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Explanation of The Yoga of the Spiritual Master Inseparable from Avalokiteshvara

Alexander Berzin
Moscow, Russia, October 2012

Session Six: The Remainder of the Text

Unedited Transcript
Listen to the audio version of this page (0:47 hours)

Now, in our final session we have quite a lot of text left to cover, so I will just read each of the verses and comment very briefly on them.

Prayer for Inspiration to Develop the Graded Pathway Minds (Lam-rim)

We start with the lam-rim review. And as I said, what we’re asking for is inspiration. Inspire me is how I translate this, rather than bless me, which, as I said, has a very non-Buddhist connotation. So inspire me, uplift, brighten me, until I get a firmer realization, firmer understanding, is the idea here.

Inspire me so that, having found certainty that you,
   my kind and ennobling spiritual master,
Who teaches the unerring pathway minds,
Thereby forming the basis for every provisional
   and long-term bliss, without an exception,
Are a mass of infinite (sources) of safe direction,

So having found certainty about that:

I may rely on you properly,
   with pure thoughts and deeds.

In terms of relying properly on the spiritual teacher with our thoughts, this certainty is very important. There are two words that are used here to describe the mental state, the emotional state:

  • One of them is a firm conviction (mos-pa) that the teacher has all the various qualifications, good qualities. Of course that implies admiration and respect and also the wish that we can develop those as well (that’s implicit there). That’s why it says “I’ve found certainty about this,” that you have all these qualities of, here, the Three Gems.
  • And then the other word is appreciation (gus-pa) of your kindness to teach.

This is the state of mind that we’re talking about. That’s why I think the word devotion is quite inappropriate. It gives quite a different flavor. Devotion, at least in English, has this thing of “Duhh” – sort of worshiping the person in a mindless type of way so that you become a mindless servant that just is always going to be obedient. Obedience is not the point here. It’s not guru-worship. We’re talking about having such respect for the teacher because the teacher has such good qualities. And we are firmly convinced that they have these qualities, because it is demonstrated that they have them. It’s not just that we imagine that they have them – it’s demonstrated that they have these qualities. So we have such tremendous respect and such tremendous appreciation for their kindness to teach. This is a strong emotion, but it is a rational emotion; it’s not an irrational one.

And with deeds is obviously showing being respectful but also helping the teacher in whatever way we can, helping the teacher to benefit others. We are helping the teacher not for the teacher to like us; we are benefiting and helping the teacher so that the teacher is better able to benefit others, especially when the teacher gets very old. Even if they’re no longer able to teach, it’s not that “Well, now they’re not teaching anybody, so throw them away.” We still have great appreciation for what they’ve done.

Inspire me so that,
   (having understood that)
A working basis of respites and enrichments
Cannot be matched by tens of millions
   of the most precious gems –
Even having attained one, it’s never stable;
It’s never certain when it will be lost –
I may pass (my life) with pure Dharma activity
And never be distracted by whatever
   might appear 
in this (life).

We see the structure here already of what we had with the visualization before. Respites means a temporary freedom. As Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey often used to say, it’s like we’re on a short holiday from the lower realms and about to go back because our vacation is almost over. On the one hand, a slight removal of something – like we did with the purification – and then an endowment (positive things that we have). Because we have a slight respite from these worst things, we can appreciate the opportunities that we do have. This structure we’re going to find in many places in the teachings.

May I pass my life with pure Dharma activity – as His Holiness says, not many of us have the opportunity to do that, because we might have a family, we have to make a living, and stuff like that.

But not to be distracted by what appears in this life, it says in the text, which means at least try to do fifty-fifty, His Holiness says – fifty percent on Dharma and then fifty percent on dealing with our normal life. In other words, don’t make the main thing in your life making money, or whatever.

Inspire me so that, having sincerely taken
   eternal safe direction from
   the Three Supreme (Gems),

Eternal means that we take it all the way up to liberation and enlightenment, which is:

The best of protections from the fears
   of the worse states of rebirth, so hard to endure,

So having put that direction in my life:

I may be able to rid myself of
   my negative karmic potentials
   and accomplish constructive deeds,

Get rid of the negative. Build up the positive.

