PADMASAMBHAVA'S FORTRESS BARRICADE INSTRUCTIONS WHICH INTRODUCE THE SIXFOLD SYSTEM OF THE MAHASIDDHAS FOR UNDERSTANDING THE TANTRAS
The following document has been put together from notes which were originally taken down by myself, the disreputable upasaka padma shugchang, during a teaching generously offered by my Lama, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche, on Guru Padmasambhava's birthday at the midsummer retreat (1993) held in the
western part of New York State. Any mistakes you find here are my own. May these notes serve to help clarify the teachings and crucial points of
practice for members of the vajra sangha and for the rest of those fortunate enough to view them, to at least deepen appreciation for the comprehensive beauty of the Tantras. May All Beings Find Happiness and the causes of Happiness!
The Six Points are as Follows:
1. The view which establishes a clear idea or determination of what must be understood
2. Maintaining the view through samaya of meditation
3. Progressing through the development stage through conduct
4. Receiving initiations and guarding samaya
5. Actualizing through empowerments
6. Fulfilling the aspiration to benefit self and others by implementing the lineage instructions
1. The view which establishes a clear idea or determination of what must be understood lta-ba: view, a clear understanding based in primordial wisdom, the pristine cognition of reality as-it-is.
This has three aspects:
1. view of objects and phenomena (chö-chin lta-ba)
2. view of absolute reality or truth (chö-nyid lta-ba)
3. view of self-awareness in non-duality (rang-rig lta-ba)
1. view of objects and phenomena (chö-chin lta-ba)has two categories; pure and impure. We are already well acquainted with the impure view. To recognize the five aggregates and elements as non-separate from the male and female buddhas is the purified form of the relative truth, symbolized by the Deity of
Initial Attraction. This marks the beginning of the developing stage practices and the path of accumulation. As your channels become more refined on the path of application, this becomes the Deity Buddha of the Winds. On the path of seeing, the yidam deity is the Buddha of the Clear Light. On the path of meditation, s/he is the Buddha of Great Equanimity. Ultimately, practicing in this way will transform the three gates into the kayas of indestructible reality.
2. view of absolute reality or truth (chö-nyid lta-ba) presents the unborn, unoriginated, beginningless and endless sunyata as the transcendent cosmic matrix, the absolute beyond time and change, birth and death, bondage and liberation, the primordial ground. See Nagarjuna's refutation of logical systems (which posit the inherent existence of separate objects) implying that phenomena have no discernible source or destination (reality).
3. view of self-awareness in non-duality (rang-rig lta-ba)the four-fold formula of the Heart Sutra realizes the absolute view, the virtual fusion of phenomena (samsara) and emptiness (nirvana) as the state of rig-paor true presence. That which is born is truly unborn. Having discovered the
unconditional source, the true mode of existence and real destiny of the mind, all emotions and mind-forms are self- liberated as they arise through mere recognition of subject-object dualism in light of interdependent origination, clearly understanding the machinery of appearances and intuitively
recognizing the Unborn and True Nature of Guru, self and Reality. This is the essence of Dzogchen. To pursue this inquiry to its empowering and enlightening end is called 'firmly establishing oneself in the view.
2. Maintaining the view through samaya of meditation
To tame the wild elephant of the mind and to establish equanimity is the end of meditation. In the course of practice we make use of such techniques as the recitation of mantra, performance of mudra and visualization. Holding to one thought and peacefully abiding in that state is gzhi-neor shamatha.
Beyond tranquility is vippassana or lhag-thongwhich means supreme or superior seeing. Wisdom awareness observing the egolessness, emptiness and impermanence of all phenomena. All sound is heard as mantra, awareness of thoughts is the primordial dharmakaya, and appearances are the mandala of deities. This all relates to the creation or developing stage practices.
Completion stage practices (rdzogs-rim) have two parts;
1. meditation with an object
2. meditation without an object
- 1. Meditation WITH an object involves gaining a clear comprehension of
There are 1072 principal channels which merge into three principal meridians;
1. roma on the right, visualized as white
2. kyang-ma on the left, visualized as red
3. uma in the center, visualized as blue
( 1 and 2 are reversed in women)
The meridians run vertically through the body from the muladhara to the crown with braided junctures at each of the chakras. Spokes indicate the number of channels which connect directly to a chakra.
The Tibetan Five-Wheeled Model of the Chakras
CHAKRA COLOR SYLLABLE QUALITY SPOKES ORIENTATION crown white
OM Great Blissfulness 32 down speech red AH High Enjoyment 16 up heart blue HUM Dharma 8 down navel yellow SO Emanation 64 up secret green HA
Blissfulness 32 down
rlung, There are five principle winds and five branch winds.
