Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today's Strange Anniversary

The Dalai Lama, at left, on March 31, 1959 -- the day he crossed the border from Tibet into India.

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Dalai Lama's Steel Factory For Sale

His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Gayday Iron and Steel Company, located in Hirodih, in eastern Jharkhand state, 225 kilometers from the state capital Ranchi, is up for sale. The business venture has been regarded as something of a failure. The factory, which once employed more than 500 workers making spun steel pipes, shut down in July 1976.

Revitalization of the factory would prove a boon to the estimated 16,000 residents of Hirodih, as well as those of four surrounding villages. Interesting idea, isn't it? Ever want to (a) help the Dalai Lama financially, and (b) own a factory in India? More on this story is just a click away.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Rabbit Protection: That Time of Year Again

Every year at this time, people who should know better succumb to the whims of horrid children and buy a "pet bunny," for Easter. After the novelty wears off, the rabbits are abandoned, or die horrible deaths of neglect, in squalid cages.

Please do not subscribe to this.

There are many ways you can help: by adopting rabbits in distress, by making a nuisance of yourself at stores that sell "Easter" rabbits, and by generously supporting the good works of the House Rabbit Society (  -- as strident a group of rabbit lovers as you would ever want to meet. Click the banner, below, for more information --

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Weekly Tibetan Astrology: March 29 - April 4, 2010

March 29, 2010 - Chinese 15th, M-T-K 14th. Dog, Kham, Red 9. The revelation of the Kalachakratantra is observed today. Sojong is also observed today. In modern Chinese terms, we would say "beware splitism" on this day. A good day to accumulate jewels: actual and metaphorical. Say many, many mantras today. This coming Sunday is Trungpa Tulku's anniversary, so this is a good time to investigate Crazy Wisdom: The Movie.

March 30, 2010 - Chinese 16th, M-T-K 15th. Pig, Gin, White 1. Today is a naga day, and also Amitabha Buddha Day. Very positive energies today.

March 31, 2010 - Chinese 17th, M-T-K 17th. Mouse, Zin, Black 2. Generally negative energies today.

April 1, 2010 - Chinese 18th, M-T-K 18th. Ox, Zon, Blue 3.  Interesting contradiction today: on the one hand swift action is favored, while on the other hand it is not. The best course is to relinquish notions of control and spend time sitting. Favorable for practice today.
April 2, 2010 - Chinese 19th, M-T-K 19th. Tiger, Li, Green 4.  Today is zin phung. Today is heavily impacted by Tiger energy. Good day to buy a new car.

April 3, 2010 -  Chinese 20th, M-T-K 20th. Rabbit, Khon, Yellow 5. A day of positive energies. Construction favored.

April 4, 2010 - Chinese 21st, M-T-K 21st. Dragon, Dwa, White 6. Anniversary of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Note that the Kagyu calendars are holding aside April 12th this year for the actual observance -- the lunar-solar thing. Beware of accidents brought about by emotional upsets. Try to relax mentally.

Naga observations for the second month: Six good days and four bad days this month. The six very good (lunar) days are 7, 10, 15, 20, 21, and 25. The particularly bad (lunar) days are 2, 26, 27, 28.

Consult our extended discussion of 2010 astrology by clicking here.

Published every Monday at 00:01 香港時間 but written in advance and auto-posted. See our Introduction to Daily Tibetan Astrology for background information. If you know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can get information about your positive and negative days by clicking here. If you don't know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can obtain that information by clicking here. For specific information about the astrology of 2010, inclusive of elements, earth spirits, and so forth, please consult our extended discussion by clicking here.  Click here for Hong Kong Observatory conversion tables. Weekly Tibetan Astrology copyright (c) 2010. All rights reserved.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pema Lingpa Vajrakilaya Empowerment: Updated

Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche, the 11th Pema Lingpa, finished off his first U.S. tour in Hollywood, California yesterday, bestowing the full and elaborate Vajrakilaya empowerment according to the tradition of Terton Pema Lingpa, founder of the Peling Tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism. This was an unprecedented opportunity -- I do not know how it could be duplicated, unless one travels to Bhutan -- and the capacity attendees at Hollywood's Golden Bridge (on De Longpre) were lucky indeed. Rinpoche gave an extensive teaching prior to the empowerment, and a full translation of the associated 105 page practice text was immediately available thereafter. This text was attended by the peerless John Pettit, and shows his careful hand throughout.

Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche leaves Los Angeles for Bhutan tomorrow (Monday), following a most successful tour of the Western United States. If you are in the vicinity of Hollywood today (Sunday) you have one last chance to meet Rinpoche and view the relics of Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Longchenpa, and others he brought from Tibet and Bhutan. The venue is Golden Bridge Yoga, 6322 De Longpre Avenue (near Sunset and Vine).

UPDATED: Rinpoche's last minute decision to give the Vajrakilaya empowerment required the cooperation and efforts of several different Tibetan Buddhist organizations and sponsors in Southern California, including those from the Vietnamese and Chinese communities. It was truly gratifying to see everyone working together, to common purpose, in a genuine atmosphere of friendship -- the poly-cultural sixties vibe that is in many ways unique to the City of Angels.

All of the above notwithstanding....

Oh oh.... here it comes...

I have been planning to publish a diatribe concerning empowerments for some time now. This is a general, shotgun style, Sunday afternoon rant that has nothing specific to do with the aforementioned empowerment by Sungtrul Rinpoche. I want to make that clear.


Is it just me, or have the rules relaxed?

Since when is it appropriate to continually take flash photographs of the Vajra Master at every single juncture, flash photographs of the attendees, and indeed, flash photographs of everything that strikes one's fancy? There have been recent moments when I did not know if it was an empowerment or a press conference!

Since when has it been appropriate to make a continual show of filling the Vajra Master's cup, and attending to small items on his throne? The lama takes a sip from his cup and up pops somebody to pour in more tea or water. The lama looks around for a moment and here comes jack-in-the-box, being overly solicitous, and calling attention to his or her person as someone "close."

Utterly ridiculous. I call this the "I'm with the band" syndrome. In the old days, this sort of thing earned a smack on the head.

Since when has it been appropriate to sit with one's feet outstretched, pointed toward the Vajra Master or the altar -- or to lounge around like you were on your living room floor playing with your train set on Christmas morning?

Since when has it been appropriate to wear hats during an empowerment, or to arrange one's hair "up?" How about excessive use of fragrances, or extreme forms of dress?

Since when has it been appropriate to engage in banter, particularly while in line to receive sacred substances? How about texting during an empowerment, or taking and sending cell phone pictures?

Finally, since when has it been appropriate to put texts or images on the floor, and to step over them?

I have seen all of this mischief and more at recent events. It seems that people are forgetting the fundamentals. I cannot believe that the lamas are not teaching the right way to conduct one's self at empowerments, but maybe it is time for a refresher course?


O.K., that was a mercifully brief diatribe, and probably not up to our usual standards, but I have exhausted myself minding everybody else's business.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

It Isn't About 'Hail Mary'

The great majority of lamas -- and that would be on the order of 99.99% -- who claim to understand something about monotheistic eternalism in America, base their understanding upon superficial observations gained whilst passing through on the latest fundraising tour -- particularly when they flip over the currency and see IN GOD WE TRUST emblazoned next to the Masonic emblem -- or, in the alternative, they form opinions  upon reading various translations from the Greek.

