Dzogchen: Thodgal (Leap-Over) Instructions by Dudjom Lingpa
Now as for the stages of the main practice, at first you determine the ground by way of the Breakthrough, then the initial moment of impure consciousness emerges in the aspect of an object, a subsequent conceptualization fastens onto it, and delusion sets in. Now, in contrast, in the Leap-over, the initial moment of consciousness is transformed into an appearance of clear light, and by experiencing the very nature of consciousness, all impure appearances dissolve into the absolute nature and vanish. Knowing how that occurs is the indispensable, sublime point of the Leap-over, so recognize it!
If you do not recognize this vital point, however much you meditate, you will go astray on the path of dualistic grasping, and you will not progress along the grounds and paths of liberation. Thus, once you have truly realized the manner in which the whole of samsara and nirvana is none other than your own appearances, finally all mental states and appearances of the impure cycle of existence will forcefully be transformed into displays of the clear light, reality itself. So this is the practical guidance on the great transference. By truly recognizing the entrance to this path with the wisdom of realizing identitylessness, originally pure reality-itself, beyond mental investigation, the absolute nature free of conceptual elaboration, will be experienced with the eye of expansive wisdom. Unlike nebulous, obscure meditations and intellectual fabrications, with the eye of wisdom you directly see the precious, spontaneously present absolute nature, the reality-itself of the expanse of clear light.
To practice these instructions, at the outset you must firm up your posture, for if this is not done, the absolute nature, bindus, and the vital energies will be dispersed in all the channels and elements of the body, and they will not manifest. As an analogy, if a snake is not squeezed, its limbs will not become evident, but if it is, they appear. The posture is accordingly of tremendous importance.
First, the lion's posture is as follows. Join the soles of your feet in front of you. Plant your vajra-fists on the ground between your legs, and look up into the sky. That is the dharmakaya posture and gaze. For the sambhogakaya posture, plant your knees and elbows on the ground and support your cheeks with your palms. Point the soles of your feet outward, and gaze directly in front of you. However, if appearances of the clear light do not manifest, alternately run your gaze to the left and right and up and down. Rest your gaze wherever those appearances are most clear. For the nirmanakaya posture plant the soles of your feet on the ground, press your chest against your knees and clasp your knees with both hands while interlacing your fingers. Straighten your spine, and gaze downwards.
Here is the significance of those postures. With the dharmakaya posture, the soles of the feet are joined in order to constrain the afflictive vital energies in their own place. The vajra-fists are placed on the ground to cut off the pathways of the afflictions. The gaze is directed upwards to open the vision of primordial wisdom. With the sambhogakaya posture, pointing the soles outward causes the vital energies to flow easily. Pressing your knees against your chest balances the heat and cold elements of the body. Pointing your knees and elbows at the ground blocks the impure apertures. Supporting your cheeks with your palms balances bliss and emptiness. By directing your gaze straight in front of you, primordial wisdom settles in its own luminosity. With the nirmanakaya posture, the soles of your feet press on the air mandala in order to suppress the power of the karmic vital energies. By pressing together the fire mandala of the thighs and the fire mandala of the belly, the impure vital energies of samsara are extinguished right where they are. By pressing together the water mandala of the knees and the fire mandala of the palms, the heat and cold elements of the body are balanced. By pressing together the fire mandala of the palms and the fire mandala of the armpits, cold disorders are dispelled. By pressing together the water mandala of the backs of the hands and the water mandala of the throat, heat disorders are dispelled. By gazing downwards, the eye of omniscience is opened. Even if you look straight ahead or turn your gaze upwards, the eye of omniscience is still opened, so there is no difference. You may direct your gaze wherever you find the greatest clarity.
Moreover, it is not necessary to use all three postures. Rather, you may stay in any of the postures that facilitates the arising of the clear light and that you find comfortable and suitable. If you like variety, you may shift from one posture to the other and from time to time apply yourself to other spiritual practices. If you want nothing complicated, strive in meditation continuously throughout the day and night. Those who can meditate only during the day and not through the night should constantly practice throughout the day. The practice is to have three special sessions during the night and to intermittently train in the dying process. (1)
The important thing for the senses is that you look with eyes partially open and that you do not suddenly open them wide, for that will dull your vision, and it will prevent the appearances of the clear light from manifesting; so do not rigidly fix your gaze. The important thing for the vital energies is that you practice breathing gently through your mouth through a little opening between your lips and teeth; and pause for a moment with the breath exhaled. As for the object of your gaze, in the beginning for about one month, during the daytime direct your gaze one cubit(2) from the sun; then the [practice during the] night will clear away any problems of heat increasing in the eyes due to the sun.(3) In order to achieve stability in the clear light, gaze at the moon in the same way.
At night if you gaze at a flame, by looking above it with your eyes half open, at first you will see nothing more than something like an orange bale of hay. After awhile, the absolute nature will appear and bindus will arise in the form of quivering lines. Finally, beautiful, limpid visions of the absolute nature and bindus will appear clearly and extensively. Remain with your body unmoving like a corpse in a charnel ground; keep your voice silent, avoiding all articulation; and do not exhale through your nose but slowly breathe through your mouth without impeding or forcing it. That is the reliance upon the crucial point of letting the channels and vital energies be, without retention or manipulation. Remain without moving from the state in which consciousness experientially emerges as the clear light, without the mind being modified in any way. Wherever you are, by keeping the body straight, all the channels and vital energies will be straight, and once the mind has dissolved into empty awareness, you will be stabilized in that state.
The explanation of the channels and bindus of the path according to this yana is called Ati-anu, so you should come to know them correctly. The mouth is the aperture through which coarse, impure mental afflictions, vital energies, and mental states manifest, and the nose is the subtle aperture for subtle afflictions, vital energies, and mental states. Here is the way they move. In the lungs, channels having the width of a straw of wheat are filled with that which is called the exhaled and inhaled breaths. If they increase, heat disorders arise, if they decrease, cold disorders occur, and if the breath flows smoothly, there is a balance of the heat and cold elements of the body. In one day, there are 21,600 breaths, which are like mounts for mental ideation. Therefore, even though there are profound methods for forcefully constraining the vital energies and mind by retaining and manipulating the channels and breath, they may be enormously obstructive and misleading.
