Monday, December 31, 2007

India and China: The Future, Writ Large

In today's Asia Sentinel there is a remarkably insightful article by Anand Kumar, a journalist sourced by the intelligence community, which examines forces that will impact every Tibetan Buddhist in the world. I reprint it here because it is useful to understand the challenges we may have to face in terms of maintaining regional monasteries, temples, leading personalities, and so forth:

India and China Make Nice

Driven into each other’s arms by global concerns over energy, Tibet and other issues, India and China conduct their first ever joint military exercises.

India and China last week concluded their first-ever war games near Kunming in Yunnan province. Although the eight-day exercise, which ended December 28, involved only two companies of about 100 soldiers from each side, it was an important development for world politics as well as South Asian ones.

Both emerging economic powerhouses have hitherto been known for their strained bilateral relations, beginning with the bloody Sino-Indian border conflict in 1962. Frequent Chinese incursions on the Indian and Bhutan borders and the Chinese cold response to the US’s acquiescence to Indian nuclear ambitions only made it worse. Of late, however, there is a conscious attempt to put the bitter past behind and the latest military diplomacy is regarded as part of that effort.

“The joint training is aimed at enhancing understanding and mutual trust,” said a statement issued by the foreign office of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense. "It is also aimed at deterring the 'three evil forces' - separatists, extremists and terrorists - and promoting the strategic partnership for peace and prosperity between China and India."

The drill, termed as "Hand-in-Hand 2007," focusing on counter-terrorism, was the outcome of an agreement on defense cooperation signed in May 2006 during a visit to China by former Indian defense minister Pranab Mukherjee. The details were worked out by military officials of both countries during meetings held in Kolkata and Kunming in recent weeks. China sent another positive signal last year by agreeing to reopen the strategic Nathu La pass to border trade, thereby accepting Sikkim as a part of India.

Given the bitter past relationships between the two countries, the joint exercise largely cosmetic, in which neither of the participants were expected to show major military prowess. The main purpose was to build confidence between the two armies for further cooperation. But both India and China have certain other objectives which are no less important. The exercise is largely regarded as part of China’s charm offensive.

China wants to reassure others of its “peaceful intentions.” It also wants to train its young officers by giving them exposure of other armies and would like the increased interaction to reduce apprehensions about the ongoing modernization of the People’s Liberation Army.

Recent developments over Tibet have also prompted Beijing to seek somewhat improved relations with India. China has been concerned ever since the US Congress honored the Dalai Lama with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award conferred by US lawmakers. The Dalai Lama’s widely publicized visit to Capitol Hill was followed by a trip to Canada and a meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

These visits have worried the Chinese, who see the widely-respected religious figure leader as once again trying to bring unwanted attention to Tibet. On the other hand, to Chinese comfort, New Delhi has always regarded Tibet as an autonomous region of China. Beijing was also reassured by the fact that soon after the Tibetan spiritual leader returned to India, ministers in the UPA government were asked not to attend a felicitation organized by the Gandhi Peace Foundation. However, now that the Dalai Lama is publicly hinting at choosing his successor, the Chinese would like a reiteration of New Delhi’s position on Tibet.

Though India’s relationship with China is quite complex, India in recent times has been trying to give it a positive thrust. China is an important player in regional and international politics. It is also a member of several crucial international organizations where India would need Chinese support or at least its indifference. For instance, India needs Chinese support in the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG). Last year China appeared to be uncomfortable with India's growing strategic ties with the US, cemented through a series of joint exercises including the huge five nation naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal this year. Hence there was a need for India to do something that could reduce Chinese apprehensions.

Now both sides have begun to realize that Indian and Chinese economic relations are no less important. India and China are the world’s fastest growing loarge economies. Their bilateral trade is likely to reach US$40 billion soon. Despite vast political differences, even the US has been doing business with China. Hence it was unwise for India to let strained political relations damage a burgeoning economic relationship.

The growing Indian and Chinese economies require huge energy resources. The two countries’ energy companies have recently been competing against each other. Chinese companies have been more successful in clinching deals across the planet, but this mutual rivalry has jacked up prices considerably. China realizes its companies have paid much for the resources than they were worth. Two years after they ended their rivalry, India and China are now beginning to give shape to cooperation in oil and gas exploration. Now Indian and Chinese officials are planning a roadmap to jointly stake rights to oil and gas assets in various parts of the world.

India has been somewhat successful in its effort to improve bilateral relationship through several top-level political exchanges. Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha, or India Parliament as well as the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party, visited Beijing in October. Preparations are currently on for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s China visit from January 13-16.

Also, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon recently visited Beijing for a third round of strategic dialogue and agreed to speed resolution of the decades-old border dispute between the two countries, which began in 1962 over a disputed region of the Himalayan border in what the Indians call Arunchal Pradesh and the Chinese call South Tibet. This talk covered the gamut of bilateral, regional and global issues besides giving finishing touches to the agenda for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit.

At present, both India and China appear keen to at least remove acrimony from the relationship so that their economic and sometimes political interests do not suffer. This desire has restrained India from sharply reacting to recent Chinese incursions, though it has kept an eye on developments in the border area and has moved a battalion from Jammu and Kashmir to West Bengal. Indian leaders now find the Chinese more accommodating and see a possibility of sorting out the border dispute.

Though the major issues bedeviling Indo-Chinese relations will only be solved at the political level, joint military exercises will create conducive environment and help to reduce the ill-will. In any case a cooperative relationship between these armies would be required even when the border disputes are fully settled. The debilitating large-scale conflict, won by the Chinese, took place at altitudes over 14,000 feet (4,300 meters). Presumably neither side wants to face anything like that again.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

In My Next Life

This song, with lyrics deeply evocative of the Bodhisattva ideal, was recorded by Mr. M. Haggard, of Redding, California. In this song, Mr. Haggard voices his intention to be reborn for the welfare of all sentient beings. If someone were to pass away with this as their intention, how could it be improved?

Tell me... do you still think only Buddhists have the patent? If you do, just give it up because that sort of thinking is a major obstacle to your practice.

His aging eyes grew dim and the lady that worshipped him
Sat cryin' on a chair beside his bed
Her hands caressed his brow and she said it's alright now
And as he slowly slipped away he said....

In my next life I want to be your hero
Somethin' better than I turned out to be
I've lived this life behind the plough and harrow
In my next life I'll make you proud of me...

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Skandiferous Imaginings

In this morning's post comes a letter from my buddy Tharpa, who apart from introducing the soon-to-be-immortal phrase "skandiferous imaginings" to the lexicon, also poses the rhetorical question ---

Are the arising, abiding and dissolution of appearances
really simultaneous?

Not having sufficient horsepower to hip-shoot an answer, I consulted Redneck Rinpoche, and this is the reply:

"Well, Tharpa... every can of Bud has a pop-top, right? What does that tell you? Don't take a rocket scientist to pop that top and pour that Bud into a glass on account your wife is watchin', now does it? Don't take no instant replay to watch them tiny little bubbles come a'bubblin' up that glass and just go "pow" when they reach the surface, now does it?

"Now, Tharpa... let me ask you something. Where does whatever is inside them tiny little bubbles go whenever it meets up with whatever is inside the sky?

"You seen that bumpersticker? That "Shit Happens" bumpersticker like Steve has on his truck and i'm talkin' about red Ford Steve not that other motherscratcher? Well, I am here to tell you that shit DON'T happen! We MAKE that shit happen! So, you tell me... what is the difference between what is inside them tiny little bubbles and what is outside them tiny little bubbles, and where does it come from, where does it stay, where does it go, and how long does it take to do that?"