By having the urges that bring me to act
Be in accord with (understanding) the cause and effect
   of lustrous and murky (behavior).

I use lustrous and murky because it’s politically incorrect, at least in American English, to say white and black referring to positive and negative. So lustrous and murky is sort of a more politically correct way of saying that. One has to be sensitive to these political-correctness issues; otherwise it can offend a portion of the population.

Now, the point here is that we really dread losing the opportunity to be able to work to benefit others. Remember I said that we have to think of all of these stages here within the Mahayana context, so:

  • I have the spiritual teacher, and they’re going to inspire me to be able to work toward enlightenment, and I see the example of the teacher.
  • And I have this precious human rebirth. I don’t want to use this human body just as a machine for – again to use the example that my teacher Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey gave (he was very graphic in his examples) – a machine for turning food and drink into feces and urine. And so we don’t want to use this body just as a machine for manufacturing feces and urine. We use it for far better purposes. It’s a very efficient machine for making it, isn’t it? We can accomplish much more than that.

And when we use this word fear here, there are two types of fear:

  • There is the fear with which you feel helpless and hopeless – there’s no way to avoid things. That’s a very unsettling sense of fear.
  • But here is the type of fear that is healthy. It’s not that you feel helpless, it’s not that you feel hopeless, but it’s like you are cautious like when you want to cross the street. You know that “Well, I have to be careful.” So you are afraid, in a sense, of being hit by a car, but it’s not this paralyzing type of fear.

So differentiate those two. Don’t just react like “Oh, I’m afraid of going to hell,” and then you live in terror of punishment.

Here we have a way to avoid these terrors of being a fish in the ocean and having some big fish come and bite us in half and eat us alive, these sort of horrible things. Or just to be raised like a chicken in a chicken prison where you can’t even move, and in the end you’re going to be made into Chicken McNuggets, or something like that, and some kid is going to throw half of it away in the garbage. Quite awful, isn’t it, if you think about it.

So what we want to do is put this direction in our life, working to attain the true stoppings of suffering and its causes on our mental continuum and the states of mind, the understanding, that will bring us to that and result from that – the way the Buddhas have in full and arya Sangha has in part. That’s the direction we want to go in.

And so what we want to do then to go in that direction to avoid the gross suffering – out of the three types of suffering, that’s the suffering of suffering – is to have the urges that bring me to act… Remember when we talk about karma we’re talking about the compulsiveness. We’re not talking about the action itself. If karma were just actions, then all you’ve got to do is stop doing anything and you would be liberated. That is absurd. It’s talking about the compulsiveness that brings us to act. And so here I use the word urges. That’s one view of what this compulsiveness actually means. If we’re going to be acting compulsively anyway because we haven’t gotten to the stage where we can get rid of that compulsiveness, at least have that compulsiveness be in a positive way.

In accordance with our understanding the cause and effect:

  • If we act in a compulsively negative way, it brings unhappiness. It’s self-destructive.
  • And if we act in a positive way – even if it’s compulsively positive, like being a perfectionist and so on – at least that will bring worldly happiness.

I think for many of us that is a little bit difficult to appreciate – that when we’re talking about positive karma, it’s still samsaric. What we’re talking about are things like compulsively “I have to be good” – it’s sort of a neurotic type of thing – “I have to be a good girl (or a good boy). I always have to be perfect,” and so on. That is a samsaric type of state of mind. Although it could bring a temporary benefit, temporary happiness, that is a type of suffering that is called the suffering of change. It’s not going to last. We’re never good enough. If you have that perfectionist streak, you know that “I’m never good enough,” and so you always have to try to be in control. So a big sort of solid me behind it to be in control and be perfect, be good. Very neurotic. So we try to get rid of the compulsiveness of that. It’s not that you stop acting in a constructive, positive way, but you want to get rid of the compulsiveness; that’s the karma.

We shouldn’t trivialize or minimize the difficulty of really understanding and being convinced that “If I act in a destructive way, it will bring about my experience of unhappiness.” That connection between our acting destructively and being unhappy and our acting constructively and being happy (even in our ordinary sense of happy) – it’s very, very difficult to understand how in the world are those two connected. And do you really, really believe that? Most of us, I think, don’t. You read about it, you hear about it, but if you really believed in it and were convinced, you wouldn’t act destructively, because it’s self-destructive. That’s one of the most difficult things to really be convinced of. Because we’re not talking about what you feel during the act or even after the act, immediately after. We’re talking about long term.