The six kinds of lamps(4) of the ground of the nature of existence are the avenues by which primordial wisdom arises, and the eyes are the evident apertures of primordial wisdom. The ears are the hidden apertures of subtle primordial wisdom, and they are the pathways by which consciousness apprehends appearances, so you train in their sounds. Through the evident apertures of primordial wisdom, you train in the clear light that illuminates the darkness. Dream appearances are the avenues to the manifestation of stainless vision, and by familiarizing yourself with the clear light, emanation, and transformation, the appearances in the transitional process of becoming can be emanated and transformed. From that you can emanate a pristine nirmanakaya buddha-field and accustom yourself to transforming the appearances of the intermediate state.
Here in order to experience the visions of the embodiments and primordial wisdoms there are three kinds of lamps of the vessel. The quintessence of the body is the citta lamp of the flesh at the heart, the inside of which is soft white. This is called the lamp of the channels, the quintessence of the channels, and hollow crystal kati channel. It is a single channel, one-eighth the width of a hair of a horse's tail, with two branches that penetrate inside the heart like the horns of a wild ox. They curve around the back of the ears and come to the pupils of the eyes. Their root is the heart, their trunk is the channels, and their fruit is the eyes.
The quintessence of the apertures is called the fluid Lasso lamp. That consists of three kinds of lamps of the vessel. Although the three kinds of lamps of the vessel are given three names, in reality they refer to the same thing, like a root, trunk, and fruit. Thus, in the context of the path, they are simply called the fluid lasso lamp.
As for the three kinds of lamps of the vital essence, the lamp of the pristine absolute nature is the quintessence of the five outer elements. The transformation of impurities into the five-colored lights of the empty essential nature of the quintessence is called the absolute nature, and because of the purification of the reification of impurities, it is called pristine. The element appearing as space, transformed into the quintessence, is blue and light blue. The element appearing as water, transformed into the quintessence, is white and gray. The element appearing as fire, transformed into the quintessence, is red and brown. The element appearing as earth, transformed into the quintessence, is yellow, pale yellow, and dark yellow. The element of air, transformed into the quintessence, appears as green, tan, and light green.
At first, in whatever color the impure visions appear, when they are transformed into the absolute nature, they still appear in that same color. As for the visions of the absolute nature, at first they are of the nature of such things as the sun, moon, and a flame, bearing all five colors, filled with rainbow patterns of the absolute nature, like brilliant brocade. This rainbow weave arises as horizontal images. Beginners may achieve stability in this by gazing for a month at the sun and a crystal during the daytime, at the moon during the nighttime, and by gazing at a flame while indoors. At the beginning, shimmering images arise, after awhile they become more stable, and finally they remain motionless. At that time, look at a clear window, dispense with the flaws of enjoying or not enjoying the beauty or lack of beauty of the light images. Then a whitish blue emerges which is not that of the external sky, but know that it is important to rest in a state without attraction or aversion to its qualities.
To transform the five inner elements into quintessences, the element of the quintessence of the mind is transformed into blue and it appears as such; the element of the quintessence of the blood transforms into the color white and appears as such; the element of the quintessence of the flesh transforms into the color yellow and appears as such; the element of the quintessence of warmth transforms into the color red and appears as such; and the element of the quintessence of the breath transforms into the color green, and appears as such.
As for the lamp of the empty bindu, the five quintessences appear in circular forms, so they are called bindus. Although they are spherical, without corners, in your vision they appear like concentric circles due to throwing a stone in a pond. The interior of the so-called hollow crystal kati channel is filled with the lights of the five quintessences, and a form of an indestructible bindu is present in that space. By gazing at that with the eye of wisdom, the interior of that channel becomes evident and arises in the form of outer appearances. Without grasping onto them, your own channels will illuminate themselves. If you grasp onto the visions of the absolute nature as being external and onto awareness as being internal, you will fall into the error of dualistic grasping.
In the domain of that pristine, absolute nature, the lusters of awareness called vajra-strands appear like moving, floating threads of gold. That is the initial phase. After awhile they appear like pearls threaded on a string, and finally they emerge in the form of full and half-lattices. They are the basis from which the two kinds of lamps of vital essence arise, called the lamp of self-arisen wisdom and the self-knowing sugatagarbha.
The four lamps of the path of appearances are the fluid lasso lamp, the lamp of the pristine absolute nature, the lamp of the empty bindu, and the lamp of self-arisen wisdom. The four lamps of the contemplative path are combined in one. Know that synthesizing them, then applying yourself to practice is of the utmost importance. If you practice in that way, unlike the mentally constructed, vague meditation as in the Breakthrough--the reality-itself of the clear light will directly appear to your senses, so they are called the direct visions of reality-itself. This is not like meditating on substantial, human- like deities that are strenuously conjured up by the mind, as in the stage of generation. This alone is the practical instruction for achieving stability in the great experiential displays of the embodiments and primordial wisdoms, thereby liberating the actual three embodiments within yourself. This is superior to the ordinary kinds of transference involving the three recognitions, (5) a path by which you visualize shapes and colors and propel yourself aloft, as it were. This has the distinction of the great transference by which you transform all appearances and mental states of samsara and nirvana into the absolute nature of reality-itself.
Due to continuously practicing single-pointedly in that way, the potency of the vase empowerment strikes the materiality of your body, so that you have no wish to move your body; due to the potency of the secret empowerment permeating your speech patterns, you have no wish to speak; and due to the potency of the wisdom empowerment striking your mental continuum, your attention remains wherever you place it. This is real quiescence that is devoid of signs. Thus, since all coarse and subtle ideation is calmed in the ocean of the original ground, it is quiescent; and since awareness remains without fluctuation in its own state, it is still.(6)
By transforming appearances and mental states into displays of the embodiments and primordial wisdoms, there is an exceptional vision of the clear-light appearances of reality-itself, so this is called insight.