"Don't be wastin' no time on impermanence! It's just like ol' Willie Nelson said....

I'm seeing the road
That I've travelled
A road paved
With heartaches and tears
And I'm seeing the past
That I've wasted
Watching the bubbles in my beer

"Now... you see there what Willie done? He pointed out that we got to start with what is right in front of us, right this minute. He's sitting there at the bar, watching the bubbles, and he thinks, 'What the hell is happening now?' That's what we got to do, alright. We got to start with whatever is right to hand and just take it from there."

KEYWORDS: enlightenment in one lifetime in one body, skandiferous imaginings, Willie Nelson, Redneck Rinpoche, Budweiser, Shit Happens, Shit Doesn't Happen, Bubbles in My Beer, essential expression of the sublime ati leading to immediate realization of the refined emptiness encompassing all possibilities, Buddhism without all the bullshit, my buddy Tharpa, liberation by open information sharing.

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Redneck Rinpoches

Sleepy Marlin, circa the 1950s.
Apart from my immediate family,
he was the first person I ever met.
Sleepy played the violin,
except when he played it, they called it a "fiddle."

I got mail about yesterday's Merle Haggard post, the upshot of which is I discovered that somebody named David Fillingham wrote a book called Redneck Liberation: Country Music as Theology.

Pearl, if you're reading this, get out the credit card and get on Amazon: we just gotta read this book!

Yes, there really is somebody named Pearl, and she really does read this web log. Her little dog Lucy just passed away, so I am trying to cheer her up.

I recently spent the better part of a month with Pearl, exploring the obvious Buddhist influences inherent in the music of Hank Williams, Jr.

I'm gonna' find me a river, one thats cold as ice.
And when I find me that river, lord I'm gonna pay the price, oh lord!
I'm goin down in it three times, but lord I'm only comin' up twice.

Don't have to get hit with an 18-wheeler to see where he's goin' with that, now do you? There are three classes of Stream-Enterers: (1) those who, if not attaining to Arahantship in this very life, will be born only once before attaining Arahantship, (2) those who will take only two or three births before the final deliverance, and (3) those who will be born seven more times at the most before the ultimate realization. Way to go, Hank!

Anyway, when we kissed goodbye and parted --- that would be me and Pearl, not me and Hank Jr. --- I continued my studies with in-depth analyses of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Kitty Wells, and various and sundry other artists. I have concluded that if one takes country music as a whole, the aggregate lyrics constitute a gter.

Now, Pearl is also a recording artist, and she has promised to do a country album for me. Initially, we were going to collaborate, but there ain't enough whiskey in Texas if me and that sweet little old gal ever get to it. So, work is proceeding at a fever pace in independent quarters, for the benefit of all sentient beings. I personally feel that something like Take This Samsara-Nirvana Dichotomy And Shove It will turn on a lot of lights. See also my posts on NASCAR, passim, which underscore the cyclic nature of existence... well, at least 500 miles of it.

You may disagree, but then again -- and I think Pearl will wholeheartedly concur with me on this point -- if you don't like it, you can also kiss our ass.

Keywords: apart from the obligatory "it isn't Buddhist" "a real Rinpoche wouldn't say that" "who authorized this?" and "we want to see credentials" from e-monkey tree, we wish to infect the search engine as follows: country music AND/IS dzogchen, hank williams AND/IS sublime ati, merle haggard AND/IS buddhism

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Excerpt: Eastern Fortress of Evident Treasure

Things nobody should miss.

"A conscious intention to send forth emanations does not waver from the fundamental nature. Nevertheless, nirmanakaya emanations--- of teachers, artisans, reincarnate masters and inanimate matter--- manifest in such a manner that they are none other than the ground of being itself. These four distinct modes of emanation manifest through interdependent connection when there is the synchronicity of a consciousness that conceives of an 'I,' like a vessel filled with water (that reflects), and the qualities of the basic space of buddha nature, like the planets and stars in the heavens (reflected therein). In actual fact, the world as a container and its contents does not fall outside of the display of the three kayas. The term 'dharmakaya' refers to the aspect of its essential nature as emptiness; 'sambhogakaya,' to the aspect of its inherent nature as spontaneous presence; 'nirmanakaya,' to the aspect of the distinct manifestation of apparent phenomena."
---Dudjom Lingpa, Nang-jang

IN THE OLD DAYS, practitioners could understand the whole of a book’s content merely by reading its title. This ability is not so common today, so I will briefly explain. In its outer aspect, the first part of this work’s title refers both to the Dzogchen lands of eastern Tibet and the lands east of Tibet, which could theoretically include the Dzogchen lands of western America. What I am attempting to convey is a sense of spiritual security, or continuity: a place of protection where we are at liberty and ease to pursue that which is not gained by pursuit. However, this is not necessarily confined to any one geographic locus. In the best sense, this could and should be anywhere you find yourself. Your “Eastern Fortress” could therefore be a flat in London; a house trailer in Arizona; an apartment in Taiwan; a hotel; a hospital, or a hole in the forest. This is quite simply your path: holding fast in the immediacy of your own situation.

I observe that in Buddhism, as it was formerly practiced among the Tibetans, “history” can mean a sequential record of events and it can also be a palette of pointing-out instructions. So, to explain our title's inner aspect, I take a historical episode at random: this refers to the day in contemporary Tibetan Buddhist history when Guru Padmasambhava prepares Princess Mandarava of Zahor for the accomplishment of immortality at Maratika Cave. Padmasambhava says, “I shall depart to the East. You, young maiden, should turn and face the East.”

This reference to a cardinal direction might seem inconsequential, but Padmasambhava did not conduct himself trivially. In fact, his statement suggests an activity in which we engage for the welfare of all beings in the thirty-one classes of existence. This is nothing less than realization. Realization is directionless, so we can with some justification wonder why specificity becomes necessary. Every day we are alive, the sun rises in the east. This seems permanent but of course it is impermanent. It is not the same sun that rises every day: it is mutable and conditioned. The concept of immortality for the benefit of others likewise seems permanent, but it should be seen and understood as similar to being bathed in a sunrise, where your true nature and the nature of reality are identical.

In its intimate aspect, “Eastern Fortress” refers to the moment when we finally decide to get rid of pseudo-intellectual posturing, neurotic religious notions, and useless cultural trappings, and instead embrace basic freedom. You are an inherently and effortlessly enlightened being: that is basic freedom.

Similarly, the second part of this work’s title, Evident Treasures, has outer, inner, intimate, and utterly secret concordances. You can make these up on your own. I do not see any benefit in belaboring this any further. For me, this is not philosophy or religion. For me, this is just a memory inside of a memory.

Copyright (c) 2007 by Tulku Urgyan Tenpa Rinpoche. All rights reserved.

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Nubri Monastery: Heartfelt Appeal

The Nubri Monastery is a 500-year-old Nyingma installation in a very special valley on the Tibetan Nepalese border, visited and blessed by Padmasambhava. It costs about USD $20,000 per year to operate this monastery, and they have fallen on hard times. Now, I happen to know that there are people who read this blog for whom USD $20,000 is trivial. I am appealing from the bottom of my heart for one of those people to step forward and handle this task for the year 2008. The winters up there are extraordinarily harsh, and this facility's residents will fall if something isn't done very quickly. I beg you: stop wringing your hands and just do it.

