Systematic and Practical
A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi
C. M. CHEN
Written Down by
REVEREND B. KANTIPALO
First Published in 1967
HOMAGE TO PADMASAMBHAVA WITH HIS CONSORT YESHE
TSOGYAL IN HERUKA FORM, TO THE FIVE GREAT VAJRA-HERUKAS, AND TO THE ADI-BUDDHA
MEDITATIONS IN ANUTTARAYOGA TANTRA FOUND ONLY IN
The writer arrived at
the hermitage accompanied by a photographer. Inside they found that Mr. Chen
had arranged his table as a small shrine with two Tibetan paintings, one of
Amitayus Buddha alone, and the other of Amitayus embraced by White
, showing Ushnishavijaya in the heart of her
wisdom-body. In front were offerings of fruit and flowers all carefully
arranged by Mr. Chen. All these deities are associated with long life; this was
thoughtfully planned by the yogi since the writer's thirtieth birthday had just
passed. The previous week's flowers looked fresh, and Mr. Chen said it was a
good sign of long life for the writer.
Very soon, Bhadanta
Sangharakshita arrived and, not wishing to keep the photographer waiting, the
three sat down for work, the resulting picture, taken by the photographer
through Mr. Chen's back window, appears in the front of this book.
After the photograph had
been taken, various matters relating to Vajrayana meditation were discussed
with the yogi, including, quite appropriately, practices giving long life. Mr.
Chen had previously called our attention to the fact that Dharma-instruments
should at least have a long life and preferably also be able to choose at will
a good birth. Bhante then mentioned that he had recently acquired a set of
eight different religious paintings of Guru Padmasambhava. A discussion of the
practices associated with this great Tantrika followed.
As our talk did not
begin until later than usual, due to the photo and conversation, so only half
the chapter was completed during the evening.
As we began, Mr. Chen
said, "In recognition of Bhiksu Kantipalo's holy birthday, we have the
Long-life Buddha Amitayus upon this shrine." Then he continued with the
usual opening to our chapters:
A. The Homage
Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantra could not have developed. According to Tibetan
ancient history, King Trisong Detsan tried to build Buddhist temples in his
land but they all collapsed or some hitch occurred preventing their completion.
Suspecting the intervention of hostile demons, Bhadanta Santarakshita, then in
the king to send for the great yogi Padmasambhava. The yogi accepted the king's
invitation, and both on his journey to
.E., and during his stay in the "land of
snows," he subdued many demons who attacked the Holy Dharma. His journey
took him through Kalimpong where he killed some demons and converted others,
ensuring, of course, that those killed obtained a much more favorable birth in
. The stories about him are legion
in spite of the fact that he lived in ancient times. All the various Buddhist
schools respect him except a few of the more extreme Gelugpas. The local
Gelugpa teachers of eminence, Dhardoh Rinpoche (well-known for his liberal and
non-sectarian views) and Tomo Geshe Rinpoche (the reincarnation of a renowned
yogi) both believe in him as a great teacher. The latter built a hermitage in a
holy place associated with Guru Rinpoche, without whom the Tantra could not
have been established in
Homage is not
given here to the guru's first consort Mandarava although she is no less worthy
of respect. We especially honor his second consort, Yeshe Tsogyal.
Mr. Chen explained,
"She has been my personal guru. From her seen in my meditation over twenty
years ago I obtained some secret instructions for the practice of the third
initiation." The yogi continued with emotion: "I have not yet reached
Full Enlightenment but still I keep up her special meditations."
was very devoted to the guru and to the Dharma he taught. She recorded many of
his precious teachings and then hid the manuscripts in various places, such as
in caves, among mountains, and under monasteries or in stupas. She came to
seven times and in all her life she gave Guru Rinpoche no trouble, intent as
she was upon practice and careful preservation of the Dharma.
consort almost did disturb the teacher's life since her father, the king, tried
to burn him as a punishment for having carried off the beautiful Mandarava. But
even in the middle of the flames the guru embraced her and the fire was soon
extinguished as great deluges of water were poured down by mighty spirits and
dragons. By this, the king and his court were converted to the Dharma.
yogic "wife" was not taken, like Mandarava, by the guru. It is said
that the King of Tibet had all his most lovely ladies dancing in a circle and
asked Padmasambhava to take whichever one he thought most beautiful. Guru Rinpoche
replied that he loved them all, but that the one who was truly devoted would
come to him. At that moment, Yeshe Tsogyal prostrated herself before the
teacher and out of love for him renounced all the riches of queenly life to
contrasts with the way that Mandarava came to Padmasambhava: He just flew in
through a window of the king's palace and took her. Still, we should never
criticize holy persons as though their actions were mundane and evil, even
though when judged by conventional standards, they may seem unwholesome. In
this case Guru Rinpoche knew from his insight that she was a dakini and, as it
was impossible to gain her in any other way, he simply took her as his yogic
consort. Similarly Marpa, Milarepa's guru, had nine consorts but he helped them
all, one by one, attain the wisdom-light body of Buddhahood. There are many such
stories in the Tibetan Tripitaka.
and his two dakinis were all perfectly Enlightened as
a result of their practice. Moreover, the Guru is worshipped in many different
forms as shown in thangkas. Here we show and venerate them in the highest form
All the three
objects of our homage are, in addition, to be found in Padmasambhava. Not only
that, the guru may be shown in the forms of nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, dharmakaya,
svabhavikakaya, and mahasukhaprajnakaya; all these are him, from the lowest to
Why do we pay
homage to the five great Vajra-herukas? Because perfect meditations are
included in the doctrines associated with them. If we learn all their
teachings, there is no more to be done—we have
arrived at Perfect Enlightenment. All these teachings have been gathered by the
new sect of
(Gelugpa). The five Vajra-herukas are:
Vajra-heruka of great pleasure (applies to external forms),
Vajra-heruka of great joy (applies to internal sensations) ,
Vajra-heruka of the accumulation of secret doctrines,
Vajra-heruka of great power, and
the Vajra-heruka of mahamaya (great illusion).
By some these
deities and their doctrines are practiced separately; others take them
together. In taking them together, the pleasure Vajra is in the head-wheel, the
second Vajra-heruka is in the throat-wheel, the third Vajra-heruka is found in
the navel, while the secret wheel has the power-Vajra. Taken in this way, the
yidam (Tibetan for "oath-bound") is the joy-Vajra visualized in the
heart-wheel. All five have special Tantric sutras detailing their meditations,
which are certainly very important. If one worships them, then all the highest
meditations of the Tantra are worshipped. They correspond to the sambhogakayas
of the five Tathagatas.
Third in our
homage is the adi-buddha, corresponding to the dharmakaya. The Gelugpas never
teach that the dharmakaya can have form. In the Nyingmapa teachings, however,
the adi-buddha may or may not have form. When depicted, the image is white or
blue in color (signifying the nature of dharmas), naked (indicating the nature
of voidness) and in union with his consort (the union of compassion and
wisdom). "Adi" is taken to mean "no beginning and no end"
according to Nyingmapa tradition and, although symbolically represented by an image,
is essentially formless. Such ideas are wonderful but not easily grasped by
neophytes. (Some scholars have confused the adi-buddha with the conception of a
unique creator-God.) The adi-buddha Samantabhadra should not, of course, be
confounded with the bodhisattva of the same name.
objects of worship are identified in the Buddha of entity (adi-buddha), and in
turn this produces the five Tathagatas. We should humbly revere this profound
B. How Esoteric Meditations Excel Exoteric
1. No Comparison
esoteric doctrines and those of the exoteric schools should not be compared as
they are not on the same level.
"One is higher, one
lower," said Mr. Chen. He went on:
them is the same mistake people make about Hinayana and Mahayana—although
they are both exoteric schools, still one is built upon the foundations of the
other, and so they should not be compared as equals. This applies also to our
present subject. How did this controversy of high and low arise in the first place?
Believers in the exoteric schools have doubted that the esoteric traditions are
higher than the exoteric. But in our system of three-yanas-in-one, the Tantras
obviously stand highest—of this there
is no doubt. The Mahayana is their foundation, and all its excellent points are
included in the Vajrayana. It is wrong to compare these yanas as though they
were opposites; this I do not allow! As Mahayanists who lack good advice may
not accept this explanation, so we should give another reason.
doctrine is a yana in the position of consequence, but
the Great Vehicle is a yana of cause. As an example: A Tantrika is like a man
born into the palace of a king, upon whose throne he will sit one day. The Mahayanist
resembles more the soldier working his way up through the ranks, from private
to sergeant, and from there up to commissioned rank, until by great effort he
may even be able to gain the status of field marshal. But even this rank does
not empower him to sit upon the king's throne.
said Mr. Chen, "an example is not a reason and just as we can make up one
supporting the Vajrayana, so the Mahayana follower can construct examples
Our reason is
that Tantra includes the initiations, when one, so to speak, is born into the
palace. One who obtains them is able to sit upon the throne: He is a Buddha.
philosophy of causation in the universe is quite different in these two yanas,
being in the Vajrayana complete and reduced to scientific principles. Why do we
say this? In the causation of the six elements the mental side is not overly
stressed, nor is this causation theory biased only toward material elements.
