The meaning of the Barched Lamsal prayer

Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

Today we are going to do a practice of removing obstacles so that favorable conditions can manifest. With this practice we are able to remove our obstacles and benefit those who have asked for our help and made offerings with this purpose.

Besides removing obstacles for those who asked for the practice, we can extend the benefit to all sentient beings. However, our capacity of benefiting is directly related to the purity of our hearts.

The key point is motivation. We should keep a pure motivation at all times, not only within the context of this specific practice. The purity of the virtue generated will depend on the purity of our motivation.

In the first place, we acknowledge that, just like ourselves, every being – be it an enemy, a demon or a little insect – urges for everlasting happiness but never finds it; or, when they find it, it is temporary. In addition, though they wish to be happy, with their actions they just end up creating the opposite of what they want.

By seeing this reality, we feel compassion, but this is not enough. It’s necessary to do something. We spend most of the time focused on ourselves, and this is an attitude that doesn’t bring much benefit. Our action will be pure only if we detach our focus from ourselves, if we have the intention of helping others.

If we think of the number of beings that inhabit the realms of samsara, we will see that the number of human beings is extremely small in comparison to the beings in the hell and the hungry ghost realms. Among human beings, the number of people who search for some spiritual practice is not very large.

Besides, it is common that a spiritual practice is carried out wrongly, reinforcing jealousy, envy, pride and the feeling of superiority in relation to other spiritual traditions. The number of those who keep a spiritual practice with a pure heart is comparable to the number of stars that can be seen in the daylight.

In order for our practice to be pure, it needs to be devoid of attachment to the self. We need to have equanimity, avoiding ideas such as “I like this person and I will do something for her, but that other person is not good so I won’t do anything,” or, “my spiritual realization is better than the other’s,” or, “I will help my relatives, but I won’t help other people.” Our intention is to help all beings, the good as well as the ones who do harm.

When practicing, we make the aspiration that our obstacles as well as every being’s may be removed, and that auspicious conditions, worldly as well as spiritual, may increase. We also pray that short- and long-term benefits may arise. However, our ultimate goal is to reach enlightenment. If you have constant nightmares, you can try to eliminate them in order to have only good dreams, but still you will be dreaming. Our aim is to wake up from the dream. The same applies to our experiences in samsara: we want to eliminate difficult experiences and increase the good ones, but our final goal is to reach enlightenment so we can benefit whoever sees, hears or touches us. As Mahayana followers, we practice for the benefit of all beings. We should establish this kind of motivation and always keep it this way.

First line

DU SUM SANG GYE GU RU RIN PO CHE
Precious teacher, the embodiment of all Buddhas of the three times

We address this prayer to Guru Rinpoche. In the outer level, Guru Rinpoche is the Three Jewels, in the inner level he is the Three Roots, and, in the secret level, he is the Three Kayas.

Outwardly, he is the embodiment of the Buddhas of the three times: the Buddha from the past, Dipankara, the Buddha from the present, Shakyamuni, and the Buddha from the future, Maitreya. Guru Rinpoche is the manifestation of ultimate essence of all Buddhas.

Inwardly, as the Three Roots, he is the lama, the source of all blessings, and, as such, he embodies the three lineages: the lineage of mind, which is the mind of the Victorious Ones; the symbolic lineage – or the lineage of the seals – from the awareness holders; and the oral lineage, transmitted from mouth to ear. Guru Rinpoche is the ultimate essence of the wisdom of the three lineages.

In a secret sense, in relation to the Three Kayas, Guru Rinpoche’s nature is the Dharmakaya, the nature which is emptiness inseparable from wisdom.

Second line

NGO DRUB KUN DAG DE WA CHEN PO’I ZHAB
Great bliss, the Lord of all accomplishments;

NGO DRUB means “the source of true accomplishment”, therefore in the inward level, in relation to the Three Roots, Guru Rinpoche is also the chosen deity, the Yidam. Regarding the Three Kayas, in the secret level, he is also the Sambhogakaya, the great bliss.

Third line

BAR CHED KUN SEL DUD DUL DRAG PO TSAL
Wrathful and dynamic guru, the one who subdues the maras, dispeller of all hindrances

Guru Rinpoche is the dispeller of all obstacles in the five paths and throughout the ten bhumis. The Sangha helps in the removal of hindrances and misfortunes, as well as in the increase of positive qualities along the spiritual path. Connected in this way, at the outer level, Guru Rinpoche is also the Sangha.

The dakinis and protectors are the source of accomplishment in the activities. With this practice, we remove all obstacles to spiritual practice, so that the four activities may be fulfilled. Thus, in the inner level, Guru Rinpoche is also the dakinis and Dharma protectors. He embodies the mandala of the Three Roots.

