A Few words on the occurrences of the Lunar Calendar.
We are so used to counting days and the great Sun is of such an immense help to illuminate our days with light and warmth. And so, the whole of Lunar calendar is somewhat of a wonderful mystery. After all the moon it’s self manifests most of the time at night, yet we have days we call “Full Moon Day”. It is this quality of softness of the moonlight that is there in our world although maybe in no such a direct way as the great impartial sunlight. According to the moon calendar there are several days throughout the year that need to be reconciled with the fazes of the moon. The New Moon at the end and beginning of the month and the Full Moon at the middle point of each month.
Skilled astrologers rebalance the numbers of days and months every year to keep up with the correct to the appearance of the moon beginning, middle and end of the month because of the simple fact that 365(sun days actually) days do not evenly divide into neat 12 months of the calendar.
On the 10th day of each month we remember Guru Rinpoche appearance in this world, which took place either during 5th or 6th month, either way on the 10th day. This year 12th month (last month) of the Iron Ox year was adjusted to have double 8th day and Guru Rinpoche day is remembered by us on what can be 11th day which arrived right after the 9th. So, Today February 11, 2022 is also happens to be 10th day of the 12th month of the 2148 of the Royal Tibetan enumeration.
Traditionally it is thought that Guru Rinpoche manifested as a Guru Dorje Drolo during the 11th month and Guru Pema Gyalpo during the 12th month.
This article from the website of the followers of Late Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche (May 10, 1938 – June 19, 2010)
It is one of the best resources available online to introduce the idea of appearances and activities of Guru Rinpoche in this world.
Please read it. (This excerpt that is less the half of the whole article)
Visit their website. (where actual rather short but very insightful article very thoughtfully published now for years)
Remember Guru Padmasambhava.
Remember teachers of wisdom.
THE EIGHT MANIFESTATIONS
G U R U P A D M A S A M B H A V A
The Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche
translated by the Venerable Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche
Padma Gochen Ling Monterey Tennessee May 1992
My father is wisdom and my mother is voidness.
My country is the country of Dharma.
I am of no caste and no creed.
I am sustained by perplexity; and I am here to destroy lust, anger and sloth.
The year of the monkey is known as the year of Guru Padmasambhava. It is a very special time during which to discuss his teachings. According to the lunar calendar, today is the twenty-ninth day of the month, tomorrow is the new moon, and the day after tomorrow is the first day of the third month of the Tibetan calendar. All these aspects are very auspicious. I take this as a sign that you all have a special connection with Guru Padmasambhava, so I feel very happy to be here.
Those of you who are practicing on Guru Padmasambhava through visualization, chanting the Seven Line Prayer and reciting the Vajra Guru Mantra already know something about who Guru Padmasambhava is. But for those who aren’t familiar with him or the benefits of practicing on Guru Padmasambhava, I will give a brief introduction so that you will be in a better position to receive teachings about his various emanations.
In the Tibetan language, Guru Padmasambhava is generally referred to as Guru Rinpoche, which means “precious master.” Guru Rinpoche is a totally enlightened being, a fully awakened one, a buddha. He did not become enlightened gradually or start practicing the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni and eventually gain enlightenment.
Guru Rinpoche incarnated as a fully enlightened being. Through his form, primordial wisdom manifested in the world to benefit all sentient beings.
Buddha Shakyamuni actually predicted Guru Padmasambhava’s appearance. Nineteen different sutras and tantras contain clear predictions of his coming and activities.
In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Buddha Shakyamuni announced his parinirvana to the students who were with him at the time. Many of them, particularly Ananda, the Buddha’s cousin and personal attendant, were quite upset upon hearing this. So Buddha turned to Ananda and told him not to worry. “Eight years after my parinirvana, a remarkable being with the name Padmasambhava will appear in the center of a lotus and reveal the highest teaching concerning the ultimate state of the true nature, bringing great benefit to all sentient beings.” Buddha Shakyamuni said that Padmasambhava would be even more enlightened than himself. Of course, Buddha Shakyamuni was fully enlightened and there is no higher realization, but by the Buddha’s manner of expression, we can begin to understand the importance of Guru Padmasambhava. Some accounts hold that Guru Rinpoche is a direct reincarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni. Buddha Shakyamuni also said Padmasambhava would be an emanation of Buddha Amitabha and Avalokitésvara and referred to him as the embodiment of all the buddhas of the three times. Many prophecies indicate that Guru Rinpoche would be a fully enlightened buddha, appearing in this world to help sentient beings.
For the most part, Buddha Shakyamuni presented Hinayana and Sutra Mahayana teachings, while Guru Padmasambhava taught the Vajrayana. Both revealed the complete and perfect path to awakening so that individuals of all capacities would be able to benefit. The absolute level of the Buddha’s teaching is beyond conception. If it did not go beyond the conceptual level, there would be no need to change our normal way of understanding things. To help us realize the primordial nature, Buddha Shakyamuni taught again and again that we must transcend clinging to ordinary dualistic conceptions, narrow attitudes, close mindedness, traditional rules, beliefs and limitations.
The ultimate meaning of the highest teaching is not readily understood by sentient beings. This is why Buddha Shakyamuni kept silent for forty-nine days after his enlightenment. He thought, “I have realized the most profound and subtle dharma, the clear light free of all complexity. However, this is much too deep for normal people to understand. Therefore, I will remain silent.” He knew how hard it would be to communicate the truth of his insight. Although he eventually taught tirelessly for forty-five years, his first thought reflects the extraordinary nature of the state into which he had awakened relative to mundane ideas and conceptions.
