Notes on Tsa-Lung Practice
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Notes on the Heart-Essence Practices of the Channels and Wind-Energies
by Adzom Gyalse Gyurme Dorje
When practicing according to the Hearing Lineage Scroll on the Channels and Wind-Energies, from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse, begin by refining your motivation and conduct through training your mind in the four thoughts that inspire a turning away from saṃsāra. Complete all the accumulations and purifications of the uncommon preliminaries, but not as if you were begrudgingly paying a tax. Ensure that you are matured through receiving the empowerments according to any of the sādhanas of the three roots from this tradition [i.e., the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse] and arrive at a definitive understanding of texts such as Staircase to Akaniṣṭha: Instructions on the Generation Phase of Deity Practice and general presentations of the development stage.
It is only once you have completed the approach phase of any practice of the three roots that you should engage with these practices [of the channels and winds], since the generation phase is what matures you for the completion phase. You need to do this properly, because unless you attain stability in the generation phase, you will be like someone who hopes to produce sesame oil but lacks the seeds to be pressed.
For anyone setting out on this path, a knowledge of the secret descriptions of the vajra body and of the configuration of the channels, wind-energies, and essences is indispensable.
Sources that serve as supportive teachings for this practice and that explain the crucial points of the channels, wind-energies and essences include the twentieth and twenty-first chapters of The Precious Wish-Fulfilling Treasury, its meaning commentary called The Vajra Essence, the root verses and commentary of Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind, and The Treasury of Precious Qualities. Consider these works as the key that opens the door to this approach, and arrive at a definitive understanding of both of the texts themselves and the meaning they convey.
It is said that when individuals of inferior faculties gain proficiency in the wind-energies and train in the completion phase, the path of skillful means, it becomes the swift path, while the later completion phase constitutes the lengthier path. This is comparable to the alchemy of mākṣika, which entails great profit and great risk. For individuals of sharp faculties, it is said, the elaborate completion phase and the path of liberation constitute the longer path, while the great perfection is the swift path, comparable to the precious kaustubha jewel.
In our tradition, we speak of three inner tantras: Mahāyoga, which overcomes the negative emotion of anger, Anuyoga which overcomes the negative emotion of desire, and Atiyoga which overcomes the negative emotion of ignorance. The practice of the second of these, the Subsequent Yoga, is as Clarifying the Concealed Meaning describes:
The supreme path of karmamudrā is one of the practices for attaining buddhahood without meditation.
When the right interdependent conditions are present in the body, realization dawns in the mind.
Penetrating the key points with prāṇāyāma opens the stationary channels.
Uniting the wind-energies with yogic exercises naturally releases knots in the channels.
Understanding each step of the pith instructions helps the positioned bodhicitta to spread.
On the basis of the vajra waves the nature of the fruition will be seen.
This is the supreme path of means, the most vital of crucial points.
While bearing in mind the meaning of these crucial points, gather all that is required, such as a loincloth, in a place that is not frequented by people, and practise all the activities of the preliminaries, main part and conclusion, without error and as specified in the written manuals and oral instructions.
Don’t be proud of trifling, ephemeral qualities or signs of progress, such as your facility for performing yogic falls and other exercises, or your ability to hold your breath for long periods or generate bliss and heat within your body. Focus instead on signs that the wind-energies and mind have become pliable within the four chakras and that the knots within the channels have been released. Such signs include the development of qualities related to the paths of accumulation, joining, seeing and meditation, as explained in The Wish-Fulfilling Treasury and other texts. The superiority of this practice to other forms of the six yogas—fierce inner heat (tummo), luminosity, illusory body, dream yoga, transference and entering the ‘city’ of another’s body—should be understood from the clear implication of the words of the treasure text.
When fortunate ones with faith and pure samaya put this into practice, all their afflicted wind-energies and mental states will transform into wisdom wind-energies, and they will easily attain the level of omniscience. More specifically, whether someone is a suitable vessel for the practices of the lower and upper doors and whether or not they should be permitted to engage in such practices will depend on the individual. Guidance should only be given after duly considering such factors and determining whether the instructions would be wasted or not.
