Category Archives: Dharma Practice

Forgiveness

Three Ways to Practice Forgiveness

Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg guides us through an exercise that helps us cultivate kindness toward those who have harmed us (including our own selves).

Three Ways to Practice Forgiveness
Photo by Rob Ireton | https://tricy.cl/2mn8wfH

It is indeed a process, which means that as you do the reflections, many conflicted emotions may arise: shame, anger, a sense of betrayal, confusion, or doubt. Try to allow such states to arise without judging them. Recognize them as natural occurrences, and then gently return your attention to the forgiveness reflection.

The reflection is done in three parts: asking forgiveness from those you have harmed; offering forgiveness to those who have harmed you; and offering forgiveness to yourself. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and let your breath be natural and uncontrolled. Begin with the recitation (silent or not, as you prefer): “If I have hurt or harmed anyone, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask their forgiveness.” If different people, images, or scenarios come up, release the burden of guilt and ask for forgiveness: “I ask your forgiveness.”

After some time, you can offer forgiveness to those who have harmed you. Don’t worry if there is not a great rush of loving feeling; this is not meant to be an artificial exercise, but rather a way of honoring the powerful force of intention in our minds. We are paying respects to our ultimate ability to let go and begin again. We are asserting the human heart’s capacity to change and grow and love. “If anyone has hurt or harmed me, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive them.” And, as different thoughts or images come up mind, continue the recitation, “I forgive you.”

In the end, we turn our attention to forgiveness of ourselves. If there are ways you have harmed yourself, or not loved yourself, or not lived up to your own expectations, this is the time to let go of unkindness toward yourself because of what you have done. You can include any inability to forgive others that you may have discovered on your part in the reflection immediately preceding—that is not a reason to be unkind to yourself. “For all of the ways I have hurt or harmed myself, knowingly or unknowingly, I offer forgiveness.”

Continue this practice as a part of your daily meditation, and allow the force of intention to work in its own way, in its own time.

From Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg 

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Songs of Milarepa

Songs of Milarepa

According to the sutras, the disciples of the Buddha would sometimes compose spontaneous verses during his teaching sessions. Since then, the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition in particular has valued the spontaneous composition of devotional songs, called gur in Tibetan, a translation of the Bengali term doha.

The Tibetan dohas are modeled after the sixth-century songs extemporized by the Indian tantric practitioners known as mahasiddhas, in which they described the realization and secret practices of Vajrayana using allegorical language and complex symbolism. Tibetan translators such as Marpa, the founder of the Kagyii lineage, brought the custom of composing dohas back to Tibet along with other tantric teachings. Marpa’s principal student, the yogin Milarepa, became the greatest Tibetan composer of dohas, expressing the teachings of all yanas in hundreds of songs.

The doha tradition is continued in the West by the extraordinary yogi-scholar Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche and his students. Khenpo Tsultrim teaches throughout the world with a unique combination of refined scholarly precision and yogic exuberance. Often he will end a talk by having his students sing a song that expresses the same teaching he has just spoken about.
Working with Khenpo Tsultrim Rinpoche is a team of translators, who are also his close disciples. They have translated into colloquial English the dohas of both Milarepa and Khenpo Tsultrim. Many of these have been set to Western-style music so they can be sung by Khenpo Tsultrim’s students, alone or in groups. Thus the songs serve as an energizing and inspiring expression of realization and a powerful reminder of the dharma. This reflects the original purpose of the dohas.

Many of the songs presented here deal with the Mahamudra teachings of the Kagyii school, which are at once a description of relative and ultimate reality, an intricate system of meditation, and a deep realization of the inseparability of appearance and emptiness. Milarepa’s “Ten Things It’s Like” is translated by Jim Scott and Ari Goldfield; all other Milarepa songs are translated by Jim Scott. Khenpo Tsultrim’s “All These Forms” is translated and arranged by Jim Scott; all other songs by Khenpo Tsultrim are translated by Ari Goldfield. All are © Marpa Institute for Translation.

Song of Mahamudra

Sung in reply to the challenge raised by three scholars

At the time I’m meditating on Mahamudra
I rest without struggle in actual real being
I rest relaxed in a free-from-wandering space
I rest in a clarity-cradled-in-emptiness space
I rest in awareness and this is blissful space
I rest unruffled in non-conceptual space
In variety’s space I rest in equipoise
And resting like this is native mind itself
A wealth of certainty manifests endlessly
Without even trying, self-luminous mind is at work
Not stuck in expecting results, I’m doing O.K.
No dualism, no hopes and fears, Ho Hey!
Delusion as wisdom, now that’s being cheerful and bright
Delusion transformed into wisdom, now that’s all right!

Song to a Pigeon Goddess Girl

On keeping view, meditation, conduct and fruition free of one-upmanship

E MA HO

Oh Marpa from Lhodrak,[i] you are the one
With that kindness oh so kind
By calling you up from my heart, in my heart
You are when I meditate
Again and again I pray that we never again will separate
The bliss is the bliss of the blending of minds
When your own with the guru is fused
AH LA LA what appearances are
Deep down in their basic being
They’re the ever unborn, the dharmakaya
When this is pointed out
They fuse in the depths of dharmakaya
The ever uncontrived
I do not go checking on views to find out
If my own is high and others are low
This mind that’s not tampered with, left uncontrived
Is when feeling good feels just right
The six-fold collection of consciousness
Is lucid right there in itself
This is the non-dual, perceived/perceiver not two
When this is pointed out
The pleasure and pain duality too
Is two where one and one equals one
What’s left is the depths of the uncontrived mind
You’re home-free in the native state
I do not go checking on conduct to see
If I got it and the others missed out
This mind that’s not tampered with, left uncontrived
Is when feeling good feels just right

What the fruit of this is is dharmakaya
What success is all about
What variety is nirmanakaya
When this is pointed out
They fuse in the depths of all meetings you’ve met
And all memories let go
But to worry and wait for some result to come back
Is not the kind of life for me
This mind that’s not tampered with, left uncontrived
Is when feeling good feels just right

Three Kinds of Confidence in Genuine Reality

At the feet of Marpa the translator I bow
From meditating here and there in natural retreats
I’ve gained confidence that there is no arising
This swept away my taking past and future lives as two
Exposed all six realms’ appearances as false
And cut right through believing all too much in birth and death
I’ve gained confidence in everything as equal
This swept away my taking happiness and grief as two
Exposed the ups and downs of feelings as false
And cut believing there are some to have and some to shun
In inseparability I’ve gained confidence
This swept away samsara and nirvana seen as two
Exposed the exercise of paths and levels as false
And cut right through believing all too much in hope and fear

Eight Wonderful Forms of Happiness

Beloved wish-fulfilling jewel and emanation body
Supreme of lamps that take the darkness of ignorance away
Oh precious Chakravartin king, the one behind the wheel
At your feet, oh Marpa the translator, I bow in trusting homage!

