Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Eight Manifestations of Padmasambhava: Part Five

Guru Padma Jungné
The seventh emanation of Guru Rinpoche is called Guru Padma Jungné. According to Guru Rinpoche's biography, six emanations occurred outside of Tibet. Again, it is difficult to organize these stories into a linear time-frame because Guru Rinpoche's wisdom activities are not limited by time and space; but traditionally, this emanation and the last one I described, appeared within the borders of Tibet.

First, I would like to give you some background on the introduction of the Buddhadharma to Tibet. Buddhism originally came to Tibet around the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century. Tibetan histories recount that around that time, some Mahayana scriptures, a golden stupa and a tsa-tsa mold were found on the roof of the royal palace of Yum-bu bla-sgang in Yarlung. Tsa-tsa molds are used to make small dough stupas, eight of which can be stacked together to make a bigger stupa.

Some accounts say that the twenty-eighth ancestral king of Tibet, lHa-tho-tho-ri was sixty years old and walking on the palace roof when these things descended from the sky. This was early in the fifth century and the palace is considered the first actual building in Tibet. Before that, most people lived in tents and caves. There is still a monument there, although the remaining ruins were completely destroyed during the Chinese cultural revolution. Recently, I heard it has been restored in the ancient style.

Another history states that an Indian monk brought these teachings to the twenty-eighth ancestral king and told him that in five generations they would be understood and that meanwhile, they should be kept safe. In the fourth century, Tibetans still didn't have a written language so neither the king nor anyone else could comprehend their meaning, but lHa-tho-tho-ri just knew they were something special and auspicious. So he guarded and venerated these precious treasures and as a result of his faith, his body was rejuvenated and his life was extended for sixty more years. After a long and prosperous reign, he died at one hundred and twenty without knowing anything more about these objects. This was the dawn of Dharma in Tibet.

Five generations later, in the sixth century, the thirty-third dynastic king was the renowned Srong-btsam sgan-gam-po, who is considered an emanation of Avalokitesvara. Srong-btsam sgan-gam-po built the city of Lhasa which has been the capital ever since. He also sent his minister Thon-mi Sambhota and a group of young Tibetans to study Sanskrit in India. After returning, they created a systematic grammar and alphabet for the Tibetan language and began the translation and study of about twenty-one dharma texts from India, as well as other countries.

Besides his Tibetan queens, Srong-btsam sgan-gam-po was married to Wen-ch'eng, a princess from Chinese T'ang dynasty as well as Bhrkuti, daughter of King Amsuvarman from Nepal. In those days, Tibet was expanding and intermarrying with these families helped consolidate his empire. The Buddhadharma was already well established in China and Nepal, so both of his foreign wives were devout Buddhists and brought a lot of Buddha's teachings and two famous statues to Tibet, but outside of the royal court and a few select Tibetans, there were hardly any practitioners.

The thirty-eighth king in the dynasty was Trisrong Deutsen, who was born around 740. At this time, Tibetan kings had grown powerful and extended their domain through military conquest, so Tibet was much larger than the area we now call Tibet. It stretched from the Bay of Bengal to Nepal, east to China, including Sikkim and Bhutan and then northwest up to Khotan. Trisrong Deutsen's father, Mes-ag-tshom, had died when the prince was only twelve. So young Trisrong Deutsen came to the throne at age thirteen and served as a military general, leading the Tibetan armies on various campaigns. For eight years he remained dedicated to waging war, although at seventeen his mind began to change and he was moved to look a little deeper. He already knew that his father and grandfathers had valued the Dharma but now it began to be meaningful to him. Although he continued to lead his troops into battle for four more years, he began reading a lot of Buddhist texts, and the happiness he felt in doing this made it clear to him that the Dharma was something very special. He was very inspired and moved by the Buddha's teachings.

