we try to alter it, we create more ignorance and dualism and nondual dharmadhatu becomes more and more impossible to identify. When we alter the mind, we cannot see its nature because we are busy changing it. This is conceptualization and there are four main styles of conceptualization called the four extreme views of existence and non-existence. Thus, it is said that practicing the samadhi of suchness eliminates all wrong views. So now you understand why true meditation is simply allowing the mind to rest in itself without actively pursuing anything. Unmodified mind is dharmadhatu, all-encompassing suchness. Dharmadhatu-mind is everything. That’s it. That’s all. It is emptiness, unlimited openness free of characteristics. The essential nature of emptiness is dharmakaya, the sphere of totality. In the word dharmakaya, dharma doesn't refer to Buddhist teachings but to all experiences. Kaya means endowed with or carrying all the qualities that benefit sentient beings. Dharmakaya is the basis of phenomena but it is not manifest and has no attributes of its own. Sometimes it is called the youthful vase body: youthful means free from birth, death, and decay; vase means all-encompassing; and body means gathers together all positive qualities and primordial wisdoms. The Samadhi of Illumination 43

Unceasing supreme bliss arises as the clouds of compassion. gak-me de-chhen nying-je trin The samadhi of illumination is the sambhogakaya path of the creative stage of meditation. From the samadhi of dharmakaya, the unobstructed (gak-me) luminosity of emptiness arises naturally. This nondual luminosity is great exaltation (de-chhen), the bliss of transcendence. To practice the samadhi of illumination we meditate that the splendor of enlightenment inherent in dharmakaya shines forth as all-pervading white light. This luminosity appears suddenly, like clouds appearing out of nowhere in the vast sky-like expanse of dharmakaya. However, these are not obscuring clouds. They are the clouds of compassion (nying-je trin) – again not dualistic compassion but the non-intentional compassion of emptiness -- the illusory-like compassion that is directed towards illusory-like beings. If we do not realize the samadhi of illumination, when luminosity arises, instead of realizing the great exaltation of nondual compassion, we will experience it as prana and thereafter confusing emotions will arise. The Samadhi of the Seed Syllable The causal HRI syllable blazes with light. gyu-yi-hri-yik o du bar The samadhi of the seed syllable is the immediate cause (gyu) for the appearance of the wisdom deity. We meditate that the essence of pure awareness appears as HRI, the nirmanakaya, the inseparable unity of dharmakaya and sambhogakaya. HRI is white with a reddish tinge and symbolizes the unity of emptiness-wisdom (red) and appearance-skillful means (white). Blazing (bar) like a bright star in the morning sky refers to the power of wisdom. Because light (o) is the opposite of material solidity which is the aftermath of ignorance, it is used to describe the appearances that arise from the nature of pure awareness. Now, before going further, I would like to review the three samadhi. The first samadhi is the basis -- the samadhi of suchness or dharmakaya. Meditatively, it identifies the stainless essential emptiness of mind, pure, sky-like, unsubstantial openness. The second samadhi is the path -- the samadhi of illumination or sambhogakaya. It identifies the naturally arising unobstructed self-illumination of empti44

ness. Here we should remember that luminosity can arise in one of two ways: with and without grasping to it as real; with or without conceiving of it as ordinary phenomena; with or without afflicted emotions and karma, and with or without wisdomawareness and enlightened activity. Luminosity can arise as samsara or nirvana, right? The third samadhi is the result -- the samadhi of the causal seed-syllable or nirmanakaya. It identifies the indissoluble unity of empty dharmakaya and luminous sambhogakaya. As the light radiates forth, it purifies the container and the contained, attachment and discursive thought. This is straightforward. Now we imagine that the wisdom light of HRI touches the world and all beings, purifying duality in the continuum of emptiness. Substantial apparent phenomena appear as the buddhafield of Lotus Light. Meditatively, we purify the experiences of this life by perceiving them as the buddhafield Lotus Light. We visualize the mandalas of the five elements that are actually the five feminine buddhas. From HRI, an AH drops down like a teardrop and becomes a “source of experience”, cho-jung -- an inverted three-dimensional pyramid of light that represents the mandala of space. Then a green YAM drops into the pyramid and becomes a green crossed vajra, the mandala of wind. Next a red RAM drops down and settles above the crossed vajra, becoming a red triangle, the mandala of fire. Now a white BAM drops down and becomes a white circle, the mandala of water. Lastly, a yellow LAM drops down and becomes a square, the mandala of earth. In the center of the pure, majestic citadel of supreme bliss, Now a DHRUM drops down and settles on the golden foundation, the yellow square earth mandala. DHRUM is the combined essence of the five elements and is multi-colored -- blue, green, red, white, and yellow. It becomes a celestial palace -literally, a palace beyond measure (shel-ye-khang) that surpasses the intelligence of ordinary mind. Complete and perfect in dimensions and characteristics.

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A complete description of the celestial palace is very complex and there is not enough time to explain it in detail. For now, I will just say that the celestial palace functions as a setting for the wisdom deity just like this room where we are now is a setting for this retreat. Lies a many-colored lotus; in its center, On sun and moon seats of method and wisdom . . . This purifies our overt and latent attachment to our childhood home and homeland. We visualize that another BAM drops down from the HRI and becomes a stainless multi-colored lotus that represents freedom from defilement. Then a RAM drops down and becomes the sun-disc of prajna, and another AH drops down and becomes the moon-disc of upaya. The syllable HRI changes and in a single instant Now HRI itself descends onto the moon-disc. HRI is the essence of pure awareness. Its five components in the Tibetan script represent the five aspects of primordial wisdom. It instantaneously changes into the form of Guru Rinpoche Padma Thotrengtsel. I become Padma Thotrengtsel, There are several reasons for using the name Padma or Lotus One. First, Guru Rinpoche’s manifestation in this world originated with the emanation of light from the heart of Amitabha, the principal buddha of the Lotus Family. Another reason is that Guru Rinpoche’s manifestation occurred when a five-pronged golden vajra marked with a central HRI descended onto a lotus in the center of Lake Danakosha. Yet another factor is that the dakinis used the lotus as metaphor to render homage to Guru Rinpoche’s wisdom form -- his body was as beautiful as a lotus; his complexion as soft as a lotus, his eyes and mouth were lotus-like in shape; he smelled like a lotus; and wherever he walked, lotuses sprang up. I already explained the name Thotrengtsel when I explained the title of this text. You can also read about it in Guru Rinpoche’s biography. The immortal Lake Born Vajra. 46

Immortal means that Guru Rinpoche was not actually born into this world, nor did he ever pass away. Lake Born is one of the Eight Manifestations of Guru Rinpoche in our world. This name was bestowed when he appeared on a lotus in the middle of Lake Danakosha. Vajra refers to freedom from birth, old age, sickness, and death, and to the seven qualities of wisdom mind. His complexion is rosy-white with stainless bliss and emptiness; Stainless refers to bliss, not emptiness. It can also mean inexhaustible, in which case, the phrase would read “changeless bliss”. He is an exceedingly attractive sixteen year-old youth; At birth, Guru Rinpoche appeared as a sixteen-year old youth. The number sixteen signifies sixteen mature vital essences of his body, the realization of sixteen forms of emptiness, and sixteen forms of exaltation. Sixteen is also the time of life when a person is most beautiful and most attractive according to Tibetan tradition. The word attractive translates two words. The first is lang-tso and refers to the vitality of the thirty-two major and eighty minor marks of enlightenment. The second is geg means attractive in the usual sense of the word. Also, there’s a very specific reason for Guru Rinpoche’s attractiveness. It’s not to arouse pride or passion. It’s simply that the experience of attractiveness helps to clear away mental dullness and awaken wisdom. In other words, the sight of Guru Rinpoche’s attractiveness is liberating in and of itself. His face denotes the potential of the sphere of reality, free from extremes; There are several forms of Guru Rinpoche with more than one face. However, Lake Born has only one face. It portrays the single sphere of dharmakaya. Thig-le denotes devoid of duality and conceptual limitations. And his expression is wrathful, smiling, and affectionate;

