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ISSN 2753-4812
ISSN 2753-4812

Advice for Disciples

English | བོད་ཡིག

Advice for Disciples[1]

from The Essential Amrita of Profound Meaning: Oral Instructions and Practical Advice Bestowed Upon Fortunate Followers, Eye-opener to What is to be Adopted and Abandoned

by Chokgyur Lingpa

Emaho: How amazing! With the four hundred and four amritas,
You pacify the outer diseases.
Lotus Guru, Divine Healer,
I pray to you, bless me!

With the eighty-four thousand amritas,
You destroy the afflictions, the inner diseases.
Lotus Guru, Divine Healer,
I pray to you, bless me!

With the five wisdom amritas
You purify the five poisons, the secret diseases.
Lotus Guru, Divine Healer,
I pray to you, bless me!

You delight in the amrita of great joy,
And cleanse into basic space
All secret, innermost dualistic clinging.
Lotus Guru, Divine Healer,
I pray to you, bless me!

With the amrita of great bliss,
May we realize the simplicity of illness.
Lotus Guru, Divine Healer,
I pray to you, bless me!

The moon-like amrita of pure intention
Arises from the ocean of merit.
May it dispel all the anguish of beings
And allow the light of virtue to dawn.

Sage who has realized the tantras’ meaning,
You hold a vase filled with the elixir of pith instructions.
Grant, I pray, to those beings who yearn for truth
The power to pacify the illnesses of all.

Holding the science of healing in the palm of your hand,
You quell all illness. Great sages,
You destroy all diseases—outer, inner, and other.
Guru, may we be inseparable!

Common doctors care for the health of their patients
But you, the king of physicians,
Fill our veins with the life-blood of liberation.
King of Medicine, may we be inseparable!

From now until awakening, never parting from you, vidyādhara,
May beings be released from all illnesses and harmful spirits,
And so be established in supreme well-being.

With the cool amṛta of Dharma,
The chronic diseases of the afflictions are completely pacified
And one is set free from every kind of suffering.
Bless us, that we may become the glorious guide
That establishes all beings in this supreme state!

Constantly, you must pray like that.
Now, fortunate lady, keep on listening:
You must study at length, noble lady.
You must reflect most carefully, learned doctor.
You must meditate intently, dear disciple.

If you wish to practice, you should study.
Without proper study, how will you be able to reflect?
Those who do not study and reflect
Cannot cut through doubts and misconceptions during meditation.

It’s no use just to study;
You must reflect wholeheartedly on what you’ve learned.
If you don’t use reflection to investigate and refine your knowledge,
You'll be led astray into diversions and pitfalls, time and time again.

It’s of no use just to reflect;
You must meditate well on your reflections.
The view that is gained through study and reflection
Is mere intellectual understanding, of course.

If you rely on an intellectual understanding of the view,
It’s like jumping without wings into a yawning abyss.
Meditation alone will not be of any help;
All the signs of progress need to arise.

If the signs of progress do not gradually arise,
It's a sign that your meditation has failed to strike the vital points.
When practice fails to strike the vital points, it is never effective;
Even if you meditate for a long time, it will only make you tired.

Before any meditation, you must attend to the preliminaries:
Namely, developing a stable mind of renunciation.
For in this dungeon of samsara,
Amid the countless beings that wander through the six realms,
A precious human birth is incredibly hard to find.

There are other, barbaric borderlands where humans are in plenty,
But those who gain the eighteen freedoms and advantages are few.
Even those who have found these freedoms and advantages
Will never actually have sufficient fortune to encounter
The secret mantra teachings of the Vajra Vehicle.

Yet now, here you are, entering into the secret mantra.
Those who would squander, waste this opportunity,
Are heartless individuals indeed.
Therefore, having embarked on the short path of secret mantra,
Now make this human life meaningful!

If you don’t exert yourself urgently, with haste,
Know this body to be like a bubble, a fleeting flash of lightning.
If you can’t be sure that things will last from one moment to the next,
How can you believe you won’t die tonight?

People who’ve reached their eighties
Still talk and seek out ways of prolonging their lives.
Are their hearts made of steel, or what?!
After dying, they’ll be destined for the lower realms;
How could it be otherwise? And why?

Forget all the misdeeds, obscurations, and habits
Endlessly amassed throughout beginningless time;
A mere instance of the misdeeds accrued in attempts to prolong this current life
Is enough to cause a fall to the lower realms.

As we find ourselves falling into the abyss,
If we do not then take hold of ourselves,
To hope for another’s assistance is plain self-treachery.

And so, if we fool ourselves,
And are reborn in the lower realms,
The suffering that awaits us will be more than we can bear.
We cannot even imagine how it might be.

Since the thought of such suffering can even tear asunder
The great hearts of the bodhisattvas,
How could the rest of us even conceive of it?

