Mahamudra and Medicine Buddha Teachings

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Crestone, Colorado (Archive #1711)

Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings at the White Eagle Conference Center in Crestone, Colorado, in June 2008.  The teachings include the oral transmission of the First Panchen Lama's root text for the Precious Gelug/Kagyu Tradition of Mahamudra and the Medicine Buddha jenang. The transcripts have been edited by Ven Ailsa Cameron.

You can listen online to these teachings and follow along with the unedited transcript here.

Fourth Discourse, 7 June 2008

I thought to do the oral transmission of the mahamudra root text. At the beginning we will do the meditation prayer to purify the mind, the defilements, and to plant the seed of the whole path to enlightenment, the path not only to liberation from samsara but to full enlightenment. The necessary conditions for attaining the path to liberation and enlightenment are the collecting of extensive merit and the purifying of obstacles, of defilements. This prayer also makes merits increase.

[Rinpoche recites the first verse of Praise to Shakyamuni Buddha: La ma tön pa chom dän dä...chhö do kyab su chhi wo.]

I started the prayer, but now I’ve just thought of something. Since this prayer, La ma tön pa chom dän dä..., is very popular and one that we normally chant, I think it’s good to get some idea of its meaning. His Holiness the Dalai Lama often chants this prayer at the very beginning of teachings, as well as the [Konchog zhi ten], the extensive prayer remembering the qualities of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. It’s very good to remember their qualities as it inspires you to achieve them.

There are usually many negative imprints, like photographic negatives, on our minds, but when we do these prayers, we leave positive imprints that liberate us from the oceans of samsaric suffering, from the unimaginable sufferings of each realm, and its cause, which has continued during beginningless rebirths up to now. The positive imprints are also causes to achieve full enlightenment. So, it’s a most worthwhile thing to do in life.

This prayer, La ma tön pa chom dän dä..., is commonly done. We’ve done it from the very beginning in the Kopan courses, and His Holiness often first praises Shakyamuni Buddha, who is the founder of the present Buddhadharma in this world.

So, in La ma tön pa chom dän dä..., the general meaning of lama (or guru, in Sanskrit) is “heavy with qualities.” The real meaning of guru is the primordial mind, the transcendental wisdom of nondual bliss and voidness, which has no beginning and no end and which pervades all phenomena. To express that real meaning of what the guru is is actually secret. Anyway, this is what comes when you begin Guru Puja, or Lama Chöpa. De chhen ngang lä rang nyi la ma lha means that from bliss, you yourself become the guru-deity. At the very beginning of Guru Puja, you become the guru, and then do the rest of the practice.

In Guru Puja this meaning also comes in the section of Making Requests to the Guru, where you make requests to the guru and express the different qualities of the guru according to Hinayana, Mahayana Paramitayana and Mahayana Secret Mantra. When we hear the word “mantra,” we shouldn’t think it means only chanting special words. Here it means the path. Mantra means “that which protects the mind,” and here mantra means protecting your mind from ordinary appearance and ordinary concept. Of course, chanting mantras also helps you to attain that. Your mind becomes the mantra, the path to enlightenment, and it becomes the quick path to enlightenment, enabling you to achieve enlightenment in this life, if you practice the lower tantras. And you achieve enlightenment much more quickly than that by practicing Highest Yoga Tantra, which enables you to achieve enlightenment in the brief lifetime of a degenerate time. The way you achieve enlightenment in one life by practicing the lower tantras is by first doing long-life meditation practices to achieve immortal life. You are then able to live for hundreds or thousand of years and thus achieve enlightenment.

The lower tantras don’t have highest skillful means that Highest Yoga Tantra has, with which you can quickly purify dualistic view and collect extensive merit. In the Paramitayana, the Mahayana sutra path, it takes three countless great eons to purify and collect the extensive merit necessary to achieve the two kayas, dharmakaya and rupakaya, Buddha’s holy mind and holy body. To achieve the dharmakaya you have to collect extensive merit of wisdom and to achieve the rupakaya you have to complete the extensive merit of virtue. So, you need to achieve the two kayas to be able to do perfect work for sentient beings, liberating and enlightening them.

However, the lower tantras—Action Tantra, Performance Tantra and Yoga Tantra—have greater skillful means than the Mahayana Paramitayana path, the Mahayana sutra path.

When you become a buddha, when you achieve the deity, there are four complete purities: the completely pure holy body of the deity, or buddha; the completely pure place, the mandala, which is a manifestation of your wisdom; and completely pure enjoyments. When you achieve the deity, your enjoyments are like the limitless sky; there’s no limitation. These enjoyments are not ordinary but completely pure. They’re all manifestations of the special transcendental wisdom. The fourth purity is completely pure actions benefiting sentient beings. When you become a buddha, beams are emitted from every pore of your holy body, and even in a moment, one beam from your holy body can liberate an unimaginable number of sentient beings.

This happened when Buddha was in India and was invited by Magadha Zangmo to her house. Magadha is the area around Bodhgaya, where the one thousand buddhas of this eon will show enlightenment. The previous buddha, Kashyapa, showed enlightenment there. The first buddha, Krakucchanda, and the second buddha, Kanakamuni, also showed enlightenment there, as did the fourth buddha, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, and the next buddha to show enlightenment in Bodhgaya will be Maitreya Buddha. There are one thousand buddhas who will show enlightenment there in this eon. According to the Hinayana, these buddhas were not enlightened before but in that life were an ordinary being who practiced the path and then achieved enlightenment. But according to the Mahayana, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha was enlightened numberless eons ago, then descended in this world and showed the twelve deeds to show sentient beings why they need to practice Dharma. Because he saw the sufferings of birth, sickness, old age and death, Buddha went to find a guru and to do retreat. He took the ordination of renunciation. At [Nairanjana], near Bodhgaya, he shaved off his hair himself. You can see the twelve deeds in Buddha’s life story. Anyway, for six years he lived an ascetic life, bearing hardships to practice Dharma, to achieve enlightenment. His body became very thin, with all the veins showing. But, in reality, he was enlightened numberless eons before.

Buddha did all this to show sentient beings that enlightenment doesn’t come by pressing a button. In the West, especially the United States, you would press a button and enlightenment would come. However, it’s not like that. You have to remove, to cease, all the delusions, which you have never ceased during beginningless rebirths, and you have been suffering because of that.

Here we are talking about suffering during beginningless rebirths, so it’s talking something most frightening. I mean, a six-year retreat is nothing when you’ve been suffering for beginningless rebirths by following delusion. We took delusion as our guru, or as our close friend. We have never been divorced, or even separated, from delusion. A six-year retreat is nothing. Even retreat for three countless great eons is nothing compared to how much you have been suffering during beginningless rebirths. It’s not enough just to understand the words—you must really see and feel it. (I don’t mean with clairvoyance.) You must feel how your rebirths have been depthless, numberless. Three countless great eons of retreat is nothing compared to how we have been following delusions, the hallucinated minds, and suffering during beginningless rebirths. I think this is very important to understand.

So, Buddha did all this to show us sentient beings that we can’t attain the path just by knowing the words—we have to practice. We have to really sacrifice our life. I don’t mean sacrificing our life for samsara, for suffering; we have been doing that not just for billions of lifetimes or billions of eons, but for beginningless rebirths. We have given our life for the suffering of samsara, for our enemy, delusion, for beginningless rebirths. That’s not a joke. It’s the reality.

