The Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
The Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Padma Gochen Ling, Monterey Tennessee
May 1992.TABLE OF CONTENTS
GURU PADMA GYALPO - THE LOTUS KING
GURU LODEN CHOKSE - SUPREME KNOWLEDGE HOLDER
GURU NYIMA OZER - RAY OF SUN
GURU PADMASAMBHAVA - THE LOTUS-BORN
GURU SHAKYA SENGE - LION OF THE SHAKYAS
GURU SENGE DRADOK - THE LION’S ROAR
GURU PADMA JUNGNE - THE LOTUS BORN
GURU DORJE DROLO
My father is wisdom
and my mother is voidness.
My country is the country of Dharma.
I am of no caste and no creed.
I am sustained by perplexity;
and I am here to destroy
lust, anger and sloth.
The year of the monkey is known as the year of Guru
Padmasambhava. It is a very special time during which to discuss his
teachings. According to the lunar calendar, today is the twenty-ninth
day of the month, tomorrow is the new moon, and the day after
tomorrow is the first day of the third month of the Tibetan calendar.
All these aspects are very auspicious. I take this as a sign that you all
have a special connection with Guru Padmasambhava, so I feel very
happy to be here.
Those of you who are practicing on Guru Padmasambhava through
visualization, chanting the Seven Line Prayer and reciting the Vajra
Guru Mantra already know something about who Guru
Padmasambhava is. But for those who aren’t familiar with him or the
benefits of practicing on Guru Padmasambhava, I will give a brief
introduction so that you will be in a better position to receive
teachings about his various emanations.
In the Tibetan language, Guru Padmasambhava is generally referred
to as Guru Rinpoche, which means “precious master.” Guru
Rinpoche is a totally enlightened being, a fully awakened one, a
buddha. He did not become enlightened gradually or start practicing
the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and eventually gain
enlightenment. Guru Rinpoche incarnated as a fully enlightened
being. Through his form, primordial wisdom manifested in the world
to benefit all sentient beings..Buddha Shakyamuni actually predicted
Guru Padmasambhava’s appearance.
Nineteen different sutras and tantras contain clear predictions of his
coming and activities. In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni
announced his parinirvana to the students who were with him at the time.
Many of them, particularly Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and personal attendant,
were quite upset upon hearing this. So Buddha turned to Ananda and told him
not to worry. “Eight years after my parinirvana, a remarkable being
with the name Padmasambhava will appear in the center of a lotus
and reveal the highest teaching concerning the ultimate state of the
true nature, bringing great benefit to all sentient beings.”
Buddha Shakyamuni said that Padmasambhava would be even more
enlightened than himself. Of course, Buddha Shakyamuni was fully
enlightened and there is no higher realization, but by the Buddha’s
manner of expression, we can begin to understand the importance of
Guru Padmasambhava. Some accounts hold that Guru Rinpoche is a
direct reincarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni. Buddha Shakyamuni
also said Padmasambhava would be an emanation of Buddha
Amitabha and Avalokitésvara and referred to him as the
embodiment of all the buddhas of the three times. Many prophecies
indicate that Guru Rinpoche would be a fully enlightened buddha,
appearing in this world to help sentient beings.
For the most part, Buddha Shakyamuni presented Hinayana and
Sutra Mahayana teachings, while Guru Padmasambhava taught the
Vajrayana. Both revealed the complete and perfect path to awakening
so that individuals of all capacities would be able to benefit. The
absolute level of the Buddha’s teaching is beyond conception. If it did
not go beyond the conceptual level, there would be no need to
change our normal way of understanding things. To help us realize
the primordial nature, Buddha Shakyamuni taught again and again
that we must transcend clinging to ordinary dualistic conceptions,
narrow attitudes, close mindedness, traditional rules, beliefs and
The ultimate meaning of the highest teaching is not readily
understood by sentient beings. This is why Buddha Shakyamuni kept
silent for forty-nine days after his enlightenment. He thought, “I have
realized the most profound and subtle dharma, the clear light free of
all complexity. However, this is much too deep for normal people to
understand. Therefore, I will remain silent.” He knew how hard it
would be to communicate the truth of his insight. Although he
eventually taught tirelessly for forty-five years, his first thought
reflects the extraordinary nature of the state into which he had
awakened relative to mundane ideas and conceptions.
Sutra is a Sanskrit word meaning “condensed or summarized.”
Scripture bearing this title indicates that these teachings were directly
communicated in the world in order to provide a clear understanding
of both the relative and absolute aspects of our existence. They
provide knowledge with which a practitioner can realize
buddhahood. Most of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings address
ordinary beings and offer a direct means of understanding the nature
of our experience. It is a non-esoteric view which appeals to common
logic, with tenets that can be verified by close observation of the
elements which constitute our everyday world. With this knowledge,
you can move toward enlightenment. This is the basic intention of
The Vajrayana is also known as Tantra. Tantric teachings are based
upon the Sutra Mahayana, but offer additional means and methods.
Vajrayana practices encourage us to take a deeper look at our
perceptions, to understand the primordial nature and learn to
maintain mind in that state. The Sutras may be called general
teachings which clarify the nature of conditional mind and
perception, while the Vajrayana reveals the secret structure of
phenomena and is for more advanced practitioners. Although they
share the same foundation, the Vajrayana goes further toward
understanding transcendental reality. To practice both Sutra and
Tantra together can bring enlightenment within this life, even within
a very short period of time. Such acceleration distinguishes Vajrayana
The Buddha only gave Vajrayana teachings privately, to select
groups of disciples. Because the essence and even the form of these
higher teachings is beyond common conception, they are also known
as secret teachings. After the Buddha entered mahaparinirvana, these
secret doctrines were preserved by a host of wisdom dakinis. When
Guru Rinpoche appeared as the reincarnation of Buddha
Shakyamuni, he revealed the Vajrayana teachings in their entirety.
This is why Guru Rinpoche is known as the Buddha of the Vajrayana.
Our present knowledge is limited to the inputs of the six sense-consciousnesses.
There is a horizon to what you can see.
You hear sounds within the spectrum detectable by human ears.
The flavors and fragrances you are aware of are within the limits of your senses
of taste and smell. What you feel is conditioned by your sensitivity,
and what you think reveals the parameters of your mental concepts.
We do not really extend beyond that. These six define the frontiers of
our knowledge and comprise the individual point of view. We can
ignore what lies beyond our senses and imagine such things cannot
exist, but there really is much more to life than what we perceive.
We only notice one percent and habitually ignore the ninety nine
percent still to be discovered. Our knowledge is very limited. We
shouldn’t block our ability to learn by assuming that what we cannot
see does not exist and is not possible. This kind of thinking obstructs
further knowledge. It is as if we don’t really want any illumination.
We block all openings and sit there in the dark. You must open the
door. This is the initial form of ignorance to be recognized. It is
always necessary to stay open and be aware that there is an infinity
of knowledge still to be discovered.
For example, if somebody next to you were threading a needle, it
would be pretty obvious what they were doing, whereas from a
hundred yards away, you would see neither the needle nor the
thread. You might even imagine that there was no needle simply
because you couldn’t see it. This is the limitation on knowledge
gleaned through the power of the eye. It doesn’t mean there is
nothing there. You just don’t see it. There are a great many things to
be discovered beyond our present understanding.
Beings who realize great equanimity discover the infinite energy of
the true nature and can perform many beneficial activities using their
eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. They will not always act
conventionally or in ways we normally understand. They may do
things which don’t fit in with our common perceptions. Phenomena
which seem to go beyond physical limitations are sometimes referred
to as miracles. At times, those who have the capacity will display
miraculous phenomena in the common world. People who don’t
believe in the possibility of miracles think these stories are myths,
metaphors or fairy-tales. In truth, there are people who can do
amazing things, just as the ancient masters did. Don’t ignore certain
aspects of the universe by thinking those are just stories. The universe
contains an infinite variety of wondrous qualities and activities.
These actions are incomprehensible from the ordinary, mundane
viewpoint. They manifest to help destroy all conventional
approaches to knowledge. Ego-based discriminations and habits
have separated the world into samsara and nirvana. These dualistic
notions are the only real cause of unhappiness. Guru
Padmasambhava breaks through that dualistic pattern to lead us into
perfect enlightenment, beyond conception.
In order to have a deep understanding of the meaning of Guru
Padmasambhava’s activities, it is important to keep an open mind.
We must go beyond our present conceptual limitations. See your
tendency to doubt and criticize, and how that fills your mind with
contradictions. Don’t restrict your mind to the tyranny of having to
affirm or deny. Most of our decisions are based in simplistic
conceptual polarities. We ignorantly believe in the adequacy of this
way of thinking and assume that what we don’t see does not exist. If
you create sharp divisions and cling to narrow definitions of subject
and object, whatever you see will always appears in the context of
those limitations. When you see something, you can say, “Yes, that
exists,” but what you do not see in the state of direct perception is
easily denied. In Buddhism such views are known as obscurations or
dualistic conceptions. They do not lead to true knowledge or
wisdom, but are based in ignorance. It is ignorance which defines the
world and puts limitations on our vision. We have to break through
this barrier in order to understand the perfect activities of Guru
Padmasambhava’s emanations and the infinite possibilities of the
Dissolving fixed conceptions and not clinging to the limitations of
sentient perception reveals the vastness of the true nature, the sphere
of great equanimity. By breaking down the walls of rigid thinking,
we merge with this evenness, seeing everything as inseparable and
flowing in continuous transformation. This is also known as
interdependent origination. In the Dzogchen teachings, it is called the
unimpeded openness of the true nature.
Dzogchen is the highest teaching, but more precisely, Dzogchen is
the real situation, the reality of all phenomena. Practice helps us
break through the walls of ego-clinging and merge with the infinite
expanse where anything is possible and everything arises perfectly
without moving out of the sphere of equanimity. All of Buddha
Shakyamuni’s teachings, from the Hinayana on through to Atiyoga,
are designed to transcend dualistic conceptions and actualize the full
range of marvellous activities that arise within this profound
equanimity. This is the central point of the Dharma and the inspired
intention behind the actions of every great master. Guru
Padmasambhava’s teachings offer a direct path to actualize this
understanding. The siddhi of his activity is especially powerful and
effective in destroying the solidity of dualistic concepts and fixed
opinions, and in awakening us to true freedom.
Wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts'ogyal said that Guru Padmasambhava has
nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine biographies. That’s a lot
of biographies! These biographies are divided three ways: those
relating the one hundred and eight activities of Guru Rinpoche
according to his dharmakaya buddhahood, accounts told according
to his sambhogakaya nature, and works chronicling his activities as a
On the dharmakaya level, Guru Rinpoche is known as the primordial
buddha, Samantabhadra. Inseparable from Buddha Shakyamuni and
all fully enlightened beings, he lives as those who are never obscured
or deluded, always free in the ultimate sphere of dharmakaya. He is
our true nature, which is also known as all-pervading primordial
wisdom because it suffuses every external and internal object in the
ten directions unceasingly and is known as the dharmakaya Guru
Padmasambhava. Fully awakened, this great equanimity is
completely free of all conditional marks or complexities.
The dharmakaya continuously emanates five wisdoms in all
directions. These appear as the five dhyani buddhas or the families of
wrathful, semi-wrathful, and peaceful conquerors and their retinues.
All these buddhas are Guru Padmasambhava in sambhogakaya form,
emanating wisdom light to liberate all sentient beings in the six
realms. Different emanations of Guru Rinpoche appear in each of the
six realms as well as in every direction within those realms to teach
sentient beings according to their capabilities and gradually lead
them all to enlightenment. There are one hundred million Guru
Padmasambhavas’ helping sentient beings throughout the universe.
These represent his nirmanakaya aspect. Guru Rinpoche may take
any number of forms within any realm. He is not limited to.appearing
in any particular guise. His character and way of teaching will vary
depending on the sentient beings to be instructed.
In the mundane sense, Guru Padmasambhava’s activities are called
“miraculous,” but from the viewpoint of absolute reality, these are
not unusual phenomena. They are the natural, spontaneous activity
of the true nature. From the perspective of realization, our normal,
everyday activities are somewhat odd and unnatural. In this sense,
we are great magicians, conjuring up something totally unreal.
When Guru Padmasambhava appeared on earth, he came as a
human being. In order to dissolve our attachment to dualistic
conceptions and destroy complex neurotic fixations, he also exhibited
some extraordinary manifestations. If we try to compare our situation
and capacities with that of Guru Padmasambhava and other realized
beings, we will run into some difficulty. Our actions are based in
dualistic ideas and habit patterns while Guru Padmasambhava’s
activities arise spontaneously out of the great equanimity of the true
nature. Non-dual activities are incomprehensible within the scope of
A famous Tibetan master named Sakya Pandita told of a man who
journeyed to a country totally inhabited by monkeys. When he
arrived, all the monkeys gathered around to examine him. They were
amazed. “How strange!” they thought, “This is the most unusual
monkey we have ever seen. He has no tail!” Similarly, deluded
sentient beings hear of the activities of enlightened beings and think
that such stories must be mythical or magic because they do not meet
our preconceived ideas of how the world works.
There are many stories explaining how Guru Padmasambhava was
born. Some say that he instantly appeared on the peak of Meteorite
Mountain, in Sri Lanka. Others teach that he came through his
mother’s womb, but most accounts refer to a miraculous birth,
explaining that he spontaneously appeared in the center of a lotus.
These stories are not contradictory because highly realized beings
abide in the expanse of great equanimity with perfect understanding
and can do anything. Everything is flexible, anything is possible.
Enlightened beings can appear in any way they want or need to.
According to the regular or conventional way of thinking, if
something is black, it is not white. Usually, only one of these notions
can be applied at any given time. In trying to make reality fit the
limitations of our preconceptions, we grow very narrow. Working in
this way will not allow us to understand the mystical or profound
aspects of the universe. Our tiny peep-hole of knowledge reveals
very little of the actual world. We see only what fits through that
small hole. Chronological or linear thinking is characteristic of
dualistic conceptions; we cannot apply it to the true nature or the
state of great equanimity. Peering through such a small crack will not
allow us to see much. We have to open our minds if we are interested
in seeing any more.
Buddha Shakyamuni taught that there are infinite world systems
containing an infinite number of sentient beings. Therefore, there are
also countless emanations of enlightened beings to serve their
awakening. There are thirty-six other world systems which are near
our own. Each one hosts a different emanation of Guru
Padmasambhava. I will tell you about one of these worlds. To the
east of here is a world where the concept of poverty does not even
exist. Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava have both
emanated there to give Sutra and Vajrayana teachings. Being so
strong and wealthy, it was only through the teachings that people in
this world learned about poverty and imbalances like we have on
earth. Upon hearing of this, they thought, “Oh, what a wonderful
place! If only it was like that here, we could practice generosity and
serve others. There is something very special in the acts of giving and
receiving. It would be nice if we had that kind of situation in our
world.” This is an example of the influence of Guru Padmasambhava
on beings in one of the thirty-six relatively nearby worlds.
Our own world is divided into six realms; gods, asuras, humans,
animals, hungry ghosts and hell realms. To help liberate all sentient
beings, there is a special buddha as well as eight emanations of Guru
Padmasambhava, in each of those realms. That is, there are eight
emanations of Guru Padmasambhava in the god realm, eight in the
asura realm, and so on. Each emanation displays unique qualities in
relation to the beings to be served and might be unrecognizable by
any outer signs. In the human world he displayed one hundred and
eight activities. These are summarized within his twenty emanations
and are most easily comprehensible as the eight manifestations of
Guru Padmasambhava. I am going to focus on these eight in the
human realm as they embody his most beneficial activities on behalf
of all beings..Now you might wonder, “Why are there eight emanations
instead of seven or nine?” Eight is a very special number in Buddhist
philosophy. There are many meanings associated with the number
eight. In a geographic sense, the eight emanations symbolize that
Guru Padmasambhava offers assistance to all sentient beings in the
eight directions. According to the abhidharma, the elements which
make up both the external universe and the inner dimensions of
sentient beings are based on eight original, very subtle atoms. These
are the foundation our world is constructed on. Even the finest
particles consist of aggregations of these eight. Four are known as the
atoms of fire, water, earth and wind. These comprise the desire
realm. Because our world has qualities of the form realm as well,
there are another four atoms having to do with the aspects of shape,
smell, the past and the present. Although they are very small, all
eight of these hold together and give rise to coarse atoms and
molecules. Nobody created these things, no one ordered them to be
like this. They are just part of the natural formation of the world.
