THE FLUTE AT COPPER-COLOURED MOUNTAIN: Drikung Lho Nuden Dorje’s Terma ‘Heart-Essence of Great Bliss Mind-Accomplishment’ and Vajra Guru mantra teaching by 8th Garchen Rinpoche
As an offering for Guru Rinpoche day today, and to HE 8th Garchen Rinpoche (1936- ) here is an excerpt of the teachings he gave on the Padmasambhava Vajra Guru mantra in March 2020. which is still available to view here online :
In this teaching, Garchen Rinpoche refers to the terma text revealed by Drikung Jedrung Orgyen Nuden Dorje (1849 – 1902)[i] was the holder of seven transmission lineages and a most learned and realized master of both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions. He says:
“Although there is another [[[guru]]] sādhana from the Northern Treasures, the Heart-Essence of Great Bliss Mind-Accomplishment (thug-drub dechen nyingpo) that is practiced in our monastery is a terma of Lho Nüden Dorje…..The Vidyādhara Nüden Dorje travelled in actuality to the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain Pure Land, and when he received teachings on the mind-accomplishment there, he heard the sound of a flute. And
the sound of that flute is now played in all our Drikung monasteries. Later he told: “This is how I heard it at the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain.” We are now making recordings of the flute, but the hands of myself, an old man, are not very good. But in order for the lineage to not become interrupted, the flute playing has been recorded—though I’m not sure if I am playing it well. “
Fulfilling Padmasambhava’s prophesies, in which he was repeatedly glorified, it was in the year of the Fire Pig, his thirty-fifth, in the Vajra Cave at Khandro Bumdzong, which is one of the 25 sacred places of Domey, that he revealed the Kadu Chenmo Tukdrub Dechen Nyingpo Gyu, the Tantra of the Essence of Great Bliss from the Heart Practice of the Grand Embodiment of Teachings, as well as the cycle of the major
sadhana activities. The following year he revealed at Yegyal Namkha Dzo its cycle of minor activities. In the secret cave of Guru Rinpoche at Gyalsang Drolma Drak, he revealed the sadhana and activities for Zabdon Nyenpo Lhasum. From Karchen Namkha Drak he revealed the outer, inner and innermost teaching cycles of the Heart Essence of Vimalamitra. These comprise his earth termas, sa-ter.
“During the age of degeneration, the Buddha Śhākyamuni appeared directly in the form of the Second Buddha, known as Guru Padmasaṃbhava, or Guru Rinpoche. Nowadays, there are a thousand million further emanations of Guru Rinpoche—so there are countless emanations of Guru Rinpoche all around the world. This is how Lord Buddha appears to beings in the degenerate age. During the degenerate age, sentient beings’ afflictions run unrestrained, which makes them difficult to tame. For this reason, Guru Rinpoche turned the wheel of the Secret Mantra and bestowed the teachings on self-liberation, which show how the afflictions are self-liberated without needing to be abandoned.
In the Seven Chapter Supplication it says:
So Guru Rinpoche’s emanations have been sent down continuously, uninterruptedly, appearing every day all over the world in as many forms as there are rays of the sun. His emanations protect beings whether they have faith in him or not, as the Buddha’s love is the same even for beings who do not have faith. If one has faith, though, the power of his blessings is even greater, and it is even easier to feel the blessings. It is just a question of time.
So in order to engage in the Vajra Guru retreat from our homes, and especially at Gar Monastery, we first engage in the practice of the Heart-Essence of Great Bliss Mind Accomplishment (thug-drub dechen nyingpo). Although there are three thousand mind accomplishment practices of the guru, it is said that by practicing
just a single one of these within a single drubchen, the quintessence of all three thousand practices is included. If this is not properly understood, however, doubts can arise. Sādhanas often say of themselves, “I am the principal one,” or “He is the principal one.”