Is there any student or patron of the Dharma, anywhere in the world, for whom a clean gift of USD $20,000, with no strings attached, is possible? Could you do it, and do it anonymously? Step up and get it done.

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Remembering Freda Bedi

For some reason, Freda Bedi comes into my mind this afternoon.

I do not remember the year, but I recall the last time I talked to her was when H.H. the XVIth Karmapa was visiting in San Francisco. I had been with His Holiness over in the East Bay, but when we all left for the City, the car in which I was riding was involved in a traffic accident and I was taken to hospital. Freda called the hospital to speak with me, to tell me that His Holiness was of the opinion I was significantly injured, and wanted me to know he thought I should stay there rather than try to continue. As it happens, I had a fractured skull, but I left the hospital anyway and when I arrived, she gave me a rather extensive but completely good-natured scolding.

So, she died in March, 1977, as I recall.

That is over thirty years ago now, and I doubt anybody remembers her. She never had a "blog," never published any articles in glossy magazines, never saw herself on the cover of any books, never went on well-appointed speaking tours, never did a CD, never did a DVD, and never lived in a fancy home. Still, I think we all need to understand that she made enormous contributions to Tibetan Buddhism at the really most perilous times. There is a brief biography of her online, and you may wish to read this but it won't convey the magnitude of her achievement. I have often heard it said that when the Tibetans first started straggling over the border in the 1950s, Freda Bedi was standing there to greet them with a warm cup of tea.

I do not know why she so suddenly comes into my mind with such depth, or why my eyes suddenly fill with tears of respect. She has certainly taken auspicious rebirth, and her age would be as we know. Freda Houlston; Freda Bedi; Mrs. Bedi; Gelongma Karma Kechog Palmo; Sister Palmo; Ani-la, Mummy... these were the names by which she was known, 1911-1977.

In those days, there wasn't time for claiming credit, watching the till, striking poses, or a lot of fanfare.

One simply followed one's heart and did things accordingly.

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Dzogchen Alters Kurukulle Buddhist Altar

The nice thing about having the blog analytical programs is learning the search strings that bring people to your site.

In the case of this site, we learn that many people don't know the difference between "alter" and "altar," and we therefore hope that our digital altar alters their perception.

We also learn that (apart from altered altars) the top search query is still "Kurukulle," with "Dzogchen" running second.

After love comes liberation? Maybe if we reverse those results everybody will get better results.

We also learn that 60% of our visitors are repeat visitors... which is a good number... and they come from 86 different countries around the world.

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Dudjom On Smoking

There is a multi-lingual site located at that we wish everyone would visit, bookmark, and send to their friends. Whoever did this site did the world a service.

I think I want to add some personal notes to the following excerpt from that site, which I reproduce here for the benefit of all beings.

I would like to mention that I first encountered Dudjom's comments delivered orally, in 1968, and at that time it was with reference to narcotics, i.e., the plant which grew from the breast of the demoness was marijuana; thus, the admonition was with reference to smoking marijuana. In time, that admonition was extended to any sort of smoking, and this is clearly evident herein.

The context in which I heard about this may be interesting to some of you. I was being interviewed by the F.B.I. in connection with immigration matters impacting the Tibetans, and at one point, I was asked, "Well, what is the position of Nyingmapa lamas on smoking marijuana?" I answered, "Oh, everybody is dead set against drugs, but everybody is afraid to come out and say so because they feel it would alienate the people they're trying to reach." After this interview, I asked for some specifics, in case that same question came my way again, and I got the story of the demoness in its long version -- she was killed by a relative, hence her bitterness -- not the abbreviated version here.

Years ago, I was spending long hours printing Tibetan texts for use by the young monks and tulkus. I remember that I was in a 600 square foot room with no ventilation, and I had a number of presses in there. We used to crank the presses up to full speed and pour in chemical roller wash, which would atomize in the air and linger for hours, just like a cloud. Without making too much out of it, I will mention that I now have lung disease, and the doctors tell me it is in result of standing in that little room, inhaling those vapors.

Because I have this condition, I research all the ways it might be possible to reverse the effects, and I can tell you it is almost impossible to repair or regenerate severely damaged lungs -- it is simply easier to replace them. There is no question that smoking damages your lungs just as deeply as chemicals, so I am just telling you this to underscore that it will be almost impossible for you to reverse the effects in the future. I now spend the better part of every day choking for air, frequently coughing up blood, and this is not an entirely restful way to live. There are now many things I cannot do that I used to enjoy doing. Is this what you want for yourself?

Now, sometimes, people point to Trungpa Rinpoche and say, "Well, he smoked cigarettes, so why can't I smoke cigarettes?" Trungpa Rinpoche was a fully-realized mahasiddha who absorbed poisons for the benefit of others. If you are legitimately in his league, then I suppose it doesn't matter if you smoke or not. However, if you are not in his league, then leave it alone won't you?

I should probably also mention that if you smoke tobacco, marijuana, or opium, it will be impossible to reach and rescue you once you are in the intermediate stage. Perhaps we might qualify that by saying that although it will be possible to reach you, because of your smoking habits you will not be able to gain any benefit. There are experiences in the perceived bardo that are devoid of any color---these are usually proximate to rather hellish appearances--- and tobacco use in particular makes these experiences rather formidable.

You tell people these things and they say, "Oh, well.. I smoke...," but it is just stupid nonsense.

Tobacco: the guide that leads the blind
on a false path which ends in a precipice

Kyabjé Jigdrèl Yeshé Dorje, Düdjom Rinpoche

Om Swasti:
With supreme appreciation and deep respect for Padmasambhava – wisdom manifestation of all Buddhas and union of the Buddha families – I shall relate the history of tobacco. Approximately a hundred years after Buddha Shakyamuni’s parinirvana, a Chinese demon, maddened with obsession, spoke these dying words:
“Through my body I wish to lead the beings of this earth to lower realms. Bury my body intact and eventually a plant, different from all others, will grow out of my remains. Merely by smelling it, people will experience pleasure in body and mind, far more joyful than the union of male and female. It will spread far and wide until most of the beings on this earth will enjoy it.”

At present the actual fruition of this wish is clearly evident. Opium and other related intoxicants taken by mouth or nose, neither help quench thirst nor satisfy hunger. They do not possess a taste which is delicious, and they are bereft of anything which promotes health or which strengthens one’s life force. These substances serve to increase nervousness and blood pressure. They also cause cancer and pulmonary disease. At this time, many people, from all levels of society, develop irresistible attraction for these substances and proceed to consume them without control – and thus demonic intentionality has borne fruit.

In the gTérma of Chögyal Ratna Lingpa it is stated:
‘Padmasambhava bound the Nine Demonic Brothers under oath, but they were breakers of samaya, and the youngest of them found a way to undermine their commitment to protect beings. He told his kindred: “Brothers, do not despair, listen to me. I shall manifest myself in the country of China as tobacco; the name of this toxin will be ‘the black poison’. It will grow in the border lands, from whence it will spread to Tibet. The people of Tibet will consume this enjoyable substance. By the strength of this, the five neurotic poisons will increase. Rejecting the ten positive actions, people will practise the ten negative ones. The lives of the lineage holders will become precarious, and they will depart for the Buddha Fields. The smoke of this poison, penetrating the earth, will annihilate hundreds of thousands of cities of the kLu. Rain will not fall, harvest and livestock will not thrive, there will be civil unrest, plagues, and calamities. The poison’s smoke rising into the sky will destroy celestial dimensions; untimely eclipses and comets will appear. The essential fluids and veins of those who smoke will dehydrate. It causes the four hundred and four diseases to arise. Whoever smokes will be reborn in the lower realms. If one smokes and others inhale the odour, it will be as if one were ripping out the hearts of six million beings.’