These two are identified in the six elements practice and the explanation given
is very sound. In the sunyata school (Madhyamika), more stress is laid on mind
and there are no meditations for the five material elements. The Idealist
school (Vijnanavada) is similarly one-sided and the tathata they expound is not
a finished doctrine; and certainly the Hinayana Sunyata teachings are
incomplete. Thus we see that philosophic background is very important to
differentiate esoteric Tantra from the other yanas.
have expedient methods in the position of consequence (Buddhahood). The Buddha
teaches them only from his experience of Full Enlightenment. Here we are not
concerned with experience derived from the lower stages of the bodhisattva
path. The knowledge direct from Buddhahood is found in the Tantras and in no
other place. It is very rare, deep, and hard to recognize; thus it is called "esoteric."
The exoteric doctrines are more obvious than the Tantras. The difference
between exoteric and esoteric Dharmas is brought out in the following story:
I had a young
friend studying the art of dyeing cloth in a technical college. For three years
he studied hard and read many books, but even after that he did not become
proficient. Fortunately, he contacted a teacher who, although a man of little
book-knowledge, was very good in his practical work. My friend spent a few
hours with him to see how the dyeing was done and as a result, became quite
adept at the craft himself. To know by a few hours of experience is better than
theoretical study for years.
Dharma-knowledge comes through purification in the Hinayana and sublimation in
the Mahayana, but the Tantra contains the knowledge directing one to the
essence of Buddhahood and has been imparted by the Enlightened One only to a
few disciples having many merits.
meditation practices principally concern the mind, and though breathing
meditations are taught, they are only used to calm a disturbed mind. Such
practices do not use the five elements of materiality (although with the normal
breathing process the elements are breathed in and out).
value is placed upon the breath in the Tantra for by the time one is ready to
practice the Vajrayana techniques, mental practice should have been already
well established. Mentality and materiality are identified in Tantric
practices, and then are very effective. In the lower Tantras one does find some
visualization of the five elements but these do not correspond to the breath.
By contrast, in anuttarayoga, the second and third initiations cannot be
practiced without exercises using the deep-breathing of wisdom-energy.
of Teacher and Audience
are taught by the glorious sambhogakaya Buddhas, but the exoteric doctrines are
preached by the flesh bodies of the nirmanakaya Buddhas. In the former, both
teacher and audience occupy a higher position, for it is said that only
bodhisattvas of the eighth stage can be present at such preaching. Those who
are not upon this high level need not despair, for their guru will surely help
them by way of initiation.
surpasses the exoteric teachings because in the Tantras we find the principles
of the two lower yanas serve as foundations, to which are added the expedient
methods of Buddhahood. With such practice, the mystic functions easily emerge,
and these conquer the five poisons (see Chapter VIII) in this world of five
heavy evils. This is a kind of ultimate salvation. Here I refer the readers
once again to our definition of Buddhist meditation (Chapter III, F): " …
and the functions of salvation are all attained." Now all parts of the
definition have been covered.
C. How Anuttarayoga Excels the Lower Yogas
anuttarayoga is without question the highest yana, but
as we have said, Japanese Tantra is said to contain it and therefore in the
Eastern tradition yogatantra is considered the highest. So for the sake of
clarification we should make some comparisons.
highest yoga there are the practices of the wisdom (prajna) energy, the wisdom channel
and the wisdom essence, but in the lower Tantras derived from the two great sutras
(see Appendix I, Part Two, B, 4) the theory is written but the method unknown.
does have the theory of the six elements, but the five material ones are not
used as they are in anuttarayoga, where the five are taken in from the
surroundings and converted into wisdom. This is a Buddha's breathing.
Japanese Tantra, the male and female figures in union (Tibetan: yab-yum;
Sanskrit: yuganaddha), are not known. They do have a few deities who embrace,
but only in heavenly fashion (without contact of the reproductive organs) and
with meditation bodies. In their case, while the bodies are higher (dhyana-bodies),
the function is lower (not involving all the elements).
includes practices with the body of flesh and many deities are shown in a
symbolic sexual union. Our emphasis is on the fact that the physical body and
its energies must be utilized as a means to Full Enlightenment, and transformed
in the process. Therefore, we practice love in the human fashion using the five
elements of materiality and this flesh body composed of them, though only after
the purification of Hinayana, the sublimation of Mahayana, and the resultant
mystic functions of Vajrayana.
are only two gods shown in heavenly love embrace in Japanese Tantra. In the
Tendai school, the god of wealth is shown thus, and in Koyasan (the mountain
retreat of the Eastern Tantra tradition), Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is
of wisdom-energy effectively rids one of the natural or innate defilements of
self and of dharmas (see Chapter IX, I, 3). The obstacle of knowledge (Jneyavarana)
is easily converted into wisdom in the anuttarayoga through the methods of the
third initiation. In it, natural wisdom and natural bliss are identified and
thus all subtle obstacles are conquered and Full Enlightenment gained.
Japanese Tantra, there is no such practice.
anuttarayoga doctrines there are some methods taught to get rid of birth,
death, and the intermediate state (Bardo); however, in the lower Tantras there
are no such methods.
realization, it is written in the yogatantra Mahavairocana Sutra that after
sixteen lives, one will attain Full Enlightenment by practicing the third
Tantra. In this life, at most, one will only attain the stage of joy (see
Chapter XII, H). Anuttarayoga, however, promises the attainment of Full
Enlightenment in this life.
Western Tantric tradition, the highest yoga is always divided into four stages
according to the four initiations. Tonight we can only talk about the first two
initiations; the third, being very elaborate, must be
left until next week.
D. Meditations of the First Initiation
discuss this, we should establish some definitions. The five small wangs
imparted at the time of the first initiation in anuttarayoga and those given in
the third yoga may seem quite similar to beginners. How are they to be
difference concerns the outer initiation. In anuttarayoga the guru who gives
the wang ("initiation" in Tibetan) whether with or without a consort,
must visualize himself in the heruka-form. From his union in this form, he
obtains some vajra-love nectar for the initiation. In Japanese Tantra, this
practice is unknown and only fragrant water is used.
b. In the
inner initiation, the disciple also visualizes himself in the heruka-form
regardless of whether he has or has not a yogic partner. In the first
anuttarayoga initiation, which particularly concerns the body, the guru is
visualized with light coming from his vajra (male organ). This light comes out
in the form of a hook which is inserted into the disciple's heart. There it
hooks onto the eighth consciousness visualized in the form of the yidam and
this is then withdrawn into the median channel of the guru's body. From there
it passes into the lotus (female organ) of the dakini. From the dakini's womb,
the disciple's consciousness is reborn as a heruka son. Such a process is
absent in the third yoga.
c. There is a
complete classification of the bodhicitta into five sorts in the anuttarayoga
while in yogatantra only four are known. They are as follows:
i. Citta of
will—corresponds to the nirmanakaya
ii. Citta of
conduct—corresponds to the sambhogakaya
iii. Citta of
to the Dharmakaya
three only are found in Mahayana texts.)
iv. Citta of
samadhi—corresponds to the svabhavikakaya (found in
v. Citta of
the essence of the six elements—corresponds
to the mahasukhaprajnakaya (found only in anuttarayoga)
The last is
found only in the highest yoga and is unheard of in the Eastern tradition. In
it the five elements and five wisdoms are well identified, just as the sperm
and the ovum unite and interpenetrate.
said Mr. Chen, "all five bodhicittas are never mentioned all together, but
I have collected them and find that they correspond to the five bodies of a
receives the anuttarayoga first initiation, one should practice the growing
stage (utpannakrama) of the samaya body (see Appendix I, Part Two, C, 6). We
should give some definition of this term.
altogether, three kinds of body of which samaya is the gross one. A
samayasattva (in Tibetan, literally "oath-bound" natural holiness),
is that anthropomorphic form of a Buddha or bodhisattva on which the meditator
regularly practices over a long period of time, until he realizes unity with
that wisdom-form. A person has only one yidam, either selected by oneself or chosen by the guru, and to this yidam one is
bound by an oath taken at the time of initiation. This requires one to practice
regularly with the yidam form and mantra according to the guru's instructions.
practice must of course be based upon a secure realization of sunyata—without
this there may be serious consequences. On this point there is a good story.
was a lama of the Yellow Sect who had taken for his yidam the god Jig-je
(Vajrabhairava), a very wrathful deity with awesome faces and three eyes
angrily glaring. From his mouth issue fierce flames. The lama maintained a great concentration upon his yidam until particularly the
eyes of Jig-je and his own became identified. After this he found that everyone
he met died from his wrathful glance, and anger seemed constantly burning within him. He became very distressed over this and
did not dare to go out or to meet anyone. Finally, he told his guru what had
happened: "I am very sorry about this," said the lama, "for I
want to save others, not kill them." His guru told him to stop meditating
on Jig-je's eyes and explained that his ability to kill indicated that his
bodhicitta was not developed sufficiently.
think it was not the lama's fault that he lacked bodhicitta. It was the fault
of the guru who should not have given him an initiation unless the bodhicitta
was already strong. This lama had already come to the practice of a Tantric
yidam and therefore the time for meditation on the bodhicitta had passed. The
guru was also at fault in that he should not only have given teachings on the
form of the yidam, but also on the philosophy underlying the practice. The
yidam is the reflection of sunyata and neither the void nor its reflections can
work any harm when they are well-identified. The wrathful eyes of Jig-je do not
show human wrath, but the latter, if not sublimated in the Mahayana, can do
much evil if associated with wrathful deities in the Vajrayana. Thus, the
lama's eyes killed from the power of untransmuted human anger in him and not by
the Great Wrath of the divine Jig-je.
shows the importance of going step by step and is surely a good warning for
those who might think of rushing headlong into the Vajrayana. Especially, it
shows how important are the sunyata meditations and their thorough realization.
the body is like the outer practice and every point of it has to be visualized
minutely and perfectly identified with sunyata. Even each little hair should be
realized as void and in visualization be seen as though hollow. The inner
practice means the recitation and visualization of the mantra. For the yidam
practice, there are these three important conditions:
This means that not only must the form and color of the deity be clearly seen,
but every hair of the eyebrows, the eyelashes and all the hairs on the
anthropomorphic body should be visualized clearly. As we do not speak of art,
our subject being meditation, so besides form and color, there must also be
clarity of philosophy. It is essential that a good understanding and a deep
realization of sunyata accompany these meditations; otherwise, they will not be
effective. Therefore, besides clearly seeing the deity's form as a reflection,
or as a bubble, translucent and made of light, it is also most important to
realize deeply sunyata philosophy. I have written a paper on this, as it seems
to me that the venerable Tsong-khapa's otherwise excellent Ngag-rim (Great
Stages of the Tantric Path), is deficient in its emphasis on the practical
value of realization of the void.
In common books on this subject, it is said that the visualized form must not
move or change. Their instructions are that after the form is seen clearly, the
practitioner should make the anthropomorphic body firm and unmoving, while his
own flesh body is not perceived even for a moment—not
even in a dream. For instance, if the practitioner visualizes himself as a
great, holy, powerful vajra deity with two horns, then when one passes through
a door, one should bow the head so that the horns do not catch in the doorway.
I should like
to add that firmness not only of form, but also a steadfast samatha of samapatti
on the entity of meditation is essential. If one just sees something with the
sixth consciousness (mind-consciousness) and this is not accompanied by a deep samatha,
then there can be no correspondence with the holy form. We must emphasize this:
Firmness is really derived from the FORCE OF SAMATHA. Without this (using the
sixth consciousness), one is only thinking about the deity, and this wrong
method can, if persistently practiced, lead to all sorts of stresses and
strains, even to disease and, worst, to madness.
c. The Holy
Pride of Buddhahood (see Appendix I, Part Two, A, 4). Human pride is a sorrow
of egotism, but the Pride of the anthropomorphic Buddha-body is a merit of
voidness and mercy. All the holy characteristics of whatever holy being one
visualizes must be acquired by the practitioner, and he should perform many
actions for others, just as that holy being does.
I want to add
what I mean by this term. This Holy Pride of Buddhahood comes from such factors
as the function of saving others through merits and virtues. One often hears
gurus say, "I am a Buddha."
Here Mr. Chen imitated
such a guru, sitting up very straight upon his stool as though it were brocade
throne, and assumed a rather comical but undeniably haughty expression. He
continued, "These teachers sit in their finery and proudly proclaim their
Buddhahood. 'Look, so many disciples follow me; look,
so many lay-people worship me; look at all these books and holy treasures, and
look at the wealth I possess!' In their pride, they may even say: 'Look at this
or that mark of Buddhahood!'"
said Mr. Chen, relaxing, "one may look at their way of life, the way they
treat people—then it becomes obvious
whether or not they are really Buddhas. Such teachers are neither Buddhas nor
have they understood at all what is meant by a Buddha's Holy Pride. Such
teachers have even rebuked me, telling me that I lack bodhicitta because I have
remained a hermit so long. 'What are you doing for such a long time?' they say.
'You should come out and proudly show the Buddha-attainment.' All such
talk," Mr. Chen said gravely, "is a sorrow for those teachers."
Pride is not like this: Holy Pride causes progress and cannot lead to any sort
of spiritual fall. It is not the same as human pride, for Buddhas have long
since rid themselves of the defilements on which ordinary conceit depends. In
this respect, it seems to me that this practice is correct: Whatever happens,
we should immediately ask ourselves, "What would be a Buddha's action in
this circumstance?" If all the meditations so far described here have been
practiced and realized, then we should have a clear answer to this question.
Our attainment of Buddhahood has to show in the ordinary situations of everyday
life—otherwise it is not perfect Buddhahood. If we
have really attained to Full Enlightenment then we shall, in all places and at
all times, always show a Buddha's actions and never follow human ways.
points are important for practical purposes and are lacking in even well-known
Tibetan works. We should always hold to them for meditation on the yidam in the
Kinds of Samatha-Samapatti in the Growing Yoga
a. First is
the growing yoga meditation of sunyata, which differs from the Mahayana, where
there is no mantra-repetition or visualization practice. Here one should repeat
the mantra and visualize the world and all the beings in it as sunyata. This
must be done before visualizing the yidam.
b. From this sunyata
meditation, visualize the yidam. This is a meditation on the reflection of sunyata
(sunyata conditions, not sunyata nature).
points taken together are the first step.
step, when the yidam meditation is accomplished, is to visualize all the
worship, offerings, etc. This is not the main meditation "trunk" but
rather a samapatti "branch." Nevertheless, it has to be completed.
When all this
is done, then one goes back to the main practice and, visualizing the mandala
of the yidam, places this in one's own body. This melts into the heart, which
in turn contracts into the mantra. This again disappears into the bija, which
finally melts away into sunyata.
c. From the
second sunyata of reduction the holy yidam appears again. It must come just as
a fish jumps out of the surface of the ocean: The yidam must quickly appear
from the voidness-ocean. In a flash, one sees that the nature of sunyata and
its manifestation as the yidam are identified. When this stage has been
experienced, this is the real Enlightenment of a Buddha.
By the above
three kinds of samatha-samapatti, birth, death, and the intermediate state are
abandoned one by one.
Visualization of the Surroundings (Mandala)
Mr. Chen produced a
large photograph of a mandala acquired from a departing Chinese Buddhist. It
was not one which he had practiced himself and he was not sure which meditation
it represented, for, as he explained, there are many hundreds of these mystic
diagrams. It was, however, quite a typical example and served to illustrate his
Now we have
finished the meditations of the body and we may go on to discuss meditations
relating to surroundings.
Explanation of the mandala
Pointing out various
features of the mandala as it lay before him, we
progressed from the outside elements to those in the center.
circle shows the eight great cemetery grounds with bones and decayed bodies in
abundance. The next ring represents the five elements and is colored
appropriately in bands of colors, each one associated with one of these
elements. Inside this, three walls are shown, one of vajras, one in the form of
blooming lotuses, and the last composed of skulls.
remember that while the mandala picture is only in two dimensions, it is to be
visualized as three-dimensional. For this reason, some features of the mandala
are hidden under the surface of the two dimensional picture. For example, in
the center of the mandala, under the palace, is a large crossed-vajra. Again
above the surface of the picture and therefore above the palace and its
surroundings is a vajra-net, visualized as being made up of linked vajras.
itself is square and set within a precious world of trees and flowers inside
the various walls already mentioned. The four gates leading from this world
into the palace have beautiful roofs and carvings; all bedecked with
Dharma-pennants. The interior of the palace has a precious floor of gems: The
East side is white, the South is yellow, the West is red, and the North side is
On the floor
of the palace, at its center, is the yidam, sitting upon an appropriate throne.
The figure may be single, double, or manifesting many forms, depending upon the
visual meditations on the pagoda in Japanese Tantra are just preparations for
these more complex practices.
"We should not only
meditate on the forms; we must know their meanings." Mr. Chen then showed
in some detail the symbolic significances of the mandala's parts.
The eight cemeteries:
To begin with, these remind us of the two sorts of non-self (of pudgala and of
the dharmas; the realization of impermanence also arises with this samapatti).
elements: In their treatment, we may see a continuous evolution from the
Japanese Tantra. There, considered only on the mental side, they are symbolized
very simply in the pagoda-form; here, they are built into the exact and complex
structure of the mandala, and their material aspect is included. They
constitute the Buddhas' surroundings in the
and are very exactly arranged: This differs again from the Amitayur Samapatti Sutra
where such complete descriptions are not given. When one visualizes these
different parts of the mandala, their meanings must be kept in mind.
The wall of
vajras: This represents one's strict observance of the sila, and its purpose is
to keep out demons and prevent them from disturbing the precious land within.
If the moral precepts are maintained pure and unbroken, then this vajra-wall
will be strong and will effectively protect against demons. Without pure
morality, the vajra-wall will be weak.
lotus-wall and the skull-wall: These symbolize respectively renunciation and sunyata.
crossed-vajra, a thousand-petalled lotus symbolizes the lotus world, and is
also a symbol of renunciation in the Hinayana. Why? The lotus grows up fair and
pure from foul-smelling mud, unstained by the muck and filth. Similarly,
renunciation must be pure and unstained by worldliness.
lotus on the precious palace floor: This is the actual seat of the yidam. This
lotus has the meaning of renunciation even of dharmas, accomplished during the
sublimation process in the Mahayana. If one's renunciation is not complete, one
should still try to visualize these lotuses in their proper positions, after
which, renunciation may become perfect. This is an example of a method in the
position of consequence.
notice the close correspondence of all these details with the attainment of
Buddhahood. For example, there are four gates of the palace and different books
say that they mean the four Noble Truths, the four boundless minds, or the four
mindfulnesses. We should make this point certain. When the yidam is a nirmanakaya
form such as Sakyamuni, then the gates stand for the four Noble Truths. When
Avalokitesvara is the yidam, then their meaning is the four boundless minds;
and if the center of the mandala is occupied by a yidam of wisdom (as Manjusri),
then the gates must correspond to the character of the yidam.
palace, the roof is held up by eight pillars: They stand for the factors of the
Noble Eightfold Path.
