A Blissful Path to Awakening
Literary Genres › Advice | Tibetan Masters › Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
A Blissful Path to Awakening
by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
I respectfully pay homage
At the lotus feet of the glorious guru Mañjuvajra.
Here, I shall set out the sole journey of every Buddha,
A brief account of the blissful path to awakening.
The marvellous support for anyone wishing to tread the path to liberation
Is a human life of freedom and advantage, as extremely rare and hard to find as an uḍumbara flower.
Now that you have one in your possession, use it;
For you will not come across such an opportunity again.
For it is impermanent, like morning dew drops on blades of grass.
Who knows which will come first: the rest of the day or a new tomorrow.
There are many ways to die, and the time of our passing isn’t fixed;
Reflect on how all composite things are subject to destruction.
On the day of our passing, when the death rattle is heard,
And Yama's attendants draw near,
We shall depart carrying the load of our former misdeeds and sin.
For the results of our actions, karma, must ripen upon us alone.
The immense sufferings of saṃsāra, torments in all their myriad forms,
Are extremely hard to bear, like being thrown into an inferno or frozen alive –
If the mere thought of them causes such terror, what will it be like to experience them directly?
Reflect in the same way on taking birth as an animal or, hungry spirit,
Or in other lower realms such as the surrounding and ephemeral hells.
Contaminated virtue may propel you to higher, more comfortable, realms,
But once that merit is spent, there is only ever a return to lower domains.
No matter where you might take birth within the six realms of the three-thousandfold world system,
There is not the slightest enduring comfort to be found.
So cultivate revulsion for such existence; renounce it.
With stable faith and respect as a basis,
Generate a yearning to be free and the firm conviction
That the guru and the three rare and sublime ones will protect you
From hindrances on the path to liberation in this and future lives, and take refuge in them.
Rid yourself of the mind which cherishes yourself at the expense of others,
And replace it with a good, kind-hearted altruism, free from any hypocrisy.
Stabilise the roots of love and compassion
And then meditate on bodhicitta as this is the very essence of the Dharma.
All faults come from wishing for your own joy, alone.
However, should you work for others’ welfare, your own wishes will be automatically fulfilled.
Holding a ‘superior’ view is a cause of falling into an inferior one
And will long delay you from supreme awakening.
So mindfully guard your physical, verbal and mental actions;
Make sure they are ever altruistic.
It's essential to make pure, wholesome prayers,
To have few wants, and to remain content.
Continually look within and examine your mind.
If you find any negative states, be rid of them quickly, as you would a poisonous snake.
Do not act in any way that brings harm to others,
Whether directly or indirectly—not even in your dreams.
The nature of the sugatagarbha is primordially pure
And present in all living beings.
Still, unless you remove the adventitious defilements which obscure it,
You'll not win the awakening which benefits both self and others.
It is imperative, therefore, that you apply yourself to the stages of the path
For gathering the two accumulations of method and wisdom and purifying obscurations.
In addition, respectfully rely upon a qualified spiritual friend
And receive the sublime, nectar-like Dharma.
Study alone will not bring liberation;
Also apply yourself to contemplating and meditating upon what you have learnt.
The sign of a genuine practitioner is a weakening of the destructive emotions,
And not hankering after current experiences is a sign of progress on the path.
If the opposite happens, then you'll become obsessed with this life,
Your emotions will take over, and you'll become a hypocrite—
Someone skilled in talking about the Dharma, but for whom liberation is far away.
We who are servants of the teachings of the Lord of Sages
Should not allow the vows we have taken to degenerate
And should learn a few wondrous books, such as The Way of the Bodhisattva,
Which will genuinely benefit the mind.
In particular, since you have accepted Guru Padmasambhava as your lord of the lineage,
You must receive the empowerments, transmissions and the pith instructions of the long (kama) and treasure (terma) lineages of secret mantra.
But simply receiving them isn’t enough; it is crucial that you exert yourself greatly
In the profound practices of approach and accomplishment for whichever of the Three Roots you feel closest to.
Having been born at this time, the end of the age,
It is extremely difficult to benefit others directly.
It is more productive to accomplish the teaching of Buddha through meditation,
To guard supremely your samaya commitment with the guru
From whom you received transmission of the stages of the Vajrayāna,
And to cultivate stable and unshakeable faith.
In the creation phase, there is no need to fixate on the appearance of the deity.
Instead, develop clarity, purity and stability—all appearing yet empty, like the moon's reflection in water.
In the completion phase, don’t fall under the influence of craving and desire,
But rather be rid of the concepts which grasp at autonomous characteristics.
Addiction to dualistic fixation must be allowed to liberate naturally.
In particular, the wisdom of the ground
Lies beyond all words, concepts and verbal expressions.
Understanding, experience and realisation must arise through the power of blessing.
Cultivate, therefore, the devotion of seeing the gracious guru
As the Buddha in person;
Supplicate, receive empowerment, merge your mind with wisdom, and rest.
The nature of awareness isn't tainted by thoughts of the three times.
Remain in that genuine state without spoiling it through alteration.
Natural awareness is, and has always been, pure and free of conceptual elaboration;
To recognise this unchanging primordial nature is the view.
To remain within, without distraction or grasping
And allow everything to settle of its own accord is the crucial point of meditation.
Carry awareness, which is the union of the view and meditation,
Onto the path, and whatever arises within that state is the conduct.
Let go of hopes and fears and ideas of dos and don’ts, and allow them to be naturally freed.
With application, you'll naturally render evident the three-kāya nature of primordial awareness.
There is no need to search for another method.
When everything is perfected in the primordial ground you will gain the result, seize the royal stronghold,
And dredge the three realms to their very depths!
Through the merit of writing this short piece of advice
Presenting a blissful path to awakening,
May all beings awaken from the slumber of confusion
And achieve the supremely expansive light of wisdom.
The supreme tulku of Degyal Rinpoche offered me a statue along with a request for such a poem. Accordingly, I, Jamyang Chökyi Lodrö, wrote this in Gangtok and offered it to him.
| Translated by Sean Price, 2020.
'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. "zhal gdams byang chub bde lam" in ’Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung ’bum. 12 vols. Bir: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. W1KG12986 Vol. 8: 304–309
'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. "zhal gdams byang chub bde lam" in gsung 'bum/_'jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros/ (dbu med/). TBRC W21813. 8 vols. Gangtok: Dzongsar Khyentse Labrang, 1981–1985. http://tbrc.org/link?RID=W21813 Vol. 2: 317–322
In these final two lines Jamyang Khyentse incorporates the two syllables sangs (awaken) and rgyas (expansive) which make up the Tibetan word for Buddha/enlightenment (sangs rgyas). ↩