Life in the Six Realms

Chenrezig
Chenrezig

OM MANI PADME HUM

A Teaching by Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

In order to understand the Buddha’s teachings one has to understand cause and effect relationships, and in order to understand cause and effect relationships, one has to understand the two extremes of eternalism and nihilism. In this nation we are actually afflicted with both nihilism and eternalism. Culturally we have absorbed them. They are part of our mindstreams, they are prevalent throughout our culture, and they are hard to spot.

Eternalism is the belief that we will continue as we are, based on a belief in our self nature and its continuation. It is like postulating a stick with one end: it begins at some place and then continues on forever. Nihilism is the belief that nothing essentially exists. It says that things come together in some sort of natural, physiological way or through some chemical means, but that there is no real order to it or no context within which an evolutionary pattern exists. It is the belief that there is nothing outside what one sees with one’s eyes or feels with one’s hands or smells with one’s nose. It is the belief in the possibility, in our case, of experiencing cause without experiencing effect.

This is not the textbook definition of nihilism, but it is the description of nihilism as we experience it within our minds. For instance, it is possible for us to know the teachings of the Buddha and to see their logic, yet have our actions and lifestyle be inconsistent with that belief. We may understand that compassion reaps good results and brings us closer to enlightenment, so we exhibit kindness and have faith. Yet within our minds we think judgmentally about others and hold hatred and desire. We think that it is acceptable to act kindly toward a person even if at the same time we are thinking we would like to have that person’s clothes or that we don’t like that person. This is actually a form of nihilism, because we feel that what matters is what people see, not understanding that even what remains in our thoughts and feelings also produces results. We don’t really understand that cause and effect relationships occur from the subtlest levels to the grossest of levels, and are the underlying fabric of cyclic existence. We do not understand, therefore, our own nature and that all things are an emanation of our minds. We practice nihilism constantly because we believe that the only thing that is counted somehow in the book of countings (whatever that might be) is that which is seen and can be judged by others.

We are content to live with that kind of thinking, never realizing the terrible results that it produces. We continue to engage in activity that is not conducive to enlightenment, because we do not understand the depth and profound effect that cause and effect has upon us. We may act in a kind way when people are watching but in our minds, in our secret places where no one is watching, we are selfish, judgmental, uncaring, and jealous. All of these qualities we allow to exist within our minds, and we do not understand that if they exist within the mindstream they will also somehow appear in our physical reality. Holding hatred in our mindstreams, or jealousy, selfishness, grasping, feeling needy constantly, feeling that we must have something in order to be content, acting in a selfish way that is inconsistent with the Buddha’s teaching, these things produce the same results that physical activity of that kind produce, even though we may not see right away the effects that will surely ripen.

The Six Realms of Cyclic Existence

The Buddha teaches us that there are different causes that we hold within our mindstreams that create the circumstances by which we are reborn in the six different realms of cyclic existence.

Contrary to the popular New Age philosophy that says we always achieve a higher rebirth, or that since we are human beings now we can always count on being human beings in future incarnations, the Buddha teaches that we achieve rebirth according to the content or fabric of our mindstreams. For example, if we hold a great deal of hatred or anger, we can be reborn in the lowest realms called hell realms. These realms are extremely uncomfortable; they have a great deal of heat and fire or extremes of cold that are unbearable. It is so unbearable there that it is impossible to practice. It would be like trying to meditate while someone is sawing off your knee. All you can think about is yelling and screaming and how to get out of there quickly. That is the nature of the hell realms.

If you experience a great deal of desire, grasping, and neediness, you will be reborn in what is called the hungry ghost realm. This realm is so filled with longing that the nonphysical beings there have mouths as tiny as a pinhole and their stomachs are as large as Mount Mehru. It is impossible to satisfy them. It is the experience of insatiability. Beings there are so empty and unable to take in what is needed.