"Even if we talk
for a month," said the yogi, "we cannot finish explaining all the
symbolic meanings of the parts of the various mandalas, for we must understand
that nothing depicted there is just ornamental: It is all significant for
meditation. To find out all this information," said Mr. Chen, "it is
necessary to read one of the books describing yidams and their
5. Degrees of
three degrees of achievement regarding holy appearances (these are correlated
with the section on realization in the chapter on definitions (see Ch. III, E,
degree: In a dream state, the practitioner achieves a vision of the yidam.
degree: The second stage occurs during the state in which the meditator sees
the vision while half-awake and not disturbed by dreams (this corresponds to
degree: Finally, in oneness of meditative concentration, the holy appearance is
achieved. Within this highest experience, there are also three grades. The
lowest is when, in unity of concentration and meditation, the deity's form can
only be seen by the practitioner. The middle grade of achievement is where the
holy one is seen by others also; while the ultimate grade is when the
practitioner can maintain the holy manifestation even when he or she leaves the
meditation seat and can perform deeds just as that holy being does. The holy
body may be touched by others also (these three correspond to "Nyang").
E. Second Initiation Meditations
meditation of the second initiation is called tummo in Tibetan (Sanskrit: candali,
meaning the wrathful fire of wisdom); there are also subsidiary practices
concerning dreams, sleep, and phowa.
in the work he edited, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, treats equally all
the six practices of this initiation. Although this is traditional in Tibetan
practice, still I do not agree with this, for if one gains success in tummo,
the main one, then all the others are accomplished.
tummo depends upon the correct use of the deep breathing methods. There are
four important stages:
on the sunyata of the body—one has
already practiced and realized this in the growing yoga. After that, visualize
everything as hollow, with only the substance of a bubble. The flesh body is
realized as completely empty inside, while outside it is like a colored shadow
of the Buddha-form.
b. In the
void body, visualize the three great yogic channels (to the left, the sasi; on
the right, the mihira; and in the center, the susumna), all seen as void. The
five or seven wheels (cakras) are also visualized and perceived as void. It is
most important to practice with the median channel and realize its void nature.
Sometimes it is contracted to the fineness of a fiery hair, and sometimes
expanded to a torrent of fire engulfing the three worlds (see Evans-Wentz).
the sunyata meditations of energy-breathing. During deep breathing, a breath
should be held so that one can correspond its three stages of inhalation,
holding, and exhalation with the three vajra wisdom syllables:
—AH—HUM. This should be done
very carefully and must, of course, be very finely accompanied by sunyata, so
that the energy-breath becomes wisdom-energy. In most books this process is not
Mr. Chen then laughed,
asserting, "This is my pride!"
d. Sunyata of
essence. In the Tibetan Vajrayana there are two sorts of semen, the red (kun) and the white (tha), hence this practice is known as "kuntha."
"Kun" refers to the five wisdoms and "tha" signifies the
essence of the five elements. When the red one rises, the white goes down.
Together they make Buddhahood, but they must correspond very exactly to the
sunyata of wisdom (red) and the sunyata of pleasure (white). When they are well
identified, the Buddha-wisdom arises.
In the five
meditations of the Hinayana, there is one concerning breath. Now we see that
its significance in Tantra is quite different, and is the highest stage among
our breathing practices. Readers should see our second diagram in Chapter X (see
also Ch. VIII, G) for the correspondences through the various yanas.
on two factors: sunyata and breath. The realization of sunyata has already been
given (see Ch. X, Part Two. H) and it only remains to
list here the three degrees of breath-realization.
Mr. Chen then showed how
the breath timing is calculated. Sitting up straight, with the left hand in
dhyana position, he drew in a breath and then—rhythmically
and unhurried—tapped with the fingers
of his right hand first upon his right knee, then his left knee, then his
forehead, and finally he snapped his fingers.
a. When one
can hold a single breath for 36 of these cycles (about one minute), then this
is the lowest achievement.
b. The middle
rank is calculated in the same way but the breath is held for 72 cycles.
"I have arrived at
this stage," added the yogi.
this process 108 times during one breath is considered the highest achievement.
however, is the accomplishment of some Tantric sages, who, during their sitting
practice, only take six breaths in twenty-four hours.
realization of form, the sign of success is when the median channel opens and
all its knots untangle.
Mr. Chen explained with
a grimace, that in most people their cakras are all blocked and their channels
wheels are all open, five or ten signs are experienced, such as sparks, the
moon, the sun, the light of stars, flashes of lightning, etc.
median channel is opened, the Dharmakaya is won, and when the five wheels are
cleared, the sambhogakaya is attained, and at the time when the 72,000 channels
are all purified and straightened, then many nirmanakaya forms may be projected
by the yogi.
concludes our section on the realization of meditations in the second initiation.
We shall not have a real conclusion to this week's talk, as the chapter is to
be continued next week with the meditations in the third and fourth
After saying this, Mr,
Chen got up and gave to everyone present some of the offerings to the Buddha of
Long Life, Amitayus. Cookies and oranges arranged as ritual offerings, together
with a slice of birthday cake, were given out as a blessing that this existence
may long continue for the sake of the Dharma.
Subsequently, Mr. Chen
again spoke upon the Buddha Amitayus. He said:
He sits upon
a lotus and, as you know, this is a sign of purity. If one takes Amitayus as
one's yidam, then not only must one have purity, but also it is necessary to
make one's renunciation early in life. Then with good practice and much time
accomplish everything, one will receive long life. The renunciation of a bhiksu
also includes the will to purification.
upon the center of the lotus, where Lord Amitayus sits, is a sign of the great
bodhicitta which issues out of the sunyata meditations. After such practice,
the mind is great, not narrow, and always kind, never cruel. Purity, compassion
and sunyata-wisdom are the factors which prolong life. I must emphasize that
not only should the form of this Buddha be kept in mind and meditated upon, but
also that it is necessary to develop in oneself the great virtues of Amitayus
which are signified by his form.
also said. "For the man who is always beneficent, life will be very
long." In Buddhism, too, we recognize bodhicitta as the prime factor for
MEDITATIONS OF THE THIRD AND FOURTH INITIATIONS
As Mr. Chen's usual two
visitors neared his door, they heard the sound of the vajra-bell, and they
arrived at the door just as Mr. Chen opened it to invite his visitors in.
The writer's attention
was attracted by the rosary held by Mr. Chen. It was rather short and the beads
were broad and flat so he asked out of curiosity, "What is it made
from?" "Human skull," was the yogi's reply, as he handed it to
the writer. It then became clear how the rosary was made, rings of skull-bone of
slightly irregular thickness and diameter were threaded together to make up the
usual 108. Bhante said that these were quite common, adding that there was a
young Tibetan in the area who specialized in anything connected with death.
"He's very ghoul-like in this respect but certainly of good character and
very religious. He is well known as an expert at digging things up. As soon as
he hears of a funeral, he rushes off to see what can be saved. His room is full
of bits of human bones, skulls, and some special relics of holy lamas."
This topic turned into a
discussion on stupa-symbolism and Vajrayana practice and from there we very
soon came to our opening section of this part of the chapter.
A. Meditations in the Third Initiation
There are two
kinds to be considered here. One is for monks and the other for laymen.
bhiksu is obviously not able, by the nature of his precepts (the Vinaya) to use
a physical dakini. For his practice, he visualizes a mind-made dakini and her
embrace brings about the great pleasure which must be identified with the great
void. The meditation is, in any case, the same in essence for the bhiksu or the
layman; only the conditions are different. The layman can, of course, use a
physical yogic partner if he wishes.
It must be as
Milarepa said: "On pleasure meditate with sunyata; on sunyata meditate
with pleasure." Sometimes when this yoga is practiced, these two factors
are not experienced together. At times there is more pleasure, and at others,
more concentration upon sunyata. But a good yogi will try to perfectly identify
the two with each other (see our table below).
CORRESPONDENCES OF SUNYATA AND ANANDA IN THEIR SAMADHl IDENTIFICATION
Moments of Feeling
HEAD TO THROAT
THROAT TO HEART
HEART TO NAVEL
voidness simultaneously wisdom)
TO REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS
consummation with awareness of all potentialities)
1. Why is the
for this are written in detail in Professor Guenther's book, The Tantric View
of Life. Here we shall confine ourselves to some simple reasons.
answer to our question is that inwardly, the female energy is the expedient
force, while the corresponding male energy is the wisdom-force. The outer
bodies are the reverse of this: The female body is associated with wisdom while
the male represents the aspect of skillful means and compassion.
Mr. Chen said,
"Female breasts and hips are attractive. Whatever is beautiful represents
wisdom, for beauty and wisdom are both attractive. Contrasting with this, the
female's inner energy represents expedient force, because of this, even a single touch-sensation by a man can result for him in seminal discharge.
Even fainting can come about from contact with a powerful dakini.
