Guide to Yumka Dechen Gyalmo Practice
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The Lamp That Illuminates the Excellent Path of Great Bliss
by Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima
With great respect I prostrate at the feet of my kind root master, indivisible from Padmasambhava, the great master from Uḍḍiyāna, together with his consort, his heart-disciples and their lineages. I take refuge in you! Please grant your blessings!
In order to lead, as in an optical illusion, superior disciples swiftly along the path of great bliss to the level of Buddhahood, our teacher Vajradhara manifested immeasurable maṇḍalas of vajra ḍākinīs. The Arising of Saṃvara Tantra says:
The supreme chief among the inhabitants of Jambudvīpa
Will be born in the central land...
In the centre of the land of Jambudvīpa is the Vajra Seat, about a hundred yojanas from which is the land renowned as Tibet. This was the country of the Lord of Men, Tri Songdetsen, an emanation of the noble Mañjuśrī, extremely fortunate subjects such as Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo (who was sure to reach the state of Vajrasattva in that very life), and gurus abiding on the level of Buddhahood, such as Padmākara of Great Bliss, who was Amitābha of the Vajra Speech family appearing in the form of an accomplished awareness-holder. At that time, when all interdependent circumstances for the world and its inhabitants were perfectly auspicious, because of the assembling of local deities such as the Twelve Tenma Goddesses (who are actually the Twelve Mothers of the Cakrasaṃvara Tantra born among the worldly Menmo spirits), there were many accomplished yoginīs, including the princess of Mön named Tashi Kyidren and Shelkar Dorje Tso. But the foremost among them, like the pinnacle of a victory banner, was Lady Yeshe Tsogyal, who was born in the family of the king of Kharchen. She was revered as Noble Tārā, the universal monarch of the lotus and karma families, and she was considered to be none other than Vajravārāhī, the mother of the victorious ones and the source from which all ḍākinīs, as numerous as the atoms of Mount Meru, emanate. The Treasure Vase Containing the Essence of Great Bliss says:
From the heart of a lotus flower
[Arose the goddess Tārā, swift and courageous.
In the wilderness of snowy mountains, she appears as a woman.
Outwardly, she is the sweet-voiced Tsogyal.
Inwardly, she is venerable Tārā in actuality.]
Secretly, she is Vajravārāhī.
This is also said in many other sources, such as Ratna Lingpa's Three Cycles of Tsogyal and the lord of victorious ones Dorje Tokme's pure-vision cycle of Bearing the Seal of Secrecy. Not only that, it is also said in the Precious Books of the Kadampa that she was the consort of the immaculate guru and that she is the foremost among the ḍākinīs of Uḍḍiyāna. Furthermore, she is none other than Secret Wisdom (who is also known by the names ḍākinī Kungamo and Nyida Ngödrub). The Great Fifth Dalai Lama's Bearing the Seal of Secrecy says:
I am the foremost among the ḍākinīs from the land of Uḍḍiyāna.
I am Secret Wisdom and Mandārava.
Here, in the land of Tibet, I am renowned as Kharchen Za,
And in Cāmara as Padma Skull-Garland's queen,
The preserver of immaculate bliss.
There are many such quotations. It is said here that Princess Mandārava is one with Secret Wisdom, which is also mentioned many times in the Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom. The Great Omniscient One says in the Khandro Yangtik:
Within the palace in the land of Uḍḍiyāna
Is the foremost of immeasurable ḍākinīs,
From the cloud-banks blazing with ḍākinīs
You bring down a rain of ambrosia-like accomplishments.
You are the consort who pleases the Victorious One of Great Bliss—
Kharchen Tsogyal, I prostrate to you!
This quotation is in accordance with the previous one, and also with the earlier quotation in which it was shown that she is Secret Wisdom. The third line of the latter can be interpreted to show that everywhere she was the supreme and foremost queen of the Lotus King, in Uḍḍiyāna, India, Tibet and Cāmara. Moreover, it is said in all the indisputable treasure texts that she is the consort of the Great Compassionate One, the Six-Syllable Goddess, Secret Wisdom. The Root Tantra of Mañjuśrī, in the section on Tārā, says:
The goddess takes the female form
And arises, along with her ten powers, from compassion.
In the Illuminating Lamp, the Victorious Non-duality is quoted:
The Lord of the World becomes the illusory goddess.
So in actuality she is also one with Mahāmāyā, the mother of the king of the Śākyas. The Gaṇḍavyūhasūtra says that Mahāmāyā aspired to be the sole mother of all buddhas, wherever they arise, in a pure realm where the ground is ornamented with flowers.
Then, in the form of Dhātviśvarī Vajrayoginī she made the request to the master Great Lotus, who looks with compassion upon the disciples to be tamed in this land, to turn the Dharma wheel of the immeasurable teachings of Secret Mantra, and she gathered all his teachings. She then requested that immeasurable treasures, which cannot be disturbed or harmed by humans, non-humans or the elements, be concealed, so that the volumes of those teachings would never disappear.
In order that the continuity of blessings would not be interrupted, she made sure that the treasures were timely and in accordance with the karmic destinies of the respective rulers and subjects by sealing them with the aspiration "May this treasure meet with destined and fortunate disciples!" The preservation of the life-force of Vajrayāna teaching all comes down to her, as will be clear if you look at the concluding sections of all the individual treasure texts. In the prophecies of Ratna Lingpa's treasures, there is the following:
As for the extremely profound, ultimate essentials:
Since Tibetans generally like new things,
And because of heartfelt compassion for beings of this degenerate age,
I filled the land with treasure—right, left, and centre.
I made the aspiration that they might meet with destined children.
[In future times people will fall into extremes of being either arrogant scholars—intellectuals stuck on words—
Or arrogant 'great meditators'.
They will think highly of themselves and dispute the treasures.
Nevertheless, it is the treasures—profound and yet complete, undefiled and exhaustive—
That will guide most Dharma practitioners of the degenerate age.
Through only a few spiritual instructions, individuals will certainly be liberated.
Therefore, if pure, fortunate ones whose karma is awakened
Remember death, they will practice the Dharma treasures.
And in one life the path of liberation will be attained.
Disciples, fortunate ones who have interest in the treasures in these degenerate times,
These days, just by seeing the face of the guru and making aspirations,
Everyone has a karmic connection, so rejoice!]
These words of mine are rarer than precious gold.
This is her speech. Later, she opened the doors of the treasures and released their seals, as is illustrated by her direct bestowal of volumes of scriptures, such as the earth treasures she gave to Nyang Rinpoche and the mind treasures she gave to Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (and there are many more, including the Great Omniscient [Longchenpa]'s Vision of the Net of Light or Minling Terchen's great treasures). This alone is her most important enlightened activity, which she carries out directly or indirectly, as is most appropriate. There is another reason for this. A scripture of the Vinaya says:
The wife of a householder said to her lord: "Husband! If you seek wealth and I hoard it, before long our riches will increase."
As this tells us, it is a woman’s role to maintain the basis of wealth on a mundane level. Similarly, when dhāraṇīs, which hold and preserve the Dharma, manifest as deities in the mantra vehicle, they adopt the forms of goddesses, and therefore we speak of 'retainers' (dhāriṇī) or 'maṇḍalas of retainers'. Therefore, the entrustment of the instructions section of the Extensive Illusory Net says:
...entrusted to the consorts.
Therefore, although the blessings of all supremely accomplished awareness-holders are equally great, there are demonstrable differences in terms of transmission. Thus, since she laid the foundation for the treasure lineages as a means to prevent the Dharma treasury of Secret Mantra from dissipating, this goddess of the vajra-incantation was even more excellent and sublime than any other awareness-holder among the lord and subjects.
This name and manifestation of 'Kharchen Za' are widely taught for those who cannot see the utterly pure form of Vajravārāhī, as she is easier to practice than Vārāhī's other forms. For the beings of Tibet in particular, she deliberately manifested in a particular paternal and maternal lineage and in a particular guise. As Bearing the Seal [of Secrecy] says:
From the peak of the glorious mountain of Cāmara,
I[, Yeshe Tsogyal,] will strive to protect the people of the Tibet's Pugyal Empire.
In the centre of a city in Sri Lanka, not far from this land of Jambudvīpa, there is a special awareness-holder pure realm. There, Yeshe Tsogyal remains in the coarse body that she had during her lifetime, until she discards it, to watch over the beings of Tibet in the past, present, and future. For us Tibetans, therefore, accomplishment through this practice is much more readily attainable than it is for others, such as the Chinese, Mongolians and the like. Furthermore, she came for the purpose of taking care of beings with the supreme enlightened activity of the swift path of the secret, Unsurpassed Tantra, and her blessings are thus exceptionally strong and powerful.
There are many practice manuals of the guru, which are specifically designed for Tibet and in which she appears as the chief goddess of the maṇḍala (such as Guru Chöwang's and Ratna Lingpa's Embodiment of the Guru's Secrets, Dorje Lingpa's Kadü, Drikung's Profound Wisdom, and the extensive and medium Sphere of Liberation). There are also many sādhanas that focus on the Lady herself in particular, like timely letters sent to guide the diligent practitioners of Tibet.
There are so many treasures made especially for this time that have already been revealed, such as the general treasures of substances, Dharma, wrathful mantras, and in particular the sādhanas of the Lady herself, and kutsabs, letters, treasure texts, and accomplishment substances. And it can be known from authentic sources, such as the treasure prophecies, that there are many more yet to be revealed. These are all magnificent signs indicating that if you are able to diligently practice the mantras and sādhanas of this Lady of yoginīs, then even in these evil times, the blessings are immediate and undiminished, and the attainments will come without hindrance.
When she was a Tibetan woman with a supreme body of the lotus [family] and lived in the centre of the snowy mountains of Tibet, she was called Yeshe Tsogyal. When she manifests as the queen of awareness-holders in the Palace of Lotus Light on the Glorious Mountain, she is called Dhātviśvarī, Queen of Great Bliss. When she is subduing the rākṣasas in their lands which surround the Glorious Mountain, she is called the ḍākinī Blazing Blue Light. In reality, however, these are all names applied to manifestations of the single body of Kharchen Za; they are all Tsogyal herself.
The Perspective of the Practice Tradition
In Chöwang’s Crown Ornament practice of Tsogyal, the goddess is said to have the nature of Tārā. Yet the tradition of how to practice that form is not mentioned. In Ratna Lingpa's Three Cycles of Tsogyal, the outer practice is Tsogyal, the inner Tārā, and the secret is the Black Wrathful Lady, and so each of the practices is done separately. In the Great Fifth's Bearing the Seal [of Secrecy], during the practice there is the tradition of the 'all-embodying jewel' where Tsogyal is practiced alone. When granting the empowerment, there is a way of transforming into the three of outer, inner and secret. In Chöje Lingpa's treasures there is a way of practicing Yeshe Tsogyal as the Black Wrathful Lady.
Yet here we have her combined practice. During the approach phase, for the supreme, uncommon practice, she is 'combined' with Vajravārāhī, who powerfully brings about the primordial wisdom of inconceivable luminosity. During the activities, she transforms and is combined with Tārā, who swiftly accomplishes common activities, thus bringing about the attainment of varied activity without any obstacle. When receiving the empowerment, the outer, inner, and secret practices are combined, so this practice has the great quality of completing the empowerments for all three at once. The inner practice says:
Do the approach phase from within the mother of all-pervading space.
And the empowerment manual says:
Most of the preceding has been explained on the basis that she is the queen of the lotus family. In this regard, the Ritual for Guiding the Dead, which is part of this practice, says:
Ḍākinī of the lotus family, queen of the wisdom of great bliss...
In two treasures of Nyang Ral Nyima Özer, the Red and the Black Vajravārāhī, and the Heart-Essence of the Ḍākinīs, Kharchen Za is considered to belong to the supreme transmission of Hayagrīva and Vajravārāhī of the lotus family. And there are also many other texts that explain that she belongs to the lotus family. An Avalokiteśvara longevity text from the treasure-revealer of Sha Uk, says:
Even if you accomplish other deities, you accomplish me.
In reality there are no divisions or bias in terms of good or bad,
Yet there are differences based on aspirations made in the past.
