The 12th Kenting Tai Situpa:
Shangpa Kagyu Lineage and the Six Yogas
Source: Dam Ngak zod empowerments and teachings at Palpung Sherabling (Audio file 20.mp3)
I wanted to summarize the teachings that you are receiving today, because if I don’t teach them briefly, then you are not receiving the sacred instruction transmission. But in order to do more than that, then it is not appropriate, actually.
So, the Shangpa Kagyu Lineage is very unique because of many things. For example Shangpa Kagyu and Marpa Kagyu came at the same time. And Shangpa Kagyu and Marpa Kagyu, the activity has been slightly different. Marpa Kagyu, because of such a great activities and such a great merit there were so many branches that developed. It became four major and eight junior, and then many sub-congregations. So there is so much. And I’m not saying that’s wrong, but it happened that way, and because it became so, in a worldly sense so popular, and in a spiritual sense it has a great dharma-activity.
But in Shangpa Kagyu, there were so many enlightened masters, so many great things happened, but it remained as one lineage until today. There isn’t eight lesser Shangpa, four greater Shangpa, there aren’t these things. I’m not saying if there are so many branches something is wrong, just no branches that is good, I’m not saying that. But that is its uniqueness. And that Shangpa Kagyu Lineage teachings are very comprehendible, you can comprehend, because there aren’t so many deities, there aren’t so many Protectors, there are very few actually comparing to others. That way it is condensed. For example the five deities into one and you don’t have to practice each deity one by one. And four deities into one. So this way, and at the same time each one of the Six Yogas of Niguma are related with Chakrasamvara, Vajravarahi, Hevajra, and so this way it is very unique.
And now, having said that I wanted to explain little bit about the Six Yogas by explaining Tummo [inner warmth, connected to kundalini], because Tummo is first, and that is the foundation of all the other Six Yogas. Why is that? – Because of the breathing practice. The breathing practice and the physical exercise of the breathing practice all count to the Tummo practice. So, as the result of that it is the most important foundation for all the other practices. And why is breathing important? I don’t have to tell you. Because if we don’t breathe that means – you know, what does that mean? You know very well.
And now, how come, that our mind which is limitless and not composed thing, and the body which is composed of all the elements, and this mind got trapped in this body? How come? Relatively speaking of the elements the most subtle is the space. And the next most subtle is the air. The next most subtle is the water. Next most subtle is the fire. And then which is not subtle is the earth. So, that way our mind – l limitless – became trapped in this limited composed body.
Now this is kept alive and keeps on growing because of the fire. This way the five elements are our connection to the body which is the composed body of the five elements. How can such a miracle happen? Sometimes in the Theravada teachings this is not a good miracle. This is a terrible miracle. Suffering miracle. But how did this happen? – Because of three things: defilement, karma and the sub-consciousness like habit. This way this body and this mind become inseparable.
Through the practice of Tummo, which is practicing exactly this connection, then you realize that this composed body is ultimately not composed. Only relatively composed. But ultimately it is not. Ultimately there is no difference between mind and the body. People say things about mind over matter. It is such an interesting and fascinating [issue] for some people because they think mind and matter are totally two different things. But it is not a fascinating matter at all when you understand it, because mind and matter are embodiment of each other.
And there is no such thing as dualistic ultimate existence of anything. Ultimately everything is non-dualistic. Therefore everything is emptiness. And emptiness does not mean nothing is there. Actually emptiness means everything. It is in the sutra mentioned very clearly: “There is nothing which is not interdependent; therefore there is nothing which is not emptiness.” That means emptiness doesn’t mean nothing. Emptiness actually means everything. There is not one thing, it is everything.
So, this way, when you practice Tummo through the breathing practice, then what develops is the true primordial connection between this limitless mind and this limited, let’s say word body and surroundings. And ultimate connection is enhanced by realization through the help of breathing practices and Tummo methods.