Sutra is a Sanskrit word meaning “condensed or summarized.” Scripture bearing this title indicates that these teachings were directly communicated in the world in order to provide a clear understanding of both the relative and absolute aspects of our existence. They provide knowledge with which a practitioner can realize buddhahood.
Most of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings address ordinary beings and offer a direct means of understanding the nature of our experience. It is a non-esoteric view which appeals to common logic, with tenets that can be verified by close observation of the elements which constitute our everyday world. With this knowledge, you can move toward enlightenment. This is the basic intention of Sutra Mahayana.
The Vajrayana is also known as Tantra. Tantric teachings are based upon the Sutra Mahayana, but offer additional means and methods. Vajrayana practices encourage us to take a deeper look at our perceptions, to understand the primordial nature and learn to maintain mind in that state. The Sutras may be called general teachings which clarify the nature of conditional mind and perception, while the Vajrayana reveals the secret structure of phenomena and is for more advanced practitioners. Although they share the same foundation, the Vajrayana goes further toward understanding transcendental reality. To practice both Sutra and Tantra together can bring enlightenment within this life, even within a very short period of time. Such acceleration distinguishes Vajrayana techniques.
The Buddha only gave Vajrayana teachings privately, to select groups of disciples. Because the essence and even the form of these higher teachings is beyond common conception, they are also known as secret teachings. After the Buddha entered mahaparinirvana, these secret doctrines were preserved by a host of wisdom dakinis.
When Guru Rinpoche appeared as the reincarnation of Buddha Shakyamuni, he revealed the Vajrayana teachings in their entirety. This is why Guru Rinpoche is known as the Buddha of the Vajrayana.
Our present knowledge is limited to the inputs of the six sense-consciousnesses. There is a horizon to what you can see. You hear sounds within the spectrum detectable by human ears. The flavors and fragrances you are aware of are within the limits of your senses of taste and smell. What you feel is conditioned by your sensitivity, and what you think reveals the parameters of your mental concepts. We do not really extend beyond that. These six define the frontiers of our knowledge and comprise the individual point of view. We can ignore what lies beyond our senses and imagine such things cannot exist, but there really is much more to life than what we perceive.
We only notice one percent and habitually ignore the ninety nine percent still to be discovered. Our knowledge is very limited. We shouldn’t block our ability to learn by assuming that what we cannot see does not exist and is not possible. This kind of thinking obstructs further knowledge. It is as if we don’t really want any illumination.
We block all openings and sit there in the dark. You must open the door. This is the initial form of ignorance to be recognized. It is always necessary to stay open and be aware that there is an infinity of knowledge still to be discovered.
For example, if somebody next to you were threading a needle, it would be pretty obvious what they were doing, whereas from a hundred yards away, you would see neither the needle nor the thread. You might even imagine that there was no needle simply because you couldn’t see it. This is the limitation on knowledge gleaned through the power of the eye. It doesn’t mean there is nothing there. You just don’t see it. There are a great many things to be discovered beyond our present understanding.
Beings who realize great equanimity discover the infinite energy of the true nature and can perform many beneficial activities using their eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body. They will not always act conventionally or in ways we normally understand. They may do things which don’t fit in with our common perceptions. Phenomena which seem to go beyond physical limitations are sometimes referred to as miracles. At times, those who have the capacity will display miraculous phenomena in the common world. People who don’t believe in the possibility of miracles think these stories are myths, metaphors or fairy-tales. In truth, there are people who can do amazing things, just as the ancient masters did. Don’t ignore certain aspects of the universe by thinking those are just stories. The universe contains an infinite variety of wondrous qualities and activities.
These actions are incomprehensible from the ordinary, mundane viewpoint. They manifest to help destroy all conventional approaches to knowledge. Ego-based discriminations and habits have separated the world into samsara and nirvana. These dualistic notions are the only real cause of unhappiness. Guru Padmasambhava breaks through that dualistic pattern to lead us into perfect enlightenment, beyond conception.
In order to have a deep understanding of the meaning of Guru Padmasambhava’s activities, it is important to keep an open mind. We must go beyond our present conceptual limitations. See your tendency to doubt and criticize, and how that fills your mind with contradictions. Don’t restrict your mind to the tyranny of having to affirm or deny. Most of our decisions are based in simplistic conceptual polarities. We ignorantly believe in the adequacy of this way of thinking and assume that what we don’t see does not exist. If you create sharp divisions and cling to narrow definitions of subject and object, whatever you see will always appears in the context of those limitations. When you see something, you can say, “Yes, that exists,” but what you do not see in the state of direct perception is easily denied. In Buddhism such views are known as obscurations or dualistic conceptions. They do not lead to true knowledge or wisdom, but are based in ignorance. It is ignorance which defines the world and puts limitations on our vision. We have to break through this barrier in order to understand the perfect activities of Guru Padmasambhava’s emanations and the infinite possibilities of the true nature.
Dissolving fixed conceptions and not clinging to the limitations of sentient perception reveals the vastness of the true nature, the sphere of great equanimity. By breaking down the walls of rigid thinking, we merge with this evenness, seeing everything as inseparable and flowing in continuous transformation. This is also known as interdependent origination. In the Dzogchen teachings, it is called the unimpeded openness of the true nature.