From the impure state of samsara, since you truly know the reality-itself of the Breakthrough, the nature of existence of suchness, you see the truth of reality-itself. Due to achieving a great, unprecedented vision of reality-itself, this is the Very Joyful [ground]. With the first visions of the Leap-over, you come to the confidence of never returning to samsara, so you implicitly achieve the first ground of the sutra path. On the mantra path, all delusive appearances and mental states come to maturation in the nature of the clear light, reality-itself; ignorance is transformed into awareness, and you implicitly achieve the ground in which awareness holds its own ground. At this time, even if you die and are interrupted [in your practice], you will be reborn as a tulku, and you will have embarked on the path of liberation. The outer signs are that the appearances of the absolute nature are majestic and stable, as if the curtain on them had been opened; and bindus appear, ranging from the size of fish eyes to thumb rings.
This is the way the experiential visions progress. Initially, vital energy fills you inside from your heart up to your throat, or various sorts of illnesses or disagreeable pains may occur. Randomly moving throughout the exterior and interior of your body, staying in no one place for long, these disturbances arise due to the potency of the vital energy of primordial wisdom striking the ascending wind. After awhile, they increase and your throat may become sore and blocked so that food is obstructed and coughed out. You may lose your appetite, have trouble breathing, and lose your voice. Then they increase yet further, and disturbances arise due to the potency of the vital energy of primordial wisdom striking the life-sustaining wind. Then you may experience mood swings from joy to sorrow and from desire to hatred. Due to the potency of the vital energy of primordial wisdom striking the descending wind, when the disturbances increase, urine and excrement are blocked and cannot be excreted, and when the disturbances subside, they are expelled constantly. Due to the potency of the vital energy of primordial wisdom striking the pervasive wind, when those disturbances increase, the body becomes swollen, and when they decrease, all the flesh of your body withers as if it were becoming a corpse. Due to the potency of the vital energy of primordial wisdom striking the fire accompanying wind, when the disturbances increase, sweat emerges from the body and great heat arises; and when they subside, you get goose bumps, your complexion deteriorates, and you shiver with cold.
Finally, all the winds combine and enter the channels and elements of the body, and sharp pains arise in all the channels. Movements of the winds permeate your whole body, inside and outside, giving rise to various illnesses such as combined heat and cold disorders. The body becomes swollen, boils and sores appear, dire illnesses arise, medications and divinations go awry, bad omens appear, and individual channels and joints become painful. Gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and lymph disorders may arise, and you may become lame, blind, deaf, or mute, and may pass out. Know that various random kinds of pains may arise in the body.
You may engage in various kinds of behavior, acting coquettishly or shamelessly, like someone afflicted with a disease. In short, know fully well that due to the functions of the channels, winds, and elements, these bodily pains will not be the same for everyone, so there is no one criterion for recognizing them.
As for your speech, you may find yourself singing various songs and melodies, babbling, speaking offensively, having your behavior not conform to your speech, not living in accord with your words and acting contrary to them, and speaking uncontrollably as if your words were uttered by an insane person. Such speech is nonsensical and random, So recognize this!
Like the noises made by a madman, your mind may ramble aimlessly, without being able to remedy or alter it in any way. Due to the disorders in your heart and life force channel, at times you may weep, groan, sigh, exhale forcefully, or constantly want to be on the move, without being able to remain in one place. Your environment may seem so miserable that you do not want to stay where you are, and you may constantly experience a wide range of confused emotions. So recognize this! You may have various sorts of visions of gods and demons or random sensations of hunger, thirst, heat, cold, and so on. These are the outer signs of the appearances of the clear light.
At the beginning stage, remain motionlessly with your face completely covered, and bindus from the size of the dots on dice up to the size of thumb rings will appear. At times, the visions of the absolute nature, together with the bindus, will not be evident, but the luster of awareness will appear in forms called vajra-strands. At times the bindus of the absolute nature will not arise, then they will fluctuate in size, and they will become unclear, no matter how much you try. On occasion, the visions of the absolute nature will repeatedly appear in the expanse of clear light in spherical forms of five-colored lights. Those are the criteria of familiarity with the practice.
At this time, even if your life comes to an end, you will go straight to a nirmanakaya buddha-field, with no intermediate state. By gaining greater familiarity with this practice, the visions of the absolute nature will appear resplendently like loosely woven cloth, and they will appear in the sky in the form of dangling lattices and half-lattices. In the midst of the visions of the absolute nature, all sorts of images may appear, such as stupas, lotuses, white conches, wheels, vajras, jewels, swastikas, swords, spear-tips, images like stacks of books, and various forms of letters and animals. Whatever appears, those are visions of the absolute nature, so know that it is important not to mistake them for bindus. Bindus will appear in round shapes, gradually growing from the size of thumb rings to the size of cups and on to the size of round shields.
At the beginning stage, the lights of awareness, called vajra-strands, no broader than a hair's width, radiant like the sheen of gold, appear to move to and fro, never at rest, like hairs moving in the breeze. Even as they stabilize a little bit, they become clear and lustrous, temporarily wavy, and they slow down somewhat, appearing like deer running across a mountainside. Then as you become somewhat more accustomed to the practice, they appear like strung pearls, and they slowly circle around the peripheries of the bindus of the absolute nature, like bees circling flowers. Their clear and lustrous appearance is an indication of the manifestation of awareness. Their fine, wavy shapes indicate liberation due to the channels, and their moving to and fro indicates liberation due to the vital energies. Due to the qualities of purifying the bindus, the presence of bindus on curves [of the strands) indicates that one will be liberated. By the power of meditation, they appear in the forms of lattices and half-lattices, transparent like crystal, radiant like gold, and like necklaces of medium-sized strung crystals. The criterion of having thoroughly familiarized oneself with the practice is that they appear indeterminately, but they remain stable, without moving or vibrating. In this case, the name of the cause is also given to the result, and that is the vajra-strand luster of awareness. They are the luster of awareness, so they gradually become as stable as awareness itself. They are not the real, self-arisen lamps of awareness and wisdom.
Once the beginner's phase has passed, the visions of the absolute nature become beautiful, clear, and stable, and they take on various divine forms. Although they may increase and decrease, before a single inner sign has arisen, the appearances of such outer signs are premature, like a dzaki flower that blooms out of season. So that does not constitute progress in terms of experiential realization. Even when the inner signs occur, the outer bindus of the absolute nature may become indistinct. That happens to some people who have a dominant water element, and the elements of their channels are such that the development of their experiential realizations proceed like a slow foot race. If that is mistakenly identified as progress in meditative experience and as reaching consummate awareness, even if visions occur that would seemingly indicate the extinction into reality-itself, in fact one has in no way gone beyond ordinary consciousness. Indeed, one is proceeding in the opposite direction, contrary to the tantras, so this is an enormous error. It is important to know this.
