Daily Chimé Pakmé Nyingtik Commentary
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
The Sweet Ambrosia of Immortality
Concise Instructions on the Generation and Completion Phases of the Single-Form Daily Practice of the Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality
by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Namo Guru Ārya Tārāyai!
Noble Lady, the merest recollection of whom
Brings the accomplishment of perfect longevity,
Blessed One, ‘Wish-fulfilling Wheel’,
Inseparable from the guru, grant auspiciousness!
Your sādhana, oral instructions from the great master of Oḍḍiyāna,
Is a treasure which arose from the dark casket of the profound expanse
Of the wisdom mind of Ösal Trulpe Dorje.
This heart essence of the Noble Lady, I shall now explain in stages.
Among the various kama and terma teachings on the immortal White Tārā, Wish-Fulfilling Wheel, bestower of longevity, which originate with accomplished ācāryas, here we are concerned with the essence of the wisdom mind of the master of Oḍḍiyāna, knower of the three times, a profound mind treasure of Pema Ösal Dongak Lingpa, the teaching of the Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality, which is a profound and vast dharma cycle. Here I shall explain in stages the instructions on the unelaborate Single-Form Daily Practice, which is the essence and distillation of the sādhana Light of Wisdom. This will consist of preliminaries, main part and concluding stages.
1. The Preliminaries
This section includes: 1. the preliminaries to the session and 2. the preliminaries to the commentary.
1. The Preliminaries to the Session
Sit on a comfortable seat in the seven-point posture of Vairocana. The crucial point of speech is to allow the circulating wind-energies to settle in their natural place. Expel any stale wind-energy from the right and left nostrils in turn, and then both at the same time, nine or three times. This will separate the pure and impure distillates of the wind-energies. Then, rest for a while. This preparation will make you a suitable vessel for meditative concentration.
In the space before you appears Buddha Amitābha, indivisible from your root guru. He is in nirmāṇakāya attire and his two hands rest in the posture of meditative equipoise, holding an alms-bowl filled with the ambrosia of immortality. He is seated upon a lotus and moon-disk seat. With ardent devotion and fervent longing, recite the following prayers at least three times:
Glorious root guru…
Essence of the buddhas, of past, present and future, precious guru, to you I pray:
Inspire me with your blessings;
Grant your blessings, so the extraordinary realization of the profound path is born in me;
Grant your blessings, so that I may, in this life, attain the immortal wisdom kāya!
At the end, imagine that the guru melts into light and dissolves into you. Leave your mind in a state free of grasping, clear yet empty. When thoughts suddenly arise, do not indulge them, but apply the relevant visualizations, as explained in this commentary. It is crucial that all the stages outlined below are preceded by what has been explained here.
2. The Preliminaries to the Commentary
This has two parts: 1. the common preliminaries, and 2. the uncommon preliminaries.
1. The Common Preliminaries
The profound treasure text Vajra Verses of Tārā says:
In an isolated and pleasant place
Inspire yourself with strong renunciation.
At first, exert yourself only in the methods that inspire renunciation and the wish to be liberated from saṃsāra. Contemplate the following: whether you are born in higher or lower realms, you will never escape the three kinds of suffering and not enjoy even so much as a hair’s breadth of happiness. Furthermore, if you are reborn in any of the three lower realms, you will experience unbearable suffering. If you cannot endure even a single day of intense heat, cold or hunger right now, how will you possibly cope with the suffering of the lower realms?
If you take birth in one of the three higher realms and are unable to remove ignorance, the cause of saṃsāra, you might for a while experience a tiny amount of defiled happiness. Yet that semblance of happiness is itself a cause for experiencing only suffering. When you realize how you will naturally sink lower and lower, you will be overcome with sadness. Throughout time without beginning until now, you have wandered in these realms. Yet still, the actions of your body, speech and mind are mostly negative and non-virtuous. It is certain, therefore, that when you die, you will immediately go to the lower realms. The Thus-Gone One has said that whatever actions you have done will not go to waste, and that you will never experience the karma of things you have not done. You are the sole recipient of the ripening of your actions, which cannot be transferred to someone else. As there can be no washing away or avoiding what you have done, you must experience the intense ripening of karma for a long time. As a result of some slight virtuous action, you might be reborn in the higher realms, yet even as a human, you will still experience the suffering of birth, old age, sickness and death, and if you are reborn as a god, you will experience the suffering of death, transmigration and fall. In the upper realms, you might remain in meditation for a long time, yet when that mind is exhausted you won’t escape the fall to lower states, which means you must experience continual suffering. From now on, therefore, adopt only virtuous actions and avoid what is unvirtuous.
You must immediately devote yourself to practice, right now! Postponing it until tomorrow or the day after will be to no avail. Your life is as impermanent as bubbles on water, as susceptible to momentary change as a candle in the wind, as transient and unstable as clouds in the sky, liable to disappear at any moment. The outer world, too, is always changing, with the arrival and passing of the four seasons. And beings within it, regardless of their status, lead uncertain lives. There is no escaping the fact that the time of death is uncertain, conditions that lead to death are uncertain, and everyone is certain to die. When you experience the suffering of death, your strength, wealth, family, looks or possessions, however excellent they might be, will be of no help at all: you alone must experience this suffering.
The suffering of fear in the intermediate state is inconceivable: undirected, you will have no control over where you might be reborn or where you might go. Even your cherished body must be left behind, and when you die and go on to the next world, your only refuge and protection will be the sacred Dharma. Not to practice but to procrastinate and fail to strive at this very moment to practice the divine, sacred Dharma would be to deceive yourself, foolishly, as if a mighty demon had entered your heart. So do not cheat yourself but look after your own best interests through the sacred and divine sun of Dharma.
The perfect support for practicing the divine Dharma is to have a body complete with the eighteen freedoms and advantages. If you possess such a support, it is because you have accumulated good deeds in the past. But be sure not to lose this valuable asset, for you will not find such an excellent support again, even among the gods, much less anywhere else, and even the supposedly great loss of a few prized possessions would be nothing in comparison.
The support of this body makes it possible to secure lasting happiness. Just look at the life stories of the buddhas and bodhisattvas and the scholars and adepts of the past. It could also lead to ruin in this life and the next. Look at the stories of wrongdoers reborn in the hell realms. This marks a crossroads, the point at which you could go up or down, so do not lose sight of what will work out well or badly, and do not fall prey to mistaken ideas or flawed advice.
Now that you have found the jewel of the freedoms and advantages, do not squander them, but strive with enormous effort, physically, verbally and mentally, in order to make the most of them. The focus of your energy should be the sacred Dharma, the nectar that dispels all the various faults of existence and quiescence, the great medicine that cures the chronic illness of saṃsāra. Yet this cannot be understood through your own ingenuity; you must rely on the condition of an authentic spiritual friend and serve him or her with the three means of gratification and by carrying out every command. With the devotion of seeing everything the teacher does as authentic, preserve the life-force of the path. Do not disregard what issues from the excellent vase of the teacher’s mouth, but with devoted application, continuous application, and strong, insatiable diligence, practice until your mind turns towards the Dharma, the Dharma progresses on the path, the path pacifies confusion, and deluded perceptions dawn as wisdom. Think: ‘O guru, grant me such ability. Three Jewels, care for me! Let me attain such ability! Inspire me with your blessings so that I become just so!’ With thoughts such as these, generate strong renunciation, like the flow of a river. When you arise from your session, dedicate the merit and carry out the activities of post-meditation, while never losing your heartfelt renunciation. This also applies to everything that follows.
