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Guru Yoga Bestowed Pith Blessings
 
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Guru Yoga Bestowed Pith Blessings

By Khenpo Sodargye

Today, we will talk about Guru Yoga.

A few days ago, during the “Third Anniversary of the Parinirvana of His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche” Dharma assembly, we all sincerely prayed to our teacher, chanting Offerings to Guru Liturgy, and repented through the practice of Vajrasattva. Everyone would have chanted the Vajrasattva Mantra four hundred thousand times, purifying one’s mind to some degree. I plan to start teaching Liberation by Hearing soon, which is also called Guide to the Six Bardos. In practicing the tantric methods, Guru Yoga is indispensable. In fact, not only is Guru Yoga crucial to the tantric practices; any practice, including the contemplations of the rarity of human body and the impermanence of life, taking refuge, and generating bodhichitta, are inseparable from Guru Yoga. It can be classed as the preliminary practices, and as the main practices.

To each of us, our practice must rely on a special type of blessing. If one does not pay attention to this and view Buddhism as completely theoretical, then it becomes academic research. Although many consider this pursuit of study to be very meaningful, true Buddhism must be about reason as well as sensibility. If we rely entirely on faith without reason, just like certain superstitions in remote areas, then a firm resolve may not arise in our mind. If we rely entirely on our dualistic minds to make inferences, with no faith or blessings, then we have already lost our identity as a Buddhist practitioner. Therefore, both reason and sensibility are necessary in the practice.

Many people now wish to see the true nature of the mind through Vajrayana or Zen practices. This requires the blessings of the teacher first. As one verse said: “In terms of merits, there is no difference between Guru and Buddha; but in terms of the debt of gratitude, Guru exceeds all Buddhas.” In the past, innumerable Buddhas have turned Dharma wheels to liberate all sentient beings. However, we have not been able to be relieved. Now, through compassionate acceptance and skilful means, our teacher has sowed the seed of liberation in our mind, and allowed it to gradually mature. As long as there is faith, the attainment of accomplishments in this life is certain. Thus in terms of the debt of gratitude, regardless of whether it is Tibetan Buddhism or other traditions, Guru indeed exceeds all, even exceeding the Yidam (one’s tutelary deity).

This can also be verified in the history of Indian Buddhism. Through prayer, Marpa Lodrö saw his teacher Naropa, and at the same time the Mandala of the Yidam Hevajra also appeared. Marpa Lodrö chose to pay homage to the Yidam, yet did not supplicate for Siddhi to his teacher. Due to this, his accomplishment of liberation was delayed, and he did not become a fully enlightened Buddha in his lifetime; while his Dharma lineage continues, his family lineage was since broken.

The same can be found in Tibetan Buddhist history. When Mandarava prayed to Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava, the Mandala of Vajrakilaya (Vajvakilaka) appeared. She chose to supplicate to Siddhi in front of the Yidam rather than Guru Rinpoche. Due to this, Guru Rinpoche’s blessing of transmission was directly bestowed to Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, and Mandarava did not receive it.

From these written accounts, comparing the practice of Yidam with the practice of the Guru, the Guru’s blessing is more supreme. In another word, our accomplishment is inseparable from our teacher’s blessings.; any awakening, any state of realization, completely rely on our teacher.

Additionally, the verification of accomplishment is also inseparable from the Guru. Chan Master Yong Jia of Chinese Buddhism, originally named Xuan Jue, later received his Dharma name given his ancestral home of Yong Jia. In his youth, he listened to some Dharma teachings from good masters and was well versed in the Cessation and Contemplation Dharma gate of the Tiantai tradition. He later studied the Vimakakirti Sutra (also known as the Vimalakirti Sutra), understood the Dharma gate of the mind ground and realized the original nature of the mind. Once, a disciple of the Sixth Patriarch, Chan Master Xuan Ce visited him. During their talk, Master Xuan Ce realized that Master Yong Jia’s words were consonant with the words of all the Patriarchs, so thought him to be of the same tradition. Master Xuan Ce asked: “Who is your teacher? Where did you receive the Dharma?” Master Yong Jia said: ““I have heard the Vaipulya Sutras and Shastras, receiving each from a master. Later, upon reading the Vimalakirti Sutra, I awakened to the doctrine of the Buddha-mind.” Chan Master Xuan Ce then asked: “From whom did you obtain the Dharma?” “As yet no one has certified me.” Chan Master Xuan Ce said: “That was acceptable before the time of the Buddha called the Awesome-Voiced King. But since the coming of that Buddha, all those who ‘self enlighten’ without a master belong to other religions which hold onto the tenet of spontaneity.” Upon hearing this, Chan Master Yong Jia immediately said: “Then will you please certify me, Kind Sir?” Chan Master Xuan Ce replied: “My words are of little worth, but the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, is at Cao Xi, where people gather like clouds from the four directions. He is one who has received the Dharma.” Thus Chan Master Yong Jia went to Cao Xi in order to obtain verification. He was eventually recognized by the Sixth Patriarch, and their legendary encounter was remembered as “The One Enlightened Overnight”. This experience is recorded in the Platform Sutra, and when Master Xuan Hua taught in San Francisco, it was taught in detail.