There’s a mosquito buzzing around, and it really annoys me. So I smack it and kill it, and I feel “Great! I got that bastard,” and I’m really happy about it. We’re not talking about that when we talk about the effect of destructive behavior and feeling happy or unhappy. We’re talking about something much more long term. That’s very difficult to be convinced of. So this is a difficult one.

Inspire me so that, having roused my mind-stream

Roused. So we’re roused out of laziness.

With the strong determination
   to be free that sees that
Even all the splendors of the King of the Gods
   are (merely) deceptions,
Like the sirens’ beguiling, seductive allure,
I may practice the three (higher) trainings.

Well, the sirens are these beautiful maidens that allure you, by the promise of happiness or something like that, into pleasure, and then actually they are cannibals and they eat you alive, this sort of thing. So if we get these wonderful things happen to us that we imagine could happen to us, it could just cause more and more problems. Like the more wealth you have, the more you’re a target for thieves, for example.

There’s a lovely saying by Oscar Wilde that I’m very fond of: “Be careful what you wish for. God may punish you by making it come true.” This is very true. You win the lottery, and then what are you going to do with the money? How are you going to invest it? And then you’re constantly worried about the stock market, worried about thieves, and worried that people are only friendly with you because they want your money and they want something from you. Look at all the suffering you get from having your wish come true about winning the lottery. That’s why it’s called deceptions here – having all the splendors of the Gods appears as though it’s going to bring you great happiness, but in fact it brings you more problems.

And how we’re going to work to be free is the three higher trainings:

  • The discriminating awareness of voidness to get rid of what activates karmic potentials. What causes uncontrollably reoccurring rebirth are the karmic potentials and tendencies that we’ve built up from our compulsive behavior. They get activated and then ripen in further rebirth. That’s described in the twelve links of dependent arising. So what we want to do with the understanding of voidness is get rid of those disturbing emotions and attitudes that activate these potentials and tendencies. If they can’t be activated, they no longer are causes, because a cause is only a cause designated in relation to a result. If the result is impossible, then it’s no longer a cause. It’s not a cause by its own power; it’s a cause by the power of being able to give a result.
  • To stay with that discriminating awareness, you need concentration, training in higher concentration.
  • And to be able to discipline our minds, we train first by disciplining the body and speech, which is much easier, so then we have the training in higher ethical self-discipline.

Then:

Inspire me so that,
   having considered the situation of
How wandering beings,
   who’ve (all) been my mothers
And have raised me so well with their kindness,
   from beginningless time,
Are tormented by the crippling effects
   of compulsive existence or tranquil nirvana,
I may develop a supreme bodhichitta aim
And train in an ocean of (bodhisattva) deeds.

That covers an awful lot, doesn’t it? Here we have all the stages for working ourselves up to this bodhichitta aim, which – as I can’t repeat enough – is not the same as compassion. Compassion is what moves us to have this aim. Bodhichitta’s actually focused on our own individual enlightenments, which have not yet happened but which can happen on the basis of our Buddha-nature factors, and our intention is to attain that, make it presently happening, and benefit everybody by means of that. We are moved to that by love and compassion, but this is far more than love and compassion.

We have aspiring bodhichitta (smon-sems) and involved bodhichitta (’jug-sems):

  • We aspire to attain this, our own individual not-yet-happened enlightenments. So first we merely aspire for that, and then we take this pledged state (smon-sems dam-bca’-can) that is really firm: “Nothing is ever going to turn me back from that.”

  • Then this term that I’ve been translating as involved (’jug, Skt. avatara) bodhichitta – that’s a very interesting term. Literally it means in Tibetan “to enter.” You enter into the conduct. But it is the same term – it’s avatara, as in bodhicharyavatara. That’s sometimes translated as entering into bodhisattva behavior. But if you think about it, avatara – that is the Sanskrit word which in Hindi is pronounced “avatar.” So in a sense we are becoming an avatar – like Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, and so on – so we’re becoming an avatar of bodhichitta, in a sense. That becomes really quite interesting when you think about that, that now we are going to be a manifestation in our conduct of the bodhisattva ideal, become an avatar of it.

