wtorek, 16 grudnia 2014

It’s enough, practicing one yidam!

An old saying has it that, “Tibetans ruin it for themselves by having too many deities.” They think they have to practice one, then they have to practice another, then a third and a fourth. It goes on and on, and they end up not accomplishing anything, whereas in India a meditator would practice a single deity for his entire life and he would reach supreme accomplishment. It would be good if we were to take this attitude. If we practice Vajrasattva, it is perfectly complete to simply practice that single yidam. One doesn’t have to be constantly shifting to different deities afraid one will miss something, because there is absolutely nothing missing in the single yidam one practices.

A line from one tantra says, “I apologize for accepting and rejecting the yidam deity.” Sometimes one feels tired with a particular practice, like “It’s enough, practicing this one yidam!” Then you give up that one and try practicing another one, then after a while, another. Try not to do this.

As I said earlier, if you accomplish one buddha, then you accomplish all buddhas. If you attain the realization of one yidam, automatically you attain realization of all yidams at the same time. Of course, there is nothing wrong with practicing more than one. The point is to not skip around between them. Practice whichever yidam you like best. You will naturally feel more inclined towards one yidam than another, and this feeling is a very good indication of which yidam you are connected to. The basic guideline is to choose whoever you feel most inspired by. Once you choose one, practice it continuously.

There are no essential differences between the yidams. You cannot say that there are good or bad yidams, in that all yidam forms are included within the five buddha families. It is not that one buddha family is better or worse than any of the other ones—not at all. People’s individual feelings do make a difference, in that some people want to practice Padmasambhava as their yidam, while some want to practice Avalokiteshvara or Buddha Shakyamuni or Tara. The preference varies from person to person due to karmic inclination. It is not that there is any distinction in quality between yidams. If you take the one hundred peaceful and wrathful deities as your yidam, you have everyone included.

Once you reach accomplishment, you have simultaneously accomplished all enlightened qualities, regardless of which yidam you practice. It doesn’t make any difference. For example, when the sun rises, its warmth and light are simultaneously present. If you accomplish one buddha form, you simultaneously accomplish all buddha forms. The reason is that all yidams are essentially the same; they differ only in form, not essence. The fundamental reason one attains accomplishment is because of recognizing mind essence while doing the yidam practice. The real practice is recognizing rigpa, and you use the yidam as the external form of the practice. Even though every yidam manifests various aspects of different qualities, in essence they are all the same.

You can describe the rising sun in all sorts of different ways: some people will say that when the sun rises, it’s no longer cold, or that there’s no more darkness, or that it becomes light and you can see. It’s the same with describing the different qualities of the enlightened state, in which all the qualities such as wisdom, compassion and capability are spontaneously present.

Try to see yidam practice as a gift which the buddhas have given to us because we have requested it. When we take refuge we are asking for protection, to be safeguarded, and the real protection lies in the teachings on how to remove the obscurations and how to attain realization. The real protection is the yidam practice. Through it we can remove what needs to be removed and realize what needs to be realized, and thereby attain accomplishment.

Although we have this enlightened essence, it is like a butter lamp that is not yet lit, not enlightened yet. We need to connect with, to touch it with a lit butter lamp in order to light our own. Imagine two butter lamps together here: one is not lit, the other is already enlightened. The one that is as yet unlit has to bow to the other in order to get the light.

In the same way, we already have the buddha nature, but we haven’t caught on to it yet. We haven’t recognized, trained in it, and attained stability. There is great benefit in connecting with those other “lamps” because they have already recognized their buddha nature, trained in it, and obtained stability. Our butter lamp is ready to be kindled, to catch the flame, but it hasn’t recognized itself, it hasn’t trained, and it hasn’t yet attained stability.

There is benefit in yidam practice. Mipham Rinpoche had a vision of Manjushri, his supreme deity, and through that became a great pandita, an extremely learned scholar. Many of the Indian mahasiddhas practiced Tara sadhana. They combined recognizing mind essence with the yidam practice and attained accomplishment. All the life stories of those who became great masters tell of yidam practice. You never hear of anyone saying, “I achieved accomplishment and didn’t use any deity. I didn’t need to say any mantra.” The yidam deity practice is like adding oil to the fire of practice; it blazes up even higher and hotter.

~ Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, As It Is (Volume 1)

czwartek, 11 grudnia 2014

A Discourse Virtuous in the Beginning, Middle, and End

by Kyabje Khyentse Dorje Chang Of Za Paltrul Rinpoche



If but a single drop of the nectar of your name were to fall upon my ears,
They would be filled with the sound of Dharma for countless lives.
Wondrous Three Jewels, may the brilliance of your renown
Bring perfect happiness everywhere!

Like some persimmons in the autumn
Which, though inside still unripe, look ripe outside,
I myself am just the semblance of a Dharma practitioner,
And since my mind and the Dharma haven’t mixed, my Dharma teaching won’t be up to much.

But since you, worthy friend, entreat me insistently,
I cannot refuse—I will speak out frankly.
Unusual though it is in this decadent age,
I offer you these words without treachery, so listen well.

The True Ṛiṣhi, the Munīndra, god of gods,
Attained the true level through the true path,
And truly showed this true and excellent path to others.
Isn’t that why he’s known as the True Ṛiṣhi?

Alas! For people in this age of residues!
The mind’s wholesome core of truth has withered, and people live deceitfully,
So their thoughts are warped, their speech is twisted,
They cunningly mislead others—who can trust them?

Alas! How depressing to see the beings of this degenerate age!
Alas! Can anyone trust what anyone says?
It’s like living in a land of vicious man-eating demons—
Think about it, and do yourself a big favor.

Not long ago, your consciousness was wandering alone.
Swept along by karma, it took this present birth.
Soon, like a hair pulled out of butter,
Leaving everything behind, you’ll go on again alone.

Of course what we want is our own good,
So we have to be honest with our own selves:
If we don’t accomplish the essence of the Dharma for our own sake,
Won’t we be ruining our own life?

In this dark age, what people think and do is vile.
None of them will help you, they’ll deceive and trick you;
And for you to be of any help to them will be hard;
Wouldn’t it be best to quit the whole rat race?

Though you serve your superiors, they will never be pleased;
Though you look after your inferiors, they will never be satisfied;
Though you care about others, they won’t care about you.
Think about it, and make a firm decision.

Being learned these days doesn’t help the teachings—it just leads to more debate;
Being realized these days doesn’t help others—it just leads to more criticism;
Being in a responsible position these days doesn’t help govern the country well—it only spreads revolt.
Think about these times with sorrow and disgust.

Though you explain, people miss the point or don’t believe you;
Though your motivation is truly altruistic, people think it’s not.
These days, when the crooked see the straight as crooked,
You can’t help anyone—give up any hope of that.

“All phenomena are like magical illusions,” said the Buddhas;
But these days the illusions are more illusory than ever,
Trickeries conjured up by devious illusionists—
Beware of the illusions of this degenerate age’s ways.

“All talk is like an echo,” said the Buddhas,
But these days it’s more like the re-echo of an echo.
What the echoes say and what they mean are not the same,
So don’t take any notice of these insidious echo-words.

Whoever you see isn’t human, but a fraud;
Whatever people say isn’t right, but just lies.
So since these days there’s no one you can trust,
You’d better live alone and stay free.

If your actions conform with Dharma, you’ll antagonize everyone;
If your words are truthful, most people will get angry;
If your mind is truly good and pure, they will judge it a defect.
Now is the time to keep your own way hidden.

Hide your body by staying alone in a mountain wilderness;
Hide your speech by cutting off contact and saying very little;
Hide your mind by being continuously aware of your own faults alone.
This is what it means to be a hidden yogī.

Disgust, because there’s no one to be trusted,
Sadness, because there’s no meaning in anything,
Determination, because there’ll never be time to get everything you want;
If you always keep these three things in mind, some good will come of it.

There’s no time to be happy; happiness is over just like that;
You don’t want to suffer, so eradicate suffering with Dharma.
Whatever happiness or suffering comes, recognize it as the power of your past actions,
And from now on have no hopes or doubts regarding anyone at all.

Expecting a lot from people, you do a lot of smiling;
Needing many things for yourself, you have many needs to meet;
Making plans to do first this, then that, your mind’s full of hopes and fears—
From now on, come what may, don’t be like that.

Even if you die today, why be sad? It’s the way of saṃsāra.
Even if you live to be a hundred, why be glad? Youth will have long since gone.
Whether you live or die right now, what does this life matter?
Just practice Dharma for the next life—that’s the point.

Ah! Fount of compassion, my root teacher, Lord Chenrezi,
You are my only protector!
The six-syllable mantra, essence of your speech, is the sublime Dharma;
From now on I have no hope but you!

Whatever I know I’ve left it as theory; it’s no use to me now.
Whatever I’ve done I’ve spent on this life; it’s no use to me now.
Whatever I’ve thought was all just delusion; it’s no use to me now.
Now the time has come to do what’s truly useful—recite the six-syllable mantra.

The only never-failing, constant refuge is the Three Jewels;
The Three Jewels’ single essence is Chenrezi.
With total, unshakable trust in his wisdom,
Convinced and decisive, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The basis of the Mahāyāna path is the thought of enlightenment;
This sublime thought is the one path trodden by all the Buddhas.
Never leaving this noble path of the thought of enlightenment,
With compassion for all beings, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Wandering in saṃsāra from beginningless time until now,
Whatever you’ve done was wrong and will lead to further wandering.
From your heart acknowledge all wrongdoing and downfalls, and, confessing them,
With the four powers complete, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The mind, holding on to an “I,” clings to everything—this is the cause of saṃsāra;
So, as offerings to the exalted in nirvāṇa and charity to the lowly in saṃsāra,
Give everything—body, possessions, and virtue—and dedicate the merit to all;
Casting all attachments far away, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The noble teacher has the nature of all Buddhas,
And of all Buddhas, it is he who is the kindest.
Seeing the teacher as inseparable from Chenrezi,
With fervent devotion, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Purifying the obscurations, initiating the practice of the path and actualizing the four kāyas,
The essence of the four empowerments is the teacher Chenrezi;
If you recognize your own mind as the teacher, all four empowerments are complete;
Receiving innate empowerment by yourself, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Saṃsāra is nothing other than how things appear to you;
If you recognize everything as the deity, the good of others is consummated.
Seeing the purity of everything confers the four empowerments on all beings at once;
Dredging the depths of saṃsāra, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The mind cannot cope with all the many visualization practices;
To meditate on one Sugata is to meditate on them all.
Whatever appears, appearances are the form of the Great Compassionate One;
In the realm of the deity’s body, apparent yet void, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Recitations, sādhanas, and powerful spells are just complications;
The all-inclusive six-syllable mantra is the very sound of the Dharma.
All sounds have never been other than the speech of Sublime Chenrezi;
Recognizing them as mantra, resounding yet void, recite the six-syllable mantra.

As thoughts and the two obscurations are pacified, experience and realization increase;
As your perceptions come under control, enemies and obstructing influences are subjugated.
It is Chenrezi who bestows in this very life the supreme and common siddhis;
As the four activities are accomplished by themselves, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Offer the torma of whatever arises to the guests of immediate liberation;
Mold the clay of whatever appears into the tsa-tsa of void appearance;
Offer the prostration of nonduality to the Lord of Mind Nature.
Consummating these Dharma activities, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Overcome your enemy, hatred, with the weapon of love;
Protect your family, the beings of the six realms, with the skillful means of compassion;
Harvest from the field of devotion the crop of experience and realization.
Consummating your life’s work, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Cremate that old corpse of clinging to things as real in the fire of nonattachment;
Conduct the weekly funeral ceremonies of ordinary life by practicing the essence of Dharma;
As the smoke-offering to provide for the departed, dedicate your accumulated merit for all their future lives.
Consummating all positive actions done for the sake of the dead, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Put your child, devotion, at the doorway of your practice;
Give your son, renunciation, mastery over the household of ordinary life;
Wed your daughter, compassion, to the bridegroom of the three worlds.
Consummating your duty to the living, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Whatever appears is delusion and has no true existence;
Saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are just thoughts and nothing more.
If you can liberate thoughts as they arise, that includes all stages of the path;
Applying the essential instruction for liberating thoughts, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Your own mind, aware and void inseparably, is Dharmakāya.
Leave everything as it is in fundamental simplicity, and clarity will arise by itself.
Only by doing nothing will you do all there is to be done;
Leaving everything in naked void-awareness, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Let stillness cut the momentum of moving thoughts;
Within movement see the very nature of stillness.
Where stillness and movement are one, maintain the natural mind;
In the experience of one-pointedness, recite the six-syllable mantra.

By examining relative truth, establish absolute truth;
Within absolute truth, see how relative truth arises.
Where the two truths are inseparable, beyond intellect, is the state of simplicity;
In the view free of all elaboration, recite the six-syllable mantra.

From appearances, cut away the clinging of mind;
From mind, demolish the lair of fictitious appearances;
Where mind and appearances are one is infinite openness;
In the realization of one taste, recite the six-syllable mantra.

In the nature of mind, the simplicity of void awareness, everything is freed;
Thoughts, the spontaneous creativity of awareness, are purified in their own sphere.
Mind and awareness are one in the single essence.
In the nonmeditation of Dharmakāya, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To recognize as the deity whatever forms appear is the crucial point of the development stage;
Clinging to appearance as beautiful or ugly is liberated into its own nature.
Free of clinging, mind as it appears is the body of Supreme Chenrezi.
In the self-liberation of visual experiences, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To recognize sounds as mantra is the crucial point of recitation practice;
Clinging to sound as pleasant or unpleasant is liberated into its own nature.
Free of grasping, the spontaneous sound of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa is the voice of the six syllables.
In the self-liberation of hearing, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To recognize smells as unborn is the crucial point of the completion stage;
Clinging to odor as fragrant or foul is liberated into its own nature.
Free of grasping, all smells are the fragrant discipline of Supreme Chenrezi;
In the self-liberation of smelling, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To recognize flavors as a sacramental feast is the crucial point of offering.
Attachment to taste as delicious or disgusting is liberated into its own nature;
Free of grasping, food and drink are substances to delight Supreme Chenrezi;
In the self-liberation of taste, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To recognize sensations as essential sameness is the crucial point of equal taste;
Feelings of repletion and hunger, hot and cold, are liberated into their own nature.
Free of grasping, all sensations and feelings are the deity’s activity;
In the self-liberation of sensation, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To recognize all phenomena as void is the crucial point of the view;
Belief in true and false is liberated into its own nature.
Free of grasping, everything there is, all of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, is the continuum of the Dharmakāya;
In the self-liberation of thoughts, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Don’t follow after the object of hatred; look at the angry mind.
Anger, liberated by itself as it arises, is the clear void;
The clear void is none other than mirrorlike wisdom.
In the self-liberation of hatred, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Don’t chase after the object of pride; look at the grasping mind.
Self-importance, liberated by itself as it arises, is primordial voidness;
This primordial voidness is none other than the wisdom of essential sameness.
In the self-liberation of pride, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Don’t hanker after the object of desire; look at the craving mind.
Desire, liberated by itself as it arises, is bliss-void;
This bliss-void is none other than all-discriminating wisdom.
In the self-liberation of desire, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Don’t follow after the object of jealousy; look at the critical mind.
Jealousy, liberated by itself as it arises, is void intellect;
This void intellect is none other than all-accomplishing wisdom.
In the self-liberation of jealousy, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Don’t just take for granted ideas forged by ignorance; look at the nature of ignorance itself.
The hosts of thoughts, liberated by themselves as they arise, are awareness-void;
This awareness-void is none other than the wisdom of the absolute expanse.
In the self-liberation of ignorance, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Form is unborn, primordially void, like the sky;
The quintessence of this awareness-void is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime King of the Sky.
In the view of voidness, recite the six-syllable mantra.

56. Feeling is the lasso that binds mind and object together;
When you know it as nondual sameness, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime Bountiful Lasso.
In the realization of same taste, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Appraisal, if you keep taking it as valid, is delusion;
When you turn to all beings with compassion, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime One Who Dredges the Depths of Saṃsāra.
In compassion without bias, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Impulse, as saṃsāric actions, keeps you circling in the six realms;
If you realize saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are the very same, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Greatly Compassionate Transformer of Beings.
Acting for others in one single taste, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Consciousness, the expression of ordinary mind, has eight functions;
If you realize ultimate mind to be Dharmakāya, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime Ocean of Conquerors.
Knowing that your own mind is the Buddha, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Believing the body to be solid is what causes servitude;
If you recognize it as the deity, appearing yet void, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime Khasarpani.
In the recognition of the deity’s body, appearing yet void, recite the six-syllable mantra.

61. Conceptualizing speech and sound is what causes delusion;
If you recognize it as mantra, resounding yet void, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime Lion’s Roar.
In the recognition of sound as mantra, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Clinging to mind’s perceptions as true is the delusion that causes saṃsāra;
If you leave mind in its natural state, free from thoughts, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime Unwinding in Ultimate Mind.
In ultimate mind, the Dharmakāya, recite the six-syllable mantra.

Everything that exists is the primordially pure continuum of the Dharmakāya;
If you meet the Dharmakāya face to face, it is Chenrezi—
It is none other than the Sublime Sovereign of the Universe.
In the continuum of all-pervading purity, recite the six-syllable mantra.

One deity, Chenrezi, embodies all Buddhas;
One mantra, the six syllables, embodies all mantras;
One Dharma, bodhichitta, embodies all practices of the development and completion stages.
Knowing the one which liberates all, recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use is all you’ve done? Being so busy just causes saṃsāra—
Look how meaningless all you’ve done has been.
Now you’d better just stop trying to do anything;
Dropping all activities, recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use is all you’ve said? It was all just pointless prattle—
Look how much irrelevant distraction it has brought.
Now you’d better just keep silent;
Ceasing completely to speak, recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use is rushing around? Coming and going just tires you out—
Look how far your wandering has taken you from the Dharma.
Now you’d better just settle down and relax your mind;
Staying put, carefree and at ease, recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use is all you’ve eaten? It all just turned into excrement—
Look how insatiable your appetite has been.
Now you’d better nourish yourself with the food of samādhi;
Quit all that eating and drinking, and recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use are all your thoughts? They’ve just brought more delusion—
Look how few of all your aims you’ve managed to achieve.
Now for this life’s concerns you’d better not think too far ahead;
Dropping all your plans, recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use is all you own? Property is just clinging—
Look how soon you’ll leave whatever you’ve got behind.
Now you’d better put an end to your possessive grasping;
Ceasing to acquire and hoard things, recite the six-syllable mantra.

What use is all the time you’ve slept? It was all just spent in a stupor—
Look how easily your life is running out in indolence.
Now you’d better start to exert yourself wholeheartedly;
Day and night, spurning all distraction, recite the six-syllable mantra.

There’s no time, no time! There’s no time to rest!
When suddenly death is upon you, what will you do?
Now you’d better start practicing the sublime Dharma right away;
Now, quick, hurry—recite the six-syllable mantra.

What can you say about years, months, or days—
Look how things change every moment, right now!
Each moment that passes brings you closer to death;
Now, this very moment, recite the six-syllable mantra.

