Mani Recitation Practice includes both Preliminary and the Five Fold Mahamudra Practice
by His Eminence Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche
Translated by Lama Nyandak
June 27, 2010
This is the last day of the retreat. As I have explained to you yesterday that there are many different sets of practices and all of them are very profound and precious. When we think about this practice of reciting the six-syllable mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG, it is indeed very profound, easy, very convenient and very practical as well. Yesterday when I was reciting the mantra together with all of you, I was able to realize that the activities of His Eminence late Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche who had been teaching and encouraging everywhere wherever he traveled about the MANI-mantra. I realized that this practice is very practical and very beneficial. I found that the late Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche realized that this is the most convenient and simple practice for everybody. My faith and devotion to the late Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche has been deepened. If individual who wishes to repay the kindness of the guru, one of the best way is to fulfill the wishes of the guru.
We also have a plan to conduct Mani-retreat in Nepal, Rinchen Ling Monastery from December 21 – 31, 2010. This is in conjunction with the commemoration of His Eminence late Drubwang Rinpoche’s death. Rinpoche passed away about three years ago. The reasons for conducting the Mani-retreat are that one is to repay the kindness of the guru and second we pray that His Eminence Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche will reborn again, that is, his reincarnation will come back soon. Of course, we are also doing the MANI-retreat here and we can also dedicate the Mani-retreat for repaying the kindness of the guru; and we can also make a wish that his reincarnation will come back soon. When we do aspiration prayer together, the collective aspiration prayer will be very powerful. I also found out that in the future if the MANI-retreat is conducted here again, it will be very beneficial, very practical and will benefit many people. I also found out that it is good if we can combine all stages of practice into one session. It was said by Lord Jigten Sumgom that practitioners should, in one session of practice, includes all stages of practice of Dharma.
As I explained to you yesterday that the source of all our happiness and suffering comes from our own mind. In order to fulfill our desire, which is happiness and peace, Buddha has explained many paths of methods to help us to tame our mind. Even though every single living being possesses the Buddha nature, which is free from any defilement and stains, but somehow, this nature is obscured by stains of defilements. So the adventitious defilements or confusion are our own afflicted emotions and negative karma. The root of all our afflicted emotions is ignorance.
Because of ignorance, we develop misperception of the way things are. Everything we perceive, we have misperception upon it. If we investigate our five aggregates carefully, the five aggregates are nothing but impurities but somehow because of our misperception towards the five aggregates, we see that the five aggregates as pure and we cherish them so much. Also, we have misperception about the samsara nature. Samsara nature is compounded with many causes and conditions. Things appear in samsara merely due to causes and conditions of the compounded phenomena. Anything that is compounded, all that we see and experience is of transitory (impermanent) nature. Even though we know that the samsara nature is suffering, but still we have the misperception toward samsara nature as happiness nature. We are not really able to perceive that samsara as suffering nature. Any compounded phenomena itself changes instantaneously. Its nature is impermanent even though it possesses the momentary continuation of changes. But somehow, we perceive it as permanent. When we think about self, even though there is no self that exists truly, independently and substantially but somehow we perceive self does exist substantially. In order to transform/change all these kinds of misperceptions about the ways things are, the practice of the four thoughts to turn the mind from samsara to Dharma is helpful.
So there are practices explaining how to change our misperceptions the way things are. As we recite the mantra, we reflect on the precious human life, impermanent nature of samsara, law of cause and effect and suffering nature of samsara. You will then have definite understanding about life and this will help you to improve your day to day practice as well. The purpose of contemplating on precious human life is that we are trying to understand the quality of our life and the potential of our life. Whether an individual who is aspired to take higher rebirth for himself/herself(inferior person’s way of thinking), or to free themselves from the samsara suffering (mediocre person way of thinking) or to free oneself and all the sentient beings (superior person way of thinking) from samsara, all of us have the potential and ability to reach all these stages of attainment if we really utilize this precious human life. You know that this life is very precious and very rare. If you know that, you will think of meaningful and purposeful ways to utilize it rather than misusing this precious human life. This precious human life is more precious than that of an animal. Animal cannot do what human being who is equipped with a human body can do. So, this precious human body can actually contribute many benefits to other sentient beings as well as to oneself. However, if we misuse this precious human life, this can bring more harm to far many beings’ lives than what an animal can harm. The purpose of reflecting on the precious human life is to bring ourselves into the right track and turn ourselves to the path of practising the Dharma so that we can be more useful to ourselves and to all other as well.