2. The Uncommon Preliminaries
This has five parts: there are instructions on 1. taking refuge, 2. generating the mind set upon supreme awakening, 3. purifying the unfavourable circumstances of negative actions and obscurations, 4. gathering the favourable circumstances of the accumulations, 5. the blessings of guru yoga.
The Vajra Verses say:
Take refuge, strive to purify and increase,
Meditate on the blessing of guru yoga,
Receive the four empowerments, and blend mind and wisdom.
1. Taking Refuge
Imagine that your surroundings are like the blissful realm adorned with infinite clouds of excellent offerings. In the space before you is a multi-coloured, hundred-thousand-petalled lotus. At the height of its anther is a moon-disk seat, upon which your root guru sits in the form of the Venerable Noble Lady, without consort. Consider that she is the embodiment of all sources of refuge. In front of her, on a ground made of lapis lazuli, you and all sentient beings take refuge with body, speech and mind in unison. Consider, with one-pointed faith and devotion, that the guru’s body is the saṅgha, speech the sacred Dharma, and mind the Buddha, and recite the following from the main text:
Namo! Until we attain enlightenment, I and all sentient beings…
In each session, recite this a hundred or a thousand times, whichever you can manage, without letting your mind be distracted. At the end of the session, rays of light stream from the objects of refuge, striking you and all other sentient beings, purifying your negative actions, obscurations and habitual tendencies, and transporting everyone to a pure realm. The object of refuge, the Venerable Blessed One, melts into light, which has the nature of the ambrosia of immortality, and dissolves into you. Imagine that the blessings of her three secrets enter you. The nature of your mind has always been free from arising and ceasing; it is the primordially deathless natural state. This is the true nature of the Venerable Lady’s three secrets, and to maintain it is the absolute refuge of the way things abide.
2. Generating the Mind Set upon Supreme Awakening
Just as space is boundless in measure, there is no limit to the number of sentient beings. Each of these limitless beings, moreover, has been our own father and mother more times than could be measured even with the particles of the earth. Each time they were our father or mother, they helped us in infinite ways and protected us from incalculable harm. Although they showed us nothing but incredible kindness, their ignorance regarding the law of cause and effect means that their actions conflict with their deepest desires. Think to yourself: “I possess the necessary cause, a human body complete with the freedoms and advantages, as well as the necessary condition of having met a spiritual friend. As this has nothing to do with my own proverbial ‘masculine cunning’ or ‘feminine guile’, there could be no greater shame than to fail to free these beings, my very own parents, from the cage of their suffering. Thus, I shall do all that I can within this lifetime to liberate myself and all other beings from the ocean of existence. To this end, I shall exert myself in the stages of the path of the Great Vehicle, and especially the Vajrayāna, which brings liberation in a single lifetime and is so rarely encountered throughout the past, present and future, and specifically the quintessence of the infinite Mother Tantras of Unsurpassable Yoga, the practice of the Venerable Noble Lady.” With such a motivation, recite the following:
Hoḥ! Sentient beings are as countless as space is vast…
Begin by meditating on your mother from this life and training your mind. The way to train the mind is to generate love and compassion time and again. Until you are able to take your mother’s suffering upon yourself, it is vitally important that you continue to train your mind. Then, gradually, extend the meditation to include more and more sentient beings, until finally you are able to meditate on all sentient beings who are as limitless as space. Furthermore, it is crucial that your vow of aspirational bodhicitta remains extremely stable and that you conduct yourself according to the six transcendent perfections, the precepts of bodhicitta in action. When generating the mind set upon awakening, imagine that you receive it from your guru, visualized as the object of refuge, who acts as witness.
Ordinarily, you would not dissolve the objects of refuge right away, but first generate the mind set upon awakening and only then dissolve the field of refuge. Alternatively, you could visualize rays of light emanating from the body of your guru, who is in the form of the Venerable Lady; if you are feeling dull, consider that these rays dissolve at the point between your eyebrows; if you are feeling agitated, consider that they dissolve at your navel; and when your mind is balanced, consider that they dissolve into your heart; then, focus on the brilliant white essence in your head, at your navel or at your heart and practice calm abiding. Within that state, consider how all thoughts that grasp outwardly or cling inwardly are insubstantial, do not leave any trace behind, and are like an illusion or a dream. They lack true existence and transcend the extremes of singularity and plurality. To see them vividly as the great union of clarity and emptiness is to see reality itself. Settle, for as long as you can, in this meditative absorption of calm abiding and clear seeing. By meditating on intense clarity in short sessions, many times over, the duration of your sessions will gradually increase. This will happen automatically as the practice becomes more familiar. This advice comes from the pith instructions of The Profound Essence of Tārā.
3. Purifying the Unfavourable Circumstances of Negative Actions and Obscurations
Although the visualization and recitation of Vajrasattva as a means of purifying negative actions and obscurations is not included here, it may still be added based on other sources.
Although sentient beings are utterly pure by nature, they do not recognize this and wander in saṃsāra as a result. The principal obscurations, which are brought about due to ignorance, conceal reality but do not taint one’s basic nature and are only adventitious, which is why they may be purified. There are countless methods of purification, but the greatest form of activity among the skilful methods of Vajrayāna is to practise the yoga of the guru as Vajrasattva. This constitutes the power of support. Feeling intense regret and remorse for negative actions committed in the past constitutes the power of repentance. Purification through the flow of ambrosia and recitation of mantra constitutes the antidotal power. Resolving never to succumb to negative actions again in the future, even at the cost of one’s life, constitutes the power of restraint. When these four powers are complete, all natural and proscribed misdeeds and downfalls may be purified.
Here you may recite any appropriate text from a treasure revelation of similar type or use the root text of The Heart of Blessings: A Practice of the Guru (Vima Ladrup), which is a branch of this very practice. Visualize Vajrasattva about one span above your head. Consider that a stream of white ambrosia flows from the mantra garland at Guru Vajrasattva’s heart and enters your brahma-aperture. It washes away all disease, which is expelled in the form of black blood, all demons, which take the form of insects and other creatures, and all negative actions and obscurations, which take the form of black smoke. They emerge from your sense faculties and all the pores of your body, which is left cleansed and clear like a sphere of crystal. The flow of ambrosia fills you completely and makes you entirely white. Consider that, through this, the blessings of Guru Vajrasattva’s three secrets infuse your being. Recite the hundred-syllable mantra as many times as you can. At the end, through your confessions and pledges, Guru Vajrasattva confirms that all your negative actions and obscurations have been purified. He melts into light and dissolves into you, through which you sustain an experience of natural awareness, clarity and emptiness free from grasping, which is the true face of the Vajrasattva of definitive meaning.
4. Gathering the Accumulations & 5. Guru Yoga
Here we combine the practices of gathering the accumulations and guru yoga, showing how they can be practiced as a unity. For the outer practice of this Dharma cycle, it is crucially important that the practices of gathering the accumulations and the guru yoga recitation follow the Secret Path to Immortality, A Guru Yoga Based on the Three Deities of Longevity, composed by the Omniscient Guru [Khyentse Wangpo] himself, either in an elaborate or concise way. Were I to explain this elaborately, I fear it would become too long-winded, so I shall state only a few crucial points related to the guru yoga.
