Dukngal Rangdrol Recitation Manual

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Khenpo Pema Vajra

Avalokiteśvara, the Great Compassionate One

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Ornament of the Vidyādharas’ Wisdom

A Recitation Manual for the Great Compassionate One, Natural Liberation of Suffering (Dukngal Rangdrol)

by Khenpo Pema Vajra

Namo ārya-lokeśvarāya!

In realms of beings to be tamed, as limitless as the sky,
You bring beneficial rains of profound, secret Dharma,
A source of the cumulated clouds of the victorious,
Mighty Avalokiteśvara, Glacial Ocean,[1] to you I bow!

To the omniscient Jigme Lingpa, inseparable from
Padmasambhava, lord of accomplished adepts,
Illusory emanation of the conqueror Boundless Light,[2]
In devotion, I pay homage! Authorize these words, I pray.

I shall here set down a guide to approach and accomplishment,
A clarification of the means to gain supreme accomplishment
Based on the short path, the profound two-stage yoga
Of the supremely noble Natural Liberation of Suffering.

Here, there are three stages to the approach and accomplishment for a practitioner who has correctly received the four empowerments of the root maṇḍala of the supremely noble Natural Liberation of Suffering and who keeps the samayas:[3] 1) how to practise the approach phase on its own from the perspective of aspirational practitioners; 2) how to practise the approach and accomplishment phases in union; and 3) how to practise the approach and accomplishment phases from the perspective of mature practitioners.

I. How to Practise the Approach Phase on Its Own from the Perspective of Aspirational Practitioners

This has three parts: 1) preliminaries, 2) main part, and 3) conclusion

1. Preliminaries

The root sādhana says:

The best place to do this practice is somewhere with earth that is smooth and even, and white in colour; the place should abound in goodness and virtue, and not be under the power of enemies or malevolent spirits.

A suitable location should have these characteristics. It should be without any external or internal disadvantage and possess all favourable conditions. Gather the necessary materials. Clean your dwelling place and arrange representations of enlightened body, speech and mind. The offerings should be beautiful and attractive, so that they invite calm and inspire blessings. Outside, in the open, make offerings to the eight classes in general and the local gods in particular through the practices of the great prayer and offering of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, the Offering to the Eight Classes,[4] or a smoke offering, as elaborately or concisely as appropriate, and request assistance in your practice.

Then, for the obstructing forces, arrange at the doorway a torma garnished with meat, blood, garlic, onion, and so on. With the pride of being Hayagrīva, forcefully expel obstructing forces and establish the boundary. Imagine that from the protective wheel of the vajra tent, which is egg-shaped, massive five-coloured wisdom flames shoot out in all directions, and carry out the expulsion of obstruction of forces and boundary setting according to the practice text. Then hang a small white paper with the name-mantras of the Four Great Kings and a petition at the corner of the door. Invite the Great Kings, dissolve them and entrust them with enlightened activity.

In your own room, place kuśa grass under your seat and draw a svastika (clockwise) with white grains, before arranging your seat on top. If you have an image on cloth, or a statue, place it at eye level. In front of it set out an altar with two levels and, on the upper tier, place the main torma of the Great Compassionate One produced according to the Clarifications on the Offering Tormas,[5] medicine and rakta, the tormas for the covenant and the Tenma goddesses, and the regular offerings.

If you wish to insert dhāraṇīs into the tormas, anoint paper with scent and then with suitable black or red ink write "oṃ amitābha hrīḥ", the six-syllable mantra, the mantras of the four goddesses and the mantras of the Hayagrīvas of the four families. Then write the mantra of the Sky Treasury and "Noble deities and your retinue, please grant me supreme and ordinary accomplishments". On the side, write the ye dharma mantra once. Roll it from the top without turning it upside down and tie it with a white silk cloth. Then place it inside a bamboo cane or copper pipe. Place the regular offerings, beginning with the two of water, on the lower level of the altar and arrange them in a line. This will suffice for the approach phase; it is not necessary to prepare anything else, such as a maṇḍala. As the root text says:

Alternatively, do the practice based on the supports of ambrosia, rakta, and torma.