According to the gTérma of Sang-gyé Lingpa:
‘In this decadent age people will indulge in unwholesome behaviour. In particular, rather than eating nourishing food, people will consume the substances which are poisonous and evil-smelling. Interrupting what they are doing, they will consume the poison. They will need to spit, their noses will run, their health and complexion will fade.’

The gTérma of Rig’dzin Go’dem predicts:
‘In the ultimate decadent age people will absorb poisonous vomit, food of dri za’i. Merely smelling it, one will go to the Mar-med Myal-wa. For this reason give it up right now.’

From the predictions discovered by Düd’dül Dorje:
‘Practitioners will enjoy inhaling the smoke of these plants and sniffing their powder and the country will be invaded by samaya-breakers. They will be deceived by illusion and experience the arising of obsessive characteristics. As a sign of the exhaustion of merit they will have causes for tears which will flow uncontrollably.’

The gTérmas of Longsel reveal:
‘The time when people smoke these vile substances is also the time when close friends will poison each other’s minds.’

The gTérmas of Thugchog Dorje specify:
‘Because of the five neurotic poisons, the obsessions, animosities, strife, arguments, and miseries of beings will blaze like an inferno. As the ten good qualities are discarded, negativity will rage like a storm. Wholesome behaviour will be neglected, while perverse practices will be promulgated. In this degenerate age the Protectors will vanish as demonic beings assume power. People will inhale tobacco smoke, and the spatial-veins of discriminative wisdom will become blocked, whilst agitation and distorted emotions become intensified. The central channel will be obstructed and the clarity of awareness will die. Exhaustion of energy will cause agitation around the world. Religious artifacts, the objects of veneration, will deteriorate; perverted ideologies and false religions will spread. The Protectors will turn aside and look only towards Mount Méru. Foreigners will invade Tibet, and Tibetans will be forced to stray in the border lands. Doctrines of Illusion will spread and the world will become a dimension of hell.’

The gTérma of Dro’dül Lingpa predicted:
‘By merely smelling the odour of these herbs, grasses and leaves will spring from demonic blood, one will find oneself in Vajra Hell.’

A prediction of Ma-gÇig Labdrön states:
‘In the final period of disputation a substance will appear which one ingests orally, and it will aggravate all five neuroses. It will originate in China, extend to Mongolia and Tibet. Wherever it travels it will be consumed, and wherever it is consumed – rainfall will become irregular, accompanied by severe frost and hail. If practitioners consume this substance, even were they to practise for a hundred æons – they will not realise their yidams. In future lives, they will wander incessantly in the three lower realms, where even the compassion of the Buddhas will have no power to help them.’

There are innumerable other predictions concerning tobacco – the use of which has been particularly forbidden by accomplished masters of both Sarma and Nyingma traditions. The vajra words of Padmasambhava were not given to deceive practitioners, so do not entertain doubts as to: ‘how can so many problems arise from smoking a natural plant?’ Aconite is also a plant, yet eating a small quantity of it can be lethal. If this should be the case with a plant, at the physical level, why could not the fruit of the demonic intentionality cause spiritual death? Understanding this, the wise will render themselves a great kindness by renouncing tobacco and narcotics. In doing so, may the honourable and wise who avoid the path to the precipice have the good fortune of finding respite in the ecstatic garden of liberation.

This was written at the request of Golok Gé-rTa Jig’mèd, by Dorje Yeshé (Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche)

Sarwa Mangalam.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Do Buddhists Believe In Christmas?

Today, many people will give and receive gifts that will bring them some sense of happiness, so we can rejoice in their happiness. For example: a child may receive some wished-for toy, and experience delight thereby, and we can feel good about the child's delight---even we understand that such things are transient.

In another way, many people will, in the near future, experience a certain disenchantment... they will come to think that all of the material things are of no value, and they will begin to question themselves. So, we can feel a certain joy that others are turning their minds to the Dharma, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Today, it is traditional to give gifts, practice kindness and sympathetic joy, and consider spiritual matters. So, fundamentally, you can say that for a Buddhist, every day is like Christmas... and as Buddhists, we should not feel isolated or left-out from today's festivities. Today is, in fact, a perfect day to think upon the Four Immeasurables, to practice altruism and generosity, and contribute to the happiness of others. Today is an ideal day in which to care for animals, or to arrange for the liberation of small creatures that might otherwise be killed.

So, if you are a Buddhist, try to use today properly---just as you would any other day---and do not think too much about this being a holiday that doesn't belong to you. Nothing belongs to you, does it? And, if people ask you, "Do Buddhists believe in Christmas?" you can answer that yes, in fact, we certainly do.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Meditation Mummy

The following comments are by Anuj Singh, the photographer who took the above picture:

This is an exclusive shot of a Tibetan monk called Sangha Tenzin found mummified inside a tomb at Ghuen village in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh.

Professor Victor Mair, consulting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, who has researched on the mummy, says it is at least 500 years old. "He died around the time that Colombus discovered America." (I had taken Mair to see the mummy while he was visiting India as part of a team studying Asian mummies.)

Apparently, the monk had given up his life while meditating in the position he was found mummified.

Ghuen villagers have known about the mummy since 1975, when an earthquake struck the region and brought down a part of the tomb. Ghuen falls in a forward area close to the China border. It is a restricted area under the control of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Therefore, few people outside of Ghuen ever found out about the mummy (until few ITBP men took me to see it during my trip to the region in 1997. I went back to photograph it in 2001).

The mummy is remarkably well preserved for its age. Its skin is unbroken. There is hair on the head as well. Mair says it is partly to do with the extreme cold and dry air of the region and partly to do with the meditation rituals that ancient high monks practiced to get rid of a public menace. "Slow starvation in the last few months of his life reduced the body fat and shrunk parts of the body that would have been liable to putrefaction."

The mummy also did not collapse and disintegrate because of a jute restrainer, which runs around the mummy’s neck and passes between the thighs.

There is a greater significance of the restrainer. It points to a rare and esoteric practice. Mair says, "It kept the monk in an upright position and enabled him to focus on his meditation. If he relaxed, the restrainer knot would have tightened around his neck, cutting off oxygen supply and suffocating him… It was essentially to keep him in a good posture."

Very little is available in Buddhist texts in India that describe this practice. Only one manuscript in the library of Tabo monastery has reference to it.

From his understanding of Buddhist rituals and practices, Mair also says this kind of a practice is rare. "It is only known among certain sects in Japan and Tibet. They tended to be highly esoteric and lived in the mountains. The practice itself is part of the Dzogchen tradition within Nyingma (sect)."

Ghuen, incidentally, is about 50 km from the Tabo monastery, which is the oldest surviving Buddhist establishment in the Trans-Himalayas, dating back 1000 years. Ghuen also straddles an ancient trading route over which spices, wool, salt, precious stones and sugar moved between India and Tibet. Monks and high lamas frequented this route.

Local legends say, about 600 years ago when Ghuen was troubled by scorpions, the monk, Sangha Tenzin, squatted down to mediate in the prescribed manner, after asking his disciples to entomb him. It is believed when his soul left the body, a rainbow appeared across the sky and scorpions mysteriously vanished from the village.

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Zhang Zhung, Revisited

This is a source of endless fascination to me -- I think it may well be that Tibetan Buddhist archaeology and the pre-Buddhist archaeology of the Zhang Zhung kingdom is really archaeology's last frontier. You can get a brief introduction via John Bellezza's site: he is one of the very few working in this area, and deserves to be better known.

For some reason, I am endlessly drawn to the Scythian and Sogdian influences on early Tibet. I should have been an archaeologist (o.k., "cultural resource manager") -- even though my career might be in ruins, I could still dig my work (!) And you know what they say: archaeologists will date anything (!) Archaeology rocks (!) Is that enough archaeology jokes?

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When Was Buddha Born?

Most of us are taught that Buddha was born around 560 to 550 B.C. However, once we start doing some research, we find evidence that this date may be too late. Buddha may have been born much earlier.

For example, in Some Blunders of Indian Historical Research (p. 189), P. N. Oak explains that the Puranas provide a chronology of the Magadha rulers. During the time of the Mahabharata war, Somadhi (Marjari) was the ruler. He started a dynasty that included 22 kings that spread over 1006 years. They were followed by five rulers of the Pradyota dynasty that lasted over 138 years. Then for the next 360 years was the 10 rulers of the Shishunag family. Kshemajit (who ruled from 1892 to 1852 B.C.) was the fourth in the Shishunag dynasty, and was a contemporary of Lord Buddha's father, Shuddhodana. It was during this period in which Buddha was born. It was during the reign of Bimbisara, the fifth Shishunag ruler (1852-1814 B.C.), when Prince Siddhartha became the enlightened Buddha. Then it was during the reign of King Ajatashatru (1814-1787 B.C.) when Buddha left this world. Thus, he was born in 1887 B.C., renounced the world in 1858 B.C., and died in 1807 B.C. according to this analysis.

Further evidence that helps corroborate this is provided in The Age of Buddha, Milinda and King Amtiyoka and Yuga Purana, by Pandit Kota Venkatachalam. He also describes that it is from the Puranas, especially the Bhagavat Purana and the Kaliyurajavruttanta, that need to be consulted for the description of the Magadha royal dynasties to determine the date of Lord Buddha. Buddha was the 23rd in the Ikshvaku lineage, and was a contemporary of Kshemajita, Bimbisara, and Ajatashatru, as described above. Buddha was 72 years old in 1814 B.C. when the coronation of Ajatashatru took place. Thus, the date of Buddha's birth must have been near 1887 B.C., and his death in 1807 B.C. if he lived for 80 years.

Professor K. Srinivasaraghavan also relates in his book, Chronology of Ancient Bharat (Part Four, Chapter Two), that the time of Buddha should be about 1259 years after the Mahabharata war, which should make it around 1880 B.C. if the war was in 3138 B.C. Furthermore, astronomical calculations by astronomer Swami Sakhyananda indicates that the time of the Buddha was in the Kruttika period, between 2621-1661 B.C.

Therefore, the fact that Buddha lived much earlier than what modern history teaches us has a number of ramifications. First, the time of the Buddha's existence is underestimated by about 1300 years. Secondly, this means that Buddhism was in existence in the second millennium B.C. Thirdly, we also know Buddha preached against the misused Vedic rituals of animal sacrifice. Such misuse or misinterpretation of something in a culture generally only happens after a long period of prominence. So the purer aspect of Vedic culture must have been around for many hundreds if not thousands of years before its tradition began to be misused. Therefore, this pushes the Vedic period to a much earlier time from that of Buddha than originally figured, and much earlier than many people have calculated. And lastly, everything else we have figured according to the time frame of the appearance of Buddha now has to be re-calculated. Again we find that history has to be adjusted away from the speculations of modern researchers, and that many of the advancements in society and philosophy, as outlined in the Vedic texts, had taken place much earlier than many people want to admit.

(This article is found at: - also check out "The World When Buddha Was Born")

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A Present for You

Somebody sent this to me and I liked it so much I thought I would send it along to everyone else as a holiday gift. Download by clicking here.

UPDATED 5/29/09: All compounded things are impermanent. The item is no longer available, and is transiting the Blog Bardo, as are we all.

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Cafefornication of Lhasa

If you're a jolly ex-pat in Lhasa, the place to go in order to do all the typical things that jolly ex-pats do in Public Security Bureau-sponsored, operated, and monitored caffeine traps (used to be called "honey traps" in the old days) is the Spinn Cafe: open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

We were all such dear, dear friends.

The Spinn Cafe is known in Tibetan as the rLung bSkor Cafe. How special is that?

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Monday, December 24, 2007

How We Live

Today is Christmas Eve in the western nations.

I guess that chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.

Some of us are fortunate enough to live in splendid homes. Some of us live elsewhere. I know it seems terribly romantic to live in a hut, or a cave, or a tent, but I assure you: it is not all that comfortable when the wind is blowing 70 mph and the mercury is falling, and all you have to bestow a little warmth is some burning yak shit.

So, today, as difficult as it may be, do please try to pause for a moment and cast a beneficial thought to those who live alone, in the wide-open spaces. Choosing to do something is a whole lot different from having no choice.

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Divide and Conquer

We sometimes forget that, in addition to the Tibetan Autonomous Region, there are also Tibetan Autonomous Prefectures and Tibetan Autonomous Counties. The above map shows the locations.

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Dalai Lama Teaching for Mongolians

His Holiness the Dalai Lama began a five-day teaching at the Main Temple in Dharmasala on December 22, at the request of Gandan Thegchenling Monastery of Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

Some 250 Buddhists from Mongolia, mainly monks from the monastery, are attending the teachings. Hundreds of Tibetans, a sizeable number of Buddhists from Korea and western countries, and some Chinese Buddhists attended the first day of teachings. Accordingly, simultaneous translation of the teachings is made available in English, Mongolian, Chinese and Korean on FM channels.

Of the five days, the initial two days’ teachings, between 1300hrs and 1600hrs, are devoted to conferment of the 13 Deity Yamantaka Initiation. His Holiness will formally give teachings on Lobsang Choekyen’s Lama Choepa (Guru Puja) on December 23 to 26 from 0800 hrs to 1130hrs.

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Meaningfulness and Money

I have a great deal of affection and respect for the Zangdokpalri Foundation for Great Compassion, and in this regard want to pass along the following solicitation that Moke Mokotoff, the Foundation's President, recently sent to interested parties. I think it is well written, to-the-point, and sensible. I hope that after you read this, you will consider sending something to them before the end of the year:

In our culture we are consciously or unconsciously seeking meaningfulness for our money. Even if we feel we don't have enough money, that in itself gives money meaningfulness. And of course there are those with "too much" money who seek luxury and high quality consumption to give their money meaning. A tantric, direct way to give our money meaning is to give it away. Doing so with a good heart to a needy cause, if maintaining a selfless view of both subject and object one accesses the buddhanature and experiences an uncontrived non attachment, liberation ... taking the result as the path.

In this society giving is emphasized at the end of the year, and at this time some of us are accessing the tax advantages of reducing our taxable annual income by means of donation to a registered 501(c)(3) charity.

