Amitabha and White Tara Initiations and Retreat

By Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Taichung, Taiwan (Archive #1604)

Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave these teachings during Amitabha and White Tara long-life initiations and retreat at Shakyamuni Center, Taichung, Taiwan in February 2007. The teachings include the lung (oral transmission) of the Amitayus mantra and the long-life sutra. Lightly edited by Ven. Ailsa Cameron.

The Index Page provides an outline of the topics discussed in each of the lectures. Click on the headings below to go directly to a particular lecture.

You can also listen to the audio files and read the unedited transcripts here.  

White Tara Sadhana: Offerings

[The group has completed the practice of Confession of Downfalls to the Thirty-five Buddhas.]

In the past in different places here and there during retreats, I think I have explained about the manner of doing prostrations and the meditation that goes with them to make the most profitable and to collect the most extensive merit. So, some of you may not have heard the explanation, though those who were in past retreats, of course, will be familiar with it. Have you gone through the explanation about prostrations?

So, at the very end, I have suggested that the way to do the general confession is to purify each negative karma in two ways. One way is to feel as much regret as possible. The stronger the regret you feel, the more that negative karma is purified and the thinner it becomes. The next method is like an atomic bomb; it is a very powerful way to purify. You purify the negative karma by looking at it as empty. You don’t look at it as being nonexistent; that is not the way of looking at it as empty. Being empty doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. But while it is existing, you look at it as empty. If you are able to do this very precisely, especially using the Prasangika school’s view of emptiness, it becomes very powerful purification. The meditation on emptiness is like an atomic bomb and the enemy that is to be destroyed is those particular delusions. It’s extremely powerful.

So, at the end you again purify by meditating on the emptiness of the three circles, by sealing with emptiness: “In emptiness there’s no I, the creator; there’s no action of creating; and there’s no negative karma created.” Meditate precisely on that.

While it is empty, you then dedicate the merits, There you don’t need to say “merely labeled” or “which is empty from its own side.” While you are looking at everything as empty, your mind then labels: “Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may the I….” So, you don’t need to say “the merely labeled I.” Just be aware while you are labeling.

That’s how it should be in our daily life, not only at the end of the confession practice. If possible, this is how we should live our life. While having meetings, doing business, doing your job, cooking, writing, thinking, talking or doing any other activity, we should be aware that nothing exists from its own side, that everything is empty. That’s the reality. While you’re talking, your mind is constantly labeling, or merely imputing. While you’re talking or chatting, while you’re having a meeting, your mind is in the meditation state; your mind is in retreat. It’s just a question of your mind thinking in this way.

Set up your concentration in this way. While you’re talking, at the same time your mind is aware that you are labeling. Whatever subject you’re talking about, you are labeling. Whether you’re talking about yourself, somebody else or the world, your mind is constantly imputing—not just imputing but merely imputing. So, keeping awareness of that itself becomes a meditation on emptiness. While you are acting, if your mind concentrates in this way, that itself become a meditation on emptiness.

The heart of the Buddhadharma, the heart of the 84,000 teachings of Buddha, the heart of the three basket teachings, the heart of the lam-rim, the three principal aspects of the path to enlightenment, is right view. The perfection of wisdom is the heart of the whole Buddhadharma. All the teachings and branches of teachings that Buddha taught are to realize emptiness. All other teachings are for that purpose.

Anyway, here, while you’re looking at everything as empty, it becomes empty, and you then say, “Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others (your concentration is that they are mere imputations), may I achieve Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment (look at it as merely imputed), then lead all the sentient beings (be aware that they’re merely imputed) to Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s enlightenment (which is merely imputed by mind) by myself alone (meditate that it is a mere imputation).

At the end dedicate the merits for bodhicitta to be actualized within your heart, in the hearts of the members of your family and in the hearts of all the rest of the sentient beings. Without that, there’s no enlightenment. You can’t complete the qualities of cessation and the qualities of realization without bodhicitta. Only having bodhicitta makes life most meaningful, most beneficial, like transforming iron into gold or transforming poo-poo into gold. You don’t know the word poo-poo? Ah, it’s a very important English word. That’s the correct word, poo-poo?

[There is an inaudible comment from Ven. Sarah.]

Well, I’m trying to be more professional. Some people don’t understand “kaka”— that’s why I said “poo-poo.”

[There is another inaudible comment from Ven. Sarah.]

What did you say? We’re not babies? I’m still a baby….

Therefore, it’s still good, even at the end of the prostrations, to dedicate the merits to actualize bodhicitta within yourself and in the hearts of all sentient beings. As mentioned in A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, when all the numberless past, present and future buddhas checked what is most beneficial for sentient beings, they discovered that bodhicitta is the most beneficial thing for sentient beings.

When I prostrate at different centers or places, after having done the prostrations, at the altar I try to dedicate the merits for the people who come to that center or house to actualize bodhicitta and to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching. I recite the short prayer to meet Lama Tsongkhapa’s teaching, the four-line verse composed by the Fifth Dalai Lama. I do that at the end. The idea is that some prayers get done for the people who come to the center or the house.

Is the refuge prayer the same as what is in English? Is it the same prayer as I went through yesterday, the one by His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche? Oh, the beginning is different? “I and all transmigratory beings, equaling the limit of the sky, from now on….” [There is an inaudible comment] Oh, yes, that’s right. That one is done here. I noticed that.

So, you can quickly read the refuge section from the Jorchö motivation.

[Ven. Sophia reads it in Chinese.]

At the beginning, I quoted His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche’s motivation for the eight Mahayana precepts, about how it is still difficult to see the end of the suffering of samsara. According to a person’s situation or state of mind, it is difficult to see the end of samsara. It seems to be endless. At the moment, we don’t have any realization of the lam-rim or of the arya, or exalted, paths, of the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness, which directly ceases the defilements. According to our present state of mind, the suffering of samsara seems endless; we can’t see the end. (Here I’m not quoting specific points but using what His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche said as an example.) If we really think about all the endless suffering of samsara, then even reincarnating one more time….

Actually, we’re not really aware of much of the suffering of samsara. We feel it is unbearable only if we have some sickness, a toothache, a headache, stomach pain or cancer. We also know that when a mother gives birth, there is unbelievable pain. We are aware only of things like this. We are aware of the suffering of pain, but just a little part, not all of it; but we have no idea of how samsaric pleasure is suffering and especially of how the foundation, this body and mind, is of the nature of suffering. We don’t have real aversion to these sufferings. We haven’t discovered that our aggregates are only suffering in nature, because of being under the control of karma and delusion and contaminated by the seed of delusion, which is the meaning of pervasive. The aggregates of all the sentient beings in the six realms—not only the beings in the desire realm but also those in the form and formless realms—are pervaded by suffering. It is not only the aggregates of beings in the desire realm that are pervaded by suffering, but even those of beings in the form realm are pervaded by suffering and those of beings in the formless realm, where there is only mind and no body, are pervaded by suffering, being under the control of karma and delusion and contaminated by the seed of delusion. Generally, we have no recognition or understanding of pervasive compounding suffering. We have no idea of that suffering, the foundation of all our other problems: the suffering of pain and the suffering of change. Even when we hear about it in teachings, we hear the words but we don’t really feel that that it is suffering. We don’t really feel aversion to it.

The suffering that we have real aversion to from the bottom of our hearts is extremely gross. It is only the suffering of pain, such as those examples I mentioned before. We don’t have aversion to samsaric pleasures, but only attachment, looking at them as pure happiness. And there is no need to mention the foundation of suffering, pervasive, compounding suffering, because we haven’t discovered it. It isn’t known to us.

In reality, to reincarnate again even one time is most disgusting. It’s like moths flying in and out of a fire or candle flame. They go into the flame, come out, then go back in until they are burned and die. Even though it’s so hot that they have to fly out of the flame, somehow their desire makes them go back in. They still try to go back inside the flame. It’s as if there’s some amazing, wonderful thing inside there. Anyway, it’s all because of desire. Until they die, this is what they do: jump in there again and again. I think they’re probably trying to get inside to somewhere where there’s incredible bliss. I’m not sure what they think, anyway. There is some attraction because of attachment. This is one of the examples of the shortcomings of desire, of how desire cheats you.

Anyway, the thought of reincarnating in samsara even one time is most terrifying or disgusting. It is like jumping into a septic tank with all the kaka, worms and other things inside. It is like jumping into the middle of a fire. So, when you think of the future suffering, it’s something that cracks your heart. You can’t stand the thought of it.

To expand, you can think like that. Then do the prayer.

But if you are doing one of the lam-rim prayers before the session, that itself becomes the motivation, so you don’t need to expand. It’s up to you, but within that lam-rim prayer it talks about the suffering of samsara and the suffering of others. Since everything is contained there, so you can go straight into that. But if it’s up to you. If you still want to expand here to make it more powerful, you can do that.

So, do the prayer and then I will just go over it a little bit. Lead the prayer.

[Ven. Sophia recites the prayer in Chinese.]

Just now I remembered one thing that I left out when I was talking about the refuge merit field. When you visualize all the refuge merit field in just the one aspect, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha, I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think that the omniscient mind is Buddha, the holy speech is Dharma and the holy body is Sangha. However, when you do the elaborate visualization, all the realizations of each being in the merit field are in the form of texts to their right side. The paper is lapis lazuli and all the writing is in gold. All the letters are standing up and dripping nectar; and like a tape recorder or a CD player, each of the letters is making its own sound. It’s all the realizations of each being in the merit field in the form of the letters of texts. That’s the essence of what is explained. So, when you recite chö la kyab su chi wo, nectar beams are emitting from those texts.

Have you finished the last one, blessing the mental continuum? Read.
[Ven. Sophia reads in Chinese.]

You have completely purified all the negative karmas collected in relation to guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and have received all their qualities within you. You should think at least this. This is the essence. Then last, request for blessings.

Read the motivation, “For the sake of all sentient beings….”

[Ven. Sophia reads in Chinese.]

This and the other text should basically be the same. “For the benefit of all sentient beings, I must achieve full enlightenment. Therefore, I’m going to do the meditation-recitation of the Wish-Granting Wheel, which grants immortal life.” Wish-Granting Wheel means White Tara.

Here, also remember those for whom you are going to do the long-life meditation: His Holiness the Dalai Lama; your gurus; all the Sangha, who preserve the Dharma and spread it to sentient beings; all the benefactors who serve and support the Sangha to do that and the teaching of the Buddha; anyone who lives in morality, making their life meaningful; all those who chant OM MANI PADME HUM; and all those who do good things for others. It’s good for those who are living in morality to have long lives because they’re doing something worthwhile. So, it’s good for all of these beings to have long lives. It’s also good to include them all in the motivation, like in a puja. Before you do a puja, you have the motivation that you’re going to do the puja for them.

Also, if you have a specific person you want to pray to have a long life, you can include them here.

Not only here but generally when we do a practice, such as pujas or sadhanas, at the beginning there’s a bodhicitta motivation. We think, “For the sake of all sentient beings I must achieve enlightenment; therefore, I’m going to do this practice.” When you say these words, you shouldn’t be thinking in your heart, “I’m going to do this for me, for my happiness.” You have to change from that to other’s happiness, to the happiness of the numberless sentient beings equaling the limitless sky. Deep down in your heart you should be thinking of the numberless sentient beings. That’s how it’s supposed to be at the beginning of sadhanas, practice or pujas, such as Tara puja, Medicine Buddha puja or Guru Puja. This always comes at the beginning, so at that time we recite this prayer. There should be a total transformation in the heart. Instead of this very strong thought of the practice being for me, for my happiness, here the happiness of numberless sentient beings is deep down in your heart. That is an excellent thing.

However, that’s not only when we do prayers, sadhanas, pujas or retreat, but that’s supposed to be our attitude in our daily life. When you go to work, where you spend many hours, before going to work and while you’re doing those many hours of work, in your heart you’re supposed to be doing it for the happiness of other sentient beings. Your purpose in working is for the happiness of all sentient beings. Whatever you’re doing—eating, walking, sleeping—in your heart you’re doing it for others, whether for some specific sentient beings or for the numberless sentient beings equaling the limitless sky. That’s how it’s supposed to be in daily life. This is the feeling in your heart that should accompany your activities.

Whether you are working for a Dharma center or just doing a normal job, in the morning when you generate a motivation of bodhicitta for your life before you go to work, it could be like this in your heart. That then makes your life so happy. There is so much peace in your heart, and there is no confusion. In this way there’s discriminating thoughts of attachment and anger, of I and others, of liking some people and disliking others. First of all, you don’t discriminate between yourself and others; second, you don’t discriminate among others. Since those negative emotional thoughts are not there, your heart is pure. So, while you’re working for the center, doing your job or doing something else, there’s no uptightness, no tension. There are no ego problems, no ego crashing, like two egos crashing or one ego crashing. All the fights, criticism and hurting each other don’t happen. It should be like that normally in our life, not only when we do retreat or when we do sadhanas.

The other point is that if we don’t have that kind of pure mind or heart, during our normal activities, the only time we will be reminded of it is when we do sadhanas or the pujas, where it says at the beginning, “I must achieve enlightenment for sentient beings; therefore, I’m going to do this.” That is to remind us. If we don’t transform our heart even at that time, when we say those words, there’s no other time to change our mind. Life then becomes empty. Besides all the self-cherishing thought, or ego, with all the discriminating thoughts of anger and attachment, there will be all the problems. Those negative emotional thoughts will make our life very difficult, and we will then engage in many negative karmas. We will make other people unhappy and ourselves unhappy. There will be obstacles to your success in our activities and obstacles to our Dharma practice and attaining realizations.

So, that’s it. Now we will go through the prayer and do the meditation.

Whichever way you visualized the object of refuge, the merit field, it then absorbs into Guru Shakyamuni Buddha. In the text it says that if one has received a Highest Yoga Tantra initiation, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha is absorbed through one’s crown; if one hasn’t received a great initiation, Guru Shakyamuni Buddha melts into light and is then absorbed at the point between your eyebrows and from there blesses one’s own body, speech and mind. That is what is explained.

After Guru Shakyamuni Buddha has absorbed into you, you then purify in emptiness. The ordinary I becomes totally nonexistent. One ordinary I is the real I in the sense of existing from its own side. This is what always appears to our hallucinated mind and what we always believe. So, that I is totally nonexistent; not even an atom of that I exists. You look at that I as totally nonexistent, as it is totally nonexistent in reality, which is emptiness. At the same time, the I that thinks “I’m ordinary” is also purified in emptiness. In the view of your wisdom seeing emptiness, there is no distinction “This is the knower” and “This is the object.” They are nondual, like having poured water into water. That wisdom seeing emptiness then instantaneously manifests in the form of long-life White Tara.

It might be the same in the prayer there composed by Kyabje His Holiness Trijang Rinpoche. You yourself are in this youthful, extremely beautiful, holy body. You have a loving smile and compassionate eyes. Clarify that beautiful form. At your heart is a moon disc, and in the center of that is a white syllable TAM. Beams emitted away from the TAM invoke from the natural abode (which is the same as saying “dharmakaya”)….

I think natural abode has a similar meaning to de zhin sheg pa, or tathagata. In the expression de zhin sheg pa, de means the emptiness of all phenomena; zhin means the ultimate nature of the phenomena, which is emptiness; and sheg pa means understanding directly. In regard to the wisdom gone beyond of the foundation, or base, things are beyond true existence, beyond independence. Things are not truly existent; they are beyond true existence, beyond the way they appear to us and the way we believe them to exist. That is the wisdom gone beyond of the foundation, and there are also the wisdom gone beyond of the path and the wisdom gone beyond of the result, which is the dharmakaya, or omniscience. There are these three: wisdom gone beyond of the foundation, or base; the wisdom gone beyond of the path; and the wisdom gone beyond of the result.

So, omniscience, or the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya, directly sees the nature of phenomena, or emptiness. Exactly like that, de is the ultimate nature of all phenomena, or emptiness; zhin means according to that; and sheg means gone, or gone-as-it-is. But it means that the wisdom gone beyond of the result, or the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya, directly sees the emptiness of all phenomena. The way omniscience, the transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya, directly sees all phenomena is by pervading all of them, not by seeing them from afar. Omniscience pervades all phenomena. That’s why it’s said in the texts that there’s no place where there’s no buddha. The dharmakaya, or omniscience, pervades all phenomena, both conventional truth and absolute truth. How does it directly see and pervade all the emptiness? It is nondual with emptiness, like having poured water into the water. It is immovable forever from the object, emptiness, by cutting dual view, not by temporarily absorbing it. When arya beings are in equipoise meditation on emptiness, they temporarily absorb dual view; but when they arise from that meditation, dual view is again there. Even arhats temporarily absorb dual view. But here, with a buddha, dual view is completely cut forever, so a buddha’s transcendental wisdom of dharmakaya directly sees emptiness and is forever immovable from that, like having poured water into water. You can see here that de zhin sheg pa is a quality of only a buddha.

So, where you invoke from is the natural abode. The transcendental wisdom dharmakaya pervades all phenomena and is nondual with the emptiness of all phenomena, like having poured water into water. You invoke from the natural abode. Wherever you visualize it, it’s just there; it manifests from there. It is similar to the verse of invocation in Guru Puja:

Chö nam rang zhin dro ong kün dräl yang
Na tshog dül jäi sam pa ji zhin du
Chir yang chhar wäi khyen tsei thrin lä chän
Kyab gön dam pa khor chä sheg su söl

“In the nature of phenomena, there is no truly existent, or real, coming and going; but according to the minds, wishes and karma of the various sentient beings, who are the objects to be subdued, the transcendental wisdom dharmakaya, the absolute guru, manifested just from there.”

