Lerab Ling, 21 July 2015
Towards the end of the annual Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik drupchen in Lerab Ling in 2015, Rinpoche explained a meditation that is specific to this practice. Over the years, he said, he had given all the instructions necessary for us to practise the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik, except one very important one: the torma meditation.
Only read if you have the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik empowerment.
There’s a part of the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik that I haven’t yet explained, and as it’s one of the most important. I’ll explain it today, then tomorrow you can practise it. It’s best I talk about it now because I won’t be coming here next year and don’t know when I’ll be back.
Generally speaking, sadhana practices involve three visualizations: self-visualization, front-visualization and vase-visualization. Practices in the Nyingma terma tradition were written with practitioners of the highest capacity in mind, which is why front- and self-visualization are practised together and only one mandala is visualized. The vase-visualization was also written for the most capable practitioners, and that’s why the entire mandala of Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik is instantly visualized inside the vase. Less capable practitioners who are not at that level, should follow a text that leads them step-by-step through the self-visualization of the deity, followed by the front-visualization of the deity, and then the vase-visualization. But as Guru Rinpoche’s termas were intended for the best kind of practitioner, we meditate on the self-visualization and front-visualization together. And having done so, with the recitation of a mantra, the front- and self-visualizations separate like one candle lighting another and in an instant two mandalas are visualized. If you practise essentially, the vase-visualization should also appear instantly. This is true for all such practices.
A unique characteristic of the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik is that the entire mandala is also visualized in the torma. Most Tibetan lamas don't know about this, but the Drupchen Manual says,
If you have the ‘essence of immortality’, which is the torma support for this practice, you should add the deity generation practice called the Heart Essence of Complete Immortality in order to visualize the torma as the deities. This is how the ‘venerable master’ used to practise...
The Heart Essence of Complete Immortality is a terma that was revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa, and when Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (the ‘venerable master’) practised the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik, he would add the generation of the deity from the Heart of Essence of Complete Immortality to the practice. This approach is a special feature of this teaching.
What it means is that, at this point, we must meditate on the deities in the torma. So how do we do it?
We recite the lines:
Spontaneously, out of basic space, arises the great stupa of immortality...
These verses tell us how to meditate on the entire mandala of deities in the torma. Right now, I don’t think anyone here is meditating on the torma as the entire mandala, apart perhaps from Chokling Rinpoche and the monks.
Anyway, “Out of basic space...”: here, ‘basic space’ means the great simplicity free from elaboration, and the great stupa of immortality arises naturally from this space to benefit sentient beings. It’s like the stupa of Ushnisha Vijaya.
So vast it pervades the dharmadhatu, the expanse of space...
This stupa is so vast that like space, it fills the dharmadhatu and that’s how you should meditate on it. It’s also like the palaces we describe when we practise the Narak Kong Shak, “without inside and outside”. This is the ‘expanse’, which is as vast as the dharmadhatu itself...
In which stands the torma, made of the spontaneously present five essences.
The five essences are spontaneously present and therefore not made or produced by anyone.
Now for the shape of the torma.
On the firm base – where the five mothers appear as five steps...
The five mothers are the five elements: space, wind, fire, water and earth. They are represented on the torma by five circular steps. The first step is blue, which is space. The next step is green, which appears in your visualization as a crossed vajra and represents the wind element. The wind element (the green step) stands on and is supported by the empty expanse of space (the blue step). Above the crossed vajra in your visualization is a red triangle, the mandala of fire, which appears as the red step on the torma. The next step is white, representing the white water mandala, and it appears in your visualization as a white disc. Above that is the yellow step, the earth mandala, which appears in your visualization as a yellow square. All these elements, the five mothers, form the ‘firm base’ which can only be altered by the kind of fire that blazes at the end of a kalpa.
Above these five circular steps are four square steps. The top of each square is divided into four triangles, which mark the four directions with four colours. Each colour represents the accomplishment of one of the enlightened activities of pacifying, enriching, magnetising or subjugating. In your visualization, gods and goddesses stand on these steps emanating the five kinds of sensory stimulant.
On the firm base – where the five mothers appear as five steps –
Are self-arising tiklés containing the sixteen awareness-consorts
Who emanate offering clouds of abundant sensual delights.
The text about how to make this torma explains that eighty norbus – called ‘tikle’ – are placed on the circular steps to represent the eighty minor marks, and that the square steps are ornamented with thirty-two norbus to represent the thirty-two major marks. Each of these spherical norbus contains hundreds of thousands of offering goddesses ( the ‘sixteen awareness-consorts’ described in the Nyingtik). Four goddesses appear on each step, one in each of the four directions, emanating cloud-like offerings of all the sensory stimulants.