Here at this place so high, at red rock fortress of the sky Here at this meeting place which dakinis[ii] of the four kinds grace This old man on this site which fills him up with such delight
Experiences so strong a heart-felt joy I put to song
And you whose knowledge penetrates, who with perseverance meditate
All you students gathered here, please listen with attentive ear!
This mountain retreat that’s free of dogmatism and narrow mind
Is the guide that nurtures and sustains samadhi experiences
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one who knows that the body itself is the monastery is happy
That native mind itself is pure like space is emaho![iii]
When faith has grown reliable and free of fickle change
This is the guide that helps you in abandoning samsara
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one for whom samsara/nirvana are free on the spot is happy
This completion of four kayas in your mind is emaho!

The meeting of appearances of the six kinds of consciousness
This is the guide that turns adverse conditions into a path
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one for whom desire and craving have been fulfilled is happy
The rope that ties perceiver and perceived when cut is emaho!
A guru truly reliable belonging to a lineage
This is the guide on the path of dispelling the darkness of ignorance Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one who relies on a guru who is buddha in person is happy
The mind’s own recognition of itself is emaho!

These cotton clothes I’m wearing which are neither hot nor cold
This is the guide for travelers whose retreat is in the snows
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one who is not intimidated by heat and cold is happy
To be able to lie down naked in the snow is emaho!
The instructions that make it possible to connect up with transference
This is the guide for conquering all bardo fears you have
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one who makes no split between this life and the next is happy
To arrive at last in pure being’s expanse is emaho!
The path of special skills so deep of the whispered lineage[iv]
The guide that separates the murkiness from lucid mind
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one whose bliss of body and mind grows more and more is happy
The entry of the life force in avadhuti[v] is emaho!
The yogi who has reached success in emptiness compassion
This is the guide for cutting through complexity’s conventions
Is there anyone here who is able to keep to this path and follow it through
The one with realization with a retinue is happy
To gather emanations as a retinue is emaho!
This little song of experience on eight forms of happiness
Which this old man has felt inspired to sing for you like this
Might just light up the practice heart for you who aregathered here
It came from a yogi’s joyfulness
Put it in your hearts and forget it not!

The Utpattikrama[vi] Song

Whenever I’m meditating on the yidam[vii] generation stage
My body is rainbow-like in the sky of appearance emptiness
Not turning that into a mental fixation, craving is consumed
Speech is sound and emptiness—like an echo in an empty dale
With neither good nor bad about it, to indulge or refuse are consumed
Mind is luminous emptiness—like the light of the sun and the moon
Without the slightest bias in it, the idea of a self is consumed
What is thought of as usual body and speech and usual rational mind
Are self-existent vajra[viii] body and speech, self-existent vajra heart
There’s nothing left of the usual triple gates and what a relief!
Whatever I do it fits with dharma and that puts me in a state of delight
My way of life is a dharma journey—that’s why I’m cheerful and bright

No Birth, No Base, and Union

The true nature of appearances is that they’ve never been born
If birth seems to happen it’s just clinging, nothing more
The spinning wheel of existence has neither a base nor a root
If things seem to be stable, that’s only a thought
The true nature of the mind is union, inseparability
If you separate its aspects, you’re hooked on some view
The sign of the true lamas is that they hold a lineage
The ones who make stuff up are just being dumb
The mind’s basic reality is like the clear and open sky
But the dark clouds of thoughts just cover it all up
So let the lama’s pith advice
Be the wind that blows those clouds away
Even confused thoughts themselves are clear light that shines so brilliantly
Experiences so bright like sun and moonlight
Without any direction, clarity shines timelessly
You cannot hold it, you can’t say what it is
So many kinds of certainty shine like the stars in the sky
Whatever arises is the greatest bliss
Its nature is simplicity, the dharmakaya expanse
The six dependent appearances are empty naturally
This natural flow is effortless, there’s not a klesha in sight
Within this basic state, completely relaxed
Wisdom without fixation abides continuously
The three kayas inseparable—the greatest miracle

The Ten Things It’s Like

When compassion wells up from within the depths of my heart
I see the three realms’ beings like they’re burning in a pit of fire
When I’m clinging in my heart to the teachings of the whispered lineage
That clinging just dissolves, like salt dissolving in water
When primordial wisdom arises inside, all doubts about it
Where you’re thinking maybe this is it, or maybe this is not it
Are like dreaming that you’re meditating when you also know that you are dreaming
And the post-meditation is what happens when you wake up from that dream
When great bliss is embraced by the view of emptiness
Everything appearing liberates itself like bubbles on the water
When you know the true nature of everything to be known
The wisdom that’s aware of the true nature is like a cloud-free sky
When the mud settles down and mind’s river is crystal clear
Self-arisen awareness is like a polished mirror’s shine
When the base-consciousness dissolves in the dharmakaya
The skandhas born of craving and grasping get crushed like an egg
When you’ve cut the rope of clinging then the bardo in between two lives
Is like a snake tied in a knot, the knot just comes untied
When your conduct is free of all adopting and all rejecting
The mind just settles down in a space that’s action-free
And this mind that settles down in a space that’s action-free
Is like the body and the mind and roar of a lion in his prime
Bright appearance, bright emptiness, and wisdom bright
Are like the blazing sun when it’s shining in a cloud-free sky
Bright appearance, bright emptiness, and wisdom bright
Are like the blazing sun when it’s shining in a cloud-free sky

Songs of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso

The Sky-Dragon’s Profound Roar

Up in the sky’s expanse, true being, unborn, forever pure
Beautiful is the world below me—how many colors do I see
But when I look, I can’t find anything that’s born or has a root
So the time has come to meditate on true reality, of ego-clinging free

All my possessions, all that I enjoy, are like rainbows in the sky
Even their smallest parts have no essence—they do not exist at all
So when I enjoy illusory pleasures, empty/appearing tea and beer
It’s time to rest in mind’s full moon—empty awareness, radiant clarity

The stages of practice of the Tathagata’s view and meditation
Are skillful methods that clear away ordinary thoughts
So I train in appearance and mind being without base or root—
When sickness and death suddenly strike, I’ll be ready, without regret

In the pattern that this world and life’s appearances weave
Visions of parents, relatives and friends are like illusions and dreams
Like morning mist, they are fleeting, and at the time they dissolve
That’s the time to search for unborn confused mind’s basic reality

In the baseless, rootless and empty confused appearances of life
We suffer from heat and from cold and from so many other things
But diligence in Secret Yana’s practices, so powerful
Makes fox-like cowardice be free all by itself—the time has come!
To what we beautify with hats and clothes, to this heap of elements
We offer tasty food and many other things—whatever we may find pleasing
But the carelessness and craziness of this life will end one day
So be ready to be fearless of the judgement of the mighty Lord of Death

From the country of great snow mountains, a realm of dharma
Having crossed many hills and valleys and now flying through the sky
I purify illusory flesh and blood into empty/appearing deity
Paths and bhumis’ realizations self-liberated—in this I train
Ha Ha! Dechen Rangdrol’s[ix]conduct that’s attachment-free
A Ho! It’s time to fly in the expanse of sky of spacious Mother

The Miraculous View, Meditation, Conduct and Fruition: A Little Song at the Heart of the Profound Meaning

Namo Shri Hasa Vajra Ye!

