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Stories shared – The miraculous effects of practicing the Mani mantra

Karma Rinpoche’s teachings on the Mani Mantra

If one diligently practices the heart-mantra of Chenrezig (OM MANI PADME HUNG), it will not only help us to purify negative karma from beginningless time but will also truly help to plant the karmic seeds for merging with the mind of Chenrezig, bringing us to the level of Chenrezig and total enlightenment of the Buddha.

The miraculous effects of practicing the Mani mantra – the tooth of a hundred million recitations and foreknowledge of the time of death:

When ordinary beings are about to pass away, for many of them, what they see are only the Raksha minions of the hell realms and other ghostly entities, due to that, they give rise to great terror.  If one has taken refuge and practised the Mani mantra, when it comes to the time of dying, one will see the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and spiritual masters.  One will not take rebirth in the lower realms and will not feel afraid.  By these excellent circumstances, one will even have the opportunity to take rebirth in the pureland of Sukhavati (Amitabha’s pureland).

The six syllables mantra (OM MANI PADME HUNG) is extremely wonderful.  Through the practice of its meaning, one carries out the six paramitas:

OM : perfects the paramita of generosity

MA : perfects the paramita of discipline

NI : perfects the paramita of patience

PAD : perfects the paramita of diligence

ME : perfects the paramita of meditation

HUNG : perfects the paramita of wisdom

Normally when we practice the Mani mantra with devotion, we are accomplishing the six paramitas at the same time.  In our lineage, we recite “OM MANI PADME HUNG HRIH”, “HRIH” is a seed syllable, it contains the qualities of the body, speech, mind and all activities of Chenrezig.  It allows us to receive the great blessings of Chenrezig, and gradually transform our ordinary body, speech and mind into the enlightened body, speech and mind of Chenrezig.

The six syllable mantra can help us to seal the doors to rebirth in the six realms of samsara, preventing us from revolving continuously in the cycle of rebirth

OM : prevents rebirth in the heaven realms, and blesses the heavenly realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

MA : prevents rebirth in the Asura (demi-gods) realms, and blesses the Asura realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

NI : prevents rebirth in the human realms, and blesses the human realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

PAD : prevents rebirth in the preta (hungry-spirits) realms, and blesses the preta realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

ME : prevents rebirth in the animal realms, and blesses the animal realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

HUNG : prevents rebirth in the hell realms, and blesses the hell realm beings with a chance to attain liberation from samsara

In the Tibetan regions, many elderly people like to recite the Mani mantras and would often finish many hundreds-of-millions in their life.  In Tibet, very few of these old people would have sicknesses like dementia.  They would hold the rosary in the left hand and rotate a prayer wheel with their right hand, while their mouths would recite the Mani mantra of Chenrezig or other mantras.  If they had time, they would do full prostrations and pray in their minds to receive the blessings of Chenrezig.  This is practice with body, speech and mind in tandem. While speech is reciting Buddha’s mantra, body is also paying homage to Buddha and mind is focused on supplicating and recollecting Buddha.

If only speech is on reciting Buddha’s mantra but mind is utterly devoid of any focus on Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, then there is no real connection with Buddha.  To recite Buddha’s mantra also means that one constantly recalls and thinks of Buddha.  The motions of body, speech and mind should be performed with the awareness that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas constantly regard us (with their compassion).  We should hold this in mind and always confess our negativities with regret and accumulate virtues and positive deeds —  practising diligently.

In Tibet, there is the saying of the “Hundred-million” tooth.  Many elderly people of eighty or ninety years old would grow new teeth.  Just as if they were babies who had just grown out their baby teeth.  Many people view this as the great blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  Generally, this is a sign of blessing when one has finished reciting a hundred million Mani mantras.  I had a Taiwanese student who was a very famous dental specialist.  I once invited him to look at my maternal grandmother’s new tooth.  He said, “This kind of tooth is not documented in the dentistry school, but one finds it alot in the Tibetan regions, it is quite amazing.” Actually, the new tooth is just one facet of the blessings, many people would also foretell when they are going to pass away and make all the preparations for it.  That was really incredible.

