The Supported Deities: The Condensed Realization states:
The Supported Deities
The Condensed Realization states:
Gradually generate the celestial palace from the outside
Gradually generate the deities from the inside
As indicated here, to visualize the supported deities imagine that the previously visualized seed syllable descends onto the central seat. This syllable then either transforms into the complete main deity or into the symbolic implement, held in the deity’s right hand, which is marked by the deity’s life-force syllable. In the latter case, light radiates out from the implement and is then absorbed back into it, accomplishing the twofold
benefit. When the light is absorbed back in, the implement transforms into the form of the deity, complete with all of its ornaments and attire. You may then gradually visualize the main deities and their retinue in their entirety, as spelled out in the particular ritual text you are using.
Next is the blessing of the three places. In the bone mansion at the crown of the main deity, as well as in those of all the deities of the retinue, imagine white OM syllables resting upon white discs. Red AH syllables rest upon red eight-petaled lotuses in the center of their throats. In their heart centers blue HUM syllables rest upon sun discs in front of their hearts. Thus, the visualized deities are sealed by clearly visualizing these three
syllables as the essence of vajra body, speech, and mind. In some contexts, you may imagine that they are sealed by visualizing that the three syllables emit and absorb light and then transform into Vairocana, Amitabha, and Aksobhya, each of whom wears enjoyment-body ornaments. You then recite mantras, perform the gestures at each of your own three places, and generate the confidence of the three vajras.
Next, for the bestowal of empowerment, light radiates out from the seed syllable at your heart center, or from the heart center of the wisdom being, and invites all the sugatas, in the form of male and female empowerment deities of the five families, to come from their natural abode. Joined in inseparable union, the fire of their passionate desire creates a stream of the
five wisdoms, which melts and flows down onto the five places at your crown, conferring empowerment and purifying the stains of the five afflictions. The liquid that overflows from the top of your head transforms into a crown endowed with the adornments of the five emanation-body families, with your own family in the position of the lord. By purifying the five aggregates, give rise to the confidence of the buddhas of the five families. Make the empowerment mudras of the five families at each of your five places and recite the mantras for receiving empowerment. In some cases, blessing your three places or receiving empowerment may be unnecessary. There may also be other variations. Hence, practice as stipulated in the text you are using.
Invoking the Wisdom Beings and Requesting Them to Remain
From the letter HUM at your heart center countless red light rays shine forth. These light rays, which are bent slightly inwards at the tip like hooks, invoke the assembly of deities, the mandala of the victorious ones of the three roots who abide in manifold buddhafields that pervade all of space. As the embodiment of the manifold aspect of the dharma body, the deities are invoked along with their retinues, which include the guardian deities and Dharma protectors.
While not moving from the dharma body, imagine that the power of their compassion arouses the display of the form bodies, which arrive immediately. In the same way that you must first send an invitation when requesting the presence of a king in a worldly context, here the samaya being must show reverence and respect to the wisdom mandala as the object of veneration. In addition, if you practice the deity yoga of the
development stage with unshakable devotion, it is the nature of things that the commitment of the host of deities of the three roots will naturally be invoked and they will immediately come to the place of devotion where they are being visualized. For this reason, generate intense devotion and recite the words of the invocation melodiously while playing music and offering incense. With these words imagine coundess wisdom beings identical to the deities of the visualized mandala—the supportive celestial palace together with its protective dome—along with whatever peaceful or wrathful deities are being invoked. Like snowflakes in
blizzard, they gather like clouds in the space above the samaya mandala, all the way out to the mountains of flames. These wisdom beings represent a display of illusory wisdom and an overwhelming mass of wisdom, love, and capacity.
Alternatively, in some contexts it is taught that four mudra goddesses are emanated from your heart as the samaya being. The Hook Goddess invokes the commitment of the wisdom beings, the Noose Goddess invites them, the Shackle Goddess arouses them from their dwelling places, and the Bell Goddess delights them and invites them into the space in front of you.
The Request to Remain
At this point you supplicate the entire wisdom mandala to merge indivisibly with yourself as the samaya mandala. Imagine that, with loving delight, the wisdom mandala dissolves into you like snowflakes landing on a lake and merges indivisibly with the samaya mandala. On this point The Oral Instructions state:
The samaya being is the element of buddha nature itself, established as the primordially pure mandala of the deity, while the wisdom being is the body of all buddhas. The primordial inseparability of these two is the meaning of the inseparability of the samaya and wisdom beings.
And Jigme Lingpa writes:
You must understand that the invocation, and so on, enable you to recall the primordial indivisibility of the samaya and wisdom beings; it is not as though you are placing one into the other.
Moreover, Tsele Natsok Rangdrol explains:
When making the invocation, it is not as though something “other” is invoked and then arrives from some other place. To purify impure deluded perception, we do indeed recite words that invoke particular deities by name, mention the places where they reside, and do other such things. Nevertheless, in fact there is nowhere in the world of appearance and existence that is not pervaded by the magical display of self-aware awakened mind. Since this is the case, the innate awareness that is the samaya being is indivisible from the wisdom being; these are not two different things. Thus, the wisdom being is invoked as being indivisible from the samaya being.
When you have not realized the primordial inseparability of the samaya being and the wisdom being, you may bring this to mind through the mere symbolic invocation and dissolution of the wisdom beings, which take place from the perspective of the way things appear in an unimpeded, illusory, and relative manner.
In this context we find the syllables DZAH HUM BAM HOH. Imagine that the samaya being uses the syllable DZAH to summon the wisdom being. With HUM the wisdom being dissolves indivisibly into the samaya being. The syllable BAM binds the wisdom being, compelling it to remain until your wishes are accomplished. Finally, with the syllable HOH the wisdom being joyfully remains. This stabilizes the indivisible blending of the samaya and wisdom beings.
Homage, Offering, and Praise
Ultimately, your mind and the deity are indivisible. Knowing this is the homage of meeting the view, and is the true homage. On a symbolic level, however, you still recall the qualities of the deities and respectfully pay homage, make offerings, and so forth in the following way. Just as the gods in the Realm of Enjoying Emanations amuse themselves and partake of the sense pleasures that they themselves have emanated, here you
imagine that four knowledge goddesses emerge from your heart center as the main deity. From the four gates they exclaim, “ATIPU HOH,” and the deities of the mandala respond, “PRATICCHAHOH.” The goddesses are then gathered back into your heart center.
Alternatively, with a frontal visualization, the four emanated goddesses emerge from the heart center of yourself (visualized as the deity) and then pay homage to the deity visualized in front of you. Meanwhile, four goddesses also emerge from that deity’s heart center and offer homage back in response. To conclude, they are all gathered back into the heart centers from which they came. This is how Jigme Lingpa explained it.
Patrul Rinpoche teaches that paying homage can simply mean showing humility and respect with your body, speech, and mind, and that it is not necessary for there to be a particular object to which homage is paid and one who pays homage, regarding these as two different things.
The Outer Offerings
First, to make the outer and inner general offerings imagine coundess offering goddesses, in the form of the Vajra Lady and so forth, emanating from your heart center. Holding the seven enjoyments, the five sense pleasures, and other offering substances, they sing and dance. Each particle of the offering emanates inconceivable clouds of desirable objects that please and satisfy the deities. More specifically, the offering goddesses offer drinking water
endowed with the eight qualities to the deities’ mouths; clear, cool, and pleasing water to refresh their hands and feet; excellent garlands of divine flowers for their heads; the scent of natural and produced fragrant incense for their noses; jewels, butter lamps, and other lights for their eyes;
medicinal waters scented with sandalwood and saffron for the deities’ bodies; delicious and nutritious foods for their tongues; and the melodious sound of beautiful music that is blown, played, beaten, and so forth for their ears. To conclude, imagine that the goddesses dissolve into the very places to which they made offerings.
Jigme Lingpa explains further:
In the context of offerings and praises, it is as if the deities are making offerings and praises to themselves. This, however, is indeed suitable, as it purifies impure worlds and beings into pure worlds and beings. When transformed into the development stage of emanated pure realms and pure beings, where would you find someone ordinary to make offerings, anyway?
Alternatively, Patrul Rinpoche teaches that the offering goddesses who dwell on the external foundation make the offerings. Either is acceptable, but it is good to practice these approaches simultaneously.
In the context of frontal visualizations, imagine that the goddesses dissolve into all of the individual deities and then emerge from them as though being born. They then dissolve into your own places, bringing about the attainment of spiritual accomplishments. This is taught in the tantras.
Additionally, there are also beautifully arrayed offering substances; the offerings of absorption whereby the arrayed offerings are visualized and offered as the offering clouds of Samantabhadra; the offering of melody whereby you recite the verses of offering in a melodious manner; the offering of symbolic
mudra, meaning gestures that are respectfully offered by means of the “revolving lotus”; and the offering of mantra, meaning ARGHAM and the other mantras of the offering verses. Tingtrul Rinpoche teaches that those of superior faculties can emanate whatever they experience as great clouds of the treasury of space and offer it as such.
The Inner Offerings
The inner offering of medicine is a samaya substance that is composed of eight primary and one thousand subsidiary substances. It is derived from the realization that all phenomena are equal and are not to be accepted or rejected. As such, it is an elixir that dispels the demon of dualistic concepts. This unsurpassed great medicine has the nature of the four accomplishments and three ways of being.
With the sun and moon sphere of your thumb and ring finger, respectively, scoop up the nectar and scatter it. Envision the droplets of nectar dissolving into the mouths of the deities and satisfying them with the taste of great bliss. You
should know the general and specific ways of rendering offerings. To conclude, once the nectar touches your own tongue and dissolves into the three places, imagine that you have received the accomplishments of enlightened body, speech, and mind.
Visualize a vast and open jewel vessel. Inside is a torma made of various types of food and drink. Although it is made of all kinds of desirable objects, in essence this torma is wisdom nectar. Imagine that the deities imbibe and partake of the torma with tongues that are hollow, made of light, and have the form of three-pronged vajras. This delights them. Next, imagine that countless torma goddesses of the sense pleasures, having aroused delight in the deities, dissolve into you. In actuality, here the food of the five objects and the drink of the five consciousnesses are enjoyed within the expanse of luminosity.
Here you imagine the negative emotions, the root of the suffering of existence, coalescing in the form of blood. This is offered within the expanse of great bliss, free from attachment, to liberate intractable beings through compassion. To this end, imagine that this blood is completely consumed and samsara is liberated into unborn basic space.
The Secret Offerings
The Offering of Union
First is the offering of union. Subjective appearances correspond to the masculine principle of skillful means. In contrast, the object—emptiness— corresponds to knowledge, the feminine principle. The indivisible unity of these two is the great primordial union of everything.
In the present context, the taste of great bliss that appears from this union satisfies the entire mandala. This is symbolized by the male and female consorts being joined together as individual couples in union. Single female deities are also joined in union with the symbolic form of the lord of the
family, the concealed masculine principle, which takes the form of a khatvanga. Through this union an extraordinary blissful melting occurs in which the descending flow and the ascending stabilization are gradually perfected. Once the mind settles on the wisdom of great bliss, all the deities give rise to the pride of being inseparable from this passion.
The Offering of Liberation
Second is the offering of liberation. That which is to be liberated here is the belief in a self—the concepts associated with apprehended phenomena and apprehending thoughts. Insofar as this belief propels you into samsara and prevents the realization of nondual wisdom, it is the enemy. Liberation is
performed with the weapon of wisdom devoid of dualistic thoughts. It liberates dualistic fixation and desirous thoughts into unborn space. This is the meaning of the great primordial universal liberation.
Generate great compassion from within that state so that you can free all sentient beings who are among the ten objects from the unbearable suffering that results from the negative karma they accumulate. In essence, just like a trick or an optical illusion, the self and that which is to be liberated do not
truly exist. With this realization you will free them and purify all your thoughts into the basic space of phenomena. Imagine that you perform this offering within the state of the single flavor of samsara and nirvana.
The Offering of Reality
Since samsara and nirvana are primordially and spontaneously present as the infinite purity of the great mandala of the victorious ones, without conceptualizing the three spheres bring to mind the nature of the Great Seal and rest within that.
Here praises are offerings of vajra songs. To offer praise, imagine that goddesses emanate from your heart center and devotedly call out melodious praises enumerating the ocean of qualities of the deities of the mandala, including the inconceivable secrets of their complete liberation, enlightened body, speech, and mind; their spontaneously and effortlessly accomplished enlightened activity, endowed with the five wisdoms
and three bodies; the signs of the manifestation of the form bodies; and the strengths and other qualities that embody their sublime abandonment and realization. These praises should be offered with the knowledge that the object of praise and the one praising are beyond meeting and parting.
Alternatively, you may also imagine that Brahma, Indra, and other great gods offer praise from the courtyard surrounding the celestial palace. Jigme Lingpa teaches: Since the purpose of offering praise is to recall purity, you should be certain of the fact that the deity does not exist in and of itself.
In this and other contexts you will find many variations on the visualizations and their order, yet these different approaches do not contradict one another. As Gotsangpa explains:
It is not the case that, having trained in one visualization, it is unacceptable to then train in another. All of this is the display of your mind. It is, however, unacceptable to be narrow-minded, thinking things like, “This and that do not fit together.” This is the most important general point.
Jigme Lingpa also notes:
Since this is the case, you will go astray if you harbor doubts about the deity being a solid entity that can be touched and felt, and think that this one and the other cannot fit together, or that having taken up one, you must give up another. All such doubts are unnecessary!
Training in the Appearance of the Main Deity
This topic is divided into three sections:
(1) vivid appearance,
(2) stable pride, and
(3) recollecting purity.
Of these three, Getse Tulku explains that you should understand the first as the main explanation of the development stage, and the second two as subsidiary topics that will help you avoid what is unfavorable and accomplish what is favorable for the practice.
In general, the matured practitioner should begin by placing offerings in front of an authentic painting of the deity, crafted by a skilled artisan, and do the preliminary practices in either an extensive or abbreviated form, whichever is appropriate. Then, as is taught in the Condensed Realization of the Gurus, visualize Guru Vajradhara—the embodiment of all refuge objects—above your head, seated on a lion throne on a lotus and
on sun and moon discs. Filled with devotion, offer your body and all your wealth and enjoyments to the guru. Then offer the following supplication with one-pointed concentration: “Essence of the buddhas of the three times, truly kind precious root guru, I supplicate you. Please bless my mind, especially so that the genuine absorption of the development stage will arise in my being right now!” The guru then smiles joyfully, melts into red light, and dissolves into your crown. Mingling your mind inseparably with the guru’s, rest for a while in that state.
