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A commentary upon Gelongma Palmo’s Po Praise to the Exalted Chenrezi entitled The Precious Ornament’s Excellence By Kachen Lobsang Zopa
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- Namo Guru Lokeshvara ya
- This Po Praise to the greatly compassionate one,
- composed by the fully ordained nun Pal-mo,
- is extremely inspiring and full of blessings.
The introductory homage
Om: Homage to The Protector of the World!
You are praised as ‘Guru of the World’ by all three realms;
Are praised as such by Mara - foremost of the gods - and Brahma;
Supreme victor of the sages, praising you fulfills our wishes;
Foremost guardian of the three worlds, I offer obeisance.
The opening line is an auspicious praise of Padmapani as protector of the entire world. The lotsawas of the past would customarily make a gesture of homage at the outset of a translation; to be able to complete it, and so that future generations would continue to receive its blessing. Chenrezi is the sublime guru, a guide who leads all worldly beings, of the six types - born through the four ways, to the state of high birth and liberation; and, as such, all beings of the three realms, the desire, form and formless realms, bow with devotion toward and praise him. He is praised as chief deity of the gods, is the object of prostration and offerings and is a refuge for all those who are fearful of suffering; such as the one renowned as the foremost and most powerful of the desire realm’s gods ‘Mara, Garab Wongchuk’, the owner of the three realms-Bhrama and Indra. Those having given up their refuge in the principle gods of the desire and form realms, Kapila, Kanada, and others who practice outside of the sages teachings, turn for refuge to the superior Chenrezi - the supreme victor in the battle with the four maras. His praise accomplishes all wishes and therefore he is known as the fulfiller of wishes.
Gelongma Palmo acquired faith in Chenrezi through knowing his qualities. It wasn’t that she was attached to a particular tradition or practice but rather that she had the deep conviction that there was nothing or no one, whether under, on or above the world, superior to The Greatly Compassionate One; both in terms of being the infallible refuge - in both the short and long terms - for all beings, as well as their supreme protector. Therefore, she offered physical prostrations to Chenrezi, sung his praises and mentally held him as her refuge. In this way unifying her body, speech and mind she devoutly offered homage. We, her followers, should also behave in a similar manner.
An explanation of the main body of the praise
Possessor of a fine body, brimming with countless forms of the Sugatas,
With your right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity,
You dispel the hunger and thirst of hungry spirits;
Your left hand is perfectly adorned with a golden lotus;
You shake your perfumed orange locks;
Beautiful, your face is broad like the full moon;
Your eyes, like lotuses flowers, are exquisite and wide;
Your body is scented and pure white like a conch or the snow;
It is adorned with clusters of flawless, radiant pearls;
You are endowed with the beautiful red glow of dawn;
Your arms are arranged like a lotus pond;
Youthful, you are possessed of the colour of autumn clouds;
Your shoulders are adorned with many jewels;
The palms of your hands are as youthful and smooth as the best of leaves;
An antelope skin is spread over your left breast;
You wear charming jewellery, such as earrings and bracelets;
You stand upon a beautiful stainless lotus;
Your abdomen is as smooth as a lotus petal;
Your exceptional golden belt is adorned with jewels;
A skirt of beautiful cloth is worn upon your hips;
Possesses of the Sage’s supreme wisdom - gone beyond the great ocean;
To achieve the supreme state you have collected much merit;
Source of perpetual bliss you dispel aging and sickness;
Acting from within the enjoyment of space you liberate from the three lower realms;
Supreme Being - you are victorious over Mara’s hordes;
Your feet, adorned with tinkling, golden anklets, are sublime;
You isolate from Brahma’s four abodes;
You move with the grace of a swan and the pride of an elephant;
Having completed the accumulations you take care of the teachings;
And free from the oceans of milk and water.
Herein follows the meaning of the poem:
Chenrezi’s fine body is possessed of the peerless array of the thirty two major and eighty minor characteristics of perfection. Within each and every body pore countless Buddhas and bodhisattvas, demonstrating the aspects of complete liberation, dwell; and, as such, his is the single body brimming with countless forms of the Sugatas.
Previously when the Greatly Compassionate One was Unblinking eye, the eldest son of the Wheel - turning King, Wheel rim, he gave rise to the supreme wish for enlightenment, at which time he was able to behold the pure Buddha realms. From that point onward he relied upon Amithaba Buddha as his principle spiritual teacher and gathered merit for incalculable aeons. He became enlightened in the lineage of Amithaba and, as a sign of this, beautified his crown with an image of Sugata Amithaba, Chief Buddha of that lineage, worn as a crown diadem.
The above can also be taken as essential advice. Initially the supreme wish for enlightenment is cultivated through reliance upon a spiritual friend of the great vehicle, and then the accumulations [of merit and wisdom) are gathered under the constant protection of said friend. Finally, after achieving enlightenment, the crown of one’s spiritual friend’s Buddha lineage is placed upon ones head. Those who would like to train in the great vehicle should realize that this mode of reliance upon a spiritual friend is the way to make progress upon the path. This is skillful advice indeed.
From the fingers of the Greatly Compassionate One’s right hand, which displays the gesture of supreme generosity, a stream of nectar falls dispelling the hungry spirits’ sufferings of hunger and thirst.
The Greatly Compassionate One is universally renowned as The Holder of the Lotus, because, although he abides within the six-realms of the cycle of existence, he remains unsullied by their faults. Just as a lotus flower, grown from and remaining atop a muddy pool, is, nevertheless, unsullied by the mud. This is the symbolic meaning of the lotus flower, as luminous and radiant as gold, which perfectly adorns his left hand.
As a symbol of his mind being free from the gross sensations of grasping at extremes, his hair is extremely smooth and fragrant, and hangs untangled. Luminous orange hair locks stand-up atop his wrathful face. His body hairs are each grown from a single pore never are two or three hairs grown from the same pore or tangled but rather each hair curls softly to the right, and away from his body; and from each hair tip, lights sparkle. The mere sight of this Superior One causes contentment.
His face, as broad as the15th’s full moon, is extremely attractive and beautiful to behold. His exquisite lotus eyes are long and handsome; the black of the pupil is clearly discernible from the white of the eye. These half shut, peaceful eyes gaze unimpeded at the entirety of the obscurations of all sentient beings throughout space, such is their extent. With his gaze alone this Superior One is able to fulfill the wishes of all.
Symbolic of his mind being free of all faults, [[Chenrezi’s] body is pure white like snow or a conch shell, and has a natural fragrance. Anyone who merely smells its fragrance will be contented, and whoever sees its colour will be liberated from the cycle of existence. It is impossible for anyone, upon beholding this form, to find even the slightest aspect which is displeasing; as such, this Superior One is agreeable to all.
His ever - present great compassion, which never shows signs of fatigue, is heart - warming. It’s beautiful red radiance, the mere sight of which effortlessly accomplishes both temporary and ultimate goals, travels to the ten directions; thus, he is the superior-one endowed with the beautiful red glow of dawn.
Just as wish-fulfilling jewels and stainless lotuses are perfectly arranged around a lotus pond, five-hundred smooth and tantalizing arms are perfectly arranged around each of the Greatly Compassionate One’s right and left sides. The structure of the arms is such that they are no higher than the ushnisha, nor lower than the knees. The one who has achieved such beauty is the superior Chenresi
The Superior One’s two shoulders, upper arms, in fact the whole of his upper body is adorned with myriad, priceless pieces of gold, silver, gem-stones and lapis jewellery. The palms of each and every one of his hands are as young and smooth as the best of leaves, the leaves of a wish-fulfilling tree. They are decorated with auspicious drawings, such as right-turning conches, swastikas, full vases and so on; each palm has an eye and the fingers are webbed like a swans feet.
[No commentary to line fifteen of the praise.]
He stands upon a beautiful seat of lotus and moon cushions, both of which are unsullied by any defilement, which is symbolic of his being unsullied by the faults of samsara and immutable from the state of natural purity.
The skin of the Superior One’s slender abdomen is vastly superior to others; it’s extremely smooth like a lotus petal. This is symbolic of the rest of his skin being extremely smooth like a lotus petal.
He cultivated a most excellent attitude by giving rise to the thought of enlightenment, and then developing his love, compassion and Bodhicitta. With this attitude he developed an excellent conduct, perfecting all of the bodhisattva’s activities, such as the wisdom realizing the absolute, etc; He achieved the Sage’s supreme wisdom of the ten powers, such as the power of knowing what is right and wrong. As such, he has gone beyond the great ocean of samsara and nirvana.
He has amassed the collections of merit and the wisdom- held by bodhicitta- uninterruptedly for countless aeons and has thereby achieved the supreme state; the union of the dharma body- the complete exhaustion of all faults, and the enjoyment body- the complete accomplishment of all qualities.
Being unable to bear the painful torments of the vicious sufferings of birth, aging and sickness - derived from the destructive emotions and action - endured by all beings of the three realms; he decides to clear it by compassionately leading them to the state of perpetual bliss, the state of liberation, thereby thoroughly dispelling all their suffering.
For those born in the three lower realms, he emanates in such a way as to liberate them. For those about to be born in the lower realms, he emanates so they may purify their negative karma and become established in the virtue of restraint. Chenrezi, who displays many such actions, isn’t limited to sending a few, single emanations to individual beings; but rather, being the enjoyer of space, is able to emanate in whichever way will aid all beings, abiding as far as space extends, each according to their specific needs.
The Victor over evil is the Supreme Being, greatly compassionate Chenrezi, the best of humans; he simultaneously emanates countless forms to myriad realms which, not only destroy Mara’s hordes, but also fulfill beings wish for enlightenment.
The superior one’s feet are adorned with golden anklets and other ornaments made of silver and other precious substances. The golden anklets are embellished with tiny golden bells with tinkle charmingly. The sounds of these bells cause delight in the short term and ultimately act as a seed for enlightenment for all who hear them. His feet also have the characteristics of the major and minor marks, such as: an unseen ankle bone, flat and even soles, and broad and raised heels - a quarter the size of the entire foot.
Through his great compassion he emanates skilfully so as to instil faith in beings. Having rendered them suitable, he saves them from following lesser spiritual paths and guides then along the same spiritual path that he himself has followed. This is the great vehicle path which is isolated from the distractions of selfish obsession with Brahma’s four abodes: great love, great compassion, great joy and great equanimity. Thus the Superior One leads all through the stages of the spiritual path which culminate in the state of Buddhahood.
He moves, neither hurriedly nor awkwardly, with the grace of the King of Swans, with the gentle yet powerful gait of a proud elephant, and with the haughtiness of a lion; thus he displays these minor characteristics of perfection.
Initially he gave rise to the thought of enlightenment, then for incalculable aeons he gathered and completed the accumulations; and finally, in order to ripen his many disciples, he manifested enlightenment. As such he works without a moments distraction for the welfare of all beings, and will do so as long as space exists. His principle altruistic activity is giving the teachings which will allow his disciples to train their minds. In this way the Superior One strives solely to spread the transmission of the teachings and their spiritual realization throughout the world.
Being a skilful teacher he is able to save beings from falling into the extreme of peace - likened to an ocean of milk, and from the extreme of existence -likened to an ocean of water, and lead them to the state of complete enlightenment. If one has not moved from the mere sphere of peace - peace referring to ‘freedom from samsara’ (nirvana) - one is still not free from the grip of the primordial, subtle obscurations to Buddhahood, and therefore is not able to perform great deeds for others. This is referred to as ‘having fallen into the extreme of peace’. As for ‘having fallen into extreme of existence’ this refers to continual birth and death, under the influence of the destructive emotions and action, karma, as a recurrent transmigration within which one continually ‘takes-up’ the contaminated aggregates.
The benefits of reciting the praise
The recitation of this Po Praise carries great and immediate blessings. Particularly if you continually, upon waking early in the morning, are to rise, wash, put on clean clothes and then, sitting on a comfortable seat in pleasant surroundings, place your hands in the prostration mudra (folded at the chest as a sign of physical homage) respectfully bring Chenrezi to mind, recall his compassionate body, speech, mind and qualities, and then, recite this supreme Po Praise purely and clearly. If recited with much emotion, it is said that its great blessings will be even swifter; such are the inconceivable qualities of this praise.
The Po Praise has the power to thoroughly pacify immediate difficulties and usher in pleasant circumstance. To continually free from the three lower realms and bring about ones rebirth in the higher realms –the mundane accomplishments. Having achieved a higher rebirth, to then meet an emanated, mahayana, spiritual friend, who would be able to arouse a feeling of weariness with samsara; inviting an urgency to perfect the three higher trainings. Conjoining them with love and compassion will allow entrance into the mahayana spiritual path. One would then progress through the three phases of the Path of Accumulation: the smaller, middling and greater paths and then achieve the irreversible Path of Preparation. To go beyond this super mundane accomplishment the first Bodhisattva ground must be achieved, within which one may instantaneously emanate hundreds of forms to travel to hundreds of Buddha – realms, within which to accomplish perfect hundreds of qualities, such as those of the bodhisattva grounds and so forth. In such ways progress through the second ground, up until the tenth spiritual ground must be made, then the ripening empowerments and liberating instructions, taught according to action tantra, may be received, and the yogas with and without characteristics practiced. Through perfecting them, exhausting every fault and thoroughly perfecting every quality, the state of the Greatly Compassionate One - the noble Chenrezi will be swiftly achieved.
Gelongma Palmo has declared that if you would like to achieve these two accomplishments, the mundane and super mundane, or fulfil any other wishes they can all be accomplished through the recitation of this praise; which she composed in the presence of the Greatly Compassionate One himself and carries his promise of granting supreme benefit.
- Recollection of your name causes liberation from the horrors of the lower realms, and causes excellence to abound. It causes migration, at the time of death, from this world to the pure land of Sukavati, and there to behold Amithaba Buddha and receive his teachings.
- Whatever son or daughter of the lineage who recites this great knowledge mantra of six-syllables, will gain inexhaustible courage, their wisdom will become perfectly pure and they will become greatly loving and compassionate. They will complete the six-perfections daily and will achieve the state of a wheel-turning vidyadhara. Those breathing, whether loving or angry, will all become irreversible bodhisattvas and achieve the highest, most perfect and complete enlightenment.
It is stated in many sutras and tantras, as well as in the Mani Kabu and so forth, of the infinite benefits that come from this practice. I request the learned to read those books, for I have not had the opportunity to quote them all in full here.
I have beautified the naturally fine body of the Po Praise
It is offered to those who requested, it and all others;
May they never be separated from Chenrezi
This commentary upon Gelongma Palmo’s Po Praise The Precious Ornament’s Excellence was insistently requested by one who has devotion toward the Lama Chenrezi, Gelong Lobzang Tsondru. Written by the master of the ten treatises, Gelong Lobsang Zopa, at the auspicious bliss swirl rooms of the comfortable monastery.
May all be auspicious
ue the continual insistence my sublime dharma friend, Mike Murray, this translation was made by the English barbarian, Gelong Tenzin Jamchen (Sean Price), with the indirect assistance of Geshe Tashi of FPMT Jamyang in London.
© Chopel Translation
Translation of the Long Mantra of Chenresig
It is thus: Om, (you) will hold, will hold; do hold, do hold; hold, hold!
(I) request power; move, move! Thoroughly move, thoroughly move!