The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
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How to Meditate for a Sollo Chenmo Practice
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Sogyal Rinpoche does many Sollo Chenmo practices in Rigpa, so I will now explain how to visualize and direct this practice.
Background of the Practice
The Gesar practice of Sollo Chenmo is a mind terma that was revealed by Mipham Rinpoche. It is a practice of offering and invocation of the protector Gesar, who is a protector deity specific to the Ngagyur Nyingma tradition.
The Sollo Chenmo itself only contains offering and invocation. So, Shechen Gyaltsap Pema Namgyal, who was one of Mipham Rinpoche’s more exceptionally gifted disciples, wrote guides to both Sollo Chenmo and Dorje Tsegyal’s Gesar practices in response to several requests, but particularly at the insistence of a high government official called Shyape Chorampa.
Here I will only talk about the Sollo Chenmo practice manual, not Dorje Tsegyal’s. The manual explains how you do the Sollo Chenmo practice, and I will briefly go over its structure.
To start with, you take refuge, arouse bodhichitta and make the seven-branch offering, then bless the offerings on the outer, inner and secret levels.
Next, visualize yourself as a yidam deity, such as Tamdrin Yangsang. By generating the visualization of the deity, you transform your three doors into the three vajras and receive the empowerments of the five families, and so on. Now invite the deities of Tamdrin Yangsang, request that they be seated, present them with the outer, inner and secret offerings, and praise them. After offering praise, recite the mantra for the self-visualization and continue the practice to the end of dissolution after which you arise again as the deity.
Imagine the ‘front visualization’ – the manifestation of Gesar’s pure land – in the space before you. Mount Meru appears, supported by the mandalas of the five elements
, on top of which are Gesar’s five palaces: the central palace and palaces of the four activities. Inside the central palace stands ‘Gesar who spontaneously accomplishes the four activities’ – the four activities of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating. This form of Gesar is described in the secret sadhana, where he is described as being clad in armour and riding a wild warhorse as he wields a whip in his right hand and flourishes jewels in his left. He is surrounded by all the dralas and wermas.
To the east of the central palace is the palace of pacifying activity, which is made of crystal. Inside this palace, visualize all the pacifying deities of Gesar’s mandala as described in the Sollo Chenmo text.
To the south is the mandala of enriching activity. Imagine the visualization as it is described in the text, including all the enriching dralas, wermas and the rest. Meditate on all these deities.
To the west are Gesar’s magnetizing deities. Meditate on them as described in the text.
To the north, in the palace of subjugating activity is the subjugating Gesar. Again, actualize the visualization by following the text.
Outside the palaces, all the armies of dralas, wermas and so on, are assembled; they are infinite in number. Visualize all these deities in front of you, just as they are described in the text.
Next, invite all the deities and ask them to remain, then chant praises and present the outer, inner and secret offerings.
Four Activities Offerings
Once you have done all this, make the offerings specific to the four activities, as described in the Sollo Chenmo.
Start by presenting offerings in the central palace to the ‘Gesar who spontaneously accomplishes the four activities’. This section begins with “ho gong su solo, ho gong su solo”.
Next, give peaceful offering substances to both the pacifying Gesar and Nangsal Akar Ökyi Werma, and to the assembly of pacifying deities. Then, offer praise and entrust them with carrying out pacifying activities, as laid out in the text.
Similarly, present enriching offerings to the deities of enriching activity, as described in Sollo Chenmo. All the enriching activity deities accept our offerings and praise. As you recite the verses that begin, “To us vidyadhara yogins...”, entrust them with carrying out enriching activities.
To the west is the magnetizing form of Gesar. Offer the deities magnetizing offerings and praise, and entrust them with carrying out all magnetizing activities.
To the north, present the subjugating form of Gesar with offerings of subjugation – such as the vitality and breath of enemies – and offer praise, then entrust him with carrying out all subjugating activities.
This is how to present offerings, offer praise and entrust each deity with carrying out each of the four activities – pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating – in their own way.
To recap, briefly:
In the east, visualize the peaceful mandala and present its deities with pacifying offerings, then request the deities to perform the pacifying activities. Similarly, in the south, offer enriching offerings to the enriching form of Gesar and ocean of deities in his retinue, then offer them praise and request that they carry out the enriching activities. To the west, present the magnetizing form of Gesar with magnetizing offerings and request that he accomplish the magnetizing activities. To the north, present the subjugating form of Gesar with offerings of subjugation and request that he accomplish the wrathful activities. In the final part of the practice, make offerings to all the deities of the mandala together, praise them, then entrust them with carrying out their activities. This is how you should practise.
