Archive | October 2011

Contemporary Mahasiddha of the ‘Seven Lines Prayer’

A liberation story to share… it shows the eternal spirit of Guru Devotion and the unparallelled blessings of Guru Rinpoche.  Please enjoy!

Before the year 2000, there was a Mahasiddha in the Namdroling monastery of the Nyingma Palyul tradition established by the lineage holder His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.  He mainly recited the ‘Seven Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche’.  This accomplished master had white hair and a hunched back;  he went about everywhere on bare feet and his name was Yama Gonpo.

Yama Gonpo was illiterate and had absolutely no idea about writing or reading the scriptures because he had not been taught in school.  From his youth until he was old, he had been Penor Rinpoche’s layperson attendant.  In his late years, he started wearing monk’s robes and became ordained.  He did not know how to recite any scripture or prayer apart from some short mantras, thus, the only practice he was familiar with was the ‘Seven Lines Prayer to Guru Rinpoche’.

About 40 years ago, when the Tibetans fled to India, he followed His Holiness Penor Rinpoche out of Tibet and became Penor Rinpoche’s attendant and guard.  It was after much life-threatening dangers that they arrived in India.  For his entire life, he was Penor Rinpoche’s unwavering and devoted disciple, serving his Guru like a servant.

After following Penor Rinpoche to South India, because they were beginning to build Namdroling monastery, Yama Gonpo participated in the work of building the monastery.  He endured long hours of toilsome labor.  For instance, about 40 years ago, there was a large river flowing between the site of the monastery and the neigbouring town of Gusakar.  The Indian workers, in order to save time, forced their cows to cross the river but there was no bridge at that time and it was extremely difficult for the cows who were bearing a large load to cross the river.  Their Indian owners lashed their whips at these cows, often cutting deeply into the flesh on their backs.  Penor Rinpoche decided that, in order to help the cows and everyone involved, it was necessary for him to spend his own money to build a mud bridge over the river although it was extremely expensive by the standards of that time.  Yama Gonpo, by a single order of His Holiness, spent three years accompanying the workers to construct this bridge.  By night, he slept alone in a grass hut at the construction site as it was his responsibility to watch over the building materials.  At that time, his hut was located near the forests and grasslands where many wild animals lurked.

As narrated above,  Yama Gonpo’s entire life was that of following the instructions of his Guru, Penor Rinpoche.  In his late years, he received the Dzogchen essential pith instructions from Penor Rinpoche personally.  From then on, he did not lie down to sleep but always remain sitting, whether during the day or night, becoming an extremely assiduous meditator.  His level of realisation was very high and profound, his meditation was liberated and free, he was able to communicate directly with Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) or the Dharma Protectors.

However, externally, he seemed to be just a weak and ordinary old monk…

In his late years, he stayed outside Penor Rinpoche’s special protector hall, in a very simple hut made from mud.  This hut was so small that most people could not stand up straight within it.  There was an extremely simple altar inside – so simple that the only way to describe it would be ‘unbearably old and broken-down’.  It consisted of several pieces of aged, hole-ridden pieces of Buddha images that had turned yellow.

Yama Gonpo personally had few belongings.  It consisted of one strand of prayer beads and several pieces of cushions that looked like pieces of rubbish.  There was also one small coffee-coloured fat-bellied bottle that had been abandoned by someone.  And this was the ‘precious vase’ which Yama Gonpo used to contain his blessed pills mixed with water.

Yama Gonpo had infinite faith in His Holiness Penor Rinpoche and Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) and kept doing his practice without making a display of it.  At first, no-one realised that this hunched-back old man was a great practitioner until something happened. Once, when they were setting up the first Buddhist college in the Namdroling monastery (reenacting the tradition of Buddhist studies in the Nyingma tradition for the first time in India), many students were painting the main hall.  At that time, Yama Gonpo’s hunched figure appeared in the vicinity despite the fact that he had not been asked to come.  Gonpo told the students in a kind and yet serious tone, “Last night, Guru Rinpoche said that the students who are painting the college have an obstacle coming, it would be better to temporarily stop painting tomorrow.

The college students thought that the old Yama Gonpo was mentally unhinged and merely pretended to agree with him with a smile.  Then they invited him politely to leave.  Before he left, Gonpo said again, “If you are not willing to stop work tomorrow, then please remember to recite the Seven Lines Prayer to Guru Rinpoche or his heart mantra or Tara’s mantra!”