In general, the [Tibetan] word lama refers to what is unsurpassed. The Sanskrit word guru, which means heavy, suggests being heavily laden with qualities. In reality, our guru, the glorious protector, is certainly none other than the buddha himself. The guru might display pure or impure appearances, but as is evident from the biographies of the accomplished adepts of the past, the deeds of the buddhas and bodhisattvas cannot be judged based on ordinary concepts of good or bad. Impure perception is similar to a bile disorder which causes a white conch to appear yellow; it is our own impure mind that is at fault. If our mind is impure, we will perceive even the likes of Buddha Śākyamuni as flawed. Therefore, any perceived faults do not belong to the guru but only reflect our own shortcomings. We must consider how the guru is equal to the buddhas in terms of qualities but greater than the buddha in the matter of kindness. We must reflect again and again on this exceptional kindness. For this, it is not enough to recall only the gifts and rewards that the guru lavished upon us or words of praise and encouragement. It is most important to consider repeatedly the kindness of bestowing the highest benefit and happiness both temporarily and ultimately. This is a crucial point. How is this bestowed? By pointing out the co-emergent wisdom of naturally arisen awareness.
The guru who points this out is one’s root guru. The deep connection that exists between you and this guru is based on the following. In general, we are connected because all sentient beings are one within the all-pervading space of reality and there is therefore no one with whom we are unconnected. More specifically, in the past, when the precious guru was training in bodhisattva conduct on the path of learning, we took on a form such as that of a tiny insect and were touched by the guru’s shadow, or else we overheard a fragment of the guru’s speech or were struck by a glimmering ray of the guru’s wisdom intent. Whichever the case, from the moment this connection was first forged, whether directly or indirectly, good or bad, the teacher became what is known as ‘a guru connected through past lifetimes’. Moreover, just as all appearances are but our own perception, the guru, too, arises through the pure perception within our own mind. The guru does not exist outside us; ultimately, it is our own awareness that is the true guru. The expressive power of the appearance quality of this awareness manifests externally, according to one’s mental capacity, as the guru’s form body (rūpakāya). This also accounts for how the appearances of saṃsāra arise to someone whose mind is disturbed by habitual tendencies, and how the experience of nirvāṇa arises due to the gradual purification of delusion and the appearance quality of the wisdom of great equalness, in which the two truths are indivisible. The arising of one’s own mind as the guru is thus an especially crucial point.
With this understanding, follow the points of meditation provided in the recitation text. Purify all phenomena into emptiness with the mantra, and generate therefrom the pure realm of great bliss, in the centre of which, in the sky before you, your guru arises in naturally abiding form as the essence of the three deities of immortal life. As a concise method of gathering the accumulations, perform the visualization of the seven branches in the usual way. You could also gather the accumulations by offering the maṇḍala a hundred thousand times. Perform the recitation of invoking the guru’s sacred pledge and wisdom mind. Gather and dissolve the vital elixir of longevity and consider that the ambrosia of longevity gradually fills you, beginning at the point between your eyebrows, thereby conferring the four empowerments. Repeat this visualization again and again. The guru melts into light and dissolves into you, and you sustain an experience of wisdom intent, in which mind and wisdom blended as one.
2. The Main Part: The Explanation of the Deity
This has three parts: 1. the explanation of enlightened body: the generation phase of the mudrā, 2. the explanation of enlightened speech: the mantra recitation, which is an aspect of the generation phase, and 3. the explanation of enlightened mind: concise instructions on the suchness of the completion phase.
1. The Explanation of Enlightened Body: The Generation Phase of the Mudrā
This has three parts: 1. expelling obstructive forces and visualizing the protective sphere, 2. blessing the offering substances, and 3. the actual meditation on the deity.
1. Expelling Obstructive Forces and Visualizing the Protective Sphere
Hūṃ is the syllable of non-duality beyond grasping, the life-force of the infinite bliss-gone ones, peaceful and wrathful, and the awareness of the mudrā. As you utter it, you transform into the deity of the genuine nature, Lotus Heruka (Hayagrīva). His body is red, and his two hands hold a lotus and a bell. His form is wrathful and fierce, and he is adorned with the wrathful accoutrements. Imagine that hūṃ syllables shoot out from his nostrils. They obliterate everything in the ten directions and emit sparks of fire, which incinerate and destroy all obstructive forces. To subjugate thoughts associated with the three poisons and the demons and obstructive forces that they engender melodiously recite three hūṃs, the natural expression of the three kāyas. Obstructive forces are thereby expelled.
As the hūṃ syllables return, visualize the vajra sphere of protection while reciting the mantra. Consider that the sphere’s vajra foundation is formed of tiny vajras, with any spaces between them sealed with molten metal. The vajra fence is formed of horizontal and vertical vajras and within it is the vajra tent, shaped like a helmet. At its single peak is the top of a half-vajra. Within the space of the fence and tent descends the vajra canopy. On the outside, the fence and tent are covered by a net of tiny interwoven vajras; in the middle it is bound together with a chain of vajras. A ring of fire, resembling the burning coals of a smith, blazes out limitlessly in all directions with such strength that it is impervious to water from within or apocalyptic gales from without. This exceedingly robust, formidable protection is utterly impenetrable to demons and obstructive forces alike. On an ultimate level, to settle into the vast expanse of naturally arisen awareness, which has never been tainted by the elaborations of self-centred thoughts and ideas, is the absolute protection sphere.
2. Blessing the Offering Substances
Arrange outer and inner offerings, if you have them. If not, by understanding how all appearance and existence are the mudrā of offering, imagine that everything is purified into emptiness with oṃ, multiplied with āḥ, and transformed with hūṃ into outer, inner and secret offering substances. Bless the offerings by reciting the mantra three times together with the sky-treasury mudrā.
Taking refuge has as its objects of purification your own and all other beings’ adoption of false paths, your failure to secure the protection of the Three Jewels, and your espousal of false views, throughout beginningless time. The means of purification is to take refuge authentically. The result of purification is to actualize awakening as an embodiment of the three kāyas.
Generating the mind set upon awakening has as its objects of purification the fact that you have entered the lesser vehicle, selfish concerns, anger towards others, and so on. They are purified by this very means of purification (i.e., generating bodhicitta). The result of purification is uninterrupted enlightened activity based on great, non-referential compassion.
Expelling negative forces and visualizing the protection sphere have as their objects of purification all deluded thoughts that obscure the natural state, as well as the guardians of the directions, the male and female haughty spirits that they engender, who are gathered and overpowered. In particular, those who have not entered the Secret Mantra Vehicle, and those who have entered it but have fallen into mistaken view and behaviour are eliminated here. The practice itself brings about the purification, and the result of such purification is the destruction of demonic forces when awakening is attained.
Blessing the offerings has as its objects of purification the perception of the world and its inhabitants as ordinary and the impulsive consumption of sensory pleasures. Purification is achieved through this [blessing of the offerings], and the result of such purification is to experience the infinite display of primordial wisdom upon attainment of awakening.
Generally speaking, there are what are known as the four doors of secret mantra: 1) the door of words as a reminder of the ultimate meaning, 2) the door of secret mantra as an invocation of the wisdom mind, 3) the door of meditative concentration for single-pointed focus; and 4) the door of the display [of deities] which represents the mudrā, symbols and signs. As this suggests, your meditation needs to accord with the text that is recited. This is crucially important at every stage above and below.
