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The Serkhangma “Golden Temple Prayer” Practice & Teachings

with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche


‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Teachings held on Sa‌‌‌‌‌‌‌tu‌‌‌‌‌r‌‌d‌‌‌‌‌a‌‌y August 5th & S‌‌‌‌‌‌‌un‌‌‌‌‌d‌‌a‌‌‌‌‌‌y August 6th‌ 2023

(Links to the audio recordings, and transcription of the teachings can be found below).



“The Seven Branches of Mantrayana called “The Golden Temple” (Serkhangma) is a very special prayer in the Drikung Kagyu lineage.

The Serkhangma (Golden Temple) Prayer states, “In all my lives, may I never be separated from the authentic Lama, and enjoy the glories of the Dharma. By completely perfecting the qualities of bhumis and paths, may I swiftly attain the state of Vajradhara.” 

This special prayer that was written by the precious Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon at the Ser-Khang temple in the upper floor of Drikung Thil Monastery.


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The Serkhangma “Golden Temple Prayer” Practice & Teachings with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche


Transcription: Day 1 & 2 (Transcribed as spoken with little editing)

Transcript: All rights reserved (copyright) to Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche






Day 1.

[Opening prayers]

Everyone has the sadhana text, Serkhangma. […] You can download [here].

[Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche makes prayers].

Good morning, good afternoon everyone. So today I’m going to share the teaching that is called “The Seven Branches of the Mantra that are called Serkhangma”. […] We have many different Seven Branch prayers, in the sutra traditions. This one, is the Seven Branch Prayer of the Vajrayana tradition. I heard, that this is the first, Seven Branch Prayer in the Vajrayana tradition.

This was composed by Jigden Sumgon in Ser-Khang temple – the prayer’s name. Serkhangma is, “The Golden Temple”.


Mahamudra with Guru Yoga

[p.1] In this teaching, Vajrayana Seven Branch practice, the main point is – that it is all Mahamudra teaching, with the Guru Yoga together. Outer level Guru Yoga with the Seven Branches, and Inner level Guru Yoga with the Seven Branches.

So outer level – we make supplications to the guru, who has realised Mahamudra. Inner level – all is supplication to our own true nature. Also praise to [our own inner nature, the guru nature], prostrating, confessing. All this, offering, everything comes from the inner level offering to our own true nature. So, there are two different levels, that this text has. Now I go to each verse, one by one.




Verse 1


“I gaze upon the supreme self-arising Lama seated on the immutable, spontaneously established throne”.



Outer level

“I gaze upon the supreme self-arising Lama”. Outer level we watch, look to, those who are Realisers of the teaching, and who share the true nature, [our precious gurus]. And then look to that teacher, and arise strong devotion and blessing from that teacher.


Inner level 

But inner level here is, “I gaze upon the supreme self-arising Lama,” – is our own nature mind. [This] is called “self-arising Lama, seated on the immutable, spontaneously established throne”. So that mind nature, rigpa, is “spontaneously established throne”. It is always there. Never lost.


Outer and Inner together

So “throne”, outer level, the guru is sitting on the throne. But in this case, the inner level – the main point is, “the self-arising” nature, rigpa is always there, never lost. The guru has realised that throne.



“Here in the mandala of primordial pure mind”.

Outer level mandala

So then outer level – the mandala, (there are different levels of outer mandala). The Sangha, right now, we are in the Zoom. In this Zoom room, is called one mandala. So it doesn’t matter where we are, we all become one mandala.

Inner level mandala

In here, the mandala means our own true nature, rigpa. So “here in the mandala of primordial pure mind”. So that is mandala.
 

“as it is in the supreme palace of all Victorious Ones of the three-times”.

So, in that primordial pure mind, “is as it is, in the supreme palace of all Victorious Ones of the three-times”, means it is the mandala’s true nature… the primordial rigpa, and always – be in the dharmadhatu state, so not going beyond that [not beyond that]. Always be in the nondual, dharmata state, that is called “the supreme palace of all Victorious Ones of the three-times”.

This first verse, has the same, as is in the Supplication to Tara [daily prayer]. The self-arising nature of mind, Buddha mind. And there, also here, is that self-arising, (that nature of rigpa), that mind is the true guru. And that true guru is always there, never lost. And that is called, always pure, that is the mandala. And that is, always be – in, that nondual state. So that is the Absolute Truth Guru [not *absolutism, but the Realisation of the selflessness of all phenomena, the emptiness of dependent origination].

And we have the Absolute truth guru, but we are not knowing that right now. We are on the relative level. So that is the reason we have to do supplication to the guru. […] We need outer level guru. So outer level guru is, who has this quality. And then we look to the guru, and [make] supplications. So we say, “Okay you have this Realisation Mahamudra”, so then, “I gaze upon the supreme…”, (is looking to the guru). [An inner looking].


Following on both levels

When Jigden Sumgon composed this text, he followed both levels. His guru is Phagmo Drupa. “I gaze upon the supreme self-arisen Lama,…” could be Phagmo Drupa – all his gurus. Then, “seated on the immutable throne”. Phagmo Drupa is visualised on the throne. So, “spontaneously established throne” and “here in the mandala of primordially pure-mind,” means, all Phagmo Drupa’s Sangha. The disciples, [those who follow Phagmo Drupa] are one mandala.

Then, “as it is, in the supreme palace of all Victorious Ones of the three-times”. Is the place in the temple or the monastery where Phagmo Drupa resides [supreme palace]. So that is the outer level supplication to the guru. Think about guru, and supplicating guru, means [on the] outer level – those who have this Realisation of Mahamudra.