In general, when we talk about human society, there are numerous human beings in samsara, however not many of them can focus their body, speech and mind on the Dharma. Many of them can be distracted and completely procrastinating their lives. There are practitioners who wish to practise the Dharma, somehow, they propone it to tomorrow and when tomorrow comes, they may say that I will do it the day after tomorrow and then next month or next year and so on wasting our time and at the end, they do nothing. In Buddhist terminology this is called laziness. The antidote of laziness is to reflect ourselves on the impermanent nature of life. Reflecting on the law of cause and effect helps us to find out what are the positive that we have to adopt and what are the negative that we have to abandon. It is also said in the Bodhisattva way of life Bodhisattvacharyāvatāra that individuals, even though they aspire for happiness, they destroy the causes which brings happiness and even though individuals do not desire to suffer but they create more causes for suffering. So the individuals themselves are destroying their own happiness and peace. Within the law of cause and effect, it is important to understand what the ten virtuous actions that we have to cultivate are and what the ten non-virtuous actions that we have to abandon are. The purpose of contemplating on the suffering nature of samsara is that it will help us to change our misperception to the samsara nature and you will not have so much clinging and attachment to samsara. When you reflect yourself on the suffering nature of samsara, you will be able to understand the overall suffering of the cyclic existence in samsara, so naturally that you will develop sense of renunciation from your heart.
People who have the recognition of the suffering nature of samsara can be categorized into three groups. The first group is individuals who develop renunciation based on the understanding of the suffering of the three lower realms. They are able to understand that the nature of the three lower realms is tremendous suffering and they do not want to take rebirth in these lower realms. Their intention is to be born in any of the three higher realms (human, god and demi-god). However, they do not have the understanding of the suffering that exists in three higher realms. They are called the inferior persons. The second kind is those who understand that the entire six realms are nothing but suffering and they understand the three kinds of suffering (suffering of suffering, suffering of change and all pervasive suffering) in samsara. They are willing to free himself/herself from samsara. They are the mediocre persons. The third kind is those who understand that the entire samsara is suffering and that the sentient beings that are in samsara (six realms of existence) are going through many different kinds of pain and suffering. With this understanding, they develop deep sense of renunciation and develop deep will to attain enlightenment for the liberation and benefits of the entire living beings. They are called the superior persons.
One way to practise is that when we chant the mantra for the first round, you reflect on the precious human life, the second round on the impermanent nature of the samsara, the third round on the law of causes and effect and the fourth round on the suffering and faults in samsara. If you are able to do so, you will get definite understanding of the teaching on the four thoughts that turn the mind. These practices are the foundation to all the Buddhist views and the essence practice. When you practise this mind training, you will develop genuine renunciation in your heart and then you will naturally want to find protector to whom you can take refuge in. This is necessary for further development. The purpose of taking refuge is that we are forming ourselves into a proper and clean vessel for practising all other practices. While you are reciting the mantra, contemplate on the refuge is also beneficial. There are many verses in refuge prayer but that is not so important. What is most important is to have a genuine faith and conviction to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The most important thing when you chant the mantra is that you have to have a pure faith and conviction that by reciting the mantra, you will get benefit. If you have strong faith, you will get benefit. You have to have conviction that the MANI-mantra will not deceive you, you will receive benefit.
The four uncommon practices are first taking refuge and the second is the Vajrasattva practice. Vajrasattva practice is to purify our negative karma. The reason why we are cycling in samsara is because of the negative karma that has been accumulated. When we want to purify our negative karma, one of the antidotes is to practise Vajrasattva. When you do Vajrasattva practise, it is important to focus on four things (powers) that involve in Vajrasattva practice. First, whatever negative karma that you have done, you have to have a sense of regret, remorse. Second is the power of reliance. In this case Vajrasattva or Avalokiteshvara is the reliance object to whom you can confess your negative karma. The third is the power of antidote. In this context, the antidote is the recitation of the MANI-mantra. The last one is the power of commitment. That is, whatever negative karma that you have done, you recognize your mistake and you promise that from today onward, you will not repeat this mistake again. As long as you have these four powers/forces to purify your negative karma strongly, all negative karma can be purified. The purpose of Vajrasattva practice is to purify our negative karma and the final aim is to attain enlightenment or liberation.
The third uncommon preliminary practice is the mandala offering. In the mandala offering practice, you make offerings to all the ten directions of the Buddhas with all your body, speech and mind and all the virtues that you and the entire sentient beings have accumulated. The practice of mandala is to accumulate merits. The fourth uncommon preliminary practice is the practice of guru yoga. In order to receive blessings from the guru, we have to develop devotion to the guru. This can be done by visualizing our own guru in front of yourself and at the guru’s three places (forehead white, throat red and heart blue) the three lights strike to your own three places respectively and through that you receive blessings of the guru. In your heart, you develop devotion to your guru while you recite the mantra verbally.
Contemplating on the four common and uncommon preliminary practices will help you to understand the preliminary practices and help you to develop more conviction to the preliminary practices as well. Through having conviction to the preliminary practices, you will also gain experience. This is the way how we can relate the MANI-mantra to the preliminary practices.
When it comes to the actual practice which is the Five Fold Mahamudra, there are five Dharma practices that we have to do. We can also relate these to the reciting of the MANI-mantra. The first is the practice of loving kindness and bodhicitta. When you try to develop compassion, you think of all sentient beings in each of the three lower realms and try to understand their suffering. By understand their suffering, you will naturally be able to develop compassion to them. When you have strong compassion wishing that all the beings in the three lower realms can be totally free from all the suffering, that compassion is so strong that tears will come into your eyes. Through your love and compassion to them, you wish that they are free from suffering and also you wish them to have all the happiness and this is practice of loving kindness. As Avalokiteshvara have developed bodhicitta for the benefit of all sentient beings, I too would like to follow the same way to develop bodhicitta. With this kind of thinking, this is aspiration bodhicitta. We are trying to develop aspiration bodhicitta. Whatever actual practice you do and after you have done the practice, if you dedicate that for the well-being of the entire sentient beings, this becomes action bodhicitta.
This kind of MANI-retreat or practice, you can also relate it to the six paramitas or the six perfections. By thinking that offering the recitation of the six-syllable mantra to the entire sentient beings and bringing them benefits, this is the practice of generosity. This is also called the Dharma generosity. When you recite the mantra and you wish that may peace prevail in the world and may all the disasters and harm be pacified. This is also considered as generosity, namely, the generosity of giving protection from fear. There are different kinds of generosity.
When you recite the mantra, you are also practising moral ethic because while you are reciting the mantra, your body, speech and mind are free from the ten non-virtues. Your physical body is free from acting any non-virtuous conduct (no killing, no stealing and sexual misconduct), your speech is also free from any creating negative virtue (not using harsh words, no slander, no lying and idle talk), your mind is also free from negative thought (no wrong view, harmful thought and no covetousness). Your body speech and mind involve in the ten virtuous actions. So this is the practice of moral ethics.
The practice of patience is also there because when you are reciting the mantra, you sit for a long time and you have pain on your legs, back pain and so on. Somehow you have tolerance with all that and you are trying to bear all the difficulties for the purpose of the Dharma practice.
When you recite the mantra, you have joy within yourself and this joy is related to the enthusiasm or joyful or perseverance efforts which is the fourth paramita, perseverance.
Meditative concentration is always involved here because when you recite the mantra, you will try to visualize yourself as deity or focusing your mind on the mantra so meditation is also included here.
Through this practice, you are able to gain wisdom, for example by contemplating on the causes and effects, you will know what is the positive and what is the negative and so on.
Now, you are able to relate the first part of the Five Fold Mahamudra practice with the recitation of the mantra, for example what I have told you on how to relate the generation of loving kindness and bodhicitta through the recitation of OM MANI PADME HUNG.
The second part of the Five Fold Mahamudra is the practice of the yidam Chakrasamvara. However, the yidam/deity is not necessary to be Chakrasamvara. Deity is someone to whom you have affinity or connection. To that you can take it as your own deity. In this case you can take Avalokiteshvara as your deity. The practice of the Five Fold Mahamudra is the combination of both sutra and tantra. For the tantra part, the involvement of visualizing oneself as deity while going through the generation and completion stage of practice. The reason why the secret mantra path is said to be quicker and faster is because right from the beginning, in the Vajrayana tradition of practice, they use the resultant stage into the path. The purpose of visualizing oneself as the deity is to try to get rid of the perception of clinging to you own self. Normally, we have a strong tendency to cling to ourselves. By visualizing yourself as deity, you can accumulate numerous merits. Normally if you view the statue which is made out of gold or silver or copper or stone or mud, there are lots of benefits. But if we visualize ourselves as deity, inheriting our own Buddha nature, the benefit is of course far much greater. When you talk about the existence of samsara which involves death and birth, in order to train or free us from birth, we practise the generation stage that has been explained and practised. Through visualizing oneself as deity, we do not have any clinging to self and our speech would not be ordinary and our mind would also fully focused on the mind of the deity. When you do so, you are completely opening all your three doors - body speech and mind into the divine body speech and mind. When you recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUNG, you always visualize yourself as Avalokiteshvara, so there is the deity yoga practice there.
The third practice is the practice of guru yoga. The guru is the one who embodies the four kayas of the Buddha. There are different ways and explanations to the practice of guru yoga, how to visualize and so on. In this context when we are reciting the Avalokiteshvara’s mantra, we visualized ourselves as Avalokiteshvara and on the crown of Avalokiteshvara, we visualize Buddha Amitabha’s head. The way you relate the recitation of the MANI-mantra of Avalokiteshvara with the Five Fold Mahamudra’s guru yoga is that you can visualize Buddha Amitabha, who is indivisible from your own guru, in the space in front of you. From the three places of Buddha Amitabha (forehead, throat and heart), light strikes into your own three places.
The forth is the Mahamudra. Mahamudra is the nature of our own mind, the true reality of our mind. Generally, when you visualize yourself as deity and after that, you dissolve your body into light and light into emptiness. When the light disappears, your mind has to be free from any conceptual thought; there is neither fabrication of your mind nor any fixation to the mind. You will leave the mind as it is and this is the practice of Mahamudra. You can relate the actual mahamudra practice during the recitation of the MANI-mantra. When you recite the mantra without distraction and you are not thinking whether your mind is distracted or not distracted or try to find if your mind is still or not. You just leave the mind as it is naturally and you recite the mantra neither having any thoughts nor having fixation to the mind.
The fifth is dedication. Any merits or virtuous deeds that you have been accumulated, we dedicate them to all sentient beings for the sake of their enlightenment and their benefits. Lord Jigten Sumgon combines all sutras and tantras into the Five Fold Mahamudra in order for the practitioner to practise the union of sutra and tantra. Lord Jigten Sumgon repeatedly said that essence of all the teachings is bodhicitta. So it is important to understand that the entire essence of the Buddhist practice lies down to the two bodhicitta, relative and ultimate bodhicitta. He also said that the form of bodhicitta is the Enlightened One or the Buddha; so Buddha manifests and appears to sentient beings in form of bodhicitta. In one of the great works by Lord Jigten Sumgom, it mentioned, “In the future, individual who practices the true bodhicitta, they are my students and I am their teachers. If individual who does not practices the two bodhicittas, I am not the teacher and he/she is not my student.”
Since we are going to have the Five Fold Mahamudra torma initiation this evening, the main samaya is to develop the two bodhicitta. To genuinely generate bodhicitta to arise is not so simple or easy. However, in our heart, if we have genuine interest and really strive to generate bodhicitta in our mind, this is most important. If individual who has faith and devotion and has aspiration to generate bodhicitta within yourself, then there is point to receive the initiation tonight. If individual who does not have faith or devotion and aspiration to generate bodhicitta within our mind, there is no use of receiving it. I am not saying that at this moment, you have to be a bodhisattva; my point is that you all should be willing and has the aspiration to acquire bodhicitta in your heart and in your mind.
Q. Would you please explain the meaning of the syllable HRIH.
A: This is the center syllable of Avalokiteshvara’s mantra. When we try to understand Avalokiteshvara’s compassion in the form of a syllable, that syllable is HRIH. So this syllable is Avalokiteshvara’s compassion.
Q: After doing the generation stage of guru yoga practice (Lama Chöpa) and when we dissolve it into emptiness and rest, is this the mahamudra practice?
A: Yes it is.
The Five Fold Mahamudra practice and teaching was translated by Lord Gampopa. He combined the entire the 84 000 teachings into the Five Fold Mahamudra practice. He conferred this teaching to his heart son Phamodrupa and it was him who gave the name of this teaching as Five Fold Mahamudra. The Five Fold Mahamudra teaching and practice consists of five parts. First is loving kindness and bodhicitta. Second is the deity yoga practice. Third is the guru yoga practice. Fourth is mahamudra and the fifth is dedication.
Phamodrupa gave this teaching to his heartson disciple Lord Jigten Sumgom and told him that in the future, he should always practice this Five Fold Mahamudra until he attained enlightenment and that he should teach this to his disciples and they too should also practise this teaching. After Lord Jigten Sumgom attained enlightenment and started to teach, he conferred this Five Fold Mahamudra teaching to all his disciples. All practitioners who went for the traditional three year retreat, practised this Five Fold Path Mahamudra. This is the pith instructions that combine both the sutra and tantra teachings.
This teaching was originated from Vajradhara down to right now the 37th holder of the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche in unbroken lineage. I (His Eminence Nubpa Rinpoche) myself receives this from the former His Eminence Thritsab Rinpoche and I have also received this initiation from the present His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche. Also, I have received the instruction and the reading transmission of this teaching, from late Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche in Drikung Thil. I am also able to practise this and the Six Yoga of Naropa in Lapchi for about seven years.
Generally speaking, in the tradition way, this kind of initiation is only given by either one of the Holinesses or by His Eminence Thritsab Rinpoche. Nowadays, there are many Drikung Kagyu lineage centers that have been established in many different parts of the world. Many of the disciples express their wish to practice the Five Fold Path Mahamudra. It is not always so easy to receive teaching, instruction and empowerment from the two holinesses. So because of that reason, it is alright even for teachers like myself to confer. Generally speaking, those practitioners who are doing the three years retreat, they do not normally get this empowerment, rather they receive instructions and practise according to the instructions. However, today, we are fortunate to receive the empowerment.
One reason that we can receive the empowerment is firstly, Ratnashri Meditation Center who organizes the MANI-retreat has worked very hard for this retreat and secondly, all of you who come for the MANI-retreat have enthusiastically recited the mantra. Through that, we have really accumulated lots of merits. Because of that, it is alright to give the empowerment and receive the empowerment as well. Since the three days MANI-retreat here is very successful, I rejoice really for that. Because of this MANI-retreat, we all have recited the mantra together and we all become Dharma friends. We all are under the same mandala. Since you all are my Dharma friends and I do not have any special gift to you, so I thought that this empowerment is an auspicious gift that I can give it to you.
When we try to rest our mind free from conceptual thought, while we are resting our mind in the nonconceptual state of the mind, there comes a moment when it cannot be explained by words. At that instant, you cannot conceive anything from your mind. It is something non-identifiable since the true nature of mind is the union of clarity and emptiness. The union of clarity and emptiness is self-arisen wisdom that has to be realized by yourself and not by any other conditions. The meaning of mahamudra cannot be explained by words. How can we understand and realize our own nature of mind or mahamudra? It is attained through devotion to the past great Kagypa masters. Through that, we can receive their blessings. In this way, we are able to understand our true nature of the our mind easier. One of the commitments that were made by the old great masters such as Tilropa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa and so on was that any individual who develops strong devotion to them, it will be easier for that individual to realize their own true nature of mind. One of the best ways to recognize our true nature of mind is that in our daily life, we always try to look at our own nature of the mind. If you try to find out the true nature of the mind all the time, there is a greater possibility for you to get closer to your own true nature of the mind.
For the Vajrayana tradition, it is important to receive ripening initiation, liberation instructions and reading transmission in order for an individual to practise. Now, you have received all of these. In the future if you would like to practise mahamudra, it would be wonderful. We should always think about time being very precious. Do not think that I can do practice tomorrow or the day after. Whenever there is time, you should try to practise. As we know, life is impermanence and we never know how long we are going to live. So when we are alive whenever possible, we should always practise the Dharma without wasting time. I am very happy to have this wonderful MANI-retreat, wonderful organizer, wonder participants and I would like to express huge thanks for that. I will pray that you have a long, healthy life, without sickness; and may all your wishes be fulfilled in accordance with the Dharma.
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|May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,|
|that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;|
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|and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;|
|May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth|
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Last updated on 2010-11-04.