Sun of Devotion, Stream of Blessings

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Leeds and London, UK (Archive #1963)

Sun of Devotion, Stream of Blessings is the record of a remarkable series of powerful and clear Dharma teachings given by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche to students in Leeds and London, United Kingdom, in 2014. This book is now available in print and digital formats and as a free audiobook on Google Play.

Khadro-la teaching at Root Institute, Bodhgaya, India, January 4, 2020. Photo: Bill Kane.
Chapter 8. Khadro-la
Khadro-la and earthquakes 

Although Khadro-la, the young Tibetan lady, has been publicly recognized as an oracle she is much more than that. She is beyond that; she is beyond all of us. The story of what she saw when she went to Mount Kailash is just unbelievable. It is not at all what we common people normally see.

When she was in Chamdo, in Kham, she had been unaware of the big problem of Dolgyal but when she reached Mount Kailash this problem appeared everywhere, in all the four traditions. So, when she was at Mount Kailash she went to Tushita, the Joyful Pure Land, Lama Tsongkhapa’s and Maitreya Buddha’s pure land, to find Thagpo Dorje Chang. Not many people would have heard of Thagpo Dorje Chang but he was a great, great lama and one of Pabongka Rinpoche’s gurus. In his past lives he used to see Tara Cittamani all the time, and receive initiations, commentaries and all the various activities of Tara Cittamani from Tara herself.

Because Thagpo Dorje Chang was in Tushita, Khadro-la went there to ask him about Dolgyal. She has a totally free mind so she can do that. His Holiness has said that the previous beliefs were incorrect, that he had never seen the explanation about following Dolgyal in the collections of teachings Thagpo Dorje Chang received from Tibet. I think Lama Tsongkhapa asked who would protect his teachings and Thagpo Dorje Chang in the pure land said that he would do it.

Thagpo Dorje Chang was giving teachings to hundreds of dakinis, highly realized female sky-goers, and Khadro-la went to him and asked this question, “What did people believe in, in the past? Did you say it was correct to practice Dolgyal before or not?” He replied he had not, that this was incorrect. This concurred with what His Holiness had said. By going to the pure land Khadro-la was able to confirm this.

What she told me is something not known by common people but, in order to believe these stories, you need to understand her capacity.

In Dharamsala quite a number of years ago she told me there was going to be a huge earthquake endangering hundreds of thousands or even millions of people. It involved the whole Himalayan range of mountains. I think there was probably going to be a volcanic eruption or something and so many people would die. She could see everything and could see that there was great danger.

After she told His Holiness, he gave her the responsibility to prevent it. She wanted to build several stupas around His Holiness’s palace. They were not exactly the same as normal stupas; they looked much the same on the outside but there were some differences on the inside. Because these were not normal stupas His Holiness’s Private Office and his attendants didn’t listen to her and so for a long time they refused permission. In the end His Holiness told them to do whatever Khadro-la said. She explained the stupa to His Holiness’s attendants and that its details were in a particular text by a great lama, which was confirmed when they checked. Without ever having looked at the text herself she knew exactly where this was mentioned, even giving the page number. They were very surprised when they found it was there as she had said. Generally Khadro-la does not read scriptures quickly because she has never been trained, or so it appears externally.

She was finally able to complete all the stupas in different colors. One was built at the Tibetan nursery school and another one at Norbulingka in lower Dharamsala where the Tibetans who have come from Tibet have art and handicraft shops and restaurants. There are many statues there.

She explained this to me in detail, how although the major earthquake could be prevented there would be a very small one that could not be stopped. That has already happened in lower Dharamsala and I think one cow died, but the major earthquake with the volcanic eruption has been stopped.

Once, when she was on a beach in Taiwan, there was about to be a typhoon. She did some prayers, nothing long at all, and the typhoon stopped. The students who were around her at the time actually saw this happen and they told me.

She is very powerful. The nagas and worldly protectors who cause violent weather—all those hail storms and winds and such things—react depending on what people do. If people do positive things the weather is subdued but violent weather is the result of people’s negative, violent minds, their violent thoughts.

I’m telling you this in case you are wondering whether it is possible for Khadro-la to go to a pure land. Maybe you believe it or maybe not, but I can tell you other things so you can understand what she can do.

The power of the bodhisattvas

Of course, such powers as being able to influence the weather are as yet unknown by Western scientists. They attribute bad weather to other causes. They can see the physical conditions but they have yet to understand the most important thing, the inner cause, karma. Not even the most expert Western scientists have discovered this but it seems their thinking is getting more subtle and they are getting closer to the Buddhist views.

For example, they used to believe that there were no sentient beings on Mars but then—before I left America for India last year or the year before—it was announced that they had discovered the potential for life there.51 So, it is changing, and it will continue to change the deeper they check.

Karma has yet to be discovered by the scientists. But once it is discovered—how all suffering comes from negative karma and all happiness comes from positive karma—it will blow their minds! It will be such an unbelievable shock. This is what I think. At the moment, because it is not within the scope of scientific thought, people in the West don’t think about it. Some people might even think that concepts like karma and reincarnation are crazy, that they come from people’s imagination. Such people either don’t think about future lives or what death means or their thoughts are very vague.

One time, on an airplane, I was watching my fellow passengers put their luggage up before the flight. They were well-dressed, maybe in clothes worth a thousand dollars, and talking about nothing but this life, nothing else, about how they made ten million dollars and things like that. But they had no idea at all about the life after this. They had never heard that the result of negative karma is rebirth in the suffering lower realms—the hells, the hungry ghost realm or the animal realm—or that the result of positive karma is the happiness of the human and god realms. And this is without talking about what is beyond samsara, about nirvana, the total cessation of the oceans of samsaric suffering and the five paths that lead to liberation and enlightenment.

There are five paths to peerless happiness, buddhahood, the state of the omniscient mind, the elimination of all obscurations and the completion of all realizations—sang-gyä. Even before reaching that goal, simply progressing through the five paths and the ten bhumis brings unbelievable happiness and bliss.

Even on the first bhumi a bodhisattva is able to go to a hundred different buddha pure lands and receive teaching from the buddhas there at the same time and with a hundred different bodies do prostrations to the buddhas there. Then, when he achieves the second bodhisattva bhumi, he is able to go to a thousand different buddha pure lands and receive teachings and manifest in a thousand bodies and give teachings to sentient beings. With each succeeding bhumi the numbers increase and with the eighth, ninth and tenth bhumis the bodhisattva can go to billions and zillions of pure lands and receive teachings and do prostrations there and is able to manifest in billions and zillions and trillions of forms and give teachings, getting ever closer to enlightenment like that. He can manifest as a river, a bridge, a mountain, as all kinds of things to benefit sentient being. What a bodhisattva can do to benefit sentient beings is so amazing it doesn’t fit our ordinary, limited concepts. If this is what a bodhisattva can do, there is no question what a buddha can do.

Saving animals and humans

There are many stories about Khadro-la that I have heard as well as many stories I have yet to hear. Besides the earthquake that Khadro-la predicted in Dharamsala, there’s also the huge California earthquake that Western scientists predicted a long time ago and announced again at the beginning of 2014. She has also spoken about that one.

Normally our organization liberates animals. The FPMT center in Singapore has already liberated almost two hundred million. They don’t liberate them the way we normally do, just buying them from where they are going to be killed and releasing them. What they do is put small insects and shellfish into sacks and frogs in containers and circumambulate them around many stupas filled with mantras, including the four dharmakaya relic mantras, and also many texts, such as the entire collection of teachings by Lama Tsongkhapa and his disciples. There are also the Kangyur and Tengyur and many collections of all the teachings.52

Carrying the animals by hand, all the children, parents and grandparents circumambulate the holy objects. With each circumambulation they all create the karma to achieve highest enlightenment, even the insects. In one plastic bag there may be a thousand crickets. As many times as that bag is taken around, the closer to enlightenment those thousand crickets come. That includes nirvana, the blissful state of peace, liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering as well, and a good rebirth in the next life and temporary happiness—all those things are contained in that. So it has amazing benefit.

Then everybody blesses the buckets of water by reciting different mantras, beginning with OM MANI PADME HUM of course and many other different mantras, and then blowing on the water. They then sprinkle it over all the animals and birds, or, with the sacks containing the shellfish, they pour the water over them. That way the animals get a higher rebirth, and possibly, hopefully, meet the Dharma. The third thing is to recite the mantras to those beings who can hear, to plant the seed of enlightenment in their minds. So at least we should try to do those three things to benefit them as much as possible.

I tell people who have cancer to dedicate and donate some money to those doing animal liberation and sometimes it is able to cure that cancer. Cancer causes a shortening of life so by liberating animals we are causing them to have a long life and that in turn causes us to have a long life. By giving others a long life, we can have a long life. And it affects our life for hundreds and thousands of future lifetimes.

This is how it is done in Singapore, not just buying and releasing them but trying to help them as much as possible. We also do that in Hong Kong and from time to time in Taiwan. Later I’m hoping we can do it in China and Malaysia as well.

I thought if we do that with animals, why not also save human beings? If the big earthquake is going to happen, why not try to help the human beings there? I wanted to do something before it happened because once it has happened so many people will have died. Places that have been developed over hundreds of years at a cost of billions, zillions or trillions of dollars can be destroyed in an hour by something like an earthquake.

A few years ago in Dharamsala I asked Khadro-la about preventing the Californian earthquake and she predicted so quickly, like a waterfall, what stupas we needed to build, how and where we should build them and so forth. I marked where she said on a map but the map was very small. At first, the American Embassy in Delhi rejected her visa, even when we tried a second time. She even had a letter from His Holiness’s Private Office but they didn’t want to read it. They probably do this to other people as well.

Then she tried to go to Canada but they rejected her there as well. We spent about ten thousand dollars in America applying many, many times to the government before she finally got a visa.

When she flew to California and was landing in San Francisco, she felt this was the place to build a stupa. She stayed at the Aptos house. One day, as we went across the Golden Gate Bridge she saw that the nearer of the two mountains close to the bridge was the better location for a stupa. So at the moment we are looking for the place to build it. One time, when we were in a Zen restaurant, I thought maybe we could build it inside the restaurant so many people could see it. One of the places is a government park called The Presidio. Venerable Roger has appointed an ex-director of Tse Chen Ling, our San Francisco center, to look for a suitable place.

After the place has been found, Khadro-la has to come to purify the land, to bless it before building the stupa. Hopefully, this will prevent that huge earthquake and save hundreds of thousands or even millions of people’s lives.

Publicly she is like an ordinary person

Khadro-la’s main purpose for coming from Tibet to India was to serve and protect His Holiness.

A few years ago, when His Holiness was ill, all the Tibetan doctors agreed that His Holiness should not have an operation. Even the Nechung oracle agreed. Nechung, who has been the Tibetan government’s protector from ancient times, appears in a worldly aspect but is, in reality, the five buddha families, or five Dhyani Buddhas. They invoked the protector and asked him and even he said not to do the operation. Finally, when His Holiness was in Delhi he asked his attendants to ask Khadro-la. She said he must have surgery immediately, it was very important. When the doctor in Delhi operated he discovered gallstones and was shocked because it was unbelievably dangerous. So Khadro-la’s insisting on the operation was correct. This is one example of her capacity.

She has also saved several Tibetan people who were about to die, as they were drawing their last breath. By coming from Tibet she has been able to save the lives of many people, allowing them to live for several years longer.

Her main responsibility is to look after His Holiness, to protect His Holiness’s life, to help His Holiness fulfill his holy wishes in the world. That is the most important thing in the world, to benefit the world. Publicly, she is just like an ordinary person, but in reality she is beyond that. I have an inner offering from her. Basically, I asked for it. It contains her blessing, a blessing from the real Vajrayogini.

I think she might have obtained the inner offering in Kullu Manali, one of the two places in India famous for hot springs. One seems good for the knees and one for the belly. Once I went there with her. We had arranged a hotel but she didn’t stay there; she stayed at the hot spring, where the rooms were much cheaper. Many people came day and night.

While she was there she had a competition with Shiva, the Hindu god. Because of Shiva’s powers, he was carrying unbelievable weapons like in the many stories you hear about him. He can manifest all kinds of weapons but Khadro-la can also manifest all kinds of weapons as well, so they were competing. Of course, to the other people in the room it probably seemed like she was sleeping or something, but in reality this is what happened; she was in the aspect of Vajrayogini, with her hair standing straight up terrifyingly, competing with Shiva.

Whatever she did, however she transformed or whatever miraculous power she displayed, Shiva also did. However, when she sang the hymns of the guru, the hymns of emptiness, Shiva knelt down and put his head on Khadro-la’s knee. Until then, she was manifesting all kinds of things and he was able to do the same, but finally manifesting in Vajrayogini’s form and singing of emptiness was so unimaginable that Shiva knelt down and respected her.

The next day, before she left, she went down to a Shiva temple just to say goodbye. The blue drawing of Shiva was there just the same so she said goodbye before she left. I think this also happened at the hotel as well. She explained that this is a very secret story.

I think in the future I will ask her to go to the Land of Joy.53 It will be good to get her to bless the land. She did that at Mahamudra Centre in New Zealand and at Chenrezig Institute in Australia the first time she went there. She did a retreat for seven days and everybody cried for two days! Everybody cried.

At Chenrezig Institute they have done the Basic Program several times and were just starting another round.54 Some nuns have done the Basic Program several times. There are maybe twenty-five or twenty-six nuns at Chenrezig—a lot of nuns—but not so many monks. Geshe Tashi Tsering—not the Geshe Tashi in London but another one—was there for many years and he was very kind, pushing the nuns to study a lot. He did this because in his life in the monastery he saw the importance of studying and working very hard for the monastery, and he saw that this was also true for Chenrezig Institute.

When Khadro-la went there, for the first two days everybody cried through her teachings as she brought everybody’s mind into the Dharma. Then she went to Mahamudra Centre in New Zealand and all two hundred students also cried for the first two days as she brought their minds into the Dharma as well.

Now she is unable to travel for a year because she had a Tibetan yellow passport,55 which is a lot of trouble, so she gave that to the Indian Government and has applied for an Indian passport, which takes a year. She could get the refugee paper back but I advised her to stay there and try to get the passport.

At the moment we are so fortunate. We have this human rebirth, we have met Buddhism and we can meet great beings like Khadro-la. So we are unbelievably fortunate.

In the “dream experience” Khadro-la received many teachings on emptiness from Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche in his past life aspect. He told her that Dolgyal totally cheated him and this has interfered with the activities of his present incarnation. Ling Rinpoche lives in India quite publicly because he doesn’t practice Dolgyal but Trijang Rinpoche is sort of in hiding.

The guru appears in an ordinary form because of our impure mind

The tantric text Vajra Tent says,

In these degenerate times, I, who am called Vajrasattva, will abide in the form of the spiritual master. With the aim of benefiting sentient beings, I will abide in an ordinary form.

In these times of the five degenerations, Vajrasattva, or Vajradhara—the names differ but they’re the same being—has taken the holy form of the spiritual master, or guru, to abide in an ordinary form in order to benefit sentient beings. We should understand this and generate faith and respect for the guru. This is also mentioned in the Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion.56

Once the bodhisattva Meaningful to Behold asked the Buddha, “When you, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, have passed away, who will there be to guide us?” To that the Buddha replied, “Hi, Meaningful to Behold, when that time comes I will manifest in the form of an abbot, a master, a lob-pön. In order to ripen the minds of sentient beings, in order to benefit them, I will show the aspect of having birth, old age, sickness and death.”

There are other quotations but that is enough. As I have already mentioned, for arya bodhisattvas—“arya” meaning exalted bodhisattvas who have a direct perception of emptiness—the Buddha manifests in the sambhogakaya aspect. Ordinary bodhisattvas who have achieved the great stage of the path of merit can see countless buddhas in their nirmanakaya aspect. Of the five Mahayana paths, the first one, the path of merit has three stages, small, medium and great, and it is when the bodhisattva reaches the great stage of the path of merit that he is able to see numberless buddhas in nirmanakaya aspect.

For us ordinary beings, whose minds are obscured, the Buddha manifests as an ordinary being, in a human form, like His Holiness, or he manifests as a king or as a beggar to allow us sentient beings to collect merit. He can manifest as a child, a crazy person, a butcher, a prostitute or a judge. He can manifest in all kinds of forms.

An abbot of a monastery in Tibet who had clairvoyance recently passed away. He seemed to have been a very important lama. I was able to help somebody he knew well in Switzerland, a monk who was at Buxa, who wanted to build a large covered Padmasambhava statue that would cost a hundred thousand dollars.

Once, this lama went into a market in Kathmandu and, seeing a butcher there—just an ordinary butcher living his life selling meat—the lama made a throne for him and had him sit on it. So, even in the marketplace we never know who is a buddha and who isn’t. We have to know that. We have to be careful to not harm others, to not get angry and to practice patience, otherwise we might create the cause to suffer for hundreds of thousands or millions of years. When this clairvoyant lama saw the butcher he made a throne.

There is also the story of a teacher, a monk, in Tibet who buried his money in the ground outside his room. From time to time he would go to where it was buried and look at it. Then one day he died and his disciples needed money to make an offering. They couldn’t find any money in his room so they went outside to where they had seen their teacher often go. When they saw a small mound of earth they dug it up and discovered the money, but there was a scorpion holding tightly onto the entire big bundle of money.

A young monk took the scorpion to his teacher’s guru, Chösang Rinpoche, and asked him what to do. The guru told him he must take it and give it to a butcher behind the Potala. When the disciple did this, the butcher placed the animal on the chopping block and chopped it in half, eating one half and throwing the other half in the air. When the young monk told the teacher’s guru what had happened, he said, “Oh, now that is very good!” This was because the butcher was the deity, the enlightened being, Red Yamantaka, and throwing half the body into the air meant his consciousness had been transferred to a pure land.

His Holiness Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche told me many times that although he had not seen this happen he had heard this story. Rinpoche was the incarnation of Marpa’s son, Darma Dodé. One day Marpa told Darma Dodé not to leave the house but he went anyway to look at some scenery, fell off his horse, knocked his head on a stone and died.  Anyway, Tsenshap Serkong Rinpoche was his incarnation. This great holy being is among my kind teachers. Any small break he had—even while he was eating—he would give teachings and answer questions. He was so kind. He told me this story many times. He passed away in Ladakh and his incarnation was born in Spiti in 1984.

That butcher behind the Potala was the enlightened deity Red Yamantaka. So an enlightened being doesn’t have to be some being we see radiating light in the sky whereas somebody we see elsewhere—on the ground, in the bathroom, where meat is sold and so forth—could not be an enlightened being. Any of those people could be enlightened.

Buddhas manifest as gods or demigods, as all kinds of human beings. For example, when we are having problems and somebody suddenly appears and helps us, telling us what we need to hear, showing us the path, that could be a buddha or a bodhisattva manifesting to help us. This happens many times.

We may think a person is ridiculous, that she doesn’t know any Dharma, but we cannot judge by the appearance. In reality, what appears to us is totally a projection, or decoration, of our own karma, our ordinary impure mind. We really cannot say. The way something appears to us and what we believe to be real can be the complete opposite of what is actually real. The ordinary person can in reality be an enlightened being. Many times unknown people have helped or guided us and we have not known who they were.

Buddhas can manifest as hungry ghosts to help hungry ghosts. They are not hungry ghosts but they manifest in that form in order to help them. They can manifest as all kinds of animals to help animals. They are buddhas, not animals, but they manifest as animals or insects or whatever. They can manifest as hell protectors or hell beings. They can manifest as maras; they are not maras but they show that aspect to help others. There are all kinds of ways they manifest to help beings.

Because of our deluded mind we find it difficult to know reality and always believe that what appears to us exists the way it appears. Somebody ordinary appears to us and we believe in that appearance; we think that that is the reality. We cannot see the reality, that that is a buddha.

In the Heruka body mandala there are twenty-four holy places. When we do the sadhana we have to visualize those holy places on the body as they are on earth, in Nepal, Tibet and India. They are there, but we also visualize them on our body. At that time numberless dakas and dakinis immediately come and enter our body, blessing our winds, chakras and drops to make them functional while we are meditating, as in the Six Yogas of Naropa.57 They enter our central channel, abide and absorb, and then, after the gross mind is absorbed and the subtle mind is absorbed, the most subtle mind, the clear light, arises. Then we experience the great bliss of non-duality with emptiness, ceasing the dualistic mind, the dualistic view, the superstitions, ceasing the ordinary mind-wind. This is like an atomic bomb. This is the practice of Highest Yoga Tantra.

At those holy places there are numberless dakas and dakinis with different levels of realization. There are those who have just achieved the unification of clear light and illusory body and also enlightened beings. When we go to those holy places we will definitely meet those holy beings, but the question is whether or not we will be able to recognize them as such. That is the biggest problem, especially in those places. Of course, this is not something to speak about in public, but it’s just to get the idea.

Once in Nepal I dreamed of a small four- or five-year-old girl who was Vajrayogini. The next day we went to Pharping,58 not because of the dream, it’s just something we do from time-to-time. Pharping is where two brothers, two yogis, the Phamtingpas, achieved Vajrayogini’s enlightenment. There is a main Vajrayogini statue there and also a small one—a natural one not made by man—that might have belonged to the Phamtingpas. The caretakers show it from time-to-time, if they are happy. Anyway, that day the girl was there—exactly the same girl I saw in my dream. She was with some Nepalese ladies who had come to worship the statue. Although she was so young she put some sindura on Lobsang Nyima, Lama Yeshe’s disciple from Tibet who served him at Buxa, Lawudo and Kopan. He had good guru devotion but sometimes got angry while he was working. This little girl didn’t know him and he didn’t know her but she put some sindura on him. She didn’t put it on me. It was very interesting and very strange.

Even though I had seen this very clearly in my dream, still my mind is so bad. Because the way it appeared was a projection of my mind, so ordinary, what she did was still hard to believe. I should have done what it says to do in the Vajrayogini commentary—go around her three times anticlockwise, grab her feet and say the verses, “You are my mother” and so forth, and then one-pointedly pray for her to guide me. Nobody stopped me from doing that, only my own mind. My very strong ordinary mind would not let me. My mind is very thick-skulled, full of very ordinary concepts and I followed it.

The guru’s kindness in guiding us in this life is really unbelievable. It’s inexpressible. This has been happening from beginningless rebirths. For countless lifetimes the guru has guided us, manifesting in all kinds of ways in pure and impure forms. He has manifested not only as a Buddhist teacher but also as Brahma, Indra and Shiva, benefiting sentient beings by taking their form and then guiding them. He has manifested as a Christian priest, a nun or monk, or as a Muslim practitioner. There are all kinds of ways he manifests. From beginningless rebirths we have been guided.

In 1983 Lama Yeshe and I went to Assisi, where Saint Francis had died and where his holy body is kept along with that of his chief disciple, the nun who had three hundred disciples. Her very long body is well preserved in a glass-topped coffin but Saint Francis’ body is covered in a black iron coffin. When we visited there, Lama Yeshe sat down in front of his body and meditated.

At that time I thought that because his mind was so pure, Saint Francis was the same as a Kadampa geshe, with bodhicitta, with no self-cherishing thought and no attachment to this life. I don’t know how, but he was a completely pure Dharma practitioner in his mind. He dressed differently from the other monks, so renounced, with many patches in his chuba-like robes. In India and Tibet and also among the Kadampa geshes, there are monks who practice renouncing this life who have many patches in their robes, even though they have great realizations and are great tantric practitioners. Saint Francis was like a Kadampa geshe in this.

He was very humble and he always recited “God, God” in the same way we recite “Tara, Tara.” All his disciples were also very humble. The other priests who lived higher up would spit on him and say bad things about him because of his humility and patched robes and because he was so different from them.

I saw on his table a picture of Jesus Christ that had spoken to Saint Francis. I think, when your mind is pure, statues speak to you. All the statues at Bodhgaya spoke to Lama Atisha. Some of the statues there now are new because they took away the old statues to sell and put others in their place. Even the Buddha statue is not that old. When Lama Atisha was there, all the statues, not just the Tara, gave him the answers as to the best way to quickly achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. In Tibet, Nepal and India there are many holy objects that have spoken to meditators, to practitioners who have strong devotion. I think this is similar to Jesus Christ’s picture speaking to Saint Francis because of the purity of his mind.

The absolute and conventional guru

This time we have been born as human beings and, not only that, we have met the holy Dharma, which means we have been able to learn and practice that much. For many past lives we have been creating the cause, praying for this to happen, and now it has happened. This is incredibly precious. We must not just take it for granted. That English term, “take it for granted” is a nice term.

Due to the kindness of the guru guiding us from beginningless rebirths and continuing to guide us up until the time we achieve enlightenment, we are able to do all this, to become enlightened, to free numberless sentient beings from suffering—numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, gods, demigods and intermediate state beings. We are able to bring them all to peerless happiness, the state of omniscient mind, due to the kindness of the guru. We are able to repay the kindness of all the numberless mother sentient beings.

I have already talked about the kindness of the guru but I just want to mention this advice from Gyalwa Ensapa, who said,

Until you are free from negative karma and obscurations, even if every single buddha were to descend in front of you, you would not have the fortune to be able to see their supreme holy bodies adorned with the thirty-two major marks and eighty minor signs. All you could see would be the ordinary view, just an ordinary being.

This is a great teaching. Until we are free from our negative karma and obscurations, even if all the buddhas descended in front of us all we would see would be ordinary beings, nothing special. Even though the buddhas have the thirty-two major marks and eighty minor signs, we are unable to see this. We do not have the fortune to see the buddhas in the aspect of a buddha.

As I mentioned before, when we say the prayer Namo Gurubhya, Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dharmaya, Namo Sanghaya, the guru comes before the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We take refuge in the guru first. Why? There is a very important reason that we need to understand. It is not just because the guru is kinder than all the buddhas. Yes, this is true, but it is not only that.

I saw in the Heruka sadhana—it may be the same in other sadhanas too—the inner offering starts from Vajradhara: Vajradhara, Vajrayogini, the great yogi Tilopa, Ghantapa and all the lineage lamas. But at the very beginning is the root guru. Even before Vajradhara, first there is the kind root guru. Then it starts from Vajradhara and all the lineage lamas and at the end it mentions the root guru again. Why? That is very important.

Here, “guru” means that all these lineage lamas, including Vajradhara, Vajrayogini and so forth, come from the root guru. As Padmasambhava said,

The root guru is the essence of all the three times’, ten directions’ tathagatas.
He is the originator of the heaps of the 84,000 teachings.
He is the possessor of all the arya Sangha.
To the holy mouth of my kind root guru I make offerings.

Tathagatas means all the numberless buddhas of the ten directions, all the past, present and future buddhas’ holy body, holy speech and holy mind, their qualities and actions. The root guru is the essence of all that. This is what Padmasambhava said. The second line says he is the originator of the heaps of the 84,000 teachings, from where all the teachings come. Then the quote says that whatever qualities the arya Sangha have, the root guru also has.

Finally, he says, “To the holy mouth of my kind root guru I make offerings.” This is before we make offerings to Vajradhara and Vajrayogini. When we understand why this is so, we can understand what the guru is. Otherwise we really can’t.

That we will be able to enlighten all sentient beings depends on the kindness of the guru. Who is the guru? Who is the guru who has guided us from beginningless rebirths and will guide us all the way until we reach enlightenment?

There are the ultimate, or absolute, guru and the conventional guru. The absolute guru takes the ordinary form, the conventional guru. The conventional guru is just a manifestation but the main thing is the absolute guru. The absolute guru is eternal; it is the primordial mind, with no beginning and no end, free from all gross and subtle obscurations.

And next, it is very important to understand that the absolute guru pervades all existence. We say that there is no place where there is no buddha—which is also stated in the sutra teachings—therefore there is no place where there is no absolute guru. Just as we think of the buddha, the omniscient mind, pervading all existence, so too does the ultimate guru.

The guru manifests everywhere to do the work of benefiting sentient beings, in a pure form to those whose mind is pure and in an impure form to those sentient beings whose mind is impure. The guru works to benefit every single sentient being, so it’s infinite.

For example, in this world only one sun rises, but whether it’s an ocean, a river, a spring or just a drop, wherever there is water it can reflect the sun. As long as it’s not obscured, the sun can be reflected in water everywhere. When the sun rises, its reflection also rises everywhere, naturally and without effort, even in a drop of water.

A being needs to have motivation before becoming enlightened but after that there is no need for effortful motivation. Until each and every single sentient being has been enlightened—every hell being, hungry ghost, animal, human, god and demigod—until each has been brought to enlightenment, the guru continuously works for sentient beings.

The Guru Puja mentions,

Arising from the play of omniscient transcendental wisdom,
You are the essence of ten million mandala cycles.
Pervading lord of a hundred buddha families, foremost vajra holder,
Unified primordial savior, I make requests to you.

Unobscured, inseparable from the play of simultaneous joy,
Pervading everything in motion and at rest;
The nature of all things, free from beginning or end,
All good actual ultimate bodhicitta; I make requests to you.59

The guru is the one who manifests as numberless mandalas. Even just one mandala manifests many deities such as Yamantaka or Guhyasamaja. There are many, many details within the mandala, but the guru manifest as all the numberless mandalas, all the numberless deities. This absolute guru, this primordial mind, has no beginning or end; it pervades all existence and has been guiding us to enlightenment from beginningless rebirths.

The absolute guru is without obscurations, experiencing simultaneously-born bliss, the greatest bliss. Pervading all existence, the numberless buddhas and the numberless mandalas are all absorbed into the one, the absolute owner of all, the absolute guru. The absolute guru is all good, absolute bodhicitta. This is not the usual bodhicitta but the bodhicitta of the absolute mind, the primordial mind.

The prayer continues,

You are the guru, you are the yidam,
You are the dakinis and Dharma protectors.
From now until enlightenment I shall seek no other refuge than you.A
In this life, the bardo and all future lives,
Hold me with the hook of your compassion;
Free me from samsara and nirvana’s fears,
Grant all attainments,
Be my constant friend and guard me from interferences.60

With this request we recognize what the guru is. This is the real guru but for us he must manifest in the ordinary aspect. This is the way to understand that the absolute and conventional gurus are not two separate things. The absolute guru manifests as the conventional guru to guide us easily. We need to think like that, that only with the conventional, ordinary aspect can we be guided to enlightenment. That is the guru’s kindness.

Even if we were dying today, even this hour or this minute, this is what we must request, that the guru holds us with the hook of his compassion.

It is as the quote says,

Before the guru there is not even the name “buddha.”

So, all the buddhas come from the guru. Can you see that? That is why the root guru comes even before Vajradhara in the lineage lama prayer, then Vajradhara, Vajrayogini and so forth. Without the root guru there can be none of these lineage lamas—no Vajradhara, no Vajrayogini, nothing. There cannot be the Buddha. They are all a manifestation of the root guru. For that reason the prayer Namo Gurubhya, Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dharmaya, Namo Sanghaya has great meaning.


51 As of March 2016, the Mars rover, Curiosity, is discovering more and more evidence of all the factors needed to have life, such as running water, methane and the five principal elements. [Return to text]

52 This topic is covered extensively in Rinpoche’s Liberating Animals from the Danger of Death and Other Ways to Benefit Them. There is also a CD of Rinpoche’s Recitations for Animals. Both are available from the FPMT. See also Practices for Benefiting Animals on the LYWA website. [Return to text]

53  The FPMT retreat center in the far north of England that was purchased during Rinpoche’s 2014 visit. [Return to text]

54  The Basic Program is an FPMT course of study that has been taught at Chenrezig Institute since 1997. Three full rounds have been completed and the fourth started in 2015.  [Return to text]

55  A refugee identification card that few countries recognize.  [Return to text]

56  Find the root text and commentary at See also Tsongkhapa’s The Fulfillment of All Hopes.  [Return to text]

57  In Highest Yoga Tantra the practitioner learns to control the winds (the psychic energy that flows through the body), chakras (the energy wheels located along the central psychic channel) and drops (subtle substances within the body).  [Return to text]

58  A small village and pilgrimage site near Kathmandu where Padmasambhava is said to have attained high tantric realizations. It is also the site of an important Vajrayogini temple and a self- emanating Tara.  [Return to text]

59  Vv. 51 & 52.  [Return to text]

60  V. 53.  [Return to text]