My maternal grandmother lived to about 89 years old.  On the day of her passing, she had already washed all her old clothes and piled them up neatly.  The new clothes were placed aside and she tasked my father to assemble all the relatives.  When they were gathered, she informed them that the old clothes have already been washed and who they should be given to.  She also made known who should receive the new clothes.  Below her pillow were some money from her relatives, she instructed that these were to be offered to the ordained monastics when they came the next day.  After that, she thanked each and every one of her relatives saying that she had given everyone much trouble during her late years.  Then, saying she needed to take a rest, she laid down.  Everyone thought she was going to take a nap.  After awhile, my aunt said, “Mother, we are going to leave first.”  But there was no response.  Upon checking, they realized that she had already passed away without any apparent suffering.

A grand-dad of (another) aunt recited the Mani mantra all his life.  He had been diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer for about one or two years when I visited him.  He was sitting at the balcony, basking in the sun and at that point, he was reaching 80 years of age.  He looked hale and hearty and was in very good spirits.  In front of him were placed some rock sugars, butter and Tsampa (dried barley).  I asked him, “Don’t you have Esophageal Cancer?  Can you still consume these foodstuff?  Other people who have this sickness have to refrain from eating (solid foods like these).”  He laughed and said, “So they say it is Esophageal Cancer but I can still eat, rock-sugars, Tsampa and butter and many more…  just do some chanting and all would be fine.”  He did not seem to feel any discomfort or pain, but continued to eat and drink until his death.”

On the day of his death, I rushed back from Chengdu.  In the afternoon, he started to ask everyone, “Is Rinpoche back yet?”  When he heard that I was on the way back, he had my cousin Ruogu Lama go to the monastery to invite all the monastics to his home.  He mentioned that it would be difficult to get money when he was dying so he arranged for the money to be offered to the monastics later on his behalf.  After all had been done, he continued to recite the Mani mantra.  That night, when I had just entered the door of my home, before I had even drunk a sip of tea, a phone-call came saying, “He has just passed on, please come to do the (customary) funeral rites for crossing him over.”  The grand-dad of my aunt had anticipated the timing of my arrival home.  After his death, his corpse had the fresh appearance of a person who was still alive.  It was very awe-inspiring.

To be free and at ease at the point of death, this is the most excellent and ultimate proof of a whole life of practice.  This experience is the old man’s legacy for later generations, everyone should have faith and devotion in this!

(More teachings on the Mani mantra :
https://bodhiactivity.wordpress.com/mani/)

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Generation and Completion Stage non-dual

Comments: Some people consider the generation stage (of the Vajrayana system) to be ‘conceptual’ , ‘dualistic’ and prefer teachings purely on emptiness or the nature of mind, Dzogchen etc.  While it is okay to concentrate on the aspect or teachings that suit one’s inclinations, it is not so okay to have a biased or erroneous view of the other Dharma methods/paths.  This may cause us to accidentally denigrate the teachings to others who may be suited to such teachings or to lose a precious opportunity to progress on the path with a method that may actually be of tremendous help to us (despite our reservations.)  I found this precious story of Ra Lotsawa (a great realized being and adept of Vajrabhairava), do read :

Maben Chöbar, Tsur Lotsawa and Barekpa Töpagawa, who were pupils of the Indian Vajrapani, came to receive Dharma teaching from Ralo. When he gave them the empowerment and instructions, Tsur Lotsawa gained a realization that was like space and Maben Chöbar gained unimpeded miraculous powers. Barekpa was thinking, “This lama’s instructions on the generations stage of the deity are so very detailed, he has an attachment to complexity as solidly real,” and so he didn’t develop any qualities.

That evening, the three men were staying together in the same house and so they compared their experiences. As nothing had happened for Barekpa the other two said, “We have developed excellent experience and realization through receiving this lama’s instructions, but as nothing happened for you should ask to receive them again.”

When Barekpa did that, Rachen smiled and said, “You don’t have faith in me.”

Barekpa said, “No, I am not lacking in faith.”

Ra Lotsawa laughed and said, “I know exactly what you are thinking.”

Barekpa made many prostrations and offered a confession, so that Ra Lotsawa said, “The superior mantrayāna is distinctive because of its methods. In wisdom and emptiness there is no division into good and bad. There are many kinds of methods but there is none greater than the generation phase. It is the teaching of the inseparability of the basis, path and result.  Some say the meditation of the generation phase is inferior and the meditation of the completion stage is superior. However, both are the natural power of the mind so how can there be any superiority or inferiority? Seeing the non-dual as two and viewing one as superior and the other inferior: that is attachment to solidity.” Then he sang this song:

I pray from my heart with veneration

To venerable  guru Bharo.

Give your blessing to deluded beings

So that they may realize non-duality.

In the last of the five hundred year periods,

The time when only the outer image of the Dharma,

The meaning and view of the Buddha’s teachings

Will be incorrectly explained by minds with partial understanding.

The practice of the generation phase of the deity

Will be declared to be conceptual by the ignorant.

It is attachment to duality if you adopt and reject

The inseparability of clarity, knowing and emptiness.

In particular the special teaching of the mantrayāna

Is solely the generation stage of the deity;

It is the meditation of emptiness

And it is present throughout the vinaya and sutras.

The principal cause of our wandering in samsara

Throughout beginningless time until the present

Is solely the attachment to ordinary appearances.

The Buddha taught the generation stage in order to purify that.

The teaching that the generations stage is inferior,

Which is found in Dzogchen, Mahamudra, the dohas, and elsewhere,

Is for the purpose of negating the attachment

Of beings who have the view of eternalism.

Otherwise, the inseparability of the generation and completion stages,

When meditating on the deity meditation,

Is that the clear appearance is the generation phase

And the empty nature is the completion stage.

Their non-duality is the union.

There is no adoption or rejection, division into good or bad.

All appearances of form are the union of emptiness and appearance, the Body.

They have no nature of their own, they are like rainbows.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

Physical obscurations are purified and the nirmanakaya is attained.

All sounds are the union of emptiness and sound, the Speech.

There is nothing to be identified, they are like echoes.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

Vocal obscurations are purified and the sambhogakaya is attained.

All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.

Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained.

Everything is non-dual,

Self-arising, self-appearing, like mist.

Through the qualities of meditating in that way,

The svabhavakaya, beyond the intellect, is attained.

In brief, the generation stage has great qualities.

Everything that you wish for comes from it.

Even attachment to ordinary appearances and belief in solidity

Are purified by meditation on the generation stage.

Even the peaceful, increasing controlling and wrathful activities

Are accomplished through meditation on the generation stage.

Even an immeasurable benefit of beings

Arises through meditation on the generation stage.

Without any physical or vocal difficulty being needed

Everything will be accomplished through the meditative state.

Ease of practice, great benefits, skilful methods,

Are the special qualities of the mantrayana.

Barekpa was filled with faith and, saddened, asked for  forgiveness for his earlier lack of faith. From then on Barekpa single-pointedly practiced whatever instruction the lama gave. He had a vision of Vajrabhairava and directly perceived the true nature of all phenomena. He subsequently accomplished a vast benefit for many beings and in the end departed to the pure realms.

The Accomplishments of Ani-la Sherab Zangmo

Ani Sherab Zangmo
Ani Sherab Zangmo

I had  posted before about the nuns of Gebchak Gonpa, one of the realised nuns, Sherab Zangmo passed away at the age of 86. I thought of doing up a complete post about her, because I am always inspired by these enlightened practitioners and would like to emulate them.  It also serves as a reminder to us about the important points of Dharma practice.

According to http://theyoginiproject.org/yoginis-her-story/wisdom-dakinis:

“The great yogini of Gebchak Gonpa, Sherab Zangmo, passed away in the autumn of last year at the enlightened old age of 86 or so. She had been unwell for some time, but then seemed to recover and was strong and in high spirits for some days. During these days she gave meditation teachings to the nuns and often sang the prayer “Calling the Lama From Afar.”  Near the time of her death her complexion lightened, and her face and body became youthful and small like a child’s. She told those who were with her that she could see Jetsun Tara clearly before her, and that she was now going to Dewachen, the Pure Land of Amitabha. She counseled the nuns to serve their lamas well and to live in harmony with each other, and told them not to worry, and that all would go well for them in the future. The sky remained like a morning sky, bright and clear for the whole day of Sherab Zangmo’s death, and she remained in tukdam meditation for 6 days afterwards.”

More about Ani-la Sherab Zangmo:

(From : http://shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=7546)

When Sherab Zangmo was a young nun, during a dark retreat (a Dzogchen practice of staying in total darkness for 49 days and nights), she had a vision of Yeshe Sogyal, Padmasambhava’s principle consort.

“Three times she offered me mudras (hand gestures) and then she became Tsang Yang Gyamtso (the student of the first Tsoknyi Rinpoche who started Getchak Nunnery). He came to rest on top of my head and then he dissolved into my body, speech and mind. We became one. I cried and cried. That moment I had a direct experience of the nature of my mind. I have had many experiences, good and bad, but my mind has remained stable, neither good nor bad.”

Enthralled with the concept of seeing the world through enlightened eyes I asked Sherab Zangmo, “Can you describe your perception of the world?”
She replied, What arises in my mind now is the thought to benefit others. On the other hand, I don’t cling to appearances as real, in the way that others do.”

Wangdrag Rinpoche, the head of Getchak nunnery, asked her, “Do they appear like a dream?”
“Yes, they appear illusory, like a dream,” she said.

(From : Calling the Lama from Afar: The Yogini Nuns of Gebchak Gompa, Jampa Kalden)

Even though from 1959 onwards there was some decline in the teachings and the state of practice in Tibet, for Sherab Zangmo there was no decline in her meditation and practice. There have been many nuns of Gebchak Gompa who have died since that time, who saw the Pure Lands before they passed away and who rested in the clear light after they died. There are many examples of nuns like this. Sherab Zangmo now has no more impure vision left. Everything now arises as pure appearances. If we stay in this room, all we see is a very small room. But all Sherab Zangmo sees in the palace of the deities and so forth – completely pure view. Having practiced since she was very young, having relied on many lamas and relied on rigpa, the pure nature of mind, this is the result. (Wangdrak Rinpoche explains)

“Do you still make any distinction between meditation and post-meditation?”

Sherab Zangmo replied emphatically, “There is absolutely no difference between resting in meditation or post meditation. It is like looking upwards at a clear blue sky with nothing in it. There’s no difference whatsoever. When I get sick in my body there is a little bit of pain but in the nature of my mind there is no difference.”

“How many years of meditation did it take to achieve this state?”

Sherab Zangmo replied, “At the time when I was practising chulen in dark retreat I received visions of Yeshe Tsogyal and Tsang-Yang Gyatso coming to me. Tsang-Yang Gyatso’s body was green and he was wearing a lotus hat. He blessed me with long-life nectar and dissolved into me. I became inseparable from Tsang-Yang Gyatso. I suddenly realized the nature of mind. At that time I felt strong faith and devotion. I cried. The mind which grasps the object and the object all dissolved into the pure nature of mind.”

“Do you have any advice for students who might not have the same level of faith?

“Really there is no way other than this,” Sherab Zangmo asserted. “You have to meditate for yourself and supplicate the Lama with great faith and respect. You must believe in the Lama and supplicate the Lama well, generate compassion for all sentient beings and check your mind yourself.”

“When you die what will you see, what will you do?”

Sherab Zangmo replied simply, “I don’t know,” and after a pause filled with laughter, she added, “Going to the pure lands is nothing so special. It’s nothing to think on a great deal. It’s already there established in the nature of mind. I have no hopes or doubts about going to the pure lands.”

“Having practiced pure vision for many years, are you able to go to the pure lands like Dewachen or see Zangdok Palri?”

Sherab Zangmo replied, “ There is no special place to go. Zangdok Palri is in your mind. If you recognize the Buddha nature it’s already in your own mind. There is no place called heaven or hell to go to. It’s all within your own mind.”

“Once you have recognized and experienced the nature of mind, then you can engage in the practice of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. When you have done that practice for some time then you will become completely without suffering, without pain and without the afflictive emotion of hatred, attachment and ignorance. If you really know the nature of mind, then there is no suffering.”

“Having realized the nature of mind, the spirit of bodhichitta, the mind that wishes to lead beings to enlightenment and free them from all suffering, with that pure mind, through the power of aspiration, you can be of very great benefit to others.”

“The aspiration prayers of someone who has realized the nature of mind are inexpressibly more powerful than those of someone who has not realized the nature of mind.”

Can you describe your perception of the world?

What arises in my mind now is the thought to benefit others. On the other hand, I don’t cling to appearances as real, in the way that others do.”

Do they appear like a dream?

“Yes, they appear illusory, like a dream.”

From the time Sherab Zangmo was young, she frequently had these visions, experienced going to the Pure Lands, meeting the deities, making offerings to them and so forth. Also going to the hell realms, where beings are really suffering, and helping to lead them out. She is able to travel beyond the human realm and give teachings to beings in other realms.

Other teachings by Ani Sherab Zangmo:

“If you really supplicate the Lama repeatedly with faith and check your own mind over a long period of time then you will accomplish the path. The accomplishment of practice really relies on yourself. Supplicate the Lama repeatedly and when your mind becomes distracted, bring your mind back. If you continually supplicate the Lama whether winter or summer you can really receive the blessings.

As regards accomplishment of dharma activity and practice, this really relies on your own efforts. You should supplicate the lama continually and whenever you get distracted, cultivate mindfulness and bring the mind back to the supplication to the lama and your own rigpa, the state of your own mind. You will become distracted but by continually supplicating the lama you can accomplish. Really it depends upon yourself.”

If you continually supplicate the Lama, whether winter or summer, you can really receive the blessings. In accordance with the kindness of the lama, having received the teaching of Lord Buddha, it’s all described in there, the suffering of the various realms. Other than meditating on this, you won’t really come to understand the nature of suffering. The six realms are in the nature of suffering. In all of them, there is really not even one day of true happiness or bliss.”

“The most important thing on the path to Buddhahood is to recognize the inseparability of the lama’s mind and one’s own mind.” Sherab Zangmo emphasized, “Recognizing the inseparability of the compassion of the lama’s mind and one’s own mind.”

Story about HH Penor Rinpoche

Personal reflections on His Holiness Penor Rinpoche by Jetsunma Akhon Lhamo

I had the happiness of knowing His Holiness for a long time, and had many wonderful experiences with him.  I don’t mind sharing them with you if you’d like to hear some of them.  I’d like to tell you about one time when I was in India and we were traveling around looking for statues.  It was so unbearably hot.  We were staying in this hotel and it was about 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more.  His Holiness was used to heat but he made sure to put me in a hotel with an air conditioner, which I stuck to, and that was very nice.  While at the hotel, I met the woman who cleaned my room, and she told me about her husband.  He was sick, had cancer and was dying.  She said, “Would you come and give a blessing to my husband before he dies?”  And I said, “Oh, it’s worthless if I give him a blessing, but if His Holiness gives him a blessing, that’s something. That’s definitely worthwhile.”  And so she said, “Oh!  Would he do that?”  And I said, “I don’t know.  I’ll ask.”

They were Hindu.  When I asked His Holiness, he said, “I don’t think Hindus like Tibetans very much.  We eat meat.”  And I said, “With due respect, Holiness, I think in this case it doesn’t matter.  These people so want to see you.  They so want the blessing.  These people are going through misery.  They live in a tin box on top of the roof, and she has to raise children by herself.”  His Holiness was very wrathful with me.  He said, “I had to leave Tibet and come to America.  I watched my own people die.  And now I am supposed to think that this is important?”  He was very wrathful.  But I know what he was doing.  He was creating the merit, and clearing the obstacles for this event to happen.  But as you know, His Holiness was very kind.  So finally he stomped his foot and he said, “Ok.  I’ll go.”

We climbed up to the roof, and it was hellish really.  His Holiness’ knees were bad then too.  I was so sorry and embarrassed that I had put His Holiness through that, but then I was so happy for the people that would receive the blessing.

When he came to the door of the tin shack they were living in on top of the building, it must have been 115 degrees inside.  It was so horrible.  We said, “His Holiness is here to give the blessing.  And the woman got down on the floor, and put her head to his feet and then she prostrated again at his feet.  She couldn’t stop.  She just kept doing it.  It was heart breaking to see the devotion that she felt for someone who would not abandon her in this terrible time; who would provide comfort and some help.  And His Holiness did that.

He spoke to her in Hindi.  And he asked her, “What is the problem?  How long has he been sick?”  She could hardly speak.  They were both so grateful and happy to have his blessing, and that he would think of them, because they were lowly people according to the caste system in India.  They were lowly people and poor beyond belief.  They said that some days he didn’t even eat, because there was no food.  And so His Holiness was told the condition of this man, and you could see in his face that he had great compassion.  The man had cancer of the mouth.  You could see that something was terribly wrong, but he had no medicine.  The agony that he was experiencing was hard to understand.

Here’s the kicker.  His Holiness said, “Open your mouth.”  When he said this, I tried to peak, and what I saw in there was horrible.  His Holiness said, “Open your mouth wide.”  He started pounding out mantras. Nothing I recognized.  He really pounded out the mantras.  And as he did that, he was blowing, blowing, blowing in the man’s mouth.  Holiness pounded out more mantras, and blew in the man’s mouth.  He kept doing this for quite a long time.

The couple was so thankful.  They offered Holiness food and drink, which of course he didn’t take.  They offered him food and drink.  He was working his heart out for them.  As we were leaving, they were bowing and bowing, and bowing.  It was so beautiful.  When we got down towards the room, I said to him, “Holiness is he going to live now?”  And he said, “No, there’s no chance.  The merit is gone.  There’s no chance for him to live now,” he said, “But he will have no pain.”

Already the man’s mouth was chewed up with cancer, and yet His Holiness said he would have no pain, and I know that’s true, because I met the woman again on the next day of our travels.  She said he had no pain that day.  I was so happy that happened.  I was just thrilled.

I left the my room door open so I could see where His Holiness was, and he could see where I was, and when he went passed by room, I just went down to him and I said, “Holiness, I know that was difficult, but thank you.  On behalf of them, thank you so much.  I don’t know how to express my gratitude.”  And he said, “No, I thank you.”

I will never forget that story.  He was grateful that I had insisted that he take this opportunity to help them.  He saw the value of it.  He saw that these people were helped and that they were just regular, innocent people.  His Holiness helped them so much that to my knowledge the man never had pain.  The woman and I wrote back and forth for a little while after that, and she said that he never had pain.  To me that am the most moving story about His Holiness that I know.  And I find it impossible to have seen that and not understand that he was Buddha, that he is Buddha.  No one but a Buddha would or could do something like that.  I miss him so much.  I know that you do too.

This entry was posted on 12121212, in stories.