I always try to follow the guideline that Serkong Rinpoche, one of my main teachers, always said, which was “Milk the meaning out of all the words. There’s a lot of meaning in each of them” – like you milk a cow. You get more milk if you go back to the original Sanskrit and look at both the Tibetan and the Sanskrit and see how they worked with it. And if you can, look at the Chinese as well – and Mongolian, for that matter, but I don’t know Mongolian.

So one then becomes an avatar of the bodhisattva aim in one’s conduct and one’s actions. (Conduct and actions is the same word. In English you tend to repeat yourself with a synonym, and often it’s totally unnecessary. But anyway.) For doing that, one takes bodhisattva vows. The vows, in a sense, set the boundaries that shape our behavior, and we are not going to go beyond that boundary. For example, praising myself and belittling others because I want to get some gain from others – so I’m basically wanting to fool them by saying how great I am – then obviously I’m not actually working to benefit them; I’m just working to benefit myself. And of course if they realize that, they’re never going to trust me. So this is a boundary that I’m not going to cross, because of the vows.

The bodhisattva deeds here are referring to acting with the far-reaching attitudes (the so-called perfections) of generosity, ethical discipline, patience, joyful perseverance, mental stability, and discriminating awareness.

Inspire me so that I may develop
   on my mind-stream
A yoga of the joined pair:
   a stilled and settled state of shamatha
   and an exceptionally perceptive state
   of vipashyana,
In which the hundreds of thousands
   of wonders of voidness,
Free, from the start, from the extremes
   (of truly established existence
   and total nonexistence)
Appear vividly, without impedance,
On the face of the mirror of my perfectly clear
   and unwavering total absorption.

Joined pair (zung-’brel) means that first we attain shamatha and then on top of it you join something else that is not naturally there. That’s why it’s called a joined pair. So on top of shamatha, you join and develop further vipashyana. You can’t have real vipashyana without shamatha as its basis.

Shamatha in Tibetan is zhinay (zhi-gnas). Zhi means “still,” so it’s stilled of mental wandering and dullness and flightiness of mind. And it’s settled (gnas); it stays placed on one object of focus without moving. That’s the connotation of the two syllables that are used to translate it here. Shamatha is not just perfect absorbed concentration (ting-nge-‘dzin, Skt. samadhi). It’s more than that. It has in addition this exhilarating physical and mental feeling of a sense of fitness (shin-sbyangs) – that the mind is fit to be able to stay focused and concentrated on anything for as long as you want. Like, by analogy, when you are physically fit, it’s a very strong feeling – very pleasant feeling, in a sense – it’s like that, a fitness of mind and body.

And vipashyana, literally the Tibetan translates it as an exceptionally perceptive state of mind (lhag-mthong). In addition to this first sense of fitness from shamatha – being able to stay focused on something without any distraction, etc. – the mind is able to perceive anything. So it’s an additional sense of fitness – that the mind is able to understand and put things together, and so on.

Each of these can be developed with focusing on many, many, many different topics. I have it all listed from Lam-rim chen-mo on my website. There’s a big long list of what you can focus on to develop either shamatha or vipashyana or both, not just on voidness.

[See: Objects of Focus for Developing Shamatha and Vipashyana.]

But here we are focusing them on voidness. And the explanation that I gave yesterday of the difference in the quality of the energy between discerning meditation and stabilizing meditation is also the case in terms of describing the difference between shamatha or vipashyana on the same topic:

  • With vipashyana the energy is going out.
  • With shamatha it’s coming in and staying stable.

So we can have shamatha on voidness, and we can have vipashyana on voidness. They’re slightly different. But if it’s vipashyana on voidness, it’s pervasive that it has as its foundation shamatha – you’re not mentally wandering, you’re not dull.

It’s appearing vividly, without impedance, so there’s no dullness; there are no hindrances. There’s many ways of understanding those words vividly and without impedance.

Inspire me so that, having entered the gateway
   to extremely profound mantra practice
Through the kindness of my fully qualified
Vajradhara-mentor, a holder of the vajras,

That’s body, speech, and mind in the enlightened state.