Here, Buddha is showing you that you need to sacrifice your life. If you don’t like suffering and you want happiness, you must remove the cause of suffering, which is in your mind. You must remove the mind that causes suffering, and you can do that only by practicing Dharma. There’s no other way. You can’t do it by taking medicine or by having an operation. It’s not that a doctor performs an operation on you in hospital; and after he sews you up, you get enlightened. It’s not that a doctor takes out your anger, desire and other delusions, and you then become liberated or enlightened.

Buddha is showing that you need to make sacrifices especially to achieve enlightenment, the total cessation of the defilements and completion of all the qualities of realizations, so that you are then fully qualified to do perfect work, without the slightest mistake, for sentient beings, liberating them and enlightening them.

Bearing hardships becomes very important, especially when you think of others. Before, you were thinking of yourself, of your own happiness, but now, when you think of others, attaining the path in order to help others becomes unbelievably important. Liberating even one sentient being from all the oceans of samsaric suffering and their defilements and bringing them to enlightenment is unbelievably urgent. Otherwise, if you don’t help them, you can see how much they will suffer. If you don’t help them by revealing Dharma to them, they will just live all their life with delusion as they have been doing during beginningless samsaric rebirths. By following delusion, not knowing that delusion is their enemy, they have been suffering during beginningless rebirths. Instead of looking at delusion as their enemy, they see it as their friend or guide. They follow delusion by looking at it as their guru, their guide. It has been like this for beginningless rebirths, and if you don’t help that sentient being, they will continuously follow delusion and suffer, living in a total hallucination. Yesterday I gave you some idea of what it means to live life in total hallucination.

But on top of that there are so many other hallucinations. A hallucination is projected on top of that by attachment, and there is a hallucination projected by anger. Each one of the many delusions, the many wrong concepts, has its own hallucination. So many hallucinations are built up on top of that hallucination, including those from wrong spiritual concepts.

Sentient beings usually suffer. Even if you think of just one sentient being, they suffer endlessly. They are very pitiful. It’s most unbearable. This is without thinking of this one sentient being’s kindness to you, but just thinking of them as a sentient being who has been suffering during beginningless rebirths, totally overwhelmed by karma and delusion. If you don’t help them, if you don’t liberate them, that sentient being will continuously suffer, endlessly.

The six realms are nothing new. The realms of the hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras and suras are nothing new. Any human pleasure is nothing new. It’s not the first time we have experienced it. Because we don’t think of past lives, we think it’s our first experience of such pleasures and get excited. But this happens because we’re not thinking of past lives, of beginningless rebirths. We have reincarnated as humans and even as wheel-turning kings. We have had all kinds of rebirths. We have been born numberless times as male, female, a beggar, a king. We have experienced wealth and human pleasures numberless times—they’re nothing new.

It’s very, very important to understand how samsaric pleasure is not really happiness but is suffering in nature, because that’s why we need to practice mahamudra. We first have to understand suffering so that we know the reason that it’s so important to understand, meditate on and realize emptiness, mahamudra.

So, before, I was trying to give you some idea of samsaric pleasure is suffering. If you understand this well, you can then generalize about all the rest of the samsaric pleasures. You know how to meditate, and you know how samsaric pleasure is suffering. Last night I explained about entering the water when you are feeling hot and thinking that cooling off is pleasure; however, when you analyze what it really is, you discover that it’s only suffering. With your wisdom, you see that it’s only suffering. That is why samsaric pleasures—the pleasure of sleep, sex, food and all the rest—don’t increase. Dharma happiness increases. You can increase and complete Dharma happiness; you can achieve liberation and the peerless happiness of full enlightenment. It’s one-time work. You don’t need to do it over and over. Achieving liberation happens just one time; achieving enlightenment happens just one time. It’s not that you can lose your realization of enlightenment, so that you have to start your Dharma practice all over again from the beginning. Even because you have to do it just one time, it’s extremely worthwhile to attempt to do it. We did samsaric work numberless times during beginningless rebirths, and we are still in samsara, still not free from suffering.

We have to understand why Dharma happiness can be increased and completed, so that we don’t need to do it again. Here, samsaric happiness doesn’t continue and doesn’t increase, and samsaric work is endless, causing us to continuously suffer.

Therefore, no matter how hard it is or how long it takes, it’s extremely worthwhile to attempt to achieve enlightenment. Once you achieve that, you don’t have to repeat anything. It’s not like the works of this life, the works to achieve the happiness of this life. We have been doing those works for beginningless rebirths, and nothing has been completed. So, that’s one point.

No matter how long it takes, even if it takes many eons, it’s the most worthwhile thing to do. No matter how hard it is, it’s the most worthwhile thing to do in life. We have to remember that in our daily life, so that we are encouraged to continue our practice. It encourages you to continually practice and to overcome the difficulties and distractions. And when some problem is happening, it doesn’t become an obstacle to your Dharma practice, to your meditating on the path, as well as to your activities becoming Dharma.

I usually emphasize two things. One thing is to meditate on the path every day. In developing your mind in the path to enlightenment, there’s a beginning and there’s an end, enlightenment. The path was explained by the Omniscient One, the unbearably kind and compassionate Shakyamuni Buddha. One thousand buddhas will descend during this eon to benefit sentient beings in this world, but no other buddha made a vow to descend in this world and guide sentient beings in our time, the hundred-age quarreling time. (Before it was normal to live to a hundred years, but now only a small number live to that age.) Because nobody else did that, Shakyamuni Buddha especially chose to guide us. Buddha made five hundred prayers to descend in this world during this hundred-age quarreling time and guide the sentient beings in this world. Buddha made these five hundred prayers in the presence of Buddha Rinchen Nyingpo (Heart Jewel). Other buddhas didn’t make this vow, but Buddha did. Buddha chose to descend in this world to guide us, the sentient beings most difficult to guide left out by the other buddhas, in this most difficult time. Therefore, Guru Buddha Shakyamuni is kinder to us than all the other buddhas.

Buddha chose something that is not easy, because we are very stubborn and very difficult to guide. However, Buddha, with great compassion, especially chose to descend in this world to guide us sentient beings.

Buddha explained how to go about actualizing the path to enlightenment. The 84,000 teachings of Buddha—the teachings of sutra and tantra; the Lesser Vehicle teachings, the Mahayana sutra teachings and the Mahayana tantra teachings—gradually bring sentient beings to enlightenment.

Lama Atisha was like the crown jewel among the three hundred pandits of the monastic university of Nalanda in India. These pandits were not just scholars but highly attained beings who had meditated on and attained the path.

Some corruption of Buddhism had happened in Tibet, with some pandits dressed in blue coming from India to Tibet and spreading wrong views. There were a lot of misunderstandings. People thought that if you practiced sutra, you couldn’t practice tantra and that if you practiced tantra, you couldn’t practice sutra. Sutra and tantra were regarded as like fire and water.