Next, depending on how much time you have, purify yourself with the preliminary practices for as many days as possible. Since genuine renunciation is the root of the path to liberation, as a means to develop it, contemplate the four thoughts that turn the mind from saṃsāra. Since precious bodhicitta is the vital force of the Great Vehicle, as a means to develop it, train your mind in the four immeasurables. When you are confident that these have been mastered, apply the key points of taking refuge, generating bodhicitta, the seven branches, and especially the preliminaries related to the Vajrayāna: the purification of obscurations through the visualization of Vajrasattva and recitation of his mantra, the gathering of accumulations through maṇḍala offering, and the guru yoga which is the entrance-way for blessings.

Then invite the field of accumulation by reciting, "In my heart is the syllable hūṃ, from which radiate rays of light, inviting our mighty protector Avalokiteśvara, surrounded by all the objects of refuge of the ten directions and the four times in their entirety, in the sky in front of me—vajra-samajaḥ!" Visualize Lord Avalokiteśvara as the principal figure of the field of accumulation, with the other objects of refuge such as the Three Jewels, lineage masters, yidam deities, ḍākinīs and Dharma protectors, who all gather like clouds. Then recite:

Namo! In this never-ending cycle of saṃsāra…


Hoḥ! All sentient beings of the six classes—my very own parents—…


Hoḥ! To all sources of refuge throughout the three times…

Then meditate on Vajrasattva according to the preliminaries:

Āḥ! I am in my ordinary form. Above my head…

Do the practice of guru yoga, either according to the preliminaries or by visualizing the guru in the form of Avalokiteśvara, and invoke his wisdom with the prayer known as The Vision. Recite the six-syllable mantra in the manner of a prayer. At the end of the lineage prayers, receive the four empowerments and merge your mind with the guru's wisdom mind according to the preliminary practices. It is excellent to practise this way, since this also becomes the outer practice of the Great Compassionate One. In any case, what has been discussed up to now are the preliminary practices.

2. The Main Part

From the moment you begin the retreat and establish the boundary, refrain from moving about, either inside or outside, and avoid distraction. Plan your practice in four sessions.[6] On the first day, during the dawn session, conclude your preliminaries completely. Then, at the beginning of the morning session, arrange the tormas for the local deities and obstructive forces. Recite the Seven-Line Prayer and the prayers to the masters of the lineage, invite the field of accumulation, recite the Vision prayer, take refuge, generate bodhicitta and perform the seven-branch offerings according to the main text. Following this, bless the white torma and ‘golden drink’ (serkyem), make the offering to the eight classes and offer the preliminary torma according to the text, beginning with "Vidyādhara lineage masters…" Then recite:

oṃ hrīḥ padmāntakṛta vajrakrodha hayagrīva hulu hulu hūṃ phaṭ
Instantly, I transform into the form of the heruka Supreme Horse, unbearably wrathful and with awesome splendour, blazing like an apocalyptic fire.


Hrīḥ. I am in the form of the Mighty Lotus,

With this, expel the obstructive forces and meditate on the protective circle. Then, beginning with the descent of blessings, perform the ritual in the usual manner. The meaning of the generation stage can be understood from The Loud Drum of Spring: A Commentary on the Difficult Points. After the praise, when you reach the mantra recitation, do not focus only on the number of mantras; it is important to concentrate first on the clear appearance of the deities, remember the purity, and generate pride. As the Recitation Manual of the Oral Lineage of the Vidyādharas says:

To put it simply, seeing, hearing, or thinking in an ordinary way does not qualify as approach practice. So it is said:

All sights are perfected as the mudrā of enlightened form,
All sounds are purified into the great bliss of mantra,
All thoughts are matured into the clear light dharmakāya.[7]

In our tradition, these three principles of ‘purifying, perfecting, and maturing’ are the central themes of approach practice.

