The Special Characteristics of the Nyingmapa School
To correct misunderstandings and misconceptions about the Nyingmapa School, I must first write a Rectification.
To show the particular characteristics of a Nyingmapa follower, I have lastly to point out the unique qualifications of the followers of this school, namely the Right View of Dsogpa Chanpo, which has been neglected even by famous Lamas of this school.
I. The Rectification
There are four kinds of misunderstandings: outer, inner, secret and most secret.
B. The inward mistake is made by those learned scholars who blindly follow gurus of schools other than the Nyingmapa. In their sectarianism they treat the Great Guru Padmasambhava as a Hindu outsider.
C. The secret mistake is made by those who do not have a firm understanding of the third Tantric Initiation. They do not understand why the Guru Padmasambhava had two wives or why most of his followers have married.
They do not know the Anuttarayoga which enables the practitioner to obtain Full Enlightenment in this lifetime if he practices Vajra Love with its special Vinaya. In no case should this be practiced without its Tantric Vinaya.
D. The most secret mistake is made by those who do not themselves have the wisdom to accept the Immediate Doctrine, Dzogchen, and can only follow the exoteric Paramitayana, using empty theoretical ideas in arguments, talking, and reading.
II. The Introduction: Some Characteristics
A. The First Special Characteristic: The Source of the Holy Personality of the Founder Padmasambhava
In as much as there are different editions of the biography, I prefer the earlier one which was imparted orally by my Root Guru Rona Rimpoche rather than the one which was edited by my late friend Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz in the book called The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation.
According to the oral teachings of my Guru, Padmasambhava was an incarnation of three holy personalities: Gautama Buddha was his body, Amitabha Buddha his speech, and the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara his mind.
Although it says that Padmasambhava was an incarnation of Amitabha only, it also mentions the reason why Gautama also incarnated in his holy body and why Avalokitesvara joined the trinity of incarnations.
On the one hand, we read that when Gautama Buddha was about to enter Nirvana and his disciples were weeping at his bedside, he told them that a new incarnation of himself would come to teach the Tantric doctrine.
He was Padmasambhava. On the other hand, Amitabha was informed by the merciful Avalokitesvara that King Indrabodhi, having prayed to the Buddhas with deep devotion and enthusiasm for a son and been unsuccessful, was so angry as to destroy all the Buddha images and monasteries.
B. The Second Special Characteristic: The Miraculous Lotus-Birth of Guru Padmasambhava
Generally speaking, all the devoted followers of the Pure Land School who deserve rebirth in Sukhavati will be invited there by one of three sages, viz. Amitabha, Avalokitesvara, and Vajrapani, if by the practice of a lifetime they achieve complete renunciation, the deep impression of visualization, and the profound philosophy of Non-Ego.
Nevertheless our Guru Rimpoche Padmasambhava obtained lotus birth in this Saha world, a birth so rare and noble as hardly to be believed. This is a solid fact and goes to prove that lotus birth in Sukhavati is possible and reliable for the practitioner.
In this Saha world our Gautama Buddha was born from the right side of his Holy Mother. My school-mate the Urchin Tulku Rimpoche was born in the same manner. Some founders of other religions were incarnations of gods but born like other human beings, as Mary bore Jesus.
C. The Third Special Characteristic: The Holy Teachings which the Guru Obtained Directly from the Adi Buddha and Other Divinities
In addition he was received by a Dakini who gave him a Body Initiation which also proved that his body was the result of three holy incarnations, viz. the Buddha Gautama, the Buddha Amitabha, and the Great Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, as indicated by the HUM as it traveled through the three situations.
First the HUM sound was uttered outside, which made possible the appearance of the forty-two Peaceful Deities, and in these deities Gautama Buddha was included. Secondly, when the HUM rested on the Dakinis lips, she conferred upon it Amitabhas blessing; thus proving that the incarnation of speech is Amitabha.
Further, he obtained the fourth initiation of Great Perfection from Sri Singha, who was the true Manjusri. Sri Singha pointed up to the sky and said, "I have accomplished Buddhahood without any other teaching but only this sky. Since then my mind has never been disturbed."
D. The Fourth Special Characteristic: The SalvationPowers which Benefit Every Kind of Sentient Beings
He is not only a savior of human beings but also of nagas, gods, ghosts, animals, and insects, not only in the living state but also in the dying state and in the Bardo state. Below I present a few examples of his Holy Salvation Activities quoted from Evans-Wentzs edition of the biography:
- "?he went to Bodh-Gaya?and there he sat in meditation.
- "?he preached the Dharma, both exoterically and esoterically, to the dakini, especially to the four chief dakini at the Dhanakosha Lake where he was born. VajraVarahi, together with these dakini, made submission to him.