Dzogchen is the highest teaching, but more precisely, Dzogchen is the real situation, the reality of all phenomena. Practice helps us break through the walls of ego-clinging and merge with the infinite expanse where anything is possible and everything arises perfectly without moving out of the sphere of equanimity. All of Buddha Shakyamuni’s teachings, from the Hinayana on through to Atiyoga, are designed to transcend dualistic conceptions and actualize the full range of marvellous activities that arise within this profound equanimity. This is the central point of the Dharma and the inspired intention behind the actions of every great master. Guru Padmasambhava’s teachings offer a direct path to actualize this understanding. The siddhi of his activity is especially powerful and effective in destroying the solidity of dualistic concepts and fixed opinions, and in awakening us to true freedom.
Wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts’ogyal said that Guru Padmasambhava has nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine biographies. That’s a lot of biographies! These biographies are divided three ways: those relating the one hundred and eight activities of Guru Rinpoche according to his dharmakaya buddhahood, accounts told according to his sambhogakaya nature, and works chronicling his activities as a nirmanakaya buddha.
On the dharmakaya level, Guru Rinpoche is known as the primordial buddha, Samantabhadra. Inseparable from Buddha Shakyamuni and all fully enlightened beings, he lives as those who are never obscured or deluded, always free in the ultimate sphere of dharmakaya. He is our true nature, which is also known as all-pervading primordial wisdom because it suffuses every external and internal object in the ten directions unceasingly and is known as the dharmakaya Guru Padmasambhava. Fully awakened, this great equanimity is completely free of all conditional marks or complexities.
The dharmakaya continuously emanates five wisdoms in all directions. These appear as the five dhyani buddhas or the families of wrathful, semi-wrathful, and peaceful conquerors and their retinues. All these buddhas are Guru Padmasambhava in sambhogakaya form, emanating wisdom light to liberate all sentient beings in the six realms. Different emanations of Guru Rinpoche appear in each of the six realms as well as in every direction within those realms to teach sentient beings according to their capabilities and gradually lead them all to enlightenment. There are one hundred million Guru Padmasambhavas’ helping sentient beings throughout the universe.
These represent his nirmanakaya aspect. Guru Rinpoche may take any number of forms within any realm. He is not limited to appearing in any particular guise. His character and way of teaching will vary depending on the sentient beings to be instructed.
In the mundane sense, Guru Padmasambhava’s activities are called “miraculous,” but from the viewpoint of absolute reality, these are not unusual phenomena. They are the natural, spontaneous activity of the true nature. From the perspective of realization, our normal, everyday activities are somewhat odd and unnatural. In this sense, we are great magicians, conjuring up something totally unreal.
When Guru Padmasambhava appeared on earth, he came as a human being. In order to dissolve our attachment to dualistic conceptions and destroy complex neurotic fixations, he also exhibited some extraordinary manifestations. If we try to compare our situation and capacities with that of Guru Padmasambhava and other realized beings, we will run into some difficulty. Our actions are based in dualistic ideas and habit patterns while Guru Padmasambhava’s activities arise spontaneously out of the great equanimity of the true nature. Non-dual activities are incomprehensible within the scope of dualistic understanding.
A famous Tibetan master named Sakya Pandita told of a man who journeyed to a country totally inhabited by monkeys. When he arrived, all the monkeys gathered around to examine him. They were amazed. “How strange!” they thought, “This is the most unusual monkey we have ever seen. He has no tail!” Similarly, deluded sentient beings hear of the activities of enlightened beings and think that such stories must be mythical or magic because they do not meet our preconceived ideas of how the world works.
There are many stories explaining how Guru Padmasambhava was born. Some say that he instantly appeared on the peak of Meteorite Mountain, in Sri Lanka. Others teach that he came through his mother’s womb, but most accounts refer to a miraculous birth, explaining that he spontaneously appeared in the center of a lotus. These stories are not contradictory because highly realized beings abide in the expanse of great equanimity with perfect understanding and can do anything. Everything is flexible, anything is possible. Enlightened beings can appear in any way they want or need to.
According to the regular or conventional way of thinking, if something is black, it is not white. Usually, only one of these notions can be applied at any given time. In trying to make reality fit the limitations of our preconceptions, we grow very narrow. Working in this way will not allow us to understand the mystical or profound aspects of the universe. Our tiny peep-hole of knowledge reveals very little of the actual world. We see only what fits through that small hole. Chronological or linear thinking is characteristic of dualistic conceptions; we cannot apply it to the true nature or the state of great equanimity. Peering through such a small crack will not allow us to see much. We have to open our minds if we are interested in seeing any more.
Buddha Shakyamuni taught that there are infinite world systems containing an infinite number of sentient beings. Therefore, there are also countless emanations of enlightened beings to serve their awakening. There are thirty-six other world systems which are near our own. Each one hosts a different emanation of Guru Padmasambhava. I will tell you about one of these worlds. To the east of here is a world where the concept of poverty does not even exist. Buddha Shakyamuni and Guru Padmasambhava have both emanated there to give Sutra and Vajrayana teachings. Being so strong and wealthy, it was only through the teachings that people in this world learned about poverty and imbalances like we have on earth. Upon hearing of this, they thought, “Oh, what a wonderful place! If only it was like that here, we could practice generosity and serve others. There is something very special in the acts of giving and receiving. It would be nice if we had that kind of situation in our world.” This is an example of the influence of Guru Padmasambhava on beings in one of the thirty-six relatively nearby worlds.
Our own world is divided into six realms; gods, asuras, humans, animals, hungry ghosts and hell realms. To help liberate all sentient beings, there is a special buddha as well as eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava, in each of those realms. That is, there are eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava in the god realm, eight in the asura realm, and so on. Each emanation displays unique qualities in relation to the beings to be served and might be unrecognizable by any outer signs. In the human world he displayed one hundred and eight activities. These are summarized within his twenty emanations and are most easily comprehensible as the eight manifestations of Guru Padmasambhava. I am going to focus on these eight in the human realm as they embody his most beneficial activities on behalf of all beings.