As I mentioned before, this wisdom is directly seeing emptiness and nondual with emptiness; it is immovable forever from the emptiness of all phenomena. Because this wisdom is bound by infinite compassion to us sentient beings, it manifests, taking various aspects that are exactly what is needed by each individual sentient being, then guides that sentient being by revealing various methods.

Manifesting in various forms means in any form, even in the forms of animals, such as dogs, and material objects. It is not always a pure being, somebody who has no faults. There are various forms: male, female, child, old person, rich, poor, crazy, deformed, suffering. The dharmakaya can manifest even in the form of spirits, or it can even appear as a Hindu god. It can appear as a king or a judge or as a mara; it is not a mara but it manifests as a mara. It can manifest in all kinds of forms, even as a prostitute. Such aspects are needed to guide those sentient beings.

“Performing activities of omniscience and compassion (khyen tsei thrin lä chän), (kyab gön dam pa khor chä sheg), all holy refuge-saviors with your entourage, please descend here, or please be here.”

That’s similar to invoking from the natural abode. Does it say “natural abode” there? Okay. This is how to think of the meaning of that.

There are different ways of invoking. There is invoking from a pure land, and then here in the text it says to invoke from “the natural abode.” That’s how it’s presented in the Tibetan. However, it is the same, whichever way the invocation is done. Anyway, you have now got the idea of invoking from the natural abode.

So, what is invoked is the perfect, pure (je tsun) Wish-Granting Wheel, White Tara, who has Guru Unimaginable (or Limitless) Life as the owner of lineage, or race; surrounded by the lineage lamas of the long-life initiation and all the assemblies of buddhas and bodhisattvas. You then say [OM VAJRA SAMAYA JAH]. They are all invoked in front of you.

[There is an inaudible comment from Ven. Sarah.]

Oh, the blessing of the offerings is before this?

Here there is the invoking of the merit field, then after that comes the prostration, then after that comes the offerings.

[There is another inaudible comment from Ven. Sarah.]

It normally doesn’t proceed in that way. The offerings come only after. I don’t know what has happened. I have never seen that. Why the offerings need to be after generating oneself as the deity is because this is tantric practice, which involves pure appearance. Therefore, you need to dispel the interferers abiding with the offerings, purify the ordinary appearance of the offerings into emptiness, then generate pure offerings. That’s a little bit of a mistake in the book. Purifying the offerings is not the correct translation. In Tibetan the steps are called sang wa and jang wa. First there is sang wa, dispelling the interferers abiding with the offerings; after that is jang wa, purifying in emptiness. First comes sang wa, dispelling the obstacles, the spirit possessions abiding with the offerings; you then purify in emptiness; then generate pure offerings.

Since you can’t do that as an ordinary being, first you have to generate yourself in the pure form of the deity’s holy body. You have to generate yourself as the deity. I don’t think it would have the offerings first in the text, especially, Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche’s text.

After that, with NAMO GURUBHYA, you put your palms together in prostration. With NAMO ARYA TARA SAPARIVARA BHYA you are prostrating to Tara, all the lineage lamas and all the buddhas and bodhisattvas that you invoked. You then make the eight offerings to Guru Tara and all her entourage.

After the offerings comes the bodhisattva vows.

If you visualize, if you meditate while the translation is being done, you don’t need to do the prayer. It’s already done.

If you do the prayers and you tell me which section you are doing, it will be easier. Otherwise, I think it will take a lot of time. Then if there’s something to clarify a little…. Read the prayer.

Ven. Sophia: Rinpoche, do we generate the deity first? According to this sadhana you make the offerings first.

Rinpoche: Generate first.

[Ven. Sophia reads the sadhana in Chinese: generating as White Tara, invoking the wisdom beings; invoking the initiation beings.]

Ven. Sophia: Then we go back to the blessing of the offerings.

Rinpoche: Here you should sprinkle the vase water. When you sprinkle, you do it like this according to one of my gurus, Gomo Rinpoche, who is very precise in doing rituals. Rinpoche explained that it is like writing the Tibetan letter cha. Every lama doesn’t necessarily do this way of sprinkling. This is according to Gomo Rinpoche. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche doesn’t do that.

Rinpoche explained that for father tantra you sprinkle the water from the right side. For mother tantras such as Cittamani Tara, Vajrayogini, Heruka and Gyalwa Gyatso, you sprinkle from the left side. There are different ways of sprinkling depending on which tantra you are doing.

As you sprinkle the water from there, one way to visualize is that each drop of water becomes numberless wrathful Amrita deities, which dispel the dön, or spirit possessions, abiding with the set of arranged offerings. (I think there are spirits abiding not only with the offerings but also in my throat! There’s all this noise that comes out.) There’s a different spirit abiding with each of the offerings: water, light, incense and so forth. The Amrita deities dispel them, chase them away. So, that’s called sang wa in Tibetan.

I don’t think that the mistake there comes from the Tibetan lama who translated the text. I think it comes from our people in International Office, who revised it. I think they probably made the mistake because they didn’t check with the Tibetan text.

The way jang wa is translated there is dissolving into emptiness. When you translate that from English back into Tibetan, it comes out totally different. If you say purified in emptiness, when you then translate that back into Tibetan it is jang wa, which is correct. Why is the word purify used? Because, as I mentioned before, tantric practice involves purifying the two types of ordinary appearance. One is the truly existent appearance, and the other is the appearance of an ordinary I and ordinary offerings. Tantric practice involves looking at everything as pure. You see yourself as a deity, the place as a mandala and the offerings as pure, uncontaminated nectar. Therefore, the exact word, jang wa, purify, has to be used. You are not dissolving in emptiness. I mean, in a general sense, it is dissolving; but if you’re specific, it’s not correct. When you do the actual meditation, it comes like that, but it’s not an exact translation.

So, first is sang wa, dispelling the interferers. Next is jang wa, in which you purify the two types of ordinary appearance in emptiness. When you meditate, it involves stopping the ordinary appearance, then generating pure offerings.

Now here you sprinkle the water with that meditation. You then recite OM SVABHAVA SHUDDHA SARVA DHARMA SVABHAVA SHUDDHO HAM. You purify the ordinary appearance of the offerings, including these offerings that are set up. You purify the truly existent offerings that appear ordinary and not as the blissful, pure, uncontaminated nectar that appears to a buddha. You then generate the offerings into the offerings that will appear to you when you become enlightened.

As I mentioned the other night, all existence is included in two: the first is all the objects (yul, in Tibetan) and the second is the knower, or the one who perceives the objects (yul chen, in Tibetan). No phenomenon, neither the object or the knower who perceives the object, has true existence. Since phenomena are not stained by true existence, they are all empty, pure (SHUDDHA). That includes all the offerings; they are pure. SVABHAVA means nature and SHUDDHA, pure, so pure nature. The whole of existence is by nature pure. You meditate on emptiness. Your mind is understanding that emptiness, is nondual with it. There are extra words in the Highest Yoga Tantra explanation, but here we’ll stop at just that. Then, HO HAM means “this is me.”

So, OM SVABHAVA SHUDDHA SARVA DHARMA SVABHAVA SHUDDHO HAM. Many benefits of reciting OM are explained, including sublime wealth and fortune. One meaning of the OM is that when you have the actual realization of this (now we just visualizing), with the support of bodhicitta, the path of method, and the wisdom that directly perceives emptiness, you are able to cease the gross and subtle defilements and purify your ordinary body, speech and mind, which become the vajra holy body, vajra holy speech and vajra holy mind of the deity, which are signified by the “A,” “U” and “MA,” the three sounds that form OM. So, that’s the final achievement. What you achieved when you meditate on SVABHAVA SHUDDHA SARVA DHARMA SVABHAVA SHUDDHO HAM and have the realization of it is signified by A-U-MA, the three sounds that form OM. You purify your ordinary body, speech and mind then achieve the deity’s vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind, with which can do perfect work for sentient beings.

That’s the meditation on OM SVABHAVA SHUDDHA SARVA DHARMA SVABHAVA SHUDDHO HAM, and it is extremely profound. If we think about the meaning of OM SVABHAVA SHUDDHA SARVA DHARMA SVABHAVA SHUDDHO HAM, it contains the whole Madhyamaka subject. Everything, all the many root texts and commentaries on Madhyamaka, goes into that mantra. All the many volumes of the Kangyur, all the Prajnaparamita texts (One Hundred Thousand Stanzas, Twenty Thousand Stanzas, Eight Thousand Stanzas)—everything goes into the meaning of this mantra. It contains the selflessness of the person and the selflessness of the aggregates, or phenomena.

So, you see everything as empty, then a syllable BHRUM manifests, which transforms into an extensive jewel container, inside of which is an OM. The OM inside then melts into light and becomes the divine substance of the various offerings. I don’t know how it is described there in the sadhana, but here it says that the divine substance is inexhaustible, equal to the extent of space and grants extraordinary uncontaminated bliss. This that this is its nature.

You then bless the offerings with OM ARGHAM AH HUNG and so forth. Since you are blessing the offerings in the nature of a buddha’s holy body, holy speech and holy mind, OM AH HUNG, you put each offering between “OM” and “AH HUNG” as a blessing. So, it becomes OM ARGHAM AH HUNG, OM PADYAM AH HUNG and so forth.