It is not disrespectful to suggest that such lamas have absolutely no idea what it means to be born and raised in a nation that fancies itself a stronghold of monotheistic eternalism --  particularly in the era, now thankfully passed, when you were forced to say monotheistic prayers in school, and accept eternalism as the norm. Our red-robed sojourners have been spared monotheistic eternalism's mischief, and in consequence feel entitled to tsk tsk any notion monotheistic eternalism and Buddhism are at odds. These are the ones who happily tell you that Jesus was the bomb, missing the point entirely that Jesus was no Christian.

People also forget that Christian saints embrace suffering for its supposed soteriological value, whereas Buddhist saints end suffering by coming to know the nature of their own mind. But, that is another argument for another day.

The 00.01% of lamas who actually live in America, who have bothered to learn English, and who have cared enough to make a study of monotheistic eternalism's influence on the host culture, have a rather different viewpoint than that typically expressed at interfaith dialogues and we-are-all-holy-brothers-here conferences. Kyabje Thinley Norbu Rinpoche is in a class by himself in that regard. I would point to his Welcoming Flowers from Across the Cleansed Threshold of Hope: An Answer to the Pope's Criticism of Buddhism as exemplary. I will spare you the pull quotes. This is something you need to find out for yourself.

So, then, why the fusillade?

All above notwithstanding, I find myself increasingly disappointed by the general failure to (a) recognize, and (b) cure the covert adulteration of Vajrayana Buddhism with thinly disguised monotheistic eternalist ideological norms and foibles.

Take "confession and purification" as an example. In the context of Vajrayana Buddhism, confession and purification simply means recognizing the obscurations of afflicted emotions, and correcting the matter. The idea of "penance" doesn't enter in there at all. You don't hop in a phone booth with a lama, whisper through a screen that you cheated on your spouse, get ordered to say Hail Vajrasattva twenty-five times, and sin no more, go out smiling in the sunshine, then turn around and cheat all over again. That smiling in the sunshine part is what Rongzompa called, "the self-promoting confines of artificial conduct." You can not cure one beclouded perception with another beclouded perception.

In the first place, if you set out to confess something, you are off to a bad start, because one must of needs confess everything. Since time immemorial, there is not a single screw-up each and every one of us has not managed -- or, to the extent that all fictitious sentient beings are our own projection -- there is not a single screw-up we are not managing right this minute. Whatever it is you are confessing -- believe this -- you've done much, much worse.

So what is confession? Confession is the cold realization of what does not work, coupled with regret that one has wasted time on what does not work, which transforms itself into resolutely albeit effortlessly refraining from what does not work.

If you smack yourself in the ankle with a sledge hammer enough times, you lose all sense of nostalgia for smacking yourself in the ankle with a sledge hammer. Time does not dim the experience. No rosy glow mists over, to the extent that you say to yourself, "Oh, what the hell... give me that sledge hammer, just for old time's sake."

To the contrary, you vow to never again smack yourself in the ankle with a sledge hammer, no matter the circumstances, and that vow turns out to be downright easy to maintain. Even if you merely glance at a sledge hammer, you get a twinge in the ankle. You say to yourself, "I was a damn fool to smack myself in the ankle with that sledge hammer," and that confession can be as elaborate as need be, to encompass stealing sledge hammers to whack ankles over many lifetimes, encouraging others to smack their ankles, ad nauseam, because there is no end upon the obscurations of afflicted emotions.

Of course, there is an even better way, which is to come to some sort of realization about dualistic thinking. One could confess falling prey to dualistic thinking over many lifetimes, realize what all that dualistic thinking has earned, and forswear dualistic thinking from a complete understanding of its uselessness. That might not be confession and purification the way you learned it down at Our Lady of the Bleeding Sores, but it will certainly hold you over until confession and purification come riding along.

If you doubt any of this, or find fault with any of this, then consider The Inexpressible Absolute Confession. 
The supreme embodiment of primordial wisdom, the natural mandala,
although without elaboration, just like the full moon,
appears as the display of compassion, without bias, equally, like the clear light of the sun,
please come here, listen to me, and be seated.

Inexpressible wisdom, the immovable dharmakaya,
the great bliss sambhogakaya, the five Buddhas and their families,
the deities of the play of the vast display of the skillful method of loving kindness,
to the peaceful and wrathful nirmanakaya buddhas I bow down.

Actual material endowments and those mentally manifest,
like limitless clouds of Samantabhadra's offerings,
are perfectly arranged throughout the reaches of the pure sphere of space.
I offer this ocean of outer, inner, and secret offerings.

In the secret womb of Kuntuzangmo
dwell the vast multitudes of the mandalas of the buddhas without exception.

Within the one taste of changelessness,
take pleasure in the indivisible awakened mind.
The mind's nature is the great space of the dharmadhatu.
All phenomena are perfectly pure as the primordial realm of clear light.

The nature of this practice is the sphere beyond thought and speech.
 I bow down constantly to this awakened mind of the nature of equality.

Within the great perfection of Kuntuzangpo, which has prevailed from the very beginning,
are the great arrangements of outer, inner, and secret mandalas.
In the pure display of phenomenal existence as the sphere of male and female deities,
all that appears and transforms is the spontaneous expression of male-female.

Great Mistress, who possesses the form of the ultimate great secret,
in the center of your lotus, the vast expanse of the sphere of space,
is the clear light realm of the bindu of non-duality,
the embodiment of the essence of the awakened mind, uncontrived without complexity.

All appearances are the deities of infinite great bliss.

This secret mandala devoid of gathering and dispersing,
is the great self-nature as the five Buddha families, male and female,
the family of bodhisattvas, the hosts of male and female wrathful deities,
the assembly of vajra goddesses and the lords, masters of the assemblies,
the five glorious herukas of the five Buddha families, the ten wrathful deities and their consorts,
the four gate keepers of the sacred places and countries,
the many assemblies of primordial wisdom emanation deities,
who are as loving as mothers and as affectionate as sisters,
the dakinis who weigh good and evil and pronounce the judgments of samaya, and
hosts of outer and inner dakinis and yoginis.
All of you who uphold the vajra commitment, please bear witness to me.

Descendants of the vajra lineage pure-awareness holders, myself and others,
who generate the awakened mind for the purpose of all beings,
in order to reach the unsurpassed state of awakening,
we practice the various individual disciplines of the ocean of teachings,
maintain the supreme vow of the union of body, speech, and mind, and
the vajra samaya, not lightly transgressed and necessary to maintain.

All general and extraordinary samaya,
that I successively received and swore to preserve,
were never intended to be lost or transgressed.
With no intention to deviate or abandon them, yet
due to laziness, I have postponed the practices.

Without achieving accomplishment, my meditation potential is feeble.

Lacking mindfulness and overpowered by carelessness,
I have not persevered in meditation, and have been distracted during mantra recitation.
Concerning the root samaya of body, speech, and mind,
overpowered by my lack of awareness, both knowingly and unknowingly,
I have transgressed my teacher's words and contradicted the vows.

Any practitioner who has allowed samaya to deteriorate
should not be associated with, even for an instant.
Although stated in the scriptures, this is difficult to adhere to.
The secret path is difficult to define, and so hard to understand clearly.
Lacking omniscience, it is difficult to discern who is at fault.

I have associated with transgressors in feast and fulfillment restoration ceremonies.
I have spoke about Dharma to transgressors and improper vessels, and
I have failed to be conscientious about deteriorations, their faults and so forth.
I have befriended transgressors. And due to all of this,
these faults of the obscuration of defilement, whatever they may be,
are the cause of obstructing conditions in this life and will obscure the future.

With a mind of overwhelming regret and remorse I completely confess.

Please pay heed to me with your loving compassion and
place me firmly in the sphere of non-duality.

Although you abide in the state of equanimity free of conceptualizations,
please bestow perfectly the blessings of absolute non-duality.

If non-conceptual absolute truth is free from elaboration,
whatever thought formations exist, become non-conceptual.

Due to the power of conventional truth, which is merely illusory,
for the faults committed, with personal remorse I request forgiveness.
Usually, at this point, you would repeat the Hundred Syllable Mantra, and I would encourage you to do so. As you do so, I would likewise encourage you to keep the concluding four verses above firmly in mind.

I don't see any language about penance in there, do you? What I do see is language correcting one's perceptions -- reminding one's self about what one already knows. This is not a children's game. Karma is inflexible. Karma doesn't care how sorry you are. Karma doesn't care how sincerely you apologize and promise not to do this or that. The only thing that stops the craziness is when you stop the craziness, and you stop the craziness when you come to some sort of realization about what produces the craziness. Cosmic bargaining is no substitute, and anyway, it does not work.

Vows are easy to keep once you tire of living with the result of not keeping them. If you cannot keep them, do not take them. If you do take them, do not break them. Similarly, refraining from that which is better left undone becomes simple once you tire of the result. Of course, complications often arise when results are slow in coming. You can actually begin to feel that you are getting away with something.

This brings us to yet another example of covert monotheistic eternalism in action -- and indeed, the preoccupation of the Book of Psalms -- which is: why are the guilty not punished? When less than comfortable but otherwise instructive results are slow in coming, we begin to feel justified in our actions, no matter how ill-advised they may be. We raise hell with great relish, and look around for more. Others, who share our  impatience but not our lofty view,  think we are getting away with murder, and believe themselves to suffer injustice thereby. We are doing wickedness and enjoying every minute. They are being righteous, and feeling miserable. They therefore set out to call the Lord's wrath down upon us, or in the alternative, take up pitchforks and torches to march up the hill and mete out retribution themselves.

Or, what is infinitely more egregious, instead of grabbing a pitchfork, there are some "Buddhists" who grab a mala and start counting out Vajrakilaya mantras. That is a particularly dangerous brand of closet Christianity. That triple-edged phurba is a double-edged sword....
The sharp edges of imprecations hurled by others by means of mantra
And the bad signs and omens that result from disharmony –
Drive back all of these, removing their power!
A very great lama --  the one who discovered that which I just quoted from -- once explained that wrathful deities cannot be deceived. He described the result of attempting to deceive wrathful deities by abusively using wrathful mantras to no good purpose. He stated there would be the sudden death of loved ones; that death and illness would arise among one's retinue. There would be accidents and suicides. Medical procedures would bring no lasting benefit, and even one's doctors or other helpful persons would experience accidents and misfortunes. The weather in one's immediate environment would become punishing, and creatures of the land and air would begin to act in strange ways.

He explained that this would be experienced much as someone standing in the eye of a hurricane. One's immediate environment might seem normal -- for a time -- whereas at the periphery of one's immediate environment, the wind would begin to pick up speed. This would take place over a very long time, until one was completely isolated. Then, and only then, would one begin to see the result of one's actions, and this would result in madness and a descent into the hellish realms.

There is a tendency to dismiss such things, unless one has actually encountered them. However, it would be a terrible mistake to dismiss this advice out of hand. Of course, if you, too, like to flip over the currency and read the motto beneath the Masonic emblem, with its Latin ANNUIT COEPTIS for "God has favored our undertaking," and believe that all of your actions are justified by some divine agency... well... then... keep dropping those dimes, and I suppose matters will just sort themselves out naturally.
Mother Tara, protect us, now and at the time of our death.
      --from an "American Buddhist" prayer of recent vintage
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death, amen
      --from an old, established Christian operation
I do not know if it brings anyone any benefit to run a Buddhist Inquisition, ferreting out closet Christianity. However, I do believe that it is useful to recognize that adulteration of the Vajrayana is an issue we need to deal with. The generation of lamas trained in pre-1959 Tibet is passing away. Rather than think too much about what they take with them, I want to think about what they leave behind.

For those of you who want to think about purity -- think about this.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Google Stops Censorship for China

Google has shifted to its Hong Kong servers, and stopped censoring search results for Mainland Chinese users. You can check this site, which is updated daily, to see what Google services are available on the Mainland -- alas, we see that Blogger is still being blocked.

By the way -- that is a stock photo of a Chinese sand storm. A huge one is making life miserable in China right now -- so huge, in fact, that it is even impacting the Pacific Coast of the United States.

The technoshamans at Google are no slouch. Timing the censorship lift to coincide with the sandstorm at the astrologically precise moment.... think that was deliberate?

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Weekly Tibetan Astrology: March 22 - 28, 2010

March 22, 2010 - Chinese 7th, M-T-K 7th. Tiger, Kham, White 1. Today is zin phung. Today is also baden, so no prayer flags. Despite the superficially positive aspects of today, the earth energies are in an uproar. Fire and ice? On the Spring Equinox no less?  Remember when we told you to beware volcanoes this year? The volcano in Iceland two days ago signals the beginning of the Tiger year's "special" qualities, as we have outlined elsewhere, so don't be surprised if this week turns out to be extremely challenging -- particularly in the area of man's relationship with earth, nature, environment... and also man's relationship with his fellows. There is a danger of becoming overconfident this week, which could lead to disaster. Unusual events may take place this week, and if they do, should be carefully noted. There is now an extremely powerful gyalpo on the loose. Today is good for naga offerings.

March 23, 2010 - Chinese 8th, M-T-K 8th. Rabbit, Gin, Black 2. Today is nyi nak. Try to conserve your energy today, so that you will be able to meet the challenges ahead. A good day for yoga. A bad day for spending.

March 24, 2010 - Chinese 9th, M-T-K 9th. Dragon, Zin, Blue 3. Today is yan kwong. Try to take care of as much personal business as you can today: all those small tasks you've been putting off should be managed carefully. Seismic activity highly probable this week, most notably today or within 24 hours either side of today.

March 25, 2010 - Chinese 10th, M-T-K 10th. Snake, Zon, Green 4. Guru Rinpoche Day. This is an extremely positive day in every respect. Today is good for naga offerings.

March 26, 2010 - Chinese 11th, M-T-K 11th. Horse, Li, Yellow 5. Exercise great caution in all that you do today. No need to be fearful: just cautious. Success is possible today if you maintain a joyous outlook. Bottom line? Today is what you make of it (just as is every day).

March 27, 2010 -  Chinese 13th, M-T-K 12th. Monkey, Dwa, Red 7. Chinese 12th omitted this month. Today is zin phung. You may obtain what you wish for, but not without effort and possible strife. There may be small annoyances, and there may also be environmental issues. Seismic or volcanic activity possible.

March 28, 2010 - Chinese 14th, M-T-K 13th. Bird, Khen, White 8. Excellent energies. Quick, vigorous action will bring success.

Naga observations for the second month: Six good days and four bad days this month. The six very good (lunar) days are 7, 10, 15, 20, 21, and 25. The particularly bad (lunar) days are 2, 26, 27, 28.

Consult our extended discussion of 2010 astrology by clicking here.

Published every Monday at 00:01 香港時間 but written in advance and auto-posted. See our Introduction to Daily Tibetan Astrology for background information. If you know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can get information about your positive and negative days by clicking here. If you don't know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can obtain that information by clicking here. For specific information about the astrology of 2010, inclusive of elements, earth spirits, and so forth, please consult our extended discussion by clicking here.  Click here for Hong Kong Observatory conversion tables. Weekly Tibetan Astrology copyright (c) 2010. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Calling All Vidyadharas

If it helps, try to remember three things: all appearances are the deity, all sounds are mantra, all thoughts are the spacious play of original wisdom.

So, then -- sun and moon, your kids her kids.

We can think about a huge, ever-present light. Everything scattered around this light experiences both shadow and illumination. The light itself is dynamic: like a momentary glance, it never shines the same way twice. Where does this take place? Is the light surrounded by darkness, or is darkness surrounded by light? 

There are countless (well, maybe 84,000) teachings equal to the numberless beings, and each of these is at once and the same time both particular and universal. Individually specific instruction is found instantly, by anyone everywhere: in all times, places, symbols, and circumstances. This encompasses everything required for birth and broken heart, war and rainbow: flowers falling from the skies, blood running down the walls, the golden laughter and silver tears of comedy and tragedy in the opera of angels and machine guns. We can elaborate endlessly, but elaboration of elaboration is unnecessary. All this apparent diversity refines itself to one basic message, and if we wanted to call it something, we could call it conjoined love and emptiness.

Love and emptiness.  Done gracefully. Done joyfully. Easier said than done. We are not talking about business as usual. We are talking about the actual cessation of malfunctioning emotions. Loving kindness does not successfully linger in the absence of wisdom. "Romantic" love only lasts for the second it takes to burn.
I'm just a whisper of smoke.
I'm all that's left of two hearts on fire,
That once burned out of control:
You took my body and soul,
I'm just a ghost in this house.
                              --Hugh Prestwood
Everything is temporary. Even "temporary" is temporary. You are already fine, but you are temporarily bewildered. Your temporary bewilderment will pass. Maybe you have to do something, maybe you don't. Maybe that depends on the nature of your bewilderment. Sometimes, there is a wisp of smoke when the fire has already extinguished itself.

Let it go away by itself, into the sky, and dissolve. Even ghosts are impermanent.

Today you are impermanently human: a raw, unrefined wanderer, perpetually six feet away from being temporarily something else. You can spend a lifetime fashioning tormas out of flour, which takes effort, or you can snap your fingers and offer all the tormas on the planet, which takes no fabrication whatsoever. What are you waiting for? 

Whatever works is whatever earns that momentary glance.That sudden turn-around that trumps all the endless lectures, books, and what passes for "practice" in the absence of refined simplicity. That ever-present light creates, you see?

Look at the absolutely incredible display of your mind, shining with your light.


Jigme Lingpa wrote, "... those who take devoted training as their path also need to have a clear objective for the teachings they engage in."

So, what have you been doing?

You can sit on your seat and visualize the deity but who is to say that the deity is not visualizing you? Generally speaking, I have this idea that if the deity has spontaneously revealed itself to you in perfect lucidity -- even just once -- that should be sufficient to get you sustained. Why do I say this? Maybe that takes some explanation, yes?

I say this because I have another idea that the deity only spontaneously reveals itself in the presence of naturally awakened bodhicitta. I have such confidence in the latter -- really, unshakable confidence and certainty -- that I believe it only takes a single instance of your mind's true nature revealing itself to itself to sustain a vow lasting many, many vigorous lifetimes.

Well... at least that is what I would wish for you.

Temporarily relieved of your temporary bewilderment, you are effortlessly showing yourself to yourself. You are showing yourself what has always been available, and at the same time, you are showing yourself what is to come.

Of course, if this approach isn't working for you, there are more laborious methods. Some people say these are, in essence, replacing one sort of habit with another sort of habit. If you want to always think in terms of purification then I suppose this is purification. Lately, I have been tinkering that concept because I think it layers unwarranted cultural assumption. In Buddhism, purification proceeds from clarifying one's view, not by scourging one's backside with a cat-o-nine. Since we have all these closeted Christians running around interpreting things, we have to be very careful. In place of "purification," which subsumes breaking the deity and you into two, I have been experimenting with "refinement," or sometimes "distillation," in the sense that we refine gold or distill essences.

If you and the deity are ever-presently non-dual, perfect from the beginning, innately pure, and inherently in need of nothing, you might want to ask yourself about mind's condition or nature.  If mind itself is dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya, you might want to ask yourself about the deity's condition or nature. You might want to ask yourself what, in fact, is going on. What are you waiting for?

Jigme Lingpa also wrote, "... with transformative rituals, it is simply impossible not to attain the level of a knowledge holder within six months."

Hello, all you Vidyadharas!

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Unmistaken Power of Authentic Voice

This is the voice of the authentic Nyingma lineage in the West: the Vajra Guru Mantra, from the Mantras from Ratna Ling album, produced by Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche's students. This is an incredibly powerful collection, beautifully produced, that we recommend to you wholeheartedly. If you have ever wanted to hear unadulterated mantra expressed as originally instructed by the immaculate, living manifestation of Padmasambhava himself, please obtain this album.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekly Tibetan Astrology: March 15 - 21, 2010

March 15, 2010 - Chinese 30th, M-T-K 30th. Sheep, Gin, Blue 3. A day to beware of health complications and physical dangers. The energies of this week are generally negative.

March 16, 2010 - Chinese 1st, M-T-K 1st. Monkey, Zin, Green 4. Kalachakra New Year Day. This is a zin phung day. This is the first day of the second lunar month, but the first day of the first Kalachakra month. Note that the Rigpa calendar has April 15th as the Kalachakra New Year, but that is an error. This is also the anniversary of Penor Rinpoche (1932-2009). Don't wear yourself out thinking too much today.

March 17, 2010 - Chinese 2nd, M-T-K 2nd. Bird, Zon, Yellow 5.  There may be conflicts today: discord may break out. This can be overcome by devoting the day (or at least a portion) to practice. In fact, this is a good day for practice but rather so-so for anything else.

March 18, 2010 - Chinese 3rd, M-T-K 3rd. Dog, Li, White 6. Mixed messages today. You could meet with friends, but the meeting might not be all that pleasant.

March 19, 2010 - Chinese 4th, M-T-K 4th. Pig, Khon, Red 7. Trouble with the natural environment is indicated today. O.K., try to think about something else. Did you know they had copper cell batteries 2,000 years ago? How about a coin-operated holy water dispensing machine?

March 20, 2010 -  Chinese 5th, M-T-K 5th. Mouse, Dwa, White 8. Vernal Equinox. A great day for Daoists. A very poorly aspected day of negative energies.