In twenty mighty fortresses and in eight great caves
For the lineage practicing the definitive meaning, you showed the way
With such profound view and meditation
Profound conduct and fruition
Great Shepa Dorje,[x] all yogis call you “King”
As you sit on my heart’s lotus throne, I make you offerings!

A view to hold, a person with a theory
All of this is just conceptual activity
The most profound meaning leaves it all behind—
Ultimate reality transcends the thinking mind
With scripture and reasoning as its adorning jewels
This explanation of view is a miracle.

Within emptiness, clear light, mind’s reality
Without effort, fresh, resting relaxedly
Completely naturally, you just settle in
That’s all there is in meditation
The skill in the practice involves realizing
That there’s no object and no one meditating
With this skill as its adorning jewel
This meditation is a miracle.

Actions of body and speech are of such variety
And when they are in motion, doing whatever it may be
Join them with view and meditation that transcend conceptuality
For these are the greatest friends of conduct’s activity
When not practicing formal meditation
Enter the samadhi where all experience is illusion
Illusion-like samadhi is the adorning jewel
Of this conduct that is a miracle.

Mind’s true nature is primordial purity
In its natural state it has always been free
Nothing to attain, no one attaining anything
No attaining at all can be seen
Yet dependently arising, and labeled by convention
Is the appearance of someone attaining fruition!
With this appearance as its adorning jewel
This fruition is a miracle!

Besides all of this, in addition
These are great miracles for another reason—
Samsara and nirvana, in genuine reality
Are of the nature of complete equality
Kleshas self-liberated are primordial awareness
So view, meditation, conduct and fruition are miraculous!

Again, these are the amazing ones—
View, meditation, conduct and fruition
When free from doubt, you’re sure about these four
It’s a sign you’ve practiced in lives before!
Realizing this is a wonderful feeling
Let it be a cause for your rejoicing!

Through this virtue may everyone
Practice miraculous view, meditation, conduct and fruition!
By doing so in this life, and into infinity
May others’ benefit be accomplished spontaneously!

Auspiciousness that Lights up the Universe

Namo Guru Hasa Vajra Ye!

You see that everything in samsara and nirvana
Is merely dependently arisen
You see the dharmata, the true being
That is the essence of all dependent arising
The power of your great insight
Fills the universe with auspicious light
Oh mighty Shepa Dorje
Please rise up now from within my heart.

Ground’s basic nature transcends conceptuality
And like watermoons, appearances arise dependently
May everyone realize that this is true
And dispel the darkness cast by doubt and wrong view
And may their realization’s auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

The vision of your wisdom is amazing
You see just how things are, you see everything
As parents lovetheir children, so you love all beings
You bring us benefit and happiness
Your power makes disciples out of your enemies
May your auspiciousness light up the universe!

For samsara’s cause, clinging to “I” and me,
The dharma realizing selflessness is the greatest remedy
May all beings use it to pacify
Their confused belief that there is an “I”
And by the power of this great happening
May auspiciousness light up the universe!

The ways of ordinary beings, you have left behind
Noble ones who realize reality, the true nature of mind
May you lead all ordinary beings
Who have not yet entered to the path of peace
And by this may auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

May the yidams who bestow the siddhis
And the protectors who clear obstacles away
Eliminate all harmful conditions
Everything adverse to the path
And by this may auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

May the noble path of nonviolence
Flourish in all the worlds there are
When beings meet and interact
May the connections they make be filled with love
And by this may auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

At the twilight of this century
That has been one of such prosperity
May struggle over wealth and gain
Disappear and not be seen again
Free from strife and violence
May all enjoy great abundance
And by this may auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

This has been a century
When science has advanced incredibly
Amazing and wondrous, these new machines
That have brought the gods’ enjoyments to human beings
May they be used with skill supreme
To end violence and cause peace to reign
And by this may auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

May the sciences that explore outside
Be joined with the inner science of the mind
To excellently put an end
To mistaken views and confusion
And by this may auspiciousness
Light up the whole universe!

The source of all this auspiciousness
Is the true nature of mind, so luminous!
So may realization of mind, just as it is
Set the universe ablaze with auspicious excellence!

Through all of this auspiciousness
Wherever its light may be seen
With the love and the compassion
That make bodhichitta mind supreme
May this thought arise in everyone:
“Other beings’ happiness is as important as my own”
And may excellent virtue and auspiciousness
Always increase, never diminish!

All These Forms

All these forms—appearance emptiness
Like a rainbow with its shining glow
In the reaches of appearance emptiness
Just let go and go where no mind goes

Every sound is sound and emptiness
Like the sound of an echo’s roll
In the reaches of sound and emptiness
Just let go and nowhere no mind goes

Every feeling is bliss and emptiness
Way beyond what words can show
In the reaches of bliss and emptiness
Just let go and go where no mind goes

All awareness—awareness emptiness
Way beyond what thought can know
In the reaches of appearance emptiness
Let awareness go—oh, where no mind goes


[i] Marpa from Lhodrak: great Tibetan teacher and translator who made three trips to India and brought back the Mahamudra teachings. He was a student of the great Indian pandita Naropa and principal teacher of Milarepa.

[ii] dakini (Skt.): female figures that exist in a playful realm at the highest level of reality. A principal form of Vajrayana practice is the visualization of the dakinis’ wrathful or semi-wrathful forms, and their male counterparts, arrayed with detailed adornments representing enlightened characteristics.

[iii] emaho (Skt.): a yogic exclamation of joy and realization. Pronounced ay-mah-ho.

[iv] whispered lineage: an epithet for the Kagyü lineage emphasizing the oral tradition of passing the teachings from teacher to student.

[v] avadhuti (Skt.): the central channel of the subtle (pranic) body used in yogic practices of the Vajrayana.