Above the square steps:
The lotus possessing billions of petals...
The anthers appear in yellow on the torma, above the lotus petals.
Bears hundreds of thousands of tilkés containing cities of immortals
And vidyadharas with power over life.
The tiklés contain hundreds of thousands of cities of immortals filled with deities, goddesses and vidyadharas. Each city doesn’t contain just a few immortal vidyadharas, but millions and millions, all of whom have attained power over life, just like Guru Rinpoche and Vimalamitra. This is what you should meditate on.
The natural radiance of the five families appears as the excellent mansion of complete victory,
Beautifully adorned with the five precious ornaments.
Above the tiklés is the excellent mansion of complete victory, the nature of which is the five Buddha families. It is adorned with many precious ornaments, represented on the torma by tiklés, swastikas and coils of joy.
Here reside the attending four swift goddesses of longevity,
Various deities reside in this mansion, starting with the 'four swift goddesses of longevity' at the four doors.
And the goddess of power, Chandali the destroyer.
Inside is the magnetizing deity Chandali, the destroyer, known as ‘Mother of Life, Chandali’, who completely destroys all obstacles to life. She holds a long-life arrow in her right hand and an ‘excellent vase’ in her left. She is inside the mansion, and so she should be visualized inside the mansion.
Actualize all this in your practice.
Above the mansion:
The excellent vase of dharmakaya that fulfills all needs,
Is rich with blazing, everlasting dagams,
Adorned with tiklés and the five insignia swathed with nets.
From a wish-granting tree’s foliage and blooming utpala flowers
Rain down the excellent fruit of the desired accomplishments.
What is the significance? The vase gives us all the blessings and accomplishments, everything we need, and sensual stimulants fall like rain.
Above the vase:
In the adorned eight-faceted wish-fulfilling jewel,
The dagams with an opening to the sky, are Hayagriva and consort Varahi;
The crowning sun and moon ornaments blaze with wisdom fire.
The ‘dagams’ are the eight segments that make up the eight-faceted jewel, and at the top of this jewel is a hole that opens into the sky. The deities you visualize inside the jewel are Hayagriva and Vajravarahi.
And then above that:
On the precious knot of eternity, the radiant net,
Abide the sixteen peaceful and wrathful lords and ladies of longevity.
The ‘the precious knot of eternity, the radiant net’ is inside the eight-faceted jewel, with sixteen peaceful and wrathful ‘lords of life’ in union. The sixteen are: the five buddhas in union with the five female buddhas; the five wrathful ones in union with the five wrathful female buddhas; and also the six munis. Above them is a locket made from the semi-spherical sun and moon. And above that is a crossed vajra.
Top and bottom clasped by the crossed vajra, bound by the chain of syllables,
The locket unites skilful means and wisdom. In its expanse
Is the invincible, indestructible blazing vajra of the ten strengths.
The upper part of the locket is the moon, which represents skilful means; and the lower part is wisdom, represented by the sun. Together they represent the union of skilful means and wisdom. Half of the ‘indestructible blazing vajra’ is inside the locket and half we can see is outside the locket, above the semi-spherical moon. The qualities of ‘vajra’ include invincibility and indestructibility; and ‘vajra’ has the ten strengths.
In the upper prongs are Oddiyana Amitayus
With consort Mandarava and a retinue of vidyadharas.
The deities are inside the upper prongs of the vajra.
In the lower prongs, the sovereign of longevity, Ushnisha Vijaya.
In the hub, in tiklés of the five essences,
Are the five kings and five queens of immortality
Manifesting in kayas arising naturally and primordially from basic space.
In the middle of the vajra (in the hub) visualize five spheres of light in five different colours; these are the five essences. Inside the tiklés visualize male and female buddhas of the five families, who arise naturally and primordially, from basic space.
In the space around the torma, inside the large and small tiklés,
Lamas, yidams, buddhas, bodhisattvas,
Dakas, dakinis, dharma protectors and swift goddesses,
All emanate rays of light and regather it.
Any empty space left in and around the torma is filled, from bottom to top, with large and small tiklés containing deities.
Appear like dust motes in rays of sunlight, in a complete mandala that pervades space.
These tiklés are like motes of dust in shafts of light and pervade the whole of space – they are everywhere. The deities “all emanate rays of light and regather it” which is what deities do.
In a great mandala of these sixty thousand buddhas.
The text says there are 60,000 buddhas in the torma, but the number of deities isn’t limited to just 60,000. Actually, there are billions and billions of buddhas, of wisdom ‘kayas’, in this mandala – an inconceivable number:
In hundreds of thousands, millions, billions and so on
Of inconceivable buddhafields, appear kayas, wisdoms,
Qualities and activities, limitless, beyond measure.
The samayasattvas and jñanasattvas are primordially inseparable.
The samayasattvas, jñanasattvas and deities inside the torma are primordially inseparable – they are the same.
A perfect ornament of Samantabhadra’s cloud-like offerings.
There are four ways of relating to the torma, including the torma as the deity or mandala, and the torma as clouds of offerings, and so on. Here, as described in the text, you consider this torma to be like a cloud of offerings, and also the deities and so on.
Having done the self-, front- and vase visualizations, you do the torma visualization. The addition of the torma visualization is a special feature of this practice. At this point actualize the visualization, recite the text and repeat the mantra. The explanation of this torma is more than fifteen pages long and includes a line drawing of the torma that details its proportions and is set out just like a diagram of a stupa. There are also instructions about how to fill this special torma with rolls of mantras (zung) for each of the deities we’ve mentioned.
On top of the torma is a green horse’s head, Hayagriva, to eliminate all obstacles. Above the horse’s head is the lamp of wisdom in the form of a sun and moon. The flame of wisdom blazes from the lamp of wisdom to dispel the darkness of ignorance. There’s a vertical white line on the horse’s forehead; and the middle of its forelock should be red.
This torma is the main practice support for the Chime Phakmé Nyingtik and is placed on the shrine. The visualization of the deities is accompanied by the usual emanation and regathering of rays of light.
On the last day of the drupchen, we receive siddhis from the supports of the enlightened body, speech, mind, qualities and activities, and the last we receive are from this torma.
If I didn’t tell you this, you wouldn’t know, right? I didn't know any of it either, until someone told me. In 1980, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche did a six-month Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik retreat at Phuntsok Ling in Bhutan and asked me to make a Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik torma. I already knew how to make tormas and I also knew that to make a specific torma all you do is copy an example. But on that occasion, he told me which deities relate to the different parts of the torma. That’s when I received this meditation instruction from him.
The best kyerim practitioners can probably visualize one thousand buddhas in each grain of wheat used to make the torma – at least, that’s what people say. But let’s be clear about this: for myself, I really I don’t know. All we can do is try our best to bring these details to mind – ‘meditating’ on them might be a bit difficult, but we can at least think about this visualization. We may not be able to actualize “Hundreds of thousands, millions, billions and so on,” of deities, but we can evoke a sense of them. When Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche gave me the instruction on torma, I asked, “Can we really meditate like that?”
“Yes, of course!” he replied.
So that’s that. I’ve explained the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik torma, you’ve all seen it, and you’ve recited this part of the text.
 The drupchen manual for the Chimé Phakmé Nyingtik was written by Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro.
Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. “Treasure Trove of Wisdom, the Framework Liturgy for the Great Accomplishment Ritual of the Mind Treasure of the ‘Heart Essence of Deathless Arya Tara’.” Translated by Steve Cline and Sonam Phuntso. Steve Cline, 2008.
Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. “dgongs gter ‘chi med ‘phags ma’i snying thig gi sgrub khog ye shes gter mdzod.” In “jam dbyangs chos kyi blo gros ris med bstan pa'i rgyal mtshan dpal bzang po’i gsung ’bum", Computer Input, 5:451–511. Bir, H.P., India: Khyentse Labrang, 2012.
 Chokgyur Lingpa. The Collected Discovered Teachings (gter Ma) of Gter Chen Mchog Gyur Gling Pa / Gter Chen Mchog Gyur Bde Chen Gling Pa’i Zab Gter Chos Skor. Gnas-brtan dgon-pa. 39 vols. Paro: Lama Pema Tashi, 1982, vol. 31, p.377-379.
 Karma Rinchen Dargyé. “yongs rdzogs ‘chi med snying thig dang ‘phags ma’i snying tig gi gtor ma’i pra khrid ’chi med ‘dod pa “jo ba”i dga’ ston ldeb.” In The Treasury of Revelations and Teachings of gter chen mchog “gyur bde chen gling pa, 31 (ki):385–403. Bir: Lama Pema Tashi, 1985.
 Dagams here refers to the half-spheres that fill the vase.
 See Shechen Gyaltsap IV, and Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima. Vajra Wisdom: Deity Practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Translated by Dharmachakra Translation Committee. Boston: Snow Lion, 2013, p.18:
The Key of the Crucial Instructions of the Eight Sadhana teaches:
In terms of practice, torma can be understood in four different ways:
The great balimta torma can be understood
As offering, as the deity, as armies, and as magical weapons.