March 21, 2010 - Chinese 6th, M-T-K 6th. Ox, Khen, Red 9. Vernal Equinox in the Tibetan calendar. A good day for home improvement, and the only day this week with clearly unobstructed energies.

Naga observations for the second month: Six good days and four bad days this month. The six very good (lunar) days are 7, 10, 15, 20, 21, and 25. The particularly bad (lunar) days are 2, 26, 27, 28.

Consult our extended discussion of 2010 astrology by clicking here.

Published every Monday at 00:01 香港時間 but written in advance and auto-posted. See our Introduction to Daily Tibetan Astrology for background information. If you know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can get information about your positive and negative days by clicking here. If you don't know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can obtain that information by clicking here. For specific information about the astrology of 2010, inclusive of elements, earth spirits, and so forth, please consult our extended discussion by clicking here.  Click here for Hong Kong Observatory conversion tables. Weekly Tibetan Astrology copyright (c) 2010. All rights reserved.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Senge Dradok

The form of Guru Sengé Dradok is especially helpful in subduing the irrational energies of black magic as well as at dispelling bad omens and nightmares. If unexpected obstacles suddenly arise, he has the power to neutralize both visible and invisible beings, and to avert natural disasters. Guru Sengé Dradok can pacify all such threats. He is also a strong Buddha for overcoming jealousy. When you stop being jealous, your attitude becomes one of love and compassion. There is nothing obstructing the free radiation of beautiful qualities. Sengé Dradok is a wrathful emanation but his wrath is basically directed toward the destruction of jealousy and greed. It is not accompanied by attachment and clinging; there is nothing to win or lose. Rather, this wrath actively dispels lust and envy. There are many wrathful deities in the Vajrayana, but none of them are angry or emotionally negative. These forms express the intensity of true love and the fierceness of genuine compassion involved in dispelling attachment, ignorance and anger.

There is a line from a Vajrakilaya tantra which says, "The vajra wrath of bodhicitta cuts through and destroys anger." This is very important to understand. The wrathful nature of Guru Sengé Dradok is totally based upon love and compassion for all sentient beings.

The absolute way to meditate on Guru Sengé Dradok is to transcend jealousy and greed. This will instantly overcome black magic, curses, hexes, nightmares, and unexpected obstacles.

To practice on Guru Sengé Dradok, begin by cultivating a feeling of loving kindness and bodhicitta. Then visualize a dark blue sphere of light within a churning black cloud which transforms into the wisdom rainbow form of Guru Sengé Dradok. His skin color is dark blue and he has one face, two arms and two legs. Wearing a tiger-skin and surrounded by wisdom fire, he stands upon a demon who embodies negative habit energy and black magic. All of this is happening above a lotus surmounted by sun and moon disks. A crown of five skulls sits on his head and his long reddish-yellow hair blows up into the sky. He has three glaring eyes looking upward and four fangs. His right hand holds a flaming, five-pointed vajra high in the air and his left hand makes the subjugation mudra toward the earth. Lightning bolts fly from the tips of his fingers and sometimes you will see eight-spoked iron wheels spinning amidst the flames. Imagine he is chanting with great power, the syllables HUM and PHAT! Like a lion's roar, the deep vibration of his voice shakes the entire world.

Visualize Sengé Dradrog and recite the Vajra Guru Mantra as much as you can while he radiates wisdom lights which dissolve all negativity, black magic, bad omens, nightmares, or anything in the environment that might seem a little strange or unusual. Feel that these obstacles are completely removed by his blessing. Finally, dissolve Sengé Dradok into a dark blue light which merges with your heart center. Remain in meditation as long as you can and then dedicate the merit to all beings.

We excerpted this from a longer work entitled The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava, by Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, Padma Gochen Ling Monterey Tennessee May 1992. You can find the complete transcript of this teaching at the Turtle Hill website.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Answering An Echo

So, then, to continue... we were talking about my three favorite subjects: desire, anger, and delusion.
"These are originally present, and sticky, and even if you try to throw them away, or overcome them, they will not be discarded or overcome."
Some readers who fancy themselves able to comment -- on the basis of parroted phrases,  and personal prejudices, as distinct from lived through experience of the dawning of knowing the nature of their own minds -- had difficulty with that, although I don't know why they should, because we are only talking basics. 

There is the gross and then there is the subtle, yes? The sperm and ovum, having the character of the five elements, carry within themselves that which is itself of the nature of the three poisons: desire, anger, and delusion. At the precise moment of conception, the subtle stream of consciousness from the intermediate state between death and life becomes indivisible with the union of the sperm and ovum. Habitually imprinted predispositions of the five mental afflictions, viz. the three poisons plus jealousy and pride, meet the three poisons inherent in the sperm and ovum and according to the dominance of one or another, the character of the basic human life form is established.

Those with a predominance of desire are born as the rlung psychophysical aggregate, those with a predominance of  anger are born as the mkhris pa psychophysical aggregate, those with a predominance of delusion are born as the bekan psychophysical aggregate. Unless you are miraculously born in the center of a lotus, there is no way around this. If you inhabit a human body, you are in greater or lesser degrees one of those three basic psychophysical aggregates. Usually, we don't say "psychophysical aggregate;" usually we say "somatotype," or even "humor," but I do so dislike those words because they limit the concept. Be this as it may, the point is that desire, anger, and delusion are originally present, as indeed are their extensions of jealousy and pride.

So what -- our readers ask -- is the point of Vajrasattva practice? Even if you do Vajrasattva practice, you are still born in exactly this manner.

The point is to get out of the way.

Vajrsattva practice is commonly explained as a method to clear one's karma and purify obstacles. I think the choice of English words "clear" and "purify" is unfortunate. I think the ways that the practice, the visualizations, and the concepts have been presented to Westerners are unfortunate. Vajrsattva -- this external deity, like a god or something -- drips honey on the top of your head and all the black lizards go flying out your ass. As Westerners, we make cultural assumptions about that sort of imagery. Also, I want to mention that Vajrasattva practice has many levels, but we really only see one of them, i.e. this whole purification aspect. There are practices that go way beyond this, but they are only rarely presented.
"If bound by iron wire, even this can be untied. However, if bound by religion, it is difficult to be free."
--9th Ogyen Tulku
I remember, when I was sixteen years old, I was afraid of Vajrasattva practice. Every time I did Vajrasattva, all sorts of troublesome things would happen. I started to think that these troublesome things were the result of doing the practice wrong, so I went to my teacher and asked him, "What am I doing wrong?" He told me that I wasn't doing anything wrong, that I was in fact doing everything quite perfectly. So, I soldiered on. Things became even more troublesome. I couldn't stand it. I went back to the lama and told him, "I am getting really troublesome results." 

"Oh, no you are not," he replied.

So, I just asked him, "Well, what are these results I am getting?"

"You're not getting any results," was the answer.

Well, if I was doing the practice perfectly, and all these troublesome things were cropping up,  and I wasn't getting any results, what the hell was going on? Was I crapping black lizards? I went to the lama, thinking myself oh, so clever, and I asked him, "Are these troublesome things that are happening that which is symbolized by crapping black lizards? Is this purification?"