First thing that happens is that if we are able to breathe properly then our health will be better. If we are able to breathe properly, our temperament will be better. And if we are able to breathe properly, then our mind will be more efficient and very clear. This is very simple. When you are angry you turn red. You are sweating, and you are breathing very hard. And when you are scared of, same thing, instead of turning red we turn pale. Instead of getting hot we become cold, and then you are shaking again. And this is all due to the connection to air, the breathing.
And when you have some problem, or something wonderful happen to you, if you are able to calm down and do simple shine breathing practice of 21 breathing, it will naturally effect and it will naturally transform. So that way naturally it somehow effects immediately. It is of course very obvious, that when we have trouble, then we need to calm down. I give you an example. But when we are doing very well, we also need to calm down. I give you an example.
Success is like climbing a tower, and that tower is very tall because it is very steep. One cannot have a tall tower without it being steep. So when you are on top of the tall tower you have to calm down. If you don’t calm down you are excited and jump around, that means you will slip and fall down. And when you fall down, leg will be broken, ribs will be broken, backbone will be broken, if you are lucky. And then you end up rest of your life on two sticks. So you will become person with four legs. So then you can never go up the tower again. This way even when we are doing very well if we are able to do breathing shine, then it will immediately give us very clear perspective, so that pros and cons about everything we will notice and we will be aware.
Now at the same time, if you are able to add onto ordinary breathing shine practice: you do refuge and bodhicitta in the beginning, and then at the end you do dedication of the merit. And when you are doing the breathing practice, then you breathe out all of your good karma, all of your merit, all of your wisdom, you send it to all mother sentient beings from heaven to hell, and may they all receive it equally. And when you breathe in, then you breathe in all suffering and pain of all mother sentient beings from heaven to hell, you breathe in. You make them free from those sufferings. If you are able to do that, then this is called tonglen. Tong means send or give and len means receive or take. Bodhisattvas’ tonglen is very different from the common tonglen. Common tonglen what they do, the good things you will take, the bad things you will tong. But here you will take the bad things and you will give the good things. It is tonglen, same, but Bodhisattvas’ tonglen is very sacred. And then you make a very good dedication at the end. Then it becomes a complete practice.
Now in the Tummo practice for example the breathing helps you to enhance and activate every other practice. For example we have one practice called Chülen. Chülen means “taking the essence.” The most simple Chülen is eating herbal remedy like vitamin pill, and you don’t have to eat any food. And next is drink water, and next is eat stone, digest stone. And next is eat space. So you don’t have to eat solid food, eat space. It is very obvious, I can only talk about it, and I can’t practice it. If I practiced, I wouldn’t look like me. So I don’t mean I would look bad but I wouldn’t look like somebody who didn’t eat anything, right? This way the Chülen practice is only possible through good breathing practice. If there is no good breathing practice, what will happen if you swallow a stone pebble? You will get sick, you will have to go to hospital. And through the lung practice then you can digest it.
The same thing with miracles. How come the miracles that are performed by buddhas and bodhisattvas and mahasiddhas are different from the magic that is performed by magicians? Totally different. The mahasiddhas cannot be burned by fire because they have realized the ultimate primordial essence of the fire. Therefore they cannot be burned. Same thing with water, same thing with air, same thing with earth, all the elements, because they have realized nature of the essence of everything. Therefore everything cannot affect them. This way Milarepa walks on thin air and some great masters walk on water. All these things are real, real as we walk on the road. Because we are people, who don’t have that realization of the ultimate of everything. Therefore we can only walk on the road, walk on earth, but not on water. But when you have realization, there is no difference between earth and the water and the air. So that is the definition of miracle.
And now, through the Tummo practice then you are able to do all the other practices, such as Illusory Body, Dream Yoga, Clear Light and Transferring the Consciousness and all of those other practices. So therefore I felt this much explanation will be beneficial for you and it will also represent the entire teaching of these great transmissions. I will conclude here for now as far as teaching is concerned.
As you know you are participating in the main empowerment of Shangpa Kagyu and this is about the Illusory Body, it is known as gyülü wangmo che. Illusory Body means that this body of ours is an illusion. This world of ours is an illusion. Again, it does not mean that mind is not illusion but everything else is illusion. Ultimately it is not like that. Ultimately everything is just like mind. When you reach the realization of the five deity tantra, just like Khedrub Khungpo Naljor has done, then he himself, the mind becomes the Dharmakaya of the five deities, not one deity, five deities, and his speech and all of his energy you can call it, transform into Sambhogakaya. And then all the physical aspects transform into Nirmanakaya.
So, central and surrounding. Mandala is in Tibetan chilkor. Chil means center and kor means surrounding. There are so many chils and kors. First most superficial chil means deity, kor means the palace and the charnel grounds, the ring of fire, the ring of vajras, all of that is khor. As you go little bit deeper, then Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya is the kor and Dharmakaya is the chil. This way chilkor has specific meanings. And this body is actually chilkor in itself, but right now because of our three things: the defilements, the karma and the sub-consciousness or habit, because of these three, it does not manifest as the Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya. It manifests as composed physical body, the heap of suffering.
Because in order to maintain this keep on going, we have to accumulate countless amount of very bad karma. Even we do bare minimum we at least have to get up and walk out. You understand what I mean? Every day twice or three times, or walk in. And when you are doing that, you are destroying hundreds of lives. Even you do your best to walk with very big steps so that you don’t need to make so many steps. Big steps, fewer steps, shorter distance, still your feet have to touch the ground. In between the ground and your feet there are so many lives that will be squashed, and micro-lives. But micro and macro doesn’t make any difference. Because micro life is also micro life, they don’t want to die. They don’t want to be hurt. They like to enjoy their own kind of micro world. So we just make one necessary step in a day, [and it] is an enormous catastrophic natural disaster for them. Maybe they are doing pujas down there to prevent this kind of natural disasters, possible.
Anyway, this way this body is relatively stained heap of suffering. Buddha called it chakje tukdenji phungpo. Chakje means stained, it will fall down, it can become worse and worse, tukden means truth of suffering, phungpo means heap. And without realization that is what it is. And with realization then this Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya in one, the Svabhavikakaya.
So I sincerely pray that all of you will have great benefit from the little things that I have shared, which I think is appropriate. If I go more than this it’s not appropriate. So this will become kind of transmission for this particular part of the Lineage, which is the first part of the Shangpa Kagyu. And then starting from tomorrow the second part of Shangpa Kagyu.
At the same time I really sincerely hope, that receiving this transmission will make difference in your life, so that your path towards enlightenment will become more straight and not roundabout, and then also you become more happier person. It is impossible to have a sad buddha. All the buddhas are happy. Some of these people they have the patron of the 16 Arhats which we call Hashang, which is sad monk smiling all the time with bag of presents that will never run out. And sometimes he is surrounded by so many children and they call him laughing buddha, and some of them call him happy buddha, which is very appropriate. I don’t know if he is buddha or not, but very good.
So this way I sincerely pray that all of these things that I’m telling you will make you a happier person, and then that will make all the people who come across with you, who have interactions with you, happier person as well.
(Audio file 21.mp3)
This session is entitled as trirampa. Trirampa means like natural state, spontaneous natural state, and it also has preliminary trirampa. Main practice overcoming the four obstacles and fruition at the end, that is spontaneously arising the three kayas. But first the trirampa, the part of this title.
The first rampa is the body rampa, second is speech rampa, third is mind rampa. So without going too much into detail, sitting with meditation posture or totally relaxing is the body rampa. And then without saying anything and also leaving your mouth semi-opened when you are meditating so that breathing is not kind of obstacle that is nga [speech] rampa, which is also part of the seven posture of the Nampar nangse [Vairochana]. Then the eye without focusing or anything, just looking in the space here, and there is some kind of measurement according to various texts, but the main thing really is not to be distracted by what you see in front. So that naturally goes with the sound and the ear etc.etc. You are not focusing on anything, just letting it be as it is, that is mind rampa and the natural state of mind, and resting in that natural state of body, speech and mind. And that is the main part of the teaching.
