A GENERAL PRESENTATION OF THE HIGHEST YOGA TANTRA
There is a general presentation of the Highest Yoga Tantra (Skt. anuttara-yoga-tantra; Tib. mal.4byor.bla.med) such as is found, for example, in the Hevajra and the Vajrayogini practices. Let us look at the Hevajra practice where there are three primary steps in the tantric practice, particularly on the stage of completion: the attainment of the illusory body, the attainment of the clear light, the union・
1. If one has attained the illusory body, it is then completely certain that one will attain enlightenment in that particular life. The attainment of the illusory body with regard to Hevajra does not mean that this body becomes Hevajra but, rather, that one attains or actualizes, apart from this gross body of flesh and bones, the Hevajra Body marked with various major and minor signs and which is to be understood in terms of 12 analogies. The illusory body that one emanates as can go to different places, such as the Pure Lands, and make offerings to the beings there. However, to be of direct
service to the gross beings here, one has to have a gross body and [with that motivation in mind] one brings back and dissolves the illusory body into one's gross body [see p. 109]. Then, one can teach Dharma or do whatever one wants to do.
ANSWER: “That is a very easy question because, after you attain enlightenment, you can manifest, emanate yourself, as many times as you like and serve in that way. You are a Buddha and, in just a moment, you can emanate yourself all over the place.'，
3. The union refers to the union of the illusory body and the dear-light. That is the essence of the stage of completion. If one asks, "Is meditation on emptiness a practice on the stage of completion?" one must reply, “No, it is not, because meditation on emptiness also
occurs in the sutra practice. Then one might further ask, "Is meditation focusing on the energies a practice of the stage of completion?" one must again answer, €*No, it is not." Why? Because such meditation on the energies is also found in the practices of the lower three classifications of tantra・ There are many meditations on these energies also found in the nonBuddhist practices. Deity meditation also is not an exclusive
practice of the stage of completion either, because those who are still practicing on the stage of generation are certainly engaging in deity meditation. So, what are the stages of generation and completion? A definition of the stage of generation has already been given. Can anyone remember it? STUDENT: "I think it is the purification of birth, death and bardo."
And here is a rough definition of the stage of completion: The entering, abiding and dissolving of the energies in the central channel by means of non-artificial meditation. More specifically, it is the focusing upon the vital points of the vajra-body in order to draw the energies into the central channel.
In the general outline of the teachings that has been followed over the past weeks, there was first the presentation of the basis [I. A. and B.]・ Following this, there were the teachings on vows and pledges [II・ A. and B.], then the presentation of the path of meditation consisting of the stage of generation [111. A.] and the stage of completion [III. B.j. We will discuss now the stage of manifesting the result, which is the attainment of full enlightenment in the practice of the Kalacakra ・
Having, first of all, trained one's mind in the common path by means of the cultivation of renunciation, bodhicitta and the realistic view, one then needs to properly receive an empowerment. Then, one trains in the stage of generation: first in the gross and then the subtle stages. Having come to the culmination of the subtle stage, one engages in the practice of the stage of completion consisting of the six branches of the yoga that have just been
described. In doing so, one focuses on the six essential points of the energy-centers: the genital, navel and so forth. In this process, one gradually builds up the white bodhicitta and, at the same time, causes the descent of the red bodhicitta in these successive centers. Throughout this process, the
bodhicitta is not allowed to be emitted and, as a result, the active energies and the material constituents of the body are gradually extinguished. Finally, the red and white bodhicitta themselves are extinguished. Upon the conclusion of this practice, one attains the body of empty form, which is like the colors of a rainbow.
The Buddha Vajradhara was extremely kind to sentient beings to reveal this very profound practice of tantra. It is truly like a gold-transforming elixir that is able to turn copper and other base metals into gold. With this practice of tantra, one is able to transform one's body, which is presently of a
gross material nature and therefore subject to suffering and sickness, by exhausting its material components, and also to transform the "primordial mind' (Tib. gnyug.ma'i.sems) and the primordial body* into the nature of the deity and consort. In this material body, there are active energies that cause the
arisal of such mental distortions as anger, attachment and so forth. In the process [of transmutation], these active energies are extinguished. It is important to understand what is being translated here as the 'primordial mind' and primordial body':
The primordial mind (or stream of consciousness) is the very subtle mind which has always been with us. The primordial body is the very subtle life-sustaining energy that accompanies the primordial mind and has, likewise, always been with us.
It is these that are transformed into the nature of the deity whose body is composed of only consciousness and energy・ To understand this, imagine that there are people who have always lived here in Seattle・ You could say that they are like the primordial inhabitants, the
native inhabitants of Seattle. Peoplem who just come in, like transients, could be considered the adventitious inhabitants of Seattle. So, likewise, each of us is endowed with both consciousness and the life-sustaining energy that are primordial in the sense that we have always had them. Most of the
components of our being, like our sensory perceptions, most of the factors of mental consciousness, the gross body and so forth, are simply temporary aggregates that we have for a short time. But, as has been explained previously, these are shed in the death process and the various sense perceptions
become latent. After the period of gloom or darkness in the death process, the very subtle primordial mind and the primordial body (or life-sustaining energy) manifest. It is these that carry on from lifetime to lifetime, whereas the other aggregates do not.
With the culmination of this tantric path, one actualizes the body of empty form of the deity and consort and attains the consciousness that simultaneously directly experiences all phenomena and is, itself, of the nature of the great immutable bliss. Upon this attainment, one has become a fully enlightened Buddha and one has attained the Csevfen-branch union" or, more literally, the 'seven・branch kiss\ which refers to the union of the deity and consort. Futhermore, one attains the four-fold Body of the Buddha: the Emanation Body, the Enjoyment Body the Wisdom Truth Body and the Nature Truth Body (see above
p. 12). Being a Buddha, one is now immensely capable of serving sentient beings. In just one instant, one is able to emanate oneself in many, many ways throughout the world in order to be of service to sentient beings.
In the present situation, while still unenlightened, one does not have a very great capacity for serving the needs of sentient beings; one is simply not terribly effective. Upon the attainment of enlightenment, one has brought this ability to fulfillment and one will spontaneously and continuously have this
perfected ability until all sentient beings are enlightened・ As explained previously, there are two types of methods for attaining Buddhahood in the tantric practice・ In the Guhyasamaja practice, for example, one
actualizes the illusory body apart from the gross body and, in this way, attains full enlightenment. In contrast, in the Kalacakra system one actually extinguishes this material body and actualizes the body of the deity and consort. Both of these methods are perfectly authentic and they are completely effective.
The mere fact that there are different ways of teaching, or different ways of guiding a yogin or a yogini through these tantric practices does not mean that they are actually contradictory or that they are leading to different attainments. They are different, but they are not contradictory. They lead to
exactly the same state of full enlightenment. This would be like having one room with different doors. Are the doors the same? No. Nevertheless, if you pass through any of the doors, you come into the room and the room is the same ・ Although there are different methods within the practice of tantra leading to full enlightenment, the state of full enlightenment is the same.
A parallel can be found in the four spiritual traditions of Tibet. Each of them has its own name for different reasons: Nyingma is named after their following of the old translations of the tantras; Sakya is named after the region, specifically, the terrain of that region; Kagyii is named after their holding of the four oral lineages; Gelug is named after the name of a monastery・ So, it is simply a question of different names・ There are slight
variations in the customs, in the emphasis, or in the traditions of the lamas of these different traditions; but, in essence, they all go back to the teachings of the Buddha and each offers an authentic means for the attainment of full enlightenment. One needs to understand that the mere fact that they are different does not mean that they are contradictory, that one has to be right and the others have to be wrong・
Nagarjuna has stated that if one does not have sharp faculties and is not very intelligent, it is difficult to progress on the path. Why? Because one finds in the Dharma teachings that sometimes the Buddha states that phenomena are inherently existent and sometimes he states that they are not inherently existent. Consequently, if one is a person of dull faculties, one might simply be left with confusion, thinking that sometimes Buddha said this and
sometimes he said that, both of which seem to be contradictory ・ One might get all mixed up While on the contrary, a person with sharp faculties will be able to pierce through [these seemingly contradictory statements] and come up with the actual meaning. Thus, if one looks at these various traditions or the various means of guiding disciples with sharp faculties with clear intelligence, then one's understanding becomes greater and greater.