On the second day, one of the students was reciting Tara’s mantra in a half-believing manner while standing with other students on the high structures for painting.  In the end, there was an accident.  All of a sudden, the high structure collapsed.  Everyone was hurt when they fell on the ground.  The only person who went unscathed was the student who had been reciting Tara’s mantra.  From then on, many people started to ask Yama Gonpo about matters of the future and Gonpo never failed to help them.  The future invariably worked out just as he predicted.  There was even one situation where someone came to ask about some matter in the future and Yama Gonpo replied him saying, “Please, there is no need for you to ask me about any future problems, because you will soon die in seven days.”  When this person heard his prediction, he was very nervous, but he was also half-doubting it.  Finally, the prediction came true and he died in seven days.

This matter caused everyone to wake up and many people praised Yama Gonpo for his ability to accurately foresee the future.  But somehow, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche was appraised of this matter and became extremely displeased.  He simply said one sentence to Yama Gonpo, “Why are you saying so much?”  Thereupon, Yama Gonpo kept silent for about one year and refused to reply to anyone’s enquiry.

It was until much later when His Holiness Penor Rinpoche left the monastery to spread the Dharma that the sangha were unable to find anyone to help them when they had particular difficulties that they petitioned Penor Rinpoche to allow Yama Gonpo to help everyone with clearing their doubts and answering their questions with his special abilities.  Under His Holiness’s permission, Yama Gonpo started to speak to help the masses.

Before Yama Gonpo answered anyone’s question, he will always meditate for a moment with his eyes open and then he will see the answer without need to recourse to any divination tools or any special preparations.  The writer of this article once had the fortune of witnessing the way Yama Gonpo answered questions beside the eight great stupas of Namdroling monastery.  It was truly rare and astounding!

Once, Namdroling monastery had a huge case in its hands.  An Indian was murdered and his corpse was discovered beside the monastery.  One of the monastery’s monk was suspected by the police of being the culprit and apprehended.  At that time, Penor Rinpoche was away overseas and could not immediately return to solve this problem.  Therefore, in a telephone call, he instructed that the monastery immediately begin to practice the Dharma protector rituals.  The next day, Yama Gonpo told everyone, “Last night the Dharma Protector appeared to me and told me, ‘The real murderer has been caught, he is an Indian.  Now the Dharma Protector has possessed the murderer and caught hold of his heart and mind, he will be leading the real murderer back to the area of the monastery.  As the distance is far, he can only reach the monastery in 3 days.’”

Eventually, after 3 days, the true murderer was really caught.  He was an Indian who had performed the killing act in the spur of a moment because of a mere 50 rupees.  When the murderer returned to the monastery, his entire being was confused and dazed, and he turned himself in by confessing that the murder was done by him.  Of course, he was not spared a beating by the people around him there and then when they heard his confession.

Everyone now knew that Yama Gonpo was an authentic Druptop (realised master).  They liked to come by and ask him many questions.  But his main reply was, “Recite the Seven Lines Prayer, then there would be no obstacles.”  This was often his advice to people.

Although he was so accomplished, he continued his previous style of living, notwithstanding others’ respect and trust in him.  He continued staying in his dilapidated hut, his living conditions did not improve, and all day and all night long, he continued to supplicate the Guru Triple Gems.  Anyone who saw him felt that he was truly a very diligent practitioner who never had a respite.  When anyone offered him money, he would ask the benefactor to offer this money directly to Penor Rinpoche.  Even if he took the money to allow the benefactor to accumulate merits, he would still unstintingly offer the whole amount to His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.  About 2 or 3 years before he left this world,  he often said, “Human life and samsara is simply too much suffering… when the Lord of Refuge Penor Rinpoche has completed the building of the Guru Padmasambhava Hall, I will depart from this world.”

In the remaining days, he continued to behave like his role as an attendant and guard to Penor Rinpoche, he surreptitiously watched over the entire process of building the large hall whether it was a large or minute task.  Once, he told some monks who were close to him, “For His Holiness Penor Rinpoche’s project of building the hall to be smooth and successful, countless Dharma Protectors have surrounded the boundaries of the hall in the space and on the ground to prevent any large obstacle from occuring.”  Everyday, he would circumambulate the monastery bare-footed at least once.  Everyone said that Yama Gonpo had not wavered in the slightest from his past role as the protector and guard, and used all his utmost strength to protect the beneficial activities of his Guru, Penor Rinpoche, in a quiet manner.

When the Guru Padmasambhava Hall in Namdroling monastery was completed.  It was said that on one day, during the puja, Yama Gonpo was accidentally pushed to the floor by some young lama.  He never recovered from that fall and finally, in the year of 2000, he demonstrated entry into parinirvana.  Several days before his parinirvana, his body was thin and weak, and he was lying in bed but his mind was still extremely clear.  After his parinirvana, His Holiness indicated that Gonpo was to be buried in the earth and that his body was to be placed in the vicinity of Namdroling, behind the nunnery.   Penor Rinpoche also snipped a lock of white hair from Gonpo and kept it for memory sake.

The author (of this article), for fear of forgetting all that has been seen, heard or remembered with the passage of time, decided to pen down everything concerning Yama Gonpo diligently.  Afterall, the author has had the karmic affinity of meeting Gonpo several times and had even held his hands while walking together around Namdroling monastery. We stood where would be behind the present elementary school for Namdroling, and enjoyed the scenery of Namdroling monastery from afar in the soft breeze of that afternoon… now that the Venerable one is no longer here, the author, in order to remember him and encourage others to do the practice of Guru Rinpoche, decided to write these notes on 23 August 2007 in Taipei, Taiwan.

(Notes by translator: The names, when translated from Chinese, may not be accurate in spelling.  Some very tiny amendments had been made to enable the story to flow better.  But nothing factual has been affected.  By this merit, may all sentient beings attain enlightenment.  )

Seven Lines Prayer by Guru Rinpoche 

HUNG ORGYEN YUL GYI NUB JANG TSAM

Hung! On the northwest border of the country of Oddiyana

PADMA GESAR DONG PO LA

In the pollen heart of the lotus,

YA TSHAN CHOG GI NGO DRUB NYE

Marvellous in the perfection of your attainment

PADMA JUNG NAY ZHE SU DRAG

You are known as the Lotus Born

KHOR DU KHA DRO MANG PO KOR

And are surrounded by your circle of many dakinis

KHYED KYI JE SU DAG DRUB KYI

By following in your footsteps

JIN GYI LOB CHIR SHEG SU SOL

I pray that you will come and confer your blessings

GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUNG

(For the second last line, JIN GYI LAB CHIR SHEG SU SOL would also be accurate. Different texts/termas have different versions. One can do either version.)

[Guru Rinpoche picture courtesy of Karma Dongag Ling website]

What they said about Tara Practice

Here are some quotes about Tara from great women practitioners and the 15th Karmapa from books like “The Book of Tibetan Elders” by Sandy Johnson and “Skilful Grace” by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche & Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche.

HER EMINENCE JETSUN KUSHO CHIMEY LUDING :

“Tara, the mother of all Buddhas, provides a very powerful practice — her activities are very beneficial in this generation.  Female energy is getting stronger now. Also, the female represents the wisdom aspect, and male the method.  Now that things are going faster and faster, this female wisdom is very important.”

JAMYANG DAGMO-LA SAKYA :

“Tara is very important in Buddhism.  She is a deity aspect of a woman who made a promise that she would always appear in female form to help all sentient beings.  In Tibet, all lineages worship Tara and pray to her, lamas and monks as well as all the people.  Tara is very easy to practice.  She is very swift.  Whenever you ask her, she is right there to help.

” To me, Tara is not only a Buddhist goddess, but a goddess of all religions, like Mother Mary in Christianity.  She is embodied in all women who helps beings, like women doctors.  Every Tibetan prays to her. I was five years old when I received a teaching of Tara.

” There are lots of deities in Tibetan Buddhism, but Tara is the one that is the easiest becausee her picture is like any one of us.  Some of the Tibetan deities have six arms and four heads, sometimes eight arms, and you have to visualize them when you  do practice.  But with Tara you can visualize your own mother or your closest woman friend.

“Tara is a very necessary deity in these degenerating times.  She helps you to calm down, subdue your mind, to make harmony.  There are stories of her – even translated into English — how she saved people from tragedies, from fire, earthquake.

” Tara helps whenever you pray.  She comes disguised as your friend or your mother, or someone you are close to.”

15TH GYALWANG KARMAPA :

“The venerable Arya Tara is the wisdom form of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions. In the ultimate sense, primordially, she attained the state of original wakefulness that is the very essence of the female Buddha Prajnaparamita.

“Particularly in this world, during the Golden Age, the compassionate Avalokiteshvara taught one hundred million Vajrayana tantras of Tara on Mount Potala in India, and has continued up through this Age of Strife to teach medium and concise versions of the tantras that accord with people’s capacity.  These practices pacify the eight and sixteen types of fear, and cause the wish-fulfilling attainment of all needs and aims.  Ultimately, through these practices one can realise the wisdom body of Mahamudra.  There are innumerable wonderful stories of past practitioners to support this.

“Since Arya Tara is the activity of all Buddhas embodied in a single form, her blessings are swifter than those of any other deity.  Most of the learned and accomplished masters of India and Tibet kept her as their main practice and attained siddhi.  That is why we today have such a boundless supply of practices and instructions of Arya Tara.”

This entry was posted on 11111111, in Practices and tagged .

Buddha Name for Cleansing Killing Karma

I know i haven’t been writing here on this blog for a long time.  The last post was like in May?  Well, I have been doing lots of things and when i look back over the last few months, i feel quite satisfied.  When we receive a precious human life, one of the greatest value we have is our time, we need to constantly evaluate and make sure that we are using that in a really positive way either to benefit others, or to progress spiritually so as to be of greater benefit to others in the future… There is no other purpose really for life.  It is THAT simple, although many people want it to be flashy and dramatic.

Our human lives pass in a whirl and we don’t really even know what’s hit us in that so many years because we are always caught up in the cycle of activities but seldom step back, slow down and reflect deeply.  Our plans, ambitions and dreams are so important and pressing as if we are little Godlings who have a long time to go and the world’s like a huge playground of possibilities… but actually are we or our plans or our lives really such a big deal in the whole scheme of things or in the universe? Even the greatest people in history fade in the passage of time whether they are Buddhas, great scientists, kings or magnates…  To be sure, in our little worlds, we seem a big deal. But really, think clearly and you can realize alot and perhaps wake up to the impermanence of life and make good use of it to benefit others… instead of pursuing short-term self-oriented goals.

This is not just a pessimistic life-denying view, it is just to make us deflate our egoistic ideals and be realistic and then, from there, work on what really matters in an organic, solid and healthy way that will bring true lasting joy and satisfaction.  Anyway, life passes quickly, time is always running out, today will not come again and we are growing older and nearer to our death second by second and i hope everyone will be taking many opportunities to reevaluate and reflect on their own lives and see if it is going in the direction that will really  bring lasting positive effects on both yourself and others…  this is quite important!

Back to main topic, I came across another Buddha Epithet or name that is for purifying the negative karma of killing. If one has done things like businesses involving the killing / rendering great suffering to animals(/humans?), abortions, killed alot of insects while gardening, destroyed pests, bee-hives, snakes, hunted, done fishing, eaten sea-food or meat, ordered animals killed at the market, etc etc etc. even if one has participated indirectly in it, rejoiced in it, caused others to do it etc, you will also have this killing karma!  I would like to caution you that any such harm done to others is going to (1) create killing karma which is one of the most heavy/ severe karma of the 10 non-virtues as the main thing any living being values above all is its own life;  (2) create karmic debts with that animal which you will have to repay in the future probably in a more suffering circumstance.  The moon can drop out of the sky and fire can become cold but karma will never fail (remember this!).

Of course people who are habituated to doing such acts are hardly going to listen to some ‘fool on the internet’ raving about karmic effects. In the future, if i have time, i will share some stories about karma that i have read or heard or experienced.  Nowadays many people intellectualise karma away, preferring to concentrate on higher Dharma practices like emptiness, mindfulness and Mahamudra or the like,  actually karma is extremely straight-forward and merciless. Even if you are seeking the ultimate liberation, it is important to clean up your karma.  Especially killing karma which creates many obstacles to one who is trying to attain liberation.  And just in case you do not get liberated in this life, it is also wonderful if you are able to purify your negative karma.  That is called ‘learning to walk before running.’

All the illnesses, surgeries, cancer, comas, deathbed sufferings, accidents, tsunamis, natural disasters, sudden deaths are manifestations of  collective or personal karma.  And it is usually due to heavy killing karma. There are many cases in the Buddhist community where people get serious incurable illnesses and they resolve it through releasing lives or methods of purification.  This tells you alot about the real causes of sicknesses and such sufferings.  Therefore if one has done alot of killing karma in this life, it is very important to really confess and purify.  This Buddha name (stated below) is one way of doing so, and one can also do Vajrasattva.  In another post, i posted a text of a collection of about 30 Buddha Epithets, among them, Number 6 Buddha Epithet is also for killing karma.  One can do these and really from the bottom of your heart repent.  I think it is very crucial to do this.

