Sweet Nectar of the Supreme Vehicle
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Sweet Nectar of the Supreme Vehicle
A Synopsis of the Stages of the Mahāyāna Path
by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Homage to the guru and protector Mañjughoṣa!
Merely to recall you within the sky of my mind
Serves to dispel the pitch-darkness of delusion.
Precious one, great treasury of knowledge, Vajratīkṣṇa,
I present the great bliss chakra of my crown at your feet.
Even though the profound and vast Mahāyāna treatises
Have not entered the slender needle-eye of my mind,
Encouraged by a spiritual guide of the supreme vehicle,
I shall here reveal some sayings of past scholars and adepts.
Throughout beginningless time in this ocean of existence,
As we fail to recognise the natural state of our own buddha nature,
The primordially free sphere of reality, we wander through saṃsāric states,
Enclosed within the confines of our karmic and emotional obscurations.
Now, as a result of positive deeds gathered in the past,
We have found an excellent support in the higher realms, a basis for liberation’s certain good,
This precious human body with its adornments of freedoms and advantages,
Surpassing even the situation of the mighty gods Brahma, Śiva and Indra.
Having found such a basis, if we were simply to squander it
Until the fourth and final stage of birth, ageing, sickness and death,
There could be no greater loss, no graver tragedy than that.
So we must apply ourselves swiftly to Dharma practice.
If we’re constantly deceived by the eight worldly concerns
And by sensory delights, our lives are like butter lamps
In which the fuel is running out and cannot be replaced,
And there’s no one who can save us or offer protection.
Develop a mind of determination to escape conditioning,
And recognise that no matter how many worldly riches
We might acquire, they’re transient, the stuff of illusion,
Devoid of any true essence or significance.
Anyone who has wealth will have suffering.
The fault of attachment will naturally develop,
On top of which, pride and jealousy will arise.
Destroy, therefore, this great entanglement, source of a hundred ills,
And remain content, with few desires and limited needs.
From the summit of existence all the way down to Avīci,
Nowhere is there even the slightest speck of true happiness.
It’s vital to consider how we’re constantly assailed
By the three sufferings and to feel disenchanted.
All that is born must naturally expire in the end,
Accumulated wealth will be exhausted in time.
What’s elevated will eventually be brought low,
And gatherings will, by their nature, disperse.
Reflect again and again on how everything, everything,
Is quick to perish and cease, unlasting and unstable,
And how beings’ lives are more fragile than bubbles,
And thus limit the scope of your plans accordingly.
No matter where we are reborn among the six classes in saṃsāra,
It will bring suffering, as if it were a fiery pit or island of ogresses.
Knowing this, we must exert ourselves in the means of escape
From these six classes, on the path of liberation’s certain good.
All phenomena depend on causes and conditions.
With confidence in the validity of this infallible process
Whereby apparent things arise unceasingly through dependent origination,
We must adopt and avoid certain actions in line with their results.
The truth of the origin, karma and the mental afflictions,
Brings about the result, the truth of suffering.
Its cessation brings the realization of the exalted,
To actualize which we must strive to follow the path.
As a support for vows, take refuge in the Three Jewels,
And develop stable confidence, trust and faith.
As the root of the Mahāyāna path, develop altruism,
Noble intention and the precious mind of bodhicitta.
Recognise all beings throughout the whole of space
As your own mother and father from the past.
Recall the great kindnesses that they all have shown,
Cultivate the mind training of exchanging oneself and others,
And practise repaying the kindnesses of one’s parents throughout the six realms.
Uproot the stubborn vine of cherishing oneself.
Quash the attitude of seeking exclusively your own happiness,
And dedicate body, speech and mind to virtue in pursuit of others’ wellbeing.
Free from attachment, recognise illusoriness,
And by uniting skilful means and wisdom,
Strive always to avoid unwholesome action,
Accumulate virtue, and secure beings’ welfare.
Through the six perfections, the mainstay of bodhisattva conduct,
And the four means of attraction, train beings comprehensively.
With deep wisdom, transcend the limits of existence and quiescence,
And thoroughly tear through the web of the two forms of obscuration.
The profound wisdom that realizes the absence of self-identity
Derives initially from theories based on study and reflection.
Thereafter it is experienced in meditation involving effort,
And finally it becomes definitive, direct and natural realisation.
At which point, the eggshell of ignorance is broken apart
And the sunlight of wisdom realisation shines upon the dark.
Then, as far as the Vajra Vehicle is concerned,
Since it has many methods, is swift and without difficulty,
Those of superior intellect should focus primarily upon it.
The paths of the three outer tantras are a little slower
So study and practise whichever of the three inner tantras—
Father, mother or non-dual—appeals to you the most.
Receive empowerment from a fully qualified vajra master
Into a profound maṇḍala, and from that moment on
Regard all that the teacher does with devotion,
Considering him or her to be inseparable from Vajradhara.