When a minister mentioned Lama Atisha’s name to the Dharma King of Tibet, Lhalama Yeshe Ö, the king suddenly generated unbelievable devotion, with tears coming from his eyes and his hair standing on end. The king then invited Lama Atisha to Tibet. He sent an invitation and much gold to India but the first party wasn’t able to invite Lama Atisha. The trip took a long time because they were no cars at that time. They were guided by Chenrezig, Compassion Buddha, because Tibetans have special karma as objects to be subdued ([dul cha], in Tibetan) and to be guided by Chenrezig. Chenrezig sometimes manifested as children or old people walking in the road when the lama-translator, Gya Tsöndru Seng-ge was going to Nalanda to meet and invite Lama Atisha. A child or an old person walking with a stick would suddenly appear and advise the translator.

On the second trip, the great translator Ngatso Lotsawa was finally able to meet Lama Atisha and explain everything to him about all the misunderstandings and problems in Tibet. The king, Lhalama Yeshe Ö, has gone to look for gold so that he could make an offering of gold to invite Lama Atisha to Tibet. He was captured by an irreligious king in Garlok, which is near Nepal, I think. Lhalama Yeshe Ö then passed away in prison. He gave up his life so that Lama Atisha could be invited to Tibet to spread the pure Dharma.

The Dharma King of Tibet had a nephew, whose name was Jangchub Ö. Jangchub Ö offered all the gold that the king had collected to the irreligious king, but the irreligious king said, “Still the size of the head is missing.” He said that he still needed that extra gold.

Jangchub Ö then went to the prison and explained the situation to the king, who said, “Don’t give even one handful of gold to him. Take everything to India to offer to Lama Atisha. I will give up my life, I will die in prison, to spread Dharma in Tibet.” He then sent a message to Lama Atisha, “May I meet you in my next life.” The king then passed away in prison.

So, the translator Ngatso Lotsawa then went and met Lama Atisha. I don’t know how long it took, but he finally met Lama Atisha and told him everything. Lama Atisha listened to everything, then said, “I will ask Tara whether it’s beneficial for me to go to Tibet to revive Buddhism.”

Tara told Lama Atisha, “If you go to Tibet to spread Dharma, you will be highly beneficial, but your life will be shortened. You will be able to live only seven years.” Lama Atisha replied, “I don’t care whether my life is shorter as long as it becomes beneficial."

Lama Atisha then decided to go to Tibet without telling anyone because all the pandits and the other Indian people wouldn’t have let him go because he was their crown jewel. He showed the aspect of going on pilgrimage to Nepal, then from there went to Tibet. After Lama Atisha had arrived in Tibet, Jangchub Ö, the king’s nephew, went and explained everything to him, and then requested teachings on refuge and karma. He said, “We Tibetans are very ignorant. Please give us teachings on refuge and karma.” He didn’t ask for high teachings on emptiness or tantra.

His request made Lama Atisha extremely happy. In accordance with the problems that had happened in Tibet, Lama Atisha then integrated all the 84,000 teachings of Buddha, which come in three levels: Lesser Vehicle teaching, Paramitayana and tantra, into a few pages on how to go about enlightenment. He made it very simple and very clear. It was like a meal already cooked and set on the table—all you had to do was eat it. So, Lama Atisha prepared everything.

The title lam-rim came after Lama Atisha wrote Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment. He showed where to do Dharma practice, where to begin the path, and how to go about enlightenment. He showed everything. He showed how to meditate to make your life most productive, most beneficial. At the very beginning, I mentioned how this life is very precious. Even though I didn’t emphasize it, maybe you understood that it’s important not to waste this precious life. With this precious life you can achieve all the happiness up to enlightenment for yourself, and you, one person, can bring all the numberless sentient beings all the happiness up to enlightenment. I forgot to say at the end that since this life is most precious, you shouldn’t waste it but should make it meaningful. However, I mention that this is the time to do the best with your life.

Every day you should meditate on the path as much as you can to develop your mind in the path. That’s one thing.

The other thing is that you should make whatever daily activities you’re doing become Dharma, the cause of happiness, and not the cause of suffering, and at least not the cause of samsara, of the lower realms. So, your activities should at least not become nonvirtue. So, there are these two things. I’m not emphasizing that you just sit and meditate, that you put your legs in the vajra posture and close your eyes. You should meditate on the path and make whatever activity you do become Dharma. So, these two things. Eating, walking, sitting, sleeping, working—as much as possible try to make everything Dharma, the cause of happiness. In this way you are not cheating yourself, not deceiving yourself; otherwise, you are constantly cheating yourself.

This is very important advice about how to practice Dharma. Since we need to practice Dharma, there are these two things we have to do. And since you are training your mind in the path, you do lam-rim meditation, which then helps your daily activities to become Dharma. Your daily activities becoming Dharma harmonizes with meditating on lam-rim; instead of being an obstacle, it is in harmony with that and becomes Dharma. It all becomes good karma and accumulates merit. Your daily activities being in harmony with your sessions of lam-rim meditation also helps you to have realization.

When your mind is meditating on that, it’s easy to protect yourself during your busy life from non-Dharma mind and non-Dharma activities, which means protecting yourself from delusions and negative actions, or negative karma. Your activities are done with either guru devotion, renunciation of this life, renunciation of future lives, bodhicitta or right view. When you meditate on a part of the path each day, you should also keep your mind in that experience for the rest of the day. Even though your life is busy, you should continue the experience you build up in your session during the rest of the day. In that way your activities during the rest of the day become Dharma. Your mind is protected from delusion. Since delusion doesn’t take over, your mind becomes Dharma, and then your activities become Dharma.

If you have a motivation of renunciation for your activities, including many hours of work and many hours of sleep, your various activities then become Dharma; they become causes to achieve liberation from the oceans of samsaric suffering and its causes. And if they’re done with bodhicitta, all the activities of your busy life become causes to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. Then, if they’re done with right view, whatever activities you do become antidotes to samsara. I think in Mexico I mentioned that if you play golf with right view, your golf becomes an antidote to samsara. It’s an antidote to delusion, to all the delusions. Patience, for example, is the antidote only to anger, not to all the other delusions. But here, right view becomes the antidote to all the delusions, as well as karma. It is an antidote to ignorance, the very root of all suffering, the root from where all suffering, delusion and karma come. It eliminates the ignorance that is the root of samsara. It’s unbelievable! It becomes the dynamite that destroys the king of your enemies, ignorance, the root of samsara.

So, it’s amazing, really amazing! It’s a wonderful, happy life—with inner happiness. At other times you might experience some happiness, some excitement, but if you check in your heart, it’s actually empty. But, here, when you check, you find inner happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment.

In that way the activities of your busy life become Dharma. They are done with lam-rim, even though you might not have the actual realizations. With those pure thoughts, with those healthy minds, nothing becomes negative. You create much less negative karma, the cause of the lower realms and the obstacle to achieving realizations. All your activities are in harmony, or support, your sessions of meditating on the path, and you collect so much merit. In essence, this is how you practice Dharma; this is how you live your life.

That is what’s called [tel jor le nying po len pa], taking the essence of this precious human body. In the expression [tel jor], tel means freedom and jor means richness. So, at this time you have received the eight freedoms and ten richnesses.

From the intermediate state, sentient beings equal in number to the atoms of the earth are constantly being reborn in the hell realms. From the intermediate state, sentient beings equal in number to the sand grains of the Pacific Ocean are being reborn as pretas, or hungry ghosts. The sentient beings being reborn from the intermediate state as animals are like the grass growing on a mountain or like snowflakes when snow has completely covered the ground. Or like the grass growing in this world.

Now, from the intermediate state, how many sentient beings get reborn as human beings? Very few. It is extremely rare.

Now, having a human body like we have, with all eighteen qualities of the eight freedoms and ten endowments is much more rare. This is most rare. So, this is what we have now achieved, and we should realize this.

Sorry, I did a lot of blah, blah, blah, but I didn’t get to go through the perfect human rebirth so that you could discover its special qualities and how it is highly meaningful and will be difficult to find again. The rebirth that we have doesn’t last long; it can be ended at any time because it is impermanent in nature. I didn’t get to go through all these details, but I have just mentioned the essence here.

The perfect human rebirth that we have received is wish-fulfilling. As I mentioned in the very first talk, it is very precious. With it you can create the cause of any happiness you wish: the happiness of this life, the happiness of all the future lives and the ultimate happiness of liberation from samsara and enlightenment, and you can bring all this happiness to other sentient beings, to the numberless sentient beings in each realm. You can do that because at this time you have not only a human rebirth, but a perfect human rebirth. You can do all this because you have met the Dharma and met the guru. Here the guru is not just me; there are many other, great qualified teachers, who can show you the whole unmistaken path to enlightenment and who can guide you.

So, this is most precious. We have to remember this every day. We must not waste this perfect human rebirth. We must make it most meaningful. Most meaningful for whom? For other sentient beings. When you are able to make it meaningful for all other sentient beings, then by the way that becomes the most meaningful for you.

When you practice Dharma in this way, by meditating on the path, you should also be mindful of the lam-rim while you are living your busy life, while you are working. Even if you’re not practicing tantra, you should constantly practice lam-rim. As much as possible, your actions should not become negative karma, which brings you to the lower realms where you experience the most unbearable suffering. No matter how busy you are, all your activities should constantly become only good karma, the means of collecting merit, the cause of happiness. You will then have so much joy in your heart; you will have so much peace and satisfaction. And you will have a very good future. Later, when you die, and in your future lives, it will be like the sun shining on the world. There will be incredible joy when you die, and you will go to Amitabha pure land or another pure land of buddha where you can become enlightened. That’s a quick way to become enlightened.

Or you can choose to be born again as a human being and help others in different parts of the world. You can receive a perfect human body again and continue to practice the Dharma that you didn’t realize previously. You can then help in by revealing Dharma in whichever parts of the world you want. Revealing Dharma is the main thing, because then you can liberate many other sentient beings from suffering, from samsara, and bring them to enlightenment.

So, you have full confidence and so much happiness when you die.

This is the first type of practitioner, according to Kyabje Chöden Rinpoche. Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo explains in Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand that this person is happy and excited, like someone who is going home to see their parents after not having seeing them for a long time. Or like you’ve been working very hard every day for a long time, then you get a holiday in the mountains or somewhere you’ve been wishing to go for many years, so you are very happy.

Even the middling practitioner has no fear. They are happy and confident that they are going to have a good rebirth, a good future; they have no worry at all.

It’s very important to remember what I’m now going to tell you. According to what Kyabje Chöden Rinpoche explained, the way the last Dharma practitioner dies is by thinking, “I can rely on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.” Such a person has no worry when their death happens, because they rely on the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. That is very, very important advice to remember. Death can come suddenly. You never know when it is going to happen. You could be driving your car and suddenly have an accident. You could suddenly go into a coma. Your life could suddenly change. We see this happening to other people all the time, so why not to us? We have to think that it could happen to us. We see it happening to others every day, every hour, in the world, and even in the United States, even in the same area, even in the same city. It is constantly happening. One moment someone is very healthy and everything seems okay; they don’t have cancer and any particular life-threatening disease. Then suddenly they die. We see this all the time on TV and in the newspaper.

So, remember this advice about the three ways a Dharma practitioner dies. The last is thinking, “I can go for refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.” When you rely on them, you are completely protected. The moment you rely on them, you are fully protected when you die. There is no danger at all that you will be reborn in the hell, hungry ghost or animal realms, in that most unbearable suffering, as I already described yesterday. If something suddenly happens and you are going to die, what are you going to think? It’s crucial that you prepare for this. You have to write down in a notebook what you are going to think and do if something suddenly happens to you. It’s very important. If you have prepared your mind, at the very least you can immediately go for refuge to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. You don’t have to worry about anything; with your whole heart you just rely on Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. You then have no problems, whether or not other people are praying for you. You save yourself.

I was mentioning before that the way to have no fear of death is by practicing Dharma. And I started by talking about how Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, after living an ascetic life for six years, subdued ten million maras just with his loving kindness. He didn’t move in the slightest. Ten million maras were trying to harm him in many different ways, because they didn’t want him to become enlightened, which would give Buddha control over them. Buddha was going to achieve enlightenment at dawn on the fifteenth day, so at dusk on the day before, all these millions of maras tried to harm Buddha in all kinds of forms and in many violent ways. Also, when they were unable to harm Buddha in that way, they manifested young girls showing their sexual organs to try to distract and disturb Buddha, but nothing happened. Without the slightest movement, with his mind abiding in loving kindness, Buddha subdued all those millions of maras. Then, at dawn the next day Buddha became enlightened. He then revealed Dharma for many years, and then passed away in the sorrowless state.

So, those twelve deeds were showing sentient beings why they need to practice Dharma and how to practice it, even though Buddha himself was enlightened an unimaginable number of eons before that.

I don’t remember how I came to this story, but now we’ll go back. I was talking about how, when you become enlightened, even one beam emitting from one of your pores can liberate an unimaginable number of sentient beings from suffering.

Take the story of Magadha Zangmo, for example. Though her husband was Hindu, Magadha Zangmo was Buddhist, and she wanted to invite Buddha to her house and make a food offering to him. Her husband said, “Buddha won’t come.” She said, “Yes, sure, Buddha will come.” Her husband could not accept that that could happen.

Magadha Zangmo then cleaned her house, prepared the food and arranged everything well. She then stood at the door of the house, with incense, and made the prayer that we normally recite when we invoke the buddhas and bodhisattvas:

Ma lü sem chän kün gyi gön gyur ching
Dü de pung chä mi zä jom dzä lha
Ngö nam ma lü yang dag khyen gyur päi
Chom dän khor chä nä dir sheg su söl

Savior of each and every single sentient being;
Divine being who destroys the host of maras….

Lha, which means divine being, is sometimes used for worldly gods and sometimes for Buddha. It depends on the context.

There are four maras: the mara of the aggregates, which means samsara, the nature of which is suffering; the mara of delusions; the mara of the Lord of Death; and the mara of the Deva’s Son. The Deva’s Sons are black-side devas who shoot the five arrows of delusion to harm people who are practicing Dharma. These maras can cause attachment to arise in somebody who has taken lay or ordained vows and is trying to live in pure morality. They create the conditions for desire, so that the vows are broken or lost. And when you are trying to collect merit by practicing generosity, these maras cause attachment or miserliness to arise so that you don’t want to give things away. They also cause pride and other delusions to arise when you’re practicing. They influence the mind in this harmful way, not allowing you to achieve liberation and enlightenment.

So, Buddha destroys the host of these four maras without leaving a trace. There are also four subtle maras, which have to do with subtle defilements, but I don’t now remember the details.

Who has direct understanding of all phenomena;
Qualified, Gone Beyond Destroyer, with all your entourage, please come here.

Holding incense, Magadha Zangmo stood outside the door of her house and chanted this verse.

In the text it says that all of Buddha’s entourage, the arhats and bodhisattvas, came first, looking radiant and glorious and riding on lions, elephants and other animals. Each time one came, her husband asked, “Is this Buddha?” and she replied, “No.” With the next one, he would ask “Is this Buddha?” and she would say, “No.”

Buddha was the very last one to come. She was then able to offer food to Buddha. So, this prayer that we recite to invoke the buddhas and bodhisattvas was composed by Magadha Zangmo.

By foot it would take many weeks, even months, to come from where Buddha was to Magadha Zangmo’s house. But it says in the text that Buddha came through space without touching the ground. To reach Magadha it took Buddha the time it takes to stretch out an arm, and during that all the creatures, both people and animals, along the way were liberated. In that short period of time, so many sentient beings were liberated.

So, I was talking before about the pure actions you perform when you become enlightened. Unbelievable things happen you’ve perfected all good qualities. It is then unbelievably easy for you to liberate sentient beings. You can cover a distance that would take others weeks or months in such a short time and liberate an inconceivable number of sentient beings in that brief period.

You achieve these four completely pure results when you become a buddha, and, in tantra, you visualize that you have already achieved now what you are going to achieve in the future. This is how you practice tantra. When you generate yourself as the deity, when you become the deity, you have the completely pure body of the deity. So many negative karmas and defilements are purified when you visualize yourself as a deity. You then send beams to purify all sentient beings, and you collect inconceivable merit the moment you do that. Each time you visualize the deity’s mandala, the completely pure place, you purify ten million eons of negative karma.

So, we collect inconceivable merit when we practice tantra, and that’s how tantra becomes the quick path to enlightenment. It is unbelievably powerful. All these special means make it a quick way to achieve enlightenment. Even the lower tantras become quick paths to achieve enlightenment in one life. You complete in one life that which takes three countless great eons in the Paramitayana path. Of course, in the lower tantras this is done by doing long-life meditation to prolong the life so that you live hundreds or thousands of years; you then practice and achieve enlightenment.

The practice of Highest Yoga Tantra is based on the four completely pure results that you are going to experience in the future, which you visualize are happening now. That is the basic thing about tantra. Because Highest Yoga Tantra has much more powerful skillful means than the lower tantras, you are able to achieve enlightenment in the brief lifetime of a degenerate time, even within a number of years. Especially, the Highest Yoga Tantra path has the skillful means of the transcendental wisdom of nondual bliss and voidness, which is not revealed in the lower tantras. This is like an atomic bomb. It is the quickest way to remove defilements and collect extensive merit, all the merit to achieve the rupakaya and dharmakaya, the holy body and holy mind, within a number of years.

I don’t remember how this is connected with the prayer La ma tön pa chom dän dä…. I’ve lost the connection.

Anyway, when you say La ma tön pa chom dän dä…, you have to remember what lama (or guru, in Sanskrit) means. The actual meaning of lama is most profound and most extensive. As I mentioned before, it means the dharmakaya, this primordial mind that has no beginning and no end and that pervades all phenomena; there is no place where this dharmakaya doesn’t exist. So, this dharmakaya is normally called the absolute guru.

There are the absolute guru and the conventional guru. The conventional guru is the aspect, or form, that the absolute guru takes to guide us through various means not just to happiness but to liberation and enlightenment. From our side, we have to realize that this is the mind and this is the aspect. Even if we have billions of gurus, they’re all one, this dharmakaya. Even if we have billions of gurus, it’s one being.

So, I’ve already explained what to think when you say “Lama.” So, thinking of the meaning of guru, think, “I have received not only Dharma but all the happiness of this life—every single pleasure and comfort—and of all the lives before this during beginningless rebirths from the guru.” It’s unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable. You can’t express the kindness of the guru and how precious the guru is. It is from the guru that you receive all your present happiness and will receive all your future happiness, up to enlightenment. You will receive all the happiness of future lives and all the realizations of the whole path to liberation and to enlightenment (the five paths and ten bhumis—everything). It is from the guru that you receive all the unimaginable skies of qualities of a bodhisattva, a higher bodhisattva and a buddha. You are going to receive the limitless skies of qualities of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind from the guru. The kindness of the guru is unimaginable. The preciousness of the guru is inexpressible.

So, the guru gives you not only the opportunity to practice Dharma, which is the most important thing, but even other ordinary pleasures. All that comes from your good karma, and good karma is the action of Buddha. There are two actions of Buddha: one is within sentient beings, which means virtuous thoughts; and the other is possessed by their own holy mind.

One way to think is to relate the guru to the dharmakaya, as I mentioned before. So, everything comes from that. Whenever you have problems, difficulties, remember that it is always there protecting you and trying to help.

The other thing of the two things you should remember is this. If you had cancer or another life-threatening disease and a doctor or somebody else healed your cancer, you would think, “This person gave me my life. They are the kindest, most precious person my life.” You would value that person, seeing them as unbelievably precious. Now, think of all the diseases. Tibetans usually talk about 404 different types of disease, though I don’t know if there’s such a number mentioned in the West. In the West they probably talk about more. Anyway, what about somebody who makes it impossible for you to experience sickness again? What about somebody who helps you to completely purify the cause of all sickness, karma and delusion, so that you are totally free from all sickness forever? Never having to experience cancer again is one thing, but now we’re talking about never having to experience any sickness. You can see the kindness and preciousness of such a person. So, by revealing the path, the gurus enable you to achieve this. By actualizing that path, you are liberated by these gurus.

Now, the suffering of samsara is unbelievable—even human suffering is unbelievable. There are not only sicknesses but so many other problems. So, who makes you free from them? By revealing the path to you, by revealing Dharma to you, the guru helps you to actualize the path and remove all karma and delusions, the cause of all the sufferings, all the problems, of human beings. And you never experience them again, because you completely remove their cause. Can you imagine how that would be? Having completely removed, or purified, the cause, you would be free forever from those problems; you would never experience them again. Can you imagine that kind of kindness? You can’t imagine it. Can you imagine being totally free forever from all human sufferings, all human problems? That kindness is beyond imagining! It makes you feel faint just to think of such kindness. It’s unbelievable!

The guru’s kindness also liberates you from the oceans of sufferings of the hell-beings, hungry ghosts, animals, asuras and suras, as well as the general sufferings of samsara. It’s unimaginable.

Now, the other kindness is that the guru enables us to achieve all the qualities of the path to liberation and enlightenment, all the qualities of the bodhisattvas and buddhas. That’s amazing! By revealing Dharma to us, the guru enables us to achieve all that. So, can you imagine that kindness? Again, it’s unbelievable.