As your life runs out like the setting sun sinking away,
Death closes in like the lengthening shadows of evening.
Now what’s left of your life will vanish as fast as the last fading shadows;
There’s no time to waste—recite the six-syllable mantra.

The six-syllable mantra, although perfect as Dharma,
Is fruitless recited while chatting and looking around;
And to cling to the number recited is to miss the point outright.
Undistractedly watching the mind, recite the six-syllable mantra.

If you check your mind over and over again,
Whatever you do becomes the perfect path.
Of all the hundreds of vital instructions, this is the very quintessence;
Fuse everything into this one single point, and recite the six-syllable mantra.

The first part, my sorrowful tirade at this decadent age’s ways,
Was a reproof I had intended for myself.
This sad lament has affected me deeply;
Now I offer it to you, thinking you might feel the same.

If that is not the case, and you have total confidence in the loftiness of your view and meditation,
Wise ideas about how to combine the worldly and the spiritual,
And the diplomatic skill to settle problems to the satisfaction of all—
If you have all that, then I offer you my apologies.

The second part, my dissertation establishing view and meditation—
Since of course I have no experience of realization at all—
Just sets out what I’ve understood by the grace of the teachings
From the precious lineage of the all-knowing father and son.

The third part, my exhortation to relinquish everything and practice,
Though you may well miss the point, just slipped out by itself.
Yet, since it in no way contradicts the words of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
It would be truly kind of you to put it into practice.

This discourse, virtuous in the beginning, middle, and end,
Was written in the siddha’s cave of White Rock Victory Peak,
For an old friend whose pleas could no longer be resisted,
By that ragged old fellow Apu Hralpo, ablaze with the five poisons.

I have just been prattling on and on, but so what?
My theme is of great worth and its meaning unerring; so the merit it brings
I offer to you, and to all of us throughout the three worlds—
May all the wishes we make, inspired by the teachings, come true!

Practice Of Chenrezi - "The Four Yogas" by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The Buddhist path can be described comprehensively according to two systems: the cause vehicle and the result vehicle. Where the first, which includes both the Hīnayāna and the general Mahāyāna, speaks of the five paths, the second, the Mantrayāna, speaks of the four yogas: one-pointedness, simplicity, one taste, and nonmeditation. The teaching of the four yogas focuses on the union of the development and completion stages.


Let stillness cut the momentum of moving thoughts;
Within movement see the very nature of stillness.
Where stillness and movement are one, maintain the natural mind;
In the experience of one-pointedness, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The mind has, in general, two aspects, stillness and movement. Sometimes, the mind is quiet and free from thoughts, like a calm pool; this is stillness. Eventually, thoughts are bound to arise in it; this is movement. In truth, however, although in a sense there is a movement of thoughts within the stillness, there is actually no difference between these two states—just as the nature of stillness is voidness, the nature of movement is also voidness. Stillness and movement are merely two names for the one mind.

Most of the time we are unaware of our state of mind and pay no attention to whether the mind is still or moving. While you are meditating, a thought might arise in your mind—the idea of going shopping, for instance. If you are aware of the thought and just let it dissolve by itself, then that is the end of it. But if you remain unaware of what is happening and let that thought grow and develop, it will lead on to a second thought, the thought of having a break from your practice, and in no time at all you will find yourself actually getting up and going out to the market. Soon many more thoughts and ideas will arise—how you are going to buy this, sell that, and so forth. By this point you will be a very long way away from the recitation of the maṇi.

It is completely natural that thoughts keep on arising. The point is not to try to stop them, which would be impossible anyway, but to liberate them. This is done by remaining in a state of simplicity, which lets thoughts arise and vanish again without stringing onto them any further thoughts. When you no longer perpetuate the movement of thoughts, they dissolve by themselves without leaving any trace. When you no longer spoil the state of stillness with mental fabrications, you can maintain the natural serenity of mind without any effort. Sometimes, let your thoughts flow, and watch the unchanging nature behind them. Sometimes, abruptly cutting the flow of thoughts, look at naked awareness.

Innumerable thoughts and memories, stirred up by the tendencies to which we have become habituated, arise in the mind. One after the other, each thought seems to vanish into the past, only to be replaced as the next, in its turn, becomes fleetingly present to the mind before itself giving way to future thoughts. Each thought tends to pick up the momentum of the one before it, so that the influence of a string of thoughts grows as time passes; this is called “the chain of delusion.” Just as what we call a rosary is in fact a string of single beads, so also what we usually call the mind is really a succession of momentary thoughts; a trickle of thoughts makes the stream of consciousness, the mind-stream, and the mind-stream leads on to the ocean of existence. Our belief that the mind is a real entity is a conclusion based on insufficient investigation. We believe a river we see today to be the same river we saw yesterday, but in reality a river never stays the same even for a second-the water that made up yesterday’s river will surely be part of the ocean by now. The same is true for the countless thoughts that run through our “mind” from morning to evening. Our mind-stream is just a succession of instantaneous thoughts; there is no separate entity that you can point out as being a mind.

Now, if we investigate the thought process according to the logic of the Madhyamaka, it becomes evident that past thoughts are already dead, like a corpse. Future thoughts have not yet been born. As to present thoughts, they cannot be said to have any properties such as location, color, or shape; they leave no traces; and indeed they are nowhere to be found. In fact, there could be no possible point of contact between past, present, and future thoughts; if there was any real continuity between, for instance, a past thought and a present thought, that would necessarily mean either that the past thought is present or that the present thought is past. If the past really could extend to the present in this way, it would also follow that the future must already be present. But nevertheless, ignorant of the true nature of thoughts, we maintain the habit of seeing them as being continuously linked, one after another; this is the root of delusion, and this is what allows us to be more and more dominated by our thoughts and emotions, until total confusion reigns.

It is of vital importance to be aware of the arising of thoughts and to still the waves of thoughts that assail you. Anger, for instance, is an extremely destructive tendency which spoils all the good qualities you may otherwise have. No one enjoys the company of an angry person. There is nothing inherently very frightening about the appearance of snakes, but because they are generally very aggressive, the mere sight of them inspires fear and loathing. Whether in a human or a snake, such a preponderance of anger is nothing more than the outcome of an unchecked accumulation of negative thoughts. If at the very moment an angry thought arises, you recognize it for what it is and understand how negative it is, your anger will calm down of its own accord and you will always be able to stay on good terms with everyone. On the other hand, if you let that first angry thought give rise to a second angry thought, in no time at all your anger will be completely out of control, and you will be ready even to risk your life to destroy your adversary.

Always remember, therefore, that a thought is merely the experience of many factors and fleeting circumstances coming together. Whether the thought is good or bad, it has no true existence. As soon as a thought arises, if you recognize its void nature, it will be powerless to produce a second thought, and the chain of delusion will cease there and then. As we have said, this does not mean that you should try to suppress the natural creativity of your mind, or that you should try to stop each thought with a particular antidote. It is enough simply to recognize the emptiness of thoughts and to then let them rest in the relaxed mind. The innate nature of mind, pristine and unchanging, will then remain vivid and stable.

Of the two aspects of meditation practice, tranquility and insight tranquility provides the foundation upon which insight, or vast perspective, can open out on the nature of mind and thus enable you to liberate your negative emotions. If the foundation, tranquility, is unsound, insight will be unstable too, and your deluded thoughts will be difficult to control. It is therefore essential to develop the yoga of one-pointedness, remaining in unwavering awareness.


By examining relative truth, establish absolute truth;
Within absolute truth, see how relative truth arises.
Where the two truths are inseparable, beyond intellect, is the state of simplicity;
In the view free of all elaboration, recite the six-syllable mantra.

In conventional, relative truth, we might accept that the phenomenal world can be broken down into indivisible particles; but the logic of the Madhyamaka shows that such particles could never have any independent or permanent existence. This being so, how can we say that material objects truly exist? Similarly, although we can try to dissect the mind into indivisible instants of consciousness, we find that these, too, must ultimately be devoid of any tangible existence.

To recognize the continuity and all-pervasiveness of this void nature, this absence of any true existence, is to recognize absolute truth. This is the natural state of mind, untouched by any obscuration, in which all phenomena are seen as the Buddhas see them, as dreams or magical illusions. Here, thoughts do not give rise to negative emotions or the accumulation of karma, favorable circumstances engender neither pride nor attachment, and adverse circumstances are quickly transformed into the path of enlightenment—for example, an encounter with someone who irritates you, instead of causing anger, helps you to generate compassion and becomes a chance to recognize the absolute truth which is inseparable from the bodhichitta. If you are unable to give up your attachment to things, it is simply because you fail to recognize their void nature. Once you have realized this void nature, you will no longer feel proud of dreamlike success or depressed by dreamlike failure.

Some people find themselves surrounded by beauty, comfort, natural abundance, and safety, whereas others may have to live in harsh, barren, impoverished, and dangerous environments. Now, this is the result neither of chance nor of some grand design. To have been born in a pleasant place is the result of generosity, helpfulness, and virtue in former lives, while adverse living conditions are the consequence of harm brought to others in previous lives by attacking them, imprisoning them, and so forth. Phenomena are not the work of a creator; they are simply what manifests as the combined result of many causes and circumstances. In the same way that, as the result of sunlight shining through rain, a rainbow appears in the sky, so also, as the result of a great number of actions in your past lives, in this life you are either happy, healthy, prosperous, and loved by all or unhappy, poor, beset by sickness, and despised. Indeed, every detail of the universe and the beings it contains is nothing more than the result of many interdependent factors momentarily coming together; this is why all phenomena are so impermanent and undergo such constant change.

So when you examine anything deeply, you always arrive at voidness, and only voidness; voidness is the ultimate nature of everything. As beginners who may be on the path of accumulation or the path of union, we ordinary beings have not had the actual realization of voidness. We know that smoke indicates the presence of fire but is not the fire itself; nevertheless, by following the smoke we can find the fire. Likewise, it is important to understand that the view of voidness is not the same as the actual experience of voidness; but by following the view and becoming familiar with it, we will arrive at the actual realization of voidness itself, free from any concepts or theories. This is the ultimate understanding of the Madhyamaka, the inseparability of the two truths, the union of appearances and voidness.

The void nature of all phenomena is the absolute truth, and the way they appear is relative truth. By examining relative truth you will come to realize absolute truth, since absolute truth is the ultimate nature of everything. If the whole world—all its continents, all its mountains and forests—were to be destroyed and to completely disappear, only all-pervading empty space would be left. Something quite similar happens when you truly realize what relative phenomena are, that they do not exist as solid entities: nothing remains but all-pervading voidness. But as long as you still believe in the solid, tangible existence of relative truth, you will never be able to realize absolute truth. Once you realize absolute truth, you will see what appears within it—the whole, infinite display of relative phenomena—as no more than an illusion or a dream, to which you will feel no attachment. To realize that appearance and voidness are one is what is called simplicity, or freedom from all conceptual limitations, freedom from all elaboration.

The two truths are not two distinct entities, like the horns of a cow; they are simply the “appearing” and “void” aspects of the natural state. Having first understood the view intellectually, develop first-hand experience and confidence in the oneness of appearance and voidness. This realization of the inseparability of the two truths is a profound experience, completely beyond any intellectual concept. This is the yoga of simplicity. Maintaining this view, recite the six-syllable mantra.


From appearances, cut away the clinging of mind;
From mind, demolish the lair of fictitious appearances;
Where mind and appearances are one is infinite openness;
In the realization of one taste, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The way objective phenomena appear to us subjectively is a function of the mind. Things seem to us either pure or impure, good or bad, attractive or repellent, depending solely on the way our own minds perceive them. As Shāntideva said, speaking of the hell realms:

Who made this ground of blazing iron?
Whence came these banks of fire?
All such things
Arise from the negative mind.

In fact, when your organs of sense encounter an object, the only part the object itself plays is to initiate the process of perception in your consciousness. From then on, as your mind reacts to the object, influenced by all your accumulated habits and past experiences, the whole process is entirely subjective. So, when your mind is full of anger, the whole world seems to be a hell realm. When your mind is peaceful, free from any clinging or fixation, and whatever you do is in accordance with the teachings, you experience everything as primordially pure. While a Buddha sees the hells as a paradise, deluded beings see a paradise as the hells.

Our perceptions are colored by delusions in the same way that the vision of a person with jaundice is colored by the bile in his eyes, making him see a white conch as yellow. It is clinging that makes the mind project its delusions onto appearances. As soon as the mind perceives something, it clings to that perception; then it appraises the object as being desirable, offensive, or neutral; finally, taking action on the basis of this distorted perception with desire, aversion, or indifference, it accumulates karma.

To cut through the mind’s clinging, it is important to understand that all appearances are void, like the water you might see in a mirage. Beautiful forms are of no benefit to the mind, nor can ugly forms harm it in any way. Sever the ties of hope and fear, attraction and repulsion, and remain in equanimity in the understanding that all phenomena are nothing more than projections of your own mind.