Though yet again the healing and teaching tour of the last 4 months at 30 venues by Dungse Rigdzin Dorje and the nuns and monks of Zangdokpalri was the most successful so far due to the generosity of those like you who attended and donated; nevertheless, the value of those donations when sent back to the Himalayas was less than 80% of what it was last year due to the devaluation of the dollar. . In addition prices for commodities have considerably inflated in India. On top of that the monastic community has increased in population nearly 30%, there are now 120 monks and 100 nuns who are supported only by donations....I think you can see where I am going with this. We may have raised 10% more this year, but it fulfills only 50% of the needs.

The good news is that a donor has offered to match whatever donations come in before the end of the year. Thus if you give a dollar, the nuns and monks receive two dollars.

Your donation large or small is part of a rain of generosity that nurtures a very wonderful Buddhist community in one of the poorest areas on the planet. A bit more than a dollar a day can provide food, lodging and clothing for a nun or monk who assiduously studies and practices traditional Buddhist teachings.

Please consider sending a tax deductible donation of any amount to:

The Zangdokpalri Foundation for Great Compassion 130 7th Avenue Box 221 New York, NY 10011

Or donate online at:

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Naturally Occurring Timeless Awareness

Naturally occurring timeless awareness--utterly lucid
awakened mind--
is something marvelous and superb, primordially and
spontaneously present.
It is the treasury from which comes the universe of appearances
and possibilities, whether of samsara or nirvana.
Homage to that unwavering state, free of elaboration.


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Sunday, December 23, 2007

New Face in Town

Look who showed up last night! Look at the ears on this charmer, and bear in mind this little critter is four to six weeks old, tops. Feature-wise, I really can't say if this a rabbit or a hare: this may well indeed be a baby hare, or the beginnings of a very big rabbit.

Anyway, here is the new friend---named Bamboo Rabbit, who joins Rabbit Rinpoche and Mister Bee-man among the "indoor set," not to be confused with the "outdoor set," managed by Little Caesar and his "Family."

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Nyingma NASCAR

I think we may have a driver - Tsem Tulku Rinpoche - the "Neon Lama." Yes, I know he's a Gelugpa. Yes, I know he prefers disco dancing. Yes, I know he does stand-up comedy. Yes, I know he has worked as a fashion model. I just happen to think he might be a suitable candidate.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Rebuilding Stupas

There are an estimated 24,000 stupas in need of restoration around the world. So why not restore them? This organization aims to facilitate the task of restoration, and as such, this seems a worthwhile effort to support.

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Buddhists Who Like Rabbits

There are some sites we wish to share with other rabbit fanciers:

(1) H.A.R.E.
(2) The mother of all rabbit medicine resources - by vets for vets.
(3) Rabbit rescue groups
(4) House Rabbit Society
(5) American Rabbit Breeders Association - We do not endorse their policies, but they are out there, and sooner or later you have to deal with them.
(6) Notes about the Buddhist three rabbit motif.

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Tibeto-Logic and Thor-bu

Here is a well written blog by a guy named Dan. Think of it as a curiosity shop filled with old stuff you buy, take home, and immediately misplace. You find it later, decide you never use it and therefore don't need it, so you sell it. Likely as not, Dan buys it, and puts it back on the shelf. You then discover you needed it after all, so you wind up buying it again!

We once had the unsettling experience of listening to a rather inexperienced (he didn't read Tibetan and had yet to attempt his three-year retreat) western monk complain about western scholars (who do read Tibetan and have completed their three-year retreats). "They are always so... certain of themselves," he said, uncertainly. "It''s... arrogant!"

Don't know why, but it puts one in mind of Mark Twain's comment to the effect that when he was young, his father was stupid. However, as he got older, he was surprised to find out how much his old man had learned.

Subscribe to Tibeto-Logic, and you'll be surprised to find out how much the old man learned.

While you're at it, subscribe to Thor bu, as well, and be surprised to find out how much the young man learned.

Note: This item illustrated with rabbit picture because (a) we wanted an excuse, and (b) have just named two latest rabbits "Tibeto," and "Thorbu."

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Bodhidharma's Grave in China

There is a most interesting video explaining circumstances surrounding Bodhidharma's burial site in China. What is particularly instructive is to see the numbers of ethnic Han attending the anniversary ceremonies.

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Eastern Fortress of Evident Treasure

Tenpa Rinpoche's newest book, Eastern Fortress of Evident Treasure is in pre-production and should be available very shortly. As in the case of his remarkable book High Desert, we will be offering a free download for a limited period (in exchange for your comments/review/whatever), after which the printed edition will go on sale. However, this will be a limited edition --- we are only doing 108 copies.

It is difficult to categorize this new book. Basically, it is a stand-alone collection of Rinpoche's original prayers and practices, together with brief commentaries. Yet, there is a continuity to the work which enables it to be simply read, in which case it becomes an "inner narrative," something like High Desert. In the meantime, contact us if you are interested in reserving a copy of this exciting new work.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

There Is Hope for America: Vajra Guru Phan-Yon

Above, unretouched evidentiary screenshot demonstrates somebody at U.S. Central Command using the search string "OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM - ENGLISH" to access this site.

I think we should send them to Karma Lingpa's commentary on the benefits of the Vajra Guru mantra:

Vajra Guru Phan-Yon

HERE IS contained the Commentary on the Mystic Syllables and the Benefits of the Vajra Guru Mantra, which appears in the Terma of Tulku Karma Lingpa.
Vajra Guru Deva Dakini Hum
I do homage to the Lama, the Yidam, and the Dakini.
The dakini Yeshe Tsogyal spoke:
I, Yeshe Tsogyal, who am a mere woman, having made an offering of a vast mandala, outer, inner, and secret to my Guru, now make this request. O Master Padmasambhava, please grant to us, we who are the people of Tibet, your unending aid and assistance in this present life and in all future lives. There has never been be-fore, nor will there be in the future a boon as great as you. I have no doubt that even I, who am a mere woman, shall be given your sad-hana which is itself like pure and precious nectar.
I see that there will come a time in the distant future when human beings will possess fickle intellects and ever changing opinions. They will be very excitable, impatient, and excessively prone to violence. They will cling to heretical views regarding the Holy Dharma. In particular, they will slander and belittle the Doctrine of the Supremely Secret Mantras. At that time, for all sentient beings, the three great evils of disease, poverty, and warfare with terrifying weapons will greatly increase.
In particular, there will come a time of terrible suffering for Tibet and the Tibetan people when troubles will spread with great devastation across the three regions of China, Tibet, and Central Asia; just like when a nest of ants is broken and the ants swarm out.
You, O Guru, have proclaimed many skillful means for curing these ills. Nevertheless, for the people of those future times there will be neither time nor opportunity for the practice of sadhana. Only a very few people will even have the desire to practice. On every hand, disturbances and distractions will be exceedingly strong and powerful. Human beings will be unable to agree among themselves. Even the materials necessary for puja and the preparations for sadhana practice will be incomplete. In such evil times, it will be extremely difficult to avert or reverse those trends. In such times as those, O Guru, if one should rely solely on your sadhana which is the Vajra Guru Mantra, what benefit and advantage shall come from this? For the sake of those future beings with inferior intel-lects, who are devoid of deep spiritual understanding, please tell us.
Then the Great Master spoke:
O faithful daughter, what you have said is very true. Nevertheless, in such future periods as those, it is still certain that from practice there shall come forth benefits both immediate and ulti-mate for all sentient beings. I shall conceal the eighteen kinds of Termas; such as earth treasures, water treasures, rock treasures, sky treasures and so on, that will contain countless numbers of sadhanas and secret teachings. In those evil times, the skillful methods of those who possess good karma and the auspicious co-incidence of events [rten ‘brel ‘grig] are exceedingly difficult to accomplish. Such times are characterized by the exhaustion of what-ever merit sentient beings may possess.
Nevertheless, if at such places as the twenty four Great Places of Pilgrimage, or in the temples and villages, or on the peak of a great mountain, or on the shore of a great river, or in the uplands and lowlands which are inhabited by gods, demons, and ghosts, should anyone who possesses the secret vows and mantras, or monks possessing the vows of the Sangha, or even a layman of devout faith or a woman of good character, having intensely cultivated the intention to attain Enlightenment; should any of them be able to repeat the essence of the Vajra Guru Mantra one hundred times or one thousand times or ten thousand or one hundred thousand or one million or one hundred million times or as many times as possible, the resulting power and benefits shall be inconceivable to the human mind. Moreover, in all the directions of space, disease, poverty, warfare, hostile armies, civil strife, famine, dire prophecies and ill omens, all these evils shall be averted. In every direction, the good fortune of healthy cattle, abundant crops, and rain in its season shall come. In one’s present life, in all future lives and in the narrow, difficult passage of the Bardo, to the superior person I shall be known in my real presence, to the intermediate person I shall appear as a vision, and to the inferior person I shall speak to him in his dreams. In addition, it is certain that they shall, having perfected gradually the paths and stages, enter the land of Camaradvipa as vidyadharas both male and female.
If one but repeats the mantra uninterruptedly one hundred times a day, he will come into the thoughts of others appearing in a favorable fashion. There will effortlessly come to him abundant food, wealth, and good fortune. If one repeats the mantra as many as one thousand times or ten thousand times and so on, he shall gain control over the minds of others and it is certain that he shall attain power and blessing. If one repeats the mantra one hundred thousand or ten million times or more, he will accumulate all the power of the Three Worlds and gain control over the three Realms of Existence. Gods and demons shall become his servants and he shall attain without any impediment whatsoever the four magical rites. He is then able to immeasurably assist all sentient beings as much as he desires. If one is able to count as many as thirty million or seventy million recitations, then all the Buddhas of the three times of past, present, and future shall always be with him. Indeed, he shall be identical with me. All the gods, rakshasas, and fierce mountain deities shall promise to listen to his commands and obey them, accomplishing whatever he entrusts to them.
The superior person will attain in this very life the Rainbow Body. The intermediate person will on the occasion of the Chi-khai Bardo realize the clear light of self-illumination [‘od-gsal]. Even the inferior person, once having seen my face in the Bardo, will be de-livered from the arising of appearances [that normally appear there], and having been reborn in Camaradvipa, he shall give immeasurable aid to all sentient beings.
The dakini Yeshe Tsogyal further requested:
O Great Master, we thank you for such a great boon of vast and immeasurable power and benefit. However, for the sake of future sentient beings, please expound briefly in sutra fashion, on the immeasurable power and benefit of the commentary on the mystic syllables of the Mantra of Guru Padma.
Then the Great Master spoke:
O daughter of a noble family, that which is called the Vajra Guru Mantra is not only my name, but represents the very heart or vital essence of the Yidams, the four types of Tantras, the Nine Vehicles, and the eighty four thousand sections of the Dharma. This Mantra is complete and perfect for it is the very essence of all the Buddhas of the three times, of all the Gurus, Devatas, Dakinis, and Dharmapalas. If one should ask what marks the cause of this per-fection, then let him listen well and fix it firmly in his mind. Let him repeat the mantra again and again. Let him write it down. Then let him instruct and explain its meaning to all sentient beings of future ages.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

As for the OM, AH, and HUM, they are the supreme essence of the Body, Speech, and Mind. VAJRA is the supreme essence of the Vajra family, GURU is the supreme essence of the Jewel family, PADMA is the supreme essence of the lotus family, and SIDDHI is the supreme essence of the karma family. As for HUM, it is the su-preme essence of the Tathagata family.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

As for OM, it is the perfection of the Sambhogakaya which em-bodies the Buddhas of the five families. AH is the perfection complete and unchanging of the Dharmakaya. HUM is the perfection in the space before one of the Guru, who is the Nirmanakaya. VAJRA is the perfection of the divine assembly of Herukas. GURU is the perfection of the divine assembly of Guru Vidyadharas. PADMA is the perfection of the divine assembly of Dakinis and Shakinis. SID-DHI is the vital energy [prana, srog] of all the Wealth Gods and Treasure Lords. HUM in the vital energy of all the Dharmapalas without exception.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

As for OM, AH, and HUM, they are the vital energies of the three types of Tantras. VAJRA is the vital energy of the two sections called the Vinaya and the Sutras. GURU is the vital energy of the two Abidharma and Kriya Tantras. PADMA is the vital energy of the two Upaya Tantras and Yoga Tantras. SIDDHI is the vital energy of the two Mahayoga and Anuyogas. HUM is the vital energy of the Atiyoga.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

OM, AH, and HUM will purify all obscurations that derive from the Three Poisons. VAJRA will purify all obscurations that derive from hatred. GURU will purify all obscurations that derive from pride. PADMA will purify all obscurations that derive from greed. SIDDHI will purify all obscurations that derive from envy. By HUM, all obscurations that derive from the defilements will be purified.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will obtain the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. By VAJRA, one will obtain the Mirror-like Gnosis [jnana]. By GURU, one will obtain the Gnosis of Sameness. By PADMA, one will obtain the Discriminating Gnosis. By SIDDHI, one will obtain the All-Accomplishing Gnosis. By HUM, one will perfectly obtain all that derives from Gnosis.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will control gods, demons, and men. By VAJRA, one will control such hostile spirits as Gandharvas and fire spirits. By GURU, one will control such hostile spirits as Yama and the Rakshasas. By PADMA, one will control such hostile spirits as water sprites and air spirits. By SIDDHI, one will control such hostile spirits as Yakshas and powerful demons. By HUM, one will control such hostile spirits as Planetary Genii and Earth Lords.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will attain the Six Perfections. By VAJRA, one will realize all the magical rites that are peaceful. By GURU, one will realize all the magical rites that increase prosperity. By PADMA, one will realize all the magical rites of over-powered enchantment. By SIDDHI, one will realize all the magical rites of worldly success. By HUM, one will realize all the magical rites that are terrifying.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will counteract the magical influences of both Lamas and Bönpos. By VAJRA, one will counteract the hostile influences of the nemesis of the gods. By GURU, one will counteract the hostile influences of gods, rakshasas, and nature deities. By PADMA, one will counteract the hostile influences of minor worldly deities and demons. By SIDDHI, one will counteract the hostile influences of Nagas and Earth Lords. By HUM, one will counteract all the hostile influences of gods, demons, and men.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will vanquish the militant hosts of the Five Poisons. By VAJRA, one will vanquish the militant hosts that derive from hatred. By GURU, one will vanquish the militant hosts that derive from pride. By PADMA, one will vanquish the militant hosts that derive from greed. By SIDDHI, one will vanquish the militant hosts that derive from envy. By HUM, one will van-quish the militant hosts of gods, demons, and men.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will obtain the siddhis of Body, Speech, and Mind. By VAJRA, one will obtain the siddhis of the Peaceful and Wrathful deities [Yi-dam zhi-khro]. By GURU, one will obtain the siddhis of the Vidyadhara Guru. By PADMA, one will obtain the siddhis of the Dakinis and Dharmapalas. By SIDDHI, one will obtain siddhis both ordinary and supreme. By HUM, one will obtain all conceivable siddhis.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will transmigrate to the Primordial Realm. By VAJRA, one will transmigrate to the realm of Manifest Happiness which is in the eastern direction. By GURU, one will transmigrate to the Fortunate Realm, which is in the southern direction. By PADMA, one will transmigrate to the Realm of Great Bliss, which is in the western direction. By SIDDHI, one will transmigrate to the Supreme Realm, which is in the northern direction. By HUM, one will transmigrate to the Unshakeable Realm, which is in the center.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

By OM, AH, and HUM, one will obtain the vidyadhara of the Three Bodies. By VAJRA, one will obtain the vidyadhara, which is established in the first stage. By GURU, one will obtain the vidyadhara of the power of longevity. By PADMA, one will obtain the vidyadhara of the Mahamudra. By SIDDHI, one will obtain the vidyadhara which is self-created [lhun-grub]. By HUM, one will obtain the vidyadhara which is completely matured.

om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum

If one pronounces this Vajra Guru Mantra just one time, then even if misery and illness come, the merit of this shall be greater than the entire expanse of Jambudvipa. For all those sentient beings who look at, listen to, and remember this mantra, it is certain that they shall both males and females become vidyadharas. The true words of the Vajra Guru never fail. If it does not happen that one attains his desire as I have said, then I, Padma, have failed all sentient beings. However, since it is certain that I do not fail, then one should practice sadhana as I have instructed. If one is unable to chant the mantra repeatedly, he should mount it atop a high pole as a victory banner, for without doubt the very winds will carry it to all sentient beings. Alternatively, he should draw it on wood, stone, earth, and so on, and having consecrated and empowered it [rab-gnas], then place it in a high place along the road. Seeing this there, all beings shall be purified of disease, evil spirits, and obscurations. At such a place, the coming and going of demons and rakshasas are brought to a halt. Alternatively, one should write it with gold ink on pure, dark blue paper and then bind it up. Thus evil spirits, devils, and ghosts will be unable to do any harm or injury. One having died, if it is burned with the corpse, a rainbow will then appear. Moreover, it is certain that he will transmigrate into the Great Bliss [bde-chen]. If one repeatedly writes and reads this mantra, then surely he shall pass beyond any measure of virtue.

For the sake of all future sentient beings, I shall write this down and conceal it. Then let my son who possesses fortunate karma recover it.
(This is my secret vow, thrice sealed!)
Let it be kept secret from those with heretical views.
However, let it be given to all those who are firm in their vows.
Tulku Karma Lingpa recovered the hidden treasure and copied this from the Shog-ser.

The text of the present work is in the form of a dialogue between the Tibetan princess, Yeshe Tsogyal and her Guru, Padmasambhava. This text is a commentary on the hidden significance of the syllables of the Vajra Guru Mantra of Padmasambhava. It is an extract of a larger work, the Shog-ser, belonging to a Terma discovered by the great Terma Master Karma Lingpa. This master is also responsible for discovery of the famous Bardo Thosgrol, or “Tibetan Book of the Dead.” He is remarkable, in that his first discoveries occurred when he was but fifteen years of age. This is an authoritative translation from the original Tibetan language edition, which dates from the fourteenth century.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Somewhere, A Boy and His Rabbit

I'll be taking a lengthy rest from this web log, beginning today. While I'm gone, there might be a couple of posts from my friends, or something from me that was "already in the can," as they say in Hollywood, but live content will go silent after this post.

Somewhere, a boy and his rabbit are always praying for your happiness.

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Nine Bad Omens: Ngenpa Gu Dzom

"I walked into the middle of a featureless field,
I shot an arrow into the center of the cloudless sky:
I did not care if it was a good day or a bad day."

Ngenpa Gu Dzom
, or the "Nine Bad Omens" day is the sixth day of the eleventh Tibetan month... tomorrow, as it happens. It starts at noon on Saturday and lasts until noon Sunday.

Here is what Alex Berzin has to say: "During this period, most Tibetans do not try to do any special religious or other positive practices, but instead go on picnics, relax, and play. The history of this custom is that at the time of the Buddha, one person tried to accomplish many positive deeds this day, but nine bad things befell him. Buddha advised that on this date each year in the future, it is best not to try to accomplish much good."

Everybody remembers Nine Bad Omens, but everybody forgets it is immediately followed by Zangpo Chu Dzom, or "Ten Auspicious Omens," which starts on noon Sunday and lasts until noon Monday.

Alex reminds us: "On this day, at the time of the Buddha, ten wonderful things happened to that same person when he continued trying to do what was constructive. This period, then, is considered very favorable for positive projects but, in general, Tibetans also take this time for picnics and games."

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Yesterday, I mentioned the 84,000 categories of the Buddha's teachings. These are contained in the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana vehicles. There is also a fourth category of vehicle that deserves mention and that is...

We are in the early, early, early planning stages of a land, air, and sea expedition to visit Central Asian archaeological sites of cultural significance (read: Buddhist hot spots). Let me explain that although I am doing some of the planning, it is likely that others will be doing the expeditioning. This is one of the ways I deal with deteriorating health: I learn to live vicariously. Be this as it may, the project is an exciting one, and gives a handy excuse to spend time pouring over maps, satellite photos, and informant reports (oops!) which is something I am still able to do.

The plan is to start out in the Mojave, just to shake out the equipment. Then, the vehicles will go to Long Beach and load on the proverbial slow boat to China. When the vehicles are dockside in China, the personnel will fly in and begin the drive to the Gobi. There is some thought that after Mongolia, the expedition may move on to the eastern Tibetan Autonomous Region, to assess remote medical service delivery issues (read: monks need dental care). In point of fact, we may skip Mongolia altogether and just concentrate on T.A.R.---going there in a fraternal attempt to openly repudiate the failed doctrine of separatism---but we are still working with that.

While it is more likely than not that the expedition will travel in specially kitted-out but otherwise standard 4x4 vehicles, the expedition "chase" truck will be rather a different matter:

This is not a Land Rover; rather, this is a Unimog outfitted for the Gobi. I like the colour. Maybe we could paint the Medicine Buddha on the sides.

I'm partial to Pinzgauers myself---6x6 is better than 4x4---but they don't necessarily lend themselves to large superstructures. The only Land Rover I ever saw that looks like it could past muster is this monster, built for a Canadian dentist who delivers rural care. This might well be a model for the T.A.R:

American firms are also getting into the act. This is an expedition vehicle built for the Baja 1000:

I can already hear the screeching and howling from the e-monkey tree: "It isn't Buddhist!" "We want to see credentials!" "Who authorized this?" "What on earth are trucks doing on a Buddhist blog?"


If I had the energy, I would sponsor a Nyingmapa team for NASCAR, with the Vajra Guru Mantra painted on the sides of the car, an image of Dorje Drollo on the hood, Jetsunma's dance mix of the Seven Line Prayer blasting out of loudspeakers on the roof, and Junior Rinpoche behind the wheel. Every weekend, eleventy million rednecks would see the "Liberator," and instead of checkered flags we'd have prayer flags.

Ask not what Buddhism can do for you.

Ask instead what you can do for all sentient beings.

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