Paris, 30 May 2009
Rinpoche who was in Paris on his way to India, was requested to go the Rigpa centre there to teach on the Tendrel Nyesel. Even though Rinpoche is not particularly familiar with this particular terma, he gave an extremely accessible teaching, essential for anyone who wishes to do this practice, even if for those who at the beginning of their exploration of the Vajrayana teachings.
Here, I am going to present the way to direct the practice for the Brief Tendrel Nyesel practice and outline the meaning of the words.
In order to train disciples in Tibet, Guru Rinpoche manifested as numerous tertöns, who revealed profound and vast terma cycles of teachings. Among these great beings, the emanation Terchen Lerab Lingpa, who is the reincarnation of Nanam Dorje Dudjom, is unmatched. Within the ocean of termas that he revealed, there is the cycle of teachings called “Tendrel Nyesel”.
The Buddha taught that all phenomena arise interdependently. We can also discover this to be true through investigation and reasoning. When positive interdependent circumstances or tendrel occur, then sentient beings who are caught in the vicious cycle of samsara become enlightened. On the other hand, when interdependent circumstances are negative, then through the power of destructive emotions and conceptual thinking, beings wander endlessly in samsara, and experience oceans of suffering.
In particular, this present period is a time in which the five degenerations are on the rise. It is a time when the merit of all sentient beings—not only humans—is low. When there is a lack of merit, most interdependent circumstances will be negative.
The practice of Tendrel Nyesel is a way to eliminate (sel) all negative (nye) interdependent circumstances (tendrel) and to transform them into positive ones through the power of deity, mantra, mudra and samadhi.
Everything arises through a combination of interdependent circumstances. Therefore, there can be positive tendrel or negative tendrel. Furthermore, because all things arise interdependently, it is possible to eliminate the negativity from interdependent circumstances. The Tendrel Nyesel cycle offers sadhanas for accomplishing the transformation of negative circumstances into positive ones, through the power of deity, mantra, mudra and samadhi—it contains an elaborate, a medium-length and a concise sadhana. The root text in the terma is very elaborate, but the brief Tendrel Nyesel sadhana—which you practise in Rigpa Centres—was written by Lerab Lingpa himself, and contains the entire meaning of the complete cycle of Tendrel Nyesel,
Commentary on Tendrel Nyesel
The text begins with a few syllables in dakini script to indicate that the text is not the teaching of some ordinary intellectual, but is a terma translated from the secret script of the dakinis. Just as water in a mountain stream originates from snow, this sadhana, manifesting as a terma, has burst forth from the secret treasury of the dakinis.
Who is able to decipher this secret symbolic script of the dakinis? There are some masters who, by receiving the ‘empowerment into the display of rigpa’, the rigpé tsal wang, come to see all that appears and exists as infinite purity. They become the holders of the secret treasury of the dakinis, and when the dakini script appears in the expanse of their wisdom mind, they can read it. One such master is Guru Rinpoche, Pema Tötreng Tsal.
Besides Guru Rinpoche, there is usually another person who can read these symbolic inscriptions. This is someone who has received the empowerment for the profound terma from Guru Rinpoche. Then, upon learning that these teachings are to be rediscovered in later times as termas (yang ter), he makes the aspiration to be able to reveal and master them in the future. When later he emanates as a tertön, he is able to read this symbolic script of the dakinis, deciphering the symbols without mistake, and understanding the meaning of the words correctly.
Other people cannot decipher this script. Not even a great pandita, learned in scriptures, and familiar with the subtlest reasoning, is able to make sense of it. He can make no more use of it than a dog that is fed with grass.
Each country and culture has its own unique way of marking texts to indicate what kind they are. Since this profound terma of Tendrel Nyesel arose from the treasury of Guru Rinpoche’s wisdom mind and was originally written in dakini script, it is marked at the beginning with dakini script.
Summary of the Steps of the Practice of the Brief Tendrel Nyesel Sadhana
The text of the elaborate practice of Tendrel Nyesel provides instructions on the visualization and so on, and explains in detail how to practise the sadhana. But in the brief Tendrel Nyesel, there is less detail given: the deities simply appear vividly and clearly the instant we think of them. As we say the names of the deities, we actualize them, recite the main mantra and then eliminate negativity. In a nutshell, these are the steps of the practice.
