Archive | December 2010

Heart of the Mahamudra,


Song of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa

Manifestation and sound arise from the subtle mental imprints created from thoughts. As a picture in water disappears of its own accord, so false appearances automatically fade away when their lack of reality is understood. Beyond essential reality there is nothing – Such is the insight of the Mahamudra.

When the door of the mind, through which appearances are created, remains unobstructed, unwarped by concepts, then there is no solid reality, just bright light, and we let everything that appears just arrive naturally. Such a practice is the meditation of Mahamudra.

Illusory appearances are born of the belief in a reality. Relying on a constant understanding of their non-reality, we dwell at rest in original spontaneous nature and the space where there is nothing to accomplish is thus reached effortlessly.

Such is the practice of Mahamudra. These three points are the treasure of my heart. Since the yogis who go to the heart of everything are like my own heart, for them I have pronounced these heart-felt words, which cannot be communicated to others.

16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje (1924-1981)

Praying to the Lama

by Lama Gendun Rinpoche

The lama is the one who has inherited the realisation of the Dharmakaya Dorje Chang, handed down through an unbroken lineage without there being the slightest damage, the slightest break in this transmission. This means that when we pray to the lama, we are praying to enlightened mind. The lama incarnates the enlightened compassion that holds the blessing, he is therefore truely capable of transmitting this blessing of compassion and Dharmakaya. The lama has the ability to transfer all his qualities to the disciple, but whether we can actually develop these qualities ourselves will depend on the confidence we have and the prayers we address to him.

When we pray to the mind of the lama, we are not praying to the mind of an ordinary person. The lama is not what he seems to be; he is the fundamental mind, the mind of compassion, the Dharmakaya Dorje Chang, and this is where our prayers are directed. Since the lama is the holder of the blessing of the Dharmakaya, he is the pivotal access point, which is why we speak of the lama as being a gateway: the one who opens the door to blessing and the transmission that goes with it. By praying to the lama, this door is opened. To understand the lama in this way means that we don’t consider him as a mere person. Praying to the ordinary mind of a flesh-and-blood person will only bring the realisation of that ordinary state, which is not our aim. On the contrary, in our prayers to the lama, we must think of him as the embodiment of all the Buddhas, the mind of compassion and wisdom of all the Buddhas. If we pray to the lama on that level, then that will be the result we will obtain, thanks to his blessing

It is just like when we have a Buddha statue or a Dharma book. It is a medium. If in front of this medium we think that we are really in the presence of the Buddha’s body or speech, then we actually receive the blessing of the Buddha and his teaching through our respectful attitude. If we consider the medium to be the presence of the Buddha, we receive the blessing of the Buddha – it all depends on our state of mind. With the lama, it is the same – he represents a medium that can bring blessing.

When we pray to the teacher, it is obvious that we should not address ourselves to the person as such, but to the enlightened mind which flows through him or her. If we pray to the person, there will be limitations, we will see before us a human form with its capacities or lack of them. In the relationship between teacher and disciple, we use the presence of the person to make contact with enlightened mind. It is through such a medium or support that we will receive the blessings that will enable us to clear away our veils. This is why it could be said that the ability of the disciple to see beyond the outer form of the teacher is perhaps more important than any abilities the teacher might have.

A well-known example illustrates this, the story of the old Tibetan woman whose merchant son made a trip to India and who asked him to bring her back from India some holy relics, anything that had been touched directly or indirectly by the Buddha. The son left on his travels, but like all merchants, he was so busy that it was only when he was within sight again of his mother’s house that he realised he had forgotten to bring his mother something back from his trip to India. He was wondering what he could do when, within a few steps of the house, he saw the dried-up skull of a dead dog. Pulling out one of its teeth, he wrapped it in a piece of fine silk and presented it to his mother as one of the Buddha’s teeth. His mother did not doubt this and placed it on her shrine. She spent the last years of her life using this “tooth of the Buddha” as a support for her devotions, practising and making offerings before it. Through this support, actually a dog’s tooth, she received the blessing of the “Buddha’s tooth”, the blessings of the enlightened mind, so that at her death she displayed all the signs of realisation and left relics in her cremation fire.