If you practice the lotus family, accomplishment will be swift.
Enlightened activity will flourish, and others' perception brought under control.
Adverse circumstances will not arise and the state of awakening will be near.
This appears to apply to both Padmasambhava and his consort. Most histories of the Eight Great Maṇḍalas list both the Precious Guru (among the eight awareness-holders of the noble land of India) and Tsogyal (among the eight awareness-holders of Tibet) as primary figures in the transmission of Kīla, Enlightened Activity. When the five families are condensed into three, the karma family is included within the lotus family. The colour of Tārā's body and the nature of her implement, the utpala flower, are explained in the Conduct Tantra commentary by Buddhaguhya. The Unsurpassed Tantra sections also include the logic of explaining the main goddess of the Amoghasiddhi family as Tārā. I think it is excellent to consider this in relation the inner practice.
If you practice Secret Mantra in this country, which is the domain of activity of the Great Noble Compassionate One and is full of pernicious gods and demons, it is crucial to rely on such a powerful embodiment of two forms of activity, both wrathful elimination and caring guidance. It is in this spirit that I have recounted the history a little: to inspire confidence, not merely to tell a story.
The Empowerment Ritual
This empowerment is given according to the 'tradition of granting the blessing of the four empowerments', so it is vital that you should never grant it to someone who has not received the elaborate empowerments of either the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities Who Purify the Lower Realms or the Awesome Ones' Assembly.
As for the preparations, for the sindūra maṇḍala you need a mirror made of bronze, [which is an alloy of tin and copper.] It must contain tin and copper because they represent the white and red elements, whose gathering and radiating brings about bliss. This is explained at length in the Indic texts. Moreover, although the treasure text itself says that you must draw the seed-syllables of the five female buddhas, the self-initiation says that you must arrange the syllables tāṃ and ha, ri, ni and sa. I am not sure whether one has to choose, or whether the seed-syllables of the five female buddhas can be understood as in the self-initiation; this needs to be investigated.
There is a tradition that places the coils of joy in the four directions on the dharmodaya. Yet it does not say anywhere that [you must place coils of joy in] the four corners, and so I think it is best if all five coils of joy are placed in the centre of the dharmodaya. Everything else is clear in the text itself.
At the beginning of the main part of the empowerment there are no clear instructions on inviting the empowerment deities. When saying, "Vajra of the sky, at this moment, grant it to me!" this is clearly also a prayer to the empowerment deities who abide in the sky, so in that instant you behold the maṇḍalas of the deities of the three seats awaken and fill the sky. The Thus-Gone Ones direct their wisdom minds and the female buddhas grant the empowerment with the water of the vase and so on, in the usual way. Then, imagine that the maṇḍala's main female Buddha grants the empowerment with the skull-cup and the vase. I think perhaps this is appropriate, since it would accord with other texts of a similar type.
During the vase empowerment, place the skull-cup and vase on the recipients’ heads and give them the water from the vase. Then place the vase back on the maṇḍala.
During the secret empowerment, it is said, you visualize the ambrosia as the bodhicitta of the master and his consort and then distribute it. In this regard, a stream of bodhicitta flows from the master's body, enters the consort's crown, flows through her body, and gathers in her secret lotus. Then, you imagine that you receive this directly on your tongue. Or you can imagine that you receive the ambrosia that arises from the sexual union of the master and his consort. I don't see any contradiction between these options. At that time, you place the skull-cup and vase at the recipient’s throat and offer the ambrosia to drink.
During the third empowerment the students should generate the pride of being a heroic one and transform into the ācārya, the lord of the family. When saying jaḥ hūṃ vaṃ hoḥ, the goddess—the support for the empowerment—sits in the student’s lap. The student then imagines engaging in union through the four mudrās of embracing, binding, and so on. Place the sindūra maṇḍala and the bell in their left hand. When saying āḥ hoḥ mahāsukha, the student imagines attaining the realization of the innate wisdom at the conclusion of the four joys which arise from the mudrā. Apply sindūra to the heart. The master should perform all this with only the left hand.
For the fourth empowerment, consider that you confer an introduction to the ultimate intent of the transcendent perfection of insight, the absolute in which the unsupported awareness that is the goal and destination of the illustrative innate wisdom merges into the all-pervading space of the three doors to liberation. Ring the bell aloft and direct the student to focus awareness on its sound.
When proclaiming the samayas, it is good to mention that the best time for making offerings on the tenth day of the waning moon is at night. You should also respect and honour young women, just as one of the ten actions of Vārāhī is to make offerings to young women extensively. Even if that is not possible, to avoid disparaging them and so on would fully accord with the requirement.
Of the three supreme empowerments, the substances for the first are taken from the space of Tsogyal herself. For the second, you place the seed-syllable of Tārā in the centre of the sindūra maṇḍala. For the third, there is the introduction to the absolute Vajravārāhī of all-encompassing space. It is worth investigating whether it is appropriate to follow the saying at the end of the empowerment text:
"…through one ritual, the blessings…"
Main Part of the Practice Text
Before taking refuge and arousing bodhicitta, you should dedicate the torma to the obstructing forces and establish the boundary. The accompanying liturgy should be taken from the male practice [of Assembly of Awareness Holders], as it says in Ratön Jigme Gawé's commentary and the arrangements for the activities by the lord of adepts. The protection circle guards against obstacles throughout the entire main part of the sādhana, so you should know that it is preferable not to dissolve it until the conclusion.
At the beginning of the generation of the deity, there is the syllable āḥ, which represents blending the mind with the space of luminosity and emptiness. Out of that state, all appearances, meaning the outer vessel of the world, and all that exists, the inner inhabitants, living beings, are visualized clearly (and in the usual way) as the maṇḍala of the ḍākinīs of infinite purity. What form does this take? For "the palace is beyond cause and condition" and what follows, visualize and meditate on the pure realm and body of Tsogyal of Great Bliss in particular. This should follow the instructions in the Recitation Manual and the Raṭik commentary.
This generation phase ritual assumes the perspective of practitioners of the very highest capacity. Its way of bringing birth, death and the bardos into the three kāyas is more profound than other generation phases of Unexcelled [Yoga Tantras], and, unlike those other practices, it does not involve gradual meditation. Here the meditation is based on mere recollection of how the essence of the great emptiness of primordial purity abides. Then, instantly, one enters its self-radiance or clarity and vividness, which is the spontaneously perfect wheel of the support and the supported, like the natural reflection of planets and stars in the clear surface of a lake. Furthermore, the cause for the ground to become the luminosity of the moment of death and at the time of the result to become the ultimate dharmakāya is the non-conceptual space of the essence. The cause for the ground to increase in the bardo of dharmatā and, at the time of the result, the cause for it to arise as the saṃbhogakāya endowed with the seven aspects [of union] is the nature, the primordial wisdom of unceasing, radiant clarity. The cause for the ground to become the basis for the arising of the inexhaustible, manifold displays of confusion that follow the bardo of becoming and, at the time of the result, the cause for it to be purified as the nirmāṇakāya and the enlightened activities is the compassion—the play of awareness that arises in the form of dualistic grasping. These three are all completely present in a single instant of our present awareness. Therefore, if you can transform them into the utterly pure deity, mantra and primordial wisdom, none of the points of purity, perfection and ripening will be lacking. Investigation will confirm that no generation-phase ritual is more profound or more penetrating than one in which such transformation occurs. Also, "the palace is beyond cause and condition" means that all this arises spontaneously and is not generated based on the cause of a seed-syllable such as bhrūṃ or conditions such as viśva viśuddhe and other such generation-mantras. This is explained in the Raṭik commentary.
Concerning the palace, I have seen an old text, purportedly copied from another one written by Rangjung Dorje himself, in which it is explained that "in the maṇḍala of the Female Practice there are no tympanums." Nor are there any pillars, friezes, and the like. Therefore, the Raṭik says, "On the outside the form is completely round."
Viewed from the outside, it is round and made of red light wherever you look, like a tent of rainbows. The inner chamber, which is semicircular and red, has one entrance with porticos, side walls, and a trefoil aperture. I feel that the complete shape of the inner portion is none other than this.
The palace blazing with great bliss: inside the palace is a crossed dharmodaya which is white (greyish) on the outside and red on the inside. It symbolizes the freedom from all characteristics: the conceptual elaborations of the eight extremes and the 'corners' of thought. It is the dharmakāya, the single sphere, the buddhas' city of great liberation. The palace is round. Its interior is red and half-moon-shaped, because the power of this dharmakāya nature, which has ardent compassion as its self-radiance, draws embodied beings within and overwhelms them. It has one door, because it is the entrance that leads only to all-pervading space or emptiness. The dharmodaya has the nature of innate bliss. Its three corners symbolize the three doors of liberation (the Chariot of Omniscience says that this means beyond thoughts, objects and ignorance). Since it arises from the interdependence of method and insight (white and red) the outside is white and the inside red. It is open, because realization increases from the stage of aspirational practice all the way to the stage of Buddhahood. It is crossed, because space and primordial wisdom are indivisible. Its six corners are said to symbolize the conceptual distinctionsof the six primordial wisdoms. Furthermore, the outside of the palace mainly illustrates emptiness, while the dharmodaya represents bliss. Since these two are inseparable, I think that we can say that each possesses the purity of both bliss and emptiness entirely.
The heart of a lotus: since she possesses the skilful means of great compassion, even though she remains in saṃsāra, she is not stained by its faults. This is symbolized by the lotus in full bloom. The sun-disk seat symbolizes the insight that overcomes all the darkness of ignorance.
Regarding the lines that begin, "In the expanse of dharmakāya…", just as it is said in the feast-gathering section: "Hūṃ! The Unsurpassed and the other celestial realms…", the foremost of the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities who abide in the Unsurpassed is Samantabhadrī. Of the yoginīs of the sacred places, including the yoginī Caṇḍākṣī and others, their basis for manifestation and the foremost of all those who dwell in the skies are Vajravārāhī and Tsogyal. The former is the basis of manifestation, and the latter is the manifestation. Thus, the labels of the three kāyas are applied. At all times during the recitation, you must generate the stable conviction that these three are indivisible. In this way, you must also remember that the deities arranged in the body maṇḍala, which will be shown below, are all aspects of Tsogyal. The Raṭik commentary says that only the dharmakāya free from conceptual elaborations is Samantabhadrī, and in the Unsurpassed she arises in a form body as Vajravārāhī.
The Purity of the Goddess' Form
Her one face symbolises the fact that all phenomena are bound in the single sphere of the bindu of luminosity. Her two hands are compassion and insight. The red colour of her body illustrates that the purity of desire is the essence of the primordial wisdom of discernment, and that she belongs to the speech family. Her nakedness symbolizes that she is entirely free from the veil of the two obscurations and that fear is absent. Her two feet stand in the posture of equanimity, illustrating that she does not remain in the extremes of existence or peace. Yet she is ready to act, symbolising that she acts for the benefit of beings. Her passionate and smiling bearing shows how she delights in taming disciples by means of the path of passion. With her right hand she plays the skull ḍāmaru, symbolizing that although saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are mutually opposed, they merge as one within suchness. Nyang Ral Nyima Özer's Vajravārāhī treasure says:
The skull is the 'bliss-sustainer'.
The Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom says:
As for the ḍāmaru (many treasure texts explain that the skull-drum is an indispensable accomplishment substance of the ḍākinīs and extol its greatness), it resounds with the Dharma of the unsurpassed, Great Vehicle, which rouses all sentient beings from the sleep of ignorance.
The Dharma sound of the Great Vehicle is the profound, natural sound of innate bliss and emptiness. The Commentary on the Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom explains how this summons and magnetizes ḍākinīs based on a quote from the Bindu of Union. There are many other ways of explaining this, but here, as the Raṭik tells us, it is to invoke the compassion of the master, the lord of the families. The melodious sound of the transcendent perfection of insight, which was explained above, invokes the heart of the guru and pleases him.