The Stages of Invoking the Names and Reciting the Mantras
At the beginning of any Dharma practice, we take refuge. Without taking refuge, our practice will not be a Buddhist practice.
Refuge has several aspects:
- the objects in whom we take refuge,
- the individuals who takes refuge,
- the length of time for which we take refuge,
- the need for taking refuge,
- the shortcomings of not taking refuge,
- the benefits of taking refuge, and so on.
There are also the outer, inner and secret approaches to taking refuge.
You really need to learn and to know these various aspects of the practice of taking refuge. The way to do this is to ask your lama about them, then reflect on the teaching he gives, and put it into practice. Additionally, to gain the necessary knowledge, you can refer to The Words of My Perfect Teacher, which explains all the aspects of refuge and has been translated into English, French, German and so on.
We say that taking refuge determines the difference between a Buddhist and a non-Buddhist. Because of this, a lot of people think that the point of refuge is to convert many people to Buddhism so that Buddhism will grow and flourish. This is nonsense.
Having a large number of Buddhists doesn’t bring anything to Buddhism. How does that benefit the Buddha? How does that benefit the Dharma? How does that benefit the Sangha? The real benefit of taking refuge lies in how it helps the individual beings who suffer in the vicious cycle of samsara.
So, the text of the Brief Practice of Tendrel Nyesel says:
I take refuge in all true sources of refuge, throughout the whole of space and time!
With this first line, we take refuge.
The Tibetan term translated as the whole of space is “chok” which means “direction”, and refers to the ten directions. “Time” refers to the four times: past, present, future, and the inconceivable time.
So here we take refuge in all the sources of refuge throughout the ten directions and four times. This includes:
- the Lama, Yidam, and Khandro;
- the channels, inner air and tiklés; and
- the empty essence, cognizant nature and unobstructed compassionate energy of Dzogchen.
Those who take refuge are all sentient beings, including ourselves, as countless in number as space is vast, take refuge together.
The length of time for which we take refuge is from today onwards, right up until we attain the state of complete enlightenment.
So as we reflect upon and actualize all of this, we recite the words of refuge in the text.
By taking refuge, we have made sure our practice is a Buddhist one. Now we need to arouse bodhichitta to set our goal, and once we have generated the intention of bodhichitta, we must accomplish that objective – so bodhichitta has two aspects: bodhichitta in aspiration, and bodhichitta in action.
Bodhichitta in aspiration is to resolve: “Whatever all the buddhas and bodhisattvas have done for the sake of all sentient beings, I will also do. From today onwards, I will work to bring about the enlightenment of all sentient beings.” After thinking this, we then go on to actually accomplish activity of the six paramitas, which is bodhichitta in action.
These two aspects of bodhichitta are extremely important. Bodhichitta is the true basis for attaining buddhahood. In the Way of the Bodhisattva the great bodhisattva Shantideva explains the benefits of arousing bodhichitta:
From the very instant that bodhichitta is born
In the weary captives enslaved within samsara,
They are called heirs of the bliss gone buddhas,
Honourable to gods, humans, and the world.From the Way of the Bodhisattva, Chapter I, Verse 9
To show the benefit of arousing bodhichitta, Shantideva wrote that sentient beings like ourselves are imprisoned in the jail of the three realms of samsara, and bound tightly by the iron chains of negative emotions. But the very instant that bodhichitta, in its two aspects, is born in our mind, we set out on the path of the Buddha’s heirs. We become a bodhisattva, someone to whom all beings, including gods and humans, will pay homage and make offerings.
In the same vein, the great Indian pandita Chandrakirti states in the first verse of the Introduction to the Middle Way:
Shravakas and pratyekabuddhas are born from the mighty sages,
And the fully awakened buddhas are born from the bodhisattvas;
A compassionate mind, understanding of non-duality,
And bodhichitta: these are the causes of the victors’ heirs.From Introduction to the Middle Way (Madhyamakavatara), Chapter I, verse, 1
What Chandrakirti expresses here is that the shravakas are followers of the Buddha—their name in Tibetan, nyenthö, means those who ‘listen’ (nyen) to the teachings, and cause others to ’hear’ (thö) them. The pratyekabuddhas are those who attain enlightenment by themselves. Chandrakirti’s verse explains the basis from which these great beings, the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas, originate. They come about through receiving Dharma teachings from a perfect buddha, and then putting his instructions into practise authentically.