I may be able to uphold, in strict accordance,
The close-bonding practices and vows:
They are the roots of the actual attainments.

This is referring to receiving empowerment, sometimes translated as initiation. I prefer to translate it as empowerment. Initiation sounds as though you’re starting something, and that’s not quite the meaning. The Tibetan term wang (dbang) and the Sanskrit word abhishekha have two quite different meanings, which can supplement each other:

  • “Empowerment” is the connotation of the Tibetan word wang. It stimulates and empowers the Buddha-nature factors that you have to then start to develop and bring about the result. That’s the meaning. It activates them.

  • Abhishekha, the Sanskrit word, means “a sprinkling.”

There are two types of things that are sprinkled or planted. We have:

  • A sprinkling like of water on the seeds that are already there in terms of Buddha-nature. The Tibetan plays on that idea, the Tibetan translation.

· And it plants [i.e. sprinkles] new seeds in addition, which need to be some conscious experience during the empowerment, even if it’s just a little bit in your imagination of some understanding of voidness with the blissful awareness. In different traditions it’s slightly different, but you need some sort of conscious experience, not just sit there like a rock. You need to participate.

The Tibetan way of translating it tries to cover both these meanings. They don’t translate abhishekha literally.

The main thing that we need to follow from the empowerment is taking the vows and keeping them. If you don’t consciously take the vows, you haven’t received the vows – so you have to very consciously accept them – and without that, you haven’t actually received the empowerment. It says that quite clearly in the texts.

Close-bonding practices – that’s the Sanskrit word samaya, the Tibetan word damtsig (dam-tshig), and literally it means “a close bond,” “a close connection with something.” The difference between a samaya and a vow is that a vow is a restraint from something negative and a samaya, a close-bonding practice, is doing something, in a sense, more positive. So it’s not avoiding something negative; it’s doing something positive to make that bond, that connection, with either a Buddha-family (that’s talking about different aspects of Buddha-nature, by the way), a deity, or certain aspects of the practice. You make that bond by actually doing that constructive thing.

Keeping these vows and close-bonding practices, as it says, are the roots of the actual attainments. Attainments – that’s the word siddhi (dngos-grub). There are ordinary actual attainments and the extraordinary ones. The ordinary ones are various extrasensory and extraphysical powers that you get from developing an incredible level of shamatha. And the extraordinary actual attainment is enlightenment.

Inspire me so that, having cut off the coursing
   of my all-creating karmic energy-winds
With the sharp sword of the deep awareness
   of nondual blissful awareness and voidness,
I may manifest in this lifetime a greatly blissful
   state of mahamudra:
A unified pair of an enlightening body
   and enlightening mind.

A very curious verse, I must say, because it combines elements that we find in different systems.

The discussion of karmic energy winds, or the winds of karma – that comes out of the Kalachakra system. I don’t know how to explain it in a very simple way, but they carry on them, imputed on them, the tendencies and habits and potentials of karma – to put it in a very simple way – subtle conceptual consciousness that is carried by these winds. As they pass through, these winds pass through one of four creative-energy drops, the drops associated with:

  • the occasion of being awake,
  • the occasion of dreaming,
  • the occasion of being in deep dreamless sleep,
  • and the fourth occasion, which is just the moment before the explosion of orgasm.

In a very complex way, these tendencies and so on imputed on the consciousness carried by the winds of karma create the mental holograms of the appearances that arise on these occasions. This is a very complex topic that is discussed in the Kalachakra system. That’s why he calls it all-creating.

But then it says we want to get rid of it with the sharp sword of the deep awareness of nondual blissful awareness and voidness. That is what we find in common in the various anuttarayoga tantra systems. In Kalachakra we have something called unchanging blissful awareness (mi-’gyur-ba’i bde-ba), which is yet something else, so it doesn’t say that here.

Then it uses the word mahamudra as well. So it is a mixed verse – mixed elements from different systems.

This is not the occasion to go into a detailed discussion of the Kalachakra system. I’m nearly finished writing a very complex article on that for the website about the winds of karma and the four creative-energy drops. I gave a seminar on that in Paris a few weeks ago, just a preliminary discussion of it, so we’ll put the video of that up when I finish this article. But you’re forewarned it’s a very difficult article. So, anyway, in a complex way, one gets rid of these energy winds by a complex process with a blissful awareness of voidness.

