“Meditations on Pacification” Pt. 1—A Discourse Between Fools; and Padampa Sangye’s song to Milarepa, “The Vajra Song that is a Heart-Condensation of the Saddharma of the Pacification of Suffering”

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“Meditations on Pacification: A Discourse Between Fools” is a collaborative writing project initiated between Lama Repa Dorje Odzer (Justin von Bujdoss) and the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Writing for both academic and religious audiences, we hope to facilitate a digital discourse on the role(s) of Vajrayana’s so-called “transgressive practices” in addressing the suffering and alienation of 21st century society. Taking conversations between the Indian Lord of Siddhas, Padampa Sangye, and the Tibetan Lord of Yogins, Milarepa, as inspiration, “A Discourse Between Fools” is a novel attempt at literary tulzhug chöpa.

About the Guest Author: Repa Dorje Odzer

17409654_10156011645482576_1936339545_nRepa Dorje Odzer (Justin von Bujdoss) was empowered as a Repa by His Eminence Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche. He served as the founder and resident-lama of New York Tsurphu Goshir Dharma Center until it’s closing in December 2016. He has spent the past 20 years practicing in India and the US under a variety of teachers, including the late Ani Dechen Zangmo, the late Pathing Rinpoche, the late Kyabje Bokar Rinpoche, Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche. At present he serves as the first Staff Chaplain for the New York City Department of Correction.

What is Disciplined Conduct/Tulzhug Chöpa?

Disciplined conduct or tulzhug chöpa  (Tib. བརྟུལ་ཞུགས་སྤྱོད་པ་, Wyl. brtul zhugs spyod pa, Skt. vratacarya), also variously translated as “practice of the observance,” or even “[yogic] conduct,” is the tantric conduct or lifestyle of Buddhist yogins and yoginis. While there has never been a single monolithic definition, in earlier Indian contexts, vratacarya most often referred to “post-meditation” prescriptions for how yogins should dress and behave, particularly as found in various Heruka-related tantras like chapter 26 of the Chakrasamvaratantra and chapter 1.5 of the Hevajratantra (Sugiki 2015, Szanto 2015). These post-initiatory practices had common themes, like: adopting the appearance of  Heruka (growing long matted hair, wearing charnel-ground ornaments, carrying skull-cup and tantric staff), dwelling in frightening places, and engaging in behaviors generally seen as transgressive or antinomian by mainstream society (DiValerio 2015). This aesthetic later became the dominant Tibetan artistic representations of Indian Siddhas: topknot of matted hair, loin-cloth or tiger-skin skirt, often wearing ornaments of bone or precious metal, frequently carrying mortuary (Skt. kapalika) implements (For more on “siddha aesthetics,” see Himalayan Art Resources’ page on “Siddha Appearance” here).

Later, in the Tibetan context, tulzhug chöpa gained further polyvalence, especially in the Nyingma, Kagyü, and Chöd lineages. At the far end of the spectrum, some Tibetan yogins and yoginis chose to emulated a highly-antinomian form of tulzhug chöpa that closely resembled its Indian counterpart (described above)—such examples include Tsangnyön Heruka and the Madman of Ü wearing flayed human skins as capes; Thangtong Gyalpo developing an unkempt, Heruka-like appearance and behaving in unpredictable way; and Padampa Sangye himself, who wandered around virtually naked, advocating the abandonment of hopes, fears, food, and clothing. However, it seems that this style of tulzhug chöpa was practiced rarely at most, as the literary record is brimming with descriptions of the horror, shock, and often anger with which commoners responded to the novel sights of these “madmen” (Tib. སྨྱོན་པ་,Wyl. smyon pa) as they came to be called (DiValerio 2015). However, in other cases, as found in mainstream monastic communities and amongst house-holding lay practitioners, tulzhug chöpa comes to connote a sort of spiritual fearlessness (Tib. འཇིགས་མེད་, Wyl. ‘jigs med)—particularly fearlessness in terms of upholding the conduct and view of the tantric Bodhisattva. (For more secondary source scholarship on tulzhug chöpa, see the bibliography at the end of this post).