[vi] Utpattikrama (Skt.): a stage in Vajrayana meditation practice during which the practitioner generates the visualization of a yidam and holds it in the mind.

[vii] yidam (Tib.): a deity visualized during Vajrayana practice. Yidams are understood to embody the empty and egoless quality of the practitioner and therefore serve to awaken one’s true nature. (Skt., siddhi.)

[viii] vajra (Skt.): in Vajrayana, refers to an indestructibility born of emptiness. It is the true nature of reality, unborn, uncreated and yet brilliant and indestructible like a diamond.

[ix] Dechen Rangdrol (Tib.): an epithet for Khenpo Tsultrim.

[x] Shepa Dorje (Tib.): an epithet for Milarepa.

Damchoe – Food Offering

Tonpa Lame Sangye Rinpoche

To the teacher above all teachers, the Precious Buddha.

Kyopa Lame Damcho Rinpoche

To the protection above all protections, the Precious Dharma.

Drenpa Lame Gendun Rinpoche

To the guides above all guides, the Precious Sangha.

Kyabne Konchok Sumla Chodpa Bul

I offer this to the three jewels, the rare and supreme objects of refuge.

Reflections for the Prayer

Usually we dive into a plate of food with great attachment, little mindfulness, and even less real enjoyment. Instead, we can pause before eating and reflect on our motivation. Here we think that we are not eating for temporary pleasure or to make our body attractive. Rather, we eat to keep our body healthy so that we can practice the Dharma and benefit all beings. Reflecting on the kindness of those who planted, harvested, transported, and packaged our food, we feel interconnected with them and want to repay their kindness by using the occasion of eating to create merit for their benefit. For this reason, we offer the food.
Ven. Thupten Chodron

Hand Mudras

Mudras: Meaning of Sacred Hand Gestures

Mudras are sacred hand gestures or positions that used to evoke a state of mind. The Sanskrit word “mudra” means “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”. In Tibetan the word is ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ or “chakgya”. Each of these sacred hand gestures has a specific meaning. Many of them symbolize major moments or events in the Buddha’s life.

8 Mudras and their Meaning

Sacred hand gestures or mudras are often depicted in Buddhist art. In this blog we’d like to share descriptions and images of some common mudras. The list here is not exhaustive.

The Earth Witness Mudra

When Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, was meditating under the Bodhi tree, he was assailed by the demon Mara, who tried to disturb his mind. Mara represents the passions that trap and delude us. Siddhartha refused to be tempted from the path to enlightenment and he called on the earth to witness his worthiness to become enlightened, saying, “The earth shall be my witness, I will not let myself be seduced.” In the Earth Witness Mudra, (also known as the Bhumisparsa Mudra or Gesture of Witness), the historical Buddha is seated in the meditation posture and touches the earth with the fingertips of his right hand, palm facing inwards. The left hand is placed in the lap with the palm facing upwards.

The Mudra of Meditation

The Mudra of Meditation (dhyana) is made by placing both hands on the lap, right hand on the left, with the palms facing upwards, the tips of the thumbs touching, and the fingers fully stretched. This mudra helps to calm the mind for meditation and is used for deep contemplation and reflection. The mudra of meditation is a characteristic gesture of the Buddha Shakyamuni.

The Namaskara or Anjali Mudra

This mudra, while not found in representations of the Buddha or other deities, is commonly used by nuns, monks, and lay people to symbolize devotion, prayer, and admiration. Called the Namaskara Mudra or the Anjali Mudra, it is used as a common form of greeting in most Asian countries. Anjali is a Sanskrit word which means “salutation” or “to offer” and Namaskar is Hindi for “good day”. To make this mudra, you bring your palms together in front of your heart space, fingers pointing upwards, and thumbs close to the chest, to symbolize honor, respect, and devotion.

Mudra of Holding the Jewel or Manidhara Mudra

The Mudra of Holding the Jewel looks very similar to the Namaskara Mudra or the Anjali Mudra shown above. Also called the Manidhara Mudra, it is made by holding one’s hands together in front but with the palms and fingers slightly arched, holding the precious, wish-fulfilling jewel. This jewel or gem is also depicted in Tibetan prayer flags, carried upon the back of the Lung Ta  or wind horse. This sacred hand gesture of holding the jewel is a mudra of Avalokiteshvara, a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. The Tibetan word for Avalokiteshvara is Chenrezig (སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་). The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Chenrezig,

The Mandala Offering Mudra

The Mandala Offering Mudra is a complex and sacred hand gesture that acts as a symbolic offering of the entire universe for the benefit of all sentient beings. Performing the Mandala Offering Mudra helps to reduce one’s attachment and to purify the clinging mind. Although this mudra is usually made together with prayers and Buddhist chants, non-Buddhists can also perform it to receive its spiritual benefits.

To make this complex mudra, sit in meditation pose with your back straight. Calm your breathing and visualize offering the mandala – the universe – to the Buddha, bodhisattvas, and all holy beings, giving with great joy and with purity of heart. Place your hands palms up and intertwine your fingers. With the tips of your thumbs, press down on the tips of the opposite little finger. Then, with the bent tips of your index fingers, press down on the tip of the opposite middle finger. Finally, take your ring fingers, unclasp them, and put them back to back, pressing the backs together and with both fingers going straight up through the center. Together the ring fingers symbolize Mt. Meru, the sacred mountain, and the four continents described in Buddhist cosmology.

Vitarka Mudra or Teaching Mudra

The Vitarka Mudra (the Mudra of Teaching or Discussion) is a common mudra representing the discussion and transmission of Buddhist teachings. It is formed by joining the tips of the thumb and index finger together to form a circle, keeping the other three fingers pointing straight up. The circle formed by the joined fingers symbolizes perfection with no beginning or end.

This mudra is usually made with one hand, most often the right one, with the hand held upward close to the chest and the palm facing outward. However, the mudra may also be made with both hands held in front of the chest, with each index finger and thumb joined in a circle. When two hands are used, the left palm faces inward and the right palm is turned outward. The Teaching Mudra represents the Buddha’s first teaching after becoming enlightened. It also symbolizes the “Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma” or Dharmachakra. There are a great number of variations of this mudra in Mahayana Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is the mystic gesture of Taras and bodhisattvas.

Generosity Mudra or Varada Mudra

The Varada Mudra is the gesture of generosity, charity, and compassion. It is commonly found in representations of the Green and White Tara. This sacred hand gesture represents the granting of blessings, wishes, or even pardon. It also symbolizes the “gift of truth” – the precious gift of the dharma or Buddhist teachings. In the Varada Mudra, the palm faces out and hangs down, usually touching the right leg. This mudra is often used in conjunction with another mudra. The five fingers represent the five perfections: generosity, morality, patience, diligence, and meditation.

Mudra of Fearlessness or Abhaya Mudra

Abhaya in Sanskrit means fearlessness. The Mudra of Fearlessness or the Abhaya Mudra symbolizes the dispelling of fear. It can look to Westerners like the common hand gesture for “stop”. The mudra is made by raising the right hand to shoulder height, with the arm bent and the palm facing outward. This mudra is more commonly depicted in standing images.

This very ancient hand gesture is also a sign of peace and friendship. Placing one’s hand up and open in this way indicates that one is free of weapons and comes in peace. In Buddhism, the mudra shows the fearlessness and therefore the spiritual power of the Buddha or bodhisattva who makes it.

It is said that the historical Buddha made this sacred hand gesture immediately after gaining enlightenment. At a later time, the Buddha was about to be attacked by a mad elephant. The poor animal had been fed alcohol and tortured by one who hoped to use the elephant as a weapon against the Buddha. The elephant, enraged and in pain, charged at the Buddha and his followers. While others ran away, the Buddha stood calmly, raising his hand in the gesture of fearlessness. He felt great love and compassion for the stricken elephant. In response, the elephant stopped in its charge, became calm, and then approached the Buddha and bowed its head.

A note about the images of mudras: The thangka prints shown in this blog post were donated to the Tibetan Nuns Project by a generous donor. A range of thangka prints are available through our online store, with all proceeds from sales going to help the nuns. We are very grateful to Olivier Adam for sharing his beautiful photos. Many of his photos are available as cards through our online store. Prints of Olivier Adam’s photographs are available through his Etsy shop, Daughters of Buddha.

The post Mudras: Meaning of Sacred Hand Gestures appeared first on Tibetan Nuns Project.

By Tibetan Nuns Project on Jun 07, 2018 09:28 am

Lama Karma Chotso Of Kagyu South Florida Buddhist Center teaches her students how to properly do the Offering Mudras used at their weekly practice of White Mahakala and others.

Lama Karma Chotso Of Kagyu South Florida Buddhist Center teaches her students how to properly do the Medicine Buddha Mudras used at their weekly practice.

8 Auspicious Symbols

 8 Auspicious Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism 8 Auspicious Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism

There are eight different auspicious symbols of Buddhism, and many say that these signify the gifts that God made to the Buddha when he achieved nirvana.

The Parasol

The parasol, in other words, an umbrella is a traditional Indian symbol of royalty and protection from the raging heat of the tropical sun. The coolness of its shade signifies shield from the aching heat of suffering, temptation, hindrances, illnesses, and harmful forces. As a symbol of secular wealth, the greater the number of parasols carried in the entourage of a dignity, the higher his social rank would appear. Conventionally thirteen parasols defined the status of a king, and the early Indian Buddhists adopted this number as a symbol of the dominion of the Buddha as the ‘universal monarch’. Thirteen stacked umbrella-wheels form the conical spires of the various stupas that honored the main events of the Buddha’s life, or preserved his relics. This exercise was later applied to virtually all Tibetan Buddhist stupa designs. The great Indian teacher, Dipankara Atisha, who revived Buddhism in Tibet during the eleventh century, qualified for an entourage of thirteen parasols.

 The Parasol The Parasol

Patterns of Different Parasols

The emblematic Buddhist parasol is shaped from a long white or red sandalwood handle or axle-pole, which is embellished at its top with a small golden lotus, vase, and jewel filial. Over its domed frame is stretched white or yellow silk, and from the circular rim of this frame hangs a pleated silk frieze with many multi-coloured silk pendants and valances. A decorative golden crest-bar with makara-tail scrolling generally defines the parasol’s circular rim, and its hanging silk frieze may also be embellished with peacock feathers, hanging jewel chains, and yak-tail pendants.

 Ceremonial silk parasol Ceremonial silk parasol

A ceremonial silk parasol is traditionally around four feet in diameter, with a long axle-pole that enables it to be held at least three feet above the head. Square and octagonal parasols are also common, and large yellow or red silk parasols are frequently suspended above the throne of the reigning lama, or above the central divinity image in reclusive assembly halls. The white or yellow silk parasol is an ecclesiastic symbol of sovereignty, whilst a peacock feather parasol more specifically represents secular authority. The dome of the parasol represents wisdom, and its hanging silk pelmets the various methods of compassion. The white parasol that was presented to the Buddha by the serpent-spirits’ majesty symbolizes his aptitude to defend all beings from delusions and fears.

In Tibet, depending on their rank, various personages were entitled to different parasols, with religious heads being entitled to a silk one and secular rulers to a parasol with embroidered peacock feathers. Lofty personalities such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama are entitled to both, and in processions, first a peacock parasol and then a silk one is carried after him. When you visit Tibet, you will find these symbols in various festivals where such notables take part.

The Pair of Golden Fishes

In Sanskrit the pair of fishes is known as Matsyayugma, meaning ‘coupled fish’. This indicates their origin as an antique symbol of the two main sacred rivers of India, the Ganges and Yamuna. Symbolically these two holy rivers represent the lunar and solar channels or psychic nerves, which originate in the nostrils and carry the alternating rhythms of breath.

 The Pair of Golden Fishes The Pair of Golden Fishes

Symbolic Meaning of Symmetrical Fishes

In Buddhism the golden fishes represent happiness and impulsiveness, as they have complete liberty of movement in the water. They epitomize fertility and profusion, as they multiply very rapidly. They embody freedom from the fetters of caste and status, as they mingle and touch readily. Fish often swim in pairs, and in China a pair of fishes symbolize conjugal harmony and loyalty, with a brace of fishes being traditionally given as a wedding present.

 The Pair of Golden Fishes A vessel stamped with the pair of golden fishes

The auspicious symbol of the two fishes that were offered to the Buddha was probably embellished in gold thread upon a piece of Benares silk. The sea in Tibetan Buddhism is associated with the world of suffering, known as the cycle of samsara. The Golden Fish have been said to signify courage and contentment as they swim spontaneously through the oceans without drowning, freely and instinctively, just as fish swim freely without fear through the water. The fishes symbolize happiness, for they have complete freedom in the water. They are traditionally drawn in the form of carp, which are commonly regarded in Asia as elegant due to their size, shape and longevity. If you visit Tibet, you can find this in various monasteries and areas where the message is conveyed.

The Treasure Vase

The golden treasure vase, or ‘vase of inexhaustible treasures’, is exhibited upon the traditional Indian clay water pot. This pot is known as a kalasha or kumbha, with a flat base, round body, narrow neck, and fluted upper rim. This womb-like sacred kumbha is venerated in India at the great religious ‘pot festival’ of the Kumbh Mela. The treasure vase is mostly a representation of certain prosperity deities, including JambhalaVaishravana, and Vasudhara, where it often appears as a trait beneath their feet. One form of the wealth goddess Vasudhara stands upon a pair of horizontal treasure vases that spill an endless stream of jewels.

 The Treasure Vase The Treasure Vase sign printed on the wall

As the divine ‘vase of plenty’, it possesses the quality of natural display, because regardless of how much treasure is removed from the vase it remains perpetually full. The typical Tibetan treasure vase is represented as a highly ornate golden vase, with lotus-petal motifs radiating around its various sections. A single wish-granting gem, or a group of three gems, seals its upper rim as a symbol of the Three Jewels of the Buddha, dharma, and sangha.

 The Treasure Vase Two Treasure Vase products

The great treasure vase, as described in the Buddhist mandala offering, is shaped from gold and studded with an assembly of precious gems. A silk scarf from the god realm is tied around its neck, and its top is sealed with a wish-granting tree. The roots of this tree pervade the contained waters of longevity, amazingly creating all manner of treasures. Sealed treasure vases may be placed or buried at sacred geomantic locations, such as mountain passes, pilgrimage sites, springs, rivers, and oceans. Here their function is both to spread profusion to the milieu and to mollify the indigenous spirits who stand in these places. Besides the iconography of the Eight Auspicious Symbols, Treasure Vases filled with saffron water are found near the shrine offerings in a Tibetan Buddhist temple.

The Lotus

The Indian lotus, which grows from the dark watery swamp but is unblemished by it, is a major Buddhist symbol of purity and renunciation. It epitomizes the prospering of wholesome activities, which are performed with complete liberty from the liabilities of cyclic existence. The lotus seats upon the divine origin, the seats of gods. They are spotlessly conceived, characteristically perfect, and unquestionably pure in their body, speech, and mind. The deities manifest into cyclic existence, yet they are completely unadulterated by its defilements, emotional hindrances, and mental obscuration.

 The Lotus The Lotus symbol in Tibetan Buddhism

Surya, the Vedic sun god, holds a lotus in each of his hands, denoting the sun’s path across the heavens. Brahma, the Vedic god of creation, was born from a golden lotus that grew from the navel of Vishnu, like a lotus growing from an umbilical stem. Padmasambhava, the ‘lotus born’ tantric master who introduced Buddhism into Tibet, was similarly divinely conceived from an incredible lotus, which blossomed upon Dhanakosha Lake in the western Indian kingdom of Uddiyana.

Shape and Colors of Buddhist Lotus

The Buddhist lotus is described as having four, eight, sixteen, twenty-four, thirty-two, sixty-four, a hundred, or a thousand petals. These numbers emblematically correspond to the internal lotuses or chakras of the subtle body, and to the numerical components of the mandala. As a hand-held attribute the lotus is usually coloured pink or light red, with eight or sixteen petals. Lotus blossoms may also be coloured white, yellow, golden, blue, and black. The white or ‘edible lotus’ is an attribute of the Buddha Sikhin, and a sixteen-petaled white utpala lotus is held by White Tara. The yellow lotus and the golden lotus are generally known as padma, and the more common red or pink lotus is usually identified as the kamala.

 Buddha baseLotus blossom as the Buddha base

The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies above the water, reclining in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primordial mud of greediness, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment. Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface. You can see Buddha sits on a lotus blossom in Tibet.

The Right-turning Conch Shell

The white conch shell, which spirals towards the right in a clockwise direction, is an ancient Indian attribute of the heroic gods, whose enormous conch shell horns proclaimed their valour and triumphs in war. Vishnu’s fire-emanating conch was named Panchajanya, meaning ‘possessing control over the five classes of beings’. Arjuna’s conch was known as Devadatta, meaning ‘god-given’, whose successful blast struck terror in the enemy. As a battle horn the conch is akin to the modern bugle, as an insignia of power, authority, and sovereignty. Its promising blast is believed to banish evil spirits, avert natural disasters, and scare away harmful creatures. In the Hindu tradition the Buddha is recognized as the ninth of Vishnu’s ten incarnations.

 The Right-turning Conch Shell The Right-turning Conch Shell

Conch Shell and Buddha’s teaching

The early Buddhists adopted it as a logo of the sovereignty of the Buddha’s teachings. Here the conch symbolizes his fearlessness in proclaiming the truth of the dharma, and his call to awaken and work for the benefit of others. One of the thirty- two major signs of the Buddha’s body is his deep and resonant conch-like voice, which resounds throughout the ten directions of space. In iconography the three conch-like curved lines on his throat embody this sign. As one of the eight auspicious symbols the white conch is usually depicted vertically, often with a silk ribbon threaded through its lower extremity. Its right spiral is indicated by the curve and aperture of its mouth, which faces towards the right. The conch may also appear as a horizontally positioned receptacle for aromatic liquids or perfumes . As a hand-held trait, symbolizing the decree of the Buddha dharma as the feature of speech, the conch is usually held in the left ‘wisdom’ hand of deities.

 Buddha’s teaching A Buddha-teaching thangka

Today the conch is used in Tibetan Buddhism to call together religious assemblies. During the genuine practice of rituals, it is used both as a musical instrument and as a container for holy water. You will often come across it if you visit the holy areas of Tibet.

The endless or glorious knot

In its final development as a symmetrical Buddhist symbol the eternal knot or ‘lucky diagram’, which is described as ‘turning like a swastika’, was identified with the shrivatsa-svastika, since these parallel symbols were common to most early Indian traditions of the astamangala. The eternal, endless, or mystic knot is common to many ancient traditions, and became particularly ground-breaking in Islamic and Celtic designs. In China it is a symbol of longevity, continuity, love, and harmony. As a symbol of the Buddha’s mind the eternal knot epitomises the Buddha’s endless wisdom and compassion. As a symbol of the Buddha’s teachings it characterises the continuity of the ‘twelve links of dependent origination’, which triggers the reality of cyclic existence.

 The endless knotThe endless knot yak bone pendant

It depicts the nature of reality where everything is interrelated and only exists as part of a web of karma and its effect. Having no beginning or end, it also represents the infinite wisdom of the Buddha, and the union of empathy and knowledge. Also, it signifies the illusory character of time, and long life as it is endless. This is seen in almost every Buddhist monastery or temple in Tibet.

The Victory Banner

As a representation of the Buddha’s victory over the four maras, the early Buddhists adopted Kamadeva’s emblem of the crocodile-headed makaradhvaja, and four of these banners were established in the cardinal directions surrounding the illumination stupa of the Buddha. Similarly the gods elected to place a banner of victory on the summit of Mt Meru, to honour the Buddha as the ‘Conqueror’ who defeated the armies of Mara. This ‘victorious banner of the ten directions’ is described as having a jewelled pole, a crescent moon and sun finial, and a hanging triple band role of three coloured silks that are ornamented with the ‘three victorious creatures of harmony’.

 The Victory Banner The Victory Banner

Design of Victory Banner

Within the Tibetan tradition a list of eleven different forms of the victory banner is given to represent eleven specific methods for overpowering destructions. Many variations of the banner’s design can be seen on monastery and temple roofs, where four banners are commonly placed at the roof’s corners to symbolize the Buddha’s victory over the four maras. In its most traditional form the victory banner is fashioned as a cylindrical ensign mounted upon a long wooden axle-pole. The top of the banner takes the form of a small white parasol, which is surmounted by a central wish-granting gem.

 Victory Banner Victory Banner on the roof of the monastery

This domed parasol is rimmed by an ornate golden crest-bar with makara-tailed ends, from which hangs a billowing yellow or white silk scarf. The cylindrical body of the banner is draped with overlapping vertical layers of multi-coloured silk valances and hanging jewels. A billowing silk apron with flowing ribbons adorns its base. The upper part of the cylinder is often decorated with a frieze of tiger-skin, symbolizing the Buddha’s victory over all anger and hostility. As a hand-held pennant the victory banner is an attribute of many deities, particularly those associated with wealth and power, such as Vaishravana, the Great Guardian King of the north. These can found in the roof tops of holy places in Tibet.

The Wheel

Buddhism assumed the wheel as the main insignia of the ‘wheel-turning’ Chakravartin or ‘universal monarch’, identifying this wheel as the dharmachakra or ‘wheel of dharma’ of the Buddha’s teachings. The Tibetan term for dharmachakra means the ‘wheel of transformation’ or spiritual change. The wheel’s rapid motion represents the fast spiritual transformation revealed in the Buddha’s teachings. The wheel’s comparison to the rotating weapon of the chakravartin represents its ability to cut through all obstacles and illusions.

 The Wheel The Wheel on the rooftop of Jokhang Temple

The Buddha’s first discourse at the Deer Park in Sarnath, where he first taught the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path, is known as his ‘first turning of the wheel of dharma’. His subsequent great discourses at Rajghir and Shravasti are known as his second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma.

Major Components of the Wheel

The three components of the wheel – hub, spokes, and rim – symbolize the three aspects of the Buddhist teachings upon integrities, wisdom, and attentiveness. The central hub represents ethical discipline, which centres and stabilizes the mind. The sharp spokes represent wisdom or discriminating awareness, which cuts through ignorance. The rim represents meditative concentration, which both encompasses and facilitates the motion of the wheel. A wheel with a thousand spokes, which emanate like the rays of the sun, represents the thousand activities and teachings of the Buddhas. A wheel with eight spokes symbolizes the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path, and the transmission of these teachings towards the eight directions.

 Whtie Jade wheel The wheel symbolic white-jade jewelry

The auspicious wheel is labelled as being fashioned from pure gold obtained from the Jambud River of our ‘world continent’, Jambudvipa. It is traditionally depicted with eight spokes, and a central hub with three or four rotating ‘swirls of joy’, which spiral outward. When three swirls are shown in the central hub they represent the Three Jewels of the Buddha, dharma, and sangha, and victory over the three poisons of ignorance, desire, and aversion.

 The Wheel The bottom of the wheel usually rests upon a small lotus base

When four swirls are depicted they are usually colored to correspond to the four directions and elements, and symbolize the Buddha’s teachings upon the Four Noble Truths. The rim of the wheel may be depicted as a simple circular ring, often with small circular gold embellishments extending towards the eight directions. Alternatively, it may be depicted within an ornate pear-shaped surround, which is fashioned from scrolling gold embellishments with inset jewels. A silk ribbon is often draped behind the wheel’s rim, and the bottom of the wheel usually rests upon a small lotus base. This is visible in plenty of monasteries in Tibet such as the rooftop of Jokhang Temple and Drepung Monastery, etc.

April,23 2018 BY Master Kungga Dundruk

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche 1934-

Khenpo Rinpoche is an accomplished Buddhist meditation master and scholar from Eastern Tibet. Known for his highly engaging teaching style, he teaches the Buddhist view and meditation throughout the world. This website is dedicated to sharing his teachings and supporting his Dharma communities worldwide.

When I was born, I was born alone.
When I die, I will leave alone for certain.
Knowing this, I take delight, between these two stages,
In places of solitude, where I wander, alone.
Seeking out the path of liberation.
-KHENPO TSÜLTRIM GYAMTSO RINPOCHE

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche is one of the foremost living teachers of the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, a great scholar and master of meditation who traveled the world teaching in Buddhism centres everywhere.

In his late teens and early twenties he trained as a yogin in Tibet with a local yogin known as Zopa Tharchin. He spent his early youth in retreat in the mountains until his teacher told him to study for the benefit of others. A renowned scholar, he excels in philosophical debate and always aims to turn the minds of his opponents and students towards their own inner experience rather than getting lost in intellectual fabrications.

After the communist invasion of Tibet, Khenpo Rinpoche fled to India in 1960. He spent many years in Bhutan as a wandering yogin, meditating in caves and hermitages. In 1975 he was asked by the sixteenth Karmapa, head of the Kagyu tradition, to be abbot of the main Kagyu centre in France. However he asked instead to be allowed to travel and help people everywhere.

He has done that ever since, leading a truly simple, homeless life; he is a master of non-attachment. He has many times refused to accept property to build Buddhist centers and he regularly gives away all of his money. Khenpo Rinpoche demonstrates the carefree life of a yogin, singing spontaneous songs of realization wherever he goes, devoted only to the welfare of others.

Look at appearance-emptiness forms,

Listen to sound and emptiness sounds,
Rest in mind’s nature, clarity-emptiness,
And when your thoughts free themselves,
Laugh, oh laugh “Ha ha! Hee hee!”
– KHENPO TSÜLTRIM GYAMTSO RINPOCHE

Image result

Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rimpoche

Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

May the teachings of study (she) and practice (drup)
Fill the entire world.
May emptiness with compassion for a heart
Arise in all sentient beings.
May Ani Karma Chötso’s activity for the benefit others
Become immeasurable,
And may all beings realize
The equality of samsara and nirvana.
SARVA MANGALAM !