So then, where do buddhas come from? Buddhas come into being by cultivating bodhichitta. The qualities of a buddha are inconceivable: the thirty-two major marks, the eighty minor marks, the eighteen unshared qualities, and so on. And the basis for all these inconceivable qualities is the mind of enlightenment, which Chandrakirti describes as having three different aspects: a compassionate mind, an understanding of non-duality, and bodhichitta. It is very good to develop all three of these most excellent qualities. That is why Chandrakirti begins his text by paying homage and making offerings to compassion and bodhichitta.
The great and learned master of the Nyingmapa tradition, Ngari Panchen Pema Wangyal, who is an emanation of King Trisong Detsen’s enlightened qualities, also discusses the benefits of bodhichitta, saying:
If you embrace bodhichitta in this way,
Then even when you lack carefulness during sleep and so on,
The force of its merit continues to arise,
And you become the buddha’s heir, a bodhisattva.From Ascertaining the Three Vows (sdom gsum rnam nges); See Ngari Panchen Pema Wangyal, and Dudjom Rinpoche. Perfect Conduct: Ascertaining the Three Vows. Translated by Sangye Khandro and Khenpo Gyurme Samdrup. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1996. p.167-168.
Someone who has aroused bodhichitta in its two aspects of aspiration and action, and trained in it, generates enormous merit. So much so that the momentum created by the force of bodhichitta will naturally continue to create merit, even when practitioners are not abiding by carefulness, for example when they are sleeping. And when, ultimately, the supreme conduct of a bodhisattva is born in them as a result, they will reach the state of enlightenment.
So, how do we give rise to bodhichitta in aspiration, and in action? Once it has been born in our mind, how do we prevent it from degenerating, and cause it to increase further? What causes bodhichitta to decline? And if it does decline, how do we remedy this? There are many texts which answer these questions in detail. You can learn about bodhichitta essentially by reading The Words of My Perfect Teacher by Patrul Rinpoche, who accomplished oceans of bodhisattva activities during the course of a single lifetime.
Therefore, the practice of Tendrel Nyesel continues:
I awaken the compassionate heart of bodhicitta, so that all may realize supreme and unsurpassed enlightenment!
“Unsurpassed” means that arousing bodhichitta, the heart or the mind of enlightenment, is the very best of all positive mental states that can be cultivated. The text says “supreme” because once this heart of the enlightened mind arises, it leads to the supreme state of complete buddhahood. This is how we should understand this line on arousing bodhichitta.
We must reflect upon refuge and bodhichitta for they are extremely important. To help us realize their meaning, we repeat the lines of refuge and bodhichitta three times.
A. The Sutrayana Practice
Invoking the buddhas, bodhisattvas and arya sangha
Following this, the text says:
Greatest among teachers, Buddha and lord of sages, Śākyamuni,
With the one thousand and two buddhas to attain complete enlightenment in this ‘Fortunate Age’,
You who dwell in pure realms pervading the whole of space and time,
To all the victorious buddhas, I offer the ultimate homage!
The phrase “Greatest among teachers, Buddha and lord of sages” refers to the Buddha Shakyamuni. We prostrate to him, and to all the buddhas of this ‘Fortunate Age’, which is the present kalpa. The current buddha, Shakyamuni, is only the fourth of one thousand and two buddhas to attain enlightenment in this fortunate age, meaning there are still 998 buddhas yet to come.
The line “You who dwell in pure realms pervading the whole of space and time” refers to all the buddhas in infinite number. In the ten directions, there are innumerable, infinite pure buddha fields such as the World of Endurance we live in. Emanating as many bodies as all the atoms in all those pure fields, we offer homage and prostrate to all buddhas.
The practice continues:
To Mañjuśrī, Avalokiteśvāra, and Vajrapāṇi, and
To all the bodhisattvas I offer homage!