In the secret level, he is also the Nirmanakaya, the object of refuge of both superior and lesser beings. He manifests himself in physical form in order to benefit all beings not only through teachings but also, more directly, through giving empowerments and so setting them into the path to liberation. Therefore, Guru Rinpoche, who has all these qualities, is the object of our prayer.

In the outer level, he is the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. In the inner level, he is the Three Roots: Lama, the chosen deity (Yidam) and Dakini. In the secret level, he is the Three Kayas: Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya.

Guru Rinpoche is the manifestation of all enlightened beings, the source of all the teachings that bring forth temporary and definitive benefits. He is the holder of the crown of all sanghas and the holder of the crown of all enlightened beings.

DUD DUL DRAG PO is Guru Rinpoche’s secret name, which means “the one who fearlessly removes all the obstacles caused by hinderers.” He dispels the hindrances in the path, which are the four maras. When these obstacles are dispelled, the four kinds of activities can then be performed: pacifying, increasing, magnetizing and wrathful. Through these activities we are able to benefit all beings.

The object of our prayer is pure since the beginningless beginning. As we dispel our temporary obstacles, the two purities can be fulfilled.

Through the power of the great wisdom, the two obscurations (mental poisons and intellectual obscurations) can be removed. Through the fulfillment of the natural awareness beyond extremes, the obscurations are directly liberated in the basic space. That’s why Guru Rinpoche is called the holder of all manifestations.

Fourth line

SOL WA DEB SO JIN GYI LAB TU SOL

When we recite this prayer, at an outer level we are calling the name of Guru Rinpoche, but what we truly need to understand is that Guru Rinpoche is the source of all pure qualities and, because of that, he has the power to dispel all our obstacles.

We think of Guru Rinpoche with deference and we pray to him with faith. And why do we pray? What do wish for when we pray?
With the external prayer, we approach the object to which we are praying. In Tibetan, this phase is called nyempa (approximation), which means “moved by faith, we approach”.

The other phase is called drugpa, which means “realization”. In an inner sense, we acknowledge that Guru Rinpoche is inseparable from the Three Jewels, the Three Roots and the Three Kayas. His body, speech and mind are the mandala of the wisdom body, speech and mind. Our body, speech and mind also have a pure nature since the beginningless beginning, which we couldn’t recognize before. To recognize this pure nature and to keep this recognition is the meaning of the realization phase (drugpa).

In the secret level, the nature of our mind is inseparable from the Three Kayas:

The Dharmakaya is the very nature of our mind, which is emptiness inseparable from its unceasing qualities. The Sambhogakaya assembles the five aspects of the awakened state, which are:

  1. The wisdom of dharmadhatu, which is the nature of mind beyond extremes.
  2. The wisdom of discernment.
  3. The wisdom which is clear like a mirror.
  4. The wisdom of equality.
  5. The all-accomplishing wisdom.

There are also the Nirmanakaya and the Svabhavikakaya. The four kayas and the five wisdoms are our own mind, inseparable from the Lama. We need to gain confidence in this recognition. The nature of the one who prays and that of the object of the prayer are inseparable. Resting effortlessly in this nature is the enlightened activity.

JIN GYI LAB TU SOL
Here we invoke or request the blessings, but how are they bestowed on us?

By receiving the blessing of the wisdom body, our body turns into a body of light, the vajra body, which has the seven vajra qualities: it is invulnerable, indestructible, incorruptible, stable, unobstructed and invincible. By receiving the blessing of the enlightened speech, we accomplish vajra speech, which is the inseparability of sound and emptiness. By receiving the blessing of the enlightened mind, we accomplish the vajra mind. Thus, we request the blessing in these three ways and ask for the disclosure of the enlightened body, speech, and mind.

Fifth line

CHI NANG SANG WA’I BAR CHED ZHI WA DANG

Regarding the obstacles that may arise in our practice and hinder our reaching enlightenment, there are the outer obstacles, which are the fears. All fears are the outer manifestation of our mental poisons and may be sort out in sixteen categories. For example, our pride manifests outwardly as the fear of earthquakes, anger is reflected externally as the fear of fire, and so forth:

  1. Fear of the ground, fear of earthquakes.
  2. Fear of water.
  3. Fear of fire.
  4. Fear of wind or hurricanes.
  5. Fear of meteor rains.
  6. Fear of weapons in general.
  7. Fear of being imprisoned, fear of authorities.
  8. Fear of enemies, thieves and robbers.
  9. Fear of cannibal demons.
  10. Fear of wild fierce elephants.
  11. Fear of lions.
  12. Fear of poisonous snakes.
  13. Fear of contagious diseases.
  14. Fear of unexpected death.
  15. Fear of poverty.
  16. Fear of not fulfilling one’s aspirations.