In her left hand she holds a hooked knife, resting on her hip. This knife cuts through the web of thoughts and brings them under control through the extraordinary clear seeing of the transcendent perfection of insight. Because of the pride and charm of the bliss that arises from being victorious in the battle with conceptual thoughts, her bearing is imposing and graceful. Her expanded bhaga symbolizes that she has opened, through bliss, the maṇḍala of the three doors of liberation—the absolute—and that she gives supreme joy to the fortunate. Her swollen breasts illustrate how she provides an excellent, inexhaustible stream of attainments, arising from the full maturity of primordial wisdom. She appears in the form of a sixteen-year-old youth, since she possesses the innate youthfulness of perfecting the sixteen joys. She is adorned with youthful ornaments and jewels which are known as ornaments for children and wears a garland made of flowers that reaches her secret place. The six bone ornaments illustrate that she has perfected the six transcendent perfections, common and uncommon. As she has undone the knots of grasping, her hair is plaited.
As for her three eyes, her central eye is located in the spot between her eyebrows. It resembles the right eye (including its eyebrow) if it had been raised. This eye, the dharmakāya eye of the essence, gazes into the all-pervading space of inner luminosity. Through gazing at the Lord of the Family's mind-heart, they become one in the expanse of wisdom and merge in the all-pervading space of primordial wisdom. Her left, the saṃbhogakāya eye of the nature, gazes straight ahead at the pure realm of the five primordial wisdoms. This causes clarity and appearance to mature into the kāyas and wisdoms and perfects the strength of the enlightened activity of taming beings. With her right eye, the nirmāṇakāya eye of compassion, she gazes down upon the beings of the three realms and magnetizes those beings to be tamed. Relying mostly on the Raṭik, I have explained all this in a way that is easy to understand.
The Body Maṇḍala
In her body the maṇḍalas of all the classes of tantra are perfectly complete. The Raṭik explains that they are complete in two ways: as the body maṇḍala and 'in the manner of a guest'. 'In the manner of a guest' means that the deities of Action Tantra, Conduct Tantra, Yoga Tantra, and so on are also present. The body maṇḍala is introduced briefly with this line and then explained elaborately in what follows. The coarse body maṇḍala of the aggregates and so on is based on the Anuyoga practice of Tsokchen Düpa, and the subtle body maṇḍala of the channels and elements is based on the Mother Tantra of Cakrasaṃvara. The great Omniscient One said:
The ordinary minds of beings and the wisdom minds of the victorious ones
Are distinguished by their awareness being either slight or vast.
This means that beings and buddhas are distinguished according to whether their awareness of luminosity is tightly bound by the ordinary aggregates, elements, faculties, and objects, or not at all. Generally, it is taught that phenomena such as the aggregates and elements are purified by the body maṇḍala of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities. The self-initiation Empowerment's Ocean of Significance says:
The aggregates, elements and sense sources
Are the maṇḍalas of the three seats,
Yet they are bound by obscurations of the channels, winds and vital essences.
Like this, the saṃsāric channels, winds and vital essences maintain the life-force channel of the impure aggregates and so on, like the trunk of a tree, and it is the body maṇḍala of the twenty-four yoginīs of the sacred lands in particular that blesses them and thereby controls them or makes them pliable. The other points of the [Peaceful Deities] are easy to understand.
Our text merely mentions that we should visualize the deities of the wrathful maṇḍala as present in the pores of the body, but the Raṭik says that the herukas of the five families and Mahottara with his consort are in the skull-mansion of the brain. In the centre of a four-spoked wheel is Buddha Heruka with his consort; in his heart is Mahottara; in the East is Vajra Heruka and so on. All the deities are arranged like this, one by one. The doorkeepers and the īśvarīs of the sacred lands are visualized in the pores of the body; this is something that the Omniscient One himself said. Although all six herukas are described as having three faces and six arms, it seems it would not be inappropriate to visualize them according to the concise mudrā.
As for the subtle body maṇḍala, the twenty-four sacred places such as Pu[llīramalaya], Jā[landhara], U[ḍḍiyāna] and A[rbuda] are the twenty-four places within one's own body, such as in the head and the place between the eyebrows. Clarifications on the Recitation Manual says that you should meditate that the channels of each of these places transform into the twenty-four heroic ones such as Khaṇḍakapālin, and the elements transform into the twenty-four ḍākinīs. Yet the Chariot of Omniscience says that the twenty-four channels such as 'Indivisible' and 'Subtle Form' are the sacred places, and that they are the basis for the white elements, which are the heroic ones, and the red elements, which are the ḍākinīs. The latter are emphasized in the Raṭik, but whatever you do is fine. Bear in mind that when the Clarifications on the Recitation Manual says '"are completely transformed," this is a crucial point for the body maṇḍala.
The Clarifications on the Recitation Manual mentions "the generation phase of the great consummate nature," and the root text says "the consummate deities of the three seats of completeness." This is referred to as the profound generation phase where spontaneous presence arises as appearance and emptiness. Yet this does not accord with our approach here, where we are only concerned with the naturally established body maṇḍala where the ground of accomplishment is unaltered.
"She is surrounded by a vast assembly of hundreds of thousands of ḍākinīs." The Raṭik says: "In the four directions are the white [ḍākinīs] of Great Bliss, the yellow of Accomplishing Aims, the red of Uttering Sound, and Accomplishing All." In the spaces in-between are the Buddhakrodhīs and in the intermediate directions are the samaya-ḍākinīs and others, each with their own retinue of hundreds of thousands. The Clarifications on the Recitation Manual mentions many more: "There are hundreds of thousands of great gandharavas…" The ones mentioned previously [in the Raṭik] are the deities inside the palace. The ones mentioned in the latter quotation [from the Clarifications on the Recitation Manual] are all placed in the surroundings outside: in the Eight Great Maṇḍalas: Assembly of the Bliss Gone it is explained that each of the ten directional protectors (who abide in courtyards of the Dharma protectors) is accompanied by hundreds of thousands of ḍākinīs of each family, and moreover, there are hundreds of thousands of demonesses, Menmo, flesh-eaters, and the like. Also, there are hundreds of thousands of those called 'Seven-Leaved Tree Spirits'. All these are referred to in the concise expression "hundreds of thousands of ḍākinīs". The term "vast" here refers to a retinue of limitless, inexpressible numbers of heroic ones and ḍākinīs.
The Lord of the Family
As a sign that the Lord of the Family is engaged in Pema Tötreng Tsal’s secret conduct of great bliss, he has the heruka accoutrements, such as a topknot, bone ornaments and a tiger-skirt. "From the guru's body, a stream of ambrosia..." He has the nature of skilful means, the syllable haṃ—the wheel of great bliss—and his body are immaculately [white] in colour like the resplendent moon. He appears youthful, since he has attained the body of immortality that incorporates all the vital essences of existence and peace. His two hands symbolize skilful means and wisdom. He plays the ḍāmaru which resounds with the sound of bliss and emptiness; it invokes all the victorious ones, who then fill the sky, and causes primordial wisdom to descend. His two legs are in the posture of equanimity, signifying that he does not remain in the extremes of existence or peace.
Regarding the outer and inner maṇḍalas, those with superior faculties will understand their meaning; those with intermediate faculties will take aspiration as the path; and those with lesser faculties will merely aim to visualize the main deity and the wisdom deity. This is what the Recitation Manual says. The final approach is also appropriate, because if we adapt the lines of the Glorious Assembly, it says:
Although an inconceivable host of deities is radiated and absorbed,
They are the magical manifestations of the chief goddess alone.
If you attain mastery over the life-force of Tsogyal,
The circle of deities will arise without effort.
The Manual of Concealed Instructions says:
Just as the most precious thing for a human being is consciousness,
For all the forms of the symbolic mudrā of the deity,
It is the majestic wisdom being,
Visualized with extreme clarity and stability—this is crucial.
If I were to write about the invitation, offerings, and praise as well, the text would become overlong, so I shall refrain from doing so.
In general, Vajravārāhī does not always have a sow face [on her head]. Yet here the wisdom being is described as 'two-faced', so let me elaborate a little on the nature of the sow face by presenting some quotations, then offering an analysis. A commentary on Nyang Ral Nyima Özer's Golden Practice of the Ḍākinī treasure text says:
The consort Vajravārāhī: the heroine's sow on her head represents few thoughts and great strength. In this way it symbolizes the absence of good or bad thoughts about saṃsāra, and great strength that cuts saṃsāra at the root.
Also, the Secret Practice of Vārāhī says:
As for the sow face, since a sow is quite ignorant and does not differentiate between clean and dirty, this symbolizes purifying ignorance in its own place rather than abandoning it. Through the yogic conduct of compassionate wisdom, destructive emotions and conceptual thoughts are cut at the root.
The practice Embodiment of All the Families of Vārāhī says:
Since she lacks thoughts of clean and unclean, a black sow face protrudes on her head.
Since ultimate reality is unchanging, it is black.
Compassionately acting for the benefit of beings, it blissfully looks out, situated on her right side.
Eliminating and taming all the wicked ones, it grunts.
It terrifies all such obstacle-makers as arrogant demons, enemies, and obstructing forces.
Having brought herself under control, she binds the attendants into servitude.
Having brought under control the five classes of wisdom ḍākinīs and others who are beyond this world and all the ḍākinīs of the eight charnel grounds who are not beyond this world, she is surrounded by a retinue of servants and attendants.
Furthermore, the Commentary of the Oral Lineage of the Black Wrathful Lady says:
The statement "on her crown is a sow face, abiding in space" means the following. In the middle of her locks there emerges a black sow face, gazing upwards. This symbolizes that she always abides in thought-free, space-like wisdom. Also, when the sow face grunts upwards it magnetizes all the formless realms; when it grunts straight ahead, the form realms; and when it grunts downwards, the desire realms. Grunting in the four directions, it magnetizes the ḍākinīs of the four families.
There are many other texts that explain these points, but in short, this is the symbolic mudrā of the ultimate luminosity, beyond thoughts and unchanging. Her colour is dark blue, since reality, which is naturally arising, cannot itself be changed by anything, yet it 'colours' the world and all beings with the freedom of conceptual elaborations. Her wrathful face is relative purity, and her sow face is absolute purity. In her right hand she holds a curved knife that cuts through the three poisons. Her left hand holds a skull-cup filled with blood which symbolizes her enjoyment in the continuity of great bliss. Since she has bound all phenomena in bliss her right leg is bent with her heel pointing towards her bhaga. With her outstretched left leg of insight she stands on a lotus, sun, and corpse, holding down the three crucial points of the essence, nature, and compassion. The bone ornaments are as explained before. She has three eyes that see the three times. In the cradle of her left arm she holds a khaṭvāṅga, illustrating the indivisibility of skilful means and wisdom.
In her heart is a red coil of joy, its four parts coiled anti-clockwise. In its centre is a syllable vaṃ around which the root mantra is arranged. Besides this, the Recitation Manual does not explicitly say that the mantra turns like a firebrand. The Raṭik says that you "focus your attention on the mantra garland arranged anti-clockwise." The practice text says, '…encircled by the mantra garland; it revolves'. I wonder whether it would not be inappropriate to explain that in addition to the anticlockwise arrangement this is merely a way of explaining how each syllable is emphasized. This requires some further investigation.