3. The Actual Meditation on the Deity
This has three parts: 1. visualizing the samaya deity, 2. inviting and dissolving the wisdom deity, and 3. focusing the mind on a clear appearance of the deity’s form.
1. Visualizing the Samaya Deity
This has two parts: 1. establishing the framework through the three meditative concentrations and 2. generating the result, the palace and deities of the maṇḍala.
1. Establishing the Framework through the Three Meditative Concentrations
Recite the mantra “oṃ mahā-śūnyatā…etc.” while settling in its meaning, which is that all phenomena included within dualistic perception are completely purified into great non-dual wisdom, whose nature is indestructible.
The text to be recited may be explained as follows. The line that begins, “All things in saṃsāra and nirvāṇa…” refers to the meditative concentration of suchness. All these phenomena that are visible and audible to us and to others have always been utterly pure and naturally luminous. They are none other than the great emptiness of the indestructible, all-pervading space of suchness. Rest for a long time in that space-like experience devoid of appearance. This serves to cleanse and purify the state of death. By planting the seed of actualizing the dharmakāya, you create the interdependent circumstances for the result to be perfected. This ripens you and lays the foundation for the luminosity of the higher path of the completion phase to arise in your mind. When it is said that purifying the state of death is the dharmakāya this shows the connection between ground and fruition, and how we should cultivate confidence in that relationship, which we should maintain throughout the following sections of the practice.
The second line refers to the all-illuminating meditative concentration, in which, out of an experience of great, all-pervading space beyond conceptual elaboration, you feel a great, illusion-like compassion, free of grasping, towards the illusory objects, all beings who lack such realization and who appear while being devoid of true existence. Through the power of the pervasive unity of these two, you develop the thought, “I shall lead them to the level of supreme awakening!” This purifies the intermediate state (bardo) and creates the interdependent circumstances for perfecting the result of the saṃbhogakāya. It lays the foundation for great compassion, the cause of arising out of clear light as a deity of union.
The third line refers to the causal meditative concentration. Causal awareness arises instantly in space as a white syllable tāṃ, shining like a crystal. It emanates five-coloured light rays, as if a rainbow had arisen in a pristine sky, in every direction, without boundary or limit. They purify all grasping at the world and its inhabitants as ordinary and create a vast, expansive sphere of protection like the one visualized earlier. This purifies all unfavourable conditions and obstacles concerning the place of birth in the next life, creates the interdependent circumstances for overcoming the four demons at the time of fruition, and lays the foundation for eliminating any obstacles or potential pitfalls in the practice of the channels, wind-energies and essences during the completion phase.
2. Generating the Result, the Palace and Deities of the Maṇḍala.
Rays of light radiate from tāṃ, the cause of the protective sphere, and transform the maṇḍalas of space, wind, fire, water and earth, together with Mount Meru, into their utterly pure essences in the vast expanse of Dhātviśvarī, Samayatārā, Pāṇḍarāvasinī, Māmakī, and Buddhalocanā. Upon Mount Meru is an expansive ground, smooth and level, formed of vajra earth and dust. In its centre is a blossoming lotus flower, made of jewels, multicoloured and with a hundred thousand petals, at the heart of which is a sun maṇḍala, as wide as the flower itself. In its centre is a crossed vajra with twelve prongs: a white one in the east, a yellow one in the south, a red one in the west, a green one in the north and a blue one in the middle. Visualize the palace at their centre. This purifies the foundation of the outer world, formed on the basis of the five elements and Mount Meru, for any location of birth as a sentient being. It creates the interdependent circumstance for the result and perfection within the dharmadhātu space of the five mothers, the realm in which all buddhas awaken. It lays the foundation for the completion phase, when the five elements and Mount Meru, which are the five chakras and the central channel, and the lotus, the sun and the crossed vajra, which are the chakras within the channels, the wind-energies and essences, are all made pliant and workable.
At the hub of the crossed vajra is the palace of great liberation, immeasurable in extent, made of precious jewels and white crystal. It is square and has four doors, one on each of its four sides. Each door has eight causal and resultant toraṇas. The eight resultant toraṇas consist of a pedimental beam, a beam with a lotus-motif, a beam with box-motif bevelling, white pearl pendant ornaments, a jewelled beam, tassels and garlands, cornice and beams with a rainspout motif, and a roofed canopy. The eight causal toraṇas are said to be in eight tiers on the outside of the doors, much like a staircase. The palace is further adorned with the terracrs of sense pleasure, the golden brick frieze, chains and hanging elements, sharbu ornaments, pagoda roof, and so on. In its centre, the summit made of stacked elements is topped with a vajra made of precious material. The palace radiates rays of light everywhere and has no distinction between interior and exterior. Nothing is obstructing. The sixteen offering goddesses dance on the red terraces of sense pleasure and hold offering substances aloft. Immediately inside the vajra fence visualize the perimeter of worldly deities, the guardians of all that is good, such as the seventy-five glorious protectors, abide. This is what the great treasure-revealing lord guru himself said.
Visualize in the centre of this perfectly constituted palace a white, four-petalled lotus, upon which a sun-disk (below) and a moon-disk (above) symbolize the white and red essences. The palace purifies all forms of residence in which beings might live or move about. The lotus, sun and moon purify the semen and blood in the mother’s womb for womb and egg birth, and, of the other two types of birth, the birth from warmth and moisture. They also purify the habitual tendencies that cause attachment and clinging to environment and body. This creates the interdependent circumstances for actualizing the great palace as a natural manifestation of primordial wisdom at the time of the result. During completion phase practice, the palace represents the qualities of clarity, emptiness and bliss within a mind in which the channels, essences and wind-energies have merged as one. The lotus seat represents the chakra of channels at the [crown of the] head, the sun the chakra of channels at the navel and red essence below, and the moon represents the chakra of channels at the crown and white essence above. This lays the foundation for the state of union of all aspects of the kāyas and wisdoms of supremely immutable great bliss, in which the sixteen aspects of the four joys rise and descend through the blazing and dripping of the blissful fire of tummo.
The generation of the supported, the deities, is as follows. In the space between the united sun and moon is the causal syllable tāṃ. Moon, sun and seed syllable conjoin, merging as one within the essence of great bliss, out of which rays of light shoot out and fill the sky, making offerings to the noble ones, waking the śrāvakas from cessation, and bringing those on the path to the level of no more learning. The rays of light combine with the blessings of the victorious ones and their heirs throughout the ten directions. The vital essence of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa and all the splendour of existence and peace gather together and dissolve into the mass of light rays, which transforms instantly into the completely perfect form of the deity.
This purifies the coming together of the white and red essences in the womb and the entrance of a consciousness from the intermediate state, as well as the combination of blood, semen and consciousness following the experience of transformation based on a potential father and mother’s sexual intercourse. The radiation and reabsorption of light rays purifies the gradual development of the body in the womb, which comes about through the potential of the four primary elements and the ten winds, which produce the aggregates, elements and sense sources. The full manifestation of the deity’s form purifies the development of the foetus within the womb and its eventual birth. It also creates interdependent circumstances for the time of the result: for buddhas to take on whatever forms are appropriate for beings to be trained and for displaying the deeds such as taking birth from a womb.
When practicing the completion phase, the significance of the union of the sun and moon is as mentioned before; or else, it signifies the union of bliss and warmth at the site of knots in the chakras within the central channel. The seed syllable represents wind-energy and mind entering the central channel and dissolving there. The radiation and reabsorption of light rays represents the bliss-emptiness that arises from melting bliss. The full manifestation of the deity’s form lays the foundation for attaining the supreme wisdom kāya, the inseparable union of natural, co-emergent bliss and emptiness.