Visualize and practise this as the very essence of the path.
Should the samaya deteriorate you’ll be forced to burn in infernal fires.
But, by keeping the commitments, even without practising meditation,
You will be liberated within the course of seven or sixteen lives.
Whether you’re practising the path of generation or completion,
You must ascertain the view that is the vital core of everything.
For this, you should examine using profound intelligence
The essence of your own clearly and vividly apparent mind.
This is not to been seen through analysis, for it lacks discernible essence.
Beyond conceptual notions lies utter peace, the dharmadhātu.
This is not some blank and empty void;
It’s natural luminosity, ultimate and unconditioned,
Unchanging, beyond lack or surplus, addition or removal,
Realised nakedly and directly through our own awareness.
Focus on this method at regular periods based on the guru’s kindness.
Without it, paths will be as empty and as hollow as a plantain tree.
They will lack a core and fail to cut the root of conditioned existence.
Understand, then, that to learn this mystery of the mind
Is the unique course and intention of the buddhas of the three times.
With this, as the path of generation based on the vase empowerment,
Recognise the unity of appearance and emptiness, like the moon’s reflection,
And generate the visualization of the form of natural great bliss.
On the path of the secret empowerment, speech and wind-energy are purified.
Through exertion in remaining motionless and in binding and control,
Wayward wind-energies are brought within the central channel
And the precious jewel of kumbhaka made stable.
Through training the wind-energy in the yoga of subtle essences,
As a preliminary related to the knowledge-wisdom empowerment,
Master the emergence and reversal at the four chakras, and,
By bringing the essence into the chakras through the main practice of using a consort,
Loosen the knots in the channels, increase the strength of subtle winds and essences,
And develop the vigour that comes from accomplishing immortality,
Before ultimately attaining the level of Vajrasattva.
Thereafter, at the conclusion of this pure illustrative wisdom,
Cultivate the waves of the fourth empowerment.
Practise the three solitudes in particular, and settle without contrivance.
Actualizing the immaculate co-emergent wisdom of the genuine nature,
The vajra expanse, which is like the centre of the sky,
Will cause all the delusion of the three realms to fade away,
Bringing the full awakening that is the wisdom-essence of dharmakāya,
In which the three kāyas are present beyond any possibility of separation,
And the liberation of other beings occurs permanently, all-pervasively and spontaneously.
At all these stages, for the removal of obstacles and for enhancement
Consult the words of the genuinely learned and accomplished.
In particular, you should never be without devotion to the guru.
Merge mind and wisdom and receive empowerments again and again.
To restore samaya exert yourself in feast offering, fulfilment and recitation.
This will bring enhancement at every stage of generation and completion.
Always cultivate mindfulness, vigilance and conscientiousness,
And guard the vows you’ve received as you would your very eyes.
By allowing renunciation, bodhicitta and genuine view
To support one another you’ll make progress in the Dharma.
As Dharma progresses along the path it will pacify delusion,
And delusion will dawn as wisdom itself.
All the pure systems of the Buddha’s teachings
Within this land of snowy peaks have but one intention.
So develop pure perception towards every tradition.
Cultivate genuine and sincere compassion for all beings.
Dedicate all forms of virtue and make noble aspirations,
And always strive to make the teachings and beings thrive.
In this degenerate age, when life is short and plagued by illness,
The compassion of Guru Padmasambhava
And the noble lady Tārā is especially swift,
So pray to them and invoke their wisdom for your own and others’ sake.
Make prayers of aspiration repeatedly for the wellbeing of Tibet.
By exerting yourself in the practice that combines
Generation and completion, the Khecarī of Nāropa,
Whose direct vision was the fruit of blessings,
And whose line of blessings is undiminished,
The pinnacle of profound and vast instructions
Of the Sakya, sovereigns of the teachings as a whole,
You’ll spontaneously accomplish twofold benefit.
Thus, the sublime omnipresent lord Kangyurpa
Issued a request through the flute of his speech
For advice and an account of realization
Based on personal experience; alas, I lack such experience
And my life has been squandered on donated wealth.
Still, merely to avoid disobeying an instruction,
Chökyi Lodrö, the savage who is devoid of Dharma,
Resorted to words of the sublime ones which he himself has not applied,
And wrote this on the third ‘joy’ of the third month of the Water Dragon,
Together with the aspiration that any virtue be dedicated to all beings
And the wish that this might be of benefit to others. Virtue!
| Translated by Adam Pearcey with the generous support of the Khyentse Foundation and Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2021.
Tibetan Edition Used
’Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros. “Theg pa chen po’i lam rim snying po theg mchog bdud rtsi’i zil mngar/“ in ’Jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros kyi gsung ’bum. 12 vols. Bir: Khyentse Labrang, 2012. W1KG12986. Vol. 8: 370–377