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:


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.


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.

The basis becomes the powerful golden ground.
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?


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.

Prayer: The Gurus of the Six Realms

The following is a prayer from “The Great Perfection Buddha in the Palm of the Hand: The Lama’s Oral Instructions Upon the Recitation and Visualization of the Preliminary Practice of Ngondro” as revealed by Vidydhara Terton Migyur Dorje

The syllable GURU is the Guru in the hell realms, Guru Nampar-nön.

Reddish-black in color, he holds a vajra and a scorpion,

Protecting all beings in hell from the suffering of heat and cold.

The syllable PED is the Guru in the hungry spirit realm, Guru Nam-nang-ched.

Maroon in color, he holds a vajra and an iron phurba,

Protecting all hungry spirits from the suffering of hunger and thirst.

The syllable MA is the Guru in the animal realm, Guru Seng-ha-ten,

Blue-black in color, he holds a damaru and bell,

Protecting all animals from the suffering of inferior persecution,

The syllable SID is the Guru in the human realm, Guru Pema Jung.

White and red in color, he holds a skull and a vajra,

Protecting all humans from the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death.

The syllable DHI is the Guru in the jealous gods realm, Guru Nam-par-gyal.

The color of smoke, he holds a Khatvanga and skull,

Protecting all jealous gods from the suffering of competitive warfare.

The syllable HUNG is the Guru in the god realm, Guru Sid-thub-dzin.

Yellow-white in color, he holds a vajra and bell,

Protecting all gods from the suffering of falling to the lower realms.

These six Gurus protect beings from the suffering of the six realms.

(Here one may repeat the Vajra Guru Mantra as many times as possible)



The One Unfailing Source

From The Spiritual Path:  A Compilation of Teachings by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo

Every great lama has yearned with sincere intensity for the Precious Teacher. How is it that some people have that yearning and others do not? Some people seem shallow and prideful. Others seem blessed with spontaneous devotion and love. What accounts for the difference? You may not believe it, but the key is discipline. The person who holds to the goal of realizing the Guru’s mind has the discipline to renounce the perceptions of the five senses and to see only with the heart of hope. Not ordinary, dualistic hope, but hope born of trust and faith in the Root Teacher. That takes discipline.

You may think you know the nature of the Root Guru, whose job is somehow to teach you. You may think that the person sitting before you, the one you call “Teacher,” will give you great teachings. Yet you fail to realize that you must cultivate that knowledge with your own effort. You think that somehow, if you try to practice—even though you continually go through your mood swings, your battles in life, and so on—it will all work out in the end. That is a foolish assumption.

This path takes tremendous, relentless, sincere effort. But it’s not just how many prostrations you do or how many hours you put into practice. You must cultivate in yourself a profound yearning. You must think: “If these five senses, pleasantly seductive though they may be, can convince me that I am a separate human being who has a right to hate and who wants to live in such a way that I will be born in terrible places—if these five senses can lie to me so that I am tricked into planting seeds in my own mind for endless future suffering—then I must with all my heart cultivate a yearning to be free of them and to take refuge in the one unfailing source.”

What is that source? Is it a thing? A person? A substance? The one unfailing source is the Root Guru, who embodies freedom from all sensory data and from all beliefs that relate to a separate ego-self. When all considerations of self are gone—when you rely not on the false guru of your five senses, but on the absence of hatred, greed and ignorance—that is the one unfailing hope. It is not within the potential of that nature to hurt you. In the relative world, the world of duality, there is nothing but the potential to hurt you. Everything you touch, see, or feel is impermanent, seductive, and illusory. It contains all the potential for creating the causes of suffering and death. It contains the justification for hate, for saying cruel and unkind things, for being crass, gross, or stupid, for caring only about yourself.

There is only one source of unfailing refuge—the Root Guru, the true face. The Root Guru is the Dharmakaya itself. Why then must we view the flesh and blood teacher as the Root Guru, as the undefiled, unchanging nature? Through the vehicle of that Teacher, you are offered the Dharma, the unfailing method to attain realization of your true nature—the ultimate source of refuge. Thus, the Teacher must be understood as a cornucopia, a feast of all things that will bring about salvation from suffering.

There is another level of understanding. Suppose we say: “I am the same as my Root Teacher. To find that out, I only need to go on a magical journey of discovery.” No matter how we disguise it with beautiful words, the very pridefulness which causes that declaration keeps us from genuinely prostrating. It makes our hearts rigid and stiff. That pridefulness keeps us from bothering to feel deeply, from having true devotion. That pridefulness and ignorance can allow you to come into the presence of your Root Teacher and not even think of Guru Rinpoche, not even think of true nature at all. That very pridefulness is what keeps you believing in self. Actually, you believe in self as well as hope for the truth of its reality. This keeps you clinging to self as a source of refuge, believing that if you could be strong enough, or smart enough, or just discover something wonderful about yourself, it would suffice.

The antidote is to recognize, from the depth of your heart, your own nature as inseparable from the Root Guru and as the true source of refuge. Without that realization, you will always suffer. You will desperately attempt to inflate your ego, thinking that the bigger and more powerful you are, the more easily you can overcome suffering by strength alone. One day, however, you will discover that you have not understood the causes of suffering. Look around you. Look at the most beautiful people in the world. Look at the most lovable people, the strongest and smartest people, even the most virtuous. They will all experience death. There is no hope until you take sincere refuge in True Nature, until you are willing to confront your own five senses, saying: “You have lied to me again and again and again.”

© Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo

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