27 December, 2014
The Gyalwang Karmapa explained that he needed to finish the oral transmission of the section of instructions on the Vajrasattva practice before giving further information on the visualisations for the practice. He then read the section from “Light radiates out from the HUM (page 48) to “You must meditate until you cannot sit still and are disconsolate” (page 51) [The Torch of True Meaning by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, translated by David Karma Choephel, KTD Publications and Kagyu Monlam, 2014]
Yesterday, he said, he had discussed how the light radiates and performs the two benefits. In the text, this is followed by a discussion of the complete visualisation of Vajrasattva. The light returns and is reabsorbed into the vajra and the HUM, which are transformed into Vajrasattva who is inseparable from your root guru. His Holiness reiterated that in the lower classes of tantra there is no tradition of visualising melting into light; instead the vajra and the HUM immediately transform into Vajrasattva. In this case, the Dorje and the HUM become Vajrasattva instantly. If you can visualise Vajrasattva, in his full form, immediately, that is best. However, beginners often find this difficult and find a gradual visualisation easier.
Vajrasattva is visualised as white in colour, with one face and two arms, holding a five point vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left. He is visualised as white as the interdependent connection for purifying our misdeeds and obscurations. White symbolises cleanliness and purity. To symbolise method and wisdom he is holding the vajra and the bell. His right leg is extended and his left is bent in the position of a sattva.
His right leg is extended so that the big toe of his right foot touches the fontanelle at the crown of your head, and nectar flows into your body. This form of the visualisation makes it easier to imagine the nectar flowing into one’s body. Vajrasattva’s hair is bound in a top-knot and the rest falls down his back. He also wears jewelled ornaments and robes.
As Vajrasattva is usually visualised with consort, what is the origin in tantra for this single male form? His Holiness cited three sources from Indian texts. This form of Vajrasattva is taught in a yoga tantra, theCompilation of Thusness. It is taught in the Sambhota tantra, which is an explanatory tantra about Chakrasamvara and Hevajra. Finally, it is found in the Secret Ornament of the Essence by the Indianmahasiddha, Jamphel Drakpa. In addition, in the Tengyur there is a saddhana for this form of Vajrasattva, also from an Indian source.
The Gyalwang Karmapa then made an important statement about the necessity to do the Vajrasattva practice as a means of restoring broken samaya, the need to take a wider perspective on certain issues, and the need for understanding and forgiveness within the Karma Kamtsang.
In any case, it is particular important to do the Vajrasattva practice this year. As I mentioned earlier, we are all practitioners of the secret mantra.
With the samaya of the secret mantra, it is said that conceiving of something such as a jug as ordinary and grasping at it as being real—being unable to conceive of it as illusory—is a violation of samaya. But that is really difficult, isn’t it? This is why the violations of secret mantra are so intimidating. Thus we must try to purify our downfalls every single day.
Lord Atisha carried a wooden stupa of enlightenment wherever he went, and every day he would confess and purify his downfalls. They said none of his transgressions was not accompanied by a confession. Whatever transgressions occurred, he would immediately purify them before the end of the session. He wouldn’t ever leave the transgressions from one day to be purified on the next. If someone such as Lord Atisha did it in that way, we probably need to confess and purify every minute, don’t we? But confessing every minute would be difficult.
The masters of the past would do their practice in four sessions—this is important. They would do practice in four or six sessions. This is because when any transgression is purified by applying the antidote before the end of a session, it becomes very easy and we can feel comfortable. This is why it is so important.
In addition to that, almost all of us gathered here uphold the Karma Kamtsang lineage. From Dusum Khyenpa to Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, there was never any blemish on the samaya between masters and disciples—the lineage was stainless like a chain of gold. However, in the last few years there have been many situations that have never arisen before. We have had many unfortunate situations that have previously been unheard of, and there have been great obstacles for our lineage, the Karma Kamtsang.
The main reason this has occurred is that we have not kept the samaya of master and disciple properly. We have not remembered that the lord of our family, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, is present—we have forgotten it. Likewise we have not been able to develop a vast attitude towards Buddhism and sentient beings. We have considered some minor, temporary issues as more important than they are, and the fact that this has happened is the reason why our samaya between master and disciple and between dharma friends has not been good.
For that reason, when doing the Vajrasattva practice now, we need to do it to the best of our ability. We need to see our wrongs as wrongs and meditate on Vajrasattva. In particular, Kyabje Shamar Rinpoche passed away this year. He did many different things during his life. But those are all in the past. From one perspective, if you look at it in this way it helps—it helps me–from the omniscient First Shamarpa Drakpa Senge onwards, many incarnations of the Shamar Rinpoche have done great things for Buddhism in general and have been particularly kind to the Karma Kamtsang lineage. For that reason, if we think about their deeds and example, even if we see the deeds of the current Shamar Rinpoche as slightly inappropriate, it is important to be understanding. If we think about the vast deeds and kindness of the previous Shamars, we need to be understanding of and forgive his acts. If we are unable to do so, there is no point in pretending to be a Dharma practitioner.
Thus we have many downfalls and transgressions to purify, and we should all think fervently that they have been purified.
It is important that everyone pray that in the future, just as during the times of the great masters of the past, there may be no blemishes in our samaya and that the precious lineage be undiminished and never wane, remaining till the end of time. The teachings of the Practice Lineage—the teachings of the Kagyu lineage—are a lineage of devotion. If our devotion is not firm, in actuality it is just the same as if the teachings had disappeared and the transmission were broken. So it is important for everyone to understand this.
The great master Drukpa said, “If the students do not get wrong views no matter what the guru does, they have received the blessings.” No matter what deeds or example the guru displays, once you have started serving him as a guru, a student must not adopt wrong views. We need to take what we need, just as bees sipping nectar. When bees take nectar from a flower, they only take what they need—they don’t take everything. So we need to take only what we need, and if we do that, we will receive the blessings.
Even among Dharma friends, if you accept the blame yourself, you have not broken samaya. When some situation occurs among you, you should say, “It’s my fault, I was wrong,” and be able to bring your own faults out into the open. You might think that you have no faults but actually you do have faults. If you can bring them out into the open, it is said that you have not broken your samaya. I think it is very important for everyone to understand this
[Translated by David Karma Choephel]