The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Choggi Rinpoche given at Kunzang Palyul Choling in 1988. He was telling the story of how His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche came to write his last prayer.
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche & Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche
This prayer was the last prayer written by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche who was my teacher. According to Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness is believed to be the manifestation of Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava was born eight years after the parinirvana, the death, of Buddha Shakyamuni. As prophesized, Padmasambhava was called the second Buddha, and was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. In every prophecy, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche is described as the manifestation of Padmasambhava himself.
This teaching is not a simple teaching. It was a vision. This is the story about how this teaching appeared.
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s wife had a special Dakini, a wisdom goddess, who would visit her in her dreams from time to time. This Dakini would predict many things to her. One day this wisdom Dakini appeared in her dream and asked her to please ask His Holiness for a prayer, which would be extremely beneficial for future human beings.
The next day His Holiness’ wife made the request. She said, “I had a dream. Please write a prayer for beings.” And His Holiness said, “I have written so many prayers. There is no lack of prayers for people to read. It’s just that they don’t read. That’s the thing. There is no end to what I have written.”
And his wife thought maybe that was right, because in his last life, he wrote 23 texts of different practices. These texts were not just composed. They were wisdom manifestation teachings called terma.
During the time of the eighth century in Tibet, Padmasambhava realized that in the future the teachings would be disrupted. There would be negative forces – those who would try to change the essence of the teachings. So Padmasambhava and his Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal concealed those teachings. They concealed the teachings in the ground, in space, in the water, and predicted exactly at what particular time they would be revealed in the future and the name of the particular Terton that would reveal each teaching or practice. And that is exactly what has happened to this day. These terma revelations are so fresh, and therefore the whole teaching is preserved as it is.
The Terton, or treasure revealer, is like one who has been directly initiated by Padmasambhava himself. All the protectors who were keeping that wisdom took a vow with Padmasambhava that the terma would be given only to the right person, to the Chosen One of Padmasambhava. The whole teaching might be 300 pages, but the 300 pages are written in one line. It is secret and kept hidden in Dakini letters, which is itself hidden. No one can read that text except for the Terton initiated by Padmasambhava. Only he can read it. When discovered, there is only one line and through that a spontaneous text comes out. Terma is self-hidden wisdom. It is so important that we are able to have that. I feel very fortunate. We believe that His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche is the manifestation of Padmasambhava.
Then His Holiness’ wife had another dream. Twice the same Dakini appeared in her dream and this time she said, “I asked you before. It is very important that you request a prayer and you did not. Now please, ask him. Don’t neglect that. It is very important. There is big meaning within the prayer.”
So again she asked His Holiness. And then again His Holiness said the same thing. “No, I have written so many prayers. People just don’t do. From my side there is nothing lacking.”
And then she requested a third time. That morning His Holiness was in his Paris apartment in France. In the early morning hours, he was in his sitting room, and suddenly he had a vision of Padmasambhava. The whole room started to glow, and became big. A person wearing a white cloth and a symbol came dancing. And then Padmasambhava himself spoke. He said, “Establish the dharma. Plant it in your heart. In the depth of your heart, you will attain Buddhahood. Enter the Buddha land. Purify confusion. Happily the Pure land is nearby. Generate diligence in the essence practice. Without practice, who can get results? Looking at all of one’s faults is difficult. Laying down one’s own fault is the essential point. One day all defects will slowly purify themselves. And good qualities gradually flourish.” That was the teaching. And then right at that moment, His Holiness wrote this whole teaching.
The life of a Terton is extremely interesting, because all communication is on an extremely subtle level. For gross consciousness it is very hard to understand. His Holiness immediately picked up a table and told the attendants to fill it with milk, and then he asked his wife and son Shenphen Rinpoche to come.
It was very early and Shenphen Rinpoche thought, “What’s happened? Is His Holiness’ health ok?” He came rushing down. And His Holiness said, “Just sit down. And drink this milk.” Now this is how delicate a Terton’s life is. If Shenphen Rinpoche did not drink the milk at that point, what would become of the teaching? Sometimes they say that one person represents all human beings when in front of a very powerful being. So Shenphen Rinpoche drank it all. And that showed that the blessing would be attained by all beings. He drank all the milk. And His Holiness said, “Good.” This is how Tertons are.
Sometimes when one is next to a Terton, the Terton will tell you to get him something. He or she may tell you in the middle of nowhere, “Get me something” which you can never get. But the Terton never has the idea that it is not possible to get it, so the only thing you have to do is pick up anything and just give it to him because for the Terton habit is totally dissolved. There is no such thing. And when you just present that, it manifests in that state. So when His Holiness said, “Drink the milk,” his son drank all the milk. And His Holiness said, ‘Very good. Just now I had this vision of Padmasambhava.” And then he wrote this prayer. This is the last prayer of His Holiness. And there is a tremendous blessing in this prayer.
Homage to the Guru!
Conqueror Shakyamuni, Supreme Guide of the universe in this fortunate aeon.
Sons of the Conquerors, assembly of noble Bodhisattvas, you who train beings.
Revered Guru, unsurpassed protector of beings of this degenerate age,
Three Roots, host of oath-bound, and the Dharma protectors, one-pointedly remembering you from the depths of our hearts,
We pray repeatedly invoking your attention
Hold us with loving kindness, and power of unobstructed compassion
Bless us to accomplish our aims in accordance with Dharma.
From former positive actions, we’ve gained this precious human body.
Due to merit, by no means small, we have met with holy Dharma.
Accepted by the Guru, we have received empowerments, blessings, pith instructions.
Though we hold such a jewel in our hands right now, our minds, like frivolous monkeys, fall for cunning demons of distraction.
And we cannot even use this wealth, which is our very own.
Freedoms, endowments, and pith instructions have simply been wasted.
Now we are coming to the crucial turning point. Everything we ask for and receive has become like a story.
Putting on the appearance of Dharma, we even think we are practitioners, yet this minds falls far short of perfect practice, lacking even human dharma, let alone the view of Buddha dharma.
With only a vague notion of the sixteen rules of proper human conduct, when examining ourselves, our own bad deeds bring us no shame. When it comes to others, our patience is short like the tail of a door mouse.
Unable to execute the ten virtuous actions of Buddhadharma, full of sectarian bias, although there is only one teacher and one teaching, we criticize teachings and the sages, accumulating bad karma;
Using Dharma in this way is just carrying along a big burden of sin.
We have heard a lot of teachings, but they only increase our pride. Our mental analysis does not penetrate the depth of their meaning.
Though we think we keep the Pratimoksha discipline, the four dharmas of the practitioner are scattered without trace.
Though we think we possess the Bodhisattva precious training, the Four Immeasurables are like a painted picture of a lamp.
Though we think we keep the samayas of the secret Mantrayana, undervaluing the first root downfall we slip into it, taking for granted.
Though we can mouth the explanations of the Four Thoughts that Change the Mind, attachment to the appearances of this life shows we have no renunciation.
Though we rely on a guru, our respect and devotion gradually wane. In the place of pure vision, we wrongly think ourselves his equals.
Respect, love and kindness toward our vajra brothers and sisters decline.
Even a bad word on their part seems intolerable and we shower them with curses. The love and compassion born of recognizing the beings of the six realms as our parents, vanishes like mist when we do not practice from the depths of Bodhicitta.
Though we act as though we have experience of the Development and Completion stages, we have no alternative to our ordinary confused perception.
Though we know the Voidness is the ultimate teaching of Sutra and Tantra, we have no decisive understanding of it; our mind-streams become hard as horn.
Unable to abide in the Original Nature, we pay mere lip service to the view and throwing cause and effect to the wind.
Though outwardly, we appear to be well disciplined and well behaved, inwardly, attachment, craving, desire and greed burn like fire.
Though we keep our bodies secluded in the mountains, day and night our minds ceaselessly wander in the cities.
We don’t really trust our own experience and practice and yet guiding and advising others is like a child telling stories.
Though we can’t be cheated by the compassion of the Three Jewels, yet due to our failing devotion, we cheat and harm ourselves.
In this way, although to the profound Lama and Dharma, we have no wrong beliefs arising from lack of trust and faith, we sentient beings perform bad actions and remain unfulfilled in these degenerate times.
Knowing full well what we are doing, we get into self-destructive carelessness.
Not protecting mindfulness, we suffer great loss.
Now at this time as mind looks at itself, everything we do adds to the confusion.
Everything we think is tainted by emotional affliction.
We see our virtuous activities mixed with sin. So ultimately where else is there to go but to the lower realms?
As to our actions and patterns of behavior, calling them to mind, we lose confidence in ourselves.
Looking at others only amplifies alienation. We find no one trustworthy to be sure and help us.
Now if we don’t take ourselves in hand, then when we are caught by the messenger of the Lord of Death, no one will be able to protect us, and all hope will be gone.
Don’t you feel that waiting for such empty expectations is just deceiving ourselves?
With remorse and regret, recognize your own defects. Wherever we have failed in dharma through error, lapse or transgression, we will not now increase it by concealing it in the presence of those with the eye of wisdom.
We confess in the depths of our hearts: With your compassion, forgive us. Protect us from the terror of the precipice of the wrong path. Guiding us so that we can attain the perfect path of liberation.
Having busily spent life doing this and that we have not laid hands on the essential meaning. Give up the path in which you know so much and miss the one essential point.
Should we not now enter the path of knowing the one thing that liberates all?
Undeceiving supreme protector, sole certainty and support, Root Guru, who encompasses all refuges, we pray to you with one-pointed devotion.
Look upon us with compassion most kind and supreme refuge,
Bless us so that we can see our own faults.
Please bless us to not look into the faults of others.
Bless us so we pacify harmful scheming and violent thoughts.
Please bless us so that good thoughts arise from deep within.
Bless us so we have little desire and know how to be satisfied.
Please bless us so we may remember the time of death is uncertain.
Bless us so we have no plans left over at the time of death.
Bless us so we can generate great confidence in Dharma.
Bless us so we practice impartial pure perception.
Please bless us so that we develop uncontrived respect and devotion.
Bless us that we reduce mental activity about unobtainable goals.
Please bless us with the power to establish the Dharma in the depths of our minds. The ultimate point of the Dharma is the effort put into the practice. The ultimate point of practice is to liberate our mind streams. Please bless us.
Bless us so that our practice is free of obstacles.
Please bless us so that its results may ripen immediately.
Bless us so that we may liberate everything we come into contact with.
Please bless us so that we destroy the duality of hope and fear.
Bless us so that we to see the non-dual primordial wisdom.
Please bless us so that we recognize our own primordial wisdom.
Bless us so that we reach the secure ground.
Please bless us so that we gain ultimate effortless certainty.
With the great vajra weapon of primordial, pristine cognition, may the life force of samsara and nirvana be cut into emptiness with one stroke.
Into the unobstructed great bliss enjoyment of Nyema, may we always enjoy activity transcending together and separating. In the expanse of the all-pervasive equalness even the word suffering does not exist.
Who could there be still searching for happiness where happiness and suffering have the same taste and grasping is self-liberated? This is the Kingdom of Samantabhadra: May we attain it in this very lifetime!