- "Transforming himself into the King of Wrathful Deities, Padma, while sitting in meditation, subjugated the gnomes.
Now he was called "The Subjugator of Gnomes."
- "Assuming the forms of other deities, he subjugated various kinds of demons, such as those causing epidemics, diseases, hindrances, hail, and famine.
- Eventually, "Padma dominated the Nine Planets, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Rahu, and Khetu, and all things under their influence?
Similarly, Padma conquered Pe-har, the King of the Three Realms of Existence, subdued all haughtiness, gained ascendency over Mahadeva, Pashupati, and other deities of the Brahmins, and also over the chief deities of the Jains.
E. The Fifth Special Characteristic: His Treasure of Extramundane Benevolence with Any Kind of Conditions Whether Good or Bad
For this evil Karma the minister fell into hell. Our Gurus wife Yeshey Tsogyal knew of this punishment and said to our Guru, "I know that you have a Treasure of Extramundane Benevolence which can help everyone who has any condition connecting him with you, whether its quality is good or bad.
Now the minister has already fallen into hell; and although it is punishment for the evils he has done to you, nevertheless, since he has conditions connecting him with you, therefore, may I go there in place of you to save him from the pains of hell?"
Not only did she save the minister but also all the inhabitants of hell, since they all had the noble condition of meeting the benevolence of the Guru and his Dakini. All were totally saved from hell.
He also promised to come on the tenth day of every lunar month.
F. The Sixth Special Characteristic: His Numberless Hidden Dharma Treasures
"Many of these hidden texts were written on tala-Palm leaves, on silk, and on blue paper in ink of gold, silver, copper, iron and malachite, and enclosed in gold-lined boxes, earthen pots, stone receptacles, skulls, and precious stones...
Padma placed the hidden texts under the guardianship of the Dakinis and Wisdom-Holders; and he blessed the texts so that none of them should fall into the hands of one who, lacking the merit born of good deeds done in past incarnation, was undeserving.
"Between the Khang-kar-te-say Mountains and Tri-shi-trik in China, Padma hid 108 large works, 125 important images, five very rare essences, the sacred books of Buddhism and of the Bonpos, and books on medicine, astrology, arts, and crafts. Similar caches were made by Padma in Nepalese caves and temples.
If the birth be among the kshatriya, the blossoms color will be white; if among the brahmins, the blossoms will be red; if among the vaishyas, it will be yellow; and if among shudras, blue?only one terton incarnates at a time... attached to property will not have this power."
I meditated several times on a Hidden Treasure Dharma called Vajra Guru and obtained a vision in a meditative light, in which the Tiger which carries our Guru Wrathful flew into the sky and drove away a small cat.
In Chinese "Mao" and "cat" both have the same sound. I knew that this meant that Maos (cat) robbers would return to their own country, and told the Bhikshus, "Please stay calm and continue listening to my lecture.
Some Gelugpas reject it, but its value has been generally appreciated. It is my hope that more Hidden Treasures will be continuously discovered in order to save human beings in this painful world of Samsara.
III. The Qualification of the Nyingmapa Follower
Even though you have never attained even a partial realization of the Great Ultimate Perfection, yet if your mind, thoughts, consciousness, or conceptions completely and accurately recognize the Right View, to which you have deep devotion and earnest enthusiasm without any doubt, devotion and enthusiasm unmovable by any other ideas even if they are taught by Manjushri, or Gautama Buddha, you are a Nyingmapa.
Even though you meet seven big Tibetan dogs which close in around you and bite you, even though you meet seven cruel robbers, or seven oceans of bloody water washing your brain; even though you meet a hundred Russian and American hydrogen bombs all falling on your head, your Right View of the Great Ultimate Perfection will not be moved or changed.
This is the qualification of the follower of the Nyingmapa School.
Those who have no practical experience of the Right View and therefore have no real qualification in the matter usually say that the Prajna Paramita, Sunyata, the Great Symbol, and the Great Perfection are all the same.
For this reason I must point out their errors.
A. Mistakes Concerning "Mind"
It is extremely important to understand that this "mind" (truth itself) is not the "soul" or "High Self" or "God" of other religions. Other religions regard this "soul" as the highest being of the same nature as God.
But although this is higher than the ego, it is still a part of the ordinary mind and therefore not the real truth. Some passages from my Booklet New No. 7 "The Pollution of Human Thought" may be helpful here:
no matter how deep or profound your knowledge is, or how wonderful and skillful your supernatural power or your meditation are, before you have purified the eighth consciousnesses you will still remain in the cycle of transmigration?