At first, focus on the main deity alone. Clearly visualize all the details, from the tip of his crown all the way down to his lotus seat; the colour of his body; his ornaments and garments; the white and black of his eyes; the ornamentation on his hands and feet; the major and minor marks, and the radiation and reabsorption of light rays. The deity should not appear flat like a painted cloth, substantial and solid like a clay statue, or inanimate like a rainbow. He has a body composed of subtle light, which has neither front nor back, neither left nor right side, no thickness or depth, and no internal organs. Train yourself to think that the deity is actually present, endowed with the wisdom of omniscience, love and power. Having focused on the deity, gradually also visualize the Lord of the Families, Amitābha, in nirmāṇakāya attire, the goddesses of the four families and the Hayagrīvas of the four families. Visualize each of them clearly. Then gradually also visualize the palace, the environment of the pure realm and the protection circle. Sometimes focus on all of this as a whole and sometimes on individual aspects. Train so that the entire maṇḍala of the palace and deities appears vividly in your mind. This is what we call clear appearance.

While visualizing all this clearly, you should not cling to it as if it were real and possessing its own independent characteristics. Ultimately, the maṇḍala of naturally present wisdom has no conceptual elaborations such as faces, hands, colour and shape. Still, symbolically, as a means of illustrating the naturally present qualities of the buddhas in the perception of beings to be tamed, the deity arises in a form with a face, hands, colour and the rest.

  • His one face symbolizes naturally arising wisdom.
  • His four hands represent the four immeasurables and the four ways of attracting disciples.
  • His two feet symbolize skilful means and insight, or discipline and concentration.
  • His five silken garments are the undefiled aggregates.
  • The seven jewelled ornaments indicate the seven aspects of awakening.
  • The white colour of his body shows that he has discarded the stains of the two obscurations.
  • Having the perfect buddhas on his crown shows that he is the absolute buddha.
  • And his standing posture symbolizes how he never fails to benefit beings… and so on.

Once you know what all these aspects indicate, you can train in the illusory display of appearance and emptiness—the fact that even though the deity appears in the rūpakāya, in reality he never moves from the dharmakāya. This is what we call remembering the purity.

The ground of purification is birth, death and the intermediate state, and the subtle body, speech and mind. The result of purification is a conviction that everything abides primordially as the three kāyas of the victorious ones and the three vajras. The agents of purification, which wash away adventitious obscurations, are the three concentrations and three clarities. Take these continuously on the path and seal appearance, sound and awareness as the display of deity, mantra and wisdom. This is what we call stable pride.

These are the significant elements of approach within the main practice of the generation phase. Of the four nails that bind the life-force, this is the branch of the approach phase referred to as the nail of concentration, which is extremely important. In this way, focus mainly on the visualization of the deity, resting in meditative equipoise for as long as you can. Then begin the recitation:

I am the Great Compassionate One. In my heart…etc.

Recite the visualization for the mantra recitation. Begin with silent recitation, then continue with mental recitation and finally verbal recitation.

Inside the locket of the sun and moon at the deity’s heart, upon a moon-disk seat, is a syllable hrīḥ. It is surrounded by the seven-syllable mantra, dazzling white in colour, like a garland of pearls. Focus on this one-pointedly. Practice prāṇāyāma and gently hold your breath with the intermediate breathing. Practise this in a balanced way, neither too strongly nor too softly and without damaging your elements. When you breathe out, the hrīḥ syllable and mantra garland radiate rays of five-coloured light, like stretched-out woollen threads, which flow out from your two nostrils. They purify appearance and existence, transforming them into the pure maṇḍala. When you breathe in, the outer world and its inhabitants dissolve completely, in their entirety, and transform into five-coloured light which enters your two nostrils and dissolves into the mantra garland and the syllable hrīḥ. While you hold your breath with the intermediate breathing practice, train in mixing awareness and the mantra garland indivisibly: this is the silent recitation. Then focus your mind on the sounds reverberating naturally from the mantra garland and on the mental recitation of the seven-syllable mantra, without omitting or adding anything.