Even if muddled outer signs and vivid images are present, recognize the importance of the emergence of the inner signs. Although experiential visions may appear to your inner consciousness, if the outer signs are unclear, that indicates that you will not be able to gaze at the clear light for sustained periods, and there will be obstacles. Know this as well. When experiential visions homogeneously arise inwardly, the visions of the Breakthrough are aroused, causing the meditative experiences of the Leap-over to be disrupted. However, when the visions have not matured into the clear light, the potency of the clear light has not been perfected. If they stop, the visions of light will not develop, and that indicates that the eye of primordial wisdom has not entered the eye of wisdom.(7) Therefore, you should constantly strive in the practice.
When encountering that situation, some people develop their minds with meditative experiences, then travel to many regions and finally succumb to adversities. Consequently, they get stuck there and do not achieve liberation. Some people encounter images of the bodies, speech, and minds of buddhas which are actually apparitions of maras, gods, and demons--and due to visions from the power [of progress in meditative experience), words of Dharma appear to them as written letters, and they are consumed by the desire to write them down. Out of lust, they consort with women, and consequently claim to be treasure-revealers. There are many such people who bring ruin to themselves and others. Due to extrasensory perception and visions in dreams, some people perceive good and bad things in themselves and others, and they leave such things as hand-prints in rock and other objects. Signs may manifest due to the apparitions of gods and demons, causing them to declare themselves to be siddhas. They then take a consort and take control of those around them. Laying the foundations for prestige and great deeds, they spend their whole lives in constant, relentless striving. Those who spend their lives tricking others with magic rituals to dispel obstacles and wander around begging and seeking wealth without satiation are possessed by maras and demons. Even if they become renunciates and gurus with great followings, they are deludedly involved in the eight mundane concerns and the negative conduct of maras.
Some people take meditative experiences to be illnesses and regard conducive circumstances as demonic. When they receive medical treatment and perform rituals, they become confused by all kinds of divinations and diagnoses, and they become overwhelmed by speculations. Upon noting bad dreams and evil omens, fantasies arise even more forcefully, and those outer manifestations are apparitions of gods and demons. Any of the 404 kinds of illnesses in the body, including disorders of the wind, bile, phlegm, and combinations of them, are inner manifestations as bodily pain. If you regard them as being truly existent, you fall into error, and you will either die or deludedly fall under the influence of objective adversities.
Some people go through various kinds of unbearable miseries and ecstatic experiences, all of them arising as secret manifestations called joys and sorrows. If you cling to them and reify them, you will stray into error, and you will not attain liberation. Due to misery and discomfort and pain in the life force in the heart, people sigh and feel like weeping, and everything they see and feel seems to be of the nature of suffering. Then they restlessly yearn to escape somewhere where there will be no human intruders, and when they come to such a place of solitude, they yearn for companionship and moving around. Overcome by desires and cravings, they find they cannot remain in solitude, and they scramble after anything that will bring them pleasure. That is falling into error, so recognize this!
Frightened by suffering, your body, speech, and mind become agitated, impelling you to become active, and that is a great mistake. Some people become depressed at the miserable pain in the life force in their hearts, and out of despair when they wander from one village to another, this seems to help. Then when they come around to their own homeland and so on, before many days have passed, uneasiness arises again just as it did before, and they wish to be on the move again. Such people wind up squandering their whole lives.
Some people's minds are filled with doubt and vacillation, doubting that they can ever come to certainty , and they waste their lives by repeatedly traveling to many lands. Some are carried away by viewing their teacher's counsel as being wrong, and they fall into false views. Others take their own meditative practice to be harmful, and they constantly feel regret and wonder what to do. They think that if they were to go to some other famous spiritual teacher, that might help. Nowadays there is not a single spiritual teacher who is well versed in the nature of this path, the manner in which meditative experiences arise, and so forth. Thus, fearing that their reputation will decline, they cannot admit they do not know and are not familiar with those things. Some of them teach things that are their own mental fabrications, then tell others that their meditation is wrong. Others say, "Your guru doesn't know how to teach, so you have been proceeding on a false path. Do this instead..." Teaching that their own level of instruction is all you need, they heap praise upon it. There are a great many who pompously declare that they can transfer their realization to others, saying, "I shall grant you my realization, our minds will merge, and you will simultaneously perfect all grounds and paths." If that were possible, the buddhas would have transferred their state of realization to sentient beings, and samsara would already be empty. Specifically, if the minds of all the buddhas' sravaka and pratyekabuddha disciples received the buddhas' realizations by having their minds merged with the buddhas', why would they be drawn far beyond the Hinayana? Do not place credence in pretentious assertions about transferring one's realization.
Some people think they have no craving for the eight mundane concerns. Others who have not developed their minds in the slightest become obsessed with various visions they experience. Those spiritually blind people never critically examine the way they wander about in delusion, then claim they have reached the state of the extinction into reality-itself and think their own delusions have vanished. Accomplished scholars scorn such attitudes and demolish them with their weapons of scriptural authority and logic. So individuals who enter this path should be careful in this regard.
Even if you succeed in other Dharma practices, you will not achieve the highest state of liberation in this very lifetime. Consequently, maras will not be jealous or angry, so they will not create obstacles for you. If you do come to the culmination of this path, you may achieve liberation in one lifetime and with one body. In this case the might of the terrifying Lord of Maras is dredged up, the maras are aroused to jealousy and aggression toward those advancing towards the state of spiritual awakening, and they are sent out to create obstacles. They then create problems and manifest objective apparitions to lead people astray.
By practicing single-pointedly, without succumbing to such obstacles, the appearances of light increase, and as soon as you settle in meditative equipoise, all appearances become totally pervaded by light and bindus, with no intervals between them. Ordinary phenomena that appear due to looking at impure phenomena with the eyes, are seen with the eyes of the flesh. The appearances of the absolute nature, of bindus, or of (vajra-] strands arise simply by attending to the visions of light. They are derivative of the manifestation of wisdom, so they are said to be seen with the eye of wisdom. During meditative equipoise, the displays of the absolute nature and of bindus increase, stabilize, and become continuous, and they are said to be illuminated by the eye of primordial wisdom.
The consciousness that manifests the visions of the clear light during the initial phase is called the eye of wisdom. Wherever the eye of primordial wisdom, free of dust, is directed, it illuminates whatever it sees until the visions of the absolute nature, the bindus, clear light, and divine embodiments are seen. Then due to the sharp pinnacle of primordial wisdom, free of fluctuations in the clarity of the eye of wisdom, all appearance, both while in meditative equipoise and otherwise, transform into displays of light and rainbow bindus with ever increasing clarity. In the end, appearances of earth and rock vanish and dissolve into continuous, omnipresent displays of visions of light. That is the criterion for have acquainted oneself with this practice. Impurities have been transformed into the vital core, and the vital core has been transformed into the five lights, and they become manifest. That is the criterion for perfecting the power of progress in meditative experience. At this juncture, the larger bindus cover the sky and earth, while the smaller ones variously appear as small as grains of mustard, and they appear in aggregates of five. Within the visions of the absolute nature appear the doors, roof, Dharma wheel, crowning parasol, strings of bells, and silk hangings of a palace.
Individuals who embark on such a profound, swift path, who have the fortune of combining their karma and prayers, will experience the spherical images of the first phase even at the time of death. At that time, they will expire in the nature of nirmanakayas. Finally, once the power [of their progress] has been perfected and nothing appears other than the fivefold aggregates of bindus, they will be liberated as sambhogakayas, without experiencing the intermediate state.
To present this in terms of the grounds and paths, when you come to the state called progress in meditative experience on the path of the Leap-Over, that is identified with the fifth ground of the sutra path called Difficult to Practice. These meditative experiences are unbearably painful, and under their influence one experiences craving and confusion. Therefore, when one comes to this stage, since it is very difficult to follow the path to its culmination, this is called Difficult to Practice. On the mantra path all the appearances of birth and death in samsara are cut off, and one does not perish. This is the achievement of the state of a vidyadhara who has mastery over life itself.
Then the appearances of reaching consummate awareness, in which awareness matures into its vital essence, are as follows. The upper portions of the divine embodiments appear in the midst of all the fivefold aggregates of bindus, while the lower portions of their bodies appear in forms of clouds of light. One half of their bodies appears as if it were separated. At that time, by practicing continuously, eventually entire divine embodiments will appear. The white, solitary embodiment, replete with the ornaments of a sambhogakaya is Vairocana; the blue embodiment is Vajrasattva; the yellow embodiment is Ratnasambhava; the red embodiment is Amitabha; and the green embodiment is Amoghasiddhi. By continuing in constant practice, the embodiments eventually appear in the form of male and female deities in union; and they arise together with their entourages of the four male and female bodhisattvas.
As a result of further, continuous practice, assemblies of the five buddha classes appear in spacious, vast palaces, beautifully adorned with all manner of ornaments, clothed in various silks, blazing with rays of light, and adorned with bindus and minute spheres. By familiarizing oneself with that more and more, volcanic mansions appear that are inwardly constructed of three tiers of skulls, while outwardly appearing as palaces. In their midst are mandalas of ferocious blood-drinkers. The deities and consorts are embraced in union, and single male deities appear dressed in fresh elephant skins, tied with belts of human skin, with lower garments of tiger skins, each bearing weapons. They appear in all sizes from the larger ones as vast as the sky, and the smaller ones as tiny as peas. The entire universe appears to be filled and totally pervaded with rainbow light and blazing fire. Objects as small as the head of a pin are filled and illuminated with divine embodiments with all their ornaments. That marks the perfection of the potency of reaching consummate awareness.
The mark of one's speech at this point is that one's voice is soothing and enchanting, like songs sung by the children of kumbhandhas. In addition, various words of Dharma, legends, and knowledge of linguistics, poetry, and composition naturally emerge. Appearances arise as symbols and as scriptures, and the meaning of all oral transmissions and practical instructions flows forth like the current of a river. Words of melodious songs and so on inspire others' perceptions of the world, and their minds are blessed.
The bodily signs are that your body vividly appears as mudras of the five buddha-classes, like the appearance of a reflection in a space of limpidity and luminosity, like a mirror-image. The body appears as a variety of reflections, as light as cotton, with no sense of materiality. As an indication that bodily parasites have been released into the clear light, it becomes free of lice and nits. White hair turns dark, bright white new teeth grow in, and your muscles become youthfully strong, and wrinkles clear away. The perceptions of others shift simply by laying eyes on you, and they experience faith and reverence. With the blazing forth of the warmth of primordial wisdom, all thoughts of clothing are discarded, there is no longer any sense of being cold, and you experience continual blissful warmth. Casting off all thoughts of food, you can live for months and years on the food of samadhi, the power of bliss and emptiness. In each pore of your body are displayed unimaginable kinds of abodes of sentient beings as well as buddha-fields. That indicates the achievement of mastery of miraculous emanations. With your mastery of incarnation and emanation, you manifest an inconceivable number of emanations in an unimaginable range of abodes of sentient beings, and in a single instant you guide an inconceivable number of sentient beings. You manifest an inconceivable number of emanations in an unimaginable number of buddha-fieds, where you make myriads of offerings, receive empowerments, and open up an inconceivable number of avenues of samadhi. Such transformations are displayed in your own and others' fields of experience, and you send forth and disclose unimaginable emanations and miraculous displays. Due to your pristine perception, appearances arise as displays of buddha-fields, and due to the pristine purity of the mind-itself, the universe arises as a display of divine embodiments. Due to the pristine purity of your voice, sounds arise as wheels of Dharma. Pure appearances pervasively arise as displays of those three pristine purities, without even a speck of impure appearances.
Once the union has been mastered, the many avenues of the impure cycle of existence are purified, and can be united with the great bliss of the absolute nature. Once liberation has been mastered, simply by focusing your awareness you can bring to a state of liberation even someone who has committed the five deeds of immediate retribution. Once you reach mastery over the elements, you can transform all things into gold, silver, and so on; and phenomena are mastered such that you can transform water into fire, fire into water, and so forth. Once you have mastered the ayatanas(8) of the five generic emblems, you can transform your body into the five elements, have your body take on the shape of other creatures, and manifest yourself in various emanated forms. Once you have mastered all stages of birth, dying, and aging, when you want to transcend the three worlds, you will become awakened in the absolute nature of the dharmakaya, Samantabhadra. This occasion is called awakening in the great openness above, without reliance upon any of the virtues, vices, causes, or effects of all your lifetimes. Without reliance upon the qualities of your karma or the appearances of the intermediate state, all mental states and appearance naturally awaken by themselves, like the dawn breaking in the sky, and there is no death.
Reaching the state of consummate awareness on the path of the Great Perfection means that you implicitly attain what is called the eighth ground on the sutra path, and you also implicitly achieve the state of what is called a Mahamudra vidyadhara on the path of generation.
Moreover, due to the inconceivable differences among people's metabolisms and faculties, there is a corresponding, inconceivable array of meditative experiences. Thus, they are not uniform and there are no definite criteria for them. The foregoing descriptions are simply metaphorical and symbolic. You must examine this with awareness and ascertain that all appearances are of the nature of meditative experience. So recognize this!
O Vidyavajra, by practicing in that way, enthusiastic, courageous individuals do not need to be concerned with such issues as the acuity of their faculties, the quality of their karma, or their age, as is the case on other paths. They are said to be of superior faculties solely due to their enthusiasm and courage. Therefore, when those who integrate Dharma with their lives, without becoming frustrated in their meditative practice, experience the outer and inner appearances of reaching consummate awareness, without confusing one for the other, all phenomena will appear only as lustrous light, and no ordinary appearances will ever arise again.
Finally, like a full moon, the appearances of all embodiments and bindus gradually decrease in number. From your brain(9) a white mass of light, like a billowing cloud emerges in the space in front of you. In its midst appears an aggregate of five bindus, in the center of which appears Vairocana with his consort, adorned with sambhogakaya ornaments, and surrounded by four similar deities in union. Above, below, and all around those divine embodiments, vajra strands arise in the forms of dangling lattices and half-lattices, like rosaries of clear crystals. Then blankets of light, white like the moon, emerge from the hearts of those embodiments and penetrate down into the point between your eyebrows. For seven or five days those blankets of light appear as ornamental bindus stacked up like upside-down conch bowls. Finally, they dissolve into the point between your eyebrows, transforming your body into a mass of light. You thereby receive the immutable body-vajra empowerment.
At this point, even if you die, with no intermediate state, you will experience the central buddha-field called Ghanavyuha and achieve stability. There the entire ground is composed of precious crystals. It is so vast and all-pervasively immense that it rivals the dimensions of space itself. Its surface is smooth and even, like the face of a mirror. When you step down, it gives way, and when you lift up, it rebounds. As the soles of your feet touch the surface of the ground, the primordial wisdom of bliss and emptiness blazes forth. Clouds of delicious aromas spread forth from hills covered with medicinal plants, and the whole ground is completely covered with brilliant lotuses of various colors. The sky is criss-crossed with lattice patterns of rainbow-colored light, and forms of rainbow canopies, parasols, victory banners, and pennants appear in it. It is surrounded all around by a great moat of water bearing the eight excellent qualities, and on its shores are pebbles of various precious substances, turquoise meadows, and golden sand. All around inside them are immense, majestic, lightly filled forests of wish-fulfilling trees. In the groves around its ponds are flocks of birds that are emanations of buddhas, white like the color of conch, yellow like gold, red like coral, green like emerald, and blue like lapis-lazuli, as well as other colors such as black, tan, and variegated. Their beautiful forms are pleasing to behold, and their lovely voices proclaim words of the sublime Dharma, as they circle around the ocean and alight on the wish-fulfilling trees. In the rivers are innumerable, lovely, enchantingly beautiful goddesses emanated by daughters of the devas, nagas, gandharvas, and kinnaras, who are constantly making clouds of offerings and rendering service.
In the center of that buddha-field is a square palace with doors on each of its four sides, produced by the natural appearance of primordial wisdom. Its east side is composed of crystal, its south side is composed of gold, its west side is composed of ruby, and its north side is composed of emerald. Its roof is of lapis lazuli, and its exterior and interior are spacious and luminous. Its whole floor inside is made of precious rainbow crystals. When the light of the sun and moon streams through its windows, the floor becomes covered with rainbow light and bindus. Jewel lattices and half-lattices hang from its walls, and parasols, victory banners, pennants, and silk ribbons flutter in the wind, giving rise to words of the sublime Dharma, which are heard by herds of lovely deer. This vast, spacious palace is beautifully adorned with thresholds, Dharma wheels, and top ornaments of the sun and moon. It is exquisitely designed and is replete with all ornaments.
In its center, adorned with rainbows and a mass of light is a broad, high, jeweled throne supported by eight lions. On its lotus, sun, and moon seat is the Bhagavan Vairocana, adorned with all the sambhogakaya ornaments, of the nature of the purified aggregate of form, the embodiment of the primordial wisdom of the absolute nature of reality. He is surrounded by an immeasurable assembly of bodhisattvas on the tenth ground, and he is constantly turning the wheel of Dharma. Recognize the importance of occasionally bringing that buddha-field to mind even while you are still on the path.
O Vidyavajra, when you who are following this path finally go beyond that stage, red-colored light emerges from your throat spreading into the sky in front of you. In the midst of that light a fivefold aggregate of bindus arises, in the center of which appears Amitabha with his consort surrounded by the four male and female bodhisattvas. Between them are red vajra-strands in patterns of lattices and half-lattices, like rubies strung together. From the hearts of those divine embodiments rays of red light appear which strike your throat in the form of a string of bindus, like inverted ruby bowls, and stack there. They appear to dissolve into your throat for twenty-one, seven, or five days. You thereby receive the secret vajra empowerment of unceasing speech, and you achieve confidence.
At this time, there is a discontinuity, a shift of appearances, and in an instant the entire ground, vast and spacious, is composed of rubies. When you step down, it gives way, and when you lift up, it rebounds. The whole ground is completely covered with brilliant lotuses with blossoms of various colors. The whole environment in all directions is completely surrounded by inconceivable buddha-fields. There are naturally arising ambrosial ponds with jewel pebbles, golden sands, turquoise meadows, wish-fulfilling trees, ambrosial springs, rainbow canopies, and various parasols, victory banners, and pennants. Unimaginable offering goddesses are constantly making offerings and rendering service, and in the center of all this is a palace composed of rubies. Its inner walls are white on the east, yellow on the south, red on the west, and green on the north. Its roof is blue and blazes with blue light, and it is adorned with all ornaments and fine attributes. In its center, is a lotus, sun, and moon seat upon a jeweled throne supported by eight peacocks. On it sits the Bhagavan Amitabha, red in color, adorned with all the sambhogakaya ornaments and garments, of the nature of the purified aggregate of recognition, the embodiment of the primordial wisdom of discernment. He is turning the wheel of Dharma for an immeasurable congregation of bodhisattvas on the tenth ground. You are instantly transported into their midst, you stabilize there, and achieve confidence in this state.
Then when you move beyond that point, blue light emerges from your heart into the space in front of you like a billowing cloud, and in its midst arises a five-fold aggregate of vast, spacious blue bindus. In their center is the principal deity Aksobhya with his consort surrounded by the four male and female bodhisattvas. Adorned with all manner of ornaments, lattices and half- lattices of blue vajra-strands arise in the spaces between them like garlands of vairata. From the hearts of those divine embodiments blue light billows forth, penetrating down into your own heart, where bindus stack up in a column like inverted lapis-lazuli bowls. They appear to dissolve into your heart for ten days or longer. You thereby receive the wisdom-gnosis empowerment of the undeluded enlightened mind, and you achieve confidence.
Even if there is an interruption at this time, with no intermediate state, your appearances will shift, and you will experience the southern buddha-field of Abhirati, as vast as the absolute nature itself. Its surface is smooth and limpid, like the face of a mirror. Its color is blue like lapis-lazuli and it is criss-crossed with lattice patterns of rainbow light. Verdant hills of medicinal plants are beautifully adorned with various flowers, wish-fulfilling trees, lakes of water bearing the eight fine attributes, golden sands, turquoise meadows, jewel pebbles, and unimaginable goddesses making offerings, singing praise, and rendering service.
In the midst of the sky and intervening space adorned with all manner of lovely ornaments is a square palace with four doors. Its exterior is blue in color like lapis-lazuli and blazes with light. Its interior is radiant and luminous with the colors of the five primordial wisdoms. In its center is a jeweled throne supported by eight elephants. Upon it is a lotus, sun, and moon seat on which sits the dark blue Bhagavan Aksobhya, adorned with all the sambhogakaya ornaments, of the nature of the purified aggregate of consciousness, the embodiment of mirror like primordial wisdom. One hand touches the earth, while the other is in the mudra of meditative equipoise. Around him is assembled an innumerable Sangha of bodhisattvas, who are listening to the Dharma from the Teacher while bowing their heads in respect. As your appearances shift to this, you will attain liberation.
When you move beyond that point, yellow light emerges from your navel into the space in front of you like a billowing cloud. Immediately, the whole ground becomes luminous with yellow light like the color of gold, and all other phenomena arise as displays of yellow light. In the midst of that mass of light a five-fold aggregate of large bindus arises like a round shield, and in its center is Ratnasambhava with his consort, surrounded by the four male and female bodhisattvas. Lattices and half-lattices of blue vajra-strands arise in the spaces between them like garlands of amber. From the hearts of those divine embodiments yellow light billows forth, penetrating down into your own navel. In that continuum of light bindus appear to stack up in a column like inverted golden bowls for five or seven days; and finally, they dissolve into you. You thereby receive the primordial wisdom vajra empowerment, free of signs and words, in which all excellent qualities are perfected.
Even if there is an interruption at this time, with no intermediate state, your appearances will shift, and you will experience the precious buddha- field of Srimat, as vast as the absolute nature itself, in which the whole ground is like the color of refined gold. Its surface is smooth and even. It is filled with grassy hills of medicinal plants blanketed with various flowers, ambrosial ponds, purifying springs, and a myriad of clouds of offerings of such things as wish fulfilling trees. In its center is a palace emanated by primordial wisdom. Its exterior is like the color of precious gold, and its interior bears the colors of the four kinds of activities from the natural potency of the five primordial wisdoms. In its center is a jeweled throne supported by eight supreme horses. Upon it is a lotus, sun, and moon seat on which sits the Bhagavan Ratnasambhava, whose body is adorned with the signs and symbols of enlightenment and with all the sambhogakaya ornaments, of the nature of the purified aggregate of feeling, the embodiment of the primordial wisdom of equality. He is surrounded by an immeasurable Sangha of bodhisattvas to whom he is constantly revealing the Dharma. With the emergence of these appearances, you will achieve liberation.
When you move beyond that point, your body appears as five lights, and from it emerges a mass of dark green light into the space in front of you. In its midst appears a five-fold aggregate of five-colored bindus of light, like a rhinoceros-skin shield. In it is the principal deity Amoghasiddhi with his consort, surrounded by the four male and female bodhisattvas. The images of their bodies are limpid, they are replete with all manner of ornaments, and blaze with a magnificent mass of light. Everywhere above and below them vajra-strands appear in the forms of lattices and half-lattices, like turquoise garlands. As for the upward and downward extensions, from the hearts of those divine embodiments green light billows forth, like the color of emerald, penetrating your genital region. In that continuum of light bindus appear to form in a column like inverted turquoise bowls for ten days or so; and when they are complete, they appear to dissolve into you. You thereby receive an empowerment that grants you mastery over the spontaneously present divine embodiments and displays of primordial wisdom.
At this time, even if your appearances shift, you will experience the buddha-field of Karmaprapurana, in which the whole ground blazes like the color of emerald. The entire environment is replete with all manner of ornaments and fine characteristics, and in its center is a palace, bearing all wonderful qualities. Its exterior is green like the color of emerald, and its interior is of the clear, luminous colors of the four kinds of activities from the natural potency of the five primordial wisdoms. In its center is a jeweled throne supported by eight pheasants. Upon it is a lotus, sun, and moon seat on which sits the Bhagavan Amoghasiddhi, whose body, green in color, is adorned with all the sambhogakaya ornaments, of the nature of the purified aggregate of compositional factors, the embodiment of the primordial wisdom of accomplishment. He is surrounded by an immeasurable assembly of bodhisattvas on the tenth ground for whom he is constantly turning the wheel of Dharma. As your appearances shift to this, you will achieve liberation.
When you receive the vajra-empowerment of spontaneous, original perfection and you go beyond the final purification of the visions of meditative experience, all the mandalas of the blood-drinking deities in the skull mansions appear to you. Rising up into the sky above, you let out a terrifying roar and appear to dance in various ways, causing all realms of the universe to tremble and shake, the great earth quakes with a great roar. Consequently, the entire animate and inanimate universe dissolves into the nature of light, and, with a wave of your hand, your own body disappears into the realm of light.
At this time, you will achieve the four great confidences of fearlessness. What are those four? Due to arriving at the ground of your own being, the dharmakaya, the nature of the original protector, the primordial buddha, even if you have a vision of buddhas filling the whole of space, you achieve the great confidence in which there is not the slightest bit of faith or reverence for them. By coming to spiritual awakening within yourself, in which you can be neither benefited or harmed by any other causes or effects, you achieve the great confidence in which there are no hopes for the ripening of effects from their causes. By coming to the ground of your own being, which is originally free of birth, cessation, and abiding, even if you are surrounded by a thousand assassins bent on murdering you, you achieve the great confidence that is devoid of even the slightest trace of fear. By experiencing the state of the originally pure, primordial protector, and coming to the state that is originally free of delusion, you achieve the great confidence in which there is no anxiety concerning samsara or the miserable states of existence.
Then the appearances of the absolute nature, the bindus, the divine embodiments, and the buddha-fields gradually vanish like the full moon waning to the point that it disappears into the moonless sky. Finally, awareness is awakened as the ground, and you come to the nature of the dharmakaya. The fundamental root of self-grasping is destroyed, and the mind of grasping is extinguished. The ray of dualistic grasping is severed, thereby extinguishing apprehended objects. Conceptualization involving dualistic appearances is extinguished, so you expand into the even, pervasive nature of the equal purity of samsara and nirvana. Your body becomes like a corpse left on a charnel ground, so no fear arises even if you are surrounded by a thousand assassins. Your speech becomes like an echo, reverberating back all the sounds of others. Like a rainbow dissolving into the sky, your mind expands into reality-itself, free of conceptual elaboration, a great, all-pervasive state beyond all dimensions.
O Vidyavajra, an individual who has extinguished the appearances of all phenomena into the absolute nature of reality-itself has far exceeded the tenth ground of the sutra path known as the Cloud of Dharma. Such a one has implicitly reached the supreme ground of a spontaneously present vidyadhara on the mantra path. Still the most subtle of latent cognitive obscurations arise, and like the illumination from a flash of lightning in the sky, on occasion your body appears, for just the duration of a hand-wave, as a body of light in an expanse of light. Recognize that appearances and the mind occassionally separate, and speech and words of Dharma are sometimes uttered as they were previously. When this phase is completed from ten days to ten months, the most subtle of cognitive obscurations vanish into the absolute nature. This perfects the power of primordial wisdom of knowing reality as it is, and you gain mastery of the originally pure ground, the primordial dharmakaya. By perfecting the power of the primordial wisdom of seeing the full range of reality, you gain mastery over the spontaneously present divine embodiments and the displays of primordial wisdom. As the originally pure youthful vase body, you are transformed into a totally perfected buddha, and you become all-pervasive.
Those having superior faculties are liberated as a great transference embodiment, extending infinitely into the all-pervasive dharmakaya, like water merging with water, or space merging with space. Those having medium faculties attain buddhahood as a great rainbow body, like a rainbow vanishing into the sky. When the ground clear light arises, for those having inferior faculties the colors of the rainbow spread forth from the absolute nature, and their material bodies decrease in size until finally they vanish as rainbow bodies, leaving not even a trace of their aggregates behind. That is called the small rainbow body. When the ground clear light arises, the material bodies of some people decrease in size for up to seven days, then finally only the residue of their hair and nails is left behind. The dissolution of the body into minute particles is called the small transference. For those of superior faculties this dissolution of the body into minute particles may occur even during the Breakthrough.
O Vidyavajra and the rest of you assembled disciples, listen and consider this. These are the superior qualities of the spontaneously present youthful vase body. The obscurations of ignorance are dispelled in the absolute nature; ascending to the dharmakaya, beyond the total-ground, lustrous primordial wisdom manifests, and it transcends lustrous clarity. The primordial wisdom of seeing the full range of reality manifests, and primordial wisdom transcends the mind. Natural spiritual awakening within yourself surpasses traveling to buddha-fields. Free of all the extremes of conceptual elaboration, it transcends causality of dependent origination. Imbued with the eight freedoms,(10) it transcends all actions and their effects. The absolute nature and primordial wisdom are equally pervasive, transcending mundane existence. Perfectly complete buddhahood, imbued with nine surpassing greatnesses is praised by all the jinas."
(1). This refers to the preceding practice of imagining the dying process as a preparation to the main practice of the Leap-over.
(3). Although the daytime practice of gazing near the sun may impair one's vision, it is said that the nighttime practice of gazing at the moon may actually enhance one's vision. Most important is that one carefully examine whether one's practice is damaging one's eyesight and to alter the practice if that occurs.
(7). The eye of wisdom sees appearances of the absolute nature, of bindus, and vajra-strands that arise simply by attending to visions of light, whereas during meditative equipoise the eye of primordial wisdom sees the displays of the absolute nature and of bindus as they increase, stabilize, and become continuous.
(8). These ayatanas presumably refer to the five 'signs,' (Tib. mtshan ma, Skt. nimitta) that eventually arise due to meditating on the generic emblems of the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space. These practices are discussed in B. Alan Wallace, The Bridge of Quiescence: Experiencing Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (Chicago: Open Court, 1998) in the chapter "Quiescence in Theravada Buddhism."
(10). (1) The freedom of the formed observation of form, (2) the freedom of the formless observation of form, (3) the freedom of beauty, (4) the freedom of limitless space, (5) the freedom of limitless consciousness, (6) the freedom of nothingness, (7) the freedom of the peak of mundane existence, and (8) the freedom of cessation. (Tsepak Rigzin, Tibetan-English Dictionary of Buddhist |Terminology (Dharamsala, India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1986) p. 236.