The inner obstacles are the four maras:

  1. The mara of the body aggregates.
  2. The mara of the mental poisons.
  3. The mara of false contentment: believing in temporary happiness, without recognizing that everything changes all the time. It’s like licking honey out of a knife blade.
  4. The mara of death.

The secret obstacles are the mental poisons: ignorance, desire, anger, envy or jealousy, and pride. All these obstacles create impediments to enlightenment. How do we remove the outer obstacles? With the recognition that every appearance is the pure body, every sound is the pure speech, and that mind’s nature is pure wisdom. Every form, everything we see, every appearance is acknowledged as the pure form of the deity. Every sound we hear is the deity’s mantra, the pure sound. We recognize anything that arises in our mind as inseparable from the timeless natural awareness, Dharmakaya.

When we reach the realization of the pure nature of all things, outer obstacles are dissolved. If we recognize the absolute nature, dual thoughts dissolve, we eliminate the attachment to the self, and, consequently, we subdue the maras, purify the five mental poisons, and consummate the five wisdoms. With this, any obstacle that arises will be transformed into something good or better.

The outer, inner and secret obstacles are removed by the power of the blessings of Guru Rinpoche’s enlightened body, speech, and mind.

Sixth line

SAM PA LHUN GYI DRUB PAR JIN GYI LOB

SAMPA means the aspiration that everything we wish for in the temporary level may be attained and that, from this moment until we reach enlightenment, every favorable condition may arise.

What are these favorable conditions? An existence in one of the upper realms: in the realms of the gods, demigods or humans. For that we need to wish for the seven qualities, which are:

  1. Having a long life. We need this human body. It is a good vehicle, and, being like a ship, the mind is the captain. The mind determines the direction and the body serves it. Therefore, we need to wish for a long life.
  2. Being healthy. The mind may have positive thoughts, but, if the body is ill, we will not be able to put what we think into practice; because of that, we wish for a healthy, good and strong body.
  3. Having good fortune, good luck and prosperity.
  4. Having a good family, because, if we are born in a family of bad character, we may be negatively influenced.
  5. Having good financial conditions, not being poor or going through difficulties.
  6. Having qualities like intelligence, because, without intelligence, we are also unable to put things into practice.
  7. Being good-looking.
  8. These are the qualities of the superior rebirths.

The seven riches are:

  1. Faith. Whatever your tradition may be, if you don’t have faith, there won’t be any connection. If you don’t keep the connection, your practice won’t bear any results.
  2. Moral discipline. Abandoning negative actions and acting in a virtuous way.
  3. Diligence, joyful perseverance.
  4. Being conscientious. Being ashamed of doing wrong because you know that others will notice.
  5. Knowledge (intelligence). You may want to do something positive, but if you are not knowledgeable, you won’t be able to. It’s important to have the good fortune of hearing in order to acquire knowledge.
  6. Generosity. If you are miserly, not knowing how to share anything with anybody, even if you are healthy and able to hear, even if you have abilities and qualities, you won’t be of any benefit at all.
  7. Having deep knowledge, or the transcendental knowledge, the best knowledge; in Tibetan, sherab.

In the spiritual path it is not enough to be diligent. Maybe there is something annoying you during practice and you feel like stopping, and you force yourself into keeping on practicing – this situation is not the ideal. However, if we know that the practice brings benefits to ourselves and to others, we will practice with enthusiasm. We will have the quality of perseverance with joy. If we don’t have joyful perseverance, whenever doubts arise our practice will get weaker.

We ask for the blessings in order that we may enjoy all favorable conditions along the path which will lead to the ultimate goal: to reach the extraordinary realization. Every being, may it be a human, an animal, or any other kind of being, has a mind. Mind’s essence is Buddha nature, which is pure. It doesn’t matter how big the being is, whether it’s big or small, since its essence is pure.

If we all have a pure essence, then how does the experience of samsara arise? Because we still don’t recognize our pure nature. It is covered by temporary defilements, such as the mental poisons and intellectual obscurations. We have the habit of not understanding, not recognizing this pure essence: this is what causes the experience of samsara. The path to transforming samsaric experience and reaching the consummation of the absolute nature is the accumulation of merit and wisdom.

Each being’s nature is inseparable from the four kayas and the five wisdoms (or the five aspects of the awakened state) and, at the moment, it is veiled by temporary defilements. With the practice of the development and the consummation states, we are able to remove these temporary defilements and reach the extraordinary realization: the recognition of mind’s true nature. We beseech the blessings in order to reach this extraordinary realization, the consummation of the effortless recognition of the absolute nature.

Teaching given by H.E. Chagdud Rinpoche during an accumulation of the Barched Lamsal prayer. Khadro Ling, March 1997.

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