The seemingly extreme juxtaposition of these two examples (tulzhug chöpa as naked, cemetery-dwelling, transgressive antinomianism; and tulzhug chöpa as the fearlessly equipoise dance of the Bodhisattva) belies the fact that they are actually just outward manifestations of the same profoundly simple—yet exceedingly profound—inner practice. Put simply (and colloquially), tulzhug chöpa is utterly fearless, “no holds barred” non-dual pure-view.

In the translation of Padampa Sangye’s Vajra-song below, tulzhug chöpa (translated as “disciplined conduct”) appears at the very beginning, hinting at its primacy in the Saddharma of Pacification. Constituting the remainder of the Vajra-song is a series of remarkably pithy and potent slogans that read as a step-by-step prescription for practicing tulzhug chöpa in everyday life. However, this humble, “mind-training”-esque appearance further conceals the fact that encoded within its short verses are distillations of some of the most penetrating of Vajrayana’s esoteric teachings—including Dzogchen, Mahamudra, and Chöd. In this way, Dampa Rinpoche’s Vajra-song truly is a “heart-condensation,” outlining an entire tantric way of life in a single poetic expression.

(**NOTE: When working with highly reduced and simplified definitions like these, it is easy to essentialize and reify wonderfully complex concepts into mere caricatures of themselves. The fearless equipoise of tulzhug chöpa should not be mistaken for nihilistic numbness or social disenfranchisement. For more on the intersections between tantric lifestyles and socio-political agency, click here.)

Repa Dorje Odzer on Daily Disciplined Conduct

Vajra songs, as a genre, are dear to my heart. I think this is because these songs are direct, often free-form and from the heart. They allow a glimpse into what’s been alive for the person who sings them. These songs allow us, if we so desire, to peer into the heart essence of what is important to such great teachers as Padampa Sangye. They are precious instructions frozen in time that still remain fresh and dynamic to this day.

In this particular song Padamapa Sangye reminds us that the mandala of disciplined conduct (as we find it within the Shije, or the Pacification of Suffering tradition that he is credited with founding) is accessible by resting in open awareness, accepting everything, and rejecting nothing. Whatever is experienced in the moment—regardless of how banal and meaningless, repulsive or seductively compelling—is that which we should rest in. Our awareness, or direct experience of mind, is always present, always bright, wide-open and free, even when we feel that we are not.

All too often we bypass the experiences around us that we don’t like. It’s easy to use our spirituality as a set of blinders that hide the crap, hide how ordinary and low we can feel, or even disempower the joyous possibility of every crappy moment in this samsaric life by telling us that Vajra-songs like these are only for advanced practitioners. These dynamics are very common and arise easily within our mindstreams. These thoughts should also be regarded as the object of our practice; we should not turn away from them, or rush to transform them, but release them into our raw awareness. There is no doubt that this can be uncomfortable. Yet over time it can be surprising how the application of resting in the experience of awareness—fresh, expansive and beyond concept—really does allow our clinging and attachments, and our fears and anxieties to burn away like morning dew, or fog, as the sun rises.

Disciplined Conduct and Buddhist Chaplaincy

As a chaplain for the Department of Corrections, my role is to offer open, non-judgemental service to others. This setting offers a wonderfully juicy locale for exploring how and why I feel compelled to react certain ways to certain stimuli. Whether it be spending time with someone who is actively dying and filled with fear or an ecstatic bliss, or a family member feeling left behind or destroyed by the impeding death of a loved-one, or a person recovering from the trauma of having recently been attacked—there are plenty of places to practice the Heart-Condensation of the Pacification of Suffering. There are also an equal number of places to get stuck and fall into the habit of reaction, or the habit of turning away all together. Perhaps most violent of all is trying to spiritualize the painful impossibility of the moment rather than accepting that this moment is impossible. This is the experience of the harmful demons to which Dampa Sangye refers: the demons around us are the very ways that we are provoked and triggered, scared or magnetized, compelled to shrink away or urged to puff our selves up in defense.

In this song Padamapa Sangye asks us: Can we allow ourselves the confidence to confront the present moment? Can we self-regulate and refresh our experience when we get lost, or tired or dull? Will we allow our thoughts to be the treasury of bliss? What about our feelings, can they be a treasury of bliss? And our death and the death of those we are working to benefit, can that experience be a treasury of bliss? Can we experience auspicious freedom amongst the most vexing feelings of bad luck?