When we pray to the lama, we should think that at that moment he is the embodiment of all lamas. We are not praying to this lama now, and then later to another one, that this one we like but the other one not so much – such an attitude is wrong. We must simply develop a very profound and strong confidence that all lamas are one. They are just different aspects, different manifestations of the same essence.

We should pray in the awareness that our feeling of the presence of the lama includes within it all the lamas we have ever known, from all lineages. We shouldn’t get involved in attitudes of mind which lead us to think, “I will pray to this lama, but not that one because he is not my lama”. All such attitudes, because they are dividing up reality itself, are wrong. When we pray to the lama, we are not praying with the intellect, in a conceptual way, calling on one lama while we tell the others to stay where they are. There has to be a dimension of wisdom: the lama himself represents this primordial awareness which is omnipresent, and therefore can be found in all lamas.

Everything emanates from the root teacher, all is included in him – all the yidams are projections of the lama, all the Buddhas are included in the lama. If we pray to the very source, we pray to everything at once. If we reject one lama, then we reject all the Buddhas, because there is not a single Buddha who has not needed a teacher to reach enlightenment. Since the potential to realise Buddhahood depends solely on the lama, rejecting the lama is equal to rejecting all the Buddhas. That is why we should pray to the lama while thinking that he is completely inseparable from all Buddhas, all teachers, until our mind becomes inseparable from his.

Since when we pray to the lama we are not addressing ourselves to the physical person as such, we can very well pray to the lama without giving him any form, any appearance at all, without giving ourselves any specific reference point. In that case, we simply consider the lama as a representation of the blessings of the compassionate mind of all the Buddhas. With this state of mind we open ourselves to this blessing, allowing it to enter us. We should develop a deep confidence in the capacity to have this blessing really transferred to us, along with all the qualities of the lama which are also those of all the Buddhas. In this way, if we develop sufficient confidence, we don’t have to give the lama a formal aspect, we don’t have to think of anything else, we don’t even feel the need to address ourselves to the lama as a person: through the lama, we are addressing ourselves directly to the transmission, to this aspect of compassion and blessing that is the enlightenment of the Buddhas. So it is not necessary to see the lama with our eyes or use our mouth to speak to him. The important thing is to pray to the lama with trust and conviction. It is useless to recite a prayer without having confidence.

If we do a lama practice without having confidence, we may indeed have a lovely vision of the lama, representing him very clearly in our mind, but that is not what the practice really involves – we’ve missed the point. We can also think of the lama in his physical form and pray to him like that, thinking of him as such and such a person, but that is like having an ordinary relationship with someone. If the lama is old or ugly, we will feel distaste, while if he is young and good-looking, we will feel attracted to him, and once again we will be mistaken in our practice.

The right attitude towards the lama is one of confidence in what he represents and in the blessing that he bears. The strength of the confidence and devotion that we develop in the lama has the effect of making the lama melt into light, whatever the image we have had of him, however we have represented him. This light then mixes with us, and we think that in this way we receive the true blessing of the lama and everything it represents. Otherwise, we always have an attitude towards the lama which is based on our own desires, our own aspirations, our own wilfulness, which we then project onto the lama in the hope that he will respond to our desires. Everything that arises in us at that point, all our aspirations, are nothing other than desire and the wish to have it confirmed by the lama. The end result of this kind of practice, this sort of praying, is only to develop more desire, and we grow more and more dependent on desire.

If we do the guru yoga properly, through prayer, the lama and our own mind will mingle and become united, completely one. We will settle into a state of union which is the real meaning of meditation. Such a meditation will purify us of our initial desire, of its impure aspect, and we will realise our mind and the mind of the lama to be identical, not two. Through this we will come to know the Dharmata, the essence of phenomena, which is also this same unity. Otherwise, we remain in a form of ordinary desire, and as this desire arises in the context of our practice, we will develop an ordinary idea, an impure idea of the lama, and our relationship with him will be compromised. Our practice will only serve to develop more and more this force of desire, this emotional, impure state of mind, with the end result that such a practice may actually increase the emotional disturbance in our mind.

On the other hand, if we practise properly and unite our mind with the lama’s mind, because of this union, all the emotions that may have arisen or been provoked, will be completely purified. Our mind will be liberated from its emotions, so that whatever their intensity, they will all be freed in this union of our mind and the lama, the Dharmata.

Praying in Tibetan means literally “to make a request”. Our request is that we gain more confidence, more conviction in order to pray more! Praying is very simple, we just unite our mind with the lama’s mind, in the realisation that the mind of the lama, our own mind and the Dharmakaya are inseparable, all are just the mind’s true nature. It is enough to think that the lama to whom we are praying is the embodiment of all lamas, yidams, protectors and dakinis, so that everything, without exception, is the manifestation of the lama. Once our mind is united with his, it is united with all these different aspects.

While this is the simplest way to pray to the lama, it is also the highest. There are practices for the higher and lower kinds of practitioner, but keeping the mind completely in a state of simplicity without any complications whatsoever, with no elaborations in the mind, to have this natural prayer to the teacher: this is the highest practice.

Benefits and Qualities of the Six Syllables Mantra

Benefits and Qualities of the Six Syllables Mantra

Spoken by Penor Rinpoche

Presently, we are in the dharma-ending age, where people have limited wisdom, faith and diligence.  Thus, it is necessary to persevere diligently in the practice of dharma. A practice that fulfills this necessity is reciting the six-syllables mani mantra while viewing through one’s devotion that the guru is not different from Chenrezig.  The six syllables mani mantra is very easy to recite and encompasses the essential meaning of all the Buddha’s teachings.   It is the heart-essence of Chenrezig (or Avalokiteshvara) and brings infinite blessings. If one takes it as one’s primary practice, then all humans, celestial beings, and even the harmful ghosts or gods will bless you benevolently and you will have a long life without any sickness or calamities.  In the next life, you will be reborn in Potala mountain or Amitabha’s pureland, or at least, you will take rebirth in a land where the Buddha-dharma is flourishing.  This is because Chenrezig’s heart mantra is imbued with the limitless blessings, loving kindness and compassion of all the Buddhas.

In a sutra, it says, “If one recites this mantra, innumerable Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Gods, Dragons and beings of the eight classifications will congregate where one dwells and there will be endless dharma-doors of samadhi.  Seven generations of the family of one who recites (this mantra) will be liberated.  The worms (or sentient beings) in one’s stomach will attain levels on the Bodhisattva path.   Such a person (who recites the mantra) will perfect the paramitas daily, have unimpeded eloquence and purify his wisdom aggregate. Whenever his breath touches others’ bodies, it would cause that person to attain levels on the Bodhisattva path.  If, for instance, all beings below the fourth heaven realm attained to the seventh bhumi Bodhisattva position, all their combined merit would be the same as reciting the six syllables mani mantra once.  If one used gold and jewels to build Buddha statues as numerous as dust, it would not be as meritorious as writing one syllable of the six syllables mani mantra.  If one obtained the six syllables mani mantra, one will not be contaminated by the greed, hatred and ignorance.  If one wore this mantra on the body, one will likewise not be contaminated by the sickness of greed, hatred and ignorance. Anyone who wears, touches, sees (the mantra), all such sentient beings will attain the levels on the Bodhisattva path and be forever set apart from the sufferings such as birth, old age, sickness and death.”