There is not much more that can be said about them. This
interpretation still relates to the external level.
On the inner level, there are the eight consciousnesses. Five are
related to the sense organs; eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. The sixth
is the mind consciousness, the seventh is emotional consciousness
and the eighth is known as the subconscious storehouse or ground
consciousness. These eight consciousnesses outline the science of the
inner world. Mind is vast and profound, the depth from which
everything arises. The outer world emerges from and reflects this
inner world. So subjectively, these eight emanations are related to the
Also, in learning to actualize knowledge of the true nature, we
practice the Eightfold Noble Path to full realization. The inner tantras
contain many other teachings relating to the number eight. Our
physical structure has eight big bones, there are eight major energy
pathways and eight general divisions which define ego’s territory.
Externally, this is symbolized by the eight great charnel grounds. In
elaborate mandalas, you will find eight cemeteries, eight trees and
eight stupas, eight bodies of water, eight nagas and eight gods. Eight
is the number of completion in Vajrayana mandala space.
The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava are quite popular in
Tibet. Many different meanings and symbols are associated with.them.
Externally, Guru Rinpoche’s emanations may be seen as reflections of
his all-pervading nature. Internally, they are the eight consciousnesses.
The transformation of the eight consciousness into the five wisdoms is
the secret way to understand the theme of these descriptions.
Taken together, the eight manifestations communicate all three levels
I will now name the eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava.
Guru means master, teacher or lama, and precedes the name of each
The first is known as Guru Padma Gyalpo which means “lotus king.”
The second is Guru Nyima Özer, meaning “ray of sun.”
The third emanation of Guru Rinpoche is Loden Chokse, which is
roughly translated as “the super-knowledge holder.”
The fourth is called Guru Padmasambhava. This name is Sanskrit but
even in Tibet, this is how we refer to this emanation. Padma means
lotus, which is a symbol of spiritual perfection. Sambhava has many
different usages, although in this case it means essence, so
Padmasambhava signifies “lotus essence.”
The fifth one is Guru Shakya Sengé. Shakya is a Sanskrit word and
part of the family name of Buddha Shakyamuni. It means
undefeatable or courageous. Sengé is a Tibetan word which means
lion, so this title means “undefeatable lion.”
The sixth emanation of Guru Padmasambhava is named Padma
Jungné. In Sanskrit, this is translated as Guru Padmakara. Padma is
lotus and kara is translated into Tibetan as jungné, meaning “arisen
from.” So this name means “born from a lotus.”
The seventh is known as Guru Sengé Dradok. In Sanskrit it is Singha
Nadi which translates as “the lion’s roar.”
The eighth emanation of Guru Rinpoche is known as Guru Dorje
Drolo. Dorje is the Tibetan word for vajra. Dro’lo means ultimately or
insanely wrathful, sometimes translated as “crazy wisdom.” That is
the name of the eighth emanation..
All the activities of Guru Padmasambhava performed in this world
may be roughly summarized within these eight aspects.
Guru Padma Gyalpo
the Lotus King
The first emanation is called Guru Padma Gyalpo. Gyalpo means
king. Guru Padma Gyalpo is the form in which Guru
Padmasambhava originally appeared in our world. He is directly
related to Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the western direction, as
well as to Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of compassion. Buddha
Amitabha represents the dharmakaya, Avalokitesvara the
sambhogakaya, and Guru Padmasambhava the nirmanakaya.
Amitabha, Avalokitesvara and Guru Padmasambhava encompass all
possible emanations of the Trikaya. Maybe you are wondering how
such forms as dharmakaya Buddha Samantabhadra, Buddha
Vajradhara and Buddha Vajrasattva are included. These are all
contained within the three kayas of Amitabha, Avalokiteshvara, and
Guru Padmasambhava. Actually, the entire mandala of all the
buddhas and all the kayas are within Guru Padmasambhava. Not
only is he an important member of the Lotus family, he embodies the
The three kayas are symbolized by the three buddhas of the Padma
family, one of five families of buddhas, each representing an aspect of
primordial wisdom. In the mundane sense, the Lotus family is
associated with common perception. Esoterically, it corresponds to
our karmic winds and the speech center. Ordinary views are
transformed through deepening resonance with the primordial
wisdom qualities of the Padma family, such as boundless loving-kindness
and compassion for all sentient beings. The radiation of love
and compassion coursing through the channels by the arising of
wisdom winds is the inner action of this family.
Among the many beneficial activities characterizing the life of
Buddha Shakyamuni, twelve are commonly noted. Of these, speech is
his most powerful action. In spite of his great love and compassion,
even the Buddha could not magically liberate anyone from the ocean
of samsara. Sentient beings are subject to their own karmas and even
Buddhas must respect this. The power of the Buddha’s speech grants
knowledge of antidotes which can help rescue sentient beings from
samsara and establish them in the enlightened condition. Bereft of
speech, the Buddha cannot offer much to sentient beings other than
those who already have higher capacities and can receive teachings
on the sambhogakaya level. The Lotus family symbolizes the power
of speech in the spirit of love and compassion. The Vajra family, the
Ratna family, the Karma family and the Buddha family are all
contained and emanated within the Padma family – the Lotus Lords
of all buddha families. And Guru Padmasambhava is the supreme
embodiment of them all.
Now I will tell you some details about the early life of Padma
Gyalpo. According to Tibetan history, Guru Rinpoche was born four
years after Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana. Although Buddha
Shakyamuni’s prediction about the coming of Padmasambhava is
rendered as eight years, the system used in India divides the month
into two, reflecting the waxing and waning of the moon. According
to the Tibetan calendar, Buddha Shakyamuni entered
Mahaparinirvana during the Iron Dragon year and Guru
Padmasambhava was born in the wood monkey year in the monkey
month. In Tibetan Buddhism, every monkey year is considered the
year of Guru Padmasambhava.
Bodhgaya is a village in northeastern India where Buddha
Shakyamuni became fully enlightened. All Buddhists consider
Bodhgaya the spiritual-geographic center, the supreme power spot of
the universe. In Tibetan we call it Dorje-den which means,
“indestructible vajra throne.” It is also taught that every one of the
thousand buddhas destined to appear in this aeon will attain
enlightenment there. Buddhist cosmology explains that after
hundreds of aeons, this world will be completely destroyed by fire,
water and wind. Everything will be reduced to atoms and scattered
throughout space, without even a trace remaining. However, under
the vajra throne at Bodhgaya there is a double-dorje which cannot be
destroyed by fire or water . It will endure beyond the end of the
present world cycle. What appears externally as the Vajrasana of
Bodhgaya exists internally as the path which leads to the realization
of our primordial nature.
Guru Padmasambhava was born to the northwest of Bodhgaya in a
kingdom known as Oddiyana. Oddiyana has always been considered
a very mystical place and is praised throughout Vajrayana literature.
This mysterious land expresses a natural power in earth forms and
subtler environmental structuring and became a major source of
esoteric Vajrayana teachings. In the center of Oddiyana is the City of
the Dakinis, and in that city, is the palace of the Herukas. Northwest
of that palace, there is a small lake known as Dhanakosha.
Buddha Amitabha emanated a golden light from his heart center that
took form as a five-pointed golden vajra inscribed with the syllable
HRI. It landed right in the center of an Udambara flower, a very rare
and precious species of lotus, growing in Lake Dhanakosha. A
youthful Padmasambhava miraculously appeared from the union of
the golden vajra inscribed with HRI and this beautiful, thousand-petalled
lotus growing in Lake Dhanakosha. Normally we take birth
by means of parents, but by spontaneously appearing Guru Padma
Gyalpo opens us up to the panoramic vision of the true nature. In
order to break our habitual pattern of gradually taking birth through
conception in a womb, he demonstrated the freedom of taking birth
instantly. He reveals a new door: the primordial condition of great
The king of Oddiyana was an extraordinary man named Indrabhuti.
He was very kind, compassionate and generous. During a time of
great famine, he gave away the contents of the royal treasury to feed
his subjects, yet still more was needed. In ancient times, it was
common to sail the ocean in search of jewels and treasure. So King
Indrabhuti took to sea with his ministers and found gems on a distant
island. On the way home, the king had many beautiful dreams. In
one, he saw a five-pointed golden vajra, radiating golden light in
every direction. It came so close that he was able to hold it in his
hand. At the same time, he dreamed that the sun and moon were
both rising in the eastern sky. The very next day after these
wonderful omens appeared, Indrabhuti encountered Padma Gyalpo.
As the boat approached the shore, the crew saw beautiful rainbows
arch across the heavens. A great host of birds hovered in the sky,
singing delightful songs. Celestial fragrances pervaded the air. The
moment they saw these signs, everyone felt blissful. The king was
moved to relate his dreams to the ministers. After getting into a
smaller boat, they immediately set sail toward the source of the
rainbow display. As they got closer, they beheld a magnificent lotus.
None of them had ever seen a blossom like this before. It was an
uncommonly large and brilliant flower, but more than that, there
seated upon the pollen bed was a beautiful, sublime eight year old.boy,
glowing and radiating rainbow light while seated in the vajra
posture. The king was completely astonished.
Although Guru Rinpoche appeared as a human being, he
demonstrates something here which is totally beyond our dualistic
conceptions and regimented views by coming into this world in the
center of a lotus. He did not come through biological parents. This
signifies that Guru Padmasambhava is free from both attachment and
anger. He is not accompanied by any negative emotions. Instead, he
subdues and transforms all anger and attachment into their
corresponding wisdoms, as symbolized by this glorious lotus. This
means that practitioners who follow the path of Guru
Padmasambhava or Buddha Shakyamuni must cut through and
transform anger, aggression and neurotic desire.
Up until that moment, Indrabhuti had been blind in one eye. Now he
was healed. He was awed by this miraculous display and
immediately asked five questions of the young child. These were,
“Where do you come from? What is your father’s name? What is
your mother’s name? What do you do? And what do you eat?”
Guru Padmasambhava answered, “I come from the unborn
Dharmadhatu, my father’s name is Kuntuzangpo, and my mother’s
name is Kuntuzangmo.” Kuntuzangpo means, “always good” in
Tibetan. This is goodness that never changes. It is always good.
Yesterday it was good, today it is good and tomorrow it will still be
good. To the question, “What do you do?” the child replied, “I am
here to help all sentient beings of the six realms.” This is a permanent
job. Guru Padmasambhava will never be unemployed! As for food,
the child said, “I eat dualistic conceptions and my words benefit all
Being a Buddhist, King Indrabhuti was very much pleased with these
answers. Of course, he was already quite excited by such a brilliant
and extraordinary display, but hearing the child give these answers
really touched him. The radiance of his body and speech penetrated
the king’s heart at a deep level. Greatly moved by all of this and with
no son of his own, the King asked, “Will you come to my palace and
live with me?” The young Padma Gyalpo accepted this request, and
went with the entourage to the palace..King Indrabhuti was a very
kind and compassionate man.
He had an extremely open mind and served all his subjects according
to the dharma. Guru Padma Gyalpo was raised as a prince. He helped
Indrabhuti rule the kingdom with bodhicitta and guide the people on
the right path toward enlightenment. He taught them how to stay
free of headaches and worries, so that harmony and peace reigned
throughout the country. Guru Padma Gyalpo eventually married a
beautiful lady known as Orchima, “She who radiates light.” Then one
day Buddha Vajrasattva appeared to Guru Padmasambhava telling
him to leave Oddiyana in order to benefit sentient beings in a more
active way. Heeding these instructions, Guru Padmasambhava
departed Oddiyana at about age thirty.
He left the palace on foot and wandered many places. But even the
most basic aspects of his journey were not ordinary. For instance, he
would arrive wherever he set out for instantly. Time had no effect on
Guru Rinpoche’s activities. He travelled throughout India
frequenting the most powerful and frightening cemeteries, known as
the eight charnel grounds. He subdued the eight classes of spirits and
directed them onto the path of bodhicitta, the unified state of loving-kindness,
compassion and wisdom.
In the conventional sense, Guru Padmasambhava brought all the
subjects of Oddiyana into harmony on the path of enlightenment so
that they excelled in the practice of peace, love, and compassion. On
the inner level, he subdued the eight classes of negative spirits and
bound them in service to the practice of bodhicitta. Surrounded by
both dakas and dakinis, Guru Rinpoche displayed the splendor of his
wisdom which spontaneously overcomes the most powerful of
visible and invisible beings so that they regard him as their supreme
monarch or king. This is the real victory of Padma Gyalpo, the Lotus
King, a very special emanation of Guru Padmasambhava who
magnetizes perception and conception beyond ego-clinging and
negative emotions while actively increasing our joy, peace and
We should understand what is meant by magnetizing. It doesn’t
mean bringing an external object, such as another sentient being,
under your control. To magnetize one’s perception is to overpower
the mind of mundane habits. If you don’t have that ability within
yourself, you cannot magnetize or help other sentient beings. Since
you are still a little wild and crazy, how can you tame others?
To help.other beings, you can’t be crazy yourself. Once we are able to
overpower dualistic perceptions and mental habits, we magnetize
others naturally. Practice and meditation on Guru Rinpoche as
Padma Gyalpo outshines mundane views and deluding emotions
and enriches our accumulations of merit and wisdom.
Guru Padma Gyalpo openly exhibits the splendor and magnificence
of the Padma family wisdom. He is surrounded by a glorious retinue
of dakas and dakinis who receive his teachings. Through the lavish
display of this gathering, he is offering the same wealth to all beings.
That is the external way to understand this emanation.
On the inner level, Guru Padma Gyalpo is saying that those who
follow this path must control their senses, study perceptions, subdue
ego-clinging, and transcend their emotions. If you cut through ego-clinging,
you are a great sovereign; you have mastered your
relationship with everything you see and hear. In perfect command
of your feelings and responses, you have the power and dignity of a
splendrous king or queen. Having subdued ego-clinging and
attachment to negative emotions, you are truly victorious.
In Tibet, to have overcome all negativity is known as having attained
the heroic state. One has become a conqueror or universal monarch.
According to ancient Buddhist cosmography, a universal monarch or
Chakravarti, is one whose kingdom includes all four continents of a
world system. To relinquish ego-clinging and be free of neurosis is to
fully awaken to the enlightenment of all the victorious ones as your
very own. In brief, that is the meaning of Guru Padma Gyalpo, the
Lotus King or Padma Raja.
Padma Gyalpo’s skin is pink or reddish, while his robes are sort of
orange, and a little more red than yellow. He is visualized sitting on a
lotus, upon sun and moon discs, relaxing in the royal posture with
one face, two arms, and two legs. He is semi-wrathful, so some
teachings say to visualize him with four arms. His long hair is pulled
up into a knot and wrapped in a white cloth that has a small
gathering of red material emerging from the top. This same red silk is
flowing out, as if carried by a gentle breeze, behind his head. He also
wears a tiara of five jewels. In his right hand is a small damaru and in
his left, he is holding a mirror and a hook. The mirror symbolizes
wisdom. Through wisdom, everything appears as it is, although
nothing truly exists. Phenomena arise and pass like forms in a mirror,
a mirage that suddenly appears and just as quickly dissolves. The
mirror also suggests unceasing manifestation, free of clinging and
attachment to concrete objects. There are other sadhanas on Guru
Padma Gyalpo, some of which describe the left hand as holding a bell
and hook and others, a ritual arrow. The hook symbolizes great
compassion. This is to rescue all sentient beings who are trapped in
the experience of samsara. This is the form to visualize when
meditating on Guru Padmasambhava as Padma Gyalpo.
The notions which constitute samsara are no other than one’s own
thoughts and conceptions; what you experience is largely defined by
your own dream-like perceptions. It has no true basis and does not
refer to real entities or solid objects. This is a dream or perhaps a
nightmare. A nightmare is not recognized by the person who is
suffering within it. It is really not a substantial or determinate reality,
yet the dreamer’s understanding of his experience suggests that it is.
Generate great compassion for all sentient beings as they are
temporarily caught up in this illusion and gently lead them to
liberation. Never give up or lose compassion. Press on and guide all
beings to unsurpassed, great enlightenment.
As in any practice, begin by taking refuge and generating bodhicitta.
Feel love and compassion for all sentient beings and do a little
meditation. Then imagine a small circle of red light in the space
before you which instantly transforms into Guru Padma Gyalpo.
Recite the twelve syllable mantra as long as you can while holding
the visualization. Finally, dissolve Guru Padma Gyalpo back into a
red point of light which merges with your heart center, so that there
is no difference between you and him. Meditate in this way for as
long as you have time. When you are done, dedicate the merit and
make aspirational prayers. This is a very powerful and special
practice which will enrich your vision.
According to the commentary by Lama Mipham, the effects of
practicing on Guru Padma Gyalpo depend upon your level of
approach. If you are a leader, your leadership will become more
stable and benign. If you are just a regular being, you will become
more lovable. If you want to be loved and appreciated, practice on
Guru Padma Gyalpo. The peace of mind and calming of the body
soon experienced are a sure sign of effectively purifying negative
emotions..Q: I was interested in how thoughts arise in our mind. When Guru
Padma Gyalpo was wandering through the cemeteries, he ran across
negative spirits and transformed them through bodhicitta.
A: Yes, he brought them to the justice of bodhicitta.
Q: Are those spirits responsible for the thoughts that arise in us?
A: Generally, yes. This is why Guru Rinpoche went to all those
cemeteries after leaving the palace. These were fearful places, not at
all comparable to Western cemeteries. Western cemeteries are
relatively pleasant places, like parks. They have nice flowers and
water fountains with walkways and all. When you go there, you can
feel at ease. But in ancient India the cemeteries were often deep in the
jungle where many wild animals lived, such as tigers, leopards,
wolves, jackals and cobras. Vultures would hover overhead. The
bodies of the dead were strewn everywhere. It was a terrifying,
By going to the charnel grounds, Guru Padmasambhava is teaching
us that in order to practice and meditate, we really have to be
fearless. We must have courage beyond hope and fear and get
beyond their endless implications. Having smashed expectations and
doubts, you realize great equanimity and can act fearlessly. From the
viewpoint of realization, evil spirits are no other than the display of
one’s own mental tendencies. But to the ordinary mind which clings
to notions of subject and object, these energies may be viewed as the
actions of naughty or mischievous beings who like to chase us
around. As long as we hold to the notion of solid subjects and objects,
there will be conceptual and experiential effects. Guru
Padmasambhava actually brought these demons under control
within his mind.
Q: Could you say briefly why we use the symbol of the lotus instead
of another flower?
A: The lotus grows in muddy water. Because of this, it is always
compared to bodhicitta and the bodhisattvas; those noble ones who
take birth in samsara but are never affected by worldly conditioning.
Similarly, the mud never affects the beauty of the lotus. It is always
pure and beautiful. So “padma” means “lovely one.” According to
the Vajrayana this lovely one is no other than the truth of love and
compassion, which is symbolized by a lotus..
Q: My question is about the symbolism of the color red.
A: In the Vajrayana all colors, implements and gestures are symbolic,
with a wealth of meaning behind every attribute and gesture. In this
context, red represents loving-kindness. This is called “great love
beyond attachment.” To move from attachment to loving-kindness
beyond grasping is symbolized by the color red. Love is great
Q: Since we live in the dream state, how can we tell the difference
between truth and illusion in our perceptions?
A: In equanimity, all are seen as equal, there is no distinction of good
or bad; if it is true, it is all true, if it is untrue, it is all untrue. There is
no relative up and down, no judgement day in equanimity. Therefore
the ultimate dream, and the non-dream state, are understood to be
exactly the same. But when you are obscured, you only see a little bit
and judge aspects of dream experience as being more or less
important. This is how sentient beings perceive the world.
Q: As we sit and look at you, are we seeing what you have emanated,
or is it a reflection of our own perception?
A: It is both. When I look at you, you are giving me something and I
am also giving something to you. And when you look at me, I’m
giving something to you and you are giving something to me. It is a
mutual exchange. But regardless of what happens in the stock
market, once you see whatever you see, it becomes a mental construct
which is completely your own private understanding. All the input is
brought back to your individual mind where it becomes your own
personal business. Ordinary perception and communication suggest
that there are two different things, private and public, but in the
higher levels of equanimity, both are merged in a transcendent
Guru Loden Chokse
The Supreme Knowledge Holder
Traditionally, the second of the eight manifestations of Guru
Padmasambhava is Guru Nyima Özer whose name translates as
“Ray of the Sun,” however, I think it is more useful to skip ahead and
introduce the third manifestation because it will help you understand
the second. And in turn, the second will help explain the third. This
third emanation is called Guru Loden Chokse, which means
“supreme knowledge holder.”
Guru Padmasambhava appeared in this world as a perfect buddha in
order to benefit all beings. Even before he left the kingdom of
Oddiyana, he was already totally enlightened. Guru Loden Chokse is
the emanation of Guru Rinpoche who deals with the removal of
ignorance and the accumulation of wisdom through contemplation.
Although he was already an awakened buddha, he demonstrated the
way to approach profound knowledge through study and practice
for the sake of sentient beings.
After leaving the palace, he wandered throughout the eight great
charnel grounds of India. On the external level, he stayed in real
cemeteries, eating the offerings to the dead and wearing whatever
clothes were available there. In ancient times, the funerary tradition
was to leave a year’s supply of food and some colorful clothing along
with the bodies. So there was usually something available, although
it was not exactly gourmet fare. It was actually akin to garbage or
spoiled food. While externally utilizing such materials, living in
cemeteries, and practicing meditation, on the inner level he began to
give elaborate instructions on the nine yanas to all classes of invisible
beings. In particular, he gave extensive teachings on Dzogchen. This
period of Guru Loden Chokse’s wandering through all the great
cemeteries of India shouldn’t be taken to mean that he was over here
today and in that one next week. He could project a different
emanation in all eight cemeteries at once or appear with a multitude
of emanations in all of the cemeteries at the same time.
Geographically, these eight great charnel grounds do not exist side
by side. It could take a few weeks or even a month to walk from one
to the other. According to the Vajrayana, they are located in eight
special, secret spots which have natural power and geomantic
energy. On the most secret level, these are the locations where the
dakas and dakinis are always gathered, ceaselessly performing
enlightened activities. In the Vajrayana, these eight great sites work
together like a mystic or esoteric compass. They are very special
places where awareness is magnified and the energy is naturally
intensified. According to the inner tantras, these charnel grounds do
not merely exist as places in India. Although reference is made to
actual sites, some higher tantras indicate that these are not static
locations but are spread throughout the world. The eight great
cemeteries are the primary power spots available to help us awaken
to our enlightened nature.
As well as giving teachings to invisible beings, Guru Loden Chokse
instructed visible beings. In ancient India, certain people of very low
caste had the job of bringing the dead to the cemeteries and making
any other relevant arrangements. Loden Chokse started teaching
these laborers. He also travelled to many other places such as
Bodhgaya, where Buddha Shakyamuni was enlightened.
While demonstrating some of the extraordinary signs of his
realization near the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya, an old lady asked
him, “Who is your teacher? To which lineage do you belong?”
Guru Rinpoche replied, “I have no teacher and have no need of one.
Neither do I belong to any particular lineage. I am a totally
enlightened being, primordially aware.”
The old woman immediately responded by saying, “Oh, that’s not
right. Without the blessings of a teacher, you cannot be enlightened.
You must have a connection with a master. Lacking that, no one will
accept your words.” He quickly understood the import of the old
woman’s statement in relation to making the teaching available to
others. To demonstrate the supreme means of approaching the
Dharma, “the Supreme Knowledge Holder” began to seek out
lineage masters and followed teachings according to their
This indicates that even if you are already a highly enlightened being,
it is still necessary to have lineage connections. In order to
communicate this truth, Guru Loden Chokse proceeded to contact
many great masters and receive their teachings. In ancient times,
there was a traditional curriculum known as the ten sciences. One
had to be knowledgeable about these to be considered an educated
person. The five major sciences are language, art, logic, medicine and
the science of mind and meditation.
Guru Loden Chokse went to Bengal in eastern India in order to begin
studying. There he met a very old man, who was renowned as a
scholar of language. With the exception of a little red in his mustache,
his hair was all white. When asked about the extent of his
knowledge, the old man said, “I know all the languages spoken
across India, but I am especially expert on the dialects spoken in the
areas of eastern India.” After requesting instruction, the old man
accepted Guru Loden Chokse as his student. At that time, there were
four major language groups in India; Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa
and Paisacika, as well as 160 local dialects. Although generally
familiar with all of these, Guru Rinpoche became a language expert
to demonstrate how this knowledge which can be of immense benefit
in serving sentient beings. Those who are seeking enlightenment
should not ignore the importance of such learning.
After this, he went to the country of Padmavati in western India,
where he met a very famous physician who taught him all about
medicine. Subsequently, he studied logic and reasoning, which are
important subjects if we are trying to go beyond the state of direct
perception. Analysis and inference are the keys that open knowledge
beyond our immediate sense data. Through reasoning, we can
discover many things which are not evident to the five senses. Guru
Loden Chokse also studied esoteric astrology with Manjusri in China
and art with Master Visvakarma. In Buddhism, aesthetic expression
is divided into the arts of the body, the arts of speech and the arts of
the mind. All the arts are contained within these categories.
The fifth science is known as the inner science, which mainly deals
with the understanding, characteristics and identity of the mind. This
science is the province of the Buddha’s teachings. Guru Loden
Chokse received ordination and instruction in the vinaya, sutra and
abhidharma from Ananda, the cousin and attendant of Buddha
Shakyamuni. He received outer tantra teachings and quickly
actualized all the realizations as they are described in the texts. The
renowned Master Gomadevi, daughter of King Jah was one of the
human teachers who introduced Guru Loden Chokse to the.
Mahayoga teachings. He then received the entire Mahayoga
teachings from Buddha Vajrasattva in the Akanistha, the Pure Land
of Vajrasattva. Having manifested there in an instant, he heard
Vajrasattva reciting. The moment he requested the Mahayoga tantras,
also known as the eighteen great tantras, Vajrasattva transmitted
them in their entirety. Guru Loden Chokse received the thirteen
Anuyoga teachings in the All-pervading Blue pure land from Buddha
Vajradhara. These are also known as the five great sutras and the
eight great points.
The first human Dzogchen master, Garab Dorje, was Guru Loden
Chokse’s source for the Atiyoga teachings as well as the Buddha
Samantabhadra, who resides in the pure land of the dharmadhatu
realm, free from all complexity. Finally, to complete his studies, Guru
Loden Chokse went to the famous Master Manjusrimitra, the direct
disciple of Garab Dorje. After requesting instruction, Manjusrimitra
told Guru Loden Chokse that he could not teach him. Instead, he was
directed to a dark and frightening charnel ground in the west where
there lived a great dakini known as Laygyi Wangmo, the Dakini of
Deeds. Manjusrimitra explained that she could give Atiyoga
Guru Loden Chokse eventually arrived in the terrifying charnel
ground. Here he encountered a young lady carrying a crystal vase.
He thought this might be the dakini from whom he should request
teachings. So he asked, “What is your name?” But she did not
“Would you be kind enough to give me teachings?” Still, she would
“Where is the great dakini, Laygyi Wangmo?” The girl did not say a
word, but continued to carry water.
Guru Loden Chokse realized that she must be in service to someone,
so when she came back down the hill with more water, he asked,
“Would you help me find the wisdom dakini?” But the girl remained
silent and kept carrying water.
She returned a third time, when he asked, “Would you please help
me?” Still she refused to answer. So Guru Loden Chokse became
annoyed at her unresponsiveness and through the power of his
meditation, caused the crystal vase to adhere to the ground. When
the girl attempted to lift it, she was unable to.
Realizing who had caused this, she addressed Guru Rinpoche; “I see
you exhibit some power, but tell me what you think of this.” At that
moment, she pulled a small crystal knife from her belt and after
cutting open her chest, she pulled back the skin and there, vividly
displayed, was the entire mandala of the deities of the inner tantra.
All one hundred deities, forty-two peaceful and fifty-eight wrathful,
emanated clearly from within her heart center.
Guru Loden Chokse bowed down and said, “Please excuse me and
kindly guide me to the great dakini.”
This time the maiden said, “I will show you the way. Follow me,”
and she led him to a palace made of skulls.
When Guru Loden Chokse entered he could see that Laygyi Wangmo
was not a peaceful dakini. Her expression was semi-wrathful. She
stood majestically on the sun and moon in a fierce posture,
surrounded by a blaze of glory, while another sun and moon above
her served as a luminous canopy. Holding a katvanga in her left hand,
sparks of fire issued from her eyes and body. Guru Loden Chokse
prostrated himself, circumambulated her throne three times and
made mandala offerings before respectfully requesting the inner
Vajrayana teachings including, initiations, transmissions and pith
instructions. At that moment, she made the subjugation mudra with
her right hand and in the space beyond her fingers, the entire
mandala of the one hundred peaceful and wrathful deities appeared
“Now,” she said, “You must take initiation from this mandala.”
Guru Loden Chokse immediately replied, “Oh no. This mandala is
just your display. I want to take initiation from you, Master. You are
the source, embodiment and Lord of this mandala. Let me have your
initiation, transmission and pith instructions.” The great dakini
smiled gently and said. “So you know how to receive
empowerment...” At that point, she intoned the syllable HUM and
the entire mandala dissolved and merged back into her. Upon
chanting another HUM, she transformed Guru Loden Chokse’s body
into a small HUM syllable and swallowed it, as we might swallow a
In one of the biographies of Guru Padmasambhava it is said that she
kept him for one week in each of her five chakras. So he spent a week
in her crown chakra, and a week each in her speech, heart, navel and
secret chakras. The four upper chakras are related to the four
empowerments. Externally he received the empowerment of Buddha
Amitayus, inwardly he received the empowerment of Avalokitesvara
and on the most secret level, he gained the realization of Hayagriva.
After he had completely received all the empowerments,
transmissions, and pith instructions associated with the inner tantras,
he emerged from Laygi Wangmo’s secret center as her equal in
realization. This is like saying he became something of a super-guru;
a supreme knowledge holder of the lineage freely demonstrating his
mastery of the teachings through actualizing the supreme realization.
Subsequently, he travelled to many different places throughout the
world to serve sentient beings.
Guru Loden Chokse also received the combined eight Heruka
teachings from Laygi Wangmo which he transmitted to the eight
great vidydharas who were in India at that time: Vimalamitra,
Humkara, Manjusrimitra, Nagarjuna, Dhanasamskrta, Rambuguhya-Devacandra
and Santigarbha. Guru Padmasambhava himself is
considered the eighth. On the human level, he actually received the
eight Heruka teachings from these masters as well as from the
wisdom dakini Laygi Wangmo. In turn, he transmitted what are
known as the combined Eight Heruka teachings which he had
received directly from Laygi Wangmo, back to these same
Guru Loden Chokse also received the Dzogchen teaching known as
the Empowerment of Awareness from Master Sri Singh. This is a
brief history of how Guru Rinpoche acquired teachings.