Next, look at the image of the deity in front of you. Sometimes close your eyes and check if you can visualize the image just as clearly as when you see it. Once you are able to visualize the deity, even with your eyes closed, transfer the visualization to your own body. Work at familiarizing yourself with the visualization by alternating between periods of meditating with your eyes open and closed. Having accustomed yourself to this
practice, strengthen your training by visualizing the deity as being either large or small, single or multiple, by sometimes focusing on the main deity, then sometimes on the retinue, and so forth. Likewise, alternate between visualizing the entire body of the deity all at once and visualizing each individual aspect of the body and adornments one by one.
At first keep your mind focused on the main deity alone, visualizing each and every detail, from the top of the deity’s crown down to the lotus seat upon which he or she sits. Clearly visualize the color of the body, the face, hands, ornaments, garments, the pupils and whites of the eyes, the signs on the hands and feet, the appearance of the major and minor marks, the projection and absorption of light, and so forth.
The deity should not be flat like a wall painting or slightly protruding like a relief. In other words, it is neither a material entity nor insentient like a rainbow. It should be clearly defined in every respect—its front and
back, left and right sides, proportions, and so forth. Yet, at the same time, it should be devoid of internal organs or any sense of materiality. Train as though the deity were actually present in the form of a body of light endowed with wisdom, knowledge, love, and capacity.
Once you are able to focus your mind on the visualization, gradually bring forth the vivid appearance of the retinue, the palace, and the arrangement of the celestial realm, all the way up to the protective dome. At times focus on the visualization as a whole; at other times focus on specific details. Training in allowing the entire supportive and supported mandala to arise clearly in your mind is called “vivid appearance.” This is one
of the primary functions of the development stage; it is a unique method that will allow you to practice calm abiding by focusing your mind on the deity. For this very reason it is important to meditate by assiduously keeping your awareness on the vivid appearance of the deity. As you grow accustomed to this, the five experiences will arise in turn.
In this context, the specific details of the deity, such as its color and symbolic implements, can be learned from the ritual text you are using. Here I will offer a few general observations. The Awesome Flash of Lightning states:
Each of their supreme forms Possesses nine traits:
They are soft,
And blazing with intense presence.
These are the nine traits of peaceful deities. Their bodies are soft because they have purified pride. Having purified anger, their bodies are well-proportioned. Having purified desire, their bodies are not loose, but firm. Having purified jealousy, their bodies are straight and supple. Having purified stupidity, their bodies are youthful. Having abandoned ignorance, their bodies are clean and clear. Due to the blossoming of wisdom, their
bodies are bright and radiant. Having perfected the major and minor marks, their bodies are resplendent, appealing, and, therefore, attractive. Having subjugated everything through their great qualities, they are endowed with a great intense presence. The first five of these are the essential qualities, whereas the latter four are aspectual qualities.
The deity should be seated within the expanse of clear and pure multicolored light that radiates out in the ten directions. As a sign of purifying the suffering of the negative emotions of those to be tamed, the deity
wears the five silk Dharma robes made of celestial silk. As a sign of fulfilling the wishes of beings by not abandoning the sense pleasures but perfecting them as an ornament, there are eight precious ornaments. Thus, the deity is adorned with thirteen ornaments.
The five silken Dharma robes consist of a white silk shawl with golden embroidery; a dhoti, which is a multicolored skirt; a yellow sash or Dharma robe; a green dancing blouse that resembles a short-sleeved vest;
multicolored silken streamers that are worn under the crown of the five families, and blue silken ribbons that hang down from the back. In some cases the belt or Dharma robe is omitted and the streamers and ribbons are counted separately.
The eight ornaments are a jeweled crown, earrings, a short necklace, a belt, bracelets, anklets, a long necklace that reaches below the navel and is a garland composed of jewels, and a shorter necklace that reaches to the breast. Alternatively, symbolizing the seven branches of enlightenment, the deity wears the seven precious ornaments: a crown, a long necklace, bracelets, earrings, arm bands, a medium-length necklace, and a flower garland.
Wrathful deities display the nine expressions of the dance.
The Heruka Galpo states:
Captivating, heroic, and terrifying,
Laughing, ferocious, and fearful,
Compassionate, intimidating, and tranquil:
Assume these nine expressions of dance.
On this topic it is taught:
Their expression of desire should be captivating, their expression of anger heroic, and their expression of stupidity terrifying. These are their three physical expressions. They should be laughing out loud with expressions like “ha ha” and “hee hee.” They should shout ferocious things like “Capture! Strike!” They should also be fearsome, with a voice like the roaring of a thousand rolls of thunder and a thousand bursts of lightning
occurring in a single instant. These are their three verbal expressions. They should also be compassionate, taking ignorant beings and realms under their care; intimidating, as they subdue barbaric sentient beings with their wrath; and peaceful in the sense that they experience everything as having the same taste within reality. These are their three mental expressions. These are the nine expressions of the dance.
With respect to ornamentation, the body of the Great Glorious One is primordially and naturally adorned with the eight glorious ornaments.
A tantra explains:
His hair streaming upward is the ornament of reversing samsara. His vajra garuda wings are the ornament of means and knowledge. His violet vest is the ornament of having overwhelmed permanence and nihilism. The half-vajra on the crown of his head is the ornament of the family. His powerful rhinoceros-hide armor is the ornament of blazing and increasing magnificence. Being joined in indivisible union is the ornament of the wisdom consort. Being a hero, who turns back all harmful forces, he is ornamented with iron. Burning up the negative emotions, he is ornamented with the vajra fire.
This can be presented in a slightly different manner:
Because Hayagriva revels in the three realms,
His tiger skin shows his expansive heroic absorption.
A crossed iron vajra shows that he repels all harsh negative forces.
An entrusted vajra indicates his knowledge absorption.
His powerful red armor shows his majestic presence.
A black viper symbolizes his elegant heroic majesty.
His fangs of absorption show that he is the devourer of Isvara.
His vajra robe indicates violet.
The skin of the fierce leopard shows his magnetizing strength.
Thus, the ornaments are explained as the eight liberations.
The eight charnel-ground ornaments are as follows. The three garments consist of an upper garment of elephant skin that symbolizes having conquered stupidity by means of the ten strengths, a belt of human skin that symbolizes having conquered desire through the awakened mind, and a tiger-skin skirt that symbolizes having conquered anger through heroic, fierce, and wrathful activities. He is thus liberated. The two fastened
ornaments are as follows. The snake ornaments are the white hair-ribbon of the caste of näga kings, the yellow earrings of the caste of nobles, the red short necklace and medium-length necklace of the priesdy caste, the green belt and long necklace of the commoner caste, and the black bracelet of the outcaste. The skull ornaments include a crown of five dry skulls, a long necklace of fifty fresh dripping heads, and the armbands
made of skull fragments. The three smeared substances are a mass of human ashes smeared on the forehead, and drops of rakta on each cheek and on the tip of the nose. Alternatively, it is sometimes explained that
there are drops of rakta on the cheeks and forehead, a drop between the eyes, and grease smeared across the throat. Adding the mass of wisdom fire and two vajra wings to these eight, there are ten glorious ornaments in all.
The light of the sun and moon, radiating from his left and right earrings, are the two ornaments of clarity. The six bone-ornaments are a necklace, representing generosity; bracelets, representing discipline; earrings,
representing patience; a wheel on the crown of the head, representing diligence (this is a thousand-spoked wheel at the center of which his hair is piled in a topknot); a belt, representing meditative concentration; and a long garland called “held aloft to make offerings,” representing wisdom.
The five bone-mudräs are these six, minus the long necklace. These represent the five wisdoms.
In the past, when Heruka liberated Rudra, he claimed Rudra’s wrathful ornaments and wore them as a sign of his heroism. These have come to be known as the eight wrathful ornaments. It is generally taught that wrathful ornaments are not suitable for peaceful deities, whereas peaceful ornaments are not disallowed for wrathful deities.
However, although there may be slight variations in the color of the body and the ornamentation of the deity in different ritual manuals, it is, in fact, suitable for the deity to appear in whatever way accords with the wishes of those to be tamed, as the compassion and activity of the deity know no limitations. Therefore, though there is no contradiction here, it is important to follow along with the context of whatever ritual text you are using.
Also, here in the context of generating the deity, according to the Magical Web the deity of each single mudra has a wisdom being similar to itself, but without any ornamentation, at its heart, the deities of the five buddha families as a crown, and the blessing deities in its three places wearing the ornaments of the enjoyment body. When these nine subsidiary deities are added to the main deity itself, this makes ten deities in all.
Alternatively, because the single lord of the family on the crown embodies them all, they are counted as one. In this case the term “the body of the deity endowed with the five branches of mantra” is used.
Looking at rituals from a general perspective, the presence of the five forms of suchness is referred to as “being endowed with the five branches of mantra.” These five are the suchness of the self (the self-visualization),
the suchness of the deity (the form of the deity visualized in front of oneself who is invited, requested to remain, and so forth), the suchness of Secret Mantra, the suchness of recitation, and the suchness of projection and absorption. Moreover, principally the vivid arising of the deity’s form is the radiance of the unfabricated basic nature. This apparent aspect is explained to be genuine vivid appearance. That being the case, the
celestial palace and its deities arise solely from the great magical display of bliss, clarity, and emptiness—the magical display of the unimpeded wisdom of the main deity itself. Indeed, they are not different from it. Like a rainbow arising in a clear sky or like the planets and stars reflected in a limpid pond, your visualization appears but is not truly established. Rest while keeping in mind the dependent arising of this intrinsic nature, which can arise as any form whatsoever. This is taught to be an important point.
The deities, who are the objects of meditation, are not simply supports for mental visualization; the appearance of the deity you meditate upon and you the meditator are not different. When you train without losing touch with the thought that you are the deity, this confident outlook will serve the unique function of destroying self-grasping and preventing obstacles from taking hold. On this point The Condensed Realization explains:
There is no imputation
In equipoise or subsequent attainment.
To have stable pride is a vitally important point, Though your visualization may be clear or unclear. Think, “I am the deity,”
And do not hold on to your ordinary perceptions.
While Tsele notes:
It is indispensable to know how the world and its contents
Are the primordially pure deity and mantra.
And Resting in the Nature of Mind explains:
Your mind has been the nature of the deity from the start.
Your body is the mandala; and sounds and words, Secret Mantra.
Within this great wisdom, where everything is spontaneously perfected, The samaya and wisdom beings are indivisible.
There is no one to invite or who remains, nor is there any need to request someone to leave.
Not good or bad, beyond accepting and rejecting, it has been the mandala from the very start.
In the visualization where you know this is its identity You are not creating something that is not already there.
As stated here, that which is to be purified is birth, death, and the intermediate state, as well as the subtle body, speech, and mind. The results of purification are the three bodies of the victorious ones. Once you have
come to definitively understand that the objects of purification have the nature of the three vajras, and that they have been so from the very beginning, the temporary stains will be purified. The process of purification consists of the three samadhis and stable pride, which involves sealing appearance, sound, and awareness with the play of deity, mantra, and wisdom, while never failing to bring the three aspects of clarity onto the path.
Such visualizations should not be clung to as true, as entities with their own characteristics. In actuality they are the self-appearances of the wisdom mandala. As such they are devoid of the conceptual constructs of color, shape, face, hands and the rest, yet the various attributes of the support and supported do manifest as signs that symbolize the qualities of self-appearing buddhahood to those who are to be tamed.
The purity of the supportive celestial mansion was briefly described above. What follows concerns the purity of the supported deity. As a symbol of all phenomena being one taste in suchness, deities have one face. Three faces symbolize the three liberations, or the three bodies. Two hands symbolize means and knowledge, while four hands symbolize the four immeasurables. Six hands can symbolize the six wisdoms (five wisdoms
along with self-arisen wisdom) or the six perfections. Four legs symbolize the four means of magnetizing and two legs symbolize ethical discipline and meditative absorption. The cross-legged position symbolizes the
equality of existence and peace, while the standing position symbolizes being unflagging in the service of beings. Three eyes symbolize seeing throughout the three times and four fangs symbolize uprooting the four types of birth. Male and female consorts symbolize the union of means and knowledge.
The nakedness of the female consort symbolizes the freedom from the overlay of the concepts connected with phenomenal characteristics. The consort being sixteen years of age symbolizes her being endowed with the sixteen joys pertaining to immutable great bliss. Her flowing hair symbolizes the boundless expansion of wisdom from basic space. Union with her secret space represents the fusion of calm abiding and insight.
In terms of the consort’s complexions, white symbolizes being unstained by blemishes, yellow represents the development of qualities, red symbolizes the welling up of compassion, green indicates unobstructed activity, and black symbolizes the immutability of reality.
The consort’s implements have symbolic values as well. The fivepronged vajra represents the five wisdoms. The wheel symbolizes cutting through the afflictive emotions. The gem represents the source of desired qualities. The lotus symbolizes remaining untainted by shortcomings. The crossed-vajra represents manifold unobstructed activities. The curved blade symbolizes severing all concepts. The skull cup represents
nourishing the bliss of nonconceptual wisdom while the blood it contains symbolizes destroying the four demons. The sword represents uprooting birth and death. The khatvariga staff symbolizes uprooting the three poisons, and so forth.
The purity of their adornments was described briefly above.
The purity of appearance and existence as the individual divine mandalas, in accordance with the meanings of the symbols praised above and elsewhere, is called “the phenomenal purity of gods and goddesses.” When visualizing the sporting of male and female deities in union, or when meditating upon the union of the development and completion stages, a mere semblance of great bliss may manifest by penetrating the vital points of the body during the completion stage, thereby sealing the development stage. Whatever the case, suffusing the development stage with the passion of great bliss is the purity of self-aware great bliss. Sealing the illusionlike apparent aspect with the view of the freedom from conceptual constructs is to meditate on the unity of appearance and emptiness. This is the purity of the suchness of reality itself.
Jamyang Khyentse taught, “You are trained and habituated when the perception of each aspect of purity and its real meaning emerges naturally whenever the form of the deity is seen.” Beginners, however, are not able to do this. They adhere to a belief whereby they set up the visualization of the deity and then think, “These elements are the play of great wisdom, the enlightened mind of buddhahood, manifesting as symbols that
represent the qualities of enlightenment.” Adhering to this belief brings about an approximation of the recollection of purity and invites the pitfail of clinging to the deity as existing in its own right. In summary, developing your training in the illusory play of empty appearance, wherein you do not veer from the nature of the dharma body even while appearing as the form bodies, is called “recollecting purity.”
