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Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn Teachings By Jan-Ulrich Sobischs Blog http://dgongs1.

com/

Realisation, Experience, and Purification


December 23, 2013

In mantra practise, some people believe, the key to success is to gain certain experiences. They teach that by entering into samadhis of bliss, clarity, and non-thought, and by maintaining them for long periods of time, realisation arises. The only thing one is to avoid here is attachment to these experiences, because through attachment to bliss the yogi will be born within the realm of desire, through attachment to clarity he will be born in the realm of form, and through attachment to non-thought he will be born in the realm of formlessness. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, maintains that even the unattached experience of bliss, clarity, and non-thought is only a seed of samsara and does not even lead to the obtainment of arhatship, let alone Buddhahood (dGongs gcig 5.19). The reason for that is that as long as you make efforts to produce and maintain the states of bliss, clarity, and non-thought, you merely fabricate them. Thus even if you avoid attachment, these states are mere mental fabrication. Jigten Sumgn therefore maintains that realisation is the result of the process of purification, since the purification of those states from attachment and mental fabrication leads to the result of freedom from proliferation. In the introduction to his commentary of the dGongs gcig, the Light of the Sun, Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa quotes the Mahayana Sutralamkara (13.19, in Derge on fol. 188v): The mind is held to be continuously luminous by nature. It is flawed by adventitious defilements. It is declared that there is no other mind apart from the mind of true reality, naturally luminous. Here the purified state is described in terms of luminosity. The luminosity of the mind, which is one side of the coin whose other side is freedom from proliferation, is the natural state of the mind. Not even the Buddha himself would be able change that state. Everything besides that is merely adventitious (Skt. agantuka, Tib. glo bur), that is, everything that is added to the luminous or non-proliferation nature is an affliction, like desire or mental activity, it does not belong to the original state, it is not essential or inherent to it, it is not a basic part or quality of the nature etc., and it is newly arising, i.e. it is something in relation to which the nature is preexistent. Similarly the Hevajratantra (II iv 69) says: Sentient beings are the Buddha. They are, however, impeded by adventitious defilements. If these are removed, that is Buddhahood. Thus what stands between the samadhis of bliss, clarity, and non-thought on the one hand, and Buddhahood on the other, is the purification of these states. Having purified attachment to them, there is still the mental fabrication of those states to be removed. The result of that purification is called the result of separation (bral bai bras bu). In particular, the result of the separation from the three afflictions (attachment, aversion, and delusion) by purification is the arising of the three bodies of a Buddha (Skt. trikaya), or if you count five afflictions, the result is the arising of five kayas, etc. Thus, as cited in 5.25: 1 By practising the purification of delusion one will be Vairocana.

By practising the purification of hatred one will be Akshobhya. By practising the purification of desire one will be Amitabha. By practising the purification of envy one will be the mighty Amoghasiddhi. By practising the purification of arrogance one will be Ratnasambhava. Thus, as Dorje Sherab explains, the result of the purificationBuddhahoodis the result of the maturation of practising all the virtuous white antidotes that purify the afflictions, and of the separation from afflictions. In our present context of the three samadhis, R igdzin Chkyi Dragpa summarises : Realisation arises from the purification of these three experiences, but not from those [experiences themselves]! It must be understood that realisation obtained through [purified] experience is very different from a realisation that is first experienced and then lost again. And Phagmodrupa said: 2 Even if first experience arises, that is similar to an impermanent cloud and to lightning. It is the cause for the arising of the mental affliction of pride. And Dorje Sherab says elsewhere (in dGongs gcig 6.1) that if an experience arises which is just like a full stomach, it is not reliable and it will soon perish. When it perishes, ones mental continuum quickly reverts to its previous state. Thus, how is the purification of fabricated experience achieved? Again, Phagmodrupa said (quoted in dGongs gcig 5.19): Having abandoned attachment to bliss and clarity, you should practise the realisation of the mind as the Buddha. This is, according to the teachings of Phagmodrupa and Jigten Sumgn, only possible through the practise of the purest form of guru devotion, namely by perceiving the Guru as the dharmakaya. In his Cintamani (vol. 1, fol. 21r1), Jigten Sumgn says that Phagmodrupa taught him the following: If one does not understand the guru to be the dharmakaya, the realisation of oneself as dharmakaya is just babble. If one does not understand the guru to be the form kaya, one may [see] oneself clearly as the deity of meditation, but is carried away by dead matter (peg/beg po). If you see the guru as an ordinary being, no matter how high ones realisation, one will go astray in the experience. And Dorje Sherab quotes Jigten Gnpo (in 6.6): The former [gurus] have taught that the qualities of all of samsara and nirvana arise certainly from the excellent guru devotion. If one is without devotion, there is no chance. Thus through the ultimate devotion of seeing the guru as the dharmakaya, the mind is realised, and by practising the mind, all fabricated experiences are purified and Buddhahood is achieved. Thus

Phagmodrupa teaches (as quoted in dGongs gcig 7.1): E ma ho! This king that is the mind if it is realised, that is nirvana, if it is not realised, that is the ocean of samsara. Thus it is evident that in the context of mahamudra Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn follows the special practise method of Gampopa. Such a practise is mantra practise in so far, as there is an element of deity practise and a form of guru devotion that is more typical for mantra than for general mahayana sutra. Yet it is not exclusively mantra in the sense of other yoga practises of mantra that are exclusively tantric, such as the six yogas of Naropa. As it is practised within the Drikung Kagypa tradition, namely as the Fivefold Path of Mahamudra, it furthermore involves important mainstream mahayana sutra practises such as the cultivation of the resolve for awakening (bodhicitta) that precedes everything, and the dedication for the benefit of all sentient beings that always follows, and that is practised in a state that is free from the hypostatic entities known as the three components or three spheres (Tib. khor gsum, Skt. trimandala) that characterise the functioning of the dualistic mind, namely the notions of an agent, an intended beneficiary, and an activity of merit transference. And the nature of the mind is here not identified through indirect analytical means, but through a direct investigation of the nature of the mind together with a guru yoga that identifies the nature of the guru as dharmakaya and that dharmakaya and the gurus mind as inseparable from ones own mind. Through such a practise, too, there may be intense experiences made of bliss, clarity, and non-thought, yet these experiences need to be purified from all attachment and fabrication, since these would become an impediment as they only lead to further birth in extremely long lasting high states of samsara. Notes 1Although I was unable to find this exact quote in the canon, I found several very similar ones. 2This quote is attributed in the Dosherma to the Rin chen them skas.

