by His Eminence Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche
Translated by Lama Nyandak
July 3, 2011
Today is the last day of our Mani-retreat here. These past few days, we have been doing the recitation of mani-mantra. In relation to that we also have talked about some of the Buddha’s teachings. Yesterday, we talked about how one can combine the Fivefold Path Mahamudra teachings with our daily practice especially with Avalokiteshvara practice. We all are followers of the Buddha Dharma and we consider ourselves as practitioners of Buddha Dharma. We all know that one day we have die. For those who do not have full confidence to their practice when they die, one of the best practices for that would be the practice of Phowa. Today, we are going to talk about Phowa. The superior individuals who practice Phowa well can liberate and attain enlightenment through the Phowa practice. Even for those who cannot do well in the Phowa practice, but at least, the individuals can block the doors to the lower realms and the Phowa practice helps them toeither take rebirth in three higher realms or to the Pureland of Buddha. When we talk about Phowa, what is the meaning of Phowa? Phowa means transferring from one place to another place. What needs to be transferred? Our own consciousness.Our own consciousness from our body to the Pureland. When the consciousness is about to separate from the body, there are nine doors where the consciousness actually exit out from the body. It is said from the Phowa instructions that one should block all the eight doors and should open one door. The eight doors are from bottom up anus, urethra, navel, mouth, nose, ears, eyes and between eyebrows. The door that one should open is at the aperture (the crown of your head). Your consciousness will be ejected/exited out through the central channel. For the beginner when we practice Phowa, we do it with three imaginations/intentions/perceptions – first is the central channel which is the path through which you exit your consciousness and you have to imagine your consciousness as guest or traveler on the path and third is the destination which is the Pureland. Generally speaking, there are many different Phowa instructions, paths and practices; however, the destination or the object of Phowa is the same. In terms of the practice itself, there are differences. What we are going to talk today is the Phowa teaching instructed by Togdan Shakya Shri. His Phowa practice requires that you visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara and above the crown of your head, you visualize Buddha Amitabha as your own guru. Rinpoche has tried this practice by himself and this practice is very simple. When Rinpoche practiced it, it gave a very special effect outof that practice. Therefore, I thought, it is good to give you this instruction. The reason is because you also have been practicing Avalokiteshvara during these two days. Here you visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara, you have to visualize Avalokiteshvara as hollow inside not as an ordinary body that you have right now. Avalokiteshvara’s body is transparent from inside to outside and from outside to inside. Avalokiteshvara’s body nature is luminous and emptiness nature. After you visualize the frame of the body as house and you visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara which is hollow, luminous and emptiness nature, inside Avalokiteshvara again, you visualize the central channel which is also hollow, luminous and emptiness nature. Then the central channel is blue in color on the outside and inside the central channel is red in color. The size of the central channel should be like arrow-sized not very thick nor very thin, just like the size of a finger (an arrow) inside the center of your body. The upper part of the central channel should reach the crown of your head and the lower part of the central channel should reach your secret place. Right next to the central channel, on the right side, you have to visualize the channel of roma and left side, you have to visualize the channel of kyangma. These two channels should be straight up go through your own nose and then go through your ears. The bottom of these channels are joined with the central channel. There are three channels and normally there are four charkas. Charkas are not relevant for the practice of Phowa here.Sometimes there are mentioning of visualizing different colors of the three channels, but one of the master Rigzin Chodrak said that you can visualize all three in red color. We do not have to visualize in different colors. There are no differences in visualizing the three channels in your own body, but in terms of visualizing the deity itself, there are differences, for example, according to the Great Drikung Phowa, which is called the Standing Blade of Grass Phowa, you are supposed to visualize yourself as Vajrayogini. Here in this instruction, you should visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara. Above the crown of Avalokiteshvara, you have to