When, on the basis of the wisdom of example, elicited by the four joys and four empties, we purify all habitual tendencies of the transference of the three appearances and actualize supremely immutable great bliss, that is the ultimate purpose of practicing this path.
This was written at the behest of Choktrul Rinpoche Jamyang Tendzin Gyatso. May it be virtuous!
| Translated by Han Kop and reviewed and edited by Adam Pearcey and Ryan Jacobson, for the Longchen Nyingtik Project, 2021. With many thanks to Khenpo Sonam Tsewang for his valuable clarifications. This translation was made possible through the generous support of Áron Csöndes.
Tibetan Edition Used
'gyur med rdo rje. "snying thig rtsa rlung zin bris" In a 'dzoms rgyal sras 'gyur med rdo rje'i gsung 'bum/. TBRC W1PD159426. 5 vols. [s.l.]: [s.n.], [n.d.]. Vol. 2: 46–48. http://tbrc.org/link?RID=W1PD159426
Jigme Lingpa and Longchen Yeshe Dorje Kangyur Rinpoche. Treasury of Precious Qualities: Book Two: Vajrayana and the Great Perfection. Trans. The Padmakara Translation Group. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications. 2013.
Jikme Lingpa. “Ladder to Akaniṣṭha: Instructions on the Development Stage and Deity Yoga” in Jikme Lingpa and Getse Mahapandita Tsewang Chokdrub, Deity, Mantra and Wisdom: Development Stage Meditation in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra. Trans. Dharmachakra Translation Committee. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. 2007.
Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima. “The Compendium of Oral Instructions: General Notes on the Rituals of the Development Stage” in Shechen Gyaltsap IV and Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima, Vajra Wisdom: Deity Practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Trans. Dharmachakra Translation Committee. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. 2013.
Longchenpa. Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind: Trilogy of Rest, Volume 1. Trans. The Padmakara Translation Group. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications. 2017.
rtsa rlung snyan brgyud shog dril ↩
Jigme Lingpa, Staircase to Akaniṣṭha: Instructions on the Generation Phase of Deity Practice (bskyed rim lha'i khrid kyi rnam par bzhag pa 'og min bgrod pa'i them skas). ↩
Possibly a reference to Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima, The Compendium of Oral Instructions: General Notes on the Rituals of the Development Stage (bskyed rim zin bris cho ga spyi 'gros ltar bkod pa man ngag kun btus). ↩
Yid bzhin rin po che’i mdzod. ↩
The commentary is The Great Chariot (shing rta chen po). ↩
Yon tan mdzod by Jigme Lingpa. ↩
Khenchen Pema Sherab (private communication) explains that the application of mākṣika refers to alchemy through which iron is transformed into gold, not gradually, but radically—a procedure that involves considerable risk. The Third Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima explains in his commentary on the Guhyagarbha Tantra, the Key to the Treasury, that the alchemy of mākṣika instantly transforms the element of iron into gold. (thabs lam ni mak+Shi ka'i sbyor bas lcags khams yud tsam gyis gser du sgyur ba lta bur bshad la). (2003, Vol. 3 page 55). Monier Williams suggests that mākṣika is a kind of pyrite used in Ayurvedic medicine. ↩
The kaustubha is a celebrated jewel in Hindu mythology. It is obtained with thirteen other precious things at the churning of the ocean and suspended on the breast of Kṛṣṇa or Viṣṇu. Jigme Tenpe Nyima explains in his Key to the Treasury that when the kaustubha jewel is placed next to an ordinary stone it will gradually transform the latter into gold. (grol lam ni rin po che kau stu b+ha dang lhan cig bzhag pa'i rdo'i khams rim gyis gser du 'gyur ba lta bu dang). ↩
This is a literal translation of the term Anuyoga. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, Clarifying the Concealed Meaning of the Vidyādhara's Yogic Exercises, from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse (klong chen snying gi tig le las rig 'dzin 'khrul 'khor sbas don gsal ba). ↩
Tib. beb (‘bebs) ↩
grong du 'jug pa (Skt. purapraveśa) literally means 'entering the city', but 'city' here signifies another's body, or corpse, into which consciousness is deliberately transferred. ↩
See https://www.rigpawiki.org/index.php?title=Four_empties ↩