Therefore when our great Guru Padmasambhava uses the word "mind" in its higher sense, he means the philosophical truth of Non-Ego itself; when he uses the word in its lower sense, he means the psychical mind, which includes both the ego and the "soul" or "God" (i.e. both the seventh and the eighth consciousness).
Some Gelugpas and others fail to understand this, and believe that Padmasambhavas use of the word "mind" in the higher sense means the eighth consciousness. This is why they believe that Padmasambhava was essentially a Hindu!
"The quintessence of the six classes of beings?is also a mental concept."
"The happiness of gods in heaven-worlds and of men?is another mental concept."
"The three unhappy states of suffering? too, are concepts of the mind."
"Ignorance, miseries, and the Five Poisons?are, likewise, mental concepts? "
"Misfortune caused by demons and evil spirits?is also a concept of mind."
" Gods and good fortune?are also concepts of mind?
"The colour of any objective thing?is also a mental concept?"
"Nothing save mind is conceivable."
"Self-originated Divine Wisdom?is also a concept of the mind."
"The full realization of the passing away into Nirvana?is also a concept of the mind. . ."
"Unconscious one-pointedness?is also a mental concept."
"The Qualityless and Formless?is also a mental concept."
"The One and the Many in at-one-ment?are also concepts of the mind."
"Existence and non-existence? as well as the Non-Created? are concepts of the mind..."
"The state of mind transcendant over all dualities brings liberation..."
On page 231 of the first edition of Evans-Wentzs version of The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation it says, "Inasmuch as the vacuity of all visible things is to be recognized as merely analogous to the apparent vacuity of the sky, devoid of mind, content, and form, the knowing of the mind does not depend on the sky-symbol."
It is very clear! But as the doctrine uses the same word for the two different meaningsone is of the psychical, delusive avidya system, the other of the vidya system of philosophic truthconsequently all sorts of mistakes arise, even in ancient times, but especially in this Kali Age.
Except for the Mind-Only School (the Vijnanavadins), which contains only a partial truth, there is no Mahayana school which does not take as its basis the Middle Way (Madhyamika) of Nagarjuna who never falls into a one-sided view, but always maintains that the truth can be called neither mind nor matter.
B. The Mistake Concerning "Self"
The term "self" has three meanings.
The above two "selves" are fundamentally nonexistent and delusory.
Third, the word "self" is used as a reflexive adjective in a word like "self-originated" in the sense of "by itself" "automatically" "without an outside cause" "spontaneously." This kind of "self" has nothing to do with "self" in the first two senses;
We can see this third use of the term in the Hidden Treasure called Phagmo Sagya or the Profound Teachings of Vajra-Vahri, in which the Guru Padmasambhava taught the Great Perfection to his noble Dakini Yeshey Tsogyal.
I translate part of it below:
The practice is also self-action. The conduct is the self-appearance; the fruit is also self-realization."
On page 222 of the first edition of The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation, it says "Without meditating, without going astray, look into the True State, wherein self-cognition, self-knowledge, self-illumination shine resplendently."
C. Mistaking the Negative and Being Apart from the Positive
To know that it is a natural Samadhi is not enough; one must really attain such a stage of non-stage, a Samadhi of non-Samadhi but with all vastness, happiness, quietude, brightness, and clear light always there, vividly, without cessation, confusion, or obscuration.
not only should one have the feeling of being unaware of the date and time and even forget whether it is morning or afternoon; not only have the feeling that living twenty-five years in a hermitage is the same as living one week;
In this true state of Samadhi one will still recognize the date and the hour, and what each individual of every realm is feeling at any time, very clearly and without any confusion, and be able to save them in their due time.
Such a Samadhi is not abstract but concrete. With this realization of the real perfection of time, one enjoys ones non-death yoga. One controls the three periods and can make the sun stop in its course and prolong the lives of his students.
One may be skillful in the negative method in argument (the Madhyamika dialectic), but if one is without the positive realization one is only cheating oneself and is not a real Nyingmapa follower or practitioner.
Even if you do not realize it completely, you should know that there is such a side of positivity connected with the negative side.
no meditation, no practice and no fruit. It is written as follows:
One should not only know the negative side, i.e. non-teaching, non-meditation, non-practice, and non-fruit, but also the positive realization which is clear and concrete, by means of which one can see, act, function, reach attainments, and save others.
If one recognizes only the negative side, and sets teaching, meditation, and so on, aside, he will remain interested only in worldly money and love practices, he will not have the Great Perfection but will be tangled in worldly jobs and sorrows; he will not have the meditation of Great Perfection but will indulge in worldly knowledge and literature.
- Do not think that happiness has a limit
- Out from my heart breaks the great almighty!
- Although most vast is the Dharmakaya,
- Yet it is not possible to contain it!
There is another poem of mine which may be advisable for all my readers to read: