Jun 29, 2016

Teachings on the Ocean of Amrita, by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Teachings on the Ocean of Amrita

Since the Ocean of Amrita is performed at Gomde DK this summer (and at the other Gomde centers as well), we bring you this Dharma gift of an explanation spoken by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche from his hermitage Nagi Gompa given in 1984, with the wish that it will deepen everyone's understanding:

Please listen to this teaching with the proper motivation of bodhichitta, the mind of enlightenment, and with the intention of putting the teaching into practice for the benefit of all sentient beings who have been our own mothers.

Today’s topic is the drubchen called The Group Assembly of Great Accomplishment. In accordance with the Vajrayana system, this practice consists of three stages: development, recitation, and completion. Moreover, it incorporates the four aspects of approach, full approach, accomplishment, and great accomplishment. Among these four, the word drubchen refers to the great accomplishment.

The drubchen we are engaged in now is called Ngakso or Ngakyi Sojong which means Vajrayana Mending and Purification. In the title Ngakyi Sojong, the word so (gso) means mending, reviving, restoring, or increasing merit. Basically, it is a Vajrayana practice of mending and purification (gso sbyong) though it also includes mending and purification practices in accordance with all four vehicles, namely the Hinayana (consisting of the two vehicles of shravaka and pratyekabuddha), the Mahayana and the Vajrayana systems.

What we are mending are the pratimoksha precepts, the vows of individual liberation, in accordance with the Hinayana system, the bodhisattva trainings in accordance with the Mahayana system, and the samaya commitments, in accordance with the Vajrayana system. By this practice these commitments are restored.

The word jong (sbyong) means purification. What we purify are breaches of our Hinayana vows, faults in our Mahayana training, and violations of our Vajrayana samayas.

When we practice a drubchen we should imagine that the outer vessel - our world - is a celestial palace and that the inner contents - all the inhabitants in this world - are pure beings. All males are dakas and all females are dakinis. All sounds, whether animate or inanimate, and all voices, whether human or animal, are the resounding of mantras. Moreover, our own thoughts, emotions, and mental movements, as well as those of all sentient beings, are the inconceivable wisdom of Vajra Mind. In short, all that appears, exists and resounds in this world, all male and female beings, all our thoughts and emotions, should be considered as only pure wisdom without any impurity whatsoever.

The main principle of Vajrayana practice is pure perception or sacred outlook - this is the Vajrayana path. However, we are not imagining or superimposing something unreal onto things. We are merely regarding things to be what they actually are. Why? Because everything is primordially the nature of the Three Vajras. However, these three, Vajra Body, Vajra Speech and Vajra Mind, have been obscured by our habitual patterns of thinking, “This is my body, this is my speech, this is my mind,” and so forth. The indestructible Vajra Body has been obscured so that now we perceive a body of flesh and blood, the unceasing Vajra Speech has been obscured into our ordinary voice and the changeless Vajra Mind has been obscured by our constant conceptualizing.

The five elements of the outer world: earth, water, fire, wind and space are actually the nature of the five female buddhas. They are known as the spaces of each of the five consorts. The five major elements exist externally as our world, while the five minor elements exist internally as the constituents of our body. In principle these two are the same in that the flesh and bones of our body are the earth element, the blood and liquids are the water element, the body heat is the fire element, the respiration is the wind element, and the body’s cavities are the space element. It is said that the earth element is the female Buddha Lochana, the water element is the female Buddha Mamaki, the fire element is the female Buddha Pandaravasini, the wind element is the female Buddha Samayatara and the space element is the female buddha Dhatvishvari. Therefore, since the very outset, these five elements have, in fact, been the five female Buddhas.

Similarly, sentient beings, who are the inhabitants of the world, are composed of the five aggregates. These five aggregates are originally pure because the aggregate of forms is Buddha Vairochana, the aggregate of sensations is Buddha Ratnasambhava, the aggregate of conceptions is Buddha Amitabha, the aggregate of formations is Buddha Amoghasiddhi, and the aggregate of consciousnesses is Buddha Akshobhya. Primordially, all sentient beings are of the nature of the five male buddhas.

This is ‘regarding things to be what they actually are.’ The reason why we have continually wandered throughout samsara until now is because we have not recognized how things really are. Confused and bewildered, we are constantly engaging in deluded experience.

Our body, which is the mandala of the Buddhas, is called ‘the mandala of the three bases of completeness’, meaning that the qualities of these three bases already exist within ourselves.

The first base, the aggregates and elements, acts as the basis for the male and female Tathagatas. As mentioned above, our five aggregates are the five male buddhas and our five elements are the five female buddhas. The second base, the sense bases or ayatanas (lit. avenues for experience), acts as the basis for the eight male and eight female bodhisattvas in that there are eight groups of consciousnesses and there are eight objects of these consciousnesses. These are, in their pure aspect, the sixteen male and female bodhisattvas. The third base, called the views and times, acts as the basis for the male and female wrathful gate-keepers. The four views are the view of permanence, of nothingness, of ego, and of conceptions. The four times are the past, present and future and the ‘timeless time.’