Woe and alas! This state of affairs
Has arisen from desire and anger and ignorance,
And all that is unwholesome, the great mass of negativity.

My accumulated karma, be it virtuous or not,
Will ripen upon me eventually, even if the eon ends.
Even the noble ones can’t protect me from the way it must mature.

This karma, I must purify alone.
If unskilled in methods, I will find this difficult,
But if skilled in methods, purification becomes easy.

There is no end to the ocean of samsara,
With its fierce churning waves of ferocious suffering,
Brimming with hordes of water monsters—the three poisons.

Wretched, with no refuge, we drown.
Besides the Three Jewels,
What has the power to save us?

Out at sea, in the middle of this ocean of samsara,
We find ourselves aboard a ship of skillful means.
If we do not make haste and swiftly sail to shore,
The ship will sink, and with it our only chance
To escape from drowning at the bottom of the ocean.

Therefore, take the Three Jewels as the very heart of refuge—
The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha!
No matter what happens, drop all other methods!
Surrender and trust completely—this is so important!

The very ground of all good qualities
Is said to be the seven vows of personal liberation.
In brief, these are the vows of householders and renunciates.

If you are unable to ordain and become a renunciate,
There is always the upāsaka discipline of householders,[2]
Which is to give up the four principal misdeeds:
Killing, lying, stealing, and sexual misconduct—
Such as adultery with another’s spouse, or desertion of one’s own.

There is, as well, the branch precept of abandoning intoxicants—
Substances that provoke unwholesome deeds.
Additionally, talk that is divisive, harsh, or idle;
And covetousness, ill will, and all wrong view,
These are to be abandoned,
And their opposites, the ten virtues, adopted.

Though you may keep these vows of personal liberation,
They will not lead to the attainment of unsurpassable awakening.
For this, you must generate supreme bodhicitta,
The mind that is utterly set upon awakening.

Aspire to the conduct of the bodhisattvas, the victorious ones’ heirs,
And apply yourself as best you can in any practice
That brings equal benefit to self and other.
Do not forsake even a single being.

The evil four black deeds to be fully abandoned are
Deceiving your preceptors, your teachers, and parents;
Regretting wholesome actions; disparaging others;
And making fools of others through deceit and hypocrisy.

The honorable four white deeds to be fully taken up are
Fulfilling the instructions of preceptors, teachers, and parents;
Delighting in the pursuit of virtuous activities;
Readily praising others and the bodhisattvas;
And securing the welfare of others with honest sincerity.

These paths of personal liberation and bodhicitta
Are the lengthy paths of the causal vehicle.
If the short path of secret mantra is not taken up,
Then ultimate buddhahood will not be attained.

Therefore, now, from a qualified guru
Receive the vase empowerment from the mandala, the pure reflection.
Receive the secret empowerment from the Lord and Lady.
Based on the secret empowerment, you receive the third empowerment,
And from the ultimate nature of mind you receive the fourth.

Consider the guru to be like your heart;
See your Dharma siblings as the deity;
Know your body to be wisdom form,
Your speech to be mantra,
And your mind to be buddha.

Witness the world and its inhabitants as utterly pure.
Do not discuss with others the view and conduct
Or any other details of secret mantra; keep them secret.

Ultimate, self-aware bodhicitta;
Luminosity free of all distinctions;
The motivation of relative bodhicitta;
And the essence drop—do not let any of these decline.

Uphold as best you can the branch samayas.
If transgressions do occur,
Go before the guru or visualize the deity
As the object of your confession, the power of support.

Regret your wrongdoing with the power of remorse.
Do mantra recitation, read the sūtras and tantras,
Make prostrations and circumambulations,
And verbally confess your misdeeds.

All these are the power of the antidote applied.
Pledge that you will never again commit violations,
And thus make a conscious vow, the power of resolve,
Like building a dam with powerful thwarts.

There is no better method of confession;
Even misdeeds of immediate retribution are said to be purified this way.
Without such remorse and forming resolve,
The mere act of confession is of no help at all.
So, you need heartfelt remorse and sincere resolve.

The final consummation of all the tantras
Is ultimate generation and fierce heat.
In brief, paying close attention to cause and effect,
Nurturing a kind and benevolent heart,
Having the pride of knowing that “I am the deity”,
Reciting mantra constantly, like the flow of a river,
And just letting be, without action or artifice,
In the nature of mind where subject and object merge—
This is the path of natural awakening.

Dedicate all virtue, worldly or undefiled,
To the limitless number of wandering beings.
Do not dedicate it toward a godly or human rebirth;
Dedicate it as the cause for unsurpassable awakening.

If virtue is dedicated with a focus on attaining
The pleasant fruition of rebirth as a god or human,
The result will be like the fruit of a plantain tree;
Experienced just once, it then exhausts itself for good.