The inner level, we already shared, “I gaze upon the supreme, self-arisen Lama”, is talking about our own nature, rigpa. Our own true guru – is our own nature, rigpa. Is our own true guru. So, the point is, when we read this prayer, “I gaze upon the supreme self-arisen Lama” – we have to look directly at our own true nature, rigpa. So that means, we have to look to our own true nature rigpa. “… self-arisen Lama seated on the immutable spontaneously established throne”. “…immutable”, so it is always there.


The mandala of primordially pure-mind

Then, “… here in the mandala of primordially pure-mind”. So then, we really see our true nature rigpa. The true nature rigpa is a pure mind. So that is Absolute Truth guru. “…in the supreme palace of the Victorious Ones”. So that is where all the Buddhas come from. It is the source. It is knowing our own nature rigpa. Looking at our own nature of mind, and being in that state. Recognise that is the Absolute Truth guru. So, that is where “…all the Victorious Ones,” come from. “…all Victorious Ones of the three-times”.

So in the Serkhangma, the text is very profound. When we chant each prayer, you really cultivate this – then each verse helps you with going into, our own true nature, rigpa. Our own true nature rigpa is our own true guru. So, recognise that. And then, at the same time also, we have to visualise outer level guru. Outer level guru, we visualise Jigden Sumgon and meditate.

“I gaze upon the supreme, self-arisen Lama, seated on the immutable, spontaneously established throne”. Visualise Jigden Sumgon’s, “spontaneously established throne,” in front of us – in the mind. Then, “…here in the mandala of primordially pure-mind” – so as long as we visualise guru, guru appears to our own mind. So, we have become part of guru’s mandala.

So, the real meaning, […] “… as it is, in the supreme palace of all Victorious Ones of the three-times,” is – that is the true palace. Past Buddhas, future Buddhas, present Buddhas – be in that, all come from [that]. Their home is dharmadhatu state. Nondual dharmadhatu, is all the Buddhas of the three times, true home [nature of true reality]. So also, we are going into our own true nature home – that is “… in the supreme palace of all Victorious Ones of the three-times”.

It is, to really introduce, our nature of rigpa, because – directly, you have to go into nature of rigpa. “I gaze upon the supreme, self-arisen Lama seated on the immutable, spontaneously established throne…” Is going directly into, looking at our nature of rigpa, and meditate. It is a very powerful practice. So that is the first verse.



Verse 2


“I gaze upon the supreme Lama, who is meaningful to behold”.

Outer level

Jigden Sumgon, when he composed this text, and he visualised, and was thinking, I think, about his guru, Phagmo Drupa. So that is why he says, “I gaze upon the supreme Lama”. Supreme means, who has this nondual Realisation. “… who is meaningful to behold,” means, you visualise guru, and receiving true blessing from the guru. So then in our case here, outer level, we can, “I gaze upon the supreme Lama,” is like our guru, then Jigden Sumgon… Recognise who has Realised and, who has the quality of immeasurable love, compassion. So that teacher we visualise.

And then, “… who is meaningful to behold” means, really meaningful – receiving the blessings, very powerful. Use that, and all our negative emotions, thoughts, naturally release. We visualise, think about guru, and receiving blessing – is also joyful, called bliss. So that is why it “is meaningful to behold”. Doing that, is the meaningful way.

Then, inner level, we already shared, “I gazed upon the supreme Lama,” is we are looking at our own nature of rigpa, and meditate. Then, that is the “meaningful to behold”. It means, as long as you meditate Mahamudra, then that is meaningful, powerful – that is more meaningful than any other worldly activities. Then…

“The instant I behold that great bliss of Dharmadhatu,”

So we visualise guru, outer level, [and] receiving [this] blessing. […] “The instant I behold that great bliss of Dharmadhatu,” – as long as our mind is into the nature of rigpa or Mahamudra state, dharmadhatu.

“I cross the vast ocean of samsara and arrive at the blissful pure ground”.

Outer level, we visualise guru – receiving blessing and meditating. Visualise, – and all the thoughts, emotions, samsara – all the impure perception is naturally released. So that moment, we also “cross the ocean of samsara”. Then “… arrive at the blissful pure ground,” means we arrive at pure vision – pure perception arises. So we can, [arrive, in] even a moment of meditation practice. When we visualise guru, and [make] supplications, meditating on the form of the guru, visualising – so then all the samsara, our thoughts, emotions, all impure perception, is naturally released. So that moment, we have pure perception – pure perception arises and that is, “the blissful pure ground”.

Realising nondual nature of mind

And then absolute level, inner level – when we meditate Mahamudra, as long as we go into our own nondual, nature mind, nature of rigpa states, then we “cross the vast ocean of samsara”. We are free from samsara. So free from samsara here: temporarily free from samsara, and permanently free from samsara also. When we meditate Mahamudra, if our mind is free from all conceptual thoughts, then that moment, we are free from samsara temporarily. Then permanently – is [when] we have fully Realised Mahamudra, then [we] never go back to arising all the conceptual thoughts. So, we can say, we permanently, “cross the vast ocean of samsara”. And then, “… arrive at the blissful pure ground”. The Buddhahood, the blissful pure ground, is the nondual dharmadhatu states.

So, the first verse, second verse talks about guru – is Mahamudra. As long as we have realised that, we can free [ourselves] from samsara and arrive at the enlightenment states. So that is “the blissful pure ground”. Then, of course this prayer is dependent, on how we use it [in] practice. Someone who uses this prayer for meditation, cultivates [the practice]. Then, we read very slowly. You just read one verse or one sentence that really helps your mind be in the nature of mind, nature of rigpa states.