Once you recognize the true nature of mind, this whole fiction of relative appearances and your attachment to them will simply cave in. Good and bad, pure and impure, lose their compelling flavors and melt into one taste. You will reach the realization of Jetsun Milarepa, making no distinction between iron and gold. When Gampopa offered him gold and tea, Milarepa said: “I am an old man with no need for gold and no stove to boil tea.” Resting in this view, recite the six-syllable mantra.


In the nature of mind, the simplicity of void awareness, everything is freed;
Thoughts, the spontaneous creativity of awareness, are purified in their own sphere.
Mind and awareness are one in the single essence.
In the nonmeditation of Dharmakāya, recite the six-syllable mantra.

The ultimate nature of mind is primordial awareness, from which thoughts emanate like light radiating from the sun. Once this nature of mind is recognized, delusion vanishes like clouds dissolving in the sky. The nature of mind free from delusion is without birth, existence, or cessation. In the terminology of the Mantrayāna, it is called primordial continuous mind, or ever-present simplicity. It is also described in the sūtras; for example, the Prajñāpāramitā says:

Mind does not exist,
Its expression is clarity.

When you examine the still mind, the moving mind, and the mind that can recognize stillness and movement, however long you search for “mind” you will find nothing but voidness: mind has no form, no color, and no substance. This is the void aspect of the mind. Yet the mind can know things and perceive an infinite variety of phenomena. This is the clarity aspect of mind. The inseparability of these two aspects, voidness and clarity, is the primordial continuous mind.

At the moment, the natural clarity of your mind is obscured by delusions. But as this obscuration clears you will begin to uncover the radiance of awareness, until you reach the point where, just as a drawing on water disappears the moment it is made, your thoughts are liberated the moment they arise. To experience mind in this way is to encounter the very source of Buddhahood, the practice of the fourth empowerment. When the nature of mind is recognized it is called nirvāṇa; when it is obscured by delusion it is called saṃsāra. Yet neither saṃsāra nor nirvāṇa has ever departed from the continuum of the absolute. When realization of awareness reaches its full extent, the ramparts of delusion will have been breached and the citadel of Dharmakāya beyond meditation can be seized once and for all. Here there is no longer any distinction between meditation and postmeditation, and experience is effortlessly stabilized; this is nonmeditation. In the limitless expanse of Dharmakāya, recite the six-syllable mantra.

To summarize, the yoga of one-pointedness emphasizes taming the mind, and that of simplicity establishes insight. These two are united in the experience of one taste, and when this experience becomes unshakable, it is the yoga of nonmeditation.The four yogas of the Mantrayāna correspond to the five paths of the sūtra system. It is therefore important to keep the view, meditation, and action of both the sūtras and the tantras together. All the different levels of teaching have but one goal, to cut through the obscuring emotions; so they are in perfect agreement with each other. The many different streams of teachings, reflecting the needs of different students and the wisdom of different teachers, are really but a single river.

The peerless physician of Takpo, the holy Gampopa, first served a Kadampa master and practiced the Mahāyāna path. Later, at the feet of Jetsun Milarepa, he practiced the tantric systems of Mahāmudrā and of the inner heat and the rest of the six yogas of Nāropa, becoming one of the fathers of the Kagyu lineage. The great Kadampa teachers, famous for their practice of the sūtra system, also instructed their students in the completion phase of Mahāmudrā, and in the six yogas too, skillfully blending together all these practices. Never forget that the main point is not whether our practice belongs to the sūtras or tantras, or whether it is of this or that level, but that it serves as an effective antidote to attachment and the obscuring emotions.

Practice Of Chenrezi by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Chenrezi is a fully enlightened Buddha who, in order to benefit beings, takes on the form of a Bodhisattva. All the Buddhas have but one nature, and their compassion is embodied in Chenrezi. As the embodiment of the compassion of all the Buddhas, Chenrezi is at the same time the source of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, since compassion is the very root of enlightenment. Chenrezi is compassion itself in the form of a deity. Chenrezi is the Buddha, Chenrezi is the Dharma, Chenrezi is the Saṅgha; Chenrezi is the Guru, Chenrezi is the Yidam, Chenrezi is the Ḍākinī; Chenrezi is the Dharmakāya, Chenrezi is the Sambhogakāya, Chenrezi is the Nirmāṇakāya; Chenrezi is Amitābha, Chenrezi is Guru Rinpoche, Chenrezi is Ārya Tārā; and above all Chenrezi is our own Root Teacher. Like a hundred streams passing under a single bridge, Chenrezi is the union of all the Buddhas. To receive his blessings is to receive the blessings of all the Buddhas, and to realize his nature is to realize the nature of all the Buddhas.

The Buddha Shākyamuni himself is an emanation of Chenrezi; the Dharma, which shows us what to avoid and what to cultivate, is perfectly contained in the six-syllable mantra; the Saṅgha, the Bodhisattvas who help us along the path, are emanations of Chenrezi as well. Chenrezi is thus the union of the Three Jewels. Just as one reservoir collects countless drops of rain, Chenrezi’s compassion includes all the wisdom of Mañjushrī and all the power of Vajrapāṇi. With this one deity, one mantra, and one practice, you can accomplish everything.

The many deities are infinitely diverse: peaceful or wrathful, with one, three, or many heads, and with two, four, six, or many more arms, each one symbolizing a different quality. Yet you can be confident that all of them are included in Chenrezi. In the same way, since all the beneficial power of the immense variety of other mantras is contained in the six-syllable mantra by itself, you can put all your heart into reciting just the one mantra. Your body, speech, and mind are essentially one with the enlightened body, speech, and mind of Chenrezi; this you should recognize as the quintessence of the practice.

Chenrezi’s six-syllable mantra, OṂ MAṆI PADME HŪṂ, is the compassionate wisdom of all the Buddhas manifested as sound. Within it is contained the essential meaning of all eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings. Of all the many mantras of various kinds, such as awareness mantras, dhāraṇīs, and secret mantras, not one is superior to the six syllables of Chenrezi. The great benefits of reciting this mantra, commonly known as the maṇi, are described again and again in both sūtras and tantras. It is said that to recite the mani even once is the same as reciting the whole of the twelve branches of the Buddha’s teachings. Reciting the six syllables of the maṇi perfects the six pāramitās and firmly blocks any possibility of rebirth in the six realms of saṃsāra. It is a simple practice, easy to understand and accessible to all, and at the same time it contains the essence of the Dharma. If you take the maṇi as your refuge both in happiness and in sorrow, Chenrezi will always be with you, you will feel more and more devotion without any effort, and all by itself the realization of the Mahāyāna path will arise in your being. According to the Kāraṇḍavyūha-sūtra, if you recite one hundred million maṇis, all the myriad living organisms in your body will be blessed by Chenrezi, and when you die even the smoke from the cremation of your corpse will have the power to protect whoever inhales it from rebirth in the lower realms. When you feel yourself about to fall into the abyss of obscuring emotions, pray to Chenrezi; at the last moment, when the lasso of his compassion catches you, you will be filled with confidence in his enlightened omniscience. Therefore, with conviction and one-pointed devotion, recite the six-syllable mantra.


