MAHAMUDRA TEACHINGS WITH HH KYABGON CHETSANG RINPOCHE



Mahamudra Teachings with His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche Saturday January 13th, 2024 at the Enlightenment Stupa in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche: “It is an honor to receive His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, holder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, at the Enlightenment Stupa in Loma Bonita, Oaxaca.

After almost three years of the consecration of the stupa, we have this special opportunity to receive teachings from His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang, in Mexico and to invite you all to this auspicious celebration”.






Offerings of music were made to His Holiness, from amazingly talented members of the Sangha. [Further links on Singing in the Sky page of this website].

(Transcription of teachings below).

All rights reserved (copyright) to Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche


[…]







Teachings bestowed by


BY HIS HOLINESS KYABGON CHETSANG RINPOCHE


Translator [Tibetan to English]: Ina Bieler








THE HEART ESSENCE OF THE FIVE-FOLD PATH


Cultivate the motivation, thinking that, in order for all sentient beings to attain the state of complete Enlightenment, yesterday I have received the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra Empowerment, and today we will receive the instructions, the teachings on the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra. So, His Holiness said, I will share the Heart Essence of this Five-fold Path.

And so, in the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra, Phagmo Drupa, [Dorje Gyalpo], has said, that it comprises: i) Bodhicitta, ii) The Meditation on the Yidam Deity, iii) The Practice of the Guru, iv) Mahamudra, and v) Dedication. So the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra consists of: cultivating bodhicitta, practicing the Yidam Deity, practicing the four kayas of the Guru, (and that is a slightly different way of practicing the Guru Yoga, here in the Five-fold Path). So here we are practicing, or accomplishing the four kayas of the Guru. We are practicing the nirmanakaya [the emanation body], the sambhogakaya [the body of perfect bliss], the dharmakaya [the body of the nature of reality], and the svabhavikakaya, [the body of their essentiality], of the Guru, and then we practice Mahamudra, and in the end we conclude with dedication. So, that is the Five-fold Path.

And so regarding the Five-Fold Path, (on the topic of the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra), generally speaking in the Kagyu lineage, and also in the Drikung Kagyu lineage, there are many great scholars. Throughout the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, there are many great scholars, and yet there are almost no commentaries, (concise or extensive) on this Five-fold Path. So, that is because, it really consists of the essence of all of the teachings. How it first came about is, the Glorious Gampopa gave teachings. He taught, laying out the very essence of the 84,000 teachings that the Perfect Buddha had given. The one who gave this essential teaching (the essence), the name, the ‘Five-fold Path of Mahamudra,’ was Phagmo Drupa, and then Phagmo Drupa’s principal disciple, his Heart Son, was Lord Jigten Sumgon. He told him, you have to practice this until you attain Enlightenment, it is an essential practice. This is why it has become so important.



THE PURPOSE OF THE 84,000 TEACHINGS


And so, what is the essence of those 84,000 teachings? What really is the purpose of teaching these 84,000 teachings? So these 84,000 teachings of the Buddha are all an antidote to overcome the afflictive emotions. The antidote to overcome the three main afflictive emotions, is contained in the three scripture collections. So the first one is the antidote to desire or attachment and that is the Vinaya scripture collection, that is the antidote to attachment. Then, the antidote to anger or hatred is the collection of the Sutras. And then the antidote to ignorance are the Abidharma teachings. So all of these teachings, the 84,000 teachings are, in order to overcome the afflictive emotions. And then the Vajrayana Secret Mantra teachings are a method to overcome the three poisons simultaneously, all together. So, the 84,000 teachings are vast, and the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra represents the essence of these teachings, laid out in a form that is simple to practice.

And so how these 84,000 teachings then came to Tibet, – the beginning of the transmission to Tibet, started approximately in the 8th century. Then during the 14th, or 15th century, these teachings were then printed on wood blocks, and they were approximately this long, [24cm (height) x 70cm (length)]. There was a total of 108 volumes, comprising the Kangyur, (or the words of the Buddha). And this Kangyur, (these words of the Buddha), are the 84,000 teachings of the Buddha. So there are 108 volumes, and then there is an even more extensive collection, that is called the Tengyur, which are the commentaries on these words. And there is approximately over 500 volumes of the Tengyur, (these commentaries). And in this stupa here, [Oaxaca, Mexico], Khenpo Samdup said, there we have the entire collection of the Gangyur. The 108 volumes of the Gangyur are contained within the stupa here.

And, then how did this lineage of Mahamudra, the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra, come from India, and how did it reach Tibet from India? So, mainly there are two lineages. There is the transmission of the sutras and tantras, (the teachings of the sutras and tantras). The sutra teachings, for the main part, mostly goes back to Nalanda, (the Monastic University of Nalanda, in India), and then, most of the Secret Mantra Vajrayana lineages, go back to Vikramashila Monastic College, in India. So, this is origin of the sutras and tantra lineages, traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. And then also, there is the transmission of the Hinayana vehicle in Tibet. So, there are the Sutra teachings, the Mahayana teachings, the Vajrayana teachings, as well as the Shravakayana, and the Hinayana teachings, they are all practiced in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. [His Holiness speaks to the translator], let’s not call it Hinayana, but Theravada tradition.



THE PRELIMINARIES


So, what is the reason, also for saying that in the Tibetan Buddhist Traditions, all three vehicles are practiced? So, for example in the Ngondro, or the Preliminary Practices of the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra, the Preliminaries consist of three. (There are three kinds of Preliminaries). There are the, 1. Four Outer, (or Common Preliminaries). Then, there are the 2. Four Inner, (or Uncommon) Preliminaries, and then there are the 3. Special Preliminaries, (and there are three of those). So, in the ‘outer, common preliminaries,’ they are called ‘common preliminaries,’ because they are practiced commonly, by all the different vehicles. So, they are practiced by the Vajrayana tradition, the Mahayana, and Theravada traditions. They are common to all [the traditions], they all practice them. So, those four outer preliminaries, (the common preliminaries) are the: i. Reflection on The Difficulty of Finding a Precious Human Body, then the ii) Reflection on Death and Impermanence, the iii) Reflection on Karma – Cause and Effect, and the iv. Reflection on the Short-comings of Samsara. So these four common preliminaries, are practiced by the Theravada, Mahayana practitioners, as well as by the Vajrayana practitioners, alike. And that is why the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra, in the very beginning, (the first part of the preliminaries), is the reflection on these four, outer (or common preliminaries).

So those outer, common preliminaries are practiced commonly by all the vehicles, the Theravadins, and so forth. Now regarding some root verses that exemplify each of these teachings. We are briefly going through the Five-Fold Path, I am going to mention a few quotes, and so the first one is about the Difficulty of Finding a Precious Human Body. There is a quote by Shantideva who said that, “this human body is extremely difficult to find. A wise one would make best use of it. If you do not make good use of it, for the sake of others, then how can you be sure to receive such an opportunity again”. So there is this term in sanskrit, ‘[…?]’. This sanskrit term, is a term that describes the ability that a human being has. A human being is someone that can accomplish something in this world. A human being by definition can accomplish something meaningful in this world. And because, as humans we can accomplish something meaningful, Shantideva says, “Do not waste your human life, because it will be very difficult in the future to again find such a human body”.



DO NOT WASTE YOUR HUMAN LIFE


Or, a different example comes from a quote by the Buddha himself. So, he said that, “Imagine a big ocean, and on the surface of the ocean is a wooden yoke with a hole, (like a ring), and that wooden yoke is constantly being tossed around the ocean, it never stays still in one spot. And, then on the bottom of the ocean you have a turtle, and that turtle is blind. So if you ask, “Is it possible for that turtle to stick its neck through that ring, that wooden yoke?” It is very difficult for that to happen, but if certain causes and conditions come together, it can happen, but it is rather unlikely to happen. It is said, it is even more difficult than that, to find a precious human body. And then of the outer common preliminaries, the second one is to reflect on the impermanence of life, to Reflect on Death and Impermanence. In another quote by the Buddha, the Buddha gave us a few similes; ‘Our life is impermanent like an autumn cloud in the sky’. So that is the first example he gives. In India for example, in the summer time it is very rainy and hot, and then, as a result of this, when the season transitions into winter, (so then during the fall time, the autumn time), there are a lot of very thick clouds in the sky. [break in recording…]. It seems it is there, but then it disappears, so life is impermanent like this.

So sentient beings, (when you think about beings in this world), beings are born, and then they die. Actually, every second, every moment, someone is born, and someone dies. And there is no moment where, no-one is born or dies, so that is one example. Another example in this quote is, “Life, existence, is just like a drama play”. So we are the actors, playing a role in that play. And so we come on stage, play a role, and then again we leave this stage. Or, the life of beings is just like lighting in the sky. It lasts for just a few moments, a few seconds. Or, it is just like a waterfall, quickly rushing down a mountain. Even quicker this life passes by, even quicker than a waterfall rushing down a mountain. So, when we really look at it, moment by moment, every moment moves on, and is already over. And every moment that passes, will never return, so that is the impermanence of life.



KARMA, CAUSE & EFFECT


Then, next of the four outer common preliminaries, number three, are the teachings on: Karma, Cause & Effect, and so there is also a quote by the Buddha, the Buddha spoke to the King, he said, King, when you time has come, (when your time to die has come), you will go on alone. None of your possessions, your wealth, your entourage, your close ones, your family and friends, none of them will follow you. So, what will happen, when you go on alone? Whatever karma you have accumulated, you will experience the result of whatever karma you have accumulated, be it virtues or non-virtues. If you have created virtue, then the result is, a corresponding result will ripen. If you have experienced non-virtue, you will have to experience the result of that. So, in general the teachings on Karma, are very vast, but basically in our mind, it happens in our life for example, when you are born in a certain place like this place, in a Western country. And let’s say you do something in your life, for example you do business, whatever you do in your life, it turns out successful, you are able to accumulate good wealth. Whatever you do, turns out successful, turns out well. But that is actually not just an accident, that does not just happen by chance. There is a precise cause that is leading to that. In the past you must have accumulated a cause of virtue, for this result to come about. For example, you must have helped others, benefitted other, practiced much virtue, and not much non-virtue.

And, as a result of having practiced virtue in the past, now in this life whatever you do, it will turn out successful, and you will now experience happiness in this life, things will turn out well. On the other hand, there are some people who are not so successful, no matter what they try to do. For example, they may make the greatest effort in having a business, and no matter how hard they try, it just doesn’t turn out successfully. Whatever they do, even if they do accumulate something, they may lose it quickly, and that is because in a previous life, they have engaged in non-virtuous actions. So whatever cause we have created in the past, we will follow the Karma of that, and it will mature, ripen into a corresponding result. So, if you have practiced virtue in the past, then a corresponding result of that, will ripen now. And then, if you have not practiced a lot of virtues in the past, then you will also follow the Principle of Karma, and the corresponding result will ripen. So this in brief is the teaching of karma.



THE SHORTCOMINGS OF SAMSARA


Then, the fourth of those four outer, common preliminaries is to Reflect on the Shortcomings of Samsara, (the suffering of samsara). There is a lot of suffering in The Six Realms of Samsara, and there is no need to even mention all of it, but if we just first think about the suffering of human beings, (the humans with the most excellent birth). Lord Milarepa said, that when I think of the sufferings of The Six Realms of Beings, (the Six Classes), I am frustrated in my heart. And so even nowadays, there are a lot of improvements in our living, our standard of liviing, our livelihoods, and that is really good. But still, there are more and more people, who are committing suicide, and actually our life is something that we consider as most precious, but people let it go, because they are unable to bear the suffering they experience. And so that for example, is the suffering we experience as people, as humans. So, these are the outer, common preliminary practices, commonly practiced in all the vehicles, in the Mahayana, the Vajrayana, the Theravadin traditions. The preliminaries are the beginning of the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra.

So, when you engage in this practice, really meditate on it well, really practice it, integrate it. Meaning that, you should not just recite something, but as you recite, really reflect on the meaning, (integrate the meaning into your mind). So as you recite, (really recite and reflect), and so on. From the point of practice, practicing means, that you have to taste the flavor, (experience the flavor of that practice). For example, to know what a certain type of food is, you have to taste it, and you know, this is sweet food, or any other food. So you need to taste, (you need to experience directly), the meaning of what is being said here, in the practice. So, you go through the text, and there are those words, and then you should reflect, (not just on the commentaries), the meaning of these words, and really experience them in your mind. So, as you practice, in brief, you have to make sure that you really have feeling and experience of the practice, (the meaning of that practice arises).



THE INNER PRELIMINARIES


And then next, the uncommon preliminaries, (the inner preliminaries (4)). They are uncommon, as they are not practiced in the Theravadin tradition, but they are practiced, mainly in the Mahahyana and Vajrayana traditions. Those four are, first 1. Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels, then secondly, (to purify obscurations and negativities), practice 2. Vajrasattva. Then, (to receive blessings), we practice 3. Guru Yoga. And then (to accumulate the two accumulations), [merit and wisdom], there is the 4. Mandala Offering. So, these are the four uncommon preliminaries, there is no need actually, to go into much depth here, at this point, but we move on to the ‘special preliminaries‘. The special preliminaries actually represent the beginning of the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra. […]

In the previous session, we spoke about the outer common preliminaries, and also gave an outline of the inner (uncommon) preliminaries. And now for the special preliminaries. The special preliminaries are the beginning, the first part of the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra. There are Songs of Realisation by Lord Jigten Sumgon, (on each of these five practices). And these Songs of Realisation are based on his own practice. So the first one, for the path of bodhicitta, (the first of the Five-fold Path), the song says, “If the rays of helping others has not been won, upon the stallion of love and compassion, the cheers of crowds of gods and humans will not come”. So persevere in the preliminaries, (or this primary intention). So here, the example of a stallion horse is given, a horse race, and an invitation to win the race. Here, in this example, the horse, the stallion represents love and compassion. And then, the horse is in a race in order to run through to the goal first, (to win that race). Winning the race, going there first, [of love and compassion] is an example of bodhicitta. And then, the running of that race, is an example of the altruism, wanting to help others. The race is helping others. (It is the race of helping others). And then, when the stallion, when the horse wins the race, when it reaches the goal first, (then it will be awarded, it will be cheered by the crowds of gods and humans). It will be awarded for winning the race. [As found in the Heart Sutra of Transcendental Wisdom]. And so here, this is like an example of bodhicitta in poetic form. Using a simple example, and putting it in poetic form to explain, or illustrate bodhicitta.

And so, who was the one that actually expressed the words of the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra? It was actually a teaching by Lord Jigten Sumgon’s Root Guru, Phagmo Drupa. Jigten Sumgon was a disciple of Phagmo Drupa. And so how did Phagmo Drupa explain bodhicitta? He said that, “So there is love, compassion and bodhicitta. Love is like the ground, like the soil. Then compassion is like the water. And so, if you have good soil, and good water. (You have the ground, and you have water coming together, then the tree of bodhicitta can grow). And if the tree of bodhicitta can grow well, then you accomplish the Three Kayas”. You accomplish the dharmakaya, for your own purpose, and the two rupakayas (sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya), for the purpose of others. [… break in recording…] … as a result of the Buddha’s Three Kayas.





Insertion of description of terms

[* Rupakayas – a network of physical forms in which a Buddha appears in order to benefit others. It includes both the subtle forms of a Corpus of Full Use (Sambhogakāya) and the grosser forms of a Corpus of Emanations (Nirmāṇakāya).

Overall, rūpa is the Buddhist concept of material form, including both the body and external matter.

More specifically, in the Pali Canonrūpa is contextualized in three significant frameworks:[3]

  • rūpa-khandha – “material forms,” one of the five aggregates (khandha) by which all phenomena can be categorized (see Fig. 1).
  • rūpa-āyatana – “visible objects,” the external sense objects of the eye, one of the six external sense bases (āyatana) by which the world is known (see Fig. 2).
  • nāma-rūpa – “name and form” or “mind and body,” which in the causal chain of dependent origination (paticca-samuppāda) arises from consciousness and leads to the arising of the sense bases.

In addition, more generally, rūpa is used to describe a statue, in which it is sometimes called Buddharupa.

In Buddhism, Rūpa is one of Skandha, it perceived by colors and images.



(Wikipedia)





So Bodhicitta is the seed of accomplishing the Three Kayas. In order to accomplish Buddhahood, bodhicitta is indispensable. And then the seed of bodhicitta, (in order for bodhicitta to truly arise), we have to cultivate love and compassion. So the seed of bodhicitta are love and compassion.



HOW WE CULTIVATE LOVE


So then, how can we cultivate love? How do we habituate, or cultivate love? So, normally when we make these prayers, in this prayer we say, “May all sentient beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness”. So wishing for their happiness is love. And we say, “May they all be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering,” that wish is compassion. And so this is how we generally explain, what is love, and what is compassion. So how did Lord Jigten Sumgon explain love? […] How did he describe, how we cultivate love? He says, that in order to cultivate love, you must cultivate this feeling of a mother that sees her baby, her infant. And so, therefore when you recite these lines for example, don’t just recite them, but really generate a feeling in your heart, in your mind. This feeling of love actually has to be felt. You have to experience it, you have to give rise to it, and increase this feeling. So how do we generate this feeling within ourselves? For example, when we think about that kind of love, that a mother has for her baby. When the baby was born, and then arrives on the mother’s lap, or her chest. When she holds her baby, there is a very special feeling of love, that she has for her baby. And then later when the baby smiles, or laughs for the first time, the mother is so happy about that, and she tells everyone, (her family, and her mother and father, she tells everyone), ‘My baby knows how to smile’, she is so happy about that. Then a few months later, then the baby may say its first few words, […] mother or father. And then when the baby says that, then she tells everyone, ‘Oh my baby can talk, he said his first word’, she is so happy about that. And why, because there is this feeling that comes up in her, it really comes from her core. A feeling that comes from her core, is a feeling of deep love, and really immeasurable joy, and fondness, that she feels for her child. And so this kind of love, that a mother has for her child, (her son for instance), that love is really the pure, true love. And it is slightly different to the love that we have for other people. We have love for other people, like for our friends, our partners, our parents, relatives, but that love is still somewhat different, because these people can still do something for us. And that is unlike having a baby in your lap. So there is nothing like this kind of love, and that is the kind of love that we need to train the mind in. So this is Lord Jigten’s example of cultivating love.

And so then, how do we actually cultivate such love? So then, first we have to recognise the essence, is the nature of love. So for example, we have now identified the love between a mother and her child. So this is the kind of love we must develop, and then recognise, (recognise this feeling). And then, once you have recognised that feeling, increase that feeling, so it becomes greater. So ultimately this feeling of love has to be increased, so it reaches all sentient beings, as limitless as space. And this kind of love, (this kind of feeling), is first difficult to cultivate immediately, just like that. So that is why we first come back to the feeling of love, that a mother has for her child, (between mother and child). Or, you can just think of someone in your life, that is most important, and the greatest connection of love. You can bring this person to mind, and then just look at this feeling, (this connection that you have), and the feeling of love that you have for each other, (recognise this feeling of tenderness of love, that you have for each other, experience that first). And then, once you have experienced it, increase it, so then it grows somewhat stronger. Then you can increase this love, you can expand it to reach more than just this person. So then you will expand it, you spread it out, to those close to you, and the people surrounding you, your town, your community, and then you expand that, to your whole town or city, your country, and eventually it pervades the entire world. So you expand, you spread it out in this way gradually. And then, if you find yourself in a place where it is not so strong, then again come back to this initial feeling of mother and child. And again, give rise to this feeling, so you feel it very strongly. And then again gradually expand, while you spread this feeling out again. And so this is the instruction by Lord Jigten Sumgon. Lord Jigten Sumgon said that, ‘If you practice this consistently, it will take you about a month or so, to really cultivate this feeling of love, (a month of this practice of love)’. So these teachings are contained in the Collected works of Lord Jigten Sumgon. So here he explains, how to cultivate love.



THE FIVE-FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA ~ 1. REFUGE & BODHICITTA (RELATIVE & ULTIMATE)


So, when we cultivate love in this way it expands to become an altruistic wish, a wish to benefit all sentient beings. So, as it increases further and further it becomes natural. There will be a natural wish to benefit others. And then bodhicitta just remains naturally. And so to explain bodhicitta [briefly], there is the ultimate and the relative bodhicitta. Ultimate bodhicitta is Mahamudra, and then relative bodhicitta is two-fold, there is the aspiring bodhicitta, and the engaging bodhicitta. So first, the aspiration bodhicitta. There is this prayer that we recite, “All mother sentient beings – especially those enemies who hate me, obstructors who harm me…” and so on. [Opening prayers: Altruistic Motivation]. So, first we bring to mind our enemies and the obstructors, and then we wish them, and all sentient beings to attain Enlightenment. So there is an aspiration, that aspires for the ultimate result. Therefore it is referred to as, a commitment towards the result because we wish for all beings to be Enlightened, (which is the result). And then the next prayer says, “So for this purpose I will engage in practice, 24 hours day, and night, until I attain Enlightenment”. So this is more related to the cause, of attaining Enlightenment, so for this, I will practice, in order to attain this. So this prayer is the commitment towards the cause. The first one is the commitment towards the result, and then, the commitment towards the cause. And so then this latter one belongs to the vast lineage of conduct, and that derives from the Buddha, and then… [the translator speaks with His Holiness]. So just to reference it, there are two lineages, so now this one, of the Vast Conduct, that derives from Buddha, and then Maitreya, and then it reached Lord Atisha, who then brought it to Tibet. And so the way it reached Tibet was Lord Atisha travelled to Indonesia, and there he met with the King Serlingpa, and from him he received this transmission of the mind generation of bodhicitta. And then Atisha then brought this lineage to Tibet, and propagated it there. So that is this Lineage of the Vast Conduct. And so in the Drikung Kagyu lineage, there is a special mind generation of bodhicitta, practices ceremony. And that follows this particular Lineage of the Vast Conduct. And in there, actually the two-fold commitment is being conferred. And so this is the commitment to the cause, and the commitment to the result. So it is a very unique practice of cultivating bodhicitta.



THE FIVE-FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA ~ 2. YIDAM DEITY


And now we come to the second [part] of the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra, and that is to practice the Yidam (Deity), or the Generation Stage. The Root Verse by Lord Jigten Sumgon says, “If the stronghold of the unchanging ground is not seized in one’s own body, the King of Deities, the court of Mother Dakinis, will not convene”. So persevere in the Yidam of the body. So to seize the kingdom, a king seizing the kingdom, (holding the kingdom, ruling the kingdom), is similar to practicing the Yidam Deity, with the unchanging ground strongly, (with stability). So, in other words, if you do not hold the kingdom with stability, then you will not be able to seize the kingdom. For example, the ministers, and the other subjects of the king, not all of them can be the king, (seize the kingdom). So similarly, if one is not able to practice the Yidam with stability, then the crowds of dakinis, and the entourage, the assembly will not come. Or, one will not gain the two siddhis, the common, and the supreme siddhis of the Vajrayana. And so therefore one should persevere in practicing the Yidam Deity.



WHY DO WE PRACTICE THE YIDAM DEITY?


So this word ‘Yidam’, (to explain this word ‘Yidam’ further). The full name is ‘Yi’ ‘dampa’. So ‘Yi’ is the mind, and ‘dampa’ is something that you commit to. And so, first of all, […] what is the purpose, what is the real goal or intention, why do we practice the Yidam Deity? It is said, the purpose of practicing the Yidam [Deity], (visualising the Yidam) – it is in order to turn away from the ordinary thoughts of our body, (of ourselves, and our own body), that is seeing us [ourselves] in ordinary form, of flesh, blood and bones. So that basis, [this basis] needs to be transformed. This ground needs to be transformed. And so normally, (when you are in a place, and you look around, wherever you look, whatever you see, triggers very strong feelings – the afflictive emotions, (either, attachment, or anger, or ignorance, jealousy, pride), – always arise very strongly, as we view our surroundings. And so that, is our ordinary perception. And this ordinary perception needs to be transformed into Divine Pride – Being the Deity, Buddha pride, (of really dwelling in the nature of the Deity). And so, when you are the Deity, then it is not possible for these afflictions to arise. It is not possible for a Buddha, or for a Deity, to develop attachment, or anger, or ignorance, jealousy, or pride. So the Vajrayana is a method, to transform this basis. The basis here, is the basis of affliction, (this mind of affliction), that is transformed. For example, in the sutra path, and so on, (in the sutra path), this basis of the afflictions is abandoned. But a special feature of the Vajrayana is that, in the Vajrayana the afflictions are not, do not, need to be abandoned. Without abandoning them, they are transformed. And so here, when you visualise the Deity, do not think of your body as an ordinary, and normal body. And so, that is actually the meaning of the first mantra, of Vajrayana practice. It begins with,

“OM SVA BHA VA SHUD DHO SAR VA DHAR MA SVA BHA WA SHUD DHO HANG”.

And so here, you first bring to mind the empty nature of your body. (So, do not see your body as ordinary, consisting of flesh, blood and bones). First, recognise the quality of the Deity, and make this your focal point, (your reference point). [Translator: Sorry I missed one thing, one line at the beginning here…] There are actually many Yidam Deities, so even though there are many different Yidam Deities that we can practice, for example there is Chenrezig, there is Manjushri, and Tara and so on. Among all these different Deities, you select one Deity, that you practice, and that you make your focal [point], that you focus on. So this is the one you can commit to, this is the meaning of ‘Yi-dampa’, or the Yidam.

So the Secret Mantra Vajrayana is a path to transform the basis of the afflictions, and a method is to practice the Yidam Deity. The practice of the Yidam Deity is two-fold, (there are two stages in the Yidam Deity practice), the ‘generation stage’, and the ‘completion stage’. In the generation stage, the visualization first begins with,

“OM SVA BHA VA SHUD DHO SAR VA DHAR MA SVA BHA WA SHUD DHO HANG” mantra.

And so, that is at the beginning of any generation stage [practice], or visualization, because first, you need to render your body, (your ordinary body) empty, without any reference point, (having no substance of flesh, blood or bones). And then, from within this emptiness, then arises gradually the Deity. (It is generated). So first, you have the variegated lotus flower, and then on top of that, you have the moon disc, and then next, you generate the sun disc. Then, next you generate the seed syllable of the Deity, for Tara that is the syllable “TAM”. And then from that seed syllable, light rays radiate, and then the light rays gather back, and then you arise as the Deity. So the TAM then transforms and you become the Deity. (So you are generated as the Deity). And then you appear with all the Deity’s different appearances. For example, the color and the implements (ornaments), the number of hands, legs, and eyes, and so on, the robe. So you are generated, you arise as the Deity, that is why it is called the ‘generation stage’. And not only do you see yourself as the Deity, but actually you see the entire outer surrounding, as the Deity by nature, (Divine by nature), and all sentient beings in the Six Realms [of Existence], are seen as the Yidam Deity. And then you recite the Deity’s mantra, that purifies obscurations.

And in the end, all of what was generated, (at the end you come to the completion stage, and), all of this dissolves again. It dissolves, or is the ‘dissolution stage’. So it all gathers, like a ‘gathering stage’. (So it gathers – first the outer). Again, from the seed syllable at the heart, light radiates, (here in the completion stage). And then, that causes the outer surrounding, (the outer world to dissolve). First, the outer surrounding dissolves into light. Then that dissolves into you, (as the Deity). And then your body dissolves, (your outer body dissolves into light), and dissolves to the inside, first into the long [Tara] mantra,

Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā

And then that, dissolves into its seed syllable, (the TAM syllable). And then the TAM syllable slowly dissolves, from bottom to top. And then on top, it then dissolves into this nada string on the very top, until it finally completely disappears. So gradually everything gathers. First there is the arising, (the generation [stage]), and in terms of the two accumulations, (the accumulation of merit and wisdom). Through practicing the ‘generation stage’, we accumulate merit, (the accumulation of merit). And then all the different aspects of the ‘completion stage‘ is the accumulation of wisdom. And in order to attain Enlightenment, we need both accumulations, of merit and wisdom. So this is the main point, the foundation, (the basis) of the ‘generation stage’.



THE STRONGHOLD OF THE UNCHANGING GROUND


And so here, in the ‘Song of Realisation of the Yidam,’ it says, (in the second line, in the Tibetan), “… if the stronghold of the unchanging ground is not seized in one’s own body”. So, “… if this is not seized in one’s own body,” that is a very important term here, (that we need to understand thoroughly), because, if this point is not understood thoroughly, then you may still have an appearance of practicing the Deities. Or, you may visualise the Deity, you may recite the mantra, but you will not actually accomplish the ultimate goal, (the purpose of [Yidam] Deity practice). And what is that purpose? It is to turn around the ordinary perception, that we have of our own body. And, if that is not turned back, then you cannot become liberated from the root of samsara, because… what is the root of samsara? It is self-grasping, and ignorance. And so, it is this self-grasping and ignorance itself, that needs to arise as the Deity. (It needs to be seen as naturally being the Deity). And so, therefore, you need to seize your own body as the Deity. So there is this stronghold, [and] with stability. If there is no stability gained in seeing your own body, (yourself as the Deity), then, (it may appear that you are practicing the Deity), but the purpose is not accomplished.

So, it should not just be an appearance of Deity practice, but should actually seize the power of the Deity, (which is the Deity’s, Enlightened body, speech, mind, the qualities, and activities). When I practice the Deity, then I am the Deity. I am confident in being that, so that is Divine Pride. If you have that, you have ‘seized the stronghold of being the Deity’. And, only if you seize that stronghold, or, if you hold that with stability, (this confidence), only then, can you transform this self-grasping from the basis, (so you can actually transform self-grasping). If not, if that is not held with stability, then there might be an appearance of practicing the Deity, (an outer resemblance of the Deity, or recitation, (mere recitation), of the Deity’s mantra, but that alone will not transform this on the basis. So this term here, is really significant, “… to seize that stronghold of your own body as the Deity”. And so, when that is seized, you see yourself as the Deity, but not just, even the outer appearance – all of your five aggregates, are the five Buddha families, (are the five Buddhas). And then, your sense powers, and objects, are the male, and the female Bodhisattvas, and so forth. The Enlightened body, speech, and mind, are actually within you. And so, when you practice the Deity, you need to develop such a Divine Pride of being the Deity.



FIVE-FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA ~ 3. GURU YOGA


Then, of the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra, the next “Song of Realisation” is about the practice of Guru Yoga. There are the “Four Kayas of the Guru”. It says, “If the sunlight of devotion has not dawned upon the Guru’s Four Kayas snow mountain, the flowing river of blessings will not issue forth, so persevere in this mind of devotion”. So the Guru’s Four Kayas, are the dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, svabhavikakaya, (and the Four Kayas are like a snow mountain). And in order for one to receive the stream of blessings, (for the stream of blessings of this snow mountain to emerge), you have to melt it with the sun of devotion, (faith and devotion). And that is because, all phenomena are interdependent. So this is the next section, the practice of Guru Yoga.



FIVE-FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA ~ 4. MAHAMUDRA


And next, the fourth part, is Mahamudra. It says in the Songs [of Realisation], “If the conceptual thoughts amass like clouds, have not subsided within the spacious sky of the nature of mind, the planets and stars of two-fold knowledge, will not shine. So persevere in this non-conceptual mind”. So here, “In the spacious sky of the nature of mind. (Or the mind itself). This mind itself, is the suchness of the mind, the essence, the nature of the mind. And the nature of the mind, is like space, like the sky. And so how is space, (or the space-like nature?) It is without any flaws, (it is flawless), and it possesses the qualities – it can not be destroyed, like a vajra, possessing the seven characteristics. So it is flawless, and it is like space, (like space being unchanging), it cannot be changed, and it can not be eliminated. So you cannot throw a knife, or a rock at it, or a hammer on it, and then destroy it, or break it in any way, (it is invincible, indestructible). It can not be eliminated, so nothing can destroy it. And then also, it is unobstructed, unhindered, (space can enter anything in the world, any building, anything). The basis is anywhere, it is unobstructed, (unhindered). So that is the nature of mind, (the space-like nature of the mind, or the suchness of the mind). And so, in order to realise this space like nature of the mind, the mind needs to be uninterrupted by ordinary thoughts (discursive thinking). So, first one must develop a stable state, of calm-abiding or shamatha. And then once that is achieved, then one may gain special insight into the nature of mind. One may gain the higher mind, (the nature of mind). And when that is gained, one attains Enlightenment. One’s mind then becomes the Buddha’s primordial wisdom.



FIVE-FOLD PATH OF MAHAMUDRA ~ 5. DEDICATION



Then the Fifth of the Five-Fold Path [of Mahamudra] is Dedication. And the song says, “If the wish-granting gem of the two provisions has not been polished by prayers of aspiration, the fruits of our wishes, and desires will not come. So persevere in this final dedication”. So we need to accumulate merit and wisdom. And then this accumulation of merit (whatever we have accumulated, whatever we have practiced) needs to be sealed by dedication. If it is not sealed by dedication, it is just like pouring a drop of water on a plate. If you pour a drop of water on a plate, it will very quickly disappear. It will evaporate very quickly. But if you pour this drop of water into the ocean, then it will remain there, with the ocean, for as long as the ocean remains. So, when you seal your virtues with the proper dedication, the Aspiration Prayer, then you seal it, so it remains until you attain Enlightenment. Until attaining Enlightenment, it will not be lost. So, therefore it is essential to persevere in “Dedication Prayer”. And so this then completes the Instructions on the Five-Fold Path of Mahamudra.




[The teachings concluded with the closing prayers and dedications].





Immeasurable thanks to His Holiness Kyabgon Chetsang for bestowing these most precious teachings. May the blessings be endless!



[Any errors in the writing are the transcriber’s own].