I would like to greet my dharma friends. Thanks for coming. This is a very meaningful gathering with great purpose. It is said in Buddhism, if only 4 sangha members come together, they think of all mother sentient beings, even a small assembly can fulfills something very powerful. So thank you again for coming.
According to the program, I will give instruction on deity Yamantaka. What is purpose of these instructions? In general, according to Drikung Kagyu, it is widespread practice. because it is widespread, many disciples asked about the deity. They feel something is distinct about his deity. So when they engage in this in the 3 vehicles it becomes a great elaboration, many distinct levels of teachings, which created doubts and questions in their minds, to clear these, I will instruct this deity to the best of my abilities.
So the precious teachings of Buddha were taught by Buddha’s for sentient beings.
Qualities of Buddhahood – the Three Kayas
First, we need to understand qualities of Buddha. When one attains Buddhahood, one attains qualities of the three kayas.
First is the Dharmakaya, which refers to the space like the all-pervasive nature of mind, space like- no duality, free of all limitation, neither one or many. Like space, can’t be divided into two. Vast, no division. In that space like Dharmakaya, all the Buddhas are one. The emptiness, but that is not nothing, when sentient beings realize truth of emptiness, they were attain state of great bliss, ever lasting happiness. When this is attained, the Buddhas have great natural compassion for all sentient beings that have not attained it. Where space pervade, all pervasive compassion arises.
The Sambhogakaya arises in many forms. For example, Peaceful and wrathful deities.
Also the Nirmanakaya, which includes all the sentient beings that haven’t attained Enlightenment. The nirmanakaya has many forms.
Incarnate nirmanakayas include the teachers. The created nirmanakaya are images and statues. Manifold nirmanakaya are any natural occurrence that appears to bring happiness to sentient beings- the 4 elements and so on. The mind is emptiness and compassion. The arising compassion is the arising of the forms of the emanations, Sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya.
In terms of the deities, the deities are Sambhogakaya, there are peaceful and wrathful deities, especially about the wrathful, there are questions, so we say the essence of the Buddhas’ teachings are the 37 bodhisattva practices. On the other hand, the wrathful practice. People wonder how to reconcile them. With the flesh offerings and so on. These are good questions. They show you are really thinking about them with intelligence. There seems to be a contradiction, so I will try to clean this away to the best of my abilities.
So from the qualities of the Buddhas, the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya appear to benefit to sentient beings, through the 4 enlightened activities. Also relate to our mundane activities. For example, If a president or someone is trying to administer a country, must be through the 4 enlightened activities of pacifying, creating well-being, increasing, increase wealth, magnetizing, to summon/ restrain people, and wrathful to oppose any enemies who might harm the country. These relate to enlightened activities too. Pacifying, increasing, magnetizing and wrathful. If we don’t understand clearly, it seems a contradiction. When we read 37 bodhisattva practices may be hard to reconcile. When you have realized the meaning of all dharma, all the 4 activities are explained in the 37 bodhisattva practices, especially “if someone for whom one has cared as lovingly as one’s own child regards one as an enemy, to cherish them as dearly as a mother does an ailing child is the bodhisattva practice.“ (16th Bodhisattva practice)
There are some sentient beings that can’t be subdued through first 3 activities. Their karma is too strong. Only way to subdue is wrathful. It is like a sick child. Certain illnesses can be cured by medicine. Sometimes, we need surgery. When we undergo surgery, it is beneficial, so we are happy about it, it is good for us. In same way, and the wrathful activities have a curing quality. It comes down to intention. Anything we do with angry attitude will become the cause of suffering. But any one of the 4 activities, if done from altruism, is of benefit. We have already known, were taught in 37 bodhisattva practices. For this reason, is important to understand the meaning.
This is the purpose of teaching all levels of Buddhist path, Pratimoksha, bodhisattva, and Vajrayana. First, is the Pratimoksha, where we recognize the faults of afflictions. Next, bodhisattva recognize root of fault- grasping. Vajrayana is when we realize there is no self-grasping, there is what is always there Buddha-nature. Buddha-nature everything has outer, inner, secret aspect. In beginning, may think Vajrayana is difficult to understand, but it’s not. look at one person has outer, inner, secret. Outer- the body we see. Inner – the temporary affliction, thoughts in mind. Secret- their Buddha-nature. That Buddha-nature pervades all beings. Because of this, in Buddha-nature, there is nothing to be liberated, and nothing to liberate- no duality in terms of wrathful, nothing to be slain, and nothing to slay. If there were any actual duality, then we could kill, cut and so forth. To kill something, there needs to be two. In the reality of the space like nature of mind, there is no agent to liberate and nothing to liberate. This is ultimate nature of Vajrayana, purpose of all 4 activities- to establish all sentient beings in Enlightenment, to realize non-duality. In that sense, these words of 37 bodhisattva practices about the sick child are really fitting for wrathful practice.
Written instruction of Yamantaka not only refers to Yamantaka; we need to understand general meaning of wrathful deity. Some people think of Yamantaka is very distinct deity. In the sense need to understand nature, not separate from other deities. All the wrathful deities arise from state of great compassion, and arise from Vajrayana. Arise from great compassion. Just like the Manjushri. For example, when a child is naughty, the mother will be wrathful to a child, but for the child’s benefit. In same way, the deities appear in wrathful form with many implements, etc.
Here, we need to understand the purpose these ornamentations fulfill. Vajrayana are shown through symbols, signs, and actual meanings. Not something someone made up, but they show us the nature of deity that appears to us naturally, like a rainbow in the sky. In the past, great masters accomplished a deity, and through accomplishment, the deity appeared to them in an aspect. From that, the sadhanas arose. From them, the teachings arose: the termas and so forth.
Vajrayana shown through symbols, signs, and actual meaning
What does it mean, the “Vajrayana is shown through signs?”
Take Manjushri. He holds a sword. The sword is a symbol. What can you do with a sword? You can cut up things. What can Manjushri cut up? The 2nd part, it symbolizes wisdom, wisdom mind. The wisdom mind has qualities of dispelling false perceptions of duality. Because sentient beings are ignorant of true nature, they perceive a self. From the self, they see an other. From this, we get 84,000 delusions, are rooted in self-grasping. But when you look at that mind directly, is nothing form space like nature, inseparable from outer space wisdom mind realizes non dual nature 1st, the symbol. The sword. Symbolizes wisdom mind. Sign – sword symbol- the wisdom – the sign – a quality – a swords can cut, a sword can cut a rope that binds you, from ultimate- it is a sword of wisdom that cuts the rope that binds you in dualistic perception and liberates you. In this way, can understand Vajrayana. Can apply this to the implements of the wrathful too. Each ornamentation, each symbol is an outer representation of an inner quality of the deities’ mind. in this way, understand the symbolic nature of Vajrayana.
What is benefit of understanding these symbols? To really understand qualities of deities mind, that represents enlightened aspect. Various levels of realization, qualities of realization are presented as ornamentations. It is important to bring these to mind – they purify ordinary thoughts, the 6 afflictions that are cause of 6 realms of samsara.
Some beginners don’t feel inspired by creation stage; dismiss it as “just another thinking in mind.” But we need it. It purifies ordinary perceptions; it’s not habituated, so it feels difficult. We prefer meditation without concepts. But its purpose is it eliminates ordinary mundane thinking. We create more thoughts of concrete solidifies reality. Solidify our attachment, when we think of pure form of deity, the ordinary pure forms of thinking are purified. Then, when we do completion stage, those are all completely purified. this is why it is important to do (both) Creation and Completion.
When we do Completion stage, we eliminate our belief our perceptions are true. in the Creation stage, we eliminate first our idea that thoughts are not true, so there is no duality grasping. Summarized in one phrase of Buddha, “perfectly purify your own mind.”
For this purpose, the Vajrayana teachings are shown thought signs, symbols and meaning.
Meaning of the Garland of Human Skulls
One of the wrathful ornamentations is the garland made of skulls of human heads. It is an outer symbol, an outer aspect, this skull garland. But what about the inner meaning? What they represent are the ordinary afflictions, the ordinary thinking mind. What makes it ordinary? A sentient beings that hasn’t realized the nature of mind is constantly afflicted, no matter what affliction arises, they don’t recognize it as affliction, this lack of recognition see it as—but if they realize it is an affliction.
Some are able to overcome affliction by cultivating loving-kindness. For example, if you get angry with child, partner, you will have regret and cultivate compassion. Others are able to abandon anger on basis of wisdom, mindfulness, For example, you get angry with child, you recognize “this is a moment of anger”, it dissolves in that instant. If you cut the head off a person, they can’t do anything anymore. Likewise, if you cut the head off an affliction, it collapses. If it remains ordinary, will just be controlled by anger, will say bad things offend others make them angry, and leads to more conflict, actually, a lot of conflict between counties between people arises form harsh words arising from anger, we say harsh things which leads to conflict that leads to more karma.
Coming back to Manjushri, the symbol is the sword, the sign is it’s cutting, and it’s meaning is the wisdom that cuts through afflictions. If we cut through the affliction, we don’t’ accumulate karma, important to understand when you practice deity. if you understand the meaning of the ornaments, you practice all deities. we practice first by visualizing the deities, then recollect meaning, then generate divine pride.
- Clearly recollect deity, implements and so on.
- Purify- the meaning of the implements.
- Divine pride- “I am that deity.” We are devoted to the deity, but don’t feel like we are the deity, that approach is – Kyra tantra.
When we cultivate Bodhichitta, we understand we are somehow similar to deity- performance tantra. If we cultivate Bodhichitta, we have cultivated the deities mind, even if the visualization isn’t’ so clear. The mind of deity is Bodhichitta. You can see that your mind is mind of deity, which is Bodhichitta. This is how we should recognize essence of teachers- embodiment of Bodhichitta. All practice is to cultivate Bodhichitta – purify self-grasping and cultivate altruism. The real mind of the deity is Bodhichitta. The deity that appears in the mind that appears like reflection in mirror. When that appears, it is always in your mind, it never leaves you. When you practice a Vajrayana deity, it is important to do so in those 3 steps. Clear visualization, recollection of deity, and divine pride, these three can be complete in your practice simultaneously. When done so, all the habitual patterns will be purified. This is how you should understand secret mantra practice.
Meaning of Lotus, Sun and Moon disk
All the deities have a seat of a lotus flower – a symbolic meaning, not a substantial lotus flower, refers to a quality that arises but is undefiled. Like a lotus that grows from a muddy swamp but remains undefiled, in same way, bodhisattvas appear in samsara to benefit sentient beings, are not defiled by self-grasping, not in bondage, don’t fixate on dualities, duality, are undefiled by faults of samsara. Also, another symbol of visualization is a seat of sun and moon, and above that, seed syllable Hum. Sun- emptiness. Moon- compassion. The 3 together, sun, moon and HUM. (Blue Lotus?) refers to Dharmakaya mind of Buddha. Sun- emptiness- teaches that phenomena do not truly exist – lack inherit existence, the sun burns everything away, like the dharma. The light of the moon – refers to the sangha – compassion light of sangha. These 3 – refers to Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. When you visualize deity, the most important aspect is the mind of deity- the seed syllable HUM – what is the meaning? Why so significant? It is because the mind of the Buddhas is related to your own mind.
Purification of birth in Sadhana practice
The different steps of sun, moon, HUM -relates to birth. When the consciousness is about to enter womb of mother, is it from attachment of being drawn to womb in between white and red drops of father and mother. Actually representation of sun and moon, your consciousness is the seed syllable. Your consciousness – HUM – is ultimately Buddha-nature, when you have mindfulness, can call it wisdom. Without mindfulness, is state of delusion in samsara. What you are doing in a pure form, you are purifying birth. 4 types of creation stage to purify the 4 ways to take birth. One is birth through womb, then egg, then heat and moisture, then miraculous birth. These 4 stages should be practiced according to your mental capacity, very meaningful. Creation stage is related to our own aggregates. If you know that, you will really acquire true powers of Creation stage. What are powers? Even if you don’t know how to read sadhanas, it is enough to understand this. If you cultivate the image of deity and cultivate great devotion, you will remember the deity in the bardo. You will become the deity – since you are empty and lack true existence the deity appears. In that instance, you become the deity, which is the power of the Creation stage. Even in this life, when you encounter problems, when you think of deity, the mind’s Habitual thoughts stop, and the mind relieves. Like heat that melts thoughts the thoughts are like cold weather that solidifies thoughts. The time we are overwhelmed, even commit suicide, if we don’t understand precious human body, one might commit suicide. Because we believe so much in reality of our perceptions and our own identity. The visualization of deity brings an end to our usual way of thinking, it benefits in this life, and when you leave this body, the mind will think of deity and become deity in the bardo. So you can see the great power of the Creation stage in this way.
In general, the various wrathful deities of Vajrayana have same qualities and way to practice them, still, giving intro to this deity, thought I personally don’t have much learning, I’ve encountered many such great masters I’ve practiced to best of abilities, based on this, I will share with you.
My Connection with this Yamantaka Practice
A few words on my connection to Yamantaka. In general, the practices in Drikung Kagyu are from Dharmakirti. The foremost deity of Lord Jigten Sumgön is Chakrasamvara, then Vajrayogini, and then Yamantaka. This Yamantaka has been practiced in gar monastery and throughout the Drikung Kagyu. Until 1958. Unendingly, there was a special strict difficult retreat. Not quite the same as other retreats. I said before all the deities are the same, it’s not the practice that is different, is’ the ways of practice that are different, there is a special way of practicing, approaching the deity in this Yamantaka retreat. I practiced it from very young until 1958. I always had very significant feeling and faith in this deity, forum 1958 onward for 20 years, this was interrupted when I was in prison, when I returned from prison in 1980, I was able to find an old Yamantaka thangka image which was hidden during cultural revolution. This thangka (Rinpoche gestures to a copy of the thangka painting hanging behind him) is from time of 4th Garchen Rinpoche, I found it and restored it. This practice has been done continuously. First in Tibet, and later when I came to India, I lead Yamantaka retreat on behalf of long life of masters, then 2nd time, I lead it in Lumbini during consecration of stupa, and then a 3rd time, and then after than brought it to the west.
In the U.S., even though it is a quite difficult retreat, and we didn’t announce this practice widely, people got interested in it. In the beginning, in the U.S., we did it in a very small group. Some with great merit and wisdom did it. We didn’t announce, but more people got interested. With whatever deity is practiced, if the approach and accomplishment are successful, the activities will natural increase. “ A special feeling arises in people. Of course this doesn’t arise immediately in some people, and hardships occur, but this is because individuals have karma. At first, not feel connection, but then, it is like when the sun is shinning, and the ice is thick, but a feeling starts to arise. A feeling I have personally experienced in this practice. It become very popular naturally, even thought it is quite difficult retreat. Also other perceptions – happiness, great blessings, hardship. Even if hardship, it purifies much difficulty. These are signs are afflictions are getting thicker. Even Lord Jigten Sumgön, a great master, got leprosy, which was a great sickness in Tibet at the time. Lord Jigten Sumgön prepared for death. But from the power of Bodhichitta, he didn’t die; through Bodhichitta, we can purify much negative propensities.
Even if we are not able to endure hardships likes Milarepa…
When you practice dharma, a single headache can purify karma of a deity in the lower realms. People…. it, come from all around, and practiced in various traditions. This form of Yamantaka, the version I have done, comes from tradition of Gar Monastery. Therefore, I share this practice with my disciples that are interested. So far, we have been able to establish this retreat in place in US, Thailand, and Germany. The purpose is to eliminate hatred and jealousy in whole world.
There are many people interested in engaging in Yamantaka practice. In general, we are taught the need to recite Manjushri mantra. It is also advisable to recite ‘uttering the words of Manjushri’ – all the meaning of tantra is in these words. Tremendous blessings, so if you practice Yamantaka after doing that, great blessings will arise, in whatever Buddhist practice you do. As Gampopa said, ‘bless me that my mind may become one with the dharma.” What is the purpose?
Gampopa – ‘bless me so dharma becomes the path. ‘“ What is the point? To be free of suffering, the root of suffering is self-grasping, all afflictions arise from self-grasping, no affliction – no grasping, that afflictive mind has created all suffering in past, present, future, when we talk about negativities, imprints, etc. From beginning less time, grasping itself. Grasping of all sentient beings and one single person are of the same nature.
The point is to eliminate afflictive emotions, Lord Jigten Sumgön – in Gong Chik, said the 84000 teachings are for a single purpose.
In our lineage of practice – I have personally carried this lineage uninterrupted. I have explained to my disciples, if practiced from approach of ultimate truth- Mahamudra- this practice will have great power.
By engaging in this practice properly, we can realize Mahamudra- the nature of mind. Is why so significant. All for single purpose – important to understand, so, I introduce you to a general understanding of secret mantra, then teaching and – aspects of clarity, purity, and divine pride, if you know all that, any practice you practice, they will become very powerful.
Suggested Foundational reading – Khenpo Samdrup’s book
So, there are many people who have entered Buddhism in this world, but there are other religions, spiritual paths, they all have same significant, if we know how to practice properly, if we don’t know how to practice a religions properly – even Buddhism- it will become a cause of suffering, so, even though I want to introduce my dharma friends to the essential meaning of Buddhism, I didn’t have the merit in this life to do much study. So I may not do much study. So, it was necessary that Khenpo Samdrup wrote this book to understand. He practiced at my own monestary, and then he dedicated his life to dharma, is an incredible scholar.
But I have experienced more suffering in this life, but he has greater background of study I encourage you to all read this book. It is a great intro to Buddhism. If you only understand the meaning in this book, you will turn away from bias to any religion, and understand why all religions are good, in Buddhism, there is only 1 intention of all the Buddha of the 3 times, they all wished for the eliminate of the suffering of beings, the 84000 teachings are said to be included in bodhichitta. Understand one thing – ‘- the perfect Buddha come from the altruistic mind.”
That is the essence. In the beginning, is essential to understand that essence. So, I encourage you to read this book I wrote intro for. It would be very good if he gave an introduction.
Nowadays in this world, people learn things, and that is a great quality. Really important, within Buddhism, especially, in Vajrayana, is important to understand meaning of texts. They have been translated, but it is important to understand meanings. The literal sound of words is excellent, but it s really important to understand the meaning of that word. Even one word personally, when I was a young boy, even if I heard one word and really thought about it, it was like opening up a heart. That is why it is so important to have texts translated instead of remaining phonetics. I also encourage you to discuss with each other, there are many senior disciples that have a lot of knowledge. Sometimes may ask teachers to clarify doubts, but it is important you discuss with each other too. So you can discuss with each other, For example, even if 3-4 disciples come together to discuss meaning of text, is very important, with that I will conclude morning, Om Mani Padme Hum.
(End of first teaching)