The Continuous Rain of Benefit to Beings
An Abbreviated Annotation of All-Pervading Benefit of Beings,the Meditation and Recitation of the Supreme Noble Avalokiteshvara
~ Khakyab Dorje, 15th Karmapa ~
Arising as the expression
Of the great compassion of all victorious ones,
Avalokita, your activity shakes samsara from its depths.
To you, inseparable from the venerable lord I bow.
His noble heart and enlightened activity exceed that of all other victorious ones. For as long as samsara has not been emptied, he does not remain absorbed in the samadhi of peace, but throughout the continuum of the three times eternally performs the activity of guiding the six classes of beings. In particular, in accordance with the enthronement and prophecy he received from the Victorious One, Friend of the Sun, he took on as his noble realm of disciples the country of the red-faced ones, the land of the extremely difficult-to-tame. There, he directly performed enlightened activity through assuming various forms, such as those of kings, ministers, translators, scholars, yogic adepts, and young boys and girls.
The power of his blessing is illustrated by children who know how to say his six syllables, the king of secret mantras, from the time they can talk, without ever learning it from anyone. There is no special deity for the Land of Snows other than this lord, the Great Compassionate One. The supreme beings of the past who were his emanations wrote clearly a limitless number of texts, both elaborate and condensed in form, that deal with the practice of the Noble One. From among these, our text here is called All-Pervading Benefit of Beings. It was handed down to us by the Lord of Siddhas Thangtong Gyalpo, who was actually Avalokita in person, emanated for the benefit of humans.
1.1. REFUGE AND BODHICHITTA
In the space before you, in an expanse filled with cloudbanks of rainbow lights and flowers, is Avalokita, inseparable from your root guru, vividly present as the essence of the three jewels and three roots, all victorious ones combined. In front of him, led by you, are all sentient beings of the six realms: friends, enemies, and those who are neutral. You are all gathered together with body, speech, and mind acting in unison.
Because guru Avalokita has the ability and power to protect you from samsara, the great ocean of suffering, develop therefore faith that completely casts away all other hopes and objects of reliance, longing that calls out for his protection, and trust in such protection being certain.
Possessed of these three, recite:
In the supreme Buddha, dharma and assembly,
I take refuge until attaining enlightenment.
Saying that as many times as is suitable, go for refuge. Give rise to unmoving certainty that from now onward you and all sentient beings have been placed under the protection of the noble Great Compassionate One.
Now, turn your focus toward the sentient beings visualized in front of you and think:
“Of all these beings, there is not even one who has not been my kind mother or father. Although they wish only to enjoy happiness and shun suffering, they have practiced only the causes of suffering. As a result, they are tormented without a moment’s release by the severe sufferings of the lower realms of samsara. I must by all means establish them in the most supreme of all forms of happiness, the unsurpassable state of complete buddhahood. Because I do not now have the ability to do this, I will practice the profound meditation and recitation of the noble Avalokita and thereby attain the genuine state of this supreme Noble One. For as long as samsara remains, I will engage for the benefit of beings in conduct that measures up to Avalokita’s example.”
In the presence of guru Avalokita, with this genuine and fervent aspiration, take on the oath of engendering bodhichitta, the mind set on enlightenment, by reciting as follows:
Through the merit of practicing meditation and recitation, May I attain buddhahood in order to benefit beings.
Saying that a few times, develop clear certainty as to the purpose of this meditation. Then multiple light rays stream forth from the body of guru Avalokita. They strike the visualized sentient beings, purifying their misdeeds, obscurations, and suffering, and establishing them in happiness. The objects of refuge then melt into light and dissolve into you. As they do, think that your mindstream becomes blessed.
2.1. MEDITATING ON THE DEITY
Surrounding you as you sit in your ordinary form are the objects of compassion, the six classes of beings, visualized as at the time of going for refuge.
On the crown of your head and those of others is a fully blossomed white eight-petaled lotus with anthers. At its center on a stainless full moon disc is the syllable HRI, white and shining like a pearl. Meditate that it is the direct expression of the power of all victorious ones condensed into a single form. From it streams limitless light like the rays of the moon. The light makes pleasing offerings of body, speech, and mind to all mandalas of the victorious ones of the ten directions without exception. As the light strikes yourself and others, it purifies all illness, negative energies, misdeeds, and obscurations. Pervading the abodes of the six classes of beings, it dispels beings’ suffering and establishes them in happiness. The blessings of the assemblies of noble ones are then gathered back in the form of light rays. These dissolve into the HRI syllables above your head and those of others, where in an instant there appears Avalokiteshvara, his body utterly white in color like a sunrise shining on the snow.
From his body, lucid and radiant, stream forth light rays of five colors, which pervade the pure realms of the victorious ones. In this way, he urges the noble ones to perform the benefit of beings. Below him, the light rays pervade the abodes of the six classes of beings. The suffering of each and every being is washed away, and they are established in happiness. Showing that he is pleased, Avalokita’s smile shines toward you and all sentient beings. His two eyes look upon sentient beings continually throughout the three times; his gaze always reflects his heart, which cares for and loves all beings, oneself and others, just as a mother loves her only child.
He has four arms; the first two are joined in anjali at his heart center, his lower right hand holds a mala of white crystal, and his lower left hand holds by its stem an eight-petaled lotus. He is beautifully clothed in a silk scarf and an upper garment of white silk with golden embroidery. He wears a skirt of red cloth. His crown, earrings, short, middle, and long necklaces, shoulder ornaments, and bracelets on his arms and ankles are all made of gold from the Jambu River, adorned with many heaps of the precious stones of the gods. Sweet-sounding music resonates from
his waist belt, a garland of small bells. Thus, all parts of his body are well ornamented. His left breast is covered by the yellow skin of the Krishnasari deer. The hair that is not tied up in his topknot flows freely down his back. His head is ornamented by the lord of his family, the supreme buddha Amitabha, who is dressed in nirmanakaya form and seated in the vajra posture. Behind Avalokita is a stainless and utterly full moon.
Thinking that he is the embodiment of all the rare and supreme objects of refuge that appear throughout the three times and dwell in the ten directions, recite the following:
On the crown of my head and those of others, sentient beings pervading space, On a white lotus and moon, From HRI, appears noble and supreme Avalokita. He is brilliant white and radiates the five lights. Handsome and smiling, he looks on with eyes of compassion. He has four hands: the first are joined in anjali; The lower two hold a crystal mala and a white lotus. Adorned with ornaments of silks and jewels, He wears an upper garment of deerskin. Amitabha crowns his head. His two feet are in the vajra posture. His back rests against a stainless moon. He is the embodiment of all objects of refuge. Read slowly and divide the text into sections, clearly visualizing each aspect of his body.
2.2. RECITING THE MANTRA
2.2.1. INVOKING THE ENLIGHTENED HEART THROUGH SUPPLICATION
Supplicate Avalokita, visualized as described above, in this way:
“Supreme noble one, guru Avalokita, I and all sentient beings, with one voice and with one-pointed mind, have cast away all other objects of reliance and completely entrust ourselves to you. Please liberate the six classes of beings from their samsaric existences and lead us to the state of omniscience.”
Thinking in this way, recite:
Lord, white in color, unstained by faults,
A perfect buddha adorning your head,
You look upon beings with eyes of compassion.
Avalokita, we prostrate to you.
Saying that one hundred, twenty-one, or seven times, invoke his mindstream. Recite until certainty arises that your perceptions have changed. If you wish and are able, insert other prayers that carry blessings, such as the “Po” Praise of Bhikshuni Lakshmi and the Lamenting Praise of the master Chandrakirti. Adding supplications of any kind that carry blessings will undoubtedly become a worthy extension.
2.2.2. PRACTICING THE DEITY YOGA OF THE THREE GATES THROUGH EMANATING AND GATHERING
Through your supplicating and invoking his heart with such one-pointed mind, limitless light rays of five colors, with white predominant, radiate from the body of the Noble One seated on the crown of your head. Through their merely coming into contact with you and all sentient beings, they purify everything that has accumulated in your mindstream since beginningless time, as the light of a torch dispels darkness.
As to what is purified, this includes the five acts of immediate consequence, as well as the three non-virtuous actions of body - taking life, taking what is not offered, and sexual misconduct; the four non-virtuous actions of speech - lying (making statements that harm one’s guru and others, such as boasting of qualities one does not possess), inciting discord (creating rifts between others),
harsh speech (which hurts others’ feelings), and idle chatter (which is simply meaningless); and the three non-virtuous actions of mind - covetousness (mentally scheming about obtaining the wealth of others), malicious intent (thinking of methods with which to harm others), and wrong view (viewing the benefits of liberation and the shortcomings of misdeeds as untrue and nonexistent). These are the ten non-virtuous actions, and they, along with the actions that are conducive to them, are misdeeds. There are also the actions committed out of passion, hatred, ignorance, pride, and jealousy that have been prescribed in the ethical codes as things to be abandoned, or, even though not so prescribed, naturally fall into the category of moral faults. Since these obscure the attainment of the happiness of the higher realms and liberation, they are called obscurations.