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Guru Rinpoche’s wrathful expression refers to the frown lines between the eyebrows. His smiling expression refers to the shape of the mouth and the overall countenance of his face that shows love and concern. His two arms, denoting the unity of appearance and emptiness, Are holding the vajra that overwhelms samsara and nirvana with splendor And the skullcup of unwavering meditative absorption; The only thing I need to add is that the skullcup is filled with the nectar of accomplishment. When tasted, it generates a state of unwavering meditation. His radiance, Mandarava, is seated in his lap, And embraces him while holding a silk-ribboned arrow and a vase of longevity. In the relative world, the word union means that two aspects come together to become one. In the sphere of ultimate truth, the masculine buddha and the feminine buddha in union are indivisible yet distinct. This is the meaning of self-radiance (rang od) – indivisible yet distinct. In this text, the feminine buddha of emptiness is the radiance of the masculine buddha of appearances, but in other texts, it can be the other way around. When Guru Rinpoche practiced with the consort Mandarava, the feminine buddha of long life, he attained the siddhi of vajra immortality. This is why the Lake Born sadhana is also a longevity practice. It is said that the best practitioners can accomplish deathlessness in one lifetime. His two legs display transcendence of the two extremes And are crossed in vajra posture. Their delightful poise is the display of supreme bliss. His hair, worn in a topknot, is crowned with jewels. Some hair is pulled into a topknot and held with a jewel ornament and some hair is loose. The top-knot signifies that all 84,000 confusing emotions are dissolved into the single sphere of reality. The jewel indicates sambhogakaya and the qualities of nondual wisdom. 48

Embellished with silks and ornaments of jewel, bone, and so forth, The adornments of complete and perfect splendor, The ornaments and adornments represent the qualities of sambhogakaya. The five silk garments and the eight jewel ornaments represent the peaceful aspect of sambhogakaya and the five bone ornaments represent the wrathful aspect. They abide within a vast expanse that shimmers with rainbow rays of pure essence. Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava are surrounded by a shimmering halo or rays of light that shine forth from their wisdom form. Beyond this halo, there are rays of twinkling golden light, and beyond them there are rainbows. The aggregates, elements, sensory fields, sense faculties, and sense objects Are primordially the equal purity of the deity wheel; From the beginning, self-arising and uncreated, Complete and perfect as the spontaneously existing consummate mandala. This refers to the mandala of the three seats that describes the purity of the mandala. The first seat is the five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, mental events, and consciousness) and the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and space). It is represented by the five male and female buddhas. The second seat is the eight sense faculties and their eight objects represented by the eight male and female bodhisattvas. The third seat is the four limbs represented by the four male and female gate-keepers. The Lake Born text mentions the first seat (the aggregates and the elements) and refers to the second seat as the twelve sensory fields consisting of the six sense faculties (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind) and their objects (form, sound, odor, taste, touch, and phenomena). It does not mention the third seat. The point is to meditate with confidence that primordially we are the pure mandala. When we recite these lines, we are not forcing something to become pure, or thinking we’re going to make the psychosomatic aggregates pure. There is no transformation because the external world and all beings are already the appearance of the masculine and feminine buddhas in union. The reason we go out of our way to even say this is just to become more familiar with the truth as it already is. That way 49

our world becomes purer all the time and less deluded. So, please practice saying to yourself: “Everything is pure. That’s the way it really is.” When the text says uncreated (ma-kye), it is telling us what I have just said, that there is no need to make it pure since it already is pure. Spontaneous (lhundrup) means inherent or naturally. The kayas and primordial wisdoms are self-arising (rang-shar). The full picture is perfect and complete (dzok). Pointers on Deity Meditation First, we visualize that the wisdom deity is very luminous. The luminosity of our visualization counteracts our gross perception of the physical flesh and blood body. However, it should not be so luminous that the visualization is blurred. Visualize the ornaments, jewels, and silks as precisely as possible. They will uplift you and help you to realize that all phenomena are wisdom light and not material objects. The wisdom deity does not have a flesh and blood body like ours, yet it is not a dead inert image. We should aim at visualizing clearly yet fluidly, like a rainbow in the sky, or a reflection in a mirror. The deity has spirit and vitality. This counters our tendency to grasp at phenomena and then materialize or intellectualize about them. Secondly, we should be sure that we understand the ultimate meaning of the symbolic deity mandala. Otherwise, our practice will deviate. The second pointer about visualization is called recollecting purity. Without understanding the symbolism of the wisdom mandala, deity practice is not helpful and does not lead to liberation. For example, when we focus on the single face, we should be aware that it means dharmakaya. The practice of recollecting purity enhances the luminosity and feltsense of the deity which in turn enhances the understanding of the symbolic wisdom. At the very least while you are visualizing, always remember that wisdom deity is synonymous with bodhicitta and that the purpose is to purify delusion and increase wisdom. The third point about visualization is to make sure that someone’s home. By this, I mean that we must identify ourselves as the deity. This is called vajra pride and has nothing to do with ordinary pride, who is better than whom, and so forth. The practice of vajra pride is to know that I am, at this moment, the wisdom deity with all enlightenment’s qualities. If we practice vajra pride in this way, we will eventually ac50

tualize ourselves as the wisdom deity. We will come to know our identity and that will be enough. Vajra pride is an interesting practice. When I was in Tibet, I was the respected son of a high lama. I felt special. When I came to India, I lived as a beggar, but still I thought os myself as a “special” beggar. Now, I’m in the West, pretending to be a “special” lama! My circumstances are changed, but I always seem to feel that I’m special. I feel very confident in advising you that if you can think of yourself as special -- as Guru Rinpoche, it will be very helpful to you in all circumstances. Now, I would like to say something about integrating these three pointers. Sometimes you should try to improve your luminosity and sometimes you should work with the symbolic wisdom. And sometimes, you should just keep it simple, contemplating that you are the deity and leave it at that. Although the wisdom deity has a name and special attributes, the underlying principle is that the wisdom body comprises or is equal to all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana. So the deity’s form or wisdom body is not just the deity’s body, but represents everything in phenomenal existence, including all kayas and primordial wisdoms. Deity is a code word for no limitations. For example, there is a teaching that says a single wisdom body pervades all realms and all realms are contained within a single wisdom body. This kind of perception or omniscience comes from perfecting the creation phase of Mahayoga. There are specific techniques for developing this, such as meditating that the celestial palace is the size of a three-thousandfold world system and the deity is no larger than an atom, or vice versa. Because deity is wisdom phenomena, free of limitations, it’s flexible and everything is possible. Practicing deity phenomena is a very effective way of destroying belief in solidity. And that's the whole point. Receiving Empowerment OM AH HUNG To receive the empowerments, we meditate that our forehead, throat, and heart are marked with a white OM, a red AH, and a blue HUNG. We visualize the masculine and feminine buddhas of the Five Buddha Families above us. The Buddha Family rests above our crown; the Vajra Family at our throat center; the Jewel (ratna) 51