The mudras are according to Kriya Tantra, so they will also come in the nyung-nä. OM ARGHAM AH HUNG is like this. This is a conch shell, and you are pouring water from it. There is then OM PADYAM AH HUNG; OM PUSHPE AH HUNG, which is sprinkling flowers; OM DHUPE AH HUNG is like this; and OM GANDHE is like this. The Highest Yoga Tantra mudra for GANDHE is like this, but here GANDHE is like this. There’s a mirror offering that like this, but in the lower tantra GANDHE is like this. When you do this mudra in Highest Yoga Tantra, it’s offering a mirror; but in lower tantra His Holiness Zong Rinpoche used to do this mudra for offering a mirror. These are the lower tantra mudras for DHUPE, ALOKE, GANDHE, NAIVIDYA, and SHAPTA, which is like playing music. According to His Holiness Serkong Tsenshab Rinpoche, the mudra for SHAPTA has been lost, but other lamas haven’t mentioned that.

Buddhism is so profound, that even a few words have deep, profound meaning. But if you understand one practice, you then know how to do other practices. If you know one of the lower tantras, you then know how to do the others, such as nyung-nä or this White Tara practice. They are the same. So, it’s helpful. It is the same with Highest Yoga Tantra. If you know how to do things according to one, it is the same with other Highest Yoga Tantra practices. In that way it’s very useful.

So, you bless the offerings in the nature of the vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind of the deity with the mantra OM AH HUNG. You place the name of the offering between “OM” and “AH HUNG”: OM ARGHAM AH HUNG, OM PADYAM AH HUNG and so forth.

This is for the blessing of the offerings, but if you’re offering them, you then do the lotus-turning mudra. Why do you do this? Because you are transforming the offering goddesses from your heart. But here, with just the blessing, you just do the mudras.

First of all, when you pick up the bell and vajra, you should pick them up together, not one after another. And when you pick up the bell and vajra together in this way, in your mind you should think, “For the benefit of all sentient beings, I need to achieve enlightenment; and for that I’m going to practice the path of method and wisdom.” Thinking that, you then pick them up together, not separately. In Mahayana sutra, it signifies achieving the two kayas, dharmakaya and rupakaya, by cooperatively practicing method and wisdom. They are practiced cooperatively, not separately. In Highest Yoga Tantra one mind achieves the dharmakaya and rupakaya. In the Mahayana Paramitayana path, separate minds practice method and wisdom, but cooperatively; but in Highest Yoga Tantra, one mind practices method and wisdom, so there’s greater skill in Highest Yoga Tantra. This is not particular to Highest Yoga Tantra but is the same in all the tantras. What makes tantra the exalted or quick path to enlightenment, the quick way to finish collecting merits and purifying defilements, is this skillful means of one mind practicing method and wisdom together.

So, because the bell signifies wisdom and the vajra signifies method, you pick them up together and think that in your mind. Whether or you can remember that all the time, it’s good to think that especially at the beginning. This is according to His Holiness Zong Rinpoche’s instruction.

With OM ARGHAM AH HUNG, the mudra for offering drinking water—chö yin, in Tibetan—is like offering water in a conch shell. With PADYAM, water for cleaning the feet, you release your fingers one by one. With PUSPHE, you’re sprinkling flowers. Offering incense, DHUPE, is like this. GANDHE is like that. NAIVIDYA is the same. SHAPTA, playing music, is like this.

So, as I was saying before, there are then the five desire enjoyments: RUPA (with the mudra for a mirror), SHAPTA (music), GANDHE, RASA and SPARSHA.

There’s a story about one girl who offered a mirror to Buddha and due to that achieved enlightenment, but I don’t remember the details now. However, there may be other purposes as to why, among the many offerings, these are the particular ones selected. For the five desire enjoyments of lower tantra, the mudra for RUPA, a mirror, is like this according to His Holiness Zong Rinpoche. But the Highest Yoga Tantra mudra for mirror is like that. The lower tantra mudra for GANDHE, offering scented water at the heart, is like this; and the Highest Yoga Tantra one is like that. RASA is offering food, and SPARSHA is offering divine dress, or a scarf.

Next is making the offerings with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA ARGHAM, PADYAM….

[There is an inaudible comment from a student.]

OM ARGHAM AH HUNG, OM PADYAM AH HUNG... is blessing the offerings. What comes after that?

Ven. Sophia: After that is prostration.

Rinpoche: No, no. Before prostration there should be the offerings, which have already been blessed with OM ARGHAM AH HUNG, OM PADYAM AH HUNG…. Then comes making the offerings with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA ARGHAM, PADYAM, PUSHPE, DHUPE, ALOKE, GANDHE, NAIVIDYA, SHAPTA PRATICCHA SVAHA. Because you have blessed the offerings, you should then offer them.

Here, you transform the offering goddesses from your heart. It is the same here as in Guru Puja, nyung-nä or any other practice. From your heart you transform not just one but numberless offering goddesses, filling the whole sky. You can have different layers, with one layer offering drinking water, the second layer offering water for cleaning the feet, the next layer offering flowers and so forth. You normally make one offering then absorb back the offering goddesses, make the next offering, then absorb back…. But perhaps the easy way would be to transform them all at once, then make the offering. After each offering is finished, you can then absorb them back to your heart. That might be easier.

Here you’re emitting offering goddesses carrying the various offerings. The commentaries to Guru Puja explain all the details of how to visualize them. They should be extremely beautiful, as beautiful as possible, and they offer extraordinary bliss to the six senses of the merit field. They are beautiful to see, have a scented smell and so forth.

With OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA ARGHAM PRATICCHA SVAHA, you snap your fingers outwards, then do the lotus-turning mudra clockwise. You visualize making the offering and think the merit field generated great bliss within them. You then absorb the offering goddesses back into your heart. You then do the next one, OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA PADYAM PRATICCHA SVAHA. Again you snap your fingers outwards, which is transforming the offering goddesses, do the lotus-turning mudra and the mudra for PADYAM. When you snap your fingers inwards, you are absorbing back the offering goddesses. You then transform the offering goddesses and offer with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA PUSHPE PRATICCHA SVAHA; then with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA DHUPE PRATICCHA SVAHA; then with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA GANDHE PRATICCHA SVAHA; then with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA NAIVIDYA PRATICCHA SVAHA; and with OM ARYA TARE SAPARIVARA SHAPTA PRATICCHA SVAHA, you ring the bell, but you must think that you are offering music when you ring it. The meditation is that numberless goddesses carrying various kinds of musical instruments fill the whole sky. Of course, the more offerings you can visualize, the more causes of enlightenment, the more causes of liberation from samsara and the more causes for the happiness of future lives you create. The merit becomes so powerful that all your wishes of even this life are fulfilled. When you have more merit, your wishes will naturally and easily, without much difficulty and without taking much time, be fulfilled. When you have more merit, any wish you generate just comes about. Therefore, your life becomes easy. Not only is it easy to have success in the activities of this life, but even having attainment becomes easy. Dharma understanding and practice and attainment are easy. It’s very important when you do the practice of offering to offer the best quality and as many as possible.

The reason you snap your fingers is to remind you of dependent arising. The sound of these snapping fingers came into existence in dependence upon cause and conditions, in dependence upon the two fingers. It’s also merely labeled by mind. When you hear the sound of snapping fingers, it looks as if it exists from its own side. It looks like a truly existent or independent sound from its own side. So, first, the sound, “tak,” is labeled by the mind. In du-ra, it is said that the definitive characteristic, or meaning, of sound is “the object that the sense of ear hears.” Before the mind is able to label “sound” and what kind of sound it is—“good sound,” “bad sound”—the sense of ear has to hear something; the ear has to hear the object that is the base to be labeled “sound.” Before the mind can label “sound,” “good sound” or “bad sound,” the sense of ear has to hear the object that is the base to be labeled “sound,” “good sound” or “bad sound.” It is only after the sense of ear has heard the object that is heard by the sense of ear that the mind then labels “sound,” “good sound,” “bad sound.” There is then that imputation. Therefore, you can see that even a sound is merely imputed by mind after the ear has heard the object of the sense of ear. So, what is sound? It’s nothing other than what exists in mere name, merely imputed by mind. So, sound is empty of existing from its own side.

Anyway, that gives you an idea of why we snap our fingers. A fingersnap depends on many causes and conditions, then the mind imputes “sound” to this phenomenon. In reality, it’s merely imputed by mind. Sound exists but it exists being merely imputed by mind in dependence upon the gathering of all these causes and conditions. The sound appears to our hallucinated mind as existing from its own side, and we believe a hundred percent that there is such a thing, that such a sound exists. However, that is a total hallucination; it is empty, nonexistent.