Then practise the verbal recitation. Avoid the faults of mantra recitation such as reciting too loudly or too softly, too quickly or too slowly, or interrupting the mantra with ordinary language. Recite the mantra correctly and clearly, and with a beautiful sound. As you do so, rays of light emerge from the mantra garland at your heart. They shoot forth from your uṣṇīṣa, the tuft of hair (ūrṇā) between your eyebrows, your tongue, the glorious knot at your heart and the pores of your body. They fill the billionfold universe representing all the realms throughout the ten directions. Countless bodhisattvas in the form of youthful men and women emerge from the tips of each of the light-rays. They bring a rain of offering clouds, flowers and perfumed water and sing songs of praise. They make offerings to all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, praise them, and implore them to act for the benefit of beings. In response, all the buddhas and bodhisattvas appear as emanations of the Noble One, large and small, and in various manifestations, such as with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes, with one face and four arms, or in the form of Khasarpaṇi. From various places on their bodies, such as their navels, their secret place and two hips, their kneecaps, and the thousand-spoked wheels at the soles of their feet, there manifest enlightened forms, rays of light and naturally resounding mantras that completely fill all the realms in the universe. They purify the karma, negative emotions, confused perceptions and habitual tendencies of all sentient beings of the six classes and three realms, like frost that is struck by the rays of the sun. Consider that they all transform into the form of the Noble One and resound naturally with the six-syllable mantra, humming and buzzing like a beehive.

Then the rays of light return, bringing all the qualities of the wisdom, love and power belonging to the victorious ones and their heirs. The entire world and its inhabitants, visualized as a pure maṇḍala, dissolves into the enlightened forms, seed-syllables, implements and light-rays. These then enter the pores in the bodies of the deities of the principal maṇḍala and the chief deity, dissolving into the radiant life-force syllable hrīḥ at their hearts. All concepts that involve clinging to saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, or self and others, then merge indivisibly and of a single taste with the primordial wisdom of awareness. The process of gaining familiarity with the crucial point of combining view, appearance and reality incorporates the heart of the branch of the close approach phase, the nail of mantra, the branch of accomplishment, the nail of the unchanging wisdom mind, and the branch of great accomplishment, the nail of emanation and absorption. The four nails that bind the life-force thus contain the most important, crucial points of the main part of the approach phase.

One might wonder why the branches of accomplishment and great accomplishment are included here, in the context of practising the approach phase on its own. In general, the four branches of approach and accomplishment include the following:

  • The four branches of approach and accomplishment that present the levels of realization
  • The four branches of approach and accomplishment at the time of union
  • The four branches of approach and accomplishment at the time of practice
  • The four branches of approach and accomplishment as an outline that summarises the generation phase
  • The four branches of approach and accomplishment as an outline that summarises the perfection phase
  • The four branches of approach and accomplishment as an outline that summarises both the generation and perfection phases

Here we are concerned with the four branches of approach and accomplishment at the time of practice. These can be further separated into approach and accomplishment to give four branches of approach and four branches of accomplishment. The four branches of approach and accomplishment that are explained here are the four at the time of practice: the approach of the approach, the close approach of the approach, the accomplishment of the approach and the great accomplishment of the approach. When you know this, you can easily understand the complete framework of approach and accomplishment and distinguish between them.

Furthermore, first you must clearly visualize the deity’s appearance, then clearly visualize the mantra garland, and then the activity of emanation and reabsorption. It is crucial not to practise the later phases until you have gained stability in the clear appearance for the earlier ones.

When concluding a session, recite the vowels and consonants, the hundred-syllable mantra and the ye dharmā dhāraṇī three times to make up for any omissions or additions during the approach recitation. Then perform the offering and praise, receive the siddhis and make confession. For the words to actualize the dissolution, you can use the text of the Vidyādhara Assembly or another practice, as appropriate. Dissolving the appearance of the deity into luminosity and resting for as long as you can in meditation cannot be dispensed with, since it is the crucial point of the practice for purifying the bardo of dying into dharmakāya.

When you arise from such a state, through the condition of reciting the six-syllable mantra once, assume the illusory kāya of the deity Avalokiteśvara in the form of Khasarpaṇi during post-meditation. Bless your three places, protect your body through ‘donning the armour’ and visualize the protection circle. Then recite the prayers of dedication, aspiration and auspiciousness.