In essence, Tārā is the mother who gives birth to the four types of noble ones, the Lady of the Transcendent Perfection of Insight (prajñāpāramitā), wisdom endowed with all qualities arising as an illusory, magical manifestation. She is the supreme mother who gives birth to all the victorious ones of the three times, the embodiment of enlightened activity, the venerable and noble lady, Wish-Fulfilling Wheel. Her body is white and luminous, the colour of the moon or crystal, and immaculate. She has one face and two hands. Her hands are extremely supple, straight, and soft like the palāśa tree. Her right hand makes the gesture of supreme generosity. Her left hand, held at her left breast, is in the mudrā of granting refuge, and between her thumb and ring finger she holds the stem—supple, delicate and fresh—of a white utpala flower, which blossoms at the level of her ear. The flower is mid-bloom, and supports a long-life vase made of crystal and adorned with the fruits of a wish-fulfilling tree. To the right is a fruit-bearing flower and to the left a flower that is closed.
She is peaceful and smiling, and astonishingly beautiful. Her body is lithe and supple. Her waist is slender and her breasts prominent and attractive. Her secret lotus is not visible. Half of her hair is bound up in a topknot, adorned with a jewel at its crest; the rest hangs loosely behind both ears. The hair is pitch black, the colour of a bee. Her eyes are wide and beautiful with high brows. Her nose and lips are unblemished and attractive. She is seated upright, with a slender waist and her legs crossed in vajra posture. She wears a silken lower garment of various colours, which hangs like a warrior’s bow, a blue-coloured sash, a lower garment of red silk, an upper garment of dark blue silk, a crown featuring the crests of jewels, earrings studded with various gems, a choker, armlets, bracelets and anklets, a belt, a necklace that extends to her breasts, and a necklace that extends to her navel. She has eyes on the soles of her feet and the palms of her hands, and her face has eyes to the right and left and in the centre—seven eyes which contribute to her dazzling beauty.
Her male consort, Lotus Lord of the Dance (Pema Garwang), is born of her own radiance. Since he is the appearing aspect of skilful means, his body is white with a tinge of red, and he is filled with passion. He has a peaceful, smiling expression. His right hand holds a red lotus and his left hand a vase of longevity. He is beautifully adorned with silken garments and jewelled ornaments. Seated in cross-legged lotus posture, he embraces the main deity. They are united in the great bliss and emptiness of the union of means and insight, and they abide in an expanse of boundless wisdom light.
At Tārā’s head, upon a moon-disk seat, visualize a white syllable oṃ; at her throat, upon a red eight-petalled lotus, a red syllable āḥ; and at her heart, upon a sun-disk seat, a blue syllable hūṃ. These syllables have the nature of Vairocana, Amitābha, and Akṣobhya respectively.
2. Inviting the Wisdom Maṇḍala
Consider that rays of light, like hooks and with all the brilliant radiance of a billion suns, radiate from the three seed syllables at your three places and invite the maṇḍala of wisdom deities. Summon them, draw them in, bind them and delight them with “jaḥ hūṃ baṃ hoḥ…etc.”. In this way, request the wisdom deities to remain steadfastly and joyfully.
You may also pay homage, make offerings and offer praise in the following concise manner. First, chant “a la la ho!” to express wonder and amazement at the qualities of the principal goddess’ body, speech and mind. Then, offer symbolic homage in the understanding that the deities—the indivisble union of samayasattvas and jñānasattvas—are the powerful radiance of the genuine nature of your own mind. Goddesses who emanate from your heart hold aloft the regular outer offerings and the inner offerings of the five sensory delights. They present the secret offerings: billowing clouds of amṛta emanating further offering goddesses; rakta produced by the liberation of all malevolent beings throughout the three realms, with red goddesses emerging from strings of bubbles on the surface; and the great torma made of samaya substances, the whole outer world, which further emanates boundless sensory delights. Your undefiled sense faculties revel in delight, as the goddesses dissolve into the deities. Satisfied by the taste of wisdom in which subject and object are indivisible, you complete the great accumulations. Simply put, the offering of suchness refers to the fact that the offerings, those who offer them, and their recipients are none other than the all-pervading space that has always been utterly pure. The vajra goddesses who emanate from you extol the qualities of the principal goddess, perform the dance of bliss, and offer praise with sweet-sounding songs. At the end, the goddesses dissolve into you.
3. Focusing the Mind on a Clear Appearance of the Deity’s Form
Focus your mind on the general form of the deity, the great mudrā, in which the samaya and wisdom forms are indivisible. You are the principal goddess in union with her consort, their bodies, faces and arms all complete—empty in essence, blissful in nature, yet clearly apparent. The deities are the union of appearance and emptiness, appearing without obstruction in the form of light that has the essence of wisdom, like the moon’s reflection in clear water. Bring this vividly to mind.
If the appearance is unclear, direct your mental and visual focus single-pointedly to a painted image of the samaya deity. Consider that your own body instantly adopts such features. By meditating repeatedly in short sessions many times, your visualization will last longer and become progressively clearer. But your visualization should not be flat like a painted image or concrete like a statue. Train carefully and consistently in recognizing the inseparability of the deity—as the essence of dharmakāya, form of saṃbhogakāya, and expressive display of nirmāṇakāya—and your own sense of identity. This unites the generation and completion phases.
Mental focus such as this is vitally important in and of itself. When you hear the name of someone you have met before, for example, you can instantly recall the person’s physique and facial appearance. We must recall the form of the deity in a similar way. One key is to meditate on occasions when the wind-energies and mind are clear, such as at night. Then, after visualizing the deity as a whole, focus on particular features, such as her central eye, or the tip of the jewel at her crown down to her seats, the lotus and moon disk. Visualize her form without ornaments, then with them. Focus your mind on these individual aspects until each appears clearly. Then focus your mind, with unwavering clarity, on all aspects simultaneously.
No matter what your focus might be, direct your mind one-pointedly in a balanced way, neither too tightly nor too loosely. Allow your mind to relax completely. If you lose your hold on the clear appearance, alert yourself; if the visualization becomes unclear because of the thoughts raging in your mind, then relax. Should your thoughts become extremely disruptive, then stop and turn instead to reciting the mantra and so on. This is how you should eliminate the flaws of dullness and agitation as you visualize. On occasion, consider how your body, speech and mind have never been ordinary and how you are in fact the Blessed Lady of the fruition, with all faults exhausted and all qualities perfected. By intensifying the deity’s clear appearance in this way and focusing your mind on the notion that this represents the deity in actuality, as your familiarity increases you will develop a continuous sense of actually being the deity.
Remembering the Purity
The features of a deity’s form are not like those of a coarse ordinary body brought about through the force of karma and destructive emotions. Rather, the qualities of the three secrets of the deities who have reached the ultimate fruition take on symbolic forms that hold significance in the perception of those to be tamed.
The natural state of the ground, which has always been utterly pure by nature, is indivisible from the resultant kāyas and wisdoms. To maintain the life-force of the practice by focusing on nothing other than the outward expression of this nature at the time of the path is the purity of one’s own awareness. Through the blessing of this, appearance and existence arise as the maṇḍala of deities, which is the purity of phenomena as individual deities. To apply the seal of the view that is inexpressible and beyond arising, remaining and ceasing, and meditate on the union of appearance and emptiness is the purity of the suchness nature of phenomena. Practise by combining these three forms of purity with clear appearance and remembering the pride [of being the deity].