The wisdom, compassion and power of all these perfect and complete buddhas, dwelling in pure realms pervading the whole of space and time, manifest as the Three Protectors :
- Manjushri, who embodies all of their wisdom,
- Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of all their compassion, and
- Vajrapani, the Lord of Secrets, who embodies all the buddhas’ power, strength and ability to benefit sentient beings.
We pay homage to these three principal bodhisattvas from among the Eight Close Sons, together with all other bodhisattvas, as countless as the atoms in the universe.
To the exalted ones among the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas,
And to all you who in this world of ours are worthy of reverence, in devotion I offer homage!
Let your power cleanse and purify all inauspicious, harmful circumstances—every single one!
We also prostrate to the shravaka followers of Buddha Shakyamuni, as well as shravakas who follow buddhas in all the pure realms throughout the whole of space and time. Similarly, we prostrate to the pratyekabuddhas. We pay homage to all these aryas, the noble ones who are superior to ordinary worldly beings, as well as to whomever is worthy of prostration, wherever they may dwell.
The practice continues with the mantra:
om muné muné maha muné dhuru dhuru dzaya mukhé soha, chi nang sangwé tendrel nyé tsok tamché shyi shying lek tsok tamché pel shying gyepar gyur chik
Generally, because mantras are in Sanskrit, the masters translate them into Tibetan to show the meaning of the words. But according to Jamgön Kongtrül, it is not appropriate to translate mantras found in termas. This is because the Sanskrit found in termas is original Sanskrit, and cannot be matched with present day Sanskrit, which has undergone many changes since the earlier times. So I won’t translate the first part of the mantra, which is in Sanskrit. The rest of the mantra is in Tibetan and says, “outer, inner and secret”, (which means outer, inner and secret obstacles)—pacify all harm and inauspiciousness in interdependent circumstances, and make all goodness abound and multiply. All the activity mantras end in this way: ‘Outer, inner and secret—pacify all harm and inauspiciousness in interdependent circumstances, and make all goodness abound and multiply!’ This mantra is very important, and so the text instructs us to repeat it several times. You should repeat it a minimum of three times. But you could also recite it one hundred, one thousand, or even 100,000 times.
B. The Mantrayana Practice
Rigpa Rising as Guru Rinpoche, the Chief of the Mandala
Next we recite the three syllables:
Hung Hung Hrih
With the first Hung, we focus our mind on the naturally reverberating sound of Hung. As we say the second Hung, all that appears and exists, which is the naturally arising display of Hung, transforms into the pure field of the wrathful deities. Thirdly, as we say Hrih, we invoke Guru Rinpoche, who presides among the wrathful deities. Hrih is the seed syllable of Guru Rinpoche, since he is from the Lotus and Magnetizing family.
In this wisdom mandala, all that appears and exists is perfectly pure.
On the ultimate level, all sentient beings are pervaded by the primordially pure ‘ground continuum’ or buddha nature. When we realize this, we recognize that both externally appearing objects and all objects appearing in the mind are completely pure as the mandala of wisdom. There is nothing other than this.
Since all that appears and exists is fundamentally pure, it is possible to completely purify ourselves through meditation. If there was no fundamental purity in the first place, then no matter how much we meditated, we could never realize it. For example, if a glass becomes dirty, it is possible to clean it because it is originally clean. But if a glass was naturally dirty from the beginning, then there would be no way you can clean it, right?
The practice continues:
Not even the names of ‘negativity’ or ‘obstacle’ arise,
So, since all that appears and exists is primordially pure, even the names of ‘impurity’, ‘negativity’, or ‘obstacle’ do not exist.
Since my true nature, rigpa, manifests as Padmākara,
Therefore rigpa’s cognizant nature, its natural radiance, manifests as Guru Padmakara: the dynamic energy of rigpa arise as Guru Rinpoche.
Guru Rinpoche embodying the three kāyas and 'Prevailing Over All Appearance and Existence'.
You visualize Guru Rinpoche as the embodiment the three kayas, Nangsi Zilnön, whose name means 'Prevailing Over All Appearance and Existence’. Then you recite the mantra:
om ah hung benza guru pema siddhi hung
Next the text says,
om ah hung
All offerings and tormas are transformed into the display of wisdom.