[See: Explanation of the Main Points of “The Kalachakra Presentation of the Four Creative-Energy Drops and the Winds of Karma.”]

That completes the stages here – it’s not just sutra but tantra – in a very broad way.

Merging of Our Spiritual Master into Our Hearts

The merging of our spiritual master into our hearts comes next (understood here is that we requested the guru to come and merge with us):

Requested in this way, my supreme spiritual master,
You gladly come (to the crown of my head).
Passing through my aperture of Brahma,

That’s the very top of the head. The upper end of the central channel can be specified in many different ways:

  • the very top of the head (the aperture of Brahma),

  • between the brows, where the so-called third eye is,

  • or the tip of the nose.

But in any case:

You dissolve into the undissipating drop
At the center of my eight-petalled heart.

The undissipating drop (mi-shig-pa’i thig-le) is referring to the subtlest clear-light mind and the subtlest energy-wind that have beginningless and endless continuity, even into Buddhahood. In each lifetime in which we have a body that has a chakra system – so let’s say the human body – it will stay at the center of the heart chakra (which has eight channels coming out, so it’s called the eight-petalled heart).

That visualization of the guru in front of us, by the way – it shouldn’t be life-sized. It is very small. As we do in any shamatha practice where you visualize a Buddha in front of you, it’s made of transparent light, alive (not a statue), certainly three-dimensional (not a painting), and it’s very small. It comes to the top of your head and gets even smaller to be able to go down the central channel, and it dissolves into and merges, becomes one, with your clear-light mind and the subtlest energy of that clear-light mind.

The text doesn’t explicitly say you do any meditation on voidness here. There’s no fault in adding it, but it’s not specified in the text. There’s no mention of your body dissolving or anything like that, like in a self-generation. But of course many things can be added to this type of practice, so it could be added if one wants to or if you’re instructed to do so. But a pure guru-yoga doesn’t have that.

Now, right at that spot,

So in the center of your heart chakra.

your enlightening body,
   my spiritual master,
With the three beings stacked as before,
Appears clearly, once more, on a lotus and a moon.

This is extremely tiny. In your heart there’s His Holiness in the form of the spiritual master. In his heart, even more tiny, Avalokiteshvara, four-armed. And in his heart, even more tiny, the syllable HRIH. Microscopic visualization is very much stressed in the tantra tradition, so don’t be freaked out by it.

There’s no discussion of you, your actual larger form, transforming into a deity, or anything like that. That’s not here. It can be added, but it’s not here.

The HRIH (at the heart of the Avalokiteshvara)
   at your heart
Is encircled by a garland of his six-syllable mantra.

The six-syllable mantra, obviously OM MANI PADME HUM, this can be visualized in a variety of scripts, whether Tibetan or Sanskrit. But even Devanagari – that’s modern Sanskrit script – it certainly wasn’t the script that was used at the time when the teachings came from India to Tibet. So if that’s the case – and if the Tibetans can change it into Tibetan script and visualize Tibetan script – Serkong Rinpoche said you could visualize it in our Roman script or, for you, the Cyrillic script. It doesn’t really matter. But if we’re going to work with an alphabet, these syllables, in a more advanced manner (in which there’s the little dot on top and the squiggle, and stuff like that), then our alphabets will need to be modified, in a sense, to include these aspects. They weren’t there in Tibetan to start with anyway. It was added on to the Tibetan script, so it can be added on to our Western scripts as well – by the reasoning of “Why not?”

In any case, there’s visualizing an alphabet and script. That takes quite a lot of training actually. The exercise that I like to use and suggest for training is to visualize the alphabet in a line and read it backwards. If you can do that, you’ve gotten into the ability to visualize an alphabet and words. That’s an amusing thing that you can try to do, to recite the alphabet backwards – just seeing it in your mind’s eye and reading it backwards. It’s not as difficult as it sounds.

The HRIH (at the heart of the Avalokiteshvara)
   at your heart
Is encircled by a garland of his six-syllable mantra.
From them, a stream of nectars pours down,
Cleansing me of all sickness, harmful spirits,
   negative karmic potentials and obscurations,

So the same three as we had before.