Remembering the Purity of Individual Aspects
Since all phenomena are of one taste within suchness, Tārā has a single face. Her two hands represent skilful means and insight, and her cross-legged vajra posture signifies the elimination of the extremes of existence and quiescence. The union of male and female deities represents appearance and emptiness. As a sign that she was born from the tears of the Lord of the World as part of the lotus family that is free of attachment and that she is overflowing with compassion, her body has the colour of the lustrous moon. As a signal of her love for beings, she smiles serenely and has an amorous demeanour. Her right hand is in the mudrā of supreme generosity as a sign that she bestows the attainments of longevity and wisdom. To signify that she grants beings protection from fear and that the secret of her wisdom mind—profound, peaceful and beyond conceptual elaboration—is the Lady of the Transcendent Perfection of Insight, the mother of all the victorious ones, her left hand is in the mudrā of granting refuge. To symbolize her unobstructed enlightened activity, she holds the stem of a white utpala at her heart. The flower, which blossoms at the level of her ear, supports a long-life vase to signify overcoming fear of untimely death. As a sign of her perfection of virtuous qualities and care for others, some of her hair is bound in a topknot while the remainder hangs loose. To signify her freedom from the torment of negative emotions, she wears silken upper and lower garments. Her silk and jewel accessories signify the seven factors of enlightenment and how she has not abandoned sensory delights but enjoys them as adornments. She is embraced by the male consort, Lotus Lord of the Dance (Pema Garwang), who is her very own radiance and represents skilful means, supremely immutable great bliss and wisdom’s aspect of appearance. The palace has the nature of the symbols, significance and signs of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment. The vajra fence is impervious to conceptual thought. The surrounding mass of flames signifies that habitual tendencies of conceptual thought have been overcome. Thus, the recollection of such individual examples of purity serves to counteract any clinging to these features as ordinary. Training in this recollection of purity, which connects ground and fruition, serves as an immediate cause for the supreme accomplishment of the generation phase.
In this way, you must visualize everything to its fullest extent with clarity, stability and purity, in stages, from the palace, vajra fence and mountains of flame on the outside through to the principal deity within.
Meditating on the phase of generating the deity in this manner purifies the following: at the ground stage, being born as a child, growing up, being tormented by feelings of desire and seeking to fulfil them, taking a spouse, gradually developing one’s physical, verbal and mental capacity, and taking on the affairs of one’s family. The result of purification is to be born as a nirmāṇakāya buddha, to renounce the world and practice asceticism in pursuit of awakening, to arrive at the seat of awakening (bodhimaṇḍa), tame Māra, develop meditative concentration and gain mastery of omniscient wisdom. In relation to the higher paths, this lays the foundation for arising in the deity’s form based on bliss, wind-energy and mind in order to accomplish the body of the wisdom deity of bliss and emptiness. It also lays the foundation for remaining inseparable from either a karma or wisdom mudrā in order to attain the supreme accomplishment. It us thus the basis for gaining ever-greater familiarity with naturally arisen wisdom and thereby swiftly arriving at the supreme accomplishment. In this way, the meditation serves as a means of ripening.
The blessing of the three places purifies your ordinary body, speech and mind. The means of purification are the three vajras. The result of purification is the attainment of the three secrets of all the buddhas.
The invitation of the wisdom deities and request that they remain have as their objects of purification the habitual tendencies of children to develop like the other beings of the category in which they are born and to gain a similar level of intelligence. The means of purification is the absorption of the natural maṇḍala of wisdom deities into the maṇḍala of samaya forms. The result of purification is to merge as one with the realization of all the Thus-Gone Ones.
The stages of activities such as paying homage have as their objects of purification the habitual tendencies of childish beings who indulge in sensory pleasures and pursue mundane concerns. The means of purification are to pay homage in recognition of the indivisibility of all-pervading space and wisdom, to make outer, inner and secret offerings, and to offer praise while remembering the qualities of the three secrets. The result of such purification is to create the interdependent circumstances for the effortless arising of infinite offerings at the time of buddhahood and for becoming worthy of the reverence of all throughout saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
This is in harmony with the following lines from the Profound Essence of Tārā:
Generate the maṇḍala of support and the supported.
With clear appearance, stable pride
And recollection of purity, cultivate a clear appearance.
By reaching the limit of utmost clarity,
Which has the ability to halt clinging to appearances as ordinary...
2. The Explanation of Enlightened Speech: The Mantra Recitation
When you become tired of meditating in such a way, you need to train in meditative concentration on the mantra recitation in order to enhance your practice. As the section on the visualization for mantra recitation states:
I am the sublime Tārā: in my heart,
Is the jñānasattva Amitāyus.
In the centre of Tārā’s heart is a white, four-petalled lotus. On its anther is a locket of the conjoined sun (below) and moon (on top), in the centre of which is a white tāṃ, bright and radiant and surrounded by the ten-syllable mantra, the combined mantra, the mantra of the wisdom deity and the mantra of the nirmāṇakāya emanation. They are all joined together and arranged in a clockwise direction. Focus your mind on them, and, as you do so, consider that limitless rays of light stream out from the life-force at the deity’s heart and the mantra-garland. They emerge from the top of her crown and send out many forms of the Noble Lady Uṣṇīṣavijayā, who is white and has one face and two hands—the right hand, which is in the gesture of granting refuge and resting on her right knee, forms the threatening mudrā and holds an iron hook as a means of summoning; the left hand, which is at the level of her heart and in the gesture of supreme generosity, holds a long-life vase from which there flows a stream of ambrosia. She is seated in the cross-legged posture of a female bodhisattva. Her forms are as numerous as specks of dust in a sunbeam. They gather the wisdom of knowledge, love and power from the infinite victorious ones of the three roots, vajra dharma protectors and wealth deities, as well as the vital essence of the inanimate world and animate beings throughout saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, in the form of ambrosia, light rays and refined quicksilver. They dissolve into the subtle essences of one’s own body, speech and mind, bringing the attainment of longevity and wisdom and accomplishment of the vital force of vajra-like immortality. Consider all this as you recite the mantra.
‘Refined quicksilver’ is the substance of ‘extracting the essence’. It is white like the autumn moon and radiates rays of light like the sun. It swirls clockwise and forms various patterns of auspicious signs of accomplishment, such as svastikas and coils of joy. Its power is such that whoever it touches gains the strength of an elephant, the longevity of the sun and moon, and a vajra body. It has the power to grant the youthfulness and vigour of a sixteen-year-old. It can transform iron into gold, at the merest touch. Scattering it over a dried-up tree will cause it to sprout new leaves, fruits and flowers instantaneously. It is said that you should meditate on such forms as blazing with the splendour of great bliss.
In general, regarding the turning of the mantra garland, it is said that the approach phase emphasizes the arrangement; close approach emphasizes rotation; accomplishment emphasizes the ‘palanquin’ (doli); and great accomplishment emphasizes the radiation and absorption [of light rays]. Ordinarily, however, it suffices to focus only on the arrangement. Then, once you manage to visualize the arrangement clearly, you can begin to imagine its rotation. At that time, consider that countless rays of light stream out (in the manner explained above) from the mantra garland, which rotates rapidly clockwise as it emits its own sound. For the recitation, those who have not yet undertaken a retreat on the approach phase should emphasize the ten-syllable mantra, while those who have done so should focus mainly on the combined mantra. Recite a few mantras of the wisdom deity and nirmāṇakāya as well.