The male is
complementary, and though his outside aspect represents skillful means, his
inner energy is the wisdom-force. This we see since the outer body is usually
not beautiful, only the male organ being attractive, while the inner energy is
quickly excited and easily leads to a discharge. This is because the
wisdom-force energy acts abruptly if the male lacks strong patience to hold in
the semen during the love action. Only through the median channel will this
energy become true wisdom, and the way for it to pass is through the
reproductive organ, called the "lower gate." The upper gate is the
nose, and these two gates must be balanced: This results in true wisdom. In the act of love with the lower gate, one takes advantage of
the female expedient energy. At that time the median channel is easy to open.
constitutes the main reason why the heruka form is used.
also note that the yogini will receive wisdom-energy from the male and in this
way, through vajra-love, both help each other toward
Mr. Chen then produced
three sheets giving answers to the question, "What are the reasons why the
highest Buddha-position can be attained by the practice of vajra-love?"
These are the answers he gave to an American Buddhist:
a. When we
receive the third initiation (wang), we have the right to practice vajra-love,
and the reason for this is as follows:
First of all,
everything—whether good or evil by nature—is
voidness. Hinayana affirms the voidness of self but not that of dharmas. In the
Lesser Vehicle, the stress is very much upon the keeping of the precepts both
by the monks and by lay people. Within the monastic discipline of this vehicle,
a man neither touches nor even looks upon a woman.
Mahayana, it is known that all dharmas are void and a lay follower of the
contact with the female sex in the holy service of the Dharma and to save
sentient beings. He may even go to a woman and satisfy her desires (providing
he is not also a bhiksu) as a skillful means to save her. The Lord Gautama, in
one of his past lives as a bodhisattva, used this method (see Ch. X, Part One,
B, 2, a). Then, finally, in the Vajrayana there is a canonical discourse called
the "Great Pleasure Vajra Sutra." It says that as everything is
empty, worldly love also possesses the nature of sunyata. Whatever is sunyata, that also is pure. Everything is therefore pure,
and everything includes desire or love, so this is also quite pure.
This is the
reason according to the doctrine of sunyata.
Enlightenment is attained by the highest wisdom, which penetrates the lowest
lust and subdues it. Nothing should be left outside this wisdom. If there
remains something which cannot be subdued by wisdom, then this wisdom is not
the final, perfect one.
negative method of destroying lust is by following the way of lust and using it
to destroy itself. For instance, when we see a robber, we should follow after
him to seize him. If we want to get a tiger-cub, we must go to the tiger's
cave. When we are poisoned, there are medicines which are themselves poison but
are used as effective antidotes. As another instance, when we fall down we
should take advantage of the support offered by the same earth to get up.
It is through
lust that we acquire a human body. When we are in the intermediate state we see
our future parents engaged in the love-action and, loving the mother, we find
ourselves entering her womb, that is, if we are to become a man; a female will
be jealous of the future mother and try to get the love of the human father—and
in the same way enter the mother's womb. Thus, we must understand that the
cause of our unending transmigration is our own ignorance combined with the
sorrow of desire.
according to our examples, whether we want to continue as a human, become a
heavenly person, or attain Buddhahood, we should in all cases take just this
same way of lust.
To explain this apparent
paradox, Mr. Chen spoke as follows:
non-Buddhists (in Taoism and Hinduism for instance), a divine love is
emphasized, but this is not the vajra-love of Buddhism. If we follow precepts
which forbid certain actions (as in the case of bhiksus and bhiksunis, who
cannot have sexual intercourse), though this is good as far as it goes, still
the seeds of lust lie in the eighth consciousness, and whenever they have a
chance, they are sure to germinate. From the viewpoint of ultimate liberation,
this way is not good—it is a way of
repression. The Mahayana follower has a better way (but, we should note, it is
founded upon initial practice of the Hinayana method). He is able to meditate
upon lust and the love-action in sunyata. Thus, while he is engaged in this
practice, no woman will be able to lure him. But when his sunyata concentration
is disturbed, then the demon of lust may easily arise again. Thus we see that
this too is not the way for its ultimate destruction. For this reason, there
are in Vajrayana many mental and physical methods to actually enlarge the
sorrow of lust and thus to finally destroy it. In practicing such methods, the
more pleasure that the disciple experiences, the more he or she attains the
meditation of the great voidness. According to the degree of pleasure derived
from the practice of vajra-love, the more profound is one's knowledge of the
void, and the better one's chance is to penetrate that lust and subdue it
without any seeds remaining. That is why vajrayogini is so important. She is
the mother who enables us to destroy the seeds of lust—she
is truly called "Lust-destroying Mother."
Truly, we may
say that when we escape from the attractions of a woman, it is only a temporary
escape of lust. If we meet a woman in our own room when other persons are not
present, a monk may still keep his precepts, but he does not enjoy the
experience. In the case of an advanced yogi, would it not be better for him to enjoy
the experience and use it, rather than escaping from it? When an advanced
practitioner meets a woman with whom he may enjoy sexual intercourse, they can
mutually help each other in union towards the highest goal—Buddhahood.
In this yogic enjoyment, neither can her love disturb our voidness meditation,
nor can she take away our semen. Would this not be the best way for the
destruction of lust?
anything more distasteful or more full of affliction
than sexual intercourse? The Vajrayana recognizes this fact and offers many
methods in the position of consequence of Buddhahood. Everyone must take good
note of this: Just as when one is sick then a doctor's advice is necessary, and
as we are all sick with the poison of lust, the guru's instructions are not
merely necessary, they are absolutely essential. A little poison taken without
the advice of a physician may cause the patient to die; in the same way, trying
out these methods without adequate preparation in the other yanas and the
personal teaching direct from one's guru may cause one to die spiritually—it
may cause one directly to know the meaning of the word "hell." But
the poison administered by the wise doctor may cure our illness, and it is the
same with the practices taught to us by our guru, who thus gives us the
medicine to cure our sickness of lust. This is the way of the Buddha, the great
Physician who cures us.
d. To untie
the heart-knot and clear it of obstructions, the yogi must first practice
vajra-breathing. For this practice he requires the help of a yogini.
heart-cakra has many ties around it and the outside one is made by the
all-pervading energy (Appendix I, Part One, A, 5, e). This all-pervading energy
has its central point in the secret wheel. From this cakra the energy extends
to the four limbs. It travels by way of the psychic channels and every
additional channel-wave makes further accumulations around the heart-cakra.
Thus, to open the heart-cakra, first untie the outside knot. The love-action,
which opens the secret wheel and releases the all-pervading energy, can shake
the heart-cakra and untie its outside knot until it has completely opened.
e. All the
cakras must be opened by the wisdom-energy so that the median channel runs
unobstructed through all the wheels. With the opening of each wheel, there is
the attainment of a corresponding stage of the bodhisattvas' path to
Buddhahood. If the lower gate is opened, the first and second stages are
attained, while the opening of the second wheel corresponds to the third and fourth
stages of the bodhisattva, and so on.
f. It is said
by the Yellow Sect that the holy light of the Dharmadhatu will only appear upon
the occasion of vajra-love but not also in the Great Perfection, as held by the
Mr. Chen afterwards gave
a note on this matter. He said with a laugh, "It is very strange: The
Gelugpas say that you must use a dakini for the holy light of the Dharmakaya to
appear. But before one may practice in this way, they rightly stress that there
are many, many preparations to make. Tsong-khapa stresses this very much but,
we should note, he himself never practiced vajra-love, as he was a bhiksu. So
really the Gelugpas never practice vajra-love at all; on the other hand, among
the Nyingmapas (who allow two methods as we have related above), one finds many
bad lay-lamas who pretend that their consorts are for this yoga, but actually
they are just taking advantage of the teaching and enjoying their wives like
Every good karma to save sentient beings is found upon the altar
of the female reproductive organs. There is a very powerful and effective
function of this altar. Why? Because every event is void in nature and is
composed of the male-female function. All void things function by these
principles: The yab (father) and the yum (mother).
for the male, signifying great compassion and expedient means;
for the female, symbolizing wisdom and the great voidness.
reasons, Mr. Chen again warned all who might think of practicing these methods:
meditation, the most essential thing is the identification of pleasure and
sunyata, and there is a most necessary warning which must indeed be heeded: If
one has no attainment in the sunyata meditation, then one must not try to
practice the third initiation methods.
said: "My secret path is very dangerous; it is just like a snake in the
bamboo, which, if it moves, must either go up or come down." There is no
middle way here, either by this method one gains Full Enlightenment or else one
falls straight into hell.
2. On Vajrayana Precepts:
"During the last
few nights, said Mr. Chen, "I have had some special instructions in my
dreams. My guru the Karmapa Rinpoche appeared, his room very full of fruits and
flowers, some of which I offered him. Very clearly he said to me: 'You should
present the Tantric precepts as they are explained in your book, not in the
usual way of instruction in
(See Chenian Booklets Nos. 45-47.)
Mr. Chen produced a
handsome silk-covered Chinese work, saying, "This is my book—the one the Karmapa Rinpoche referred to. In it,
all the precepts of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana on the subject of lust
and love are collected and classified. This subject has never been discussed by
the Tibetan writers but my Essays of Qu Gong Zhai (the book's title) have been
very much praised by some Chinese. They described it as a very fragrant work
since at the time of reading it they noticed a sweet perfume in the room. Also,
when I was writing it I could smell this fragrance quite strongly." Said Mr. Chen, turning over its pages, "It is the beloved Manjusri
Mahasattva who appears here on the frontispiece; the book is protected by Wei Tuo
as well—his picture guards
the book's last pages."