Now you might wonder, “Why are there eight emanations instead of seven or nine?” Eight is a very special number in Buddhist philosophy. There are many meanings associated with the number eight. In a geographic sense, the eight emanations symbolize that Guru Padmasambhava offers assistance to all sentient beings in the eight directions. According to the abhidharma, the elements which make up both the external universe and the inner dimensions of sentient beings are based on eight original, very subtle atoms. These are the foundation our world is constructed on. Even the finest particles consist of aggregations of these eight. Four are known as the atoms of fire, water, earth and wind. These comprise the desire realm. Because our world has qualities of the form realm as well, there are another four atoms having to do with the aspects of shape, smell, the past and the present. Although they are very small, all eight of these hold together and give rise to coarse atoms and molecules. Nobody created these things, no one ordered them to be like this. They are just part of the natural formation of the world. There is not much more that can be said about them.
This interpretation still relates to the external level.
On the inner level, there are the eight consciousnesses. Five are related to the sense organs; eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. The sixth is the mind consciousness, the seventh is emotional consciousness and the eighth is known as the subconscious storehouse or ground consciousness. These eight consciousnesses outline the science of the inner world. Mind is vast and profound, the depth from which everything arises. The outer world emerges from and reflects this inner world. So subjectively, these eight emanations are related to the eight consciousnesses.
Also, in learning to actualize knowledge of the true nature, we practice the Eightfold Noble Path to full realization. The inner tantras contain many other teachings relating to the number eight. Our physical structure has eight big bones, there are eight major energy pathways and eight general divisions which define ego’s territory.
Externally, this is symbolized by the eight great charnel grounds. In elaborate mandalas, you will find eight cemeteries, eight trees and eight stupas, eight bodies of water, eight nagas and eight gods. Eight is the number of completion in Vajrayana mandala space.
The Eight Emanations of Guru Padmasambhava are quite popular in Tibet. Many different meanings and symbols are associated with them. Externally, Guru Rinpoche’s emanations may be seen as reflections of his all-pervading nature. Internally, they are the eight consciousnesses. The transformation of the eight consciousness into the five wisdoms is the secret way to understand the theme of these desciriptions. Taken together, the eight manifestations communicate all three levels of meaning.
I will now name the eight emanations of Guru Padmasambhava. Guru means master, teacher or lama, and precedes the name of each manifestation.
The first is known as Guru Padma Gyalpo which means “lotus king.” The second is Guru Nyima Özer, meaning “ray of sun.” The third emanation of Guru Rinpoche is Loden Chokse, which is roughly translated as “the super-knowledge holder.” The fourth is called Guru Padmasambhava. This name is Sanskrit but even in Tibet, this is how we refer to this emanation. Padma means lotus, which is a symbol of spiritual perfection. Sambhava has many different usages, although in this case it means essence, so Padmasambhava signifies “lotus essence.” The fifth one is Guru Shakya Sengé. Shakya is a Sanskrit word and part of the family name of Buddha Shakyamuni. It means undefeatable or courageous. Sengé is a Tibetan word which means lion, so this title means “undefeatable lion.” The sixth emanation of Guru Padmasambhava is named Padma Jungné. In Sanskrit, this is translated as Guru Padmakara. Padma is lotus and kara is translated into Tibetan as jungné, meaning “arisen from.” So this name means “born from a lotus.” The seventh is known as Guru Sengé Dradok. In Sanskrit it is Singha Nadi which translates as “the lion’s roar.” The eighth emanation of Guru Rinpoche is known as Guru Dorje Drolo. Dorje is the Tibetan word for vajra. Dro’lo means ultimately or insanely wrathful, sometimes translated as “crazy wisdom.” That is the name of the eighth emanation.
All the activities of Guru Padmasambhava performed in this world may be roughly summarized within these eight aspects.
Guru Padma Gyalpo the Lotus King
The first emanation is called Guru Padma Gyalpo. Gyalpo means king. Guru Padma Gyalpo is the form in which Guru Padmasambhava originally appeared in our world. He is directly related to Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of the western direction, as well as to Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of compassion. Buddha Amitabha represents the dharmakaya, Avalokitesvara the sambhogakaya, and Guru Padmasambhava the nirmanakaya. Amitabha, Avalokitesvara and Guru Padmasambhava encompass all possible emanations of the Trikaya. Maybe you are wondering how such forms as dharmakaya Buddha Samantabhadra, Buddha Vajradhara and Buddha Vajrasattva are included. These are all contained within the three kayas of Amitabha, Avalokiteshvara, and Guru Padmasambhava. Actually, the entire mandala of all the buddhas and all the kayas are within Guru Padmasambhava. Not only is he an important member of the Lotus family, he embodies the whole mandala.
The three kayas are symbolized by the three buddhas of the Padma family, one of five families of buddhas, each representing an aspect of primordial wisdom. In the mundane sense, the Lotus family is associated with common perception. Esoterically, it corresponds to our karmic winds and the speech center. Ordinary views are transformed through deepening resonance with the primordial wisdom qualities of the Padma family, such as boundless loving-kindness and compassion for all sentient beings. The radiation of love and compassion coursing through the channels by the arising of wisdom winds is the inner action of this family.
Among the many beneficial activities characterizing the life of Buddha Shakyamuni, twelve are commonly noted. Of these, speech is his most powerful action. In spite of his great love and compassion, even the Buddha could not magically liberate anyone from the ocean of samsara. Sentient beings are subject to their own karmas and even Buddhas must respect this. The power of the Buddha’s speech grants knowledge of antidotes which can help rescue sentient beings from samsara and establish them in the enlightened condition. Bereft of speech, the Buddha cannot offer much to sentient beings other than those who already have higher capacities and can receive teachings on the sambhogakaya level. The Lotus family symbolizes the power of speech in the spirit of love and compassion. The Vajra family, the Ratna family, the Karma family and the Buddha family are all contained and emanated within the Padma family ? the Lotus Lords of all buddha families. And Guru Padmasambhava is the supreme embodiment of them all.
Now I will tell you some details about the early life of Padma Gyalpo. According to Tibetan history, Guru Rinpoche was born four years after Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana. Although Buddha Shakyamuni’s prediction about the coming of Padmasambhava is rendered as eight years, the system used in India divides the month into two, reflecting the waxing and waning of the moon. According to the Tibetan calendar, Buddha Shakyamuni entered Mahaparinirvana during the Iron Dragon year and Guru Padmasambhava was born in the wood monkey year in the monkey month. In Tibetan Buddhism, every monkey year is considered the year of Guru Padmasambhava.
Bodhgaya is a village in northeastern India where Buddha Shakyamuni became fully enlightened. All Buddhists consider Bodhgaya the spiritual-geographic center, the supreme power spot of the universe. In Tibetan we call it Dorje-den which means, “indestructible vajra throne.” It is also taught that every one of the thousand buddhas destined to appear in this aeon will attain enlightenment there. Buddhist cosmology explains that after hundreds of aeons, this world will be completely destroyed by fire, water and wind. Everything will be reduced to atoms and scattered throughout space, without even a trace remaining. However, under the vajra throne at Bodhgaya there is a double-dorje which cannot be destroyed by fire or water . It will endure beyond the end of the present world cycle. What appears externally as the Vajrasana of Bodhgaya exists internally as the path which leads to the realization of our primordial nature.
Guru Padmasambhava was born to the northwest of Bodhgaya in a kingdom known as Oddiyana. Oddiyana has always been considered a very mystical place and is praised throughout Vajrayana literature. This mysterious land expresses a natural power in earth forms and subtler environmental structuring and became a major source of esoteric Vajrayana teachings. In the center of Oddiyana is the City of the Dakinis, and in that city, is the palace of the Herukas. Northwest of that palace, there is a small lake known as Dhanakosha.
Buddha Amitabha emanated a golden light from his heart center that took form as a five-pointed golden vajra inscribed with the syllable HRI. It landed right in the center of an Udambara flower, a very rare and precious species of lotus, growing in Lake Dhanakosha. A youthful Padmasambhava miraculously appeared from the union of the golden vajra inscribed with HRI and this beautiful, thousand-petalled lotus growing in Lake Dhanakosha. Normally we take birth by means of parents, but by spontaneously appearing Guru Padma Gyalpo opens us up to the panoramic vision of the true nature. In order to break our habitual pattern of gradually taking birth through conception in a womb, he demonstrated the freedom of taking birth instantly. He reveals a new door: the primordial condition of great openness.
The king of Oddiyana was an extraordinary man named Indrabhuti. He was very kind, compassionate and generous. During a time of great famine, he gave away the contents of the royal treasury to feed his subjects, yet still more was needed. In ancient times, it was common to sail the ocean in search of jewels and treasure. So King Indrabhuti took to sea with his ministers and found gems on a distant island. On the way home, the king had many beautiful dreams. In one, he saw a five-pointed golden vajra, radiating golden light in every direction. It came so close that he was able to hold it in his hand. At the same time, he dreamed that the sun and moon were both rising in the eastern sky. The very next day after these wonderful omens appeared, Indrabhuti encountered Padma Gyalpo.
As the boat approached the shore, the crew saw beautiful rainbows arch across the heavens. A great host of birds hovered in the sky, singing delightful songs. Celestial fragrances pervaded the air. The moment they saw these signs, everyone felt blissful. The king was moved to relate his dreams to the ministers. After getting into a smaller boat, they immediately set sail toward the source of the rainbow display. As they got closer, they beheld a magnificent lotus. None of them had ever seen a blossom like this before. It was an uncommonly large and brilliant flower, but more than that, there seated upon the pollen bed was a beautiful, sublime eight year old boy, glowing and radiating rainbow light while seated in the vajra posture. The king was completely astonished.
Although Guru Rinpoche appeared as a human being, he demonstrates something here which is totally beyond our dualistic conceptions and regimented views by coming into this world in the center of a lotus. He did not come through biological parents. This signifies that Guru Padmasambhava is free from both attachment and anger. He is not accompanied by any negative emotions. Instead, he subdues and transforms all anger and attachment into their corresponding wisdoms, as symbolized by this glorious lotus. This means that practitioners who follow the path of Guru Padmasambhava or Buddha Shakyamuni must cut through and transform anger, aggression and neurotic desire.
Up until that moment, Indrabhuti had been blind in one eye. Now he was healed. He was awed by this miraculous display and immediately asked five questions of the young child. These were, “Where do you come from? What is your father’s name? What is your mother’s name? What do you do? And what do you eat?” Guru Padmasambhava answered, “I come from the unborn Dharmadhatu, my father’s name is Kuntuzangpo, and my mother’s name is Kuntuzangmo.” Kuntuzangpo means, “always good” in Tibetan. This is goodness that never changes. It is always good. Yesterday it was good, today it is good and tomorrow it will still be good. To the question, “What do you do?” the child replied, “I am here to help all sentient beings of the six realms.” This is a permanent job. Guru Padmasambhava will never be unemployed! As for food, the child said, “I eat dualistic conceptions and my words benefit all beings.” Being a Buddhist, King Indrabhuti was very much pleased with these answers. Of course, he was already quite excited by such a brilliant and extraordinary display, but hearing the child give these answers really touched him. The radiance of his body and speech penetrated the king’s heart at a deep level. Greatly moved by all of this and with no son of his own, the King asked, “Will you come to my palace and live with me?” The young Padma Gyalpo accepted this request, and went with the entourage to the palace.
King Indrabhuti was a very kind and compassionate man. He had an extremely open mind and served all his subjects according to the dharma. Guru Padma Gyalpo was raised as a prince. He helped Indrabhuti rule the kingdom with bodhicitta and guide the people on the right path toward enlightenment. He taught them how to stay free of headaches and worries, so that harmony and peace reigned throughout the country. Guru Padma Gyalpo eventually married a beautiful lady known as Orchima, “She who radiates light.” Then one day Buddha Vajrasattva appeared to Guru Padmasambhava telling him to leave Oddiyana in order to benefit sentient beings in a more active way. Heeding these instructions, Guru Padmasambhava departed Oddiyana at about age thirty.
He left the palace on foot and wandered many places. But even the most basic aspects of his journey were not ordinary. For instance, he would arrive wherever he set out for instantly. Time had no effect on Guru Rinpoche’s activities. He travelled throughout India frequenting the most powerful and frightening cemeteries, known as the eight charnel grounds. He subdued the eight classes of spirits and directed them onto the path of bodhicitta, the unified state of loving-kindness, compassion and wisdom.
In the conventional sense, Guru Padmasambhava brought all the subjects of Oddiyana into harmony on the path of enlightenment so that they excelled in the practice of peace, love, and compassion. On the inner level, he subdued the eight classes of negative spirits and bound them in service to the practice of bodhicitta. Surrounded by both dakas and dakinis, Guru Rinpoche displayed the splendor of his wisdom which spontaneously overcomes the most powerful of visible and invisible beings so that they regard him as their supreme monarch or king. This is the real victory of Padma Gyalpo, the Lotus King, a very special emanation of Guru Padmasambhava who magnetizes perception and conception beyond ego-clinging and negative emotions while actively increasing our joy, peace and spiritual realization.
We should understand what is meant by magnetizing. It doesn’t mean bringing an external object, such as another sentient being, under your control. To magnetize one’s perception is to overpower the mind of mundane habits. If you don’t have that ability within yourself, you cannot magnetize or help other sentient beings. Since you are still a little wild and crazy, how can you tame others? To help other beings, you can’t be crazy yourself. Once we are able to overpower dualistic perceptions and mental habits, we magnetize others naturally. Practice and meditation on Guru Rinpoche as Padma Gyalpo outshines mundane views and deluding emotions and enriches our accumulations of merit and wisdom.
Guru Padma Gyalpo openly exhibits the splendor and magnificence of the Padma family wisdom. He is surrounded by a glorious retinue of dakas and dakinis who receive his teachings. Through the lavish display of this gathering, he is offering the same wealth to all beings. That is the external way to understand this emanation.
On the inner level, Guru Padma Gyalpo is saying that those who follow this path must control their senses, study perceptions, subdue ego-clinging, and transcend their emotions. If you cut through ego-clinging, you are a great sovereign; you have mastered your relationship with everything you see and hear. In perfect command of your feelings and responses, you have the power and dignity of a splendrous king or queen. Having subdued ego-clinging and attachment to negative emotions, you are truly victorious.
In Tibet, to have overcome all negativity is known as having attained the heroic state. One has become a conqueror or universal monarch. According to ancient Buddhist cosmography, a universal monarch or Chakravarti, is one whose kingdom includes all four continents of a world system. To relinquish ego-clinging and be free of neurosis is to fully awaken to the enlightenment of all the victorious ones as your very own. In brief, that is the meaning of Guru Padma Gyalpo, the Lotus King or Padma Raja.
Padma Gyalpo’s skin is pink or reddish, while his robes are sort of orange, and a little more red than yellow. He is visualized sitting on a lotus, upon sun and moon discs, relaxing in the royal posture with one face, two arms, and two legs. He is semi-wrathful, so some teachings say to visualize him with four arms. His long hair is pulled up into a knot and wrapped in a white cloth that has a small gathering of red material emerging from the top. This same red silk is flowing out, as if carried by a gentle breeze, behind his head. He also wears a tiara of five jewels. In his right hand is a small damaru and in his left, he is holding a mirror and a hook. The mirror symbolizes wisdom. Through wisdom, everything appears as it is, although nothing truly exists. Phenomena arise and pass like forms in a mirror, a mirage that suddenly appears and just as quickly dissolves. The mirror also suggests unceasing manifestation, free of clinging and attachment to concrete objects. There are other sadhanas on Guru Padma Gyalpo, some of which describe the left hand as holding a bell and hook and others, a ritual arrow. The hook symbolizes great compassion. This is to rescue all sentient beings who are trapped in the experience of samsara. This is the form to visualize when meditating on Guru Padmasambhava as Padma Gyalpo.