This daily practice brings the three aspects of approach, accomplishment and activity together as one.
On occasion, therefore, consider that rays of light stream out from the mantra garland, ablaze with the splendour of the wisdom of great bliss, so that all that is animate and inanimate throughout the three realms is perfected as the maṇḍala of the great illusory net—deities, mantra and wisdom. Or consider that the mantra garland arises uninterruptedly from the life-force syllable tāṃ, passes through the mouth of the wisdom deity and into the mouth of the principal goddess. It enters the mouth of the male consort, passes through his body, and flows from his secret vajra into the female deity’s secret space before dissolving into the life-force syllable. By turning like a whirling firebrand in this way, it engenders the wisdom of great bliss in the enlightened minds of the male and female deities. Consider that you attain the naturally arising, permanent and sacred accomplishment of supreme, unchanging deathlessness, and recite the combined mantra. That is the visualization for accomplishment. Or, as you recite the combined mantra, consider that rays of light, in colours that correspond to the four types of activity, shoot out from her heart, fill the sky like messengers, and carry out all forms of supreme enlightened action—pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating—according to your wishes.
Do not interrupt the recitation with ordinary words or speech. You must recite the mantras with stable, single-pointed concentration. Should you grow tired of focussing on a single visualization, settle the mind for a time on the clear appearance of the deities’ form. Or spend time generating compassion for those beings whose accumulated karma results in a short life. At times, recite the mantra with a clear, stable perception of all sights and sounds as the venerable Tārā. Most importantly, it is by reciting the mantra while sustaining an experience of the view, with faith and devotion devoid of doubt, and with an understanding of the inseparability of deity and mantra, that you will swiftly accomplish the supreme and common attainments. No matter how much you might recite with a mind that is distracted, you will only succeed in slightly reducing your obscurations of speech and will not accomplish your desired aim. As the great guru of Oḍḍiyāna said:
Recite with undistracted concentration.
Otherwise, should you become distracted,
Even reciting for an aeon will yield no result.
The counting mālā should be authentic and consecrated.
The Magnificent [Wisdom] Lightning Tantra says:
Neither too loud nor too soft,
Neither too fast nor too slow,
Neither too strong nor too weak,
Not omitting any of the syllables,
Not distracted nor while talking,
Not interrupted by chatter or the like.
Avoid such faults as you recite the mantra. At times, hold your breath and perform the silent recitation while remembering the mantra’s form and sound, or practise the mental recitation in which you let go even of holding the breath and focus on the mantra’s form or sound as you recite it in your mind.
The object of purification here is clinging to deluded language, the verbal utterances of names, words and syllables, within the impure saṃsāric domain, together with associated habitual tendencies. The means of purification is verbal recitation performed repeatedly. Once such recitation has purified verbal processes and the sounds that they produce, the result of purification is to lay the foundation for acts that will benefit beings through vajra speech, such as by turning the wheel of Dharma, once you yourself have attained enlightenment. This also purifies general faults, especially those of the mind, and brings about the power of speech.
As you call upon the wisdom deities repeatedly by name using mantras, it is inevitable that you will become close to them. Given that the deities take the form of these mantras, you should meditate on their seed syllables and perform the recitation with the confidence that they are mantras of wisdom awareness. As a result, they will definitely take the form of mantras and the connection cannot but be established. In the shorter term you will accomplish the four types of activity, especially the increase of longevity, merit and wisdom, and ultimately this will serve as the uncommon, direct cause for obtaining vajra speech.
At the end of your session, make up for any additions or omissions and stabilize [the effects of practice] by reciting the vowels and consonants and the mantra of the essence of interdependent origination. Perform the offerings and praise in brief form and confess any mistakes with the hundred-syllable mantra. Consider that the appearances of the deities dissolve into the all-pervading space of luminosity, like breath evaporating from the surface of a mirror. Or else, imagine that rays of light shoot out from the heart of the principal deity, touch the whole world and its inhabitants, causing them to melt into light and dissolve into the palace. The palace then dissolves in the principal deities. The male consort dissolves into the female deity. She then gradually disappears, beginning at her feet and head, and dissolves into the tāṃ, which disappears from the bottom upwards until all that remains is the nāda, extremely subtle, on which you focus your mind. Then, rest in the state of luminosity beyond reference.
Instantly arise, once again, in the body of union and recite the three syllables [oṃ āḥ hūṃ] to seal your three doors as the three vajras. Remain inseparable from the ‘three carry-overs’: recognising yourself and all other appearances as the enlightened body of the Noble Lady, all sound as her enlightened speech, and all thoughts as her enlightened mind. Conclude by dedicating the merit and reciting whichever prayers of auspiciousness are appropriate. Then commence your daily activities.
The object of purification here is the death that reoccurs once youth is exhausted: the gradual dissolution of the supporting [maṇḍala] and supported [deities] represents the phases of the outer and inner dissolution and dharmakāya luminosity at the time of death, while arising once more as the deity corresponds to the bardo of becoming. The means of purification are the stages of dissolution and re-emergence. As the result of purification, since the appearance aspect of rūpakāya, which is the activity of the dharmakāya, and dharmakāya wisdom are both by nature basic space, the rūpakāya manifestations, which are absorbed into and emanate from this nature, will benefit beings uninterruptedly.
3. The Explanation of Enlightened Mind: Concise Instructions on the Suchness of the Completion Phase
The dissolution of the generation phase into luminosity and its re-emergence therefrom, as discussed above, eliminates the extremes of permanence and nihilism. This is when you practise the yoga of the non-thematic completion phase, which may be briefly explained as follows. The Profound Essence of Tārā says:
Naturally arisen, momentary awareness
Is brought within inconceivable basic space.
From the illustrative wisdom of example
The absolute co-emergent is made evident.
And Vajra Tārā, who possesses the three changeless essences,
Is accomplished in this life.
As these vajra words suggest, the genuine nature of mind as such is not a real entity with concrete attributes and therefore not something permanent or autonomous. Nor is it non-existent, since it provides an unceasing basis for the arising of the various experiences of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. The fact that mere clarity and awareness does not cease means that it is not nothing whatsoever. It is also free from the extremes of both and neither, and thus transcends all forms of labelling, thought and expression. That is the view.
Taking the guru’s pith instructions as a basis, do not think of anything and do not entertain any ideas. While experiencing the natural state, do not alter your mind with mental fabrication but simply leave it as it is. Do not be distracted from this space-like experience for even an instant. Leave penetrating awareness in its natural condition, and do not waver from an awareness that is objectless, naturally clear, vivid and distinct. That is the meditation that unites calm abiding (śamatha) and clear seeing (vipaśyanā).
Out of such a view and meditation, generate confidence during the post-meditation that all phenomena are illusory. Work for beings’ welfare through the union of emptiness and compassion and let all your experience and activity serve as a support for the wisdom of co-emergent great bliss. That is the conduct.
Through becoming familiar with this training, you will actualize the natural state of the ground, in which there is nothing to gain or lose, and encounter the natural face of the ultimate venerable and noble lady, the transcendent perfection of insight. That is the result. First, the wisdom of example arises during the paths of accumulation and joining. Then, as this becomes increasingly familiar, you reach the path of seeing and realize the ultimate wisdom. Finally, you arrive at the level of no more learning.
