Lerab Ling, 29 July 2015
In this teaching, given at the beginning of the third Padma Khandro intensive group practice in Lerab Ling, Rinpoche explains where magnetizing activity fit within the Buddhist path, and shows its basic principles, and how to practise it. He stresses the importance of the view of interdependence and the motivation of bodhichitta for the practice to be effective. Once he was asked, “Rinpoche, should I do Kurukulla to get a job?” Rinpoche replied with his usual down-to-earth directness, “No, you need to do Kurukulla to get enlightened! To get a job, you need to go out there and apply.”
Magnetizing Activities – Context
The essence of the Dharma has two aspects, the vast approach of the Causal Vehicle of Characteristics or Sutra approach, and the profound approach of the Resultant Vehicle of Secret Mantra Vajrayana that takes the fruition as the path. The special feature of Secret Mantra Vajrayana is to establish the body as the deity, to recite the mantra with the speech, and with mind to rest in samadhi meditation. That is the root of the Vajrayana approach. This is a short statement, yet it’s meaning is very vast.
First when we said that we meditate on the body as the deity, ‘deity’ refers to all the deities of the four levels of Tantra, which are the deities that have appeared in this world and are infinite in number, as well as all the deities that have not appeared and haven't been mentioned in the Tantras. All the deities that we can meditate on are included in these two categories. Likewise, speech as mantra corresponds to the ‘inexhaustible wheel of ornament of enlightened speech’ of all the buddhas, which manifests naturally for the sake of sentient benefits that can be tamed in the form of an incredibly vast array of different mantras. In terms of the practice for the mind, we said that mind needs to rest in samadhi. Since the number of thoughts that arise in the mind are beyond measure, samadhis too, which are the antidotes to these countless thoughts, are beyond measure. That is why we say that the Buddha in his great compassion is skilled in means. You also need to know that these different aspects of deities, mantras and samadhis haven’t been created by the Buddha, nor thought out and produced by a conceptual mind: they are simply the qualities of the Buddha.
The result of meditating on the deity, reciting the mantra with the speech, while mind rests in samadhi meditation, is the state of complete and perfect enlightenment. Once you have obtained the fruit of practice and you are a buddha, you have the special quality of buddhahood, which is to benefit sentient beings naturally through the spontaneous accomplishment of the four types of activities: pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating.
Amongst these four types of activities, the first two, pacifying and enriching, can be applied in the context of the teachings of the Causal Vehicle of Characteristics. However, sentient beings who cannot be reached by the teachings of the Causal Vehicle of Characteristics because their destructive emotions are too strong (they are affected by powerful desire or strong aversion for example) need the magnetizing and subjugating activities which are a special feature of Secret Mantra Vajrayana. Magnetizing activities are extremely powerful.
When sambhogakayas arise in the realms of the world by ‘displaying movement without ever moving from the dharmakaya’, the manifestations that appear are in essence the buddhas of the five families. Among these deities, the natural expression of the wisdom of discernment manifests as the deities of the lotus family of magnetizing. The two aspects of skilful means and wisdom need to appear and manifest in deities. In the lotus family, the main deities are Amitabha, who is the manifestation of the skilful means aspect, and Guhyajñana or Pandaravasini corresponding to the wisdom aspect. When the deities manifest, their features such as their mantras, mudras, and samadhis also appear.
The deity that we are practising now is one of these deities who is the natural expression of the wisdom of discernment, and the manifestation of the wisdom aspect. She is known as Kurukulla by Buddhists, and Umadevi by Hindus.
Even though there is fondamentally no difference between the different deities, the manifestations of the wisdom of discernment are the deities of the lotus family of magnetizing. The magnetizing deities have the power to bring circumstances under control.
Magnetizing Is To Bring Delusion Under Control
At the moment we are all sentient beings. We don’t have freedom or power since we don’t have control over our own situation and circumstances. This is because we are under the power of delusion.
The root and source of delusion is ‘I’. When there is ‘I’, then there is ‘others’, and from ‘self’ and ‘others’ derive an infinite number of deluded perceptions and ideas. The thought of 'I' is based on or imputed on our body, speech and mind. The body appears as a physical form. Speech is the appearance of sounds that can be heard. But mind does not appear. Still, based on their constant interaction, it kind of appears.
