by His Eminence Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche
Translated by Lama Nyandak
July 2, 2011
Today is the second day of our Mani retreat. We willtalk about the overall practice of the Buddha Dharma. Generally speaking, Buddha taught many different categories of teachings, namely, 84 000 categories. How do we apply all these practices into one single practice? How do we practice all these teachings? For that, we have to rely on the pith instructions of the master, in this case, the pith instructions of Lord JigtenSumgön. He taught the five stages of practice which is called the Fivefold Path Mahamudra. You can say that all the Buddha’s teachings are summarized in the Fivefold Path Mahamudra. Whether an individual is practicing according to sutrayana or secret mantra tradition, all these are included in the Fivefold Path Mahamudra. In these 3 days of reciting Mani mantra, we are trying to visualize ourselves as Avalokiteshvara, we should try to combine all the sutra and tantra practice together. What are the Fivefold Path Mahamudra practices? The first one is bodhicitta practice, the second one is the yidam practice, the third one is four kayas of guru yoga practice, the fourth one is the mahamudra and the fifth one is dedication. In this retreat, we are supposed to visualize ourselves as Avalokiteshvara and chant the mantra of the six-syllable mantra. It seems to be a very simple and easy practice. We should not think that it is like a low practice. Whenever we are practicing the Dharma, it is not about how long or short the practice we do. The length of the sadhana would not make so much difference. The difference is whether or not you know the key importance of the practice or not. Here, it is said that Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment ofall the Buddhas and deities andthe six-syllable mantra is the embodiment of all the buddha’s mantras. The essence of the entire Mahayana is bodhicitta. Physically, if you are able to visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara, verbally, if we are able to recite the mani-mantra and mentally, if we are able to generate loving kindness and compassion (bodhicitta), it is said that one’s understanding can liberate all. How do we understand that Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of all the Buddhas? It is because each and every Buddha possesses compassion which is in union with emptiness and the form of Avalokiteshvara is the union of compassion and emptiness. From the sutra, the word of Buddha himself, Buddha said that bodhisattvas must possess one Dharma, that is, compassion. If an individual who has compassion,one can be considered as having Dharma of bodhisattvas. So we as a follower and practitioner of Mahayana, we are supposed to practice with altruistic intention, that is, practicing to attain enlightenment for the benefit of the entire sentient beings. In order for us to have that altruistic intention, we should train ourselves in generating loving kindness and compassion. When we try to visualize ourselves as Avalokiteshvara, it will help us to enhance our loving kindness and compassion in our mind stream. The reason why it is said that Avalokiteshvara is the embodiment of the entire Buddha is because Avalokiteshvara himself is in the form of compassion which is the form of Buddha. The reason why it is said that the six-syllable mantra is the embodiment of all the other Dharma and mantras is because whatever Dharma we practice or the mantra we recite, the main focus is to eliminate our suffering and the causes of suffering. By reciting the six-syllable mantra it will help us to eliminate our mental afflictive emotions and obscurations such as greed, anger, ignorance, attachment, pride and jealousy. Also each and every syllable can help us to block the door to the six realms of existence (for more information, please refer to http://home.swipnet.se/gostaratna/mani_benefits_chart.pdf). The six mental afflictive emotions are the causes that create suffering in our lives and when we try to eliminate these causes of suffering, we are blocking the door to take rebirth in the six realms of existence. These are the results. It is said that by reciting the six-syllable mantra we are able to get rid of the mental afflictive emotions, thus this is equivalent to the practice of the six perfections (generosity, ethical conduct, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom . Thus we are doing the two accumulations – accumulations of merits and wisdom. By reciting the six-syllable mantra will lead us to liberation and the attainment to enlightenment. The reason why the six-syllable mantra is the embodiment of all other mantras is because, we have to understand the meaning, the six-syllable mantra has the potential to lead us to liberation and get rid of all our obscurations and mental afflictions. It is said that one Dharma which embodies all Dharma is the generation stage and the completion stage of practice that is in combination withbodhicitta. The entire Dharma practice can be summarized into general stage and completion stage. When you practice the generation and completion stage of practice, it is equivalent to practicing the relative and ultimate bodhicitta. When you practice the generation stage and you visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara, this is the practice of relative bodhicitta. As I told you yesterday, before you visualize yourself as deity Avalokiteshmvara, you should generate bodhicitta. Therefore, the practice of generation stage of deity is equivalent to relative bodhicitta. When you finish visualizing yourself as deity and enter into the dissolution stage of practice when you dissolve into light and so on is equivalent to practicing ultimate bodhicitta. It is because ultimately everything is devoid of inherit existence and everything is free from elaboration and of emptiness nature. For those individuals who are able to practice the two bodhicitta – relative and ultimate can be considered as practicing the generation and completion stage of practice of the deity as well.In this case when we are practicing Avalotikteshvra and before we even visualize ourselves as Avalotikteshvara, it is very important that we generate bodhicitta, the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the benefit of the entire sentient beings. By doing so, this is the first practice of the Fivefold Path Mahamudra.
After you generate bodhicitta, you try to visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara. Here we go through the main text which begins with “AH”. The significance of “AH” is that everything has no birth and the true nature of our mind has no birth and no beginning. Then “indefinable state of pure emptiness beyond allmental proliferation” refers to the emptiness nature and you are applying yourself to the practice of ultimate bodhicitta. The next line is the deity yoga practice. The first stage, you have been able to generate the relative and ultimate bodhicitta and out of the emptiness, you are trying to visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara. In this case,when we are visualizing ourselves as Avalokiteshvara, we are not visualizing the concept of Avalokiteshvara. It is not something that is artificially created by our concepts, rather we ourselves has primordiallyalways been as Avalokiteshvara which is the union of appearance and emptiness. The key point is the union of appearance and emptiness which is inseparable. The reason why it is said that whatever appears to us, we should view them as deity because whatever phenomena appears to us, the nature of all phenomena is emptiness, devoid of inherit existence. It does not mean that we should view the object of appearance as deity.The key point is that whatever appearance appears to us, we have to see that appearance as devoid of inherit existence. Because of that Nagajuna said that everything within emptiness can be transformed into emptiness. If you have a vast understanding of emptiness, then out of emptiness, you can manifest yourself as four-armed Avalokiteshvara or thousand-armed Avalokiteshvara or whatever you want. The main purpose of visualizing ourselves as deity is to get rid of our perception that we have our ordinary body. Through understanding of the union of appearance and emptiness,we see that whatever appearance is devoid of inherit existence. So if we do not have that kind of understanding, whatever you visualize, you view and believe that the object as real truly exist; it is not going to help you to destroy the perception of our ordinary thinking of our own body. It is not that our visualization of the deity alone is going to help you to get rid of the conception of our ordinary body. It is very important for us to understand that the nature of appearance is of emptiness nature. It has no true existence in it. If you are able to understand the view of emptiness, you can destroy the idea of having an ordinary body.
Out of emptiness, you visualize yourself as deity. Here it says “perfectly white, it has a single face and four arms and is seated in the vajra posture.” Generally, all the vajrayana or secret mantra teaching has many different signs (hands, tools, ornaments, color etc) and each and every sign has its significance and meaning. For example, here we visualize Avalikteshvara as white in color. The reason is because Avalokiteshvara is free from stains and defilements and four arms means the four immeasurable thoughts, sitting in vajra posture signifies that he is neither abide in the peace in nirvana nor in samsara, so he is beyond samsara and nirvana. The first two hands joined at the heart level signify that he is trying to fulfill the wish of each and every sentient being. He is holding crystal rosary in his right hand signifying that he is trying to liberate the entire sentient being into the state of enlightenment. He is holding a lotus flower in his left hand signifying that he is free from flaws. When you visualize the deity, it is important that it appears clearly in intangible form, not substantial form. It appears to be there clearly but you cannot hold it, like rainbow. This kind of body is transparent which means if you look from the outside, you see the inside and if you look from the inside, you see the outside. You are not supposed to visualize the internal organs of the body, intestine, blood and so on. It is a hollow body. If you are able to visualize the deity in this way, some of the Lord JigtenSumgön’s profound texts mentioned that just by visualizing the deity in this way alone will help you to get rid of your illnesses and sicknesses in your body. If you have good practice of visualizing yourself as hollow body of Avalokiteshvara, you will be able to visualize the three channels and four chakras and so on. With this training alone, the historical teaching of Mani by SongtsenGampo mentioned that you can also practice other yogas such as the clear light, dreaming yoga, illusory body and so on. All these can be practiced through this stage of practice. Even for those who would like to practice Phowa in the future, visualizing yourself as deity with hollow body is going to help you. When we recite the mani-mantra, visualizing yourself as Avalokiteshvara with a hollow body will give you a lot of benefits.