In all those contexts the development stage purifies clinging to ordinary appearances and is the very goal of meditation while on the path. Thus, since the features of form, sound, smell, taste, and texture, manifesting as objects of the five sense faculties, and the features of phenomena, manifesting as mental objects, constitute “appearances,” then visualizing such features as pure is taught to be what purifies them. Once the universe
and its inhabitants are visualized as a celestial mansion and deities, and sounds are naturally perceived as mantra, the mind will no longer gravitate toward objects. “Clinging” is twofold: clinging to the self and clinging to things. The first of these, clinging to self, is the self-grasping that has occurred since beginningless time, whereby you think, “I.” Stable pride is taught to be the
antidote to this form of clinging. With stable pride you cast off the clinging to the “I” or to the ordinary and stabilize a certainty whereby you think, “I am the yidam deity.” Of clear visualization and stable pride, stable pride is more important, for without the complete conviction that you are the deity your mind will remain ordinary despite your clear visualization. This will render the practice poindess. On the other hand, when you have the pride of thoroughly believing that you are the deity, self-grasping collapses and the vivid appearance manifests automatically.
In clinging to things you cling to the universe and its inhabitants, rigidly believing they are real and permanent. This is termed the “self of phenomena.” The recollection of purity is taught to be the antidote to this form
of clinging. Since celestial mansions, deities, and their faces and hands are only symbolic images for the nature of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment and the like, which are the qualities present in the enlightened mind-streams of buddhas, the recollection of purity purifies the clinging that grasps things as being truly existent.
Consequendy, because this triad is crucial, train the mind by alternating between them. These are not like the dialectical vehicle, whereby you behave as though the object to be relinquished and its antidote are contradictory, as when you dissect objects into extremely subtle particles as the antidote to appearances or meditate on selflessness as the antidote to the self. On the contrary, due to the superiority of the skillful means of Secret Mantra, just as water stuck in the ear canal is flushed out by pouring in more water, and the pain from being burned by fire is treated with fire, the skillful means of mantra recitation brings about the eradication of impure concepts by meditating conceptually as the antidote to concepts—for example, developing divine appearances to remedy deluded appearances and developing divine pride to remedy selfish
pride. This is why the development stage is called “skillful means.” While it is said that concepts and afflictive emotions need not be relinquished, this is the intended meaning. It must be understood that such statements do not mean that concepts and afflictive emotions of an ordinary nature are not to be relinquished.
When meditating in this manner, your awareness may become unclear, or you may become lethargic and cloudy or lose your enthusiasm for meditation. If any of these occur, invigorate your awareness and expand the scope of your mind. Without confining your awareness to aspects such as the deity’s form, complexion, or symbolic implements, make the universe and its inhabitants, by nature, shine and shimmer as the deities,
celestial palace, and light rays. Let sounds hum in the nature of mantra and thoughts settle in the nature of suchness. Sing a song of HUM. Expand and elevate your awareness, slashing to pieces the tangle of concepts. Meditate expansively and freely, relinquishing the constrictions of worrying about whether the mind is resting or not, or whether it is clear enough or not.
Should your awareness become agitated and scattered, take a short break from reciting approach mantras and the like. Expel the stale air, relax your awareness, and gaze nakedly into your own nature. Within that state, yoke your attention to the seed syllable, the life force of enlightened mind, and meditate with your mind directed there. Do not be constricted by excessive expectation and worry about whether or not the visualization
is clear enough, and the like. Yet do not be lax, just paying lip service without any real regard for whether the visualization is clear or not. Rather, find a balance between being too tight and too loose. From time to time
turn inward and look into the face of the very one who is engaged in deity meditation and who is concerned about the clarity of the visualization. Completely let go of any subtle concepts about there being an object to look at, a looker, and so on, and maintain a state of bare awareness, free of questioning or identifying.
In that way, train in the stake of the unchanging realization of reality and the stake of absorption in the deity, alternating between the two or integrating them according to whatever works best. In all of these contexts recite the basic approach mantra—the stake of mantra recitation—unceasingly. Whenever you are about to end a session or end an approach mantra recitation retreat, perform the projection and absorption of light
rays—the stake of the enlightened activity of projection and absorption—according to the approach mantra manuals. These “four stakes that bind the life force” are the Dharma terminology of the Old School of the Early Translations. Patrul Rinpoche said that since this is a unique pith instruction from the Second Buddha of Uddiyana, it is of the utmost importance.
Likewise, it is said in a tantra:
A practitioner who possesses this stake can practice
An evil demon in a charnel ground, and still,
Whichever results he seeks, supreme or mundane,
Will automatically, spontaneously emerge.
Without realizing this stake, he will mistake the deity as concrete.
In that mindset he may practice a wisdom being, And perhaps reach some temporary, trifling result, But an authentic fruition will be nearly impossible. According to the Early Translation School this involves seven topics. There are the five preliminary topics that elicit the five experiences.
(1) focusing the mind on the deity;
(2) correcting flaws that involve changes;
(3) parting from the deity;
(4) bringing the deity onto the path; and
(5) merging your mind with the deity.
There is also one topic that comprises the main practice:
(6) connecting the deity with reality (where you train on the path of the four linked divisions of approach and accomplishment as induced by meditative absorption) and another that is the concluding topic:
(7) integrating the deity onto the path (which consists of the ten things to understand, the six samaya vows, and so on).
For the first stage you meditate on a complete visualization of the deity’s form, including its complexion, face, hands, adornments, and apparel, with the five sensory gates withdrawn and without letting the mind become distracted elsewhere. When meditating in this manner it may seem as though the movement of your thoughts has become even more turbulent than before. This is the experience of movement, which can be
likened to how the movement of fish, otters, and other such creatures cannot be seen below a rushing waterfall, although even the tiniest pebble is visible below a gentle current. This marks the beginning of the mind becoming somewhat settled.
Subsequently, as thoughts gradually still, the deity will manifest with brilliant clarity. This is the experience of attainment.
The second stage of meditation involves explicitly targeting whatever remains unclear in one’s visualization, whether it is the deity’s body, complexion, face, hands, or otherwise, while at the same time not falling under the sway of the general or specific flaws. The general flaws are taught as follows:
The seven faults are
(1) forgetting the focal point,
(3) doubting your ability to succeed,
(6) overexertion (being dissatisfied, even though one’s visualization appears clear),
(7) underexertion (leaving the visualization unclear), and so forth.
There are also twelve flaws that involve fluctuations in the visualization:
(3) shadowy darkness,
(4) changes in size,
(5) changes in apparel,
(6) changes in shape,
(7) changes in number,
(8) changes in position,
(9) appearing only as colors,
(10) appearing only as shapes,
(11) gradual disappearance, and
(12) incomplete appearance.
The third stage involves alternating between sessions whereby you meditate diligendy and without distraction by focusing the mind on the deity and sessions whereby you sustain the nature of things by looking into the very nature of the one who is meditating.
The fourth stage involves the continuous manifestation of the deity’s appearance through meditating while altering the size, expressions, and other aspects of the deity. This is the riverlike experience of familiarity.
The fifth stage involves not separating from the vivid appearance of the deity, whereby one settles into a state of meditative equipoise in which the deity that one is meditating upon and the one who is meditating are nondual. This is the mountainlike experience of stability. In this context there are four measures of clarity. The deity should be clear, insofar as the apparent aspect of its enlightened body is visualized in precise detail,
down to the pupils of its eyes. The deity should appear lucidly present, rather than clouded by one’s experience of dullness devoid of the crisp clarity of awareness. It should possess the vitality of awareness, which is clear, empty, and vividly awake. It should be vibrant, since deities are not rainbowlike forms of lifeless matter, but are suffused with the wisdom of omniscience down to the very pores of their bodies and the strands of
hair on their heads. This, in turn, causes them to manifest with brilliant presence, with hundreds of qualities, in conjunction with the sensory cognitions. Moreover, the deity should manifest vividly since the intellect cannot infer that such deities exist in a certain way. Rather, they manifest vividly as though they are directly present before the mind.
There are also four measures of stability. Rather than being subject to our forgetfulness, laziness, and so on, the visualization should remain unswayed by the general flaws. It should also be unchanged by specific faults, like haziness, vagueness, and the like. Moreover, once the visualization is clear, without even subtle concepts stirring, and not for just a short period, but when you rest in meditative equipoise day and night, it is totally
unchanging. Complete malleability refers to one having gained mastery over each element of the meditation, be it the form of the deity’s body, its complexion, face, hands, or movements, the projection and absorption
of light rays, and so on. By unflaggingly meditating on these eight measures of clarity and stability, whatever appears dawns as the mandala of the deity. This is the measure of attaining complete stability, the experience of perfection, which is referred to as “the wheel of divine appearance.”
The sixth stage involves training on the path linked with the “four divisions of approach and accomplishment” by means of the pith instructions of the “four stakes that bind the life force” and in connection with the three meditative absorptions. The division of approach is the stake of absorption. The division of close approach is the stake of the essence mantra. The division of accomplishment is the stake of unchanging realization.
The division of great accomplishment is the stake of the activity of projection and absorption. The four stakes that bind the life force are referred to as such because they are like stakes that bind all dualistic pairs into the singularity of nondual wisdom.
The “stake of meditative absorption in the deity” involves fully performing all facets of conferring empowerments, sealing, and the like while meditating, by means of the three meditative absorptions, on the universe and its inhabitants as the illusionlike empty appearance of the divine mandala. In terms of samsara, this purifies and refines away the habitual patterns of the body as they relate to the four modes of birth. In terms of
buddhahood, the fruition will be perfected in the ground. Here the fruition refers to the secret of enlightened body, which is beyond conceptual constructs yet appears as manifestations of whatever is needed to tame beings. In terms of the path, the pure element of the channels will be refined into the deity. This, in turn, will mature you for the completion stage wherein the vital points of the vajra body are penetrated.
The “stake of the essence mantra” is to perform recitation with the mind focused on the absorption being, the life force of enlightened mind present in the form of a seed syllable in the heart of the wisdom being which is surrounded by the mantra garland. In terms of samsara, this purifies the habitual patterns of deluded speech. In terms of buddhahood, the fruition will be perfected in the ground. Here the fruition is the secret of
enlightened speech, which transcends sound and expression yet manifests as the inconceivable number of vehicles. In terms of the path, this stake refines the nature of verbal winds into the essence mantra. This, in turn, will mature you for the completion stage based on the winds, as is taught in the father tantras.
When meditating on any deity or mantra, the “stake of unchanging realization” refers to abiding in the dimension of suchness that transcends the intellect—all divisive, dualistic clinging is primordially purified and perfected in the vajra mandala of the basic space of purity and equality. In terms of samsara, this purifies negative mindsets, along with their habitual patterns. In terms of buddhahood, this perfects the fruition in
ground. Here the fruition is the secret vajra of enlightened mind, which transcends conception and expression yet is the inconceivable wisdom of omniscience. From the perspective of the path, you will gain familiarity with the reality of nondual appearance and emptiness. This, in turn, will mature you for meditation on the completion stage of bliss, clarity, and emptiness.
The “stake of projection and absorption” involves achieving the twofold benefit by projecting infinite multicolored light rays from the deity’s body and mantra garland, while the entire universe and its inhabitants remain unwavered from their nature of deity, mantra, and wisdom. Through this you will attain the supreme accomplishment; provisionally, you will attain the four activities— pacifying through white light rays, enriching through yellow light rays, and so forth—as well as the eight mundane accomplishments.
From the perspective of samsara, this cleanses away and purifies samsaric activities associated with body, speech, and mind. From the perspective of buddhahood, the activities of all aspects of enlightened body,
speech, and mind are perfected within the ground. From the perspective of the path, this will mature you for the common path with reference points and the realization of wisdom without reference points, which purifies all that appears and exists into a body of light.
Here the stake of unchanging realization is the view and, hence, the ground. The stake of absorption in the deity is meditation, as is the stake of the essence mantra. Indirectly, those two are also conduct and, hence, the
path. The stake of projection and absorption is the enactment of buddha activity beginning from the present. Hence, it is the fruition. Thus, since here you train on a path in which view, meditation, conduct, and fruition (or ground, path, and fruition) are an undifferentiated and indivisible union, this is referred to as “the fruitional vehicle.”
To elaborate, through the view of the ground, the circle of wisdom, you realize samsara and nirvana to be equality and thereby gain mastery over the life force of both peace and existence. Meditating on the path, the
circle of deity and mantra, confers mastery over the life force of both development and completion stages. Spontaneously accomplishing the twofold benefit confers mastery over the life force of inconceivable great skillful means. Each one of these, moreover, possesses multiple crucial features and includes all of the essential points found in the path of the vajra vehicle of Secret Mantra.
In particular, Patrul Rinpoche has said that, since the stake of unchanging realization binds within it the life forces of the other three, it is especially important. It is also stated in a tantra:
If the four stakes that bind the life force are not planted,
Practice will never be fruitful, like running in place.
Here “running in place” stands for stationary feet. It is taught as an example for the futility of being without the crucial points of the four stakes, such that you are only exhausted no matter how frantically you move.
The seventh topic will be explained below
Generally, in terms of the four divisions of approach and accomplishment, there are four divisions of approach and accomplishment in the context of accomplishment, four divisions of approach and accomplishment
that are explained to provide a structure that subsumes the development stage, four divisions of approach and accomplishment that are explained as a structure that subsumes the completion stage, and four divisions of approach and accomplishment explained as a structure that subsumes both the development and completion stages.
From among these, here I shall discuss the four divisions of approach and accomplishment that relate to the context of accomplishment. Since that, too, is divided into the pair of approach and accomplishment, there
are four divisions of bapproach. Thus, Khenpo Pema Dorje has said, “You should understand that there are four divisions of approach and accomplishment that pertain to the context of practice: the approach of approach, the close approach of approach, the accomplishment of approach, and the great accomplishment of approach.” Alternatively, it is said in a tantric commentary:
There are four divisions of approach and accomplishment in the context of the path: the absorptions of suchness and total illumination are the approach, the single and complex seals are the close approach, and group assembly practice is the accomplishment. From this point on, until you reach the levels of the four knowledge holders that result from the practice, is the great accomplishment.