So, in addition, if the guru has already shown you the path to enlightenment, if you’ve already had this sutra teaching and that tantra teaching many times, you would have already been enlightened if you had done the practice. Here I’m talking about this life, but it also applies to past lives. Like Shakyamuni Buddha, you would already be enlightened if, from your side, you had actually done the practice. You would have been enlightened numberless eons ago if you had done the practice. But we didn’t do that, and that’s why we’re still in samsara, still going through all these sufferings.

Therefore, the kindness of the guru is inexpressible; and the preciousness of the guru is also inexpressible. Remember all that when you say “Lama” in this prayer.

Once you have thought of what the guru is and of their kindness, you continue the prayer with “tön pa,” the founder. The founder of the present Buddhadharma in this world, the one who revealed Dharma in this world, is Shakyamuni Buddha. To manifest in this way is unbelievably kind. (I have already mentioned before how Buddha is kind.)

Then comes, chom dän. Chom means the destroyer, and you can think that Buddha has destroyed the four maras, including the four subtle maras. (I don’t now remember the details of the subtle maras but they have to do with the subtle defilements.) Also think that Buddha destroys the mara of delusions of us sentient beings.

Then, dän means qualified, and refers to having the four holy bodies (ku shi, in Tibetan) and the five wisdoms. In terms of the holy body of a buddha, there are the rupakaya (zug ku), the holy body of form, and the dharmakaya (chö ku), the truth body. The rupakaya has two divisions, sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya, as does the dharmakaya, the jnana dharmakaya (yeshe chö ku), the transcendental wisdom truth body and the svabhavikakaya (ngo bo nyi ku), the nature truth body.

In chom dän dä, dä means gone beyond—not only gone beyond samsara, but also gone beyond lower nirvana, the blissful state of peace for the self. So, chom dän dä is basically describing the qualities of Buddha.

Next, de zhin sheg pa means gone as it is. As de zhin means suchness, this is sometimes simply translated as “suchness,” but if you don’t include “gone” it’s not a full translation. De zhin sheg pa, Gone as It Is, means that Buddha’s holy mind is directly seeing the nature of phenomena as it is; in other words, Buddha is directly seeing the ultimate nature, the emptiness, of all phenomena. Not only does Buddha directly see emptiness, but is immovable forever from emptiness. By having completely cut dualistic view, Buddha’s mind is immovable forever from emptiness.

Then, dra chom pa means having destroyed the enemy, delusion, but you can also relate this to the subtle defilements. Yang dag par means perfectly; dzog means complete; and in sang gyä, sang refers to having totally eliminated all the defilements, and because that happened, all the qualities are completed, which is the meaning of gyä.

Päl means glorious and gyäl wa means victorious over the enemy, delusion, by having removed them. Of course here, it refers not only to that, but even to the subtle defilements. Sha kya refers to Buddha taking birth in India in the Shakya caste. Thub pa means mighty one. Again, this means that Buddha has defeated all the defilements, gross and subtle, all the faults of the mind, and is complete in all the qualities.

Chhag tshäl lo means prostrate. So, chhag tshäl expresses what you are looking for: chhag refers to removing not only suffering but all the defilements and tshäl refers to attaining all the realizations up to enlightenment. This is what you’re requesting from Buddha with chhag tshäl lo, and you also prostrate with your hands. His Holiness the Dalai Lama often says that you normally give so many jobs to your hands, but here, by giving them the job of prostrating, you’re making them do something meaningful.

This is just a very brief explanation from my ignorant mind, but once we have some idea of this, it will help us to really understand other prayers in depth. It’s not just what you call “ritual” and chanting blah, blah, blah. It’s a profound meditation that you should really feel in your heart.

How much negative karma is purified by reciting this homage to Buddha? The Kangyur, Buddha’s direct teaching, says that it purifies one hundred million eons of negative karma. On top of that, I think 80,000 eons of negative karma are purified. I’m not sure whether this 80,000 eons is separate to the 100 million eons. Some other texts say 84,000 or 80,000 eons of negative karma are purified, but the Kangyur says that 100 million eons of negative karma are purified.

So, reciting this name brings unbelievably powerful purification. It’s much more powerful than billions of atomic bombs. I put a number on it, but even numberless atomic bombs can’t do that. This name of Buddha can purify one hundred million eons of your negative karma, and Buddha himself said this. Buddha has completed all good qualities, including the ten powers, one of which is the power of prayer. Once you have achieved that, you can make your name have that power. For example, as explained in A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, Chenrezig blessed his name and mantra so that they have unbelievable benefits for sentient beings.

It is the same with the Arya Sanghata Sutra, which has unbelievable power. Just hearing two or three words of the Sanghata Sutra collects extensive merits and purifies the unbelievably heavy negative karma of having killed one’s father, mother or an arhat; caused Buddha to bleed; or having caused disunity among the Sangha. Because these karmas are so heavy, even though you might have created many other good karmas, immediately after death, without the interruption of another life, you are immediately born in the lowest hot hell, Inexhaustible Suffering, and then experience there the heaviest suffering in samsara and for the longest time, one intermediate eon. So, by hearing even four words of the Sanghata Sutra, you can completely purify that heavy negative karma. That’s the very first benefit mentioned at the beginning of the Arya Sanghata Sutra. So, Buddha has that kind of power.

So, it is very, very good every day to chant Buddha’s name and, after that, TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA, Buddha’s mantra.

It’s very important to practice this because, as well as what I’ve already explained, it contains the Prajnaparamita (or Wisdom Gone Beyond), the heart of the 84,000 teachings of Buddha. It is in the Prajnaparamita teachings that Buddha revealed emptiness. Buddha said that the way he liberates sentient beings is not by washing away their negative karma with water, nor by taking out their negative karma like taking a thorn out of flesh with the hand, nor by transplanting Buddha’s realizations within the hearts of sentient beings. So, how does Buddha liberate us sentient beings? By revealing the truth. And what is that truth? The ultimate reality.

In regard to Prajnaparamita texts, there are One Hundred Thousand Verses, which come in twelve volumes; Twenty Thousand Verses, in three volumes; Eight Thousand Verses and others. But the heart of all the Prajnaparamita teachings is the Heart Sutra, or Essence of Wisdom (sherab nyingpo, in Tibetan). And what is the heart of the Heart Sutra? Buddha’s name and mantra: La ma tön pa chom dän dä de zhing sheg pa dra chom pa yang dag par dzog päi sang gyä päl gyäl wa sha kya thub pa la chhag tshäl lo, TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA. This is called Prajnaparamita in a Few Syllables.

Reciting this creates the cause to be able to meet tantric teaching in this and future lives, thus enabling you to achieve enlightenment quickly, as I mentioned before. This is mentioned by Buddha in the Kangyur. So, it’s very important to practice this, so that you don’t have to suffer a long time in samsara and can achieve enlightenment quickly.

Now, the heart of even that teaching is the syllable AH. This one syllable, AH, is the heart of Prajnaparamita in a Few Syllables. Now, AH is the heart of all the rest of the Prajnaparamita teachings and the heart of the entire Buddhadharma.

In Sanskrit AH is a negative particle. It’s like in the Heart Sutra where it says “no eye, no ear, no nose, no tongue.” Well, it says no everything: “no form, no sound, no smell, no taste, no this and that”—no sleep, no tiredness, no pain in the knees and back. Anyway, AH means no, in Sanskrit. So, in Tibet, when Lama Atisha recited the Heart Sutra, he would say AH this and AH that.

As I already explained yesterday, everything—I, action, object; hell, enlightenment; samsara, nirvana; happiness, problems—exists, but everything is empty. All these things exist in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. Everything exists, but it exists in mere name, merely imputed by the mind. But things do not appear to us in that way, in accord with reality. When things appear back to us, they appear to us in a totally wrong way, in a way that is totally opposite to the reality. Rather than appearing to us as merely labeled, everything appears to us as existing from its own side, as real from its own side. When we say that something is real, see something as real or hear the word “real,” we have to think of the actual meaning of that ordinary word, “real.” In your heart, you have to know that the meaning of real is “existing from its own side.” While philosophical texts use “truly existent” and similar terms, which are precise and correct, in common language, we say “real.” All the time we are seeing real things, hearing real things, talking about real things, but in our heart we have to think of the actual meaning of “real.” When we or other people say “real,” we’re talking in ordinary language about the object to be refuted (or gak cha). We have to remember that “real” is an expression of the object to be refuted.

So, the negative imprint left on your mental continuum by past ignorance makes everything, including I, action and object, real. No matter what we look at, we see it as real. When we go to a department store or supermarket in a city, we see billions of objects. We see so many objects in the cosmetics department and sixty or seventy different types of cheese in the food section and all the different kinds of clothes. But we see everything as real, as existing from its own side. The meaning of real that should come in your heart is existing from its own side, not merely labeled by the mind.

So, when you go shopping, you should think that all these things do not exist; all these things are not there. According to your view, there is a real I, an I existing from its own side, but it’s not there; there is real money, existing from its own side, but it’s not there; there’s a real shopkeeper, but it’s not there. That’s the reality, but we have been totally believing otherwise during beginningless rebirths. This has been our habit during beginningless rebirths.

Anyway, AH negates everything. AH stops this hallucination that the things we see, the sounds we hear and everything else are real. AH completely negates all this that is projected onto the mere imputation, onto what exists. Do you understand?

The essence of the entire Buddhadharma, especially of the Prajnaparamita, is contained in this one syllable, AH. So, this is the Prajnaparamita in One Syllable. This is how we have to meditate, which is the same as when we recite the Heart Sutra. In this way, what we recite and what we think come together. Otherwise, what we recite and what we think are total opposites.

So, the Buddha’s name and mantra is wish-fulfilling. There’s no doubt that it’s unbelievably important.

As to the meaning of Buddha’s mantra, TADYATHA means, as you may have seen in books, TADYATHA means this is how Buddha has achieved enlightenment: by actualizing the five paths.

SVAHA means establishing the base [zhi thub pa], means establishing the base. So, with devotion, or faith, may this be established in the heart.

Then, MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNA-YE means, literally, mighty, mighty, great mighty, which can be explained in different ways.

One explanation is that the first mighty means having completed the graduated path of the lower capable being; the second mighty means having completed the graduated path of the middle capable being; and great mighty means having completed the graduated path of the higher capable being. (In texts I have also seen TADYATHA OM MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNAYÉ SOHA, which is like TADYATHA OM BEKANDZE BEKANDZE MAHA BEKANDZE BEKANDZE RADZA SAMUDGATAY SVAHA, but unlike with Medicine Buddha, this version has not become common.) Anyway, it can contain the graduated path of the tantra. In that way, it could contain the whole path to enlightenment.

Another explanation is that the first mighty refers to ceasing the attachment to this life, which is what doesn’t allow our activities to become Dharma. The second mighty refers to totally overcoming the attachment clinging to samsara and samsaric perfections, which is what interferes so that our activities do not become causes to achieve liberation. Then, great mighty refers to overcoming self-cherishing thought, so that we can generate bodhicitta. In relation to lam-rim, as well as bodhicitta, it could also include right view, or emptiness.

The meaning of the mantra can be explained in different ways.

So, when you actualize the whole path, which is contained in “mighty, mighty, great mighty,” in your heart, you remove all the defilements, both gross and subtle. You then cease your ordinary body, speech and mind and achieve the completely pure vajra holy body, vajra holy speech and vajra holy mind of a buddha. So, the three sounds, AH, O and MA are integrated to become OM, which signifies our ordinary body, speech and mind being purified and transformed into the vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind. You can relate here to achieving the vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind of Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. With that, you can then work perfectly for sentient beings, which is the ultimate goal of our life.

“Dag gi ji nye sag päi ge wa di….”

[The group recites the short mandala offering.]

Because tomorrow it again may not happen, I will give the lung, the oral transmission, of the mahamudra root text. This is not the commentary, just the root text.

MUNÉ MUNÉ MAHAMUNA-YE contains the graduated paths of the lower capable being, middle capable being and higher capable being, which also includes tantra.

Think, “The purpose of my life is not just to achieve happiness for myself, and it is not just to achieve liberation or even enlightenment for myself, for my own happiness.” It’s good to achieve enlightenment, but the purpose of doing that is not for your own happiness. There is a possibility of somebody having motivation. “The purpose of my achieving enlightenment is for others. The purpose of my life is to free the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, human beings, asuras and suras from all the oceans of samsaric suffering and bring them to enlightenment.” And since this is tantric practice, the aim is to bring them to enlightenment quickly. Think, “I must bring sentient beings to enlightenment as quickly as possible. Therefore, I must achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible; therefore, I need to actualize mahamudra; and therefore, I’m going to take the oral transmission of the mahamudra teaching.”

You must pay attention, as much as possible, to every single word of the oral transmission. I sometimes think that taking an oral transmission is much more difficult than taking an initiation. When you are taking an initiation, even if you don’t understand all the words, it’s fine as long as you’re able to think of the essence. At the very least you can follow the advice His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche gave when he was giving very quickly the many initiations of the Rinjung Gyatsa and Sukya Gyatsa at Kopan. Rinpoche said that when you can’t visualize everything, you should think, “I have received whatever the lama said.” Rinpoche advised this because we were receiving many initiations very fast in one day. The main thing is to generate faith that you have received the initiation.

With an initiation, as long as you understand the essence of the important parts, you still receive the initiation. But with an oral transmission, you’re supposed to hear every single word; otherwise, if you miss some words, the oral transmission isn’t perfect.

In recent years, trying to preserve Dharma, I have been taking many oral transmissions of the teachings of many great lamas, who are like the sun shining in the world; incredible enlightened beings who have completed the path and written many texts. I have been trying to receive oral transmission from some lamas who hold the lineage to preserve the teachings and later to spread them—and then gradually realize them. Usually, taking an oral transmission is more difficult than taking an initiation because you have to pay attention and also the lama has to recite clearly.

Think, “May each word I listen to destroy my samsara, ceasing all the oceans of samsara. May I actualize the meaning of each word in my heart, and may each word I listen to be beneficial for all sentient beings, immediately enabling them to attain the path.” So, dedicate in that way.

[Rinpoche begins the oral transmission of the mahamudra text.]

I’m not going to explain everything as it would take too much time, but here it mentions Geden Kagyu, which means the Lama Tsongkhapa tradition, the Gelugpa tradition. Geden means having virtue. But Geden Kagyu doesn’t mean that this mahamudra text is a combination of the Gelug and Kagyu traditions, as many people might think. In the term kagyu, ka means teaching and gyu means lineage. Of course, this text is based on Buddha’s teaching, as well as the teachings of Nagarjuna and all the other great pandits and yogis, including the great Tibetan lamas. It is not something opposite to their teachings, something that only appeared in Tibet in some village or cave in a corner of Tibet.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission of the mahamudra text.]

Mahamudra is the very heart, the very essence, of the understanding of all the numberless past, present and future buddhas. This is the very heart of the extensive teachings of sutra and tantra, and mahamudra is the path traveled by all the buddhas, by all the yogis, by all those who achieved enlightenment.

Here Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, who composed Guru Puja, explains that when you have high realization, you see that all the different presentations of mahamudra from various lamas in the different traditions are just talking about one thing. I guess it means that when you have the mahamudra realization, when you have reached such high tantric levels, you see that even though it seems that the great yogis are talking about different things, it all comes to the one thing.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

In your heart, you must think that you don’t this for all sentient beings. Think, “I’m listening to this oral transmission for everybody, for the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals and all the other sentient beings.” Feel in your heart that you doing it for everybody’s happiness and enlightenment.

It says that first you should precisely take refuge and generate bodhicitta. Next it says that even realizing the ultimate nature of the mind depends on collecting merit and purifying defilements. You must do the preliminary of many hundreds of prostrations to the Thirty-five Buddhas with Confession of Downfalls and also 100,000 Vajrasattva mantras. With that as a preliminary, you then make requests from your heart again and again and again to the root guru, who is inseparable from all the buddhas of the three times.

It then starts to explain about mahamudra.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

He has already started the actual explanation of sutra mahamudra, or emptiness, which is the same thing. I mean, even with the simultaneously born great bliss of tantra mahamudra, you are meditating on emptiness. He talks here about emptiness, before talking about the different views of different lamas.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

This teaching was requested by the extremely qualified, high practitioners, [Rabjampa Gelek Gyaltsen[ and [_______ Sherab Sengye, who, having seen that living life with the eight worldly dharmas is an act of craziness, went to live in isolated places with the conduct of a sage (which means a very ascetic life) and lived in this as their heart practice. So, they requested Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen to give this teaching.

Then, from Guru Shakyamuni Buddha down to Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen’s root guru, Sangye Yeshe, the lineage of the teaching of mahamudra has not degenerated. There has been no corruption of samaya, only pure samaya from Buddha down to his root guru.

Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen, who held the essential instructions of the holy teachings of sutra and tantra, was an ascetic. He renounced this life, he renounced the eight worldly dharmas, and on top of that he renounced self-cherishing thought.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

This is the requesting prayer to the lineage lamas, but the short one. The one you have is the long request that is recited when His Holiness gives teachings. During Panchen Losang Chökyi Gyaltsen’s time, the prayer was short. Of course, after that, there were many other lamas, which is why it has become long.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

Listen to the words but also request from your heart to all the lineage lamas, starting from Buddha Vajradhara, to have these realizations in this life. From my side I will also make the same request.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

You request to cut the mind of I-grasping ignorance; to train your mind in loving kindness, compassion and bodhicitta; and quickly achieve the path of unification, the sublime realization of mahamudra.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

You request to be granted blessings to be able to see the je lama, the perfect guru, as buddha; to change the attachment that grasps at samsara; to take upon yourself the responsibility for liberating the numberless mother transmigratory beings from the suffering; and to quickly achieve the common path and the uncommon, glorious unification of mahamudra. That’s the request.

[Rinpoche continues the oral transmission.]

I first received this oral transmission in Dharamsala from Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, who was my first teacher when I escaped from Tibet through Bhutan to India. Geshe Rabten was my first teacher in the concentration camp called Buxa, which is where Mahatma Gandhi-ji, Prime Minister Nehru and many other people were imprisoned during the British time. He taught me dura, the very beginning of Buddhist philosophy.

So, I received this oral transmission from Geshe Rabten in this room in Dharamsala, and he also gave a commentary to it. Geshe Rabten was a great scholar and also, inside, a great yogi.

After that, I also received the oral transmission and commentary from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Basically, that is the lineage that I can remember.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may bodhicitta be actualized within my own heart and in the hearts of all sentient beings without even a second’s delay. May those who have generated it, increase it.

“Also dedicate for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and for all his holy wishes to succeed immediately.”

This afternoon, one guy (I don’t remember his name) took the full responsibility upon himself to put up prayer flags and pray for all the many thousands of Tibetans who have been put in prison to be freed and for the others who have been killed in recent times. Since he was putting up all the prayer flags for that, I went there and we did prayers. Yangchen, a Tibetan woman who’s a singer, also sang some songs.

So, we will all dedicate for the success of His Holiness’s holy wishes. “And may all the prisoners be freed as quickly as possible.” This includes the many prisoners from other countries in prisons in the United States, and expand it to include all the prisoners in the world.

If bodhicitta is generated in everyone’s heart, this will happen.

“Jang chhub sem chhog rin po chhe….

“Gang ri ra wäi khor wä zhing kham dir….

“Tong nyi nying je zung du jug päi lam….

“Je tsün la mäi ku tshe rab tän ching….

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may I, my family members, all the students and benefactors in this organization, including the organizers of the teachings here, and especially the many people who sacrifice themselves to benefit sentient beings and the teaching of Buddha through the organization, as well as those who rely upon me, those for whom I have promised to pray, those whose names have been given to me, and all sentient beings meet only perfectly qualified Mahayana gurus in all our lifetimes, and see them only as enlightened beings from my side and from the side of every sentient being. May we do only actions most pleasing the holy mind of the virtuous friend, from my side and from the side of each sentient being. In all lifetimes may I and every sentient being fulfill all the holy wishes of the virtuous friend immediately.”

This is an extremely important prayer to do every day. If you can do this prayer, all success can happen.

“In all lifetimes may I, my family and all sentient beings meet only perfectly qualified Mahayana gurus and see them only as enlightened beings, with no faults and only qualities. May we do actions only most pleasing the holy mind of the virtuous friend. In all lifetimes may I and all sentient beings be able to immediately fulfill all the holy wishes of the virtuous friend.”

Today we will do that special prayer.

“Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, which appear real but which are empty, may the I, who appears real but who is empty from its own side, achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment, which again appears to be a real one from there, from its own side but which , in fact, is totally empty from there, and lead all sentient beings, who again appear to be real ones from there but which, in fact, are totally empty from there, by myself alone, who again appears very real from there, but who, in fact, is completely empty from its own side.

“I dedicate all the merits to be able to follow the holy extensive deeds of bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Manjugosha, as they realize.

“I dedicate all my merits in the same way as the buddhas of the three times—past, present and future—dedicate their merits.

“Jam päl pa wö ji tar khyen pa dang….

“Dü sum sheg päi gyäl wa tham chä kyi….

“Chhö kyi gyäl po tsong kha päi….

“Dag dang zhän gyi dü sum dang….”

So, good morning.

[The group offers a short mandala, then sings Rinpoche’s long-life prayer.]

Thank you. Thank you very much.