Here is an unsurpassable array, of everything that can be offered—outer, inner and secret—
Offerings of every variety and kind I offer, in a sumptuous feast to delight the senses!
Now, pacify all harm and inauspiciousness, and let all goodness increase and spread!
om ah hung benza guru pema tötreng tsal benza samaya dza siddhi pala hung ah, tendrel nyé tsok sarva shanting kuru soha
This is the blessing of the offerings.
The Kama Tradition
i. Mahayoga—the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities
The Peaceful Deities
The peaceful sugatas, deities of the vajradhātu,
“Peaceful” refers to the peaceful deities, and “sugatas” are buddhas. “Vajradhatu” is the empty expanse. So this line means that the peaceful buddhas arise from the empty expanse of basic space. This empty aspect is indicated by the word ‘vajra’, because it is endowed with the seven qualities of a vajra—it is uncuttable, indestructible, true, solid, stable, completely unobstructible and completely invincible.
Mandalas of the forty-two victorious buddhas,
All shine out as Guru Rinpoche’s self-appearing display of wisdom.
The forty-two peaceful deities, who arise from this space or dhatu, are:
- Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri,
- the buddhas of the five families,
- the five female buddhas,
- the eight male and eight female bodhisattvas,
- the four male and four female gatekeepers, and
- the six nirmanakayas.
When we meditate upon the peaceful and wrathful deities in an elaborate way, each of the deities has three heads and six hands. When we meditate in a less elaborate way, only the buddhas of the five families and the five wrathful ones are visualized with three heads and six hands. All the other deities have just one head and two hands. When we meditate simply, we visualize all the deities with one head and two hands. These different ways of practising are explained in the Secret Essence Tantra.
You can either visualize this mandala of deities as a self-visualization or as a front visualization. Whichever you choose, you invoke and visualize them at the same time as you say the line, “Mandalas of the forty-two victorious buddhas”.
By recognizing their indivisibility and oneness, I offer homage!
Here is an unsurpassable array, of everything that can be offered—outer, inner and secret—
Offerings of every variety and kind I offer, in a sumptuous feast to delight the senses!
Now, pacify all harm and inauspiciousness, and let all goodness increase and spread!
Grant me blessings and empowerments, and the siddhis—ordinary and supreme!
om bodhitsitta maha sukha jñana dhatu ah
With these lines, we pay homage, make outer, inner, and secret offerings and offer the tsok. As we confess all our negativity, it is pacified, and all goodness increases. We request this kind of blessing, and we actualize that we actually receive all the blessings, empowerments and siddhis.
The Wrathful Deities
Then, either the peaceful deities transform into the wrathful deities, or from out of the basic space of the peaceful deities, you immediately visualize the fifty-eight blazing wrathful deities.
Deities are the natural expression of primordial wisdom. So the way to offer homage is to we offer homage recognize their indivisibility and oneness as they arise. Just as with the peaceful deities, we offer the outer, inner and secret offerings, and so on.
ii. Anuyoga—Tsokchen Düpa
The peaceful and wrathful deities together form the mandala of Tsokchen Düpa. Also included are the vidyadhara deities, principally the eight vidyadharas.
As before, all the deities “shine out as Guru Rinpoche’s self-appearing display of wisdom.” Again, we offer homage “by recognizing their indivisibility and oneness”; we offer “an unsurpassable array of everything that can be offered—outer, inner and secret”; and we offer the tsok. The deities “pacify all harm and inauspiciousness, and let all goodness increase and spread;” and they grant us blessings, empowerments, and the siddhis—ordinary and supreme!
2. The Terma Tradition
i. Lama Gongdü—the Practice of the Lama
After this, we visualize the mandala of Lama Gongdü, with its two-hundred and twenty-five deities. Within this mandala, there are also the male, female and neuter (maning) guardians who protect the teachings, and guardians who protect the world.
ii. Kagyé—the Yidam Practice
Next are the seven-hundred and twenty-five deities of the Kagyé mandala. They include both worldly deities and enlightened deities, and they are surrounded by the eight classes of gods and demons, as immeasurable in number as the atoms in the universe.
iii. Guru Sangdü—the Dakini Practice
Purifying the Environment and Beings
Next is the practice of Guru Sangdü, the King of Space. The text says:
I am the secret embodiment of the Guru, the King of Space,
In union, inseparable, with the white Vajravarāhī,
And around me the four classes of ḍākinīs,
Sending out streams of light that purify environment and beings into their true nature, space and wisdom.
om maha guru bam harinisa hung droom soha
The four classes of dakinis are the pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating dakinis.