There are also four divisions of approach and accomplishment in the context of union. Seeking a consort and adorning her with the accoutrements is the approach. Conferring blessing on her is the close approach. Causing seminal fluid to flow downward and retaining it based on sexual play is the accomplishment. Reversing its flow and evenly dispersing it is great accomplishment.
In the context of practice, these four divisions of approach and accomplishment are as follows. From gathering the causes and conditions up until commencing the accomplishment practice is called the “approach.” The
first fortnight of practice is called the “close approach.” The latter half of the retreat, excluding the final day, is called the “accomplishment.” Receiving the spiritual accomplishments on the final night is called the “great accomplishment. ”
Alternatively, in the context of great accomplishment practice, the approach involves preparing the accomplishment substances and so forth on the first day through the point where you perform the ritual once. The close approach is to perform the visualization of purifying misdeeds and obscurations by projecting and absorbing white rays of light. This phase lasts for half the total number of days in which the practice is to be
performed. Accomplishment is to visualize the absorption of the supreme and mundane spiritual accomplishments into you by means of the projection and absorption of red light. This lasts for the remainder of the time in which the accomplishment is to be performed. Great accomplishment involves receiving the spiritual accomplishments on the final day.
One can also connect these four with a single session of a ritual. Here the approach involves the stages up through the point where you meditate on the three samadhis. Close approach involves meditating on you as
the central deity. Accomplishment involves meditating on the entire assembly of retinue deities. Great accomplishment involves conferring empowerment, sealing, inviting, and so on up to recitation, presenting offerings, praise, and so forth.
Alternatively, it is also said that the approach involves focusing the mind on the central deity. Close approach involves focusing the mind on the central deity with its entire retinue. Accomplishment involves applying yourself to uttering recitations. Great accomplishment involves projecting and absorbing light rays. Since these presentations do contain slight differences, here I have presented them merely as a supplementary discussion.
To summarize, as stated by Jigme Lingpa, these four are illustrated by the example of gaining familiarity with a powerful object.
Approach is when your being gets closer to the wisdom that you want to reach. Close approach involves mingling the deity’s enlightened mind and your own ordinary mind. Accomplishment involves gaining mastery over the wisdom that you have approached. Great accomplishment, which is primarily for the benefit of others, involves accomplishing the fourfold activities.
Moreover, when gathering the accumulations in conjunction with a reparation ritual, or when performing accomplishment and great accomplishment practices, you must visualize the deity in front of you. When
conferring empowerment, guiding the deceased, and performing other elements for the welfare of others, you must also develop the vase as the deity. Thus, performing the self-, frontal, and vase visualizations together within the context of a single ritual is a feature unique to the highest yoga tantras of the Nyingma School of mantra.
To elaborate, in the context of ritual practice, with the same sweeping movement you develop yourself as the deity and visualize the deity in front of yourself without viewing these two as different. Next, at the
conclusion of the praise, you say, “BHRUM VISVA . . . ,” up to “PHAT JA.” Here, with the syllable PHAT, the mandala of the wisdom deity separates from the circle of yourself as the samaya being and is projected out in front of you. JA stabilizes the flaming mountains that surround the two mandalas such that they touch.
On this point, Minling Terchen taught:
For example, just as the reflection of a single face can appear in two separate mirrors, everything is, in essence, identical yet appears like a mirror and its multitude of reflections due to the play of wisdom. Thus,
within one protective dome, together with the elements layered one atop the other, you should simultaneously visualize yourself as the deity and also project it in front of you. The flaming mountains that surround both of their celestial mansions should touch one another.
While doing so, develop the vase deity in the empty space of the foyer to the east of the deity projected in the foreground. Whenever the ritual vase is needed for a particular circumstance, it should be visualized in front of you.
Alternatively, Karma Chagme taught that the deity in the foreground is developed within the charnel ground that surrounds the self-visualization. The protective dome, vajra enclosure, and fiery mountains that surround the self-visualization are spherical like a tent. Within that, you meditate on the vajra enclosure and fiery mountains like an iron fence encircling the front visualization.
Alternatively, in the New Schools the self-and front visualizations are developed separately, in succession, using different rituals.
It is said that, in the context of developing just yourself as the deity, this central deity, who is the support of the practice, is generally made up of your own aggregates, elements, and sense faculties. Even while developing the deity, the form aggregate is itself visualized as the celestial mansion. It is not as though you must newly transform your shape and meditate upon it as a celestial mansion.
In this manner, whether you are practicing self-or front visualization, during the main part of the development stage, the deity should be brought forth from within the practice of the samadhi of suchness by the
compassion of the samadhi of total illumination. Without disconnecting these two, you should elicit the vivid appearance of the development-stage deity as much as possible. It does not suffice to only meditate on the samadhis of suchness and total illumination first, and then cast them aside.
The inseparability of the samadhi of suchness and the vivid appearance of the deity is the unity of clarity and emptiness, the indivisibility of profundity and clarity, or the unity of development and completion. That unity, inseparable from the momentum of compassion, constitutes the main practice of the path of the Great Vehicle. This is what we refer to as “emptiness with a core of compassion.”
Thus, there is nothing more important than the two samadhis of suchness and total illumination, in that the unity of the two bodies, the two accumulations, the two truths, and means and knowledge should be understood as a unique feature of the profound and swift path of mantra.
Without understanding this point you may believe that the development stage, in and of itself, is an actual entity with its own characteristics. When this is the case, no matter how clear the appearance or how stable the divine pride, it will not become the path to enlightenment. On top of that, it will become a formidable obstacle that will bind you to samsara. Even vicious demons have trained their minds in deity meditation yet failed
to conjoin their training with the mind of awakening. Meditating with the belief that peaceful deities exist, in their own right, will cause you to be reborn as a god in the form realm, while meditating on wrathful ones with this belief will cause you to end up like the yogi in India who, after practicing Vajrabhairava, grew fangs and developed a layer of nine boils in the form of nine heads. Similarly, it is said in The Root Tantra of
Mahjusri that this belief will cause you to be reborn as a demon or the lord of death in the guise of whichever deity you have meditated upon. You should have conviction that if your anger or passion increases by meditating on deities with wrathful or passionate expressions, then your practice has not become an authentic path.
Therefore, it is said to be very important to connect the deity to the meaning of the statement:
Best is the powerful deity of the view.
Mediocre is the strong deity of the remedy.
And least is the subjugating wisdom deity.
Likewise, it is necessary to connect all enlightened activities to the four gates of Secret Mantra scripture, which are taught as follows:
Reminding yourself of the ultimate meaning is the gate of expressive words.
Invoking the essence of the yidam is the gate of Secret Mantra. Single-pointed visualization is the gate of mental meditative absorption. Symbolic signs are the gate of mudra and dance.
Thus, when reciting the words of the development stage visualization ritual step-by-step, do not be distracted elsewhere. Rather, recite slowly and, with each and every word, do not separate the visualization from the recitation. If you happen to get temporarily distracted, go back and do it again from the beginning. It is said that doing so will help you to avoid getting distracted from that point on.
When you have become exhausted with meditating one-pointedly on the clarity, purity, and stability of the development stage, you should engage in recitation. The Thunder of the Precious Tantra of Enlightened Speech states:
If practitioners with devotion and samaya vows
Wish for the supreme accomplishment,
And want to mingle indivisibly with the wisdom deity,
They should exert themselves in mantra.
The second main point concerns the recitation practice of enlightened speech. The general understanding of this practice is as follows. The object of purification is our ordinary impure and confused speech, expressions,
and meanings, along with all our habitual tendencies to ascribe reality to them. The process of purification, emphasizing mantra recitation, is the mantra that you continuously repeat and recite. This, in turn, establishes an interdependent connection with the result of purification, working for the welfare of others via the enlightened activity of vajra speech.
The specific purpose of this practice is to call out to the wisdom deities, just as a person will naturally come closer if you call out his or her name.
The Condensed Realization states:
The deity is like a companion that you search for in order to accomplish a given task. The mantra is like calling out to someone, saying, “Hey, my friend...”
A vajra song explains:
The buddhas, bodhisattvas,
To bring them right before you
Invoke them with mantra.
In essence, knowledge mantras have the nature of wisdom, and are the vajra speech of the buddhas. You meditate on the form of the ordinary syllables that resemble these knowledge mantras with the conviction that they are wisdom knowledge mantras. Doing so, they are recited continuously. In Sanskrit this is referred to as jap; this is the essence of recitation.
Moreover, as you develop the vivid appearance of the deity, picture yourself as the samaya being. In the jewel citta of your heart visualize a sphere of light that resembles a crystal dome. It is luminous, clear, and without any obscuring overlay. In the middle of this sphere is a seat made of layered sun and moon discs. This is where the wisdom being sits. The wisdom being resembles the samaya being, yet is bereft of ornaments
and symbolic implements. In its heart center is a symbolic implement, which has within it a seat made of either a single sun disc or moon disc. Alternatively, the seat may be layered with both. In either case, the seat
should be the size of a split pea. Upon it sits the absorption being, the root life force of enlightened mind, such as a HRIH or HUM syllable. The same color as the deity, this syllable should be as fine as though it were drawn with a single hair and as bright and dazzling as a candle flame. It should also be standing upright and face the same direction as the deity.
Although the three beings are tiered, it is said that you should not harbor distorted thoughts about them resembling containers stacked within one another. Moreover, the texts vary on this point—sometimes there are three beings in tiers and sometimes not, so you should follow the scripture of the ritual that you are performing.
The Tantra of Enlightened Body states:
Since you and whatever appears from you
Abide within a single samaya vow,
The apparition is known as the samaya being.
As stated here, the term “samaya” is used since you visualize your body, speech, and mind as the deity’s body, speech, and mind and subsequently do not break that visualization. The term “being” is used since you visualize the deity and abandon ordinary wrong views.
Again, The Tantra of Enlightened Body explains:
Since it appears as the king of awareness, primordial wisdom,
It is the wisdom being.
While The Garland of Light says:
It is called “wisdom” because it unmistakenly knows the primordial nature.
Moreover, according to Padma Mad, “wisdom” refers to knowing that the three bodies are primordially in-dwelling, while “being” indicates that you are free from the wrong view of dualism. Similarly, “absorption” connotes the method,
or basis, for resting the mind one-pointedly and without distraction, while “being” refers to not being oppressed by dullness, agitation, and other such faults.
According to Karma Chagme, the syllable of the life force of enlightened mind faces forward. However, the intent of the Lord Guru is what I have just explained.
Styles of Recitation
For mantras that spin in a clockwise direction, the syllables begin in front of the life force of enlightened mind and face outward. They should be arranged from left to right, as though you could read them from the outside, with the letters standing upright and circling to the right like a chain. The first syllable, such as OM, should be connected to HUM, HRIH, or whatever the last syllable happens to be. As a skillful way to deal with
long mantras, the first syllable of the mantra must be visualized right in front of the life force of enlightened mind with the other syllables following neatly after it in two or three outer rings, like a coiled snake. When reciting mantras, the mantra chain should spin clockwise as though it were being read from the outside. Other mantra chains spin in a counterclockwise direction. With these, the syllables are visualized standing
upright, beginning in front of the life force of enlightened mind as was the case above. The syllables should face inwards and be arranged from right to left, as if read from the inside. Long mantras circle from the inside out, just as above, but when chanted they spin in a counterclockwise direction. This is how it is explained in Husks of Unity.
Generally speaking, for male deities the mantra spins clockwise and for female deities counterclockwise. This is not always the case, however, so you should follow the approach of your own practice text. There are also other key points concerning visualizations that are meant to protect or repel, but these should be studied in their own contexts. It is also said that the more finely you can visualize the syllables of the life force of enlightened mind and the mantra chain, the better it will be for your concentration.
The considerations related to the intent of recitation are threefold: (1) silent recitation, (2) mental recitation, and (3) verbal recitation.
Silent recitation involves concentrating one-pointedly on the spinning of the mantra chain around the life force of enlightened mind while arresting the movement of the breath. In this way, you merely keep the intermediate breath smooth and balanced, without harming your health. Once the breath is exhaled, the life force of enlightened mind and the mantra chain emit five-colored light in the shape of a long braided string
that emerges from the two nostrils, purifying all that appears and exists into a pure realm. As you inhale, all animate and inanimate objects—the world and its inhabitants—melt completely into five-colored light that enters the two nostrils and dissolves back into the mantra chain and the life force of enlightened mind. As the breath rests within, the intermediate breath is held and your awareness mingles indivisibly with the mantra chain.
Such is the training in silent recitation
Next, concentrate on the self-resounding tune emitted by the mantra chain and perform an exclusively mental recitation of the root mantra without any omissions or additions.
Finally, perform the verbal recitation.
The Awesome Flash of Lightning states:
The voice should be neither loud nor quiet,
Not fast and not slow, nor rough or weak.
Enunciate the syllables in their entirety.
There should be no distraction or idle talk, Nor interruptions by yawning and the like.
Those are the ten faults of recitation that you must avoid. The Condensed Realization speaks in similar terms:
When performing verbal mantra recitation, you should avoid an overly drawn-out pronunciation, which will strain your breath and interrupt your speech. Your recitation should also not be overly rushed as your breath will then lose its vigor, which, in turn, leads to a shortened lifespan or a dull complexion. If you recite too intensely, your health will be damaged. If your recitation is rough, you may harm nonhuman beings or cause
them to faint, so avoid this fault as well. If your recitation is too weak, the mantra will lose its strength and delay its effectiveness, so avoid that. You should not take too much time with the recitation either, as the number of repetitions will be too few. If you rush the recitation, the words will not be pronounced properly and you will end up missing or adding words.
Hence, give up these six faults while you recite.
The Tantra of the Precious Thunder Roar mentions:
Consuming garlic is a nine-day setback.
Consuming rasana is a twenty-one-day setback.
Eating ginger is a three-day setback.
Meat and alcohol that are not consecrated set you back by five days. Lies, gossip, and other
Negative verbal acts
Will permanently destroy the mantra’s potency
Or gready delay the goal.
Blessing worldly ones with your breath
Must be avoided as it destroys the mantra’s potency.
Avoid these general and specific faults, and recite clearly, correctly, and in a pleasant tone.