Direct method practice

So that is why in this Serkhangma, even if you don’t read the whole thing, all the prayers, you just read, “I gaze upon the supreme, self-arisen Lama, seated on the immutable, spontaneously established throne, here in the mandala of primordially pure-mind,” that is [it]. Directly you go into your own nature of rigpa, and true guru. And we can meditate in that, so it is very powerful – that sentence is very powerful. As long as you do that, then [there is] all the benefit [of that]. See the second verse – “… cross the vast ocean of samsara and arrive at the blissful pure ground”. Then we go to the third verse.



Verse 3

“With the ‘eye of wisdom,’ I gaze unwaveringly upon the Lama, the victorious Hero in the battle. Just by remembering that refuge, all afflicting emotions, thoughts, and the hordes of maras are defeated”.

So, with the ‘eye of wisdom’. Using wisdom. “I gaze…,” (not the ordinary eye, looking to the guru), with the ‘eye of wisdom’, – using our meditation. Mind is free from the conceptual thoughts. Visualising the guru, then that means – we are seeing our guru through our wisdom eye, (not this ordinary eye). Then we meditate – going into our own nature, rigpa. Then, we are really seeing the guru – true guru. So, that is why [it says], with the ‘eye of wisdom’ – [it] is not [the] ordinary eye seeing. ‘Eye of wisdom’, is free from the conceptual thoughts.

Then, “I gaze unwaveringly upon the Lama,” means we visualise (outer level), Jigden Sumgon or Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa Lotsawa, Milarepa. Any of these gurus. Or, right now, our living gurus – who have Realised Mahamudra. And who has true blessing – guru’s lineage. And who has the absolute qualities – immeasurable love, compassion [joy and equanimity]. Who has [these]. So, we are visualising that guru – “I gaze unwaveringly upon the Lama”.


Remember the guru

“The victorious Hero in battle”. So then that – [visualising that guru], is really destroying our negative emotions. So then, we can become “the victorious Hero in battle. Just by remembering that refuge…” Just remember the guru. And meditate guru. And then, all the thoughts, the emotions, negative conception, is just naturally released.

So that’s why, here it mentions, “the victorious Hero”. [It] means [that], we are “the victorious Hero,” – overcoming our own emotions. So, “Just by remembering that refuge,” – [the] guru. “All afflicting emotions, thoughts, and the hordes of maras are defeated”. So all the negative emotion is defeated. Purified.


Devotion to the guru

The main point is, […] when we visualise, we must have devotion [to the guru]. So why Jigden Sumgon composed this text – was because he has very strong devotion to his guru [Phagmo Drupa]. So, Phagmo Drupa has many, many disciples. The history talks about Phagmo Drupa [having] lots of disciples, many high Realisers. Some students were with him many, many years, because Jigden Sumgon has supreme devotion to the guru – Jigden Sumgon is the lineage holder.  

So, when Jigden Sumgon composed this text, he is thinking about Phagmo Drupa. Phagmo Drupa realised his guru’s mind, yidam deities mind. Jigden Sumgon recognises, his own mind is inseparable [with his guru’s mind]. It is Mahamudra – within the same state. So, Jigden Sumgon recognises his guru’s, inner nature, (the guru’s nature) – and his nature of mind, [to be] inseparable, within the Mahamudra states.


Power of Realised Guru

This has two different levels for us to understand. We visualise guru, all the thoughts and emotions naturally release, as long as we have devotion, – that is why we also visualise the yidam deity, visualise guru. So, that really helps. All the impure perception is cut. The causes of samsara, – all is cut through. We call this, (levels in Tibetan teaching), trekchö [chöd] – cut through.

So, you visualise the yidam deity, we visualise guru, – that moment, already all thoughts and emotions are cut. All impure perception is cut, that moment there. So, that visualised object must have special quality, Yidam deities form or guru’s form. The guru here, is who has Realised, guru, not just all the teachers.


Cut through samsara

Guru – we have to think who has Realised, who has this quality. Then, that teacher, bring to your mind, and at that moment (this) – all our negative emotions, thoughts, everything is cut there. [In] that moment, [there] also arises, very strong devotion, and connection to the guru, and [of] receiving blessing. […] Feeling very blessed with joy, connection with the teaching and believe the dharma [recognise]. We gain certainty – experience comes from our own mind.

So, visualise guru – and devotion arises, and bliss, joy. Then [at] that time, you have certainty. You recognise, it is power of the guru, power of the dharma. So that devotion, is then called ‘irreversible devotion’ arising. Through our own experience, – it is very powerful. So that [devotion], Jigden Sumgon has. He only thinks about his guru, then all this negative conception, emotion, is defeated – that moment. Also, we can say, that moment, or when he thinks about guru – all the thoughts, “… and the hordes of maras are defeated”.


Realising the guru mind

So [of] that, he, [Jigden Sumgon] has his own experience – that is why he composed this [text] here. This teaching, all comes from the guru’s experience. So now, we also visualise guru, and think about that guru, and arise devotion. The feeling of bliss comes, and then certainty. [Through] devotion, belief comes, arising from our mind. Then, all the thoughts, negative emotions, naturally release. So that is the outer level, – we are visualising the guru.

Then, inner level is, guru’s mind, our own mind – [we] recognise [as being] inseparable. So that is really, “The eye of wisdom”. Seeing our own nature [and] guru’s nature, is inseparable. So that is called, Absolute Truth level. Then, when we go into that nature rigpa, our mind is inseparable [with] guru’s mind. “Just by remembering that refuge”, that is Absolute Truth refuge. We remember that, [then], “All the afflicting emotions, thoughts, and the hordes of maras are defeated”. It is all purified, and that is why we have to follow on two different levels, (when thinking about guru). Outer level and inner level.