You must strive to perfect this quartet of view, meditation, conduct and fruition. As regards the definitive nature of the generation and completion phases, the later chapter of the Guhyasamāja says:
The Dharma that the buddhas reveal
Genuinely consists of two phases:
There is the phase of generation
And the phase of completion.
As this says, there is the generation phase, which purifies our grasping at the ordinary appearances of the world and its inhabitants, and the non-thematic completion phase, which naturally and effortlessly binds wind-energy and mind within the indestructible essence and brings about the kāya endowed with the supreme of all qualities. This concludes the explanation of both.
Among the countless profound ways of achieving immortality,
The one that stands as exalted as Meru is that of the Blessed One,
The Noble Lady Tārā, known as ‘Wish-Fulfilling Wheel’,
A deity that vidyādharas in their millions have adored.
Her sādhana, which draws upon the experience and realization
Of three masters is the Noble Lady’s heart essence,
Definitive and complete, the yoga of the single mudrā,
Explained here in these stages of profound instruction.
My explanation draws on the omniscient guru’s nectar-like words
And the teachings of scholars and adepts of the past.
Even though it is unspoilt by fabrications of my own,
If it is sullied by the stains of my own ignorance, forgive me!
Whatever stores of virtue might arise from this,
I dedicate entirely for the teachings and beings,
In keeping with Tārā’s aspirations and those of the lords of the three families.
Through this, may I never experience the cause or result of untimely death!
Nourished by the food of practising the two phases,
May my body become as steadfast as a mighty vajra,
My speech blaze with the power of prophetic truth,
And all my thoughts arise as great luminosity!
May the lives of the glorious masters remain secure,
The Dharma melody of their secret speech resound unceasingly,
And the mirrors of their wisdom minds of twofold knowledge remain untainted,
And thus may they be of perfect service to the teachings and beings!
In all my lives, may I be guided by great spiritual friends
And may I receive the nectar of the Dharma.
May I please my venerable gurus
And never tire of carrying out their enlightened activity!
May the teachings and holders of the teachings flourish and spread,
May patrons act according to the Dharma and lead long, ever more affluent lives.
And may I accomplish the three secrets of the Wish-Fulfilling Wheel,
She who is victorious over the enemy, the demon of the Lord of Death!
May the auspiciousness of an excellent stream of ambrosia
That bestows supreme immortality flow down into our crowns,
So that we obtain the splendour of immortal vajra life
And ascend to the kingdom of supreme accomplishment!
These instructions on the view of the Single-Form Daily Practice of the Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality were given by the Lord and great treasure revealer, Lama Pema Ösal Dongak Lingpa, to our glorious master, the omniscient Situ Rinpoche, from whom I, Jamyang Lodrö Gyatso, received the transmission and explanation. I wrote this entirely on the third day of the twelfth month. May it be a cause for all beings to attain victory in the battle with the Lord of Death and for the lives of those supreme beings who are the holders of the teachings to remain firm and endure for hundreds of aeons! Maṅgalaṃ!
'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. "'chi med 'phags ma'i snying thig gi rgyun gyi rnal 'byor phyag rgya gcig dang 'brel ba'i bskyed rdzogs kyi khrid mdor bsdus 'chi med grub pa'i zil dngar" in 'Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung 'bum. TBRC W1KG12986. 12 vols. Bir, H.P.: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. Vol. 8: 163–207
Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé. The Treasury of Knowledge. Book Six, Parts One and Two: Indo-Tibetan Classical Learning and Buddhist Phenomenology (trans.) Gyurme Dorje. Boston, MA: Snow Lion Publications, 2012
Konchok Lhadrepa and Charlotte Davis. Art of Awakening: A User's Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Art and Practice. Boulder: Snow Lion Publications, 2017
The Sanskrit phrase translates as “Homage to the guru, the sublime Tārā!” ↩
I.e., Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. ↩
In full: "Glorious root guru, precious one,/ Dwell on the lotus-seat in the depth of my heart,/ Look upon me with the grace of your great compassion,/ And grant me the attainments of body, speech and mind!" ↩
From The Vajra Root Verses, from the Heart Essence of Venerable Tārā (rje btsun sgrol ma'i snying tig las / rtsa ba rdo rje'i tshig rkang) https://rtz.tsadra.org/index.php/Terdzo-CHI-011 ↩
The three means of gratification or the three ways of pleasing or serving the teacher (mnyes pa gsum) are 1. offering our practice, 2. offering service with body and speech, and 3. material offerings. ↩
The Single-Form Daily Practice from Chimé Pakmé Nyingtik (The Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality), https://www.lotsawahouse.org/tibetan-masters/jamyang-khyentse-wangpo/chime-pakme-nyingtik ↩
Tib. Drolme Zabtik (sgrol ma’i zab tig). ↩
Tib. chi med 'phags ma'i snying thig las / bla sgrub byin rlabs snying po https://rtz.tsadra.org/index.php/Terdzo-HA-019 ↩
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo wrote two texts: the shorter tshe lha rnam gsum la bsten pa'i bla ma'i rnal 'byor 'chi med grub pa'i gseng lam https://rtz.tsadra.org/index.php/Terdzo-DZI-029 and the longer bla ma tshe lha rnam gsum gyi rnal 'byor dang rjes su 'brel bar tshogs gnyis spel ba'i cho ga 'chi med grub pa'i dga' ston https://rtz.tsadra.org/index.php/Terdzo-DZI-025 ↩
Here mudrā refers to the deity’s form. Hūṃ is the seed of that form and has the nature of awareness rather than sound. (We are grateful to Khenchen Pema Sherab for clarifying this point.) ↩
‘Two’ here could be understood as the two meditative concentrations of suchness and all-illuminating compassion, or as the subject, great compassion, and the object, illusory beings. ↩
A toraṇa is a decorative tympanum or archway found in Indian architecture. Sometimes it is found above the doors and is then very much 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 translated the term as 'tabab' (rta babs), literally the ‘[step for mounting and] dismounting a horse’. ↩
The translation of this section owes much to the explanation given in Konchok Lhadrepa and Charlotte Davis. Art of Awakening. Snow Lion Publications, 2017, pp. 407–408. ↩
I.e., Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. ↩
These are the śrāvaka, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas and buddhas. ↩
Probably butea monosperma. ↩
From Taking Care of Students, From the Mind Treasure of the Profound Essence of Tārā (Drolme Zabtik), dgongs gter sgrol ma'i zab tig las / slob ma rjes su gzung ba, https://rtz.tsadra.org/index.php/Terdzo-CHI-042 ↩
I.e., Amitāyus ↩
I.e., Uṣṇīṣavijaya. ↩
Skt. rasāyana; Tib. bcud len, chülen. Extracting the essence refers either to the methods of rejuvenation or to the rejuvenating substance itself. Especially in India and also in Tibet, it was and still is a whole branch of science. For Buddhist practitioners, having a long life is important as it provides time to accomplish the practices and reach enlightenment ↩
Literally terms and their meanings (sgra don). ↩
khyer so gsum. The idea is that these three recognitions are 'carried over' from meditation into post-meditation. ↩
From Taking Care of Students, From the Mind Treasure of the Profound Essence of Tārā ↩
This refers to the 18th chapter, which is said to have been added later. ↩
i.e., Śrī Siṃha, Vimalamitra and Guru Padmasambhava. ↩