The Five Principle Winds wind color buddha family element seat function life-supporting white Akshobhya water heart life force downward voiding yellow Ratnasambhava earth anus and genitals retention and release upward moving red Amitabha fire throat speech equally-abiding green Amoghasiddhi wind navel heat, digestion pervading blue Vairochana space joints and cavities enabling
The Five Branch Winds all radiate out from the life-supporting wind in the heart chakra and flow toward a sense door
wind color empowers moving red visual consciousness intensely-moving blue auditory consciousness perfectly-moving yellow olfactory consciousness strongly-moving white gustatory consciousness definitely-moving green tactile consciousness
An average human takes about 21,600 breaths daily. Every 200 breaths, a wisdom air is released into the channels.
This comes to 72 times during average waking hours, 4.5 time per hour or every 13 minutes.
Meditative practices such as visualization, recitation of mantra and Dzogchen or Mahamudra meditation help one to realize and stabilize these wisdom airs. This ye-shes rlung intensifies everytime you meditate. The wind system controls the emotions; this is why we begin with breath exercises before formal practice. Many other techniques relate to the wisdom-airs such as the big and small vase practices as well as wind-walking.
DROPS: Thig-le, bindu: the root elements inherited from oneâs parents pervade the body. These are of two kinds; subtle (white) and gross (red). The practice of candali or tum-mo focuses on these seminal points, drawing them down from the crown chakra as great blissfulness while the yogin transcends the movement by abiding in the state of Mahamudra. All dualistic notions must be transcended to engage these practices. These are called completion or perfection stage practices accompanied by signs.
2. Completion stage practices WITHOUT a focus
Meditating on the primordial nature state beyond categories or characteristics, pure from the beginning and abiding in that condition. Recognition of mind as a momentary phenomena with each moment arising as the continuity of the primordial condition, reflecting pristine purity, symbolized by a radiant white AH in a blue sky. This multiplies into an infinite host of smaller white AHâs which purify the entire universe and gradually dissolve until only the central AH remains. Finally, it too vanishes in light.
3. Progressing through the development stage by means of conduct non-separate from the view and meditation, both of which are both based in bodhicitta
Maintaining the view of the three vajra states while upholding love and compassion. On higher levels, this also means recognizing the mantra, mudras and mandalas of the deities as the true nature of this very world and its various phenomena. The Guhyagarbha Tantra states that conduct is to be practiced in three modes;
1. a novice should observe his conduct in the same way a new monk would during the first few days of his ordination. This attitude must be maintained until the dawn of realization.
2. as realization dawns, one may begin to perform crazy-wisdom activities beyond conventional hopes and fears, all the while maintaining the bodhicitta attitude.
3. Eventually, king-like bodhisattva conduct follows from the original vow.
Shakyamuni taught his disciples to modify the Vinaya for the suitability of time and place. Padmasambhava said, 'Ascend with conduct, descend with the view.'
4. Receiving initiations and guarding samaya
There are samayas at all levels of the teaching. Basically, these are sacred promises to firmly apply oneself to the practices so as to accomplish the understandings and realizations of the path. Continuity of the view in practice is dependent upon maintaining samayas.
There are three divisions of samaya;
1. the general samayas have three aspects;
1. the outer represented by the Tripitaka teachings. Monks who observe the vinaya follow 240 rules. Nuns adhere to many more. Most of these insure ahimsa or harmlessness.
2. the inner represented by the bodhicitta and bodhisattva vows. Bodhisattvas take 18 root vows and 46 auxiliary vows. While acting in the spirit of gentleness, bodhisattvas also generate merit by engaging in deeds to benefit sentient beings.
3. the secret, represented by the tantric oaths which include all three levels of samaya. The outer tantras feature 14 root vows with eight major branches.
The essence of the tantric samayas is to maintain an understanding of the purity of phenomena as the mandala of deities. Vinaya harmlessness, blended with the Mahayana emphasis on love and compassion yields pure perception, the heart-core of the Vajrayana and tantric samayas.
This unique approach utilizing all three vehicles in a single weave is the fruit of the way Buddhism came to Tibet.
Five Particular Samayas of the Guhyagarbha
1. to never abandon the unsurpassable view
2. to have devotion to the guru
3. never to stop practicing mantra and mudra
4. do not withhold love from vajra family members
5. maintain secrecy regarding profound doctrines in the company of the uninitiated
1. never to abandon the unsurpassable view: the purity of phenomena as a display of emptiness recognized as non-dual and non-separate from our own inmost consciousness, primordial-awareness wisdom, the union of mahakaruna and mahaprajna. Practicing on the effortless or spontaneously arisen mind of Samantabhadra.