If we experience dullness, stupidity, or ignorance, we will be reborn in the animal realm. Animals are considered to be incapable of the kind of thought necessary to make fully aware decisions. They fall prey to whatever sufferings man might visit upon them. Oxen that must pull heavy carts all day with very little nourishment, animals that must endure testing, these animals are unable to save themselves and they suffer horribly. Animals in the wild are eaten or helplessly pursued by bigger animals. Even our pets do not know how to take care of themselves. If we feed them they are fed, if we forget them they are forgotten.

To be reborn in the human realm is considered the most auspicious of circumstances because here it is possible to practice the Buddha’s teaching and experience true awakening, Although it takes a great deal of merit to be reborn in the human realm, there is also a negative cause for human rebirth, and that is doubt. As humans we constantly experience doubt. It is so pervasive that we do not understand how great our doubt is. If we really examine ourselves, we will discover that we think and feel differently from the way that we believe intellectually. We may follow a certain philosophy, but we never follow any philosophy consistently because we are so filled with doubt. It is the same in following Buddhist teaching. We will follow it externally, but not consistently until we have come very close to realization and can understand for ourselves fully and completely about cause and effect relationships.

If we experience a great deal of jealousy and competitiveness, if we have a warlike quality to our minds, we will be reborn in what is called a jealous gods’ realm. Beings there have a great deal of power with super-normal experiences. They are very strong, competing constantly in war. There is no peace, no security, no time to think or feel or love. There is only a constant need to guard oneself against hurt and attack, and a compulsive need to be aggressive about maintaining whatever you have that seems to be yours.

The last of the six realms is the gods’ realm. It is considered to be the highest realm because it is the most pleasurable and the most blissful. The beings there are extremely beautiful with gorgeous fragrances, brilliant colors, and music that is so pleasurable that if we were to hear it, there would be instant healing. Bodies of the gods are pure and perfectly sweet. There is not a bit of decay, sweat, bacteria, aging or any processes that produce the foul smells we have. It is beauty beyond what we can understand, completely free of ugliness or decay. Pride is the main cause for being reborn here, and even though the gods live for thousands of years, life is not permanent there. It actually takes a tremendous amount of good karma and pure virtue to be reborn in the gods’ realm, but while there you use up all your accumulated good karma very fast, like a big V8 engine burning gas going up hill. Suddenly after a very long life span, decay sets in. One’s accumulated virtue becomes exhausted and death approaches. It is horrible to them because they who have experienced nothing but beauty, sweetness, bliss, gorgeous music, and celestial food are about to experience terrible suffering. This impermanence is the predominant suffering of the gods’ realm.

We as humans have within our mindstreams all of the seeds of the peculiar sufferings and the unfortunate qualities associated with the six realms of cyclic existence. The Buddha cautions us not to take this teaching symbolically, but to take it absolutely. He could actually see the six realms and could remember having lived in those realms. Having achieved the precious awakening, he was able to recall how he moved from these realms into enlightenment The head of our lineage, His Holiness Penor Norbu Rinpoche, has said that if you could only part the curtains of your inability to see, if you could only see for one moment what the six realms of cyclic existence were like and how you have come and gone in each of the realms, and what you have experienced and what you are yet to experience because of the qualities inherent in your thinking  if you could understand this you would do nothing but recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM again and again. You would never stop.

The mantra of Chenrezig is OM MANI PADME HUM. Chenrezig is the Buddha of Compassion, and has within his mindstream a clear and pure crystal awareness, which is the same as the mind of enlightenment. Inherent within that mindstate are the qualities that bring about the end of rebirth in all of the six realms. Constant mindfulness of Chenrezig, and learning to generate one’s mind as Chenrezig through the use of visualization, mantra, recitation and pure intention, can bring about the end of rebirth in cyclic existence, even in one lifetime.

The logic here is that in the practice you are the one who generates yourself as the Bodhisattva Chenrezig. You accomplish this pure mind state in order to be of benefit to sentient beings. The real end of suffering therefore can be understood as your capacity to generate yourself as that Bodhisattva of Compassion, thereby becoming the cause for the end of all suffering. In so doing, one brings about the end of one’s own suffering as well.