For me, the beauty of this Vajra-song is that it is as if Padampa Sangye is pointing his finger directly at us saying, “You! Your experience in the moment is the ground, the path and the fruit of enlightenment! Use it now! There is nothing to fear. This is all you need.” It then becomes incumbent upon us to make this real, to seal it with our experience in every moment of the day and night. Otherwise, if we file this song away, and put it in a dusty place with other books we only use as reference material, we are essentially wasting the preciousness of what it is that we are able to experience right now.

Don’t worry. The Lord of Death is on her way. So is the Treasury of Bliss. Are you ready?

How might you use the Heart-Condensation of Pacification in your daily life? Share your commentary or critiques in the comment section below.

The Vajra Song that is a Heart-Condensation of the
Saddharma of the Pacification of Suffering

An Oral Instruction Offered by
the Siddha Padampa Sangye to the Lord of Yogis Milarepa

This is the saddharma1 of the Pacification of Suffering—

When subduing harmful demons, male and female, it is constructing the yantra2 of disciplined conduct;
When the body becomes ill, it is binding space and awareness as one;
When subtle conceptualizations arise, it is abrading the afflictions by releasing them;

When sleeping alone in private, it is residing in raw awareness;
When in the midst of a crowd, it is directly confronting whatever arises;

When dull, it is awakening with PHAT;
When distracted, it is cutting the root;
When excited, it is relaxing in the expanse;
When chasing after conceptual objects, it is facing the truth of suchness.

This is the saddharma of the Pacification of Suffering—

When bad omens arise, receive them as auspicious;
Whatever thoughts arise are treasury of bliss.
When illness arises, this brings benefit;
Whatever arises are a treasury of bliss.
When dying occurs, take it onto the path;
The Lord of Death is a treasury of bliss.

This is the saddharma of the Pacification of Suffering—

It is the intention of the three times’ victors;
It is the secret speech of Vajradhara3;
It is the vital essence of the four classes of dakinis4;
It is the instruction of the four classes of tantra5;
It is the critical instruction of the aural lineage;
It is the key to the instructed techniques.

That is the saddharma of the Pacification of Suffering.

Jetsün Milarepa was utterly delighted by these words.

Translated from Classical Tibetan by the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Responsibility for mistakes is his alone. May all beings benefit.

Notes

  1. (Tib. དམ་ཆོས་, Wyl. dam chos) Lit. “sacred doctrine”; saddharma is the Sanskrit equivalent of དམ་ཆོས་.
  2. (Tib. འཕྲུལ་འཁོར་, Wyl. ‘phrul ‘khor) Lit. “magic circle”; yantra is the Sanskrit translation of འཕྲུལ་འཁོར་, and refers to various magic charms and techniques for protection, good fortune, etc. In most lineages, འཕྲུལ་འཁོར་ is also the name of the completion phase (Tib. རྫོགས་རིམ་, Wyl. rdzogs rim) yogic techniques that focus on the subtle body. Throughout Nepal, one particularly popular yantra charm that is said to protect from earthquakes features an image of the mad yogi (Tib. སྨྱོན་པ་, Wyl. smyon pa) Thangtong Gyalpo (Tib. ཐང་སྟོང་རྒྱལ་པོ་, Wyl. thang stong rgyal po) and is inscribed with various mantras.
  3. (Tib. རྡོ་རྗེ་འཆང་, Wyl. rdo rje ‘chang) Skt. “Vajradhara,” Lit. “Vajra Holder”; Vajradhara is the primordial Buddha of the “New School” (Tib. གསར་མ་, Wyl. gsar ma) traditions of Tibetan Vajrayana. He is blue in color and peaceful in demeanor, he wears silk ornaments and holds a vajra and bell in his two hands, which are crossed in front of his chest. He is often considered to represent the ineffable expanse of complete enlightenment—the embodied apogee of the Tantric vehicle.
  4. (Tib. མཁའ་འགྲོ་སྡེ་བཞི་, Wyl. mkha ‘gro sde bzhi) The “four classes of dakinis” refer to the four families of dakinis that surround the central dakini in classic dakini or yogini mandalas. If the center dakini is of the Buddha family, then the four classes are: Vajradakini, Ratnadakini, Padmadakini, and Karmadakini—which correspond to the enlightened activities of pacifying, increasing, magnetizing, and subjugating, respectively. For more on yoginis, dakinis, and their mandalas in Indian and Tibetan Vajrayana, see Elizabeth English (2013) and Simmer-Brown (2001), respectively.
  5. (Tib. རྒྱུད་སྡེ་བཞི་, Wyl. rgyud sde bzhi) “The four classes of tantra” is a doxographical classification system used by the “New School” traditions of Tibetan Vajrayana. The four classes are kriya, charya, yoga, and niruttarayoga tantra. Scholars like Jacob Dalton have pointed out that the use of the term “anuttarayoga tantra,” which has become so familiar to scholars and practitioners of Vajrayana, is a mistake that should be abandoned. Rather, Dalton argues for the use of “yoganiruttara” or “niruttarayoga,” which are better supported by Sanskrit primary sources (Dalton, Jacob. “A Crisis of Doxography.” JIABS. 2005:152). Following Dalton’s revelation, I will exclusively use the term “niruttarayoga tantra.”