And expanding my good qualities
   of scriptural knowledge and realization.

Remember, as I said before, you purify and then you increase positive things.

Thus I obtain the complete inspiration
   of the Triumphant (Buddhas)
   and their spiritual offspring,
   with nothing left missing.

So the visualizations are the same as we had before.

Once more, light rays emanate forth,
Cleansing the environment and the beings therein
   of all their faults.

Remember I said that we can do these visualizations to purify ourselves or to purify others. For purifying others, there are many methods of doing that:

  • You can imagine all beings sitting in the little dot on top of the HRIH in the heart of the Avalokiteshvara in the heart of the spiritual master which is very tiny in the center of your central channel at the heart chakra. That would be the way that Serkong Rinpoche would explain it. We imagine everybody inside that tiny little dot (so get even more microscopic).
  • Or we can emanate and purify the entire environment around us.

Don’t think that’s so unusual, because if you look in the Mahayana sutras, not even tantra, Buddha has in every pore of his skin, in every atom of his body, the entire universe. So come on, this is standard Mahayana type of idea. You have that on the level of speech as well: in every word of the Dharma, you can fit in the entire Dharma teaching.

I remain in the supreme yoga of taking
Appearances, resoundings, and knowings

That’s body, speech, and mind.

As the three hidden factors of the noble aryas.

The vajra body, vajra speech, and vajra mind.

And so this guideline that I explained before of how we work with this pure appearance but yet maintain compassion – that would be relevant here.

Mantra Recitation

OM MANI PADME HUM

Then we recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM with these visualizations.

And then, to purify any mistakes, we recite the Vajrasattva mantra once:

OM VAJRA-SATTVA SAMAYA MANU-PALAYA,
VAJRA-SATTVA TVENO-PATISHTA,
DRIDHO ME BHAVA,
SUTOSHYO ME BHAVA,
SUPOSHYO ME BHAVA,
ANURAKTO ME BHAVA,
SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYACCHA,
SARVA KARMA SUCHA ME,
CHITTAM SHRIYAM KURU HUM,
HA HA HA HA HOH BHAGAVAN,
SARVA TATHAGATA VAJRA,
MA ME MUNCHA,
VAJRI BHAVA,
MAHA-SAMAYA-SATTVA,
AH HUM PHAT

This is the standard form of the mantra, but there are many variants of this manta, so don’t be thrown by that.

Prayers

Then the prayers (and they’re very poetically written):

In the white jasmine garden of the method of Dharma
   of the Triumphant Mind-Treasure (Manjushri),
May the blossoms of explanation and accomplishment
   burst forth
Through the myriad-fold brilliance
   of the youthful new moon
   of my excellent deeds, as illustrated by this.

White jasmine garden (white jasmine is always a symbol for bodhichitta) of the method of Dharma. So it’s taught with bodhichitta.

The triumphant mind-treasure of Manjushri – so the combination of compassion and wisdom.

And what is growing in this beautiful moonlight of bodhichitta is explanation and accomplishment. So we’re teaching and acting in a way to help others to accomplish these spiritual goals.

And this will grow like the youthful new moon – again a symbol of bodhichitta – getting larger and larger, greater and greater, through my excellent deeds. So my deeds will be like this growing new moon. Very poetical.

And by making everything propitious thereby
   on the face of our great Earth,

Propitious means everything is then conducive for practice.

May it beautify (the universe)

Make everything like a pure land.

till the end of (everyone’s) compulsive existence.

Then:

By hoisting above and beyond the three planes
   of compulsive existence

The three planes are referring to the so-called (1) desire realm, (2) form realm, and (3) formless realms or (1) below the ground, (2) on the ground, (3) above the ground. There are two ways of saying that.

And beyond – that’s in the pure realms. It says beyond the three planes.

The never-lowering magnificent jeweled banner
   of Ganden religious and secular rule,

That no longer is the case, because His Holiness has renounced the secular rule. But anyway this was written before as a slightly political thing of “May the situation of Tibet be conducive for all of this.” After all, this was written in Tibet for Tibetans initially.

So by raising that flag, in a sense:

Blazing with a host of splendid, constructive
   and excellent (features),
May it satisfy all wishes, a hundred thousand-fold,
   for benefit and bliss.