Then there are the downfalls - instances in which one has taken on the vows of individual liberation, bodhichitta, or secret mantra, and does not guard them due to disrespect or carelessness. They are called “downfalls” because, through committing them, one will fall down to the lower realms. There are also other forms of wrongdoings, such as the transgressions of subtle points of training, which may not cause one to fall to the lower realms, but nonetheless delay the attainment of enlightenment. All of these impurities - whatever wrongdoings and downfalls there are that have been produced by the negative karma of misdeeds, obscurations, and mental afflictions - are, in the very instant of the light contacting yourself and others, purified. The light rays also cleanse the knowledge obscurations and habitual tendencies that from beginningless time have supported dualistic clinging to the confused appearances of self and other.
Beings are blessed into the experience of inseparability from the body, speech, and mind of noble Avalokita. The form of the Noble One, appearing yet empty, like a rainbow, becomes increasingly vivid. The light rays pervade the abodes of the six classes of beings, limitless as space, causing the vessels of external worlds and all objects that appear within them to become the pure realm of Akanishtha Sukhavati. Free of even the names of rocks, mountains, and cliffs, its forms are of the nature of precious jewels and spheres of rainbow light. The inhabitants, each and every sentient being of the six realms, are freed from their suffering, and the bodies of all beings suddenly become the body of the noble Great Compassionate One. The speech of beings, along with all the sounds of the elements, is the self-sounding melody of the secret six-syllable mantra. Conceptuality, the confused aspect of mind, is purified; and beings realize the mind of the Noble One, the heart of inseparable awareness and emptiness. Meditate that all of this has become so.
In this way, the pure appearances of kayas and pure realms, the sound of the secret mantra, and the naked mind of awareness-emptiness are inseparable from the appearances of the body, speech, and mind of yourself and all others.
While resting free of fixation in this great all-pervasiveness beyond intellect, recite the following:
Due to our supplicating one-pointedly in that way,
Light rays stream forth from the body of the Noble One
And purify impure karmic appearances and mistaken consciousness.
The outer world becomes the pure land of Sukhavati.
The body, speech, and mind of the inhabitants within
Become the body, speech, and mind of Avalokita.
Appearances, sounds, and awareness are inseparable from emptiness.
Then, maintaining the visualizations explained above, recite this mantra as the main practice:
OM MANI PADME HUM
This secret mantra, the six syllables, is the embodiment of the energy and power of all the compassion and activity of noble Avalokita, who is himself the embodiment of the wisdom energy of all buddhas.
The white OM, born from the self-display of the five wisdoms of the noble ones, is the syllable of combined qualities and is of the nature of the perfection of meditation. It purifies the mental affliction of pride, along with all the results thereby produced - in particular, the suffering of the gods: death and falling. Inseparable from the body and activity of Shatakratu, buddha among the gods, it is the self-radiance of the wisdom of equality, arisen in visible form. It guides the six classes of beings to the southern pure realm, The Glorious, and enables them to attain the body of the buddha Ratnasambhava.
The green MA, born from the display of the compassionate noble ones’ limitless loving-kindness toward all beings, is the syllable of activity and is of the nature of the perfection of patience. It purifies the mental affliction of jealousy, along with all the results thereby produced - in particular, the suffering of the jealous gods: fighting and struggle. Inseparable from the body and activity of Vemachitra, buddha among the jealous gods, it is the self-radiance of all-accomplishing wisdom, arisen in visible form. It guides the six classes of beings to the northern pure realm, Perfect Action, and enables them to attain the body of the buddha Amoghasiddhi.
The yellow NI, born from the display of the great all-pervading and effortless compassion of the noble ones, is the syllable that reverses samsara into the expanse of nirvana on the spot, the vajra wisdom of combined body, speech, mind, and activity. It is of the nature of the perfection of ethics. It purifies the stains of ignorant dualistic fixation, along with all the results thereby produced - in particular, the four great rivers of human suffering: birth, aging, sickness, and death. Inseparable from the body and activity of Shakyamuni, the buddha among humans, it is the self-radiance of self-existing wisdom, arisen in visible form. It guides the six classes of beings to the pure realm of Akanishtha, the completely pure dharmadhatu, and enables them to attain the body of the sixth buddha, Vajradhara.
The sky-blue PAD, born from the self-display of limitless equanimity, the compassion of the noble ones that does not lapse into partiality, is the syllable of body and is of the nature of the perfection of supreme knowledge. It purifies the mental affliction of ignorance, along with all the results thereby produced - in particular, the suffering of animals: stupidity, dullness, and servitude. Inseparable from the body and activity of Dhruvasimha, buddha among the animals, it is the self-radiance of dharmadhatu wisdom, arisen in visible form. It guides the six classes of beings to the central pure realm, The Densely Arrayed, and enables them to attain the body of the buddha Vairochana.
The red ME, born from the self-display of limitless joy, the compassion of the noble ones that is equal for all, is the syllable of speech and is of the nature of the perfection of generosity. It purifies attachment and miserliness, along with all the results thereby produced - in particular, the suffering of the hungry ghosts: hunger and thirst. Inseparable from the body and activity of Jvalamukha, buddha among the hungry ghosts, it is the self-radiance of discriminating awareness wisdom, arisen in visible form. It guides the six classes of beings to the western pure realm, Sukhavati, and enables them to attain the body of the buddha Amitabha.
The black HUM, born from the self-display of limitless compassion, the compassion with which the noble ones look upon all beings as they would their own children, is the syllable of mind and is of the nature of the perfection of supreme knowledge. It purifies dualistic anger, along with all the results thereby produced - in particular, the sufferings of hell beings: extreme heat and cold. Inseparable from the body and activity of Dharmaraja, buddha among the hell beings, it is the self-radiance of mirror-like wisdom, arisen in visible form. It guides the six classes of beings to the pure realm of True Joy, and enables them to attain the body of the buddha Akshobhya.
The embodiment of all the energy of the limitless activity of shaking the six classes of beings from the depths of samsara is this very six-syllable king of mantras. Recite it for as long as you are able as the main body of the session.
Finally, the entire phenomenal world, now transformed into kayas and pure realms by the light from the guru’s body on the crown of your head, melts into light and dissolves into guru Avalokita, who in turn melts into light and dissolves into you, after which you too melt into light. Rest evenly for as long as possible in the luminous emptiness free of any conception about the three spheres that clings to self and other, the deity and mantra. Let go of all references toward fabricated attributes such as existence and nonexistence, “it is” and “it is not,” and emptiness or non-emptiness. Free of viewer and viewed, not differentiating appearance, sound, and awareness from emptiness, rest for as long as possible in the mind of the Noble One, the natural face of great all-pervading dharmadhatu.
3.1. IMPLEMENTING THE PRACTICE IN DAILY LIFE
When you arise from that, rest evenly in the awareness that everything included in the domain of the five elements - all things that appear as self and other: rocks, mountains, cliffs, and so on - is the body of the Noble Great Compassionate One. All sounds - whether they are conjoined with the life force faculty of sentient beings or, as the sounds of the elements, not so conjoined - are the speech of the Noble One, the melodic resonance of the six syllables. All thoughts are the mind of the Noble One - awareness and emptiness, free of fabrication, the innate character of the dharmakaya. In all activities - walking, sleeping, sitting, or talking - abandon mundane, attached ways of thinking.
Being certain about the samadhi of these three outlooks, recite:
The physical appearance of myself and others is the body of the Noble One.
Sounds are the melody of the six syllables.
Thoughts are the expanse of great wisdom.
3.2. DEDICATING THE ROOTS OF VIRTUE TO ENLIGHTENMENT AND MAKING ASPIRATIONS
“By the unsurpassable meritorious accumulation of whatever virtue exists in my mindstream, dedicated equally to all sentient beings and symbolized by this meditation and recitation, may I quickly attain the unsurpassable state equal to that of Avalokiteshvara and thereby attain the power that will enable me to establish beings limitless as space, without even a single one left behind, in the state of the noble, supreme Great Compassionate One, inseparable from perfect, genuine enlightenment.”
Thinking this, recite:
By this merit, may we quickly
And establish all beings without exception
In that state.
In addition, engage in as many pure-hearted aspirations as you can.
Those who do not have time to practice as described as above should practice as follows:
Start with refuge and bodhichitta as described above. For the main practice, make several supplications with a focused, one-pointed mind, thinking that noble and supreme Avalokita, with all of the appropriate objects of visualization, is seated on the crown of your head, and call to guru Avalokita, thinking, “Consider me!” Now, OM is the syllable of the wisdom of the five kayas, MANI means “jewel,” jewel,” and PADME means “with lotus.” Therefore, “Jewel Holder of the Lotus” is an epithet of noble Avalokita. HUM represents his performing the activity of protecting the six classes of beings from suffering. Thus, with a mind of supplication, think, “Embodiment of the five kayas and five wisdoms, Jewel Holder of the Lotus, please protect the six classes of beings from suffering,” while reciting the six syllables as many times as you can. Finally, the guru Avalokita on the crown of your head, thoroughly pleased, melts into light and dissolves into you. Think that the wisdom of the Noble One has entered your mindstream and be free of doubt. Through dedicating and making aspirations afterwards, one is sure to attain the benefits listed below. Therefore, all should practice with devotion and joy!
4. THE TEACHING ON THE BENEFITS
Now I shall speak very briefly on the essence of the immeasurable benefits of practicing the meditation and recitation of noble Avalokita. In regard to meditating on his body or engaging it mentally, the Root Tantra of the Lotus Net says: The mandala of body that accomplishes meditating on all buddhas combined Is the body of the protector Avalokita. Through meditating on or even recalling it, The actions of immediate retribution and all obscurations are purified.
Also, in regard to the benefits of reciting the six syllables, king of secret mantras, here is the stainless speech of the Victorious One, the perfect Buddha Shakyamuni, the parting words left behind by mahaguru Padmakara to the subjects of Tibet, and the treasure-teaching of the great, undisputed, emanated treasure-revealer, vidyadhara Jatson Nyingpo:
OM MANI PADME HUM
“This six-syllable mantra is the very embodiment of the wisdom heart of all buddhas, the essence of the five buddha families, and the essence of the holders of the secret. It contains the condensed oral instruction of each of the six syllables and is the source of all sugatas and excellent qualities. It is the root of all siddhis that bring benefit and happiness, the great path to the higher realms and liberation. Through even hearing once these six syllables, the supreme speech that is the essence of all dharmas, one attains the level of a non-returner and becomes a liberator and guide of beings. Through hearing it at the time of death, ants and other animals will be freed from that body and born in Sukhavati. Through the mere recollection of the six syllables, like the sunrise shining on the snow, all of the misdeeds and obscurations of negative karma that have been accumulated during one’s lives in samsara since beginningless time will be purified, and one will be born in Sukhavati. Through even touching it, one obtains the empowerments of limitless buddhas and bodhisattvas. Meditating on it even once fulfills the objectives of hearing, contemplating, and meditating. All appearances will arise as the dharmakaya, and the treasury of the activity that benefits beings will be opened.”
Also, “O child of noble family, though it is possible to measure the weight of Mount Meru, king of mountains, in ounces, one cannot measure the merit of reciting once the six syllables. Even if one wipes a cliff of diamonds with kashika cloth only once every hundred years, one will be able to cause its full erosion. Still one cannot measure the merit of reciting once the six syllables. Though one may drain a great ocean one drop at a time, the merit of reciting the six syllables once cannot be
exhausted. All the atoms of earth in the whole Land of Snows, and each and every leaf in a verdant forest, can be counted, but the measure of the merit of reciting the six syllables once cannot be taken. Similarly, it is possible to empty a house one hundred miles long filled with sesame seeds, even if one tosses them out one at a time, but the merit of reciting the six syllables once cannot be measured. It is possible to count the number of raindrops that fall in a year, but the merit of reciting the six syllables once cannot be counted. Therefore, child of noble family, it is not necessary for me to continue explaining day and night. For though it is possible to measure the merit of serving ten million tathagatas like myself, the merit of reciting the six syllables once cannot be measured. This is what closes the gates of birth for the six classes of beings. This is what brings one through the paths and levels of the six perfections. This is what purifies the stains of karma, mental afflictions, and habitual tendencies. This is what refines appearances into the pure realms of the three kayas. Listen, O children of noble family! This essence, the heart of the blessings of all victorious ones, Is the source of all benefit and happiness, And the root of all siddhis. It is the ladder that leads to the higher realms. It is the door that blocks the lower realms. It is the ship in which one crosses over samsara. It is the torch that dispels darkness. It is the warrior that conquers the five poisons. It is the blazing fire that burns away misdeeds and obscurations. It is the hammer that pounds down suffering.It is the remedy that tames uncultured lands. It is the dharma inheritance of the Land of Snows. It is the condensed, pithy essence Of the many sutras, tantras, and treatises, And of all hearing, contemplating, and meditating. It is the precious king of mantras. Recite these six syllables!”
Thus the benefits, which cannot be done justice by words, have been lauded in both the direct oral lineage and the treasure teachings. Since reciting the enlightened speech of the six syllables even once is sure to produce the benefits explained here, do not let your three gates lapse into their mundane states. Make a commitment toward reciting this mantra between one hundred and ten thousand times a day, continuously and without fail, which will gather a vast accumulation of virtue that brings great benefit with little difficulty. Strive in every way to make your life meaningful.
May the rope of the Noble One’s compassion Draw beings up from the ocean of samsara. May they be confirmed on the mountain of Potala, The completely free and blissful grove of liberation.