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The Compendium of Oral Instructions

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The Compendium of Oral Instructions

General Notes on the Rituals of the Development Stage

Kunkyen Tenpe Nyima

Magical dance of the wisdom, love, and ability of all victorious ones, As the lord of the mandala and the universal master of the hundred buddha families, You are a powerful wish-fulfilling jewel that bestows supreme happiness upon others— I pay homage to you, my peerless and benevolent master.

For countless disciples who fill the furthest reaches of space You make the nectar of the definitive secret shower down like a rain of Dharma From the cloud banks of your tremendous compassion— I bow down to you, omniscient father and son, and the masters of your lineage.

By unfolding the wings of the two stages—

The union of means and knowledge of the swift path, the vajra essence of the supreme vehicle— I will now set forth a banquet for those fortunate ones Who wish to swiftly arrive at the kingdom of the four bodies.

Utilizing the profound practice of the two stages on the direct path of the vajra vehicle of Secret Mantra allows you to actualize the level of a vajra holder in this very lifetime. Those suitable individuals who wish to reach this level should begin their practice by earnestly arousing renunciation

through the mind training of the common preliminary practices and engendering the precious mind of awakening. Next, they should receive the four empowerments in full from a qualified master, cultivate faith, and abide by the samaya vows. Those who have done so may enter this path. This discussion consists of three main topics: (1) the preparation, (2) the main practice, and (3) the concluding activities.


The Bright Effulgence states:

First, find the right place and time,

And gather supportive conditions and the articles for your practice.

Then, in the interim, practice secretly.

Concerning the appropriate location for practice, beginners must stay far away from places that are filled with diversions, busyness, and distraction, as well as those that elicit attachment and aversion. The Questions of Adhyasaya Sutra instructs:

It is best to travel one hundred leagues

From places where you have responsibilities or find disputes.

Do not stay a single instant in places Where afflictive emotions are present.

It is said that in monastic centers where the sangha quarrels past virtue will decline and not develop in the future, and the earth will be scorched down to seven layers so that every good thing pertaining to the environment and its inhabitants will decline. In particular, neither signs of fruition nor positive qualities will manifest from practice in such places. You should therefore abandon these places.

The Ornament of the Sutras states that a place of practice should have five qualities:

The place where a wise person practices

Should have readily available goods

And be in a wholesome environment and healthy location

With good companions and positive qualities.

It is taught in The Wheel of Time Root Tantra:

A yogi should practice well in a place

Where the ruler is faithful to the Dharma,

Where all beings live in constant harmony

And without dispute.

As stated here, in general you should practice in a place where there is a monarch devout to the Dharma, where the local lay people engage in wholesome, virtuous actions, and where there are no enemies, thieves, or disputes. More specifically, The Tantra of the Layered Lotus Stems explains: It is extremely important

For any general or specific places—

Sacred locations, countries, or places where the Victorious One came— To be auspicious and agreeable to the mind.

Sacred locations and lands imbued with blessings, as well as places where the Great Master of Uddiyana and other accomplished masters of the past practiced, are highly praised. The Condensed Realization states:

It is easier to gain accomplishment by practicing one day

In such places than by practicing for a year in ordinary places.

More specifically, it is also said that places for practice should have certain geomantic features, such as particular shapes and colors of the sky and the earth that are in accord with each of the four activities. If you cannot arrange such locations, Resting in Meditation explains:

In summary, a place that is delightful at first but later becomes unpleasant is a place of less spiritual accomplishment. A place that is initially frightening and unpleasant yet later becomes delightful is a place filled with great blessings, where you will attain spiritual accomplishments quickly and without obstacles. Apart from those, all others are neutral, without particular benefit or harm.

This passage explains that you should practice in a place that you find delightful, once you have gotten used to it, and which has no impediments to meditative concentration. It is important to stay in secluded and delightful places that agree with your mind. The Condensed Realization states: If it agrees with your mind, even a city is a suitable place.

The Condensed Tantra also mentions:

You should practice wherever your mind is content, O Lord of Men. Sitting on your soft bedding and cushion, observe your mantra recitation.