Abhisheka
October 7, 2013 Much could be said about the possible translations of this term. Mostly in use are consecration, initiation, and empowerment. The first, consecration, is certainly the most literal of these translations at least from the perspective of the Sanskrit term since abhisheka means anointing, inaugurating or consecrating (by sprinkling water), inauguration of a king () religious bathing, ablution etc. 1 Inauguration of a king may seem strange to some of you, but one aspect of inauguration ceremonies of ancient India was indeed the sprinkling of water over the head of the prince by ministers and brahmin priests, 2 and the same term was in fact used for both the kings inauguration and the ritual for introducing the tantric adept to the mandala. This fact, however, demonstrates also the limitation of the literal translation consecration, because it shows that while it does fit well the tantric vase-abhisheka, it does not fit well with the remaining three abhishekas of the highest yoga tantras, namely the secret, the wisdom, and the word (or fourth) abhisheka, which employ other tools and images than the vase abhisheka.

Initiation, though vastly popular as a translation for abhisheka, is problematic, since the term, having undergone an enormous inflation in ethnography, is used for so many different phenomena that it has lost

all its distinctive functions. Its use for abhisheka may be more confusing than helping to convey the meaning of the term. The Tibetans have decided to go for empowerment (dbang), which is usually described as a process of removing impediments (sgrib pa gtor ba), pouring in wisdom-power (ye shes kyi nus pa blugs pa), and planting the seeds (sa bon gdab pa) of the four resultant Buddha bodies (bras bu sku bzhi) and initiating the process of their maturation (smin par byed pa). 3 It must be borne in mind, however, that the conceptions and images that are evoked by such a terminology happen on the surface level of truth, since, according to mahahyana philosophy, in the true sense nothing from the outside is really placed in the mental continuum that has not already been there. Therefore it is said in the Guhyasamajatantra (17.50): In short, the five psycho-physical constituents of the person (skandha) are well known as the five Buddhas (), and in the Samputi Tantra (D fol. 78v): Ones own body is the Buddha himself the Buddha does not exist anywhere else! Obscured by ignorance [some] hold Buddhahood to be something different from their body. Taking these teachings of the highest yoga tantras into consideration, the term empowerment appears to be quite appropriate, as it also allows for an understanding where the adept receiving the empowerment is in fact empowered to awaken and cultivate until full maturation the inherent seeds of the Buddha bodies through gradual practise. I think that the term empowerment does in fact convey both levels of understanding, namely that of outer ritual activities such as invocation, worship, and transference of powers from master to disciple, and the level of an inner process that in truth occurs only in the adepts own mind. The existence of a few adepts who awaken to Buddhahood all at once when they receive empowerment is no dent in the above explanation, since for Jigten Sumgn even all at once awakening is always based on gradual cultivation in former lifetimes. In sum one might say that empowerment is in essence an awakening of the practitioners potential, involving both a complete purification of impediments and a complete transformation and cultivation of the inherent potential. The question therefore arises, how one can know that empowerment has been successfully received. Many writers stress in their discussions the correct procedures of the ritual and the appropriate qualifications of the vajra master and the disciple. Thus, for instance, the minimum requirement for a vajra master is according to Rinchen Jangchub that entering the stages of cultivation in a state of clear and stable awareness, [he] has obtained stability on the stage of cultivation and has obtained warmth on the stage of completion. The marks of the disciples to be empowered, too, must be at least that t hey have purified their mental continua through [practices] starting with taking common refuge [up to] the preliminaries, have supplicated the vajra master three times, and have abandoned adverse conditions. Yet, Rinchen Jangchub says, even though someone with those qualities may have undergone the correct ritual as prescribed and presided over by a qualified master may think [now] I have obtained the empowerment, can ritual correctness and certain qualifications alone cause the meaning of the empowerment to really arise in the mental continuum? He provocatively states: Sometimes merely the ritual has been performed! In the same manner Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa summarises the most problematic point of the general opinion by stating that people believe that if all conditions are fulfilled, then thereby the meaning of tantric empowerment must arise. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, maintains with this regard that [tantric empowerment] is [only] obtained when the [true] meaning of tantric empowerment arises in the mental continuum (dGongs gcig 5.2).

Only when the complete result of purification and transformation arises in the mental continuum is the understanding of empowerment complete, and this may occur only after a long process. Rinchen Jangchub and Dorje Sherab state the example of Geshe Putowa Rinchen Sl (1031-1106), who was fully ordained already for thirty years when he said: Today the disciplined conduct of renunciation arose in me. My preceptor is that layman at Radreng. This refers to his master Dromtn Gyalwe Jungne (10051064), indicating that the meaning of ordination (similar to the meaning of empowerment) may only arise long after the ritual has been performed, and independent from the usual conditions, as here the preceptor is said to be Dromtn, who actually cannot confer ordination, as he was only a layman (and he was also not alive anymore at that time). Likewise Gampopa obtained the full realisation of empowerment only after practising, based on the teaching of Jetsn Mila, for six year s in the Nylgyi Sewa valley without leaving his seat. Therefore, true empowerment is obtained when the realisation that evolves from the blessing of practising the pith instructions of the authentic guru and from the disciples own devotion and practise arises. In such a case vase empowerment is obtained when a strong conviction arises that the five constituents of the personality (skandha) and the six senses, their objects, and the six sensory perceptions (dhatu, ayatana) are the five Buddhas and so forth. Secret empowerment is obtained when the samadhi arises that is endowed with the joy of the purification of the eighty innate thoughts 4 as dhatu. The empowerment of discriminating knowledge is obtained when one experiences clear light through the stages of the four naturally inborn joys, namely the surface level bliss of melting (kun rdzob zhu bde). 5 The fourth empowerment is obtained when the actual gnosis of mahamudra the vajra yoga endowed with the seven limbsarises. 6 Notes 1 The definition is taken from Monier Williams dictionary. 2 See Ronald Davidson, Indian Esoteric Buddhsm, p. 123. 3 The elements of this definition can be found in the Tibetan-Chinese-Tibetan dictionary Yisun (1985). 4 rang bzhin brgyad cui [kun] rtog pai sems: These eight y thought patterns are rooted in aversion, attachment and delusion. Cf. Lati Rinbochay (1979: 38 ff.: eighty indicative conceptions). 5 As Kongtrul states, except for in the Kalacakratantra great bliss is considered to be relative because it must be realized by relying on the method of bliss from the melting of the relative [vital essence]. It is therefore considered relative owing to its connection to the relative (Guarisco 2008: 134). 6 This topic is further discussed in vajra-statement 5.4.

The Arising of Results


August 10, 2013 One of the topics discussed in the second chapter of the Single Intention is the manifestation of results in relation to the periods of time. The general context is first of all the period during which the teachings exist in this world after the Buddha has taught them, and, more particular, within that longer period the subcategory of the so-called period of results. According to a system that is in the Dosherma connected with an Acarya called Bumtik Khenpo, the ten periods of the Buddhas teachings are the following: (A) The period of results (bras bui dus) 1. The period of obtaining the result of Arhatship 2. The period of obtaining the result of a non-returner 3. The period of obtaining the result of a once-returner and a stream-enterer

(B) The period of accomplishment (sgrub pai dus) 4. The period where vipashyana predominates and where discriminating knowledge is sharp 5. The period where shamatha predominates and samadhi is practised 6. The period where of disciplined conduct (C) The period of authoritative scripture (lung gi dus) 7. The period where abhidharma spreads 8. The period where sutras spread 9. The period where vinaya spreads (D) The period of mere signs (rtags tsam dzin pai dus). The great pioneer of Tibetan and Buddhist studies, the Hungarian Csoma de Krs (1834 app.4, 194 f.) has described these periods quite nicely in the following way: 1 - bras bui bstan pa, or bras bui dus, the time of the wonderful effects of the doctrine for immediately becoming perfect or possessed of supernatural powers. This period of 1,500 years commenced with the death of Shakya, and was again divided into three smaller ones, each of 500 years, according to the three different degrees of perfection. In the first period, upon hearing his doctrine, some became immediately possessed of superhuman powers, or overcame the enemy, became a dgra bcom pa (arhan). In the second, many, though less perfect, proceeded unhindered in their course to perfection, so as not to turn out of the right way, i.e. they became phyir mi ong pa (anagami), that turns not out of his commenced race or course. In the third, though less perfect, yet there were many that entered into the stream, i.e. became rgyun du zhugs pa (shrota panna), one that has entered the stream (that will carry him through life to felicity). - sgrub pai bstan pa or sgrub pai dus, that period of the Buddhistic doctrine, in which yet many make great exertions to arrive at perfection. This period contains again 1,500 years, and is divided into three smaller ones, each of 500 years, according to the three diminishing degrees of diligent application. They are called lhag mthong / ting nge dzin dang / tshul khrims kyi sgom pa, the exer cise or practice 1. of high speculation [which I think we must correct to superior insight], 2. of deep meditation, 3. and of good moral conduct. - lung gi dus, i.e. that period of 1,500 years of the Buddhistic doctrine, in which the volumes are yet read and explained, though the precepts which they contain are little followed. This period, according to the contents of those books (read or studied in each respected period), is sub-divided into the following three: 1. mngon pa, 2. mdo sde, 3. dul ba gsum lung gis dus, i.e. 1. the period, in which the metaphysical works are studied, 2.in which the Sutras or common aphorisms, and 3. in which only books on the discipline of the religious men, and on the rites and ceremonies are read. - rtags tsam dzin pai dus, that period of 500 years, in which, though learning and good morals have declined, yet some signs of the Buddhistic religion are still to be found, as the dress of priests, holy shrines, relics, offerings, and pilgrimages to holy places. According to such classifications into periods of the teachings, some people say that since the period of results is right at the beginning of the span during which the Buddhas teachings abide in the world, after

that initial period the teachings may abide, but results are not obtained. This is rejected by Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, who maintains that (2.12) except for mostly larger and smaller [numbers], the obtaining of results occurs continuously. The essential argument is that the arising of results does not depend on the period of time, but on the continued presence of the three jewels. As long as the Dharma is taught and a Sangha exists, results arise from practise and accomplishment. According to the Kalacakra system of calculation, which was transmitted to Tibet by Khache Pnchen, the teachings will abide for a long period of time. 2 Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn seems to have followed this calculation of the doctrine and expressed his happiness about the long abiding of the teachings (Collected Works, vol. 3, p 551): Great joy arises with regard to that! The teachings abide for a long time and those of us who practise will obtain the vast results! Which master wouldnt be overjoyed? In general in the Mahayana the continued presence of the Buddha is ensured since it is said that at the end of the five hundred year period the Prajnaparamita Sutra will perform the activity of the Buddha. But not only will results continue to arise, but according to the mantra tradition they will arise even very quickly in the present period of controversies. The reason is that although there are not many people during this period that are able to abandon the afflictions according to the sutra vehicle, but those who take them as the path through the practise of mantra are many. It should be noted, however, that in accordance with other teaching of the Single Intention this remark of Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa cannot be interpreted as meaning that in the period of degeneration the afflictions are not purified. The intention here is merely to say that the number of people who purify afflictions by abandoning them on the sutra path is smaller while the number of people who purify them by taking them as the path is larger. The purification of afflictions by taking them as the path is for instance explained in the Single Intention 5.5: With regard to the stage of completion, too, it is maintained that within birth, death, and intermediate state, the three bodies are taken as the path; and since [this] has in mind the means of purification of the three poisons of a persons mental continuum, i.e. the principle deity [and] retinue [with] however many or few faces and arms, it is necessary to teach the antidote of delusion, namely the dark blue colour of the body, etc., the antidote of desire, namely the deity in union with the consort, and the antidote of hatred, namely holding weapons, or about the pure nature of these. Thus the meaning of chiefly larger and smaller [numbers of achievers exist] (as mentioned in vajra statement 2.12) is that there are larger and smaller numbers of people practising according to the sutra and the mantra way. And finally, no matter whether the state of the Dharma is good or not, results are always achieved through practise. The Rinjangma states: If the practise is done from the heart, the result is obtainedsince [that] is dependent origination, we maintain that this is infallible and certain.

All the teachings are One


June 22, 2013 It has been more than a year now that this blog has gone online. Since then, a steady stream of visitors with more than 3600 views from 58 countries has been coming in to read about the Single Intention of Drikung Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn. Thank you for your ongoing interest! The reason why I havent posted anything since March 28 is that, through a generous grant, I was able to interrupt my teaching duties and (most of) the administrative work at Copenhagen University to go on a research semester. During this semester I have been in Dehradun, India, and in Vienna to meet with the ven. Khenpo Rangdrol. We have worked very intensively on Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpas commentary of the Single Intention. I have still until the beginning of September to try to transform as much as possible of these collaborative efforts into the book that I hope to publish next year. ********************************************** The Single Intention has a number of key themes. One of them is the unity of all teachings. Jigten Sumgn has made this point in numerous of his teachings, and within the Single Intention it also occurs many times, for instance in the first chapter on the three wheels of the Dharma. For the sake of easy reference, the Buddhas teachings are divided into different sections. There are 84.000 Dharma heaps, the three baskets of vinaya, sutra, and abhidharma, the four tantra classes, the three wheels of the teachings, the teachings of definite meaning (nitartha) and the teachings of meaning requiring further interpretation (neyartha), the teachings of mind only (cittamatra) and the middle way (madhyamaka), the teachings of relative (samvirti) and absolute truth (paramartha), the teachings of the five paths (marga) and the ten bodhisattva levels (bhumi), the teachings of gradual and simultaneous engagement (Tib. rim gyis, cig char), the teachings of disciplined conduct (shila), meditative concentration (samadhi), and discriminating knowledge (prajna) and so on Usually s cholars make a lot of effort to differentiate these categories and to show how one category is superior to the other, or how one element has to precede another. Some people become very great scholars in this respect, and they debate skilfully, revealing their superiority over other scholars. Sometimes they go so far as to argue that their opponents, who have different opinions regarding the above categories, are not Buddhist at all! Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, makes great effort to show how all these teachings are just one teaching, namely the teaching of the Buddha, with one purpose, namely to liberate sentient beings from suffering. His key theme of the unity of all teachings is especially visible in the first chapter of the Single Intention. We could easily fill pages and pages with examples of how Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn establishes the unity of all teachings. I will summarise here some of the key points of the first chapter. One of the first things he discusses are the 84.000 heaps of Dharma. Very of ten scholars group them into three or four categories, saying that 21.000 of them are antidotes for this affliction and 21.000 are antidotes for that affliction, etc. From this some scholars conclude that since people are dominated by particular afflictions, they would need particular antidotes. Thus they say that not all antidotes are necessary for everyone. Some go even so far as to claim that a being is liberated through a particular group of antidotes, or even by a single antidote alone. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, maintains that although some afflictions might be dominant in a person, generally all antidotes are required for achieving Buddhahood, because each being possesses all 84.000 afflictions ( Single Intention 1.2).

These 84.000 antidotes are organised in three baskets and four tantra classes. Some people claim that each basket or tantra class is intended for a particular group of people. They say that the shravakas have to practise the vinaya and the tantric adepts have their tantras. And within the vehicle of mantra they say that each class of tantra is for a particular kind of person. These opinions often imply that a person belonging to a certain group would not need (or not be allowed) to practise other practises than those belonging to their own kind of teaching. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, maintains that all these baskets and tantra classes are stages of the path for everyone. And not only are they stages leading to more and more subtle teachings and practises, but the full range of elements of practise is necessary for everyone. As the shravaka will not achieve great awakening without the bodhisattva and mantra practises, the bodhisattvas and tantric adepts, too, will not achieve great awakening without the vinaya ( Single Intention 1.3). One of the most fundamental differentiation of the teachings is that into the three wheels. According to the general opinion, the first wheel is the teaching of the four truths of the Noble Ones, teaching suffering, its cause, the end of suffering, and the path for ending suffering. This is called the Dharma of the shravakas. Accordingly, the other two wheels are the teachings of mahayana, and there is a lot of discussion in the mahayana which one of these two remaining wheels contains the sutras of definite meaning and which the sutras that need further interpretation (see also below). Furthermore, there is of course the big distinction into hinayana (first wheel) and mahayana (second and third wheel). Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, maintains that the three wheels are not different by their teaching, but by their recipients. The teachings of the three wheels are like the rain falling from the sky, which is always the same, yet by virtue of the different qualities of the ground upon which it falls, the water acquires different tastes ( Single Intention 1.4). Furthermore he maintains that within each of the wheels all the three other wheels are complete (1.5) and that the seeds of each of the later wheels exist in each of the earlier ones (1.6). This is shown in great detail and very clearly in these and some others points of the first chapter. Furthermore, some people say that within the three wheels those sutras that teach chiefly cause and result, namely the four truths of the Noble Ones which are taught within the first wheel, require further explanation. They say that only the sutras that teach emptiness and belong to the second wheel are of definite meaning. There are also many scholars who say that the sutras that teach the existence of Buddha nature in all sentient beings, which belong to the third wheel, require further interpretation. Others again say that just these sutras of Buddha nature are the definite meaning, while the sutras teaching emptiness, i.e. of the second wheel, require further interpretation. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, does not except that one wheel requires interpretation while another wheel is of definite meaning. He maintains that the teachings of definite meaning are taught in all vehicles ( Single Intention 1.9). According to him, despite the fact that different beings have different realisations, natures, faculties, motivations, and inclinations, and even though the wheels reflect that to some extend, what is taught in all the vehicles has all the time been the definite meaning and has a single intention. Why do people say that some sutras need interpretation and others are of definite meaning (which does not need further interpretation)? In general, there are several interpretative tools for the analysis of a teaching. A teaching can be classified as (1) intentional (see below) and (2) non-intentional, it can have (3) a provisional meaning requiring to be further or otherwise interpreted (i.e. it teaches a meaning that is not the ultimate one), and (4) the definite (i.e. ultimate) meaning, and it can be understood (5) literally (i.e. exactly as expressed) and (6) non-literally. Intentional can for instance mean that a teaching promises a certain time frame for the success to be achieved, but that promise has the particular intention to urge the disciple to enter into the practise, or the way a teaching is formulated has the particular disposition of certain kinds of disciples in mind. All these categories have a lot of overlap, of course. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgn, however, does not accept that anything that is taught in this way does not have the definite meaning in mind. In other words, the purpose or function of teaching a meaning requiring further interpretation is not to establish an independent, autonomous meaning that is different from the definite