As you recite the mantra, focus your mind on the seed syllable surrounded by the mantra chain that rests in your heart center, and then recite the mantra as though you are reading. This is known as “the arranged recitation” or “the recitation that resembles a moon with a garland of stars.” This style of recitation refers to the branch of approach. Sometimes it is taught that the recitation that resembles a moon with a garland of
stars refers to focusing on the syllable and mantra chain while it is raised above the seat and spinning while resounding with its own sound. However, the intent of the tantras and the masters is as I have mentioned here. The recitation of close approach is similar to a spinning firebrand. Here you visualize a second mantra chain being projected from the mantra chain in the heart center. The syllables stand upright and are stacked on top
of each other, one above the other, like a chain. They touch one another to form a continuous chain, but are not joined. Resounding with its own sound, the mantra first emerges from the mouth of the wisdom being and then from the mouth of the samaya being before entering the mouth of the consort. It travels through the interior of the consort’s body to the secret space where it reenters the samaya being through the passage
of his jewel. Finally, as the essence of great bliss of the mind of awakening, it is reabsorbed into the life force of enlightened mind, bringing you all the supreme and common spiritual accomplishments without exception. Then maintain the recitation while visualizing that the mantra continues to spin as just described.
Alternatively, when the samaya and wisdom beings are separated, you should use the following visualization. First, the mantra chain emerges from your mouth and enters the mouth of the wisdom being in front of you. It then emerges from the navel of the wisdom being and enters your own navel. It is sometimes said that only the mantra’s light spins, not the actual mantra chain. For all practices that involve a front visualization, the
recitation should be applied in this manner. It should only be the mantra’s light that is projected and absorbed in this exchange between yourself and the front visualization.
For accomplishment, we have the recitation that is intended to be like a king’s
messenger. Here light is projected from the seed syllable in the heart center. Gradually it reaches the retinue and invokes their wisdom minds. Light is then projected again from the mantra chain such that it pervades all of space. The light brings pleasing offerings to all the buddhas, thereby perfecting the two accumulations. All their blessings and spiritual accomplishments then take the form of light and dissolve into you. In this way
you obtain the four empowerments, purify the four obscurations, and actualize the four bodies. This is known as “the recitation that gathers blessings for your own benefit.” Light then projects out again, this time
touching all six types of sentient beings throughout space. Imagine that this light purifies all their karmic actions and disturbing emotions, along with their latent tendencies, so that their body, speech, and mind are enlightened as the essence of the three vajras. This is referred to as “the activity recitation that benefits others.”
The recitation of great accomplishment is likened to a broken beehive. Here limidess light rays stream forth from the deity and the mantra chain, cleansing and purifying the obscurations of the six types of beings. This transforms the world into a celestial palace and all beings into deities, forming the mandala of the yidam deity. All sounds become the natural sound of mantra, humming like a broken beehive. All of the mind’s
thoughts and memories become the play of the dharma body, the wisdom of bliss, clarity, and nonconceptuality. Reciting within this nondual state is known as “the recitation beyond self and other.”
In general, visualizing the projection and absorption of light takes place in the following way. First, light streams forth from the mantra chain in the heart center and emerges from the crown protuberance, the hair
between the eyebrows, the tongue, the endless knot at the heart center, the pores of the skin, and other such places. The light pervades all the realms in the ten directions, such as our present billionfold world system. At the tip of the light rays are an inconceivable number of male and female bodhisattvas who bring forth offering clouds, songs of praise, showers of flowers, and streams of perfume. They make these offerings to all the
buddhas and bodhisattvas and sing their praises, entreating them to accomplish the welfare of sentient beings. They all then assume the form of yidam deities of various sizes and appearances, arising as a display that guides those in need. Then all the deities project divine bodies and light from their navels, secret places, hips, knees, soles of their feet with thousand-spoked wheels, and other such places. This display utterly fills the
entire world, which resounds with the sound of mantra. In this way, the karmic actions, disturbing emotions, and deluded perceptions, along with all habitual tendencies, of all six types of beings in the three realms are purified, like frost melted by sunlight. Everyone transforms into the form of the yidam deity and the mantra resounds on its own, humming like bees from a broken hive.
Once again the light rays gather back, bringing with them all the qualities of the knowledge, love, and ability of the victorious ones and their offspring. The entire visualization of the world and its beings as the pure circle gathers in the form of buddhas, syllables, symbolic implements, and light. It enters the root mandala and the central deity through the pores in the skin and dissolves into the life force of enlightened mind. As that
happens, all concepts of samsara and nirvana and self and other mingle indivisibly as one taste within the state of awareness wisdom. In this way the deity, appearances, and reality become one. This is an important point to observe, as taught by Khenpo Perna Dorje. The specific visualizations for each of the four activities should be performed as described in each individual scripture.
In short, you must possess the absorption of clearly visualizing the deity (the seal of the enlightened body), the genuine recitation of the Secret Mantra (the Dharma seal of enlightened speech), and the realization of everything as being unborn (the samaya seal of enlightened mind).
As there is no fixed rule that you must incorporate these four styles of recitation in a single ritual, it will suffice to link this description with the actual description of the visualization for the recitation as it is found in your
individual practice text. In any case, according to Patrul Rinpoche, when you chant the mantra it is very beneficial and effective to imagine that the syllables of the mantra naturally hum their particular sounds, that the hosts of deities chant the mantra, and that all the worlds and their inhabitants, including all fauna and flora, become the nature of the deity and hum with the sound of the mantra.
As a beginner you should begin by focusing on the mantra chain as you chant the mantra. Develop the confidence that you are the deity and, as you recite, for each spin of the mantra chain refresh the visualization of
the deity. Once you have gotten used to that, you can gradually train in the other aspects, such as the projection and absorption of light. Having completed the approach in this manner, you can practice the visualization and recitation of accomplishment. The Key Instructions of the Single Sphere of Purity explain:
In one session, focus your mind on the deity
In one session, recite the secret mantra.
In one session, follow the movement of the breath.
In one session, apply the key point of direct perception— Uncontrived awareness, the Ever-excellent One.
The Great One from Uddiyana says:
Recite with undistracted concentration.
Should you become distracted elsewhere,
Even reciting for an eon will bring no result.
The Secret Tantra says:
Recitation that is corrupted by drowsiness and dullness Will cause the obstacle of malevolent spirits to enter. Recitation that is based on a misguided intention
Will never become a path to enlightenment.
The Tantra of the Layered Lotus Stems states:
The vitality of absorption, mantra, and recitation
Mutually give rise to one another.
So to have immaculate clarity, purity, and expression is important, As it results in the accomplishment of all that you wish.
As these verses mention, it is very important to maintain mindfulness and introspection during all deity meditations and mantra recitations.
The Condensed Realization says:
Good actions mixed with negativity
Are like water running under hay—
You risk not noticing your own confusion.
Thus, at times reflect on the way you are,
And consider the paths that result from good and bad.
Short sessions, repeated often, agree with both the outer and the inner. Rest in the genuine natural state.
Moreover, the way to recite is described in The Gradual Path:
Abandon the ten faults and, based on the three ways, Complete the number of recitations.
The ten faults were described above.
The three ways refer to the recitation styles
(1) the threefold visualization,
(2) the outer, inner, and secret ways, and
(3) the three subtle ones.
The “recitation of threefold visualization” refers to imagining
(1) you as the one who projects and reabsorbs,
(2) the front visualization as that which receives the projection, and
(3) light as the projection that passes in between.
This is mentioned in The Gradual Path:
Reciting to the wisdom being elevated before you
Takes place with the threefold visualization.
With PHAT JAH you open up the mandala of the wisdom being in the space before you, complete as the support and the supported. Light projects out from the heart center of yourself (visualized as the samaya being) and then returns, going back and forth like a spinning firebrand. As it revolves, the sound of the mantra resounds like the roar of a thousand thunderclaps. As you visualize this, perform the recitation within the state of the indivisibility of sound and emptiness.
Next are the outer, inner, and secret recitation styles. The outer recitation begins by opening the wisdom and samaya mandalas. Next you recite the mantra while the projection and absorption of light take place,
circling out from the mouths of the central deities and back through the pathway of the secret vajra. Alternatively, as the light is projected out, it initiates the purification of obscurations and, as it returns, makes you a suitable recipient for the spiritual accomplishments since the obscurations have been purified.
The inner recitation can be performed regardless of whether the mandala of the wisdom being has been opened or not. Here light is projected out, thereby invoking the spiritual accomplishments. As it returns, you
imagine that the spiritual accomplishments are attained. In the secret recitation light is not projected out and only the spiritual accomplishments are absorbed. Alternatively, you can also visualize that the light circles out through the male deity’s mouth and into the female deity’s mouth before returning back through her secret space.
The recitation of the three subtle ones is as follows. When performing the projection and absorption, you project and absorb minute syllables, symbolic implements, and divine bodies. Alternatively, you may also perform the vajra recitation.
Moreover, there are also the recitation styles of (1) the voice, (2) the form, (3) the practice, and (4) the vajra. “Voice” refers to the various verbal recitation styles, such as the spinning firebrand, which were covered above. It may also involve the recitations of projection and absorption or those of the samaya being, the wrathful style, and that of the palanquin. “Form recitation” refers to recollecting the appearance of the deity. Practice recitation takes place by directing your mind to suchness.
Vajra recitation is fourfold, as expressed in The Prophecy of Realization: Expressions, with focal point, Symbolic, and ultimate.
First, the “vajra recitation with expression” refers to verbally reciting the three syllables. Next, the vajra recitation with a focal point refers to meditating on the shape and color of the three letters. The “symbolic vajra recitation” refers to imagining the exhalation, inhalation, and resting of the breath as the melodies of the three syllables, and to thereby recite with the knowledge that the breath and mantra are indivisible. Finally, the
“ultimate vajra recitation” refers to the realization that all names, words, and expressions are illusory by their very nature. This realization occurs by recognizing that the exhalation, inhalation, and resting of the breath, as well as your body, speech, and mind, are inseparable from the Great Seal.
At this point, the rosary for counting the mantras should be mentioned. The Great Master explains:
For a rosary the best substances are jewels. Seeds that come from trees are second-best. The lowest are clay, stones, And the nine types of medicine.
Conch makes for peaceful rosaries
And is recommended for pacifying activities.
Golden rosaries are used for enriching activities, While rosaries of coral accomplish magnetizing activities.
Rosaries of iron and turquoise are for wrathful activities. Zi and agate are auspicious for various activities. Clay and seeds are used for pacifying activities.
Apricot seeds accomplish enriching activities.
Soap berry is auspicious for magnetizing activities.
Nāga, garuḍa beak, and rakṣa are recommended
As rosaries for wrathful activities, While bodhi seeds are auspicious for all.
Rosaries of bodhi tree and the kyenyen tree Are auspicious rosaries for pacifying activities. Mulberry and other fruit trees make rosaries That accomplish enriching activities.
Rosaries of red sandalwood and tamarisk Are recommended for magnetizing activities.
Teak and thorns are wrathful trees.
Are recommended for all activities.
Ivory rosaries accomplish all activities.
Clay balls make peaceful rosaries.
For enriching, stone rosaries are auspicious.
Rosaries of medicine accomplish magnetizing activities, While rosaries of the great bone, such as skull, Will accomplish wrathful activities.
Rosaries composed of a mixture
Are said to accomplish all activities. In this way, certain substances and colors of rosaries are said to be auspicious for each of the four types of activity. In particular, the verse states that bodhi seeds are auspicious for
all. Moreover, in terms of the way that rosaries multiply the effects of mantra recitation, it is said that the bodhi seed multiplies infinitely. Since the bodhi seed is auspicious for both peaceful and wrathful recitations, it is praised as the supreme substance.
You should not use a rosary that has been obtained from the hand of someone who has committed any of the actions with immediate retribution, nor from a butcher, samaya breaker, murderer, widow, or thief. This also
applies to rosaries that have been obtained through robbery, offered to a deity by another, taken from a deity’s ornaments, have an unsuitable number of beads, have been burnt by fire, stepped over by an animal, or nibbled on by birds or mice. It is said that such rosaries should be avoided since their use will lead to a lapse in the samaya vows related to mantra.
Instead, you should use a rosary made from a suitable substance and then wash it in water. You should also anoint it with the substances of a cow and perfume, as described in The Root Tantra ofManjusri.
The Tantra of the Natural Arising of Awareness explains:
For the rosary join three, five, or nine strings,
Symbolizing the three bodies, five families, and nine vehicles.
The knots are tied in three tiers, symbolizing the three bodies.
As stated here, even the string for the rosary must be made of threads that are suitable for the four kinds of activities. For example, for wrathful activity it is said that the string should be made of threaded intestines, tendons, and the like. The Condensed Realization explains:
In all cases the thickness of the string
Should fit the hole in the beads—
Not too thick, not too thin;
Not too long, not too short.
If too thin, the activity will not succeed.
If too thick, faults and obstacles will interfere.
If too long, the deities are delayed and accomplishments fade.
If too short, your life force will be impaired.
If tangled, knotted, and uneven,
Misfortune will follow.
All these details should be understood.
The same scripture continues:
If the string should break,
Replace it swifdy, within a day.
The way to plait the threads is mentioned in The Sambhuti Tantra:
The seeds of the Sanskrit alphabet
Are strung with the thread of HUM.
Thus, it is said that you should imagine that the thread of the rosary is the central deity and that the rosary that surrounds it is of the retinue of deities. You should also string the rosary while singing the syllable HUM in a melodious manner.
The Condensed Realization states:
On the rosary of various activities are the central beads—
The seal of enlightened body, speech, and mind.
As stated here, the central beads represent the three vajras of enlightened body, speech, and mind. It is said that the top bead should be blue, the middle red, and the bottom white.
A rosary with these qualities must then be consecrated. The way to do so is described in the following passage from The Explanation of the Condensed Realization:
With the central beads in the middle standing upright, place the rosary in your left hand like a coiled snake.
As the text says, first bless your hands, then say and imagine the following:
In the palm of the right hand is a sun disc marked with a HUM.
In the palm of the left hand is a moon disc marked with an AH.
Next, with divine pride, purify all concepts of the rosary as being ordinary with the mantra
OM SVABHAVA SUDDHAH SARVADHARMAH SVABHAVA SUDDHO ’HAM.
magine that a lotus with a seat of sun and moon discs appears within the state of emptiness. On this seat the central beads transform into the central yidam deity through instantaneous recollection and the rosary becomes the surrounding retinue. The seed syllables at the three places then project light, inviting wisdom beings that resemble the samaya being. With the mantra DZAH HUM BAM HOH the wisdom being dissolves
indivisibly into the samaya being and the seven vajra qualities become naturally and spontaneously present. The thus-gone ones, accompanied by their retinue of bodhisattva heirs, arise as the primordial essence of the
rosary. Next, with the certainty of knowing things as they are, join your fingers, representing means and knowledge, and count the essence mantra. Doing so will bring about the power and potential to unimpededly attain all worldly and transcendent spiritual accomplishments.