We also have what are known as the six poisons, the negative emotions of greed, attachment, aggression, jealousy, delusion and arrogance, but in their pure aspect they are called the six munis, or sages.

We possess the tathagata-garbha, the enlightened essence which is like pure gold, but we have fallen into confusion which is like gold becoming tainted by impurities. This is what needs to be purified on the Path. Similarly, possessing the deities of the three bases of completeness is like possessing pure gold, but not recognizing it as such is similar to our gold being concealed by impurities.

So what must we do? We need to clear away the impurity that conceals the gold which is possible through practice. If we weren’t already endowed with this pure gold, but instead possessed mere brass, we could polish and clean as much as possible, but the brass would never turn into gold. Nevertheless, since we already have a divine nature, then if we engage in the development, recitation and completion stage practices, which act like a polish, we can realize what we actually are.

If we have a piece of wood and we clean and polish it, will it ever turn into gold? No, that is called ‘regarding something to be what it is not.’ Here, we are talking about regarding things to be what they actually are. Since we already possess the enlightened essence, if we practice on the path of development, recitation and completion, then we will definitely purify our obscurations and truly realize the dharmakaya.

If we don’t mistake the first day of the lunar month, then when we arrive at the fifteenth the full moon will appear complete and round in the sky. But if we mistake the first day to be the second, then when we reach the fifteenth it will actually be the sixteenth and we will have been wrong the entire time.

This ritual practice was first hidden as a treasure by Guru Rinpoche for the sake of future generations. Chokgyur Lingpa rediscovered this teaching, and in a vision of Guru Rinpoche he received instructions on how to arrange the ceremony. So the perfect oral instruction for this practice is still intact. It is said to be of great benefit for beings of the future.

The Vajrayana system has many techniques, few difficulties and is meant for people of higher capabilities. Because each of us possesses the enlightened essence, when many people participate in a drubchen, or great accomplishment practice, then many enlightened essences are gathered together in one place. Hence, practice will be more effective. If we have recognized and realized our enlightened essence, then circumstances will be perfect. Even if we have not, if we participate in the practice and stay within the environment, there will be great benefit. The Vajrayana system has many techniques and skillful means.

Because there are 100 peaceful and wrathful deities, no less than 100 people should participate when performing a drubchen of these deities.

Each morning, we always begin our practice with the lineage supplication and so forth, but the main point is the taking of refuge which embodies all the Hinayana teachings. Following this, we always arouse bodhichitta, or the mind of enlightenment, which embodies the Mahayana teachings. In such a practice, all three yanas are incorporated simultaneously. We should never think, “This is only Vajrayana,” or that Hinayana and Mahayana are omitted. This is not the case.

After refuge and bodhichitta, we arrive at what is called the obstructer’s torma, or gektor, in which a torma is sent out to the obstructing forces. Obstructing forces are fabricated by our own dualistic concepts. When we have dualistic concepts, which are confusion resulting from ignorance, then we have already fabricated demons and negative forces. In order to appease these, a symbolic torma is sent out first in a peaceful way, then in a commanding way and finally in a subjugating manner.

After this, what is-called ‘bringing down the splendor of wisdom blessings’ is enacted in order to consecrate the offering articles, environment, practitioners and so forth. Afterwards, offerings are made. The offerings refer not just to the few articles, such as water-bowls and so forth, placed on the shrine. These would not be very effective. By means of emanating countless offering goddesses, each of these articles must be multiplied to fill the sky.

The inner offerings are ‘medicine,’ namely amrita, rakta and torma. These are symbolic representations of the three poisons of aggression, passion and delusion. By offering our three poisons, we empty samsara because the three poisons are what creates samsara. Finally, the secret or ultimate offering is the experience of our enlightened essence.

Furthermore, the preliminaries include the act known as ‘drawing the boundary line for the retreat’. This boundary has outer, inner and secret aspects.

The outer boundary is formed when the lamas walk around and erect the four poles with inscriptions. These inscriptions remind the four Guardian Kings that, at the time of Lord Buddha, they promised to protect the teachings and the future practitioners. We are prompting and requesting them to guard and protect this place of practice.

The inner boundary is formed when a hole is dug in the ground in front of the monastery. A torma is thrown into it, covered with earth and stepped on. Ignorance, our lack of recognition of the enlightened essence, is symbolized as a demonic force that is now subjugated and pressed down into a state of oblivion until all thoughts and dualistic concepts have ceased. When emerging from that state, the first thought is that of the awakened attitude, bodhichitta. We make the wish that this demonic force be reborn in the first assembly of the Enlightened One. An event like this, even though it might appear wrathful, is actually an expression of compassion.

The third boundary, known as the ‘secret boundary’, is the liberation of Rudra. Rudra is symbolic for the negative force that obscures our Vajra Body, Speech and Mind. These are sometimes called the apparent Rudra of body, the semi-apparent Rudra of speech, and the invisible or non-apparent Rudra of mind. These three are what should be liberated which means our ignorance is freed into the expanse of wisdom.

In the Vajrayana system, there are always three aspects: symbol, meaning and sign. So, there is a lot of symbolism that we must try to understand.

When the boundary is completed, the preparatory ritual follows. First, the celestial palace is erected. On the left side of the shrine-room, there is a platform upon which the vajracharya measures out lines. Square plates with colored powder are set down representing the celestial palace of the deities. This part of the ritual is called the deity preparation.

Usually, there are three kinds of mandalas. Of these three mandala representations, the best is composed of colored sand, the next best a drawing on canvas, and third best is heaps of grain and so forth. Colored sand or powder is used to symbolize that the phenomenal world was first created from atoms, or dust particles.

Following that, is the vase preparation where we visualize the entire mandala with its celestial palace of the deities inside the vase, itself.

Thirdly, there is the article preparation which is a consecration of the articles that are used for the four empowerments of Vajrayana: the vase, secret, wisdom-knowledge and word empowerments. There is also a consecration of the articles that represent Body, Speech and Mind.

Next comes what is called ‘bringing down the splendor of blessings’. After which, the ceremony will be brought to an end for the day. The next day, the main part of the practice will begin. Eight such days will follow.

The main part of the practice, the visualization of the celestial palace and the deities, begins with the three samadhis. The first, the samadhi of suchness, is emptiness and dharmakaya. The second, the all-illuminating samadhi, is compassion and sambhogakaya. The third, the seed-syllable samadhi, is nirmanakaya.

Imagining that everything in the universe, including all beings, dissolves into emptiness is the first samadhi, the samadhi of suchness. Giving rise to the thought of compassion for all sentient beings who have not realized this nature is the second samadhi, the all-illuminating samadhi. Since this emptiness and compassion take the form of a seed-syllable, in this case the white letter hrih, this is the third samadhi, the samadhi of the seed-syllable. From this seed-syllable, the whole mandala with its deities unfolds and manifests.

From the same seed-syllable, the different letters representing the five elements of space, wind, water, fire and earth are sent out, one after another, to create Mount Sumeru. At the summit of Mount Sumeru, we visualize the celestial palace and the deities within it. This is called the ‘self-visualization’, meaning you visualize yourself in the form of the deity - in this case as Guru Rinpoche.

This seed-syllable first turns into a golden vajra and then that becomes the form of ourselves as Guru Rinpoche.

Inside our skull, is the bone mansion with the mandala of the fifty-eight blazing wrathful deities. In our throat-center, are the five pure vidyadharas, or knowledge-holders, with their consorts. In our navel-center, is black Vajra Yogini also known as Tröma Nagmo. In our secret-center, we should visualize Vajra Kilaya.

While keeping this visualization of our body as a pure mandala of deities, we emanate offering goddesses who bow down and present offerings to us. They also render praises and so forth before dissolving back into us. All of this, up until the rendering of praises, is called the development stage.

Next, is what is known as the recitation stage. As mentioned earlier, there are four aspects, which are called approach, close approach, accomplishment, and great accomplishment. Here, we are mainly practicing the great accomplishment aspect. Symbolically, this is like a beehive breaking open, meaning there is a constant buzzing everywhere. Metaphorically, this represents the idea that all over the world beings, sounds, thoughts and so forth are actually the continuity of the pure wisdom that goes on uninterruptedly. So, this practice will continue, without interruption, for nine days.

This practice is called the guru inseparable from the peaceful and wrathful ones. In connection with the practice of the peaceful and wrathful ones, there is the four-part apology - the four parts being Body, Speech, Mind and their combination - and the four elements of mending whereby we mend, the samayas by means of four elements which we already possess within ourselves. We already have blood, which came from our mother, embodying attachment; the white bindu, which came from our father, embodying aggression; their combination, flesh, embodying the darkness of delusion; and finally pure awareness. Attachment is symbolized by the rakta, aggression by amrita, ignorance by the torma, and our pure awareness is symbolized by the flame of the lamp. When we make offerings to repair the samayas, these four are symbolized by the torma and the lamp.

The purpose of offering amrita, rakta and the torma is to purify the three poisons. The purpose of offering the flame of the lamp is to signify recognition of self-existing wisdom. Included in this ritual is something called sojong, or the mending and purification of the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana vows, which we do one after the other.

In our body, we already possess the habitual patterns of the six realms of samsara which take the form of the seed-syllables, a su nri tri pre du located in six different places in the body. By means of the wisdom-syllables for fire, wind and water, ram yam kham, and the wisdom-syllables for enlightened Body, Speech and Mind, om ah hung, we completely burn away these habitual patterns for samsara. This is called the internal purification. The three syllables, ram yam and kham, are the wisdom aspects of fire, wind, and water respectively. They completely burn, scatter and wash away all our negative actions, evil deeds and obscurations. After purifying all our habitual patterns, we are then blessed, or consecrated, with the three syllables om ah hung. According to Vajrayana, this is called the actual purification.