Family next to the right ear; the Lotus (padma) Family behind our neck; and the Action (karma) Family next to the left ear. Nectar descends from their point of union and enters our crown aperture, completely filling our body. Then it overflows from our body through our crown aperture. To conclude, we meditate that the masculine and feminine buddhas remain or abide as our crown ornament. OM HUNG TRAM HRI AH ABHIKENTSA ATMA KO-A HANG With OM, we join both hands in the one-pointed vajra mudra and place the middle fingers above the crown to indicate the Buddha Family. With HUNG, we place the index fingers at our forehead for the Vajra Family. With TRAM, we place the ring fingers at the right ear for the Jewel Family. With HRI, the thumbs go behind the neck for the Lotus Family. With AH, the little fingers are placed at the left ear for the Action Family. Dissolving the Jnanasattva into the Samayasattva Without visualizing the wisdom deity, the samayasattva can become an ordinary object of objective appearance, yet another cause of samsara. But by dissolving the jnanasattva into the samayasattva, the deity that is the indissoluble unity of wisdom and appearances is recognized as the radiance of wisdom, or as we say, the play or ornament of pristine awareness. We all know by now that the phrase “inviting the jnanasattva” is not to be taken literally. There is no outer wisdom aspect that dissolves into an inner visualized aspect. The practice of dissolving jnanasattva into samayasattva is to call upon our own faith and devotion, the eyes of wisdom, to perceive the simultaneity of appearances and emptiness. In other words, it is an invitation to our own innate wisdom to manifest. For that to happen we need to have faith and openness. We must have deep-seated confidence in our own wisdom and not harbor hopes that someone else will fix it for us. As soon as we have the perspective of intelligent faith, all our experiences will follow suit – they will become the display of wisdom, inseparable appearances and emptiness. We will realize that we never truly lost wisdom, but have been under the power of ignorance which is basically nothing other than a lack of faith in our wisdom nature. This is the main point of dissolving. In fact, Guru Rinpoche taught this himself when he said, “For those who yearningly invite me with devotion and 52

faith, using visualization, mantra, incense, and melodious sounds, what need is there to say that of course I will definitely be right there with you.” Now, I want to address another misunderstanding about samayasattva and jnanasattva. It is very easy to interpret these terms hierarchically, thinking that the jnanasattva is more sublime than the samayasattva. This is not true. The samayasattva is the visualized or apparent aspect of the deity’s true nature, but it is not a mentally fabricated state. It is the appearance of jnana. Both aspects are inseparable and co-equal -- an indissoluble unity. Since one always implies the other, using the skillful means of samaya (of visualization and invocation) is a good way of realizing the nondual jnana aspect, isn’t it? We are not fabricating a nondual state; it is always inherent in all appearances. So whenever you practice dissolving the jnanasattva into the samayasattva, remember that there is no implied hierarchy. HUNG! On the northwest border of the country of Oddiyana, In the pollen heart of a stemmed lotus, You revealed marvelous supreme siddhi. Renowned as the Lotus Born, You are surrounded by a vast retinue of dakinis. As I practice, following in your footsteps, Please come and confer your blessings. The verse for this practice is the famous Seven-Line Supplication to Guru Rinpoche. Each word is a vajra word of many meanings. In Mipham Rinpoche’s commentary White Lotus, there are four levels of meaning -- outer, hidden, secret, and innermost secret. Tulku Thondrup has published a brief summary of this commentary and I have taught the first two levels with the help of the translator, Lama Chokyi Nyima. These tapes are available, and in the future, I hope we will have a transcript. We definitely don’t have time in this retreat to cover this material, but I will give a brief overview so that everyone can make an auspicious connection with this most important prayer. Traditionally this prayer is regarded as the supplication the dakinis chanted to invite Guru Rinpoche to their ganachakra. “To invite Guru Rinpoche to a ganachakra” is a metaphor for the process through which Guru Rinpoche, as the personification of dharmakaya, appears in the pure realms of sambhogakaya and the impure realms of nirmanakaya. At the nirmanakaya level, this prayer appeared at the time of a great 53

spiritual debate at Nalanda University in India between Buddhists and non-Buddhists. The Buddhists were highly trained but were losing the debate. One night, they all had the same dream. The dakini Supreme Peace told them that they would be defeated unless they enlisted the help of her brother who was currently living in the charnel grounds. “If you do not invite him”, she said, “your tradition will surely perish”. Then she told them to go to the highest rooftop and set out elaborate offerings, burn incense, and play sacred music. She gave them the Seven-Line Prayer and told them to recite it with devotion and faith. The next day, the scholars agreed to follow her advice. Her brother was Padmasambhava. He immediately appeared and took his place at the head of the five hundred scholars. He defeated the non-Buddhists with his knowledge and miraculous powers. Later, when he visited Tibet, he taught this prayer to the kings and nobility, and for future generations, he hid it in every terma. Even today, people continue to experience the powerful effects of this prayer and it remains a vast repository of accomplishment. The syllable HUNG at the beginning of the prayer has several functions. Here, it is the life force of immutability and the embodiment of the five primordial wisdoms. The circle represents dharmadhatu wisdom; the moon, mirror-like wisdom; HA, equality wisdom; short AH, discerning wisdom; and the hook, all-accomplishing wisdom. With the sound of the syllable, relatively we arouse yearning and faith and invoke the enlightened mind of all the buddhas and ultimately we recognize our own nature as the actual Guru Rinpoche. The first line, On the northwest border of the country of Oddiyana, refers to Guru Rinpoche’s birthplace in our world. Of course, there are other stories about Guru Rinpoche in other universes, but this is our story. The second line, In the pollen heart of a stemmed lotus, explains how he appeared in our world. The third line, You revealed marvelous supreme siddhi, praises his spiritual qualities. The fourth line is the name Lotus Born that was given to him by the dakinis at his birth. The fifth line refers to his magical emanations as a vast retinue of dakinis. The sixth line, As I practice, following in your footsteps, is a reiteration of our vow to attain the level of Guru Rinpoche through practicing the nine vehicles. The seventh line, Please come and confer your blessings, is a heartfelt supplication for the purification of our ignorance. I have to stop here for now, but please read the spiritual biography of Guru Rinpoche. It will make a big difference in the quality of your practice. HRI. From the buddhafield Lotus Net of Supreme Bliss, 54

The palace of the glorious mountain of Ngayab, O great master Thotrengtsel, With your ocean-like hosts of dakinis, When you are fervently invited by the lineage holders, Through your magical display of unobstructed compassion, At that very moment, please come to this place, Bestow empowerments, send down your blessings and grant siddhis! VAJRA SAMAYA ABESHAYA AH AH AH On a relative level, we meditate that from our heart center as the samayasattva, because of our faith and devotion, immeasurable rays of light issue forth throughout the ten directions and three times. In particular, the light streams towards the southwest, to the Copper-Colored Mountain on the continent of Ngayab where Guru Rinpoche presently resides. In his celestial palace, a retinue of male and female deities of the Three Roots surrounds him. When the light invokes them, they all appear in the sky above us. Their wisdom forms appear as mudras, their wisdom speech as seed syllables, and their wisdom mind as symbolic implements. These representations of wisdom body, speech, and mind descend upon us like rain. They dissolve into us like snow dissolving in a lake. We become Guru Rinpoche and his retinue of deities. The three secret vajras are apparent and all experience is enjoyed as the ornament of dharmadhatu, the basic sphere of all phenomena. In addition, we play sacred music, burn incense, and don’t forget the secret ingredient – arousing deep devotion and yearning. As a result, our immediate environment becomes a pureland, our home a celestial palace, our retinue enlightened, and we are the manifest Guru Rinpoche. On an ultimate level, we reject the notion that we are ordinary beings asking for and receiving blessings from Guru Rinpoche. Instead, we adopt the view that we are inseparable from the Three Kayas. Remembering that the samayasattva is not inferior to the jnanasattva, we realize the inseparable unity of appearance and emptiness. There are certain indications of having accomplished this practice. One sure sign is feeling that without a doubt, we are Guru Rinpoche, that our surroundings are pureland, and that our home is a celestial palace. HRI From the buddhafield of the Lotus Net of Supreme Bliss, de-chhen pema dra-wai zhing 55

HRI is the seed syllable of the Lake Born, the secret emanation of Guru Rinpoche. The historical background of the Lake Born is recorded in the Nirvana Sutra. At the time when Shakyamuni’s disciples were pleading with him not to enter nirvana, he prophesized that an emanation greater than himself would appear. I think I already mentioned this in the beginning. He said that this emanation would be born on a lotus. When he passed into nirvana, he dissolved into the heart of Amitabha. Some time later, rays of light radiated out from Amitabha’s heart to the ten directions and the three times, invoking the wisdom of all buddhas and magnetizing their omniscience, enlightened activities, and qualities. These rays then gathered back into Amitabha’s heart, and again radiated forth in a stream of five-colored light forming a five-pronged vajra marked with HRI at its center. Light rays radiated forth from the HRI into our world known as Dzambuling. It reached the land of Oddiyana and a lake that was filled with lotuses -- Lake Danakosha. At that moment, Guru Rinpoche miraculously appeared on a lotus in the center of that lake. The next word is exaltation or bliss (de). As we all know too well, ordinary happiness and joy is something that comes and goes. It's very unstable. Exaltation, however, is not like that. It is unchanging and inherent at all times. The main distinction is that happiness is the experience of an ordinary being and exaltation is the realization of all-pervasive stainless purity. Even the word purity is glossed as that which does not change. The word great (chhen) means that unchanging exaltation is complete and ultimate realization. Pema is of course lotus. Net (dra-wai) usually means an enclosure or fence. In this verse, it means that all phenomena or experiences in this realm are free of duality. They are “lotus phenomena”. For example, in Guru Rinpoche’s pureland, the foundation is actually a thousand-petalled lotus and lotuses are blooming everywhere. The purpose of this imagery is to evoke an appreciation of beauty, wisdom, and stainless purity. Also, lotus signifies enlightened speech and the wisdom of discernment. And, as I explained before, the image of a lotus is closely connected to Guru Rinpoche who is described as having a lotus-like face, lotus-like wisdom eyes, and a white lotus colored body tinged with red. The palace of the glorious mountain of Ngayab nga yab pal ri pho drang nay 56