After reciting the root mantra as much as you can, chant the “Essence of Dependent Origination” together with the Sanskrit alphabet. Then chant mantras over the ritual rice and scatter the grains on the rosary. In
particular, you should recite the mantra that is given in your own scripture one hundred and eight times. In all cases, a specific point concerning the visualization is that you should visualize the deities you wish to accomplish dissolving into the rosary in the form of the syllables of the mantra, colored to correspond with the activity, like rain falling from the sky.
Then recite the mantra
OM RUCI PRAVARTAYA RATNAMANI DHARA JNANADEVA ABHISINCA HUM SVAHA
and chant the verses of auspiciousness.
When the time comes for applying the activity, first you should chant the three syllables one hundred and eight times, followed by the Sanskrit alphabet, the “Essence of Dependent Origination” and the mantras for blessing the rosary twenty-one times each. Following this, you should begin the relevant recitation. This is all very clearly explained in the relevant scriptures.
It is said that by using such a genuine rosary the effects of your mantra recitation will be multiplied by one hundred thousand. Moreover, the text continues:
It is good to repeat the consecration from time to time.
It is, therefore, a key instruction to regularly repeat the blessing ritual.
For this reason, make sure to bless the rosary in this way at the beginning of your sessions.
The way to count the mantras is mentioned in the Meteor Wheel That Tames the Haughty Ones:
The rosary for counting should be strung with several threads.
The DZAH on the thumb projects a hook of light,
Attracting the deity and bringing it to the navel and heart center.
How to Recite Mantras
Concerning the way in which mantras should be recited, the Great Master from Uddiyana explains:
Count at your heart for peaceful activity,
At your navel for enriching activity,
At the secret place for magnetizing activity,
Count with a wish to summon.
For wrathful activity count near your knee
At the point where the legs are crossed.
For multiple activities count wherever is comfortable.
Explaining further, he states:
When reciting peaceful mantras
Count with the rosary on your index finger,
And for enriching mantras, on your middle finger.
For magnetizing, keep it on your ring finger,
And for wrathful mantras, on the little finger.
Always use your left hand;
Never count with your right hand.
However, it is said that on some occasions you may count using both hands and that for wrathful mantras you can count using the thumb of the right hand. There is also a way of counting that expels, as is the case with averting mantras.
From a general point of view, an easy and effective way to practice is to place the rosary on top of the index finger, and then count with the thumb in the form of a hook. This holds for all four types of enlightened activity.
There are also samaya vows that must be observed.
The great master Padmasambhava explains:
A genuine rosary should accompany you at all times,
Like the body and its shadow.
This is the fundamental samaya of the rosary.
Although a great many subsidiary samayas are taught,
In brief this is what you should know:
Do not show your rosary to others.
If you do not let it leave the warmth of your body,
Whatever you practice will quickly be accomplished.
Likewise, do not let anyone else hold it,
Especially, it is said, anyone with damaged samaya vows, obscurations, Or with whom you do not share the same samaya.
It is important not to let it slip into the hands of such people.
Other than using it to count when reciting,
Do not hold it leisurely at inappropriate times.
Do not employ it for the sake of divination and astrology.
A rosary that has not been consecrated should never be held.
A consecrated rosary should be kept secret
And not used for other activities.
Do not place it on the ground or cast it aside.
Do not use a so-called “adulterated rosary,”
One mixed with inappropriate things.
Furthermore, the masters of mantra have taught that if you slip into conversation while counting the mantra, you must subtract some numbers, going back four beads on the rosary. If you cough, go back five, three if you yawn, ten if you sneeze, and one if you spit.
As described, first visualize the appearance of the deity, then the mantra chain, and finally the projection and absorption of light and so on. However, it is very important that these individual stages only be performed once you have reached stability in the visualizations of the preceding stage.
Concluding the Session
When the time comes to conclude the session, you must compensate for any additions and omissions in the recitation. To do so, chant the Sanskrit alphabet, recite the hundred-syllable mantra and the “Essence of Dependent Origination” three times each. Following this, make offerings and offer praise. The meaning of this meditation was explained above.
Should there be any auspicious sign when you arrive at the stage of accomplishment, you must immediately take the spiritual accomplishments or you will run the risk of it dissipating. Therefore, when you reach this
stage of the practice, you should receive the spiritual accomplishments on a daily basis. It is especially important to do so at dawn on the final day of your practice. The meaning of this practice will be explained below. Next, present offerings and praise as an expression of gratitude, then ask for forgiveness by supplicating in the following way:
Ignorant and careless, we beginners have failed to develop meditative clarity in our visualization and have not recited the required number of mantras. In performing the ritual, we have added some things and omitted
others. We have also failed to gather offering substances and ritual implements, and fallen prey to laziness. We now confess this and feel great embarrassment and remorse for all our confused errors related to the performance of the profound rituals of Secret Mantra. Please be forbearing and purify these errors.
Next, as you recite the hundred-syllable mantra, imagine that all transgressions are purified and cleansed.
Thirdly comes the luminosity practice of enlightened mind. When there is a front visualization involved, such as during the accomplishment stage, the wisdom beings in front should be requested to remain in the support if there is one. If there is no support present, you should request them to depart into the natural basic space of phenomena. The samaya beings are then gathered into the selfvisualization.
When there is only a self-visualization involved, the wisdom being within never departs. Thus, chant the verses of the dissolution while you visualize the following. First, imagine that the entire universe and its inhabitants melt into light and dissolve into the celestial palace. Next, the palace itself, starting from the perimeter, is gradually absorbed into the retinue deities. The retinue dissolves into the central male and female deities. The female consort then dissolves into the male deity, the male deity dissolves into the wisdom being in his heart center, and the wisdom being dissolves into the encircling mantra. Finally, the mantra dissolves into the absorption being—the seed syllable of the life force of enlightened mind.
Focus your attention on this syllable, which then dissolves, from the bottom up, until even the upper tip is gone. At this point, rest for as long as you are able in the nonconceptual state of emptiness free from dualistic observations. This clears away the extreme of permanence. Alternatively, you may also perform the dissolution that is likened to a rainbow vanishing in the sky. The first of these approaches is called the “subsequent dissolution,” while the latter is known as the “complete dissolution.” These are, in fact, very similar but for beginners it is very important to practice the subsequent dissolution.
On this topic, the Great Omniscient One explains:
The development stage ends the belief that appearances are real.
The completion stage eliminates the belief that holds them to be illusory. When free from believing that appearance and emptiness are real, You have reached the pure nature of indivisible development and completion. As stated here, the method for overcoming ordinary concepts, whereby we believe in the reality of the world and its inhabitants, is to dissolve the illusory perception of divine appearances into the space of luminosity.
This is known as the completion stage. And since this practice is the key point for purifying the stage of death into the dharma body, it cannot be dispensed with.
Next, when emerging from this state of dissolution, recite the root mantra once. This creates the conditions for you to emerge as the single illusory form of the deity during the subsequent attainment, thereby eliminating the extreme of nihilism.
Sometimes it is taught that the three places should be marked with the three syllables that confer the blessings of vajra body, speech, and mind. At the crown of your head, visualize the syllable HAM, which melts and
forms armor composed of crossed-vajras. At your fingertips, visualize two wrathful deities to protect the body. The head ornaments and crown should fit tightly and be very stable. Next, visualize the protective dome and chant the dedication, aspirations, and verses of auspiciousness.
When practicing the development stage it is important to understand each of the principles related to the object of purification, the process of purification, and the result of purification in relation to the practice of purification, perfection, and maturation. However, the details of these points should be learned from other sources.
The subsequent practices constitute the seventh topic presented earlier, which is bringing the deity onto the path. This consists of the ten things to understand and the six fundamental samaya vows. Concerning the ten things to understand it is said:
Treat the subsequent attainment like an illusion, a mirage,
A dream, a reflection, the moon’s reflection in water,
A hallucination, an echo, a city of gandharvas,
A bubble, and a magical apparition.
The six fundamental samaya vows are as follows:
Not to abandon the guru and the yidam deity,
Not to err about what should be accepted and abandoned,
To observe meditative absorption,
And to keep the object of your meditation and your conduct secret— These six are the samayas of the development stage.
As outlined here, you should adopt or abandon with respect to these. Moreover, you should also train in not parting from the three integrations by understanding the three seats to be the deity’s mandala. The three seats are for the thirty-four deities. The aggregates and the elements are the seat of the male and female thus-gone ones, the sense fields are the seats of the male and female bodhisattvas, and the limbs are
the seats of the male and female wrathful deities. The male and female bodhisattvas are buddhas from the perspective of their pristine fruition. They should not be mistaken for bodhisattvas that dwell on the levels of spiritual attainment.
In this way, whenever you engage in activities between sessions, or while moving around, sitting, eating, or walking, you should cultivate pure realms, transform sense pleasures into feast offerings, engage in the ten Dharma activities (such as prostrating, circumambulating, and reciting), and do anything that skillfully ripens the minds of others. Ensure that you do not let your body, speech, and mind slip into an ordinary state. It is
said that if thoughts proliferate during the breaks, your sessions will become a farce. On the other hand, if you arouse renunciation, weariness with samsara, and other such qualities during the breaks, and your mind is weary with cyclic existence when entering a practice session, that session will definitely be effective. If this then arouses a sense of enthusiasm, your subsequent sessions will also become increasingly endowed with good qualities.
Concerning the way to implement the practices associated with your behavior, such as eating, dressing, and so on, you may consult texts such as Dharmasrr’s Inner Dharma Conduct.
During the other sessions you should act in the usual manner, beginning with inviting the field of merit into the space within the protective dome, supplicating, going for refuge, and generating the mind of awakening, all the way up to the dissolution, arising, and other elements that take place at the conclusion, as well as reciting dedications, aspirations, and auspicious prayers.
In some approach manuals it is said that the practices of expelling obstructors, the protective dome, and so forth can be excluded in the later sessions of the day, and you may begin these sessions with offerings and blessings. Some approach manuals also say that you need not perform the stage of dissolution at the end of each session; if you do perform the dissolution, it is only performed at the conclusion of the evening session.
However, it is better to do things according to the instructions oudined here. The rationale is that, in the context of approach, it is necessary to train the mind in the entire range of instructions related to purifying birth, death, and the intermediate state by means of the development stage ritual.
On this point it is said:
It is necessary to expel stray entities, protect against obstacles, and the like, which may occur in the context of the breaks.
If you dedicate a torma for obstructors on a regular basis, you should do so at the beginning of the morning session, but you will not incur the fault of omission if you do not. You should, however, dedicate a torma and perform a reparation feast offering of appropriate length in the evening session. In general, since evening and late night are vital times for reparation feast offerings, you should perform them at such times.
Alternatively, because it may be easier to do so in the afternoon session, offering such a feast at that time does not present any problem either. Even without gathering regularly for a feast offering, doing it at the beginning and end of the approach and on sacred days will suffice. It is also permissible to omit a regular covenant proclamation and the Tenma goddess offerings.
Whatever the case, when you finish gathering the accumulations of offering the body after the evening session, you should perform the practice of sleep.
Dharmasn taught this as follows:
Outwardly, sleep in the style of a lion, facing west with your head to the north, your back to the east, and your right side down. With the right hand placed under your cheek, block the right nostril with your ring finger. Extend your left arm, resting it on your thigh. With the notion that you will wake up and engage in virtue, sleep while resting your mind in the spacelike nature of reality with the thought, “May I attain the dharma body of buddhahood.”
Internally, visualize the mandala that is to be absorbed, then imagine that the entire impure universe and its inhabitants are struck with light from your heart center and are dissolved into the support. Next, the support gradually dissolves, all the way up to the uppermost tip of the life force of enlightened mind. This, in turn, is absorbed into nonobjectified basic space. Finally, fall asleep in the nonconceptual state. If you do not fall asleep, it will suffice to repeat this process.
Secretly, at night you should “collect all objects of knowledge into a vase.” In your heart center visualize a slightly closed red lotus with four petals, and within it a white letter A without any additional punctuation. This letter symbolizes the birthless nature and blazes like a butter lamp inside a vase. As you focus your mind on this letter, collect and retain the
energies in your heart center with the sense that the upper and lower parts of your body have gathered there. By falling asleep in this manner your sleep will be dreamless and dawn as the luminosity of nonconceptual empty clarity.
When it comes time for the dawn session, imagine that you are awakened by the dâkas and dakinls who, accompanied by the sound of damarus, bells, and cymbals, encourage you from the sky with this song: “Arise from luminosity as the form bodies!” Then, arising in the form of the deity in the context of the subsequent attainment, expel the stale winds and refresh your motivation. Next, bless your speech and then continue practicing up to the guru yoga and receive the four empowerments. Once these steps are complete, perform the dawn session as usual.
In this way you should practice the four sessions in a continuous succession until the approach is finished.
The duration of the sessions is taught in The Root Tantra of Mahjusrï:
A series of one hundred finger snaps
Is taught to be one circulation of the channels.
Four circulations of the channels occur during a forty-five minute period. Four such periods are called a “session.”
Four sessions are taught to comprise a day.
A night is taught to consist of the same.
That which includes eight such sessions
Is considered a day and night of practice.
Ten blinks of an eye
Is considered the duration of one second. “Ten seconds”
Is considered a moment.
Four moments are considered
“One session” by those who know mantra.
To elaborate, the duration of an approach is threefold. There is a numberbased approach, in which case the general approach is either to recite until you have reached a specific number that you have kept in mind or, if
the mantra for the main deity is short, to recite one hundred thousand mantras for each syllable and, if it is long, to recite one hundred thousand of the entire mantra. Specific details can be found in the text you are using. It is also explained that the mantras of each member of the retinue should be recited one-tenth the number of recitations of the root mantra.
There is also a time-based approach.
The Tantra of the Emergence of Cakrasamvara explains:
In the complete epoch, a certain number of mantras is recited.
In the threefold epoch, it is twice that number.
In the twofold epoch, it is explained to be three times that number.
In the volatile epoch, four times that number must be recited.
Alternatively, the approach may last for one year, or six months, three months, or any other number of days, depending upon your inclination.
There is also a sign-based period of approach. This refers to continuing the approach until you have witnessed a sign of accomplishment either in actuality, in a meditative experience, or in a dream. Signs will be specified in the text you are using.
On this topic, the Great Master of Uddiyana taught:
Joyous, ebullient, and with lucid awareness,
Your practice will develop and your mind and body will be at ease.
In particular, afterward
Realization will dawn in your mind-stream and you will be diligent.
You will no longer entertain mundane activities.
Thus, if the qualities of the path, such as renunciation, weariness, devotion, pure perception, compassion, and the mind of awakening, develop further while disturbing emotions, such as attachment and anger, gradually
diminish, then the other signs in actuality, in meditative experiences, or in dreams are likewise authentic. However, if the opposite occurs, then even visions, prophecies, and the like are said to be demonic deceptions. With this understanding, it is very important not to entertain preferences, hope, or fear concerning signs.
Moreover, it is said in The Tantra of Layered Lotus Stems:
Thus, the master and the deity
Will be pleased because accomplishment is reached,
While the mother goddesses, ḍākinīs, and their servants Will be enlisted in ritual actions because their wishes are fulfilled.
Thus, you should also understand that initiating ritual activity will be pointless prior to witnessing a sign of accomplishment.
Alternatively, when performing the reparation and supplication rite of the protectors in the evening or afternoon session, the protectors are to be visualized in the periphery surrounding the celestial mansion.
Alternatively, you may visualize yourself as the heruka and visualize the protectors in the space in front of you, situated in the charnel ground surrounding the palace. Having done so, you may then present supplications and offerings. You may also follow these steps in the context of covenant proclamations and Tenma goddess offerings.
It will suffice to perform the departure and absorption of the protectors at the conclusion of offering the session torma, in the final section of the Dharma protector ritual. It is also suitable to perform these at the end of the entire ritual, together with the postritual proceedings.
When dispatching tormas, the person holding them should shift or move slighdy away from the row. Finally, the ritual master should make the gesture of holding them aloft with his hands, and then scatter flowers.
Then, on the roof of the retreat house, or outside to the northeast, they should be offered on a torma stand in the appropriate manner, facing either outward or inward depending on their mundane or transcendent character. The manner of hurling them as magical weapons, in the context of violent rites, should be performed according to the pith instructions.
In particular, there is a special ancillary practice that is to be carried out by those who wish to swiftly assimilate the two accumulations based on the skillful means of the ultimate, secret path of the uncommon vajra vehicle. This practice is the gathering offering. There are different categories according to who or what gathers. The Vajra Explanatory Tantra of the Magical Web explains:
A gathering of all companions
Is called a “gathering of an assembly of practitioners.”
A complete array of sense pleasures
Is explained to be a “gathering of sense pleasures.”
An assembly of all deities and oath-bound protectors
Is explained to be a “gathering of a great assembly.”
Swiftly perfecting the two accumulations
By enjoying all of it without attachment
Is definitively explained to be a “great gathering.”
If means and wisdom are inseparable, such an assembly is referred to as a “feast gathering.” Just an equal number of means and wisdom, relying on an imagined wisdom seal, should be construed as a mere approximation. If means and wisdom have not been unified, such an assembly is not known as a feast gathering of dakas and dakinis.
Moreover, an assembly of sublime beings who have unified means and wisdom in this manner is referred to as a “feast gathering of fortunate people.” A gathering of the five materials for food and drink, clothes and jewelry, dancing and singing, ritual union and ritual liberation is a “feast gathering of pleasurable materials.”
The wisdom mandala, along with the support, the supported, and the protectors, is the support for spiritual accomplishments, which is also depicted as an image and meditated upon. This is termed a “feast gathering of delighted deities.” The “great gathering” is added to these three, making four in total. The great gathering involves perfecting the collection of merit by partaking in the aforementioned gatherings without attachment and perfecting the collection of wisdom by embracing the gatherings with nondual wisdom.
The vajra siblings, an assembly without samaya breaches, should, moreover, relinquish heedless joking, commotion, and the like and, with the expression of the austerity of innnate awareness, take their seats after performing prostrations to the assembly of elders and to the mandala.
The Compendium explains:
Impure materials, which are connected
With misconduct and flaws from lapses,
Should be abandoned like a snake in your lap,
Banished far away with foxlike vigor.
Thus, impure materials, meaning types of material obtained from wrong livelihood and so forth, are unfit as feast substances and should be abandoned as such. Those who degrade the choice offering by, for instance,
allowing the feast to be eaten before it is offered are referred to as “wolves of the feast gathering.” Those who loot the leftovers are also termed this way. Thus, unerringly observe what is to be taken up and relinquished. Since the five meats and the five nectars, or meat and beer, are indispensable, you should collect as much as you are able.
These are mentioned by their secret names in The Galpo Tantra:
Jamde, datrol, dagye,
Tsetri, dzagad, dzakti,
Branmo, shammo, kuntugyu,
Amra, gundrum, agaru,
Naling, gegye, and so forth are to be gathered.
Appearance, great means, is the supreme life.
Emptiness, knowledge, is the essential basis. Their nondual combination is the heart substance.
In this statement “life” refers to rice flour and so forth, “essential basis” refers to beer and so forth, while “combination” refers to food made from these two.
To elaborate, Venerable Lord Atisa said:
There will be no merit in Tibet.
They skimp on their torma ingredients.
Likewise, it is said that skimping on feast offering foods is also unsuitable. Rather, prepare exactly as much as you yourself would eat.
In the preceding quote “vajra life” is food. “Galchi” is a concoction of various spices. “Jamde” is milk. “Datrol” can refer to butter, cream cheese, or buttermilk. “Dagye” is curd and fried dough. “Tsetri” is a leafy vegetable. Madana, pache, and “dzagad” are beer. Balom, “dzakti,” and mariisa are meat. “Branmo” is vegetable. “Shammo” is diluted beer. “Kuntugyu” is salt. “Amra” is human meat. “Gundrum” is elephant meat. “Agaru” is horse meat. “Naling” is cow meat. “Gegye” is dog meat.
In summary, collect whatever types of edible ingredients and beverages, such as garlic, herbs, and fruit, that your budget allows. The feast materials should not be placed on the bare ground. Instead, on the surface of flayed human skin, the pelt of a wild animal, or a drawing, arrange the edibles to your right and the beverages to your left using a skull cup, a jewel vessel, or the like. Anoint them with feast beer, and then with blessed vase water or clean water.
Next, purify them by anointing them with the nectar of the inner offerings and expel obstructors, thereby cleansing them of stains and faults and blessing them. However, it is said that the inner offerings are not to be sprinkled on the fivefold outer offering, nor on the rakta and the effigy.
As indicated by this, it has been said:
In general, even just anointing the torma and so forth with medicine and
rakta has multiple functions. Like adding the active ingredient to a medicine, it will invoke the mind-stream of the yidam deity and the like, while cleansing away stains and impurities, removing obstructors, making offerings, and conferring blessings.
Following this, imagine the five syllables on a sun disc, representing the universe, and the food, representing its inhabitants; then purify, increase, and transform the food with the mantra and mudra of the three syllables and so forth, thus blessing it as the sense pleasure goddesses. Next, emanating light rays from you, gather all the vital essences of the sense pleasures in the realms of the worlds and dissolve them into the feast substances. This is said to be an essential point.
In general, it is suitable even to offer a feast gathering, torma, and so forth by means of the deity of the session breaks. But if you perform an abridged version in the evening session, visualize an activity deity resembling the central deity, which emerges from the heart of the central deity, setdes in the eastern foyer of the mandala, and then performs a feast, leads the consciousness of obstructors and enemies to a higher state, and so on.
Alternatively, imagine that the same activity deity settles in the charnel ground in the outer northeast perimeter and there awakens the assembly of the three roots and guardians, which fill all of space like clouds amassing in the sky. This includes the deities of the mandala and those deities who have been invited as guests from the buddhafields in the ten directions.
The Galpo Tantra explains:
First, make offerings with the six sense pleasures.
Second, make confession with the nectar of sacred substance.
Third, give the form aggregate to enemies and obstructors.
Thus, it is said one should project in three parts the choice offerings that have been set aside, though four parts are also taught. Whatever the case, begin by imagining that the sense pleasure goddesses fill all of space and make offerings to the field of merit with an inconceivable variety of offering clouds. This pleases the deities and, in turn, perfects the two accumulations.
For the middle step of confession, visualize yourself confessing all degenerate, broken, faulty, and lapsed samaya vows while offering the five meats, the five nectars, and the like as samaya substances in form, but as the nature of wisdom nectar in essence. Through this, those of the field of merit are pleased and regard you lovingly. Imagine that all your faults are thereby completely cleansed, and that breaches with the wisdom deity are purified.
To conclude, if there is no separate effigy it will suffice to, at least, separate the makings for an effigy off from the feast food before blessing it. If this has not been done, then after offering the feast, as the nature of nectar, the effigy can be carved from the back of the feast dough and arranged facing upward. Next, imagine that through saying HUM the sense pleasure goddesses of the feast gather into you, and summon, chain,
bind, and intoxicate the enemies and obstructors. Finally, imagine that, after the consciousness has been delivered, the assembly of wrathful deities enjoys the remaining bodily support as vajra samaya food, then anoint it with nectar and offer it.
There is also a tradition in which a reparation rite is performed before the choice offerings are set aside. However, in this context, the practice tradition of Minling clearly makes more sense.
Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche said, “The feast offering is like offering food and drink as hospitality for a guest, while the reparation is like giving wealth, meaning a gift of material goods.”
The fourth part is the choice sky offering. For this offering anoint the arranged feast substances with medicine and rakta, make offerings to the protectors of the pure realms and so forth, and offer the choice sky offering in a clean place outside. In some treasures it is taught that this offering serves to bring about a fulfillment in the unity of the relative and ultimate truths. However, in the general transmitted teachings and treasures the fourth part is construed as the pure leftovers.
For the fifth part the ritual assistant holds the substances of means and knowledge with arms crossed and offers them to the ritual master, who first makes the circular lotus mudra then accepts them with the three-pointed mudra. Next, the assistant gradually distributes them to the entire assembly, starting from the front row. Imagining these to be the five meats and the five nectars, everyone enjoys them in the manner of an internal burnt offering rite. Thereafter, aspiration prayers are made.
Next, without hoarding anything, collect leftovers from those assembled, beginning from the last row.
The Galpo Tantra states:
In the intermediate direction of the northeast, the mandala of leftovers is arranged,
On flayed human skin, a half-moon of rakta, and an E ...
Thus, it is said that to the northeast or southwest of the mandala you should arrange a round disc of scented unguents for peaceful deities, or an image of the source of phenomena and a half-moon drawn on flayed human skin for wrathful deities. Upon it arrange the pure leftovers, which are the fourth part of the choice offering set aside earlier in the feast. Add to this half of the liberation section, together with the impure leftovers, placing them on the top and bottom, respectively. Present the choice offering to the seven upper objects. With the impure offerings of the Great Glorious One and practitioners make offerings to the seven lower objects.
Visualize a celestial mansion, with gates, inside a vast dark-blue triangle that constitutes the outer perimeter of the mandala of leftovers. Inside this visualize the thirty miraculous deities of the feast gathering, which are the five buddha families, the territorial entities, and the door guardians called the “seven upper objects.” Imagine that an OM situated on a moon disc on the leftover torma radiates and absorbs light, causing the leftover torma to swell into a heap of nectar, the secret sense pleasures.
Imagine that the seven lower objects, such as Dakinr Gingling and the others, are invited with the sound of shrill whistling and the king-of-desire mudra. They arrive inside the triangular perimeter in a dark flurry, like ravens descending on carrion. Overpower them with the mudra of the heruka’s vajra garuda wings. Offer them seats with the lotus mantra and mudra. Make them subservient with the horse-faced mantra and mudra. To
the guests, seated in the five groupings of their respective families, make general offerings and sprinkle them with medicine and rakta. Arouse certainty through proclaiming the rationale. Then pour it on the many specific choice offering tormas and the impure tormas, thus connecting the choice offerings and the leftovers. Moreover, it is also said that you should blend below in the context of pacifying, enriching, and magnetizing, and blend above in the context of wrathful activity.
If the ritual master has realized the view, he or she should retain the pride of being the central deity and, while visualizing the upper palate as Hayagrrva, the lower palate as Yoginr, and the nectar of the mind of awakening as flowing from their point of union, he or she should spray the offerings with saliva. In the case of an ordinary ritual master, sprinkling the offerings with medicine and rakta will suffice, thereby blessing them.
At night place a candle in the torma to protect from confrontations during the night. Next, make offerings and entrust the lower objects with enlightened activity by calling them by name. Finally, the ritual assistant,
wearing a hat and shoes, should carry the impure leftovers to a location seventy paces outside the retreat house, since this is where the demons eat, and clean off the torma tray there. It is said that the tradition of dedicating the water used to clean is not necessary. At the end, absorb the five buddha families of the upper objects into yourself. Let the other guests depart and the mandala be reabsorbed.
A slightly different approach is taught in The Mandala Ritual of Visuddha Heruka:
Vividly and clearly visualize the leftover torma as the seven upper deities. Imagine that various clouds of offerings appear from the assembly of torma deities and that you offer them to the deities. The torma deities then dissolve into you and the torma becomes a swirling ocean of nectar. Next, invite the seven lower objects and make offerings to the five groups of buddha families. Then spit on the impure torma and dedicate it.
In the context of pacifying, visualize the five male consorts of the buddha families with their respective seats in the center and four directions of the mandala of the leftovers, and thus bless the torma. Invite the thirty-two dakinis, imagining that they join with the five buddhas. Then, having made offerings with flowers and so forth, offer the torma.
The method for making offerings to the lower objects is taught next. Certain treasure teachings only teach how to dedicate to the lower objects and nothing more. Whatever the case, when practicing for a specific number of days, holding the leftovers in the northeast of the mandala as ransom serves the purpose of hastening activity.
In this context, the seven upper objects are as taught in The Galpo Tantra:
That which is invoked from basic space,
That which is properly blessed,
Great means revealed as the male consorts,
Knowledge present as the female consorts,
The eight Kori wrathful goddesses,
The local great Tramen goddesses,
And the four wisdom-door guardians—
This is the mandala of the seven upper objects.
The Galpo Tantra also teaches the seven lower objects:
The thirty-two that miraculously travel through the sky,
The eight great Ging that take pleasure in union and liberation,
The three Tsar of Lanka that offer their full realization,
The eight radiant goddesses that harm body, speech, and mind,
The seven demons, raksasa, and matrka, and the four sisters—
The sixty-four beings are the objects who are messengers.
They are also the six objects that have dominion over leftovers. Twenty-eight have dominion over the choice and leftover offerings.
In particular, in the context of accumulating one hundred feast offerings, you should repeat everything beginning from the blessing all the way through the conclusion of the leftovers. However, it will suffice to do the
food offering just once afterwards. Alternatively, Goshi Geshe has said that, according to the practice tradition of Minling, there is also an approach to offering food in which offerings are presented to the ritual master and, immediately after imagining that he has partaken of it, the food is dedicated together with the leftovers. Goshi Geshe has said that it is good to accumulate numbers of such food offerings.
Jigme Lingpa has taught:
It is said that such feast offerings involve six kinds of satiation. Those of the field of merit are satiated with offerings. The practitioners are satiated with vajra food and drink. The wheel of wisdom is satiated with the pure
essence of nectar. The deities in the mandala of the body are satiated with the wisdom of empty bliss. The outer and inner dakinis are satiated with the melody of song. And the haughty, elemental spirits who perform activities are satiated with torma.
Finally, imagine that the mundane guests of the feast gathering and the wisdom beings depart. You reabsorb the samaya beings and then dissolve them into your heart center as the central deity. Alternatively, it is also suitable to perform the departure and absorption together with the postritual proceedings.
As for the benefits of the feast gathering, The Vajra Net states:
Among all merits, the feast offering is supreme.
In this life you will accomplish all you wish
And obstructors and obstacles will be pacified.
In a future life you will be born in a knowledge holder buddhafield Or attain the state of Samantabhadra.
Thus, the deities being practiced will be pleased, the two accumulations of the practitioner will be perfected, and all lapsed and broken samaya vows will be restored, such that you will become equal in fortune to the heruka.
Now I will offer a brief explanation of the topic of ritual liberation that occurs in this context. In general, there are many opinions about major and minor supreme objects of liberation. However, roughly speaking, a major supreme object is an auspicious and pure field, meaning a seventimes-reborn human, while a minor supreme object is a field of compassion, an enemy or obstructor included among the ten fields and the seven lapsed ones.
The ten fields are outlined in A Clarification of Commitments:
Enemies of the three jewels, opponents of the master,
Violators, breakers, and transgressors of commitments,
Those who arrive at the assembly, who are harmful to all,
Those hostile to the commitments, wicked beings,
And those in the three lower realms:
These ten should the practitioner take on.
The seven lapsed ones are outlined as follows:
Those lapsed from the sublime disparage the master and spiritual siblings.
Those lapsed from the Buddha’s word reject cause and effect.
Those lapsed from the meaning view the two truths as separate.
Those lapsed through action punish the blameless.
Those lapsed through marks hold biases about the Dharma.
Those lapsed through desire shamelessly steal and destroy.
Those lapsed through being misguided cause sentient beings to suffer.
Taking any such enemy or obstructor as your model, sculpt a dough effigy with the appropriate characteristics. As an auspicious connection for the troops of samsara to retreat, lay it down supine with its head facing southwest and its feet facing northeast or, alternatively, as though facing nirvana and turning away from samsara, lay it down with its head on the ground and its face directed toward you. Next, anoint it with rakta; then enter your protective citadel.
Then arrange the repelling vajra forces and make sure that the following nine factors are complete:
► The three types of bravery: the bravery of the body as divine form, the bravery of ineffable speech, and the bravery of nonoriginating mind.
k The three confidences: confidence in the view free of extremes, confidence in meditation beyond intellect, and confidence in conduct that is automatic.
k The three ferocities: an awareness sharper than a spear, which pierces through arrogant external entities; an awareness like a honed weapon,
which cuts through internal afflictions; and an awareness like a strong wind, which scatters the cloud formations of concepts.
Replete with these nine factors, summon whichever enemy or obstructor is the target, imagine that he or she is actually present, then dissolve your enemy into the effigy. Next, commence the ritual of liberation based on the view comprising the fortress of suchness, meditation comprising a ravine of meditative absorption, and conduct comprising the life force of compassion. It is said in a tantra:
The samaya vow of liberating with compassion
Does not mean to kill and suppress.
Accordingly, keep compassion as your basic motivation and unimpeded anger as your temporary motivation. For the crucial point of irreversibility, visualize yourself as the heruka. For the crucial point of invincibility, visualize the ritual dagger as the Supreme Son. For the sake of hostility, visualize the effigy as the actual target.
Now, to cleanse away the target’s lifespan, visualize that inside the heart of the visualized target is consciousness, the substance of life force, which is the pure essence of blood the size of a sparrow’s head. At its center is the support of the target’s lifespan, a white A in the nature of light. At the center of that is a drop, inside of which is the support of consciousness, the life force syllable, a green NRI. Visualizing three HÜM syllables at the
point of the ritual dagger and three PHAT syllables underneath them, strike the lifespan support at its heart center with the dagger. The NRI, together with the A, collect on the point of the ritual dagger with a white flash. Then, by pointing the ritual dagger back toward yourself, the A syllable dissolves into a HÜM at your own heart, causing you to become brilliant and radiant. This is the command over lifespan.
Next, imagine that the life force syllable NRI dissolves into the three HÜM syllables at the point of the ritual dagger and is projected to the Great Glorious One in Akinistha by the three PHAT syllables underneath. The NRI then dissolves into his heart center. Following this, from among the three HÜM syllables, the blue HÜM of the all-ground, together with the HÜM that is the life force of enlightened mind, melt into light. Together
with the red HÜM of the afflicted mind, they dissolve into the A at the throat. Both the A and the white HÜM of the mental consciousness then dissolve into the OM at the crown, which itself melts into light. Fused together, this descends to the space of the mother by way of the horse of the spinal column. It is thus born as the son of the
Victorious One. This is the command over purification
Following this, imagine that the physical support left behind is gradually dismembered, starting from the right foot for men, and from the left foot for women, and anointed with nectar. Next, imagine that, while dancing, the devourer, the lotus Gingmo, along with its emanations, gives the liberated offerings to the deities of the mandala, thereby pleasing and delighting them. The offerings should be made as taught by Minting Terchen:
One part is to be given as an averting torma. One part is to be offered when inciting the deities to avert. One part is to be mixed in with the pure and impure leftover tormas.
In this way, as the results of liberation there are three satisfactions:
(1) you are satisfied by the vital essence of life,
(2) the enemy is satisfied by having his or her consciousness elevated, and
(3) the deities are satisfied through being given flesh and blood.
Thus, the procedure for the ritual of killing is to rend asunder the three unions of deity and support, body and mind, and flesh and bones. Kongtrul has said:
The main factor in such violent activity is the end of the three activities of protecting, averting, and killing. You should conclude protecting with suppressing, averting with hurling, and killing with burning.
When invoking the deities, invoke their enlightened mind-streams by visualizing the torma as the deity and anointing it with medicine and rakta. Imagine that, from the basic space of the great peace of the dharma body, the form bodies arise in a wrathful manner for the benefit of beings and unflaggingly carry out enlightened activity with ferocity and urgency.
In the context of a covenant proclamation as well, bless the torma by anointing it with medicine and rakta and regularly offer it in the manner that you offer torma to the male, female, and hermaphroditic oath-bound protectors. During the special circumstances of wrathful ritual activity you should hurl the torma as a magical weapon. Anoint the torma of the local Tenma goddesses with the water used to cleanse the torma tray,
invite the twelve Tenma goddesses to the outside of the retreat house with light rays from your heart center, and please them with suitable substances. Thereafter, have the ritual assistant go to a place seventy paces away and dispose of the torma, then send the guests back to where they came from. Next, put the torma tray upside down at the end of the row and upon it visualize the world system of the universe in the form of the
syllable E and a triangle, and that the enemy or demon is suppressed there. Following this, visualize the torma tray as Mount Meru and, on top of it, the sentient beings that inhabit the universe as the Supreme Steed Heruka. With this, imagine that he performs a vajra dance, thus concluding the ritual.
Some additional minor points are mentioned in The Condensed Realization:
Do not wear another person’s clothing until reaching accomplishment or your accomplishment will dissipate. If you eat food from the hand of someone possessed by a demon, accomplishment will be delayed. Do not move your seat or the signs of heat will vanish. If you protect another, your power will deteriorate. If you wash your old clothes or your body, spiritual attainments will vanish.
If you cut your hair or nails, the power of mantra will deteriorate. If you converse with others, mantras will not accrue in number. Especially, do not converse with those with lapsed samaya vows, those who commit
misdeeds, those who are polluted, and the like. If you do recitations in a loud voice, their potency will deteriorate and the subtle elemental spirits will fall unconscious. Thus, recite in a whisper. Do not count prayer beads on your chest while lying on your back. Do not blow on your prayer beads. If the Dharma is preached in the retreat house, signs of accomplishment will not appear.
If you make a commitment for a long duration obstacles will arise. Thus, start with short periods and extend them. Except for during killing and averting rites, do not expel saliva and mucus or a breach of samaya vows will enter into the mantra. Do not expel them on a passageway or your voice will be overpowered. Do not sleep during the day or there will be many problems. Do not expel bodily waste where people can see it or on a passageway.
Do not show the accomplishment substance to others. Do not give away the substance of spiritual accomplishment. When finished, give a thanksgiving offering. Do not abruptly leave the retreat. Do not be distracted, disturb the body, speech, and mind, or do busy work. To be distracted by ordinary activities is referred to as “being impervious in a negative way,” while being distracted by other virtuous activities is termed “being impervious in a positive way.”
Furthermore, it is also said:
If the tongue is not agile when reciting mantra, bathe and observe proper cleanliness. Thoroughly scrape the phlegm off the tongue and, each session, apply either long pepper or black pepper powder to the tongue. With the second-to-last finger completely smear the powder all over the top of the tongue. Doing this for a few days will help.
Regularly replenish the offerings, but do not replace them. On sacred days, collect the old offerings that have not been thrown out and replace them. If torma and offerings are not blessed as soon as they are set out, obstructors will enter into them. Thus, anoint them with clean water and bless them. Ensure that there is nothing between you and the torma. Ensure that the torma is not too far away, that it has a stand, is not crooked,
and that its vertical arrangement is not in disarray, and so forth. Do not place an empty vessel on the grass. By holding the collateral torma the deity and spiritual accomplishments will gather. By holding the Dharma protector torma in the morning and discarding it in the evening activities will be swift and spiritual attainments will be conferred. When discarding the torma do not let it face outward. Offer it on an outside torma stand with the torma facing inward. Do not direct the torma tray outward either and do not wash it until accomplishment has appeared.
In the context of a magical weapon rite, face the torma outward and also clean the tray of the tormas related to ransoms, karmic debts, and so forth. In general, do not hurl a pacifying torma as a magical weapon. Do
not carry enriching and magnetizing tormas far away. In order to remove obstacles related to travel, discard the torma in the direction you will travel. Discard tormas for deceiving death and karmic debts in the four directions. Place the expelling tormas that remove obstructors farther away. Hurl wrathful tormas as magical weapons to liberate enemies and obstructors.
In particular, offering Dharma protector offering tormas and so forth in burnt offering rites, such as during a smoke offering, is extremely profound. Even if you do not, carry them to a clean place where there is no bodily waste from humans, dogs, or pigs and clean them there. Do not leave them for the poisonous fangs of dogs, rats, and the like. Do not exchange items with anyone else. If something must come inside the retreat
space, wait a day and bring it in gradually. At that time, if you have various dreams early in the retreat, they are deluded appearances. Thus, focus on meditative absorption. If they occur later, they are signs of pollution. Thus, assiduously recite the hundred-syllable mantra.
Now I will explain the meanings of mantras that occur in some ritual texts.
E means “here.”
ARALI means “play.”
HRING HRING is a symbolic phrase that means “assemble.”
SAMAYA means “commitment.”
TISTA means “firmly.”
LHAN means “reside!”
PUJA means “to offer.”
SARVA PANCA AMRTA means “everything as the five nectars.”
KARAM means “power.” KAHI means “partake.”
MAHARAKTA PUJA KAHI means “Partake of the offering of great blood.”
BODHICITTA is “the mind of awakening.”
DHARMADHATU is “basic space of phenomena.”
OM VAJRA AMRTA KUNDALI HANA HANA HUM is “Strike, strike where the vajra nectar collects!”
SARVA SATRUM is “all enemies.”
MARAYA is “Totally kill!” A is “nonorigination.”
” MAHA is “great.”
Alternatively, in Avabhramsa,
AL I is “cooked food.”
ULI is “drink.”
TAPALI is “to mix.”
Now, for the four lunar sacred days when virtuous activities are multiplied. From the first to the fifteenth of the final winter month of Magha, the first Mongol month, is the sacred time frame when Buddha showed miracles. The seventh day of the final spring month of Vaisakha, the fourth Mongol month, is the sacred day when Buddha was born. The fifteenth day of that month is the sacred day when Buddha became enlightened
and passed away. The fourth day of the middle spring month of Asadha, the sixth Mongol month, is the sacred day when Buddha turned the Wheel of the Dharma. The fifteenth of that month is the sacred day when Buddha entered the womb. The twenty-second day of the middle autumn month of Asvina, the ninth Mongol month, is the sacred day when Buddha descended from the god realm. The entire months in which these
days occur are sacred periods. Moreover, the third day of the middle spring month of Caitra, the third Mongol month, is the time when Buddha preached The Wheel of Time. The fifteenth of that month is the time when Buddha preached the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras and others, in addition to many tantras. It is said that the full moon, new moon, and eighth days of the lunar month are always sacred days of Amitabha, Buddha Sakyamuni, and Medicine Buddha, respectively. Alternatively, Lochen Dharmasrr said: Externally, during the three days of the eighth, fourteenth, and fifteenth of the waxing period and during the twenty-fifth, twenty-ninth, and new moon days of the waning period the dakinrs circulate to the three
external places. Internally, these are times when there is a special circulation of energies in the channels. In particular, on the tenth during the day and on the twenty fifth during the night the accomplished dakinis convene at the places of practitioners. Thus, in order to accomplish whatever ritual you initiate, exert yourself at those times.