In the breaks between sessions, whether you are moving, resting, eating or walking, while never separating from the pride of being Lord Avalokiteśvara, purify realms, transform sensual delights into feast offerings and ripen the minds of beings and so on. Whichever such methods you apply, do not slip back into perceiving your body, speech and mind ordinarily.

In the afternoon session, invite the field of accumulation as before. Beginning with the prayers and taking refuge and generating bodhicitta, recite everything up to the prayers of dedication, aspiration and auspiciousness. The only difference is that during the expulsion of obstructive forces, if you don’t have a torma, omit the line, "Accept this torma offering of sensual delights..."

Some recitation manuals say that in the afternoon session you can omit the sections of expelling the obstructive forces and the protection circle, instead starting with blessing the offerings, and that there is no need to do the dissolution at the end of the session, or that you only need to perform the dissolution during the evening session. However, it is excellent if you actually include them. The reasons for this are, firstly, that during the approach phase the rituals of the generation phase contain the complete instructions for the mind training of purifying birth, death and the bardos; secondly, to expel the negative nyulé spirits associated with set periods of the day; and thirdly, to protect oneself from obstacles.

Perform the evening session in the same way as the earlier sessions, but add the feast and fulfilment offering and dedicate the tormas as elaborately or concisely as appropriate. In general, the evening or at night is certainly the right time to present the feast and fulfilment offerings, so you should do so at that time. However, if the afternoon would be more convenient because it is easier to see what you are doing, then there is no fault in performing the practice during the afternoon session.

In any case, at the end of the evening session go to sleep while practising the yoga of sleep. For this you can apply the relevant instructions, such as concentrating on the life-force of the deity’s form during the post-meditation, merging with the dharmatā through the dissolution, or recognizing the dream state as luminosity.

Before the dawn session, imagine that you are woken by vīras and yoginīs who appear in the sky, ringing tiny bells and playing ḍāmarus. Through song, they urge you to arise from luminosity as the rūpakāya. Assume the form of the post-meditation deity and perform the preliminary practices, beginning with calling the guru from afar. Continue through to receiving the four empowerments of the guru yoga section. Then carry out the dawn session as usual. If you have a daily torma offering for the local deities and obstructive forces, offer it at the beginning of the morning session. However, there is no fault in omitting it.

This concludes our discussion of all that is to be done during a complete day. Continue in the same manner until the recitation of the approach is completed.

There are three ways to calculate the number of recitations for the approach phase: based on number, duration or signs. The root sādhana says:

If the approach phase is calculated numerically, recite ten million.
The approach phase based on duration is that time multiplied by four.[8]
The approach phase based on signs depends on the signs that arise.

At the end of each session you should recite a few mantras of the ladies of the four enlightened activities. Understand that this is an aspect of practising the main deity. This concludes the main part.

3. The Conclusion

If you plan to finish the retreat the following day, then at the start of the afternoon session present a fresh offering torma and ensure that the other offering substances and feast offerings are of excellent quality and beautifully arranged. Perform the feast and the confession and fulfilment and so on elaborately.

During the dawn session of the following day, perform the ritual as usual and offer the feast and fulfilment practices. Dedicate the torma for the covenant, the Tenma Goddesses and the dance [of Hayagrīva]. Offer the regular tormas into a fire or take them to a clean place. When it is time to receive the siddhis, replenish the offerings and arrange a kapāla filled with alcohol and Dharma medicine, and sealed with butter, in front of you. Light the regular offering lamps, dedicate a torma to the obstructive forces, expel them, and visualize the protective circle. Bless the offerings and perform the descent of blessings. Then imagine that all the accomplishments of the enlightened body, speech and mind of the victorious ones and their heirs are gathered into the three syllables. White, red and blue amṛta descends like rain and dissolves into the torma and amṛta. At the end of the approach mantra of the main deity and his retinue, add "kāya vāka citta sarva siddhi phala hūṃ" and recite this combined mantra as much as you can. Then imagine that the old offering tormas instantly transform into the deities, and make offering and praise. Make confessions with The Ultimate Inexpressible Confession or with the section in the main text that begins:

In this maṇḍala of the Great Compassionate One…

After this, recite the hundred-syllable mantra twenty-one times. Then recite The Vision and invoke the attainments by means of the section that begins:

Hoḥ. Deities of the maṇḍala of the Great Compassionate One…

Touch the torma to your three centres and receive the four empowerments. Then, consider that the torma deity melts into light and transforms into amṛta. Take some amṛta to sprinkle on the torma substances and drink some of it.