Sources

གྲུབ་ཐོབ་དམ་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱིས་རྣལ་འབྱོར་གྱི་དབང་ཕྱུག་མི་ལ་རས་པ་ལ་གདམས་པའི་དམ་ཆོས་སྡུག་བསྔལ་ཞི་བྱེད་སྙིང་པོར་དྲིལ་པའི་རྡོ་རྗེའི་མགུར་བཞུགས་སོ།།. Sangye, Lama, Ed. Vol. ༼ཅ༽. Dingri Langkor Tsuglag Khang, New Delhi: 2013. Pecha pp. 321-324.

Dalton, Jacob. “A Crisis of Doxography: How Tibetans Organized Tantra During the 8th-12th Centuries.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 28.1 (2005): 152.

Davidson, Ronald M. Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement. New York: Columbia UP, 2002.

DiValerio, David M. The Holy Madmen of Tibet. New York: Oxford UP, 2015.

DiValerio, David M. Trans. “Introduction.” The Life of the Madman of Ü. New York: Oxford UP, 2016. 1-54.

http://www.himalayanart.org/search/set.cfm?setID=134

Larsson, Stefan. Crazy for Wisdom: The Making of a Mad Yogin in Fifteenth-Century Tibet. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Larsson, Stefan. “Crazy Yogins During The Early Renaissance Period.” Web. 24 Mar. 2017.

Quintman, Andrew. The Yogin and the Madman: Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet’s Great Saint Milarepa. New York: Columbia UP, 2014.

Stearns, Cyrus. Trans. “Introduction.” King of the Empty Plain: The Tibetan Iron-Bridge Builder Tangtong Gyalpo. New York: Snow Lion, 2007. 1-80.

Sugiki, Tsunehiko. “Śamvara.” Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Leiden: Brill, 2015. 360-66.

Szanto, Peter-Daniel. “Hevajra.” Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Leiden: Brill, 2015. 334-40.

Wedemeyer, Christian K. Making Sense of Tantric Buddhism: History, Semiology, & Transgression in the Indian Traditions. New York: Columbia UP, 2014.

Media Sources

http://www.himalayanart.org/items/59965

http://www.himalayanart.org/items/74014

http://www.himalayanart.org/items/53050551

“Lies” — Specters of a Buddhist Translation Theory; and Jigme Lingpa’s “A Moon Dancing on Water.”

jigme_translation.JPG

Lies, Two Truths, and an Empty Translation Theory

I frequently chuckle to myself when I consider my fascination with translation. Why? Well, I guess it comes down to the “Two Truths.” On the one hand, I am directly aware of the ultimately empty nature of ‘signs’—linguistic or otherwise—and their conceptually abstracted ‘signifieds.’ On the other hand, many a Buddha have been reared on the nectar of dharmic discourse. To deny the relative benefit of linguistic communication is an extreme, not to mention a rejection of a powerful upaya (“skillful means,” a Buddhist pedagogical concept, more on this later).