Concerning the appropriate time to practice, The Tantra of the Layered Lotus Stems states:

The waxing period of the first month of each of the four seasons

Causes auspiciousness and excellence to manifest.

On a full moon, new moon, and on the eighth day of the lunar month Practice flourishes, together with good omens.

These days are propitious times for great accomplishment. Moreover, it states: During the king of constellations and so forth your wishes are fulfilled. The waxing period of the planets and the moon ...

A tantra explains:

Undertake activities on the eighth day of the waxing period of the moon. Engage in the vast conduct of enlightenment during the great king of constellations.

In order to attain the secret and supreme spiritual accomplishments swiftly, Practice when the planets and stars are in an auspicious configuration.

Although those with confidence in nonconceptuality do not make distinctions in terms of place and time, it is said that for beginners it will generate extraordinary results to practice when the dates and positions of the planets and stars form an auspicious connection that accords with the four activities. The Awesome Flash of Lightning comments: Excellent conditions and time are indeed conceptual thoughts,

But due to them the signs and marks Of spiritual accomplishments occur.

Whatever the case, gradually gather as much virtuous supportive strength as you can by ransoming the lives of animals, freeing fish, restoring dangerous paths, making figurines and tormas, performing the four hundred offerings and making other offerings, or reading the words of the Buddha, such as the Five Sutra Collections or a condensed version of them. In particular, engage in wrathful fire offerings and other such

rituals. You should also bring together all that you need, including practice companions, provisions, and practice articles. You can learn more details on how to perform these activities from scriptures such as The Treasury of Oral Instructions.

Next, clean your place and display representations of enlightened body, speech, and mind if you have them. Place the offerings in the correct order, arranging them beautifully and in an attractive way. When you look at them, you should feel at ease and sense their blessings. If the place is new to you, you need a ritual to consecrate the land, which includes self-visualization in its preliminaries. If it is an old place, this is not necessary.

Outside, in an unsheltered area, visualize the spirits of the eight classes in general, and the earth lords of the ground and other such spirits in particular, and give them whatever elaborate or simplified offering you can,

such as the Great Offering of All Samsara and Nirvana, the Three-Part Torma Offering, the Offering to the Eight Classes of Spirits, smoke offerings, and so forth. Doing so, urge them to act as allies in your practice. At this point, you can also expel obstructing forces, establish a boundary, and set up the guardian kings’ poles.

Facing the mandala, draw clockwise-swastikas with white grains or white chalk beneath your seat. If you want to take a more elaborate approach, spread kusha or durva grass on the ground, with the roots turned outward and the tips turned inward, and place your cushion on top of them. It is also explained that it is good to have the back of your seat slightly elevated.

In this context, the importance of making tormas and other offerings with pure materials and substances and arranging them beautifully is taught. The tormas should be made from select portions of excellent ingredients. These ingredients must not be obtained through wrong livelihood, or be of inferior quality, stale, and so forth; they must be ritually pure. With these ingredients, begin by mixing a small amount of the

three white substances and make small offering tormas for the deities. For the torma dough, mix nectarlike medicinal powder, made by someone free from samaya breaches, together with beer, the three white

substances, and the three types of sweets. Corresponding to the amount of food you have, make the torma with the quality of sadhana tormas stipulated by the text you are using. You may then paint it either maroon or white, whichever is appropriate.

Whatever the torma’s shape, its corners should not point toward you and it should be adorned with various types of butter adornments and foodstuffs. A parasol of a matching color should also cover it, and to its right

and left there should be nectar and rakta, along with their respective substances. When you find the right occasion, you may also include any appropriate tormas, such as those for oath-bound protectors, Dharma protectors, treasure guardians, and local deities, as well as the articles for feast offerings and so forth.

If you are inclined to include dharanrs in the tormas, draw the root mantra of the main deity and its retinue on Chinese paper with saffron or vermilion ink, followed by the sky treasury mantra. Next, write a supplication

to the assembly of the noble deities and their retinue to grant you the supreme and mundane spiritual accomplishments. Finally, draw the Ye-dharma dharanr one time. Starting at the beginning of the mantra, roll the paper such that the letters are turned inward. Wrap it in brocade of the same color as the deity and, without turning the mantra upside down, insert it into a bamboo shaft or copper container and then into the torma itself.

If you want to take a more elaborate approach, visualize the shrine torma as the deity and maintain the visualization for as long as you render offerings to it. The perpetual torma is kept for a specific duration of months or years. The sadhana torma, also called the offering torma, is offered and received by the deities as a gift. As a means to delight them, mending tormas serve as an offering

substance symbolizing sense pleasures and enjoyments. The captured torma is kept until an activity is accomplished, after which it is to be offered. The purpose of this torma is to ensure that an activity is accomplished

swiftly and without delay. The session torma, also called the daily torma, is given occasionally in order to enjoin certain temporary activities. A simple renunciant practitioner may also make these tormas using simply the best portions of his or her own food and drink.

You should also know that tormas can be viewed in a threefold or fourfold manner, depending on the context in which they are used. The Condensed Realization states:

A torma can represent four things:

At the time of receiving the blessings and empowerments,

It is visualized as the guru, yidam, dakini, and so forth.

Those who desire the spiritual accomplishments

View it as the nectar from which every desired manifestation appears.

When destroying the activities of the obstructing spirits,

It is visualized as sharp weapons.

During the supreme and mundane mending rituals,

It is visualized as the individual mending substances— The offering clouds of sense pleasures and enjoyments. Know that a torma can perform these different functions.

The same applies in the context of sadhana practice. The Key of the Crucial Instructions of the Eight Sadhanas teaches:

In terms of practice, torma can be understood in four different ways:

The great balimta torma can be understood

As an offering, as the deity,

As armies, and as magical weapons.

While practicing a ritual text, the torma can be viewed as an offering. During exorcising rituals, the torma can be viewed as the deity. During covenant rituals, the torma can be viewed as an army. During the throwing ritual, imagine the wisdom being of the torma dissolving into yourself. Viewing the samaya being of the torma as weapons, fireballs, poisonous vapor, molten bronze, and other such things, you then visualize all demons, together with their dwelling places and strongholds, dwelling within the fire and throw the torma into it.

You should also know that, for those of superior faculties, on the outer level everything is an inexhaustible adornment torma. The world is the torma vessel

and the beings are the torma ingredients. On the inner level the aggregates are the torma vessel and the flesh and bones are the torma ingredients. On the secret level, the emptiness of inherent nature is the torma vessel and appearances are the torma itself

In terms of presentation, in front of the representations and on the upper level of a two-tiered covered stand, set out medicine, nectar, torma, and the practice articles on top of grain heaps, following the instructions of the text you are using. On the lower level, arrange the five sense enjoyments in a row, preceded by the two types of water offering. For the practice of approach these offerings will suffice. The outer offerings are

transformed by chantingargham . . .” These are referred to as “circumstantial offerings” in the detailed commentary of The Clear Realization. To the north of the land of Uddiyana, on the slopes of the Glorious Mountain, water possessing eight special qualities is found. It is clean and free from any impurity, clear and unsullied, cool and aromatic, smooth and

free from defect, sweet smelling and fragrant, delicious and of supreme flavor, fulfilling and rejuvenating, and delightful and healthy. It is taught that this water resembles that which is diligently prepared as an offering at the time of great Dharma festivals.

Jigme Lingpa elaborates:

The offering substances represent the aspect of skillful means, appearances, and bliss. They are not of the highest type. The recipients of the offering, the victorious ones and their heirs, represent the aspect of knowledge and complete liberation. It is advisable to start presenting the offerings from the left side, the side of knowledge.

Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche explains further:

Whether during self-or frontal visualization, the female deities have their face turned towards the recipients of the offerings. Therefore, start the offerings from the left side of these offering recipients.

And Lingtrul teaches that:

For peaceful offerings made during self-visualization, you should begin offerings from the left side of the offering torma.

Nevertheless, followers of the New Schools and the majority of those in our own

tradition also teach that offerings must begin from the right to left for both self-and frontal visualizations since the head of the row occupies that side. During frontal visualization, when approach and accomplishment are practiced together, you can place a real or painted mandala, or else just heaps of grains, in front or behind the offerings of the self-visualization, whichever is the most convenient.

First, arrange the practice materials according to the instructions found in the text you are using and then begin the peaceful offerings with flowers in the northeast. This serves to prevent the influence of obstructing forces. Next, place drinking water in the east, bathing water in the southeast, and the remaining offerings clockwise in a circular manner.

When wrathful offerings are called for, place the following wrathful offerings in a counterclockwise circle. From the west, set out blood as drinking water in the southwest—the cannibal island—followed by poisonous water for bathing, sense faculties as flowers, human flesh as incense, human fat as a butter lamp, bile as scented water, and flesh and bones as food offerings. It is also said that peaceful offerings should be arranged in rows and wrathful offerings in a circle. Surround these offerings with all the individual ornaments you have, place them on a tigerskin and so forth. As a convenient

alternative, place the peaceful offerings in a row starting from the right side of the frontal visualization and the wrathful offerings in a row starting from the left side. Between these rows place the daily tormas.

Do not carelessly mix the outer with inner offerings, such as nectar and rakta. The Great Master of Uddiyana said:

In short, you should understand that no fault entails if the light rays of lower offerings strike the higher offerings, but if the light rays of the higher offerings strike the lower offerings, those who like common offerings, such as water, will not receive them.

It is also said that obstructing spirits will enter the tormas and offerings if they are not consecrated as soon as they are displayed. Therefore, perform a brief consecration by sprinkling them with pure water.

The Common Preliminaries

Next, according to how much free time you have, train in the preliminaries for an appropriate number of days. The path of liberation is rooted in the genuine attitude of renunciation, while the four mind-changings are the method that engenders this attitude. The path of the Great Vehicle is rooted in the precious mind of awakening, while the four immeasurables are the method that engenders this mindset. When these trainings have transformed your mind and conviction has arisen within you, focus on the practices of going for refuge, generating the mind of awakening, and reciting the seven-branch prayer. In particular,

concentrate on the meditation and recitation of Vajrasattva to purify the obscurations, on the mandala offering to gather the accumulations, and on guru yoga to receive the guru’s blessings.

Before you begin your practice in the afternoon and evening sessions, cleanse your mouth with water from the vase and sit in this purified state. Next, exhale the stale breath, rest your body and mind in their natural state, and refresh your motivation. Imagine a blue HUM syllable in your heart as the essence of the innate awakened mind. Light radiates out from this syllable, invoking from the natural abode the essence of your root guru in the form of the deity of any class of tantra: the principal figures, the three jewels, the gurus of the lineage, dakinrs, and Dharma protectors surrounded by all the objects of refuge without exception. Visualize them all gathered in the space before you, like cloud banks in the sky.

Imagine yourself going for refuge, over and over, together with all sentient beings. Doing so with your body, speech, and mind is the relative act of going for refuge. The ultimate act of going for refuge is to take refuge in the dharma body, the inconceivable true nature of reality in which the objects of refuge are inseparable from your own mind. This is the wisdom of the empty essence. The enjoyment body is the luminous nature, while the emanation body is unified compassion. Directing your attention to the inherent presence of the three bodies is the ultimate act of going for refuge.

The relative mind of awakening involves thinking, “I will practice this profound path to establish all sentient beings in the state of complete enlightenment.” The ultimate mind of awakening involves resting evenly in the true nature wherein nothing ultimately exists. Relatively speaking, however, the true nature can manifest as anything. This is the state in which emptiness and dependent arising are inseparable. Apply yourself earnesdy

as prescribed here. Further details about these practices, including the acts of going for refuge and generating the mind of awakening, may be learned from other sources.

Since the entire range of the methods for accumulating, purifying, and increasing is contained in the seven-branch prayer, train in gathering the accumulations. To conclude, dissolve the field of accumulation into

yourself and then rest for a moment in the state wherein your minds mingle inseparably. More elaborately, you can consecrate the vajra, bell, purifying water, and other articles at this point, following the instructions of other texts.