Calling the Lama from Afar
Calling the Lama from Afar by Pabongka Rinpoche
The Wisdom of great bliss of all Buddhas, one taste with the Dharmakaya, is itself the ultimate nature of all kind lamas. I beseech you, Lama, Dharmakaya, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
Wisdom’s own illusory appearance, the conqueror with seven branches, is itself the ultimate basis of emanation of all kind lamas. I beseech you, Lama, sambhogakaya, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
The play of various emanations, suiting the dispositions of the many to be subdued, is itself the behavior of the sambhogakaya of the kind lamas. I beseech you, Lama, nirmanakaya, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
The play of the inseparable three kayas, appearing in the form of the Lama, is itself one with the very essence of all kind lamas. I beseech you, Lama, the inseparable three kayas, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
All the infinite peaceful and wrathful yidams are also the Lama’s nature, and since no yidam exists apart from the kind Lama himself, I beseech you, Lama, who comprises all yidams, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
The ordinary form of all Buddhas arises in the aspect of the Lama, therefore no Buddhas are observed apart from the kind Lama himself. I beseech you, Lama, who comprises all Buddhas, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
The very form of all conquerors’ Wisdom, compassion, and Power arises as the Lama, therefore the supreme Arya lords of the three families are also the kind Lama himself. I beseech you, Lama, who combines three families in one, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
The hundred, five, and three families, however many elaborated, are the Lama. The pervasive master himself in whom they are all included is also the Lama. I beseech you, Lama, as master of all the families, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
The creator of all Buddhas, Dharma, and Sangha is the Lama. The one who combines all three refuges is the kind Lama himself. I beseech you, Lama, whose presence combines all refuges, please look after me always without separation, in this life, future lives, and the Bardo.
Thinking of this excellent body, highly meaningful and difficult to obtain, and wishing to take its essence with unerring choice between gain and loss, happiness and Suffering – reminds me of you, Lama.
Calling the Lama From Afar
Magnificently glorious Guru, dispelling the darkness of ignorance;
Magnificently glorious Guru, revealing the path of liberation;
Magnificently glorious Guru, liberating from the waters of Samsara;
Magnificently glorious Guru, eliminating the diseases of the five poisons;
Magnificently glorious Guru who is the wish-granting jewel;
I beseech you: Please grant me blessings to remember impermanence and death from my heart And to generate the thought of no-need in my mind.
Magnificently glorious Guru, please bless me to abide one-pointedly in practice in isolated places, not having any hindrances to my practice.
Magnificently glorious Guru, please bless me so that all bad conditions appear encouraging.
Magnificently glorious Guru, please bless me to accomplish effortlessly the two works of self and others.
Magnificently glorious Guru, please bless me soon, very soon.
Please grant me blessings on this very cushion.
Please grant me blessings in this very session.
Colophon for the short version: Author unknown. Translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in 1985. Transcribed and edited by Ven. Thubten Dondrub. The two final verses following the main prayer were also translated by Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Lightly edited by Ven. Constance Miller, FPMT Education Department, January 1999.
Calling the Lama from Afar by His Eminence the 3rd Jamyan Kongtrul Rinpoche
What we presently call Buddhism arose out of India; the Buddha Shakyamuni originally taught there and his Dharma teachings spread from there. Later on in history, it was possible for The Buddha's teaching to arrive in Tibet. This was due to inviting skillful translators, teachers and other accomplished beings. These masters who came to Tibet translated all of The Buddha's original words and teachings into the Tibetan language. Likewise, all the commentaries (which explain the Dharma) available at the time, authored by Indian masters, were translated into Tibetan. Over time, even the great scholars and accomplished yogis of Tibet wrote commentaries on the basis of The Buddha's words as recorded in the scriptures.
Through these efforts, all the teachings of the Buddha Shakyamuni which include the view, the path of meditation and the fruition of realization spread and disseminated. This enabled Buddhist to practice the spoken words of The Buddha.
In general, there are two specific ways in which one can practice The Buddha's teachings:
The first way is when the practitioner uses the Power of one's own intelligence. One learns about the pure Dharma, and afterward deeply contemplates its meaning and understands it. This is accomplished through years of meticulous study, so that an extensive understanding is acquired. Through this method, confidence is developed in the Dharma. The practitioner uses one's own intelligence and discernment to recognize the right and accurate path; a certainty and confidence unfolds which allows us to gradually meditate, and then integrate the teachings into our own experience.
The other possible way is to have deep conviction in the most important points of the Dharma; one understands and follows the basic teachings of The Buddha without failure. One is not ignorant or blindly following the Dharma, since we must understand the teachings accurately. However, the practitioner does not go too deeply into study and contemplation regarding the teachings. Instead, one has confidence and turns towards meditation practice. It is then through meditation practice and actual experience that one develops all the inner understanding and knowledge of the Dharma.
