Entering the Eight Logos
January 3rd 2009
After starting the day with familiar sound of Lhuntrul Rinpoche’s reading transmission filling the valley at 6:40 AM the Rinchen Terdzo slipped back into its familiar, intense and now somewhat comforting rhythm. I found myself reassured by His Eminence’s voice and energy during the abhishekas in the afternoon and toyed with the word ‘addictive’ for this blog entry. But, ‘right place at the right time’ seems the best way to put it.
Today we concluded a large section of the Rinchen Terdzo, the part of the collection devoted to the guru. We ended with several empowerments of Guru Dragpo and Dorje Trollo, wrathful forms of Padmasambhava. To put things in context, we are now in the mahayoga section of the Rinchen Terdzo, the largest part of the collection. It is a presentation of many styles of liturgical visualization practices consisting of hundreds of empowerments. There are four main divisions here: guru, yidam, dakini and protector. We are starting the yidam section which is broken into two major parts: the root sadhanas or liturgical practices that are the means to attain realization, and the auxiliary rituals, things like practices related to retreats feasts, and so on, as well as rituals devoted benefiting beings and the environment through the activities of pacifying, enriching, and so forth.
All the sadhanas of the yidam, or the root of attainment, are contained within a classification of deities known as the ka gye or eight logos. The eight logos are the overall catagorization of deities with the Nyingma system. The phrase ‘eight logos’ was coined by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. In his book The Lion’s Roar he explains logos is the closest thing in the English language to the meaning of the Tibetan word ka, he and adds that ka can also mean ‘command’ or ‘language.’ The yidam section starts with practices the present the eight logos as a unit and then moves to individual presentations of each logos.
The last abhisheka of the day was a preliminary abhisheka for a practice called The Hundred Families of the Vajradhatu; the peaceful deities of the Union of the Sugatas from the Eight Logos. This terma was discovered by Nyangral Nyima Oser in the 12th century. He was born in 1136 and is known as the first of the five Terton Kings. This title refers to the fact that these tertons were all rebirths of King Trisong Detsen who established Buddhism in Tibet with Padmasambhava. This is of great significance because of the close relationship between the king and Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). The other Terton Kings are Guru Chokyi Wangchug, Dorje Lingpa, Pema Lingpa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.
From his childhood onwards Nyangral (pronounced nyang-ral) Nyima Oser had many visions. During a month of such experiences when he was only eight years old, he had a pure vision of receiving abhisheka from Guru Rinpoche who was seated on a horse being carried by four dakinis. The experience produced such a strong change in his conduct that afterwards everyone thought Nyangral Nyima Oser had gone insane. Such changes are not uncommon for tertons. There’s a famous story of Chogyur Lingpa in his youth getting out during a large dance performance at his monastery. He was severely reprimanded for doing this. During the lama dances Chogyur Lingpa had entered into a pure vision of lama dances with Guru Rinpoche and had followed the group dancing for Guru Rinpoche rather than the people at his monastery.
Later in his youth, Nyangral Nyima Oser’s father gave him the empowerment of Hayagriva, the wrathful aspect of Avalokitesvara. This practice is associated with the horse; the main principle of the practice is called the horse’s neigh. The three neighs of the horse destroy the body, speech and mind of Rudra, the personification of our deepest ego clinging. When Nyangral Nyima Oser practiced Hayagriva in a cave retreat the kila or ritual dagger, on his shrine actually neighed. At that time he had a vision of the deity and he left his foot and hand prints in solid rock.
Nyangral Nyima Oser discovered a large number of terma texts and objects that remain in his family line. From these there are about forty practices presented in the Rinchen Terdzo. The very first terma in the entire collection is a 240 page life story of Guru Rinpoche called the Kathang Zanglingma. The termas he discovered include practices of the peaceful and wrathful aspects of the guru, Avalokiteshvara, Mahakala and the dakini.
The practice we received the preliminary empowerment for today was discovered after Nyangral Nyima Oser looked inside the broken finger of an statue that had been given to him by a merchant. Inside the finger he found a list of two terma inventories which brought him to discover two chests of termas behind an image of Vairocana the great translator, one of Padmasabhava’s main disciples, in a temple in Southern Tibet. It is said that the original terma for the practice we started receiving today was hand written by the great translator Vairocana, a highly realized principal disciple of Padmasambhava) and Denma Tsemang for King Trisong Detsen’s personal use.
In his life Nyangral Nyima Oser demonstrated a great variety of miraculous abilities and lived until the age of 69. At the time of his passing there were many wondrous signs, in particular a white HRIH syllable emerged from his heart and went off in the direction of Sukhavati. At the cremation, his student Chak Lotsawa was unable to light the fire which then spontaneously lit itself. Inside the fire everyone could see a small boy surrounded by dakinis all chanting the mantra HA RI NI SA. Many extraordinary relics were found in the ashes
Since you’re probably wondering what the eight logos are I thought it best to give short list at the end of the blog. The eight logos fall into three groups. The first five are the transcendent group. They are related to the aspects of body, speech, mind, quality and activity. These are the five buddha families and the herukas for these, at least in their peaceful aspects, will be familiar to many of you. The last two of the logos are worldly, not transcendent, and the sixth logos, can be either worldly or transcendent. Tai Situ Rinpoche said that it isn’t that the deities of the last two logos are only worldly, it is just they their concentration is on the enrichment of life and removal of obstacles. The Lion’s Roar gives a quick overview of the eight logos from an experiential viewpoint. I am simplifying things a bit below, and we’ll get into more detail as we proceed through the next 275 abhishekas.
The Eight Logos
1. Body – Manjushri/Yamantaka
2. Speech – Amitayus/Amitabha/Avalokitesvara/Hayagriva
3. Mind – Vajrasattva/Vajra Heruka (Yangdak)/Vajrapani
4. Quality – Amritaguna (Dutsi Yonten)
5. Activity – Vajrakilaya
6. Mamo – Mamo/Simhamukha
7. Worldly Offerings and Praises
8. Wrathful Mantras