Two New Sections, A Yogi, More with Jigme Rinpoche

January 24th 2009

Today was a more varied day than usual. It started with the appearance of a Hindu yogi waiting near the door to the shrine room to greet His Eminence. I could only see him from a distance, a small, older man wearing thick red top, yellow lungi, and carrying a tin beggar’s cup. His dark hair was bound into a thick round topknot on top of his head. One or two old rosaries hung from his neck. His eyes seemed both soft and sharp, and his forehead bore white and red tikas, marks of daily ritual practice. There are a great many serious spiritual practitioners like this wandering the cities, towns and remote regions of India. Some of them are quite formidable, wear no clothes and have dreadlocks that have grown from head to foot. Some wear the dress of one or another sect or austerity. Many of them are men, but there are some women. Some of these meditators have great spiritual power.

We finished the Black Hayagriva empowerments in short order today, and moved from the practices of enlightened speech to those of enlightened mind. The third logos is named Yangdak, or Completely Pure, as Trungpa Rinpoche translated it. The siddha who transmitted this practice to Padmasambhava was named Humkara. This logos has a peaceful aspect, Vajrasattva, and a wrathful aspect, Vajra Heruka (often people say Yangdak for the wrathful aspect.) Along with these is a related practice of Vajrapani. Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani are known as the lords, or protectors, of the three families. These three bodhisattvas represent the wisdom, compassion and power of the Buddha.

The Vajrasattva empowerments were brief. There were only two. There was one Vajrasattva empowerment given as part during the tantra section in December. There are also instructions for several other Vajrasattva practices in the tantra section. There are six Vajrasattva cycles in the sadhana section of the Rinchen Terdzo, and we are puzzling over where they wind up in Karmapa Khakyab Dorje’s outline. They seem to be in several sections other than Vajrasattva. One abhisheka is included in the atiyoga section possibly because Vajrasattva is seen as the transcendent buddha who is the source of the dzogchen teachings. After the two peaceful empowerments we moved the wrathful section, the empowerments of Yangdag or Vajra Heruka.

During an interview earlier in the week I asked Jigme Rinpoche about Vajrasattva’s place in the scheme of things. Vajrasattva is sometimes referred to as the lord of all the families, meaning all the families of buddhas. I wondered about the relationship between Vajrasattva and the sadhanas of the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities in the tantra section. In the following edited section of an interview, Jigme Rinpoche describes how the practitioner sees the mandala. He is referring to how the practitioner sees the world informed by the experience of meditation.

Walker Blaine: The mahayoga sadhana section starts with Vajrasattva and the peaceful and wrathful deities (Tibetan: shitro) and the 8 logos come later. I wonder if there is a relationship between those and why everything isn’t categorized within the 8 logos. What is so special about those first two?

JR: The basic concept of the mandala is such that it depends on where you look. It depends on how you look at it, depending on your understanding, your level of development and capacity of mind, your level of direct perception, your level of experiences in past lives.

Each individual has a different way of seeing the mandala. One person looks at the mandala and sees the details: the complicated, intricate, enormous world of colors, magic, energies, forms, which are also completely filled with vast space.

Someone else may look at the mandala and have the skill or technique to view it as just five different groups, the five buddha fields, or five buddha energies.

The first one is seeing it the multitude, hundreds or thousands, as vast as the sky; bright, energetic, beautiful, colorful. And he may be completely absorbed into that, which is fine. But there comes a point when it needs to be brought together, because the point is not to get lost in infinite possibilities. So, someone else might see it as an expression of just five basic energies, and another might see it as an expression of just one central character.

WB: Like Vajrasattva?

JR: Yes, Vajrasattva. There is nothing more than the expression of the central figure, and if you miss that key point, you miss the whole point. That is the basic concept of tantric buddhas having less elaborate forms as five buddha families, and then more elaborated forms thatspread out into hundreds, thousands. And then when completely simplified as just one, it’s Vajrasattva. Rig chig means one buddha family where every buddha family is united. Dorje Sempa, Vajrasattva.

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