The Peaceful Deities

bardo_mandala

The following is an excerpt from a teaching offered by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo during a Phowa retreat:

On the third day Ratnasambhava Buddha appears with yellow light. Again, same scenario: too brilliant, scary. At the same time, the blue light of the world of humankind is also manifested, and you will feel very familiar with the blue light of the world of humankind. Although being reborn as a human is considered a very auspicious rebirth, if you have a chance to either go to Ratnasambhava’s pureland or experience that nature that is Ratnasambhava, or be reborn as a human, take Ratnasambhava.

Amitabha Buddha appears on the fourth day with red light. The red is so brilliant and so luminous and so pulsatingly brilliant that we can hardly bear it. And at the same time the yellow light of the world of hungry ghosts will appear. We’re used to yellow light because we’re used to desire. It is vibrationally familiar to us, and it will seem, therefore, like a softer and more welcoming light. Do not follow the yellow light of the hungry ghost realm.

Amogasiddhi Buddha appears on the fifth day with green light. At the same time, the red light of the worlds of animals and demigods are manifested. Again, do not follow the red light. In this case, it is softer, easier to live with, and yet it is Amogasiddha that you want to follow, with the brilliant green light. Always choose that brilliant light.

On the next day, the sixth day, all five Buddhas appear at the same time, with the lights of the six classes of beings. All of the forty-two manifestations of the Buddha that are considered the peaceful deities will then appear. They will be manifested because they are all representative and they are displays of the very elements that are intrinsically within our own nature, so therefore they must appear. It is the nature of the bardo that what appears subjective then becomes objective. What appears to be our own intrinsic nature is seen in an external form. So all of the forty-two peaceful deities will be manifested in our mind, and then they are followed by the fifty-eight wrathful ones. These manifestation scenarios last for about three weeks, unless you take one of the doors. One of the doors would either be, again, recognizing and going toward the Buddha nature in whatever form it appears, or it will be taking one of the doors of the six realms that constantly appear as a more seductive and more familiar light. This goes on for about three weeks.

Now you say to yourself, “When the peaceful deities show up, sounds to me like a good day at the park. I can live with that, being surrounded by all the deities.” But again, it will be unfamiliar; remember that—for a non-practitioner, and even for a practitioner who has not really accomplished their practice very well, or not yet. How are you going to deal when the wrathful deities come in, and what is their nature? What are they? Are the peaceful deities the pleasant and friendly ones and the wrathful deities the punishing ones? Who are the wrathful deities and how should they be understood? How can we avoid being frightened of them? Because they are terrifying. This is what we are going to learn in our next session.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

The Extraordinary Opportunity at the Time of Death

ClearBardo

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

The next thing that happens, if we are continuing through the bardo, is that the female bindu, or tigle, disengages from the base of the spine, and that is the mother seed. The mother seed then rises up to the heart. When that happens, we will see red luminosity. Now literally, we have never seen red luminosity before. We don’t know what it is, complicated by the fact that it’s like no red we’ve ever seen before, and no luminosity we’ve ever seen before. It’s extraordinarily brilliant. Extraordinarily profound. It is the kind of experience where we don’t just see the light ‘out there,’ it effects one totally; and so there may be a fear of that. Generally speaking, practitioners run from the red light.

The red light is actually the appearance of the female buddhas or the dakinis. It is the true, essential nature that was your mother’s nature, without the level of delusion that your mother carried, her true nature, her buddha nature. That is the truth of that. You will see this red light and, in most cases, sentient beings will run away from that red light. They will not know what it is. It will confuse them. And at that time there is also an impact of sound and feeling as well. You can’t explain that, but try to imagine light that registers so strongly that it registers on every sense you’ve ever experienced. So there is a feeling and a hearing and every kind of component to it as well. It’s just too much for the unprepared.

Then the white and the red light come together in the heart. They meet. And at that time an extraordinary thing happens. All the elements have dissolved, the male and female buddha principles have united within your mind, and , temporarily, you have none of any of the attachments and hangups and clinging associated with physical life. All the elements have dissolved. There is a moment of spaciousness at that time such as you have never experienced before, and cannot experience at any other moment.

This moment is so precious. So precious. Because at that moment when the male and female principle unite within the heart, one sees clearly the Dharmata, the true face of one’s own nature. All phenomena is seen at that time to have the same taste. One cannot make a distinction.  One cannot literally make a distinction between subjective and objective. All of the components of deluded mind are temporarily disengaged at that period of time; and there is, at that moment, the most extraordinary potential for liberation. But the Dharmata, our true nature, has no visible light, because, what would be that that is lit? Our nature is not that which can be described, let alone colored or lit. What would be that thing that is lit? So our perception, when these two elements come together, is an experience of black luminosity for the non-practitioner, and this black luminosity affects the non-practitioner as a fainting or a sleep. This is the time during the death process when the sentient being actually goes under, goes dead—goes dead in their minds. They actually experience death.

For the practitioner, that dark luminosity, if we are prepared and if we have experienced meditation successfully even for a moment, can be perceived as clear luminosity. Now remember, the condition of our mind affects us. If we are fearful, if we are running in the bardo state, it will be dark luminosity and it will frighten us; and it will be tremendously impactful. But if we are prepared and our minds have been changed through meditation, then it will be a clear luminosity and a recognition of one’s own mind, of one’s own supreme buddha nature. It will be very much like a mother and a child who have been separated:  Suddenly the child sees her mother and she runs to her mother, and there’s no denying her mother. The smell, the touch, the view of her mother is like… There is no one else. I could not deny that this is my mother; this is my long lost mother. And the child, literally who—this is the practitioner, of course—jumps into the mother’s lap and drinks the milk from the mother’s breast. And that is what happens if one is prepared for death. When that moment occurs, we jump through pure view into the arms of the Dharmata and we drink the nectar of our buddhahood. And that is a happy and profound and joyful moment for that one who is prepared for death.

Unfortunately, however, and this is where we are going to close, so that you have something to think about tonight, for those who are unprepared for death, this is the moment they miss utterly. It is never known. This precious moment where we come face to face, freely with our own nature—and we sleep through it, we literally sleep through it—and it’s because we cannot recognize. It is like a person who is suddenly without eyes. They see blackness, and not knowing that this is their life, without eyes, they think it is time to sleep. They instinctively go towards sleep. If the person recognizes this nature, the liberation that occurs at the moment of the union of the mother principle and the father principle, that occurs when these two principles have united, is supreme realization. Very difficult to do, but the result is supreme, in that one can return in a form to benefit sentient beings having accomplished the pure view of recognizing one’s own buddha nature. One literally abides spontaneously in the mind of the buddhas. One literally is awake. Having remained awake in that time, one has created the potential and the connection with the awakeness of one’s own nature. And so this extraordinary moment, this extraordinary benefit, for most of us, is completely unrecognized. Because we have no experience with meditation we cannot recognize our mother, our nature. We cannot recognize the Dharmata. We have no experience with it. It is like a child who is taken out from the mother’s womb, never having seen the mother’s face, and is raised separately from the mother. That child would not recognize its mother and would not drink from its mother’s breast.

So this is the experience that we are fighting for in our practice of Phowa. We are fighting to recognize those moments and to prepare ourselves for something that, while frightening to ordinary sentient beings, for the practitioner can be an extremely joyful, happy, and productive moment.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

Vairocana

Vairocana

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo offered during a Phowa retreat:

On the first day, it is Vairochana Buddha that will appear. He either manifests in the form of a Buddha, according to our beliefs, should we have the capacity to recognize, or he will manifest in the form of dazzling blue lights and geometric shapes. These dazzling blue lights are just that—they are dazzling. They are unlike anything we have ever seen on the physical level. They will knock you for a loop. Literally knock you for a loop. It will be unlike anything you have ever seen. The ultimate light show, friends. And it will be different than you have ever seen it. So one needs to practice in order to be able to recognize the nature that is Vairochana Buddha.

At the same time that this almost violent, dazzling, ultra-dazzling blue light will appear, another softer white light will appear. The softer and white light will be more welcoming, but this softer white light corresponds to the world of the gods. Do not follow. Go to that light which is dazzling, perhaps more unfamiliar, perhaps more frightening. Call out to the Buddha. Try not to take the easiest way out, but ask yourself, require yourself to recognize the Buddha. If the person seeing this has no idea of what is happening, the sheer brightness of the light of the Buddha is somehow terrifying. If they haven’t practiced, you see, they are unused to it, so it is terrifying; and one will be more inclined to follow the light of the worlds of the gods, as it is soft and pleasing. So beware of that.

Here are the two correct attitudes, according to this lama, that are very helpful to adopt in order to face the situation. The first one consists of becoming conscious that the blinding blue light manifests the presence of Vairochana Buddha. So we pray every day from now until the time of our death, and especially around the time of our death, that he will dispel the suffering and phenomena of the bardo. And particularly when we see him, when we see this very bright blue light or when we recognize that the Buddha is present, we pray to him and ask him to dispel the delusion and make the way clear for us. The second method requires more profound knowledge than the first one. The first one, you only have to have heard; literally, you now have enough to do that. You have heard, and through the force of your caring about this hearing and wanting to internalize it, it is that force that will make you remember that you have heard that Vairochana will appear at this time. Now you know that. You are expecting to be in the bardo; you are expecting to see light that you are uncomfortable with. You are expecting to see things you do not recognize or feel familiar with, and you will know not to be afraid. That’s the first way, you see.

The second way requires more knowledge than the first way, and it involves recognizing that the light which appears that is Vairochana has no external existence separate from oneself. That it is the manifestation of one of the five Buddhas present within our own mind. And he says here that, “Their manifested aspects are externally expressed, but in truth their light has no intrinsic external existence.” This blue is actually the luminosity of our own minds; yet we cannot recognize it because we have not become familiar with our own minds. And so the second method, in order to get through this particular aspect of the bardo, is to recognize that this has no inherent existence outside of ourselves. That this is, in fact, a display of our own inherent Buddha nature, and in that way, to become familiar with it and non-dual. Remaining fully aware that the light and the mind are one will free us from the suffering of the bardo. On the other hand, if we are enticed by the white light of the god realm, we will be seduced to be reborn as a long life god—the god that lives a long time and smells good and looks good, feels good, but then eventually, pffft., A bad end to that vacation. So we do not wish to be reborn in the god realm. Do not go for instant gratification in this case. Trust me on this one.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

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