Snapping your fingers is to remind you that everything—you yourself, the person making the offering; your action of making offering; all the offerings; the merit field—that appears to you as something real existing from its own side is a hallucination; it’s empty. While they’re empty, they’re is existing. It’s not that they’re nonexistent—they exist. While they’re empty, they exist, existing in mere name, merely imputed by mind. So, it is to remind you of this. In this way, the object to whom you make the offering, the action and the person who is making the offering are sealed with emptiness. It then becomes a pure offering unstained by the concept of true existence. It also becomes an antidote to samsara. So, the purpose of snapping your fingers is to remind you of emptiness; it’s to remind you that everything is empty.

Each time you make an offering, it’s very important not to lose your concentration. Generating infinite bliss in the holy mind of the merit field is the very essence of offering and the meaning of puja, which means pleasing the holy mind. You shouldn’t think that you ring the bell and do everything else as just some sort of cultural thing. If it becomes just some sort of play, you don’t collect merit. You must meditate. Music is not an offering every time. At certain times when you ring the bell, such as at the end of reciting the Vajrasattva mantra, it is to remind you of emptiness. The sound of the bell means that no phenomenon has true existence. For instance, when the bell is rung during an initiation, you meditate on emptiness, on how all samsara and everything else is empty. Meditating on and realizing that makes you free from samsara and enables you to achieve the holy existence, or enlightenment. So, the sound of the bell shows you that no phenomenon has true existence; it’s empty. It reminds you that you, the creator, the action and the negative karma are all empty; that in emptiness there’s no such thing. Here it is not an offering; it is reminding you to meditate on emptiness. It depends on the circumstances, but mostly it’s done as an offering. It’s very important to remember this when you are making offering; otherwise, it becomes a meaningless custom, and you don’t collect merit.

Next is offering prostration, then comes the meditation. I think it might be okay if you read it. Or should I go over it?

Ven. Sophia: It’s up to Rinpoche.

Rinpoche: Oh, no, it’s totally up to you. It’s totally up to your nose. I’m joking.

So, we still have to do the offerings. Yes, do the offerings.

[Ven. Sophia leads the offerings, with Rinpoche ringing his bell for a long time.]

Another thing here is that in the commentaries the lamas say not to spread out your fingers when you do the mudras. You keep your fingers together. This creates the cause to achieve webbed fingers, one the special signs of Buddha’s holy body. There are thirty-two holy signs and eighty holy exemplifications, so I think this might be one of the signs. So, don’t do mudras by spreading out your fingers. Keep your fingers together like this.

Also, you don’t do the mudras up high. You do them at the heart. Some people, including some of our nuns in Nepal, do them like this. And you do the lotus-turning mudra at the heart because you are transforming the offering goddesses from the heart. Absorbing them back to the same place, to the heart, has a purpose in helping to actualize the clear light. In Highest Yoga Tantra, if you achieve the realization of clear light in this life, it means that you are one who can achieve enlightenment in the brief lifetime of this degenerate time. Absorbing back into your heart the offering goddesses that you transformed from your heart has that benefit.

When you sprinkle the water from the vase, there are different ways to do it in father and mother tantra. Also, there is a difference when you do the lotus-turning mudra when you make offerings if it is a mother tantra such as Vajrayogini, Heruka, Gyalwa Gyatso or Cittamani Tara. You to the lotus-turning mudra anticlockwise, just as you circumambulate the Heruka or Vajrayogini mandala anticlockwise. So, if you’re a practitioner of Heruka or Vajrayogini, you can circumambulate anticlockwise. I think that must be connected with the left-side conduct, a special practice of Vajrayogini that causes one to be born in the Vajrayogini pure land. Left-side conduct means that when you walk, you start with your left foot; and when you do something with your hands, you start with your left hand. It is because everything comes from emptiness, and the left side signifies the wisdom of emptiness. You can also think that the deity, mandala and everything else are manifestations of the transcendental wisdom of nondual bliss and voidness. The left-side practice is one cause to be born in the Vajrayogini pure land, as well as tsog offerings and other practices.

So, you turn to the left side Cittamani Tara, Vajrayogini, Heruka and so forth.

Of course, another very important one is reciting the mantra of Vajrayogini. Even if you are unable to do or can’t read the sadhana, just by reciting the mantra every day, especially with strong guru devotion, you are then able to go to the pure land of Vajrayogini.

Read the prostration part.

[Ven. Sophia reads it in Chinese.]

The idea is that you meditate on emptiness not only at the beginning, before you generate into deity, but when you do visualizations even after you have generated into the deity. It’s like the dharmakaya meditation in Highest Yoga Tantra. However, here you purify in emptiness then meditate on emptiness. You then generate into the deity, but if this deity again appears to be truly existent, a real deity existing from its own side, and you think that is true, your tantric practice, your deity practice doesn’t then become an antidote to samsara. If a real deity existing from its own side appears to you and you believe it to be true, that tantric meditation of visualizing yourself as the deity doesn’t become an antidote to samsara because it’s done without right view; during that time, it’s stained by ignorance, the concept of true existence. Therefore, even after you have generated yourself as the deity, you need to continue that awareness. That is the idea. Here you can see the evolution of it. You purify ordinary appearance in emptiness; the wisdom seeing emptiness, nondual with emptiness, then takes the pure form of the deity’s holy body. So, you have to keep awareness of that wisdom. The perfect way to meditate, to do the tantric practice of visualizing yourself as the deity, is with awareness of that wisdom.

That wisdom, now in the form of a deity, focuses on the deity’s holy body and at the same time is aware that the aspect has no nature. Has no nature means that it doesn’t exist by its own nature. So, that wisdom took this form that grants long life, Wish-Fulfilling Wheel Tara. This aspect with seven eyes that performs this function is then labeled “White Tara” by the mind. And it is the same with every other thing.

In a similar way, when you meditate on the human body, “body” is merely imputed because of the collection together of all the pieces: head, trunk, legs and arms. But you can’t find the body on this. If you look for it, you can’t find it. Among all those pieces, one part is merely imputed “head,” but if you check, you can’t find the head there. The head is merely imputed but if you look for it on there, you cannot find it. Now, it is the same with every piece of the body, down to the atoms. Every piece is merely imputed to the base, to the collection of parts, but if you look for any of the pieces, down to the atoms, you can’t find it. And if you look for it, you can’t find even the atom itself. According to the view of the Prasangika Madhyamaka school, atoms have parts. (According to the Vaibhashika school and the Cittamatra, or Mind Only school, atoms don’t have parts.) Here, every atom has particles. When we go down to the atom, we find even the atom has parts. So, an atom is merely imputed because there is the collection of its parts. Again, you can’t find the atom on that base. Now when we think about the particles of an atom, they appear to us as real, as existing from their own side and not merely labeled by mind. All that is the object to be refuted. Even those real particles are totally nonexistent, empty.

So, the whole thing is totally empty. Totally empty. Nothing exists in the slightest from its own side; it’s empty. But everything exists. While everything is totally empty, everything exists, including the head, the atoms and the particles of the atoms, but they exist in mere name, merely imputed by mind. Now here you can see that it’s empty. Existence is unified with emptiness. It is empty, but it is existing. It is very clear that there is no separation between emptiness and existence; they are unified. There’s no emptiness without existence; there’s no existence without emptiness. This is an example. Through analysis, this is what you discover.

Now, it is exactly the same with your arms, your legs and everything else. If you examine, you find that everything is like this. It is like this with the I, the aggregates, the atoms and the particles of the atoms. I’ve been talking about the substantial, physical part, but it’s the same with the mind, down to the split-seconds of consciousness. There is the mind from beginningless rebirth up to enlightenment and from birth until death. There is today’s mind, the mind of this twenty-four hours. There are sixty minutes in one hour, and sixty seconds in one minute. Even the second then has split-seconds. So, you can also do a similar analysis of the continuity of consciousness as you did with the atoms of the physical aggregates. When you go down to the seconds of the continuity of consciousness, there are parts within each second. In dependence upon all these parts, “mind” is merely imputed by thought.

Every single thing is merely imputed to its base. Even every second of consciousness is merely imputed to the continuity of its parts, the split-seconds of consciousness. And it is the same with even those split-seconds of consciousness. When we think about them, they look independent, as if they exist from their own side, but again here that is a projection of your own mind, of your ignorance. They are totally nonexistent, totally empty. The whole mind, from beginningless rebirth up to enlightenment, is empty, totally empty. It does not exist from its own side; it’s totally empty. While everything is empty, it exists, but in mere name, merely imputed by mind. This is the reality. The reality of the I, the aggregates, the body and mind is that they are totally empty, but they are not nonexistent. They exist, but they exist being merely imputed by mind.

In dependence upon the base, the aggregates, the mind labels “I.” The mind just makes up the label “I.” Then right after thought has imputed the label “I,” in the next moment, ignorance, the concept of true existence, projects this big hallucination of true existence. Past ignorance has left a negative imprint on the mind, and right after the mere imputation of the I by thought, the truly existent appearance is decorated, or projected, by the negative imprint on the merely imputed I. That’s why, even though the I is merely imputed by mind, when it appears back to the minds of us sentient beings, it appears as something real, as a real I that is not merely imputed by the mind. When it appears back to us, it appears as a real I, a real me. That is the evolution.

The biggest mistake we then make, the one we have been making from this morning up to now and during beginningless rebirths, is to let our mind believe this is true. That’s why we have always been reincarnating in samsara and dying and experiencing old age, sickness and all the other sufferings of samsara. It’s because we let our mind believe this is true. At that time we create the root of samsara, the self-grasping of the person. When we don’t meditate on emptiness, when we don’t look at the I as empty, when we don’t look at it as a dependent arising, when we don’t look at it as a hallucination, when we don’t recognize the object to be refuted, the gak cha, we create the root of samsara by holding onto this real I as true.

You do the same thing with the aggregates. Right after the mere imputation of the aggregates, with the mind merely imputing “aggregates” to the collection of the five, when the aggregates appear back, you see a projection of truly existent aggregates. You see a hallucination that is projected. They then appear to you as real aggregates, and you then let your mind hold onto that. That’s the root of samsara, the self-grasping of the aggregates. (Some people translate this into English as “self-grasping of existence,” but it means the aggregates.) It means your aggregates, not others’ aggregates.

I’m describing the hallucination, the wrong belief. We have a total hallucination, a totally wrong view, totally wrong belief, from the I down to the smallest particles of atoms and the split-seconds of consciousness, and the split-seconds of them. This is how we live our life, in total wrong belief, in a hallucination. There’s no such thing there at all. What is there is what is merely imputed by mind. What is here on this throne is what is merely imputed by mind. What is sitting there on your meditation cushion is the mere imputation, the merely imputed I, merely imputed aggregates, merely imputed consciousness, merely imputed everything. That’s it. It is totally empty. You have to understand what is true, or reality, and what is false. This is reality. The other one that appears to us is false; it is the total opposite of the reality.

We will now go back to the deity, White Tara. Even though you meditate on emptiness at the beginning, even though you purify in emptiness, after you become the deity again you are a truly existent deity. That doesn’t become an antidote to samsara. Doing tantric meditation on a deity without awareness of emptiness doesn’t become an antidote to samsara, and it can become a cause of samsara. It’s very important to know this. It’s very important to understand how to practice tantra; otherwise, your tantric meditation can become a cause of samsara.

As I have mentioned many times in the past, probably during the motivation, There was a meditator who did many years of Yamantaka retreat, but he didn’t know the lam-rim and didn’t practice tantra with the lam-rim. He just visualized the deity and chanted the mantra. That person was then born as a hungry ghost, a spirit, in a place called Penpo, in Tibet. Penpo is where Lama Yeshe was born.

There were also two other monks who did many years of retreat, but then one of them died. The other monk, who was still doing retreat, was doing sur practice every evening. One night a very terrifying spirit with many arms, who looked like Yamantaka, came. The monk asked, “Why have you come here?” The spirit then explained to the monk, who was his friend before, “I was the friend doing retreat with you before. Now I’ve been born as a preta.” That story happened.

Also, Lama Atisha mentioned that someone who didn’t know how to meditate, which means they meditated without lam-rim, was even born in the lower realms.

Now, from the explanation about the I, the aggregates and so forth, you have some idea of how to meditate when you go back to the deity. Your wisdom manifested in this form of Tara. It is the same with all the parts: they are merely imputed by mind. Therefore, everything is empty of existing from its own side. Even though everything is appearing as something real, everything is empty of that. That’s the reality, but right after the mere imputation, the negative imprint left by ignorance projects a truly existent appearance onto the mere imputation of Tara. The negative imprint decorates true existence and makes everything real; it makes everything appear to exist from its own side. Therefore, you have to be aware that the way you as Tara are appearing is a hallucination. There’s no such thing there. It’s a hallucination; it’s the object to be refuted, gak cha. What exists is merely labeled by mind. It functions in mere name. But until you become enlightened, everything, even though it is merely imputed, appears to you to be truly existent. Because the negative imprint left by ignorance is there, it always projects this hallucination of true existence onto everything that your mind has merely imputed.

The only exception is when you become an arya being and are in equipoise meditation on emptiness. In equipoise meditation, your wisdom is directly perceiving emptiness like having poured water into the water and dual view is absorbed. At that time you don’t have the hallucination of truly existent appearance. Otherwise, until we achieve enlightenment, things appear to us to be truly existent. Even if you have compassion or bodhicitta, things appear to be truly existent; the suffering of sentient beings appears to be truly existent. It’s a hallucinated mind but not a perverted mind (lok she, in Tibetan). Even though you have bodhicitta, compassion and all those other realizations, until you become enlightened, until you remove the negative imprint left by the concept of true existence, that negative imprint will project true existence, a truly existent view. So, this is one meaning of dualistic view.

Therefore, there is no choice. You have this hallucination until you become enlightened, until you remove this negative imprint left by the concept of true existence. However, instead of letting your mind hold onto this as true, you should contradict it by thinking, “This is a hallucination,” “This is like an illusion” or “This is like a dream.” Meditating in this way helps because there is then no holding onto this appearance as true. It doesn’t allow you to create the root of samsara; it doesn’t allow you to have the concept of true existence. It becomes an antidote to that.

So, all this is merely imputed. What appears to be existing from its own side is a hallucination. The way things appear, as existing from their own side, as something real, is nonexistent. At least look at it as a hallucination, as it is a hallucination or look at like a dream. The way things appear to you in a dream and the way you believe in them is not true; it doesn’t exist. It is the same here. So, at least think like that. In your heart, the conclusion is that it’s empty. There is a Tara performing functions, but in mere name, merely imputed by mind. Place your mind on this for a little while. Tara is appearing, but she is empty. Tara exists being merely imputed to this pure base by mind. Because of that, Tara is empty of existing from its own side. There is unification of emptiness and dependent arising. There’s a real Tara, a truly existent Tara, appearing to you, but the understanding in your heart is that it’s not true. This doesn’t exist; it’s not true. Place your mind on the inseparability of emptiness and appearance. Meditate on this for a little while. This same meditation is there in every sadhana. After you have gone through all the details of the deity and the mandala and before the recitation of mantra, there’s a little meditation on this. You reflect on how everything is empty of existing from its own side but everything exists in mere name, merely imputed by mind. There is unification of emptiness and dependent arising or of emptiness and appearance. Meditate a little bit on that. It is emphasized to do this before the recitation of mantra in almost every sadhana. If you get tired or bored with, if your mind gets distracted, you then go on to the next part, reciting the mantra.

So, anyway, I think that’s it. Next we will do the mantra. Maybe I should describe visualizing the chakra, in case you have some confusion about that. Otherwise, just read the sadhana, then we’ll do the mantra and finish.

I think we will finish the meditation now. I don’t know what it says there in your sadhana. At the heart of yourself as Tara is a white, eight-spoked wheel with three rims. In the center of this, there’s a moon disc, in the center of which is your own mind in the aspect of a white TAM. Right in front of the TAM is OM, with TARE TUTTARE TURE scattered on each of the rest of the eight spokes. MAMA AYUR PUNYE JNYANA PUSHTIM KURU SVAHA are here, with SVAHA next to the OM. So, each syllable is on a spoke.

Inside the rim are the vowels: OM A AA I II U UU RI RII LI LII E AI O AU AM AH SVAHA. Then here are KA KHA GA GHA NGA / CHA CHHA JA JHA NYA / TA THA DA DHA NA / TA THA DA DHA NA / PA PHA BA BHA MA / YA RA LA VA / SHA SHA HA KSHA SVAHA. Sorry, I made a mistake. The vowels are anticlockwise. For blessing the speech, the vowels are clockwise and the consonants anticlockwise. There is then the heart of dependent arising mantra, OM YE DHARMA HETU PRABHAVA HETUN TSEHAN TATHAGATO HYAVADAT TESHAN CHAYO NIRODHA EVAM VADI MAHA SHRAMANA YE SVAHA, which is clockwise. I don’t know what your text says, but here in this text it says that the vowels are anticlockwise and the consonants are clockwise. That must be the same, clockwise, for the heart of dependent arising mantra.

The TAM and all the other syllables are in the nature of light and dripping with nectar, just as plants are dripping with dew in the mornings. You just need to clarify that visualization, then that’s it. I’m not going to go over the rest because it would take too much time. I think it’s in the meditation prayer that has been translated.

In the ball of the TAM are His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the other gurus, with the Sangha down below. As I mentioned at the beginning, you then visualize all sentient beings. With nectar you then purify all sickness, spirit harms, negative karmas and defilements. After that, the body is filled with the long-life nectar. You can visualize your gurus, Sangha, members of your own family and any specific person that you want to have long life; it could be somebody with cancer or life obstacles. Even if you don’t visualize them in the ball of the TAM, you can visualize them down below on the moon disc if that is more comfortable. Visualize all those who recite OM MANI PADME HUM, who are making their life meaningful from that by collecting extensive merit and performing purification; also visualize all the holy beings, those who are making their life meaningful by living in morality and anyone who is doing good for others. Everyone receives and is completely filled with the nectar of immortality. Their life, fortune, merit, wisdom and realizations are increased. With this meditation then chant the mantra.

The rest is in the meditation book that has been translated, so I’m not going to go through it. Otherwise, it will take a lot of time.

I saw that it says there in the book…AYUR PUNYE JNYANA PUSHTIM KURU SVAHA. Normally we recite … AYUR PUNYE JNYANA PUSHTING KURU SVAHA. I haven’t studied Sanskrit, so I can’t really judge, but the normal recitation is PUSHTING. I’m not sure whether it was the lama who translated the text or someone from International Office, where the text was revised, who decided to use PUSHTIM. We usually recite …PUSHTING KURU SVAHA.

I want to mention that there are different colored beams that come with achieving the pacifying attainment, the increasing attainment, the controlling attainment and the wrathful attainment. After the blue light, the green light, which does all the activities, fills up your whole body then comes outside to form a green tent, or complete circle. You then think you have accomplished all the infinite activities.

After that, there it says “brown,” but I think it’s the very last color in a rainbow. What’s the name of that color?

[Students suggest indigo or violet.]

That’s right. I think it belongs to that group of colors. Now you have got the idea. Anyway, it says “brown,” but that’s not correct. I’m not sure whether that is the original translation by the lama, [Lota] Rinpoche. He’s a very good lama, with good knowledge. Maybe it came from the person who did the revision. I’m not sure.

What do you call that color?

[Ven. Sarah: Violet.]

Violet. Are violet and purple the same? Anyway, I think maybe it’s violet. Anyway, nectar in the color of the end of the rainbow comes out and first fills up your whole body. It then stabilizes the power of all the actions, all the attainments. That which you have already attained before is stabilized. It then came out to form another tent of beams.

So there are white, yellow, red (controlling), blue (wrathful), green (accomplishing all the activities). The green light filled up your body, then came out to become a tent outside the blue, and you think that you achieved all the infinite activities. Violet beams are then emitted and fill your whole body. Think that they stabilized all the actions, all the attainments, that you have achieved. The beams then went outside to form a green; you are completely encircled by that. The tents of different-colored beams are all stabilized. The tents of these six beams all become one, forming one egg-shaped piece. It is extremely hard, and even the wind at the end of the world could not destroy it. The space between each tent is filled with beautiful, soft, freshly opened, blue utpali flowers.

Anyway, that’s it. Now there will be no more explanation. It’s finished. No more blah, blah, blah. All the blah, blah, blah’s are finished.

So, there is the eight-spoked wheel with three rims, with a moon in the center. There’s OM in front, with TARE TUTTARE TURE on the eight spokes, then MAMA AYUR PUNYE JNYANA PUSHTING KURU—there’s no YE. The text says there that the TARE TUTTARE TURE is outside, then between the OM at the beginning and the very last syllable HA, you have the other syllables additional to TARE TUTTARE TURE.

[There is an inaudible comment from Ven. Sarah.]

It has just SVA without HA? Yes, that’s right. I think it should be like that, because then there are eight. It then means each syllable is on a spoke. Then outside there are the three rims, with the vowels, consonants and the heart of dependent arising mantra. So, the OM and HA are on the moon disc with the OM facing the TAM. On the edge, where the spokes begin, are the eight syllables. Then comes MAMA AYUR PUNYE JNYANA PUSHTING KURU. So the letters of SVAHA, which usually come together, are separate.

So, maybe it is like that. The HA is joined to the OM, then TARE TUTTARE TURE, MAMA AYUR PUNYE JNYANA PUSHTING KURU. Maybe SVA goes outside, then HA goes with OM. In this way, it then becomes eight syllables, which fits with the eight spokes. That means that the HA of SVAHA has to come to the OM. It might be like that, but it needs to be checked. Anyway, in the meantime we can meditate like that. But we have to check to make sure whether or not it’s exactly like that.

Now we’ll do the prayer.

[Ven. Sophia reads in Chinese, with Rinpoche interrupting her after she has read the Sanskrit vowels.]

At Vajrapani Institute Kyabje Chöden Rinpoche gave instructions on how to recite mantras. If you do the mantra too fast it becomes incorrect. Rinpoche used the example here of reciting the vowels. [Rinpoche recites them very quickly.] Reciting them quickly isn’t correct because you lose the sound. [Rinpoche recites the vowels slowly and clearly.] If you do it quickly, it doesn’t come out as A AA, with the second one longer, so it becomes incorrect. Rinpoche used that as an example of reciting the mantra too fast when you do a deity retreat. You need to specify exactly the differences in the sound. You have to sound out the difference, with the second one being longer: A A-A I I-I U U-U…. Normally we have to think about that; we have to concentrate and remember that.

Read the rest.

[Ven. Sophia continues with the Sanskrit consonants and the heart of dependent arising mantra.]

There’s one thing to be specified here. You recite OM YE DHARMA HETU PRABHAVA HETUN TSEHAN TATHAGATO HYAVADAT TESHAN CHAYO, but make sure that you pause after the YO before completing the mantra with NIRODHA EVAM VADI MAHA SHRAMANA YE SVAHA. This is explained by [Pamang] Lotsawa in a book he wrote on how to read Sanskrit mantas. If you recite YO and NI together, it becomes the Sanskrit word for the female organ. That’s why you have to stop there. Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche also explained this, and Geshe Ngawang Drakpa also mentioned it. Geshe-la has memorized all of [Pamang] Lotsawa’s small book on how to read mantras. I think he has quite a stable memory, so he can remember.

[Ven. Sophia continues to read in Chinese. Rinpoche halts her when she begins to recite Padmasattva mantra]

So, do the meditation I explained this morning. Hook-like beams come from the HRIH and hook the life that has been degenerated or taken away by different spirits in the forms of vases or skulls filled with long-life nectar. The five elements; all the wisdom, power and wealth of the wheel-turning kings, the deva Indra and so forth; all the wisdom of the great pandits and the attainments of the yogis; and the blessings of all the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha and the buddhas and bodhisattvas are in the form of nectar, which is absorbed into Buddha Amitayus’s vase. From there it then flowed down and entered you, as Tara, through your crown. The nectar filled your whole body and is then absorbed into the syllables and mantras on the wheel at your heart. From there, the nectar then filled your whole body. You can think that.

His Holiness’s holy body is completely filled with the immortal nectar, as well as the bodies of all the gurus, all the Sangha, especially those in this organization, and the rest of the sentient beings (including the members of your own family, those who chant OM MANI PADME HUM, those who live in morality and those who do good things for others) down below on the moon disc. All the sentient beings are purified of all their sicknesses, spirit harms, negative karmas and defilements. After that, think that they all receive the nectar of immortality in their hearts and that their life, fortune, wisdom and realizations are increased. All the organizers, supporters of the FPMT organization and the many who sacrifice themselves to serve others through the organization receive the nectar of immortality and all four things—life, merit, wisdom and realizations—are increased.

Then think of any student who has cancer or other life obstacles, such as the ex-director of the Taichung center, Li Ti Shen, who is in the last stages of cancer. Think that his whole body is purified of everything—disease, spirit harms, negative karma, defilements—then completely filled with the nectar of immortality, which increases his life and everything else. Also, in Singapore there’s an old student who has been dedicating himself for so many years. For many years, though not now, he looked after the fund for offering food to Sera Je Monastery, as well as serving the organization in many other ways. So, he has cancer. Purify all those things, then think that his whole body is filled with the nectar of immortality, which increases his life, fortune, wisdom and realizations. Do the meditation in that way for any other people or students who are experiencing the same thing.

So, we will chant some mantras.

[Rinpoche recites the White Tara mantra for about twenty minutes.]

Now think that everybody has become harmonious. The nectar comes and purifies. Everybody then not only has increased life, fortune, qualities and all the other things, but all those who don’t talk to each other become harmonious and talk to each other. They are all enjoying, so happy to talk to each other. It’s as though they’re all having Valentine’s Day.

There is a longer version, and there’s the very short one, which I did this morning. Visualize the people who have cancer or other life obstacles, such as these people in the organization. It’s very good to think of them, to visualize that they are purified and their bodies filled with the nectar of immortality, which increases their life, fortune, wisdom and realizations. To meditate in that way to help them is very good.

After we have finished this, we will do the protector prayers.

[Ven. Sophia continues the practice with recitation of the Padmasattva mantra, until interrupted by Rinpoche.]

Did you recite OM A AA I II…? Now do it very loudly.

[Ven. Sophia recites the Sanskrit vowels very loudly three times. When she says …E I, Rinpoche corrects her.]

E AI, E AI. Don’t put the I there. Don’t bring I into the mantras.

[Ven. Sophia completes the third recitation.]

There’s enough time to mention the I in the rest of the day, so don’t put I into the mantra.

[Ven. Sophia then starts to recite the Sanskrit consonants.]

In Tibetan we say DZA but in Sanskrit it’s CHA. However, in Tibetan CHA and DZA are different; they’re not the same letter. In Tibetan there’s usually no CHA CHHA JA JHA NYA, but DZA DZHA CHA CHHA NYA… With Tibetan it’s a little bit different. In Sanskrit it’s recited CHA and in Tibetan, DZA, but that needs to be checked, because in Tibetan there’s a CHA that is a separate letter from DZA.

Read it once more. Don’t be shy.

[Ven. Sophia tries to recite but dissolves into laughter. She then asks Geshe-la to recite it.]

Ven. Sophia: I put Geshe-la in, not I.

Rinpoche: No, it’s KA KHA…. You said, KA KA…

[Rinpoche recites the Sanskrit consonants.]

Do the next one, OM YE DHARMA….

[Ven. Sophia recites the heart of dependent arising mantra.]

You didn’t stop. You pause at YO, then say NI.

[Ven. Sophia recites OM…YO NIRODHA…SVAHA.]

Excellent. Excellent.

[Ven. Sophia then recites the Amitayus mantra.]

Is that the common one or the long one?

Ven. Sophia: The common one.

Rinpoche: Okay, I will read this mantra, which has so many benefits, then you repeat it together.

[Rinpoche leads the students in recitation of the long Amitayus mantra.]

I explained the benefits of this the other night. The mantra is already in English in the computer, but I’m not sure whether it is in Chinese. Copies of it can be made, and anyone who likes to can then get a copy. It is very powerful; it has unbelievable, inconceivable benefits. So, it is to chant for yourself and to chant for others.

[Ven. Sophia reads in Chinese, then again recites the offering mantras.

While you are White Tara, you can then bless the torma and tea offering at the beginning. I think it’s easy to offer like that, because it then talks about torma and tea offerings in the prayers. Since it’s available there, as it the torma and tea offerings come in the prayer, you can then offer them. It makes it easy. If it’s performed at the end, there’s nothing there to offer when you’re doing the prayer.

[Rinpoche starts to bless the tormas.]

Think that you dispel the interferers and purify the tormas in emptiness. Your wisdom understanding emptiness then manifested into a syllable BHRUM, which then transformed into an extensive jewel container. The syllable OM then became oceans of uncontaminated nectar. That is how you bless the torma. After that we bless the tea offering.

[Rinpoche continues in Tibetan with recitation of Praise to Six-Arm Mahakala and the rest of the protector prayers, including Namthotse, Palden Lhamo, Four-Arm Mahakala, Hayagriva torma offering and the tea offering.]

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, in the hearts of my family members, in the hearts of all the students, organizers and benefactors in this organization, so many of whom sacrifice themselves to offer service, in many different ways, to sentient beings and the teaching of Buddha through this organization. Here in Taiwan, many people are also offering service, such as by being directors and so forth. May bodhicitta be generated without even a second’s delay in all their hearts, as well as in the hearts of those who rely upon me, for whom I have promised to pray, whose names have been given to me, who are serving me and in the hearts of all the rest of the sentient beings.

Jang chhub sem chog rin po chhe….

Especially, may bodhicitta be generated in the hearts of all the leaders of this world, without even a second’s delay.

Jang chhub sem chog rin po chhe….

Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and those collected by others, may bodhicitta be generated in the hearts of all those people who have thoughts to harm the world and other sentient beings. May bodhicitta be generated without a second’s delay in the hearts of all the Muslim people, as well as in the hearts of anyone who has harmful thoughts to harm others and in the hearts of the top officials of mainland China. 

The reason I said that even before you met Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddhism you learned about came by the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is because His Holiness is Compassion Buddha, the embodiment of all the buddhas’ compassion, in this world in human form. So, you can see the connection. Even before you met Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism, every single correct understanding of Buddhism you learned, every single purification you performed and every single merit you collected is by the kindness of His Holiness, because Compassion Buddha is the embodiment of all the buddhas’ compassion. Compassion Buddha, or Avalokiteshvara, is the embodiment of Shakyamuni Buddha’s compassion, and the teaching that you learned is Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching. Guru Shakyamuni Buddha and Chenrezig are mentally one. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is here in this world in human form to bring peace and happiness and to preserve and spread Guru Shakyamuni Buddha’s teaching. Chenrezig and Guru Shakyamuni Buddha are one; they are the embodiment of each other. And His Holiness is Chenrezig in human form. That’s why I’m saying that even what happened before meeting Tibetan Mahayana Buddhism is by the kindness of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Gang ri ra wäi khor wä zhing kham dir…

I haven’t yet seen the English translation of the next prayer, which is by the head of the Nyingma lamas, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, from whom His Holiness has received initiation. When Rinpoche requested His Holiness to give him some prayer to fulfill His Holiness’s holy wishes that he could recite every day, His Holiness immediately came out with this prayer from his holy mind and offered it to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

In English it is, “Savior of the Snow Land, the transmigratory beings and the teachings, who clarified or propagated the path that unifies emptiness and compassion: To the One with Lotus in Hand, Tenzin Gyatso (which is His Holiness’s holy name), I make request. May all your wishes succeed immediately.”

[Rinpoche chants the prayer to fulfill His Holiness’s wishes in Tibetan.]

Päl dän la mäi ku tshe tän pa dang….

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, from now on in all my lifetimes, in every second may I, like Lama Tsongkhapa, be able to offer skies of benefit to sentient beings and the teaching of Buddha by having the same qualities within me as Lama Tsongkhapa has.

Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and those collected by others (others means the numberless sentient beings, bodhisattvas and buddhas), may my simply being in this universe, world, country, area, place and house be extremely beneficial to all the sentient beings living in this universe, country, area, place and house, immediately purifying their negative karma. Just by that, may their sicknesses immediately be healed; may they be free from spirit harms; may they immediately find faith in refuge and karma; may they actualize loving kindness, compassion and bodhichitta; may all their wishes succeed immediately; and may they complete the path and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

May any undesirable thing that is happening anywhere in the world—war, famine, disease, torture, poverty, sickness and danger from fire, water, air or earth, such as earthquakes—be stopped immediately, and may nobody in this world ever experience any of these undesirable things again.

In particular, please dedicate all the merits collected during these days by having done the White Tara meditation for long life. Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may the numberless hell beings, hungry ghosts and animals, as well as any students or benefactors in this organization who have passed away up to now, immediately be liberated from the unimaginable sufferings of the three lower realms and be reborn in a pure land where they can be enlightened or receive a perfect human body, meet a perfectly qualified Mahayana guru and Mahayana teachings and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.

You can include any family members who have passed away in this prayer.

Due to all the merits of the three times collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, and especially all the merits collected by doing the long-life White Tara meditation, may I, all the members of my family, all the students, organizers and benefactors who support this organization, particularly the many who sacrifice themselves to the organization in order to offer service to sentient beings and the teaching of the Buddha, and those who rely upon me, for whom I have promised to pray, whose names have been given to me and who are offering service have long lives and be healthy. We also include here Geshe Gyurme and all the resident teachers at all the other centers. May everybody have a long life and be able to succeed in spreading the Dharma to sentient beings and in whatever wishes they have to benefit others and to attain the path. May all the wishes of all the students, organizers and supporters, all those who sacrifice themselves to the organization to serve others, succeed immediately according to the holy Dharma. Especially, may we be able to actualize Lama Tsongkhapa’s stainless teaching, which unifies sutra and tantra, in all our hearts in this very lifetime without even a second’s delay.

May all the Sangha in this organization also have long lives and healthy bodies and minds. May they complete their understanding of Dharma, as well as the realizations of the lam-rim, the path to enlightenment, in this very lifetime by receiving all the needs and all the protection in their lives.

There are some Sangha who are not here in the teachings. I’m not very happy about that. We could agree to it if they had more important things to do than to be here listening to teachings and doing the retreat. If they had no connection from the beginning, that would be different.

Due to all the past, present and future merits collected by me and the merits of the three times collected by others, may every single statue of Maitreya in the different parts of the world be accomplished as quickly as possible, as well as all the rest of the holy objects in different parts of the world. These holy objects are the quickest way to cause sentient beings to purify their defilements and collect merit, to transform their mind into the path to bodhichitta and right view and to quickly achieve enlightenment. May they all succeed immediately without any obstacles by receiving everything needed.

May we also continue to offer service to all the monasteries, especially the large monasteries which are the main places for learning the extensive Buddhadharma in this world, as well as continue to support the Sangha in this organization and also the building of monasteries and nunneries in different parts of the world to preserve Dharma and spread Dharma to sentient beings. May all those projects succeed immediately by receiving everything needed, as well as the various social service projects, the hospice and prison projects, the projects to give food, medicine and shelter, the eye clinics; the printing and distributing of Dharma books in different languages in different parts of the world; and universal education. May children and young people have meaningful lives, growing up to be kind people who bring only peace and happiness to the world, to their family and to themselves. Loving Kindness Peaceful Youth is another one that has been set up in recent years. His Holiness is coming soon to Australia and one young student has organized 10,000 school children to come to hear His Holiness. This is another project, in addition to Universal Education. However, the goal is the same: helping young people to solve their emotional problems, including drugs, and helping them to develop the good heart and learn meditation and various other techniques.