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Three-Kaya Mandala Offerings of Nyingma

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Buddhist practitioners should practice extensive offerings to Guru, Three Jewels, Tantric deities and Dharma Protectors to supplicate for their blessings and protection.

Consequently, one would be free from demons and obstacles and attain accomplishment soon. However, worldly offerings are too inferior and contaminated for the unexcelled Three Jewels; one should therefore practice the superior and transcendental Mandala offerings.

For ordinary practitioners of the exoteric vehicle to complete the Paths of Accumulation and Preparation, they need to gather merits for one Asamkhyeya-Kalpa, while Vajrayana practitioners can complete the same within one lifetime through Mandala offerings.

Painted manda.jpg

There are several kinds of Mandala offering practices: traditional ordinary Mandala, the uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala of Nyingma, and Yogi Chen's uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala of Nyingma.

Ordinary Mandala (Yogi Chen meant the 37-offering Mandala) is common to all traditional Vajrayana schools such as Gelug, Kagyu and Nyingma, and it is done according to the traditional Indian method.

The time required to practice this kind of Mandala is less than the other two kinds introduced below. Success in this practice can result in merits similar to those of Vaishravana (i.e., the Northern Heavenly King, or the Heavenly King of Treasures), and thereby speed up the progress toward Buddhahood.

That the ordinary Mandala offerings can result in merits similar to Vaishravana is due to the fact that this practice involves visualized offerings of the entire universe: Mount Sumeru, Four Continents, all kinds of supreme treasures, with such pure and supreme offerings appearing in abundance like clouds and oceans.

The uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala offerings of Nyingma is only taught by the Nyingma school.

Ordinary Mandala ultimately can yield only merits similar to those of Vaishravana, and yet the Three-Kaya Mandala of Nyingma includes visualized offerings to the

Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya

(the three bodies) of a Buddha,

therefore the resulting merits are far superior than those of the ordinary Mandala.

The cause of making offerings to

Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya

will eventually result in the accomplishment of

Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya.

This is a special and precious practice of the Nyingma school.

Nowadays many Gelug students are aware of the Three-Kaya Mandala offering; and yet unfortunately they are unwilling to learn it because of sectarianism.

Since the Three-Kaya Mandala involves visualization and placement of three layers of offerings, it is far more time-consuming than ordinary Mandala to practice.

Yogi Chen's Three Kaya Mandala is basically the same as the Three-Kaya Mandala mentioned above. The difference is that Yogi Chen has added special offerings to Dakinis at the Sambhogakaya layer.

Such additional offerings consist of more precious substances than those included in the other Three-Kaya Mandala offerings.

Since Dakinis can speed up the accomplishment of practitioners, we should not neglect our offerings to them.

In addition to the rice and gold offered in the normal Three-Kaya Mandala, this method includes other objects that assist in the visualization and dependent origination of the offerings, for example, coins of various countries, small globe, golden ornaments, and pistachio nuts. As a result, the time required for offering this kind of Mandala is about three to four times that of a normal Three-Kaya Mandala.

As one of the Four Foundational Practices, Mandala offerings should be repeated for at least 100,000 times. Practitioners may choose between the ordinary Mandala and the uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala of Nyingma to practice for the 100,000 repetitions.

For the reason mentioned above, it is of course better to practice Three-Kaya Mandala offerings. The three Mandala offering practices are described as follows:

I. Ordinary Mandala

Refer to the main text. (Please refer to other works for the details of the 37-offering Mandala; e.g., Jamgon Kongtrul, Judith Hanson Trans., The Torch of Certainty, Shambhala, Boston, 1977.)

II. The Uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala of Nyingma

This is a very precious practice transmitted from Lola Rinpoche and Konga Rinpoche (note: Yogi Chen's two main teachers), practitioners should endeavor to practice it well.

There are three layers in a set of Three-Kaya Mandala plates.

If the bottom plate is also counted, there are actually four layers.

The pinnacle ornament symbolizes the Mani Jewel (the wish-fulfilling jewel).

Mandala plates would best be made of gold, of silver is next, but of copper is also acceptable. Copper ones that are gold or silver plated are also fine. Each layer of the Mandala plates is engraved with images of the Seven Jewels or the Eight Treasures.

In order to make the offering, one should sit cross-legged on the floor, place a (approx.) two square feet cloth on a bamboo tray (or other kind of suitable container) with enough rice for the three layers of the Mandala.

Place a small box of rice to the right of the practitioner.

Start with putting a small amount of rice in both hands (symbolizing non-empty) and then hold with one's left hand the bottom Mandala plate (like a bowl upside down) by the rim.

While reciting "Om Samaya, Ah Samaya, Hung Samaya" (which means respectively the precepts of body, speech and mind) and then the Hundred Syllable Mantra once, rub the plate surface with the inner side of the right wrist in circular clockwise rotation three times, and visualize that the body, speech and mind of oneself and all sentient beings are thereby purified.

Then continue to rub the plate surface counter-clockwise for three times, visualizing the seeds for the merits and wisdom of the three Bodies of all Buddhas are obtained by the practitioner and all sentient beings.

Guru Tsongkhapa once said, "I did not attain comprehension until my wrist had ruptured."

Sprinkle the rice in the right hand on the plate and recite "Om Benza Bumi Ah Hung" while visualizing a Vajra earth foundation.

Place the first layer Mandala ring on top and recite "Om Benza La Ka Ah Hung" while visualizing an iron mountain range along the edge of the world; it represents a protective wall of precepts.

Put in a gold coin and fill up the first layer Mandala ring with rice. Recite the following verses and visualize accordingly:

Thousand million of thousand million world systems,
Each full of seven treasures and wealth of gods and humans,
Together with my entire body and belongings are completely offered,
May I attain the throne of the universal monarch of Dharma.

This is the offering to the Nirmanakaya.

If the practitioner has a specific wish, he or she can place the corresponding symbols of each Mandala ring toward oneself in order to assist in the visualization.

For example, one can place the Dharma wheel toward oneself if wishing for Dharma; one can place the engraving of auspicious grasses toward oneself if wishing for auspiciousness, etc.

Then place the second layer Mandala ring on top of the even surface of the first layer which is filled up with rice, put in a gold coin and fill up the second layer Mandala ring with rice. Recite the following verses and visualize accordingly:

The Pureland of Secret Adornment with unexcelled great bliss,
Complete with five definite attributes and the five aspects of Wisdom,
Offered with supreme offerings gathering as inconceivable masses of clouds,
May I attain the enjoyment of Sambhogakaya Pureland.

This is the offerings to the Sambhogakaya. Then place the third layer Mandala ring on top of the second layer, put in a gold coin and fill it up with rice. Recite the following verses and visualize accordingly:

The originally present, pure and youthful body in the vessel,
Being adorned with immutable compassion,
Identified with the Land purified of the attachments to body and drops,
By offering it, may I abide in the realm of the Dharmakaya.

Then put the pinnacle of Mani Jewel on top. With a small amount of rice in the right hand, raise the entire Mandala with both hands. This is the offering to the Dharmakaya.

When raising the Mandala to offer it, visualize the Mandala multiplying into five, five multiplying into twenty-five, etc. until the entire Dharmadhatu is completely filled with Mandalas, as shown below:

E0104 ngondrod.png

When putting down the Mandala, visualize all Mandalas in the Dharmadhatu are merging back into the Mandala before one.

The above is one offering of the Three-Kaya Mandala. Then pour the rice in the Mandala toward oneself into the bamboo tray and repeat the Mandala offering.

When repeating the offerings, use the offered rice in the bamboo tray to fill each layer until almost full, then top up each layer with new (not being offered before) rice from the small rice box; this is to symbolize new merits adding to old merits and become continuously without end.

If a practitioner completes this uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala Offering for 100,000 times, the merits accumulated would be inconceivable.

III. Yogi Chen's Uncommon Three-Kaya Mandala


This practice is basically the same as the previous one, but the objects of offering are not limited to rice and gold coins.

It also includes coins from countries around the world, but coins from communist countries that destroy Buddhism and oppress people must not be offered.