For example, in the Heart-Essence of Great Bliss Mind-Accomplishment (thug-drub dechen nyingpo), the small print says: There are three thousand mind-accomplishment practices of me, Padmasaṃbhava, but only this is the heart’s blood of them all. But since the practice called the Dispeller of all Obstacles (bar-che kün sel) also says the same thing about itself, some people get confused. They develop doubts and wonder: “So
then, what is the quintessence of all supposed to be?” But, really, it is not like that. What Guru Rinpoche is really saying is that, though there are many mind-accomplishment practices in the world, all mind-accomplishment practices are included within one practice—just as the Buddha said that within a single Buddha, all the buddhas of the three times are complete. A single Sangha member’s form is the Sangha, his
speech is the holy Dharma, and his mind is the Buddha; thus, you have to see that the Three Jewels of the three times are complete within a single Sangha member. To know this is to understand the Buddhist view. Otherwise, through a lack of understanding, a mistaken understanding, or an incomplete understanding, you will label one as good and another as bad, or you will judge the practices, thinking: “This is the new
tantric tradition (sarma) and that is the old tantric tradition (nyingma),” and so on. But such thinking causes your faith and abilities—as well as your potential to become liberated—to become constrained. The mind is either in bondage or it is free, and Whatever constrains you is bondage.” And when you are in bondage, your mind is not at ease.
Thoughts of “this is how it is” and “this is not how it is” will tie you down. Therefore, you should think: “The Buddha-dharma is one: all of the buddhas, including Guru Rinpoche and the Buddha Śhākyamuni, are the same. Moreover, all the buddhas of the three times are one in their endeavor to bring about the benefit and happiness of all sentient beings. There are no Three Jewels other than that.” Unbiased faith and an
unbiased pure view will arise from such thinking. And the Buddha has already said that All sentient beings are buddhas. They are only obscured by adventitious stains. So all sentient beings already possess buddha-nature; thus, not a single real, ordinary sentient being exists. So what does the Secret Mantra say regarding this?
The Secret Mantra says, The universe and beings are an infinite expanse of purity. There is not the slightest difference between these words and the words of the Buddha. Everything is inherently pure on the ground: Dzogchen calls it “originally pure,” while Mahāmudrā refers to it as “primordially pure.” Either way, this purity is emptiness, and if you understand it, you understand the Buddhist view. Still, according
to the relative truth, even though things are pure, you need to abandon your own dualistic grasping at self and other. You still need to abandon your own afflictive emotions. And the demon of this self grasping, of this holding on to a truly-existing self, is tamed by the altruistic mind. The purpose of all sādhanas is only this.
Although there is another [[[guru]]] sādhana from the Northern Treasures, the Heart-Essence of Great Bliss Mind-Accomplishment (thug-drub dechen nyingpo) that is practiced in our monastery is a terma of Lho Nüden Dorje. But, as was stated, even though there are many different guru sādhanas, all guru sādhanas are really sādhanas of one single guru. Therefore, you should think of the sādhanas like they are one guru wearing different clothes or different hats.
“For this retreat, there is a new and important instruction. The Vidyādhara Nüden Dorje travelled in actuality to the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain Pure Land, and when he received teachings on the mind-accomplishment there, he heard the sound of a flute. And the sound of that flute is now played in all our
Drikung monasteries. Later he told: “This is how I heard it at the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain.” We are now making recordings of the flute, but the hands of myself, an old man, are not very good. But in order for the lineage to not become interrupted, the flute playing has been recorded—though I’m not sure if I am playing it well.
Regardless, the Vidyādhara Nüden Dorje said that the flute is played like this at the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain, and in this way, it was transmitted to the disciples. Likewise, it will be made available for everyone to hear. The name of the flute is the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain One, and
nowadays, some of the newer monks play this flute, though they often don’t know its name, and they play it in all sorts of ways. The Vajra Guru mantra also has a melody that is recited together with the flute playing. As for the Vajra Guru mantra melody in general, it is chanted in various distinct ways throughout
the world. In any case, the mantra melody according this sādhana by Lho Nüden Dorje is as follows. So think that this is how the mantra is chanted at the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain Pure Land, though, since I’m already too old, my voice doesn’t come out that nicely. Sorry about that! But I will chant it to the best of my abilities.”