On the external level, he received many different instructions and
mastered each one of them. This period of his life demonstrates how
to follow a course of study and learn to develop our wisdom step by
step. Even though Guru Rinpoche was already a direct emanation of
Buddha Amitabha, and a reincarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni, this
completely enlightened being lived his realization in a way that
would help lead others toward wisdom.
The gradual aspects of the path are very important. We can’t just
ignore our karmic conditioning and jump to a higher level. We must
be able to follow the entire message step by step and address our
conditioning through appropriate practices in a progressive manner.
This manifestation of the teacher emphasizes that we should all
continue to develop and grow. Such an approach strengthens our
understanding and deepens our realization. As Guru Loden Chokse,
the Lotus-born one demonstrated his capacity to learn and became
adept in many fields of knowledge.
Guru Loden Chokse is depicted with one face, two arms and two
legs, seated upon a lotus with sun and moon discs. His skin is a very
peaceful, rich, white color. He wears a white scarf and has ribbons
wrapped around his head. His hair is decorated with a blue-green
lotus which is known as an utpala flower. In his right hand is a
damaru and in the left, a bowl which is patterned after a lotus.
Begin the practice on Guru Loden Chokse with the generation of
love, compassion and bodhicitta for all sentient beings. Then ease
into meditation. Start the visualization with a small sphere of white
light in the space before you. Concentrate on that for a moment and
then transform the sphere into the transcendental rainbow body of
Guru Loden Chokse, omnidirectionally radiating white light.
Imagine the sound of the damaru echoing wisdom vibrations,
awakening sentient beings from the darkness of ignorance and
establishing them in the wisdom of enlightenment. Recite the twelve
syllable mantra as long as you can, then dissolve the visualization
into white light which mingles with your heart center and remain in
meditation, abiding in the true nature for as long as you can.
Although he already had a perfect realization, the emanation of Guru
Loden Chokse demonstrates the patient gathering of knowledge and
wisdom teachings. He is a wisdom emanation of Guru
Padmasambhava, and like the wisdom deity Buddha Manjusri,
practice on the form of Guru Loden Chokse is particularly effective in
dispelling the darkness of ignorance, mastering the arts and sciences
and ultimately awakening to the reality of primordial wisdom.
Guru Nyima Özer
Ray of Sun
As I explained earlier, Guru Nyima Özer is usually considered the
second emanation. Because Guru Nyima Özer is associated with
crazy wisdom activities, I wanted to tell you about Guru Loden
Chokse first so that you would be able to understand the guru’s
accomplishments as a student and tantric initiate. In this context, you
should be able to appreciate the miraculous deeds of Guru Nyima
Özer. Although incomprehensible to linear or chronological
interpretations, all eight emanations can simultaneously appear
together or in many different places unlimited by any dualistic
system of understanding. On the level of common perception, Nyima
Özer happened either right after or during the time of Loden Chokse.
Guru Nyima Özer is a special buddha whose emanation serves to
increase awareness of the great emptiness-bliss. He is the master of
great joy and ecstatic states of awareness. Nyima Özer wandered
across India, serving sentient beings in many different guises.
There were actually many emanations of Guru Nyima Özer, not just
the one commonly portrayed in thankas. Sometimes he appeared as a
powerful master of meditation, but he also appeared as a weak-looking
beggar as well as in various animal forms for the benefit of
sentient beings. His activities are beyond conditional limitations. I
want to tell you how he got his name which means “Ray of Sun.”
Guru Nyima Özer travelled widely, performing crazy wisdom
activities while visiting the eight great charnel grounds, the thirty-two
major power spots, wilderness areas and even cities. The extent
of his wandering cannot be comprehended by ordinary conceptions.
As it is historically recounted, when he left the kingdom of
Oddiyana, he went to a famous cemetery known as Chilly Grove and
practiced meditation there for five years. During this time, Guru
Nyima Özer was inwardly subduing some of the wilder sentient
At one point, he came to Varanasi. Today, this is a big city on the
Ganges River, and it was already a busy place back in those days.
There was a lady who served alcohol in Varanasi and Guru Rinpoche.
saw that through contact with her, he could draw hundreds of people
toward enlightenment. The lady was named Vanessca. Nyima Özer
appeared at her shop in the style of a wild yogi, holding a katvanga
in his right hand and asked this woman, “Do you have
“Of course,” she answered.
“Good. How much do you have?”
“Five hundred gallons,” she replied.
“Great. I want it all.”
She poured him a large serving and when he had finished it, he asked
for another. “Pay me for what you have already drunk,” she said.
In ancient times, they used a certain sea shell, the cowrie, for
currency. Nyima Özer did not actually have even one, but he
reassured the woman that she would be paid, and she poured him
another beer. They didn’t have bottles back then, but rather large
bowls or jars. When it was empty, he asked for a refill. And after that,
another. He continued in this way until the woman said, “Look, I’m
not going to give you any more beer until you pay for what you have
Guru Nyima Özer stuck his katvanga into the ground so that it threw
a shadow across the table and said, “I’ll pay you when this shadow
moves.” Vanessca agreed to this and gave him another bowl. He
finished it and immediately asked for more. But the shadow did not
move at all. It stayed right where it was. The sun continued to hover
high above the horizon while Guru Rinpoche finished all five
hundred gallons of beer and was still asking for more. He was not
even near drunk yet, but people in the vicinity were becoming
concerned because the sun had not moved for hours and the day was
getting unusually long. Cocks were beginning to crow.
Upon learning of the situation at the tavern, everybody realized that
this must be a very powerful yogi. The sun did not move across the
sky, which meant that the earth was no longer turning. The matter
was brought to the king’s attention and his ministers were sent out to
investigate. When they understood that this was all happening.because
some wild yogi didn’t have any money to pay for the beer,
they offered to foot his bill. Guru Nyima Özer thanked them and
picked up his katvanga. Immediately the sun turned a deep red and
sunk below the horizon. A great shadow fell over the land and
suddenly it was night.
This demonstration helped hundreds of sentient beings in that area to
become enlightened. The name Nyima Özer or “Ray of Sun” was a
result of this incident as people remembered the yogi who could stop
Vanesseca, the woman who owned the tavern, was among those who
were deeply moved by this. After Guru Nyima Özer left Varanasi,
she tried to get in touch with him. Upon learning where he was
meditating, she approachedto request more teachings. Guru Nyima
Özer gave her direct transmission of the Dzogchen teachings and
Vanesseca immediately became a great yogini. When she began to
share these special teachings, she attracted so many students that
there came to be a Vanesseca lineage.
On the inner level, Guru Nyima Özer signifies a clear understanding
of the structure of one’s psycho-physical constitution. He is the
Buddha associated with mystical experience and spiritual realization.
That is the primary message communicated by the emanation Guru
Nyima Özer. To know the secrets of the inner structure of one’s
physiology means that the discovery of primordial wisdom is very,
very close. Therefore, it is important to become familiar with the
subtle structures of the body. In the inner tantras, these are known as
the residing channels (rtsa), the display of the winds (the movements
in these channels or rlung), and the ornamentation of the essence
elements of the body (thig-le). Our entire experience, the patterning of
our conceptions, the displays of our visual and auditory systems, are
all reflections of these three structures. To understand this well is to
be in direct and deep communication with the energies of both the
internal and external world.
All we see of earth, water, sun, clouds, wind, and fire is no other than
a reflection of our own inner structures. More specifically, forms such
as trees, grass, water and mountains are no other than reflections of
the channels. Sound and echoes are a reflection of the movement of
winds. Your external world mirrors your inner constitution.
Inwardly, the primordial nature manifests as thig-le, the essential.
elements of the body. There are white and red forms of thig-le. Both
are completely free from any formation or visibility, abiding in a
cycle of complete equanimity. Thig-le are reflected externally in the
planets, the sun, moon, and stars. Their brightness and clarity reveal
a radiant openness. These are no other than reflections of the essence
elements of the body. We think of the sun and moon as two unique
things, but according to Buddha’s teachings, there are billions of suns
and innumerable moons and planets. All are reflections of the infinite
reality of primordial wisdom, displayed in this form and appearing
according to the needs of individuals.
To clearly comprehend the interrelated dynamics of all three aspects
of the vajra body allows primordial wisdom to awaken very easily.
The bright, clear light of primordial wisdom is the essential source of
all these inner structures. This must be understood. Revelations of
these hidden dimensions of the body are often accompanied by great
joy and happiness. This is also known as bde-chen or great
blissfulness. Blissfulness is an inherent quality of primordial truth. By
tuning in to one’s own vajra structuring, insights and joyful
experiences will arise, transcending all sense of hardship and
difficulty. Full comprehension of the galaxy within corresponds to
control of the external elements. This is why Nyima Özer had no
difficulty controlling the sun or his lifespan. Through internal
knowledge and discipline, he gained mastery over such things. He
had realized a certain flexibility, a skillful means of exercising his will
that is incomprehensible to our modern views. This is the external
way to understand Guru Nyima Özer.
The inner way is to know your own internal structures to the point of
great blissfulness, great equanimity and the full realization of
primordial wisdom. When you become intimately familiar with the
channel and wind systems, when you understand the cycles of the
essence elements of the body, you will enjoy a clarity that will
eventually lead to primordial wisdom. This is how to understand the
inner meaning of Nyima Özer.
To practice on Guru Nyima Özer, meditate on love and compassion
and feel into the deeper nature of the mind. Visualize him as he is
usually depicted in thangkas. This form is known as Sambhoga
Nyima Özer. He has one face, two arms, and two legs. His skin color
is golden-red and his facial expression is semi-wrathful, with both
eyes opened wide and bulging a little. He has long hair, some of.
which is tied up above a tiara of five skulls, while most is hanging
loose over his shoulders. He has a moustache, beard and a few bone
ornaments. He is bare-chested and wears a tiger-skin skirt. His left
hand is making the subjugation mudra and he seems to be bringing
sunlight down on to the tip of his finger. His right hand is holding a
katvanga and he sits on a lotus with sun and moon discs, his left leg
partially extended and his right drawn in.
When meditating on Guru Nyima Özer, see him as a wisdom form, a
manifestation of love and compassion in a rainbow body, not as a
solid entity. In this condition, recite the Vajra Guru Mantra while the
radiance of Guru Nyima Özer shines on all sentient beings and even
illuminates the pure land. The blessing power of the Buddha rains
down on Guru Nyima Özer as he emanates a golden-red light. This
light envelops you and in resonance with the wind and channel
exercises, intensifies realization. Dissolve Guru Nyima Özer into the
golden-red light and absorb the light into your heart center where it
mingles with the primordial nature of the mind. Relax in that state
for as long as you can.
This is a very powerful practice for the actualization of beneficial
activities. If you are beginning to practice love and compassion and
value wisdom but are limited in your ability to embody your
understanding, Guru Nyima Özer will help you actualize these
qualities and bring them into relationship with sentient beings.
Remember that our visual and tactile perceptions of phenomena, the
vibrations registered by our auditory system, and our experience of
space or luminosity are all external displays of transformations
happening in our channel and wind systems. When this is
recognized, the essence elements are immediately transformed into
great emptiness-bliss. To abide in this way frees one from all
discomfort, hardship and difficulty. Everything is transformed into
great blissfulness. This is how to practice Guru Nyima Özer.
The fourth emanation is Guru Padmasambhava. He is part of the
continuity of enlightened activities which happened after Nyima
Özer and Loden Chokse. This emanation is about transforming
negative energy into more peaceful and compassionate forms,
developing the power, and expressing the inner urge of Guru
Padmasambhava which is the heart of loving-kindness and
compassion. There is no hint of suppression or repression in Guru
Padmasambhava. His negativity transforming disposition helps us to
grow ever stronger in compassion simply by coming into contact
with the emotional reactivity of others. This is the particular purpose
and power associated with this emanation of Guru Rinpoche.
The following story is a good example of the power of Guru
Padmasambhava in transforming negative energy into more peaceful
and loving forms. According to the biographies, there were at least
four different occasions on which people tried to burn Guru
Padmasambhava at the stake. The particular incident I am about to
relate also introduces the wisdom dakini, Princess Mandarava.
Guru Padmasambhava was meditating on Vulture Peak, the place
where Buddha Shakyamuni had delivered the Prajnaparamita
teachings. Upon internally inquiring where he might be able to offer
the most help to all beings, he had a vision of Zahor, a country
northwest of Bodhgaya. He also saw a wisdom dakini in his vision.
This was Mandarava, a perfectly enlightened being who happened to
be the daughter of the king. Guru Padmasambhava realized that with
her assistance, they could both achieve immortality or realize the
state of deathlessness. For these two reasons he immediately
manifested in the country of Zahor.
Geographically, the ancient border of Zahor would not be located far
from present-day Dharamsala where his Holiness the Dalai Lama is
living. There is a lake with lotuses there, called Tso-pema where Guru
Rinpoche performed many miraculous activities..
King Arsadhara of Zahor was quite wealthy and powerful at that
time. Although he had many queens, he had no sons and Mandarava
was his only daughter. Mandarava is a Sanskrit word, and the name
of a type of flower which translates roughly into English as “to catch
the mind” of others. During both her conception and birth there were
many auspicious signs and omens indicating that this would be a
remarkable child. After the little princess was born, she displayed all
the major and minor marks of a realized being. Mandarava grew
much faster than other children. It is said that she accomplished a
year’s growth in a week, quickly maturing into one of the most kind-hearted
and beautiful girls in that whole region. Everybody loved
and protected her. The young princess was popular throughout the
In those days, marriages were usually pre-arranged by the families.
Even today it is like this in many parts of India and Asia. Because she
was so beautiful and well-known, there were many kings, ministers
and rich people asking to marry Princess Mandarava. This worried
the king because he thought, “If I had hundreds of Mandaravas, I
could make friends and relations of them all, but unfortunately I only
have one Mandarava. If I give her to one, all the others will be angry.
Her husband might be happy, but everybody else will be upset.” He
fell into a dilemma and felt very confused as to a solution.
Finally, he decided to leave it up to Mandarava so that he could say it
was her choice. When asked, the Princess said she didn’t want any of
her suitors; she just wanted to practice and meditate. She had made a
decision and King Arsadhara was respectful of her choice. He had a
beautiful convent built and arranged for five hundred girls to
accompany Princess Mandarava in her quest for a spiritual life. They
all lived like nuns in hermitage.
One day during an outdoor practice, a magnificent rainbow appeared
high in the sky above the nunnery. In the center of this brilliant
rainbow light, Guru Padmasambhava appeared. As soon as he began
to speak, all the nuns felt a strong, intimate connection with him.
They asked him to come down and give more extensive teachings. So
he descended into the courtyard and was invited into the meditation
hall where he began to instruct them in the practices of the inner
tantras..Now a cowherd was in search of a cow by the hermitage. He couldn’t
find the cow, but while he was looking around, he thought he saw a
man being invited into the convent. Thinking that perhaps his eyes
had deceived him, he quietly approached the wall and heard what
was unmistakably a man’s voice coming from inside the convent. So
he went down to the village to tell everybody. Well, people were
quite upset. They didn’t like the idea of the nuns having a man in
their midst. If they wanted to study the Dharma and give up
household life, why did they invite this man in? And what was his
intention in being there? A few people decided to investigate for
themselves and concluded that there was definitely a man in the
royal convent. This was very shocking news and folks were not
prepared to accept such a state of affairs. Rumors multiplied
throughout the villages and by the time word got to the palace, it had
become an incredible scandal. King Arsadhara was extremely angry.