To put it crudely (and, delightfully un-academically), I’ve found that much of the logic practiced-and-performed in Western Academia is on a two-point continuum. Owing much of its intellectual lineage (but certainly not all of it) to the pre- and post-Enlightenment notions of the “scientific method(s),” many disciplines in the Academy still operate on a very “black and white” binary of falsification. In this binary, only one extreme can be certain: the negative. A hypothesis can be definitively disproven, but—as many a Texas School Boardee has reminded us—science cannot definitely prove anything. Other emergent academic disciplines have chosen (artfully, in my opinion) to direct their attention at some of the liminal spaces between binaries. This has resulted in exciting new methodologies that often prefer to navigate polar tensions rather than incessantly seeking to reconcile or rectify them. However, I would argue that even these emergent methodologies are still based upon a two-point binary of logic or truth—or what Buddhists call “relative truth.”

However, the Great Vehicle presents what, from a relativistic perspective, could be called a four-point system of logic (or “truth”)—classically known as the “Two Truths.” The concept of “Two Truths” is fundamentally dependent upon the Buddhist notion of emptiness. So while the “Ultimate” or “Absolute Truth” teaches us that all things are empty of an inherent, eternal, essential identity—because all things are impermanent, the “Relative Truth” reminds us that from the unborn ground of emptiness, all myriad forms of sensory perceptions and conceptual formations spontaneously arise. In this way, words can be ultimately empty—or, what I playfully call “lies“—but have relative consequences.

But at the heart of Buddhist translation, there will always be a paradox. What is a Buddhist translator to do? Thankfully, the Buddhist hagiographical tradition gives us many exciting stories of venerated translators, or lotsawa (Tib. ལོ་ཙཱ་བ་, Skt. locchava). This gives fledgling translators, like myself, confidence because not only are we guided along a well trodden path, but we are also afforded the privilege of feeling supported and valued by our tradition. In the Academy, the former is also very true. However, regarding the latter, many academic discourses on translation theory, especially recents ones concerning the invisibility of the translator and the impossibility of translation, have revealed a perceived academic prejudice that allegedly regards translation as being not quite scholarship in- and of-itself. “After all, isn’t translation just re-writing something that’s already been written?”

Lion/Lyin’ Lotsawa and Translation and/as “Lies”

Because of the fundamental paradox at the heart of my relationship with words, I try to maintain a playful relationship with translation practice. Thankfully, there is a similar degree of humor reflected in the Vajrayanic translation tradition, especially in regards to the colophone—a small note at the end of a text mentioning its author and the circumstances of its genesis. Great masters often signed their work with self-deprecating or otherwise silly titles like “the madman,” “the beggar,” “the old grandpa,” “the bald,” etc. I cannot help but partake of the fun!

The name given to me by my Guru is Senge Drayang (Tib. སེང་གེ་སྒྲ་དབྱངས་, Wyl. seng ge sgra dbyangs). “Senge” means “lion” and Drayang means “melodious roar.” The Tibetan word dra (Tib. སྒྲ་, Wyl. sgra), here meaning “roar,” also means “word.” It is is the same dra that is found in the Tibetan word for “translation,” dragyur (Tib. སྒྲ་སྒྱུར་ , Wyl. sgra sgyur). This blog’s name (“The Lion Lotsawa”) is a play on my Tibetan name, Senge. But in the spirit of playful colophones, I often sign my work as “Lyin Lotsawa,” referring to the ultimate, empty, and nondual nature of all phenomena: even my own translation work.

To better articulate my point about translation and/as “lies,” I offer a translation of a song from Jigme Lingpa (Tib.་འཇིགས་མེད་གླིང་པ་, Wyl. ‘jigs med gling pa). Two hundred years after his mortal passing, Kunkhyen (“Omniscient”) Jigme Lingpa remains one of the most renowned Tibetan masters of Vajrayana, particularly to those of the Nyingma school like myself. He is best known for his revelation of Dzogchen teachings and practices collectively known as the Longchen Nyingthik (Tib. ཀློང་ཆེན་སྙིང་ཐིག་, Wyl. klong chen snying thig), or the “Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse.”

Jigme Lingpa’s “A Moon Dancing on Water”

 

Prostrations to the glorious primordial protector.

Unborn, unhindered, unelaborate by nature,

Inapprehensible, self-liberated, unfabricated luminosity—

To utterly pure, ordinary rigpa,

I prostratewith a conviction that does not descend into the three times.

 

Although Kuntuzangpo does not depend on even a speck of virtue,

By the merit of knowing his own unsullied nature,

He actualized enlightenment, while sentient beings in the three realms

Wander in samsara without even a grain of nonvirtue.

 

Therefore, I am aware that differentiating between samsara and nirvana,

Due to the magical display of awareness and ignorance, is a mistake.

Yet, I am also saddened that the deceptive sorcerer of habitual tendency

Continues to beguile [sentient beings].

 

Aside from the ground expanse, with its six distinguishing characteristics,

I realize that everything is a lie—a grand one.

However, for the sake of guiding faithful disciples,

Here I will illuminate my experience and realization:

A moon dancing on water.

Translated from Classical Tibetan by the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Responsibility for mistakes is his alone. May all beings benefit.

Textual Source

(http://www.tbrc.org/#!rid=O2DB94833%7CO2DB948332DB94840$W7479)

Photo Sources

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tibetan_alphabet.gif)

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/81/Nyingma_Jigme_Lingpa.jpg)

Padampa Sangye, Milarepa, and ཐག་ཆོད་

Mila and Dampa

It’s Winter Break, and I’ve had an insatiable appetite for hagiography. Having (re)read the “Lives” of Padampa Sangye, Marpa, Milarepa, Tsangnyon Heruka, and many others, I felt it appropriate to write about them.

Included herein is a translation of a song sung by Milarepa in praise of Padampa Sangye, taken from the latter’s biography. This song has great significance to me as a practitioner in the lineages of both Milarepa and Dampa Rinpoche, but it is also simply brilliant poetry. In particular, I would like to highlight the skillful and polyvalent use of the word/phrase “ཐག་ཆོད་.”

The Backstory

While the great yogin, Milarepa, is staying at the famous “Belly Cave,” Nyanang Dröphug (Tib.གཉའ་ནང་གྲོད་ཕུག་), he has a vision of Lion-Faced Dakini (Tib.མཁའ་འགྲོ་སེང་གེའི་གདོང་པ་ཅན་ or སེང་གེ་དོང་མ་). She exhorts him to go meet Dampa Rinpoche and so he sets off.

Around the same time, Lion-Faced Dakini also appears to Padampa Sangye and urges him to meet with Milarepa.

Right before the two meet, Milarepa decides to test Dampa’s clairvoyance. He transforms himself into a heap of flowers and waits. At first, Padampa Sangye pretends to be unaware of the trick and walks right past the flowers. Just as Milarepa is filled with doubt, Dampa turns around and kicks the the heap of flowers. He commands Milarepa to sing a song and gleefully exclaims how, upon the song’s completion, he and a retinue of flesh eating dakinis will feast upon Milarepa’s corpse in a tantric feast.

Milarepa, apparently impressed, sings a song in praise of Padampa Sangye. I have chosen to translate the title as “The Six Severings of Delight.”

Meditations on Thag Chod ཐག་ཆོད་

Throughout the song, “severing” (Tib. ཐག་ཆོད, Wyl. thag chod) has the dual meaning of both “cutting” and “deciding” (in a similar way that “sharp” can mean “intelligent” in English). It can also mean “having decided upon something with strong conviction,” or even “confidence.”

In the narrative from which this excerpt is taken, just prior to Milarepa singing this song, the Indian Siddha Padampa Sangye gleefully describes how he and a gathering of flesh eating dakinis are about to feast upon Milarepa’s body in a ganachakra puja (Tib. ཚོགས་འཁོར་བྱས, Wyl. tshogs ‘khor byas). This imagery is congruent with the “body offering” practice (Tib. ལུས་སྦྱིན་, Wyl. lus sbyin) performed in the “school of cutting” (Tib. གཅོད་ཡུལ, Wyl. gcod yul) that has become so closely associated with Padampa Sangye and his dakini-disciple, Machik Labdron.

Therefore, the repeated use of the verb “thag chod” (lit. “thoroughly cutting,” or “resolving”/“deciding”) has polyvalent significance. Paradoxically, “sever” could mean that the hero has abandoned the view, meditation, conduct, empowerment, pledge, and result, or it could mean that s/he has confidence in them. In this way, the verbalization of nondualism with “thag chod” fractally mirrors the oxymoronical motif of the song.

Lord Milarepa’s “The Six Severings of Delight”:

 

In isolated places where dakinis naturally gather,

What bliss, pondering the dharma in solitude!

Prostrations to the Hero that severs the self by the root.

 

Soaring deathlessly in unborn mind,

Dualistic perceptions of birth and death are liberated in their own place.

Severing the view, how delightful!

Of such delight, Dampa is a treasury.

 

Soaring unwaverlingly, meditating without meditation,

Dualistic perceptions of meditation and non-meditating are liberated in their own place.

Severing meditation, how delightful!

Of such delight, Dampa is a treasury.

 

Soaring unimpededly with spontaneous conduct,

Dualistic perceptions of “sacrilege” are liberated in their own place.

Severing conduct, how delightful!

Of such delight, Dampa is a treasury.

 

Soaring in the nonattainment of initiationlessness,

Dualistic perceptions of the deity’s body are liberated in their own place.

Severing the empowerment, how delightful!

Of such delight, Dampa is a treasury.

 

Soaring undefiledly, without regard for samaya ,

Dualistic ideas about “keeping vows” are liberated in their own place.

Severing the pledge, how delightful!

Of such delight, Dampa is a treasury.

 

Soaring fearlessly, without hoping for results,

Dualistic perceptions of hope and fear are liberated in their own place.

Severing the fruit, how delightful!

Of such delight, Dampa is a treasury.

Translated from Classical Tibetan by the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Responsibility for mistakes is his alone. May all beings benefit.

Source

གྲུབ་པའི་དབང་ཕྱུག་ཆེན་པོ་རྗེ་བཙུན་དམ་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་པར་ཐར་པ་དངོས་གྲུབ་འོད་ སྟོང་འབར་བའི་ཉི་མ།. Sangye, Lama, Ed. Vol. ༼ཅ༽. Dingri Langkor Tsuglag Khang, New Delhi: 2013. Pecha pp. 100-101.

Third Karmapa’s Chöd Supplication

throma_blog

This week, I offer a translation of a chöd (Tib. གཅོད་) supplication written by the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje (Tib. རང་འབྱུང་རྡོ་རྗེ་). Karmapa Rangjung Dorje was a master of chöd and was heavily influenced by Nyingmapa teachings on Dzogchen. He was also said to be a contemporary and acquaintance of Longchenpa via a shared Guru.

Karmapa Khyenno!

(Another post, elaborating on this blog’s employment of the word “lies,” coming soon!)

Rangjung Dorje’s Chod Lineage Supplication

།ཕ་རྒྱུད་ཐབས་ཀྱི་བརྒྱུད་པ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །མ་རྒྱུད་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་བརྒྱུད་པ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས།
PA GYÜ T’HAB KYI GYÜ PA LA SOL WA DEB| MA GYÜ SHÉ RAB KYI GYÜ PA LA SOL WA DEB|

To the Father tantras, the lineage of Method, I supplicate. To the Mother tantras, the lineage of Wisdom, I supplicate.

།སྐལ་ལྡན་ཉམས་ཀྱི་བརྒྱུད་པ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས། །གྲུབ་ཐོབ་གཅོད་ཀྱི་བརྒྱུད་པ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས།
KAL DEN NYAM KYI GYÜ PA LA SOL WA DEB| DRUB T’HOB CHÖ KYI GYÜ PA LA SOL WA DEB|

To the lineage of the fortunate ones, the experience lineage, I supplicate. To the lineage of siddhas, the chöd lineage, I supplicate.

།སྟོབས་ལྡན་ཆོས་སྐྱོང་གི་བརྒྱུད་པ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས།
TOB DEN CHÖ KYONG GI GYÜ PA LA SOL WA DEB|

To the lineage of haughty dharma protectors, I supplicate.

།འཁྲུལ་སྣང་འཇིག་རྟེན་གྱི་བྱ་བ་ལ།།ཞེན་པ་ལོག་པར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས།
TRUL NANG JIG TEN GYI JA WA LA| SHEN PA LOG PAR JIN GYI LOB|

For delusion and worldly pursuits,
Bless me with disgust.

།འབྱུང་བཞིས་བསྡུས་པའི་སྒྱུ་ལུས་ལ༑ །གཅེས་འཛིན་བྲལ་བར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས།
JUNG SHI DÜ PA’I GYU LÜ LA| CHÉ DZIN DREL WAR JIN GYI LOB|

For the illusory body, which is composed of the four elements,
Bless me with freedom from self-clinging.

།འགལ་རྐྱེན་ནད་གནོད་བར་ཆད་ལ། །རོ་སྙོམས་ནུས་པར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས།
GAL KYEN NANG NÖ WAR CHÉ LA| RO NYAM NÜ PAR JIN GYI LOB|

For obstacles, like disease, harm, and adversity,
Bless me with the capacity to experience one taste.

།སྣང་སྲིད་སེམས་ཀྱི་ཆོ་འཕྲུལ་ལ། །རང་ངོ་ཤེས་པར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས།
NANG SI SEM KYI CHO TRUL LA| RANG NGO SHÉ PAR JIN GYI LOB|

For the realm of appearances and potentialities—the magical display of the mind,
Bless me with knowledge of its single nature.

།རང་རིག་སྐུ་གསུམ་ལྷུན་གྲུབ་ལ། །རང་དབང་ཐོབ་པར་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས།
RANG RIG KU SUM LHUN DRUB LA| RANG WANG T’HOB PAR JIN GYI LOB|

For my own innate awareness—spontaneously manifesting as the three kayas,
Bless me with self-mastery.

།སྤྱིར་བདག་དང་འགྲོ་དྲུག་སེམས་ཅན་རྣམས། །རྒྱུ་གཉིས་འཛིན་དྲི་མ་ཀུན་སྤངས་ནས།
CHIR DAG DANG DRO DRUG SEM CHEN NAM| GYU NYI DZIN DRI MA KUN PANG NÉ|

In general, may I—and all beings of the six realms—adopt the two causes and renounce defilement.

།བླ་མེད་ཀྱི་བྱང་ཆུབ་མྱུར་ཐོབ་ཤོག། །
LA MÉ KYI JANG CHUB NYUR T’HOB SHOG|

Having done so, may [we all] swiftly attain unsurpassed enlightenment!

ཕཏ༑ ཕཏ། ཕཏ།
P’HAT| P’HAT| P’HAT|

ཅེས་པའང་རྗེ་རང་བྱུང་རྡོ་རྗེས་སོ།། །།

(Colophon: “… and so Lord Rangjung Dorje spoke.”)

Translated from Classical Tibetan by the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Responsibility for mistakes is his alone. May all beings benefit.

First post and སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་

skull

On Translation Theory and Pure Vision

As a Buddhist, constructing a theory of translation is precarious task. Paradoxically, words are both the Dharma itself, and conceptual signifiers that are fundamentally incapable of dualistically encapsulating the Dharma. How to come to terms with this? Don’t take myself, or words, so seriously. (Plus, as a tantrika, I guess I sort of love [or hate?] paradoxes). More on this later (See: “Lies”).

So, to set things off with pure intention and pure view, I offer a translation of Terdak Lingpa’s (Tib.གཏེར་བདག་གླིང་པ་) famous last words.

Terdak Lingpa established the famous Mindroling Monastery in 1676 and was a speech emanation of Vairotsana Lotsawa.

Read more at http://mindrolling.org/.

སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་

Nang Drag Rig Sum

སྣང་གྲགས་རིག་གསུམ་ལྷ་སྔགས་ཆོས་སྐུའི་ངང། །
NANG DRAG RIG SUM LHA NGA NGAG CHÖ KU’I NANG

Sights, sounds, and awareness are deity, mantra, and the continuity of Dharmakaya,

སྐུ་དང་ཡེ་ཤེས་རོལ་པར་འབྱམས་ཀླས་པ ། ། (པས་) (པར་)
KU DANG YE SHÉ ROL PAR JAM LÉ PA|

Unfolding infinitely as the play of form and wisdom.

ཟབ་གསང་རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཆེན་པོའི་ཉམས་ལེན་པ ། ། (ལ་)
T’HAB SANG NAL JOR CHEN PO’I NYAM LEN PA|

(In) the practice of the profound and secret Mahayoga,

དབྱེར་མེད་ཐུགས་ཀྱི་ཐིག་ལེར་རོ་གཅིག་ཤོག། །
YER MÉ T’HUG KYI T’HIG LER RO CHIG SHOG|

May (all) be unified as one taste at mind’s apogee.

Translated from Classical Tibetan by the lyin’ lotsawa, Senge Drayang (Westin Harris). Responsibility for mistakes is his alone. May all beings benefit.