Among his ministers there were some Buddhist practitioners who were more than happy to provide the king with Dharma texts. Historically, three are named; the Diamond Sutra, a text on moral conduct and the Grain of Rice Sutra. Buddha had originally given this last teaching to a farmer in a rice field. As a King, Trisrong Deutsen could appreciate the wisdom of the teaching on good conduct. Upon reading The Grain of Rice Sutra, he understood that good conduct was not simply an end in itself, but that it was even more valuable because it resulted in good contemplation. By the time he'd finished reading the Diamond Sutra, he understood that the Buddha's teachings were not merely concerned with morality or contemplation, but that their wisdom went very, very deep, to the heart of things. Having comprehended some of the profundity and implications of these teachings, he resolved to take significant action to firmly establish Dharma in Tibet.

A group of younger, spiritually oriented ministers were instructed by the King to find out who was the most highly qualified Buddhist teacher in the world. Three groups were sent to three different places: to China, India and to an area which is now in Afghanistan. One minister travelled with three attendants to each destination, so altogether, twelve people embarked. Upon returning, they all agreed that the abbot of Nalanda University, an Indian monk named Shantarakshita, was widely considered to be the supreme teacher of his day. So the King decided to invite this great Khenpo to Tibet.

King Trisrong Deutsen sent a team of twelve messengers employing redundancy and other safeguards to insure that his invitation to Shantarakshita would get through.

When Shantarakshita received it, he was truly overjoyed and said, "I have waited for this opportunity for a long time. There is nothing preventing me from going so I will not delay. The time has arrived. I must depart immediately." Travel between Tibet and India was even more difficult and dangerous in those days than it is now. It is always nice and warm in the Indian lowlands, while Tibet is at a high altitude and gets very, very cold. While aware of these hardships, Shantarakshita did not hesitate. He made the journey to Tibet and stayed in the royal palace for four months. During that time, the King and Queen took refuge vows along with a small group of ministers. He gave teachings on the ten virtues, the twelve links of interdependent origination, and the eighteen dhatus. He taught in a very basic way during those four months.

Meanwhile, a number of natural disasters occurred. Tibetans were suffering from earthquakes, floods and the outbreak of an epidemic. Many people blamed these troubles on Shantarakshita's presence. They complained that his teachings were alien and blamed the King and Queen for inviting this strange person into the royal palace. They said the old monk's teachings were at the root of all the current misfortune and that he should be sent back over the mountain where he came from.

In ancient Tibet, as in every country, the natives considered themselves to be the best of all people and to occupy the central land while the rest of the world was referred to as wild frontier or border regions. So they wanted to send the stranger who had brought these terrible disasters back across the border. They made a strong statement to the King that he would have to get rid of his foreign guest.

Trisrong Deutsen heard this but would not change his mind. He courageously held to his commitment to bring the Buddhadharma to Tibet. He was very sad to see all this happening, but his resolve was never shaken. One day he came to Shantarakshita and began crying. After explaining the nature of his problems, the King said, "I sincerely wish that I could bring the Buddhadharma to my country. How can we pacify this situation?" Shantarakshita said, "Don't worry about it. There are some natural imbalances and negative spirits in Tibet. They will not accept the Dharma easily and that is why these things have occurred. In order to subdue these negative forces you should invite the renowned teacher, Guru Padmasambhava. He is the greatest master on earth at this time and can easily pacify all of these obstacles." And then the King asked, "If I invite him, will he come?" Shantarakshita replied that Guru Padmasambhava would definitely come. "You see," he explained, "You and I and Guru Padmasambhava, the three of us together, have a special connection, a commitment from previous lives to bring the Buddhadharma to this land where there is no Buddhadharma. The time is right. If you invite him, you can be sure he will come. In the meantime, I will go to Nepal. When Guru Padmasambhava comes, I will return and we can all work together. We will make some good changes." And so the king sent Shantarakshita back across the border. When he was ready to leave, the King offered the abbot a big bowl of gold dust and Shantarakshita said, "I don't need all of this, but I will take a handful as a gift to the king of Nepal," and he gave the rest back. King Trisrong Deutsen sent three attendants to accompany Shantarakshita to Nepal, and at the same time he dispatched another twelve messengers to invite Guru Padmasambhava to Tibet.

Now Guru Rinpoche, being totally omniscient, already knew the whole situation, so instead of staying in India to wait for them, he went to the Nepali-Tibetan frontier.