The six syllables mani mantra of Chenrezig, Om Mani Padme Hung, is the manifestation of all the Buddhas’ compassion in the form of sound.  Within it, the 84,000 dharma-doors of the Buddha are encapsulated.  Although there are many different kinds of mantras, such as awareness-mantra, dharanis, secret mantras, but none of them is more sublime than the six syllables mani mantra.  The vast benefits of reciting this mantra (which is usually just called ‘mani’) has been mentioned frequently in the Buddha’s sutras and tantras.  It is said that just reciting this mantra once is equivalent to reciting all the 12 categories of the Buddha’s teachings.  Reciting the six syllables mani mantra can perfect the six bodhisattva paramitas and firmly seal off all possibilities of taking rebirth in the six realms.  This is a simple practice, easy to understand.  All the people can practice its recitation and it encompasses the essence of the Buddhadharma.  If you are able to regard the mani mantra as your refuge in times of happiness or suffering, then Chenrezig will always be with you.  You will become more and more devoted without even trying to.  The realisation of the mahayana path will naturally arise in your mindstream.

According to the records in the Jewel-Chest sutra, reciting a hundred-million times of this mantra will cause all the organisms on one’s body to receive Chenrezig’s blessings and after one’s death, the smoke from the cremation of one’s corpse can protect anyone who breathes it from rebirth in the three lower realms.

Even one syllable from this mantra, whether it be ‘Om’, ‘Ma’ or ‘Ni’ has inconceivable power.  It can bless and cause sentient beings to be liberated.  It is said that the Buddha, who has such extraordinary power far exceeding those of any sentient being, is able to tell accurately how many raindrops there are in a rainstorm lasting 12 years but yet, even he is unable to completely express the merit of saying the mani mantra once.  If the Buddha began to express its merit, even if all the world’s forests and trees were made into paper, it would not be sufficient for writing down even the smallest part of the merit of the mantra.

There is nothing in this world that can really frighten the god of death and make him retreat, but the warm radiance of Chenrezig’s compassion can remove all fear that anyone felt at the point of death.  This is what is called, “the refuge which never deceives”.

The six syllables mani mantra is Chenrezig’s heart-essence, it is the bodhisattvas’ paramitas in the form of mantra.  If you recite this mantra, all the six paramitas will automatically arise and action-bodhichitta will spontaneously be accomplished.

Mantra is one essential component of the Vajrayana path but not one mantra is better than the mani mantra.  It encompasses all the functions of all mantras and also embodies all the other mantras’ blessings and power.  Even the great Karma Chakme and other well-learned noble beings could not find any mantra in the teachings that was of more benefit, more quintessential and simple to practise than the mani, and thus utilised the mani mantra as their main practice.  Even hearing the mani mantra can liberate one from samsara.  Just as Chenrezig has said, anyone who practises this mani mantra will perfect all the six bodhisattva paramitas and cleanse all their obscurations and karma.

In order to bless sentient beings, Chenrezig endowed the mani mantra with the same power as his very own body, this is the ‘dedication of unborn emptiness’.  Writing the six syllables mani mantra will lead all beings who see it to be liberated.  Reciting the six syllables mani mantra will lead all beings who hear it to be liberated.  If one thought of the mantra, then one will be liberated by recalling.  By wearing it on one’s body, there will be liberation by contact.  If you are accustomed to regarding all sounds as the mani mantra, then all the fearful sounds in the bardo will not cause you any trepidation.

In this age of the five degenerations, the compassionate Chenrezig’s blessings is exceptionally strong.  But, just as Guru Rinpoche has predicted, “in the future, there will be some beings with insufficient merit who will not treasure the six syllables mani mantra.”  Chenrezig’s emanation, the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo also said, “in the future, there will be some beings who will discriminate the dharma due to their own self-clinging, they will abandon all positive actions and belittle the six syllables mani mantra saying that it is a practice for old people or children.  These people have been led by the demonic obstacles into the deviant paths.  Their future life would definitely be in the hells.  Thus you should not give rise to any doubt about compassionate Chenrezig’s dharma practice but should instead practice it diligently, because this practice is the easiest to accomplish and there is no other practice that bestows greater blessings that this.”

The six syllables mani mantra has worldly benefits such as removing all sickness, pain, negative karma, obscurations and demonic obstacles, increasing one’s merit and prosperity.  Its ultimate benefit is to end samsara and bring one to the state of perfect unsurpassed Buddhahood.