32 Empowerments in Brief

December 25th Part Two

A belated Merry Christmas to you. Here’s how the fifty abhishekas related to the Seven Line Supplication have stacked up so far:

• 3 abhishekas of the three kayas
• 4 abhishekas of the four kayas
• 5 abhishekas of the five wisdoms
• 6 abhishekas of the six realms
• 7 abhishekas of the seven successive buddhas
• 9 abhishekas of the nine stages of the path (8 manifestations of the Padmasambhava and one more)

Kayas or bodies are a way of looking at the mind and manifestations of an awakened being, and the empowerments presented each of these separately. They kayas can be presented as three, four or more. The manifestations of Padmasambhava in relationship to the five wisdoms could be explained as the transformation of our five basic emotional energies or as the transformation the five elements (earth and so on plus space.)

The famous teaching diagram, the Wheel Of Life that is painted outside every monastery depicts our experiences as a cycle through six realms or manifestations of being. These are both outer and inner; heaven and hell really depend on us, not something external. These realms each contain a buddha, an opportunity to wake up in the midst of our various sufferings. These six realms also have a corresponding manifestation of Padmasambhava.

One very good thing to know about Padmasambhava is how he relates to Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha stated that eight years after his passing an enlightened teacher would come to teach the highest teachings and greatly benefit beings. The Buddha said Padmasambhava would be even more enlightened than he was, meaning that their realizations were equal but that Padmasambhava’s expression of enlightenment would be extraordinary. He called Padmasambhava ‘The Buddha Of Three Times.’ Another key point in the tradition is that while the Buddha primarily taught the hinayana and mahayana, Padmasambhava primarily taught the vajrayana or tantric teachings.

After those 18 abhishekas we moved to empowerments of the Padmasambhavas relating to the seven successive buddhas. Chogyur Lingpa had a vision that a buddha in this world would always be accompanied by a Padmasambhava. The seven buddhas are the three buddhas of the three previous world ages, the three prior buddhas of our own world age, or kalpa, plus Shakyamuni. His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche once explained a kalpa as the life cycle of a planet. I found this quite interesting and helpful.

Finally, we received nine abhishekas (putting us at 15 for the day, a new record) relating the famous eight manifestations of Padmasambhava plus himself as in the form of Yishin Norbu, The Wish Fulfilling Jewel, to the nine yanas. The eight manifestations connect with eight phases in Padmasambhava’s life and are chronicled quite experientially in Trungpa Rinpoche’s Crazy Wisdom.

Lhuntrul Rinpoche’s teachings this evening turned out to be on the nine yanas. The nine yanas are nine successive presentations of understanding and practice starting with achieving liberation for oneself alone and concluding with maha ati, the final path, the ultimate presentation the mind and how to realize things as they are, basic goodness.

Lhuntrul Rinpoche taught in Tibetan and was translated by a very knowledgeable Ripa sangha member from Minsk named Niccolas. He has a thick Russian accent. At times the layers of accents and languages filling the shrine room became pretty entertaining. Lhuntrul Rinpoche speaks with a soft and gentle voice beneath which lies a palpable eagerness to transmit the dharma. It was a treat to watch him starting to teach westerners. He was at once soft and peaceful backed by the power of a quick rising sun. The short talk covered the basic framework of the yanas and ended with some questions, mostly about the vajrayana vows or samayas, the commitments connected with receiving empowerments.

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