Even the queen mother was insulted. Emotionally, it was as if a
volcano had erupted in the royal chambers. A group of ministers and
soldiers were dispatched to check out the truth of the allegations, and
if they were true, to kill the offender and to punish everyone else
When the king’s delegation arrived at the convent’s meditation hall,
Guru Padmasambhava was expounding the Dharma while sitting on
a throne surrounded by all 500 nuns. Everybody was very calm and
peaceful. It looked like they were having a good time. When the
king’s men began to get aggressive, the nuns drew closer around
Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava. The Princess pleaded with them.
“Please don’t do this. This is our beloved teacher. He is helping guide
us to enlightenment. Tell that to my father. There is nothing else
going on here besides Dharma teachings.”
The men ignored her and Guru Padmasambhava was captured. His
hands were bound and they led him off surrounded by hordes of
people. They wanted to make sure that he did not try to run away. By
royal decree, his punishment was to be burned at the stake.
Mandarava was sentenced to prison for 25 years, while all 500 of her
attendants were sentenced to ten years. All of this was the king’s
decision. A great quantity of wood was collected from the local
households and soaked with sesame oil. Guru Rinpoche was tied in
the center and the pyre was lit. The king ordered that no one be
allowed into the area for a week except those who were tending the
fire..Now while Guru Rinpoche was in the midst of the flames, the fire
transformed into water, which soon became a lake encircled on its
outer perimeter by a ditch sporting a halo of upside-down flames. In
the center of this beautiful lake there was a wondrous lotus flower
and above that, Guru Padmasambhava was sitting in the posture of
royal ease, even more glorious than before. The guards who were
watching couldn’t believe what was happening but they attempted to
describe it in a message to the king. The king didn’t believe it either
and wanted it reconfirmed. The guards stuck by their story, so he
decided to come see for himself.
King Arsadhara cautiously approached the miraculous lake. At first,
he thought it was just a magical illusion, so he walked around the
outer ditch, trying to detect whether it was real or not. He blinked
and gazed hard, he rubbed his eyes and opened them wide as if there
was something wrong with his vision, but every time he turned to
look, he beheld the same incredible scene with Guru
Padmasambhava gloriously sitting in the center of a beautiful lotus
flower, looking more confident than ever. While the king was busy
making his investigation, Guru Padmasambhava called out,
“Welcome, oh ignorant king. You have such a narrow mind! Your
judgements are insane! You cannot do anything to me. Having
realized the great equanimity, my nature is like that of the sky which
cannot be burned or destroyed. Oh deceitful and obscured one, how
did you ever come to be king?”
Upon hearing this the King immediately felt very sorry about what
he had done. He fell on the ground and began doing prostrations
saying, “Master, please forgive me, I am sorry for all my ignorant
actions. I offer you my kingdom. Please come to the palace.”
Guru Padmasambhava answered “I don’t need a kingdom or a
palace.” So the king requested teachings and Guru Padmasambhava
accepted his invitation.
The king wanted to escort Guru Rinpoche in royal style, as he would
welcome another great monarch. He sent ministers back to the palace
to retrieve the royal vestments and presented Guru Padmasambhava
with ceremonial robes. In place of horses, King Arsadhara himself
pulled the Guru’s chariot into Zahor.
Historically, Guru Padmasambhava’s famous five-sided hat was a
gift from the King of Zahor. It was the King’s own coronation hat and
was offered to Guru Rinpoche as a symbol of respect. I don’t know if
he was wearing it when he came to Tibet or whether it was just one
of his favorites, but this five sided hat has become an auspicious
Mandarava and her 500 attendants were released from prison and
Guru Padmasambhava stayed in Zahor for a long time giving
Vajrayana teachings, specifically focusing on the combined
instruction of all the inner tantras. As a result, it is said that about
100.000 people, both men and women, reached the vidyadhara state.
This is considered a very high realization on the Vajrayana path and
Arsadhara, the king of Zahor, was among the fortunate ones.
The lake where they tried to burn Guru Padmasambhava is not far
from Dharamsala. It is still a popular place of pilgrimage. Maybe
some of you have gone there already or perhaps you will go in the
future. It is one of the major Buddhist pilgrimage spots in India.
In the nearby Himalayan region is an area called Kashmir which was
part of Tibet in ancient times. It is now part of India, but Kashmiri
culture is very much like that of Tibet. They wear clothing very
similar to the styles adopted by Tibetans and they practice Dharma.
They say that when Guru Padmasambhava emerged from the lake
surrounded by fire, the Kashmiri people were the first to offer him
tea. Therefore, they have a special connection with Guru Rinpoche.
Many young girls and groups of old ladies come to the lake holding
hands, and, while sitting on the shore of the lake, they chant and sing
for hours at a time. There is a small island which floats on the lake
called “The Lotus Stalk.” It consists of a tangle of roots, some soil and
a bit of bush. They say that whenever the women come and sing, that
island moves, confirming their unique connection with Guru
Rinpoche. We saw this ourselves. They start singing and the island
begins moving. It is really kind of nice. It is not a very big island, but
when the women chanted, the wind picked up and blew it toward
them. Sometimes these women even throw gold rings and jeweled
ornaments on to the island and when they leave, the island drifts
back out toward the center. This actually happens in Tso-pema. We’ve
seen it with our own eyes quite a few times..
After this, Guru Padmasambhava went to the Martika Cavern, which
is renowned as the Cave of Immortality. There he practiced with
Mandarava for three months on the Buddha Amitayus. At the end of
this period, Buddha Amitayus appeared and initiated them into
deathlessness. Guru Rinpoche and Mandarava realized immortality.
They had defeated Mara, the demon of death. As we have already
said, Guru Padmasambhava is a totally enlightened being, prior to
appearing in this or any world. He is a direct emanation of Buddha
Amitabha and a reincarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni. This means he
is free from both emotional and mental obscurations and is always
transcendent to death and mortality. But on the relative level, he
came to this realization in Martika Cave.
Guru Padmasambhava is the always present Buddha. His influence is
still with us. His inspiration, his blessings, and his presence pervade
Tibetan history. He did not merely appear in the eighth century and
then disappear. In every century, the great masters of all four schools
of Tibetan Buddhism have been guided by Guru Rinpoche directly or
indirectly. His presence is always with us, which is why he has
become known as the always living or present Buddha. This is
another way of understanding the truth of Guru Rinpoche’s
In historical terms, Guru Padmasambhava was born eight years after
Buddha Shakyamuni’s mahaparinirvana. Yet when he came to Tibet
in the eighth century, he was still young. As I said earlier, we cannot
comprehend enlightened activities within the limits of our ordinary
conceptions. We cannot fathom these stories because our knowledge
is very restricted and will not accept what the mind perceives as
contradictory. For example, there are teachings which say that Guru
Padmasambhava came to Tibet when he was 3000 years old. In
ancient India they employed a system which counted the waxing
moon as one month and the waning moon as another month. That
way, one year becomes two. But this still means he was at least 1500
years old when he came to Tibet. It is very difficult to fit this
statement in with the rest of our knowledge. Occasionally you will
see people over one hundred on television and invariably, they
appear very old. It is often difficult for them to move. Most of us
would be surprised if a 100 year old man could walk through the
doorway of his house, never mind a 1500 year old man crossing the
Himalayas!.When Guru Padmasambhava became immortal, he completely
transformed all the gross elements into their subtle wisdom forms.
These wisdom elements are free from decay, decline and change.
Liberation from these notions gave him the flexibility and openness
to perform many incomprehensible activities. This also applies to
wisdom dakini Mandarava. She too, is a totally enlightened,
immortal being who has appeared again and again in many different
forms. Mandarava was only the first of these incarnations. The
second is known among the Gelugpas, the Sakyas and Kagyus as the
Queen of Accomplishment. In another incarnation, she is a famous
long-life Buddha emanating from the Padma family. Around the
tenth century there lived a great yogini named Machig Lapdron who
was yet another emanation of the wisdom dakini Mandarava.
It is important to understand that all the activities of Guru Rinpoche
are designed to break through the rigidity of dualistic concepts and
conventions. He is beyond the limits of worldly views and traditions.
In one sense, these conditional forms are very important and special,
but in another way, they are just conceptual systems developed to
solve certain problems, none of which apply to the realization of the
true nature. Our view of things is a creation or product of our
conceptualizing. Guru Padmasambhava’s activities transcend these
definitions and indicate that in order to become enlightened we have
to go beyond mundane approaches.
Guru Rinpoche has appeared in the world in the guise of kings and
queens, royal ministers, peasants, children, and even as animals. He
continues to appear in many different ways in order to help beings
break down the walls of dualistic conceptions which restrict
understanding, liberating them into the vastness of equanimity. That
is the focus of Guru Rinpoche’s activity. As the embodiment of
ultimate bodhicitta, he uses many different forms to communicate.
Bodhicitta is available to every sentient being all the time, throughout
the day, from year to year throughout all our lifetimes and on into
the future forever. It is something that is very special for every one of
us. In developing bodhicitta, we don’t have to make any particular
effort to remove negative qualities, such as anger and jealousy. The
generation of bodhicitta naturally removes these obstacles, just as
darkness naturally disappears the moment the sun rises in the
eastern sky. Compassion is one of the primary roots of spiritual
practice. Every spiritual discipline must be based upon compassion.
and for that reason Guru Padmasambhava taught that if you don’t
have compassion, then the root of your spirituality will be rotten. It
might even start to smell.
Everybody needs love and compassion all the time. There is nobody
who will refuse the gift and benefits of love and compassion. These
qualities are well symbolized by the lotus flower or padma which is
always fresh and lovely. Everyone can appreciate its beauty.
Sambhava means essence or identity. This means that the essence of
all blessing and benefit for beings in samsara is bodhicitta. It is the
essence of real spiritual practice and we should continually develop it
Practicing on Guru Padmasambhava will help us cultivate bodhicitta
and transform negativity. So begin meditating with the bodhicitta
attitude and then visualize a small sphere of white light which has a
reddish glow. This transforms into the transcendental wisdom body
of Guru Padmasambhava with one face, two arms and two legs. His
complexion is a rich white and his demeanour is very peaceful. He is
wearing a red monk’s hat. Sometimes I wear the same kind of hat
when I give empowerments. It is tall and pointed. He sits on a lotus
surmounted by sun and moon discs. His right hand is making the
protection mudra, while his left hand holds a skull-cup filled with
amrita or long-life nectar. During the practice, imagine that the
wisdom blessing of this nectar flows out to you and all sentient
beings, purifying negative emotions, mental obscurations, diseases,
external obstacles and so forth. Do this until you feel that everything
has been completely transformed into the purity of the original
sphere of primordial wisdom.
You can do this meditation anytime, but it is particularly effective
when your mind feels disturbed, tired, and crowded with too many
conceptions, over-busy with stressful thoughts and heavy attitudes.
Of course, you can also do other practices at such times, but when
you need to transform or regenerate your energy, it is especially good
to meditate on Guru Padmasambhava. It will revitalize your life force
and help balance the essence elements of the body. Feel deeply into
his presence with love and compassion, and arouse bodhicitta. When
you excel in the practice on bodhicitta, you are filling your whole
body, your heart, all your channels and wind systems, with the
energy of love, compassion and wisdom. This brings a calm and
peaceful state of relaxation and helps create a nice atmosphere for.
other sentient beings, harmonizing both internal and external
While clearly visualizing Guru Padmasambhava, begin reciting the
Vajra Guru Mantra. Open your heart and mind until you are full of
love, compassion and wisdom and chant in that mood for as long as
you have time. When you are finished, dissolve the visualization into
a sphere of white light with a reddish tinge around the edges and
draw it into your heart center. Meditate for awhile in that non-dual
disposition and then dedicate the merit to all sentient beings.
This completes four emanations, so we have four more to go.
Guru Shakya Sengé
Lion of the Shakyas
The fifth emanation is Guru Shakya Sengé, the form of Guru
Rinpoche demonstrating the means of awakening within this lifetime
through discipline and detachment. This is a very simple and gentle
approach, the gradual way of enlightenment. Shakya Sengé wears
monk’s robes and embodies the principle of realization through the
After Buddha Shakyamuni’s mahaparinirvana, there were seven
generations of regents, the first being Mahakashyapa and the second,
Ananda. The third and fourth lineage holders, Sanavasika (T.
Nimakungwa) and Upagupta, were originally Ananda’s students.
Guru Shakya Sengé was ordained along with both of them by the
Venerable Ananda on a small island in the Ganges River. There is a
tradition of performing ordinations on such islands, which continues
even today in Sri Lanka. Some schools don’t ever give the full
ordination on land. They’ll go out on a river, a lake or the ocean and
do it in a boat. It is said that when Guru Shakya Sengé was ordained,
the earth goddess offered him monk’s robes and a begging bowl in
the presence of the buddhas of the ten directions.
After his ordination, Shakya Sengé practiced according to the
traditional system which involves study, contemplation, and
meditation. For more than twenty years he studied with Ananda,
primarily focusing on the Tripitaka, or the Three Baskets of teachings;
the vinaya, sutra and abhidharma. Guru Shakya Sengé mastered the
Tripitaka as well as the outer and inner tantras and realized
After studying with Ananda, Guru Shakya Sengé spent many years
in Bodhgaya. He practiced and taught the vinaya, sutra and
abhidharma, serving many who were particularly suited to these
teachings. Then he went to Rajagrha or Vulture Peak, one of the most
famous places in the world of Buddhism. Here he meditated on the
Prajnaparamita Sutras. The Buddha said that Vulture Peak has a
special power to pacify the mind so as to reveal its true nature.
Shakya Sengé went to meditate and contemplate the Prajnaparamita
in all the places Buddha had originally given these teachings.
In Nepal, Guru Shakya Sengé took up the Vajrayana. In particular, he
practiced on Vajrakilaya, which is one of the eight heruka teachings.
These are very secret transmissions, the innermost of the tantric
sadhanas. He practiced and meditated on Yangdag Heruka and
Vajrakilaya for about three years. With this combination, he reached
the highest Heruka level which is known as Mahamudra.
Mahamudra is the understanding of great emptiness in which the
entire universe is seen as great emptiness-bliss, within which
everything manifests. According to historical accounts, Guru
Rinpoche came to this realization in Nepal during the emanation
time of Guru Shakya Sengé.
Vajrakilaya is a very important deity of the inner tantras. He
represents the power and activities of all the Buddhas of the three
times and ten directions. So by achieving the same realization as
Vajrakilaya, Guru Rinpoche gained the ability to subdue negative
forces all over the world. He used his ability to heal an eruption of
the dark forces of the earth and sky that was taking place in Nepal at
the time. These were among the activities of Guru Shakya Sengé,
although he is mainly associated with discipline and gentleness.
In spite of his high realization, Guru Shakya Sengé follows the
simplest ways and skillfully makes use of ordinary forms. He
represents authentic spiritual development which proceeds from the
ground level. He is not passively absorbed in a high state but is
working from the grassroots. Even though Guru Shakya Sengé is
fully realized, he makes appropriate use of worldly conventions. To
be well aware of the law of karmic causation and to apply this
knowledge in practice is the essential teaching of Guru Shakya Sengé.
Guru Shakya Sengé’s activities had a profound influence on King
Ashoka, the most famous and powerful monarch in all of Indian
history. Ashoka was predicted by Buddha Shakyamuni in the
following way; one day the Buddha was going to the city to beg for
lunch. On the way, he passed a beach where a group of children were
playing. They were building sand castles complete with structures for
the king’s court and treasure house. The children had even taken on
positions such as king, queen, and ministers..As the Buddha and his
students approached, the little boy who was acting as the king saw
them coming and was very happy. He picked up a handful of the sand
and gravel which symbolized the royal treasure and ran toward the Buddha.
When Ananda saw that the child was going to put sand in the Buddha’s
begging bowl, he was ready to turn the boy away, but the Buddha said,
“Let me accept his offering.
This is special.” The Buddha lowered his bowl, but the child could not reach it.
So the boy called for one of his little ministers.
The boy king asked his friend to get down on all fours and then stood on
his back to put the offering in Buddha’s begging bowl.
Ananda and the other students saw all this and were very amazed.
They asked, “Who is this child?” And Buddha replied, “This boy is
uncommon. Through his aspirations and this connection with me
here today, he will become a very great king about two hundred and
fifty years after my mahaparinirvana. He will help spread my
Dharma and support the sangha. He will create as many monuments
to the Buddha throughout the world as the grains of sand which he
carries on his palms. This is a very special child and his companions
who helped him today will continue to support this boy’s activities in
the future.” Then the Buddha did a special dedication prayer and
continued on into the city. That was his prophesy about King
As predicted, Ashoka appeared about two hundred years after
Buddha’s mahaparinirvana. He was the son of a very famous
monarch, but he was not considered a prince because he wasn’t born
in the palace. The King had been with another woman outside the
palace and Ashoka was her son. Everybody knew of this. Most of
Ashoka’s half-brothers lived within the palace walls. When the king
died, the brothers all started fighting for the throne. It seems the only
thing that they all agreed on was that Ashoka should not be king. But
Ashoka wanted to be king, and in any case, he had to defend himself
against the anger and jealousy of his half-brothers. The situation
culminated in a terrible fight one day which involved many of the
sons but finally, Ashoka emerged victorious. He had killed all the
others to become king. Soon he moved the palace from the original
site to Pataliputra. Today this place is known as Patna. Having re-established
his capital at Pataliputra, Ashoka, a very powerful and
vigorous fighter, started conquering other kingdoms and became
ruler of nearly all of central India..Ashoka pursued military conquest for
years and killed many people.
He was a very violent and cruel king. In some accounts, it is said that
he wouldn’t even eat lunch before he killed someone. In those times
there was a school centering on a wrathful female goddess. Ashoka
was a follower of this sect and his master told him that if he executed
10,100 human beings and offered them to the goddess, his power
would increase, but since this was a ritual, he was not to do it in the
ordinary, military way. So Ashoka had a ceremonial house built right
at the central junction of Pataliputra. It had four doors, one in each of
the four directions and whoever was unfortunate enough to step
inside would be executed, according to the king’s orders.
As Buddha Shakyamuni stated, Ashoka had a good, strong
foundation for the Dharma but for the moment, his great motivations
were obscured. In order to help dispel those obscurations, Guru
Rinpoche came in the form of a simple monk and stepped inside the
house of sacrifice. The executioner asked him to come forward and
drew his sword.
The monk asked, “Why are you going to kill me?”
The executioner replied, “Because these are the king’s orders. It is
part of a special ceremony.”
So the monk said, “Let me stay here for one week and after that you
can kill me.” The butcher agreed to this and the monk immediately
started telling him about the six realms of existence, describing each
one in detail. At the end, he pointed out that if he had already been
killed, the butcher would never have heard this profound teaching.
The monk meditated awhile and then gave more extensive teachings
on the hell realms. He told the butcher about the karma of killing and
hurting sentient beings, saying that this would lead to birth in
various hell realms. He explained how certain negative thoughts and
actions relate to specific forms of suffering.
Well, as it happened, the butcher thought, “Until now I only knew
one way of killing, but this monk has taught me many more. When
the week is over, I am going to boil him in a big pot and then roast
By the end of the week, the executioner had prepared everything just
the way he wanted it. He had the monk thrown alive into a huge.
cauldron of boiling soup. Then he pulled out and roasted him for
awhile, But then, in the midst of the fire, he saw Guru Shakya Sengé
sitting cross legged on a lotus. Thinking this rather extraordinary, he
informed the king. Ashoka had to come see this for himself.
When Ashoka was entering the room, the executioner suddenly
recalled his mandate to kill whoever came through the door.
So he drew his sword, and the King, who never travelled without a
weapon, drew his own and asked, “Why are you trying to kill me?”
“Those were your orders,” the executioner answered.
And the king said, “I don’t remember giving you any orders to kill
The butcher reminded him, “You ordered me to kill the first ten
thousand people who come into this room. I still have a ways to go.
Therefore I am under orders to kill you.”
So Ashoka said, “Well, if that is the case, you were in here first, so
maybe I should kill you!”
At that point, the monk effortlessly levitated up into the sky. After
performing the four activities of sitting, standing, laying down and
walking in space, he began giving teachings. They were still having
quite an argument while the monk was performing these miraculous
activities in the sky above them.
Soon, Guru Shakya Sengé began to talk to them about how bad the
karma is for taking the lives of other sentient beings. “These are
terrible actions,” he said. “This is not the Dharma, which is a positive
path. Stop all this violence. Since the king is unwilling to give his
own life in this ceremony, how can he take the lives of others? You
have been told about the evils of killing, so you should not take the
lives of others anymore.”
The monk warned, “By taking advantage of your power and using it
for selfish ends, you will end up suffering far more than your
Upon hearing this, both King andexecutioner dropped their swords
and became blissfully aware of the Guru who continued giving.teachings.
Ashoka himself destroyed the sacrificial house and then took refuge in
the Three Jewels.
Historical records relate that after this episode, Ashoka vowed that
he would never again touch a sword with violent or negative
thoughts. It is said that he became the most gentle and peaceful king
of all time. Even without making war, Ashoka’s loving-kindness and
compassionate attitude insured that his domain grew even bigger
and more prosperous until his kingdom covered a large part of
southern Asia. It spread from Afghanistan on the west to Burma and
Cambodia in the east and south to Sri Lanka. Ashoka visited the
pilgrimage places of the Buddha and erected many stone pillars,
inscription stelae, pyramid-shaped monuments and one million
stupas containing Buddha relics throughout these lands. In Nepal,
there are four or five stupas near Kathmandu that were built by
Ashoka and there are many others all over India.
Previously, he had been known as Ashoka the Cruel, but since he’d
become a follower of Dharma his name was changed to
Dharmashoka. He is one of the greatest examples of a religious
monarch in the history of the world. In the guise of a simple monk,
Guru Padmasambhava helped bring Ashoka to the Dharma.
That was the external version of the story concerning Guru Shakya
Sengé’s activities in Pataliputra. The inner meaning is that bodhicitta
is the absolute state of Guru Shakya Sengé. This supremely beneficial
thought arising from the expanse of infinite love and immeasurable
compassion is always coemergent with wisdom. Wisdom matures the
expression of love and compassion so that they become pure and
true. These qualities are not externally existing, as if you would have
to acquire them from anywhere outside yourself. They are all
naturally inherent within you. Love and compassion are already
yours to share. Look into your mind and discover that it has a
wondrous array of original attributes. Loving-kindness and
compassion are supreme among these primordial qualities.
The precious bodhicitta is radiating all the time, guiding us through
all our difficulties even though we are hardly aware of it. Love and
compassion inspire us to communicate and make friends with each
other. They are completely based in primordial wisdom and
inseparable from the nature of ordinary awareness. Therefore, when
we start to actively develop bodhicitta, negative emotions, such as.
anger, hatred, jealousy, and violent thoughts, naturally dissolve and
vanish. When you begin to cultivate genuine loving-kindness and
compassion, ego-clinging and obstructions naturally disappear. At
the same time, you feel great joy, peace and happiness which can be
shared and appreciated by your friends and others. We should grow
strong in the practice of friendliness and compassion toward all
The absolute way to understand Guru Shakya Sengé is as detachment
and simplicity; to find satisfaction, joy and happiness in following the
middle path between asceticism and luxury. This principle is well
represented in the serene mood and transcendent discipline
expressed in artistic representations of Guru Shakya Sengé.
The Sambhoga Guru Shakya Sengé portrayed on thangkas looks a lot
like Buddha Shakyamuni in a monk’s robe with one face, two arms,
two legs and a top knot or unishaka on his crown chakra. In Tibetan,
this feature is called tsupa which is nothing other than a dark blue
concentration of wisdom light. His skin is golden and his robes are
red. He holds a begging bowl in the palm of his left hand while
sitting on a lotus with sun and moon discs. Whereas Buddha
Shakyamuni stretches his right hand down in the earth touching
mudra, Guru Shakya Sengé holds a five-pointed vajra. Like all the
other emanations, his body is luminous and transparent, being
completely of the nature of a wisdom-rainbow body.
As in all the previous meditations, begin with the supreme thought to
benefit others. Visualize a small sphere of golden light which
transforms into Guru Shakya Sengé. Recite the Vajra Guru mantra for
as long as you’d like before absorbing the golden wisdom-essence
into your heart. Remain in non-dual meditation for a while and then
dedicate the merit to all sentient beings.
Among the six paramitas, Guru Shakya Sengé is associated with sila.
By making us more calm and peaceful, practice on Guru Shakya
Sengé will naturally develop moral strength, discipline and perfect
conduct, which leads to deeper concentration and contemplation. The
middle path beyond asceticism and indulgence leads to great
equanimity and a profound realization of the true nature. This is the
main principle embodied in the emanation of Guru Shakya Sengé.
Guru Sengé Dradok
The Lion’s Roar
The sixth manifestation of Padmasambhava is Guru Sengé Dradok.
Sengé Dradok is the first of the two wrathful emanations of Guru
Rinpoche, the other being Dorje Drollo. Wrathful deities are
particularly useful in counteracting negative influences from black
magic, curses and other disturbances, such as people who malign you
for no good reason. Guru Sengé Dradok is very efficient in subduing
or pacifying such obstacles.
Sengé Dradok emanated in India. Orissa, which is not far from
Calcutta, was the site of a very famous stone lingam and yoni which
symbolizes Shiva in union with his consort. Every day people would
slaughter and burn many animals there in ceremonial sacrifices.
Sengé Dradok went there and pointed his finger at this lingam until it
cracked and burst. People took that as a sign and stopped making
animal sacrifices in that area.
Another story related to Guru Sengé Dradok took place north of
Bodhgaya at Nalanda, the largest monastery in the history of
Buddhism as well as the first great university on earth. As part of the
contemplation practices at Nalanda, practitioners engaged in debates
so as to refine their understanding of the Dharma. Everyday, there
were lively exchanges expressing the viewpoints of the various
schools within Buddhism as well as arguments in support of the
tenets of some non-buddhist traditions. These contests still go on at
some of the bigger monasteries.
In ancient times, it was expected that the loser of the debate would
convert to the winner’s viewpoint. It happened that a group of 500
powerful, non-Buddhist scholars came to Nalanda. For the most part,
they were black magicians, so they requested a two-part competition,
the normal scholarly debate, followed by a contest of magic. Nalanda
was full of scholars and it was easy to find five hundred qualified
debaters, but no one at Nalanda was skilled in magic. They knew that
this could cost them the debate and force them to convert, so they
had a meeting to figure out what to do..Suddenly a black lady appeared
in the sky before them and said:
“Don’t worry. My brother can help you.”
“Who is your brother?” they asked.
“His name is Padmavajra,” she replied.
“Where is he?” they asked.
“He is now living in the darkness of the Frightful Charnel Ground.
You must call on him to come.”
And they said, “We don’t have his number. How should we invite
So the black lady taught them the secret hot-line code:
The Seven Line Prayer.
She told them Padmavajra would appear if they petitioned
him in this way. As they chanted the prayer from the rooftops of
Nalanda, Guru Rinpoche immediately appeared and agreed to help
Come the day of the debate, the Buddhists easily won the first half of
the contest. The non-buddhist school then threatened them with by
saying that after a week there would be plenty of signs. So Guru
Rinpoche practiced on Singhamukha, the Lion-faced dakini, and she
immediately gave him the appropriate teachings to actualize the
completion stage. When a week had passed, a host of frightful omens
like violent winds and thunder came. Guru Rinpoche transformed
into the wrathful Sengé Dradok and with the freedom and power of
the lion’s roar, he made the subjugation mudra and threw the
thunderback at them. They also conjured other minor forms of
disturbing magic, like threatening entities hovering in the sky and
other terrible things. Guru Sengé Dradok pointed the subjugation
mudra and the dark shadows immediately fell to the ground. This
was how he protected Nalanda University and helped meditative
and contemplative activity continue flourishing there. All these
extraordinary actions are associated with the energy of Guru Sengé
The form of Guru Sengé Dradok is especially helpful in subduing the
irrational energies of black magic as well as at dispelling bad omens.
and nightmares. If, unexpected obstacles suddenly arise, he has the
power to neutralize both visible and invisible beings and to avert
natural disasters. Guru Sengé Dradok can pacify all such threats. He
is also a strong buddha for overcoming jealousy. When you stop
being jealous, your attitude becomes one of love and compassion.
There is nothing obstructing the free radiation of beautiful qualities.
Sengé Dradok is a wrathful emanation but his wrath is basically
directed toward the destruction of jealously and greed. It is not
accompanied by attachment and clinging; there is nothing to win or
lose. Rather, this wrath actively dispels lust and envy. There are
many wrathful deities in the Vajrayana, but none of them are angry
or emotionally negative. These forms express the intensity of true
love and the fierceness of genuine compassion involved in dispelling
attachment, ignorance and anger. There is a line from a Vajrakilaya
tantra which says, “The vajra wrath of bodhicitta cuts through and
destroys anger.” This is very important to understand. The wrathful
nature of Guru Sengé Dradok is totally based upon love and
compassion for all sentient beings.
The absolute way to meditate on Guru Sengé Dradok is to transcend
jealousy and greed. This will instantly overcome black magic, curses,
hexes, nightmares, and unexpected obstacles.
To practice on Guru Sengé Dradok, begin by cultivating a feeling of
loving kindness and bodhicitta. Then visualize a dark blue sphere of
light within a churning black cloud which transforms into the
wisdom rainbow form of Guru Sengé Dradok. His skin color is dark
blue and he has one face, two arms and two legs. Wearing a tiger-skin
and surrounded by wisdom fire, he stands upon a demon who
embodies negative habit energy and black magic. All of this is
happening above a lotus surmounted by sun and moon disks. A
crown of five skulls sits on his head and his long reddish-yellow hair
blows up into the sky. He has three glaring eyes looking upward and
four fangs. His right hand holds a flaming, five-pointed vajra high in
the air and his left hand makes the subjugation mudra toward the
earth. Lightning bolts fly from the tips of his fingers and sometimes
you will see eight-spoked iron wheels spinning amidst the flames.
Imagine he is chanting with great power, the syllables HUM and
PHAT! Like a lion’s roar, the deep vibration of his voice shakes the
entire world..Visualize Sengé Dradrog and recite the Vajra Guru
Mantra as much as you can while he radiates wisdom lights which
dissolve all negativity, black magic, bad omens, nightmares,
or anything in the environment that might seem a little strange or unusual.
Feel that these obstacles are completely removed by his blessing.
Finally, dissolve Sengé Dradok into a dark blue light which merges
with your heart center. Remain in meditation as long as you can and then
dedicate the merit to all beings.
Guru Padma Jungné.
The seventh emanation of Guru Rinpoche is called Guru Padma
Jungné. According to Guru Rinpoche’s biography, six emanations
occurred outside of Tibet. Again, it is difficult to organize these
stories into a linear time-frame because Guru Rinpoche’s wisdom
activities are not limited by time and space; but traditionally, this
emanation and the last one I described, appeared within the borders
First, I would like to give you some background on the introduction
of the Buddhadharma to Tibet. Buddhism originally came to Tibet
around the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth century.
Tibetan histories recount that around that time, some Mahayana
scriptures, a golden stupa and a tsa-tsa mold were found on the roof
of the royal palace of Yum-bu bla-sgang in Yarlung. Tsa-tsa molds
are used to make small dough stupas, eight of which can be stacked
together to make a bigger stupa. Some accounts say that the twenty-eighth
ancestral king of Tibet, lHa-tho-tho-ri was sixty years old and
walking on the palace roof when these things descended from the
sky. This was early in the fifth century and the palace is considered
the first actual building in Tibet. Before that, most people lived in
tents and caves. There is still a monument there, although the
remaining ruins were completely destroyed during the Chinese
cultural revolution. Recently, I heard it has been restored in the
Another history states that an Indian monk brought these teachings
to the twenty-eighth ancestral king and told him that in five
generations they would be understood and that meanwhile, they
should be kept safe. In the fourth century, Tibetans still didn’t have a
written language so neither the king nor anyone else could
comprehend their meaning, but lHa-tho-tho-ri just knew they were
something special and auspicious. So he guarded and venerated
these precious treasures and as a result of his faith, his body was
rejuvenated and his life was extended for sixty more years. After a
long and prosperous reign, he died at one hundred and twenty
without knowing anything more about these objects. This was the
dawn of Dharma in Tibet.
Five generations later, in the sixth century, the thirty-third dynastic
king was the renowned Srong-btsam sgan-gam-po, who is considered
an emanation of Avalokitesvara. Srong-btsam sgan-gam-po built the.
city of Lhasa which has been the capital ever since. He also sent his
minister Thon-mi Sambhota and a group of young Tibetans to study
Sanskrit in India. After returning, they created a systematic grammar
and alphabet for the Tibetan language and began the translation and
study of about twenty-one dharma texts from India, as well as other
Besides his Tibetan queens, Srong-btsam sgan-gam-po was married
to Wen-ch’eng, a princess from Chinese T’ang dynasty as well as
Bhrkuti, daughter of King Amsuvarman from Nepal. In those days,
Tibet was expanding and intermarrying with these families helped
consolidate his empire. The Buddhadharma was already well
established in China and Nepal, so both of his foreign wives were
devout Buddhists and brought a lot of Buddha’s teachings and two
famous statues to Tibet, but outside of the royal court and a few
select Tibetans, there were hardly any practitioners.
The thirty-eighth king in the dynasty was Trisrong Deutsen, who was
born around 740. At this time, Tibetan kings had grown powerful
and extended their domain through military conquest, so Tibet was
much larger than the area we now call Tibet. It stretched from the
Bay of Bengal to Nepal, east to China, including Sikkim and Bhutan
and then northwest up to Khotan. Trisrong Deutsen’s father, Mes-ag-tshom,
had died when the prince was only twelve. So young Trisrong
Deutsen came to the throne at age thirteen and served as a military
general, leading the Tibetan armies on various campaigns. For eight
years he remained dedicated to waging war, although at seventeen
his mind began to change and he was moved to look a little deeper.
He already knew that his father and grandfathers had valued the
Dharma but now it began to be meaningful to him. Although he
continued to lead his troops into battle for four more years, he began
reading a lot of Buddhist texts, and the happiness he felt in doing this
made it clear to him that the Dharma was something very special. He
was very inspired and moved by the Buddha’s teachings.
Among his ministers there were some Buddhist practitioners who
were more than happy to provide the king with Dharma texts.
Historically, three are named; the Diamond Sutra, a text on moral
conduct and the Grain of Rice Sutra. Buddha had originally given
this last teaching to a farmer in a rice field. As a King, Trisrong
Deutsen could appreciate the wisdom of the teaching on good
conduct. Upon reading The Grain of Rice Sutra, he understood that.
good conduct was not simply an end in itself, but that it was even
more valuable because it resulted in good contemplation. By the time
he’d finished reading the Diamond Sutra, he understood that the
Buddha’s teachings were not merely concerned with morality or
contemplation, but that their wisdom went very, very deep, to the
heart of things. Having comprehended some of the profundity and
implications of these teachings, he resolved to take significant action
to firmly establish Dharma in Tibet.
A group of younger, spiritually oriented ministers were instructed by
the King to find out who was the most highly qualified Buddhist
teacher in the world. Three groups were sent to three different places:
to China, India and to an area which is now in Afghanistan. One
minister travelled with three attendants to each destination, so
altogether, twelve people embarked. Upon returning, they all agreed
that the abbot of Nalanda University, an Indian monk named
Shantarakshita, was widely considered to be the supreme teacher of
his day. So the King decided to invite this great Khenpo to Tibet.
King Trisrong Deutsen sent a team of twelve messengers employing
redundancy and other safeguards to insure that his invitation to
Shantarakshita would get through. When Shantarakshita received it,
he was truly overjoyed and said, “I have waited for this opportunity
for a long time. There is nothing preventing me from going so I will
not delay. The time has arrived. I must depart immediately.”
Travel between Tibet and India was even more difficult and
dangerous in those days than it is now. It is always nice and warm in
the Indian lowlands, while Tibet is at a high altitude and gets very,
very cold. While aware of these hardships, Shantarakshita did not
hesitate. He made the journey to Tibet and stayed in the royal palace
for four months. During that time, the King and Queen took refuge
vows along with a small group of ministers. He gave teachings on the
ten virtues, the twelve links of interdependent origination, and the
eighteen dhatus. He taught in a very basic way during those four
Meanwhile, a number of natural disasters occurred. Tibetans were
suffering from earthquakes, floods and the outbreak of an epidemic.
Many people blamed these troubles on Shantarakshita’s presence.
They complained that his teachings were alien and blamed the King
and Queen for inviting this strange person into the royal palace.
They.said the old monk’s teachings were at the root of all the current
misfortune and that he should be sent back over the mountain where
he came from.
In ancient Tibet, as in every country, the natives considered
themselves to be the best of all people and to occupy the central land
while the rest of the world was referred to as wild frontier or border
regions. So they wanted to send the stranger who had brought these
terrible disasters back across the border. They made a strong
statement to the King that he would have to get rid of his foreign
Trisrong Deutsen heard this but would not change his mind. He
courageously held to his commitment to bring the Buddhadharma to
Tibet. He was very sad to see all this happening, but his resolve was
never shaken. One day he came to Shantarakshita and began crying.
After explaining the nature of his problems, the King said, “I
sincerely wish that I could bring the Buddhadharma to my country.
How can we pacify this situation?”
Shantarakshita said, “Don’t worry about it. There are some natural
imbalances and negative spirits in Tibet. They will not accept the
Dharma easily and that is why these things have occurred. In order to
subdue these negative forces you should invite the renowned
teacher, Guru Padmasambhava. He is the greatest master on earth at
this time and can easily pacify all of these obstacles.”
And then the King asked, “If I invite him, will he come?”
Shantarakshita replied that Guru Padmasambhava would definitely
come. “You see,” he explained, “You and I and Guru
Padmasambhava, the three of us together, have a special connection,
a commitment from previous lives to bring the Buddhadharma to
this land where there is no Buddhadharma. The time is right. If you
invite him, you can be sure he will come. In the meantime, I will go to
Nepal. When Guru Padmasambhava comes, I will return and we can
all work together. We will make some good changes.”
And so the king sent Shantarakshita back across the border. When he
was ready to leave, the King offered the abbot a big bowl of gold dust
and Shantarakshita said, “I don’t need all of this, but I will take a
handful as a gift to the king of Nepal,” and he gave the rest back.
King Trisrong Deutsen sent three attendants to accompany.
Shantarakshita to Nepal, and at the same time he dispatched another
twelve messengers to invite Guru Padmasambhava to Tibet.
Now Guru Rinpoche, being totally omniscient, already knew the
whole situation, so instead of staying in India to wait for them, he
went to the Nepali-Tibetan frontier. He was sitting right by the
border when the Tibetans came walking along. They didn’t know
who he was, but the moment they saw him, they felt very calm and
peaceful. Guru Padmasambhava asked them, “Where are you fellows
“To India,” they answered. It was still a long way to India. His
presence was overwhelming and glorious. They began to feel very
happy and blissful. Their bodies began shaking.
“Why are you all going to India?” he asked.
“We have been sent by the King of Tibet to invite a very famous
master known as Guru Padmasambhava to come and give teachings
in our country.”
So Guru Padmasambhava asked, “I see. So what do you have to offer
In spite of the good feelings that they were having, this question
made them nervous; who was this man and what were his
One of them ventured to ask, “Well, are you Guru
He then began telling them the contents of their minds and thoughts
in such detail that they all knew without a doubt that this was the
very person they sought, Guru Padmasambhava. They did many full
prostrations and offered him the king’s gold along with a long letter.
Guru Padmasambhava looked at the gold and said, “This is a gift?
But it is so tiny! What is this, a gift from the king of the hungry ghost
realm? Don’t you have anything else?”.They went through the rest of
their things and offered him all of their personal belongings.
Guru Padmasambhava asked again, “Do you have anything else to
“We have nothing more to give than this gold from the King,” they
said, “but we sincerely offer you our bodies, speech and minds.”
Upon hearing this, Guru Padmasambhava was very pleased and
said, “That is wonderful.” By the devotion of these messengers he
could see that Tibetans were ready to practice the Dharma, and in
particular, the Vajrayana teachings. This heart-felt response
communicated the basic attitude necessary for Vajrayana practice.
Then Guru Padmasambhava made a closer inspection of the primary
offering. It was actually quite a big sack of gold. He looked at it for a
moment and then said, “I don’t need this!” and he began throwing
gold dust into the air, scattering most of it in the direction of Tibet.
The messengers thought, “He shouldn’t be doing this. This is
precious gold.” Guru Rinpoche immediately read their worried
minds and told the messengers to hold out their chubas, the sash
which is part their robes. When they did this, he started picking up
handfuls of dirt from the ground and threw it in their laps where it
was instantly transformed into gold.
“Don’t worry about gold,” he said. “Keep what you have now and
take it back with you. I will come to Tibet, but I will be travelling
slowly and subduing negative forces on the way. We cannot travel
together. You must go ahead of me. I will arrive in central Tibet in
about three weeks. Tell your King I am coming.”
So the messengers returned to Tibet and told King Trisrong Deutsen
what had happened on their journey. For the most part, the King was
overjoyed, but a doubtful thought crossed his mind. He did not know
whether to believe that Guru Padmasambhava would actually come.
Two days walk from Lhasa is a place called Todlung pleasure park.
At the head of that valley is the place where the Karmapa’s
Monastery was eventually built. At this site they prepared a big
reception to welcome the great teacher. The King sent five hundred
cavalrymen along with his ambassadors Lha-sang and Lupe Gyalpo
to welcome Guru Padmasambhava. Lha-sang was the prime minister.
and the King’s right hand man. Guru Padma Jungné arrived on foot,
holding a walking stick.
I am sure you are all aware that Tibetans love to drink tea. It being
customary to make tea for guests, the reception party was preparing
to do just that when they discovered that there was no water
available nearby. Guru Rinpoche walked up on this and saw what
was happening. He poked his walking stick into the ground and
instantly, water began to flow from that spot. This spring still exists
and has become a popular place of pilgrimage. People still go there to
drink the water or bathe.
As Guru Padma Jungné approached the castle which Trisrong
Deutsen had built near the future site of Samyé monastery, he
walked a path between the King, who was surrounded by a great
gathering of Tibetan males, and the queens on the opposite side of
the road, surrounded by a great host of Tibetan ladies. There were
musicians and acrobats performing. It was quite an elaborate
reception. As Padma Jungné approached the king, he could see that
the young monarch was somewhat arrogant and proud.
Trisrong Deutsen was thinking, “The Guru should honor me with
greetings before I acknowledge him. After all, I am a powerful king,
ruler of three fourths of the world,” referring to Tibet’s dominance
over most of Asia at the time. The King had been spoiled by
Shantarakshita when the Khenpo had originally arrived. The great
abbot had humbly introduced himself and praised the King, who
now expected Guru Padmasambhava to follow suit.
As the King stood there and hesitated, Guru Rinpoche read his mind
and started singing. This is considered the first religious song in Tibet
and it has around nineteen verses with lines like, “I am the great
Guru Padmasambhava, I am King Padmasambhava, I am the Prince,
Padmasambhava, I am the strong young man, I am the Princess
Padmasambhava, I am the beautiful young girl, I am the great
astrologer, I am the skilled physician,” and so on. After each title, he
gives a few lines saying something more about that aspect of himself.
He begins his song saying, “Oh great King of Tibet listen to me now.
In all six realms beings are subject to death. But I am one who has
reached the immortal state free from both death and birth. I possess
the secret instructions on immortality. I see this entire universe as a
display of mind. Negative spirits and obstacles are my sport and.faithful
assistants. Everything is mine. I am king of the universe and have the
ability to control all phenomena.”
When Padma Jungné moved to join his palms, wisdom flames shot
out from his fingertips, scorching the royal robes. Trisrong Deutsen
and his whole entourage immediately fell to the ground and began
doing prostrations. The inner interpretation of this event has to do
with establishing the appropriate relationship between student and
teacher. Guru Pama Jugne’s actions clearly defined the nature of this
connection, so vital to the spread of Buddhism in Tibet.
Soon Master Shantarakshita returned. A few days later, Guru Padma
Jungné climbed a small mountain above Samyé, sang a song to
subdue negative energies associated with both visible and invisible
beings, and performed consecration ceremonies for the land and
monastery, at the end of which he levitated and danced across the
sky. This celestial Dharma dance contained the design or ground
plan of Samyé Monastery and was the first religious dance in Tibet.
Of course, Guru Padma Jungné was quite an unusual person, so
unlike the typical lama dance, this one was performed in the sky, not
on the ground. This song was also the first song Guru Rinpoche sang
to subdue disruptive forces.
Guru Rinpoche and many other realized beings love dancing in
space. The vast openness of space is a wondrous place because all the
elements are present and everything fits together perfectly, yet there
is always room for a lot more. The four elements will never crowd
space. And in more spacious states of mind, all sorts of conceptions
can be accommodated; gods, demons and everything else can be
directly experienced and understood. There is room to infinitely
expand and deepen your exploration and appreciation of these
special, open states.
The song to subdue negative spirits says, “Listen mighty demons of
the world. I am Padma Jungné. And I came to this world
miraculously. I am free from sickness, old-age and death. I have
accomplished immortality. My body, speech and mind are
completely enlightened. I have the power to subdue all demons and
negativity. Knowing all conceptions and thoughts to be nothing other
than one’s own mind, I am beyond hope and fear. Nothing can injure
me, nobody can harm me. Clearly knowing that in the true nature of
primordial openness there are no gods and no demons, what ever.you
might try to do can never affect my realization and understanding.
You cannot change one atom. In trying to harm me, you only reveal
that your mind is deluded.”
At this point, Guru Padma Jungné offered torma. Again, this was the
first time such a ceremony was performed in Tibet. He held up the
tormas and said, “I am offering these tormas to the host of demons
and malicious spirits. Though this is a small offering, I am
multiplying it through the power of my meditation so that everyone
of you will have a huge feast and can feel satisfied. In giving you this,
I am offering you everything you desire, so you must all be very
happy, and enjoy this supreme meal. By the power of my meditation
and mantra, I offer you this gift. Please come, accept it and be
content. Help promote peace and harmony throughout the land and
help me bring the Dharma here. Bless this effort to use the land to
build a monastery and accomplish the wishes of the King. Come
together and join with us in this work. Don’t ever ignore the speech
of any tantric practitioner, such as my self. Hurry now, please bless
From then on, there were not too many obstacles to establishing the
Dharma in Tibet. It is said that during the construction of Samyé,
human beings labored in the daytime and the local deities would
work at night. Within five years, they completed all the buildings in
In constructing Samyé there was a lot of discussion about how large
to make it. King Trisrong Deutsen was a very strong man and a good
archer. They say an arrow shot from his bow in Tibet could reach
Nalanda University on the plains of India. The final decision was to
delineate the boundaries by having the King shoot arrows from east
to west and from north to south, and then build the wall for Samyé
around these cardinal points.
Now some of the ministers who weren’t too enthusiastic about this
whole project and knew the King’s strength, thought that rather than
trying to argue against such a big plan, it would be easier to trick the
King by weighting his arrows with mercury. That is how Samyé
Monastery ended up being fairly large, but not quite as big as it
would have been. Of course, King Trisrong Deutsen often had to
deceive these same ministers because they did not welcome or value
the Dharma and did want any monastery at all!.