Guru Yoga (outer and inner level)

Outer level is for beginners, who don’t know the Mahamudra meditation, they can use outer level. But [for those] who know how to meditate Mahamudra, [then], we have to always follow by the first step, [which] is outer level guru. Visualising, and then receiving blessings. Then, we can go into the nature of rigpa Absolute Truth guru. This is when, we are going to meditate, or when we are practicing – always start from the outer level, then going into the inner level.

So that is why, when you sit down, cross-legged, and you are going to meditate, just visualise, and first think about our outer level guru. Visualise, then connect with that, meditate. Then [when] your mind goes into the nature of rigpa, in that moment, the guru’s mind and our mind is inseparable, joined together. So that realisation Jigden Sumgon has. He said, “I am the yogi. I realised my yidam, my guru and my own mind [to be] inseparable”. So, when he composed this text, he was using all this, together. So here, guru can be followed by yidam deity also. Yidam deity, guru and our own mind is joined together inseparably. So that is the Absolute level, joined together.



Verse 4



Supplication to the guru

Then, his supplication to the guru, “In your body…”. On the outer level, “in your body”, we think Jigden Sumgon is talking about Phagmo Drukpa. “In your body, the Victorious Ones of the three-times”. He is saying, all the Buddhas are within your body. “… of the three-times of all ten directions appear together with their offspring. With joy, I gaze upon your body adorned with all the major and minor marks, seated on the throne of fearlessness, lotus, sun and moon”. So [here], the point is, Jidgen Sumgon said, I visualise guru, and when I visualise guru, I realised all the Buddhas of the three-times are within the guru’s body. “… seated on the throne of fearlessness, lotus, sun, and moon”.

So then, [on the] inner level, [there] is a different understanding here. “In your body”, is, the body of “… the Victorious ones of the three-times,” – all the Buddha bodies. “Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. Form is none other than emptiness. Emptiness in none other than form”. So, usually we chant the Heart Sutra -recognise all forms are emptiness. So that is the Buddha’s form. It is called dharmakaya form.


The Buddhas form

“Victorious Ones of the three-times of all ten directions appear together with their offspring”. Means all the Buddhas in the ten directions, everything is inseparable within that state. Also, we can say, in the dharmakaya form, inseparable with the sambhogakaya form, inseparable with the nirmanakaya form. So, “With joy, I gaze upon your body adorned with all the major and minor marks,” [is nirmanakaya form].

The first sentence is dharmakaya, [“In your body”…]. The second [part], “… of all ten directions appear together with their offspring,” is sambhogakaya [form]. Then, “With joy I gaze upon your body,” this all is nirmanakaya form. The main point is, Jigden Sumgon is seeing his guru’s body is dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, inseparably. Then, inner level, we are looking into our own nature rigpa, absolute truth guru. All the enlightened beings are inseparable within that state, not separate.


Nondual state

“With joy, I gaze upon your body,” [here] – looking into that nature of rigpa, be in that nature of rigpa state. Then, “… adorned with all the major and minor marks,” – all the enlightened qualities are inseparable within that state. “… seated on the throne of fearlessness”. In that state we are fearless – free from all fears, free from all the conceptions. And, “lotus, sun, and moon” – is representative of, free from all dualistic concepts. It is nondual state. So that is the Absolute Truth level, we have to know – recognise [realise that].

Then here, “In your body, the Victorious Ones of the three-times,” – as long as you have really strong devotion to your guru, (you really see guru has all these qualities), all the Buddhas are inseparable within that guru’s form body. So, then you really see, guru has all this. “With joy, I gaze upon your body”. As long as you are looking to the guru, you feel the guru has, “all the major and minor marks”. This means all the enlightened qualities, inner qualities. Not only the outer level, major and minor marks, but you really see the guru has Absolute Truth enlightened qualities.


The guru’s form

And that is the reason, with some Realisers, gurus, when we see that [quality], we truly believe in dharma. [We] truly believe in the yidam deities. The reason is, all dharma is with the guru’s form. And all the yidam deities are inseparable with the guru’s form. So that is why, who has really practiced, realised – all the enlightened quality is arising from inside the mind. As long as we see that kind of person, we naturally believe all the dharma, and practice.

So that power is arising from the guru, [it] means everything is inseparable with the guru. And you really want to practice. We really want to be part of that, so that is, “I gaze upon your body adorned with all the major and minor marks”. Happy to be with that. Happy to receive teaching. Happy to practice. So that’s the quality, the blessings that come from the guru. So in this case, my understanding is, with these high level Realisers, gurus, who have [accomplished], Absolute [Truth] practice of yidam deity, who have achieved [practice of realising] guru’s [mind] – when we see them, then the Buddha dharma, everything is within that guru’s form.


The true dharma

We have no choice [we believe, beyond doubt], we believe that, because of the power of that practice. So that is the true dharma, to be with the guru’s body, in there. We are sharing other teaching, and talk conceptually about all of this, educating [ourselves] and analysing [with the teaching]. It is important, but at another level, that state, is not really, [the] true dharma. The true dharma is not in that state, on the conceptual level.

There are many high-level Realisers, gurus who are alive right now. So, when we see them, and be with them, and receive teaching from them, there is no choice, therein certainty arises, devotion and belief. So that is the power of the gurus blessing. And they have that quality. So that is true dharma.

The true dharma is not in the temple. Not in the texts. Not in the outer level – in the statues or the other [holy] objects. The true dharma is within the guru’s form body and in the mind. So that is arising from the guru’s blessing. Without guru’s blessing, we don’t get into that level [realise], the quality, or believe. So long as you have trust, belief arising from your mind, that means we are receiving guru’s blessing.


Absolute Truth dharma

So right now, I am taking about Absolute Truth dharma. Relative level, is outer level, and there are many different ways [of practice]. True dharma is only the guru’s form body. When you see that, it represents everything. [It is] representative of yidam deity, representative of dharma, representative of Sangha, representative of Buddha. Everything is inseparable there. This [is the meaning of], “With joy, I gaze upon your body adorned with all the major and minor marks, seated on the throne of fearlessness, lotus, sun and moon”. So now we go to the next verse.




Verse 5

“Three Kayas, nature of mind – Vajradhara, you are inseparable from great bliss. Bowing down to you with innumerable bodies like cloud banks, yearning with a full voice, I prostrate and go for refuge”.


So now, here, we are taking refuge to the guru. Then here, the “Three Kayas”, we have already talked about, dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya – “Three Kayas, nature of mind”. The “Three Kayas” are inseparable with our nature of mind. So long as we realise our own nature of mind, that is called Vajradhara. Vajradhara is actually dharmakaya, dharmakaya is the nature of rigpa. So here, inner level, the “Three Kayas,” is the nature of rigpa.

Vajradhara means, those who have realised the nature of rigpa – that is Vajradhara, that is why the guru is called Vajradhara. [The name] Buddha Vajradhara, is sometimes also used, to refer to a specific Buddha. The guru, is sometimes called Vajradhara, – because it is recognised, that guru has realised the nature of rigpa. “… inseparable from great bliss,” [the Three Kayas]. Realised the nature of rigpa, nature of mind.


Buddha Vajradhara

Buddha Vajradhara, sometimes we call Buddha Vajradhara Tilopa, Buddha Vajradhara Naropa, Vajradhara Marpa Lotsawa, Vajradhara Milarepa, Vajradhara Gampopa. Here Jigden Sumgon mentioned all the gurus, [along] with his teacher Vajradhara Phagmo Drupa. “… you are inseparable from great bliss,” means that [the guru is] Vajradhara Buddha. “… inseparable from great bliss,” inseparable with the nature of rigpa state, nature of mind state. In that nature, (the nondual state), that is true bliss.

So that is not the relative bliss. It is what is called, Absolute Truth bliss. It is arising from recognising Mahamudra, true nature of rigpa. In that state we are inseparable with the yidam deity, inseparable with Buddha Vajradhara. Not outer level. Relatively, there is a big difference between samsaric beings, [beings trapped in the delusion of samsara] and gurus [Realised]. So that is the reason we pay homage to the gurus, [pay] respect to the gurus. [It helps to develop our own awareness/ inner recognition of the true nature of mind]. There is a big difference, in the relative level state, because we can not be the same as the gurus [when, we have not realised the nondual state].


Beyond the conceptual mind

So our mind [when unrealised] is a conceptual mind, [mundane] ordinary mind. Guru’s mind is free from concepts – Buddha Vajradhara mind. There is a big difference in those states, that is why we [make] offerings to guru, [offer] praise to the gurus, [offer] what is pleasing. [Symbolic of our intentions, and making efforts, to recognise the true nature in practice]. [Offer] respect and bow down to the guru. [The guru represents the true nature of mind. It signifies our willingness to let go of ordinary mundane concepts and delusions and embrace the arising of wisdom awareness of the nondual state].  

So, in this, Absolute Truth, Mahamudra states, the gurus, our mind, is inseparable (inseparable in that state) – that is the true joy and bliss, (great bliss). “Bowing down to you with innumerable bodies like cloud banks”. On the outer level (relative level), Jigden Sumgon directly recognises the guru has realised the Buddha Vajradhara – is Mahamudra. The guru is inseparable with all enlightened beings.


Calling the guru through devotion

“… you are inseparable from great bliss”. “Bowing down to you…”, Jigden Sumgon is visualising [offering, prostrating] innumerable bodies. [Here] we visualise our bodies, multiplied, [many times], “with innumerable bodies like cloud banks”. Then, “… yearning with a full voice,” means calling the guru, and through our devotion, supplicating the guru. Then, body, speech and mind prostrates, and [we] go for refuge. [We] take refuge to guru, [make] prostration to guru. So, that is outer level, but then inner level, Absolute Truth level – guru’s mind and our mind is inseparable.

“[Bowing down to you] with innumerable bodies like cloud banks,” actually we are bowing down to our own nature of rigpa. So, we recognise our nature of rigpa is inseparable with the guru, yidam deity, and true bliss arises [from this union]. Then, “yearning with a full voice,” [for] recognising the nature of rigpa, chanting [the] praise, and with your body, [make] prostrations, meditate, [offering] multiple bodies, and chant the prayers. So, – “I prostrate and go for refuge”.


Refuge to our own nature

We can meditate, mind in the nondual state. First, think about offering multiple bodies and then [meditate mind, in the nondual state], go into the nature of rigpa. [Make] prostration, and then as long as your mind is in the nature of rigpa, that is called, “refuge to our own nature” or, “prostration to our own nature”. So that is prostration and taking refuge to the guru. Then the next verse.



Verse 6

“Your body, the nature of precious Bodhicitta,”


So, the guru’s form is the embodiment of bodhicitta. “Your body, the nature of precious bodhicitta”. “The nature of precious bodhicitta,” is called Absolute Truth bodhicitta. So guru’s form is Absolute Truth bodhicitta. “… is inseparable from all the Victorious Ones of the three-times”. Guru is inseparable with past Buddhas, present Buddhas, future Buddhas of the three-times. “Thus, all Buddha-fields are permeated by your body”. Guru’s form has all this, – the Enlightened beings’ qualities. [… and here, it is recognising that], we have our own [enlightened] quality, at some level, and when this arises – then we recognise guru has these qualities.

So otherwise, we are thinking about, what we are seeing – when our eye is looking at the guru’s ordinary form body, [outer level]. It is very hard to find any [particular] place, [where the Enlightened qualities of guru’s body] are located. Jigden Sumgon mentioned, – this seeing, is not this ordinary eye seeing. [It is] wisdom eye seeing. So, that means, we also must have some level of quality, to recognise guru has these qualities. And, Jigden Sumgon, he has realised, – his mind and his guru’s mind is inseparable. He has Realisation.


Within guru’s body

So then, he can see his guru has all the Enlightened qualities, “… inseparable from all the Victorious Ones of the three-times”. Past Buddhas, present Buddhas, future Buddhas, and also Buddha-fields, all the Buddhas Pure lands. “Thus, all Buddha-fields are permeated by your body,” means everything is within guru’s form body. So outer level, relative level it is very hard to see this – with the ordinary eye looking to the guru. How can all the Buddha fields be guru’s body? You cannot find [there], – because guru’s form body, when you are looking with the ordinary eyes – is seeing the body is maybe […5 feet or so]. In [5 feet] how can all the Pure lands be within the guru’s body? And, how can guru be with all the Enlightened beings there? So, very hard to see that, [it is not with] your ordinary, conceptual mind.

So the main point is, [Jigden Sumgon] is not talking about outer level (relative level), looking to guru’s body with [the] ordinary eye, [imagining then], where are all these Buddha-fields, Pure lands in the body, in guru’s form? Jigden Sumgon has Realised, and so he is seeing Phagmo Drupa his guru has all this Enlightened [quality], everything within his body. This means, – it is like, we have so many inner levels, winds, nadas, chakras [and so forth] and all this right now is impure. [When] impure – at that time, we do not have the ability to understand this quality. Until there is the inner ripening, of our chakras, winds, nadas, channels – until that [time], we don’t have the ability to see that.  


Buddha fields within the guru’s body

Actually, inner level – we have so many different levels of winds, nadas, chakras […]. So all this, – each different level chakra, has these Buddha-fields. And Jigden Sumgon [through his Realisation], is really seeing, his guru has all these Buddha-fields within his body. So that is why, “Thus, all Buddha-fields are permeated by your body, and within your body, all Buddha-fields appear”. So, everything appears from the guru’s [enlightened] form body, [in the nature of rigpa].

In this level also, Milarepa sees Marpa Lotsawa is Buddha Vajradhara, and then Milarepa is receiving instruction, teaching and also empowerment from Marpa Lotsawa. So, Marpa Lotsawa can transform his body to Buddha Vajradhara’s form. And he can show all the Buddha-fields, Pure lands. So Milarepa has the ability to see that. He has pure perception. Other disciples don’t have the ability to see that. So, that means, when students have that quality, they can really see guru has all this ability, Enlightened qualities – [that the] Buddha-fields and Pure lands are within the guru’s form body.


Inseparable with the guru’s form body

Many Realisers are alive now also, and when we see those teachers, and connect with them, you really recognise that all the dharma, everything – Buddha, Dharma, Sangha is part of their body inseparably. So that is also like, on the outer level, there are [spiritual] sons, we feel that. In this case Jigden Sumgon has truly Realised, that is why he has the ability to recognise, that the guru’s form is inseparable with all Enlightened beings, and qualities.

And then guru’s form is inseparable with all the Pure lands, within that state. So that is why, all the Buddhas are [referred to, as being] within us. All the Pure lands are within oneself, not somewhere else. Right now, we don’t feel that, we don’t recognise that, due to obstacles. This impure karmic imprint is very strong, and the pure chakras are not ripening, and so all the Buddha-fields are invisible to us, and we don’t have the ability to see that, or recognise that, right now.  


Purification of body, speech and mind karma/(action)

So, think about a house, a house has different floors. So, we are on the first floor, then we don’t see the [other floors], upper floor, or the second floor or third floor, [and so on]. It is not possible, it is blocked, so long as we are on the first floor, inside the room. Then, we don’t have the ability to see the other floors, (upper floors – second, third, fourth, fifth floors [and so forth]). So the building has everything, but now we are on the first floor, we don’t see the upper floors.

So that is an outer level example, but truly the Buddha-fields, [and all] Enlightened beings are inseparable within us. All this, everything is [inseparable] within us, but it is invisible right now, because of obstacles, and we don’t recognise that. So that is why Jigden Sumgon, as he has this [Enlightened] quality, is also seeing guru has these qualities. “Thus, all Buddha-fields are permeated by your body, and within your body, all Buddha-fields appear. I bow down to the Glorious One”.


Guru is Enlightened body

So, guru is actually all, who have this Enlightened quality. So, we bow down to guru means, [your body], “… inseparable from the Victorious Ones,” [Buddhas]. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are inseparable. The Buddha-fields are all inseparable within the guru’s body, – that is called the guru. “… all Buddha-fields appear,” means not invisible, but through the Enlightened qualities arising, [is seen clearly]. Then, “I bow down to the Glorious One,” – guru. So, that is praise to the guru’s body.

Here this teaching is followed by different levels. Praise to the guru’s form, (and all the Buddha-fields appear in the guru’s form), […] that is guru’s Truth Body quality. We bow down, (prostrate) to the guru’s Truth body, [Enlightened] qualities. So, in this verse, we take refuge to – guru’s body, [we] take refuge to guru’s speech, [we] take refuge to guru’s mind. And, also on another level, homage to guru’s body, homage to guru’s speech. Homage to guru’s mind. So, we have finished [this part here], homage to guru’s body. Then, take refuge to, (pay homage to), guru’s Enlightened speech.  



Verse 7

“With your flawless, melodious speech,
like an ocean of ambrosia,
you show all phenomena to be unborn,
thereby defeating the Mount Meru of views.
I prostrate to your unhindered Vajra-Speech”.


Here Jigden Sumgon [makes praise], “I prostrate to your unhindered Vajra-Speech”. There are different levels of Vajra Speech. Outer level, dharma teaching is called Vajra Speech. Then, inner level, Songs [of Realisation], sound is emptiness, emptiness is sound. Sound, is none other than emptiness. [Emptiness, is none other than sound]. So, that is called Vajra Speech. So here, [Jigden Sumgon] is describing guru’s enlightened speech. “With your flawless, melodious speech”. Guru’s speech is in the nature of the Truth body, free from not truth, that is its quality.

Guru’s speech is [ultimate] Truth [body], very powerful, that is why, “With your flawless [in the nature of ultimate truth], melodious speech, like an ocean of ambrosia”. So, – like nectar. When we get thirsty, [drink this ambrosia], it is like nectar – recovering our body, freeing us from thirst. Receiving the guru’s enlightened speech, (dharma speech). So then, purifying all our negative karmas. So that is why it is “With your flawless, melodious speech, like an ocean of ambrosia”.


An ocean of ambrosia

Also, we can think of an outer level example. A country where there is never, [seldom] rain, it is so dry, and many animals and plants die. “Flawless” here, means free of thoughts and concepts, [the nature of the ultimate Truth body], just all the good condition comes – rain naturally arises, and all the animals and plants that live there, naturally receive benefit. So that is why it is “like an ocean of ambrosia,” that rain is nectar for the land, and for plants and animals, (the living beings). In the same way, [the pure] dharma comes from the gurus, “like an ocean of ambrosia,” means benefitting [the beings].

“… you show all phenomena to be unborn”. The guru’s Absolute Truth speech, is teaching, – it is showing the true nature of mind. All this phenomena – [is in the nature of dependent arising and impermanence] – is emptiness. “Unborn,” is like emptiness, (nothing truly inherently exists), – so that is dharmakaya. [“… you (guru) show all phenomena to be unborn”], – is showing the dharmakaya, “… thereby defeating the Mount Meru of views.” Means guru’s speech destroys all of our fixations, grasping at concepts, and dualistic views, (“the Mount Meru of views”), because it is so big, heavy. The guru’s speech destroys all of our conceptual, dualistic views, – which are like Mount Meru. So that is why, guru’s speech is “… thereby defeating the Mount Meru of views”. [wrong view].


Destroying the conceptual, dualistic thinking

Then, “I prostrate to your unhindered Vajra-Speech”. “… unhindered,” this Song [of Realisation], is naturally arising, [of the spontaneous wisdom mind]. “… unhindered Vajra-Speech,” the main point [here] is prostration to guru’s speech. Guru’s speech is arising the dharma. [Engaging in the Dharma, – receive the benefit of the power of Realised mind]. Dharma is defeating all our wrong views. The conceptual, dualistic thinking is destroyed. So, the dharma is the same as medicine. When we receive that dharma, we are defeating all our wrong views. [Insertion here: Ever devout homage to our most precious dharma teachers]. “I prostrate to your unhindered Vajra-Speech”. So, we are offering prostration to guru’s speech. Next we make prostration to guru’s mind.



Verse 8

The guru’s mind is,

“In the mandala of immutable ‘mind beyond thought,’
you never move from the equanimity state of Dharmadhatu,
yet you hold the wisdom power of knowing the three-times.
I prostrate to the spontaneously established non-duality.”


So, “In the mandala of immutable ‘mind beyond thought,’ – nature of rigpa is beyond thought, beyond concepts. Then, “… you never move from the equanimity state of Dharmadhatu,” means [Realised] guru is never deluded. [In the nature of the Absolute Truth body]. Guru, means always in the nature state of the Dharmadhatu. Never moving, not shaking [wavering]. [“In the mandala of immutable ‘mind beyond thought”]. So, guru’s mind is always, within 24 hours, in the nature state [of rigpa].

“… you never move from the equanimity state of Dharmadhatu, yet you hold the wisdom power of knowing the three-times”. Guru’s power of Realisation is knowing the three-times, past, present and future. […] Through his clairvoyance and omniscient wisdom. “… the wisdom power of [that], knowing the three-times”. Guru has two omniscient wisdoms – [abiding] in the nondual dharmadhatu state, and knowing all the samsaric beings suffering, [the] cause and effect. “… you [guru] never move from the equanimity state of Dharmadhatu,” – within that, never separate, – is called true omniscient wisdom. Then, the guru has the relative level wisdom, – knows all the [sentient] beings causes and conditions of the three-times, on the relative level. [So, guru is] in the state of dharmadhatu, (true nature of mind), – knowing all beings cause and effect of the three-times.


Spontaneously established non-duality

Then, that is why Jigden Sumgon says, “I prostrate to the spontaneously established non-duality”. I prostrate to the guru’s mind. Guru’s mind is “spontaneously established non-duality”. All the enlightened qualities are inseparable with the guru’s mind. Everything is “spontaneously established,” – all the qualities are in that state. Then, guru’s mind is nondual. All enlightened qualities are inseparable with the guru’s mind, – the [guru] is knowing the three-times, but is not moving from the dharmakaya state. Then, in the next verse, Jigden Sumgon is sharing [guru’s enlightened qualities of], body, speech and mind.



Verse 9

“Even if expressed during all oceans of kalpas
by all the Victorious Ones without exception,
the qualities of your body, speech, and mind would not be completed.
I prostrate to you who possesses limitless qualities”.


“Even if expressed during all oceans of kalpas by all the Victorious Ones without exception, the qualities of your body, speech, and mind would not be completed,” – means, the qualities are beyond expression, even if “all the Victorious Ones,” (Enlightened beings), express the guru’s enlightened qualities [“… during all oceans of kalpas”]. “Even if expressed during all oceans of kalpas,” means, all the many, many lifetimes. So here, the guru, (an enlightened being), manifests these qualities, and “… Even if expressed […] by all the Victorious Ones without exception, the qualities of your body, speech, and mind would not be completed.” The guru’s qualities [are so vast and unlimited that they] cannot be completed, “Even if expressed during all oceans of kalpas by all the Victorious Ones“.

“I prostrate to you who possesses limitless qualities”.
So, guru possesses limitless, [inexhaustible], qualities. Then, “during all oceans of kalpas,” means, [beyond] even “all oceans of kalpas,” because kalpas are limited, and the guru’s qualities are not. Jigden Sumgon here, is praising the guru’s unlimited [enlightened] qualities of body, speech and mind, which cannot be expressed even “during all oceans of kalpas” by all the enlightened beings (“Victorious Ones”). Now we go to the next verse.



Verse 10


“Until the ocean of samsara is exhausted,
you perform the supreme activities that ripen all sentient beings.
I prostrate to you, the Lama, who is the manifold,
effortlessly arising, unceasing, supreme refuge”.


So then, “Until the ocean of samsara is exhausted”. The guru’s mind is bodhicitta, the intention is very powerful [to bring benefit to all sentient beings, guiding them on the path, of liberating the mind, until all of the suffering of samsara is exhausted]. “… you perform the supreme activities that ripen all sentient beings”. The gurus perform the supreme enlightened activities, (ripening sentient beings minds, so that they can liberate from samsara’s sufferings). The guru mind and activities continually bring benefit, and the activity is unceasing.

So the main point is, those who really realise this, reach to the Enlightened state (the true nature of mind), – then those enlightened qualities benefit others unceasingly, and are inexhaustible. Always benefiting sentient beings, until the end of samsara. So, we know many enlightened beings and realised gurus have passed away. But they have not truly passed on, as in the Shakyamuni Buddha daily prayer [that we recite]. Buddha never passed away, [is the three kayas and continues to benefit beings in the six realms of samsara, through myriad form bodies]. The guru mind is inseparable with these activities. Guru’s enlightened activities are never extinguished, never exhausted.


Supreme activities of the guru

So, the guru’s activities are always ripening, [for sentient beings to realise the true nature of mind/ reality). When the sentient beings’ conditions are ripening, this is the guru’s blessing, and benefit is naturally arising. “… you (guru) perform the supreme activities that ripen all sentient beings [minds]”. There are four different ways, [that the enlightened activities benefit sentient beings, – through pacifying, enriching, magnetising and eliminating].

The guru’s supreme activities that ripen, are there all the time, but if we don’t cultivate an open mind, or the conditions aren’t arising – even though the guru’s quality is always present, we don’t receive, [recognise the truth (- relative and absolute level. This is due to obstacles, (mental/ emotional obscurations). Clear through purification practices of body, speech and mind)]. So, dirty [clouded] water, cannot reflect the sun and moon. In the same way, if we don’t open our mind, and the karma [for liberation] is not ripening, whilst guru’s activity is always there, (never exhausted), we don’t receive [recognise the truth,/ realise]. So, this is activity that benefits all sentient beings, – but many sentient beings don’t receive [because they are unaware, don’t realise this].


Unceasing supreme refuge

“I prostrate to you, the Lama, who is the manifold, effortlessly arising, unceasing, supreme refuge”. We prostrate to you, (outer level guru), “who is the manifold, effortlessly arising, unceasing, supreme refuge”. So, outer level, we are thinking about the outer level guru. Inner level, this practice is Mahamudra. “Until the ocean of samsara is exhausted”. The dualistic conception is [the root of] samsara, the nondual [state of realisation] is the guru’s mind. “… you [guru] perform the supreme activities,” [means the nondual enlightened activities, that ripen the true nature of mind (rigpa realisation), that benefits all sentient beings effortlessly].

When we realise our true nature of mind (rigpa), then we truly can benefit other sentient beings. [At the inner level of realisation, (beyond the mundane conception), – through the enlightened activities, that bring benefit to all sentient beings]. So, “I prostrate to you, the Lama”. The Lama is Absolute Truth, our own guru (mind) is our own nature of rigpa. Our own nature of rigpa is, “the manifold, effortlessly arising, unceasing, supreme refuge”. Always there, that is Absolute Truth refuge. So that section covers guru’s body, speech and mind. We pay homage to the guru’s body, speech and mind, [which in the nature of Absolute Truth]. We praise [the enlightened qualities] of the body, speech and mind of the guru. So, now we have finished the first and most important section of The Seven Branch Prayer. The first section is [the homage, praise and] prostration, to the guru’s mind [the Absolute Truth nature]. Then, we follow this, with the next section tomorrow.





(Continued on Sublime Heart Teachings (2) …)