He physically struck me at that point and snorted, with very great disgust, "Monk's mind!" You have to understand, "Monk's mind" was my teacher's pet expression of derision. It was also his teacher's pet expression of derision. When you heard "Monk's mind," you were hearing the Master of Masters himself -- but, of course, this is only assuming you were exhibiting the flaws and foibles of a monk's mind.

I was getting frustrated at this point, so I asked, with some despair, "Well, what exactly is this Vajrasattva practice?"

He said: "You want to see Vajrasattva practice? You are really wearing me out with your stupidity. O.K., I will show you Vajrasattva practice."

So, he ordered all the students to the puja room, and he drew out the design of burgandy robe. He wanted everybody present to make one of those robes, and show up with it at the next meeting. 

Naturally, everyone was excited. This seemed like some sort of progress, or fun development. We were going to wear red robes! Everyone went out and got the best fabric they could possible afford. Some of us, like me, were very poor, so we got lousy fabric. Some others got lovely fabric. Those who could sew took pains to sew lovely robes. Those who couldn't sew, really tried their best. Some went to tailors or dressmakers.

At the next session, everybody proudly walked in wearing their new robe, whereupon Rinpoche told everybody to go hang the robes on pegs by the door. "Go out and come in again," he told everyone. "And when you come back in, just take down the first robe that comes to hand. Don't go looking for 'your' robe because 'your' robe isn't there anymore."

So, we all did as commanded, filed back in, put on any old robe, and sat down. When everybody was settled, Rinpoche leaned over to me and whispered, "You want to call this practice? You can call it Vajrasattva practice." Please bear in mind that to somebody else he might have said, "That's Tara practice for you," so I am only recounting what he said to me.

How would it be if Vajrasattva isn't an external deity like a god or something?  How would it be if Vajrasattva is actually your mind's manifestation as the embodiment of enlightened body, speech, and mind in a single possibility? How would it be if what Vajrasattva practice actually does is give us a rest from duality? A stand down from dualistic thinking? A moment of lucidity? A window of opportunity through which the clear light of dharmata might dawn? What if, instead of purification, we think in terms of non-dual freedom? What if your mind allows your mind some unprejudiced stillness?

All the closet Christians who have taken up Buddhism because they think they need a preferentially arranged, organized religion to frame their innate spirituality, think they are praying "to" something external that "does" something in response to an inner agenda that they, themselves direct, or is prescribed for them by a teacher. For such people, Vajrasattva is a big, shiny, white laxative that makes them crap out something tangible, like "sin," or "bad karma," or "impurities." These are people who feel they need to be "cleansed," or to "purify" something that has been done wrong, gone wrong, or is wrong.  If you leave that sort of belief alone long enough, it becomes like Falun Gong, where karma is thought to be an actual, material substance: something like atomic particles. However, in a framework where there is nothing "wrong" beyond the confused imputations of convoluted thinking, none of this foolishness goes very far.

Not one single syllable of the Hundred Syllable Mantra says "Oh Lordy! Help us sinners purify our sins."

Some time ago, Gyaltrul Rinpoche gave a nice teaching on the subject of the Hundred Syllable Mantra, so I will try to summarize this from memory. Here is what it says:

OM begins the mantra primordially, or maybe it is better to say ultimately, or penultimately. VAJRA evokes the seven qualities of the Buddha's mind. SATTVA evokes heroism. SAMAYA evokes fealty. So, maybe OM VAJRASATTVA SAMAYA is supremely evoking a solid, stick-to-it loyalty, and honesty.

MANUPALAYA VAJRASATTVA invites or exhorts protection. Most people who just mouth this mantra do not understand that MANUPALAYA" and "VAJRASATTVA" go together, because of the way the mantra sounds.

TE NO PA TISHTHA DRI DHO ME BHA WA means stand fast, stand firm, or better: be ever present. So, taken together, the above lines are a call to protect and be ever present, or always available.

SU TO KAYO ME BHA WA means make me confident about the presence of this solid, loyal, always available protection.

SU PO KAYO ME BHA WA means increase the positive aspect of my own being.

ANU RAKTO ME BHA WA means always love me and never leave me.

SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYATSA is a request for the common and supreme siddhis.

SARVA KARMA SU TSA ME is a request for anything and everything else that might be required in the way of enlightened activity.

TSITTAM SHRI YAM KU RU means one holds one's mind to be fundamentally virtuous.

HUNG is the seed syllable.

HA HA HA HA has several meanings, but we are basically calling forth the four immeasurables and at the same time reminding ourselves of the four accomplishments.

HO is a positive exclamation not unlike "Wow. So, that is how it is."

BHAGAWAN is he who has tamed the enemy, and added to SARVA TATHAGATA means that the Buddhas have totally subdued all negativities.

VAJRA MA ME MUNTSA means "never abandon me," and VAJRA BHA WA means "I will become like you." When you take these two together, it means "hang on to me and I will be as you are."

MAHA SAMAYA SATTVA is a little diffcult to translate, but we here explicitly speak to the ultimate nature of Vajrasattva as perfect activity.
AH is AH.

My purpose in summarizing the above is not to dissect or explain the Hundred Syllable Mantra, but to demonstrate that not one word calls on the lord to help us overcome weak-willed wickedness, or purify us sinners. To the contrary, what we have here is a vigorous, openly joyous, positive affirmation of those aspects of one's own mind that are wholesomely dedicated to the welfare of others.

So, the point of Vajrasattva practice, to the extent that it may be said to have a point, is getting out of the way long enough for an affirmation of that which is already fundamentally present. There is no original sin. There is only original wisdom.

If you hear a sound in the next few moments, it is the trap we always seem to set for ourselves springing shut.

In Padmasambhava's Instruction for Women on Attaining Enlightenment Without Abandoning Daily Activities, there is an beautiful passage wherein one of the ladies asks the Guru, "For a woman like me, whose five poisonous emotions are strong, please bestow an instruction for awakening to enlightenment without having to reject these five poisons." Please take very careful notice of Guru Rinpoche's reply:
"The five poisonous emotions are a natural possession within you since the beginning and therefore cannot be discarded by rejecting them. They are not transformed by transforming or purified by purification. Since these five poisons are of the nature of dharmata, they must be liberated where they are by dissolving naturally."
Gee...  equating women with the five poisonous emotions. Think Guru Rinpoche was a misogynist? Somehow, I sort of doubt we should be looking at things in such terms, but apparently some of our readers are so caught up in gender roles they can't see anything else. We also find a lot of the same confusion in one particular misandrynistic attempt to emulate sangha, and this even prompted Gyaltrul Rinpoche to comment:
"Maybe some of you women might prefer to focus on a female lama, but you needn't worry because a primordial wisdom being, such as Guru Rinpoche, is of both sexes. There's absolutely no distinction: he is lama, yidam, and dakini."
Answering echoes is fruitless and doesn't get anybody anywhere. I want to show you this, but you make up your own mind.

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Weekly Tibetan Astrology: March 8 - 14, 2010

March 8, 2010 - Chinese 24th, M-T-K 23rd. Ox, Zon, White 6. A successful day during which fulfillment is entirely possible.

March 9, 2010 - Chinese 25th, M-T-K 24th. Tiger, Li, Red 7. This is a zin phung day. Avoid hasty action or confrontation today. Keep cool. There might be some very surprising (and unpleasant) events today.

March 10, 2010 - Chinese 26th, M-T-K 25th. Rabbit, Khon, White 8.  Dakini Day. Also anniversary of the Lhasa Uprising. I would shop for jewelry today. Cryptic, huh? Today is the only day for naga offerings this month, so let them feel the love.

March 11, 2010 - Chinese 27th, M-T-K 26th. Dragon, Dwa, Red 9. The potential is here for a very lucky albeit emotional day.

March 12, 2010 - Chinese 27th, M-T-K 27th. Dragon, Dwa, Red 9. Duplicated day in Chinese practice. See yesterday, but watch out for the sneaky aspects.

March 13, 2010 -  Chinese 28th, M-T-K 28th. Snake, Khen, White 1. A very good day all the way around.

March 14, 2010 - Chinese 29th, M-T-K 29th. Horse, Kham, Black 2. Today is sojong, and also Dharmapala Day. Daylight savings time begins in North America. Generally negative energies today.

Naga observations for the first month: The only day to make Naga offerings this month is the lunar 25th (Dakini Day), and it should be elaborate. Do not make naga offerings on any other day this lunar month.

Consult our extended discussion of 2010 astrology by clicking here.

Published every Sunday at 00:01 香港時間 but written in advance and auto-posted. See our Introduction to Daily Tibetan Astrology for background information. If you know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can get information about your positive and negative days by clicking here. If you don't know the symbolic animal of your birth year, you can obtain that information by clicking here. For specific information about the astrology of 2010, inclusive of elements, earth spirits, and so forth, please consult our extended discussion by clicking here.  Click here for Hong Kong Observatory conversion tables. Weekly Tibetan Astrology copyright (c) 2010. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Thinking About Haspori: Updated

That's Haspori in the above photo, to the east of Samye, if I have my directions correct. Guru Rinpoche sat up there while Samye was being built, and it was from there that he subdued the troublesome spirits who were obstructing Samye's construction.

So, a friend of mine with a historic connection to Samye visited with me just before the holidays. After a couple of days, he decided to name the place "Haspori," because he said it reminded him of Samye Haspori. This was the first time I ever gave the matter any thought, and I confess that I did not know what to think.

So, I decided to wait and see.

A month to the day later, Lhalung Sungtrul Rinpoche was in town, on his first -- and the way things are, probably his only -- visit to the United States. Sungtrul Rinpoche is the eleventh incarnation of the Bhutanese terton Pema Lingpa (1450-1521). His seats are Tamshing Monastery in Bhutan, and Lhalung Monastery in Tibet.

As it happens, Sungtrul Rinpoche decided to bestow the Guru Drakpo empowerment for the terma revealed by Pema Lingpa. This was an extraordinarily rare event. In preparation, he gave a rather interesting account of how this terma of Guru Drakpo came into being.

According to Rinpoche, the sadhana originates with Padmasambhava at Haspori. More than likely, it originates immediately proximate to the location of the protector chapel at the summit of Haspori, seen in the photograph below. Padmasambhava called this sadhana his "heart teaching," or the deepest expression of his heart.

Now, at the request of Yeshe Tsogyal, this was codified and hidden for  the future, and Padmasambhava himself described the manner of its discovery. If this sort of thing interests you, there is an account at Canto 90 in the Padma bKai'i Thang, wherein Padmasambhava describes the future lives of King Trisong Detsen's daughter. It is in her incarnation as a terton that the practice is recovered, which according to Sungtrul Rinpoche, took place in a Water Tiger year.

It is ironic to note, that proximate to this empowerment being bestowed, the temple in Bhutan that is perhaps most closely associated with the people and events involved with the terma -- the venerable Konchosum Lhakang -- burned to the ground. The empowerment was given on February 24th in the United States, and the temple was destroyed on February 24th in Bhutan. The caretaker left a butter lamp burning while he went away to Tamshing, and everybody learned -- yet again -- that butter lamps are more dangerous to Buddhist temples than a bus load of Red Guards. What a loss! This temple was built by Trisong Detsen on the orders of Padmasambhava himself, who performed the original consecration. In the 15th century, care of the temple fell to Pema Lingpa, and it is now one of the temples under Sungtrul Rinpoche's administration.

Sometimes, it is useful to pause and remember that very precious things have come to us from very miserable circumstances. These teachings did not come into being because days were sunny, birds were singing, and things were going right.
Six types of person are given authority to reveal treasures:
One who is harmed by enemies will have authority over concealed treasures;
One whose loved ones all die will have authority over concealed treasures;
One who is in danger of being afflicted by leprosy will have authority over concealed treasures;
One who lives a life of poverty will have authority over concealed treasures;
One who always falls into debt will have authority over concealed treasures;
One who lacks power will have authority over concealed treasures.
The above is from the Padma Kathang, as quoted by Karma Chagme, in his life of the terton Migyur Dorje, and is noted here by way of example. To take a more recent example, you can look at Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche, who indeed suffered from money problems all of his life, and was once even physically beaten by a creditor. Actually, you can apply these statements to any terton who comes to mind, because all of them have, at one time or another, suffered from terrible slanders and obstacles arising from --
Female spirits born out of desire,
Spirits assuming the form of monks who have transgressed their vows and are born out of anger, and
Spirits assuming the form of ngagpas who are samaya violators and are born out of ignorance
--and that, also from the Padma Kathang, is to name but a few. Indeed, the entire history of Tibetan Buddhism is absolutely strewn with accounts of vile slanders. To take just a few examples, King Indrabodhi was slandered, Padmasambhava was slandered, Vairotsana was slandered, and King Trisong Detsen was slandered. In our own time, Tarthang Rinpoche was slandered, Trungpa Rinpoche was slandered, Kalu Rinpoche was slandered, Lamasang was slandered, Sogyal Rinpoche was slandered, Sakya Trizin was slandered, and the Dalai Lama is slandered on a daily basis.

Indeed, slander is serious business. There are several works on the subject, inclusive of Mi Kha Tojur, and the terma text Mi Kha Drajur. According to the latter, slander has the figurative power to dismember humans, cause landslides, and dry up lakes. In consequence, numerous rituals and protections have evolved. We gave a translation of one such ritual here at Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar, for Chotrul Duchen. As an example of protections, one may consider the phallus seen painted on houses or in wooden effigy, all over Bhutan, although the practice is reportedly in decline. The people who engage in such slanders are said to have a particularly bright and colorful future in store, emulating the King of Slander, Mi Kha Gyalpo Ja Chuma.

Getting back to Samye, just exactly what was going on? The old accounts tells us that Trisong Detsen decided to build a monastery, but the ministers "were aghast." It has been my experience, that as one travels through the dream of life, ministers are more often aghast than they are otherwise.  Right now, at any given moment in any given location around the world, there is some Buddhist temple or stupa project feeling the pain of planning commissions, neighborhood associations, zoning laws, or building inspectors. There is always a surplus of naysayers around, ready to tell you why something cannot be done or should not be done. Nevertheless, Trisong Detsen put the matter rather forcefully, telling his ministers to engage in various arcane labors -- inclusive of putting the Brahmaputra River in copper tubes, and building a crystal stupa on top of Haspori -- or start construction on the monastery and start it quick.

They chose the monastery.