Then at the heart-center of Avalokiteshvara inside, you visualize a moon-disc and in the center of the moon-disc, you visualize the HRIH-syllable. It is called the three dimensions of meditative concentration. Visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara which is the samaya being and at the heart center of Avalokiteshvara, you visualize the moon-disc which is the wisdom being and in the center of moon-disc, you visualize the HRIH-syllable which is the meditative concentration. This is known as the three dimensions of meditative concentration.With this kind of visualization and if you are not distracted, you accomplish calm-abiding meditation as well as the special insight meditation. This white HRIH-syllable is surrounded by the six-syllable mantra spinning clockwise around the HRIH-syllable and light radiates from this mantra will go up to the Pureland of Avalokiteshvara as a form of offering and light return back to ourselves in form blessings and again light will send out to the entire universe and universe transformed into celestial palace and beings in celestial palace will be transformed into Avalokiteshvara. We are imaging that negative karma and obscurations of the entire living beings will be entirely purified. This is how we transform the outer universe as celestial palace and inner beings as noble ones or deity. With this, we recite the mani-mantra,mani-mantra with sounds, sound of emptiness, the very nature of the sound of speech is emptiness. This is also the union of sound and emptiness. Mentally whatever thoughts that arisen in you, the thought itself is of emptiness nature so without chasing it or paying attention to it, let it go by itself and focus yourself in the emptiness nature which is the union of emptiness and compassion. This is called seeing and liberation simultaneously or the union of seeing and emptiness. Then you can be considered as maintaining in the ultimate reality of your own mind or the dharmadatu. Whatever appearance appears to us, it is the union of appearance and emptiness, whatever sound appears to us, it is the union of sound and emptiness and whatever thought appear, it is the union of clarity and emptiness. That itself is the profound yoga deity practice. This is the second practice of the Fivefold Path Mahamudra which is the yoga deity practice.
The third one is the four kayas yoga practice. Based on visualizing oneself as Avalokiteshvara, here is the praise to avalokiteshvara:
“You, whose body is purest white and unstained by the slightest fault, whose crown is adorned with a perfect Buddha, who gazes upon living beings with eyes of compassion – to Avalokiteshvara, singing his praise, I bow down.”
Here, “whose crown is adorned with a perfect Buddha” refers to Buddha Amitabha. When you visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara, above the crown of your own head, you have to visualize Buddha Amitabha. Outer form is Buddha Amitabha and inner essence is your own guru. After that, you should develop devotion and faith to Buddha Amitabha who is your own guru. With this devotion and faith, you should recite the mani-mantra. When you are able to do so, this is equivalent to the practice of guru yoga. Before you conclude your practice, you have to imagine the Buddha Amitabha who is the essence of your own guru right in front of space, four places of Buddha Amitabha, multiple-colored lights raditate from forehead, white lights radiate; from the throat level, red lights radiate; from the heart level, blue lights radiate; from the navel level, yellow lights radiate. These four different colors of lights dissolve into your own four places – forehead, throat, heart and navel. When from Buddha Amitabha’s forehead, white lights strike your own forehead, imagine that all the negative karma that you have accumulated through the body will be purified. Out of the four initiations, you will receive the vase initiation. By receiving the vase initiation, it will plant the seed for us to attain the nirmanakaya form of Buddha. From Buddha Amitabha’s throat, red lights radiate and strike on your throat level, imagine that all the negative karma that you have accumulated through speech, all the defilements and obscurations that have been created through speech will be purified. You receive the secret empowerment. This plants the seed for us to attain the sambhogakaya form of Buddha in the future. From Buddha Amitabha’s heart center, blue lights radiate and strike on your heart level, imagine that all the negative karma that you have accumulated through mind. You receive the wisdom empowerment and it will plant the seed for you to attain the dharmakaya form of Buddha. From Buddha Amitabha’s navel level, yellow lights radiate and strike at your own navel, imagine that all your three doors of negative karma, defilements and two obscurations – obscuration of defilements and obscuration of knowledge. You receive the word initiation which is the ultimate empowerment. This will plant the seed for you to attain svabhavakaya form of Buddha in the future. This kind of receiving the four types of initiations from the guru is said to be the meditative concentration initiation or the Samadhi initiation. This practice if you are able to do again and again, it will help you to restore the broken samaya that you have committed. You may have received many empowerments but you have violated samayas, it will help you to restore your samaya and help you to attain the calm abiding and special insight meditation, especially the calm abiding meditation. Therefore it is good to practice again and again.