We are seeing a rise of sicknesses and all kinds of suffering in this world and western medicine (although for the best intention?) is compounding the suffering through its methods quite frequently.  It has been said that such developments in western medicine is also due to the collective karma of beings in this time. In the past,  people could die quite peacefully at home, now people have to go through intubations, surgical incisions, electric-shock resuscitation, life-support machine, drugs and all kinds of methods in an environment that increases their suffering and fear at the point of death.  According to one great master, this is all related to killing karma.  So the effects of our spiritual practice or therelackof will also show up quite evidently and physically in our last days… (benefits of spiritual practice is not just all in the mind or for the future lives).

(Note: Some people will argue here that some great spiritual masters die with cancer or whatnot… firstly, i cannot speak for these spiritually advanced beings as they may have been taking on the negative karma of their students like the case of the 16th Karmapa who manifested several different unrelated illnesses consecutively on his deathbed by taking on the karma of sentient beings.  Secondly, their karma ripening may be the remnants of all their karma before they attain full enlightenment. Thirdly, even though they have sicknesses, due to their advanced state, they are free from suffering and have full mastery of their death, that cannot be said for ordinary people like most of us…)

Also, when we are nearing death, our merit is ebbing and it is at that point when many karmic creditors will manifest and seek their debts.  (Note: I have heard of such cases so frequently that it has become quite commonplace.) At such points, if one has not purified sufficiently, it may not be easy to recourse to whatever spiritual practice one has done in one’s life or seek spiritual assistance from others as you may have obstacles from your creditors and one’s mind will be completely disoriented, can one then maintain the awareness necessary for a good rebirth and give up all attachments then?  It only requires careful thought to know the answer…  So it is important now to watch our karma and do more purification. Eg. by going vegetarian often or full-time and by doing purification through the many methods available. If you want a good transition, it is all UP TO YOU!  If you only focused on the philosophy of Dharma, meditation, Mahamudra and Dzogchen and so forth but neglect the karma aspect, you may find all your efforts frustrated at one fell blow at the point of death because of the karmic situation ripening (unless of course you are one of those with stablised liberating realisations 🙂 )…

Also, for those people who have not done any obvious killing in this life.  It does not mean that you do not need to purify killing karma.  We take medicine to kill the worms in our body, we walk around and step on little insects without knowing. We boil water, eat foodstuff that contain substances obtained at the price of some animals’ lives. We wear animal skins, use animal products… may have rejoiced when someone (eg Osama) was killed, we may have unknowingly made some remark that caused or encouraged others to kill etc etc etc.  Do you think you need to purify?  I do quite think so… a wise person would not overlook the smallest karma but make all efforts to purify any possible negative karma. And I’m only talking about this life.  What about your past lives?

I did not write all of this to put a scare in anyone but the situation is in my opinion like that.  Many people are not aware of the severity of killing karma nowadays, even with the many natural disasters, people are just pointing fingers at environmental factors but not really acknowledging the root causes in terms of karma. Many teachers have given warnings on the need to curb the killing and purify killing karma. I feel that this is quite an URGENT issue.  It is also my responsibility to help point out what i feel will be very helpful to readers even if you may not like what i’m saying.

Buddha Name for Purifying Karma from Taking Lives

By reciting this Buddha name frequently, one can purify the negative karma of killing.

CHOM DAN DAY DE ZHIN SHEG PA DRA CHOM PA YANG DAG PAR DZOG PAY SANG GYE GANG GA’I LUNG GI JE MA NYED KYI JE WA THRAG GYA’I DRANG DANG NYAM PAR NGE PA LA CHAG TSHAL LO

(You do not need transmission for reciting the names of Buddhas. So you can go ahead and recite immediately)

p/s : Through practices like Vajrasattva, chanting Buddha names, prostrations and fasting practices based on Chenrezig etc. one can purify the negative karma and obscurations related to killing.  However, that is not to say definitely that the karmic debt with the particular victim is resolved.  It varies with different situations and can be quite complicated.  In particular, for cases of abortions, it is still important to find a qualified master who can help the soul of the deceased apart from one’s own efforts in purification.  In short, it is better to abstain from creating killing karma than to resolve it.  Resolution may not be a simple affair.