Ngayab is one of the twelve continents surrounding Mount Meru, the center of our three thousandfold world system. It is located in the southwest. Generally, there are two kinds of nirmanakaya pure lands: terrestrial and celestial. Ngayab is a terrestrial nirmanakaya pure land. It is the land of the rakshas and Guru Rinpoche is now living there as the king of the rakshas. Mountain (ri) refers to the Copper-Colored Mountain where there is a three-tiered palace (pho drang) of lotus light. The upper level is Amitabha’s Dewachen pureland; the middle level is Chenrezig’s Potala pureland; and the lower level is Guru Rinpoche’s pureland. The palace is inconceivably beautiful beyond imagination but it cannot be seen with ordinary eyes. It is made of jewels that are the self-occurring expression of nondual wisdom and it is naturally luminous both inside and outside. The practice of visualizing the palace destroys our habit of grasping to objective appearances. Nay means from and indicates on a relative level that this palace is the source from which we are invoking Guru Rinpoche. Ultimately, it indicates that Guru Rinpoche isn't actually coming from any source or going anywhere because he is inseparable from all-pervading dharmakaya. O great master, Thotrengtsel maha guru tho treng tsel Maha guru is Sanskrit for great master, the embodiment of the wisdom of nonduality and enlightenment’s natural qualities. Guru or lama refers to a wisdom form that is unchanging, inexhaustible, and spontaneously self-occurring bliss. It is also glossed as a heap of enlightenment's qualities. The dakinis blessed Guru Rinpoche with the name Thotrengtsel, Garlanded with Skulls, when he became an accomplished tantric yogi in the charnel grounds. This name is equivalent to the title “mahasiddha”. With your ocean-like hosts of dakinis khan-dro gya-tsho tshok dang chay The word dakinis (khan-dro) includes both the masculine and feminine genders. Kha means sky and dro means to move around. But this is not literal because even insects and airplanes can fly in the sky. Sky is symbolic of dharmata, the true nature of reality-itself. When combines, these syllables mean to function in the true nature of being -- to be enlightened. When enlightenment is realized, the universe 57

becomes an ocean-like retinue (gya-tsho tshok). Here ocean means that it is impossible to count the numbers of dakas and dakinis in Guru Rinpoche’s retinue. When you are fervently invited by the lineage-holders gyu-dzin dung-way chyen-dren-la The lineage holders (gyu-dzin) are those who uphold Guru Rinpoche's lineage. Yearningly (dung-way) describes the way we invoke (chyen-dren-la) Guru Rinpoche. I have already talked about the role of devotion in the Descent of Blessings. Through your magical display of unobstructed compassion, thok-me thug-jei dzu-thrul gyi At that very moment, please come to this place. kay-chik nyi-du nay-dir-shek These two lines are the main supplication. Unobstructed (thok-me) describes Guru Rinpoche’s compassion (thug-jei). Magical (dzu-thrul) describes his compassion as the radiance or magical power of dharmakaya. It refers to the miracle of unmanifest wisdom becoming tangible through the compassionate expression of nirmanakaya. Bestow empowerments, send your blessings, and grant siddhis! wang-kur jyin-phob ngo-drub tsol The supplication concludes with a request for empowerments, blessings, and siddhi. VAJRA SAMAYA ABESHAYA AH AH AH ABESHAYA means to descend. The three repetitions of AH refer to non-arising nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, and dharmakaya. As a whole, the three AH’s mean that the visualized and wisdom aspects are inseparable within a single sphere. With this mantra, we meditate that our mind is inseparable from the three secret vajras of Guru Rinpoche and then we rest in the dharmata (true nature) of great emptiness. The Request to Remain 58

HO! With the samaya mandala of appearance, dam-tsig nang-wai kyil-khor du O deities purified in the wisdom of emptiness, ye-she tong-par dak-pai lha Please abide in the state of nonduality, beyond coming together and separation, zung-juk du-dral me-pai nang And remain firm in delightful equalness! gyey-nyam ten-par shuk-su-sol VAJRA SAMAYA TITHRA LHEN This text does not have a title for this section, but it is nevertheless the Request to Remain -- the request to the jnanasattva to remain inseparable from the samayasattva. Ho! means wonder or amazement. It refers to the indissoluble integration of jnanasattva and samayasattva. The unity of form and emptiness is marvelous, isn’t it? The meditative sequence is that emptiness merges with form. We meditate like this in order to dispel our instinctive dualistic habit of regarding form and emptiness separately. To attain enlightenment, we must understand our mistake and realize the simultaneity of form and emptiness. If we examine the essence of form, we only find emptiness. And, if we consider emptiness, we always find form because it is the unceasing radiance of emptiness. Form embodies emptiness and emptiness supports form. The integrated samayasattva (dam-tsig nang-wai kyil-khor) and jnanasattva (ye-she tong-par dak-pai lha) is nondual wisdom or yeshe. Yeshe is not a substantial form of ordinary appearance. It is light. Again, let me point out that we meditate like this because this is the exact opposite of how we usually function. We don't usually see our world as wisdom light, but it is just that. Simply by having the wrong idea about form and emptiness, we create the fantasy of self and other and eventually we view reality in a substantial and concrete way. But actually, it is not like that. It is yeshe – the light of nondual wisdom, the integration of form and emptiness. In technical terms, the apparent aspect is skillful means and the emptiness aspect is wisdom. It’s important to get the point that this applies not only to the deity mandala but to all phenomena or experiences. Everything is the integration of skillful means and wisdom and there are no real subjects or objects.

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This goes back to what I said before about wisdom deity. Remember, I said that wisdom deity is not what you might at first think. I explained that wisdom deity is a symbolic expression of freedom from duality, freedom from karma, the end of samsara. Without experiencing wisdom deity, we are bound to duality and wander in samsara. No matter how much we try to separate appearances and emptiness, we cannot because the essence of appearance is emptiness and nature of emptiness is expressed as form. This is the union or seamless integration (zung-juk). All reality is like this. It has always been like this and it will always be like this – there is no separation or reunion (du-dral me-pai nang) of form and emptiness. This union is the vital essence of dharmadhatu, the basic nature of all phenomena which are themselves the ever-flowing ornaments of dharmakaya. In this continual stream of integrated form and emptiness, there is no happiness or sorrow because there is no duality. However, there is great delight (gyey) based on the nature of evenness (nyam). Once this state is attained, there is no losing it – it remains (ten-par zhuk). This verse ends with a mantra that translates as: “Please remain in this vajra samaya.” In the word yeshe, she means to know. Knowing can refer to consciousness or to pure awareness. When she is connected with ye (primordial or atemporal), then she refers to knowing that has no connection or reference to time, or in other words, it doesn't arise and it is timeless. It is timeless knowing or knowing that which is timeless. Yeshe is always present as a continuous stream of knowing with no interruptions, fluctuations, or limits. It is not intellectual or conceptual. The most common English translations for yeshe are wisdom, primordial wisdom, original knowing, pristine awareness, and timeless awareness. As you can see, this word provides a good example of how important it is to study Tibetan if you want really understand Dharma. Rendering Homage Homage! To the unmodified, non-compound basic nature, namo ma-cho du-ma-jyay-pai zhi Appearing as the symbolic forms of supreme bliss, dak-pa rab-jyam ying-kyi gyen Pure arrays that adorn basic space – de-chen da-yi kur nang-wa To the deities of the mandala, I prostrate! kyil-khor lha-la chyak-tsel-lo 60

ATI PU HO PRA TITSA HO Outer homage consists of prostrating or bowing down with our body, speech, and mind. Inner homage is the two phases of meditation (creation and completion). Secret homage is the recognition of the view of our true nature and is synonymous with freedom from the conceptual constructs of subject and object. This verse is extremely profound and difficult to explain because the words are very deep and poetic. They are vajra words that have many levels of meaning, yet understanding their meaning does not depend on intellect. So having said that, let’s have a closer look at this verse. Namo is a Sanskrit word meaning homage or to bow down with respect. Macho means unmodified or uncreated. As I explained before, by meditating that the jnanasattva dissolves into the samayasattva, we re-enter our natural state of integrated form and emptiness, the unmodified state before delusion arose. This is also referred to as the union of bliss and emptiness and the union of space and awareness. In fact there are many synonyms for the unmodified state: uncontrived, unchanging, free of rejecting and accepting, unobstructed, free of hope and fear, and so forth. Du-ma-jyay means noncomposite -- not created by causes and conditions -causeless. It refers to our natural state. Osal or clear light is in apposition to du-majyay. Zhi has been translated as nature -- natural ultimate being. This line is saying that our unmodified nature is clear light, the luminosity of primordial wisdom. The second line refers to appearances that are the creative expressions of our nature. Because they are free of duality, these appearances are the completely pure (dak-pa) ornaments (gyen) of the basic sphere of reality (ying). Ying already implies inseparable appearances and emptiness or inseparable awareness and emptiness. It also means that the appearance-ornaments do not truly arise -- they are inherent in the sphere of basic space. Rab-jyam means infinite and here it modifies ying - the basic space of reality is infinite, continuous, limitless, complete, and perfect. In the third line, again we find the word de-chhen, supreme bliss or transcendent exaltation, which I’ve already discussed at length.

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To summarize this verse: the first line refers to the nature of being; the second to the expression of that nature, and the third to the essence and nature as wholeness. These are the Three Kayas: the unmodified nature of dharmakaya; the sambhogakaya ornaments of space, and the symbolic forms manifest as nirmanakaya. With ATI PU HO, we prostrate to the mandala deities. With PRA TITSA HO, they prostrate to us. When we say these words, relatively, we visualize that many powerful beings, such as Indra, Brahma, chakravartins, kings, and so forth, emanate from our heart-center. Then facing the entrance of the mandala, they bow down in prostration. The Outer Offerings OM. Primordially pure, the container and its contents om do-nay dak-pai no-cho-nam Are a spontaneous self-existing mass of offerings, chho-pai phung-por lhun-gyi-drub A supreme wheel of greatest enjoyment. long-cho chok-gi khor-lo-che Enjoy the adornments of supreme bliss. de-wa chhen-poi gyen-du-rol MAHA SARWA PUDZA HO Now the sadhana moves on to the four types of offerings: the outer sense qualities; the inner tantric offerings of men, rak, and torma; the secret offerings of union and liberation; and the innermost secret offering of suchness. This verse offers the actual and mentally conceived offerings that are the objects of the five faculties. Relatively, these offerings are an antidote to greed. Ultimately, they destroy our grasping tendencies by offering the entire phenomenal world (no-cho-nam) of naturally self-occurring (lhun-gyi-drub) primordial purity (do-nay dak-pai). As I explained before, delusion and ignorance create the universe (the outer elements and the inner beings of conditioned existence). In that sense, the universe is impure. But according to Unsurpassed Tantra, the five natural elements abide as the five feminine buddhas and the five pyschosomatic constituents abide as the five masculine buddhas. This is pure view -- pure because material substance is not perceived, only immaterial masculine and feminine buddhas. It is also pure because the 62

three spheres of duality are not perceived -- there is no meditator, no offerings, and no mandala. Purity also means that the offerings are not created. They are naturally manifest (lhun-gyi-drub) great enjoyments (long-cho chok-gi). This supreme realization is compared to a wheel (khor-lo-che) which has no beginning and no end. To summarize this verse, the universe and all beings are offered as a great wheel of nonduality, ornaments that are the display (gyen-du-rol ) of great exaltation (de-wa chhenpo). The offering concludes with the mantra MAHA SARWA PUDZA HO. The Inner Offerings HUNG Limitless pristine awareness flows as dudtsi; ye-she tshay-me dud-tsi gyun The blood of desire and attachment is gathered from the three states of existence; si-sum chhak-pa du-pai thrak The distilled essences of the world of all possible appearances is combined into balingta – nang si chu-dril ba-ling-ta Enjoy the great samaya of sensory experiences. do-yon dam-tsig chhen-por rol MAHA PENTSA RAKTA BALINGTA KHAHI This verse offers the three tantric offerings, men, rakta, and torma. I already explained the outer level of these three offerings. On an inner level, men purifies anger; rakta purifies desire; and torma purifies ignorance. The explanation of the secret level belongs to Maha Ati. In this case, the secret level of men or dud-tsi is that dud means ignorance and tsi means pristine awareness. It is said that the essence of ignorance is wisdom because at the essence level, there is never any delusion. Rakta is the blood of desire and attachment (chhak-pa du-pai thrak) collected from the three realms of existence (si-sum): the deva realm above the earth, the human realm on the earth, and the naga realm below the earth. It is the blood of no-desire. This definition is attributed to Vairocana who said: “The offering of blood free of desire is the greatest desire.” Usually torma (ba-ling-ta) is visualized as a great heap of sensequalities, the entire phenomenal world that consists of appearances (nang) -- the physical outer world and possibilities (si) -- sentient existence. The distilled essence 63

(chu-dril) of the five feminine buddhas and the five masculine buddhas is the embodiment of the Three Kayas. The Secret Offerings HUNG. The supreme bliss of bliss and union is most supreme passion; hung de-chhen de-jyor chhak-pa chhe The intrinsic lucidity of pristine awareness is most supreme freedom; ye-shay rang-sal drol-wa-chhe Nonduality itself is most supreme purity – zung-juk shin-tu nam-dak chhe How very marvellous these supreme offerings! thuk-je thab-khya trul-pai gar The secret offering is the offering of union and liberation. The first line is the offering of union. It starts with de, exaltation. Chhen means supreme and is glossed as unchanging. De-jyor means that exaltation (de) is in union (jyor) with emptiness. To realize this indissoluble unity is great passion (chhak-pa-che) not contingent on joining or separating. De is prajna and jyor is upaya. To make the secret offering of union, relatively, we visualize that from our heart-center, feminine consorts of pure awareness, youthful, beautiful, enticing, and graceful emanate forth. They enter into union with the mandala deities and the primordial unity of bliss and emptiness is realized. Ultimately, we abide in pristine awareness free of ordinary passion, also called the wisdom of discernment. The second line is the offering of liberation. In the general Vajrayana, it is taught that the buddha essence is temporarily veiled by obscurations that must be removed. Based on this viewpoint, it also speaks of outer liberation which is the annihilation of obstacles, demonic forces, hindrances, and enemies, and inner liberation which is the annihilation of the dualistic forces of conceptualization. However, in Dzogchen, the view is that the buddha essence is primordial purity (ka-dak), so there is no ignorance to annihilate. Everything is actually supreme freedom (drol-wa chhe), the clear light (rang-sel) of wisdom (ye-shay). The third line is the innermost secret offering of suchness or nonduality. Nonduality is described in this verse as the union (zung juk) of the most supreme passion 64