The practitioner thus wishes that all sentient beings and practitioners are replete with food, clothing and other things needed for practice.

The Mandala also includes a small globe to symbolize the offering of the entire Dharmadhatu (Keep the globe clean by cleaning it about once every two weeks).

Furthermore, in order to please Dakinis, goddesses, and dragon goddesses, one also offers various ornaments of gold, jade, gold chains, earrings, and pistachio nuts.

It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete this Mandala offering once.

Therefore, if it is not feasible to offer it daily, then offer it on the 10th day of each lunar month to Guru Padmasambhava, on the 15th day to the Yidams, on the 25th day to the Dakinis, and on the 29th day to the Dharma Protectors.

Since there are many items of offering in this Mandala, it would be inconvenient to hold the Mandala plate with one hand.

Besides, most of the precious objects need to be add on with both hands, hence, first put the base Mandala plate on a circular container (e.g., a tray) covered with yellow cloth and then place the whole thing firmly on a low bench.

Use both hands to raise the whole Mandala after all three layers are filled. When adding offerings to each layer, recite the corresponding offering stanzas and visualize accordingly.

At the beginning, hold the base plate by the left hand, with a small amount of rice in both hands, rub the plate surface clockwise and counter-clockwise thrice, recite the Hundred Syllable Mantra, etc.; all are done as in the previous kind of Three-Kaya Mandala offering.

Coins or gold coins of various countries can be placed on the first, second and third layers. The small globe should be put in the center of the first layer. Each layer should be filled up with rice, and some new rice should be added on top of each layer, symbolizing the ever increasing of new merits, enjoyment and offerings.

Gold and jade ornaments engraved with auspicious words, such as "merit,""prosperity," "wealth," "longevity," "love" and "joy," should be placed according to their colors and meanings in the directions of the corresponding Five Buddhas:

white in the East (toward the practitioner), yellow in the South (the right hand side of the Buddha), red in the West (toward the Buddha), green in the North (the left hand side of the Buddha), and blue in the center;

"longevity" in the East, "merit"and "wealth" in the South, "joy" and "love" in the West, and "prosperity" in the North. [[[Yutang Lin]]:

The cardinal directions are arranged in this way because the Buddha is assumed to be seated at the center of the Mandala, facing the practitioner, to receive the offerings. Hence, the Buddha's front is the East and the rest follows in a clockwise circle.

As to the Buddha that is located in the diagram below, we are referring to the Buddha on the Altar.]

E0104 ngondroe.png

Earrings should hang on the second layer Mandala ring in pairs (left-right, front-back).

Necklaces should hang from the second layer (note: like hanging on the neck), and colors of pendants should correspond to the directions of the Five Buddhas as described before.

These offerings are ornaments for Dakinis, goddesses, dragon goddesses of all the Sambhogakaya Buddhas so that they will be pleased and help the practitioner to attain siddhis (accomplishments) soon.

Pistachio nuts are foods for Dakinis, so they are also put in the second layer.

If one is to repeat the offering in a session, be careful not to pour everything into the bamboo tray when dissembling the Mandala lest the earrings, necklaces, etc., will tangle up.

One should instead pick them up piece by piece, put coins, rings and jades in two separate boxes, and lay necklaces one by one on a bench. Thus, it will be convenient for the next offering, and there would be no need to waste time in untangling them.

After taking these objects out, pour the rice back to the bamboo tray and repeat the offering.

Do not dissemble the Mandala after the last offering of a session. The Mandala is usually placed on the altar.

Thereafter, every day add some new rice and pistachio nuts to the Mandala, and then, while raising the Mandala with both hands, the practitioner makes a complete clockwise turn and recites the Three-Kaya Mandala stanzas once, then put the Mandala back on the altar.

[[[Yutang Lin]]: The clockwise turn signifies making the offering to all the Buddhas and holy beings in all directions.] If properly visualized, this is also a good offering with the same merits.


Oral teaching given in Chinese by Yogi Chen
Transcribed by Kun Yu Li
Edited by Yutang Lin
Translated by Stanley Lam