— by The Very Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rimpoche Written on his first visit to Kagyu Shedrup Chöling in 1999

The Twenty Wonderful Miracles That Tell of Appearance and Reality

Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso RinpocheNamo guru hasa vajra

Samsara and nirvana are undifferentiable
And even though you realize this
To purify your thoughts of their attributes
You gained Buddhahood in just one life
Mighty hero, Shepa Dorje [Milarepa]
At your feet, I bow with great respect. [Homage]

Genuine reality transcends birth and death
False appearances, birth and death are like watermoons
Knowing this will make it easy to
Cut through clinging to birth and death as true
Such an explanation of birth and death—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [1]

Since no actor exists, neither does activity
But in terms of appearance, they arise dependently
Just like dream happiness and suffering
And in this way, good and bad deeds result in joy and pain
Such an explanation of cause, result, and karma—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [2]

Samsara’s suffering has never existed
Its appearances are like agony in a dream
Of the very nature of dependent arising
You can’t separate appearance from emptiness
Such an explanation of suffering—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [3]

Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche
Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche

The human body that has faith, diligence, and prajna
Is so difficult to find, we’re told in many ways
But it, too, is just a watermoon
Dependently arisen, this you should know
This way of thinking about something that is so hard to get—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [4]

All phenomena outside and inside
Decay each moment, they have no power to remain
But this source of sadness, when examined closely
Reveals that impermanence doesn’t exist either!
This way of meditating on impermanence—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [5]

Your friends depend on your enemies
And your enemies depend on your friends
All friends and enemies exist dependently
Just like the ones that you meet in dreams
This way of understanding friends and enemies—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [6]

Without joy, pain is impossible
Without pain, joy is impossible
They are the very essence of dependent existence
They are without the slightest substance
This way of understanding joy and pain—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [7]

When there is clean it is because of unclean
And unclean itself depends on clean
They are of the nature of equality
As they are when they appear in dreams
This way of eliminating thoughts of clean and filth—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [8]

Gain and pleasure, praise and sweet sounds—these four
They rely on their opposites for their very existence
Watermoons and dreams, they have no substance
The eight worldly dharmas are such wonderful miracles! [9]

Being learned depends on being stupid
And being stupid depends on being learned
Both are just dreams and watermoons
Scholar and fool not different—what a wonderful miracle! [10]

From the unborn mind, beyond conceptuality
Appearances self-arise, and by themselves are free
Just like waves dissolving into the ocean vast
The basic way of being—what a wonderful miracle! [11]

No one to progress, no path to progress upon
No progressing whatsoever going on
But the way of progressing that we see
From cause and condition, arises dependently
Like the moon dancing on the waves
This way of traversing the path—what a wonderful miracle! [12]

Nothing to realize, no one to realize it
No realization can be seen, not even a little bit
But our words can describe so carefully
The way of realization that occurs dependently
It is like seeing the moon in a dream
This way of realizing the fruition—what a wonderful miracle! [13]

Since fundamentally there are no conceptual elaborations,
The basic state transcends all reference points and assertions
Yet from this expanse that concepts cannot experience
Conceptuality arises in great abundance!
This way of explaining genuine reality—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [14]

The completely false appearances that you see
Transcend both true and false in reality
But to stop you from thinking that they are true
You are taught that they are false
To halt this clinging to falsity, it is not explained that they have any reality
Liberation from true and false—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [15]

Genuine reality’s dharmakaya
Cannot be experienced by conceptual mind
But there is the way the sambhogakaya
Appears to the noble bodhisattvas
And to the various beings, the nirmanakaya
Appears in a watermoon’s style
This way of explaining the three kayas—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [16]

We have so many thoughts that we are suffering
But this suffering is just like a dream!
And if you can recognize these thoughts’ true nature
Suffering will be self-liberated as soon as it appears!
The ice so easily melting into water
Transformation explained like that—what a wonderful miracle! [17]

Though the wisdoms five and the kayas three
Are all explained individually
Like a sound’s impermanence and composite nature
Kayas and wisdoms are really undifferentiable
This explanation of ultimate union—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [18]

Through great compassion, the Buddha’s activity
Accomplishes the benefit of sentient beings
But the benefitted ones really don’t exist at all
Completely falsely, the benefit performed is as in a dream
This explanation of Buddha’s activity—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [19]

Pure and impure are just imaginary
They do not exist in the expanse of equality
Equality’s expanse encompasses absolutely everything
And nothing can ever move from it at all
This explanation of equality—
E ma! What a wonderful miracle! [20]

Why are all these so incredibly miraculous?
Genuine reality, true being, free of conceptuality
Appearances transcending truth and falsity—
E ma! All phenomena are wonderful miracles!

When you realize all of this
You realize Mahayana’s profound meaning
When you grasp all of this
You are a worthy vessel for the Great Secret
When you grasp all of this
You help everyone in a natural way

So may all you fortunate ones
Realize this meaning well!

So was the casual talk of Dechen Rangdrol [Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso] in the Garden of Translation near the Great Stupa of Boudhanath, Nepal, on Dec. 17th and 18th, 1997. Translated by Ari Goldfield. Translation revised Jan. 2, 2002.

Things That Tend to Be Misleading

Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso RinpocheIf you understand that all the misleading appearances of worldly existence are not intrinsically real, they will not tend to mislead you.

If you have attachment to friends and enemies as being real, they will mislead you. But if you have equanimity towards both, they will not mislead or deceive you.

If you see a lot of change or transition, that will tend to mislead you. But if you understand the intrinsic nature beyond change, it will not be misleading.

If you cling to the reality of birth and death, there is much deception. But if you realize there is no birth and death, there’s no deception.

If you believe in the existence of suffering, there’s much deception. But if you realize there’s no suffering, there’s no deception.

If you believe that self and other are separate, there’s much deception. But if you recognize that they are not two separate things, there’s no deception.

If you understand this true nature of deception, discursive thoughts will be liberated in their own place.

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Creation & Completion, Vajravairochana Translation Committee, October 1995 & June 1996, p. 9-10. Translated by Sarah Harding

Milarepa’s Three Nails of Meditation

Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche flying
Venerable Khempo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche flying

All thoughts, being dharmakaya, are free.
The nature of thoughts is luminous clarity, which is the true nature of mind-beyond fabrication, transcending all conceptual descriptions. Luminous clarity is the dharmakaya of natural purity. What is this dharmakaya like?

Awareness is luminous, in its depths is bliss.
The experience of dharmakaya has three characteristics: awareness, luminosity, and bliss. How do you meditate on that?

And resting without contrivance is equipoise.
Without trying to create or to stop anything, just let go and relax. That is meditation. There is no clearer explanation.

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, The Union of Sutra and Tantra, Karme Choling, 2001, p. 70. Translated by Ari Goldfield.

Om Ah Hung