2. having established the view, devotion to the teacher as Buddha. Natural gratitude for having encountered the lama and recognizing his kindness, even if his realization is not quite that of the Buddha; the Buddha has already given us the Dharma; the root teacher is an embodiment of kindness and compassion appearing for your benefit in a unique way.
3. to abide in the the Three Vajra States, which is to recognize all form as the Buddha- body, all sounds as mantra or Buddha-speech, and awareness of thoughts being the space of the Dharmakaya or primordial mind. Deity yoga invokes oneâs original nature, mantra evokes the power of love and compassion by modifying the movement of the winds in the channels and chakras and purifying obscurations in the roots (rtsa) winds (rlung) and essence elements (thig-le)
Five mudras or phyag-rgya / mudra: to seal or fix; a sign or manual gesture
2. mudra as bodily samaya; as in deity yoga
3. mudra of mantra recitation
4. mudra of mental activity
5. karmamudra; based on proficiency in the Three Vajra States
and the four activities; pacifying, enriching, magnetizing, destroying
4. do not withhold love from vajra family members. We have a common ground and must work together to accomplish the welfare of all beings, to fulfill the aspirations of all the doctrine holders and bodhisattvas.
The vajra-family has four distinct levels;
1. all sentient beings- the cosmic sangha
2. all buddhists
3. your local group
4. your home sangha
5. maintaining secrecy regarding profound doctrines in the company of the uninitiated includes discriminating and using caution in wielding all forms of radical truth and esoteric symbolism, the details of unconventional practices and axioms, etc.,. This even applies to tantric art. Don't casually reveal
siddhis or even dreams, guard your insights from profane eyes and ears. Guru Padmasambhava said, 'Keep your realization like a stone in the ocean.' Don't
use experiences on the path to bolster ego-identity. There are many things which work better if there is no knowledge of their existence on the part of those who are not participants. In Tibet, there was a tradition of 'secret retreatâ', simply to avoid complications. In the course of practicing with a
sangha, there will be secret information you will have access to. To maintain compassion in communicating what is not always easily seen or heard - such
as obscurations or a lapse of samaya in others. To be loving while assisting others to understand the teaching in direct relation to their own egoic activities and/or being served in this same way. Originally, Padmasambhava had nine students whom he took far off into the mountains above Samye so as to maintain secrecy in relation to the practice.
5. Actualizing through empowerments: abhisheka, abhikhekata or 'bang
Abhi: highest or direct, khekata: throwing or releasing.
A true empowerment is a timely and effective means of quickening and purifying obscurations (sgrib-pa) helping one to realize the mind of the lama. In the Vajrayana, enlightenment is based upon empowerment. It prepares the ground and establishes the appropriate conditions for accomplishment of the Supreme Siddhi.
Four Kinds of Obscurations
3. of mind/ as the union of thought and feeling
4. of habit patterns,
which are of four types-
1. those of the day
2. those of the night
3. those of deep sleep
4. those of sensuality
The Four Empowerments EMPOWERMENT DIMENSION PURIFIES BESTOWED BY ACTUALIZES vase body channels nirmanakaya generation stage secret speech winds sambhogakaya completion stage wisdom mind bindu dharmakaya shes-rab yeshe word whole subtlest habit energy svabhavikakaya rang-jung yeshe 6. Fulfilling the aspiration to benefit self and others by implementing the lineage instructions
This is the result of diligent application of the previous five points. Practice must be free of laziness and doubt.
Actualization has two aspects;
1. general actualization: visionary experiences, predictions, peace, clarity, healing, the ability to read omens, clairvoyance, telepathy... these are some of the signs of minor accomplishments realized through practice.
2. absolute actualizing: samyak-sambodhi, perfect, unexcelled, complete enlightenment,
is realized via the following four methods:
1. nyen-pa: keeping close to the mind of the lama
2. nye-bar nyen-pa: proximity to the degree of intimate involvement
3. drub-pa: effective practice, accomplishment
4. drub-pa chen-po: extraordinary, enlightened practice
"Samantabhadra passed on this teaching without the notion of separate subject and object, without the dualistic notion of one who teaches and one who follows the teaching. His great laughter resounds throughout the dharmadhatu. Relax into the primordial without changing anything. Abide as self-liberated
awareness. This is Mahamudra, the great seal, sign, disposition and demonstration of the true nature, the sublime symbol of all the Buddhas. Those who hold this mudra are the bearers of the light, heart-sons and daughters, masters qualified to teach others, lineage holders, vidyadharas."
-Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche