segunda-feira, 19 de outubro de 2009

The practice of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara according to the tradition of the Mahasiddha Tangthong Gyalpo

The practice of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara according to the tradition of the Mahasiddha Tangthong Gyalpo

By H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche

Tangthong Gyalpo was a great mahasiddha, and he had the power of controlling the inner four elements. Nowadays, it seems amazing that humans can go to the moon and travel in space. In Tangthong Gyalpo's case, due to his inner practice he was able to go three times around the world on foot. If one can master one's own inner elements through practice, then the outer elements are very easy to control.

Through the blessing of Guru Rinpoche and the long life practice he received, Tangthong Gyalpo was able to live to one hundred twenty-five years of age.The oral transmission of the mantra of bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was received by Tangthong Gyalpo from Guru Padmasambhava in a pure vision.

Once Tangthong Gyalpo was serving as chant master and leading a large assembly in the recitation of the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, in order to accumulate many millions of mantras. Then, on top of the consecration vase, Avalokiteshvara appeared to him and gave him the oral transmission of OM MANI PADME HUM personally. This is the unbroken lineage we are receiving.

This practice also includes taking refuged and generating Bodhicitta altruism. The verses of refuge in this practice are composed by Tangthong Gyalpo himself. In order to take refuge, we should visualize Chenrezig-Avalokiteshvara in front and above us in the space.

He is white in color, with four arms with two hands in the mudra of prayer in front of his heart. His other right hand holds a sparkling white mala rosary, and his other left hand holds a white lotus.

Then we must feel that Avalokiteshvara and our root guru are one in nature, with our guru appearing in the form of Avalokiteshvara-Chenrezig. His mind is the Buddha. His speech is the dharma. His body is the sangha.

Then one should chant as follows:

I and all mother sentient beings equal to space
Take refuge in the precious Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
We take refuge in the Guru, Deva, and Dakini.
We take refuge in the Dharmakaya, the empty clarity of one's own mind.

Due to our powerful supplication, light rays issue from Chenrezig's heart, dissolving into the heart of oneself and all sentient beings. Then, after praying in this way, all the objects dissolve into oneself and all sentient beings, and oneself and all sentient beings receive great blessings.

Bodhicitta, the mind of enlightenment, means altruism, good wishes for the welfare of others. There are four lines found in the Bodhicharyavatara, which say that all sentient beings suffer due to cherishing themselves, while whatever happiness they have is due to cherishing the welfare of others

We ordinary beings always wish for our own happiness without knowing the real cause of happiness, and so instead we always create the causes of suffering. This is why ordinary beings always suffer instead of being happy. If we truly wish to be happy, we must know the real cause of happiness.

If someone may ask, 'How do you know this is true?', the answer is to be found in considering the case of the Buddha. He always wished for the happiness of other beings, never for his own happiness. Those ordinary beings who are still longing for their own happiness are still struggling in samsara. Thus, Bodhicitta practice is obviously very important.

The taking of refuge is the gateway to dharma. Having a good practice of refuge, then we should practice Bodhicitta. Without these two preliminary practices, regardless of what other practices we may do, they will not be truly beneficial and we will not progress in the dharma.

However, if one's time is very limited, there are some other verses, four lines which include refuge and bodhicitta practice composed by the Indian mahapandita Atisha, who came to Tibet and taught there. Using the same visualization as above, one can also just say these four lines.

Until enlightenment is reached,
I take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
Whatever virtuous deeds such as generosity, and so on,
That I perform
By their merit may I be able to benefit all sentient beings.

The first two lines include the refuge, and the second two are the Bodhicitta.

Before Atisha came to Tibet, the Bodhisattva Green Tara gave him a prophecy that he must go to Tibet. She told him that this was not only for the sake of the Tibetans, but that it was for the benefit of all sentient beings. Atisha went to Tibet, and was very successful in spreading the dharma there.

If we want to delve more deeply into the meditation on Bodhicitta, let us consider the case of our own mother. How kind is one's mother. She carried us in her womb for nine months. She was careful of whatever she ingested, thinking, 'Oh, if I take this, it might harm my child.'

After we are born, our mother is very affectionate toward us, cherishing us like her own heart. As we grow up, she teaches us how to walk, how to eat, and so on. It is essential for us to recall our mother's kindness. When we remember all the kind things she did for us, we will automatically feel that we wish for her to remain in happiness.

In order to be able to care for and protect us, during the course of our upbringing she may have committed negative deeds. And due to her accumulation of negative deeds, she might even have been born as a hell being. So we have great compassionate wishes for her, that she may be protected from such lower rebirths.

Compassion here means our wish to protect our own mother or whoever is dear to us and free them from suffering. Loving kindness is our wish that they are established in a state of happiness. If we practice very well these two, compassion and loving kindness, then whatever practice we do will have great benefits.

We must think that our mothers have been so kind to us, that we must always have the wish for them that they will dwell in happiness and be free from suffering. In order to be able to establish them in such a state, we must gain enlightenment. We must think that in order to be able to benefit all sentient beings who have been our kind mothers, we are practicing dharma.

Bodhicitta has two aspects: Bodhicitta of aspiration or wishing, and Bodhicitta of application or doing. Bodhicitta of aspiration means that we promise something. Then, actually doing practices in order to gain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings is the Bodhicitta of application.

Bodhicitta can also be understood as relative and absolute Bodhicitta. The Bodhicitta or aspiration or wishing and of application or entering are the relative, conventional mind of enlightenment.

Ultimate, or absolute Bodhicitta is emptiness. In reality, all phenomena are emptiness, but as we are bound by the three mind poisons of ignorance, desire, and anger, we remain ignorant of the reality of all phenomena.

It is difficult for ordinary beings to realize ultimate Bodhicitta. But at least we can keep the aspiration, 'I will try to realize emptiness, absolute Bodhicitta.' This is sufficient in the beginning.

The verses for Bodhicitta are as follows;

For the sake of all mother sentient beings
I must attain enlightenment.
For this reason, I will practice
The mantra of Avalokiteshvara.

We never say that we are doing the practice for our own selves. We say that it is for all mother sentient beings.

Now we proceed to the main practice of Avalokiteshvara. Visualize oneself in one's ordinary body. Then, above one's head, visualize a very fresh white lotus of light. Upon it is a white moon disk, and upon this is the full form of Avalokiteshvara. Then we say four lines of supplication to Avalokiteshvara.

As you have never been stained by any faults,
You are of the brightest white color.
Crowned by Buddha (Amitabha)
Your eyes of compassion always gaze upon all sentient beings.
I prostrate to Avalokiteshvara.

In addition to ourselves and Avalokiteshvara, we also visualize all sentient beings in their ordinary forms. Above their heads, we also visualize Avalokiteshvara while reciting the four line supplication just given.

From the power and strength of our devotion as we recite the supplication, Avalokiteshvara smiles with great joy and dissolves into our bodies, as well as into the bodies of all sentient beings. Then oneself and all sentient beings appear in the form of Avalokiteshvara.

We should think that whatever appearances we may see are perceived as Avalokiteshvara's form; whatever sounds we may hear are his mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, and whatever thoughts we have are Avalokiteshvara's mind.

Since we are human beings, we should visualize Avalokiteshvara above us about the size or height of the span of our hand. This is the proper size relative to a human body. For an elephant, the size would be much bigger, relative to its body. For insects, Avalokiteshvara's form would be extremely minute, tiny. This is how we visualize Chenrezig's form above the heads of the various types of sentient beings.

Once we have recited the four lines, and Avalokiteshvara has dissolved into us, our own body, speech and mind becomes one with his body, speech and mind. Now we ourselves appear in the form of Chenrezig, as we chant the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM.

This is how to meditate on Avalokiteshvara. Now we will give the oral transmission which authorizes us to chant this mantra.

In order to receive the oral transmission, we must first visualize ourselves and the Guru in the form of Avalokiteshvara. Then, in the heart of the Guru appearing as Avalokiteshvara is the letter HRI, which is surrounded in a clockwise direction by the mantra rosary OM MANI PADME HUM.
This mantra circles the letter HRI and then comes up and out of the Guru's mouth. It enters our mouths and descends into our hearts, encircling the letter HRI within out hearts. Then we just recite OM MANI PADME HUM.

In the course of this process, we recite the mantra three times. On the first recitation, we imagine that the mantra rosary comes from the Guru's heart, as just described.

On the second recitation, we feel that this has blessed the mantra within our own hearts.

On the third recitation, we feel that the mantra within our hearts has become one with the mantra in the heart of the Guru.

Now, in order to stabilize the mantra which the Guru has emanated into our hearts, we supplicate the Guru by tossing flowers and rice toward him, promising to keep the committments and asking him to please let his blessing stabilize within us.

On the basis of making this request, the Guru tosses rice toward us, and again the mantra rosary comes from the Guru's heart to our own heart, in the same manner as before. It again blesses the mantra in our hearts. In order to receive the blessing, we again recite the mantra as much as possible.

Then we think that the mantra within our hearts, which has just been blessed by the Guru, will remain firm and stable until we reach enlightenment.

Next the Guru says four lines of prayer, asking Avalokiteshvara to please bless these disciples. He asks Avalokiteshvara to please grant the disciples the siddhil or accomplishments of mantra practice. Also, he requests Avalokiteshvara to please make his mantra firm and stable within the disciples. The Guru prays that the disciples may be able to receive all the blessings of the body, speech, and mind of Avalokiteshvara.

In this way we receive the refuge, bodhicitta, and main practice of Chenrezig, as well as the oral transmission of his mantra.

The final section is the dedication of merit. This dedication is extremely important. Whatever virtuous deedes we do, if we do not dedicate the merit, then whatever we have done can be destroyed.

If we become angry, for example, this can destroy all the positive deeds we have accumulated for many lifetimes, if we have not dedicated the merit for those deeds.

Once we make the dedication after any meritorious practice, then whatever virtue we have accumulated will remain until we reach enlightenment. And, not only will this merit remain, but it will continue to increase.

Now we should think that by the virtue of receiving this transmission of Avalokiteshvara, whatever merit we may have accumulated we dedicate so that we may gain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.

The lines of dedication are as follows:

By this merit, may I and all sentient beings
Very quickly attain the state of Avalokiteshvara,
Without leaving a single sentient being behind.
May they all be able to gain the state of Avalokiteshvara.

In addition, there are a final four lines of aspiration;

By these virtuous deeds, may all sentient beings
be able to complete the two accumulations,
And attain the ultimate enlightenment
Which results from the two accumulations.

These two sets of verses are the dedication and the aspiration. Whatever practice we do, we must make dedications and aspirations at the end. If we do not make these, then whatever positive deeds we accomplish can be destroyed by anger, etc. By such prayers, our virtuous deeds remain until enlightenment.

Anger in particular will destroy our merit if we have not dedicated it. It is said that there is no sin so severe as anger, and there is nothing like patience to bear all difficulties.

It says in the Bodhicharyavatara that even if one has accumulated virtuous deeds during many countless aeons but without having dedicated the merit, then even one incident of anger can destroy all the merit.

In addition, we must learn to apply the antidote to anger. And what is the antidote to anger? It is patience.

From all of this, you can understand why we do the dedication, and why the dedication of merit is so important. If once we have made the dedication after any practice or deed we have done, then even if by chance we should later become angry, it will not destroy the merit of the virtuous practice.

This completes the oral transmission of Avalokiteshvara. There are three parts to the practice: That which is virtuous in the beginning, the refuge and bodhicitta; that which is virtuous in the middle, the main practice of Avalokiteshvara; and that which is virutuos in the end, the dedication of merit.

This is known as the threefold purity. Whatever practice we do must have these three components.

In addition to this, it is especially important that whatever practice we do, we must maintain excellent mindfulness. Mindfulness here means to remember and be conscious of whatever we are doing. We should always be mindful in order to avoid committing negative deeds. At same time, we should do our best to accumulate virtuous deeds.

Furthermore, we need to examine ourselves to see whether what we are doing is really in accord with the teachings of the dharma. Some actions may appear virtuous or positive, but may actually accumulate negative karma for us.

Translated by Tagyal Lama
Compiled and edited by John Deweese