addressed in the first line, with the most supreme freedom addressed in the second line. This union is utter great purity (shin-tu nam-dak chhe). As to the purity of enlightenment, there are two types. The first is primordial purity and the second is the purification of temporary obscurations in the sphere of primordial purity. This means that as soon as primordial purity is realized, the dualistic obscurations are directly purified in primordial purity. The fourth line states that the purity of union and liberation or the union of primordial purity simultaneous with purification is the most marvelous, greatest, joyous offering (chhok-gi chho-pa chhe ho). There is a subtle kind of grasping that can arise when we think that we are primordially pure but at the same time we feel that there are temporary obscurations to be purified. This is not a gross defilement, but it is a subtle defilement. It’s like wrapping something smelly into some paper and then throwing away the smelly stuff. The odor still lingers in the paper. The Praises HUNG To the unmodified dharmakaya free from elaborations; To the perfect and complete splendor of spontaneously self-existing supreme bliss; To the emanational dance of the skillful means of compassion – To the Immortal Lake Born Vajra – praises! I will not give a word by word explanation for this verse because I have already explained many of these words such as unmodified (ma-cho), supreme bliss, (dechhen), and spontaneously manifest (lhun-drup). The King of Zahor spoke these four lines with great faith and devotion after he tried unsuccessfully to burn Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava. The first line describes Guru Rinpoche's dharmakaya wisdom mind; the second, his sambhogakaya wisdom speech; and the third, his nirmanakaya form and all his enlightened activities and qualities. When we come to these praises, relatively we meditate as we did for the homage, that many powerful beings, such as Indra, Brahma, chakravartins and so forth, emanate from our heart center and stand before the mandala deities reciting the praises.

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To the vajra form utterly complete and perfect with the major and minor marks; This praises Guru Rinpoche’s vajra body that liberates upon sight. His vajra body is invincible, unceasing, unobstructed, partless, timeless, independent of the five aggregates, and free of birth, old age, sickness, and death. It has no size and as a symbol of pristine awareness, it is not definable. To the speech aspect of enlightenment with its self-occurring unceasing pure melody; This praises Guru Rinpoche’s speech. The speech of unrealized beings consists of words that convey truth and untruth, but the vajra speech of Guru Rinpoche is the self-arising sound of inconceivable wisdom. To the mind aspect of enlightenment with its inconceivable wisdom; This refers to Guru Rinpoche’s inconceivable wisdom mind. To Padma Thotrengtsel – praises! The name of the one who embodies all the qualities praised in the previous lines. To the treasure of limitless positive attributes; This recapitulates what was described in the four previous lines. To the one who enacts effortless enlightened activity created without obstruction; To the one who sends down a wish-fulfilling rain according to needs and desires; To the combined essence of the Three Roots – praises! This praises Guru Rinpoche’s enlightened activities and compares him to a wish-fulfilling jewel. The last line praises him as the combined essence of the Three Roots.

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THE YOGA OF WISDOM SPEECH Having completed the yoga of the wisdom body, we now practice the yoga of wisdom speech that focuses on the recitation of mantra. Now if we apply the four aspects of purification to the yoga of wisdom speech, that method of purification is the recitation of mantra. Mantra is an effective means of purification because it works with the connection that exists between prana and mind. The result of mantra is the attainment of vajra speech that benefits oneself as the realization of sambhogakaya and benefits others by turning the wheel of Dharma. There are several types of mantras such as secret mantras, name mantras, and essence mantras. Each one has a unique purpose. Some mantras generate a deity’s wisdom-form; some are for verbal recitation; some for enlightened activity through radiating and reabsorbing rays of light; and some are for giving rise to the immutable life-force. Mantras are very powerful and can have positive or negative effects depending on whether they were created by unrealized beings or by buddhas and bodhisattvas. The power of positive mantras is based in the pathways and energies of the subtle body. The flesh and blood body has two types of channels: impure channels of karmic winds and pure channels of wisdom awareness. There are mantric syllables at the ends or openings of both the pure and impure channels. When mantras created by enlightened beings are recited, it stimulates these mantric syllables and stirs the prana or energy-wind of primordial wisdom. Oneself is Pema Thotrengtsel And in my heart-center, inside a hollow abode of pure light, The aspect of pristine awareness is present as a vajra. In its center, The aspect of meditative absorption is present as a HRI syllable Surrounded by the root mantra, circling and . . . These lines clearly describe the visualization that is practiced simultaneously with recitation of mantra. Blazing with radiating rays of light that pervade throughout space, Purifying all attachment to ordinary appearances And revealing a display of supreme wisdom!

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These lines describe the visualization for manifesting enlightened activity with the recitation of mantra. This section has three points of concentration. First, one’s self-nature is Padma Thotrengtsel, the samayasattva. Secondly, at our heart center is a hollow abode of light with a vajra inside that is the jnanasattva. Thirdly, the vajra is marked with a HRI that represents the five aspects of wisdom. It is the samadhisattva. Then we visualize the root mantra, OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PEMA THOTHRENGTSEL VAJRA SAMAYA DZA SIDDHI PALA HUNG AH, arranged counterclockwise in a complete circle around the HRI. Later, this mantra garland circles clockwise. Then there are three points about visualizing the mantric syllables. The first is visualizing precisely, meaning that the syllables are seen clearly, standing upright, and as fine as a strand of hair. This creates meditative calm or shamatha. The second is luminosity, meaning that the syllables are brilliant, in this case a brilliant white with a reddish tinge. The third is visualizing the syllables at first trembling or shaking, then bouncing up and down, then emitting their own sound (the syllable OM makes the sound OM), and lastly, circling clockwise. Mantra recitation is practiced in stages. Generally, there are two stages: approaching the deity through reciting the mantra and accomplishing or actually realizing the deity through mantra. Sometimes there are four stages – two phases for approaching and two for accomplishing. In Nyingma sadhanas, there are usually three stages: approaching, accomplishing/realizing, and then enacting enlightened activity. In the Lake Born text, the three stages of approaching, accomplishing, and enlightened activity are combined together. This relates to the classifications of inner yoga -- Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga. The three classes can be combined with one another to make nine classifications in all, such as Maha Maha, Maha Anu, Maha Ati, etc. Maha Mahayoga is based on cause and result. We visualize ourselves as deity and later, we realize that visualization. During mantra recitation, we approach the deity and gradually come closer and closer. Thus, we could say that the stage of approaching through mantra helps to bridge the gap between meditator and deity. Then we accomplish the deity by realizing the inseparability of meditator and deity, and then we perform enlightened activity for the benefit of others. The Lake Born sadhana belongs to the classification of Maha Atiyoga in which the manifestation of oneself as deity (result) does not occur gradually through cause and result, but 68

rather, arises in a single moment. This way of practicing is recommended for practitioners of the highest acumen. It is a very effective and direct approach based on the view of Maha Ati -- that in essence, we are primordial buddhas, and when we recognize that, there are no defilements to be purified. Accordingly, in this sadhana all the stages of mantra are practiced in a single moment of recognition and there is only one mantra and one visualization for all the stages of mantra recitation. In the lower tantras, the deity is distinct from the meditator and meditation is the means of approaching the deity. In Dzogchen, it is understood that the continuum of being and the primordial buddha are one and the same. When applied to meditation, this means that the practice is to recognize that one is the primordial and inherent deity. That’s all. This recognition is the supreme form of approaching. So to recapitulate: the lower vehicles must bridge the gap between deity and meditator and thus they speak of “approaching”. In Dzogchen, the meditator is recognized as the deity and this is called the supreme approach, meaning that truly speaking, there is no approaching. Regarding the phase of accomplishing, in the lower vehicles this is done gradually through effort, but in Dzogchen, recognition is not only supreme approaching but it is also supreme accomplishment because the accomplishment is contained within the approach. As for the phase of enlightened activity, in Dzogchen, it is enacted spontaneously for the benefit of beings and is simultaneous with approaching and accomplishing. So, with the understanding that all phases of mantra recitation (approaching, accomplishing, and enlightened activity) are practiced simultaneously through recognizing oneself as the wisdom deity, we recite the mantra OM AH HUNG . . . After visualizing with precision, luminosity, and movement, the samayasattva, jnanasattva, and samadhisattva (oneself as Guru Rinpoche, the heart-center vajra, and the HRI), we visualize that the HRI and the mantra-garland send forth inconceivable rays of light that extend wherever there is space. We visualize light because it is an appropriate symbol for the radiance of wisdom. It is the opposite of concrete substance, the by-product of ignorance. Therefore, we meditate on light as the self-occurring appearance of wisdom. When we say meditate that light goes forth, that means meditate that the subjective and objective poles of experience are purified. We see everything as the infinite purity of all possibilities and existences. We realize primordial wisdom, the unity of upaya and prajna. This is the perspective to adopt while reciting mantra. 69