Like the mandalas of the inner tantras, the buildings at Samyé are
laid out according to the configuration of four continents and eight
sub-continents clustered around the central Mount Sumeru. The
mandala was geomantically executed in architecture, reflecting the
Buddhist cosmology symbolizing the inner structure of the universe.
After the creation of glorious Samyé, Trisrong Deutsen said, “We
have finished building the monastery but this is not enough to fulfill
my aspirations. The main purpose of all this work is to actually bring
the Dharma here.”
King Trisrong Deutsen then asked Guru Padma Jungné and Khenpo
Shantarakshita for their assistance. Both agreed to help and after
discussing plans, the King personally selected a group of 108 young
Tibetans from ages eight to seventeen to learn Sanskrit and other
languages. Many of these youths became adept translators, rendering
texts from India, China, Turkestan, Kashmir and many other places,
into Tibetan. Working closely with other great Buddhist masters to
insure a high standard for the quality of the translations, all of the
Buddha’s teachings, from the Hinayana to the Vajrayana, became
available in Tibetan editions.
The Tibetan canon currently consists of 105 large volumes of the
Buddha’s teachings as well as another 253 volumes of commentaries
written by the great Indian masters. Most of these were translated
during the reign of Trisrong Deutsen. This is why he is remembered
as the king who brought the Buddhadharma to Tibet. He established
thirteen Buddhist monastic colleges throughout the country and
twelve major retreat centers, supporting these activities with his royal
Guru Padma Jungné journeyed all over Tibet, and it is said that there
is not one square inch of Tibetan soil that he did not bless with his
presence. With the help of wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts'ogyal and other
students, Guru Rinpoche hid teachings throughout the land to be
revealed to future generations at the appropriate moment. He
remained in Tibet for a long time, giving inner tantra teachings to
nine heart students and afterward to the 25 disciples, the 35 ngakpas,
the 37 yoginis and others. Many of these people attained
enlightenment within that life, some within a very short period of
time. The whole Buddhadharma, from the Hinayana to Dzogchen,
quickly became well established, illuminating the entire land of Tibet.
like bright sunshine. Thanks to the power and aspirational prayers of
Guru Padma Jungné, Shantarakshita and the Dharma King Trisrong
Deutsen, Tibet became the blessed home of thousands of highly
The subduing of demons and negative forces obstructing the Dharma
and the establishment of Samyé Monastery brought great blessings to
all of Tibet. This was the external work of the emanation known as
Guru Padma Jungné.
On the inner level, Padma Jungné is associated with the practice of
meditation. The inner tantras describe two aspects of the path; the
creation stage and the completion stage, also know as the
visualization and perfection practices. Guru Padma Jungné confers
special abilities to help us integrate these two stages and accomplish
both the ordinary and extraordinary siddhis. The tantric refuge
invokes the three roots of guru, deva and dakini. The root of
blessings is Guru Padma Jungné. He fulfills all wishes and helps his
devotees actualize and transcend all the stages of practice. The
Buddha Padma Jungné removes ignorance and lets us discover
primordial wisdom. This is very profound because there is no
separation between wisdom and the skillful means of its realization.
Guru Padma Jungné is a powerful symbol of the union of wisdom
and skillful means. Through this technique we can approach
enlightenment very quickly.
Guru Padma Jungné is visualized with one face, two arms, and two
legs, sitting in the posture of royal ease with a katvanga leaning on
his left shoulder. He holds a vajra in his right hand and in his left, a
skull bowl with a small vase in it. In another form, as Tso kyi Dorje,
his skin is dark blue, he has three eyes and instead of a katvanga, he
is embracing the wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts'ogyal.
Guru Padma Jungné is considered the simultaneous embodiment of
all eight emanations and is therefore associated with the four actions
of pacifying, increasing, magnetizing and subjugating. He is also a
long-life Buddha and can help balance the elements of our
physiology. The physical body consists of five elements; earth, water,
fire, air, and space. When our vitality decreases it can bring
imbalances causing us to get sick. Practicing on Guru Padma Jungné
is a very effective technique to help you remove obstacles, recharge.
the life force and restore balance. In a more general sense, he is
associated with accomplishing the four enlightened actions.
Begin by generating bodhicitta and visualizing a small sphere
radiating light of five colors, white, blue, yellow, red and green.
Concentrate on that for a moment and transform it into the
transcendent wisdom body of Guru Padma Jungné. Recite the Vajra
Guru Mantra with devotion while the rainbow rays continue to
stream out from his heart center in all directions. Then recollect the
light as the luminous essence of all the elements, returning it back to
the flask in Guru Jungné’s skull cup, until it overflows and floats
toward you. The light enters your crown chakra or heart center and
dissolves, correcting any imbalances and returning us to the peace,
clarity and freshness of perfect equanimity. Meditate like this for a
short time and then dedicate the merit to all beings. That is the way
to practice on Guru Padma Jungné, the seventh emanation.
Guru Dorje Drolo
The eighth emanation is another wrathful form, Guru Dorje Drolo.
Guru Dorje Drolo is the crazy wrathful Buddha of the degenerate era.
He has no regular pattern to his wrath. He is completely out of order!
Guru Dorje Drolo emanated right before Guru Rinpoche’s departure
from Tibet as a way of confirming his legacy of words and actions.
Some historians say that Guru Rinpoche stayed in Tibet for fifty-five
years. This emanation happened about five years before he left.
During this time, he gave many teachings which wisdom dakini
Yeshe Ts'ogyal transcribed. Following her guru’s instructions, she hid
many of these texts throughout the land. As he was preparing to
leave to convert the rakshasas in the southwest, Guru Rinpoche again
blessed the entire land of Tibet and multiplied the hidden Dharma
treasures through his meditative powers.
In order to preserve the practice of Dharma in Tibet, and secure the
commitment of the local spirits to extend their protection across
generations, Guru Padmasambhava emanated as Guru Dorje Drolo.
In this form, he reconfirmed the power of his realization and insured
the support and submission of the invisible beings. Dorje Drolo is the
Buddha dedicated to the awakening of all those who have appeared
since Guru Rinpoche left Tibet. Also at this time, he made many
prophecies and predictions for future generations of Tibetans and the
world in general. These prophecies are very accurate and clear. Many
of them are quite detailed and concern events at the level of counties
or states. Their truth has been observed by the Tibetans from
generation to generation across the centuries.
There are thirteen different caves in Tibet which are named “Tiger’s
Nest.” Just before Guru Rinpoche’s departure, he emanated thirteen
Dorje Drolos, one in each of these thirteen caves, all at the same time.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the number thirteen is associated with a list of
thirteen habitual obstacles. It was in order to subdue and pacify
these, that he did this. The original transformations happened in
central Tibet and as they occurred, each emanation of Dorje Drolo
would fly off to a different cave on the back of a tigress.
The most renowned Tiger’s Nest of all was in southern Tibet in a
place which is now in Bhutan. The cave is called Taktsang which.
means Tigers Nest. It is very beautiful. Maybe you have seen photos
of it. There is a big mountain with a steep rocky face that has a cave
in it. I don’t know how they did it, but they built a small monastery
on the ledge out in front of that cave. Although it is very difficult to
get to, many tourists go there. They have to be carried in one at a
time by a local person because it is so steep and high that you can
easily get dizzy. They say that nobody has ever fallen from there, but
it looks frightening.
According to both Buddha and the Guru Padmasambhava, this
degenerative era is characterized by strong forms of desire and anger.
These are the major obstacles confronting practitioners nowadays.
Dorje Drolo is the emanation related to the transformation of these
situations. Of course anger and attachment existed in ancient times as
well, but they pervade the modern world in a deeper way. People’s
minds are continually disturbed and upset due to their influence,
which give rise to even more emotional problems. Dorje Drolo is the
best practice for removing mental and emotional obstacles. Guru
Rinpoche appeared in this form to liberate sentient beings from anger
Anger and attachment are qualities of mind which make it difficult to
relax. People can become so disturbed by clinging to these emotions
that their own perceptions turn against them and they begin seeing
enemies everywhere. Guru Padmasambhava taught that when there
is doubt and hesitation, the mind can’t relax and is plagued by worry
and restlessness. The long-term result of this is that you become more
and more afraid. This disturbs your sense of well being, which
affects the channels and the winds. Of course when the subtle physics
of life is disturbed, there will be imbalances experienced in the
external situation as well. This pattern is typical of the neuroses and
troubles which arise continually in this degenerative era.
Along these lines, Guru Rinpoche said that in the future, all Tibetan
men would be influenced by a demonic force called Gyal-po, the
Tibetan women would be possessed by a demon called Sen-mo, and
all the young Tibetans would be affected by an evil spirit called Ti-mug.
Gyal-po symbolizes anger and jealousy and Sen-mo represents
attachment. Ti-mug is an unclear, confused mind, without the ability
to focus, center or direct attention. It mixes up everything. These
three demons are metaphors. He didn’t mean that only men or only
Tibetans would be influenced by Gyal-po or women by Sen-mo,
but.that anger, jealousy and attachment usually arise together, and
depend on each other, like a family. Dorje Drolo is a very special and
powerful influence to help clear away and dispel complex loops of
mental and emotional obstacles.
People who are aware of feeling mentally unstable or unhappy for no
apparent reason would do well to practice on Dorje Drolo. Even
though everything is together, sometimes the mind doesn’t feel
comfortable, relaxed or at peace. This is when such practice is really
relevant. When there are unsettled feelings, it is particularly useful to
meditate on Dorje Drolo. This will help calm and balance the mind.
As with all the other emanations of Guru Rinpoche, Dorje Drolo is a
wisdom form, a rainbow body, not a solid or concrete object.
Transforming from a sphere of bright red light, he is visualized with
one face, two arms and two legs. His body color is dark red. His right
hand holds a nine-pointed vajra and his left a phurba, a mystic
dagger made of meteoric iron or sky metal. Dorje Drolo is very
wrathful, displaying fangs, an overbite and three eyes. He is wearing
Tibetan boots, a chuba and monk’s robes, two white conch shell
earrings and a garland of severed heads. His hair is bright red and
curly, giving off sparks. To show how truly crazy he is, he dances on
the back of a tigress, surrounded by wisdom flames. The tigress is
also dancing, so that everything is in motion.
The tigress is actually Tashi Kyedin, a student of Guru
Padmasambhava and Yeshe Ts’ogyal, and one of the five wisdom
dakinis. The five wisdom dakinis are no other than incarnations of
the five female Buddhas representing the Vajra, Ratna, Padma,
Karma and Buddha families. And these are no other than the pure
form of the five elements. Along with Mandarava, Yeshe Ts’ogyal,
Kalasiddhi and Shakyadevi, Tashi Kyedin helped Guru Rinpoche
carry out his wisdom activities. When Guru Padmasambhava
emanated as Dorje Drolo, she was immediately transformed into a
tigress. Visualize male and female demons representing anger and
attachment, being crushed under her paws as she stands on a lotus,
moon and sun discs.
Visualize this scene either above your head or out in front of you.
Recite the Vajra Guru Mantra and imagine Dorje Drolo’s wisdom
flames radiating through you, removing restlessness, confusion,
stress and any emotional imbalances. When such troubles arise,
practice on Guru Dorje Drolo. Feel the flames as powerful blessings.
which destroy all psychological problems. Relax as they consume
you and all sentient beings as well. Finally, let Guru Dorje Drolo
dissolve as a red light into your heart center and continue to meditate
in the openness of the true nature without any discrimination or
particular focus. Remain that way for as long as you have time. Then
dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. That is how to practice on
Guru Dorje Drolo.
These are the eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava. Believe it
or not. Look into the special meaning associated with each
emanation. Understand them and follow in their footsteps. Of course,
Guru Padmasambhava is totally enlightened and can dance in the
sky, and you might not have the ability to do that just yet, but have
courage as you walk on the ground. Remain firmly committed to this
Meditate on the blessings and teachings of Guru Padmasambhava, on
his active demonstrations for all sentient beings, and on his endless
commitment to the performance of bodhicitta activities. All eight
emanations can be summarized in one simple word: bodhicitta. All
this activity we have been discussing is directed toward the
realization of benefits for all sentient beings and awakening them to
their true nature.
If you don’t know any other way, simply express bodhicitta through
acts of loving-kindness and compassion and practice meditation. This
unites the activities of all eight emanations in one simple state.
Loving-kindness and compassion are naturally arising qualities of the
mind which become unceasing activities. Allow all ego-clinging, even
holdingto limited ideas of loving-kindness and compassion, to
dissolve back into the expanse of the primordial nature, and the
energy will reappear in wiser, more flexible and skillful forms. To
meditate like this is a very simple and powerful practice.
From a conventional viewpoint, the eight emanations of Guru
Padmasambhava are strange and incredible. You might think these
are all just stories. But if we realize equanimity and understand the
truth of Madhyamika, Mahamudra or Dzogchen, the activities of
Guru Padmasambhava are perfectly and completely natural. There is
nothing odd or unusual about them. To understand the eight
emanations, we should realize that they are given to us to break
down our fixed conceptions and help rid us of habitual clinging to
narrow categories of thought and feeling. That is the essential point
of this whole teaching..Everything we see is a display of wisdom, the luminosity aspect of
the true nature. There is no need to cling or hold onto any particular
thing or form. Everything reflects the true nature, so do not become
fixed in your mind and attitude. Stay open. You will never realize the
infinite nature if you attach to one way of seeing things.
In the Diamond Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni said, “Whoever seeks the
Buddha in form or sound is going in the wrong direction. They will
never see the real Buddha.” We must open our minds and realize
equanimity. The ultimate Buddha is beyond mundane ideas and
conceptions. This is known as the Dharmakaya Buddha.
In a Mahayana Sutra, the Buddha said, “From the day I was
enlightened until I entered parinirvana, I never taught a single word
of Dharma.” If we hold tight to our position within the bounds of
common perception, we would have to conclude that the Buddha
was a big liar. But Buddha is speaking here on the absolute level,
leading us beyond duality, drawing us into practice from the
enlightened point of view. If the absolute truth of the teaching is
beyond conception, there are no words existing in the infinite domain
of the primordial nature.
In another Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni explains how our universe,
even though we think it is very big, occupies a space no bigger than
an atom without the atom becoming bigger or the universe becoming
smaller. The whole universe is contained in one particle. All
discriminatory notions and contradictions are abstractions and only
exist on the conceptual level. In reality, everything is free of such
limitations. It is unbounded openness and in this sense, is known as
the state of great equanimity.
The eight emanations demonstrate the marvellous flexibility of the
true nature. There is room for everything to appear and ceaselessly
transform, and no point in clinging to exclusive forms or dogmas.
All these emanations arise within the true nature which is known on
the higher levels of the teaching as Dzogchen. The entire universe is
within the Great Perfection of the Dzogchen state. Everything
appears vividly here and is clearly illuminated within this awareness.
Nothing exists apart from the transcendent qualities of the primordial
nature. Therefore, everything is already in the clear light state.
All.movement is unimpeded and translucent. There are no obstacles or
blockages to this freedom.
That is my teaching on the eight emanations of Guru
In seeking to become better acquainted with the Ways and Means of the Lotus
Born, I requested these teachings on the Eight Manifestations of Guru
Padmasambhava from the compassionate brother Lamas, Khenchen Palden
Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, who responded
energetically with nearly eight hours of inspired talk. The tapes were transcribed
by members of the Turtle Hill Sangha and edited by myself, Padma Shugchang.
The teaching itself took place at Padma Gochen Ling in Monterey, Tennessee in
the spring of 1992. May these efforts serve to awaken the absolute reality of Guru
Padmasambhava in the hearts of all beings. Blessings.