Once all this has been fully accomplished and the offerings have been made, complete the mantra recitation and the fulfilment, entrust the deities with the accomplishment of the activities, and finally, ask the dralas to stay in your body. At the end of the practice, all the drala and werma deities of the Sollo Chenmo in the front visualization – to whom you have made offerings, praised and so on, as I have explained – dissolve into your body. As a result, your body gains the dralas’ power, well-being, glory and goodness; your speech takes on the “qualities of the mighty voice of Brahma”; and empty bliss, the expression of awareness, is transferred to your mind. Basically, the body, speech and mind of the dralas and wermas have penetrated your own body, speech and mind, and you have received all their blessings. At this point, you should be utterly convinced that you are completely victorious over all opposition.
If you want to recite prayers to increase your lungta, do it at this point. Let your eyes pierce and penetrate the sky, then raise your gaze higher and higher as you merge your mind indivisibly with all of space. Finally, allow your mind to rest, free of reference, in the state of great simplicity devoid of conceptual elaboration. This is Mipham Rinpoche’s instruction.
After that, chant The Prayer That Spontaneously Fulfils All Wishes and the Vajra Guru Mantra very loudly, then shout out “Kiki soso lhagyalo” and recite the Essence of Dependent Origination mantra.
At that point, if you rest your mind and focus on the meaning of the lines, “empower us with the physical strength and might of the dralas and wermas, and grant us all the siddhis of abundance!”, then everything you do will turn out well – even negative actions will only produce positive results.
Shechen Gyaltsap wrote an order of practice for Mipham Rinpoche’s Dorje Tsegyal sadhana, in which he lays out clearly all its stages – for example self-visualization and tsok. He did the same for the Sollo Chenmo in his Sollo Chenmo Practice Guide. In this text he explains how to do the practice and describes the prerequisite preliminaries that should be completed before approaching the Sollo Chenmo itself (which I have just explained). He also talks about the concluding sections that follow, such as offering the tsok.
I have briefly presented the special practice instructions you need in order to do this sadhana and it would be very good if you were to apply them whenever you practise Sollo Chenmo.
Gather the offerings: phukongs, offerings, sang, serkyems, prayer flags, and so on – whatever you can manage – then, practise as follows.
Instantly, Gesar appears in the space in front of you as the king of the dralas surrounded by his retinue of all the armies of dralas and wermas. Invite them, make offerings to them, and offer praises – just follow the text. Then make the request for each of the four activities to be accomplished by reciting the text.
If you practise like this, even if you don’t have access to the detailed sadhana text, you will be practising in the spirit of the Sollo Chenmo. If you recite the visualization that begins, “ho gong su solo! ho gong su solo!” make sure you actualize every word of the prayers associated with each of the four activities of pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and subjugating.
First, invite the pacifying deities, make offerings and offer praises before you entrust them with their particular activity.
Next, do the same for the other three deities and their activities: enriching, magnetizing and subjugating. If there is no one to entrust the activities to – if you keep requesting activities, making offerings and chanting praises to nobody at all – it will be like organizing a great banquet and forgetting to invite any guests! Therefore, you must meditate on the recipient of your offerings, as described in Shechen Gyaltsap’s guide to the practice of Sollo Chenmo. If you don’t have access to that guide and are instead, just relying on the Sollo Chenmo text, make sure you instantly invite the deities of the four activities into the space before you, one after the other. Having invited them, once they have arrived, present your offerings, offer praises, and request that they carry out their activities.
How you should visualize the different forms of Gesar – pacifying, enriching, magnetizing and wrathful – and details about the offerings themselves is quite clear in the text. The special instruction about the offerings says that they should be inconceivable in quantity and quality. You should also offer praise – as laid out in the text. Similarly, as you recite the text entrusting the deities to carry out their activities, make sure you actualize the words that you are saying. The glorious accomplisher of activity, the vajra Dharma protector, Gesar Norbu Dradul will then accept your request, and you should feel absolute confidence in the fact that he has agreed to do as you ask and will carry out his activities.
Translated by Gyurmé Avertin
Edited by Janine Schultz