This is the continuation, the four obstacles that one has to overcome, the four obstacles of a meditator. I’m not talking about any other person’s obstacles. Your obstacles as a practitioner, meditator. The first is: we don’t recognize our essence because it is so close and it is so good and it is so intimate, therefore it is like our eye cannot see our eye. The same way we are not able to see. So that is one obstacle. The second obstacle is: we have so many experiences, such as we have died countless times, we are born countless times, we encountered all kinds of extreme situations countless times, we have encountered subtle situations countless times, various sacred and holy situations countless times, unholy and dreadful situations countless times. And each one of those times are very precious moment to recognize the essence of it, but we did not recognize it up to today. So that is another obstacle, because we have so much experience, therefore we don’t recognize that.
And the third obstacle is: we don’t have trust and confidence in our essence, and we don’t have trust and confidence in our gurus. We don’t have trust and confidence in our Lineage. As a result of that we somehow do not manage to get best out of it and get the best fruition out of it. So that’s the third.
And fourth, it is something we cannot comprehend. We are supposed to be buddha and our essence is buddha, and we cannot comprehend that, because we see so many undesirable things within us, and around us, therefore how can I be buddha? This kind of habit and this kind of obstacle is the fourth obstacle.
And of course each one of these obstacles will have countless remedies in the teaching, but the overall remedy is merit and wisdom. Because knowledge will not help and efforts will not help, hard working will not help, argument will not help, but merit and wisdom. Because for example with people, you know, if somebody says: “You do some good things, you do some wonderful things,” many people will not like it. But if the same people are told that let’s go to the bar and have a drink and have a kind of good nice fun dancing and singing and drinking and all that sort of thing, then they will say: “Why not, let’s go, hurry up!” So, that way, why does that happen? Why good things are so difficult and why useless things are so easy and so attractive is because of lack of merit and lack of wisdom. And no-one can stop us or no-one can make us do things which we don’t want to do, and no-one can stop us not to do what we want to do, so this is lack of merit.
And because of the lack of merit then there will be no wisdom, and therefore the merit accumulation and wisdom accumulation is extremely important. Because of that in our practice, those Shangpa, Marpa, in all our practice the preliminary practice is the most important. Preliminary practice, more you do, that much the actual practice will be successful, will be to the point. Therefore you can never say: “I have done too many preliminary practices,” there will never be such a thing. So, therefore that will be the remedy.
But then, above all the most simple and most effective remedy will be unconditional devotion to Three Jewels and to Three Roots and sacred Lineage, and unconditional compassion, the bodhicitta for all sentient beings. How unconditional, how limitless it is, that much meritorial you will be, and that much wisdom you will manifest. And therefore these are the remedies for overcoming those obstacles.
And then the final thing, which is the Three Kaya spontaneously dawn, spontaneously manifest like sun dawns or manifests or lands onto, so that is [how] the Dharmakaya has to be explained. And now our ordinary mind as it is, in the past – this is wrong English, I know, but it describes it – since ever, and in the future for ever. And so this ordinary uncontaminated uninfluenced essence of our mind, and we did not recognize it, and when we recognize it, the non-dualistic empty aspect of it, non-existence, non-composed empty aspect of it, that is Dharmakaya. But it is not like nothing, because that empty aspect of it you experience, you recognize, and that is clarity that is Nirmanakaya. And that emptiness and this clarity are not separate. It is non-dualistic in union that is Sambhogakaya. So Dharmakaya, Nirmanakaya and Sambhogakaya here, instead of Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, Nirmanakaya otherwise.
So, in these three, if you are able to remain, then that is good meditation fruition. And if you are able to experience this first and then gradually realize this, then we achieve this by much like achieving something dualistically, but by becoming; then that is the realization of Vajradhara, and this way we can attain buddhahood in this life. In one life with one body, the great union, non-dualistic Vajradhara realization.
So that is the abbreviation of the ten specifics mentioned in this sacred transmission. And with this much explanation I think the essence of all of today’s sacred instructions will be somewhat represented here. And so therefore I’m taking this little bit of time to explain it.