At this point, to supplement the recitation of the approach phase, perform a fire offering. Adapt the words of the peaceful fire offering of the vidyādharas[9] and offer the substances only with the main approach mantra. At the end, when reciting the prayer for the fulfilment of wishes, the only difference is as follows:

May all our mistakes and confusion, such as lack of clarity in samādhi, performing the ritual incorrectly, faults in the mantra recitation or mudrā, as well as any additions or omissions be cleansed and purified!

Thus, perform the fire offering by reciting the substance-mantra—one tenth the number of times as for the approach-phase recitation. Carry out the stages of the dissolution as before, and release the inner boundary.

Then, for a period of three or seven days, as appropriate, continue your sessions without interruption and present feast and fulfilment offerings out of gratitude. Recite prayers of dedication and aspiration to the best of your ability. When releasing the outer boundary, arise as the post-meditation deity and protect your body by donning the armour. Then go to the doors and place a white torma and golden drink in front of each of the shrines of the Great Kings. Make the offering and request them to carry out their activities and depart.

Outside, where there is no shelter, celebrate by offering to the general and specific local deities and owners of the lands, through smoke offering (sang) and so on, as well as by offering food to beggars.

This concludes the explanation of how to practise the approach phase on its own.

II. Concise Explanation of How to Practise the Approach and Accomplishment Phases in Union

1.The Preparations

The root text says:

On top of a perfectly arranged maṇḍala, as wide as an arrow, arrange the accomplishment substances as explained in the Visionary Instructions.[10]


The accomplishment substances such as the life-spirit stone and the life-force cakra, and the crucial points of visualization, should be known from the ‘Commentary that Lays Bare the Pith Instructions' alone.

Follow, therefore, The Visionary Instructions that Lay Bare the Pith Instructions, which says:

There are five chapters: the accomplishment substances, life-spirit stone and the life-force cakra,
The maṇḍala ritual, the focal points and the conclusion.

The third chapter, the maṇḍala ritual, says:

Starting from the ritual of the earth,
Follow the framework of the great accomplishment,

This means you you must follow A Precious Casket: The Awesome Ones’s Framework for Accomplishment.[11] For a practice of peaceful deities you omit the practice of the secret boundary, the liberation of Matram Rudra. But when using the secret practice of Hayagrīva’s Assembly, you should still apply the liberation of Matram Rudra. Furthermore, during the practice of the inner boundary one assumes the pride of being the play of Hayagrīva. Apply the lines and dots [of the maṇḍala] according to The Visionary Instructions. You must also know the specific materials to be arranged for the practice of the Great Compassionate One, such as the accomplishment and empowerment substances.

2. The Main Part

This includes the approach, the accomplishment and the application of activities.

1. The Approach

The Visionary Instructions says:

When practising the main activity manual
Visualize yourself, the maṇḍala and representations for accomplishment
Indivisibly as one
Until you have recited ten million approach mantras.
Through meditation, the signs of the warmth of accomplishment will swiftly appear.

Thus practise while visualizing the self and front maṇḍalas as one.

2. The Accomplishment

Follow the instructions beginning with the line:

To separate the self and front visualizations, divide the house of recitation.

At the end of the praise say:

bhrūṃ viśva vishuddhe phaṭ jaḥ

With this, from the self-visualization of the samaya maṇḍala, the wisdom maṇḍala of the front visualization separates and appears in the space before you, with the blazing mountains of each maṇḍala just touching each other. Focus on the vase and follow the instructions:

Visualize the palace of the deities in the vase…


…In a state without increase or decrease, perform the recitation.

Considering it to be the universal mantra, recite the seven-syllable heart mantra.