Some believe: “within the four refuges (refuge in the Guru, the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha), placing refuge in the Guru above that of the Buddha is a unique practice in Tibetan Buddhism.” I do not think this is the case. Everyone who has studied in the Chan tradition knows Chan Master Yong Jia, and from his legend one can see that realization must rely on the verification of the Guru. Therefore, it is quite clear what the status of the Guru is.

There is another story in Chinese Buddhism: There was an old lady who wished to become more diligent, so she went to the monastery to ask for teachings from the abbot. But in the past, it was not easy to meet the abbot. One had to first notify guest reception, which then notified the attendant, and the attendant then reported to the abbot. Only after several steps could one then visit the abbot. The abbot was busy with many Dharma matters at the time. When the attendant reported what the old lady said, the abbot said: “Go with the conditions!” When the old lady heard this, she thought that it was a sublime teaching given by the abbot, so all day long she chanted: “Go with the conditions”. (This story is similar to the Tibetan Buddhism story of “poor woman rely on dog tooth to become a Buddha”.) Then one day, her grandson fell into the river. When others told her, she said: “Go with the conditions”; when her house was on fire, she still said: “Go with the conditions”. Eventually, through the blessing of a teacher, she attained realization. This did indeed occur in history, and Bhikkhu Ben Huan used to tell this story in his Chan teachings.

Therefore it could be said that, Vajrayana tradition’s practice of association with Guru, with transmission between teacher and disciple by ear, by demonstrations and such, is the same as that of the Chan tradition in Chinese Buddhism. According to the views of some, if within the Sutrayana tradition, attainment can only be accomplished through the five paths and ten stages, then what can one say about the sudden realization of the Sixth Patriarch, which relied on the blessing and demonstration of the Fifth Patriarch. Hence, do not think that “Guru is above all” is unique to Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism only differs in language and liturgy; in purpose there is not the slightest difference to Chinese Buddhism.

In your daily practice, you must pray to your teacher. It does not matter which tradition you study, the most important thing is faith. This faith arises from relying on the teacher. Without faith in the teacher, awakening, realization is very difficult. Masters in the past have said: “All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are the sunlight, our continuation is the dry grass. Placing dry grass under the sun, without a burning lens, it would never burn. But once there is a burning lens, the dry grass will burn furiously.” Along the same line, in order to receive the sunlight of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ blessings, one must rely on the burning lens that is one’s teacher. Otherwise, it is very difficult to reach attainments.” Therefore, the blessing of the teacher and faith in the teacher is a key part of realizing the nature of the mind.

It is also said in the sutras and sastras: “Innate absolute wisdom can only come as the mark of having accumulated merit, purified obscurations, and through the blessings of a realized teacher. Apart from these three means, know that to rely on any other means is foolish.” Therefore, in order to realize the ultimate emptiness, what is the most important, the most basic? It is that during one’s practice, to repent the karmic obstacles since beginningless time, accumulate virtues and merits, and continuously pray for the teacher’s blessings.

When praying to our teacher, one should see the teacher as indivisibly one with the true Buddha. When you are able to have this resolve, then you have the opportunity for realization. Of course, there are many fake Gurus nowadays. To see them as not being distinct from the Buddha is not realistic. But a true teacher with marks of enlightenment is the same as the Buddha. This can be established in both esoteric and exoteric sutras and sastras. For example, from the relative perspective, the exoteric traditions acknowledge the teacher as a manifestation of the Buddha. The Mahabhari Sutra said: “Ananda do not sorrow, Ananda do not weep! In future I will come again, appearing as your virtuous teacher, to act for you and others’ sake.” The meaning is, when Buddha Shakyamuni was nearing Nirvana, Ananda and other disciples choked with tears. The Buddha consoled them: “There is no need to wail so sadly, I will manifest as virtuous teachers to explain the concentration Dharma gate, and liberate you with such.” The Sublime Concentration Sutra said: “Noble men, during the Dharma degenerating time, I will appear as a virtuous teacher to teach this concentration Dharma gate. Therefore, this spiritual teacher will be your root teacher and until you have attained enlightenment, you shall depend on your teacher and attend to your teacher respectfully.” Sutra Requested by the Naga King said: “Emperor, if you depend on a virtuous teacher and attend to the teacher respectfully, then you will witness pure Buddha-lands of all Tathagatas, attain the sublime concentration of great compassion, never waiver from Prajna Paramita, allow all beings to mature in Great Perfection and fulfil all wishes”, as well as other sutras. These mean that the teacher is the manifestation of the Buddha. From the ultimate perspective, the teacher’s realization of the non-dualistic emptiness of the nature of the Dharma realm is also the Dharma body of all Buddhas. Therefore, whether from a relative or an ultimate perspective, the teacher’s and the Buddha’s physical body and Dharma body are without duality or distinction.

To see the teacher as the true Buddha can obtain inconceivable blessings. In Indian history, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna once discarded some nasal mucus. His disciple Nagarbodhi picked it up and ate it all, and attained sublime accomplishments as a result. In Tibetan Buddhism, when Venerable Jayulwa attended to Geshe Chenngawa, he took on all the internal and external affairs alone and never had the time for practice. But he firmly believed: respectfully undertaking the teacher’s matter is the most sublime practice. Once when he walked up a third step, through the teacher’s blessing, he suddenly realized the original nature of the mind. Therefore we need to pray more from deep down to our teacher. Nowadays there is a type of “Lama Chenno” music, which you can listen to as you pray to the teacher with great faith. There should be chances for awakening.

Previously during the teaching of Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra it was also mentioned that, His Holiness Jigme Gyalwai Nyugu awakened through longing for his teacher. There is also Venerable Nyang Nyima Ozer,another highly accomplished master in Tibetan Buddhism. He entered a three-year retreat to specifically practice “Guru as the union of the three roots”. Through faith he directly saw Guru Rinpoche, then Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, and finally entered the Pure Land. Apart from this, His Holiness Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa entered retreats in several places at the age of 28. Later during his practice in a cave in Samye Chimpu, he attained innumerable states of realization and awakening, and the most sublime of these was through praying to the Venerable Longchenpa, and he was inspired on three occasions by the Wisdom Body of the Venerable. Guru Wish Fulfilling Jewel also sincerely prayed to Mipham Rinpoche, and after receiving the Wisdom Body of Mipham Rinpoche, attained awakening and dedicated himself to spreading the Dharma to benefit all beings. Within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many such cases.

As a disciple of the lineage, amidst all practices, we need to put Guru Yoga at the top. Be it day or night, frequently pray to our teacher. Of course, there are many types of prayers, such as the liturgy in The Words of My Perfect Teacher, takes Guru Rinpoche as the root guru for practice. There are also other Dharma gates that visualize the root guru in different forms… But what is introduced today is a very concise Guru Yoga personally designed by the Guru Wish Fulfilling Jewel – Guru Yoga Bestowed Pith Blessings.

I have previously seen several Guru Yoga with rather complicated chants and practices. In this Dharma degenerating age where people are so lazy, work is so busy, and life is so full of disorganised matters; in consideration of this, the Guru Yoga bestowed by Guru Wish Fulfilling Jewel is very simple. Hopefully everyone, including the disciples of all major schools studying the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra, can maintain a frequent practice.

Some of you here had the connection to personally see Dharma King Wish Fulfilling Jewel, and received sublime initiation and teachings; some have only heard his title; and some have never even heard of his title. Irrespective, as long as you have faith, the power of blessings is not affected in the slightest. Just like His Holiness Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa who relied entirely on the highest faith in Venerable Longchenpa. Even though they were separated by almost one hundred years, he still received the loving kindness and compassion of the Venerable. Therefore, I fervently wish for all practitioners who have received the teachings of Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra and other scriptures to sincerely pray to Guru Wish Fulfilling Jewel.

Guru Wish Fulfilling Jewel is the collective entity of All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, is the root of the Three Jewels, the nature of the Three Roots. So long as anyone sincerely pray, our teacher will be like the wish fulfilling jewel, bestowing all that one wishes for. The fact that I myself am able to pass on the Dharma to you today is due entirely to the blessings of our teacher. Teacher’s kindness has no bounds and no limits. It would be difficult to repay even one in ten thousandth part of it. We must without fail, urgently pray to our teacher, because only then would the continuation of our mind greatly transform. Otherwise, if it is merely treated as a theory for study, it is impossible for the Dharma to permeate within. Therefore, I once again urge you all to chant Guru Yoga Bestowed Pith Blessings daily, no matter how busy you are, you should be able to find a few minutes.

Now let us introduce the practice in detail:

First, chant the Refuge Prayer and visualize: “The teacher embodies the essence of the Three Jewels, the Three Roots and Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of all times. I take refuge in the teacher today, and I vow never to abandon this.” Chant three times with this mind:

Abide in emptiness full of empty beings

Guru, Yidam, and Dakinis

Before all Buddhas, Dharmas, and holy beings

With all beings in the six realms I respectfully take refuge

Nam khay ne su nam kha gang wa ye

La ma ye dam kha drö tshok nam dang

Sang je chö dang phak pay ge dun la

dak dang dro druk gü pe jap su chi

Then take the Vow of Bodhicitta and visualize: “To benefit all beings throughout the universe, I vow to apply unsurpassable Bodhicitta to attain the realization of my teacher.” Chant three times with this mind:

Limitless sentient beings and I

Honored and awakened by nature

Understand that as the essential nature

I vow to apply the most sublime Bodhicitta

Dak dang tha ye sem jen nam

Ye ne sang je yin pa la

Yin bar she pay dak nye du

Chang chup chok tu sem je do

Then visualize: rebirth, nirvana, all Dharmas whether pure or impure, are all great emptiness of the primordial purity. In this state of realization, a lotus and lunar disc ceaselessly appear in a natural state. Above the lotus and lunar disc, visualize a red-yellow-colored “De” character, which becomes a sword – the symbol of Bodhisattva Manjushri. The sword gradually transforms into a yellow Manjushri, the yellow Manjushri into the Guru, the Guru takes the form of Dharma King Wish Fulfilling Jewel who’s essence is without dualism or distinction from the Majushri Wisdom Warrior, manifesting pure and amidst light. Bedecked in all the robes and adornments of a Pandita, holding lotus, sutra and sword in the Dharmachakra-Mudra, abiding in the full Vajra lotus position.

Ah

All dharma of samsara and nirvana in the pure light of awakening nature

The immortal self-luminary sphere of five wisdom lights

In front of the glory-possessing nature of Vajra Manjusri

The image of the only refuge is wish-fulfilling jewel

(His face is) white, bright, and handsome, smiling, and dressed as a Pandita

With mudra of dharma-teaching, holding the sword and a volume of sutra

Two feet are in lotus position, with boundless shining light

All displays vividly and clearly as the ornament of pure self-appearance

A

Khor de chö kün ga thak rik pay ngang

Rang dang ma ga ye she o ngei long

Ngo wo hua den jam pay do je la

Nam pa jap cik ye shen nor wu nye

Kar sel dze dzum pen dre ta yi qe

Chö che chak je ral dri lok wam nam

Shap nyi jel trong ong ser mu me tro

Rang nang dak bay jen du lam mer sel

The Guru’s posture, clothing, and such are entirely the same as Mipham Rinpoche and Je Tsongkapa. The only difference is that the facial features take the form of Dharma King Wish Fulfilling Jewel.

Some take the view according to the Vajrapanjara Tantra that, visualization cannot be in the form of the teacher, one must visualize the form of the Buddha or the Yidam. But Venerable Longchepa in Finding Comfort and Ease in the Illusoriness of the Great Perfection refuted: “This is not reasonable, because this is practicing Guru Yoga, not practicing Yidam Yoga. In the texts, it did not say that relying on the Yidam and one can be accomplished in six months. Rather, only maintaining the practice of Guru Yoga can one attain such Siddhi.” Therefore, one must visualize the form of the teacher.

There are also some who believe that it is enough to take refuge in the Three Jewels, that there is no need to maintain the practice of the Guru. This is also unreasonable. The teacher is the Buddha jewel, the Dharma jewel, and the Sangha jewel. The teacher’s body, speech, and mind are without duality or distinction from the Three Jewels. Therefore, one must visualize the teacher as the collective entity of the Three Jewels.

Thus visualize the teacher abiding in the boundless space ahead, with one mind and heart, chant the Guru Prayer:

From the holy sphere, the sacred five-peak-mountain

From the heart of Manjusri, the blessing matures the mind

To supplicate at the feet of Jigmed Phuntsok

From the realization through the mind lineage, grant your blessings transmit to me!

Ne chen ri wo tse ngei shing khem su

Jam hua thuk ji xin lap yi la men

Jik me phün tsok shap la söl wa dep

Gong jü tok pa pho war xin ji lop

This can be chanted for as long as one wishes, at least for three times, or seven times or twenty-one times.

After chanting according to one’s ability, the teacher is transformed into a bright element of five lights, merging into the mind from the crown of the head. Visualize that all the merits and virtues of the teacher’s continuation, including the compassion, loving kindness, wisdom, equipoise, dharani, and all the initiations and teachings have been wholly received by us. That our conceptual mind has become without dualism or distinction from the teacher’s wisdom. Abide for a while in this state of realization.

Finally, the lama becomes a bindu of five lights

The bindu dissolves from my head into the center of the heart

The wisdom of all Buddha embodied as the lama, and

I wish to attain the blessing of the same fortune

Thar ne la ma ö ngei thuk ler jur

Rang gi je wo ne shuk nying wü thim

Jal kün ye she cik dü la ma dang

Gel wa nyam pay chin lap thop bar sam

After leaving the state of concentration, start to dedicate the merits, visualize: “All the virtues from today’s practice of Guru Yoga, I dedicate to sentient beings in the three realms as they have all been my mother. May they attain soon the teacher’s stage of realization.”

For my every regeneration, never be separated from my excellent lama, and

To enjoy the glorious Dharma

To fulfill the attainments of stage and path

To obtain immediately the status of Vajradhara

Je wa kün tu yang thak la ma dang

Dral me chö ji hua la long jö jang

Sa dang lam je yon ten rap dzok ne

Do je chang gi go phang nyur thop shok

When encountering any material form, it should be visualized as the form of the teacher; upon hearing any sound, it should be visualized as the Vajra word of the teacher; any thoughts or intentions in the mind should be visualized as the wisdom of the teacher. From these, I believe that in the near future, you can all attain the stage of realization that is without duality or distinction from the teacher’s. This point is particularly important to disciples.

Guru Yoga Bestowed Pith Blessings liturgy of practice

Refuge prayer:

Abide in emptiness full of empty beings

Guru, Yidam, and Dakinis

Before all Buddhas, Dharmas, and holy beings

With all beings in the six realms I respectfully take refuge

Nam khay ne su nam kha gang wa ye

La ma ye dam kha drö tshok nam dang

Sang je chö dang phak pay ge dun la

dak dang dro druk gü pe jap su chi

Vow of Bodhichitta:

Limitless sentient beings and I

Honored and awakened by nature

Understand that as the essential nature

I vow to apply the most sublime Bodhicitta

Dak dang tha ye sem jen nam

Ye ne sang je yin pa la

Yin bar she pay dak nye du

Chang chup chok tu sem je do

Visualisation:

Ah

All dharma of samsara and nirvana in the pure light of awakening nature

The immortal self-luminary sphere of five wisdom lights

In front of the glory-possessing nature of Vajra Manjusri

The image of the only refuge is wish-fulfilling jewel

(His face is) white, bright, and handsome, smiling, and dressed as a Pandita

With mudra of dharma-teaching, holding the sword and a volume of sutra

Two feet are in lotus position, with boundless shining light

All displays vividly and clearly as the ornament of pure self-appearance

A

Khor de chö kün ga thak rik pay ngang

Rang dang ma ga ye she o ngei long

Ngo wo hua den jam pay do je la

Nam pa jap cik ye shen nor wu nye

Kar sel dze dzum pen dre ta yi qe

Chö che chak je ral dri lok wam nam

Shap nyi jel trong ong ser mu me tro

Rang nang dak bay jen du lam mer sel

Prayer:

From the holy sphere, the sacred five-peak-mountain

From the heart of Manjusri, the blessing matures the mind

To supplicate at the feet of Jigmed Phuntsok

From the realization through the mind lineage, grant your blessings transmit to me!

Ne chen ri wo tse ngei shing khem su

Jam hua thuk ji xin lap yi la men

Jik me phün tsok shap la söl wa dep

Gong jü tok pa pho war xin ji lop

After chanting according to one’s ability:

Finally, the lama becomes a bindu of five lights

The bindu dissolves from my head into the center of the heart

The wisdom of all Buddha embodied as the lama, and

I wish to attain the blessing of the same fortune

Thar ne la ma ö ngei thuk ler jur

Rang gi je wo ne shuk nying wü thim

Jal kün ye she cik dü la ma dang

Gel wa nyam pay chin lap thop bar sam

Dedicate the merits:

For my every regeneration, never be separated from my excellent lama, and

To enjoy the glorious Dharma

To fulfill the attainments of stage and path

To obtain immediately the status of Vajradhara

Je wa kün tu yang thak la ma dang

Dral me chö ji hua la long jö jang

Sa dang lam je yon ten rap dzok ne

Do je chang gi go phang nyur thop shok

If you enter meditation in the Dharma body of emancipation, when you leave the state of meditation, visualize all present existence as the original nature of the teacher, and then carry out your regular conduct.


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