"Alas! In the
Tibetan anuttarayoga works which are translated into Chinese, such as some of
the wang rituals, I have never seen anywhere mention of the fourteen Vajrayana
precepts. This is strange," said Mr. Chen. "Only the Mahayana
precepts have been emphasized and gurus instruct their disciples to learn and
practice these, but do not advise them regarding the Vajrayana silas, although
these are extremely important."
fourteen Vajrayana precepts. In our homage, one of the five great vajra-herukas
is called "Secret-Accumulation Vajra" and his ritual is one of the
anuttarayoga practices now known by the Chinese. But in connection with this,
the Vinaya (Hinayana) and the bodhisattva silas (Mahayana) are spoken of, but
nothing is said about the fourteen silas of the Adamantine Vehicle. It is just
the same in other Chinese works—they are all
silent about the esoteric precepts. Even in the Ngag-rim of the Yellow Sect,
these are not discussed. I managed to read about the tradition of these silas
and then afterwards got them as a special instruction from my Gelugpa guru. But
at that time I had not yet obtained the third initiation so he only bestowed
upon me the transmission of the precepts but not their real explanation.
said the yogi, "the Tantric gurus mostly cannot get the anuttarayoga
initiations, so they merely impart the silas without any comment on their
meaning. I finally got the meanings explained to me, not upon the occasion of a
wang, but specially by the Karmapa Rinpoche."
Why are these
precepts neither written in Tsong-khapa's book nor explained upon the occasions
of Tantric initiation? This is because the fourteen are mostly concerned with
the identification of sunyata and pleasure; because it would be necessary to
mention the details of vajra-love, these precepts are kept secret.
If a rinpoche
is also a great scholar, he may be able to give other explanations, but it does
happen that disciples are told the words of the precepts, but not their
meanings. For instance, one sila, the fifth one, says: "You should not
lose your bodhicitta." This, however, does not mean the common bodhicitta
of the Mahayana. It is the fifth precept and this has a secret meaning; the
proper explanation is: "You should not discharge your semen." Even if
scholars are learned, they will seldom give the hidden meanings.
another example, the ninth precept states: "You should not doubt the
purified Dharma." Purification in the Hinayana and sublimation in the
Mahayana has long passed, so what does that precept mean? The sorrow of lust
has been purified by the Lesser Vehicle practices, where the opposite sex is
thought of as very dangerous and one's own physical body is analyzed to see the
nature of the thirty-six corrupt parts (see Ch. IX, E, 1, a, i). Following this comes the attainment of a meditative body and its
subsequent sublimation in sunyata, so it is no longer a flesh body. Further,
the physical body (realized as sunyata in the Mahayana), becomes transmuted in
the Tantra of the growing yoga (see Ch. XIII, Part One, D), when one attains a
Buddha-body. This body, purified and with an opened
median channel, is the body used in vajra-love. In this initiation even the
name "penis" is not given to the reproductive organ; it is called a
"vajra." The practices of yoga, therefore, do not resemble human
love, one other important difference being that in Tantra the semen is retained.
Mr. Chen then
Hinayana meditations, we come to the Mahayana, when the human organ becomes
sunyata. From sunyata meditations, one passes on to the five
wisdoms and the five elements, forming the vajra. This vajra, which is
not at all like the ordinary human organ, may then enter the lotus of the
dakini, and at that time one's power of meditation must be maintained. If one
cannot maintain the spiritual power during vajra-love, then whatever is done at
that time is not this meditation.
These are the
various reasons why this practice is called a holy and "purified
Dharma," and this, according to the precept, we "should not
b. The eight
precepts. This second group of Tantric silas also are not often discussed in
, and for
the same reason, as they concern vajra-love. To break these is not so serious
that one will go straight to hell as a result, which is the case with the
fourteen precepts. (The latter, if broken, send one to the vajra-hell, from
which one can hardly ever return to more pleasant states).
the eight precepts may not seem connected with our subject, but their inner
meaning relates to this third initiation. For instance, one of the precepts
reads: "If a person with faith asks you a question about the Dharma and
you refuse to reply or tell the questioner not to ask, then this is a great
sin." In this precept, the request seems just to concern the Dharma and
nothing particular is said about the Dharma of vajra-love. That the question in
the precept really refers to this, is kept secret.
Sometimes this is so great a secret that even certain gurus do not know the
true meaning here.
c. When one
may and may not practice.
"I am sorry to say," said Mr. Chen, "that I do not know Tibetan very
well and that many Tibetan gurus were not proficient in Chinese. My translator
for discussing these matters with my teachers was a young bhiksu, so for this
reason alone they would not discuss third initiation. He replied, 'If you can
practice this vajra-love yoga without any leak (discharge) occurring, you can
go to any woman.' So in
I took some vajra-women, but after trying hard to practice this yoga with them,
after some time I found I got no results from it."
"I came to the
conclusion that first one should study and practice all the other yanas and
yogas very deeply. Only after this would one be able
to take up these methods with success."
after I had tried to practice vajra-love did I discover the twelve kinds of
discharge, so that my guru's advice was quite correct, but unfortunately at
first I did not realize that the word 'discharge' had so many meanings. In my
book, I have collected together from many sources all the twelve meanings of
this term. As far as I know," said Mr. Chen, "there is no other place
where they are all found together."
four kinds of discharge pertain to the body, where energy leaks in these four
ways: As discharge of semen through the seminal duct, as exhalations through
the mouth, as perspiration through the pores of the skin, and as urine through
the urethra. These are called the "four leaks of the body."
leaks of the mind. During vajra-love, if a mind arises dominated by human love,
then this is the first mind-leak. Not only does a thought of human love
constitute a leak, but also the slightest lustful craving (trsna). Third, if
avidya (ignorance) rules the mind, this is a leak. Lastly, if false views
condition one's ways of thinking, this is a serious leak of the mind.
How can one
accomplish meditation so successfully that these four leaks cannot occur? It
seems almost impossible! It means that first one must have attained success in
sunyata meditations. If there is no sunyata attainment, then these four, in
particular, very easily leak. A Kargyupa treatise discusses these a little, and
on this subject it is better than the Ngag-rim, but it was not my fortune to
see the former before I began the third initiation practices.
remain and these concern energy and, therefore, speech. In Tantric philosophy,
speech always corresponds to breath and inner energy
Mr. Chen now described
the five kinds of inner energy (prana) and their four leakages:
energy: If one talks of love with a dakini during one's yogic love practice,
then this energy is leaked away. It is not good to talk; the whole vajra-love
process should be carried out in silence.
energy: This concerns the vajra-love action of penetration and withdrawal. The
rhythm should be slow and the penetration sometimes deep and sometimes shallow,
not always quick and deep like that of the common lustful person. If one
practices only quick and deep action, then this is a leak of the downward-moving
Energy of the
navel: This energy abides in the lower half of the body. If one frequently
changes the posture for vajra-love—and there are
many different positions for its practice—then
this energy is leaked away.
energy of the body; in yogic love-practice, there are four events: The descent
of the pleasure, retaining the semen, taking up the semen, and making the semen
pervade everywhere in the body. If one practices too long and repeats some of
these steps again and again, then a leak will occur of this all-pervading
energy. One should only meditate on sunyata during the whole process, and there
is no need to repeat its parts.
"These four leaks
of energy-speech are my own opinion," said the yogi, "and although
there is no basis for them in the works of the ancients, still they are quite
completes the twelve leaks, but there is yet another energy.
The fifth energy never leaks away during yogic love; otherwise one would die
from it, for this energy is the very life energy (jivitendriya) itself. If it
were easily leaked, then it would also be easy for people to die, but, for most
people, death is not so easy.
I have not dared to practice vajra-love meditation, for two reasons: First, I
fear that one or more of the leaks might still occur, and second, I have met no
dakini. My sunyata meditation is still not perfect; I have tried but it is
still not completely accomplished," said the yogi. He went on: "The
mental leaks are very subtle and I am not yet able to control the process without
lust arising. As it is very easy to fall because of that, I should not and do
not practice these methods. To think of it! When I did practice, I knew only
one out of these twelve."
Classification of precepts
"I have made a list
here of all these various precepts," said Mr. Chen picking up his book."
eight precepts drawn from the Hinayana and fourteen from the Mahayana. In the
Tantra, there are also fourteen plus eight. To these
we add the twelve leaks, plus the precepts of the five Buddhas and their dakinis—altogether
then more. Finally, there are four precepts of the Dharmakaya in Chan which are
also found in the teaching of mahamudra. (See Chenian Booklet
No. 47.) Altogether in this book, then, there are a grand total of 70
precepts from the different yanas.
"I have classified
them according to yanas and then dealt with each precept under four different headings." Mr. Chen showed his book to the listener and
writer. Along the top line were written the original precepts. The second row
of characters contained, he said, accounts of those who had actually practiced.
Then followed the real meanings of the preceptual words—"We shall only talk about a few instances
from this line," the yogi said. "The fourth line shows very clearly
how the precept of the first line may be broken."
In this way,
the contrast between actions in the different yanas is clearly brought out.
There is no actual contradiction among them, for all the precepts emphasize
right conduct, but the meaning of this differs on the various levels.
a Hinayana precept states: "Even though you are a layman, you should not
have sexual intercourse at the wrong time or in the wrong place." Now all the yogi's conduct in the Vajrayana is meditation, he or
she never leaves it either by day or by night, practicing diligently in action.
Thus, for the yogi practicing vajra-love, there is no wrong time and no wrong
place. According to the eight Vajrayana precepts, meetings of yogis and yoginis
for the purpose of worship and making offerings should be conducted decorously,
with no squabbling between them. Such gatherings take place in a temple, and,
according to the Hinayana precept, that would undoubtedly be a "wrong
place." In the Vajrayana, however, it is quite in order—provided
that the union is carried out in the correct yogic manner. There seems to be a
contradiction but really there is none; it is just an instance of the
relativity of conduct: What is good sila in one yana may be quite the reverse in another.
Now we should
examine more clearly the true meanings of these as for meditation—for
this is our subject. If one has no doubt about this purified Dharma, then, as
we have explained, one should diligently practice it. However, and this cannot
be said too many times, one must accompany one's actions with sunyata
meditation and completely identify this with whatever pleasure arises. A right
dharma, which is not an act of lust, may be done at any time. One may therefore
perform vajra-love at the holy Tantric altar.
is broken if one makes love in a human way, lacking purification and skill in
sunyata. It is also broken if the Holy Pride of Buddhahood is not present all
the time. Even if the time and place are both auspicious, but the dharmas have
not been purified and lust dominates one's practice, then still the precept is
Let us take
another example, this time from the Mahayana. In the bodhisattva silas, it
says: "Neither hurt your enemies nor love your friends." But the yogi
practicing the third initiation is bound to love his friends (the dakinis). How
is it, then, that he does not break this Mahayana precept? In the yogi's
meditation, love has already been identified with sunyata and is therefore not
common, human love. As his love is not selfish or human, the precept is not
On the other
hand, common persons who try to practice vajra-love lack the absolutely
essential basis of sunyata-realization. They have never tried practicing the
three wheels of sunyata (see
X, Part One, D, 3, b): Their application here would be to thoroughly understand
the voidness of the yogi, the voidness of the dakini, and the void-nature of
the whole vajra-love process. Because they have not understood these aspects of
voidness, they are called "common persons." Because they are common
persons, they are still full of lust. Because they are still full of lust, they
break this precept by having selfish love for friends.
In my book
every precept on the subject is examined thus. Having seen apparent
contradictions between the Vajrayana spirit and the words of precepts in the
two lower yanas, we now examine a case where two Tantric precepts appear to
thirteenth, says: "If you do not obey the command of your guru to practice
the rites of the third initiation when he orders, then this precept is
On the other
hand, that precept seems to be contradicted by the fifth among the fourteen:
"If you lose your bodhicitta then this precept is broken."
one practices in accordance with the guru's instruction but is unable to
prevent a discharge—then the fifth will be
broken. When this meditation is practiced properly, a discharge will not occur,
but if semen is lost, one should not go to the guru and say, "Oh, this is
a very bad meditation!" One should speak to the teacher in this way:
"First permit me to make very good foundations and when these are strong,
then I shall practice. Please wait! I shall aim at attainment after the
conditions for it are fulfilled." In this way neither of the precepts is
broken; indeed, both may be perfectly observed.
of precepts is found in the teaching of mahamudra, where there are four laws of
nature which are not very widely known:
should not hold on the truth too tightly—this
corresponds to realization of sunyata, to non-reality.
the mind always as vast as the Dharmakaya.
alone—this is the nature of the Dharmakaya.
always maintain a natural mind; no force is needed.
These four are
very hard to keep without a realization of the Dharmakaya. In mahamudra they
are explained in this way, but their correspondences with vajra-love are never
e. The act of
vajra-love. These sections correspond with the four mahamudra precepts given
First, if the
semen is lost during the act of vajra-love one should meditate upon its
non-reality. If great pleasure results from the act, then this pleasure must be
identified with non-reality.
"The meditations in
this section are all within the third initiation, but this process belongs to
the fourth, as we shall see. How can a meditator be expected to keep this
precept? Retaining the semen during the sunyata meditation may lead on to the
practice of the fourth initiation; if it is lost, the precept is not in this
case broken, though the practice is not good."
the semen in the organ. To do this, one must maintain a samapatti upon the
vastness of the sky. If one can do this, the meditator will avoid seminal
discharge and any of the reproductive organs. The samapatti under these
conditions will cause the semen to dissolve.
the semen up, identifying pleasure and sunyata. This state of non-dualism
fulfills the meaning of "alone" in the third mahamudra precept.
semen should then be made to pervade the whole body; this must be done
naturally and without force so that the fourth precept is not broken.
"I have given only
selections from the different precepts (together with their interpretations),
for," said Mr. Chen, turning over many pages of his book, "there is
no room to deal with them all here." He said humbly, "I have gathered
them together and earnestly tried to practice them, but I tearfully confess
that in most people's practice, breaches of the precepts are often
books on meditation do not discuss, as we have pointed out, the fourteen
Tantric precepts. In a dream last night, a protector deity came to me and
asked, 'What are the fourteen precepts?' If even Tantric deities do not know these, then how dangerous can ignorance be in the West,
where few books on the Tantra have been published. In these, passages from
Tantric texts, such as the famous line condoning the use of any woman, whether
mother, sister, or daughter, as a dakini are sometimes quoted. Without
understanding the context in which such lines occur, or their hidden meaning,
such publications can bring great danger to the Dharma. Hence, in this section
on the Vajrayana, we have from the start very strongly emphasized the
importance of the guru-disciple relationship, and also the neglected Vajrayana
repeat, if a person receives the third initiation from his guru and is
well-prepared by his previous training in the other yogas and yanas, then there
will be no danger for him."
yogi warned very seriously, "if one performs vajra-love without the
necessary initiations and preparations, then one will fall straight into
many practical methods for the third initiation, but here we will only give the
main principles, that is, the perfect identification of the four pleasures with
the four wisdoms. The practical methods themselves must be obtained from a
3. The Four Sunyatas
in the Vajrayana
of sunyata in the Mahayana and that in the Vajrayana are quite different,
though in "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines," they are listed by the
editor as though the two were comparable. They differ just as the idea of
sunyata in the Hinayana and the Mahayana differs. Evans-Wentz has stated
(p.206) that the third degree of sunyata in the Vajrayana (all-voidness) is
equivalent to the thirteenth voidness (the sunyata of phenomena) in the
Mahayana list of eighteen. We should not be confused by their names, thinking that
because those seem similar, that they actually represent the same reality. His
equation is not correct, for Mahayana sunyata, as we have seen, lays more
stress upon mentality, lacking a balancing emphasis on materiality. On the
other hand, the four sunyatas of the Tantra concern the heavy sorrows of the
five poisons and the material elements.
samapatti of sunyata is done while sitting quietly engaged in mental practice;
Vajrayana samapattis of sunyata may be practiced during the vajra-love act when
excitation is of physical forces great. It is when the semen is actually being
secreted that it is necessary to attain and hold these four sunyatas.
Summing this up, the
In all three
yanas there is the same sunyata, but Hinayana doctrine retains the notion of
small particles, while the Mahayana concentrates on meditating with the mind.
How these contrast with active Tantric meditation when mentality and
materiality are blended!
4. Lines from
the Ode, "Always Remember"
I wrote this
long poem at the request of some friends. A person we knew had meditated for
100 days without any positive results and, disheartened, had gone away. The
poem was requested as some good advice for him. After it had been printed in
, many people read it, including my friend. He
appreciated its whole message, though here we have space only for a few lines.
Mr. Chen then translated
his poem, giving between the lines his own commentary, here placed in
Vinaya is like keeping precepts in the breaking of them."
the precepts are used as an escape from non-virtue; one "hides away"
in sunyata in the Mahayana; but in the Vajrayana, one tries to keep the
precepts while breaking them. This is very difficult, and can be done only
after keeping the precepts pure in the other two yanas.)
samatha is like getting life from death."
one enters ordinary samatha, the more like death the state of the yogi becomes.
But in Vajrayana, samatha is like the most vivid life, for one obtains some
functional salvation from this highest samatha. In the concluding sections of
the chapters on the yanas of cause, I have given a guide for the yogi's
practice. However, I do not give one for the highest Tantra because here, one
is always meditating—at every time, in every
place. Wherever one happens to be is the mandala; whatever words one utters,
these are the mantric syllables. As to the mind, bodhicitta is constantly
present. In dream, sleep, work, or exercise, the meditation must be maintained.
Therefore, there is no need to give a schedule because this meditation is in
the position of consequence.)
wisdom uses the position of consequence as the position of cause."
uses the wisdom of the final truth as one's instrument, and from this some
functional salvation is reached. Tantric methods are always in the position of
Buddhahood. It is quite different from Mahayana, in which sunyata seems to be
the end of all things. In the Tantra, both the mental and material are
integrated causes of salvation.)
last line of the poem reads:
a little mistake is made, one will fall into hell. Always remember this."
If one has
already passed through and accomplished the previous yanas' meditation, then
there will be no danger in the practice of the third initiation. Here we have
outlined the principles; it is necessary to get the actual details from a
B. Meditations of the Fourth Initiation
There are two
sections here, the first dealing with the main meditation and the second with
its subsidiary practices.
1. The main
practice is called: "Meditation of the identification of the maya-body and
the holy light."
When the third
initiation meditation has been accomplished, both the median channel and the
heart-wheel will have opened, as we have seen. In the heart wheel the body of
wisdom is formed by identifying wisdom-energy with mind. This is called the
maya-body and is the source of the sambhogakaya.
With the help
of the dakini in the third initiation, the yogi forms this maya-body, which is
certainly not a body of flesh but (as its name suggests), it is a magical body,
capable of being expanded or contracted without limit. Now, this maya-body must
be identified with the holy light of the Dharmakaya.
accomplished guru will know when this holy light has become manifest to a third
initiation disciple, and he will explain the significance of the experience.
This is the initiation of the actual Dharmakaya of truth.
As to the
ritual of this initiation, what occurs is that during the act of vajra-love,
the holy light appears between the vajra and the lotus (the male and female
reproductive organs). At that time it should be observed and explained. If the
third initiation practice is not accomplished, then the experience of the
Dharmakaya initiation, witnessing the holy light, cannot arise.
this were the only way, then the fourth initiation could never be experienced
by bhiksus, as they do not use a noble consort. For them there is another way: A bhiksu who has well practiced the first and second
initiation and established his realization of sunyata, can skip over the third
initiation with its dakini practice and directly meditate on the holy light.
This view is held to by the Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, and Kagyupa schools, though the
Gelugpa say that one must practice the third before the fourth initiation. We
need a concentrated chapter to discuss the mahamudra special practices of the
Here ends the
account of the main meditations in all four initiations of the anuttarayoga
Tantra. Now we add some material on the subsidiary practices.
We do indeed
thank Evans-Wentz for his very valuable works and the six meditations he
describes in them—though we have only
talked about one. Now we shall choose from those which remain and our readers
will see why these have been selected.
Before going to sleep, one should practice the sunyata meditations (see Ch. X, Part
One, D). From this practice will come the holy light,
a state of meditation without thoughts or disturbance from dreams; a perfectly
still sunyata experience.
should try to receive a dream, and when one is obtained, it must be recognized
as a dream while still dreaming. After this one should learn
to transform one's dreams at will while dreaming, and finally to fly in the
dream-state to the
Why have we
taken the dream-doctrine first? We have already meditated before sleeping on
the six similes of sunyata, in the last one of which, voidness is likened to a
dream (see Ch. X, Part One, D, 2, a). With a basis of this practice, upon
meeting with dreams, one can learn to recognize them as dreams.
sunyata meditations, there are some Tantric methods. Visualize a red A in the
throat-wheel. The redness of the bija causes blood to flow plentifully in that
region, resulting in strong pulsations affecting the psychic channels, which at
that point easily vibrate. A itself, as mentioned
before, signifies sunyata. Further, the two arteries to the left and right of
the windpipe may be pressed, resulting in the experience of many dreams.
see more on this method in Evans-Wentz's "Tibetan Yoga and Secret
Doctrines," where it is given in his Book III, Chapter III.
b. Bardo: The
intermediate state. This has three stages of practice with light: White, black,
practice is detailed in a Nyingma book, the Bardo Thodol (also edited by
Evans-Wentz as The Tibetan Book of the Dead). During life one should read this
over and become familiar with its contents. There is no need to practice
specially its mandalas, etc., provided that the main practices which we have detailed
are carried out. Then, at the time of death, one should be quite prepared, and
with the aid of a good lama to read the book aloud while one is dying (to give
additional guidance) one will certainly attain liberation.
c. Phowa: Transference
of consciousness. This may be practiced if the median channel is clear and the
red and white bodhicitta practice accomplished. Simply meditate upon the
essence of the five elements and the five wisdoms and gather these together in
one point, in the heart-wheel. Then utter HI. This will cause the essence to be
sent out through the Buddha-hole in the crown of the head to the wisdom-Buddha
visualized on the head. This hole is to be carefully distinguished from the
Brahma-randhra, used in Tantric Hinduism, which is four fingers' widths from
the forehead back along the skull and is usually marked by a slight transverse
depression. It is the intersection of two of the skull-bones.
Mr. Chen fetched his
ritual silver-lined human skull cup to show us these positions.
Buddha-hole lies four fingers further back and is, in
many people, marked by a slight circular depression. If the consciousness
leaves the Brahma-hole, one may go to heaven; whereas if it leaves from the
Buddha-hole, one gains complete liberation.
On another occasion, Mr.
Chen told a story about this meditation. He said, "When I was in
, I was
working away from my house and wife as a college professor of classical
Chinese. Then I received a summons from my guru to lecture at the newly
As this work would also take me from home, though to a different place, I
thought it only right to return to my wife and spend a short time with her.
There were only seven days before the Academy opened, so I felt our time together
should be used to the best possible advantage."
"Now, at that time,
I had already practiced the phowa techniques and obtained success in them, but
my wife had not yet practiced this meditation. It seemed to us that it would be
a good thing if she could obtain realization of consciousness-transference, for
then she might help our parents attain a good rebirth, in case they should die
while I was away."
began to meditate in seclusion in a room of our house. While this practice was
going on, my wife did not engage in or talk about household matters. Indeed,
the only time when she spoke at all was when we had gone to bed, and then only
about the meditation she was performing."
"Upon the table in
her meditation room we had constructed the mandala for phowa practice. As we
had no real jewels, some imitation stones were used. On the fourth day, as she
uttered the HI, one of these stones jumped up out of the mandala, rose a foot
or so, and fell back into place. She told me that night of her experience. I
said, 'Good, good. It means you will attain success in your practice!'"
"The next day, when
she again uttered HI, she felt some pain in the top of the skull. When she
showed this to me, I saw that the region of the Buddha-hole was swollen, and
that some blood was issuing out. Knowing the extent of her practice and seeing
these signs, I knew that in only five days she had achieved signs of
proficiency in this method for the transference of consciousness."
remainder of the time, she practiced the meditations to give long life, for
this is the customary precaution after opening the Buddha-hole. Unless this is
done, the yogi may die prematurely before many beings have been benefited by
his functions of Buddhahood."
"Later, while I was
my wife did indeed help my parents to a better rebirth at the time of their
death. Although I was then thousands of miles away, my aged mother declared
that she saw me quite clearly and refused to believe that I was not present.
Thus calmly and collectedly repeating the mantra of Avalokitesvara, she passed
away, with my wife helping in the process of consciousness-transference."
have said that if there are only three signs then it is an undoubted sign of
success in phowa practice. These signs are: Swelling of the area around the
Buddha-hole, the opening of the bones at this point so that a blade of grass
can be inserted, and the emission of a little blood from the same place.
However, I do not agree, for these are but outward signs and we should
certainly judge according to inward realization. For the latter, there are four
visualization of the Buddha on the head must have been perfectly accomplished.
median channel must be open; otherwise there is no clear way out of the
Buddha-hole. Only through a median channel free of obstacles can the departing
continuity of consciousness realize the Dharmakaya and pass into the
the syllable HI is uttered, it must contain the gathered forces from the
wisdom-energy. By the force of this wisdom-energy sound, one may go to the
If the syllable is merely said as an ordinary word, unrelated to the
wisdom-energy, then this will not be effective in taking a person there.
Fourth, all the
elements and wisdom which are to be sent out must be gathered at the
wisdom-point in the heart. After this, one may experience death, or have the
feeling of death.
"I have had such an
experience," related Mr. Chen. "I had this feeling and I immediately
concentrated on the tips of my fingers, so as to disperse these gathered
forces, and this restored me to life."
"I have written a
long essay on this subject according to the three outward signs and, in
addition, thoroughly expounding these four inward conditions. This work, too,
has been published in
, and after
reading it, they assumed that all would be well with them according to their
attainment of the outer signs; but now they know that it is foolishness to
completely trust such things. Although many books do not mention the above
four, still they are not my own ideas and are surely in accordance with the
among the six doctrines, two have so far not been described. Why do we not talk
more about the clear-light and maya-body? Outwardly, the maya-body is included
in the first initiation growing yoga, while inwardly it is the wisdom-Buddha in
the heart, practiced in the second and third initiation meditations. As for the
light practices, we are concerned with it in all the other five doctrines. So
we have no need to further discuss these two matters.
A little more
discussion is necessary, however, to show how the four
sorrows of the Hinayana meditations have developed in the Vajrayana:
In the third
initiation—Great Lust (vajra-love) is developed.
sleeping-yoga—Great Ignorance is developed (ignorance and
sleep are akin).
yidam is wrathful—Great Wrath is
growing-yoga of the first initiation—Great Pride
Great Doubt; this we shall treat in the chapter on Chan.
Tibetan Tantric practices, thus, we see that there are correspondences with the
first four Hinayana poisons. In Chan (and in mahamudra, which is its
equivalent), there is a correspondence with the Great Doubt as well, as we
shall see. Readers should refer to our diagrams (see the one in Ch. IX and
those two in Ch. X, Part Two).
said Mr. Chen.
Some readers may find
themselves rather dizzy at these rarefied heights of attainment. To return us
to this world, before we close Bhante told two anecdotes which, while they are
related to our most serious subject, still made us all laugh. He said, "Do
you know, Mr. Chen, a Nyingmapa friend once told me that he had received a wang
was so high that it was said to confer instant Enlightenment. But, sad to say,
after taking it, he remained unenlightened!"
"And again, others
tell stories that some Nyingmapa wangs are of such an exalted nature that one
may transmit them to others, without practicing them oneself!"
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