Visualize clearly that the whole mantra garland at your heart, especially the life-force syllable, glows with a mass of light rays, as bright as a hundred suns, and unwaveringly focus your awareness on that. Through the condition of the mantra recitation, it blazes with extraordinary, majestic brilliance. The stages of visualizing clearly all the outer and inner maṇḍalas of ḍākinīs, like the sun shining on a mirror, are not explicitly mentioned in the Recitation Manual or The [Raṭik] Commentary. Yet this enriches the meaning of the line "Encircled by the mantra garland; it revolves, emitting light rays that..." Through this you will swiftly gain powerful abilities and be brought closer to accomplishment. Thus, it is excellent to explain these supplementary crucial points. Many writings, such as the treasures of Nyang Ral Nyima Özer, say that the most important, special activity of the ḍākinīs is awakening wisdom. Here too, there is an emphasis on the visualization in which the Lord of the family's blessings is gathered. Furthermore, you must know that your appearance in the ravishingly beautiful form of the ḍākinī, the melodious tunes of the mantras, the sound of the ḍāmaru, and her amorous disposition all function like the iron hook of magnetizing to invoke the guru’s wisdom mind. Remember, too, the points from The Application of Mindfulness: "[Visualizing yourself in this manner] makes you a suitable vessel for empowerment…"
In particular, the stages of the visualization are as follows. The light-rays from the mantra garland exit through the crown of the ḍākinī's head. They touch the Lord of the family’s heart, and radiate further rays of light, which collect the accomplishments of all the buddhas. These then dissolve into the life-force syllable vaṃ at your heart, and so on, according to the stages of visualisation for accomplishing twofold benefit described in the Recitation Manual. Then, a stream of blissful ambrosia, white as moonlight and with the nature of the vajra-like awakened body, speech, mind, and wisdom, emerges from the guru's body. It enters the crown of one’s head, bringing a joy that purifies the impurities of the channels, wind-energies, and vital essences that generate the perception of the body as ordinary. As the primordial wisdom of the vajra body dawns in one’s mind, it blesses the body as the vajra body. When the ambrosia descends to the level of the throat, it generates supreme joy, purifying the stains of the vital essences and wind-energies that bring about confused speech. You experience the primordial wisdom of vajra speech and speech is blessed as vajra speech. Likewise, at the heart, through special joy the vital essences of the mind are purified, and the primordial wisdom of vajra mind is born. Below the naval, through innate joy the stains of the all-ground and the bliss of emission are purified. Your three doors are blessed as vajra wisdom and you imagine that, through the four joys, you experience the wisdom of the four empowerments or the wisdom of the four vajras. The main point here is the visualization of radiating and reabsorbing.
Regarding how the wisdom of the fourth empowerment, which comes about through the skilful means of innate joy, is experienced, or how that wisdom is applied, the Sphere of Liberation empowerment says:
The innate joy at the end of the third empowerment is akin to blankness or oblivion.
During the earlier part of the innate joy, the stain of being intoxicated by, or attached to, the experience of bliss is not yet purified, so one cannot lay bare the awareness of primordial purity. Yet during the latter part, those stains are purified—the aspect of awareness awakens as clarity, and realization of carefree, spacious freedom dawns. Furthermore, the Chariot of Omniscience says that unless you can abide in innate [joy] for a long time and unless it is stable, you will not be able to distinguish the earlier and latter parts. The degree of solidity and stability in your experience of innate joy will determine the extent to which you can lay bare and stabilize the aspect of clear, pure, refined awareness.
The Meaning of the Mantra
The Tip of the Vajra explains the syllable oṃ as "the mantra that holds the jewel" and "the provider of glory and wealth", and there are other such explanations. Here, however, it will suffice to understand it as the spearhead of the mantra and bestower of the supreme. Padmo-yoginī refers to the lotus yoginī. She appears everywhere in all the realms of the ten directions, innumerable and beyond the imagination, for those beings who are to be tamed through the Unsurpassable Vehicle of Yoga, in the form of a fine woman who has mastered the sixty-four arts of passion. She manifests in such forms that by seeing her beauty, hearing her songs, smelling the fragrance of her utpala flower, kissing her honey-like lower lip, or caressing her lotus, one's mind will be overcome with strong passion. Nobody can resist her. This approach is countless times faster than following the path free of desire and the vehicle of the levels and transcendent perfections, but it is no different from the actions of Samantabhadra that lead to unsurpassable, perfect awakening. If you remove all the habitual tendencies of transference, you will always be, as it says further on in our text: Unchanging great bliss—Vajrayoginī. She is of one taste with unchanging bliss and emptiness, and she does not waver for a second from the supreme yoga that is likened to a lotus which remains in the water yet is never stained by its defects. Jñāna-vārāhī means the wisdom sow. All thoughts will firstly blaze, then waver, and finally stabilize, before being consumed by the indestructible essence at the centre of your heart and transformed into luminous, inconceivable wisdom. This is said in the feast-gathering songs of the Lord Guru, and I have already explained this elaborately above. As for Hūṃ, Tip of the Vajra says: "it eliminates...", yet here it is the heart-essence that invokes the wisdom mind for the sake of accomplishment. The way to append this with the general life-force mantra of the ḍākinīs of the three places is found in Turning Back the Summons: The Marvellous Appearance. But even here, where the mantra is not so adjoined, the main deity and the wisdom being include the vital forces of all those ḍākinīs, and thus these twelve syllables constitute the mantra of all their vital forces, with nothing lacking.
Before the liturgical arrangement was compiled, the treasure text contained the following lines immediately after the root mantra:
The crucial point is to rest in meditative equipoise on the nature of reality, in which there is neither granting nor receiving of the royal vase empowerment. There is no need to rely on a vast number of practices of the generation and completion phases—through this practice alone, you will reach accomplishment.
The Raṭik explains that these five lines show the benefit and that they are easy to understand. Yet, as it might seem perfunctory to repeat here that it is "easy to understand", I shall explain a little. Earlier, it was said:
The primordial wisdom of the four empowerments is experienced.
This includes the wisdom of the fourth empowerment, or awareness, which, when it becomes stable causes all the phenomena that are its self-manifestation or self-expression to be transformed into whatever one wishes, impervious to any condition or circumstance. This is what it means to gain the primordial kingdom or dominion, and it is referred to as being empowered with sovereignty.
Many texts of the empowerment of the dynamic power of awareness relate this to the analogy of a royal heir who wanders abroad and is brought back to the capital, which makes it extremely clear. This explanation applies only to the temporary mode of appearance. In reality, no matter how much the 'prince' wanders about in the radiance of awareness, the dualistic play of wandering is like a dream which never takes place outside the sleeping state. In a similar way, since one never leaves the primordial kingdom, it is the nature of reality, in which there is neither granting nor receiving. Even though there is neither granting nor receiving, still one speaks of 'granting empowerment'. As the Great Life and Liberation says:
When from within the all-pervading space of the naturally arisen luminosity—the royal vase empowerment—which is of one taste with the great primordial wisdom of the three secrets of all the buddhas, where there is neither granting nor receiving, the propensity fully awakens, then...
This illustrates how through this alone supreme mind treasures arise.
This is the most important point in the root text of the completion phase for this teaching. Even if you cannot assimilate the meaning directly, by at least training to the best of your ability through aspirational practice, it is important that you set in place the right circumstances for the realization of the mind-direct transmission to be transferred and stabilize the continuum of empowerments and blessing. Focusing the mind on the form of the deity is the awakened body, the recitation is awakened speech, and this is the luminosity of the awakened mind, the yoga of suchness. Thus, this also becomes the gradual path of the three vajras.
Straightforward Explanation of How to Traverse the Complete Path
First, generate the main deity and the body maṇḍala and merge the samaya- and wisdom beings. Focus as much as you can on a clear appearance and generate stable pride. In the knowledge that deity and mantra are indivisible, recite the mantra. The light-rays of the mantra invoke the heruka-guru's wisdom mind and gather the ambrosia of bodhicitta. Putting effort into the inner feast-gathering and receiving the empowerments brings swift blessings to the common aggregates and elements and the channels, wind-energies and vital essences. The primordial wisdom of the three blazings will arise: your body will become blissful, your speech powerful, and realization will dawn in your mind.
This development occurs gradually beginning with the most subtle aspects. As you eliminate distraction and meditate diligently, the strength [of primordial wisdom] develops. At some point there arises a bliss that comes from having moved the channels and elements in actuality. And if that matures further, the wisdom of the 'example innate [joy]', the culmination of the four joys, will arise. When that itself is fully stabilized, you will see the naked face of the primordial wisdom of the fourth empowerment, the natural state of the Great Perfection, and obtain the life-force of the absolute Vajravārāhī.
During this process, first you meditate solely based on aspirations and concepts. You train in considering the appearance aspect of the maṇḍala of the deities and the palace to be the radiance of spontaneously present awareness. At first you will obtain merely a fraction of the realization of great bliss. Gradually, you will be able to blend the appearance of the deities with bliss and become habituated with bliss arising as the deities. When you continuously do this, so that it becomes stable, you will eventually nail down the wheels of deity and mantra upon awareness itself. Then, the appearance of objects dissolves into the deity and the deity merges with awareness. As the practice text of Glorious Assembly says:
When planting the nail that brings together
Deity, appearance, and dharmatā as one,
One's own appearance is awakened in the ultimate Akaniṣṭha—
There is no doubt about this.
There are many stages for this, based on depth, scope and stability. Yet finally, when appearance and mind pervade everywhere and merge with the environment, then it is as our practice text says:
...the supreme sign is to possess an unwavering wisdom mind.
You won't be disturbed by any situation of happiness or suffering, and you'll obtain a limitless capacity to overpower your own and others' thoughts and perceptions. At that time, through the power of meditating on the yoga of the ḍākinī, you will be able to merge your own perception with the appearance of purity, and you will even be able to see the primordially present pure realms of the ḍākinīs of the three kāyas. You will swiftly obtain the power to meet not only the hosts of mantra-born and field-born ḍākinīs, but also the innate Lady. Through their power you will purify the stains of the channels, elements and wind-energies. The aspiration prayer Entering the City of Omniscience says: "In the scriptural transmission Anuyoga...etc." This means that you will master the ordinary accomplishments up to and including Akaniṣṭha, and as the supreme accomplishment you will be able to travel to the city of the three kāyas with their seven branches. With that in mind, our text says:
There is no need to rely on a vast number of practices of the generation and completion phases—through this practice alone, you will reach accomplishment.
The Glorious Ocean of Ḍākas tantra says:
Encounters with yoginīs
Depend on merit and are rarely won.
[The great joy of such interactions,
When experienced, deceives death.]
Is thus what yogis must do.
The level of a great vajra-holder
Is obtained by pleasing them.
It is possible that some will find this explanation, in which I have not dealt with the generation and perfection phases separately, somewhat vague and unclear. Yet I have expressed myself based on our own tradition, according to which the generation and completion phases are traversed in union, unlike in other explanations.
As for how one meets yoginīs, there are many different ways, such as meeting them in one's own house, while roaming about in the great sacred places of accomplishment, in experiences or in dreams. When a practitioner has the pride of the goddess, then the form of the goddess grants the bliss of union as follows. The Lady's Play of the Union of Blessing says:
I, a girl, am going to Cāmaradvīpa.
You, boy, generate the pride of the hero Hayagrīva.
Rigdzin Pema Trinlé comments that first you must generate yourself and the front visualization as Yeshe Tsogyal and do the mantra recitation and so on. Then, when the self-initiation says, "Son, you are a heroic one..." you immediately transform yourself into Hayagrīva (whom you are primordially) and engage in desire. The Two Segments says:
With a mudrā and a mudrā, with these two,
How can you attain the accomplishment of mudrā?
The meaning of this is as follows. Just as when the consort recites the mantra to bless the vajra, likewise the mantrin, in the form of the hero, is then blessed in turn by Tsogyal herself, and then they engage in sexual union. During the bestowal of the empowerment, the text says, "Imagine in this way." The guru should explain precisely how to meditate on the stages of visualization. The blessing arises based on the teacher and the disciple being of one mind, and not just the student meditating alone. Information concerning the third empowerment and intimate conduct can be found in many other sources.
Body Maṇḍala of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities
It is said that Samantabhadra with consort and Vajravārāhī are not like vessels placed one within another. They are wisdom forms and therefore neither merge together nor obstruct and block one another; they are manifestations of meditative concentration, beyond the imagination. Still, I think that for a beginner it is most convenient to meditate with the wisdom being in the heart (which looks like an upturned tent) and the body maṇḍala of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities in the open space of the chest and the heart, as Commentary on the Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom explains. There is also a tradition that comes from the Omniscient [Jigme Lingpa], according to which the ritual of The Peaceful and Wrathful Deities Who Empty the Lower Realms is combined with this practice text. This is why the body maṇḍala of this [practice] is so arranged. You can consider that this deity [i.e., the Queen of Great Bliss,] and this mantra are also the quintessence of Emptying the Hells from their Very Depths. You need to understand that this is especially profound for the purpose of purifying concepts, obscurations, impairments, and breakages and restoring and healing the samayas.
Clarifications on the Recitation Manual explains how to meditate on the mantra garland in the heart of Samantabhadra and so on. It does not explain the colour of the life-force [syllable a] and the mantra garland, but I think blue would be appropriate. The mantra syllables up to and including mahāsukha relate to the peaceful deities and those from rulu onwards relate to the wrathful ones. This is the general recitation of The Sūtra Gathering of the Great Assembly, which explains that, even though one recites this mantra alone 700,000 times, this completes the essential approach phase. The main text of the Sūtra mentions a common and an uncommon recitation. For the first, one recites the mantras of each of the peaceful and wrathful deities individually. For the latter, one performs the recitation in the knowledge that appearance and existence have the nature of the three primordially perfected maṇḍalas. Understand that this is the approach of recitation for the all-embodying mantra[, which is also followed in our practice text].
The Meaning of the Mantra
Oṃ incorporates the five wisdoms. Guhya-jñāna means secret wisdom. Bodhicitta is the mind set on awakening. Mahāsukha means great bliss. The Raṭik does not explain the meaning of rulu rulu other than to connect it to the deities. Other texts say that ru refers to rujo, which means 'destroy!' Lu refers to lūna, which means 'cut!' These are said twice, as is the case for chindha chindha. The great accomplishment of the Eight Great Maṇḍalas says that ru refers to great desire (rāga). Lu refers to lumbi, the space of Samantabhadra's consort. Ru refers to rajo, which means that emotions are brought under control. Lu represents loka, which means that the three realms are brought under control. Hūṃ signifies great joy, through which manifestations are dispatched. Bhyo means that the mundane is transformed from within all-pervading space. The last hūṃ refers to precious, immeasurable qualities. Phaṭ means arousing the great bliss of all-pervading space. There are many similar explanations.
The eight great accomplishments are attained in the following way. If you magnetize the hosts of yoginīs they will directly confer the siddhi pills, eye-medicine, sword, and so on. The bliss that they grant through sexual union will lead directly to the attainment of the celestial realms and so on. The Illusory Net says:
Such is evidently the case. In this context, Lord Nyang [Ral Nyima Özer] was put on a jeweled palanquin by the wisdom ḍākinīs and, to the accompaniment of the sound of a lute, carried to Sukhāvatī. There he beheld the scenery of the realm for seven days before returning to our world. In the place where he descended a rain of flowers fell for all to see. Here it is also fitting to mention the history of how the Lord of Dharma Rinchen Püntsok and Trengpo Tertön [Sherab Özer] were led by the ḍākinīs to the realm of Lotus Light and there met the Great Master [Padmasambhava]. Even if you do not complete the approach in this lifetime, then, as a vajra song of the Omniscient Jigme Lingpa himself says:
Though having taken an excellent location, empty and devoid of humans, as my fatherland,
If I am not able to imitate the life and liberation of the Great Chetsün [Senge Wangchuk]
May I, forcefully focusing on the 'celestial middle path',
Be welcomed and escorted by Yeshe Tsogyal.
Likewise, remembering the practice of the threefold outlook at the time of death will have the additional effect of causing Vajrayoginī to come in actuality to lead us to the realms of the awareness-holders. The Recitation Manual refers to additional minor accomplishments. This includes the three types of gathering: people during the day, ḍākinīs during the night, and sustenance every morning and evening. Of these, the main one is the gathering of ḍākinīs during the night. As the Tantra of Glorious Vajraḍāka says:
The women [and heroic ones] of this land
[Will grant accomplishment.]
Always active during the night,
Always gathering during the night.
Flying in the sky and other great accomplishments,
Difficult to obtain, will be granted.
Of the signs of accomplishment, most practice texts of the ḍākinīs emphasize those related to the magnetizing activities. Concerning the reason for such emphasis, a ḍākinī tantra says:
Through desire for women, beings are tamed.
And the Ornament of the Vajra Essence:
Here, through the embrace of those two
The classes of tantra are taught.
Like this, all the wisdom goddesses revealed in the lower and higher classes of tantra are taught for the purpose of taking desire as the path. All the goddesses of the Unexcelled Yoga Tantras in particular arose solely for the purpose of granting practitioners innate bliss. All the deities, mantras, wisdom, awakened deeds and activities of the ḍākinīs are accomplished based on the yoga of bliss. The ultimate, secret point of magnetizing is the samādhi of bliss, and so if you gain proficiency in the approach and accomplishment of the ḍākinī, then even without intentionally making any effort you will naturally magnetize the world and its inhabitants. Merely by directing your focus you will be able to transform others' perceptions.
The instructions that explain how to apply the various activities can be found in other texts.
This is the inner practice. Among the collection of activities, the pacifying activities include the fifteenth, eighteenth, and other sections; enriching includes the first to the fourth and others; magnetizing includes the fifth and the tenth; and wrathful activity includes the thirteenth, fourteenth and others. Thus, there are limitless activities which make all the particular activities of the four enlightened activities complete. As for these, it is well known that of the three roots, the root of enlightened activity is the ḍākinī. In particular, as I said before, since the venerable Tārā is the supreme deity of activity, she is more sublime than others when it comes to accomplishing anything from the collection of activities.
I saw in a text of the lord of yogis Changchub Dorje's personal students (who upheld his transmission) that after "padmo-yoginī" they added only "tāre tuttāre ture svāhā" and would recite it that way. Before these activity practices they would focus on the wisdom being as Tārā of the Khadira Forest and recite her mantra several hundred thousand times, or as many times as necessary. In the breaks they would recite the Twenty-One Verses of Homage as much as possible and offer a feast-gathering. I think this is excellent. It is similar to the great crucial point of having a strong pride that, regardless of the activity, the samaya being has the nature of Tārā. It is said:
The final activity is that of making a fire offering.
And immediately after that:
Just like when [a knife], already sharp, still needs tempering.
So here [making a fire offering is just like] sharpening a knife; [it is good but] it is not indispensable, as in the practice tradition of the twenty-one activities from the Adornment for the Wisdom of the Lord of Nāgas.
The main substances of the feast-offering are beef and alcohol. When blessing them, a hearth of three skulls contains the substances of oṃ āḥ hūṃ. As the wind blows from below, its causes the fire to blaze, through which [the syllables] melt and transform into the five meats and the five ambrosias. On top of the moon-cover is a five-pronged vajra. From the space in its centre light radiates out, inviting the wisdom ambrosia. It dissolves and transforms [the contents] into clouds of the ambrosia of sensual enjoyments. This is explained in the Raṭik. Yet it is also appropriate to think that the substances transform into the five meats and the five ambrosias based on oṃ, āḥ and hūṃ. Then the wind blows from below, causing the fire to melt them. I think "With oṃ āḥ hūṃ they are transformed into ambrosia" means that from the space in the centre of the vajra, light in the form of the three syllables invokes the ambrosia. In short, it is just as described in the activity manual of The Principal Protectors.
During the invitation, the main deity is also invited, in addition to the ḍākinīs of the twenty-four sacred places together with their retinues, although this is not specified in the commentaries. This is proven by the lines: "The Unsurpassed and the other celestial realms," and below with "heroic ones and yoginīs". When we apply these lines to the invitation of the feast-gathering, they indicate that the main deity and consort wisdom beings are invited from Akaniṣṭha and the celestial realms. Concerning the main celestial realm, it says:
And also Cāmaradvīpa, the supreme island among islands.
In reality they are Akaniṣṭha, the pure realm of great bliss,
Yet they appear as emanated celestial realms.
These three lines show that Cāmaradvīpa, indivisible from Akaniṣṭha, is an emanated celestial realm. According to the explanation of the Raṭik it is the realm of the Glorious Mountain of Lotus Light. Although it is a terrestrial realm, it is called a celestial realm because the chief goddess of the celestial realms abides there in actuality and also because its qualities are equal to those of the pure celestial realms. For example, the eight sacred places of the wheel of mind are terrestrial, yet their deities are held to descend from the sky, and thus they are given the name 'celestial'.
Incidentally, the Raṭik also says that of the twenty-four sacred places, the supreme place where the goddesses abide is Uḍḍiyāna, as in: "Lie the supremely sacred land of Uḍḍiyāna". The Great Turning Back the Summons, in the section on the activity maṇḍala, says:
The main is Uḍḍiyāna's Dhumathala, and surrounding it are...
Here we see that the other great sacred places are placed around it. From the luminous emanated realms of the half-nirmāṇakāya the four essential yoginīs such as White Ladies of Great Bliss are invited. We can explain this based on this first line.
When the text of the outer feast-offering says, "The crown of the head is Jālandhara", you shouldn't regard those sacred lands and places as external, but as parts of your own body, such as the crown of your head. If you know that these are [your body's] nature and then offer the feast, through pleasing the external heroic ones and ḍākinīs, internally the defects and deteriorations of your channels and vital essences will be eliminated, and your qualities will increase; you will be skilled in means. For an explanation, we should turn to the small-lettered explanations in Turning Back the Summons: The Marvellous Appearance. The same logic can be applied in relation to the subtle body maṇḍala wherein we generate pride that the external great lands and the heroic ones and ḍākinīs who abide there are actually present and in relation to how enjoying the feast-offerings pleases and magnetizes the ḍākinīs of the sacred places and lands. You can also apply this to the visualization for the approach phase.
Starting with "Jālandhara…", the first set of eight belongs to the wheel of mind, in which the deities are blue in colour. The second set belongs to the wheel of speech, and these deities are red. The third set belongs to the wheel of the body, and these deities are white. All the heroic ones of these three sets have one face and four hands, the upper two holding a vajra and bell, the right lower hand holding a ḍāmaru and the left a khaṭvāṅga. They have a topknot and a shawl. The yoginīs have one face and two hands, in which they hold a knife and a skull-cup, and their hair hangs loose. All of them have three eyes and wear bone ornaments. "Heroic ones and yoginīs" refers to the twenty-four ḍākinīs with their consorts. "Ḍākas and ḍākinīs" refers to their retinue. "Your topknots" describes the heroic ones and "Your long tresses" the ḍākinīs. This is explained in the [Raṭik] commentary. It is important to have an elaborate explanation of the great sacred places and the heroic ones and yoginīs, but this should be learned from the [Raṭik] commentary and Cakrasaṃvara cycle, so I shall not write more here.
It is not specified to whom the covenant is proclaimed, but you should visualize the protectors of the Heart-Essence, especially those of this practice text, in the outer environment, like billowing clouds. As for the history, it is said:
I am the offspring of the awareness-holders. You are the family of those gods and demons.
You are thus connected as friends, and entrust the activities.
At the end of the offering to the Tenma Goddesses the text says "ma ma hriṃ hriṃ..." which is similar to the Assembly of Awareness Holders and is explained in the [Raṭik] commentary.
Before that, regarding the ritual for the remainder offering, it used to be that while reciting "peṃ", you would perform the blazing mudrā with a turn in front of your forehead. Now that is no longer done, however, which must indicate some error in the texts or a fault in the custom.
The Horse Dance
Hayagrīva's armies emanate from the khaṭvāṅga of Vajravārāhī. Visualize them singing and dancing. This is also said in the [Raṭik] commentary.
I think the rest of the text follows the usual Secret [Mantra] tradition and can also be understood from what has been explained already, so I shall not elaborate further.
I, Jigme Tenpe Nyima, arranged this text, Lamp That Illuminates the Excellent Path of Great Bliss: A Guide to the Practice Text of the Female Awareness-Holder, the Queen of Great Bliss, as a reminder for myself and others and as a basis for further investigation. The scribe was Chökyi Drakpa. May all be virtuous and auspicious! Do not teach this to those who have not received the highest empowerment. Sarva maṅgalaṃ!
| Translated by Han Kop under the guidance of Tulku Dawa Zangpo of Chorten Dodrupchen Monastery and edited by Libby Snape, for the Longchen Nyingtik Project, 2022. With many thanks to Khenpo Sonam Tsewang from Namdroling for his clarifications, to Philip Richman and Stefan Mang for their suggestions, and to Jiang Nan and Aron Csondes for their support.