Yet if it is dedicated to unsurpassable awakening,
The result is like the fruit of the wish-fulfilling tree;
As soon as one fruit is plucked, another one will ripen.
The results, no matter how many enjoy them,
Will never be exhausted, but will continue to multiply.

Therefore, dedicate virtue as the cause for awakening.
If you exert yourself in that, even in this very lifetime
You will be free of all fear, and bliss will grow,
And your every wish will be fulfilled.

Then, in the next life you will be reborn
In Sukhāvatī, the pure realm of bliss,
And there gradually awaken to buddhahood.

These are the points you should know to be supreme;
Understand that they contain all the key points of Sūtra and Mantra.
Please reflect and review this daily,
And, for sure, it will become a helpful reminder.

When death will come, we do not know,
So practice sincerely, from the core of your heart.
Otherwise, in spite of receiving many pith instructions,
The meaning will be lost to you.

The instructions of the countless realized masters of the past
Still exist, yet people aren’t interested in looking at them.
Instead, they make many requests for oral instructions,
But even then—when these are given and noted down—
They read them just once, then hide them away in some bag.
Not even once a year are they taken out and read.

This kind of approach only tires both teacher and student.
“I’m going to practice the Dharma later”, they say emptily.
“I am practicing,” they say,
As they busily chant smoke offerings, libations, and wrathful mantras.

Their hearts, in this way, through being attached to this life,
Gradually become harder than lumps of iron.
What’s to become of them at the time of death?
“I am trained in generation and completion stages,” they say,
“And in the practices of the subtle channels and winds.
I have indeed produced children, but they are all tulkus.”[3]

From within, their self-clinging hasn’t been cut through,
Yet outwardly they act like yogis who have dissolved fixation.
Tirelessly, they enjoy women and drink,
Frittering away their energies, body, and wealth.

“I am a mantradhara,” they say,[4]
But when it comes to death
The path of liberation will be hard for them to grasp.

To not consider them as people who have lost their vows,
But to accept them instead as siddhas—
This is shocking, astonishing!

If, never having revealed even a syllable’s worth of authentic treasure scroll,
They are nonetheless accepted as treasure-revealers,
This will bring the swift demise of the profound treasure teachings.

Nevertheless, there remain still many fortunate beings.
Rely only on those whose secret view and conduct
Are in absolute harmony with mantra.

Do not rely on those of perverse behavior.
There must be the full set of signs of progress on the path.
By virtue of necessity, having given up the novice monk vows,
I myself have adopted those of the upāsaka.
The ordained sangha serve and support me.

As for the ordained sangha,
Their study and reflection are now flourishing;
There are many with good education who elucidate the Dharma,
And even a few who have gained a foothold on the path.

I myself, however, am an ordinary being—
Certainly a householder and sponsor of the Dharma.
There are a few with great faith and pure perception
Who look upon me as a master of mantra.
It is rather like the saying, “seeing a stone as a lump of gold.”
Aside from having revealed a few profound treasures,
I have not even a sesame seed’s measure of good qualities.

Faithful mother and son,
You have been my companions for so long,
And, never noticing my faults,
You have asked for teachings, many times,
So I have written down some advice
Just as it sprang to mind.

Whatever virtue has been gathered here,
May it become the cause of unsurpassable awakening
For all limitless numbers of beings, without a single exception.

In response to the request made by Kyiga, companion to the mother of Dechen Chödrön, a ḍākinī emanation, and by Drölma and her son at the mountain hermitage at Gyamgyal Gang Gül Yutso, I, Chokgyur Lingpa, wrote these words at Khala Rongo, the sacred place of the Great Glorious One. May they bring goodness!

| Samye Translations, 2023.


Source text

mchog gyur gling pa, “rjes ’jug skal bzang rnams la bstsal pa’i zhal gdams bslab bya nyams len gyi skor spang blang mig ’byed zab don snying gi bdud rtsi.” In mchog gling bka’ ’bum skor. Vol. 36 of mChog gling bde chen zhig po gling pa yi zab gter yid bzhin nor bu’i mdzod chen po, 90-101. Kathmandu, Nepal: Ka-nying Shedrub Ling monastery, 2004.

Version: 1.0-20231002

  1. The original text is untitled; this title has been added by the translators.  ↩

  2. Upāsaka (dge bsnyen) vows are one of the seven types of personal liberation vows. They are the vows of a male lay practitioner who has pledged to keep one, some, or all of the five precepts.  ↩

  3. The word tulku (sprul sku) literally means nirmāṇakāya, but is used in common speech to refer to any incarnate guru or accomplished practitioner.  ↩

  4. A mantradhara (sngags ’chang) is a practitioner of secret mantra. The word literally means ‘mantra holder’.  ↩

Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa

Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa

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