He was sitting right by the border when the Tibetans came walking along. They didn't know who he was, but the moment they saw him, they felt very calm and peaceful. Guru Padmasambhava asked them, "Where are you fellows going?" "To India," they answered. It was still a long way to India. His presence was overwhelming and glorious. They began to feel very happy and blissful. Their bodies began shaking.

"Why are you all going to India?" he asked.

"We have been sent by the King of Tibet to invite a very famous master known as Guru Padmasambhava to come and give teachings in our country." So Guru Padmasambhava asked, "I see. So what do you have to offer him?" In spite of the good feelings that they were having, this question made them nervous; who was this man and what were his intentions? One of them ventured to ask, "Well, are you Guru Padmasambhava?" He then began telling them the contents of their minds and thoughts in such detail that they all knew without a doubt that this was the very person they sought, Guru Padmasambhava. They did many full prostrations and offered him the king's gold along with a long letter.

Guru Padmasambhava looked at the gold and said, "This is a gift? But it is so tiny! What is this, a gift from the king of the hungry ghost realm? Don't you have anything else?" They went through the rest of their things and offered him all of their personal belongings. Guru Padmasambhava asked again, "Do you have anything else to offer me? "We have nothing more to give than this gold from the King," they said, "but we sincerely offer you our bodies, speech and minds." Upon hearing this, Guru Padmasambhava was very pleased and said, "That is wonderful." By the devotion of these messengers he could see that Tibetans were ready to practice the Dharma, and in particular, the Vajrayana teachings. This heart-felt response communicated the basic attitude necessary for Vajrayana practice.

Then Guru Padmasambhava made a closer inspection of the primary offering. It was actually quite a big sack of gold. He looked at it for a moment and then said, "I don't need this!" and he began throwing gold dust into the air, scattering most of it in the direction of Tibet.

The messengers thought, "He shouldn't be doing this. This is precious gold." Guru Rinpoche immediately read their worried minds and told the messengers to hold out their chubas, the sash which is part their robes. When they did this, he started picking up handfuls of dirt from the ground and threw it in their laps where it was instantly transformed into gold.

"Don't worry about gold," he said. "Keep what you have now and take it back with you. I will come to Tibet, but I will be traveling slowly and subduing negative forces on the way. We cannot travel together. You must go ahead of me. I will arrive in central Tibet in about three weeks. Tell your King I am coming." So the messengers returned to Tibet and told King Trisrong Deutsen what had happened on their journey. For the most part, the King was overjoyed, but a doubtful thought crossed his mind. He did not know whether to believe that Guru Padmasambhava would actually come.

Two days walk from Lhasa is a place called Todlung pleasure park. At the head of that valley is the place where the Karmapa's Monastery was eventually built. At this site they prepared a big reception to welcome the great teacher. The King sent five hundred cavalrymen along with his ambassadors Lha-sang and Lupe Gyalpo to welcome Guru Padmasambhava. Lha-sang was the prime minister and the King's right hand man. Guru Padma Jungné arrived on foot, holding a walking stick.

I am sure you are all aware that Tibetans love to drink tea. It being customary to make tea for guests, the reception party was preparing to do just that when they discovered that there was no water available nearby. Guru Rinpoche walked up on this and saw what was happening. He poked his walking stick into the ground and instantly, water began to flow from that spot. This spring still exists and has become a popular place of pilgrimage. People still go there to drink the water or bathe.

As Guru Padma Jungné approached the castle which Trisrong Deutsen had built near the future site of Samyé monastery, he walked a path between the King, who was surrounded by a great gathering of Tibetan males, and the queens on the opposite side of the road, surrounded by a great host of Tibetan ladies. There were musicians and acrobats performing. It was quite an elaborate reception. As Padma Jungné approached the king, he could see that the young monarch was somewhat arrogant and proud.

Trisrong Deutsen was thinking, "The Guru should honor me with greetings before I acknowledge him. After all, I am a powerful king, ruler of three fourths of the world," referring to Tibet's dominance over most of Asia at the time. The King had been spoiled by Shantarakshita when the Khenpo had originally arrived. The great abbot had humbly introduced himself and praised the King, who now expected Guru Padmasambhava to follow suit.

As the King stood there and hesitated, Guru Rinpoche read his mind and started singing. This is considered the first religious song in Tibet and it has around nineteen verses with lines like, "I am the great Guru Padmasambhava, I am King Padmasambhava, I am the Prince, Padmasambhava, I am the strong young man, I am the Princess Padmasambhava, I am the beautiful young girl, I am the great astrologer, I am the skilled physician," and so on. After each title, he gives a few lines saying something more about that aspect of himself. He begins his song saying, "Oh great King of Tibet listen to me now. In all six realms beings are subject to death. But I am one who has reached the immortal state free from both death and birth. I possess the secret instructions on immortality. I see this entire universe as a display of mind.

"Negative spirits and obstacles are my sport and faithful assistants. Everything is mine. I am king of the universe and have the ability to control all phenomena." When Padma Jungné moved to join his palms, wisdom flames shot out from his fingertips, scorching the royal robes. Trisrong Deutsen and his whole entourage immediately fell to the ground and began doing prostrations. The inner interpretation of this event has to do with establishing the appropriate relationship between student and teacher. Guru Pama Jugne's actions clearly defined the nature of this connection, so vital to the spread of Buddhism in Tibet.

Soon Master Shantarakshita returned. A few days later, Guru Padma Jungné climbed a small mountain above Samyé, sang a song to subdue negative energies associated with both visible and invisible beings, and performed consecration ceremonies for the land and monastery, at the end of which he levitated and danced across the sky.

This celestial Dharma dance contained the design or ground plan of Samyé Monastery and was the first religious dance in Tibet. Of course, Guru Padma Jungné was quite an unusual person, so unlike the typical lama dance, this one was performed in the sky, not on the ground. This song was also the first song Guru Rinpoche sang to subdue disruptive forces.

Guru Rinpoche and many other realized beings love dancing in space. The vast openness of space is a wondrous place because all the elements are present and everything fits together perfectly, yet there is always room for a lot more. The four elements will never crowd space. And in more spacious states of mind, all sorts of conceptions can be accommodated; gods, demons and everything else can be directly experienced and understood. There is room to infinitely expand and deepen your exploration and appreciation of these special, open states.

The song to subdue negative spirits says, "Listen mighty demons of the world. I am Padma Jungné. And I came to this world miraculously. I am free from sickness, old-age and death. I have accomplished immortality. My body, speech and mind are completely enlightened. I have the power to subdue all demons and negativity.

Knowing all conceptions and thoughts to be nothing other than one's own mind, I am beyond hope and fear. Nothing can injure me, nobody can harm me. Clearly knowing that in the true nature of primordial openness there are no gods and no demons, what ever you might try to do can never affect my realization and understanding. You cannot change one atom. In trying to harm me, you only reveal that your mind is deluded." At this point, Guru Padma Jungné offered torma. Again, this was the first time such a ceremony was performed in Tibet. He held up the tormas and said, "I am offering these tormas to the host of demons and malicious spirits. Though this is a small offering, I am multiplying it through the power of my meditation so that everyone of you will have a huge feast and can feel satisfied. In giving you this, I am offering you everything you desire, so you must all be very happy, and enjoy this supreme meal. By the power of my meditation and mantra, I offer you this gift. Please come, accept it and be content. Help promote peace and harmony throughout the land and help me bring the Dharma here. Bless this effort to use the land to build a monastery and accomplish the wishes of the King. Come together and join with us in this work. Don't ever ignore the speech of any tantric practitioner, such as my self. Hurry now, please bless this land! From then on, there were not too many obstacles to establishing the Dharma in Tibet. It is said that during the construction of Samyé, human beings labored in the daytime and the local deities would work at night. Within five years, they completed all the buildings in the monastery.

In constructing Samyé there was a lot of discussion about how large to make it. King Trisrong Deutsen was a very strong man and a good archer. They say an arrow shot from his bow in Tibet could reach Nalanda University on the plains of India. The final decision was to delineate the boundaries by having the King shoot arrows from east to west and from north to south, and then build the wall for Samyé around these cardinal points.

Now some of the ministers who weren't too enthusiastic about this whole project and knew the King's strength, thought that rather than trying to argue against such a big plan, it would be easier to trick the King by weighting his arrows with mercury. That is how Samyé Monastery ended up being fairly large, but not quite as big as it would have been. Of course, King Trisrong Deutsen often had to deceive these same ministers because they did not welcome or value the Dharma and did want any monastery at all! Like the mandalas of the inner tantras, the buildings at Samyé are laid out according to the configuration of four continents and eight sub-continents clustered around the central Mount Sumeru. The mandala was geomantically executed in architecture, reflecting the Buddhist cosmology symbolizing the inner structure of the universe.

After the creation of glorious Samyé, Trisrong Deutsen said, "We have finished building the monastery but this is not enough to fulfill my aspirations. The main purpose of all this work is to actually bring the Dharma here." King Trisrong Deutsen then asked Guru Padma Jungné and Khenpo Shantarakshita for their assistance. Both agreed to help and after discussing plans, the King personally selected a group of 108 young Tibetans from ages eight to seventeen to learn Sanskrit and other languages. Many of these youths became adept translators, rendering texts from India, China, Turkestan, Kashmir and many other places, into Tibetan. Working closely with other great Buddhist masters to insure a high standard for the quality of the translations, all of the Buddha's teachings, from the Hinayana to the Vajrayana, became available in Tibetan editions.

The Tibetan canon currently consists of 105 large volumes of the Buddha's teachings as well as another 253 volumes of commentaries written by the great Indian masters. Most of these were translated during the reign of Trisrong Deutsen. This is why he is remembered as the king who brought the Buddhadharma to Tibet. He established thirteen Buddhist monastic colleges throughout the country and twelve major retreat centers, supporting these activities with his royal treasures.

Guru Padma Jungné journeyed all over Tibet, and it is said that there is not one square inch of Tibetan soil that he did not bless with his presence. With the help of wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts'ogyal and other students, Guru Rinpoche hid teachings throughout the land to be revealed to future generations at the appropriate moment. He remained in Tibet for a long time, giving inner tantra teachings to nine heart students and afterward to the 25 disciples, the 35 ngakpas, the 37 yoginis and others. Many of these people attained enlightenment within that life, some within a very short period of time. The whole Buddhadharma, from the Hinayana to Dzogchen, quickly became well established, illuminating the entire land of Tibet like bright sunshine. Thanks to the power and aspirational prayers of Guru Padma Jungné, Shantarakshita and the Dharma King Trisrong Deutsen, Tibet became the blessed home of thousands of highly realized beings.

The subduing of demons and negative forces obstructing the Dharma and the establishment of Samyé Monastery brought great blessings to all of Tibet. This was the external work of the emanation known as Guru Padma Jungné.

On the inner level, Padma Jungné is associated with the practice of meditation. The inner tantras describe two aspects of the path; the creation stage and the completion stage, also know as the visualization and perfection practices. Guru Padma Jungné confers special abilities to help us integrate these two stages and accomplish both the ordinary and extraordinary siddhis. The tantric refuge invokes the three roots of guru, deva and dakini. The root of blessings is Guru Padma Jungné. He fulfills all wishes and helps his devotees actualize and transcend all the stages of practice. The Buddha Padma Jungné removes ignorance and lets us discover primordial wisdom. This is very profound because there is no separation between wisdom and the skillful means of its realization. Guru Padma Jungné is a powerful symbol of the union of wisdom and skillful means. Through this technique we can approach enlightenment very quickly.

Guru Padma Jungné is visualized with one face, two arms, and two legs, sitting in the posture of royal ease with a katvanga leaning on his left shoulder. He holds a vajra in his right hand and in his left, a skull bowl with a small vase in it. In another form, as Tso kyi Dorje, his skin is dark blue, he has three eyes and instead of a katvanga, he is embracing the wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts'ogyal.