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The Tibetan term zindri (zin bris) literally means notes or memoranda. Here, since this text is more comprehensive than some examples of the genre, we have here followed the Padmakara Translation Group and translated the term as "guide". ↩
The Tibetan phrase rigdzin yumka (rig 'dzin yum ka) is particularly difficult to translate into English. Rigdzin was originally used as the translation of the Sanskrit vidyādhara, which could refer to a winged spirit with magical powers or to a practitioner who has gained magical abilities through accomplishment in tantric practice. In Tibet, the term came to refer to an accomplished practitioner of the Great Perfection, who is able to maintain (hold or uphold) the state of rigpa or awareness. This latter sense is most applicable in modern Nyingma literature. Although the Tibetan term rigdzin can refer to males or females, the Sanskrit term vidyādhara is masculine and would need to be declined as vidyādharī in its feminine form. This might prove confusing for a non-specialist reader. For these reasons, we have chosen to render the term here as "awareness-holder". The term Yumka is in some cases perhaps better left untranslated. (It appears as either yum ka or yum bka' in Tibetan sources. In the Derge edition of Jigme Linga's collected writings, the spelling ka is more prevalent, but bka' occurs as well. In the Tengyur Pedurma, yum ka is not found but yum bka' occurs a couple of times in reference to bde mchog yum bka' so bdun.) In some cases, but particularly here in tandem with the word rigdzin, it simply denotes a female practice, as distinct from the male practice or Yabka. In Contemplations on the Female Practice (yum ka'i dmigs skor), for example, our author, the Third Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima (rdo grub chen 'jigs med bstan pa'i nyi ma, 1865–1926) refers to the Rigdzin Düpa practice of the Longchen Nyingtik cycle as the male practice (yab ka) and the Queen of Great Bliss as its female practice (yum ka). The very first line of the text says tshe ring ma rig 'dzin yab ka yum ka gang dang sbrel yang. It is possible that the term originated as a name for the Vajrayoginī practices in which Vajrayoginī 'separated' from Cakrasaṃvara to become a deity of her own. ↩
Tantra of the Arising of Śaṃvara (Śaṃvarodaya-tantra, bde mchog 'byung ba'i rgyud), Kangyur Pedurma, Vol. 78, Chapter 2, 777. ↩
An Indian measure of distance. The exact value is disputed and varies from 1 to 40 km. ↩
8th–9th centuries ↩
Skt. vidyādhara, Tib. rig 'dzin ↩
Skt. sthāvarā, Tib. brtan ma ↩
Tib. ma mo ↩
Tashi Kyidren was one of the five principal consorts of Padmasambhava. She was from the area that is now called Bhutan. ↩
Shelkar Dorje Tso was another of Padmasambhava's consorts. ↩
Yeshe Tsogyal was King Tri Songdetsen's consort before she was given to Padmasambhava as a maṇḍala offering during an empowerment. It is said that she specialized in the practice of Vajrakīla, experienced visions of the deity and gained accomplishment. ↩
mkhar chen ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Inner Female Practice of the Ḍākinī, A Treasure Vase Containing the Essence of Great Bliss (yum ka mkha' 'gro'i nang sgrub bde chen snying po'i gter bum), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 1, 356. ↩
rat+na gling pa, 1403–1478 ↩
Ratna Lingpa, Three Cycles of Tsogyal (mtsho rgyal skor gsum), rin chen gter mdzod chen mo. ↩
rdo rje thogs med. I.e., the Fifth Dalai Lama (1617–1682). This was one of the names he was given when receiving Nyingma empowerments. ↩
Tib. Sangwa Gyachen, gsang ba rgya can. ↩
bka gdams legs bam rin po che. Cyrus Stearns explains "The Kadam Volumes (Bka ' gdams glegs bam) are a two-volume collection of the fundamental instructions of the Kadampa tradition. The ﬁrst volume, known as the Father's Dharma (pha chos), mainly contains the questions of Dromtön, founder of the Kadampa tradition, and his teacher Atiśa's (982−1054) replies. The second volume, known as the Son's Dharma (bu chos) includes the questions of Ngok Lekpé Sherab (rngog legs pa'i shes rab) and Kutön Tsöndru Yungdrung (khu ston brtson 'grus g.yung drung, 1011−75), and Atiśa's replies. See Losang Trinlé, Clarification of Knowledge, 164, 167−68." With thanks to Ryan Damron for pointing this out. Cyrus Stearns, King of the Empty Plain: The Tibetan Iron-Bridge Builder Tangtong Gyalpo, 552, footnote 821. A complete translation of the Kadam Volumes has been made by Thupten Jinpa. However I have not been able to find the section to which Jigme Tenpe Nyima refers. Thupten Jinpa, trans., The Book of Kadam: The Core Texts. ↩
I.e., Padmasambhava. ↩
gsang ba ye shes ↩
Tib. kun dga' mo and nyi zla dngos grub. She is said to have granted empowerment to Padmasambhava and is commonly known as Ḍākinī Karmendrāṇī (mkha ' 'gro ma las kyi dbang mo). See Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, The Life and Liberation of Padmākara, the Second Buddha, from A Precious Garland of Lapis Lazuli ↩
The texts of the Sangwa Gyachen are highly restricted and unavailable on BDRC. ↩
The Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom or Lama Gongdü (bla ma dgongs 'dus) was revealed by Sangye Lingpa (sangs rgyas gling pa, 1340–1396). ↩
Longchenpa (klong chen pa), also known as Longchen Rabjam (klong chen rab 'byams), or Drimé Özer (dri med 'od zer, 1308–1364) ↩
mkha' 'gro yang thig ↩
Longchenpa, A Prayer of The Natural Freedom of the Nature of Mind (sems nyid rang grol gyi gsol 'debs), Longchenpa collected works , Vol. 7, 22. For an English translation, see Erik Pema Kunsang, trans., Wellsprings of the Great Perfection, 27–32. ↩
Longchenpa, A Prayer of The Natural Freedom of the Nature of Mind (sems nyid rang grol gyi gsol 'debs), Longchenpa collected works, Vol. 22, 409. ↩
lha mo yi ge drug ma, the consort of Avalokiteśvara. The six-syllable mantra is oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ. ↩
Root Tantra of Mañjuśrī (Mañjuśrī-mūla-tantra, 'jam dpal rtsa rgyud), Kangyur Pedurma, Vol. 88, 470. The meaning of the Tibetan translation of this line is not immediately obvious. Thanks to Ryan Damron for providing the translation from 84000.co based on the Sanskrit, through which the Tibetan is better understood. ↩
gnyis med rnam rgyal ↩
Candrakīrti, Illuminating Lamp (Pradīpoddyotana-nāma-ṭīkā, sgron ma gsal bar byed pa zhes bya ba'i rgya cher bshad pa), Kangyur Pedurma, Vol. 15, 848. ↩
Another name for Māyādevī, mother of Buddha Śākyamuni. ↩
I have not been able to find this section. ↩
'Mine' is in a feminine form here, making it clear that Yeshe Tsogyal herself is speaking. I have not been able to find the quote in Ratna Lingpa's works, yet Dilgo Khyentse (dil mgo mkhyen brtse, 1910–1991) provides the quotation in full. Dilgo Khyentse Tashi Paljor, gsang chen snga 'gyur rdo rje theg pa'i gsung rab zab mo nye brgyud kyi chos sde rin chen gter mdzod chen po'i bzhugs byang dkar chag gsal bar bkod pa 'od gsal rdo rje snying po'i gru gzings, rin chen gter mdzod chen mo, Vol. 66, 591-592. ↩
Nyang Ral Nyima Özer (nyang ral nyi ma 'od zer, 1124–1192) ↩
'jigs med gling pa, 1730–1798 ↩
Longchenpa, Precious Visions of the Net of Light (mthong snang rin po che 'od kyi dra ba), Longchenpa collected works (krung go'i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang / dpal brtsegs/ mes po'i shul bzhag, 2009), Vol. 8, 181–220. ↩
smin gling gter chen 'gyur med rdo rje (1646–1714) ↩
I have been unable to find this section. ↩
Normally "retainer" (gzungs ma) would be translated as consort, yet here I have rendered it more literally, since to do otherwise would mean sacrificing the pun. Pema Karpo (kun mkhyen pad+ma dkar po, 1527–1592) says in his rgyud sde spyi'i rnam gzhag mkhas pa'i yid 'phrog: gzungs dkyil ni lha mo gzungs ma rnams phyag mtshan gyi ngo bor byas nas dkyil 'khor du bkod. Pema Karpo, gsung 'bum/_pad+ma dkar po, Vol. 11, 261–344. ↩
sgyu 'phrul rgyas pa ↩
Jigme Tenpe Nyima gives the full citation in his Key to the Treasury: The Teacher said, "This essence of my heart / Should be propagated in the ten directions / And entrusted to the consorts.". See Jigme Tenpe Nyima, Key to the Precious Treasury, 327; Elsewhere he says that it is explained in the final chapter of the dgongs rgyan. Jigme Tenpe Nyima, sgyu 'phrul drwa ba'i rgyud kyi spyi don ngag 'gros su bkod pa, gsung 'bum/_'jigs med bstan pa'i nyi ma, Vol. 3, 313; See the gsang snying 'grel pa gsang bdag dgongs rgyan by Lochen Dharmashrī (lo chen d+harma shrI, 1654–1717): Lochen Dharmashrī, gsung 'bum/_d+harma shrI, Vol. 8, 332ab. ↩
bka' babs ↩
Skt. dhāraṇī ↩
This refers to King Tri Songdetsen and the twenty-five disciples. ↩
Guru Chökyi Wangchuk (gu ru chos kyi dbang phyug, 1212–1270). ↩
Tib. [Lama] Sangdü, [bla ma] gsang 'dus ↩
rdo rje gling pa, 1346–1405. ↩
bka' 'dus ↩
The Utterly Profound Wisdom or Gongpa Yangzab (dgongs pa yang zab) revealed by Rinchen Püntsok Chökyi Gyalpo (rin chen phun tshogs chos kyi rgyal po, 1509–1557), the 17th throne-holder of Drikung Monastery. ↩
Tib. Droltik (grol thig), revealed by Trengpo Tertön Sherab Özer ('phreng po gter ston shes rab 'od zer, 1518–1572/84). ↩
The words between parentheses are annotations, which appear in smaller font in the Tibetan text. ↩
sku tshab. Literally 'representative' — a statue made in the likeness of a buddha, yidam or great master. ↩
mthing 'od 'bar ma ↩
The text mentions: "Yeshe Tsogyal is a manifestation of the goddess Tārā."(mtsho rgyal ma gcig 'dug pa 'di:/ lha mo sgrol ma'i sprul pa yin) Guru Chökyi Wangchuk, The Practice of Yeshe Tsogyal, the Single Crown Ornament of the Ḍākinīs (d+hA ki gtsug gi rgyan gcig ye shes mtsho rgyal gyi sgrub pa), rin chen gter mdzod chen mo, Vol. 34, 555. ↩
Skt. Krodhakālī, Tib. khros ma nag mo ↩
chos rje gling pa, 1682–1720/1725 ↩
Possibly Chöje Lingpa, rje btsun khros ma'i sgrub mchod cha lag dang bcas pa mkha' spyod pad+ma 'od du bgrod byed mchog gi myur lam, rin chen gter mdzod chen mo, Vol. 36, 89–130. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Inner Female Practice of the Ḍākinī, A Treasure Vase Containing the Essence of Great Bliss (yum ka mkha' 'gro'i nang sgrub bde chen snying po'i gter bum), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 1, 356. ↩
The words between the following three brackets are notes written in small font in the Tibetan text. ↩
chog gcig gis (rnal 'byor ma'i) byin rlabs dang / (sgrol ma'i) rjes gnang (phag mo'i) dbang bskur gsum rdzogs pa/ See Jigme Lingpa, A Ritual for the Blessing Empowerment of the Female Practice (yum ka'i byin rlabs dbang gi cho ga), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 1, 292. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Purifying Treasure Vase: An Arrangement for the Ritual of Guiding the Dead Which Purifies Obscurations, the Fifteenth Point of the Collection of Activities of the Ḍākinī (mkha' 'gro'i las tshogs bco lnga pa sgrib sbyong gnas lung gi cho ga bsgrigs dag byed gter bum), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol.1, 517. ↩
phag mo dmar nag ↩
Khandro Nyingtik (mkha' 'gro snying thig) ↩
sha 'ug gter byon. This refers to Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje (smin gling gter chen 'gyur med rdo rje) alias Terdak Lingpa (gter bdag gling pa, 1646–1714) — the great tertön and founder of Mindroling Monastery. ↩
The citation is also found in Jigme Tenpe Nyima, sgrub chen zin bris, gsung 'bum/_'jigs med bstan pa'i nyi ma, Vol. 5, 18, where he confirms that the quotation is from Minling Terchen Gyurme Dorje, zab lam bde gshegs kun 'dus las: 'chi med tshe yi sgrub pa'i lo rgyus, rin chen gter mdzod chen mo, Vol. 24, 484. ↩
Tib. Kagye (bka' brgyad). ↩
Possibly Buddhaguhya's (sangs rgyas gsang ba, mid 8th cent. – late 8th cent.) Introduction to the Meaning of Tantra (Tantrārthāvatāra, rgyud kyi don la 'jug pa) ↩
Tib. Shyitro Ngensong Jongwa (zhi khro ngan sbyong ba) ↩
Tib. Palchen Düpa (dpal chen 'dus pa) ↩
Tib. chos 'byung. Literally the 'source of phenomena'. This is a technical term referring to a shape like two interlocking triangles (similar to the Star of David), which is commonly depicted and employed within Vajrayāna rituals. ↩
This line does not occur in the empowerment treasure text, but does occur in the self-initiation Illuminating the Meaning of Empowerment: A Self-initiation for the Female Practice of the Ḍākinī ↩
gdan gsum lha'i dkyil 'khor. Often referred to as the maṇḍala of the three seats of completeness (gdan gsum tshang ba'i dkyil 'khor). The three seats are 1) aggregates and elements, where the tathāgatas reside, 2) the sensory fields, where the male and female bodhisattvas reside, and 3) the limbs, where the male and female wrathful deities reside. ↩
Jamgön Kongtrul's empowerment manual says: "Imagine that this ambrosia is the actual bodhicitta of the master and his consort, and that you receive it from the secret space of the consort. Tasting it [with your tongue], it passes through your throat and fills your channels and elements with bliss." Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Taye, Shower of the Vital Essences of Great Bliss, An Empowerment Ritual for the Female Practice of the Queen of Great Bliss, from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse ↩
Skt. amṛta, Tib. dütsi (bdud rtsi), sometimes translated as nectar. ↩
Skt vīra, Tib. dpa' bo. ↩
Tib. dam tshig, the sacred pledges that are taken in the tantric tradition after an empowerment. ↩
I.e., the 25th day of the lunar calendar, often called 'ḍākinī day'. ↩
See, for example, Clarifications on the Ten Actions of Vārāhī (phag mo las bcu'i gsal byed) by Jetsün Drakpa Gyaltsen (rje btsun grags pa rgyal mtshan, 1147–1216). ↩
Skt. bali ↩
Tib. Rigdzin Düpa. Jigme Lingpa, The Vidyādhara Assembly, the Inner Practice of the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse ↩
Alias Ngawang Tendzin Dorje (ngag dbang bstan 'dzin rdo rje, 18th–19th century) ↩
Ratön Ngawang Tendzin Dorje, Illuminating the Meaning of Tantra, A Commentary on the Practice Text of the Ḍākinī Queen of Great Bliss, from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse. This text is mostly referred to as "Ratik", meaning the ṭīkā, or commentary, of the teacher from Ra. ↩
Possibly the First Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Trinle Özer ('jigs med phrin las 'od zer, 1745–1821). ↩
All editions have 'a', but following the Klong chen snying thig 'don cha (BDRC W2KG210383), we are taking 'āḥ' to be correct. ↩
I.e., the palace and the deities. ↩
chos nyid bar do ↩
Jigme Lingpa, in his auto-commentary to The Treasury of Precious Qualities, quotes ācārya Vāgīśvara[kīrti] (slob dpon ngag gi dbang phyug): 1. complete enjoyment (longs spyod rdzogs), 2. union (kha sbyor), 3. great bliss (bde ba chen po), 4. absence of self-nature (rang bzhin med pa), 5. full presence of compassion (snying rjes yongs su gang ba), 6. being uninterrupted (rgyun mi chad pa) and 7. being unceasing ('gog pa med pa). Jigme Lingpa, The Chariot of Omniscience: A Vast Commentary on the Resultant Vehicle, from the Treasury of Precious Qualities (yon tan rin po che'i mdzod las/ 'bras bu'i theg pa'i rgya cher 'grel rnam mkhyen shing rta), Derge edition (9 vols)., The Collected Works of 'Jigs-med-gliṅ-pa Raṅ-byuṅ-rdo-rje Mkhyen-brtse'i 'od-zer, Vol. 2, 307. ↩
I.e., Jigme Lingpa. ↩
Skt. toraṇa, Wyl. rta babs. A decorative tympanum or archway found in Indian architecture. Sometimes it is found above the doors, in which case it is very similar to a tympanum. In other cases, however, as with the torana of the Sanchi stūpa, it is more like an arc de triomphe. The Tibetans have translated the term as tabab (rta babs), literally a place for descending from a horse. ↩
'khyud 'gram logs ↩
The words between brackets are notes written in smaller characters in the Tibetan text. Some texts have "light red" (dmar skya), but Tulku Dawa says that this is most likely a typographical error for grey (dkar skya). ↩
Tib. tiklé nyakchik (thig le nyag gcig) ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Chariot of Omniscience: A Vast Commentary on the Resultant Vehicle, from the Treasury of Precious Qualities (yon tan rin po che'i mdzod las/ 'bras bu'i theg pa'i rgya cher 'grel rnam mkhyen shing rta) ↩
ldog pa ↩
Skt. Akaniṣṭha ↩
The Tibetan says: phyag g.yas 'khor 'das ltag pa sprad kyang de kho na nyid kyi khong sbubs gcig tu bsres pa'i thod pa'i DA ma ru 'khrol ba ste ↩
Nyang Ral Nyima Özer, nyang gter mkha' 'gro chen mor grags pa phag mo zhal gnyis ma'i sgrub thabs dang dbang chog, rin chen gter mdzod chen mo, Vol. 61: 332. Note that the original reads: thod pa ni bde ba chen po skyong ba’o/ ↩
Jigme Lingpa, Bountiful Light Rays from the Mirror of Wisdom and Love: A Detailed Commentary on the Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom (dgongs 'dus rnam bshad mkhyen brtse'i me long 'od zer brgya pa), Derge edition (9 vols), The Collected Works of 'Jigs-med-gliṅ-pa Raṅ-byuṅ-rdo-rje Mkhyen-brtse'i 'od-zer, Vol. 4, 101. The quotation can be found in the Emergence from Sampuṭa Tantra: thams cad 'gugs par byed par 'gyur / gal te 'ong bar ma gyur na / de tshe mkha' 'gro ma kun 'chi / nges pa nyid du 'grub 'gyur bas / ngas gsungs pa la the tshom med. Emergence from Sampuṭa, being the Foundation of All Tantras, A Great Sovereign Compendium (Saṃpuṭodbhava-sarva-tantra-nidāna-mahā-kalpa-rājaḥ, yang dag par sbyor ba zhes bya ba'i rgyud chen po), Kangyur Pedurma. ↩
This sentence is slightly puzzling. Tulku Dawa Rinpoche (personal communication, January 2020) says that when we look at how the central eye is drawn, it's more like her left eye raised on its side, since the eyebrow is on her right side. ↩
There might be a typographical error here, confusing the right and left eyes. Although all available root texts, except for the Lhasa edition (which omits the notes related to the left and right eyes), have minor annotations that accord with Jigme Tenpe Nyima's explanation, with the saṃbhogakāya eye on the left and the nirmāṇakāya eye on the right, the Raṭik (the earliest and most authoritative commentary), Gönpo Tseten’s (mgon po tshe brtan, 1906–1991) Beautiful Garland of White Lotus Flowers (pad dkar phreng mdzes) commentary, and Tulku Thondup's English translation of the main practice, place the saṃbhogakāya eye on the right. Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche has also explained that the saṃbhogakāya eye is the right eye (oral teaching, Lerab Ling, France, May 2009). When presented with this discrepancy Tulku Dawa Zangpo (personal communication, January 2020) said that both explanations are fine. ↩
This citation can be found in the Innermost Essence of Profundity (zab mo yang tig), in Longchenpa, Clarifications on the Ground, Path, and Fruition (gzhi lam 'bras bu'i gnas gsal ba), Longchenpa collected works, Vol.11, 213. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, "The Self-Initiation Empowerment's Ocean of Significance, from the Oceanic Collected Teachings" (bka' 'dus rgya mtsho las/ bdag 'jug dbang don rgya mtsho), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 2, 61. ↩
Tulku Dawa (personal communication, January 2020) explains that, just as if the trunk of a tree rots, the tree will deteriorate, if our life-force is damaged or impure, this puts us in danger. ↩
Tib. Chemchok (che mchog) ↩
The text only says bu dza o a, but the section of Jigme Lingpa's Chariot of Omniscience referred to in the following lines makes clear that these syllables correspond (almost exactly) to the first syllables of the first four of the twenty-four sacred places. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Chariot of Omniscience: A Vast Commentary on the Resultant Vehicle, from the Treasury of Precious Qualities (yon tan rin po che'i mdzod las/ 'bras bu'i theg pa'i rgya cher 'grel rnam mkhyen shing rta), Derge edition (9 vols)., The Collected Works of 'Jigs-med-gliṅ-pa Raṅ-byuṅ-rdo-rje Mkhyen-brtse'i 'od-zer, Vol. 2, 320. ↩
To clarify this, both Tulku Dawa Rinpoche and Khenpo Sonam Tsewang (Namdroling) point out (oral communication, 19 August 2020) that the discussion here concerns the two traditions of the generation phase. First there is the common generation phase of Highest Yoga tantra, which is gradual. Second, there is the special approach of the Nyingma tradition where the generation phase and completion phase are practiced in union. Khenpo Sonam Tsewang points out that it is important to recall the following section here: "This generation phase ritual assumes the perspective of practitioners of the very highest capacity. Its way of bringing birth, death and the bardos into the three kāyas is more profound than other generation phases of Unexcelled [Yoga Tantras], and, unlike those other practices, it does not involve gradual meditation. Here the meditation is based on mere recollection of how the essence of the great emptiness of primordial purity abides. Then, instantly, one enters its self-radiance or clarity and vividness, which is the spontaneously perfect wheel of the support and the supported, like the natural reflection of planets and stars in the clear surface of a lake." ↩
The bka' brgyad bde gshegs 'dus pa, revealed by Nyang Ral Nyima Özer. ↩
This seems to be a very literal translation of the Sanskrit saptaparṇa, which Monier Williams identifies as the Alstonia Scholaris tree. ↩
It is also possible to interpret 'resplendent moon' as a synonym for a white flower, possibly the white utpala/lily. ↩
Skt. jñānasattva ↩
Nyang Ral Nyima Özer, Mirror of the Heart: A Commentary of the Ḍākinī's Oral Lineage on the Secret Practice of the Black Wrathful Lady (khros ma nag mo'i gsang sgrub mkha' 'gro'i snyan rgyud kyi 'grel pa snying gi me long) ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Application of Mindfulness: A Commentary on the Uncommon Great Perfection Preliminary Practices of the Heart-Essence of the Great Expanse (rdzogs pa chen po klong chen snying tig gi thun mong ma yin pa'i sngon 'gro'i khrid yig dran pa nyer gzhag), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, 294–95; "Visualizing yourself in this manner makes you a suitable vessel for empowerment, arouses the wisdom of bliss-emptiness, and creates the auspicious link of being accepted as a student." Jigme Lingpa, Steps to the Great Perfection: The Mind-Training Tradition of the Dzogchen Masters, 75. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, pad+ma'i zhal gdams grol thig dgongs pa rang grol gyi dbang gi cho ga gnad rnam par phye ba mkhyen brtse'i dgongs rgyan, Derge edition (9 vols)., The Collected Works of 'Jigs-med-gliṅ-pa Raṅ-byuṅ-rdo-rje Mkhyen-brtse'i 'od-zer , Vol. 5, 265-428. I have not been able to identify the exact section. ↩
