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The Traditional Vajrayana path

From Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia
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 This is the path that was most commonly followed by the practitioners and great masters of the past in Tibet. While you must definitely undergo some study of the main principles of dharma, this path focuses very much on practice. As Phakchok Rinpoche is a primary lineage holder of the New Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa or Chokling Tersar this path is centered around these profound teachings and practices. It begins with the four mind-changings and the Four Foundations after which you also practice some emptiness meditation and receive the pointing-out to the nature of mind. From there, you engage in the practice of the three roots:

The guru, the root of all blessings;
 The yidam, the root of accomplishment; and
 The dakini, the root of activities.

These are the three inner objects of refuge that are taught in the Vajrayana, where the three jewels are explained to be the outer refuge. Here, the guru is seen as the buddha, the yidam as the dharma, and the dakini as the sangha.

Each of these three roots has profound meaning, but to merely explain in brief ‘guru’ or master (‘lama’ in Tibetan) literally means unsurpassable or unexcelled. It also has the meaning of being heavy with excellent qualities, and of unobstructed compassion just like a mother for her cherished children.

Yidam (deva in Sanskrit) literally means mental (yid) commitment (dam) referring to the one’s main deity with whom one has an inseparable bond through pure samaya. Each practitioner has a particular yidam deity with whom they have an inseparable connection.

Khandro (dakini in Sanskrit) can be translated literally as sky-goer referring to the sky or space of the basic space of phenomena, the dharmadhatu, in which primordial wisdom mind travels unimpededly.

As it says in A Torch for the Path to Omniscience:

The three roots are the lama, yidam, and khandro, the inner refuge of the Secret Mantrayana. They are like the root or the basis for all the positive accumulations until you attain enlightenment.

One begins by practising the Guru sadhana, which in our tradition is usually Guru Rinpoche. Having completed that you then begin the Yidam sadhana, which is most commonly Vajrakilaya or Vajrasattva but depends on one’s own karmic link. After that one practises the Dakini sadhana, which is most commonly Kurukullé, Sangwa Yeshé, or Tara. You also practice the Dharmapala sadhana, such as Chökyong Gongdü Nyingpo, thus completing sadhana practice for the three roots.

After that, you will be introduced to Dzogchen meditation while at the same time taught the Six Dharmas or Yogas of Dzogchen, such as phowa, most often following the Kunzang Tugtik cycle from the Chokling Tersar. From then on, you will be guided more and more deeply in the Dzogchen teachings.

In short, this swift and blessed path follows the stages of development and completion stage practice laid out for the three-year retreatants at Asura cave, Nepal by Kyabjé Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

All of these practices actually contain shamata and vipashyana practice, yet they are not taught and focused on in the same way as on the Path of Meditation. Here you take the Four Foundations, sadhana practice, and so on as the heart of your practice utilizing these skilful means to reach true realization. Depending on the student, it should take seven to eight years to receive these teachings, having completed the previous stage before progressing to the next.

The Sadhana Ritual Courses are an excellent starting point for this path.