Guru Padma Jungné is considered the simultaneous embodiment of all eight emanations and is therefore associated with the four actions of pacifying, increasing, magnetizing and subjugating. He is also a long-life Buddha and can help balance the elements of our physiology. The physical body consists of five elements; earth, water, fire, air, and space. When our vitality decreases it can bring imbalances causing us to get sick. Practicing on Guru Padma Jungné is a very effective technique to help you remove obstacles, recharge the life force and restore balance. In a more general sense, he is associated with accomplishing the four enlightened actions.

Begin by generating bodhicitta and visualizing a small sphere radiating light of five colors, white, blue, yellow, red and green. Concentrate on that for a moment and transform it into the transcendent wisdom body of Guru Padma Jungné. Recite the Vajra Guru Mantra with devotion while the rainbow rays continue to stream out from his heart center in all directions. Then recollect the light as the luminous essence of all the elements, returning it back to the flask in Guru Jungné's skull cup, until it overflows and floats toward you. The light enters your crown chakra or heart center and dissolves, correcting any imbalances and returning us to the peace, clarity and freshness of perfect equanimity. Meditate like this for a short time and then dedicate the merit to all beings. That is the way to practice on Guru Padma Jungné, the seventh emanation.

Guru Dorje Drolo
The eighth emanation is another wrathful form, Guru Dorje Drolo. Guru Dorje Drolo is the crazy wrathful Buddha of the degenerate era. He has no regular pattern to his wrath. He is completely out of order! Guru Dorje Drolo emanated right before Guru Rinpoche's departure from Tibet as a way of confirming his legacy of words and actions. Some historians say that Guru Rinpoche stayed in Tibet for fifty-five years. This emanation happened about five years before he left. During this time, he gave many teachings which wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts'ogyal transcribed. Following her guru's instructions, she hid many of these texts throughout the land. As he was preparing to leave to convert the rakshasas in the southwest, Guru Rinpoche again blessed the entire land of Tibet and multiplied the hidden Dharma treasures through his meditative powers.

In order to preserve the practice of Dharma in Tibet, and secure the commitment of the local spirits to extend their protection across generations, Guru Padmasambhava emanated as Guru Dorje Drolo. In this form, he reconfirmed the power of his realization and insured the support and submission of the invisible beings. Dorje Drolo is the Buddha dedicated to the awakening of all those who have appeared since Guru Rinpoche left Tibet. Also at this time, he made many prophecies and predictions for future generations of Tibetans and the world in general. These prophecies are very accurate and clear. Many of them are quite detailed and concern events at the level of counties or states. Their truth has been observed by the Tibetans from generation to generation across the centuries.

There are thirteen different caves in Tibet which are named "Tiger's Nest." Just before Guru Rinpoche's departure, he emanated thirteen Dorje Drolos, one in each of these thirteen caves, all at the same time. In Tibetan Buddhism, the number thirteen is associated with a list of thirteen habitual obstacles. It was in order to subdue and pacify these, that he did this. The original transformations happened in central Tibet and as they occurred, each emanation of Dorje Drolo would fly off to a different cave on the back of a tigress.

The most renowned Tiger's Nest of all was in southern Tibet in a place which is now in Bhutan. The cave is called Taktsang which means Tigers Nest. It is very beautiful.

Maybe you have seen photos of it. There is a big mountain with a steep rocky face that has a cave in it. I don't know how they did it, but they built a small monastery on the ledge out in front of that cave. Although it is very difficult to get to, many tourists go there. They have to be carried in one at a time by a local person because it is so steep and high that you can easily get dizzy. They say that nobody has ever fallen from there, but it looks frightening.

According to both Buddha and the Guru Padmasambhava, this degenerative era is characterized by strong forms of desire and anger. These are the major obstacles confronting practitioners nowadays. Dorje Drolo is the emanation related to the transformation of these situations. Of course anger and attachment existed in ancient times as well, but they pervade the modern world in a deeper way. People's minds are continually disturbed and upset due to their influence, which give rise to even more emotional problems. Dorje Drolo is the best practice for removing mental and emotional obstacles. Guru Rinpoche appeared in this form to liberate sentient beings from anger and attachment.

Anger and attachment are qualities of mind which make it difficult to relax. People can become so disturbed by clinging to these emotions that their own perceptions turn against them and they begin seeing enemies everywhere. Guru Padmasambhava taught that when there is doubt and hesitation, the mind can't relax and is plagued by worry and restlessness. The long-term result of this is that you become more and more afraid. This disturbs your sense of well being, which affects the channels and the winds. Of course when the subtle physics of life is disturbed, there will be imbalances experienced in the external situation as well. This pattern is typical of the neuroses and troubles which arise continually in this degenerative era.

Along these lines, Guru Rinpoche said that in the future, all Tibetan men would be influenced by a demonic force called Gyal-po, the Tibetan women would be possessed by a demon called Sen-mo, and all the young Tibetans would be affected by an evil spirit called Ti-mug. Gyal-po symbolizes anger and jealousy and Sen-mo represents attachment. Ti-mug is an unclear, confused mind, without the ability to focus, center or direct attention. It mixes up everything. These three demons are metaphors. He didn't mean that only men or only Tibetans would be influenced by Gyal-po or women by Sen-mo, but that anger, jealousy and attachment usually arise together, and depend on each other, like a family. Dorje Drolo is a very special and powerful influence to help clear away and dispel complex loops of mental and emotional obstacles.

People who are aware of feeling mentally unstable or unhappy for no apparent reason would do well to practice on Dorje Drolo. Even though everything is together, sometimes the mind doesn't feel comfortable, relaxed or at peace. This is when such practice is really relevant. When there are unsettled feelings, it is particularly useful to meditate on Dorje Drolo. This will help calm and balance the mind.

As with all the other emanations of Guru Rinpoche, Dorje Drolo is a wisdom form, a rainbow body, not a solid or concrete object. Transforming from a sphere of bright red light, he is visualized with one face, two arms and two legs. His body color is dark red. His right hand holds a nine-pointed vajra and his left a phurba, a mystic dagger made of meteoric iron or sky metal. Dorje Drolo is very wrathful, displaying fangs, an overbite and three eyes. He is wearing Tibetan boots, a chuba and monk's robes, two white conch shell earrings and a garland of severed heads. His hair is bright red and curly, giving off sparks. To show how truly crazy he is, he dances on the back of a tigress, surrounded by wisdom flames. The tigress is also dancing, so that everything is in motion.

The tigress is actually Tashi Kyedin, a student of Guru Padmasambhava and Yeshe Ts'ogyal, and one of the five wisdom dakinis. The five wisdom dakinis are no other than incarnations of the five female Buddhas representing the Vajra, Ratna, Padma, Karma and Buddha families. And these are no other than the pure form of the five elements. Along with Mandarava, Yeshe Ts'ogyal, Kalasiddhi and Shakyadevi, Tashi Kyedin helped Guru Rinpoche carry out his wisdom activities. When Guru Padmasambhava emanated as Dorje Drolo, she was immediately transformed into a tigress. Visualize male and female demons representing anger and attachment, being crushed under her paws as she stands on a lotus, moon and sun discs.

Visualize this scene either above your head or out in front of you. Recite the Vajra Guru Mantra and imagine Dorje Drolo's wisdom flames radiating through you, removing restlessness, confusion, stress and any emotional imbalances. When such troubles arise, practice on Guru Dorje Drolo. Feel the flames as powerful blessings which destroy all psychological problems. Relax as they consume you and all sentient beings as well. Finally, let Guru Dorje Drolo dissolve as a red light into your heart center and continue to meditate in the openness of the true nature without any discrimination or particular focus. Remain that way for as long as you have time. Then dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. That is how to practice on Guru Dorje Drolo.

These are the eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava. Believe it or not. Look into the special meaning associated with each emanation. Understand them and follow in their footsteps. Of course, Guru Padmasambhava is totally enlightened and can dance in the sky, and you might not have the ability to do that just yet, but have courage as you walk on the ground. Remain firmly committed to this practice.

Meditate on the blessings and teachings of Guru Padmasambhava, on his active demonstrations for all sentient beings, and on his endless commitment to the performance of bodhicitta activities. All eight emanations can be summarized in one simple word: bodhicitta. All this activity we have been discussing is directed toward the realization of benefits for all sentient beings and awakening them to their true nature.

If you don't know any other way, simply express bodhicitta through acts of loving-kindness and compassion and practice meditation. This unites the activities of all eight emanations in one simple state. Loving-kindness and compassion are naturally arising qualities of the mind which become unceasing activities. Allow all ego-clinging, even holdingto limited ideas of loving-kindness and compassion, to dissolve back into the expanse of the primordial nature, and the energy will reappear in wiser, more flexible and skillful forms. To meditate like this is a very simple and powerful practice.

From a conventional viewpoint, the eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava are strange and incredible. You might think these are all just stories. But if we realize equanimity and understand the truth of Madhyamika, Mahamudra or Dzogchen, the activities of Guru Padmasambhava are perfectly and completely natural. There is nothing odd or unusual about them. To understand the eight emanations, we should realize that they are given to us to break down our fixed conceptions and help rid us of habitual clinging to narrow categories of thought and feeling. That is the essential point of this whole teaching.

Everything we see is a display of wisdom, the luminosity aspect of the true nature. There is no need to cling or hold onto any particular thing or form. Everything reflects the true nature, so do not become fixed in your mind and attitude. Stay open. You will never realize the infinite nature if you attach to one way of seeing things.

In the Diamond Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni said, "Whoever seeks the Buddha in form or sound is going in the wrong direction. They will never see the real Buddha." We must open our minds and realize equanimity. The ultimate Buddha is beyond mundane ideas and conceptions. This is known as the Dharmakaya Buddha.

In a Mahayana Sutra, the Buddha said, "From the day I was enlightened until I entered parinirvana, I never taught a single word of Dharma." If we hold tight to our position within the bounds of common perception, we would have to conclude that the Buddha was a big liar. But Buddha is speaking here on the absolute level, leading us beyond duality, drawing us into practice from the enlightened point of view. If the absolute truth of the teaching is beyond conception, there are no words existing in the infinite domain of the primordial nature.

In another Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni explains how our universe, even though we think it is very big, occupies a space no bigger than an atom without the atom becoming bigger or the universe becoming smaller. The whole universe is contained in one particle. All discriminatory notions and contradictions are abstractions and only exist on the conceptual level. In reality, everything is free of such limitations. It is unbounded openness and in this sense, is known as the state of great equanimity.

The eight emanations demonstrate the marvelous flexibility of the true nature. There is room for everything to appear and ceaselessly transform, and no point in clinging to exclusive forms or dogmas.

All these emanations arise within the true nature which is known on the higher levels of the teaching as Dzogchen. The entire universe is within the Great Perfection of the Dzogchen state. Everything appears vividly here and is clearly illuminated within this awareness. Nothing exists apart from the transcendent qualities of the primordial nature. Therefore, everything is already in the clear light state. All movement is unimpeded and translucent. There are no obstacles or blockages to this freedom.

That is my teaching on the eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava. 

Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, 1938 - 2010

May the Guru remain in the world for a long time to come, may the light of His teachings pervade the sky of mind and bring happiness to all. In seeking to become better acquainted with the Ways and Means of the Lotus Born, I requested these teachings on the Eight Manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava from the compassionate brother Lamas, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, who responded energetically with nearly eight hours of inspired talk. The tapes were transcribed by members of the Turtle Hill Sangha and edited by myself, Padma Shugchang. The teaching took place at Padma Gochen Ling in Monterey, Tennessee in the spring of 1992. May these efforts serve to awaken the absolute reality of Guru Padmasambhava in the hearts of all beings. Republished as a five-part series in February 2011 by Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar.


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3 reader comments:

Padma Kadag said...

Thank you very much for printing this commentary....Really good.

Drums of Dharma said...

Very, very profound!

Thank for publishing this and making it available. I feel very connected to this teaching because when I attended a teaching by HHDL in 2005, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche was there and gave a transmission of the Amitabha Sadhana written by Mipham Rinpoche. I think its that connection of transmission that really brought the words to life.

Mahalo and Many Blessings!

For the benefit of all sentient beings.

KataKhan said...

Thank You! May these precious Teachings spread and prevail!