Temporary benefit in terms of samsaric existence. Bliss in terms of liberation and enlightenment.

Having banished afar the masses of darkness
   of our degenerate times
From across the broad face of our Earth, a coquettish
   goddess offering us extensive wealth,
May all beings be filled with pride and merrymaking
At the magnificent good omens,
   appearances of bliss and happiness,
Lighting up and spreading everywhere.

It’s a beautiful poetic image.

Degenerate times – times with more and more disturbing emotions. There’s a whole list of five aspects of the degenerate times. It’s not necessary to go through the whole list, but there’s wars etc. We can think just even in a normal worldly way of wars, economic disasters, more diseases, and this sort of stuff. There’s a specific list, which at the moment I don’t have at my fingertips, but it’s very nice. So we get rid of these degenerations.

And from the face of the earth, which is like a coquettish goddess – so it’s seductive. It offers us extensive wealth, but it’s seductive, so one has to be careful not to get caught up. It’s flirting. Coquettish means flirting with us.

Then we have all these great omens, appearances of bliss (liberation and enlightenment) and happiness (worldly happiness), that light up and spread everywhere – sort of like fireworks.

And everybody is filled with pride and merrymaking – “How great this is!” Pride doesn’t mean “Oh, we’re so wonderful” but just being really happy about it.

In short, my guardian, by the force of being happily
   cared for by you,
Without ever being parted
   throughout the rosary of my lives,
May I quickly pass, with ease and no effort,
To the great royal city of a unified pair,

Unified pair can be understood as illusory body and clear light, as enlightening body and enlightening mind. There are many different ways of understanding that.

(becoming a Buddha) with majestic command over all.

Over all the Dharma.

Verse for Propitiousness

Then we have a verse for propitiousness. Usually we have that at the end of these types of practices. Propitiousness is just another word for auspiciousness. I prefer propitiousness. It has a slightly different flavor.

By the force of the wondrous compassion
   of the Triumphant Buddhas
   and their spiritual offspring,
May the masses of adversity and oppression be stilled
   everywhere and forever,
And may there be the propitiousness
   of good omens spreading,
With whatever is constructive and excellent
   in compulsive existence and peaceful nirvana
Increasing and expanding like the waxing moon.

Waxing – growing bigger.

Spiritual offspring – sometimes people translate this as, again a politically not very correct way, Buddhas’ sons, and then all the women feel quite offended. This is a word that is used for children, for both male and female. This can be understood in two ways:

  • the offspring, so they come from the Buddhas,
  • or, in a sense, they are the children who will grow up to become Buddhas (that’s referring to bodhisattvas).

You can’t call them child Buddhas. That would be a little weird. It could be misunderstood.

Dedication

Then the final dedication, to the long life of His Holiness:

Avalokiteshvara Tenzin-gyatso,
Source of all benefit and bliss,
   without an exception,
In this realm surrounded by snow mountains,

That’s referring to Tibet.

May your feet remain firmly planted (with a long life)
   till the end of compulsive existence.

And then His Holiness’s favorite verse from Shantideva’s Bodhicharyavatara:

For as long as space remains,
And for as long as wandering beings remain,
May I too remain for that long,
Dispelling the sufferings of wandering beings.

And then a final verse:

By the Teacher having come to this world,

That’s a Buddha.

And by his teachings illuminating like sunlight,
And by students and instructors
   upholding his teachings
   living in harmony,
May all be propitious for the teachings to remain
   for a very long time.

So for the teachings to remain for a very long time, you need the proper teacher, you need the proper teachings, and you need the proper students.

Conclusion

That completes this text. And in the Tibetan tradition, in order to lay causes for being able to continue to study and practice in the future, one starts to recite it again. So the beginning verse is:

I take safe direction, till my purified state,
From the Buddhas, the Dharma,
   and the Highest Assembly.
By the enlightening networks (built up) from my giving
   and so on,
May I actualize Buddhahood to help those who wander.

Let’s end with the dedication. Whatever positive force, whatever understanding has come from this, may it go deeper and deeper and act as a cause for all beings to reach enlightenment for the benefit of all.

Thank you very much.