There is nothing in the whole world that can actually frighten away the Lord of Death, but the warm radiance of Chenrezi’s compassion can completely dispel the dread felt by anyone as Death approaches. This is what is meant by “undeceiving refuge.” Totally free from saṃsāra, Chenrezi is always ready to help sentient beings, and even his slightest movement—a gesture of his hand, a blink of his eyes—has the power to free us from saṃsāra. When we invoke him by reciting the maṇi, we should never think that he is too far away to hear us, in some distant Buddha-field; Chenrezi is always there with whoever has faith in him. Our own obscurations prevent us from actually going to the Potala Mountain or the Blissful Pure Land of Sukhāvatī to meet him face to face, but in truth his compassion never forsakes a single being. He manifests himself constantly in whatever form may benefit beings most, particularly in the form of great spiritual teachers; so we should understand with complete conviction that Chenrezi, the supreme protector who shows all sentient beings the path to liberation, is in fact none other than our root teacher. The rain of Chenrezi’s compassion falls everywhere on the fields of sentient beings impartially; but the crop of happiness cannot grow where the seeds of faith have been shriveled. To lack faith is to close yourself to the radiant sun of his blessings, as if you were shutting yourself away in a dark room. But if you have faith, there is no distance, no delay, between you and Chenrezi’s blessings.


To be able to free us from the whirlpool of saṃsāra, the basis of the refuge we seek must be something itself already totally free. There is only one source of refuge free from all the limitations of saṃsāra, complete with all the qualities of ultimate realization, and possessing the limitless compassion that can respond universally to the needs of sentient beings and lead them all the way to enlightenment: the Three Jewels. The Three Jewels are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha. The Buddha is the teacher, who displays the four kāyas and five wisdoms. The Dharma is the path, the teachings that are transmitted and realized. The Saṅgha are the companions on the path, those who understand the meaning of the teachings and who as a result are liberated. Through faith and devotion in the Three Jewels, we will come to realize that they are not three separate entities, but the body, speech, and mind of Chenrezi, the Buddha of Compassion. His mind is the Buddha, his speech the Dharma, and his body is the Saṅgha. Even though at present we cannot meet Chenrezi in person, we should be aware of his limitless qualities as they are described in the sūtras and tantras. We should also remember that Chenrezi is inseparable from our teacher, who instructs us in the precious Dharma. Deeply appreciating this great kindness, praying to him and reciting the six-syllable mantra, there is no doubt that all our karmic obscurations and negative emotions can be cleared away. The time will come when we will actually be in the presence of Chenrezi in his Buddha-field, where he turns the wheel of the Mahāyāna Dharma for his retinue of Bodhisattvas.

If the taking of refuge is to be genuine and true, unshakable faith needs to be developed. Faith is a vital element in the path, opening us to the Buddha’s blessings. Expecting to attain realization without having faith would be like sitting in a north-facing cave waiting for the sunshine to pour in. There are four stages in the development of faith: clear faith, longing faith, confident faith, and irreversible faith. When you first realize what wonderful and extraordinary qualities the Buddha, Chenrezi, and your teacher possess, your mind becomes very clear and joyful. This is clear faith. When this clear faith inspires you to obtain Chenrezi’s perfect qualities for yourself, and you think what an infinite number of beings you would be able to help if you had those qualities, it has become longing faith. When you know with complete certainty that Chenrezi’s qualities are truly as they were described by the Buddha himself, it has become confident faith. Finally, when faith has become so much a part of yourself that, even at the cost of your life, there is no way you would ever renounce it, it is then irreversible faith. When your faith reaches this point, whatever circumstances you may meet you will always be completely confident, thinking, “Chenrezi, you know everything; no matter what happens, I rely entirely upon your wisdom and compassion.” From then on the blessings and guidance of Chenrezi will always be with you, and there is no doubt that even the sound of his name will have the power to free you from the lower realms. It is this irreversible faith that is needed for the taking of refuge to be truly authentic.


The “thought of enlightenment,” bodhichitta in Sanskrit, is the wish to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. Take Chenrezi as a witness of your determination to attain realization in order to benefit others. All sentient beings are the same in wishing to be happy and not to suffer. When your body, speech, and mind are completely saturated with the wish to help all sentient beings, when your aim both for others and for yourself is perfect Buddhahood, then even the smallest action, a single recitation of the maṇi or a single prostration, will swiftly and surely bring the fulfillment of your goal. The six syllables of the maṇi, the essence of Chenrezi’s being, are the six pāramitās in the form of mantra. When you recite the mantra, the six pāramitās spontaneously arise and the application bodhichitta is accomplished. It is said that when those who are afflicted in the prison of saṃsāra generate the thought of enlightenment, they are instantly adopted by the Buddhas as their sons and daughters, and they are praised by both men and gods. The whole of their existence takes on a new meaning. This is all due to the measureless power of the jewel-like bodhichitta. Bodhichitta is the essence of the eighty-four thousand sections of the Buddha’s teachings, but at the same time it is so simple, so easy to understand and practice, even for a beginner. Absolute Bodhichitta is the inseparability of voidness and uncontrived compassion. It is the simplicity of the natural state, beyond all concepts and intellectual limitations, out of which spontaneous, objectless compassion arises, benefiting all sentient beings. At present, you might find it difficult to identify with such inconceivably vast attributes as Chenrezi’s realization, compassion, and ability to help others. But if you recite his mantra with single-minded devotion, you too will one day be able to benefit beings on the same immense scale. Aspire from your heart to help all beings, and dedicate to them all your merit, with the conviction that Chenrezi acknowledges your aspirations and gives you his blessing to bring them to fulfillment.


It is of crucial importance to understand that holding on to the idea of there being an “I,” a truly existing self, is the fundamental cause of our wandering in the three realms of existence. Once this mistaken belief in an ego has taken root, we start clinging to my body, my mind, my name, my possessions, my family, and so forth; it is these notions that then make us crave pleasure and abhor pain. The result is an unceasing succession of alternating attraction and repulsion, and from these underlying urges arise the conflicting emotions that disturb our minds without respite. In countless past lives, we have had plenty of wealth and possessions; but we were so fearful of losing or using up what we had that we were incapable of being generous, in the form of either offerings to the Three Jewels or charity to others. Although it is true that your possessions are no more real than treasure found in a dream, or than a mirage city shimmering on the horizon, by offering them to Chenrezi and the Three Jewels you will accumulate dreamlike merit which will lead you to dreamlike happiness, long life, and prosperity, and eventually to liberation. To accumulate true merit, make all your offerings and gifts with great devotion and without any pride whatsoever. The six-syllable mantra, too, can be recited as an offering to the Three Jewels and to all sentient beings; it has the power to bring infinite benefit. Even the most ruthlessly cruel and arrogant beings, completely lacking the slightest inclination toward the Dharma, can be tamed and helped with this mantra, for it is the source of the bodhichitta, whose infinite power of compassion always succeeds where force and violence fail.


Your root teacher’s qualities and abilities are equal to those of all the Buddhas of the past in every respect but one: the kindness he shows to you is even greater. Deeply appreciating this unique kindness, you should always venerate your spiritual master as the Buddha himself. With unwavering and single-minded devotion, see the teacher as the Buddha himself and everything he does as perfect; then his blessings, the wisdom of all the Buddhas’ minds, will flow effortlessly into your being. Practice in accordance with his instructions, and, as all the clouds of doubt and hesitation are cleared away, the sun of his compassion will shine through, warming you with happiness. To pray to the teacher as inseparable from Chenrezi is the very essence of Guru Yoga. The literal meaning of Guru Yoga is “union with the teacher’s nature.” To blend your mind with the teacher’s mind is the most profound of all practices and the shortest path to realization. It is important, therefore, to pray to your teacher at all times and in all circumstances, from the depths of your heart and from the very marrow of your bones. All the pleasures you experience, all the beautiful sights and sounds, all the joys in your life, multiply them infinitely in your mind and offer them to him. When your circumstances are happy and everything is going well, think how it is all due to his kindness, and enjoy what you have with no more attachment than for a dream or an illusion. When you are weighed down by sickness, sorrow or ill treatment, reflect on how this is in fact your teacher’s kindness, too, for it is through such difficulties that you have the chance to purify your past wrongdoing and karmic debts; and make the wish that all beings’ suffering be added to your own, so that they no longer need to suffer. All the sublime practices of the sūtras and tantras can be condensed into devotion to the teacher, and all of them are included in the practice of reciting the maṇi. Remembering that devotion to the teacher is the source of all realization, and that the essence of Guru Yoga - to merge your mind with Chenrezi’s nature - is the most profound of all practices.


Chenrezi is white in color—the dazzling white of a snow peak reflecting a hundred thousand suns, dispelling the darkness of the whole universe. He has one head, symbolizing the oneness of the absolute nature; four arms, symbolizing loving-kindness, compassion, rejoicing, and equanimity; two legs crossed in the vajra posture, symbolizing the sameness of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa; he is sitting on a thousand-petaled lotus, symbolizing compassion, and a moon disc, symbolizing voidness. One pair of hands are together at his heart and hold a jewel, which represents the bodhichitta, the wish-granting gem which bestows the supreme and ordinary siddhis. Of the other pair of hands, one holds out a crystal rosary to his right, and the other a white lotus to his left; the rosary symbolizes his unceasing compassion extending like an unbroken thread through the heart of every being, and the lotus the unchanging purity of his wisdom blooming above the mud of saṃsāra. The jewel also symbolizes wisdom-bliss as the means, while the lotus symbolizes wisdom-voidness as the realization. His beautiful body, bearing all the major and minor marks of a Buddha, is clad in the jewels and silks of the Sambhogakāya.

The purpose of the visualization practices of the development stage, such as this one, is to develop pure perception-that is, to see yourself and all beings as wisdom deities and your environment as a Buddha-field, to hear all sounds as mantras, and to understand all thoughts as the display of awareness. This pure perception is not some artificial idea of purity that you try to superimpose upon phenomena; it is, rather, the recognition that all phenomena are truly and inherently pure. Visualizing your body as the vajra body of Chenrezi, you also have to see the whole environment outside as transformed into Chenrezi’s Pure Land or the Blissful Land of Sukhāvatī, graced with such marvels as the hill of jewels, the river of nectar, and the wish-granting tree; clouds of offerings fill the sky, the mantra OṂ MAṆI PADME HŪṂ resounds everywhere, and “suffering” is a word that is never even heard. While you are meditating on Chenrezi, ordinary thoughts will come to a standstill and the mind will settle in tranquility. If you then look at the nature of mind, it will begin to become clear to you that the deity is essentially one with voidness. This understanding will then expand into the realization that all appearances are void in nature and therefore perfectly pure. Once you see that all phenomena of both saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are just fabrications of mind and that the nature of mind is void, then transmuting impure perception into pure perception is not a problem - all phenomena are simply revealed as primordially pure. This realization brings you, in general, unlimited control over all phenomena and, in particular, the ten powers of supreme beings - power over matter, power over life, power over karma, and so forth. It is said, “By mastering one’s own perception, one can master all phenomena.” 

One of the principal elements in Vajrayāna practice is mantra. There is no mantra however, that can be considered superior to the maṇi, which includes not only all the functions but also all the power and blessings of all other mantras. The maṇi is not just a string of ordinary words. It contains all the blessings and compassion of Chenrezi; in fact, it is Chenrezi himself in the form of sound. As we are now, our karmic obscurations prevent us from being able to actually meet Chenrezi in his Buddha-field; but what we can do is listen to his mantra, recite it, read it, and write it beautifully in golden letters. Since there is no difference between the deity himself and the mantra which is his essence, these activities bring great benefit. The six syllables are the expression of the six pāramitās of Chenrezi, and as he himself said, whoever recites the six-syllable mantra will perfect the six pāramitās and purify all karmic obscurations.

The purpose of the meditation practice itself is to gain stability in the perception of all appearances as the deity’s form, all sounds as his mantra, and all thoughts as the Dharmakāya, thus recognizing the absolute nature of mind, void and luminous. Now, in periods between meditation sessions, whatever you are doing you must maintain this recognition without relapsing into ordinary habits, so that you can develop the understanding acquired during meditation. In this way all of your activities will be linked with the view, meditation, and action of the Vajrayāna.