The mantra of Chenrezig, which is OM MANI PADME HUM, has six syllables. Each syllable has the ability to eradicate causes for rebirth in each of the six realms, because the mantra itself and each of the syllables is considered to be a miraculous condensation of wisdom. Through the activity of Guru Rinpoche we are able to experience in the hearing or reciting of the syllables and visualizing ourselves as Chenrezig, the perfect purification of the causes for rebirth in all of the six realms of cyclic existence. This is absolutely possible. It is promised that if you practice this every day you can achieve the end of rebirth in the lower realms. And if practiced in conjunction with other practices it is part of a proven technology to end suffering in all of the realms.

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

Chenrezig in the Six Realms

Download the Chenrezig in the Six Realms practice

The following is the practice of Chenrezig or Avalokitesvara Appearing in the Six Realms

From the Nam Chö Treasure Revelations of Terton Migyur Dorje

TSIG DUN SOL DEB  – Immutable Seven Line Prayer

 

HUNG                ORGYEN YÜL GYI NUB JANG TSHAM

HUNG                On the Northwest border of the country of Urgyen

PEMA  GESAR  DONG  PO  LA

In the pollen heart of a lotus,

YA  TSHEN  CHOG  GI  NGÖ  DRUB  NYE

Marvelous in the perfection of your attainment,

PEMA  JUNG  NE  ZHE  SU  DRAG

You are known as the Lotus Born

KHOR  DU  KHANDRO  MANG  PÖ  KOR

And are surrounded by your circle of many Dakinis.

KHYED  KYI  JE  SU  DAG  DRUB  KYI

Following you, I will practice.

JIN  GYI  LOB  CHIR  SHEG  SU  SÖL

I pray that you will come to confer your blessings.

GURU  PEMA  SIDDHI  HUNG

(Repeat three times)

RANG  NYID  THUG  JE  CHEN  PO  NI

Experience self-nature as Avalokitesvara,

KAR  PO  SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  SHI  PA

White in color, with one face and four arms;

THAL  JAR  TRENG  WA  PEMA  DZIN

With palms pressed together, holding a mala and lotus,

KHIL  DRUNG  RAT  NA  DAR   GYI   GYEN

In full lotus posture, adorned with jewels and silks,

PEMA  DA  WAI  DEN  LA  SHUG

Seated upon a lotus and moon seat.

OM  MANI  PEME  HUNG

 

LHA  YI  JIG  TEN  WANG  CHUG  KAR

The white colored Avalokitesvara, (Jigten Wangchuk) of the

Gods’ Realm,

SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  SHI  THAL  JYAR  DANG

Has one face and four arms, with palms pressed together.

PI  WANG  PEMA  DA  WAI  TENG

Seated upon a lotus and moon, holding a Vina.

KYIL  MO  TRUNG  GI  SHUG  PAR  SAM

Think that he rests in the full lotus posture.

OM  OM  SOHA

LHA  MIN  JIG  TEN  WANG  CHUG  JANG

The green-colored Avalokitesvara (Jigten Wangchuk) of the Titan Realm,

SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  SHI  THAL  JYAR  DANG

Has one face and four arms, with palms pressed together.

GO  TSÖN  PEMA  DA  WAI  DEN

Seated upon a lotus and moon, holding armor and a sword.

KYIL  MO  TRUNG  GI  SHUG  PAR  SAM

Think that he rests in the full lotus posture.

OM  MA  SOHA

MI  YI  JIG  TEN  WANG  CHUG  TRA

The multi-colored Avalokitesvara (Jigten Wangchuk) of the Human Realm,

SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  SHI  THAL  JYAR  DANG

Has one face and four arms, with palms pressed together.

TRENG  WA  PEMA  DA  WAI  TENG

Seated upon a lotus and moon, holding a mala.

KYIL  MO  TRUNG  GI  SHUG  PAR  SAM

Think that he rests in the full lotus posture.

OM  NI  SOHA

DÜD  DROI  JIG  TEN  WANG  CHÜD  DÜD

The smoke-colored Avalokitesvara (Jigten Wangchuk) of the Animal Realm,

SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  CHI  THAL  JYAR  DANG

Has one face and four arms, with palms pressed together.

PO  TI  PEMA  DA  WAI  TENG

Seated upon a lotus and moon, holding a scripture.

KYIL  MO  TRUNG  GI  SHUG  PAR  SAM

Think that he is seated in the full lotus posture.

OM  PED  SOHA

YI  DAG  JIG  TEN  WANG  CHUG  MAR

The red Avalokitesvara(Jigten Wangchuk) of the Hungry Spirit Realm,

SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  SHI  THAL  JYAR  DANG

Has one face and four arms, with palms pressed together.

DROM  BU  PEMA  DA  WAI  TENG

Seated upon a lotus and moon, holding a treasure receptacle.

KYIL  MO  TRUNG  GI  SHUG  PAR  SAM

Think that he rests in the full lotus posture.

OM  ME  SOHA

NYAL  WAI  JIG  TEN  WANG  CHUG  NAG

The black Avalokitsvara (Jigten Wangchuk) of the Hell Realm,

SHAL  CHIG  CHAG  SHI  THAL  JYAR  DANG

Has one face and four arms, with palms pressed together,

ME  CHU  PEMA  CHAG  NA  DZIN

Holding fire, water, and a lotus.

KYIL  MO  TRUNG  GI  SHUG  PAR  SAM

Think that he is seated in the full lotus posture.

OM  HUNG  SOHA

DE  TAR  THUG JE  CHEN PO   DÜN  GYI  TSO  WOI  THUG  KAR  DA  WAI

DEN  LA  HRI  LA  YI  GE  DRUG  GI  KOR  WA        KHOR  DRUG  GI  THUG

KAR  OM  SOG  YIG  DRU  RE  RE  LA  YI  DRUG  GI  KOR  WAR  GYUR

 

Thus, of the seven Avalokitesvaras, in the heart of the central one, is a moon seat upon which is a HRIH, surrounded by the six syllables. In the heart of the six surrounding Avalokitesvaras, are the respective seed syllables of each one, such as OM, and so on, also surrounded by the six syllables of the mantra.

OM  AH  HUNG  HRIH     OM  MANI  PEME  HUNG

The Praise

HRIH SANG  NGEN  NYI  MED  THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  SHING

HRIH   In the Realm of Avalokitesvara, where good and bad are non-dual,

MED  SHIN  NANG  WA  GYU  MA  TA  BÜ  TSUL

Likewise appearances are understood to be illusionary in nature.

NANG  SHIN  DAG  PA  SHEN  DZIN  MED  PAI  NGANG

Within a state of pure perception, void of compulsory attachment,

CHAG  DANG  RANG  DROL DAG  PA  RAB JYAM  SHING

Is the pure expansive realm of self-liberation attachment and aversion.

THUG  JE  CHEN  POI  SHING  LA  CHAG  TSAL  TÖD

I prostrate and render praise to the Realm of Avalokitesvara.

OM AH HUNG HRIH OM MANI PEME HUNG

HRIH NANG  TONG  NYI  MED  THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  KU

HRIH   The Body of Avalokitesvara is the indivisibility of appearance and emptiness.

TONG  SHIN  NANG  WA  CHU  DA  TA  BÜ  TSUL

The empty nature of appearance like the reflection of the moon of water.

NANG  SHIN  TONG  PA  GYA  TSO  CHEN  PÖ  NGANG

Within this great ocean of the empty nature of appearance,

NANG  TONG  RANG  DROL  DAG  PA  RAB  JYAM  KU

Is the pure expansive Body of self-liberated empty appearances.

THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  KU  LA  CHAG  TSAL  TÖD

I prostrate and render praise to the Body of Avalokitesvara.

OM AH HUNG HRIH      OM MANI PEME HUNG

HRIH   DRAG TONG JÖD  MED  THUG JE  CHEN  PÖ  SUNG

HRIH   The Speech of Avalokitesvara is the inexpressible empty nature of sound,

TONG  SHIN  DRAG  PA  DRAG  CHA  TA  BÜ  TSUL

Naturally empty like the sound of an echo.

DRAG  PA  SHIN  TONG  JÖD  DU  MED  PAI  NGANG

Within the inexpressible empty nature of sound,

DRAG TONG  RANG  DROL DAG  PA  RAB JYAM  SUNG

Is the pure expansive Speech of self-liberated empty sound.

THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  SUNG  LA  CHAG  TSAL  TÖD

I prostrate and render praise to the Speech of Avalokitesvara.

OM AH HUNG HRIH      OM MANI PEME HUNG

HRIH   SAL  TONG  DZIN  MED  THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  THUG

HRIH   The Mind of Avalokitesvara is ungrasping clarity and emptiness,

TONG  SHIN  SAL  WA  JA  TSÖN  TA  BÜ  TSUL

Empty and luminous like the colors of a rainbow.

SAL  SHIN  TONG  PA  NAM  KHA  TA  BÜ  NGANG

Within clear emptiness, similar to the sky,

SAL  TONG  RANG  DROL  DAG  PA  RAB  JYAM  THUG

Is the pure expansive Mind of self-liberating clarity and emptiness.

THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  THUG  LA  CHAG  TSAL  TÖD

I prostrate and render praise to the Mind of Avalokitesvara.

OM AH HUNG HRIH     OM MANI PEME HUNG

HRIH   CHAG  SEG  SA  SHI  THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  SHING

HRIH   In the realm of Avalokitesvara, the foundation of the earth is molten lava;

AH  WA  LANG  GO  THUG  JE  CHEN  PÖ  KU

Avalokitesvara’s Body is the ox-headed Shinje.

SÖD  SÖD  GYOB  GYOB  YI  GE  DRUG  PAI  DRA

Kill, kill, strike, strike, with the sound of the six syllables;

DA  DUNG  RAL  DRI  NA  TSOG  CHÖD  PAI  DZE

Wielding various offering materials such as a spear, sword and arrow.

DE  DUG  RANG  DROL  DAG  PA  RAB  JYAM  LONG

In the pure great expanse of self-liberation of happiness and suffering,

NANG  SID  THUG  JE  CHEN  PO  LA  CHAG  TSAL  TÖD

I prostrate and render praise to the Avalokitesvara of phenomenal existence.

OM AH HUNG HRIH     OM MANI PEMA HUNG

 

This is a terma revelation by Terton Migyur Dorje

 

Dedication Prayer

By this effort, may all sentient beings be free of suffering.

May their minds be filled with the nectar of virtue.

In this way, may all causes resulting in suffering be extinguished,

And only the light of compassion shine throughout all realms.

– Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

1000 Armed Avalokiteshvara

The following is respectfully quoted from “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche:

Countless ages ago, it is said, a thousand princes vowed to become buddhas. One resolved to become the Buddha we know as Gautama Siddhartha; Avalokiteshvara, however, vowed not to attain enlightenment until all the other thousand princes had themselves become buddhas. In his infinite compassion, he vowed too to liberate all sentient beings from the sufferings of the different realms of samsara. Before the buddhas of the ten directions, he prayed, “May I help all beings, and if ever I tire in this great work, may my body be shattered into a thousand pieces.” First, it is said, he descended into the hell realms, ascending gradually through the world of hungry ghosts, up the the realm of the gods. From there he happened to look down and saw, aghast, that though he had saved innumerable beings from hell, countless more were pouring in. This plunged him into the profoundest grief; for a moment he almost lost faith in that noble vow he had taken, and his body exploded into a thousand pieces. In his desperation, he called out to all the buddhas for help, who came to his aid from all directions of the universe, as one text said, like a soft blizzard of snowflakes. With their great power the buddhas made him whole again, and from then on Avalokiteshvara had eleven heads, and a thousand arms, and on each palm of each hand was an eye, signifying that union of wisdom and skillful means that is the mark of compassion. In this form he was even more resplendent and empowered than before to help all beings, and his compassion grew even more intense as again and again he repeated this vow before the buddhas: “May I not attain final buddhahood before all sentient beings attain enlightenment.”

 

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