“Guru Rinpoche taught about the benefits of chanting the mantra in melody. It is said that, It is more beneficial to chant the mantra slowly in melody than to recite many mantras quickly. It is also said that,
Thus, chanting it in melody multiplies the power of mantra. And why is its power multiplied? It is because to the extent that you focus on the meaning of each word in the mantra, that much greater will be the blessings that enter your mind-stream. Some people think about the numbers of mantras accumulated, and, of course, there is benefit from accumulating a number of mantras. However, it is said that, The recitation
should be neither too fast nor too slow, neither too strong nor too soft. The elements of each syllable should be pronounced without deterioration. So most important for mantra or any other recitation is that the elements of each syllable are pronounced without deterioration. Pronouncing without deterioration has outer, inner, and secret qualities. The outer quality is that it is good for your physical health. By
moving your tongue, stomach-related illnesses will be cured, and the circulation of your blood through your veins will be stimulated. This happens because, when you moving your tongue, your entire body, including your stomach, becomes stimulated. This is an outer quality of pure sound. Regarding the inner quality,
through chanting in melody, you contemplate the meaning of the recitation; therefore, you connect to the omniscient wisdom of all the buddhas. Further, you connect to their compassion, and you also reflect on their enlightened activities as you chant. Thus, chanting makes a great difference to your giving rise to faith and devotion. So this is the inner quality of the melody.”
“As for the secret quality of BENDZA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG, the two words “Secret Mantra” are very meaningful. And what is the secret quality? “BENDZA” means vajra. Regarding the meaning of vajra, this is not a vajra made of brass or gold—rather, it is the ultimate vajra that is emptiness. And as for PEMA SIDDHI HUNG, what does PEMA, or lotus, represent? It symbolizes that, though the lotus grows from mud,
inside it remains untarnished by the mud. In the same way, though yogins live in saṃsāra, they remain untarnished by saṃsāric attachment. They are free from attachment; thus the lotus is a symbol of being free from attachment. So taken all together it means: “Ultimate vajra that is emptiness, please grant the siddhi of freedom from clinging and attachment!” The ultimate attachment is the attachment to the self. This is
the self that grasps at its own inherent existence, thinking: “I exist.” Why are we attached to this “I?” It is because of our dualistic perception of self and other. The actual nature of mind is like space, in which there is no duality—this is the ultimate truth. So why is there a duality? It arises due to the dualistic perception of self and other, due to the grasping at a concrete existence and to conceptual
structures. In the Samantabhadra Prayer it says that our many coarse and subtle imprints grow stronger day and night: this is what creates saṃsāra. The outer world is created by collective karma, while the inner sentient beings in the six realms of saṃsāra are created by the personal karma of individual beings. So sentient beings are manifestations of their own afflictive emotions.
Lord Jigten Sumgön said,
What is cause and effect? The ultimate vajra is emptiness, which is the ultimate protection from cause. And what is the ultimate vajra that is emptiness? “Vajra” means that it can 6 destroy everything: it destroys everything, but nothing can destroy it. “Emptiness” means devoid of self-grasping, devoid of self and other. To understand that self and other are nondual—this is emptiness. We can talk about outer emptiness,
inner emptiness, the eighteen emptinesses, but if you don’t empty self-grasping, you haven’t been able to empty anything. Once you empty self-grasping, there will be no others: others will naturally disappear. The mind becomes like space, and no one can move or change space. Space is unobstructed within itself; from itself, there is nothing not embraced by space, by emptiness. Thus,
So this is the meaning of the Vajra Guru mantra, and this meaning is very profound. This is the meaning of secret mantra BENDZA GURU PEMA SIDDHI HUNG. In terms of the words BENDZA GURU: BENDZA is the vajra, and GURU is the lama. And what is the connection between the guru and the vajra? The body of the guru is human, but this here is referring to the guru’s mind. And the guru’s mind is emptiness. It is said that if there
is no dualistic grasping at self and other, this is emptiness. And when you realize emptiness, you understand that within the mind, self and other are non-dual. This is the realization of emptiness, and emptiness is the ultimate guru. So the actual guru is the vajra, the mind. The body is the lama. The body
of the lama is the nirmāṇakāya, the speech of the lama is the saṃbhogakāya—since he shows the meaning of Secret Mantra—and the mind is the dharmakāya, which means that the guru’s mind and the mind of you, the disciple, are devoid of self and other.
But until you understand this, according to the relative truth, (You have to) sustain a continuum of love and compassion. Whichever practice you engage in, ((it should have) the nature of love and compassion. Love and compassion are like the sun, and self-grasping has to melt. How does it work? Self-grasping is like ice, and the Buddhas are like an ocean; therefore, the ice (has to) melt. Think about it: is ice water, or is it stone?
Lord Buddha said that in the beginning: “Sentient beings are actually Buddhas.” How are sentient beings Buddhas? Even though sentient beings are Buddhas, they still suffer in their various forms in the six realms of samsara. They are like ice, and ice is like stone. Think about this well. Ice is like stone. If you hit someone over the head with it, they will bleed, right?
How did that happen? It is due to the dualistic perception of self and other – mainly, due to thinking that “I exist” – that we are in bondage. So when we talk about there being no self, don’t say (about someone else) that “Well, he has self-grasping, he has afflictive emotions.”
Instead, you should recognize your own self-grasping. Recognize your own self grasping, because when your sense of a self has collapsed, at that point you can also melt others. For example, if you melt an ice-block with hot water, that hot water can melt all blocks of ice. Otherwise, one might find fault with sentient beings, thinking: “Oh, these sentient beings of the degenerate age are so afflicted.”
A person who perceives sentient beings is perceiving a duality between self and others: such a person has not understood that sentient beings do not actually exist. This person cannot melt others, as someone who understands that self and other are not dual is able to melt all sentient beings. The body is the
nirmanakaya, the speech is the sambhogakaya, and the mind is the dharmakaya , and within the guru’s mind there is no dualistic grasping. Thus , when you realize non-duality, that is the svabhavikakaya. “Oh, (this is) my mind and nothing else.” Je Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche said: “My own mind is Buddha, but I never
realize this. Discursive thoughts are dharmakaya, but I do not realize this.” This is the unfabricated, innate natural state, but I cannot keep to this. This is how things really are in their natural state, but I have no conviction in this.” The way things really are in their natural state that is Samantabhdra, is the dharmakaya, is Vajradhara. When you understand this, (you understand) that the Vajra Guru mantra is the heart-essence of all mantras. It is that precious. So then you chant it in melody.
In general, in the world, there are secret mantras and there are retainer, or dharani, mantras This is a secret mantra, so you have to think that by reciting this one mantra, you are reciting all mantras, that by practicing one deity, you are practicing all deities, and that by following one guru, you are following all
gurus. So chant the mantra in melody, the mantra melody that the Vidyadhara Nuden Dorje actually heard when he went to the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain. He said that this is the melody he heard at the Copper-colored Glorious Mountain, and though I don’t have a good voice, since my Dharma friends have great love for me, I, an old man, shall teach you this melody today.
As you chant in melody, imagine that the entire space is pervaded by Buddha and that all beings and that all beings in the universe are dakas and dakinis: all men are dakas and all women are dakinis. All men are Avalokiteshvara and all women are Tara- think in this way. (The Buddha said that “Beings are) only obscured by adventitious stains. “ Thus, think that all sentient beings possess the cause of Buddhahood: then there will be no division. Chant the mantra within a state of “(pure) sights, sounds, and thoughts,” as the old tantric tradition calls it.
So now, in your own home, wherever you are in the world, engage in the mantra recitation for however much time you have, whether it is for five minutes, ten minutes, or just for a moment. Think that the universe is filled with dakas and dakinis. Think that all of space is pervaded by buddhas and bodhisattvas , and that the heart-essence of them all, their regent is Guru Rinpoche dwelling in large form in space.
If you have faith in the Buddha Shakyamuni , there is no difference. There is not the slightest difference between the Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Rinpoche: only their outer form is different. (Regarding) their inner mind (it is said), “All buddhas are one within the expanse of primordial awareness.”
Jigten Sumgon said: “On the level of Buddhahood there is no division between the two truths.” All buddhas are the same. And it is the same regarding gurus: only their outer bodies are separate. Their inner mind – a mind of only wishing to benefit others, a mind of bodhicitta – is the same. The Seven Chapters Supplication to Guru Rinpoche, which is widely-known, speaks about these (pure) sights, sounds, and thoughts:
“Outer and inner, the universe and all beings – all things – whilst seeing them, they appear, remain without grasping at a self. This freedom from a subject-object duality is the very form of the deity, luminous and empty. I supplicate to this guru – the self-liberation of desire!” Do this toward all that you hear: all sounds, grasped as sweet or harsh, whilst hearing them, remain empty
without after-thought. This empty sound, with no beginning and no end, is the speech of the victorious ones. I supplicate to this empty sound, the speech of all the buddhas! Do this toward all stirs in the mind: whatever thoughts and afflictive emotions of the five poisons arse, do not invite them, do not chase
after them, do not let mind fabricate and contrive: simply allowing them to settle in the state of their own arising, is liberation into the dharmakaya. I supplicate to this guru – the natural liberation of intrinsic awareness!”
Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, July 2021.
[i] “Born in the year of the Earth Bird of the fourteenth cycle, he became the disciple of many learned and accomplished masters: Drigung Kyabgön Tukje Nyima, Taklung Tsetrül Gelek Rabjam, Padma Ösel Do-Ngak Lingpa, Jamgön Kongtrül Padma Garwang, Upey Khechok Drubpey Wangpo, Nangchen Ngawang Tsok-Nyi, and numerous others.
From these masters he received and studied the Sutra and Tantra systems as well as the general topics of the sciences. Specifically he received all the existent profound instructions of his personal tradition, the Drigung Kagyü. Moreover, he also received the all the profound instructions of the nonsectarian Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineage including the Kadam, Shijey, Chö-yül, and the Jordruk teachings. In
particular, he put great effort into receiving the Ngagyur Kama, the Oral Tradition of the Early Translations, the peaceful and wrathful Magical Net of the Mahayoga tantras, the Khatün Nakpo and Rutsön Marpo versions of Manjushri Yamantaka, the Rog and Rong traditions of Kilaya, the Shi-tro Narak Dongtruk traditions known as Padma Gyaden, the two Immaculate Tantras of Kriya and Charya, the Düpa Do empowerment of the complete nine vehicles, belonging to Anu Yoga, and the Mind, Space, and Instructions Sections of Ati Yoga.
He also put great effort into receiving the secret treasuries of the profound terma teachings of several of the major undisputed incarnated treasure revealers including the Upper and Lower termas of Lord Nyang-Ral and Guru Chöwang, the termas of Gya Zhangtrom, Ratna Lingpa, Sangye Lingpa, Pema Lingpa, Minling, Jatsön Nyingpo, as well as Chokling (Chokgyur Lingpa) and Khyentse (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo).
As indicated by these transmissions he received, he became a depository of nonsectarian instructions
Not letting it be enough simply to have received these teachings, he personally practiced the instructions, in entirety and without error, of the aspects of development and completion, means and liberation, each in accordance with its individual scriptures and directions. Having realized the common and extraordinary
qualities of the paths and bhumis, he arrived at a high level of accomplishment. This is why Drigung Kyabgön Chökyi Lodrö, Tukje Nyima, Garchen Trinley Yongkyab, Traktung Barwey Dorje, and many other great beings, who themselves were abiding on the bhumis, venerated him as the lord of the family (root guru) at
the crown of their heads. He also became one of the gurus of the great Dharma king of Gomdé Nangchen. Since both Jamgön masters – Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrül – repeatedly extolled him as an authentic being, his fame spread everywhere throughout eastern and central Tibet.”