This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Biography of Tai Situ Rinpoche Foreword Preface The Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra, Introduction xi xiii xv xxi 1 (Verse 1) 7
I. The Preliminary Prayer II. The Main Body of the Prayer
A. General Dedication of Merit Towards Enlightenment B. Specific Dedication Prayers Towards Enlightenment 1. Prayer for Perfect Conditions for the Path a. Common Prayer for Perfect Conditions for the Path b. Uncommon Prayer for Perfect Conditions for the Path
(Verse 3) (Verse 4)
2. Prayer for Perfect Wisdom that Understands the Path (Verse 5)
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA
3. Prayer for an Unmistaken Path
4. Prayer for Unmistaken Practice on the Path a. General Prayer for Unmistaken Practice on the Path (Verse 7) b. Specific Prayer for Unmistaken Practice on the Path Prayer for Correct View, Meditation, and Action (Brief) (Verse 8) i. The View Prayer for the View of Mahamudra (Brief) (Verse 9) Extensive explanation of the View Prayer to Understand all Phenomena as Mind (Verse 10) Prayer to Abandon the Limitations of Existence and Non-Existence (Verse 11) Prayer to Abandon the Limitations of Being and Non-Being (Verse 12) Prayer to Understand the Unity of Emptiness and Interdependence (Verse 13) Prayer to Overcome All Doubts Concerning the Ground (Verse 14) ii. The Meditation General Prayer for Mahamudra Meditation (Verse Specific Prayers for Mahamudra Meditation Prayer for Shamatha (Verse Prayer for Vipashyana (Verse Prayer to Recognize the Essence (Verse Prayer to Understand the Great Unity (Verse
56 59 61 63 64
15) 16) 17) 18) 19)
65 68 70 71 72
Prayer for Perfect Meditative Experiences Prayer for Actual Realization
(Verse 20) (Verse 21)
iii. The Action Prayer for Compassion (Verse 22) Prayer for the Unity of Emptiness and Compassion (Verse 23) iv. The Fruition 5. Prayer for Final Accomplishment of the Fruition of the Path
(Verse 24) (Verse 25)
81 85 97 101 123 127 130 131 133
III. The Conclusion of the Prayer
Notes Glossary of Terms Index About the Karmapas Long Life Prayer for Tai Situ Rinpoche Sherab Ling Meditation Centre Information
3. May not even the words “evil deeds” and “suffering” be heard And may we enjoy the splendor and goodness of oceans of happiness and virtue. So long as this is not accomplished.The Aspiration Pra yer of Mahamudra. Through all my lifetimes. and Grant your blessing that these aspirations may be accomplished exactly as we ask. . the Definitive Meaning Composed by The Third Gyalwa Karmapa 1. deities of the mandala Buddhas of the three times in the ten directions and your sons and daughters. Please consider us with kindness and understanding. xxi 2. Namo guru Gurus and yidams. birth upon birth. May the river of accumulated virtue of the threefold purity Flow into the ocean of the four bodies of the Victorious Ones. Sprung from the snow mountain of pure intentions and actions Of myself and all sentient beings without limit.
May the brightness of the three prajnas grow in power. And by practicing the supreme path of the two accumulations. Having attended on a worthy spiritual friend and received the pith of the holy instructions. Having obtained the supreme freedoms and conjunctions of the precious human existence. indivisible cognitive clarity and emptiness. May all beings meet the dharma which neither errs nor misleads. free from the extremes of samsara and nirvana. free from the extremes of exaggeration and denial. Contemplating the oral instructions disperses the darkness of doubt. By understanding the meaning of the ground. 5. In all our lives. endowed with faith. 6. Is attained the fruit of well-being for oneself and others. without obstacle or interruption. May the fruit of purification. which is the two truths free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. just as we have received them. may we practice and enjoy the holy dharma. May we practice these properly. 7. That which purifies is the great yoga of Mahamudra. be manifest. xxii . In the light born of meditation what is shines forth just as it is. energy and intelligence. temporary contaminations of confusion. the stainless dharmakaya.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 4. Hearing and studying the scriptures and reasonings frees us from the obscuration of not knowing. The ground of purification is the mind itself. What is to be purified are the adventitious.
All phenomena are illusory displays of mind. This is not a contradiction. Spontaneous intelligence. May conviction be gained in the ultimate. it is unceasing and unimpeded. be discovered and cut. the action — may there be confidence in these. By the power of this dualistic fixation. It is not nonexistent — it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana. 12. Naturally manifesting appearances. If one says. that never truly exist. Mind is no mind — the mind’s nature is empty of any entity that is mind. Resolving doubts about the ground brings conviction in the view. manifesting as everything whatsoever. 10. be realized. beings wander in the realms of samsaric existence.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 8. which transcends conceptual understanding. limitless mind beyond extremes. is the subtle pith of meditation. If one says. “This is it” there is nothing to show. perfect truth. Being empty. xxiii . may all doubts about the ground be discerned and cut. but the middle path of unity. in accordance with the view. under the power of ignorance. is confused into a self. May the ultimate nature of phenomena. 11. The view. Then keeping one’s awareness unwavering. is unconditioned. the root of confusion. Examining well. May ignorance. the meditation. The true nature of phenomena. “This is not it” there is nothing to deny. It is not existent — even the Victorious Ones do not see it. Putting all aspects of meditation into practice is the supreme action. 9. are confused into objects.
If it is realized. Free from dullness. which is the basis of everything. May the ocean of shamatha be unmoving and stable. torpor. Realization is mind and confusion is mind. The meaning which cannot be seen is vividly seen. dualistic clinging is self-liberated. be realized. And the unmoving waters of mind rest naturally. Thus cutting doubts about how it is or is not. just as it is. May the unconfused genuine self-nature be known by self-nature itself. xxiv . May this simple secret. May the practice of resting in mind’s true nature be skillfully sustained. Arising is mind and cessation is mind. one circles in the ocean of samsara. Buddha is not anything other. the clear light nature of what is. Looking at both of these. its empty nature devoid of mind is seen. Looking again and again at the mind which cannot be looked at. be realized. Looking at mind. The waves of subtle and coarse thoughts calm down by themselves in their own place. 18. Appearance is mind and emptiness is mind. Knowing how to rest in the uncontrived. 14. the mind devoid of objects is seen. natural spontaneous flow. 17. Unmoved by the winds of everyday busyness.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 13. Not adulterating meditation with conceptual striving or mentally created meditation. It is completely devoid of any “This is it” or “This is not it”. and murkiness. 16. 15. May all doubts about mind be resolved. this ultimate essence of phenomena. Not realizing it. Looking at objects. May the nature of mind.
Madhyamika. be realized. 22. Great bliss free from attachment is unceasing. 20. Free from mental fabrication. the essential meaning of all is realized. the truth of the ultimate essence of everything. Not realizing that. Inseparable from it. Nonthought transcending conceptual mind is spontaneous presence. may we meditate day and night. In expressions of loving kindness. xxv . May simplicity. it is the great Middle-way . 21. Dzogchen. May there be confidence that by understanding one. 23. Free from extremes. For the boundless suffering of sentient beings May unbearable compassion be conceived in our being. The consummation of everything. The true nature of beings is always Buddha. they wander in endless samsara. Luminosity free from fixation on characteristics is unobscured. In ordinary mind there is no rejecting and accepting. Negative thoughts and confusion purify naturally in ultimate space. May the effortless enjoyment of these experiences be continuous. When the energy of unbearable compassion is unceasing. it is called the Great Perfection.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 19. Mahamudra. the truth of its essential emptiness is nakedly clear. This unity is the supreme unerring path. it is the great seal. Longing for good and clinging to experiences are self-liberated. loss and gain.
And by the power of all the pure virtue that exists. —translated by Lama Tashi Namgyal xxvi . By the power of compassion of the Victorious Ones of the ten directions and their sons and daughters. and purifying — may utmost Buddhahood be manifest. May the pure aspirations of myself and all sentient beings Be accomplished exactly as we wish. By bringing these three to utmost fruition — fulfilling. Sentient beings are ripened and Buddha fields are perfectly purified. ripening. The aspirations that accomplish the qualities of a Buddha are fulfilled.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 24. By the power of meditation arise the eyes and supernormal perceptions. 25.
THE COMMENT AR Y on The Lord Protector Rangjung Dorje’s Aspiration Pra yer of Mahamudra. the Definitive Meaning by His Eminence Jamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche WASHINGTON — FEBRUAR Y 1995 .
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA .
As you know. it is necessary to give you the definition of Mahamudra. I wanted to let you know this. We have only three sessions to go through the prayer. originally written in Sanskrit. I will be teaching about Mahamudra. That is very simple — the pureness and the authentic future of the lineage depend totally on the people who have the lineage of transmission. Rangjung Dorje. and mengak. I take it that way. but it will be both a teaching and a transmission. you are going to have the transmission of this particular teaching and lineage. So this is not a public talk. and hope you all know that. This is not just a simple introductory lecture. is actually derived from the essence of the teachings of Lord Buddha. you will be connected to the Mahamudra lineage just as we all have been connected to it throughout the history of the Mahamudra lineage. which were 1 A . The sources of the Mahamudra teachings in the Tibetan language are called gyu. After this teaching. written by the Third Gyalwa Karmapa. and by my teaching this to you. so it will be quite brief. in Buddhism every person who teaches dharma and also every person who receives the dharma has their own responsibility. Gyu means tantra. both the term and the teaching itself.INTRODUCTION s requested by the dharma centre and its lama. This is very serious. particularly according to the Prayer of Mahamudra. Gyazhung refers to the texts written by the great masters of India. Mahamudra. and those are the direct words of Lord Buddha himself. At the beginning. because that is the way it was taught to me. gyazhung.
Now the definition of the term Mahamudra. So. (laughter) Why? I don’t know how to do it. These are the sources of the Mahamudra teachings. But I must tell you that some of these mengak texts have been translated into English and printed and you can buy them in bookstores these days. every single. incorruptible. But then. in principle. but definitely not printed. inclusive of everything and not excluding anything. unchanged ultimate. this means that if we are able to do anything properly we can attain enlightenment through that particular vehicle. such as Nagarjuna. relative reality. technically.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA subsequently translated into the Tibetan language. Now. etc. These latter are usually not written. the texts written by the great Indian masters. such as the eighty-four mahasiddhas and the thirty great female enlightened masters. Another source of the Mahamudra teachings is the gyazhung. and the teachings of the great Indian mahasiddhas. if we make it very simple. Mengak are direct instructions given from master to disciple. Those teachings and those texts are the gyazhung and are a source of the Mahamudra teachings. This is one perfect example of mengak. the essence of these teachings is Mahamudra. you wait (drinks water). according to its basic definition. that means anything. Kalachakra. 2 . That is the definition of Mahamudra in general. are actually the highest tantras. I will get enlightened. given according to the particular disciple’s maturity and level of understanding with the sole purpose of improving the wisdom. And mengaks are texts such as the Ninth Gyalwa Karmapa’s Ocean of Certainty. in principle. etc. we can attain liberation. Now that is the Mahamudra in general. why did I not attain enlightenment by drinking the glass of water? Number one. Sometimes they are hand written. the compassion. is this. the original source of the Mahamudra teachings. Hevajra. by doing anything correctly. And. Maybe I can call it “blessing in disguise” (laughter). I will give you a simple example: drinking water. is the manifestation of the ever-present. If I know how to drink water properly. gyu. Ngedon Gyamtso. I don’t know how to do it properly. such as Chakrasamvara. the devotion and the realization of the disciple. Okay. Now. I’m not enlightened. Mahamaya. So.
And that is very true in one particular aspect of the Mahamudra teachings. let’s say popular. To be absorbed in and observe the nature of mind. we can get enlightened. not the beginning. because there is the living lineage of how to attain liberation through those means. We don’t know how to attain enlightenment by eating pizza. then it becomes very clear. When we see in principle what Mahamudra means. But that happens as a result. etc. Therefore. We don’t know how to attain enlightenment by drinking Coca Cola. any kind of ritual. which is always nothing less than Buddha itself. We have to get there by the accumulation of merit and the accumulation of wisdom. by meditating. which are limited in number. any kind of discipline. compared to everything else we might do. we don’t know how to attain enlightenment by driving a sports car or by travelling in a mobile home. and then see in principle what kind of lineage of living teachings there is. by purification of negative emotional 3 . Enlightenment is nothing more. through those means. we shouldn’t get those two things mixed up. But in the Mahamudra tradition we do have the lineage of attaining enlightenment by praying. the physical exercises of Mahamudra. Yes? Now. concept of Mahamudra is that you don’t have to be involved in any kind of visualization. So. If we manage to do that. the breathing practices of Mahamudra. the visualization practices of Mahamudra.INTRODUCTION and. You just somehow sit there and get enlightened. We can’t begin there. Do you see? Therefore. then that is enlightenment. by doing practices such as the four foundations (ngondro). the very widespread. the deity practices of Mahamudra. the particular teachings of the lineage of transmission of Mahamudra that we do have — such as the four foundations of Mahamudra. That is the heart and the essence of the Mahamudra teachings — to be absorbed in and to observe the nature of mind. that is the end. I don’t have the lineage that teaches how to attain enlightenment through drinking water. number two. That is the essence of Mahamudra. and nothing less than that. Those things are alive. and the way of observing the nature of mind of Mahamudra — we have because we have that lineage. in any kind of prayer. We don’t know those things because we don’t have such a lineage.
We have to overcome all the defilements and obscurations in order to get there. Mahayana. And maybe. Buddha nature is temporarily out cold (laughter). although Mahamudra means trodrel. but of whatever level of dharma that you can think of: Hinayana. In the Prayer of Mahamudra itself. I have a kind of primitive new term for it. when we learn about a text. but sometimes in this way we get the point pretty quickly. basic structure that you have to follow. general description of Mahamudra. what we really wish to be. by purification of cognitive obscurations. semche trodrel. I don’t mean to say inauspicious things. Then it becomes 4 . “unidentified flying ego” is out to lunch. then it is very important to go through it in the strict Tibetan way. So. So. and in that way it becomes quite easy. We can’t say we are nondualistic just because we want to be nondualistic. It doesn’t work that way. and believe we already are. When we go through a traditional text like this. So. then it becomes a little inconvenient for everybody. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes about almost every important point of dharma — not only of Mahamudra. Mahamudra. And I call it “unidentified flying ego” (laughter). especially for that person. step by step. Then you know which sentence means what and where it belongs. that is a basic. saying we are nondualistic just because we want to be nondualistic. we still have to overcome the dualistic bondage in order to be nondualistic. slang. you have to have an outline of the entire text first. it becomes like a big hotel with many rooms and many floors with no room numbers and no floor numbers.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA defilements. Anything that you can think of about dharma is one way or another summarized in this very short prayer. You might even call it. and we just want to be. Madhyamika. being away from activity. nondualistic aspect of practice. or an activity-free sort of practice. while that is happening. In our tradition. This prayer is written as a supplication. there is an important. Okay? If we are not clear and honest about where we stand as far as our personal level of maturity is concerned. Has been taken for a ride. We have to go slowly. a non-conceptual. Otherwise. with all due respect.
So. sachay. in the beginning. which is very short.INTRODUCTION very difficult to find anything — like an elevator with buttons but no numbers on them — it would be very hard to find anything! In order to avoid that. And the last part. the main body of the prayer. The second is the actual prayer itself. there is. The first is the preliminary aspect of the monlam or prayer. which comprises the majority of the text. the outlining of the entire text. And we call that. The first and last parts are very short. there is the beginning. and the conclusion of the prayer — three parts. Maybe you call it outlining. I don’t know what you call it. So then. this text has three parts. is the conclusion of the prayer. 5 .
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA .
That is the beginning part of the prayer — four lines and one short Sanskrit phrase preceding them. there is the pure (dharmakaya) aspect of the guru. and Grant your blessing so that these aspirations may be accomplished exactly as we ask. the distance lineage gurus. deities of the mandala. as well as all the gurus of the Mahamudra lineage. Buddhas of the three times in the ten directions and your sons and daughters. Here he means his personal root guru. and guru means the master. Here Karmapa bows to and salutes his guru. Gurus and yidams. THE PRELIMINAR Y PRA YER T 1. We call that the distance lineage because it goes all the way back to the Buddha Shakyamuni.I. and the close lineage gurus. unbroken succession of enlightened masters and students all the way down to the Third Gyalwa Karmapa. We call each verse a shloka. he first part is written in four sentences. Namo means salutation. Please consider us with kindness and understanding. who is the author of this prayer. The distance lineage gurus start with the Lord Buddha and extend in a continuous. At the beginning of this first shloka there is a short Sanskrit sentence. 7 . his teacher. The Sanskrit phrase is Namo guru. Namo guru. When you talk about guru in the Mahamudra lineage.
That lineage begins with the Buddha Vajradhara who bestowed Mahamudra teachings on the Bodhisattva Lodro Rinchen. The Buddha Vajradhara means all in one — the ever present Buddha. but only as a result of the realization of the teachings they had already received from their masters. So. from some gurus he received certain empowerments. the Mahamudra lineage and many 8 .THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA This is very particular. etc. which is Prince Siddhartha in our case. who transmitted them to Naropa. as Buddha Vajradhara. whose disciple was Gampopa. From some gurus Tilopa learned certain tantric texts. So. that is the distance lineage. and then to the present holders of the lineage — had many. In this way. In the case of the great masters who received Mahamudra lineage transmissions directly from the Buddha Vajradhara. There is the close lineage of Mahamudra as well. the sambhogakaya of the Buddha. each of whose lineages extended all the way back to the Buddha Shakyamuni. those transmissions happened a long time after Prince Siddhartha’s paranirvana. all the way down to the the Sixteenth Karmapa. Then the Buddha Vajradhara transmitted directly to certain great masters. whose teachings started with the historical Buddha. which teachings then come down to Tilopa and Naropa. many gurus. As part of their realization the Buddha manifested to them. because the great master. Tilopa — whose disciple was Naropa. whose disciple was Marpa who brought the Mahamudra lineage from India to Tibet. etc. the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. and the nirmanakaya of the Buddha. who then transmitted them to Marpa. whose foremost disciple was Dusum Khyenpa (the First Karmapa). was at the time no longer in physical Prince Siddhartha form. the timeless Buddha. but not as Prince Siddhartha.1 The physical Buddha. Buddha. whose disciple was Milarepa. Prince Siddhartha. And the entirety of these Mahamudra teachings was actually derived as one whole from Tilopa. What happened was that first these great masters received the teachings of the Buddha and the Buddha’s disciples through “ distance lineages. Through their practice they attained realization.” and they practiced them.
And through their practice they attained realization. to somebody who doesn’t know Sanskrit. namo guru doesn’t mean anything. But it is not like that. physically was born in India. they know what they are saying. when the Third Karmapa says Namo guru. it will happen! But it will not happen 9 . But in Sanskrit it means salutation to the guru. Karmapa salutes his guru in Sanskrit.THE PRELIMINARY PRAYER Vajrayana Buddhist lineages actually have distance lineage as well as close lineage. People are very much concerned about this. who begin their writings and prayers with Sanskrit words. In Tibetan. Subsequently. When they say them in their own language. Chinese. The reason for this custom is that the Lord Buddha. And the Buddha’s teachings were originally heard by those people who spoke the Indian language. and it makes them feel better. isn’t it? And somehow it will happen. Since I have been in the West many people have talked about doing prayers and practices in the English language. That’s understandable. they followed the discipline and really practiced. because they say that when they say prayers in Tibetan they don’t know what they are saying. although there was no limitation on Buddha’s part. not very far. in German. as well as his personal root guru from whom he received the teachings of Mahamudra. and also to receive the blessing of the original sound of the Buddha’s teachings as they were heard by his disciples. he is addressing both the distance lineage gurus and the close lineage gurus. Close lineage we call ngegyu in Tibetan. according to the custom of most Tibetan Buddhist masters. they received the transmission as part of that realization. Now I want to go on a little side-track here. not it has to happen. these masters always begin with a few Sanskrit words. etc. Spanish. Sometimes people misunderstand and think that these masters may have just been running around somewhere and all of a sudden a big light hit them. Nge means close. It is not another trip of UFE (unidentified flying ego). whereupon they encountered Vajradhara and received all the teachings and then commenced going around and teaching. In order to respect that. French. So. These great masters first followed the path of the distance lineages.
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA out of haste and out of everybody’s desperation. Now it has to happen also in English and other languages. Therefore. 10 . or the texts as a whole. But it doesn’t work like that in the translation of dharma. I think to a certain degree it has happened properly already. then there will be no benefit. Yes? The majority of the texts will be translated into the local language. I think you all pray for this transition to take place quickly and properly and without damaging the lineage. I share your aspiration in this matter. That’s a pretty long time. it has to happen very. Then. That is how I see it unfolding. very nicely. if you know what I mean. for more than a thousand years. A few words. Nobody speaks Sanskrit as a language. they are professionals there. If translations come about only as a result of people’s fear and people’s greed. We have many wonderful texts. but there will be no blessing if there is no lineage. not just socially nicely. then it was transmitted in Tibetan. Because the dharma originally came from India. or the hundred syllable mantra. this phrase is not even used as part of the translation of a text originally in Sanskrit. so there is a reason for it. the Sanskrit mantras and certain other phrases will always remain in Sanskrit. In this particular prayer we are studying. in which language it has continued to be transmitted for many centuries. That transition has to take place in a sacred and holy manner. for the dharma as a whole. Nicely. It has to happen properly. without damaging its blessing. That is okay for them. and what I think will happen inevitably. First the dharma was transmitted in Sanskrit. But. The Third Gyalwa Karmapa wrote the Sanskrit sounds of namo guru in Tibetan. this custom will remain as it is. not just like some kind of simultaneous translation at a world trade conference. The Tibetan masters never translated OM MANI PEME HUNG. but in accordance with the transmission of the lineage as it has been continued all the way through history. or any of these namo gurus. is that our translations into English and other languages will employ three languages. very nicely. secondly. very important parts of the text will remain in Tibetan. What I see happening. but he wrote it in Sanskrit. They will not be translated. and they render speech in all the languages needed.
the practice of the yidam. This popular concept of human nature as being bad is wrong. according to Vajrayana Buddhism. And the surroundings manifest as the environment of that deity.2 The reason that we practice deity meditation in Tibetan Buddhism is that each and every one of us in our potential is Buddha. but the nature and essence of every single sentient being is perfect. I don’t mean only apparent in me. In this way. Okay? Now back to the text.THE PRELIMINARY PRAYER Translations have to happen in a pure and healthy manner. and requesting that they support the fulfilment of the prayer that he is writing. I don’t have to tell you about it. Human nature is perfect and good and nothing less than Buddha. But anyway. which is very apparent. However. then. that they be compassionate towards him. I presume in you too. The meaning of gurus you understand. and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three times and ten directions. The deepest and most direct way to transform whatever is negative. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa continues to invoke all the gurus and deities of the mandalas. Ultimately. That is the purpose of the practice of the deity. and the ultimate form of the accumulation of merit. it means the surroundings and the deity. although we have this ultimate potential of perfect. requesting their compassion. we have negativity and we have shortcomings and limitations. We should all pray for that. it is the ultimate form of purification. 11 . all of which exists as the result of negative deeds — the physical limitations and mental limitations and defilements. After that short Sanskrit phrase. And. The environment and the deity together make the mandala. we are Buddha. He wants them to bless his writing of the prayer. And not only human nature. Mandala does not mean only the surroundings. etc. Through the practice you transform your subconscious and unconscious levels of mind. Mandala means the whole thing. — is to transform it all into the essence of itself. limitless goodness and positiveness. the practice of the deity begins right there where you are. Deities refer to the sambhogakaya of the Buddha. nothing less than Buddha. as well as the physical body through your visualization. You transform your experience of form into the deity.
like Marpa. As for the Buddha’s and Bodhisattva’s of the ten directions and three times. yes? So. 12 . In practical terms it means every direction. Through practicing the meditations associated with these deities. Milarepa attained enlightenment through them. Maybe our great masters are worried that we think that beneath the earth everything is solid. then the particular disciples to whom Buddha manifested all got enlightened. all of the great masters of our lineage attained enlightenment through the practice of deity meditation. present. just like space above. Gampopa attained enlightenment through these practices. attained enlightenment through these practices. Buddha’s everywhere. that is what he means. So. they say below. three times means past. the lineages come from those enlightened masters. Indeed. That’s actually a more complicated way of saying every direction. the essence of which is the recognition of the true nature of mind — the essence of Mahamudra itself. above and below — making ten. and future and ten directions means the four cardinal directions with the four directions in between. When Karmapa talks about the yidams or the deities. Our great masters. we also have the chance to attain enlightenment. Perhaps they want us to know that there is space below.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA When Lord Buddha taught any particular tantra manifesting as that particular tantra’s deity. Therefore.
the general dedication. and. speech and mind towards enlightenment. May the river of accumulated virtue of the threefold purity Flow into the ocean of the four bodies of the Victorious Ones. second. GENERAL DEDICATION OF MERIT TOWARDS ENLIGHTENMENT 2. which melt and give rise to 13 . five specific objectives. specific objectives. First. First. Sprung from the snow mountains of pure intentions and actions Of myself and all sentient beings without limit. THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRA YER N ow the second part of the text. Here Karmapa makes an analogy with the very pure snows of a snow mountain. the general prayer: A. And the second part of the main body of the text particularly dedicates the prayers in five sections to five particular. This is very simple poetry.II. which is the main body of the text itself. Karmapa writes in two parts. The first part generally dedicates all the prayers and intentions of himself and all sentient beings and all their virtuous activity of body.
By implication he is saying that there are three things that make an action impure. and the deed itself. these four lines express the general prayer 14 . and svabhavakakaya. Then he makes reference to three-fold purity. He’s talking about pure motivation and pure action. as in the paramita of generosity. you know? It means that there is no dualistic clinging of any kind between the giver and the recipient of the giving. And so. That is the example of the pureness of the motivation and the deeds. His supplication concerns the virtues of himself and all sentient beings that derive from pure motivation and pure action. we mean a form of generosity that has become totally pure. and no clinging to the things that are given. which are free from three aspects of impurity. the object. which will enter into the ocean and become part of the great ocean. For example. And this. There is a fixation on these three things. and so it is a samsaric gift. Dualistic fixation makes an action limited and impure. which is the fourth kaya. But it is still limited when there is fixation. It doesn’t mean that you have to make everybody rich. They are just three aspects of one thing. sambhogakaya. The three aspects of these are: a fixation on or attachment to the subject. The first three kayas are not three separate things. and I am the one who is the giver. looking at the whole prayer. This achievement doesn’t mean that you have to go bankrupt. of course. unstained snow on the top of a mountain. he prays. There are five dollars that I am giving to the beggar. The giving is totally free from these three limitations and three aspects of duality. whom he compares to a great ocean. will flow into and become one with the four kayas of the Victorious Ones. The four kayas of the Buddha are dharmakaya. We should give. the svabhavakakaya. the subject. Generosity then is totally achieved. I think this is perfect for your mountains here. nirmanakaya. It is okay to give. if I give something to a beggar. then the beggar is the object to whom I’m giving. The purity is like the clean. He says that virtue. is like a very pure river coming from the mountain.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA very clean streams. or positiveness. So Karmapa prays that all of our intentions and actions be free of these three aspects of dualism. When we refer to the paramitas.
number four. free of any kind of dualism. he is praying for a path that is an unmistaken path. not a look-alike path. It is not illegal to be a Vajrayanist without proper Mahayana motivation. specific prayers. If one does not have Mahayana motivation. 15 . but we might practice it incorrectly. He does it all at once in this part. Karmapa in these four lines is saying: May all our intentions and deeds be for the sake of enlightenment. SPECIFIC DEDICATION PRAYERS TOWARD ENLIGHTENMENT In the next section of the main body of the prayer. Now I will comment on this a little bit as it relates to the Mahayana. So. That is his prayer in general. he prays that we also get the practice right. Number two. So. number five. That establishes the basis of this entire prayer. Then. Then it doesn’t work. He makes five major. Proper Mahayana motivation is the wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings — to have bodhicitta. Number one. which will enable us to really understand and to attain realization on the path. Not a wrong one. he makes these five particular prayers. The path could be a correct path. he prays for the accomplishment of the journey on the path. he is praying for perfect wisdom. Then. the preconditions are not there. B. He is praying that our actions be very positive. for Buddhahood itself. a correct path. when we apply and practice this path. too. then one cannot be a Vajrayanist — cannot and will not be a Vajrayanist. perfect realization. but one simply won’t be a Vajrayanist without it. A real path. Number three. So.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER of Gyalwa Karmapa. for the final. he is praying for perfect conditions for the path to liberation. In Vajrayana Buddhism the most important step of inner maturity is to be a complete Mahayanist. he wants the practice to be authentic. he makes several specific prayers with specific objectives. so that these positive activities may become the condition for our enlightenment.
He prays that not only will we not accumulate negative deeds. that would be wonderful. first. more advanced conditions. the first one. Common Prayer for Perfect Conditions for the Path So. may not even the sound of negative deeds and negative conditions. and that their lives may be full of joy and totally auspicious and positive. for all sentient beings. And may we enjoy the splendor and goodness of oceans of happiness and virtue. 16 . in all reincarnations. Through all my lifetimes. be heard. May not even the words “evil deeds” and suffering be heard. That is his general. This is a bit of an extreme prayer. But if it were possible not even to hear of negative things. life after life. no suffering. So long as this is not accomplished. such as suffering. a. the ordinary conditions: 3. very basic. while the second concerns the extraordinary. Here Karmapa prays that. It is a prayer. he writes in two shlokas. wouldn’t it? And then he prays that joy and virtue be totally abundant. which is the result of negative deeds. you have to remember. Karmapa is not saying that hearing negative things is bad. which is about perfect conditions for the path to liberation. until one reaches that great liberation — the great ocean of the four kayas of the Victorious Ones — until that is achieved. there be no negativity. birth upon birth.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 1. and that we may totally enjoy the goodness of it. rebirth after rebirth. life after life. So he prays that. but that negative deeds will not even be around to hear about. The first shloka concerns general. like a great ocean. ordinary conditions. fundamental prayer. PRAYER FOR PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR THE PATH Of these. of course.
all of which qualities are very important on the path of dharma. faith.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER b. I think all of you know of or have done the four foundation practices ( ngondro ). endowed with faith. and intelligence. Having obtained the supreme freedoms and conjunctions of the precious human existence. and trust. very fundamental. you do four contemplations. but very general. Karmapa prays that we may meet and become acquainted with a profound and kind master. in these next four he makes his aspiration more advanced. Tal refers to eight particular conditions. Nyen means one who is helpful — one who is sympathetic with our shortcomings and weaknesses 17 . Next. may we obtain the profound precious human life. eighteen particular qualities of this precious human life. Not general. you contemplate eighteen subjects. He uses a particular word. Having attended on a worthy spiritual friend and received the pith of the holy instructions. In all our lives. diligence and wisdom all together we can accomplish a lot. extraordinary or more advanced prayer. profound diligence and wisdom. may we practice and enjoy the holy dharma. concerning the perfect conditions for the path to liberation: 4. The first of these is the precious human life. just as we have received them. But. He says. May we practice these properly. and within the precious human life contemplation. very specific. She actually means one who is sympathetic. With faith or trust. Uncommon Prayer for Perfect Conditions for the Path This leads to the second. And then he prays that we may have profound devotion. Now Karmapa is talking about these eighteen subjects.3 So Karmapa is talking about and praying that we may have these eighteen conditions of a precious human life. The four lines before these last ones are very basic. energy. without obstacle or interruption. shenyen. deeper and quite specific. There are eight talwa and ten jorpa. At the beginning of these practices.
and then learn about the correct way. etc. As we practice. we don’t want obstacles.. We have to be able to practice correctly what teachings we receive. we want to have obstacles. when he talks about the teacher. positively. And in the next line. If we are getting something wrong. authentic teachings of the Buddha. So Karmapa prays that these teachings may be received. He emphasizes this in every one of the four lines. In the first line. he indicates the need for a profound and kind teacher. our master accompanies and supports us. and when we have great faith.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA and able to transmute our shortcomings and weaknesses. the profound. diligence. In general. so that we don’t continue. we learn about devotion and diligence and wisdom. In this shloka we learn quite a few very important things. Profound means precious human life that is conducive for attaining enlightenment — a human existence endowed with all the requisite qualities to pursue the right goal. Damcho means profound and sacred dharma. he refers to precious human life. Karmapa prays that we may meet such a master and receive from him or her the essence or nectar of the instructions. And he prays that every consecutive life will be totally dedicated to and involved in the practice of the precious and profound dharma. This is a specific prayer for the basic conditions. he also indicates the need for the nectar of the profound and precious instructions 18 . which is profound. our teacher. help us to develop our potentials and lead us progressively through the journey. and wisdom. then what we must receive under those conditions has to be the real nectar of dharma. so that we stop and ponder. What that means is that — and this is most important — when we have a great master. Then Karmapa prays that there be no obstacle to the practice of the correct path. Nyen means a support. but there is a tremendous depth of understanding within these topics in regard to the importance of practicing the pure dharma correctly. the appropriate conditions necessary to progress on the path. You see? But if everything is going well. we have to be able to digest them and apply them properly without obstacle. He prays that we may practice appropriately without obstacles. At the end of this line.
He is standing there. I have four lines here that were said by one of Tibet’s great yogis. in this way the Gyalwa Karmapa is emphasizing the correctness. Because he is one of the craziest persons. Not just practice. You see. Okay? This great yogi is called Drukpa Kunli. he says. and the accuracy of all of these particular conditions. as though he were seeing an old 19 . One has to get everything right. Dam has many meanings. Cho means dharma. of course.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER Then he indicates the need to practice appropriately. pure dharma. authentic. but practice appropriately. a very beautiful shrine. And if one does everything in this right and correct and pure way. He is praying that they all arise in that way because they are all necessary for the attainment of enlightenment. without obstacles. Dam cho means profound. very diligent. You don’t have to use this (Rinpoche points to his forehead). dam cho. So. Sometimes people are very. he is just staring at the Buddha with some sense of surprise. You see? That’s why in our teaching there is tremendous emphasis on mindfulness and awareness. the rightness. you see. In the last sentence. One day he went to a shrine. So diligence does not mean desperately trying to do something. and for me they mean alot because they really helped me to understand devotion and compassion. precious. We have a saying: So diligent that the forehead can make a hole in the wall (laughter). His clothes are terrible. This all goes together. sacred. He is supposed to have been one of the three craziest yogis of Tibet. I have shared these in several places. It doesn’t emphasis mindlessness. Then there would be a hole. and every moment of doing something or doing nothing becomes diligence. But it doesn’t really help very much because you could have bought a sledgehammer and just hit the wall once. Everything is really bad. and he looks at the Buddha statue without bowing. not mindful. diligent mindfulness and awareness. and. It doesn’t suggest that to really hit the wall you have to be mindless. He was standing in front of it. He was very unconventional and very extreme. they will bang on it continuously until it makes a hole. without doing anything. then everything will be fruitful. You see? So. Now I’m going to take a little side-track here. he doesn’t fit there. Correctly.
“I am lazy. It is not his egocentric. It is not like that. Buddha did not campaign for himself to teach dharma. A Buddha has attained ultimate freedom and ultimate liberation already. Good food is very tasty. and that we are so thrilled by what Buddha has and are so blindly amazed by it that we fall on our faces everywhere for the Buddha. Propaganda minister. therefore I am still wandering in samsara. and behaved himself. I bow to you. And until each person and each being is fully free and unlimited. in essence. “You were diligent. he’s not saying that good food is bad. They will struggle with 20 . In a Buddha. they are not going to be at peace. until they each reach the ultimate freedom and ultimate liberation. You see? The Buddha’s teaching is the manifestation of his realization. And finally he says four things. The nature of every sentient being is without limitation — that is Buddha nature. the same. He looks at him for a long time. therefore you have become enlightened. It is for this reason that receiving the Buddha’s teaching is meaningful to us. But what he is saying is that the suffering of samsara is that no sentient being can or will ever stop struggling until they become Buddha. It is not that the Buddha had something that we don’t have. faith. Buddha knows that. When the Buddha talks about the sufferings of samsara. So he’s looking at the Buddha with a “long time no see” attitude.” Then he says. He knows that.” Then he prostrated to the Buddha. And the Buddha’s teaching is the manifestation of that limitless liberation and limitless realization. First he says. “A long time ago you and I were the same. That is what he is saying.” Then he says. He’s not saying that being healthy is uncomfortable. As you say in America “long time no see” (laughter). dualistic concepts and findings and discoveries. It is for the very reason that we and Buddha are.” Then he says. either. trust and devotion all come to the same thing. And we are not Buddha’s propaganda minister. Being healthy is very comfortable. “Therefore. that essence is fully liberated and mature. too. You see.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA friend that he hasn’t seen for a long time. Our devotion to Buddha is deeply rooted in our essence and our potential. I’m not either. We all have the potentials of the Buddha.
and so. that is good. Most of us do very well with bread and butter. the essence of the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism as well. a house. It is not that you think that you have clothes. That is not complete compassion. I will stop here for now and will continue later. And also. Once you have pure. That is also not bad.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER whatever it takes. They are two sides of the same coin. and food. authentic compassion. how many problems there are in every person. in every society. If you have questions. We can see very well how many problems there are in the world. When you see someone lying in the street with no food and no clothes. You have compassion for all sentient beings because you know their essence is Buddha. That is wonderful. but I don’t have devotion. you feel superior to that person. you know that in that person there is the Buddha. actually. even in religions. Sometimes people say. And we are not just busy with problems of bread and butter. And compassion for all sentient beings is the other side of that devotion to Buddha. And we can see how many problems there are in every family. Instead of just ignoring the person. which are also very much. But true compassion and devotion are much deeper than that. How you feel towards that person lying down there — that is authentic compassion. In these four lines. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa covers all of these very important areas of Vajrayana Buddhism. And then you try to help. From this we can see that our ultimate liberation is the destination of our ultimate potential. our Buddha nature. everywhere. So devotion to Buddha is totally inherent in us. We have completed the beginning of the prayer up to the two specific prayers that Karmapa wrote regarding the perfect conditions for the path to liberation. 21 . “I have lots of compassion.” That is not possible. and that this person doesn’t have them. that is devotion. therefore. That means that the person must look more deeply at their compassion. you have that kind of superficial compassion. Compassion and devotion are not two separate things. don’t we? But it doesn’t make us liberated.
22 . QUESTION: What is the name of the fourth aspect of Buddha that encompasses the dharmakaya. sambhogakaya. It can be both eternalism and nihilism.” Then if you say. “Okay. But unidentified ego means ego is very much there. you can fix it. In Tibetan we say ngowo nyichi ku. “No.Ah. And that is very hard to deal with — very. “No. if you don’t stop saying that.” then I will say.” Then I will say. The only one who can deal with it is oneself.I’m joking (laughter). either intentionally or unintentionally.” are you alluding to or referring to nihilism? RINPOCHE: Definitely not! With nihilism — there is no ego.. if I tell you that I am enlightened. Okay? It is not so much a question of eternalism and nihilism. It simply means dharmakaya. It does not mean another thing. nirmanakaya are not separate things..THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA QUESTIONS & ANSWERS QUESTION: By “unidentified flying ego. They are three aspects of one thing — that is what it means. Lots of Western people know about Drukpa Kunli. but it is actually a little more difficult than that. I will call my lawyer” (laughter). then you might say.. very hard to deal with. QUESTION: Rinpoche.. sambhogakaya. ngowo nyi ku. The ego is there. For example. because in eternalism and nihilism there is already identified ego. yet the ego still says that there is no ego. It means further emphasis. and yet the ego is not recognized by the person. what was the name of the yogi who was staring at the Buddha? RINPOCHE: Drukpa Kunli. you are not enlightened. You see? So that is UFE. “I am. For another person it is very hard to deal with. You see? And because it is identified as eternalism or nihilism. and nirmanakaya? RINPOCHE: Svabhavakakaya. I think he is quite well known around here.
if we are here to pass a Sanskrit exam. Which should we use? RINPOCHE: Well. Because we have the lineage. I could have received 200 different teachings 23 . If I attain enlightenment in this life. But actually. then we follow the lineage. And we continued to say bendzra because we received the transmission as bendzra. They are not the original teachings of the person who teaches us. I will give you an example. But maybe it will help you. it’s very simple. Excellent. Because the majority of the great Tibetan masters were not educated in Sanskrit. So. we can do it properly by following the lineage closely and properly. LAMA TASHI: Rinpoche. we might lose a point there (laughter) — because we don’t know how to say vajra. If there is no lineage. very good.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER QUESTION: How can one do something properly unless one is enlightened? RINPOCHE: That’s very good. instead of OM MANI PADME HUM. could you explain the reason for the bendzra in Tibetan and vajra in Sanskrit. The sound has the blessing. But. we continue to say it that way. That is the closest way to the correct way. and not vajra. this questioner is a bit confused about the distinction between close and distance lineages. And this is a totally fabricated example. you see. they didn’t know how to pronounce Sanskrit properly. QUESTION: Regarding the issue of translation. So vajra became bendzra. It’s like OM MANI PEME HUNG. I will be attaining enlightenment through the practices that I received from my gurus. then it will take somebody who is enlightened to do anything properly. Many great masters got enlightened saying their mantras with bendzra. And the teachings of the lineage transmitted to us and interpreted for us are the original teachings of the Buddha. RINPOCHE: Okay. So bendzra is equal to vajra. That’s very. That’s an excellent question.
What is to be given. They all come together in one big river. That lineage would start from that particular Buddha and would come first directly to me and would then continue on from me to others. That is the distance lineage. QUESTION: As regards the three impurities. Not before. you know. And the big river goes all the way down to the ocean as one single body of water. that would be unfair (laughter). But. his follower. Both are involved. jinpa or generosity. Of course. I’m not enlightened. Why didn’t that happen to us? Why for him? Did he pay more money or something? (laughter). After they attain enlightenment. I’m Buddha’s disciple. It is like many.” or is there a difference between them? RINPOCHE: Take for example. and that which is given. I might receive direct teachings from Buddha himself. the distance and close lineages. the practice of the teachings of which brought me to this realization. I’m not a Buddha. That would be a close lineage. Unfair to all of us. Okay. My distance lineages would be the lineages of all my gurus. Jincha means what is to be given. is the third “that which is given. And dongpo means the one who is to give. Rinpoche. So it’s like that. as part of my realization. Lenpo means the one who is to receive. the one who gives it. That would never happen. These three: the one who receives it. many small streams on the mountainside. That would be a close lineage.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA from 200 different teachers. when I attain enlightenment. and all of 24 .” or “the act of giving. of course. If somebody receives the teaching directly from Buddha without being enlightened. Each teacher received each particular teaching from his or her guru who had in turn received their teachings from an unbroken lineage that goes back to the Buddha. QUESTION: Do close lineages always begin after a siddha has attained enlightenment? RINPOCHE: Of course. Now undo this fabrication.
it might end up becoming 10. fundamental thing is that we all have to be sincere. “Buddhahood Limited.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER that together involves giving and taking and all of this. When it happens. We want to be sincere in the way we want to learn about Lord Buddha’s teachings. the physical guru. the connection. if one were to consider all the moments of thought involved before. We want 25 . You can’t have a limited Buddhahood. Our motivation should be sincere. an affinity. Because all of it is involved. you find. the human guru? RINPOCHE: When you find. Because. You receive teachings. It has to happen from your heart. with respect to every moment you have to talk about every single thought. and dualism of any kind is limited. and what is it that makes them pure? RINPOCHE: Dualism and non-dualism. how does one find one’s guru. You learn from a guru in whom you have full faith and trust and from whom you gain or derive inspiration and with whom you really feel a connection. you learn from the situation. Because enlightenment can never be limited. The basic.000 (things to see as empty or not to be fixated on). There is no particular way to find the guru. QUESTION: Rinpoche. Because of the affinity. You see? Then it might just be. during and after one act of generosity. instead of three. but then of course. Inc” (laughter). That is very important. the trust. the other one is hoping that something will be given. So. Three-fold purity and these three main spheres of activity are just a general outline of three particular things. QUESTION: Rinpoche. There’s no way to make those affinities and those connections — like some kind of signing of something — there’s no such thing. what is it that makes them impure. it would become too complicated. you have certain inspirations. if somebody really wanted to go into detail. the faith and the inspiration. it will happen. Before I wanted to give.
Hearing and studying the scriptures and reasonings frees us from the obscuration of not knowing. we are in the second part of three parts of the main text. this particular prayer in which he talks about the three wisdoms is a prayer to have perfect wisdom to understand and to attain realization on the path. Three aspects of wisdom. one will be freed from the ignorance of not knowing. 2. one’s obscuration of not knowing. PRAYER FOR PERFECT WISDOM THAT UNDERSTANDS THE PATH Continuing our teaching on the Prayer of Mahamudra. says that by hearing the lung. That is the particular subject here. all of that will happen naturally. which refers to the particular reasonings and commentaries on the teachings of Buddha. In the light born of meditation what is shines forth just as it is. wisdom arising through contemplation. will be liberated. Within this main part. Here the Gyalwa Karmapa writes about three aspects of wisdom: the wisdom arising from learning. for the benefit of all sentient beings. or learning by hearing. of ignorance. written by the Third Gyalwa Karmapa. 26 . in writing about the first wisdom. Contemplating the oral instructions disperses the darkness of doubt. He prays that these three wisdoms should increase.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA to practice the dharma for the sake of attaining enlightenment. I don’t think it will be anything very complicated. Now remember. May the brightness of the three prajnas grow in power. we are on the second of the particular prayers. which is the actual main body of the text itself. Rangjung Dorje. which here means the direct teachings of the Buddha. then the guru and the teacher. The Gyalwa Karmapa. The Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes regarding the perfect wisdom necessary to understand and realize the path to liberation in four lines: 5. If that is purely established. and the wisdom arising from meditation. and also the rigpa.
sacred instruction. First you hear the teachings and then you contemplate them. the example is nightfall. He specifically says lung and rigpa here because we can know all kinds of things. But the meaning behind that is: Whatever is there. unmistakenly. We could end up anywhere. and rigpa. or how to ski. That is bad English. look into them. But here. then we wouldn’t know where we were going. from the light that is the result of meditation. If we don’t contemplate these things that we have learned. to attain Buddhahood. the darkness of night. We can know how to make nice bread. If we were walking at night with no light. a particular kind of knowing that will clear away ignorance is required: lung. Sempay means contemplating. once we know. The next stage he writes about is wisdom arising through contemplation. not this 27 . What we have learned he describes as mengak. The main purpose of a Buddhist — and particularly of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhists — is to become enlightened. Here he mentions a particular kind of contemplation. It also can be translated as thinking. we overcome “not knowing. Then contemplation is followed by the third kind of wisdom. the second kind of wisdom we obtain through contemplation of mengak. That is sempay . I think. All of that is knowing. The darkness here represents doubt. and we might not overcome those doubts. Therefore.” This is the first step in the development of wisdom. what that does is to cause one to be victorious over the darkness of doubt. which refers to the teachings of the Buddha. then we might still have doubt. and go through them as thoroughly as possible. Mengak. We can know how to sail a boat. the first step is to overcome the obscuration of not knowing. you know. We can know how to surf. Now. Through meditation one develops clarity. So. you see as it is. but very special instruction. which he says here arises from meditation. To fulfil that purpose. the contemplation of sacred instruction. The light that is born from meditation will make clear the actual “as-it-isness” of everything. without delusion. means instruction. you think about them. which refers to the commentaries and explanations on the teachings of Buddha given by his followers.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER So.
and make sure that you get it right and all that sort of thing. what has been seen accurately will also be realized accurately. I’m not really sure exactly how it works in your language. when I had an exchange with some Christian mystics. in this way. whatever you have learned — you will see accurately. Then. So. they talked about contemplation very much as we talk about meditation. the third wisdom is described here. Maybe they are the same. Then. prayer. I really don’t know exactly the distinction between meditation and contemplation. Once. But. In this way.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA kind of clarity (indicating the physical light in the room). You contemplate with the mind. and of meditating upon what you have established through thinking and hearing. what those meditations and prayers and disciplines are for. I would like to go on a little side-track here. both your objectiveness and your subjectiveness. the essential purpose of that particular discipline. whatever it is step by step — an established and confirmed practice. but the clarity of knowing correctly. But. But once one achieves the final realization of meditation. what you have learned as the method. As for example. It is something that one becomes. of seeing correctly. seeing accurately. may the light of the wisdoms be ever-increasing — the wisdom of hearing the teachings. Those are the three aspects of wisdom. both sides. So. at the beginning. Now. thinking about them. It is not trying to find out what you know and what you don’t know. when we say sempa it means “thinking” (traditionally translated “contemplation”).” of course. then that is not a mental activity. until then. As far as the English language is concerned. systematically going through the procedures of a particular meditation practice as outlined by a teacher. of contemplating them. It is a mental activity. 28 . will also be seen accurately. So there is this difference. whatever it might be — meditation. it is a mental activity. but not thinking about something to find out something. Meditation posture is body. Karmapa ends these four lines by saying. gompa it is also “thinking. But both are mind. And when we say. or prayer. in Tibetan. but meditation is mind — is involved with mind. meditation. visualization. It is just going through the particular matter. or just a simple discipline.
PRAYER FOR AN UNMISTAKEN PATH Now. free from the extremes of asserting and denying. By understanding the meaning of the ground. when Karmapa says ground. The whole. correct. which is the two truths free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism. he writes. Then. May all beings meet the dharma which neither errs nor misleads. Ground here means the ground for everything. is the two truths — the relative truth and the ultimate truth — free from both eternalistic and nihilistic extremes. the fruition. Here the Gyalwa Karmapa writes about ground. the third particular prayer that the Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes is for the unmistaken. he doesn’t mean some kind of basic foundation practice. The ground. entire dharma is here in these four lines. and fruition. is free from the extremes of samsara and the extremes of peace. The path is the accumulation of merit and the accumulation of wisdom. free from the extremes of samsara and nirvana. path. 29 . To be simple here. that is not mistaken or going on any detours away from the actual purpose of the dharma. golwa means totally going against. So. nirvana. he says. and is the benefit for oneself and the benefit for all beings. And chukpa means misunderstood. This particular stanza is extremely rich and extremely deep. He prays that one meet with dharma that is neither going against the actual purpose of the dharma nor is a misunderstanding of the dharma.THE INTRODUCING MAIN BODYM OF AHAMUDRA THE PRAYER 3. This is also written in four lines: 6. free from the extremes of exaggeration and denial. Is attained the fruit of well-being for oneself and others. He ends these four lines by saying: May I and everyone meet the dharma that is not antithetical to the actual purpose of dharma. And by practicing the supreme path of the two accumulations. path itself.
There is not one single sentient being. That 30 . from when I was born to when I die. So. So everybody has their ambition in this life. there must be a ground that it will be a benefit for others. the ground means this basic ground for everything. there are slight differences between becoming an arhat and becoming a Buddha. So. I don’t know whether or not amoebas have Buddha nature. And the ground is that every single sentient being’s potential. That is for every Buddhist. a basis for being able to do that. And as for me. just like the Buddha’s. there must be a ground for that. And. I mean. I wish to attain enlightenment.4 So. Still. Some Buddhists wish to become enlightened as far as arhatship. “I wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. this is the ground. “I wish to attain enlightenment. not slight (laughter). is equal to the Buddha’s mind. definitely. too. Some Buddhists wish to become enlightened and become Buddhas. That is what Buddhism is all about. Otherwise. And we call that Buddha nature.” With respect to your attaining enlightenment. both are a kind of enlightenment. Now. however insignificant it might look — it could be something like an amoeba — that does not have Buddha nature. But somehow. When you say. And then. So. I definitely want to make sure that I improve one percent at least. the basis and ground for the entire Buddhist tradition goes back to enlightenment. The essence of the mind of every sentient being is perfect and has no limitation. everybody can attain enlightenment. There must be a ground for that. the process of enlightenment. How far we get in this life is one thing. it is all just wishful thinking.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA When we say. I don’t want to fail to improve by at least one percent in this life.” that is the basic motivation of Mahayana. which is the essence of their mind.” you have to have the ground to attain enlightenment. enlightenment itself should be beneficial for others — and there must be a ground for that. everybody’s ultimate goal is to become Buddha. “For the benefit of all sentient beings. but every single Buddhist wishes to become enlightened. but they are supposed to be sentient beings. But realistically. you know. Tremendous. And then finally. Every single one of these ideas must have a ground (a basis). I do my best (laughter).
we too will be enlightened.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER means they have Buddha nature. they will not be at peace. Every single sentient being has Buddha nature as their ultimate potential. Every single sentient being will go on wandering and struggling in samsara. That is the ground for thinking — and thinking correctly — that our enlightenment will be of benefit to all sentient beings. and the benefit of that is that Lord Buddha became enlightened. attaining Buddhahood is the final destination of every single sentient being — because their ultimate essence is Buddha. we end up in the same place. you might be crawling. until they attain Buddhahood. Therefore. The definition of samsara is going in circles. That is the basic ground. just as Buddha’s enlightenment benefits us. The definition of samsara is that. the ground for the enlightenment of the person who is praying. Therefore. Until we become Buddha. sometimes seemingly happy. but always dissatisfied. The circle can be as big as the whole universe. The previous Buddha’s enlightenment benefited Buddha Shakyamuni. When you are going in circles you might be running. but we will continue wandering and struggling and being helplessly propelled from realm to realm. In that way. we can go through all kinds of things. The circle can be as small as the circumference of a finger. enlightenment is a necessity. He took the vow to attain enlightenment three trillion eons in the past. The ground for why your enlightenment will benefit all sentient beings is that the Buddha Shakyamuni’s enlightenment benefits us. however much we struggle. and the ground for enlightenment itself for which the person 31 . more often in pain. They will struggle. but going in circles means going in circles. In this way. and that our enlightenment will definitely benefit all sentient beings. we can know that as his followers. and the destination of every single sentient being. That enlightenment is a necessity for every single sentient being to attain. it still benefits us. Two thousand five-hundred years after his enlightenment. Therefore. we can find ourselves in all kinds of realms. But that will not stop us from struggling. the ground for that is that every sentient being in essence is nothing less than Buddha. At the end of the day you end up in the same place.
it will be to our minds only an entirely good thing. 32 . In other words. two to tango. if we are fighting the good and the bad as a battle. which is eternalism. We might believe that everything is a real. You see? You Americans have a wonderful saying for that: “To get tangled. then we will regard it as a completely bad thing. Ground means that if you are a travel agency and somebody comes and ask you to sell a ticket to someplace called Seattle. we are all Buddha. or we might not believe in anything at all. The next line talks about the supreme path of the two accumulations. “It takes two to tango. you need two” (laughter). Two to tangle. and somebody wanted to buy a ticket to that place. Every dharma is related. or of any eternalistic view or any nihilistic view. see? The particular definition of ground that Karmapa has written here is relative truth and absolute truth. then there would be no ground. because. This is very much related to the previous point. If we do something bad. nobody is a winner. solid thing for ever. and the ground for the benefit to all sentient beings of attaining enlightenment. There is a place called Seattle. somehow between these two. And.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA is praying. As far as extreme views — eternalism and nihilism — are concerned. if we don’t understand relative and absolute truth. we might think that everything exists. The correct view of relative truth and absolute truth is that they are a unity. then we inevitably become either eternalistic on the one hand. the true understanding of relative truth and ultimate truth is free of eternalism and nihilism. (Rinpoche is trying to say. So. That is the simple way to understand the ground. tangled. that is the ground. if we are eternalistic then we will assert everything. right here. free from the extremes of assertion and denial. Here. all become relevant. or nihilistic on the other. which is nihilism. we are not yet manifesting as Buddhas. Absolutely. in harmony. If there weren’t a place called Seattle on the planet earth. However.”) Do you say that? Oh. then there has to be a place called Seattle. when we do something good. for which the person who is praying is praying. You say it really well. relatively. entangled. or nothing exists.
I can’t enumerate them all here. in one day. and doing one good thing to purify one bad thing. And when we brush our teeth every morning. And so on and so forth. there are many ways to be nihilistic. Knowing is up here (pointing to his head). I don’t want to depress you. Then. if we think of doing good karma as opposite to bad karma. and insects and animals underneath have to be dug up. there are so many. The animals on top of the soil have to be cut under. This happens all the time. how many animals have to be killed? First you have to plough the ground. or do nothing? You see. definitely not. I don’t have to do anything. How do I do that? Am I supposed to hibernate. just to keep the human body moving. maybe more are taken. Then you spray. But by not doing anything. twenty lives. After that. other little creatures will eat the rice or we will not be able to get any rice. what happens? We know we have to brush. Just by thinking we are Buddha does not make us Buddha. 33 . One “positive” way to be nihilistic. is to say. dried up by the sun. you see? And so on. if we talk about being nihilistic. I am Buddha. I would have to live maybe a hundred lives without creating any more bad karma. There are many things like that. how much life do we destroy? For example. what would you have to do? What would I have to do? For one day’s karma. which is very harmful. things will just continue and go on as usual. then we get stuck. in this way. How many insects get drowned? Countless. The worms are cut. The whole of life — just to keep it going. How many beings will be chopped into pieces in harvesting? For each single grain of rice — maybe ten. If it were the case that we had to purify every one of our bad karmic actions by doing some good karma equal to it. then enlightenment will never happen. So when we do. When you grow that rice. how many germs are we killing? You see? And we have to brush. if our thinking becomes eternalistic. you have to harvest. And they will die. otherwise. but that’s the reality.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER What is important to understand here is that. you eat a plate full of rice. My potential is Buddha. Impossible! How impossible? Well. And then every day you have to water. And then we eat a plate full of rice. There will be no progress. living and breathing.
but somehow. But the accumulation of wisdom comes 34 . but we do our best. we avoid all negative karma. Worse than a disaster. we try to be kind. In this way it becomes a total evil disaster. So. Also. Not that we think that these actions will take care of everything — they won’t. That is the result of a nihilistic attitude. we avoid all negative activities. People believe that they can do just one “something” to make everything right. through really going through it and digesting it and applying it. Then. not through the accumulation of merit. it is not wisdom. we do our best. there is no word to describe it. Knowing and information have to be transformed into wisdom through work. and replace them with positive and meaningful activities.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA you see. Enlightenment happens through the accumulation of wisdom. which Karmapa describes in the next line as the accumulation of merit and the accumulation of wisdom — balanced and harmonized. Knowing has to do with knowledge. trying to get rid of the things that they think need to be got rid of. First. even though they are not negative. We don’t purposely hit people. That is the accumulation of merit. They do something. that is a “positive” way to be nihilistic. we try to be generous. The real balance and harmony between these two extremes is the actual path of dharma. we should also try to avoid and overcome unnecessary activities. We do our best to avoid it. We can’t totally avoid accumulating bad karma. That means we don’t purposely kill something. But there are negative ways to be nihilistic. as well. through application. saying that you are Buddha. After some time it becomes a religion that they want to get rid of. At the same time you have to accumulate wisdom. we try to be considerate. As far as our intentions are concerned. They do that something and get everything wrong. We don’t purposely steal something. through practice. You know these ways very well. Or some kind of culture that they want to get rid of. It becomes a race that they want to get rid of. The accumulation of merit will provide the space and opportunity and the conducive conditions for the accumulation of wisdom.
That is how enlightenment through the path happens. this does 35 . I want to practice dharma. that happens. relative karma. truly praying. not from the outside. You see. positive conditions must be developed. truly developing devotion. what happened to them? They died. Therefore. is naturally transformed and purified. That is no good. but it is on the inside that the actual realization happens. Our days. Bad karma is all relative. because what happens then? I see lots of these kinds of people. But now. millions and millions of years. and why bad karma harms us only on the level of relative truth. our body. Sometimes when people become very intellectual — even Buddhists when they become very intellectual. this happens. I am sincere. they all died. I can talk about it. right now. our speech. we are totally under the influence of — and under the total cause. from that point of view. isn’t it? We know that on this planet we don’t see any human beings who are older than 200 years. who have been here for a long. the relative negativity. when they really know alot — then they somehow overlook the accumulation of merit. you know. Their minds never ever died. Enlightenment is possible only in that way — from the inside. truly meditating. our minds are totally ruled and controlled and influenced by relative truth. You see? So. Everyone died relatively. you can hear about it.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER through truly developing compassion. “I want to do good things. Therefore. you might understand it. But do you know any of them who died ultimately? Nobody died ultimately. That is also why good karma benefits us. and through the realization of ultimate truth. but. can we comprehend the ultimate? No. They say. that’s about it. Why is it that we can become enlightened in that way? What happens to the bad karma that we have accumulated just by living? How is it taken care of? We can get enlightened because it is impossible to accumulate bad karma (ultimately). as long as we don’t realize the ultimate truth. Their human bodies died. condition and result of — karma and relative truth. All of those people. long time. we can only hear about it. truly recognizing one’s essence and the essence of everything. That’s about it (laughter). both merit accumulation and wisdom accumulation are extremely important. our nights. On the outside.
I don’t like to say it. That person has not accumulated enough merit. very quiet state of realization and just sit there and enjoy it forever. and the second one is peace. gradually. In that way. That’s not what we are looking for. if we develop both externally and internally. You could even be a universal monarch ruling over four continents. and that I don’t think is very easy.” They say all kinds of things. being the richest person on earth. and we are able to progress internally as well. Why? Because attainment that is beneficial for oneself and beneficial for all beings is what we actually wish to achieve. Those are extremes. One has to accumulate merit in order to overcome relative obstacles. we might not succeed in overcoming without a rich accumulation of merit. you can be the most powerful person on earth. really dedicated like Milarepa or Naropa. because of that. from the merit point of view as well as from the wisdom point of view. from both the relative point of view as well as from the ultimate point of view. such as being a king. On the one hand. Anyway. Karmapa talks about the fruition. over one whole solar system — well. We will all be in your hands. It’s real. but a passive kind of peace. which we call nirvana. The first extreme is mere samsaric attainment. Unless we are really. things fall into a positive kind of condition. it is not that easy for most of us.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA not work. the Gyalwa Karmapa says that our attainment should be free of mere worldly attainment. Therefore. you’d better be good in that case (laughter). You can be the most beautiful person on earth. Your worldly attainment can be anything. Why does that happen? Because of the lack of merit. And relative obstacles. but in reality. In the next line. we will be very happy if we have merit and. the point is that we can be or might become anything 36 . very happy. you will have lots of responsibility. even if we mean well. you know. we don’t just want to reach some kind of very peaceful. being rich. then this will be wonderful. That is what Gyalwa Karmapa is praying for here. which is free from extremes. And I know that they are not just making excuses. We wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. It’s happening that way and it’s difficult for them. If you become a universal monarch ruling over four continents. together and harmoniously. And on the other hand.
which are the same as the aspirations of Mahayana. and not a roundabout kind of path — he prays for the correct path for himself and for all of us. prayer number four.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER in the universe. One-sided nirvana is good and nice. If we should reach some kind of peaceful and quiet state and just enjoy that. The ground of purification is the mind itself. with no limitation whatsoever. It will not last forever. a. it is limited. PRAYER FOR UNMISTAKEN PRACTICE ON THE PATH Prayer number four is concerned with the practice of that unmistaken path. That’s perfect. In that way it still entails the suffering of samsara. Vajrayana is practiced for the benefit of limitless sentient beings. the second is a more detailed prayer for this. 4. So. that would be quite good. He says many prayers within it. 7. He is praying for correct. That is the third particular prayer. nor is it the practice of Vajrayana. for one’s own benefit and for other’s benefit — totally without any limitation. The struggle will still go on. 37 . indivisible cognitive clarity and emptiness. He makes two divisions: The first is a general prayer for this unmistaken practice upon an unmistaken path. even desirable. that attainment will still be impermanent. what Karmapa is praying for is the total realization of Buddhahood — Mahamudra realization. This Mahamudra prayer is written in accordance with the aspirations of the Vajrayana. but that is not the practice of Mahayana. Therefore. but it is just for oneself. Then he prays for an unmistaken path. That is the kind of fruition that Gyalwa Karmapa is praying for. But then. unmistaken practice upon that unmistaken path. the correct practice upon the correct path. It gives an overall view of the whole thing. General Prayer for Unmistaken Practice on the Path The general prayer covers a very large part of the text — this particular prayer.
and what you are mastering is much deeper than just overcoming negativity. which is the unity of emptiness and clarity. it doesn’t have any solid thingness to it. as you progress on your path you are going deeper. In these four lines Karmapa says everything there is to say about the path and the practice of the path. Mind doesn’t have any kind of colour. What is to be purified are the adventitious. when he says jang. One basic meaning is to purify. Mind is the essence of everything. here. Empty doesn’t mean that nothing is there. temporary contaminations of confusion. is the mind itself. There are a lot of meanings in this same word jang — pure. what you are purifying. Another meaning is mastery. He uses variations of the same basic word four times here. Then. at the beginning.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA That which purifies is the great vajra yoga of Mahamudra. In the first line. and then after that person passes away. mind doesn’t have any kind of shape. Mind doesn’t weigh anything. As for the mind’s qualities. 38 .5 In that way. When we practice. How he describes this is the very commonly accepted way of describing it in high-level Vajrayana teachings. But. Therefore. Emptiness. be manifest. mind is described as empty. it means purifying all sorts of shortcomings and defilements and negativities. May the fruit of purification. the ground for purification is the mind — the unity of clarity and emptiness. as such. to master something. the body will still weigh sixty-five kilos. you can’t trap mind in anything. to purify. A person who is alive may weigh sixty-five kilos. etc. okay? In the first sentence he says. It has several meanings. which is jang. in the sense that mind does not have any kind of dualistic entity. there are no limitations. So let us limit it to purifying and mastery. the stainless dharmakaya. It does not get suffocated under water. it is empty. That is how he describes the mind. In that way. he means purification. Mind has no limitation of any kind of dualistic identity. it does not go crazy in space. the ground for that purification.
It is not ignorant. Vajra means all of that in one. these two qualities — cognitive lucidity and emptiness. where there is no light whatsoever. most direct method. The greatest possible strength and quality and power— that is all described by vajra. then that applies here as well. we all can see. In the second line. mind is the essence of everything. If you remember what I told you about the ground earlier. It is luminous. and stretching. And what is to be purified are the temporary. it sees everything. Somehow we can communicate. It is all the mind. The unity of emptiness and clarity is the ground for purification. isn’t it? Mind is everything. They are not permanent. it is clear. it will not be burned. All the defilements and all the negativities (Rinpoche is referring to the emotional and emotionally reactive afflictions). It is like a diamond. Therefore. Mahamudra is like a vajra in the sense that it is the most powerful. the Karmapa says that the means to purify — the method of purification — is Mahamudra. all are temporary. and all of that. like a thunderbolt. Gyalwa Karmapa here describes Mahamudra as vajra yoga. understand. and the application of ways and means. luminosity and emptiness — are one. it is clear. Right now. In the West. and all the basic defilement’s such as ignorance (Rinpoche is referring to the cognitive obscurations. we can feel. you think of somebody putting their feet here and there. He also adds great and calls Mahamudra the great vajra yoga. They are not ultimate. Jang cha means what is to be purified. But then. from some kind of cellar or basement. If mind is put under the ground in the middle of the lava in the middle of the planet earth. wonder. which also include dualistic perception). the yoga of the vajra. the application of ways and means. In the third line.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER But then. when someone says yoga. Yoga in general means actual practice. And yoga actually means ways and means. Karmapa says jang cha. There is so much. We have the ground for purification and the means of purification. That is what is to be purified. If you look up from within the darkest place on earth. So mind is clear. All of this is mind. It is a miracle in itself. That is hathayoga exercise. and of incomparable strength. illusory obscurations or stains that obscure the mind. They are relative and 39 .
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA temporary. that is nothing. Just as soon as we are about to find out about any particular event. That part is actually quite good. then you can get really shocked that something like that is so important to somebody..” (i. all kinds of illusions. then you are shocked by it. then 40 . But for them it’s everything. looking at it from your own perspective. then the good part is that the true colour of illusion. because they are illusions. That is what is to be purified. and you look at what they are fighting about. Their parents and their friends are proud of somebody’s dying for that specific thing. People are fighting somewhere.e.” In this way. but that is the reality of the situation. how they are involved in such an illusion. There is positive illusion. we can see that it is an illusion.6 In this way. They are temporary. there is negative illusion. the true nature of illusion. But when you look at it from here. especially these days when we are exposed to so much in the world. It doesn’t mean that it is bad. and so they are also illusion itself. and you’re not more enlightened than they are — you can be totally equal in that regard — but just by seeing how illusion works. I can even say. shows up more often. I really admire your people who have invented all of these means of communication. it is just nothing. as members of the same human race on the same planet. And those people’s illusions are also that on which some other ones thrive. They die for it. and maybe correct in saying. Illusion is very easy to understand. and you say. maybe they will think the same thing — “This is not very important. And I don’t think that they are less enlightened than you. “Oh. We end up seeing it quite clearly. Once that happens. that almost everyone is thriving on one or another kind of someone else’s illusion. Then. if they look at something that we do here that we think is very important. you can come to understand so much. If you really think about what you see these days. illusions keep on encouraging illusions and keep on developing further and further. There is so much illusion. The bad part is that everything goes so fast that there is no time to get to the bottom of any particular illusion. nothing worth fighting about).
In the last line. says very clearly that enlightenment is not something that you get from the outside. this particular word. I want that. and Tilopa really tests him. And Naropa’s realization. but not quite there yet. may it manifest. “the result of purification” — jang dre — which is the dharmakaya totally free of all defilements. So.” Then Tilopa asks Naropa. “I want to attain enlightenment without having to practice 41 . Enlightenment is something that happens within and then manifests. It is not something created that finally manages to be a complete creation. “May it manifest. he — Naropa — wanted to be enlightened in one lifetime. So. and also because he was ready for it. So. But it didn’t happen. ngon. So. So cho ku ngon gyur shok. It is not a creation. when it happened. many things. there is one particular example: As you know. And then one last transformation was still supposed to happen. Naropa was following Tilopa all over to get teachings. Finally. It’s like dreaming within a dream. “What could that be?” Naropa says to Tilopa. Naropa passes through all kinds of tests. Tilopa led Naropa through the hardest and most extreme journey towards liberation. you get illusions within illusions. he discusses the fruition. Because. which are temporary and relative. the Mahamudra lineage was brought to Tibet by Marpa. His guru was Naropa. Naropa was quite enlightened already. In fact. actually. So. it is simply the purifying and overcoming of all the relative dualistic creations of confused mind. and maybe not 100 percent acceptable in your kind of culture and society.” Ngon actually means manifest. here. So in that way. he had to go through many. thereby unveiling what has always been there and is always there as the essence. happened in quite a dramatic way. he’s following Tilopa everywhere. “I still have not received the final teaching and transmission.” For this. all of the obscurations. Naropa is transformed. You might even consider it a little extremely dramatic.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER something else has already happened. and each test teaches one particular great transmission. Tilopa asked Naropa. That is what is to be purified. “Now what do you want?” And Naropa says. It is the manifestation of what is already there. The Gyalwa Karmapa’s words here say that what is to be purified are the illusions. “dharmakaya.
is the subtle pith of meditation.” So Naropa’s miracle happened as a result of that. He says to himself. Meditation. May it manifest in its fullest manifestation. Tilopa told him. he was enlightened (laughter). or at least looked like he really was — with all due respect. “The final enlightenment has to come from you.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA (laughter). I think.” So. b. Then. the action — may there be confidence in these. One 42 . Here Karmapa writes about the three most important components of practice that we all must have as practitioners of Mahamudra. and knocked Naropa out. The view. Specific Prayer for Unmistaken Practice on the Path Now secondly. the stainless dharmakaya. when Karmapa writes specific prayers for this. when he woke up. Prayer for Correct View. He looked around for something.” Then Tilopa got really angry. Without having to do anything. Resolving doubts about the ground brings conviction in the view. There is nothing more I can give you toward it. First. Then keeping one’s awareness unwavering. Putting all aspects of meditation into practice is the supreme action. Those are the general prayers. and then he goes into detail. he writes them in two parts again. You see? Naropa was out cold there for a couple of minutes. in accordance with the view. “I knew this always. exactly what Gyalwa Karmapa is saying here: The result of purification. may it manifest. he says it briefly in one prayer. the meditation. that is. and Action (Brief) First the brief one: 8. one by one in four specific prayers. but there was nothing but his shoe and slammed it into Naropa’s face.
because the view applies at all times. And then next is what? In that way. or philosophy. meditation. but then. or value. we become undisciplined and not mindful. There is nothing wrong with it. In this way. that’s not the real purpose of Lord Buddha’s 43 . So. to feel good. Action means when you are not meditating — when you are doing other things. But when negative circumstances fall on you. when you are not meditating. Action refers to post-meditation. View covers meditation and action both. It would be like someone who is going on a diet and is not very good at it. or attitude. but during post-meditation we could be behaving quite differently. the first thing is to go to a McDonald’s and next to a pizza parlour. and the sun is shining warm. but that’s not real dharma. We have a very old Tibetan saying — it’s a little bit sloppy and not very refined actually: “When the stomach is full of food. one spoils everything that has been achieved. and then just go on with our lives in the same old way. one looks like a great dharma practitioner. You could call it view. It’s the same thing.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER has to have the correct view. then it doesn’t really take us anywhere. It becomes something like stress management (laughter). It becomes stress management. during meditation we could be very good and quite diligent. the practice becomes successful. then the true colour of a real. We meditate to overcome the little aches and pains. ordinary person shows up. then the meditation and the action might not be in accord with one another. Even if we have the correct view. and the meditation becomes something else. in that way it doesn’t help. Then the next day. if we are not able to maintain it during post-meditation.” If we are not able to have and maintain the view very clearly. not aware. or understanding. after coming out of meditation. if we meditate very well. It actually does not become the real dharma by which one attains enlightenment. and the correct action — view. then. Meditation refers to when you are sitting and meditating and practicing. It covers everything. All of your activities have to be conducted according to the view. action — these three should be correct. Meditation and action mean meditation and post-meditation. we meditate again. One might go on a diet for one month and really get thin. the correct meditation. and then as soon as one comes off one’s diet.
then that is the true. They resent themselves. Karmapa says that the confidence of the view is the total confirmation of the ground. and the action all have to be understood and practiced together. although somehow. So the view. which I still haven’t really digested 100 percent. And there’s all this guilty feeling. We are nothing less than Buddha. is the secret or key to meditation. So. unshakable confidence that you are Buddha. No matter what we are doing—we can be just having a holiday. Now. the highest and deepest and most natural confidence. the important definition of meditation — to maintain awareness of that ground. Then Karmapa talks about meditation. that meditation on the ground. profound action. That is the crucial point. All sorts of things like that.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA teaching. and there are all kinds of things like that. They don’t like themselves. You are Buddha in your essence. The ground is Buddha nature. this confidence. they don’t feel worthy of anything. they are disappointed in themselves. or doing whatever we are doing — if we are always able to maintain this awareness of this ultimate essence. may one obtain this confidence and this depth 44 . He says maintaining this confirmation of the ground. One thing that I have come across since I came to the West for the first time in 1980 is that a lot of people say that they hate themselves. without getting affected by thoughts and concepts and emotions. He ends these four sentences by saying. but I think the greatest and most direct remedy for these attitudes and feelings is in this first sentence: The confirmation of the ground is the incorruptible. and the mastering of that in all situations — that is the profound action. miserable human being. That is real confidence. We are not this limited. isn’t it? When we confirm that in our own minds. the meditation. on that confidence of the view that arises from the confirmation of the ground. I roughly understand it. Lots of people say they are depressed. Nothing can corrupt that. then we have confidence. nothing can shake that. I may be wrong. or we can be just resting at home or working at the office. the Gyalwa Karmapa says that the best and the most profound action is the fully matured mastery of all that is meditated upon. And people have a lot of hurt. In the third sentence.
Prayer for the View of Mahamudra (Brief) The brief one reads: 9. and a prayer regarding the action. which is the view. i. All phenomena are illusory displays of mind. For Mahamudra practitioners it is the highest Mahamudra attainment if we are able to observe the essence of our mind and absorb 45 . The Gyalwa Karmapa says that all phenomena. Being empty. are all manifestations of mind. This part of the prayer covers most of the main body of the text. He says it is empty. but it is totally alive and clear. and a prayer about fruition or the total accomplishment of the path. Examining well. Mind is totally free of any kind of limitation. After that. a prayer regarding the meditation. Then he prays: May one totally confirm this with clear and profound examination of it. The Gyalwa Karmapa breaks it down and makes a prayer about each one of these. may all doubts about the ground be discerned and cut. THE VIEW The first one. manifesting as everything whatsoever. Mind itself is not any kind of dualistic entity. That is the general.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER of view. and the second is in greater detail. There is nothing that cannot manifest through it and within it. are interdependent manifestations of mind. Mind is no mind — the mind’s nature is empty of any entity that is mind. He will be praying for these four separately. including everything. The first is brief. meditation and action. overall version of this particular prayer. it is unceasing and unimpeded. he writes in two parts. He makes a prayer regarding the view.
how can we accumulate merit when we are always giving it away in the act of dedicating it to others? RINPOCHE: Oh. We say observe when we are viewing the process personally and inwardly. dedicating merit is the accumulation of merit itself. If we dedicate our life. overall prayer for the view of Mahamudra. there is nothing new. Some kings build palaces that cannot be destroyed even by bombs. We couldn’t do some really big limitless thing. Beyond any limitation. there is not so much we can do in one life. Anyway. yes? Ninety years. What can we really do. otherwise we will become Buddha in one second. It’s true. and absorb when we are viewing the process from the outside. Knowing this and observing this. you see? Practically speaking. If I do. in no time — which would be wonderful. for doing something for others. it might be eighty years. and within which we experience everything as we are. dualistic identity or substance. These 46 . you know. Some people can do things. but I don’t know whether or not I am supposed to say that. But. and confirming this. So I can’t say too much about that. It hasn’t happened to me. Some emperors have built walls that you can see from the moon. but I don’t know (laughter). your motivation might change. both the relative manifestation and the ultimate essence of the mind become part of our experience. how much can we do? Not so much.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA ourselves in it. This mind is beyond any limitation: both of having any kind of solid. what Karmapa means here is that the view of Mahamudra is the confirmed understanding that everything is the manifestation of mind with no limitation — and that everything is interdependent with mind with no limitation.7 Of course. It hasn’t happened to me. and also of not having clarity and clearness that pervades everything. That is the general. our entire life. it will be dualistic. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS QUESTION: Rinpoche. nothing different about this mind out of which everything manifests. becoming absorbed in this. In that way. I want it to happen to you. is the view of Mahamudra.
This is not a lecture. so that they may attain enlightenment. You wanted to receive a Mahamudra teaching. what does that mean for those who practice Zen or other forms of Buddhism? RINPOCHE: Of course it doesn’t limit your involvement with other lineages. will this teaching place us within the Kagyu lineage. and then you put everything in one cheque and give it to somebody. and if so. good things. And that’s what you are here for. It is a teaching. Then. This is a transmission. you know (laughter). because in that way our little merit becomes limitless and lasts forever. what little meritorious activity that we can accumulate. That is the only way that something limited can become limitless. But in this way you do get involved with the Mahamudra lineage. But it is not that way. whatever job that you have. It is not some kind of secret society that you’re signing into (laughter). Yes. you will go bankrupt. You look at it as some kind of cash flow (laughter). But it doesn’t mean that you can’t associate with anybody else. whatever kind of friends that you have — everything remains as usual. 47 . Because of that. Because of this. It is not like giving money. So. It is dedication that will make a little merit limitless. that limited virtue becomes limitless. It is for this reason that we dedicate the merit. you are involved. If you have lots of money saved for many years. Whatever practice you do. The Mahamudra lineage masters will not be jealous. of course. but still it wouldn’t be limitless. QUESTION: Rinpoche. I understand what you might mean by this question. We will not have a merit cash flow problem. We should dedicate the merit. you get involved. we dedicate to everyone for the benefit of all sentient beings. and especially a Vajrayana practitioner. You should be open. You shouldn’t think like that. Yes. merit doesn’t work like that. There is no such thing. That is part of being a Mahayana practitioner. whatever dharma that you practice.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER kinds of things they can do.
We have to receive the lineage of transmission. You meditate for maybe two hours. first. is the proper practice of meditation. So.all the negativity totally. and then you smoke. Here. I’m not teaching you how to meditate. But that is not the full development of all the 48 .) RINPOCHE: . So you purify all the negativities. no more negativity. not moving and everything is perfect.. then you go to the pub. I am teaching the Prayer of Mahamudra as written by the Third Gyalwa Karmapa. Doing well during meditation means. But then. as it was interpreted in the commentary by the Eighth Tai Situ. So. following those instructions exactly and meditating accordingly. or being anything during meditation? RINPOCHE: Not doing well during post-meditation is very simple to explain... you get drunk. on top of that. that is not doing well during post-meditation. meditation. and then you might even do something not so nice. and maybe go hunting and go fishing and all that sort of thing. then that is peace (nirvana). what do you mean by not doing well in post-meditation. Then. Rinpoche seems to have started by saying that the realization of arhatship entails liberation from klesha and karma. You reach the realization of peace. When you reach that state. such as mental defilements (kleshas) and negative karma. is doing well in meditation. everything becomes zero. QUESTION: (A question was apparently asked concerning the difference between the Hinayana realization of cessation of an arhat or arhati and the full enlightenment of a Buddha. you drink.. exactly. Meditation we don’t just make up. And no more negative karma. and. So. I’m not giving you meditation instructions. and action. you have to receive the practice instructions.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA QUESTION: Rinpoche. also. For example. you have to receive the teaching and instruction and lineage of transmission for the exact practice that you wish to practice. and the practice transmission from the lineage. this lineage you have. could you please explain a little more about view. but after that. in order to know exactly how to practice.
But then in the Tibetan tradition we say enlightenment of Buddhahood — the final enlightenment. and the somebody doesn’t realize it. I can’t write properly at all. We call that. total realization. it’s the opposite of ignorance. I’m Tibetan-educated. not samsara. Somebody goes to a barber to have their hair cut. which could be anything.” but it doesn’t mean much. and you could sit very still and very quiet for hours. when it comes to the English language. he is walking around. So this word can sometimes be a little misleading. but the other side. and he doesn’t realize what’s wrong. I just have some feeling about it. All people say. Again. meant Buddhahood. enlightenment is not nirvana — it is the English language version of enlightenment. So. everybody is looking. “Can you enlighten me on this?” (laughter) And then I would wonder because at first I thought their question was really serious business. And another one is enlightenment. which means. So anyway. Yes? We call that cessation. nor is it the manifestation of the limitless potential of mind. So. At first I thought that enlightenment meant Buddhahood. But actually in such a case. that if you were a very good shamatha meditator. You want to know about it. I can only talk so-so.000 years went by just like that. It is like a knowing. “I realize this. And somehow most of the time it seems to be okay. because I thought somebody wanted to attain enlightenment through that. I can’t read properly.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER limitless qualities. and then I use it. And they say.” “I realize that. But reaching zero. English. 49 . enlighten is something like knowing. But as soon as he goes to the mirror he sees what’s wrong. enlightenment. So I don’t really know the meaning behind every word precisely. Then he realizes why people are looking at him. You don’t want to be ignorant about something. The meaning seems to get there. I thought. But then. I must let you know that I’m not educated in English. So it is as though all those 2. several times people have come to me with some very simple question. And the barber does something wrong. not yet. and then if you really went deeper and deeper you might sit there so long that when you woke up it might be the fortieth century. for example.
yes. a mind can reincarnate into a plant. the final realization. the essence of our mind. The realization of dharmakaya is when we attain enlightenment as to the nature of our mind. In that way. what are sentient beings? For instance. yes. when we say sentient being. is dharmakaya. realization of Buddhahood. Every day the being in the oven was baked inside. But I have seen in the sutras that there were certain situations in which some plants were beings and suffered in certain situations. there’s a second part to this question.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA But when we say the enlightenment of Buddhahood. Buddha’s realization. I always end up most of the time emphasizing total realization. QUESTION: Beings. In the Tibetan language we call sentient 50 . But it doesn’t mean that all plants have mind. enlightenment of Buddhahood. into plants or anything. what are sentient beings? And does it mean. they are not beings. All ovens are not beings. that’s the definition. Definitely. a fish less sentient than a cow? RINPOCHE: I really don’t know. That is a question of English language definition. I have never seen any text that says all plants and all trees have mind. that it is knowing that one is alive — is a worm less sentient than a fish. they are beings. This is something that you have to emphasize. plants react to the sudden death of their fellow plants. In some of the sutras. It is in reference to some specific events. Okay. It was a hell realm. but sometimes the mind can reincarnate into things like that. which I don’t know. the ground that exists right now. I don’t know whether plants have mind or not. QUESTION: Rinpoche. In one teaching it says that there was one family whose oven was a sentient being. If they don’t have mind. So. The dharmakaya essence. But it is not a generalization. That is the same as realizing dharmakaya. roughly. Are they beings? RINPOCHE: If the plants have mind. the Buddha talks about certain plants having mind. Dharmakaya is another name for the total realization of the essence. that means total.
There need to be very strong guide-lines. definitely. Many of the really terrible people. Otherwise. If one isn’t fully realized. then one can’t go through the world engaging in non-activity 51 .” And then one should try to practice them in one’s meditation. and adequate intention that is most important from a Buddhist perspective. your intention is just wandering around out in the wilderness. I really don’t know. intention is most important. Then. But then intention has many levels.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER beings semchen. can take over. In this kind of situation. But these English language definitions I think you yourselves know much better than I. It is the clear. and less intelligent. QUESTION: Rinpoche. Some mentally disturbed person might do lots of harm to somebody and think that’s something good. many of them have thought that their intentions were good. pure. this is a related question. In order to accomplish that end I will follow the Lord Buddha’s teachings according to the lineage. Sem means mind. what is the relationship between intention and the karma involved with harming or liberating sentient beings? RINPOCHE: Well. One’s real intent should be: “I wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. intention does not count as anything positive. chen means having. And then the ego. and try also to apply them in one’s post-meditation. This is very possible. QUESTION: Rinpoche. Semchen means one with mind. you know. They may have thought they were doing the right thing. And some person who is a little bit mad might go around destroying lives. or more complicated-minded sentient being. I would rather say more intelligent sentient beings. or less complicated-minded sentient being. But many of them might not have known. whoever or whatever has mind. Some of them may have known exactly what they were doing. yes. and one could become anything. more sentient and less sentient. and try to have the proper view. correct. thinking that they are helping them to be liberated from some kind of evil thing. the kind of ego that I was describing. who have done so much harm to humanity. This kind of thing happens in society.
In your practice you follow the guru. But slowly we progress. In certain things. Be mindful and aware. it actually is only their own ideas and ego disguising themselves as dharma. while we are still with our obscured minds. If the lineage is not there. That’s number one. then the mistakes will be little mistakes. That is what dharma practice is all about. living lineage. the spiritual issues you relate to the guru. And the living lineage’s master whom you associate with has to be a qualified master of the lineage. Then. When people start to think that they would like to make exactly the perfect. That’s why one has to have the profound. but for regular things. then that’s a big problem. well. The living lineage has to be there. just like your guru. you have to use your own common sense. That is easy to overcome gradually. In that case. That would be paranoia. Because that expectation implies that. But then.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA or Buddha activity. as I told you earlier. The important issues. rather than the real dharma. But one has to be able to progress through it. is worth doing. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. whether it will be beneficial or not. your practice has guide-lines. So. you should not become totally dependent upon the guru because you also have Buddha nature. We make mistakes. because we are so used to doing and saying things in the wrong way. You will still have shortcomings. even if all the dharma books are there. ultimate. because then the dharma books are taught by people according to their own ideas and ego. That means you will still be making mistakes. if I drink this water I can get enlightened 52 . The moment that you begin practicing dharma you will not become Buddha. you have to stand on your own feet. is properly guided. how can we know whether an action we take that isn’t obviously a good action. a little bit of that problem always will be there. or a bad action. it doesn’t really mean much. how does one not get locked in the struggle of nihilism and eternalism? RINPOCHE: Yes. And you have to make your own decisions. we repeat mistakes. Maybe ninety percent right and ten percent wrong. correct decision. along the way.
where do defilements come from? RINPOCHE: Well. none of those lifetimes. I could have even been the 53 . We may wander about. Well. All right. and then keep on marching. Starting with His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. We have a saying. QUESTION: Rinpoche. very precious. QUESTION: Rinpoche. We do our best.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER if I know how to do it perfectly.” We have to take that first step. ultimately. So we do our best. how they manifested. So. But then. will happen as a result. relatively in samsara. Not necessarily always just sitting there and listening to some talks from books. but everything is also beyond any limitation. if mind’s nature is pure. ultimate perfection — 100 percent ultimately perfect. of enlightenment. but we don’t miss the real. It doesn’t mean that we are truly. Maybe there might be landslides. not as a cause. That kind of total. On the way we might lose the path. In this way. ultimately in samsara. Everything is relative. but I will say a few things. the defilement’s continue. But being able to do that is already enlightenment. very. my life experience. time is relative. “A journey of a million miles starts with the first step. My time with those great masters has been very. And I learned a lot from them verbally. I don’t know whether or not it will be inspiring. we might make a mistake. and I learned a lot from them through their actions as well. yes. according to the Vajrayana teachings. Okay. from all of them I received so much. We are truly. one could say. during every moment in which we don’t realize this ultimate essence of mind as it is. ultimate goal. would you kindly tell us a story from your own life experience to inspire us in our faith? RINPOCHE: Are you serious? (laughter) Okay. and including all the other great masters that I really consider my teachers. when you become enlightened. fortunate to be connected with so many great masters. I was very. not even one moment has happened. But observing and learning from the way they were.
essential blessing from all of those great masters.000 — over 20. actually in our lineage. Let them know that. beautiful lakes in it. This is very. That’s all. In their teachings all these great masters emphasized just one very simple thing. or affected. and your limited knowledge and your shortcomings and problems — with some potentials. from a practical point of view. the Karma Kagyu lineage. Sometimes every week — and still I don’t like it. Everything is based on that. You are actually nothing less than Buddha. QUESTION: Do you have women monks in your temple? If so. or lost. And they instruct you in it. or burned. Since 1980. what are the different duties. 54 . But even though I don’t like it. altogether there are about 20. but by now there should be a couple of huge. There is one thing that my supreme guru. big airplanes. The Buddha’s shrine is within them. So this is. Let’s say I don’t like flying very much. I have been flying almost every month. or hurt. I think. very precious. because I spend so much time on airplanes.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA Arizona desert. which I remember very clearly — and all the time I try to keep this in mind and be mindful of it. and they tell you. and then really do crash and become barbecued. And they empower you with it. right now. It must be karma. “When you go around and teach people. as far as I’m concerned. and even if someday I find myself about to crash. There is no way that this Buddha within will be corrupted. That is actually the essence of all the teachings that I have gotten from them. then I know that this Buddha within me will still be intact. counting the monks and nuns together all over the world. And they tell you. actually. Especially in big.” So that is what I’m trying to do. Because that is how much was received really. how are their duties different. from those of male monks? RINPOCHE: Well. if at all. You are not just your limited physical body. His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa. the most important. He said.000. That is your essence. In Tibet. even though something might happen to my airplane. told me. let them know that they are the shrine of the Buddha. That is you. that your essence is Buddha.
then I’ll be very happy. 55 . Freda Bedi. But somehow. to speak English. which is to get the entire lineage of how this ordination has been continued from the Buddha up to now and how it is to be continued. and the history. But nuns don’t have bikhuni ordination in Tibetan Buddhism. And now we are stuck with one last thing to do. and there is a college where nuns can study. Our little deed here we dedicate for the benefit of all sentient beings. a Westerner. There are three year retreats for nuns. so that it becomes limitless. There are many. enough bikhunis who are mature. but no bikhunis. there are many more nuns. And when that happens. I have put everything I can into continuing this effort. there are two ordinations for monks: novice and bikhu (a fully ordained monk). the name. And. who actually was responsible for training Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and many other Rinpoches. many more monks than nuns. and right now eleven nuns are doing the three year retreat. In my monastery in India I have built a three-year retreat centre for nuns. to become a bikhuni. about which I’m very happy. The lineage is missing. let’s make the dedication. In Vajrayana Buddhism. I don’t know why. We have novice nuns. We don’t have that fully in our hands yet. Sister Palmo was a very special nun. These things are developing.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER there is a huge difference in the population of monks and nuns. And we will get there.8 His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. as you may know. my guru. there’s also another very inspiring development in India and Nepal and Tibet and everywhere. We need the lineage. He sent Sister Palmo. a few of them actually for the second time. there’s a long way to go. Since His Holiness passed away in 1981. We are waiting for that. So. which is a reality. So that’s where we stand. So. we have reached that point. too. wanted to revive the bikhuni ordination. Right now we have enough fully ordained nuns to pass on the lineage. which means that ten years have passed since they were ordained and thus they are permitted and empowered to pass on the lineage. which was a very great contribution. Still. But these days it seems to us that the population of nuns is growing. And since then several additional efforts have been made to revive the bikhuni ordination.
we have already finished going over the general prayer. Gyalwa Karmapa is writing about ground. By the power of this dualistic fixation. path. Now. nor are they nothing at all. mind itself is free from all kinds of limitations and extremes — neither mind nor any of its manifestations is any kind of solid entity. Third. Beyond both of these — that is the second prayer. meditation. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa is making a prayer for perfect practice on the perfect path of Mahamudra. then these five prayers concern the view itself.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA THE VIEW (Extensive explanation) In this particular section we are now studying. Karmapa writes here: 10. THE VIEW Prayer to Understand all Phenomena as Mind Of the five particular prayers regarding the view. Within this section. the meditation. that never truly exist. And number five is concerned with overcoming all aspects of doubt regarding the ground. regarding the practice of the perfect path itself. which is the view. Spontaneous intelligence. The fourth prayer is that we understand the unity of emptiness and interdependence. He is praying for that understanding. and action. not only from the extremes of existence and non-existence. within this same prayer he is also writing about view. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes five particular prayers concerning the view. is confused into a self. and within the category of ground. First. Since. which is the ground. under the power of ignorance. Second. he writes about these five particular categories. the first is that everything is the manifestation of mind. and fruition. the essence. mind is free. but also beyond the existence or non-existence of any kind of limited identity. are confused into objects. So. everything that is in the universe is actually the manifestation of mind. Naturally manifesting appearances. After that then. beings wander in the 56 .
” a self. Not only that. may I and everyone totally recognize this illusion. we manifest as ordinary sentient beings. in samsara. they are projections. and may we be totally victorious over this confusion of ignorance. But. In the third sentence. then duality is established. But it is not there more than an interdependent manifestation of what 57 . Here Karmapa means that all of the external manifestations. have never existed with any kind of ultimate reality.” So. but we misrecognize it as “I. and Buddha nature is recognized as a self and taken as the subject. Then he takes the next step. the ignorance of all sentient beings. he says that. and from time to time. nothing less than the Buddha’s dharmakaya itself. So. it is there. Karmapa’s prayer is very simple. The definition of ignorance here is that we have mistaken those manifestations. through which we see things and communicate with things. etc. But each time we encounter it. The Buddha within is always recognized by us. there is much more that develops out of it. it does not change what everything is all about. we are sentient beings in samsara. for what it is. They have existed as the manifestation of the essence of mind. We have likings and dislikings. and we have mistaken them as objects. May we totally confirm the truth of this. as various kinds of separate entities. It is not just the “I”. is in its essence. because manifestations are taken as objects. we mistake it for an “I. He says that we always encounter our ultimate essence. which are interdependent manifestations. That is the first step here. we do negative things to ourselves as well as others. Relatively. which we call objects. we act upon them. always. the root of confusion. It is not just made up. We are influenced by them. in relative manifestation. be discovered and cut. He’s pointing out that everything out there is there. Regardless of what the “I” does and how it appears. those two are the basic delusions. Our mind.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER realms of samsaric existence. which has emotions and concepts. Then he says.. May ignorance. which are interdependent with ourselves. which is ignorance. From that point of view. we have been wandering in all kinds of different confused conditioned existences. And due to this dualism.
So in this way. It is totally interdependent. This is quite different from saying. Mahamudra will say. Only this way. and he’s praying for that recognition. your eye is the subject. This is the way that Vajrayana Buddhism and the Mahamudra tradition understand and describe everything as the manifestation of mind. sometimes temporarily bad. For me. So. But it is dualism in either event. (Rinpoche would just be talking to himself ). because it’s only me (laughter). you are the object. saying that nobody is there. everything is there as nothing more or less than the interdependent manifestation of everyone else’s mind. and the oneness — and even beyond the oneness — of everything. what about my being a production of your mind? In the Mahamudra tradition it does not end there. If it were so. only me. Everything is interdependent. I am the object. and everyone is interdependent. Everything is interdependent. my eye is the subject. Mahamudra will never say. everything out there is a production of my mind. That’s how you affect it. Everything is interrelated. and that’s how it affects you. is not complete. sometimes people are very nice to each other and help each other. that takes everything out there as only the projection of your own mind. that’s how you perceive it. in these four sentences. may we realize the nondualism or non-duality.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA is within us. 58 . For me. In the context of this dualism sometimes people kill each other. he is saying. There is nothing more and there is nothing less than that. nothing is there more than just your mind. What is out there is the object. and also of your mind. This kind of subject-object dualistic interaction goes on forever — sometimes temporarily good. The way of understanding that everything is the manifestation of mind. for you. If that were the case. why should I tell you all of this. For you. That’s how you see it. the Gyalwa Karmapa writes from the Mahamudra point of view that everything is the manifestation of mind.
of enlightenment. You have a perfect image for misunderstanding “Middle-way. He says that mind is not just nothing. He says that even the Buddha. is not contradictory. You just sit in the middle — it doesn’t mean that. What do you call that? Humpty Dumpty! Middle way doesn’t mean you have to be Humpty Dumpty (laughter). or everything and nothing. May the ultimate nature of phenomena. you don’t believe in that. It is not existent — even the Victorious Ones do not see it. dualistic solid reality. of liberation. of realization. the essence of mind which is beyond any kind of limitation. and it is also free from not having any kind of reality at all: 11. who was enlightened. it is the foundation and essence of both all of existence and also Buddha itself.” You know. Mind itself is free from any kind of true. be realized. Middle way doesn’t mean you don’t believe in this. Therefore. It is everything. It is not nonexistent — it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana. it is not just nothing. What Karmapa says in the first sentence is that the mind does not have any kind of solid. The Middle-way means the unity of 59 . The meaning behind this is quite simple. the Middle-way. Then he says that this something and nothing. It is important here to understand what middle does not mean. dualistic reality. This is not a contradiction. did not see anything that was a dualistic solid existence. limitless mind beyond extremes.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER THE VIEW Prayer to Abandon The Limitations of Existence and Non-Existence The next prayer is the second in this category. may one realize this ultimate nature. this is the unity. but the middle path of unity. And then he says. Gyalwa Karmapa ends this question of whether mind is something or mind is nothing with the final conclusion of the Middle-way. in your schools you have one person with a very big head sitting on a wall.
Unity here means that the mind has no solid. this is what mind looks like. I’m not sure. The harmony of everything.” And then if somebody says that mind is something. The mind does not have any kind of physical size. mind does not have any kind of solid. If the mind is something — if the mind is supposed to be big then what is the definition of big. It doesn’t mean that when somebody says mind is empty. one hundred million solar systems? Or. Maybe you won’t get into trouble with either side. According to the Shentong view it is like this: Mind does not have any kind of solid reality. The Middle-way here is the unity of these two rivers beyond any limitation. this is the Shentong view. then who is saying it? Nothing is saying it is nothing. I’m in the middle. Mind is neither totally existent. mind is not just nothing. is it the size of one million times that? What is it? In that way you get nowhere. as such. Then we can even go to the simple and very stupid concept.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA everything. Here the modifier of Middle-way — zung jug in Tibetan — means unity. It is all-pervading.” Maybe that’s wise. “I don’t say anything — no or yes. “I don’t say anything. which is the philosophy of our lineage. is mind blue. But then mind is not something about which you can say that it is nothing. that you say. I’m in the middle. dualistic entity that you can somehow use as an example to say. It is everything. So. dualistic limitation at all. There is no such thing. either in terms of existence or of non-existence. but then maybe you get into trouble with both sides (laughter). It is everything. have you heard about these particular philosophical terms such as Shentong? Okay. Therefore. “Is mind green. So. nor does its lack of any kind of solid dualistic reality suggest the total non-existence of anything. the actual size? Is it the size of a planet? Is it the size of a whole solar system? Is it the size of a whole universe. There is no limitation to 60 . If somebody says mind is nothing. is mind purple? Does mind have all the colours that you can think of? Is it like a rainbow? You see?” We could go on and on asking questions about mind’s specific characteristics without being able to answer these questions with an affirmative. then you say.
” He can say that. Mind is like everything. Mind’s manifestation has no limitation whatsoever and the essence of the mind has no limitation of any kind whatsoever. except the Mahamudra nature of mind itself — Buddha. That is the unity of both of these. it cannot be said that this is it or this is not it. because everything is a manifestation of mind. Everything is the interdependent manifestation of mind. 61 . That is the Middleway. is unconditioned. THE VIEW Prayer to Abandon the Limitations of Being and Non-Being The third prayer is again slightly different. Then Karmapa says that you cannot say that mind is not this or is not that. The Gyalwa Karmapa emphasizes this here very clearly.” There is no equivalent example for the mind itself.” there is nothing to show. whatever its nature. If one says. because whether mind is a solid reality or whether it is totally empty. It is free from that limitation. perfect truth. “Your mind is just like my mind. which means unity. which transcends conceptual understanding.” there is nothing to deny. The Gyalwa Karmapa writes here: 12. You cannot say. “This is it. But it does not really change anything.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER mind whatsoever. “This is not it. The Buddha can say. There is nothing equivalent to it except itself. This is the meaning of the second sentence in this verse. and everything is part of the limitless manifestation of mind. He doesn’t just say Middle-way he says zung jug. There is nothing that does not have the quality of mind. May conviction be gained in the ultimate. There is nothing about which one can say that mind is totally unlike this. Zung jug. the dharmakaya. “Your mind is like this glass of water. The Third Gyalwa Karmapa here writes that there is no example that can illustrate the mind as being “like this” totally. If one says. The true nature of phenomena.
perception. Whatever you might think about. Any example will be incomplete. down to the nuclei of atoms and so forth. he says mind is du ma jay. which means we cannot create a mind mechanically. for mind itself we cannot find an example. some from our mother. except itself. when the Gyalwa Karmapa says the mind is beyond being an object of thought. not composed. and then we become six foot or even seven foot tall. neither in its cause nor in its condition. will be conditioned by the thinking and thus will no longer be the unconditioned thing itself. But you still don’t know how it is when it is not being examined. and the essence is also not the result of a composition of anything. they have to disturb it to check it. we are very small. because it is dualistic. in this case the ultimate nature of mind. thought. which is the true nature of mind. But the mind is not a composition in this way. Our body is a composition. When you examine something. Thinking itself is dualistic. and then something comes out of it. Therefore. And it is beyond any percepts and concepts. then you can only know how it is in that kind of situation when it is being disturbed by examination. lo less des pay cho nyi du ma jay. Du jay means “composite” and is used to refer to things that are compositions of other factors. But. but they can’t know exactly the nature of anything in its undisturbed state. and grow bigger and bigger. keep on drinking. Mind is not a result of many components put together. because those are merely the manifestation of mind. Because when they check anything. I have heard some scientists say that they can examine the materials of the universe. Some factors that make up our body come from our father. In the same way. The ultimate nature is beyond all of this. down to the finest details. Then we keep on eating.9 You see our ordinary impression of mind is like our thoughts. The true nature of phenomena. he is saying the same thing. 62 . some from the universe at large. is beyond all of this. is beyond any kind of concept. whatsoever. When we are born. which is also the true nature of mind. idea.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA The Gyalwa Karmapa says in the third sentence. etc.. that the true nature of phenomena. We cannot create a mind combining many things.
directly translating the word. The fourth prayer is about the unity of emptiness and interdependence. may I see that most essential spot of the nature of mind. Regarding this. Buddha is not anything other. There is nothing that can undo the essence. because the essence is the essence. it is totally pure in itself. I think that a way to describe this might be what we shared earlier about Naropa. Not realizing it. If it is realized. It always is as it is. It is the essence of everything. and it even has an ironic interpretation. Then he says that everything is beyond any kind of limitation of “this is. be realized. he says to himself. The Gyalwa Karmapa says that when one doesn’t realize this. one circles in the ocean of samsara.” May this simple secret. If one does realize this. It cannot be corrupted. and this word is a little hard to translate because. But here it doesn’t mean the negative aspect of weakness. Buddha means the recognition and realization of the essence of the mind. which is the basis of everything. this ultimate essence of phenomena. when he woke up enlightened after the “holy episode” with Tilopa (laughter). wandering in the ocean of samsara.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER THE VIEW Prayer to Understand the Unity of Emptiness and Interdependence Then Karmapa prays. 63 . may I confirm a correct understanding of the ultimate essence of everything. it cannot be diluted. What Karmapa is saying is that it is so simple. Then he says. Tsang is a weakness. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes: 13. and there is nothing that can create the essence. Naropa said. and there is no way to dilute it in its essence. then one is in samsara. So he prays. then there is nothing other than this that can be described as Buddha.” So. the simplicity of it. It is always incorruptible and unchangeable.” or “this is not it. “I have known this a long time ago. So. It is completely devoid of any “this is it. or this is not. tsang means secret. the pure nature of mind. It is as simple as that.” There is no doubt. which is something like weakness.
Realization is mind and confusion is mind. But if you don’t realize the true nature of things and get carried away by illusions — everything becomes like an illusion — that is also mind. which concludes this first section about the view. that it be confirmed that everything is just mind. And whatever dissolves and dies and the cessation is also mind.10 THE VIEW Prayer to Overcome all Doubts Concerning the Ground Prayer number five is about the total confirmation of the ground. of the ultimate nature of mind. And whatever disappears and is empty is also mind. the Buddha nature. that is the tsang. the soft spot. a kind of spiritual acupuncture point. Whatever is born and whatever arises is mind. THE MEDITATION The next section is meditation Mahamudra and for this Gyalwa Karmapa makes two categories. Once you understand and attain realization. Then he prays that all doubt about the nature of mind may be resolved. regarding the meditation. He writes: 14. Appearance is mind and emptiness is mind.the eye of the storm.. May all doubts about mind be resolved. let’s say.. Karmapa says that whatever manifests and becomes apparent is mind.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA that is the secret. the nature of mind itself. one general and one specific. Arising is mind and cessation is mind. General Prayer for Mahamudra Meditation The general section. he writes in four lines: 64 . This is the fifth and last prayer regarding the view of Mahamudra. that is mind. ii.
Unmoved by the winds of everyday busyness. observing the nature of mind. Not adulterating meditation with conceptual striving or mentally created meditation. you are not adding anything. if we compare this kind of meditation (involving visualizations and prayers. then these more preliminary forms of meditation are mentally 65 . or visualizing a Buddha. you are not creating a new visualization. you just observe. The visualization is a thought. When you are really observing the nature of mind. So he is writing this verse according to that.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER 15. May the practice of resting in mind’s true nature be skilfully sustained. If you are visualizing properly in the Vajrayana tradition. because that is a slightly different approach from what he is describing here.) with the particular meditation that Gyalwa Karmapa is praying about here. If you are doing something that employs visualization. natural spontaneous flow. It is a creation of your mind. you are not doing something like that. In the first line he says without being diluted. like prostrations. it gets diluted. and one that could be applicable to any kind of meditation that you are doing. doesn’t it? Mentally created meditation involves dualistic effort. However. but not totally literally. if you take this too literally with respect to your present meditation method. it is a mental activity. then you can also apply this. If you put water in the milk. etc. Therefore. It does not involve mentally created meditation. So. You have to understand that Karmapa is writing about a very specific level of meditation. And thinking a particular prayer is also a thought. If you are doing guru yoga. Whatever kind of meditation that you are doing. I don’t know if I’m saying this correctly or not. It is about resting in the nature of mind. Knowing how to rest in the uncontrived. That is very profound. You are not adding some kind of Rolex watch to your guru’s hand (laughter). which is considered the highest aspect of Mahamudra meditation. you might get a little confused. This is a very profound teaching about a particular kind of meditation.
without following or developing any kind of particular procedures or means. So. May one just rest in its natural essence. in the second sentence. may we be quite well acquainted with and know how to maintain this practice of the most essential aspect. Even though we learn them from the lineage. still they are mentally created. then the fountain of nectar. because they are from the lineage. He is saying that. Vajrayana visualizations are not the same as architectural plans. and at the same time. undiluted. such as visualizations or any other way of mentally creating anything. and all kinds of particulars. as it is. he says. Karmapa makes it very clear in the second line that one is not to get carried away by thoughts and emotions. It is the most convenient time and situation to daydream. it is not considered the same as one’s own creation. and then a thought comes. The third line of this verse is concerned with knowing how to place your mind in the unchanging. 66 . So. first the lotus. Karmapa says. placing it in its original. unchanged. In the last sentence. not being carried away by the winds of ordinary thoughts. You can daydream there forever. and may one know how to go about just resting in that way. At the same time. That is quite simple. unaffected. You are following the method according to the precise instructions of the lineage. then the letters. without getting carried away by regular thoughts and emotions that we naturally have. may one be able to rest in the nature of mind. then the deity. natural state. Karmapa is telling us not to do that. natural state of mind itself. original. It doesn’t just happen naturally up there. So that makes a difference. on a somewhat more subtle level it is considered a creation of the mind. We have to work pretty hard to visualize. This doesn’t mean that we have to let our habits take over. the thought can carry you away. not diluted by the effort of mentally created meditation. When you sit there and try to observe the nature of your mind.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA created. which has blessings and confers transmission. But since this is not your own invention. like an architect drawing a new plan for a new house. It is all created by mind. One might take a happy ride and spend all one’s meditation hours just daydreaming all sorts of wonderful things.
the fourth. The real fruition of meditation is realization. the accumulation of wisdom. It is like that. visualizations. the full maturity of the process is happening or has happened. etc. and learning about different method of meditation such as breathing. vipashyana (insight meditation). which is expressed in these four lines. after which The Gyalwa Karmapa writes six particular specific prayers on the same subject: The first one concerns shamatha (tranquillity meditation). how to observe the nature of mind. Nyam means that you feel it. (sometimes translated as “temporary experience”) that precedes realization of any kind. the actual realization. the top of the castle feels it first. But before that. So that is nyam. but then in Tibetan it is perhaps not that strong. We go through all the other basic processes of the accumulation of merit. And the sixth one is tokpa. Nyam is a technical term implying some kind of indication. the great unity. Here it is very clear that The Third Gyalwa Karmapa is saying that resting in the nature of mind is the ultimate of all meditation. The fifth deals with the nyam. Karmapa writes six particular shlokas. praying one by one for each of these to happen properly... the third. We say that when there is a storm coming. you have the experience or you feel the actual happening of the progress of your meditation. We do all the other practices in order to be able to do that.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER the practice of the nature of mind. something starts to appear in your life. the second. etc. 67 . all kinds of practices. but real awareness and realization that takes place. We have an example. in order to reach that state. physical exercises. which is not nyam. the recognition of the nature of mind as great unity. THE MEDITATION (Specific Prayers) That is the general prayer concerning Mahamudra meditation. how to recognize. That is the most essential meditation.
As I mentioned previously. torpor. In the next line. remains calmly and naturally without moving. or any other kind of method. because that is not the only purpose of Mahamudra. “being spread too thin. which is the analogy. people who do meditation for stress management purposes achieve this state. You have got one day’s hard work of worldly gain already. And the unmoving waters of mind rest naturally. You don’t want that.” When one is spread too thin. he says that the great water. then your mind becomes calm and steady and quite relaxed. once you reach that level. because one day’s job is done. and you calm down. And if you go home you might get into an argument with your husband or your wife.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA THE MEDITATION Prayer for Shamatha The first prayer concerns shamatha: 16. but then you have to pay this price that you have to pay. You have an expression in English. the subtle and also the more rough aspects of thought. mukpa. we just sit down and use any kind of breathing technique. But Mahamudra doesn’t stop there. and we feel peaceful. Free from dullness. and then the rough and subtle thoughts slowly settle down. naturally become peaceful. May the ocean of shamatha be unmoving and stable. The next line mentions three principal stains or defilement’s that must be removed in the practice of shamatha. They are very happy. so you do a little bit of meditation. So you get a double benefit. In the practice of shamatha. That is how we meditate. You’re really tensed and not so clear-minded. and murkiness. and nyokpa. which are like waves. Here Karmapa compares the mind to an ocean. The waves of subtle and coarse thoughts calm down by themselves in their own place. In Tibetan these are jingwa. That means. one’s mind sometimes tends to “space out” and become totally ineffective and inadequate. That is what 68 . the lake of the mind.
may the ocean of shinay (Tibetan for shamatha) be stable. the essence. shinay is an extremely effective means of meditation. Jingwa is a more outwardly oriented mental state. But it is all right there. and then feel more clear and see things more clearly. The definition of shinay is a mental state of peaceful. nyokpa is mixed up. The shinay does not add something to us from outside. It is letting our inner potential and its own natural remedies manifest. you know that in the Pali and Sanskrit traditions and translations of the Buddha’s teachings. this is temporary. the limitless potential — somehow manifests itself temporarily. Of course. And nyokpa means all mixed up and contaminated. But then you might sit down and do a very good session of shinay immediately after that. THE MEDITATION Prayer for Vipashyana The next shloka is concerned with lhaktong. without moving and without being disturbed. and totally exhausted. For beginning practitioners particularly. These are three principal obstacles to meditation that good shamatha overcomes. Of course. and is providing the space for it to manifest. When one is feeling very dull and heavy. The Gyalwa Karmapa says. while mukpa is a more inwardly oriented mental state. it is not coming from outside. The reason that that happens is that it is all within us. Even if you have made some mistakes. that is what is meant by mukpa. calm abiding. stable. shinay lets the Buddha quality manifest. without stable realization. you see quite clearly where things went wrong and you are able to develop some perspective on everything more effectively. which is how Tibetans translate vipashyana. The tremendous benefit of shinay is that during its practice our inner potential — the Buddha nature.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER is meant by jingwa. there may be some 69 . You could have been very confused and very disturbed and inadequate in many things. Jingwa and mukpa are not necessarily mixed up. Now I would like to go on a little side-track here. and the Gyalwa Karmapa prays that we will overcome them. Instead of our inner potentials being imprisoned and then suffocated and being stepped all over.
just as it is. one can look at the nature of mind which is not an object and has no objective nature that you can look at.11 When they recognize each other. a handy awareness that one develops temporarily now and again. after one has developed the clear-minded condition of shinay. Thus cutting doubts about how it is or is not. which is the meeting of a mother and child after a long separation. which is the other. it’s actually realizing more than just “seeing. “this is it. nondualistic way. From that point of view. they become one. You know. In Vajrayana Buddhism there is particular terminology we use for this. But then. A Vajrayana Buddhist practices shinay not just to have some kind of convenient awareness.” The word “seeing” is used in many of the teachings. the next shloka reads: 17. once we recognize the true face of our mind. Then. the purpose is to go further towards enlightenment. we separate ourselves constantly from our true nature and essence. you recognize it.” because you feel it. That’s not too important for us here right now. through dualism. But you will see it in a most natural and spontaneous. but it is good to know. everything happens between them. (Rinpoche indicates through gesture) everything else. So. including here. it is like coming back home. in that situation. Karmapa says. May the unconfused genuine self-nature be known by selfnature itself. may the face of your own mind be recognized by your own mind itself. you see it. because maybe you could get confused later. there is no doubt whether “this is it or this is not it. “See” is a way of describing it. The meaning which cannot be seen is vividly seen. Looking again and again at the mind which cannot be looked at.” and then all of this. We can’t separate.” In the last line. In this way. but that you nonetheless observe and observe again and again. Then you will see what cannot be seen from a dualistic point of view. but we somehow have this situation: We call ourselves “I.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA slightly different definitions of vipashyana and shamatha. like mother and 70 .
there isn’t any kind of dualistic entity that you can hold on to. Between these two ways of looking and subsequent seeing. Looking at objects. nothing less. but when you look in. the mind devoid of objects is seen.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER child recognizing each other and then becoming one and nondualistic. May the nature of mind. look at objects. Karmapa says. Looking at mind. observing them and being absorbed in that observation.. in those days when I was meditating. When you look out. Maybe I had some problem with meditating and this way of seeing things. dualistic clinging is self liberated. I must tell you that when I was young. I wanted to let you know. Looking at both of these. the clear light nature of what is. but then it was solved. look at the nature of mind. and it confirms that they are just manifestations of mind. a total kind of oneness. and look at the relations between everything: 18. the real dualism is dissolved. And between these two. you don’t see any dualistic entity. be realized. Clear light 71 . in that way. look at everything. then the dualism between mind and objects and between the observer and the observed naturally disappears. That is described here in the last sentence. Then he says. its empty nature devoid of mind is seen. this particular sentence was extremely helpful for me.12 THE MEDITATION Prayer to Recognize the Essence In the next shloka. be looked at). the nature of the mind.e. anything that is separate from what is looking and can. nothing more. Inwardly. What is left is the clear light. looking inwardly at the mind you don’t see any kind of dualistic entity (i. you see that everything is a manifestation of in here (indicating by gesture some internal space). the third prayer describes how a Mahamudra practitioner at this level should look at everything else. in which the essence of one’s own self recognizes itself by its own self.
I guess mostly intellectuals. one realizes the essence of everything. it is wisdom. Chik she means knowing one. and what’s the difference between those and Madhyamika. Karmapa says. When I’m travelling around. and what’s the difference between Shentong and Rangtong — all kinds of philosophical questions. Free from extremes. as Mahamudra practitioners. it is all-pervading. Madhyamika. ask questions about what is the difference between chak chen (Mahamudra) and Dzogchen — which is better. it is the great seal. The consummation of everything. Mahamudra. eternalism. and kun don tok means that the essence of all is realized. The essence of all together. Free from mental fabrication. it is also called the Great Perfection. Dzogchen. it is the great Middle-way. Being beyond any kind of extreme like nihilism. that is how we. Clear light is used in the sense that it is everything. etc. the essential meaning of all is realized. May one obtain this confidence. the unity of everything. is called the Great Completeness. According to The Gyalwa Karmapa here. I think the Gyalwa Karmapa answers this very clearly in these four 72 . May there be confidence that by understanding one. and it is not ignorance. THE MEDITATION Prayer to Understand the Great Unity Prayer number four discusses the unity of various paths leading to enlightenment. being beyond any kind of conceptual limitation is Mahamudra. all are realized. lots of people. by knowing one. The Gyalwa Karmapa writes: 19. Dzogchen. the Great Middle-way. is the Middle-way.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA doesn’t mean a kind of light. view outside and inside and their interrelationship. Then he says. By knowing any one of these. Karmapa prays that one may recognize and realize this essence of everything. it is the essence of everything.13 It is all-pervading.
Nonthought transcending conceptual mind is spontaneous presence. we are Dzogchen practitioners who are trying to attain that same realization. But once one attains realization. we are just practitioners. all are the same. That is very clearly written here by the Third Gyalwa Karmapa. then Mahamudra realization is equal to Madhyamika realization and Dzogchen realization. Luminosity free from fixation on characteristics is unobscured. that’s 73 . Chakcha chenpo (Mahamudra). Now Karmapa talks about three kinds of nyam: When. Great bliss free from attachment is unceasing. May the effortless enjoyment of these states be continuous. we are Mahamudra practitioners who are trying to achieve that realization. and dzokpa chenpo (maha ati. If we don’t recognize that yet. in the practitioner’s experience great joy becomes continuous without stopping. And it is the same for the Middle-way as well. And if we are practicing Dzogchen. Dzogchen realization is equal to Mahamudra realization and Middle-way realization. if we are practicing Mahamudra. when the clear light becomes continuous without the mind’s having ups and downs (the mind sometimes being clear. mahasamdhi). We are just students. and without attachment to that joy. They all contain the essence of recognizing and realizing by which you attain the realization of Buddhahood. sometimes being obscured by mental defilements) and without having a sense of clinging to the clarity.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER sentences. and he calls that oneness “unity. then. uma chenpo (Madhyamika). The ultimate realization of any authentic system is the same. that’s one kind of nyam.” THE MEDITATION Prayer for Perfect Meditative Experiences The next prayer is about nyam (meditative experiences of a temporary nature): 20.
but for you your reality is real. “I” comes first. and we can see everything. But for you it doesn’t mean anything.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA another kind of nyam. Now. it’s so silly. the most basic and the biggest mind-set is the self. like the development of an involuntary spontaneity. And on top of that. The self is very important. It is a very strong instinct. as far as you are concerned. You see? “Me” first is present in every single sentient being. Certain people are doing certain things very seriously. every kind of background. not you first. very dangerous. and when the state of nonthought that transcends intellect or conceptual mind develops into spontaneity. Actually. but it is also a dangerous time for the practitioner. our great masters always warn us about nyam. then they ought to have nyam. And when a person has nyam. every imaginable kind of environmental impact. Then something that is really a life-and-death matter for you. I must take a little side-track here. and we can read everything. Karmapa says a few words about this latter when he talks about tokpa. There is so much there that 74 . He says. if the same people were to look at it. And we are set in them. We see this very clearly now. because the world is very open. in fact all people. different kinds of conceptual understandings of reality. all the different kinds of sentient beings — and practitioners of course. then. which is actual realization. It doesn’t mean anything to them. that is actually a very good sign. they would find it very silly. are sentient beings — have all these different kinds of mind-sets. Therefore. And of course. which is beyond any kind of intention and effort. every kind of culture is different. every kind of physical make up has an impact on the mind — every imaginable kind of conceptual impact. So what happens with nyam is that up to that point of having nyam the practitioner. may these kinds of effortless experiences develop continuously. me first. Isn’t it? So. and they make such a big deal about it. and when we as people travel all over the world we can see this. are involved with thoughts and emotions and reality from the stand-point of one particular kind of mind-set or set of concepts. to do so is quite common. When a person is practicing very seriously. These are descriptions of the highest and most profound nyam. It’s like a life-and-death matter. that is another kind of nyam.
does it? When a person is experiencing this level of nyam. You might be a very great philosopher and really know a lot. Through meditation.e. When one is practicing at this very deep level. and when your meditation begins to get quite advanced. if the person doesn’t have good guidance. through learning. you might overcome certain aspects of this mental conditioning. you might be able to do a lot of good things. it is a reality to those people — and a very solid one. Regardless of how unreal it is and could be seen to be. You have to be that. things might not have really changed very much or improved very much on the deeper level. And that can be totally mental. when conditions are positive. that can also even be physical — all kinds of thing can happen. because they don’t get it right. but it takes time and it takes effort. It works even at the unconscious level and the subconscious level. and especially through the practice of Mahamudra. yes. Just because you want to be something (i. that can also be visual. maybe in peaceful situations. if the person thinks it is a real tokpa — genuine realization of Buddhahood — then they might think. one thing after another. That happens when it happens. It doesn’t happen before it happens. strictly based on the intellectual aspect of learning. one that really pounces on you. you will inevitably have nyam like this. just because you would like to have certain meditative experiences). In that case . there is the breaking up of the external and the subconscious level. but in a very difficult situation. Yes. So it is possible that intellectually. but then on the subconscious or unconscious level. then you might lose everything. And. they will not be able to manage it. of the emotional level. and if the person doesn’t know that it is simply a nyam. “I’m Buddha already” (laughter). that person’s practice really works very. aren’t you? 75 .. through practice. you don’t necessarily become something. time after time. They are right there. you might even go crazy.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER it becomes a reality. you might not change a bit. you can have tremendous experience. But when you are Buddha. then you are Buddha. very deeply. and even of the physical level of the setting. And when that happens. If people who are not advanced try to have experiences like these. And when that happens.
before you are Buddha. that is. So I don’t have great nyam. Nyam is described here by Karmapa in a most positive way. Definitely. So in this vein. you get attached to it. Usually what happens. It’s not like that. Nyam can never become tokpa if we announce the nyam. they use the bigger one (laughter). But the bigger the positives in your practice. I’m not really a great practitioner — I must be honest. you are Buddha already. When I was practicing. for the practitioner. “I’m Buddha. is that when you feel really good. That doesn’t mean somebody is waiting for you with different kinds of hammers.” In the same 76 . because they are very encouraging. And because I knew what they were supposed to be. They are really a kind of confirmation that your practice is going well. I did not manage to think that I was Buddha. it is a dangerous threshold for the practitioner who is progressing rapidly. Then the nyam is gone. Yes? The path to Buddhahood doesn’t go on to the very end that way. You might do all kinds of things. if you think you are Buddha. But this stage is also dangerous if you don’t understand it deeply. naturally. It is working. We have a saying: “The brighter the light. Another term for that kind of situation is barchay in Tibetan. It doesn’t go on like that all the way to Buddhahood. the sharper the shadow. naturally. the continuation of great joy without any kind of clinging to it. and if somebody’s really progressing well. But. but I’m not a great practitioner. nyam are a very important part of the practitioner’s path. and he is describing the highest aspect of nyam. all of my great teachers always warned me about this. but until a certain stage. The nyam just ends right there. Not all the way. the bigger the negatives. the bigger the obstacle. And the greater the achievement. Then a Buddha’s negativity and a Buddha’s obstacle would be extremely big.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA You don’t have to think. So. I do my best. And it might be very inconvenient for you. but I had nyam. but until a certain level there is this kind of obstacle. I can’t claim that I had tremendous nyam. might even make a movie about it (laughter).” You don’t have to think you are Buddha. And then you talk about it. And you might write about it. which means obstacle. I’m quite clear about that. I’m not a Buddha. it’s quite something (laughter).
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way, obstacles come along together with the path and its nyam — like a shadow and the form it follows. THE MEDITATION Prayer for Actual Realization Having prayed for perfect nyam, the Gyalwa Karmapa in the sixth shloka prays for tokpa, actual realization: 21. Longing for good and clinging to experiences are self-liberated. Negative thoughts and confusion purify naturally in ultimate space. In ordinary mind there is no rejecting and accepting, loss and gain. May simplicity, the truth of the ultimate essence of phenomena, be realized. From one point of view, clinging to a nyam may be kind of nice, so you hold onto it. It’s so precious, it is so great, you hold onto it. But that is attachment, and Karmapa says may this be spontaneously freed, and he prays that we never get attached to nyam; he prays that good nyam and any kind of attachment will be spontaneously freed. In the second sentence, the Gyalwa Karmapa says that if the nyam is sometimes frightening and fear arises, not attachment, but fear, then may it dissolve into the ultimate space. May fear, the negativity aspect, also be freed.14 In the third sentence, Karmapa discusses ordinary mind, the nature of mind, the nature of this ordinary mind, free from accepting and rejecting. That means that even though we are ordinary sentient beings the nature of our mind is Buddha. We don’t have to be extraordinary in order for our true nature to be Buddha. Even in the ordinary now the essence is Buddha. Karmapa prays that we recognize and realize this.
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA
In the last sentence, the Gyalwa Karmapa prays that one may realize the ultimate essence of everything beyond any kind of dualistic fabrication. That is total realization, which is tokpa in Tibetan, the realization that comes after the nyam. He prays for perfect tokpa, right after praying for perfect nyam. With this, the six particular prayers related to the meditation are complete. iii. THE ACTION The third section concerns the action — the view, the meditation, and now the action. The Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes prayers about Mahamudra action, what takes place in the post-meditation experience, in two shlokas. The first shloka concerns compassion; the second concerns the unity of compassion and emptiness. THE ACTION Prayer for Compassion The prayer for compassion: 22. The true nature of beings is always Buddha. Not realizing that, they wander in endless samsara. For the boundless suffering of sentient beings, May unbearable compassion be conceived in our being. This is regarding compassion. I think I spoke to you earlier about compassion and devotion. The Third Gyalwa Karmapa writes very clearly about that particular point in these four lines. He says the nature of all sentient beings is always Buddha. Every single sentient being is always Buddha in their essence, always. Then he says, because of their lack of realization of this, they are wandering in samsara. They are wandering in samsara because they don’t recognize their own true nature. Samsara is nothing more and nothing less than beings’ not knowing and not recognizing that they are Buddha. Until we fully realize that, we are in
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samsara; when we fully realize that, we are Buddha. That is the definition of samsara here. In the third line, Karmapa states that sentient beings in samsara are suffering without any end to their suffering. So long as we are in samsara suffering has no end. We will do everything to overcome our suffering, of course. If we don’t have enough money, we might take out a loan and do all sorts of things. Some people even rob banks. People will do anything, but it does not solve their suffering. We want to have good health, of course, so we take good care of ourselves. Some of us have good health, some of us don’t. But then somehow having good health does not solve the problem of suffering. Some people want power. They do this, they do that to obtain it. They stand for election; they stand for all kinds of things. And they may even get everything, but it does not solve their suffering. Looking at things from this perspective, the real suffering of sentient beings isn’t hunger. Hunger is one kind of suffering, but suffering is not limited to the hungry and sick. Sometimes, when people talk about suffering, they think suffering means pain, sickness, lack of money, and only these sorts of things. But, according to the Buddha’s teachings on suffering, suffering is the struggle and the constant dissatisfaction of life. That is the suffering he’s talking about. That will continue as long as we are in samsara. In the last line, Karmapa prays that unbearable compassion may be born within us. Now, it sounds as though unbearable here means that you’re so compassionate that you can’t stand it, and you scream and yell and jump up and down, something like that. But it doesn’t mean that. Zomay means that we are unable to ignore the suffering. We will not just go about our own business. Because of knowing what the potential of all sentient beings is, because of knowing that every sentient being is, in essence, a Buddha, then we put our own effort into realizing Buddhahood in order to benefit all sentient beings. That is the idea of unbearable here. We can’t afford to be lethargic. Compassion is so strong that it will not allow us to be lethargic. It will not allow us to be selfish. That is what unbearable compassion is.
without any cover. he prays. which is emptiness. bare. And when this compassion manifests as loving kindness. regarding the unity of emptiness and compassion. at all times. then its ultimate essence. may one practice this day and night. That means that true compassion which is not dualistic. If you are travelling down a road and come to a junction that has three or four different forks. then you can make a mistake. manifests as it is. When the energy of unbearable compassion is unceasing. In the last line. Compassion never dies. that is beyond any kind of limitation to compassion. the correct path — the unity of compassion and emptiness. When this compassion manifests as loving kindness. He says. is always alive. Golsa means that there is a kind of way to go wrong. written in four sentences: 23. the best. lam chok. he says that there is no way that the unity of compassion and emptiness can go wrong. Inseparable from it. The first sentence says that the strength and the power of this compassion. It is always alive. compassion which is not stubborn. In expressions of loving kindness. and is all-pervading. without any kind of skins on it. which means the profound. the essence and the nature of it is the naked and bare manifestation of emptiness. which he earlier described as unbearable. compassion which is empty and open. This unity is the supreme unerring path. golsa drelway means that there is no way to get it wrong. In the third sentence. the truth of its essential emptiness is nakedly clear. But there isn’t any way to make a mistake if compassion and emptiness are in unity. This completes the second prayer in the section on the action. may we meditate day and night. Then nothing can go wrong. 80 . So. compassion which is not selfish.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA THE ACTION Prayer for The Unity of Emptiness and Compassion The second particular prayer of this section is about the unity of emptiness and compassion.
Beyond this. the unmistaken. through the meditation on the nature of mind.” Chen in Tibetan means eyes. in four lines: 24. which is hard to translate. The aspirations that accomplish the qualities of a Buddha are fulfilled. the final enlightenment of Buddhahood. correct fruition of the path. a Buddha’s qualities are described in this manner: five eyes and five ngonshe. which develops through practice of Mahamudra. Karmapa is describing how Buddhas see everything — and these eyes represent five different aspects of seeing everything — ngonshe. Lots of people say something like clairvoyance. THE FRUITION 5. That is what we call ngonshe. Our ordinary eyes see forms and colours of forms. Someone who has ngonshe will know the future. ripening. He says that the result of the strength of meditation. Karmapa writes it exactly as the fruition of the completion of the path. In Buddhism in general. and in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism in particular. PRAYER FOR THE FINAL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PATH The last and fifth section is praying for the final accomplishment of the fruition. and purifying — may utmost Buddhahood be manifest. in a simple but comprehensive manner. Sentient beings are ripened and Buddha fields are perfectly purified. There are five aspects of ngonshe.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER iv. But I don’t think it is the same thing. By bringing these three to utmost fruition — fulfilling. Ngonshe means knowing beyond the limitation of time and distance. will know everything. It doesn’t mean 81 . Actually. is that one attains the “eyes. In these four sentences. the Third Gyalwa Karmapa describes the Buddha. By the power of meditation arise the eyes and supernormal perceptions.
the Karmapa did not mention all the details here. It is very hard to digest. here he uses a very particular word. Before you attain the enlightenment of Buddhahood you will have ngonshe to see the past. for benefiting sentient beings. However. present. You will have the quality of these five eyes. People like me — I have a hard time even manifesting in one form correctly most of the time (laughter). etc. Then he says. because they are all Buddha and. therefore. You can’t eat it. In this way. This means that. That means they are not ripe. don’t have to change anything — they are good just as they are — still their essence has to ripen in its manifestation. but at the beginning they are limited. which quality is the result of the power of meditation. it is the compassionate 82 . min . it is very hard. and future. That is one of the miracles of the first-level Bodhisattva as far as physical form is concerned. but it will be limited. It tastes good. a first-level Bodhisattva can manifest in 100 physical forms in 100 physical locations all at the same time. They don’t think like a Buddha and they don’t behave like a Buddha. it is very sour. For example. ripen sentient beings. although you can’t change sentient beings’ essence.15 The second-level Bodhisattva has all of these special qualities and insights multiplied by 100. A fruit which is not min is a green one. So. Karmapa says. I think a superficial word for that is to ripen. which means ripen. That means that the second-level Bodhisattva can manifest 10. then it is really good. the five eyes and the five ngonshe get more and more limitless. So. So. the simple way to look at this is that the eyes represent the omniscient quality of the Buddha.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA Buddha has five eyes. Once it becomes min. And the Third Gyalwa Karmapa is saying that as one progresses along the path these special qualities gradually develop from being limited to being limitless. this is a way of describing enlightenment by referring to these particular eyes and particular ngonshe. This ngonshe is gradually obtained with varying degrees of limitation. may we benefit beings. it’s good for the health. But then.000 manifestations at the same time etc. And sometimes they even do totally wrong things. it’s soft. because right now they don’t talk like a Buddha.
that good people always suffer. Or something similar. When a good person suffers. There is a very common saying. receives direct transmission from all the Buddhas. gradually all the qualities of Buddha. that means the person has good intentions. At that stage. Many people would like to be kind. That’s what it means. does it? The problem is that there is no power together with their kindness. pure land. every aspect of the essential qualities of being has to be ripened. instead of other people really appreciating it and being happy and benefiting from what you do. It doesn’t have to be that way. true enlightenment won’t happen by accident. Without this. but somehow things are not right. beyond any limitation. and then have the ability to be more compassionate and kind.16 One has to first have the inspiration to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. they somehow resent it. It is the inspiration and blessing and transmission of all the Buddhas to dispense empowerment. A great Bodhisattva. sang gye shing rap jang also has a very particular meaning. so that their kindness is not working. min means everything. After that. beyond any limitation. but before attaining Buddhahood. there is kindness. So. In the Mahayana teachings it is very clearly said that enlightenment won’t happen without someone’s first giving rise to enlightenment mind. but don’t exactly know how to.THE MAIN BODY OF THE PRAYER aspiration and the compassionate activity of the Buddha to make beings ripe. which is not true. So that when you do something. so that their inner essence may manifest and become more apparent — so that they may become more kind and more compassionate. 83 . become complete: sang gye cho nam drup pay monlam dzok. “I wish to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. It doesn’t mean that all kind people have to suffer. in this way the original inspiration is being fulfilled. that kind people always suffer. after attaining realization. the original aspiration such as. and you get into trouble. At the same time. That is what we call shing kam. Superficially speaking. too. So. it is like pilgrimaging to all the pure lands. but their kindness doesn’t have power.” is fulfilled and completely accomplished. They say things like that. But it is not physical.
He says.” That concludes the final part of the main body of the prayer. “may one attain this total enlightenment of Buddhahood — sang gye shok. dzok min jang sum thar jin sang gye shok. also. So. and min means benefiting oneself. the Gyalwa Karmapa prays. and jang means that the empowerment by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is complete. ripening is complete. min means benefiting sentient beings. Dzok means all the qualities of Buddha are complete. 84 .THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA Then Karmapa condenses the first three lines into one very short sentence.
And by the power of all the pure virtue that exists. is. virtuous. THE CONCLUSION OF THE PRA YER O ne shloka is left. I mentioned that we have three parts to this text. Buddhas. good karma that exists — all the good things that any and all sentient beings have been involved in — may the pure aspirations of myself and all sentient beings be fulfilled as they are. he prays again that by their compassion. The conclusion has four lines: 25.III. Then there is the prayer itself and the conclusion. The first part is the preparation. By the power of the compassion of the Victorious Ones of the ten directions and their sons and daughters. At the beginning. The conclusion of this whole prayer is actually very similar to the beginning of the prayer. “I wish to attain enlightenment 85 . as a Mahayana-Vajrayana practitioner. May the pure aspirations of myself and all sentient beings Be accomplished exactly as we wish. according to Mahamudra principles. Gyalwa Karmapa prays to all gurus. and Bodhisattvas. At the beginning. like the preliminary part of the prayer. At the end. Everyone’s aspiration. deities. and by the power of all the positive. by the compassionate blessing of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three times.
you are all much more enlightened in driving cars than I am. I’m teaching. One simple thing — I don’t know how to drive a car. but I’m not 100 percent practicing all the time. I am blessed by many great masters. I will say it. not just here and now. I hope that my teaching on this prayer will be beneficial. definitely not. Why not? 86 . Of course. This is very clear. if it makes you happy. but. may this pure aspiration be fulfilled just as it is. you would rather like me to say that I’m enlightened? Okay. Buddha means that one is enlightened as to everything. And I’m not Buddha. But don’t get discouraged. Whatever lineage you are involved with. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS QUESTION: Rinpoche. whatever practice that you are doing.” And so. I’m travelling. So. you see. I pray that this will benefit you and be conducive to the progress of that particular practice that you are doing. also and equally for those of you who are involved with Zen or with other lineages. many things I have to do. and that it will be conducive to the progress of your practice. I’m enlightened on certain things. how can we keep ourselves from feeling discouraged or helpless when even advanced people like you who dedicate their lives to meditation and dharma practice are not even enlightened? (laughter) RINPOCHE: So. but it’s not true. I practice. may we all attain the enlightenment of Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. You might get enlightened before I do. But I’m not Buddha. the last sentence is. Really. I’m doing many. you know. doing my best. but I hope that it will be continuously beneficial for you in your practice. Definitely not.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA for the benefit of all sentient beings. And I wish this not only for those of you who are practitioners of Mahamudra. That is the end and the completion of the Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra by the Third Gyalwa Karmapa.
It depends also on what is really happening. QUESTION: Is the experience of realizing our true nature associated with an emotion. That is what he prays for. could you say more about the experience of nyam? What are its indicators. and seek advice. or it could be very short. and know not to get attached to it. no generalization is possible. But don’t announce them to everybody. just appreciate it. You don’t have to purposely think about it all the time. definitely not if the realization of your nature of mind is the final one. your master. may there be nyam forever — until the final realization — continuous. and you don’t have to not think about it. I think that is a good enough step. definitely. and what Karmapa is praying for here and what he wrote in his prayer is. But if it is a nyam of your nature of mind. for months? RINPOCHE: It could be anything. how long does the experience last? Do they last for moments. then I think you’re quite safe. It could be tremendous. Sometimes certain things really quickly transform. then it 87 . like bliss or exhilaration or joy? And is it as temporary as the emotion? RINPOCHE: Oh. and it could last long. for days. and take it as an encouragement and take it as a reassurance that your practice is going well. And then if you continue your practice. and try not to pay too much attention to what happens. It could be anything. That’s all. QUESTION: Rinpoche. You just talk to your teacher. But it could be anything. then you should take nyam as an encouragement. And you can talk to your teacher about it. for weeks. If you know it is a nyam already.THE CONCLUSION OF THE PRAYER QUESTION: How do we overcome strong attachment to nyam which have already occurred? RINPOCHE: If you know it is a nyam. and practice as usual.
The emotions are improved and transformed a long time before Buddhahood. did any of the Karmapas attain Buddhahood? RINPOCHE: I believe so. We all have emotions right now. but. Until you reach a certain level of realization. that sounds great (laughter). yes... although that is not very important. QUESTION: Can you say something about the Seventeenth Karmapa. I have had the great opportunity and privilege to see him about four times now on different situations. yes. RINPOCHE: Yes. His Holiness is physically extremely healthy. My guru. temporary). what he’s like. what his situation in Tshurpu is like. yes. yes. how do you say. or with many emotions? RINPOCHE: The enlightenment of Buddhahood is beyond all the emotions. yes. much before the stage of a first-level Bodhisattva also. yes. He has performed lots of miracles. Yes. I don’t want to go into detail about that. I have a number of questions about His Holiness Karmapa.? AUDIENCE: Regress. the supreme leader of the Karma Kagyu lineage and the Kagyu lineage at large. how he’s doing.e. But miracles have happened anyway. how his education is progressing? RINPOCHE: Yes. is the embodiment of Chenrezig. A Buddha or a Bodhisattva of the first level onward will not fall back. you see. and mentally he is extremely intelligent.17 QUESTION: Rinpoche.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA will be like that (i. It was really an inspiration of the highest level. one can. QUESTION: Can enlightenment be experienced without emotion.. The first one is. Tsurphu 88 . in general.
really. coming from all parts of Tibet. we have all kinds of things.000 to 15. His Holiness sees people every day. everywhere. QUESTION: Rinpoche. he also gave empowerments. breathing or visualizing or anything. then instead of just sitting there trying to enjoy it. actually. Even physically. from Europe. Your purpose for doing that practice is to reach a peaceful and calm state of mind. When I was there he was seeing people every day at two o’clock in the afternoon. So that — what level you practice at — is not something I can influence. now there are 400 monks. we observe the nature of our mind without becoming involved in subject 89 . If you’re a shamatha practitioner. But. from everywhere. but at a beginner’s level. both having monks doing three-year retreats for quite some time now. could you give a brief comment as to how one learns to rest in the pure nature of the mind? What advice or help can you give us? RINPOCHE: How to rest in the pure nature of mind? All right. really good. And every day several hundred people were there to see him.000 feet above sea level — most of these retreats in the mountains around Tsurphu are now occupied by very good practitioners. if you’re a beginner. Meditate using that basic shinay practice. we can have disturbances. If you’re an advanced practitioner. Usually we have emotions. Most of them are nuns coming from all parts of Tibet. And everything is really wonderful. And then. mostly by nuns. from America. Southeast Asia. And Tsurphu’s retreats — almost every one of the Karmapa’s had their own retreat in the mountains around Tsurphu. When our mind reaches a state of calmness and peacefulness. from time to time. And the monastery itself has two retreat centers. then you know how to do it at an advanced level. I think you know how to do it quite well. which range from something like 12.THE CONCLUSION OF THE PRAYER Monastery (the traditional seat of the Karmapas) right now has over 400 monks. We have to let everything settle peacefully. even if I try. I must tell you that Tsurphu Monastery officially is allowed by the Chinese government to have only 100 monks.
We try to maintain that for a certain period of time at the beginning. because you will have to say. clear. The first thing that might happen is that it might cause an accident. And the thought will dissolve into itself and go back to the original state of mind. don’t try to continue it. maintaining awareness doesn’t mean that you have to be different. then you just realize it. I hope that’s good enough for now. 90 . it will be a little bit subjectobject oriented. in all situations if possible. which doesn’t have any physical aspect. There will be concepts arising. whoever your real root guru is. And then we rest in this state of mind. without disappointment. now I want to rest in the nature of my mind. And if that happens. talk to that person and try to receive further teachings. Yes. if you try to meditate at times. Prompted by all sorts of outer and inner phenomena.” Then. trying to maintain the awareness of itself. you do. and non-physical. Just leave it there and rest again in that same state of mind. if everything goes well. That will be somewhat close to what you’re asking. clear. there is a thought happening. you just happily draw the meditation to a conclusion and go about your life. mature way. your mind is quite calm. Not so good. Then of course. I think. And if you’re not doing anything. Then. whatever other practice you have to do. But that will be the beginning. There will be luminous clarity and even a little bit of joy in there. but in a healthy. “Oh. but limitless clarity. which is not simply empty.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA and object too much. but is also endowed with clarity. In that state of consciousness. but trying to maintain that awareness as a background in your post-meditation experience. Once you get into this state of mind. if you’re driving (laughter). When these thoughts occur. Otherwise. Don’t try to stop it. At the beginning. in an immature and unclear and desperate way. don’t try to think it’s bad. It will be superficial from that point of view. by itself. don’t make any further elaboration on it. you might not manage to do that. really. it can be detrimental also. then naturally there will be thoughts. then you dedicate the merit and. Otherwise. well-grounded. it’s okay. without being proud. caused by anything and everything.
the other is accumulation. what is the relationship between the practice of ngondro and Mahamudra experience. exclude lhaktong . this most essential essence practice of the Mahamudra lineage. The reason they are called preliminary is that many other practices are taught afterwards. Mandala. Therefore. I think I said that Mahamudra refers to everything that we practice. exclude shinay. They are not just “good-for-nothing” practices. RINPOCHE: Oh okay. what does that mean? LAMA TASHI: Well. I think maybe they are referring to something like Karma Pakshi Empowerment. It is correct to do so. They are four totally self-contained and complete practices. It is by itself a complete practice. they are called preliminary. When people say Mahamudra they usually tend to exclude the yidams. organized 91 .” In Tibetan we call it chak chen ngondro. Otherwise. If one practices only prostrations forever. Every practice of Mahamudra is directed towards that. all are complete practices. there wouldn’t be any Mahamudra. Mahamudra preliminary practices.THE CONCLUSION OF THE PRAYER QUESTION: Rinpoche. At the beginning of our talk. would there? Mahamudra preliminary practices are directed towards two purposes: One is purification. exclude the empowerments. Mahamudra. Vajrasattva. exclude the four foundations (the four preliminary practices). Meditating on the nature of the mind directly is the highest and most essential Mahamudra practice. That seems also to be the general popular concept of Mahamudra. one can attain enlightenment through that. they just call this highest form of formless meditation. And they are not just “good-for-one-thing” practices either. and what is the relationship between Mahamudra empowerment and Mahamudra practice? RINPOCHE: Mahamudra empowerment. The preliminary practices that our lineage does are actually “Mahamudra preliminary practices. Guru Yoga. Prostrations. but everything else is also Mahamudra. But each one of the four preliminary practices is a complete practice in itself.
how these came to be divided into four practices was like this: In the beginning we have to purify our mental continuum of cognitive and emotional obscurations. therefore. but with no strings attached. relatively speaking. because beginners find it a little hard to sit. we offer the whole universe to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. But that doesn’t mean that kindness brings problems. The Mandala Offering is practiced for the accumulation of merit and wisdom. we have to accumulate positiveness. in the Mandala practice. Its aim is the purification of more subtle.. That is the ground or the basis of our practice. You see? In that respect. inner obscurations of mind. We offer more than we can ever imagine. You can really feel that you are practicing.e. But the practice is more purification-oriented. the objects to whom we offer are beyond any limitation. because we have to accumulate merit in order to obtain wisdom. the mandala offering is practiced for the accumulation of merit. It means that merit is lacking and. After that. we accumulate merit in order to obtain wisdom. Without merit. These teachings are so abundant. When we offer to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Then. Prostrations are practiced for purification. therefore. And it is guaranteed that you will not fall asleep while doing prostrations (laughter). physical purification is quite an effective form of practice for a person.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA as preliminary practices to go further into the teachings of the Mahamudra lineage. So. Now. the more problems you seem to get. And so one gets discouraged. in this kind of organized system). there is no power behind it. wisdom is hard to obtain. they are also practiced for accumulation and also in order to attain realization. And also. As I mentioned earlier. 92 . Vajrasattva is practiced second because it doesn’t require so much physical activity. don’t we? We have to purify the negativity in our minds. Since the power of compassion principally arises from deep and extensive wisdom. but not just for purification. Therefore. positive energies and positive mental attitudes and attributes. the merit is limitless. this is how they are taught (i. The activity is more mental and verbal. it is a perfect practice for a beginner. The prostration practice comes first. some people say that the more kind you are.
then we receive the wisdom accumulation on top of it. So then. try to remember it. from all the sources of refuge. how does one learn to practice? RINPOCHE: After receiving something like this. all the Mahamudra lineage gurus. and then the accumulation of merit and wisdom. when there is merit. When you look at Mahamudra you have to see the whole thing. From all the Buddhas. yes — observing the nature of mind. Try to recollect the meaning and try to mean what you say. I have found a wonderful translation of this prayer. because somebody might have missed part of it. from all the protectors. This is done by our 93 . you know the meaning of the prayer. as you say it. everybody who is here. having supplicated them with great devotion. verbal. surrounded by all the sources of refuge. That is how the four foundations are taught. So. Then besides that. In that way. And deity empowerments like the Karma Pakshi Empowerment — which is actually a Guru Yoga empowerment all in one — is also an aspect of the Mahamudra lineage. from all the Bodhisattvas. all of the various practices are the practice of Mahamudra in the Mahamudra lineage. That process is practiced principally for the development of the wisdom accumulation. One visualizes the Buddha Vajradhara high above one’s head. I don’t mean to be presumptuous. and in between. I have read each sentence to you one by one. You have that authority. having received this Mahamudra teaching. It is not just one essential formless meditation practice that is Mahamudra. the most important thing to understand is that you have all the authority to say this prayer.THE CONCLUSION OF THE PRAYER After the Mandala Offering we practice the Guru Yoga. one receives empowerment. You can call that Mahamudra meditation. So. from all the deities. I think it’s quite good. and mental purification. may say the prayer. if you get hold of the text. and from the dharma. And I can even read it one more time for everybody. QUESTION: Rinpoche. but starting from the four foundations of Mahamudra and continuing all the way to the realization of Buddhahood. first there is physical.
then I think you should do the four foundations first. I take refuge in dharma. ten million times is not enough. Even a million. What I’m supposed to be. this has a really wonderful blessing. because the nature of a prayer is such that if you say it ten times wholeheartedly. You can do that on the side. Just to say it once is not enough. But to really get the real realization of it. So that’s how you can practice at the beginning. One time is not enough. and the translation group that worked under him. the ultimate way of saying it. once will be enough. There is much more in it than one first understands. I take refuge in sangha” — I have been saying this since I was eighteen months old. I mean.D. each time you understand it more deeply. That’s why we repeat it. and do them clearly and carefully. it is not enough. if you say it wholeheartedly it goes deeper and deeper. but I don’t have the transmission to give it in English. For now. even if you’re doing some other practices. I have been saying it. Try to understand it deeper and deeper. Of course. If you try to finish too quickly — prostrations. Just the word “Buddha” itself goes deeper and deeper. That’s when I was recognized as me (laughter). and I can’t say that I have completed it. There is no end. So. So each day I say it. And each day. You will be able to say it in English and it will be full and complete. if you want to be involved in the Mahamudra lineage and practice further. That will be the ultimate of my simple prayer. The transmission of the sound is actually in the Tibetan language. Since then. But the meaning is here in English. degree. there’s no rush. can’t you? Then. Each time one says it. you can learn about this as you have time to go through everything that you have learned. If in the future the English translation and transmission is made properly by one who has it. to get a Ph. Take all the time you need. You can even say it in English. The simple prayer: “I take refuge in Buddha. each time you are saying it more deeply. You should learn about the four foundations. And if you recite it a hundred times wholeheartedly. one goes deeper into it. for example — it doesn’t mean 94 .THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. then it will be the most convenient for everybody. I will complete the ultimate way of saying it when I attain realization — when I become a Buddha.
Really. But then. 95 . if you really do prostrations properly. So. The prostrations are a total practice. If your prostrations are finished in one month. It doesn’t make us less than Buddha. In this way. OM MANI PEME HUNG. It’s not a beginner thing. If your prostrations take ten years. not as some kind of kindergarten of Vajrayana Buddhism. I respect their honesty. with due respect. it can lead you to enlightenment. and also humble. You should look at it as a complete practice.THE CONCLUSION OF THE PRAYER anything. okay. then we have to be quite honest and quite sincere. Even if you just say. who admits to having experienced complete realization? RINPOCHE: Admits? I have met so many! (laughter) I have met so many people who say they are Buddha. every practice is total on its own. definitely not. All right. really. But the practice itself is a complete practice. “Well. then. nothing less than Buddha. we know we are Buddha. In our heart. that in itself is a complete practice. and they say. Lots of times people come to me. QUESTION: Rinpoche. If you just say. “I think I’m a first-level Bodhisattva. that’s fine. if they say many mantras. very honest. So how can I know whether or not you are a first-level Bodhisattva. it doesn’t mean that you have to be ashamed. But. we all should not judge. if even you don’t know?” (laughter) Of course. a master. I’m not a first-level Bodhisattva. which most people overlook — they just think condescendingly that people only know how to say MANIS — but. have you ever known an advanced practitioner. then that practice is a complete practice. I say. let’s dedicate the merit. when it comes to our own standard. there is nothing wrong with being humble. you know. what do you think?” (laughter) They are being very honest. OM MANI PEME HUNG. This is very important. Whereas.
THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA 96 .
When Lord Buddha taught tantra. a long-lived god. an animal. a heretic.” and here as “conjunctions. or living in a dark age (here meaning no Buddha has come. Tal is often translated as “freedom” and jor as “endowments. a “form body” called the “enjoyment body. not reverting to evil ways. The latter two arise spontaneously from the former.” that exists for the benefit of beings but is perceptible only to high-level Bodhisattvas.” The eight freedoms are traditionally enumerated as freedom from birth as a hell being. or the body of the realization of ultimate truth. There are three bodies of Buddha: the dharmakaya.) The five conjunctions that come by way of others are that 97 2: 3: . (Having one’s senses impaired to the extent that one’s mind could not function properly in the study and practice of dharma would constitute the loss of one’s precious human birth. a hungry ghost. which benefits the Buddha in question. a barbarian.” “resources. since they have reached the stage of deathlessness. being born in a land to which the dharma has spread. a form body that is perceptible to ordinary beings and manifests for their benefit. and having confidence in the three jewels. the Buddha himself manifested as the central deity of the particular mandala of whatever tantra he was teaching. in other contexts according to the five degenerations we are living in a dark age). having all of one’s senses intact. or deathless awareness.Notes 1: Paranirvana: after the Buddha Shakyamuni passed from this realm. and the nirmanakaya. the sambhogakaya. a mentally handicapped person. Of the ten conjunctions or resources. the five personal conjunctions are having a human body.” “qualities. Buddhas are not said to have died.
and there are benevolent sponsors. and signify personal liberation from samsara and the attainment of peace or nirvana. 9: According to the American Heritage Dictionary. when we become absorbed fully in the Mahamudra experience. as the name implies. the illusion that gracious living requires the ownership of a dishwasher is an illusion on which dishwasher manufacturers thrive. that the Buddha taught the dharma. 98 . that there are still followers who have realized the meaning and essence of the teachings of the dharma. then the use of this word could be misleading. Buddhahood comprises personal liberation from samsara. 6: For example. viewed as the basic component in the formation of concepts.” 10: “Soft spot” is a term coined by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche as a way of describing a point from which to begin developing bodhicitta. whereas. In this sense. that the dharma still exists. But the dishwasher manufacturer’s notion that ownership of a Mercedes is absolutely essential to his or her business prosperity is an illusion on which the Mercedes manufacturer and the Mercedes dealership thrives. is the same as realization of the true nature of mind. absorption in the experience of Mahamudra entails acute and pervasive awareness of relative phenomena. However. our experience then contains everything. 7: Situ Rinpoche was teaching in English and it was not entirely clear exactly how he was using the words “observe” and “absorb. 5: Rinpoche is referring here to the basic dualistic split and the fundamental ignorance of the true nature of mind that form the basis for the negativities and that must also be purified if the negativities are not to recur.” From practical experience one can say that when we sit and meditate and observe our mind. a percept is “an impression in the mind of something perceived by the senses. ultimate bodhicitta. 4: Arhat and arhati are the names applied to those—male and female—who reach the pinnacle realization of any of the Hinayana traditions. if one thinks of absorption in the sense of becoming engrossed exclusively in one’s own thoughts or in one’s own little world. which is the fruition of training in relative bodhicitta. as well as omniscience and limitless capabilities for leading sentient beings to liberation. 8: No bikhunis who have successfully transmitted the bikhuni lineage to the next generation of nuns.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA a Buddha has been born in this age. there is nothing that is either shut out of our awareness or that passes beyond our awareness. that the process is both personal and inward.
15: Such a Bodhisattva can also see 100 different situations in perfect detail. self-existing luminosity. that the mind always has. narrows our focus to one of the principle high-level obstacles to Mahamudra realization. such as 100 different Buddhas set up in 100 different shrine rooms in 100 different locations. in effect.NOTES 11: Mother luminosity refers to primordial. all at the same time. and of which the primary characteristic is cognitive lucidity. that appears to be out there” These Madhyamika texts do not contradict the Mahamudra meditation and view. In the same way they can see all the virtuous and unvirtuous karma that they have performed in 100 previous lives and all that they will create in 100 future lives.” “luminous clarity. “Here what is being given in these texts is a refutation of substantialist schools who assert that a substantial mind can see its substantial self in the way that our physical eye actually sees something. Rather it is simply that continuous awareness. 12: Self knowing mind. 14: Here Rinpoche. and Shantideva’s Bodhisattvacaryavatara (in particular in the ninth chapter of this work). whereas child luminosity refers to the meditator’s various levels of experience of luminosity. There 99 .” And that is correctly refuted as impossible.” We must not make the mistake of thinking of this as some kind of light such as we get from a light bulb even though the words suggest this.” “brilliance. looking at itself and seeing its own emptiness. which is related to the attachment mentioned in the previous line.” and “luminosity. Therefore. “Because what is being discussed in Chandrakirti’s and Shantideva’s writings is the substantialist notion that a substantial or truly existing mind can see itself as a substantially existent thing. which is fear. by mentioning only fear among all negative thoughts and other aspects of confusion. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.” 13: Translated variously as “clarity. makes the following comments on this seeming discrepancy. and through being aware of that emptiness. is refuted in some Buddhist texts and commentaries such as Chandrakirti’s Madhyamika Avatara. a visual form. that knowing. recognizing its own cognitive lucidity. or mind seeing itself. which is entirely different from a substantial thing seeing itself. when it is said that mother and child luminosities are united. In the Mahamudra practice. “We are talking about a mind of which the fundamental nature is emptiness. Another is hope. it means that the meditator has attained the realizations of the nature of luminosity.
Absolute bodhicitta is direct insight into the ultimate nature. which must be followed by what is called the bodhicitta of entering or perseverance bodhicitta. 16: Bodhicitta: the altruistic mind that aspires to awaken to liberate all sentient beings from suffering. For further information. see Gampopa’s Jewel Ornament of Liberation. of all the remaining more subtle ones. the causes of suffering and the causes and path of liberation from suffering. which gradually increase as the Bodhisattva progresses from one level to the next. Aspiration bodhicitta and perseverance bodhicitta are both included in the term relative bodhicitta. i. compassion. the first level of enlightened Bodhisattvahood. This state of primordial awareness is compassion and lovingkindness and gives rise spontaneously and without preconception to compassionate activity. which is the training in loving-kindness.THE ASPIRATION PRAYER OF MAHAMUDRA are twelve categories of these special powers of a Bodhisattva. individual by individual. This understanding gives rise at some point to the initial generation of the aspiration to attain the state of Buddhahood in order to liberate all sentient beings from suffering and to establish them all in states of happiness. the six paramitas or transcendent perfections. 100 . Rinpoche must be referring to these emotions. The generation of bodhicitta is based on the altruistic wish to bring about the welfare.. of all sentient beings from all forms of suffering. for it is also written in the texts that it is not until the eighth bhumi that the Bodhisattva is totally liberated from emotions. etc.. which lead to the attainment of Buddhahood. which is the source of all positive qualities. This is called aspiration bodhicitta. What distinguishes bodhicitta from the ordinary compassionate aspirations to benefit others shared by all people of good will is the recognition that one cannot ultimately fulfil these aspirations until one has attained the state of mental purification and liberation of Buddhahood. 17: Some eighty or ninety kinds of coarse emotions are abandoned permanently at the attainment of the first bhumi. under the chapter on spiritual levels. and ultimately the total liberation.e. including the omniscience that can see. the awakening mind.
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