OM AH HUNG VAJRA GURU PADMA THOTHRENGTSEL VAJRA SAMAYA DZA SIDDHI PALA HUNG AH I will now explain this mantra according to the Three Kayas. OM AH HUNG is wisdom body, speech and mind. VAJRA or BENZRA (with a Tibetan accent) refers to Guru Rinpoche as dharmakaya – enlightened mind that is like space free of elaboration. VAJRA means indestructible and its function is to destroy substantiality. By substantiality I mean external universe or jig-ten. Jig means to destroy and ten means basis. So, jig-ten literally translates as the basis that is destroyed. It is the essence of emptiness or VAJRA free of duality and characteristics that destroys the mundane world. GURU refers to Guru Rinpoche as sambhogakaya -- enlightened speech or awakened expression that is the rich outflow of dharmakaya free of characteristics. The term transcendent exaltation (de-chhen) refers to the unceasing and unobstructed qualities of sambhogakaya as they are embodied in the guru or lama. Sambhogakaya is long-cho dzog-pai ku. Long-cho is wealth, not ordinary wealth, but the wealth of realization that manifests naturally and gives meaning to dharmakaya. Sambhogakaya is a subtle level of experience, the experience of light that is the essence of vajra bliss. The light of sambhogakaya is referred to as pureland endowed with five definite aspects: the environment is Akhanistha; the time is never-changing timelessness; the teacher is Vajradhara Dorje Chang; the teaching is the Mahayana; and the retinue are bodhisattvas. PADMA THOTRENGTSEL refers to Guru Rinpoche as nirmanakaya – a powerful emanated wisdom body that is not separate from dharmakaya, the primary space of being, nor from sambhogakaya, the light of dharmakaya. Nirmanakaya is the tangible arising of compassion. The nirmanakaya of our universe is known as Dzambuling in Tibetan cosmology. PADMA has several meanings. In this instance, it refers to: (1) the manner in which Guru Rinpoche appeared in the realm of Dzambuling, and (2) to the Lotus Family, the enlightened family of discerning pristine awareness. 70

Although THOTRENGTSEL is a nirmanakaya form, in essence, it is always free of ignorance and its characteristics and it is always endowed with the qualities of sambhogakaya. THOTRENGTSEL is a vajra body unlike our ordinary field of experience. For example, humans and animals are born and they die because they depend on the five aggregates. But the vajra body is indestructible because it appeared miraculously in the heart of a lotus and therefore it is characterized by birth and death. VAJRA SAMAYA translates into Tibetan as dor-je dam-tsig. In English as promise or commitment. The topic of samaya is quite extensive. Traditionally, it includes teachings on the proper motivation for receiving samaya and how to receive, guard, and renew one’s samaya. VAJRA SAMAYA is not the conventional type of samaya. It is the infallible truth of Guru Rinpoche as the Three Kayas: Guru Rinpoche’s essence mind is dharmakaya; his innate speech is sambhogakaya; and his manifest form is nirmanakaya. To say VAJRA SAMAYA reaffirms this truth. Now I would like to reiterate the four samaya of Dzogchen: non-existence, oneness, all-pervasiveness, and natural manifestation.

1. Nonexistence means that samaya is not truly existent since one’s nature is the
primordially pure buddha.

2. Oneness means that the samaya of one’s nature as the primordially pure buddha
encompasses the samaya of all the vehicles -- the samaya of individual liberation (not to harm), the samaya of Mahayana (to benefit others), and the samaya of Vajrayana (pure vision).

3. All-pervasiveness means that oneness pervades everything. Based on our belief
system, sentient beings experience what is impermanent as if it were permanent, therefore, through the samaya of oneness, the samaya of all-pervasiveness is also realized. 4. Natural manifestation means that the enlightened bodies and primordial wisdoms of great bliss are naturally present within the Three Kayas. DZA is a mantric syllable that is shaped like a hook in Tibetan script and it is used to summon the intentionality of enlightened mind. Here it invokes the realization of VAJRA SAMAYA, the infallible truth of the Three Kayas. Although we cannot be literal about “invoking” ultimate wisdom, nevertheless, it is used metaphorically. 71

There are two types of SIDDHI or accomplishments: common and supreme. In the common category, there are also two sub-categories. The first is the four enlightened activities: pacification that soothes negativity, sickness, demons, and obstacles; enrichment that increases longevity, merit, glory, wealth, wisdom, and qualities; magnetizing that brings the phenomenal world of devas, demons, enemies, and humans under one’s influence and power; and wrathful/forceful activity that dispels embodied enemies and disembodied obstructors that block the path to realization. The second category is the eight accomplishments: medicinal pills, eye salve, swift feet, penetration of matter, enchanted sword, sky-faring, invisibility, and suppression of disease. Supreme accomplishment is the attainment of omniscient wisdom simultaneous with the attainment of all kayas, primordial wisdoms, and qualities of awakening, such as love, compassion, enlightened activity, and great ability. PHALA means fruit or result. It is the fruition level of the Three Kayas attained through the paths of Mahayoga, Anuyoga, and Atiyoga. It can also be explained as the fruition of the two kayas that benefit oneself and others. HUNG bestows PHALA and AH seals the attainment in the sphere of dharmadhatu. After reciting the mantra, the longevity sadhana (pg. 31 – 34). can be inserted is one wishes to practice it.

The Four Nails that Bind the Life Force Now I would like to review the Four Nails:

1. The nail of the wisdom form of the deity brings all phenomena, outer and inner,
into pureland and realized beings. On the subtle level, the impure channels become wisdom channels.

2. The nail of reciting the mantra transforms ordinary sound into the sound of
mantra and the indivisibility of sound and emptiness is realized. Ordinary sounds are inanimate sounds such as the sounds of the five natural elements and also 72

the animate sounds of living beings. On a subtle level, impure prana becomes mantra.

3. The nail of emanating and reabsorbing light allows us to approach, accomplish,
and perform the enlightened activity all at the same time. 4. The nail of unwavering wisdom mind removes the subtle tendencies of eternalism and nihilism. Tsog or Feast Offering Tsog or feast offering is a supreme method of accumulating merit and wisdom. There is no time for me to go into this practice. I will have to do it another time.

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THE YOGA OF THE CLEAR LIGHT OF THE WISDOM MIND HO The self-arisen mandala deities, The support, the supported, and all aspects of apparent phenomena [Dissolve] into the vast expanse of the basic space of reality, ineffable, beyond conceptual elaboration, Without fabrication, all-pervasive equalness. AH AH AH Once more, like a rainbow appearing in the sky, The magical expression of unobstructed pristine awareness, All apparent phenomena, sounds, and thoughts, Arise as the mudras of the three vajras. OM AH HUNG The profound yoga of the Clear Light of Wisdom strikes the fourth nail, unwavering and stable wisdom mind. The first verse ends with AH AH AH and dissolves the mandala. The second verse ends with OM AH HUNG and re-establishes the magical body of union. The dissolution is practiced in order to remove subtle tendencies towards eternalism and the re-awakening is practiced in order to remove the subtle power of nihilism. The yoga of the Clear Light of Wisdom is presented in terms of essence, nature, and function. Its essence is emptiness or freedom from characteristics; its nature is unceasing natural clear light; and its function is the magical body of union, the wisdom deity that is the unity of the essence of emptiness and the nature of clear light. Although relatively, a wisdom deity has characteristics such as shape, color, and form, ultimately, wisdom deity is free of these characteristics. The body of union or the wisdom deity is also termed bodhicitta (jang-chub sem). Jang means the total purification of ignorance and afflicted emotionality; chub means that the expansion of all the qualities of kayas and primordial wisdoms; sem or mind is that which experiences the purification of ignorance and the expansion of wisdom. The completion of these two aspects is buddhahood. Shortly after Lord Shakyamuni attained realization, he announced that he would not teach others because they would not be able to understand noncomposite, sheer emptiness. Later on in India, the famous philosopher Nagarjuna expounded the doctrine of emptiness, 74

and later in Tibet, the great master Pema Jungne defined the Nyingma view of Clear Light of Wisdom as the integration of Nagarjuna’s view of emptiness with Shantirakshita’s code of ethics. We should know that without Nagarjuna’s view of emptiness we cannot begin to do any meaningful practice. Practicing without the view of emptiness is like being a chicken – although technically a bird, it doesn’t fly too well. To have Nagarjuna’s view is like being a garuda, the mythological bird that soars very high in the sky. In his own words, Guru Rinpoche explained this when he said, “My view is as high as the sky but my conduct is a fine as a grain of sand.” This means that conduct must coincide with view and view must coincide with conduct. If we pursue view to the detriment of conduct, we are defeating ourselves because we are creating karma and realization is getting further and further away. We are also defeating ourselves if we over-emphasize conduct to the detriment of view. On the topic of philosophical perspectives, there are four types:

1. Views held by unrealized beings who do not recognize their self-nature and experience the six realms of beings and the three planes of conditioned existence.