visualize Buddha Amitabha whose essence is your own guru.BudhaAmitabha that you visualize is just like Avalokiteshvara that you have visualized is of insubstantial luminous nature (appears to be there but not substantially). Again, in the center of Buddha Amitabha’s body, you have to visualize the central channel as well. The central that we have visualized inside our body reaches the crown of your head and that central channel is open. Buddha Amitabha’s central channel is joined to your central channel as if it is joined together. Heart center of Buddha Amitabha, you have to visualize the letter red “HRIH”. Heart center of ourself (Avalokiteshvara), you have to visualize the white “HRIH” as well. With a great deal of devotion to Buddha Amitabha, you have to imagine that the heart center of Buddha Amitabha, the letter “HRIH” which is red in color and from the letter, the light is hook-liked pointing downward. The red hook-light from Amitabha’s heart center red “HRIH”-syllable comes down to your heart center where you have visualized your white “HRIH”-syllable and this hook will catch the “HRIH”-syllable that you have visualized at your heart center. When you see the Tibetan letter “HRIH”, the upper part of the letter the suffix vowel (Kigu)
the red hook light will come down towards that part and it will hook onto that and it starts to pull up the white “HRIH”-syllable and go upward and dissolves into the heart center of Buddha Amitabha which is red in color. You have to imagine that you are inseparable from Buddha Amitabha and meditate. During your practice, each time when you do HICK and HICK, you will pull it up and up until you reach Amitabha’s seed syllable “HRIH” and then you have to say GA, then after some time you have to let it come down and then say GA. You have to do it over and over again. It is also said that before you start the Phowa practice, if you have good practice of holding your wind energy below the navel, you are trying to inhale as much as possible and then hold below your navel as much as you can because each time when you say HICK, each time you use the wind energy from below your navel. When you exhale, you say HICK and when you inhale you say GA to bring your consciousness back to your own place.
In the future, if anyone who would like to do the Phowa practice, you should follow the visualization. First visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara and above Avalokiteshvara is Buddha Amitabha. Buddha Amitabha dissolves into light and light dissolves into Avalokiteshvara and Avalokitieshvara is now transformed into Buddha Amitayus. With that we chant Buddha Amitayus’s mantra in order to get rid of the obstacles to life so that you can prolong your life span.
This kind of practice, meditation and visualization you can do it every day. If you do not forget it every day, it will be very helpful. When we die, if possible, die with the seven Vairochana posture. Even if you are able to do that, you have to try to die with the lion posture – lying on the right side with your right cheek is supported by your right arm. The reason why I give this Phowa instruction to you is that it is quite simple and it is practical and since most of us will be practicing Avalokiteshvara and if you practice Avalokiteshvara every day, when you die, you can easily apply this practice. It is important to be familiar with the practice while we are alive because when we die, even if somebody asks you to visualize something that you never heard of it and have not seen it, it will be very difficult for you. We have to rejoice that we have such opportunity to find such profound personal deity which is Avalokiteshvara. This is due to our own merit and positive karma that we have accumulated in our past lifetime. The late DrubwangKonchog Rinpoche used to tell everybody that Mani-mantra and Avalokiteshvara practice is one of the most effective practices to sentient beings in samsara. If individual who follow the practice of Avalokiteshvara all the time and based on that practice, the Six Yoga of Naropa can also be practiced through the Avalokiteshvara practice. If you go to the Mani-Gampo teaching where you can find that through Avalokiteshvara practice, you can also practice dream yoga, illusory body, clear light and so on when your practice becomes advanced. I have explained to you the four instructions from Togdan Shakya Shri and it will be very beneficial if you try to experiment and try to practice it and get used to it. In this practice, there is no mention of many chanting only that you have to visualize it first yourself as Avalokiteshvara before that you can chant the visualization of the sadhana main practice and then visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara and then after that follow the visualization. In this visualization of the main sadhana, there is no mention of visualization of the three channels, but after you visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara, through this sadhana then you can visualize the three channels within the body.
In the evening you will receive the reading transmission of the Standing Blaze of Grass, Jag Tsuk Ma Phowa. Of course, the visualization of the three channels there is no difference but in terms of visualization of the deity, according to that, you have to visualize yourself as Vajrayogini and above Vajrayogini is Buddha Amitabha. Buddha Amitabha is like sitting on a chair. The central channel is visualized is open and he is covering the open central channel from the aperture. The outer form of the deity is slight different, but other than that inside three channels visualization is the same. According to Togdan Shakya Shri we visualize our own consciousness in form of “HRIH”-syllable whereas in Jag Tsuk Ma we visualized our consciousness as red bindu in form of the size of a pea.
This phowa practice, we can do every day because you never know when and how we are going to die. If you always get used to the Phowa practice, it will be very useful. The Phowa practice if you are not able to do it in the bardo of death or the dharmadatu, even if you can use it in the bardo of existence, it will definitely help you to reborn in Pureland. Since these past few days we have been talking about the Fivefold Path practice and the deity yoga practice, mahamudra teaching and today we talk about Phowa practice, all the instructions are available for you if you are able to do it. As long as you can do it, all the practices are there. We should practice it until we are 100% confidence that you are able to attain liberation either liberation takes place in the bardo of dharmadatu or bardo of death and bardo of existence. One of the sutras mentioned that by making offerings to thousand Buddha’s pureland with all the precious jewels comparing that to hearing the name of Avalokiteshvara is much greater. Avalokiteshvara is very grateful especially for the Tibetan because of Avalokiteshvara, Buddhism flourishes extensively in Tibet and many of the past masters of Tibetan has been practicing Avalokiteshvara especially Drikung Kagyu, Lord JigtenSumgöm practiced Avalokiteshvara and Avalokiteshvara was his own personal deity.The reason why we have strong karmic link with Avalokiteshvara is because all the past Dharma kings for example, Togdan Trisong Detsan and SongtsenGampo. Many of the great masters such as His Holiness Dalai Lama, DrikingKyabgonChetsang Rinpoche, Kamapa and GelongDrupa and so on are said to be the manifestation of Avalokiteshvara. So we have very strong karmic link with Avalokiteshvara. These few days we have been practicing Avalokiteshvara, we should consider ourselves as fortunate, you should always think and determine yourself that you will always practice Avalokiteshvara. If you are able to practice all the time, it will be very beneficial to you.
Question and answer:
Circle white colored light instead of “HRIH”-syllable which hooks onto the red-colored light and then you can pull up.
If possible you visualize the dying person as Avalokiteshvara and the crown of the head, you visualize yourself as Buddha Amitabha and then you do the same visualization. But if you cannot visualize that, you can imagine that your own guru is above Avalokiteshvara and then do the same visualization.
If somebody already died, you can use PHAT but for training, you have to say HICK.
Four-armed Avalokiteshvara and you have to visualize the full body of Buddha Amitabha.
In the Six Yoga of Naropa, it is mentioned closing the doors by visualizing different symbol in each door but when you practice Phowa in this context, since your concentration is in the central channel, it is already open and you are trying to eject your consciousness from the central channel, there is no mentioning of caring about other door closing or not closing. The focus is on the central channel with your own consciousness going up through the central channel and going up through the open aperture.
Even when we are chanting the Mani-mantra, we can visualize that the HRIH is going up reaching Amitabha’s HRIH at the heart level and come down. You have to get used to the visualization of going up and down.
If people have problem, she should not bring her meditative concentration upward. She should bring her meditative concentration more on her navel, try not to bring so much upward.
It is possible that while you are doing this practice that your consciousness comes out of your body but then when we say GA, it comes back.
The Six Yoga of Naropa consists of inner heat practice, clear light,
illusory, bardo, dream.bardo and phowa.
The Six Yoga of Naropa consists of inner heat practice, clear light, illusory, bardo, dream.bardo and phowa.
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.