Now, what is the connection or commonality that these two specific ways to practice, from which we choose between, have? They both aim at enabling the practitioner to understand the Buddhist view of the world and reality; this view is that the mind should develop true awareness. Even when studying, a Buddhist should not be attached to the mere words themselves.
So, the we must first accomplish this state of awareness; if one is not aware then nothing can possibly be accomplished in practice. For example, the principle insight gained by a Buddhist on the path is that worldly life and goals do not achieve anything ultimately; they have no real meaning. However, if one has no awareness or Mindfulness, one is just stuck on the words of this insight; one does not have any experience to understand the meaning of it (this profound insight about the selfless nature of worldly life will not be integrated into one's own experience). It becomes useless.
Therefore, one must hold onto this awareness for more than a fleeting moment. Once this awareness about the world is integrated into one's own experience, then whenever a positive or negative situation (or action) arises, we will react properly and virtuously. We should recognize the true nature of our actions. Awareness is helpful to still all the disturbing emotions, it is the basis for all practice and good-doing.
In Tibetan, we say meditation is not merely just sitting down, it is not just "meditation." This sounds like a wordplay, but it simply means that meditation is not just this; true meditation is when we become accustomed or more closely aware of the truth, to be aware throughout one's entire experience.
When we practice meditation, one can focus the mind on different objects. But, this is not really the goal of meditation. The point is what develops out of this single-pointed concentration of the mind, which is the basis of awareness integrated into our own experience.
So, meditation is not only just a phase of sitting down and meditating, it is really about using awareness everyday, every moment. Usually our awareness is disturbed and becomes uncontrolled due to distractions created by the five sense organs. Once awareness is there, distraction cannot be spoken of. True meditation is not merely sitting or concentrating on something special, that is just the method to develop the real practice of holding onto awareness.
Once this true meditation is there, one realizes that out of our mind (or consciousness) a continuous stream of thoughts emerge. This fact alone demonstrates that the mind's true nature is emptiness and clarity. Through awareness, one comes to carefully study the consciousness. We see directly that it is emptiness; one cannot find it or hold on any aspect or thought! Through awareness, one sees the different thoughts going and coming, one recognizes the clarity of the mind this way. Emptiness and clarity are the clear aspects of the mind or consciousness.
If there is this clarity and emptiness, there should not be any fault in the mind. But, then, how does confusion arise? Confusion arises when one does not know or understand what the clear aspect of the mind is about. One runs after thoughts and tries to possess them, one attempts to describe the mind with words and expressions, and gets stuck on ideas and beliefs; this is what brings forth real confusion!
Awareness must then be counted on; it is needed so that the clear aspect is fully seen, so that the practitioner does not run after the notional process which ends in confusion. Awareness leads to seeing the clarity and emptiness of the mind. What leads to this awareness and understanding? First we study, and then contemplate the teachings, and then meditate; we rely on these methods to accomplish our task of gaining true awareness.
However, this entire task of gaining awareness has preconditions. To develop this sort of Wisdom, one needs a spiritual friend. The need for a spiritual friend has different meanings within the Three Vehicles (yanas) of Buddhism; the role of the spiritual friend is different for the various lineages and vehicles of Buddhism.
In the Mahayana, or greater vehicle which aims for the self and others to be freed from Suffering, the spiritual friend is a very special person. In the Mahayana, the spiritual friend should not just merely understand the words; he or she should have integrated the teachings into his life. For Mahayana practitioners, the spiritual friend should be at least a Bodhisattva, a noble being who can be a role model in every situation.
In the Vajrayana, or vehicle of expedient means of tantra, the spiritual friend is even more important, he or she is seen as The Buddha himself. One does not just simply see the spiritual friend as The Buddha, but develops deep respect and devotion, and treats him like he really is The Buddha.
A Root Guru in particular is more than just a spiritual friend then, there is a difference because with a root Guru there is a genuine close communication which transcends mere words. There are many people who explain the Dharma only with words, they use many, many words. Sometimes even though they use many words, the Dharma becomes less and less clear, and one's meditation does not improve.
But the root Guru uses both words and the whole environment to express the Buddhadharma; his entire expression influences the practitioner. So, one can effectively use the teachings in one's life and the practitioner can be guided to recognize the true nature of the mind, the clear aspect of the mind. It is important to know that the root Guru is the one who enables the practitioner to see the nature of the mind. That is why one must develop a genuine relationship with a root Guru.
In the beginning of such a relationship, the practitioner should develop a deep sense of devotion and respect towards all his actions. His actions guide our mind to understanding and to a positive state; his actions liberate our consciousness. We deeply trust the Guru, knowing that all of his actions guide us the right way.