At present, the universe—the environment and beings contained within it—appears to be separate from the basic space of primordial wisdom. The benefit of the Guru Sangdü practice is to purify the entire universe into the basic space of primordial wisdom.
This is a very profound point. We talk about ‘basic space’ and the ‘display of basic space’; about ‘appearances’ and the mind’s ‘perceiving quality’—to us at the moment, they all seem to come in those pairs, when in fact it is the single basic space that arises as delusion. With this practice, we bind the pairs together, so they become one. Dharmadhatu is basic space, and since appearances arise from basic space, they are the display of basic space. Appearances are delusion, so they need to be ‘bound together’ with basic space.
iii. Guru Drakpo—the Very Wrathful Guru Rinpoche
Creating the Protective Sphere
The ferocious, wrathful Guru, dark blue, terrifying, and majestic,
Grips a vajra and a scorpion of iron; and from his heart
Burst out countless wrathful deities, with their weapons, shooting in every direction, like a hurricane of fire,
All forming a seamless vajra dome of protection, utterly impenetrable...
Finally we need to create the protective tent. Generally speaking, Guru Rinpoche has two aspects, peaceful and wrathful. There are two wrathful forms—red and dark blue. Here the form of Guru Drakpo is “dark blue, terrifying and majestic.” Like all forms of Guru Drakpo, “he grips a vajra and a scorpion.” From all the pores of his body, wrathful deities, weapons, and masses of fire stream out in all ten directions. These countless wrathful deities, weapons and hurricanes of fire form an utterly impenetrable, seamless vajra dome of protection.
To summarize, because using too many words is not so helpful, the way to practise the brief Tendrel Nyesel is as follows. Of those with sharp faculties, average faculties, and lesser acumen, this practice is for those with the sharpest faculties.
Superior Way to Practice
How should those of superior capacity practise? During the Tendrel Nyesel, we invoke the peaceful deities, the wrathful deities, those in the mandalas of Tsokchen Düpa, Lama Gongdü, Kagye, Guru Sangdü, and Guru Drakpo, one after another by calling their names. As a practionner of superior acumen invokes the deities actualizing the words of the Tendrel Nyesel, they all appear in an instant, clearly and distinctly, in the mind of the practitioner.
However, unless you have thoroughly trained in this, and thereby accumulated the necessary karma, it is difficult to be able to practise in this way.
Middling Way to Practice
So if you cannot visualize all the deities of each mandala, you visualize just the main deities. Then, for the retinues, you practise on an aspirational level, by simply considering that all the other deities mentioned in the practice text are present.
Essential Way to Practice
If you cannot visualize even the main deity in each mandala, then simply think, “They are there.”
In Rigpa centres, there are a lot of Tendrel Nyesel thangkas on display. The only reason we hang them is to support our kyerim practice of visualization. Otherwise, just to print them on paper doesn’t bring any benefit—it doesn’t purify any habitual tendency. Paper is mere matter, and matter doesn’t purify habitual tendency. But for supporting the practice of visualization, these thangkas are very helpful.
So as you visualize the deities, you offer homage to the great purity and equality, in which the deities and ourselves are one.
In elaborate practices, you need to invite the deities, and request them to be seated. But here this is not required.
We offer outer, inner, secret, and innermost secret offerings to all the deities. The outer offerings are water for drinking, water for cleansing the hands and feet, flowers, incense, light offerings, scented water, food, and music. In the manner of Samantabhadra, we visualize an infinite number of these offerings, all of which are presented to the deities by offering goddesses. The inner offerings are the offerings of physical forms, sounds, scents, tastes, and tactile sensations; and of torma, rakta and amrita. The secret offerings are the offerings of union, and tsok. Suchness is the innermost secret offering, which we offer through samadhi meditation.