The notions which constitute samsara are no other than one’s own thoughts and conceptions; what you experience is largely defined by your own dream-like perceptions. It has no true basis and does not refer to real entities or solid objects. This is a dream or perhaps a nightmare. A nightmare is not recognized by the person who is suffering within it. It is really not a substantial or determinate reality, yet the dreamer’s understanding of his experience suggests that it is. Generate great compassion for all sentient beings as they are temporarily caught up in this illusion and gently lead them to liberation. Never give up or lose compassion. Press on and guide all beings to unsurpassed, great enlightenment.
As in any practice, begin by taking refuge and generating bodhicitta. Feel love and compassion for all sentient beings and do a little meditation. Then imagine a small circle of red light in the space before you which instantly transforms into Guru Padma Gyalpo. Recite the twelve syllable mantra as long as you can while holding the visualization. Finally, dissolve Guru Padma Gyalpo back into a red point of light which merges with your heart center, so that there is no difference between you and him. Meditate in this way for as long as you have time. When you are done, dedicate the merit and make aspirational prayers. This is a very powerful and special practice which will enrich your vision.
According to the commentary by Lama Mipham, the effects of practicing on Guru Padma Gyalpo depend upon your level of approach. If you are a leader, your leadership will become more stable and benign. If you are just a regular being, you will become more lovable. If you want to be loved and appreciated, practice on Guru Padma Gyalpo. The peace of mind and calming of the body soon experienced are a sure sign of effectively purifying negative emotions.
Q: I was interested in how thoughts arise in our mind. When Guru Padma Gyalpo was wandering through the cemeteries, he ran across negative spirits and transformed them through bodhicitta.
A: Yes, he brought them to the justice of bodhicitta.
Q: Are those spirits responsible for the thoughts that arise in us? A: Generally, yes. This is why Guru Rinpoche went to all those cemeteries after leaving the palace. These were fearful places, not at all comparable to Western cemeteries. Western cemeteries are relatively pleasant places, like parks. They have nice flowers and water fountains with walkways and all. When you go there, you can feel at ease. But in ancient India the cemeteries were often deep in the jungle where many wild animals lived, such as tigers, leopards, wolves, jackals and cobras. Vultures would hover overhead. The bodies of the dead were strewn everywhere. It was a terrifying, unpleasant place.
By going to the charnel grounds, Guru Padmasambhava is teaching us that in order to practice and meditate, we really have to be fearless. We must have courage beyond hope and fear and get beyond their endless implications. Having smashed expectations and doubts, you realize great equanimity and can act fearlessly. From the viewpoint of realization, evil spirits are no other than the display of one’s own mental tendencies. But to the ordinary mind which clings to notions of subject and object, these energies may be viewed as the actions of naughty or mischievous beings who like to chase us around. As long as we hold to the notion of solid subjects and objects, there will be conceptual and experiential effects. Guru Padmasambhava actually brought these demons under control within his mind.
Q: Could you say briefly why we use the symbol of the lotus instead of another flower? A: The lotus grows in muddy water. Because of this, it is always compared to bodhicitta and the bodhisattvas; those noble ones who take birth in samsara but are never affected by worldly conditioning. Similarly, the mud never affects the beauty of the lotus. It is always pure and beautiful. So “padma” means “lovely one.” According to the Vajrayana this lovely one is no other than the truth of love and compassion, which is symbolized by a lotus..
Q: My question is about the symbolism of the color red.
A: In the Vajrayana all colors, implements and gestures are symbolic, with a wealth of meaning behind every attribute and gesture. In this context, red represents loving-kindness. This is called “great love beyond attachment.” To move from attachment to loving-kindness beyond grasping is symbolized by the color red. Love is great detachment.
Q: Since we live in the dream state, how can we tell the difference between truth and illusion in our perceptions? A: In equanimity, all are seen as equal, there is no distinction of good or bad; if it is true, it is all true, if it is untrue, it is all untrue. There is no relative up and down, no judgement day in equanimity. Therefore the ultimate dream, and the non-dream state, are understood to be exactly the same. But when you are obscured, you only see a little bit and judge aspects of dream experience as being more or less important. This is how sentient beings perceive the world.
Q: As we sit and look at you, are we seeing what you have emanated, or is it a reflection of our own perception? A: It is both. When I look at you, you are giving me something and I am also giving something to you. And when you look at me, I’m giving something to you and you are giving something to me. It is a mutual exchange. But regardless of what happens in the stock market, once you see whatever you see, it becomes a mental construct which is completely your own private understanding. All the input is brought back to your individual mind where it becomes your own personal business. Ordinary perception and communication suggest that there are two different things, private and public, but in the higher levels of equanimity, both are merged in a transcendent sameness.
Guru Dorje Drolo
The eighth emanation is another wrathful form, Guru Dorje Drolo. Guru Dorje Drolo is the crazy wrathful Buddha of the degenerate era. He has no regular pattern to his wrath. He is completely out of order! Guru Dorje Drolo emanated right before Guru Rinpoche’s departure from Tibet as a way of confirming his legacy of words and actions. Some historians say that Guru Rinpoche stayed in Tibet for fifty-five years. This emanation happened about five years before he left. During this time, he gave many teachings which wisdom dakini Yeshe Ts’ogyal transcribed. Following her guru’s instructions, she hid many of these texts throughout the land. As he was preparing to leave to convert the rakshasas in the southwest, Guru Rinpoche again blessed the entire land of Tibet and multiplied the hidden Dharma treasures through his meditative powers.
In order to preserve the practice of Dharma in Tibet, and secure the commitment of the local spirits to extend their protection across generations, Guru Padmasambhava emanated as Guru Dorje Drolo. In this form, he reconfirmed the power of his realization and insured the support and submission of the invisible beings. Dorje Drolo is the Buddha dedicated to the awakening of all those who have appeared since Guru Rinpoche left Tibet. Also at this time, he made many prophecies and predictions for future generations of Tibetans and the world in general. These prophecies are very accurate and clear. Many of them are quite detailed and concern events at the level of counties or states. Their truth has been observed by the Tibetans from generation to generation across the centuries.
There are thirteen different caves in Tibet which are named “Tiger’s Nest.” Just before Guru Rinpoche’s departure, he emanated thirteen Dorje Drolos, one in each of these thirteen caves, all at the same time. In Tibetan Buddhism, the number thirteen is associated with a list of thirteen habitual obstacles. It was in order to subdue and pacify these, that he did this. The original transformations happened in central Tibet and as they occurred, each emanation of Dorje Drolo would fly off to a different cave on the back of a tigress.
The most renowned Tiger’s Nest of all was in southern Tibet in a place which is now in Bhutan. The cave is called Taktsang which means Tigers Nest. It is very beautiful.
Maybe you have seen photos of it. There is a big mountain with a steep rocky face that has a cave in it. I don’t know how they did it, but they built a small monastery on the ledge out in front of that cave. Although it is very difficult to get to, many tourists go there. They have to be carried in one at a time by a local person because it is so steep and high that you can easily get dizzy. They say that nobody has ever fallen from there, but it looks frightening.
According to both Buddha and the Guru Padmasambhava, this degenerative era is characterized by strong forms of desire and anger. These are the major obstacles confronting practitioners nowadays. Dorje Drolo is the emanation related to the transformation of these situations. Of course anger and attachment existed in ancient times as well, but they pervade the modern world in a deeper way. People’s minds are continually disturbed and upset due to their influence, which give rise to even more emotional problems. Dorje Drolo is the best practice for removing mental and emotional obstacles. Guru Rinpoche appeared in this form to liberate sentient beings from anger and attachment.
Anger and attachment are qualities of mind which make it difficult to relax. People can become so disturbed by clinging to these emotions that their own perceptions turn against them and they begin seeing enemies everywhere. Guru Padmasambhava taught that when there is doubt and hesitation, the mind can’t relax and is plagued by worry and restlessness. The long-term result of this is that you become more and more afraid. This disturbs your sense of well being, which affects the channels and the winds. Of course when the subtle physics of life is disturbed, there will be imbalances experienced in the external situation as well. This pattern is typical of the neuroses and troubles which arise continually in this degenerative era.
Along these lines, Guru Rinpoche said that in the future, all Tibetan men would be influenced by a demonic force called Gyal-po, the Tibetan women would be possessed by a demon called Sen-mo, and all the young Tibetans would be affected by an evil spirit called Ti-mug. Gyal-po symbolizes anger and jealousy and Sen-mo represents attachment. Ti-mug is an unclear, confused mind, without the ability to focus, center or direct attention. It mixes up everything. These three demons are metaphors. He didn’t mean that only men or only Tibetans would be influenced by Gyal-po or women by Sen-mo, but that anger, jealousy and attachment usually arise together, and depend on each other, like a family. Dorje Drolo is a very special and powerful influence to help clear away and dispel complex loops of mental and emotional obstacles.
People who are aware of feeling mentally unstable or unhappy for no apparent reason would do well to practice on Dorje Drolo. Even though everything is together, sometimes the mind doesn’t feel comfortable, relaxed or at peace. This is when such practice is really relevant. When there are unsettled feelings, it is particularly useful to meditate on Dorje Drolo. This will help calm and balance the mind.
As with all the other emanations of Guru Rinpoche, Dorje Drolo is a wisdom form, a rainbow body, not a solid or concrete object. Transforming from a sphere of bright red light, he is visualized with one face, two arms and two legs. His body color is dark red. His right hand holds a nine-pointed vajra and his left a phurba, a mystic dagger made of meteoric iron or sky metal. Dorje Drolo is very wrathful, displaying fangs, an overbite and three eyes. He is wearing Tibetan boots, a chuba and monk’s robes, two white conch shell earrings and a garland of severed heads. His hair is bright red and curly, giving off sparks. To show how truly crazy he is, he dances on the back of a tigress, surrounded by wisdom flames. The tigress is also dancing, so that everything is in motion.
The tigress is actually Tashi Kyedin, a student of Guru Padmasambhava and Yeshe Ts’ogyal, and one of the five wisdom dakinis. The five wisdom dakinis are no other than incarnations of the five female Buddhas representing the Vajra, Ratna, Padma, Karma and Buddha families. And these are no other than the pure form of the five elements. Along with Mandarava, Yeshe Ts’ogyal, Kalasiddhi and Shakyadevi, Tashi Kyedin helped Guru Rinpoche carry out his wisdom activities. When Guru Padmasambhava emanated as Dorje Drolo, she was immediately transformed into a tigress. Visualize male and female demons representing anger and attachment, being crushed under her paws as she stands on a lotus, moon and sun discs.
Visualize this scene either above your head or out in front of you. Recite the Vajra Guru Mantra and imagine Dorje Drolo’s wisdom flames radiating through you, removing restlessness, confusion, stress and any emotional imbalances. When such troubles arise, practice on Guru Dorje Drolo. Feel the flames as powerful blessings which destroy all psychological problems. Relax as they consume you and all sentient beings as well. Finally, let Guru Dorje Drolo dissolve as a red light into your heart center and continue to meditate in the openness of the true nature without any discrimination or particular focus. Remain that way for as long as you have time. Then dedicate the merit to all sentient beings. That is how to practice on Guru Dorje Drolo.
OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM