The Guru’s Three-Part Empowerment

The most important part of the practice of Guru Yoga is when we receive the threefold empowerment from the guru. We receive the white light from the Guru’s head to our head to purify our body. We receive the red light from the Guru’s throat to our throat to purify and empower our speech. We receive the blue light from the Guru’s heart to our heart to purify and empower our mind. We should be receiving these empowerments 24 hours a day. Every time our mind has a little space, we should train ourselves to remember to receive the nectar of the Guru’s blessing. Instead, we walk around saying, “I’m lonely. I need my space. I need to go out and do stuff. I need to spend some money.” And we whine and carry on in samsara. And yet every minute this amazing phenomenal connection is available.

We should develop the habit of constantly keeping that connection. Whenever we have a moment, we should recite the Seven Line Prayer and ask for the guru’s blessing. And then we have it –boom, boom, boom—because when we ask, it is always given. There is never a time that when we ask, that it is not given. It may happen that we can’t receive the blessing sometimes. But we just keep trying. It’s simply our habit, and habits can change.

This is prayer without ceasing. This is constant prayer. This is a personal version of what we’re trying to do here at KPC by having our 24-hour prayer vigil, with someone practicing all the time. It is developing a constant awareness of our non-duality with the guru.

As we practice, the experience deepens. When we do our sit-down practice, the empowerments become easier to receive. We will find that we can go deeper and deeper and deeper. Then when we receive that three-part empowerment, our mind will be mixed with the guru and all the blessings will be present.  But be careful: Pride will stop the blessing.

So we wire up. We take refuge and are anchored in our confidence. We know, “This is my guru; I am unshaken.  This is the method; I am unbroken.  This is the result that I am going toward.” We maintain that connection constantly. Any time we have a moment, we recall our root guru appearing as Guru Rinpoche and receive the empowerments, mixing our mind with the guru’s mind. That’s the way to awaken to non-duality. That’s the way to awaken to our nature. When we mix our mind with the guru’s, we are deeply empowered with the bodhicitta. We can hear the calls of the suffering ones. They will fill our ears.

When we take this empowerment and we mix our mind with the nectar of the Three Precious Jewels, then we can pray. We can see ourselves as the same as the guru in nature, not in a prideful sense. Having received the blessing of the guru and of all the masters of the lineage, we are now able to pray.  We can ease the suffering of sentient beings.  Why?  Because we have the merit of our lineage. Now we can take within us the suffering of sentient beings because we can handle it. We have the power of the vajra masters.  That is our joy, our bliss, our ecstasy. We are never separate from them.

So prayer comes when we are in a state of awakening–when the bodhicitta that is the nectar of the guru’s mind is mixed inseparably with our own mind. Then we can pray: we can speak with the authority of the bodhicitta, in the way of the bodhicitta.

Do you hear the sense of potency I am trying to describe?  It is a sense of being fully mixed with the nectar of bodhicitta, fully aware that our nature is the bodhicitta. It is the bodhicitta that benefits sentient beings. When we are aware that we are the bodhicitta, it is this that we send to others. That is the power of the bodhisattvas and the Buddhas.

When we are that bodhicitta, we can awaken the bodhicitta in others just by looking at them. I know from experience that when His Holiness Penor Rinpoche looked at my heart, my heart was his and it opened. He recognized the bodhicitta in me, and I practiced to mix my mind with his. And therefore it was done. And that’s the potency of prayer. Now I can pray.

There is no room for pride in prayer—just simple gratitude for receiving the blessing of the guru in a humble way, with confidence in that blessing. Because of that blessing, we can pray. Now we have the bodhicitta; now we are the bodhicitta. And that is the potency and power upon which we rely.

The Buddhadharma is with us every minute. It’s a path, a way of life. And it is the true method to achieve the precious awakening. When we know that other beings are suffering so terribly, and we have found this jewel and it is in our hands and this nectar is given freely, I ask you: Why not learn to pray?

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Experiencing Bodhicitta through the Guru Yoga

An excerpt from a teaching called How to Pray by Being by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

We must practice guru yoga. Without guru yoga, we will never learn to pray properly. Guru yoga is the nest in which our prayers are developed. In guru yoga we see the lama as the embodiment of all the fields of refuge—all of the excellent, extraordinary displays of Buddha nature that did not arise in samsara, that are pure and untainted.

The lama is our boat across the ocean of suffering. A proper lama, from an unbroken lineage who is free of suffering and delusion and motivated by compassion, has made that trip before and knows how to get across. If we practice the Dharma correctly, we will see that lama in a way we’ve never seen anyone else before. We can then approach the lama like a child, without judgment. We can ask kindly and without fear, “Will you help me?”

Now, of course, judgments will rise up in our mind because that is our habitual tendency. But that then becomes our battleground. That is where we take a stand and draw the line. Once we’ve put our trust in the lama, we say, “I know that you have been taught by the great lamas that have been taught by the great lamas that have been taught by the great lamas, and all of them in an unbroken lineage have achieved enlightenment.” We realize that the lama is the door to liberation, and we do whatever it takes to walk through that door—whether it’s getting down on our knees, challenging our habitual tendencies or changing.

We have to be willing to change. Dharma cuts like a knife. It’s supposed to; it’s doing a big job. And we have a lot of work to do because most of our life we’ve spent chanting the mantra of samsara, the mantra of self-absorption. So we look to the teacher. We look to the Buddha. We look to the Dharma. We look to the Sangha. We look with determination, strength and courage or vajra pride.

Vajra pride, the courage to say, “I’m going through the door of liberation,” does not come from the ego. It is not ordinary pride. Instead it is steadfastness and determination to change utterly and completely. Do you know what prayer is?  Prayer is this (makes a cutting motion and rips open her chest). That’s prayer.

Through the practice of Guru Yoga, we become absolutely non-dual with the guru. That is the wish and the hope. That is also the method and the way. We mix our mindstream with the guru like mixing milk with water. And they can mix perfectly and constantly.

We practice the ngundro Guru Yoga and we practice the Shower of Blessings, and that’s a wonderful place to start, but how many minutes do we miss? How much time do we miss playing around in ordinary puddles—ordinary reality—when the ocean of wisdom is within reach?

The lama is not a separate person who we only get to see every now and then. When we see the lama, we are looking at the Nirmanakaya form of the Buddha. Guru Rinpoche himself said, “I will be there in the form of your root guru.  When you call out to me, I will be there.”

© Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Samaya and Guru Yoga

The following is an excerpt from “Dakini Teachings: A Collection of Padmasambhava’s Advice to the Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal”  
“Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How severe is the misdeed of breaking
the master’s command?

The master replied: The misdeeds of the three levels of existence do
not match even a fraction of the evil of breaking the command of your
master. Through this you will take birth in the Unceasing Vajra Hell
and find no liberation.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we regard the master
possessing the oral instructions from whom we request teachings?

The master replied in verse:
You should know that the master is more important
Than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons,
Because all the buddhas of the aeons
Appeared through following masters.
There will never be any buddhas
Who have not followed a master.

The master is the Buddha, the master is the Dharma,
Likewise the master is also the Sangha.
He is the embodiment of all buddhas.
He is the nature of Vajradhara.
He is the root of the Three Jewels.

Keep the command of your vajra master
Without breaking even a fraction of his words.
If you break the command of your vajra master,
You will fall into Unceasing Vajra Hell
From which there will be no chance for liberation.
By serving your master you will receive the blessings.”

The Sphere of Truth

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Tools to Deepen in Your Practice”

When it comes to gathering wisdom and to understanding the difference between wisdom and knowledge, knowledge would be all the facts that you absorb from your text or from reading or from your teacher or from tapes that you might have heardthat allow you to accomplish that ‘letting go of the senses.’  The actual opening the senses and relaxing them is like a hand. If my hand is like this, it’s around something; the shape is defined.  And here in your meditation on emptiness, it’s more like this (Jetsunma relaxes the hand grip) and the hand is open.  And while the hand is open, if it were possible to truly do this in a profound way, it would be like it says in the Guru Yoga generation stage in the Shower of Blessings: ”His great bliss flashes in the fundamental space of the five lights.” That’s it.

If you could really read and understand that line, that would be so good.  “His great bliss flashes in the fundamental space of the five lights.”  Well, what are the five lights?  They are the senses.  While we are considering them solid, we can name them and describe them.  But it says here, “…the fundamental space of the five lights”. So the senses become ‘fundamental space’.  The trick is that when we are not grasping and reacting, the natural state of bliss arises.  And so here they’re talking about Guru Rinpoche, and they’re saying, “His great bliss flashes in the fundamental space of the five lights”.  Such renunciation of the grasping of phenomena is implied in that line.  Such renunciation.  Such accomplishment.  And true understanding of what the five senses are.  Because like the light coming through the crystal, they all arise from the fundamental bliss that is our uncontrived primordial nature.  That’s an amazing line.  And of course, by going deeply into your practice, one would want to read again and again the different words that you are reciting in Tibetan in English, so that you can really understand what it is that you are doing.

So for a Tantric practitioner, it’s all about practicing the awareness of the fundamental sphere of truth that we habitually perceive as phenomena.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

Extraordinary Blessings

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “Guru Yoga”

One of the main practices that we have to do in order to make progress on the path is Guru Yoga.  There are many ways to practice Guru Yoga. There is a tremendous focus on Guru Yoga in the preliminary practice or Ngondro phase, and then as you move into the different forms of practice in the intermediate and advanced stages, there is still a great deal of focus on Guru Rinpoche, and there is still a great deal of dependence on the Natural Blessing that is transmitted from his miraculous compassion.

Guru Rinpoche is considered to be the Nirmanakaya form, that is the body or the form that one sees in physical existence.  He incarnated into physical existence, and when he appeared on the earth, he was in solid form.  According to the history of his life, he was not born.  He did not have a mother.  He appeared in the middle of a lake on a lotus and he did not appear as an infant, but as a young child.  And when he left, he didn’t die; his body didn’t cease to function.  He was seen to rise up into the sky and leave.

So his activity, his display, is considered to be extraordinary, not  ordinary.  It isn’t like what we usually see.  We do not usually see that kind of event.  None of us has managed to be born on a lotus in the middle of the lake.  Most of us have mothers. I have a mother.  If any of you don’t have a mother, please let me know.  I’d like to meet you, get to know you.

Probably, when we die, our bodies will do the ordinary thing which is “die.”  Perhaps a few of us will do something wonderful, but my guess is that we’ll die.  It’s very rare to be born as a young child on a lotus, or rise up into the sky and leave.  We don’t usually see that kind of display.  And so from that, we can understand that he is, in fact, the physical display of enlightenment.

It’s so easy for us to look at Guru Rinpoche, to think about his teachings, to think about what he has accomplished and think, “Oh, there was a great man that was born sometime, and he did this thing”, to think of Guru Rinpoche in a superficial way.  So when we practice, our practice is deluded really, and it’s kind of confused or even defiled, if you will, by our thinking, “What kind of man was he?  What was he really like?  What did he look like?”  I look at his statue and I think, “Gee he had a funny little mustache.”  We have those kinds of thoughts.  We can’t help but think like that.  We think as ordinary people do.  We look at each other in ordinary ways.  We’ve learned to evaluate things in that way.

If we hold Guru Rinpoche in that regard, we miss the point.  We think of a being that’s much like an ordinary being.  We think of an event that is not so different from ordinary events.  Man goes to Tibet, man teaches. Well, that’s happened before!  So we don’t understand.  We’re very shallow in our perception.  And what happens then is that the transmission that comes to us, the blessing that comes to us through faith, the blessing that comes to us through practicing Guru Yoga is very minimal.  And in fact, it’s an ordinary blessing.  It is the ordinary blessing perhaps of having the opportunity to practice, and of actually having the practices in hand so that we can do them.  Well, you could say that’s not exactly ordinary.  Lot’s of people don’t have that blessing.  And you’re right about that.  But it’s a limited blessing.  What we need beyond this opportunity,  beyond the practice, is the ripening.  And in order to have that, we must begin to understand the Nature of the Lama in a more profound way.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo.  All rights reserved

Supplication to Mandarava

“Dissolving in the expanse of space
like a rainbow, without remains,
She departed to the
Akanishta Paradise of Pamavyuha.
She transformed into the embodiment
of the supreme consort,
The secret primordial wisdom dakini.
To the feet of Mandarava, I supplicate!
Together with nine hundred
pure awareness holder disciples,
After dissolving into a rainbow body,
she manifested herself once again
for the benefit of others.
Mandarava emanated unceasingly,
manifesting herself as a dakini to tame
the minds of beings in
every essential way.
To the feet of Mandarava I supplicate!”
— Guru Padmasambava

The Power of Ngondro

The following is respectfully quoted from “Natural Liberation” by Padmasambhava:

OM VARJASATTVA SAMAYAM ANUPĀLAYA VAJRASATTVA TVENOPATISTHA DRDHO ME BHAVA SUTOSYO ME BHAVA SUPOSYO ME BHAVA ANURAKTO ME BHAVA SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYACCHA SARVA KARMASU CA ME CITTAM ŚRĪYAM KURU HŪM HA HA HA HA HOH BHAGAVAN SARVATATHĀGATA VAJRA MĀ ME MUŃCA VAJRA BHAVA MAHĀSAMAYA SATTVA ĀH

This is an extremely important practice. It’s dealt with quite concisely here, but more more elaborate instruction can be found in other teachings on the preliminary practices. This practice is of very tangible benefit. There are other teachings on Atiyoga and so forth that we may consider more esoteric or advanced, but it’s questionable how deeply benefited we can be by those and how much we can truly enter into experience of the Great Perfection. Here, though, is something of practical benefit. If you are familiar with this practice, it’s good to share it with others who may be beginners. By such a practice as this, the two types of obscurations can be purified. Once all of your obscurations have been completely purified, you are a buddha; and that means you have realized the Great Perfection.

Due to ignorance, delusion and stupidity,
I have transgressed my samayas, and they have degenerated.
O spiritual mentor, protector, protect me!
Glorious Lord Vajradhara,
Merciful being of great compassion,
Lord of the world, protect us!
Please cleanse and purify the whole mass
Of sins, obscurations, faults, downfalls, and taints.
By this virtue, may I now
Swiftly actualize Vajrasattva
And quickly bring every sentient being
Without exception to that state.
O Vajrasattva, may we become exactly
Like your form, with your retinue, life span, pure realm,
And with your supreme , excellent signs.

OFFERING THE MANDALA

Once you have begun purifying the two types of obscurations, there is the task of accumulating the two collections of merit and of knowledge for one’s own benefit and the benefit of others. The welfare of others is accomplished in the realization of the Rūpakāya, or form embodiment, of the Buddha; and it is toward accomplishing that end that one offers the mandala.

OM VAJRA BHŪMI ĀH HUM
The basis becomes the powerful golden ground.
OM VAJRA REKHE ĀH HŪM
On the periphery is a surrounding jeweled iron fence.
In the center is the supreme king of mountains,
Majestic in its composition from the five kinds of precious substances.
Lovely in shape, beautiful, and delightful to behold,
Seven golden mountains are surrounded by seven concentric seas.
In the east is the continent Videha, in the south, Jambudvipa,
The west is adorned by Godàniya,
And in the north is the great Uttarakuru;
With the eight sub-continents of Deha and Videha,
Cāmara and Aparacāmara,
Śāthā and Uttaramantrina,
Kurava and Kaurava,
The sun, moon, Rāhu and kālāgni,
And this bounty of wealth and enjoyments of gods and humans
I offer to the precious spiritual mentor and his retinue.
Out of compassion, please accept this for the sake of the world.

Who is Padmasambhava?

PadmasambhavaMandarava

The following is respectfully quoted from “The History of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism” by Dudjom Rinpoche:

He studied all the sūtras, tantras, and sciences under the many scholars and accomplished masters of India, of whom the foremost were: the eight great awareness-holders, from whom he received the Eight Classes of Means for Attainment; Buddhaguhya, from whom he received the Magical Net; and Śri Simha, from whom he received the Great Perfection. Training himself thus, he fully understood all doctrines after studying them only once. He could see the deities even without propitiating them. In this way, he became renowned as Loden Chokse (Intelligent Boon-seeker), and he demonstrated the ultimate attainment of a holder of the awareness of spiritual maturation.

Then he gained influence over Mandāravā, the daughter of King Ārsadhara of Sahor, who possessed marks of a dākinī. He took her to the Māratika Cave, to serve as the consort for his practice; and for three months they practised the means for attainment of longevity. Lord Amitāyus actually came there and empowered them, and he consecrated them to be no different than himself. He granted them one billion rites of longevity, whereby Padmasambhava attained the accomplishment of awareness-holder endowed with power over the duration of his life.

Having thus attained the body of indestructible reality that is beyond birth and death, Padmasambhava went to subdue the kingdom of Sahor. When the king and his ministers tried to immolate him, he performed the miracle [of transforming the pyre into] a lake of sesame oil, in the midst of which he remained seated on a lotus. Thus he secured them in faith and introduced them all to the doctrine, so that they reached the level of no-return.

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