So we make all these different kinds of offerings, and offer praises. Then through the deities’ power and blessing, and through the power of meditating on the various deities, and the different stages of the practice just mentioned, all negativity and obscurations are purified, and we receive all the empowerments and siddhis, both ordinary and – most importantly – supreme. To put it simply, we actualize the words of the text.
Visualization during the Mantra Recitation
During the mantra recitation for each mandala, the visualization (mikpa) is as follows:
The rotation and radiance of the mantra invoke the wisdom mind of all the deities. The deities emanate rays of light from their bodies. If you practise elaborately, the rays of light transform into deities. Alternatively, it is fine just to visualize the rays of light transforming into the hand implements of the deities. And if you are practising very essentially, you can simply visualize rays of light. These light rays stream out to the whole universe, touching the entire world and all the beings within it, pacifying all inauspicious circumstances and making all positive ones increase further and further. We recite the mantra while visualizing all of this.
The Activity Mantra
In ‘summoning’ (gukpa) practices, we invoke “the power of the truth of the buddhas, and the truth of the Dharma, and the truth of the sangha.” Similarly here, we invoke the power and truth of the peaceful deities, the wrathful deities and so on.
The Tendrel Nyesel text says:
Pacify all outer, inner and secret inauspicious circumstances:
What are outer inauspicious circumstances? These are the eight or sixteen fears. When they arise, circumstances are inauspicious. When they don’t arise, this is a better situation, right? Inner inauspicious circumstances are the destructive emotions: desire, aversion, ignorance, pride, and jealousy. When the mind is coloured by these five poisons, this is negative interdependent situation. But when instead the five poisons are purified in the expanse of basic space, this is a more positive situation. The inauspicious circumstances have been eliminated. Secret inauspicious circumstances are disturbances in the channels, inner air and tiklés. When these are not disturbed, all goodness abounds and multiplies.
When the power and clarity of rigpa’s energy becomes dull, obscure, deluded and distracted, this means the interdependence has become inauspicious. But when dullness, distraction and so on are not present, the primordial purity of rigpa, the natural clarity of the five wisdoms, becomes more vivid and powerful. When this happens, then negative circumstances are eliminated.
This is how the outer, inner and secret inauspiciousness in circumstances is pacified.
Then we say:
Let past ones cease to exist! Let future ones not arise! Let present ones never harm us!
Here we are praying that past inauspicious circumstances no longer arise, that future ones never arise, that those which have arisen cease to exist, and that, no matter how much arises, negativity may never harm us. We pray that all goodness and wisdom may increase further. Then we recite the mantra.
This section is the same for each mandala.
Advice for Beginners
People who don’t know much about practice should simply pray to these deities. Feeling their presence, and thinking, “They are in front of me,” pray that they may pacify all harm and inauspiciousness in interdependent circumstances, and make all goodness abound and multiply. The practice will be complete if you simply practise in this way.
Sogyal Rinpoche asked me to give some advice. I have only one word to say. So I’ll share it with you by telling a story. There was once a great master called Trengpo Tertön Sherab Özer. For seven years, he stayed in Palri monastery without ever going out, focussing one-pointedly on Guru Rinpoche. After the seven years had passed, he met Guru Rinpoche face to face. But Padmasambhava only said, “O Son of noble family, practise the Dharma at all times.” That is all he told him. Even though he met Guru Rinpoche in person, the Guru had nothing more to say than “Practise the Dharma at all times.” The tertön then asked him, “What Dharma practice should I do?” Guru Rinpoche replied: “Sentient beings have all kinds of dispositions, and accordingly they practise different things. So practice in accordance with your disposition.”
To think, “I need to practise! Let’s practise!” doesn’t accomplish anything. The only way is actually to practise. The point of practice is to remove the destructive emotions.
So, my advice is that people like you who come to Dharma centres should actually practise the Dharma, even if only on a very ordinary level. Two comes after one, and based on two, we can get three. Similarly, from something small, your Dharma practice will slowly grow bigger. And since Dharma practice depends on the mind, abandon negative emotions, according to your capacity. When a virtuous frame of mind arises, even for an instant, rejoice, and try to generate it again, as often as you can. If you do that, you’ll become a Dharma practitioner.
Translated by Gyurmé Avertin
Edited by Rigpa Writing Team