meaning. According to our commentaries, the Buddha would be incapable of pronouncing such false and misleading teachings. Whenever a teaching is spoken that requires further interpretation, it is always done with the intention to ultimately establish sentient beings in the great happiness of higher births and well being. Thus definite meaning means here definite purpose. In that sense, i.e. within the perspective of a single vehicle for all disciples and the unity of the teachings, there is no difference between these two categories (Single Intention 1.10). In his commentary, Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa is mostly interested in the implications of this tenth vajra statement of the first chapter for the mantra teachings. His concern are the people of his time who explain the tantras using categories such as the intentional and the non-intentional. There is, however, according to Jigten Sumgn, no separate intention to be sought, since mantra is taught chiefly through symbols (Tib. brda) and signs (rtags). That is to say that a statement, according to which one would have to kill enemies of the teachings, is not made with an intention to establish a separate Buddhist path on which killing would be permitted. And it is also not meant in any literal way. Instead, enemy symbolises wind and thoughts and killing signifies the taming of the mind. Thus the mantra teachings of the tantras are by way of a code, with the code obviously being a signifying sign and the meaning being the signified. The crucial point here is not whether the tantras need to be interpreted literally or figuratively, or as having an intention or not having an intention. According to Kyobpa Jigten Sumgns understanding, the Buddhas teachings always have only a single definite meaning, namely the end of suffering, and in the above case of killing enemies of the teachings that definite meaning is the taming of the mind. In the same manner the tantric expression attend to your sister (with a sexual co nnotation) signifies to be never separate from discriminating knowledge (prajna), knocking down the central pillar (of a tent) signifies transformation of the impure channels etc., and killing the kind parents signifies the accomplishment of the body of inseparable means and discriminating knowledge. Since the meaning is precisely what is taught in the exoteric mahayana tradition, there is nothing else intended and there is no need to clarify any further meaning, beyond that which is accepted in the general mahayana. One might therefore ask: if the meaning is the same as in the openly taught exoteric tradition, what is there to be kept hidden by using a symbolic language? I think that what is meant here to be kept hidden is the method, i.e. the manner in which thoughts and wind are stopped, prajna is kept inseparable, the impure channels are purified and so forth, because these methods are potentially harming when practised without proper guidance. In any case, what is clear from many statements in the Single Intention is that Jigten Sumgn is not accepting a mantra path that would have a meaning that is different from the exoteric general mahayana path. Therefore he says (5.24): What is virtuous in the vinaya is also virtuous in mantra and what is non-virtuous (in the one) is non-virtuous (also in the other). The example given there is alcohol. According to Jigten Gnpo, the intention in mantra and in the vinaya is the same, namely to abandon alcohol. When, however, the correct method is ably applied and alcohol is really transformed into nectar, with its smell, taste, power etc. actually transformed, then, since it is not alcohol anymore, but nectar, it can (and must!) be taken. Here, too, there is no secret intention as to permitting alcohol in the mantra and prohibiting it in the vinaya. In both alcohol is prohibited and nectar is permitted. What is kept hidden is only the method of transformation, since it is to be transmitted, learned, and practised under the close guidance of an authentic guru. Thus this is also an example for Kyobpa Jigten Sumgns general approach of seeing the Dharma as a unity: The teaching of the vinaya and the mantra have the same definite meaning, namely to end suffering and to establish happiness. Regarding those people who differentiate the Dharma a lot, debate with Dharma opponents, and develop the attitude of looking down on lower teachings or wheels, and who, for instance, follow the teachings of emptiness according to the second wheel and abuse those who follow only the teachings of the first wheel, Jigten Sumgn and all the commentators say that such an attitude is to be understood as the origin of the Self of the person. Such people only abuse the teaching that they themselves should follow

in order to abandon the Self, and they have not understood the Buddhas Dharma as a unity. This is taught in many of Jigten Sumgns teachings, and in particular also in Single Intention 1.5. In the discussion of another vajra-statement of the sixth chapter it is mentioned that people within the sutra vehicle hold Great Madhyamaka to be the pinnacle of all systems, people within new mantra hold the Great Seal, i.e. the stage of completion without characteristics within the highest yoga tantra to be the highest realisation, and people within ancient mantra declare that nothing can match the ultimate ninth vehicle of Great Perfection. Holding the pinnacle of their system to be superior to the highest level of other systems, they do not go beyond the mentally fabricated, because they cultivate the apprehending mode of being great and I and thereby they do not even touch the accomplishment of the nature of mind at all ( Single Intention 6.8). But the accomplishment of the nature of mind is beyond the mentally fabricated, free from an apprehending mode, and beyond the sphere of examples and words. Yet this accomplishment of the nature of mind is the intention of all the Buddhas teachings, of all 84.000 Dharma heaps, of all wheels, vehicles, and paths. As I have quoted in another posting before, Jigten Sumgn said: For someone who, after taking refuge to the three jewels, has entered the gate of the precious teachings of the Tathagata, completely all the practises of the different trainings are similarly Dharma. But some people defame the instructions of the Tathagata by claiming only this teaching of mine is Dharma, what others are practising is not Dharma, or Nyingmapa-mantra is not Dharma, or the practise of the siddha Vajrapani is not Dharma, or amanasikara (mental inactivity) is not Dharma, etc. This causes only desire, hatred, and cognitive misorientation for them! The maturation of such activity is the result samsara and lower realms. Since such results are wailful, you should never denigrate any teaching!

Having views, abandoning views


March 28, 2013 In general, a view is a particular way of considering something. It is an opinion that is held by someone, and often bias plays a role in forming views. In philosophy or religion, the principles underlying views and opinions form tenets (what is held). Not everyone must hold a view, not to speak of forming tenets. Dorje Sherab points out that two types of people dont: those who dont know what is to be accepted and what is to be abandoned have no view. And, as we will see, those who have realised the original nature have, as a consequence, abandoned all views. We will return to these latter group in a moment. Among those who hold views are non-Buddhists and Buddhists. It is often said that non-Buddhists hold views of eternalism or nihilism. From a Buddhist perspective, eternalists hold the opinion that phenomena and consciousness are inherently existing, either by their own nature or due to a gods creative activity. Many Indian ascetic groups belong to this category. Nihilists, on the other hand, are in the Buddhist context defined as people who hold that there are no previous or future existences. As a consequence they dont see a reason to believe in karmic causes and results. Among Buddhists there are those who base their philosophical views on an analysis of the mind into moments and of appearances into atomic particles. Other Buddhists hold the view that all phenomena are only ones own mind. Still others hold in addition to that the view that neither phenomena nor mind itself exist. Among all these there are many sub-groups, and each of them have created their own system of tenets, where they place their own view above all others. All such views that are cultivated through hearing teachings and reflecting on them, and through investigation and analysis by means of logic and arguments, produce, according to the understanding of the founding fathers of the Kagypas, only an object-universal (don spyi)a mind made, fabricated,

conceptualised idea or image of the object, which is then made again an object of the mind for the sake of further examination and/or meditative practice. But the object-universal is not the actual thing. Or, when we talk about reality, the object-universal is a conceptualised idea of reality, but not the actual, true, ultimate reality. Dorje Sherab says in the context of dGongs gcig 6.9 that you create a mental object of the moon by analysing it as made of water-crystal and having the aspects of being white and cooling (which also shows that object-universals are based on the specifics of a culture). But this conceptualised image in your mind will only be an object-universal, it will never be like looking directly at the moon itself. In this illustration, the looking directly at the moon itself is compared to the practise of the Kagypas, where the realisation of the guru, who is endowed with all the characteristics, is imprinted in a spontaneous nonconceptual manner on the mind of the disciple, who has gathered the accumulations of merit and wisdom and who has cultivated the ultimate devotion of seeing the guru as the dharmakaya. Phagmodrupa is quoted, saying: Even if you realise [emptiness through] listening and reflecting [to be] like space, there is no occasion when [that emptiness] is pure, since it is covered by the clouds of thoughts. Even if you practise a mind made emptiness for eons, there is no occasion when you will be free from being entangled in golden fetters. Whichever thing objectified and [endowed with] characteristics you may practise, how will you [thereby] be able to realise the sphere of reality (dharmata) that is without proliferation and appearance? Coming back to the question of what the Drikungpas view is, Jigten Gnpo him self says in the dGongs gcig (6.7): [Holding] a view is [to be] endowed with realisation. In his opinion, views concerning ultimate reality that are ascertained through philosophical tenets, authoritative quotations, and reasoning, are merely a theoretical understanding. Since such an understanding does not even touch the realisation of the nature of mind, they are the thing to be abandoned. Even though the Drikungpa accepts the authoritative quotations and analytical arguments of the view of emptiness, he maintains that the actual view cannot be cultivated through conceptualisation, since such a view is bound through the fetters of grasping as real and attachment to a truth (rDo sher ma 6.7). Acarya Nagarjuna is quoted (Mulamadhyamakakarika 27.30), saying: I prostrate to Gautama, who, out of loving compassion, taught the excellent Dharma in order to relinquish all views. This, Dorje Sherab states, is like Milarepa, who, having been asked what his view is, replied I have no view. As Phagmodrupa said: The ultimate view is free from anything to be seen and any seeing. Therefore, concludes Dorje Sherab, our tradition does in general not apply the label view, and he quotes Jigten Gnpo, saying: All views are certainly just grasped and grasping. Grasped and grasping is delusion and cognitive misorientation. Since all views are particulars of the minds of people, we do not maintain a view. But arent all the teachings of the Buddha taught as the triad of view, practise, and conduct? Dorje Shera b replies:

[Here view] refers to having realisation, which arises from the gathering of the dependent origination of [authentic] master and [devoted] disciple. It is the realisation that all phenomena of samsara and nirvana are ones own mind and that the mind is the dharmakaya free from the extremes of proliferation. Or in the words of Rinchen Jangchub: We maintain that the condition on ones own side is to attend with the culmination of devotion to the guru who is endowed with characteristics, that the condition on the side of others is the blessing of the guru who is endowed with characteristics, [and that that which] arises from the gathering [of such a] dependent origination is that one realises all phenomena of samsara and nirvana as ones own min d, and one realises that mind as the dharmakaya that is without the extremes of proliferation.

What is profound?
March 3, 2013 In English, French, German etc., the word profound goes back to Latin profundus , meaning deep. It is made up of the two elements pro before and fundus bottom. From earliest times it was used in the sense of showing deep insight. In that sense it is most often used referring to a subject or thought that demands deep study or thought. A profound truth is usually something that is not visible on first sight, is hidden or deep, and needs much study and thought to be understood. The Tibetan term for the noun is zab pa (adj. zab mo ). So we may speak of a profound instruction (zab khrid ), a profound view (zab mo lta ba ), a profound meaning (zab moi don ), or a profound path (zab lam ). Such a usage indicates depth and subtlety at the same time. In the dGongs gcig we find a discussion of profoundness in the fifth chapter, where the general opinion is cited that pith instructions of [the tantric practises of] channels and winds are more profound than [other teachings] such as the three vows. Obviously the opinion is chiefly based on an understanding of profoundness as most subtle. In this sense, the instructions on practises of the vehicle of mantra, such as on the channels and winds of the vajra body are considered profound, because they are extremely subtle practises. Here Jigten Sumgn says (5.14): What is profound for others, is not profound [for us]; what is not profound [for others] is profound [for us], and, as we shall see, he seems to build on an understanding of profoundness as something that reaches deep, is deeply grounded, and is therefore something that everything else is based upon, and without which other things could not even exist. Thus Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa says in his commentary: As the later result does not arise without a cause that is accomplished earlier, and as all the fortunes of the Cakravartin king first depend on his birth in the royal family and the gradual perfection of his physical and mental faculties, so, too, the vajrayana path of maturation and liberation, which is profound in [the view of] others, has no support if it lacks the vows of refuge, pratimoksha, and of the bodhisattvas, and so forth, which are not profound for others, and for the mantra vows to arise, the two lower vows are indispensable. The same idea is very clearly expressed in the Indian tantric siddha Advayavajras Kudrshtinirghat ana with regard to the preliminaries (adikrama ) of tantric practise. 1 According to Advayavajra, the preliminaries, consisting in this case of such things as taking refuge and the refuge vows, water offerings to Jambhala, cultivation of love, compassion, rejoicing and equanimity, mandala offering, etc., are not merely preliminary, but also primary, in the sense that they are a continuously constituted foundation of tantric practise (Wallis 2003: 204). That is certainly also Jigten Sumgns intention, as is clearly stated in dGongs gcig 2.14: All stages of the path are practised in [each] single session. Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa

explains: In that manner each session is preceded at the beginning by the [first part of the] stages of the path of the three [kinds of] beings, namely the [contemplation of] death, impermanence, the leisures and endowments that are difficult to find, cause and result, and the disadvantages of samsara. The Rinjangma commentary refers in this context to a teaching by Jaylwa Zhnu (1075-1138), received by Gampopa, according to which it is necessary to practise in the first morning session death and impermanence. Jaylwa is quoted with the words: Forgetting to practise death and impermanence once in the morning, during that day you will aim only at this life! Thus Rinchen Jangchub states that it is necessary to cultivate these thoughts from the depth of the heart, and then one contemplates karma, cause, result and the disadvantages of samsara, until all the higher and the lower realms of samsara are understood to be something like a fire-pit or filthy hole. Then one continues the session by cultivating, love, compassion, and the resolve for awakening, etc. Only after such profound fundamentals at the beginning of a session should one continue in the sutra vehicle with the actual practise of the two kinds of selflessness and in the mantra vehicle with the two stages of cultivation and completion. Our commentaries disagree with those people who claim that such a way of practise came to Tibet only after Atisha. They say that such a method of practising is deeply rooted in the Kagypa teachings transmitted by Marpa Lotsava and Ngog Chku Dorje. Coming back to the general theme of profoundness, it is also a general opinion that the three higher tantric empowerments are profound, while the vase empowerment, that precedes them, is not. Here Jigten Sumgn maintains that the vase empowerment is the root and the higher empowerments are its branches. He said: Even though [others] say that the higher supreme empowerments are profound, I value the vase empowerment greatly. It is like a basis, a container, and a body, The other [empowerments] are its particulars. Therefore, says Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa, as middle and old age do not occur without c hildhood, similarly the intention is that what is not profound for others is profound [for us, and] it is the supporting ground of the other [subsequent teachings], and the higher storeys are not raised without the lower. And Dorje Sherab sums up his comments saying: The dGongs gcig teaches throughout just this topic. () If you understand it in this manner, you will understand all the topics of the dGongs gcig . And Rinchen Jangchub summarises that if the lower Dharmas are lacking, one will not be able to pass beyond samsara even if one practises the profound topics of mantra. The best is certainly that all Dharmas are assembled, but even if the mantra elements that are held by others to be profound are lacking, one may still obtain happiness of samsara and nirvana based only on the pratimoksha. Thus, how profound can those practises of the channels and winds of the vajra body be, when they are useless without the preliminaries? And do we not have to value the preliminaries and pratimoksha most highly, if through practising only them one may obtain nirvana? Therefore, he says, we teach that the lower is profound. Note 1 See Glen Wallis (2003), Advayavajras Instructions on adikarma , Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies , pp. 203-230. For Sanskrit editions of the text contained in his Advayavajrasamgraha , see Annual of the Institute for the Comprehensive Studies of Buddhism , Taisho University, no. 10, (March 1988): 255-198, and Gaekwads Oriental Series , vol. 40, Baroda: Or iental Institute, 1927.

On detailed and condensed rituals


February 8, 2013

It amazes me again and again how the dGongs gcig 800 years ago engages in topics that are still discussed in the present day. The commentary of Dorje Sherab of the middle of the 13th century has the wonderful habit to always describe at the beginning of each new topic the general views of Tibetan Buddhists at that time. This serves directly the purpose to introduce the reason why Kyobpa Jigten Gnpo found it necessary to provide a correction of that view. But it also helps us to understand what the general understanding of Buddhism has been at that time. 1 And most often we find exactly those same views that are criticised by Kyobpa Jigten Gnpo still current today. The dGongs gcig has in eight centuries not lost its freshness and topicality. The topic I want to introduce today is found in the fifth chapter (5.9) and discusses the relation between the disciples faculties and the nature of the rituals that fit with those faculties. The general view is as follows. Engagement in vajrayana requires trainees of highest faculties. Within that supreme category there are again supreme, medium, and lower types. Those of lowest faculties among the persons of supreme faculties are to be consecrated into a coloured dust particle mandala, the medium types are consecrated with the help of a drawing on a piece of cloth, and the supreme ones only need to be supported by a mandala made of small heaps. Furthermore, those of lowest faculties will have to practise the complete stage of cultivation, the medium ones are to perform cultivation based on the seed syllable, and for the supreme ones instantaneous perfect awareness (skad cig dran rdzogs) suffices (which is synonymous with instantaneous cultivation, dkrongs bskyed, i.e. sudden and all -at-once cultivation of the deity). Still furthermore, the lowest ones have to perform detailed practise rituals, the medium ones medium rituals, and the supreme ones do not need a ritual at all, because without mental constructions and having exhausted mind and phenomena, instantaneous perfect awareness practise is enough, or, if necessary, an abbreviated ritual can be performed. So far the general view. Kyobpa Jigten Gnpo does not agree. In fact, he maintains the exact opposite (5.9): All the detailed rituals are especially necessary for those of highest faculties. Rigdzin Chkyi Dragpa explains that those trainees of medium and lowest faculties (among the supreme ones) hardly have the ability to comprehend detailed rituals. But for those of highest faculties, detailed rituals are indeed very important, since if someone in the best case has realised emptiness as cause and result, he will produce each individual quality through all of the various dependent originations of the ritual. Now, in order to begin to comprehend this point, we have to digress a little. Ritual in the context of cause, result, and emptiness Mahayana Buddhism, of which vajrayana is a special form, does not only aim for personal liberation. In fact, personal liberation can only be a preliminary step necessary to achieve the liberation of all sentient beings. The bodhisattvas bodhicittathe resolve to obtain awakening for the sake of all sentient beingsis a defining characteristic of the mahayana, and it stands at the beginning of that path. At the end of that path the bodhisattva has, motivated by loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta, cultivated inconceivably many qualities, which are necessary to be able to carry out those equally inconceivably many activities that achieve the benefit of the beings. In short, it is often said that one strives to accomplish the dharmakaya for ones own sake and the two form -kayas (the sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya) for the benefit of others. All of our commentaries stress the fact that the inconceivable qualities and activities (embodied through

the two form-kayas) arise as the result of the detailed rituals. But these qualities do not arise merely by reading those rituals out aloud. If that would be the case, there would be no need for supreme faculties in order to perform detailed rituals. Instead even a well trained parrot would be able to achieve those Buddha qualities. According to Dorje Sherab, however, the qualities only arise when the ritual is performed within a state of realised emptiness, since from within that state, all the specific dependent originations of cause and result will manifest that cause the Buddha qualities and activities to arise. This understanding is based on Kyobpa Jigten Gnpos teaching known as the vital point of entering into cause and result as emptiness, and of emptiness arising as cause and result. Dorje Sherab dwells on this point in his introduction to the dGongs gcig. 2 There he explains three aspects, of which the second one is the vital point mentioned above: (1) applying cause and result to emptiness on the path (lam la rgyu bras stong nyid du jug pa) (2) the arising of emptiness as cause and result on the path (lam la stong nyid rgyu bras su byung ba) (3) the non-dual existence of emptiness, cause, and result on the path (lam la de gnyis su med par gnas pa) (1) Applying cause and result to emptiness on the path Of these three the first is the understanding that whatever arises from causes and conditions is unborn and empty of own existence. This is the truth of dependent origination of causes and conditions that is understood when one dwells in the nature, practising free from proliferation. That realisation is the entering into the state of emptiness-equipoise (mnyam gzhag stong nyid). And that entering into the meditative state is called the ground at the time of freedom from proliferation, which, as shall be clear, refers to the second of the four yogas of mahamudra (the meditative state of freedom from mental proliferation). 3 (2) The arising of emptiness as cause and result on the path Secondly, and this is the relevant point for our discussion of detailed rituals, when one experiences the one-taste (ro gcig) within the reality of dependent origination of causes and conditions, then all the fine details (spu ris) of causes and results each arise without loss from the state of emptiness. This is really a core of Kyobpa Jigten Gnpos teachings, namely, in short, that within emptiness nothing is lost. That is the reason why based on the two accumulations realisation is possible, and that is also the reason why the Drikungpa insists (like his teachers Phagmodrupa and like Gampopa) that whoever has realised emptiness has to pay greatest attention to cause and result. And that is also the reason why Mipham Rinpoche praised Kyobpa Jigten Gnpo, saying: May as long as the world exists the teaching of the victorious Drikungpa, the Omniscient Lord and master of dependent origination, continue through listening, reflecting, and practising. This arising of the fine details of cause and result is the great stage of unity, and it is for instance called the unity of the path (lam gyi zung jug) or the unity of [the stage of] learning (slob pai zung jug). It is achieved on the path at the time of single taste, which is the third of the four yogas of mahamudra. (3) Non-dual existence of emptiness, cause, and result on the path Thirdly, since such a unity, or single taste, or non-dual existence is non other than dependent origination, one understands that the ultimate original nature of the dependent origination of cause and result arises perfectly without mixing up all the individual ways of the arising of this result from that cause. Thus when that beginningless non-dual inseparability of ground, path, and result in all respects is actualised, the non-duality of meditative equipoise and post-meditative equipoise is achieved, which is also known as the union of the result (bras bu zung jug) or the union of [the stage of] no more learning

(mi slob pai zung jug). And that union is also described as the result at the time of no more learning, which is the fourth of the four yogas of mahamudra. Ritual approach of beginners and advanced practitioners The principle point of performing detailed rituals is, according to all our commentaries, to cause the arising of inconceivable many qualities and activities. There is, however, one further interesting aspect that is mentioned in some detail by Dorje Sherab. He states that with regard to the manners of practising the path, there is a principle (gtso bo) and an ancillary way (read: zhar byung). The principle practise done by a beginner is the direct realisation of discriminating awareness (shes rab mngon [gsum du] rtogs [pa]). Those who have not yet obtained stability in that should perform the deity practise as an ancillary to their main practise. In that ancillary practise they merely remain aware (dran tsam) of the deity, while they chiefly work to realise discriminating awareness. For that purpose the stages of the ritual should be condensed. Then, once they have mastered emptiness, actualising all phenomena to be like space, they directly perceive within that state the dependent origination of cause and result (as explained in our digression above). And in that state they practise through detailed rituals the support of the celestial palace and the supported, namely the deities of the mandala with all the different body colours and their various attributes. To sum it up, Dorje Sherab says thus through the vital point of entering into cause and result as emptiness, and of emptiness arising as cause and result, there is no chance that [the result] will not appear. Notes 1 You might object here that the presentation of the opinions of others in Tibetan texts is often quite polemical in nature and rarely a fair description of the actual view that is to be criticised. The purpose of citing them is usually that thereby they are presented in such a way, that they can be attacked more easily. Therefore, as a rule, it is always important to double check with the actual writings of the criticised ones. But here in our commentary by Dorje Sherab, the views that are cited are rarely of a particular opponent. Instead they are rather fairly widespread opinions that can occasionally even be found among his own fellow Kagypas. 2 Khog dbub, p. 231 f. of the 2007 Kagyu College edition. 3 The four yogas of mahamudra are (1) one-pointed concentration, (2) freedom from mental proliferation, (3) one-taste, and (4) no more practise/training.

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