When you are halfway through the number of days that you have set aside to practise, carry out the four special activities together with their particular focal points according to The Visionary Instructions and the root sādhana. Actions that need to be undertaken here, such as expelling the nyulé, the descent of blessings, how to divide the four sessions and how to present the feast and fulfilments offerings, can be known in detail from the Framework of Accomplishment.

3. The Application of Activities

The Visionary Instructions says:

  1. The Concluding Activities
    When signs arise, receive the siddhis
    And make offerings out of gratitude…


…Is the supreme among all methods of rejuvenation.

Be sure to carry this out perfectly. Receiving the siddhis is for one’s own benefit, and granting empowerments and making fire offerings are for the benefit of others. The way do these things can be understood from the third section of the framework, the section on receiving the siddhis.

3. The Concluding Activities that Ensure the Accomplishments

The Visionary Instructions says:

The concluding activities following the accomplishments
Should be carried out as usual.

This means that you should follow only the instructions for the special concluding activities as they are found in the framework.

This concludes the concise explanation of how to practise the approach and accomplishment phases in union.

III. An Explanation of How to Practise the Approach and Accomplishment Phases from the Perspective of Matured Practitioners

The oral instructions contained in the Recitation Manual of the Vidyādharas explain how the approach and accomplishment should be done:

In this very lifetime you will be fully awakened within the absolute space of the five kāyas by perfecting the stages of attainment—the five paths mentioned in the sūtras and the four levels of a vidyādhara outlined in the tantras… Such details are to be understood from the vajra master’s instructions.

A Glimpse of the Crucial Points: The Vidyādhara's Manual of Concealed Instructions explains the meaning of this:

The concealed instruction on how to gain the result at that time is as follows.
The following are special points in accordance with the tantras concerning how to obtain the vidyādhara stages of wisdom while remaining in an ordinary body…


...the appearances of the great saṃbhogakāya, arise. Samaya!

As this indicates, you begin by receiving the empowerments in their entirety from the vajra master. Then you proceed gradually through the five experiences of movement, attainment, familiarity, stability and consummation based on the generation phase coupled with vajra recitation. Through this, you create the interdependent circumstances for discarding what must be discarded and realizing what must be realized, up to the seventh bhūmi, Far Progressed. In your own perception, the appearances of the deities arise continuously and you gain the confidence of a vidyādhara with power over life. Then:

From this point onwards, the remaining stages are reached by means of the supreme path of anuyoga, as in the mother tantra, The Wishing Jewel of the Aural Lineage.

As this says, you then follow the instructions on the practice of inner heat acccording to The Scroll of the Aural Lineage.[12] You train in the practice of the messenger from the path of method according to Clarifying the Concealed Meaning,[13]. Then, when you attain warmth and both wind-energy and mind become pliable, perform the feast-gathering group practices in which the special factors of place, time, companions and substances are all brought together. Practise with the approach and accomplishment in union and maintain intimate conduct as already explained. On the final night, through the union of the profound empowerment, you will reach the path of seeing according to the Mantra Vehicle. At that time, you will attain the level of a vidyādhara with power over life. This is identical with Immovable, the eighth bhūmi according to the sūtra system.

Then, through the path of the Great Perfection, free from effort or exertion, you will perfect the two remaining bhūmis that are included in the level of a mahāmudrā vidyādhara and awaken to complete, perfect buddhahood within the precious sphere of the spontaneously present five kāyas at the level of a great, spontaneously accomplished vidyādhara. The details of this can be understood from other sources.

This concludes this brief explanation of the stages of approach and accomplishment based on the practice of The Great Compassionate One, Natural Liberation of Suffering.

This path on which one practices the generation and completion phases of the tantras of the great secret,
And which brings one to the level of a mighty Vajradhara,
Is only accomplished correctly
By means of the four branches of approach and accomplishment.

Following the pith instructions of the gurus who have realized the meaning of the tantras,
I have examined this sādhana, including its auxiliary practices,
And set down my conclusions in this text,
Which I presume to call an ornament of the vidyādharas’ wisdom.

Any erroneous explanations based on my lack of realization,
I confess before the hosts of protectors of the Supremely Noble guru.
May the merit contained herein become the cause for all beings
To attain the level of Lord Avalokiteśvara in actuality.