Tibet's royal geonamcer, Birjie, was given the task of siting the monastery. He performed various calculations, and stated that Haspori was, "a pink snow lion bounding up to the sky." After further calculations, foundations were laid at Samye, in the Tamarisk Grove, on the Red Rock, whereupon, "...the evil genies of Tibet all together attacked them, destroying by night what had been built by day."

So, plainly, the situation was a mess, and nobody was getting any good news. Devas, ogres, mamos, and genies were on the loose. Even the king brought the saintly Santaraksita in from Zahor, matters were not going well. Nagas were fighting over rose bushes, and called in yakshas and three gaynyen to help them. Do you understand how bad it was? Forget your planning commission or your neighborhood association. Forget zoning variances and building inspectors. The whole Samye monastery construction project of four great temples and twelve smaller temples was thwarted while a supernatural battle was waged over a rose bush.

It is at this point that Santaraksita throws up his hands and tells Trisong Detsen to invite Padmasambhava, and as we now all know and thoroughly appreciate, this was not a bad thing.

Trisong Detsen did as suggested, dispatching Dorje Dudjom, Sakyaprabha, and Palgyi Senge to extend the invitation. According to Padmasambhava himself, he was already on his way to Tibet when he met the messengers sent to invite him. He relates this to having gone through his own issues with respect to his own guru, Shri Singha's, final instructions. These instructions were basically, get past hope and fear regarding the status or outcome of anything, and without seeing fault or virtue, just stick with nonduality.
This, his final instruction,
Liberated me, Padma.
Though not liberated by the Tripitaka or Secret Mantra,
I was liberated by this secret teaching.
That is a quote from Treasure of the Lotus Crystal Cave. You see that even Padmasambhava had a teacher, studied, practiced, and worked with whatever happened to arise. You might want to keep this in mind, next time you hear from somebody who believes themselves above effort because of some lofty title or abstract status. When an elephant gets drunk enough, she thinks herself a queen.

Be this as it may, the messengers sent to issue the invitation remembered what they remembered, and Padmasambhava understood what he understood. He understood that the eight classes of gods and demons were causing trouble in Tibet, and when he told them it was not good to make obstacles, they replied, "Oh yeah? Why don't you just come to Tibet and try stopping us?"

So Padmasambhava went to Tibet, overthrew and bound the evil genies, male and female, and arranged Trisong Detsen's perspective on things. Having accomplished all of this, on the first moon of autumn in the year of the Tiger, he went to Haspori, ascended to the peak, and called out his instructions to the spirits.

So, in five years the monastery was done, a bell was hung, and a consecration performed, attended by miraculous signs. That was all done under the best possible circumstances, with a king, sixty thousand men, all the gold that the nagas could muster, and Padmasambhava himself. In any other circumstances, it might take a bit more time.

Kyabje Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, 
the direct manifestation of Padmasambhava,
on the throne at Samye, in Tibet

As an example, it took Tarthang Rinpoche forty years to do the same thing in the United States, under the worst possible circumstances, with no royal support, only about thirty men, and precious little gold. If you ask me who has the greater achievement, Trisong Detsen or Tarthang Rinpoche, I would have to say the latter. Trisong Detsen only had to wrestle with demons. Tarthang Rinpoche had to contend with Western dharma students.

Nevertheless, in a manner of speaking, we are all trying to build our own Samye, and we are all meeting with our own crew of demons. We are all tasking geomancers, consulting kindly abbots, and calling on Guru Rinpoche for reinforcement.

So, another friend of mine with a historic connection to Samye has now visited me, just after the holidays. He reminded me that all of the tools and materials to achieve great things are always with us, wherever we go. Every place we find ourselves is Haspori in one form or another.

As anyone who has ever been in politics will tell you, when you come to think this way, you actually take a certain grim satisfaction when drunken elephants and demons begin howling their slanders. Chaos can be good news. It lets you know that great things are struggling to take form.

However, you have to be cautious. I used to approach such things with a murderous attitude, thinking, "I don't care what obstacles arise. I'll do this anyway." I have since learned that while this might seem correct, and might even be superficially correct, serious matters demand a good deal more finesse. Not a crudely sly manipulation born of fear, mind you, but rather the delicate touch that comes from thinking things through.

We do what we can do about getting past hope and fear.  That is really all we have to do, while the rest proceeds as it will.

So then, what of the very tumultuous and seemingly troublesome --
Female spirits born out of desire,
Spirits assuming the form of monks who have transgressed their vows and are born out of anger, and
Spirits assuming the form of ngagpas who are samaya violators and are born out of ignorance
---mentioned earlier?

Stripping away the personifications, we immediately recognize desire, anger, and delusion. These are originally present, and sticky, and even if you try to throw them away, or overcome them, they will not be discarded or overcome. There are no solutions, external mechanisms, or stratagems. You cannot transform them, nor can you purify them. We are not Christians, and we do not sing psalms of retribution, begging God to smite the sinners with his terrible swift sword. We are Buddhists, and we simply do not have such political ideas of acceptance or rejection. Indeed, any attitude we might take would be incorrect. These three are as they are, and will liberate themselves.

Thus, when we think of foundations, be these the foundations of temples or the foundations of philosophy, we do not think in ordinary terms of solutions or protections, simply because there is nothing to solve and nothing to protect.

Since we are all Buddhas from the very beginning, the fundamentally meritorious virtue of spontaneous correct action dedicates itself into borderless space.

This, itself, is a foundation.


I neglected to mention that Sungtrul Rinpoche is traveling with a collection of twenty-seven sacred relics of Vajrayana Buddhism. That is Longchenpa's personal seal in the above photograph. The collection also includes relics from Vairotsana, Yeshe Tsogyal, and Guru Rinpoche himself. These relics have never been out of Tibet and Bhutan, so this is quite a rare thing.

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Help for Gyaltrul Rinpoche

Sources close to Gyaltrul Rinpoche are reporting that a respected expert in mirror divinations was consulted regarding practices that would be supportive of Rinpoche's long life and good health. His recommendation was the accumulation of many Dakini Tsog Offerings. Practices are underway in Tibet at the monasteries of Lingtrul Rinpoche, Lama Chonam, and Lama Drimed, and we here in the United States need to do our part as well.

The Khandro Thuk Thik, Yeshe Tsogyal Dakini Sadhana from the Dudjom Tersar tradition is recommended. In particular,  accumulate the tsog offering verse known as "Accumulation of Tsog Offering Particular to the Dakini Puja." If you do not do this one, then do the one you are familiar with.

Please, do not let him down.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Ninth Ogyen Tulku: Empowerments In New York City This Weekend

The very popular and openly powerful Ninth Ogyen Tulku is winding up an extensive North American tour in New York City this weekend, March 6th and 7th. If you have not already met him, I would encourage you to do so. They say that effortless compassion and generosity are the hallmarks of great realization. If you want to see what this looks like, take the opportunity to meet Ogyen Rinpoche.

On Saturday and Sunday, at 2:00 p.m. on both days, he will be at the Nyingma Palyul Dharma Center, 121 Bowery, 3rd Floor (between Grand and Hester). On Saturday he will bestow the Black Dzambhala empowerment, and on Sunday, the Amitayus Longevity empowerment.

If you have ever wondered what it was like to meet great lamas, one-on-one, back in the 'sixties... well, now is your chance. In a few more years, when he has 100,000 students clamoring for his attention, it might not be so easy.

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