One must not simply have trust in the root Guru as a thought, this must spontaneously arise from inside oneself. Devotion is not imagined! It never changes, it is stable, it stays within you. Once this is developed, there is a true sense of devotion and confidence that arises spontaneously. One understands that the Root Guru and the Buddha Shakyamuni are not different, one does not serve the two of them differently.
Marpa Lotsawa, from Tibet, sat in front of his teacher, the Indian Pandita Naropa. Naropa, through his abilities, manifested forth the meditation deity Hevajra. So, Hevajra appeared to the right side of Naropa.
Then, Naropa asked Marpa to make prostrations. Marpa, now, had to make a choice who to prostrate to. Since Hevajra was so special, and seeing the deity in front of him was so rare, Marpa decided he would prostrate to Hevajra instead of Naropa.
Marpa's choice was incorrect, as Naropa pointed out. The root Guru is the source of all inspiration; everything else is simply the manifestation and activity of the Guru and his teaching. Hevajra and all rest of the Dharma are manifestations of the root Guru. Without the root Guru, Dharma activity and manifestations would not exist.
Out of this understanding, based on the relationship of Naropa and Marpa, did the Kagyu Tradition develop. This example from the relationship of Naropa and Marpa was meant to bring understanding: one must trust and have confidence in the activity of the Lama. The Lama and The Buddha are inseparably connected; they are indistinguishable!
This devotion must be more than a thought; trust in the Guru should be like Marpa's reaction to the appearance of Hevajra. At the moment Hevajra appeared, true conviction and respect spontaneously arose out of Marpa.
This spontaneous and unchanging devotion must come out from inside, it is what makes the activity of the teacher special. This devotion is what makes Vajrayana special and expedient. This devotion, which causes one to see the Lama and The Buddha as inseparable, is what awakens one's inner potential; it allows us to liberate our mind and see our true nature, Buddha-nature, directly.
Meditation (which allows us to liberate our mind) is not something one learns in some special way, one achieves through a special efforts or becomes. Meditation is developed naturally in the mind and should accompany the practitioner all the time. Meditation does not come from the outside, it comes from within one's mind.
The Lama is understood to be The Buddha. The Guru appears in different forms, mainly three ones which are the symbolic Guru, the real Guru and the Dharma Guru (the mind or essence of the Guru which is the entire Dharma). The Guru's body itself does not represent all his vast activity.
The Dharmakaya is contained within the consciousness of the Guru, its nature of emptiness is unstained. It is all-pervading. From this enlightened mind manifests out the Sambhogakaya, its nature of clarity continuously manifests to students of higher realization. Finally, out of the nature of emptiness and clarity is manifested the actual activity and body of the Lama, the Nirmanakaya.
Although the Lama is really pervading everywhere and is inseparable from one's own mind, the student usually is not aware of that. The practitioner does not realize this; one does not know that his confused mind (in its ultimate essence, the mind's nature) is just like the mind of the Lama (which has emptiness and clarity). This is why the student must call the Lama from afar.
The mind of the Lama is not different from our own in its ultimate essence or clear aspect. But since we have, from time without beginning, wandered in Samsara and circled through endless rebirths, we call upon the Lama. That is the reason why we call the Lama from afar.
The goal of calling the Lama from afar is to realize that everything is only the expression, manifestation, play and mind of the Lama, or the nature of one's own mind (Buddha nature which is the clear aspect). This is the real meaning of calling the Lama from afar.
His Eminence: Space can be used as an example. Space, like emptiness, is all pervading. Everything emerges out of the empty nature of the mind, just like space. However, the concept of emptiness in The Buddha's teachings is not nothingness. It is not just something we can point at and say "This is it." Emptiness is an understanding which must be developed within one's own mind.
His Eminence: One comes out of emptiness and one disappears into emptiness, yes it is like this. The personal feeling and imagination of a self develops due to not knowing that one comes out of emptiness.
Calling the Lama from Afar
Lama, think of me.
Glorious Lama dispelling the darkness of ignorance;
Glorious Lama revealing the path of liberation;
Glorious Lama liberating from the waters of cyclic existence;
Glorious Lama dispelling the diseases of the five poisons;
Glorious Lama, wish-fulfilling gem.
Glorious Lama, please bless me to recall death and impermanence sincerely.
Glorious Lama, please bless me to generate contentment within myself.
Glorious Lama, please bless me to dwell in isolation in one-pointed practice.
Glorious Lama, please bless me to be free of any interruption to my practice.
Glorious Lama, please bless me so that all bad conditions appear as helpers.
Glorious Lama, please bless me to spontaneously achieve my own and other's welfare.
Please bless me now quickly. Please bless me very quickly.
Please bless me on this very cushion. Please bless me in this very session!
Lama, remember us! [4 times recite]
Precious Lama, we pray to you;
Lord of Dharma full of kindness, I call to you devotedly.
We unfortunate ones have no other hope but you.
Please bless us so that your Mind and ours be united without differentiation.