2. Explicitly wrong views of which there are three hundred and sixty types that can
be synthesized into two categories -- nihilism and eternalism. 3. Views of partially realized beings, such as arhats. 4. The utterly pure view, the most excellent, the garuda. In the Nyingma lineage, the utterly pure view that I referred to previously as Nagarjuna’s view of emptiness is termed the view free from elaboration – the view free of the four conceptual extremes: existence, nonexistence, both existence and nonexistence, and neither existence nor nonexistence. To practice the yoga of the Clear Light of Wisdom means to penetrate the sphere of ultimate wisdom. But if Clear Light of Wisdom is itself asserted, it becomes another form of eternalism; if it is negated, it becomes another form of nihilism. That is why it is essential to maintain the Clear Light of Wisdom without deviation, and this is the reason for dissolving and re-awakening the deity mandala. The dissolution of the deity mandala begins with the syllable HO! -- great wonder or amazement. Self-arisen (rang lay shar) does not mean to arise from oneself as opposed to arising from something other. It means to arise spontaneously without 75

reference to self and other -- to arise in the very nature of being. Such self-arising is wisdom deity arising, the expression of the pure awareness of wisdom. The second line says that self-arising awareness-wisdom includes all possible appearances and existences referred to as the support and the supported -- the celestial palace and the wisdom deity. The support and the supported dissolve beyond all elaboration which means that they dissolve into dharmadhatu (cho-ying), the basic space of reality, indescribable (jo-med)and free of the four extremes, unmodified (ma-chos) vast space (long), all-pervasive (dal) equalness or evenness (nyam-panyid). There are two ways of visualizing the dissolution. In the gradual style, the mandala dissolves into light, the light dissolves into the palace, the palace into the retinue, the retinue into the feminine consort, the feminine consort into the masculine deity, the masculine deity into the jnanasattva, the jnanasattva into the samadhisattva, and the samadhisattva into a point of light that becomes progressively smaller until it is completely dissolved in space. Then we abide in the state of nonconceptual absorption. However, in this practice, the dissolution is instantaneous like a rainbow. In a single instant, everything is free of elaboration. We realize that there is no substance and nothing to believe in or not believe in. We close the dissolution section of the text with three repetitions of AH, the syllable of non-arising emptiness-dharmadhatu. In the first part of the practice, the creative stage of meditation, we meditated on the relative deity with characteristics in order to destroy attachment to ordinary appearances. Now, in the completion phase of meditation, we meditate on the ultimate deity, the radiant expression of clear light, in order to realize ultimate bodhicitta and ultimate siddhi. However, please remember that both aspects, relative and ultimate, are pure nondual wisdom. The infallible truth is that form is emptiness and emptiness is form. To avoid our tendency to equate emptiness with nothingness, we re-awaken the mandala in the same manner we dissolved it -- in a single moment, like a rainbow. Then we abide in the state of the unobstructed expression of nondual wisdom: all visual appearances are deity, all sounds are mantra, and all thoughts are the nature of reality-itself. In brief, all phenomena are complete and perfect as wisdom deity mandala. All forms are the manifest nature of vajra body; all sounds are vajra speech, and all thoughts are vajra mind. In acknowledgment of these three va76

jras of body, speech, and mind, we say OM AH HUNG and again the body of the union of inseparable appearance and emptiness is sealed, free of nihilism.

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THE VIRTUOUS CONCLUSION Whatever virtues have been accumulated in the three times, They are dedicated in the expanse of non-conceptual dharmadhatu. I think you have already learned about the three noble rituals: the preliminary practice of bodhicitta, the main practice of concentration, and the concluding practice of dedication. Without these three elements, practice is subject to deterioration. Our actions create karma instead of wisdom. The practice of dedicating merit ensures that our actions always create merit and wisdom that will increase and expand until we attain complete realization. There are many extensive teachings on the practice of dedication. I referred to them in the section on the Ten Branches. So for now, I will just repeat that a single moment of anger can eradicate all the merit and wisdom that we have accumulated during a thousand aeons of time. I think this makes the point. Milarepa also emphasized the importance of dedicating the merit. He said that the merit of a yogi meditating in isolation and the merit of the sponsors living in the city are equal and that they will attain enlightenment at the same time. Consider for a moment why we are practicing this sadhana. For enlightenment, right? And what is enlightenment for? For the sake of all beings, right? Therefore, we must start with bodhicitta, the first of three noble elements of practice. In fact, we must have bodhicitta at all times, not only for sadhana practice but continually, because without it, any action, even sadhana practice, is samsaric and limited. Then when we are meditating, we must concentrate because without concentration obstacles will lead us astray. For example, we may be sitting on the meditation cushion with the sadhana open in front of us, but our mind is far removed from what we are doing. So, that’s why concentration is the second important element in our practice. As to how to conclude our practice, that goes back to the importance of dedicating merit. I don’t have to repeat that. Dedication is like putting money in the bank -- not only does it stay there safely but it also accrues interest and you can withdraw it when you find yourself in the bardo of the afterlife! So, please make sure that you dedicate your practice and all your actions to the welfare of all beings and not to selfish interests. The ultimate way to practice the dedication of merit, the third important element, is free from any reference to the three spheres of duality -- the person dedicating the merit, the dedication, and those to whom the merit is dedicated. This dedication is in the sphere of reality-itself, dharmata. 78

Not abiding in existence or worldly peace, but arriving at primordial nature Beyond coming together and separation, may all beings awaken to buddhahood. These lines refer to monlam, the path of aspiration. Through the practice of dedication, the roots of virtue are amassed or gathered; through the path of aspiration, the roots of virtue are actualized. Without coming together and separating refers to our primordial nature, the noncomposite state that is free of causes and conditions. The meaning is that because our primordial nature is free, nothing needs to be joined together or separated apart in order for us to realize it. The essence is original purity beyond rational mind; The inherent nature is spontaneously self-existing supreme awareness; Compassionate responsiveness arises as manifold clouds. May there be the auspiciousness of supreme bliss. This verse of the auspicious wishes expands the limits of our practice. We visualize a mass gathering of all our root and lineage teachers, yidams, dakinis, and dharmapalas above us in the sky. They cast down flowers while reciting this verse of auspicious wishes and rejoicing in our merit. This particular verse is called The Virtue and Bliss of the Three Roots Combined. The first line refers to dharmakaya, the second to sambhogakaya, and the third to nirmanakaya. The wish is that all beings in conditioned existence recognize the inseparable Three Kayas and thus realize the supreme bliss of transcendence. Colophon May this profound path that combines all essences, the essential point of ten million sadhanas, be useful to those of fortunate karma and bring unsurpassable benefit! To fulfill the wishes of the Dharma master, Tulku Jigme Choying Norbu De, whose previous positive karmic patterns were awakened, some pieces of whatever thoughts arose were compiled by Jigdral Yeshe Dorje. Mangalam. 79

Now we have completed the text. Kind of!

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