The method to bring this delusion under control is to liberate it. Once it is liberated, it is brought under control. In particular, the main target is the mind, because mind is the main actor from among body, speech and mind. Mind itself does not appear, yet this invisible agent keeps under its control the aspects that appear – forms and sounds.
So to accomplish this deity, you need to, as it is said, “liberate all the sentient beings of the three cities.” The three cities are: the city related to physical appearances, the Form Realm; the city related to the speech aspect of all manifesting sounds, which is the Desire Realm; and the city related to the invisible mind, the Formless Realm. These ‘three cities’ thus cover the whole of the three realms of existence, in other words the entire universe. And they must be liberated. To liberate all sentient beings of the three cities, you need to manifest in a way that can accomplish this kind of activity, such as the deity in this practice, the dakini Padma Khandro (Lotus Dakini).
Dakinis are classified according to their three spheres of activity: dakinis who move in the sky above, dakinis who move on the surface of the earth in-between, and dakinis who move under the earth below. The different dakinis are beyond count: there are hundreds of thousands of them.
Dakinis are mainly embodiments of wisdom, although the aspect of skilful means is also present within them. It is when seeing wisdom that we realize the primordial wisdom of the state of complete liberation, that is why these deities are mainly physical manifestations of wisdom. Indeed wisdom has many qualities such as the ‘eyes of great wisdom’, the ‘appearance of great wisdom’, etc. Basically if you have great wisdom, the moment you think that all sentient beings in the three realms of existence are deluded, liberation takes place. This way of magnetizing is called “bringing one’s perceptions under control”: you have power over all appearances that you perceive. The perceptions of others can also be overcome through the power of such realization. This is how it works, the teachings explain.
Padma Khandro Practice
Therefore at the moment, the appearances in our perceptions are not under our control but under the control of something else. So we first need to bring our perceptions into our control. And since we do not have this power now, we practise deity, mantra, mudra, and samadhi to achieve it.
Through the practice, the physical appearance of the body is blessed by the enlightened body, the speech is blessed by the enlightened speech, the mind is blessed by the enlightened mind. When we receive the blessings, it’s like pouring milk into water: the whole water becomes white. There is another example, but it is may be a bit difficult for modern people to relate to: alchemy that transforms iron into gold. Great masters such as Nagarjuna and others, were able to transform iron into gold instantly through alchemy. Still, they need the specific instructions to be able to do this. It is impossible without them, right? Likewise to let our present impure mind manifest as the natural expression of the wisdom of discernment, we need to apply deity, mantra, mudra and samadhi, with the specific practice instructions.
I've already explained at length about the benefits of practising magnetizing activitiesIn this paragraph, Rinpoche speaks of the topics that practitioners should know to support their practice during the drupchen, and that he already taught in the past, as this talk was the introductory teaching to the third drupchen of the Seven Profundity Padma Khandro in as many years in Lerab Ling. You will find his explanations on this website in the near future., through which you bring under your control humans who have a body during the day, gods and spirits who have no physical appearance at night, dakinis at dusk. I have also spoken in detail about the visualization for bringing under control the outer environment and all sentient beings within it. I’ve taught extensively about the supports for this kind of practices, the special practical instructions, and the ritual aspects. I have shared the special whispered lineage instructions which are meant to be given to only one practitioner at a time, thinking of the benefit that this could bring to Buddhism in general, and to Sogyal Rinpoche’s seat of Lerab Ling more specifically. So I have nothing else to add.
No matter what you set out doing, you can’t reap the fruit immediately. Meditation on the deity, mantra recitation and samadhi visualization need to be practised authentically. To expect some results from a few days of sketchy guesswork is being quite greedy. But if you join in the practice, you may think, “I am doing something useful.” Of course. This kind of grasping or thinking is always there.
However the instruction is that you should always start magnetizing practices by generating bodhichitta, having the initial motivation and pure intention of practising for the sake of the teachings, the ones who hold them, and so on.
In order to perform magnetizing activities, first you need to practise and accomplish the deity to gain the supreme accomplishment. Then the ordinary accomplishments will derive naturally from the realization of the supreme siddhi. You can’t expect to get the ordinary accomplishments from the start, without having accomplished anything. For example, if you want to build a house, you first need to plan the work well. Therefore here, you must make sure to check: “Am I doing this practice of Padma Khandro only because I want the supreme and ordinary accomplishments, or am I doing this practice for myself?” What I am saying is that you need to start the practice with the proper motivation. This is most important. For us Buddhists, whether we get a good result or not depend on motivation.
You may have a good motivation and visualize the deity, recite the mantra, practise the samadhi of emanation and reabsorption, but if you examine whether you practise exactly as instructed, there is no chance you do – noone can practise hundred percent perfectly. Still, the teachings say that there is a little benefit in this kind of imitation of the genuine practice; in particular it helps the mind to change slightly. Which shows that deity, mantra, mudra, and samadhi are true, that they have power, that they are undeceiving.
The most important is to practise with a very focussed mind. Just think about the amount of effort you need in Europe to make a little bit of money. In one month how much money can you earn? And how much work do you need to do for that? Now compare it to spending one month practising the goddess Kurukulla, and the kind of benefit that derives from such practice. What does Kurukulla bring? The supreme accomplishment: enlightenment.
Generally speaking there are probably many people who like this deity. Which is good. But liking her does not bring anything. At the very minimum you should do a one-week retreat. If you do, also make sure that you apply the instructions as well as you can. If you practise in accordance with the instructions then, as the text of the terma says, “one hundred thousand recitation of the mantra would accomplish any activity”. It doesn't take a week to recite one hundred thousand of this mantra. I can do that in two days. However, practice needs to be authentic, in accordance with the instructions.
This practice works. For example, it is said that when Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo wanted to see somebody, he just had to direct his mind and the person would come. He was able to magnetize that person simply by directing his mind.
Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol was once staying on top of a mountain alone in retreat. Around that time, a few brigands kidnapped a girl, before finally abandoning her in the mountains. Left wandering in the high lands, she reached Shabkar, and stayed with him for a few days, until at some point, Shabkar thought that she should be taken home. He couldn’t go himself because he was on retreat. So he directed his mind towards some of his students who supported him, using the magnetizing visualization, and reciting a few mantras. That night his benefactors thought, “I must go to see my lama”. They set out and reached him fifteen days later. When they got there, Shabkar sent them back with the girl. This is in his autobiography. In this way, once you've accomplished the deity, then you just have to direct your mind to be able to do what you want.
However, you also need to know that in general if your want or desire is too strong, then you will never accomplish anything through practice. I need to tell you a story. A long time ago in India, there was a stone statue of Mahadev Ishavara. Many people would take their cattle to graze by the statue. Every day, one man offered flowers and milk from his cows to the statue. What did he pray for? He was asking to become rich. Mahadev was made of stone, so despite all his prayers the statue wouldn’t move or do anything. That went on for years, until one day, acharya Nagarjuna came by. When he arrived by the stone statue of Mahadev, he put a tiny little flower which he had plucked on the way in front of the god’s image. Instantly, the statue turned into a real Mahadev who took the flower placed in front of him, and put it on his head. The cowherd saw red. In a flash, he grabbed one of his shoes, and start hitting Mahadev profusely: “Every single day, for so many years, I have offered you flowers and milk, but you, you never moved at all, not once! No matter how much I prayed to you, I didn’t get the slightest reaction! But then, this Buddhist monk turns up, he gives you a minuscule flower, and immediately you start moving, take the flower and put it on your head! What is that about? You're really shameless!” All the while the outraged herdsman was beating Mahadev sorely with his shoe. The stone statue replied without further ado: “You have such a strong desire to becoming rich that I can't do anything for you. That blocks you. Whereas the Buddhist monk who came is somebody who knows the interdependent nature of all phenomena. That's why I put his flower on my head.” The cow-herd then became a student of Nagarjuna and eventually became a mahasiddha.
So when we practise Kurukulla now, if we hold a strong desire for something, then it will be like trying to move while being tightly tied up. The best is to practise knowing that things appear interdependently. If you don't know how to relate to that, at least just think that all things are simply like a dream or an illusion – as in, “appearing yet empty, empty yet appearing”. If you don’t see that way and don’t have that in mind, practice won't work.
Translated by Gyurmé Avertin
Edited by Ane Tsondru