The main goal of our practice is to attain the supreme attainment or the siddhi which is the realization of our own mind asmahamudra. Lord JigtenSumgön said that the only way to realize our own nature of mind as mahamudra is through the development of devotion to our guru. When you practice such the four kayas of the guru yoga practice, it helps you to enhance your faith and devotion to your guru and through that it helps you to realize your own true nature of mind.
The explanation that I gave you earlier on visualizing your guru in front of yourself, four places of guru have four different lights that radiate and strike onto you etc is the more elaborate form of the practice of the guru yoga.However, if you do not have time to do all these. You can visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara and in front and above you, you visualize Buddha Amitabha dissolves into lights and lights dissolve into you and that is also the dissolution stage of practice. You imagine at that point, you have actually received the body, speech mind blessings of the guru.
Whether you do the short version or the long version of practice is completely up to you. The explanations that I gave was the way to combine the Avalokiteshvara into the practice of the Fivefold Path Mahamudra in the context of guru yoga.
Every time when you visualize and generate yourself as deity, you are advised to dissolve all these into emptiness, that is, the completion/dissolution stage of practice. The reason why is that sometimes when we are able to visualize ourselves as deity clearly, there is a danger of having clinging and attachment to the deity that you have visualized and also you may develop some sense of pride that you are deity and so on. In order not to have this kind of afflictive emotions, it is said that you should dissolve yourself into emptiness.
According to different sadhana of deity practices, there may be different way of practicing the dissolution stage of practices. However, in this context, you first visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara and above the crown of your head, you visualize Buddha Amitabha and when you practice the dissolution stage of practice, you dissolve Buddha Amitabha into Avalokiteshvara and Avalokiteshvaradissolves into the heart center syllable HIRH and finally the seed syllable HIRH also starts to dissolve from bottom up and eventually dissolve into emptiness. This is how you should practice the dissolution stage of practice.
After that point, you are not going recall anything that you have done in the past, your experience or memory from the pastnor are you going to anticipate the future. What you are going to do is to maintain in the present. In the present moment, you cannot identify your mind as this and that, it is the union of clarity and emptiness. In the mind nature which is the nature of clarity and emptiness, you meditate. This is called the mahamudra.
Of course for a beginner, it is not so easy to find out and look at our own true nature of the mind. You have to make it a habit to look at the true nature of your mind again and again. It is also said that if you try to look at things that cannot be seen, then one day you will see things that cannot be seen.
When we talk about mahamudra, it is not something that you try to accomplish from somewhere nor is it that you try to deny something else. It has been there all the time within your own nature of your mind. As long as you have the mind, the nature of mahamudra is always there. It is a matter of not recognizing it or not able to understand and realize the true nature of mind. If we are not able to understand and recognize our true nature of mind which is the union of clarity and emptiness, then no matter how much we meditate, it is not going to help us at all. It is because just by doing meditation alone is going to help you to stabilize your mind but it will not help you to attain the special insight meditation. Once you are able to recognize your own nature of mind which is the union of clarity and emptiness, at that point, you do not have meditative equipoise or the aftermath meditation nor have abiding. There is no movement of mind. The nature of that is something beyond expression.
We are going through lots of hardship and difficulty during practice and so on. The main purpose is to realize the true nature of mind. In order to introduce yourself to the true nature of mind, it is important to find a qualified authentic spiritual masters so that they can introduce us to the true nature of mind. Also no matter what practice we do, it is important to focus our mind on the realization of the true nature of our mind.
In order to help us to recognize that our mind nature is of clarity and emptiness, we need to receive proper instructions from the guru. After that, we need to have mindfulness and heedfulness all the time. One of the great masters said that when we think about samsara and nirvana, it is nothing but your own nature of mind. When you talk about basis and path, still we are talking about your own nature of mind. No matter what you do, it is related to your own true nature of mind. It is said that you should always try to find out your own true nature of mind. Also it is mentioned that you try not to uproot the Dharma, but you try to uproot your own mind which means that no matter how far you try to understand the theoretical teaching of the Buddha Dharma, it will not lead you to understand all the philosophy, however, if you try to look into the nature of your mind, you will reach the end of understanding your true nature of mind. So whenever you do meditation, it is important that our meditation should bring some kind of ability to realize or recognize the true nature of our mind; otherwise, whatever meditation that you do, it is only able to help you to stabilize your mind, it is not going to help you to recognize the true nature of your mind. When you practice the calm abiding or shamata meditation, you will gain certain experience – peacefulness, calmness and joy and so on. These are the results of calm abiding meditation. One should not have clinging and attachment to these experiences since these experiences will fate, they will not going to last forever. What you are going to do is that based on the experience that you have from the calm abiding meditation, you should penetrate yourself into special insight meditation which will help you to recognize your true nature of mind which is our main aim. For the beginner who meditate on mahamudra, Milarepa said that for the beginner, one should not do a long period of time on mahamudra meditation, you should do it over and over again and again but short sessions. If you do long session on mahamudra meditation in the beginning, your mind will either have dullness or foggy or that you will be completely distracted having mental agitation. So you should do short period of time, during this short session, the quality of the meditation has to be good. The reason why I give you this teaching of mahamudra today is that I see that everyone of you is doing Chenrezig practice and when you recite main-mantra, everyone is sitting with good posture and most of you are sitting in seven point Vairochana meditation posture, I was very impressed by all your sitting and concentration on the practice. So therefore, I gave this teaching on Mahamudra so that in the future, you will be able to realize your own true nature of mind asmahamudra.
At the end of practice of Avalokiteshvara, we do the dissolution practice and after the dissolution practice, of course your mind has to maintain in the non-conceptual state which is mahamudra. Therefore while practicing Avalokiteshvara, you are practicing mahamudra as well. out of the Fivefold Path Mahamudra, this is the fourth one.
Whether you have done deity yoga practice or any kind of sadhana practice, after your practice, then you have to dedicate to the entire living beings for their well-beings, liberation and enlightenment. This is the fifth part of the Fivefold Path Mahamudra. It is also said that the dedication is very important since Lord JigtenSumgön said that since beginningless time until now, we have been taken different types of lives and in each life, we have accumulated a great amount of merits but we are still not enlightened. The reason is that we did not dedicate all the merits that we have accumulated. Therefore we must dedicate for enlightenment. For example, if you have a drop of water and if you put it into the ocean, this drop of water will remain there until the entire ocean will dry out. The same thing with our merits, even though we have the slightest merit that we have accumulated, if we dedicate it to enlightenment, until we reach enlightenment, this merit will remain there forever without exhaustion. Therefore, dedication is important. Whatever practice that we do in our day to day life, if we are able to combine the Fivefold Path Mahamudra, the practice becomes complete form of practice. The reason is that Lord JigtenSumgön specially designed this Fivefold Path Mahamudra so that individuals can practice it. It is the essence of all the practices of the Buddha Dharma. So any kind of practice we do, this Fivefold Path of Mahamudra is in our practice.
Therefore the practice that we do on this Avalokiteshvarasadhana, we talked about bardo teaching a few days ago, let’s say if you good practice on mahamudra, it will help us to liberate ourselves and attain enlightenment in the bardo of death. In the bardo of death, we will be able to merge our luminous mind into dharmakaya state of the mind. Therefore, it is like meeting mother and son. Then let’s say if you have good practice of visualizing ourselves as deity Avalokiteshvara, it will help us to attain sambhogakaya liberation in the bardo of dharmadatu. For individuals who are not so familiar with mahamudra and so on, you can also do the practice of Phowa either right before the time you are about to die or after you die whichever case you want to do, you can do that. Tomorrow, we are going to discuss the Phowa practice which is based on teachings of Togdan Shakya Shri. His Phowa practice is visualizing oneself as Avalokiteshvara and above the crown of Avalokiteshvara, we visualize Buddha Amitabha. We are going to discuss that tomorrow morning. Tomorrow evening, you are going to receive the Great Drikung Phowa transmission. The text is available in English and once you have received this transmission, you can practice Phowa in the future as well.
HOME Mani Teachings 2011
|May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,|
|that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;|
|May all sentient beings obtain all the excellent flavors of nonattachment,|
|and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;|
|May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth|
|and realize that all Buddha teachings are without difference;|
Last updated on 2012-10-06.