See Jigme Lingpa, The Chariot of Omniscience: A Vast Commentary on the Resultant Vehicle, from the Treasury of Precious Qualities (yon tan rin po che'i mdzod las/ 'bras bu'i theg pa'i rgya cher 'grel rnam mkhyen shing rta), Derge edition (9 vols)., The Collected Works of 'Jigs-med-gliṅ-pa Raṅ-byuṅ-rdo-rje Mkhyen-brtse'i 'od-zer, Vol. 2, 237–238. ↩
The Great Secret Yogatantra, the Tip of the Vajra (vajraśekharamahāguhyayogatantra, gsang ba rnal 'byor chen po'i rgyud rdo rje rtse mo), Kangyur Pedurma, Vol. 84, 466. ↩
Sakya Paṇḍita Kunga Gyaltsen (sa skya paN+Di ta kun dga' rgyal mtshan, 1182–1251) gives various explanations of blazing ('bar ba), wavering (g.yo ba) and stabilizing (brtan pa). "Blazing, wavering and stabilizing are transformations of the body, speech and mind" and "Blazing: from the navel fire blazes. Wavering: the bodhicitta drips from the crown. Stabilizing: The blazing and dripping dissolves into the central channel." ' bar g.yo brtan pa ni lus ngag yig gsum gyi rnam 'gyur ro and 'bar ba ni lte ba nas me 'bar ba / g.yo ba ni spyi gtsug nas byang chub kyi sems 'dzag pa / brtan pa ni 'bar 'dzag dbu mar thim pa Sakya Paṇḍita Kunga Gyaltsen, sgrub pa lung sbyin, The Collected Works of the Five Sakya Patriarchs, Vol. 12, 215-221. ↩
Almost certainly Jigme Tenpe Nyima's guru, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo ('jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse'i dbang po, 1820–1892) ↩
The Great Secret Yogatantra, the Tip of the Vajra (vajraśekharamahāguhyayogatantra, gsang ba rnal 'byor chen po'i rgyud rdo rje rtse mo), Vol. 84, 466. ↩
In this text the mantra is combined in the following manner: oṃ padmo-yoginī tāre tuttāre ture āyurdade bhrūṃ svāhā. Jigme Lingpa, Turning Back the Summons of the Ḍākinīs: The Marvellous Appearance (mkha' 'gro'i bsun zlog ngo mtshar snang ba), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 1, 417-418. ↩
The Husk Containing Noble Deeds: The Life and Liberation of Kyentsé Özer, Jigme Lingpa, Mkhyen brtse'i 'od zer gyi rnam thar legs byas yongs 'du'i snye ma, 200. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, Awesome Ones’ Assembly, the Heart Practice of the Awareness-Holders. The second line differs slightly in the rtsa pod, which has zhing khams in place of snang ba. ↩
Jigme Tenpé Nyima refers to the prayer, as is customary in Tibetan, by the first (Tibetan) syllables dngos grub rgya mtsho shortened as dngos rgyam, meaning "ocean of accomplishments". Thanks to Lama Sherab Tharchin of Dodrupchen Monastery for pointing this out. The line referred to reads: "Perfecting the practice of anuyoga, may all concepts of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa be purified into the state of indivisible bliss and emptiness, and may I experience the pure realm of Akaniṣṭha!" Jigme Lingpa, Entering the City of Omniscience: An Aspiration Prayer for Actualizing Words of Truth ↩
rnal 'byor ma rnams dang mjal ba/ / bsod nams dbang gis rgya lam thob/ /de rnams dang byas dga' chen po/ / myangs pas chi ba bslu ba yin/ /de phyir rnal 'byor ma rnams kyi/ / mchod pa rnal 'byor pa yis bya/ / rdo rje 'chang chen go 'phang ni/ / de rnams mnyes pas thob par 'gyur/ / Ocean of Ḍākas, a Yoginītantra (ḍākarṇava-mahā-yoginī-tantra-rāja, mkha' 'gro rgya mtsho rnal 'byor ma'i rgyud), Kangyur Pedurma, 477. ↩
In his empowerment manual Jigme Tenpe Nyima also quotes the jo mo'i byin rlabs zung 'jug rnam rol, adding that it belongs to the pure visions of the Fifth Dalai Lama, but I have not been able to locate it among his pure visions. Jigme Tenpe Nyima, A Heap of Pearls: An Empowerment for the Female Awareness-Holder (rig 'dzin yum ka'i dbang gi mthams sbyor mu tig gi chun po), Vol. 5, 5. ↩
rig 'dzin pad+ma 'phrin las (1641–1717), who was a student of the Fifth Dalai Lama. ↩
Second segment, chapter 2. "Vajragarbha said: How can the yogī who is one in union with Nairātmyā clearly understand the meaning of 'mudrā', for with mudrā and mudrā, that is, two mudrās, how can the Mudrā Accomplishment come about?" G. W. Farrow, The Concealed Essence of the Hevajra Tantra: With the Commentary Yogaratnamālā, 159–60. ↩
Tib. nye rgyu'i spyod pa ↩
The commentary says: "The Peaceful and Wrathful Deities are generated in the open spaces of the chest and the heart; they are merely the clarity and radiance of primordial wisdom" (zhi khro ni brang dang snying gi bar khyams su ye shes kyi gsal mdangs tsam du bskyed pa yin te) Jigme Lingpa, Bountiful Light Rays from the Mirror of Wisdom and Love: A Detailed Commentary on the Embodiment of the Guru's Wisdom (dgongs 'dus rnam bshad mkhyen brtse'i me long 'od zer brgya pa), Derge edition (9 vols), The Collected Works of 'Jigs-med-gliṅ-pa Raṅ-byuṅ-rdo-rje Mkhyen-brtse'i 'od-zer, Vol. 4, 216. ↩
This is clarified in Jigme Lingpa, "A Supplementary Investigation for the Ritual of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities Which Empties the Lower Realms (zhi khro ngan song sbyong ba la brten pa'i zhib dpyod lhan thabs)" in klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol 2, 559–64. ↩
Here Tulku Dawa comments (personal communication, 20 August 2020) that one might object, saying that not all the mantras of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities are present in this practice. But, according to Tenpe Nyima, this is not a problem, since the ḍākinī Queen of Great Bliss and her mantra embody all the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (which are the deities of Emptying the Hells from their Very Depths). ↩
Tib. Do Tsokchen Düpa (mdo tshogs chen 'dus pa) ↩
Khenpo Sonam Tsewang says (personal communication, August 2020) that these are possibly the three maṇḍalas of anuyoga: 1) the maṇḍala of primordial suchness (ye ji bzhin pa'i dkyil 'khor), 2) the maṇḍala of the spontaneously perfect nature (rang bzhin lhun grub kyi dkyil 'khor), 3) the maṇḍala of awakened mind (byang chub sems kyi dkyil 'khor) ↩
From the root ruj ↩
Root raj? ↩
Guhyagarbha Tantra, chapter 11. See Choying Tobden Dorje, The Complete Nyingma Tradition from Sutra to Tantra, Books 15 to 17: The Essential Tantras of Mahayoga, p. 434. ↩
Rinchen Püntsok Chökyi Gyalpo (rin chen phun tshogs chos kyi rgyal po, 1509–1557), the 17th throne-holder of Drikung Monastery. ↩
'phreng po gter ston shes rab 'od zer, 1518–1584. Reading 'phrang 'go as a variant of 'phreng po. ↩
This story is related in the latter’s biography: "At Zingpa Taggo Sherab Ozer wrote many short treatises clarifying the teachings of his own treasure, the Sphere of Liberation, and it was here that he apparently organized his treasure's teaching and obtained its full realization. Sources tell us that while he was performing the treasure's practice, he was again granted the vision of a ḍākinī who invited him to visit Padmasambhava's Pure Land, the Copper-Colored Mountain where he could receive the Guru's teachings. The ḍākinī gave him the flesh of a man who had been Brahman during seven lives. After some hesitation, he finally ate this reputed magical substance, and by its power he was able to fly in the sky and eventually reached the realm of Padmasambhava. There he met him in his form of great bliss, in union with his consort and he received directly from him empowerments and precepts. According to sources this vision lasted for one month. He was finally told by the ḍākinīs to remember his Tibetan disciples and act according to his former wishes as a bodhisattva. The vision ended like a dream." Marc Henri Deroche, Sherab Ozer. ↩
lce btsun chen po seng ge dbang phyug, 11th–12th century. ↩
The Husk Containing Noble Deeds: The Life and Liberation of Kyentsé Özer, Jigme Lingpa, mkhyen brtse'i 'od zer gyi rnam thar legs byas yongs 'du'i snye ma, 90. ↩
Tib. khyer so gsum ↩
One line seems to be missing compared to the Kangyur versions. I have followed the Kangyur and added that line. The Secret Tantra of Vajraḍāka (vajra-ḍāka-guhya-tantra, rdo rje mkha' 'gro gsang ba'i rgyud), Kangyur Pedurma, Vol. 78, 119. ↩
The Tantra of the Ornament of the Vajra Essence (vajrahṛdayālaṃkāratantra, rdo rje snying po rgyan gyi rgyud), Kangyur Pedurma, Vol. 82, 122. ↩
These numbers refer to the activities found in the inner practice, A Treasure Vase Containing the Essence of Great Bliss. ↩
I.e., the First Dodrupchen Jigme Trinlé Özer. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Inner Female Practice of the Ḍākinī, A Treasure Vase Containing the Essence of Great Bliss (yum ka mkha' 'gro'i nang sgrub bde chen snying po'i gter bum), Vol. 1, 358. Tulku Dawa (personal communication, January 2020) explains that many enlightened activities can be done, but here it is indicated that one should do a fire offering. ↩
Tulku Dawa Zangpo explains (personal communication, January 2020) that since the Adornment of Lord Nāgārjuna’s Wisdom Mind also lacks a fire offering, Jigme Tenpe Nyima says that it is therefore acceptable not to perform one. Jigme Lingpa, Adornment of Lord Nāgārjuna’s Wisdom Mind: The Fourfold Maṇḍala Offering to Tārā (klu dbang sgrol ma man+dala bzhi pa'i chog klu dbang dgongs rgyan), ↩
Tulku Dawa Zangpo explains (personal communication, January 2020) that the difference between the explanation in the Raṭik and the one put forth by Jigme Tenpe Nyima is that oṃ, āḥ and hūṃ are the substances themselves or that which transforms the the substances. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, The Principal Protectors of the Sacred Command and their Vajra Brothers and Sisters. Tib. Magön Chamdral (bka' srung ma mgon lcam dral), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 2, 626-627. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, Turning Back the Summons of the Ḍākinīs: The Marvellous Appearance (mkha' 'gro'i bsun zlog ngo mtshar snang ba), klong chen snying thig rtsa pod, Vol. 1, 418. ↩
On the half-nirmāṇakāya, Longchenpa's Finding Rest in the Nature of Mind says, "Although the Teachers manifest as the saṃbhogakāya, their retinues and all the rest differ from them. Therefore, all are not saṃbhogakāya but "half-nirmāṇakāya": the nirmāṇakāya luminous in character perceived by beings who are pure. Since they do not show themselves except for those residing on the grounds of realization, they are called nirmāṇakāya that is "half-appearing." Longchenpa, Finding Rest in the Nature of the Mind: The Trilogy of Rest, Volume 1. ↩
Jigme Lingpa, Turning Back the Summons of the Ḍākinīs: The Marvellous Appearance (mkha' 'gro'i bsun zlog ngo mtshar snang ba), Vol. 1, 420. ↩
The ultimate origin of these lines is unclear, but they can be found in Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, "bla ma'i thugs sgrub bar chad kun sel gyi phrin las 'bring po", rin chen gter mdzod chen mo, vol. 10, 269–298. ↩