Next, a torma offering is presented to the Dharma protectors. Afterwards, a ganachakra, or feast-offering takes place whereby we present a feast to all the deities, buddhas and bodhisattvas. When we eat something ourselves, it is not just to please ourselves, it is actually an offering to the dakas, dakinis, and male and female deities in the mandala of our own body. Therefore, food is offered in the manner of a fire puja.

Finally, there is the empowerment. As part of the ceremony, we receive the four Vajrayana empowerments. There are three kinds of Vajrayana empowerments: ground empowerment, path empowerment and fruition empowerment. In this ceremony, we receive the path empowerment which we visualize and bestow upon ourselves. The ground empowerment is received from a master and the fruition empowerment is received after having practiced the bodhisattva path to its end. At that time, you receive blessings, in the form of light rays, from the ushnika, or protuberance on top of the heads of all the tathagatas in all the ten directions, you are then empowered to obtain complete enlightenment. With that, the last trace of conceptual obscuration vanishes.

The first of the four empowerments is the vase empowerment. By visualizing the deities in their celestial palace within the vase, and drinking the vase water, we receive this first empowerment. The second, or secret empowerment, and the third, or wisdom-knowledge empowerment, are both conferred by means of the skull-cup. This points out the nondual bliss and emptiness of the union of the deity and consort. The fourth empowerment, or word empowerment, is the pointing-out of self-existing wisdom which is the actual practice.

Since we already possess the enlightened essence, if we practice then we should be able to obtain complete enlightenment, however obstacles do manifest while on the path. One of the main obstacles, during the Vajrayana path, are breaches that damage our commitments and samayas. Therefore, a practice which purifies all of these is a very important factor for the short path of Vajrayana. If we can practice without the hindrance of obstacles, purifying our habitual patterns and mending our samaya breaches, then we will quickly progress on the path of development, recitation, and completion and attain the fruition of dharmadhatu, self-existing wisdom, from which we have never really been separated for even an instant. For this reason, this sadhana is extremely important and bestows great blessings.

The Buddha mainly gave two kinds of teachings, extensive and profound. Usually, the extensive are characterized as Mahayana or the ‘greater vehicle’ teachings while the profound teachings are characterized as Vajrayana. This doesn’t mean that some teachings are superior and others inferior. It means that because there are different kinds of people, the Buddha gave different teachings in order to suit their different capacities. Nevertheless, one path is said to take a longer period of time to traverse, while the other path is shorter and more profound.

In the Vajrayana system, Mahayoga and its development stage is combined with Anu Yoga and its completion stage. Anu yoga is combined with Ati yoga, the Great Perfection. Ati yoga is connected with the ritual or practice, and the ritual is connected with the application of it. According to Mahayoga, you visualize your environment as the mandala. According to Anu Yoga, you visualize your own body as the mandala. According to Ati Yoga, the mandala exists within your mind. Each yoga is connected with the other, but they are successively more profound. The Ati Yoga mandala should really be connected with the sadhana, the actual practice text. The practice should be connected with the application, which is what we see when we look at the lamas with their bells and damarus.

The deities are not pleased if we make pujas and offerings and so forth nor are they sad or depressed if we don’t. This ritual is to purify our own evil deeds. In Vajrayana practice, means and knowledge, prajna and upaya, should be practiced as a unity. This is the method for obtaining enlightenment. That is why we must practice both the development stage, which is the skillful means aspect, and the completion stage, which is the knowledge aspect. Means and knowledge should always be combined.

Many people insist that deities are just our mind, and because the mind is empty there are no deities. But, if there were no deities, then there would be no sambhogakaya. Dharmakaya is like pure empty space. Sambhogakaya is like the sun and moon in the sky. The sun and the moon are never apart from the sky - they are beyond meeting and parting. Likewise, the empty aspect of mind essence is dharmakaya, but this empty aspect is naturally luminous. This luminosity is sambhogakaya and these two kayas are never apart.

Dharmakaya is self-existing wisdom and sambhogakaya is the natural expression of dharmakaya. The sambhogakaya luminosity manifests in the form of deities. So how can we say there are no deities? If there were no sky or space, would there be a sun and moon? Can the sun and the sky be separated?

Moreover, the dharmakaya is like a crystal while the sambhogakaya is like the rainbow light shining from the crystal. This is what we call ‘the great mandala of appearance and existence abiding as ground nature’. In this way, the empty aspect is dharmakaya, and the luminous, or manifest, aspect is sambhogakaya, the deities. Because these are always a unity, this is the real deity. How can we say that deities don’t exist?

There is a lot of discussion about what happens after death in the intermediate state called the bardo. At that time, the deities are said to manifest in different ways and forms. These deities are not concrete because they do not have flesh and blood. They are actually the manifest aspect of the enlightened essence. Since the emptiness is naturally manifesting we cannot say that they don’t exist. They are spontaneously self-present.

Right now, we are embodied within the structure of a physical body composed of aggregates, elements and so forth. This obscures the Vajra Body, Speech and Mind. In other words, our physical body conceals our Vajra Body, our conditioned speech conceals our Vajra Speech and our conceptual thoughts conceal our Vajra Mind. Just like when a house is dismantled or falls apart, its contents are unveiled and evident, when the body, speech and mind fall apart and separate from each other at the moment of death, then the so-called deities manifest. But they are not coming from outside to either frighten us or to help us. That which is already spontaneously present within ourselves is simply revealed. These deities have been there all the time and simply become evident.

When that which obscures, the conditioned body, falls away at the time of our death, we are faced with the forms of these deities. We will hear their sounds and the naked self-existing wisdom will also arise. If we are not prepared for this experience through our present practice, then we will panic and be terrified. Therefore, it is extremely important that we practice now, so that when the time comes we can recognize these things as they naturally are.

Like one-hundred thousand suns shining simultaneously, the deities who manifest after death are endowed with tremendous splendor and radiance. They are quite overwhelming. Their forms range in size from the immensity of Mount Sumeru down to the minuteness of a mustard seed. The sounds are like one-thousand simultaneous thunder cracks. Right now, we are not frightened by someone shouting, but a huge thunder crack terrifies us. What would it be like if one-thousand such thunder peals occurred simultaneously? Moreover, the rays of light, the colors and so on are like the rays emanating from one-hundred thousand suns shining upon us. If we are totally unprepared, we will suffer tremendously from our fear.

First, there is the misery of having to acknowledge that we have died. Feeling completely lost, and in a state of great despair, we wonder, “What can I do! Now I am dead. What should I do?” This experience is very overwhelming and almost unbearable, but we have to deal with it somehow. It can be dealt with best by practicing in this life. The best help is if you have already had the view pointed out, recognized it and gained some stability in the recognition through your practice. The next best help is if, at that time, you can think that all these colors, light rays and sounds are your own manifestation. You think, “These are my own deities, they are myself. These are my own sounds, and these are my own light rays.” Then you will not be afraid of your own self. The panic and misery will then simultaneously dissolve.

This is the crucial point: the deities, their colors, lights and sounds truly are yourself. If you can remember that, then the fear and panic will diminish. They are empty forms, empty sound and empty light rays. We should understand this vital point.

In the ritual itself, there are different sections of the recitation, the presentation of offerings and praises, and the seven branches of prostrating, making offerings, reciting praises and prayers, rendering apology and so forth. These have great significance to them.

If you can read Tibetan and follow the text, you should do so. If you can’t, then it is sufficient to chant the mantras of the peaceful and wrathful ones: om bodhi chitta maha sukha jnana dhatu ah and om rulu rulu hung bhyo hung. For the longer version, first the Guru Rinpoche mantra and the mandala of the kayas is recited. You will learn that very easily because it will be sung. Your Dharma friends can help you write it down. But if you feel that this is too elaborate, then you can just say the short Vajrasattva mantra ‑ om vajra satva ah. That would be sufficient, also.

Here is the entire mantra:

om amarani dzivantiye svaha
om mani peme hung hrih
om ah hung benza guru pema siddhi hung
om ah hung benza guru pema tötreng tsal bwnza samaya dzah siddhi phala hung ah
om bodhichitta maha sukha jnana dhatu ah
om rulu rulu hung bhyo hung
om benza sato ah

In short, the main focus of the practice is that the world around us, whatever appears and exists, is a celestial palace while the male and female sentient beings are all dakas and dakinis. All sounds are mantra, and all thoughts and emotions are pure wisdom. This is the key point of this drubchen, the great accomplishment - pure sights, sounds and awareness. This means whatever we see with the eyes is the pure form of the deity, whatever we hear with the ears is the sound of mantra and whatever we think, all thoughts and mental activity, is actually the enlightened Vajra Mind, the self-existing wisdom. This is what we should keep in mind.

If we chant correctly the purity of recitation is said to increase the merit one-thousand times. While maintaining purity of concentration - keeping the correct frame of mind - multiplies the merit one-hundred thousand times.

The dharmakaya mantra is the Buddha of Limitless Light, Amitayus’ mantra: om amarani jivantiye svaha. The sambhogakaya mantra is Avalokiteshvara’s mantra: om mani padme hung hrih. The nirmanakaya mantra is Guru Rinpoche’s mantra: om ah hung vajra guru padma siddhi hung. Finally, for the twelve manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, there is one combined mantra: om ah hung vajra guru padma thotreng tsal vajra samaya dzah siddhi phala hung ah.

In our heart-center are the forty-two peaceful deities, and their combined mantra is: om bodhichitta maha sukha jnana dhatu ah. The essence mantra of the fifty-eight Herukas, the wrathful deities in our crown-center is: om rulu rulu hung bhyo hung. And the essence mantra of all the other deities combined into one is om vajra satva hung, or more commonly: om vajra satva ah.

When we come to the recitation part, this song will go on day and night for eight days without any break. People will take turns reciting the mantra, so there will be a one-second break at that time, otherwise the mantra recitation will continue non-stop. The lama will sit with the dharani cord, a five-colored string tied to a vajra, held at his heart-center. The cord is attached to the vase at the center of the mandala. The five colors of the dharani cord represent the five-colored light of the five wisdoms. Through this dharani cord, the lama should imagine the emanation of light rays which make offerings, carry back blessings and so forth, incessantly. Finally, the rays of light radiating from your own heart-center while chanting the mantra make offerings to the Body, Speech, and Mind of all the buddhas in the ten directions, and gather back the blessing of Body, Speech, and Mind into the vase and into yourself. Again rays of light emanate to purify all the six kinds of sentient beings relieving them from all their sufferings, evil deeds, obscurations, habitual patterns and so forth and gathers back the blessing of this purification. In between, you radiate light which subdues and tames all the negative and demonic forces and so forth.

Although the accommodations and food here are not very special, I am very pleased that you could all come here and attend this practice. I think that this is enough for today, so we will conclude the talk by dedicating merit and making good wishes.

This is a Dharma gift from Rangjung Yeshe Gomde, Denmark.

Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang.
Edited by Michael Tweed February 1996.

Jun 3, 2015


Today, on a very special day, I want to share for the first time in English, some words from a real saint and true master of freedom. Just thinking of him brings tears to my eyes and my heart aches to realize the awakened state of total freedom completely. His name was Adeu Rinpoche. Before he passed away, I had the chance to request his blessings and asked him to compose a short supplication for any meditator to progress, a prayer to realize the Great Perfection of everything.

Read the full article.

Apr 9, 2015

Introducing LEVEKUNST art of life

I am utterly delighted to introduce Tara's and my little web-child: a forum for ideas, insights and art, shared humanity and the tantric perspactive.
The name is LEVEKUNST which means art of life. You are cordially invited, to peruse the articles and to contribute that which you feel is best and deepest in life.

The discussions take place on the Facebook page for LEVEKUNST.

Mar 13, 2015

Jewels of Enlightenment - foreword


Dear friends,

The precious teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni arrived on the Tibetan plateau in the 6th century and have survived there ever since. Under the patronage of Tibet’s kings, Buddhist teachers were invited from countries near and far; of these countries present day India is regarded as the mother source. It is often said that the inaccessibility of this land of snowy ranges helped to secure a purity of teaching and practice up until recent times. Yet, another major factor in retaining such purity is the sincerity that is embodied in the basic Buddhist principles of renunciation, bodhichitta, devotion and the true view.

Many countries have been blessed by the instructions of the Awakened One and Buddhism in its various lines of transmission is branded and categorized accordingly. Thus, people today speak of “Tibetan Buddhism.”

Seen from the Tibetan point of view, there are as many approaches or "vehicles" as there are different types of people, while practically speaking there are three main approaches: Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. It does not make sense to claim that one is higher or better than another. What really matters is what is right for the individual in order to progress from whatever point one is at this very moment. The three vehicles share the common perspective that allows that to happen -- how do we remove what hinders liberation and enlightenment, how do we provide the right circumstances to progress, and how do we gain further experience and realization.

The common denominator in each case is to identify the main culprit: our ignorance which allows selfishness expressed in emotions and actions. The three vehicles taught by the Buddha are more precious then anything else we could possibly find or achieve in this world because on every level they provide with practical and realistic tools on how we in actuality can deal with any present situation. Being given the knowledge of how to remove ignorance and selfishness is the most valuable gift -- don't you agree? Ignorance and selfishness are causes of so much suffering and their opposites, while wisdom and compassion are the source of all happiness and well-being. This is the most profound meaning of healing.

If I were to choose the primary characteristic that defines Tibetan Buddhism, it would be the ability to accommodate a vast variety of approaches and levels of profundity. Tibetan Buddhist masters have emphasized that there is neither conflict nor contradiction between any of the three vehicles and encouraged an understanding which encompassed all three vehicles. In the words of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, “Practice the three vehicles in the same session, on the same seat.”

The following selection of precious and practical quotes are in harmony with this perspective. They reflect the immense variety of approaches and profundity that have made the tapestry of Tibetan Buddhism a deep interest and daily practice of an ever-increasing number of spiritual seekers the world over.

In selecting these quotes, I have focused on unifying all the teachings into a single system. This is how most great masters understand them as well as being how I, myself, have been taught.

If you are interested in the plight of the Tibetans, here is a selection of valid reasons for preserving their rich cultural heritage.

If you are attracted to the beauty of Tibet, here is the landscape for their profound religion, like a range of immaculate snow mountains reflecting the sunlight of wisdom and compassion with the purity of noble intentions.

If you are looking for insights and the meaning of life, here are drops scooped up from enlightenment’s inexhaustible ocean.

These quotes are true jewels and their beauty transcends silver, gold and precious gemstones. String them together on the cord of your living moments.

Let them sparkle!

Dec 6, 2014

Karmapa with one of his birds

I will add in the story later.

Opslag af Isabelle Meggiolaro.

Nov 10, 2014

Bardo Song of Reminding Oneself

Just back from a wonderful weekend with beautiful people in Sweden. Here is the Bardo Song of Reminding Oneself from the Secret Dakini Training Mother Tantra of the Great Perfection.

Oct 2, 2014

Sep 30, 2014

Chatral Sangye Dorje's wish for the Karmapa

Lord of Uddiyana, deathless triple roots in one,
Capacity to influence, your deeds a playful dance,
Mighty Vajradhara, lord of refuge Karmapa,
May your life be healthy, may your actions flourish far.

--This prayer was uttered by the vidyadhara vagabond Chatral Sangye Dorje.

Translated to be chanted in English, by Erik Pema Kunsang.

Jun 14, 2014

Pith Introduction

Tulku Chokyi Nyima and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, with Erik and Namdol, in Hong Kong, 1981.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's main job in life was to teach Dzogchen, the pith instructions of Dzogchen to as many people as possible. That was the command he had been given, not only by the sixteenth Karmapa but also by his own root guru who was a reincarnation of Vimalamitra, an Indian master, matchless, only comparable to Padmasabhava.
That was the type of guru he had grown up with and been taught by. When Tulku Urgyen was young he was asked to teach by his guru some lay people and though still a teenager he did it gladly, he just gave pointing out instruction with great confidence and joy. Soon his guru said “You seem to be someone who has no hesitation. You seem very confident. Perhaps you will teach this a lot.”

Later his guru told that that was his main task in life and he taught up to he passed away thousands and thousands of people, the view and the practice of Dzogchen and Mahamudra. And if people wanted teaching on Prajnaparamita or Madhyamika, he would teach that, using almost the same words. Because as far as Tulku Urgyen was concerned there’s absolutely no difference in the view of Prajnaparamita, Madhyamika, a particular style of madhyamika (Ngedon Uma Chenmo) known as the Great Middle Way of The Definitive Meaning, the Essence Mahamudra, and then the excellence of Dzogchen. He often told this:

“Since you can become enlightened by any of these four views, would that mean that there are four different types of Buddhahood? Not at all. It is the same identity that one is supposed to recognise and train in and become stable in. And stability in the view of knowing the nature of this mind, that is another word for Enlightenment, Buddhahood.”

That was how he taught and it benefited so many people and it has been my greatest joy to see the light being switched on in peoples eyes from not knowing to knowing. He knew that button and how to press it.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche knew how to introduce the view of the deepest teachings in the tantras not as a theory only but in actuality and I can vouch for that being the greatest kindness that any teacher can bestow on a student.

He often compared, that the path of Mahamudra and Dzogchen is like a wet rope in a lake, a thick long rope; it’s impossible to pull it up out of the lake, it’s too heavy. But if you get hold of one end of the long rope and you slowly pull it in, one foot at a time, then you end up with having the entire rope up on dry land. You need to get hold of the one end and that is called the pointing-out instruction.

These days Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche often corrects me when I use the words ‘pointing-out instruction’. I had coined that phrase many years ago for the Tibetan sems ngo sprod pa which means bringing face to face with the nature of mind, so I thought ‘pointing out’, meaning “that’s it”, and then ‘instruction’ would be fine. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche has now re-edited it to be ‘Pith Introduction.’

I know that some of you have already received this type of instruction, perhaps many times but I also know that once or twice may not be sufficient, so ask for it again when you have the chance to meet a wisdom master, and if you have not received it before, pray to create the merit to receive it and when there is a chance, go there, get off your butt, travel, ask for it and receive it. Get hold of the one end of the rope and pull it in before you die.
I’m still pulling and mine is very wet and heavy.

For some people, and we’re not able to judge who’s who, that process is very fast, for some it is very difficult to comprehend, for some it takes a long time. It is different from person to person but it’s absolutely worthwhile and there are teachings that, if you don’t have merit to receive it, there are teachings on how to create that merit very fast like during one month, two months, half a year, a wonderful practice called ngondro which is specifically designed to make anyone who is not ready, ready.

This ngondro process is a very effective set of instructions. The first time it is mentioned is in one of the earliest Dzogchen tantras that appeared at the beginning of this world aeon. It’s called the Longsal Barma Nyimey Gyu--The Tantra of The Blazing Sun of the Vast Expanse.

It exists in this world in several versions. The longest version is perhaps one revealed in Bhutan by a great master known as Dorje Lingpa, but there are shorter versions, one revealed by Ratna Lingpa. The longer version has more than one hundred chapters and in Dorje Lingpa’s version there’s one chapter for each of the Five Preliminary Practices that together make up the ngondro: refuge, bodhisattva vow, mandala offering, Vajrasattva recitation, and guru yoga.

In the early tantra, mandala offering and Vajrasattva are switched, so the mandala comes first, Vajrasattva after, don’t ask me why, and finally the most important part, guru yoga. These five aspects of practice together, make it so that almost all the hindrances that exist in this mind for becoming face to face with itself can be almost totally removed. After the person has gone through the ngondro training in a genuine and complete way, or some practice that has the same ability as the ngondro training, he or she can, when receiving the pointing out instruction, recognize the nature of mind almost immediately and that is indeed wonderful!

--from a talk given at Rangjung Yeshe Gomde, Doncaster, U.K.

For more about Longsal Barma Nyimey Gyu--The Tantra of The Blazing Sun of the Vast Expanse, see Wellsprings of the Great Perfection.

Apr 24, 2014

Apr 22, 2014

Supplication in Seven Lines to Padmasambhava

In the land of Uddiyana’s northwest border,
On the pistils of a Lotus flower’s stem,
You attained the marvel of the supreme siddhi,
And became known by the name the Lotus-Born.
With surrounding circles of many dakinis,
In your footsteps I will reach accomplishment.
Please approach in order to bestow your blessings.
Guru pema siddhi hung.

There is a wonderful explanation of these seven lines by the great Mipham entitled White Lotus: An Explanation of the Seven-line Prayer to Guru Padmasambhava. It gives many levels of explanation to inspire you as you chant this deep link to Padmasambhava's heart and realization.
Just recently, there is also The Sole Panacea: A Brief Commentary on the Seven-Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche That Cures the Suffering of the Sickness of Karma and Defilement, by Thinley Norbu Rinpoche.

Apr 16, 2014

Praise of Yeshe Tsogyal

In one of the great master Chokgyur Lingpa's terma revelations we find this most beautiful eulogy of the dakini Yeshe Tsogyal. It begins with:

OM Dharmadhatu consort, the resplendent, beyond change,
Enjoying wealth of greatest ease, five families sublime,
Manifold capacity, dancing ...
>>Praise of Yeshe Tsogyal


Apr 6, 2014

Chanting the Praises to Tara in Twenty-One Verses

The nuns at Nagi Gompa are experts at chanting the Praises to Tara, using the very short lineage through Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche from Chokgyur Lingpa. In 2009 Ani Dekyi came to Denmark to lead a Tara retreat and during this time I felt compelled to retranslate the beautiful and deep verses to English in a chantable version.

>> Chanting the Praises to Tara in Twenty-One Verses ...<<

Apr 3, 2014

Dharma Friends & Pure Perception by Tulku Urgyen R...

One day Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was asked on advice on how to get along with "difficult friends" in the sangha. Here is his reply:

Be respectful, kind, beneficial and affectionate to all Dharma friends. Never harbor bad intentions, anger or deceit towards them, nor in...
Dharma Friends & Pure Perception by Tulku Urgyen R...:

Mar 30, 2014

Mar 27, 2014

View from Lachab - Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's monaste...

Blazing-Splendor: view from Lachab - Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's monaste...: This picture was taken from the roof of Lachab monastery, the seat of the Ngaktrin tulkus and the young Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, before leavin...

Mar 19, 2004

Chatral Sangye Dorje - a brief biography

One day while visiting the grand master of Kathmandu Valley, the tutor of Katok Situ Rinpoche in residence, handed me a text he had written about Chatral Rinpoche. Here it is:

Chatral Sangye Dorje - a brief biography: Chatral Sangye Dorje Namo gurubhya Primordial protector, who realized the natural manifestation of original purity, Vajrasattva, t...

Mar 19, 1996

Last photo of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Last photo, by David Warren

Blazing-Splendor: last days: One of the last photos of Tulku Urgyen waving from the window of his room at Nagi Gompa in 1996. With him is his attendant Dondrub Tara. ...

Nov 10, 1988

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche teaches at Nagi Gompa Hermitage

Whether it was to a large group or a private audience of one or two people, Tulku Urgyen taught in exactly the same manner, there was no difference whatsoever. He always had a personal touch, and each and every member of a large crowd would feel that he was talking directly to them. The more people in the audience, the more confident and radiant he seemed to become, even his posture would reflect it. “I don’t know why I’m like this,” he once confided. “Even when I was quite young, Samten Gyatso once told me, ‘You seem to think that recognizing the nature of mind is so easy. You wonder why others struggle and have not recognized it already.’ It appears that it is so close that many just miss it even when it is right there with them the entire time.” It’s really incredibly easy to see, yet so many people insist that it is terribly difficult. Of course, due to our habits from this and countless previous lives, we are easily distracted and overcoming our own laziness, emotions and lack of diligence does take time; yet nothing could be easier than just letting go, recognizing mind essence and resting there for however long it lasts. Padmasambhava and the Buddha were quite realistic, they never told anyone that they had to be a fully enlightened right out of the gate, only that at the beginning one should get a taste. By simply recognizing for short periods repeated over and over again, uninterrupted stability develops naturally over time. Then as our habits of unawareness and distraction do slow the process down, various practices,such as the ngondro and deity visualization, have been developed to help break down such obstacles and speed up the process.

Jan 17, 1987

Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (1904-87)

Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (1904-87)

By Shenphen Rinpoche.

His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (1904-87) was appointed by His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV as the first supreme head of the...

See>> Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (1904-87):