One should understand the teachings of the Buddha to be like a medicine given to specific patients・ Just as the medicine will vary from one patient to another, so do the teachings vary from one disciple to another. Take, for example, a person who is suffering from a very drastic heat disorder. While the heat is very dominant, a qualified physician will tell that person to avoid taking any meat or alcohol. However, let us imagine that his heat disorder has died down, but a wind or energy disorder has arisen. That same doctor might now tell that same patient, You should now have meat and alcohol.There is no
In like manner, the Buddha states very frequently in the Vinaya Sutras [[[scriptures]] on the monastic discipline] that the monks should take absolutely no alcohol and should not have any sexual intercourse or relationships with women. In fact, they should not even be alone in the same room with a woman. This
is very emphatically and repeatedly stated - it is very strict. This is meant for beings who are still subject to taking lower rebirth as a result of such actions. However, monks who have gone quite far in their practice and have gained very high states of realization in terms of bodhicitta, realization of emptiness, as well as their practices of tantra, are allowed by the Buddha to have sexual intercourse with women and to take alcohol. The reason is that at a certain stage of practice, when one is sufficiently advanced, these same activities can further one towards the attainment of full enlightenment. Consequently, there is not actually any contradiction here at all. If one really looks into this with intelligence, one feels greater and greater faith rather than confusion・
Take the analogy of the peacock that is able to eat poison. As poison nourishes him, his feathers become all the more bright, shiny and colorful. Whereas, if a crow should look at what the peacock is doing and take the same poison, he would keel over dead・ In like manner, if beginning practitioners like ourselves should try to take on some of the practices of the very highly advanced beings, this would be to our detriment rather than benefit. The five
ambrosias are literally substances such as excrement, urine and so forth. A highly realized yogin is able to transform them and actually experience great bliss. If one has attained that stage, where one can transform such substances, then one has a free allowance in terms of what may be done.
This completes the teaching on the Kalacakra. The last few lectures have been on the stage of completion. We cannot meditate now on this stage properly and expect to gain the realizations. The best we can do is offer prayers that we may eventually be qualified to follow such practices. And for now, we can do just a little bit of this practice simply to place beneficial imprints upon our mind-streams but it cannot be the main practice yet. What should be emphasized above all in our present practice is keeping the tantric pledges and precepts, for it is stated that if one manages not to incur any of the
1 received the Kalacakra empowerment first from Lhatsun Dorje Chang・ He was a very great lama in Tibet, a Root-guru of the Junior Tutor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and was considered a sage by the lamas of all spiritual traditions in Tibet. His Holiness has frequently said, "It is a very great pity
that it was not possible for Lhatsun Dorje Chang to come to India." I also received the Kalacakra empowerment three or four times from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His Holiness received the empowerment and the teaching from
his Senior Tutor, Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Dorje Chang・ Kyabje Yongdzin Ling Dorje Chang received the empowerment and teaching of Kalacakra from Kyabje Kangsar Dorje Chang [see p. 15). It was said that he was a manifestation of Manjusri. The lineage goes back in an unbroken succession from lama to lama to
We should further offer prayers for the long life of both Venerable Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho, as well as for the flourishing of their activities. It was due to their kindness that we have had the place for these teachings to be imparted・
Furthermore, in making this series of teachings possible, many people have given their time and made great efforts in making the necessary arrangements, and we should offer prayers also that their practice might continue, prosper and be free of obstacles・ In short, we should offer prayers that their minds
turn to Dharma, and that their Dharma may progress on the path, and be free of obstacles. Please offer such prayers. This course has gone very well 一 free from interruption, free of major illness, free of other kinds of obstructions. The fact that it has gone so well is due to the efforts of the people involved
I have been teaching Westerners for quite a few years now. And over the years, I have been repeatedly asked to come to the West, but my answer was always, “No. What would be the benefit? I cannot speak their language.n But then, when this situation was presented and His Holiness asked me, not once but twice,
saying that it would be most beneficial if I were to come to the West and especially to give these Kalacakra teachings, thinking of the great benefit of following the instructions of one's guru, I decided that this would be good to do. Due to the kindness of all these individuals, 1 myself have been able to accrue great merit.
As I said before, all of you have a very good situation here in which to practice Dharma・ Obviously, during the daytime, you have your jobs that you need to do. But, when your daily work is finished, you can come to this center to receive teachings, meditate and practice according to your abilities. This is
extremely good. When a person does not receive teachings for quite some time, the mind tends to grow rough, more barbaric・ With teaching, the mind is once again cultivated for the Dharma・ It is like the grass in a meadow: if rain does not fall for a long time, it tends to
One further point is the importance of having the company of other people who are following spiritual practice. This can be very helpful. In contrast, if one becomes very intimate with those who have no regard for spiritual practice, this tends to harm one's own practice. Therefore, where possible, associate with people who are following the path ・
There is an account of two men in Pempo, an area to the north of Lhasa in Tibet. One was a heavy drinker and the other was not. They split up. The drunkard went to Rcting Monastery and there encountered a very fine lama who told him of the disadvantages of alcoholism and taught him how to follow spiritual practice・ He gave up drinking and became a very fine practitioner. The non-drinker went down to Lhasa, and there he got in to the company of a bunch of drunkards. He started "hitting the sauce/' and made of big habit of it and became, more or less, an alcoholic. This indicates the strong influence of people with whom one associates.
To give one more analogy, if you are in a place that is all black (with soot on the walls) and you move around, you end up all black・ Whereas, if you arc in a place that is all white (with whitewash on the walls, as in India), then you end up all white. Likewise, if one associates with smokers, one becomes a
smoker; if one associates with snuffers, one becomes a snuff-inhaler. Generally, bad qualities tend to be contagious. If you can associate with people who are following good practice, it is very helpful.
Where there is the Mahayana Dharma, the main practice is the cultivation of bodhicitta which should be the central pillar of our practice・ This center, Sakya Tegchen Choling, "The Place of the Mahayana Dharma," is very well named. Venerable Dagchen Rinpoche and Dagmo Kusho have been extremely skillful in
their strong emphasis on Avalokitesvara practice. It is stated that Avalokitesvara is the divine embodiment and the essence of all the Buddhas: the six syllable mantra. Om Mani Padmc Hum, is the essence of all mantras; and the very essence of all Dharma is bodhicitta. Having this as the very center of one's practice is an
extremely, skillful approach・ The master Rahulagupta told At施a, who had a very profound samadhi, "Even if you have such a degree of samadhi that a person could beat a drum right next to your ear and you wouldn't even hear it, nevertheless, this will not be sufficient for attaining the paths or Bodhisattva
As one great Tibetan lama stated, 4<Even if one has a whole valley filled with gold, one would not be able to take even the tiniest bit with one at the point of death. Whereas, simply reciting the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum once is something that is of benefit in this life and beyond, after death." One
should not have the idea that the Om Mani Padme Hum recitation is a very simple practice for simple-minded people or amateurs in the Dharma. Rather, the mantra is very profound・ In one context, it embodies the method and wisdom aspects of the teaching. In terms of the lower two classifications of tantra,
it embodies the practices of 'with sign* and 'without sign/ In terms of the Highest Yoga Tantra, it embodies both the stages of generation and completion. A qualified master could spend six or seven years giving the full implications of just this one very profound mantra.
Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about the need for world peace・ Nevertheless, it is not happening・ Why is it not happening? Because no matter how much people talk about it, as long as minds are still dominated by such mental distortions as attachment and anger, peace is an impossibility・ You can drink
all the tea you like, and still the anger is not abated・ You can eat as much as you want, but still the anger is not abated. Anger and the other mental distortions decrease through the practice of the Buddha's teachings・ Here, we have the possibility to do something efficacious for world peace by subduing these mental distortions in our own minds. Further, while engaging in the practice oneself, if one encourages other people who are not in the Dharma to enter into the practice, this is also very helpful and important to do.
In conclusion, one of the responsibilites for those of us who are practicing Dharma is to avert war especially world war by continually offering very strong prayers that such an event may be avoided. Let us do so!
BiBLIOGRAPHY AND RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING
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A Waterdrop from the Glorious Sea: A Concise Account of the Advent of Buddhism in General and the Teachings of the Sakyapa Tradition in Particular (trans. Gelong Jhampa Kelsang). Rikon: Tibet Institute, 1976.
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A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life by Acharya Shantideva. 1979; rpt. Dharamsala: LTWA, 1981.
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Mahayana Purification: "The Confession Sutra" with Commentary by Arya Nagdrjuna and "The Practice of Vajrasattva" with Sadhana, Supplemented by Verbally Transmitted Commentaries from Geshe Ngawang Dhar-
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^The Mahamudra Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance": by the Ninth Kar-ma-pa Wang-chfug Dor-je with Commentary Given Orally by Beru Khyentze Rinpoche and '"Fifty Stanzas of Guru Devotion99 by Asvaghosa with Cornmen-tary Given Orally by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey. Dharam-sala: LTWA, 197&
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The Kalacakra initiation has now been given in the west on a number of occasions, yet authentic teachings of this ancient tradition remain rare. Here is presented a commentary given by Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, which contains explanations and advice concerning the various commitments and initial practices peculiar to the Kalacakra system within the context of Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahayana Buddhist practice in general.