I, Pema Vajra, lowest among the disciples of Dokham Dzogchenpa,[14] wrote this at the isolated retreat place of Samten Gatsal at the request of the hidden yogi Upāsaka Lekong, a Buddhist monk by the name of Tsültrim Gocha. May virtue and excellence abound! Sarva śubhaṃ! Virtue!

| Translated by Han Kop, reviewed by Matthias Staber and edited by Barry Cohen, 2022, for the Longchen Nyingtik Project.


Tibetan Edition

Pad+ma badz+ra. "Thugs rje chen po sdug bsngal rang grol gyi bsnyen yig rig pa 'dzin pa’i dgongs rgyan" In Mkhan chen pad+ma badz+ra’i gsung 'bum. 2 vols. Lhasa: Bod ljongs bod yig dpe rnying dpe skrun khang, 2011. Vol. 2: 31–48

Version: 1.1-20220524

  1. Glacial Ocean (Tib. gangs can mtsho) is an epithet of the buddhas of the five families in the Nyingma tradition. The glacial oceans, or oceans derived from melt water are said to derive from scented water from the pores of the bodies of the buddhas and then give rise to all world systems.  ↩

  2. Skt. Amitābha.  ↩

  3. Receiving a reading transmission (lung) is a general prerequisite for any tantric text. The reading transmission for the present text, however, is either extremely rare or no longer extant. Khenchen Pema Sherab observes that since this accords with the concise commentary by Khyentse Wangpo, which is itself found among the core texts of the Longchen Nyingtik (Nyingtik Tsapö) and for which the reading transmission still exists, this commentary can be regarded as a further clarification of that, one that is especially helpful for understanding how to practise in retreat.  ↩

  4. Possibly a reference to Nubchen Sangye Yeshe’s Restorative Offering to the Eight Classes  ↩

  5. A Few Clarifications on the Offering Tormas of the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse (klong chen snying thig gi gtor ma'i reg zig gsal ba), Tsapö, vol. 3, pp. 601–606.  ↩

  6. i.e., dawn, morning, afternoon and evening sessions.  ↩

  7. From the prayer for auspiciousness at the end of Rigdzin Düpa.  ↩

  8. This means that one multiplies the time required for the number-based approach phase by four. For example if it would take four months to complete a certain number of recitations, the time-based approach phase would last sixteen months.  ↩

  9. Wisdom Flames: A Peaceful Fire Offering for the Peaceful and Fierce Vidyādhara Practices (rig 'dzin zhi drag gi sgo nas/ zhi ba'i sbyin sreg ye shes me lce).  ↩

  10. The ‘Pratri’, The Visionary Instructions that Lay Bare the Pith Instructions, from the Great Compassionate One, the Natural Liberation of Suffering (thugs rje chen po sdug bsngal rang grol las/ pra khrid dmar byang gnad yig)  ↩

  11. A Precious Casket: A Framework for Accomplishment, from the Ocean-like Assembly of Awesome Ones (Palchen Düpa) (dpal chen bka' 'dus rgya mtsho las/ sgrub pa'i khog 'bubs rin po che'i za ma tog)  ↩

  12. Wish-Fulfilling Jewel: The Scroll of the Aural Lineage for the Praṇa-Based Perfection Stage of Bliss and Emptiness, from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse (klong chen nying gi tig le las bde stong rlung gi rdzogs rim snyan rgyud shog dril yid bzhin nor bu).  ↩

  13. Clarifying the Concealed Meaning of the Vidyādhara's Yogic Exercises, from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse (klong chen nying gi tig le las rig 'dzin 'khrul 'khor sbas don gsal ba)  ↩

  14. Mingyur Namkhai Dorje, the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, about whom see https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Dzogchen-Drubwang-04-Mingyur-Namkai-Dorje/3020  ↩

Vajrayāna Buddhism places restrictions on the reading and practice of certain texts, which are intended only for those who have received the requisite empowerments, transmissions and instructions.

If you are unsure as to whether you are entitled to read or practice a particular text please consult a qualified lineage-holder.