Buddhist Meditation
Systematic and Practical

Chapter XIII

A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi

Written Down by

First Published in 1967

Chapter XIII




Part One




The writer arrived at the hermitage accompanied by a photographer. Inside they found that Mr. Chen had arranged his table as a small shrine with two Tibetan paintings, one of Amitayus Buddha alone, and the other of Amitayus embraced by White Tara , showing Ushnishavijaya in the heart of her wisdom-body. In front were offerings of fruit and flowers all carefully arranged by Mr. Chen. All these deities are associated with long life; this was thoughtfully planned by the yogi since the writer's thirtieth birthday had just passed. The previous week's flowers looked fresh, and Mr. Chen said it was a good sign of long life for the writer.


Very soon, Bhadanta Sangharakshita arrived and, not wishing to keep the photographer waiting, the three sat down for work, the resulting picture, taken by the photographer through Mr. Chen's back window, appears in the front of this book.


After the photograph had been taken, various matters relating to Vajrayana meditation were discussed with the yogi, including, quite appropriately, practices giving long life. Mr. Chen had previously called our attention to the fact that Dharma-instruments should at least have a long life and preferably also be able to choose at will a good birth. Bhante then mentioned that he had recently acquired a set of eight different religious paintings of Guru Padmasambhava. A discussion of the practices associated with this great Tantrika followed.


As our talk did not begin until later than usual, due to the photo and conversation, so only half the chapter was completed during the evening.


As we began, Mr. Chen said, "In recognition of Bhiksu Kantipalo's holy birthday, we have the Long-life Buddha Amitayus upon this shrine." Then he continued with the usual opening to our chapters:


A. The Homage


In Tibet , without Guru Padmasambhava, the Tantra could not have developed. According to Tibetan ancient history, King Trisong Detsan tried to build Buddhist temples in his land but they all collapsed or some hitch occurred preventing their completion. Suspecting the intervention of hostile demons, Bhadanta Santarakshita, then in Tibet , advised the king to send for the great yogi Padmasambhava. The yogi accepted the king's invitation, and both on his journey to Tibet in 746 C .E., and during his stay in the "land of snows," he subdued many demons who attacked the Holy Dharma. His journey took him through Kalimpong where he killed some demons and converted others, ensuring, of course, that those killed obtained a much more favorable birth in the Pure Land . The stories about him are legion in Tibet in spite of the fact that he lived in ancient times. All the various Buddhist schools respect him except a few of the more extreme Gelugpas. The local Gelugpa teachers of eminence, Dhardoh Rinpoche (well-known for his liberal and non-sectarian views) and Tomo Geshe Rinpoche (the reincarnation of a renowned yogi) both believe in him as a great teacher. The latter built a hermitage in a holy place associated with Guru Rinpoche, without whom the Tantra could not have been established in Tibet .


Homage is not given here to the guru's first consort Mandarava although she is no less worthy of respect. We especially honor his second consort, Yeshe Tsogyal.


Mr. Chen explained, "She has been my personal guru. From her seen in my meditation over twenty years ago I obtained some secret instructions for the practice of the third initiation." The yogi continued with emotion: "I have not yet reached Full Enlightenment but still I keep up her special meditations."


This yogini was very devoted to the guru and to the Dharma he taught. She recorded many of his precious teachings and then hid the manuscripts in various places, such as in caves, among mountains, and under monasteries or in stupas. She came to India altogether seven times and in all her life she gave Guru Rinpoche no trouble, intent as she was upon practice and careful preservation of the Dharma.


His first consort almost did disturb the teacher's life since her father, the king, tried to burn him as a punishment for having carried off the beautiful Mandarava. But even in the middle of the flames the guru embraced her and the fire was soon extinguished as great deluges of water were poured down by mighty spirits and dragons. By this, the king and his court were converted to the Dharma.


His second yogic "wife" was not taken, like Mandarava, by the guru. It is said that the King of Tibet had all his most lovely ladies dancing in a circle and asked Padmasambhava to take whichever one he thought most beautiful. Guru Rinpoche replied that he loved them all, but that the one who was truly devoted would come to him. At that moment, Yeshe Tsogyal prostrated herself before the teacher and out of love for him renounced all the riches of queenly life to follow him.


This story contrasts with the way that Mandarava came to Padmasambhava: He just flew in through a window of the king's palace and took her. Still, we should never criticize holy persons as though their actions were mundane and evil, even though when judged by conventional standards, they may seem unwholesome. In this case Guru Rinpoche knew from his insight that she was a dakini and, as it was impossible to gain her in any other way, he simply took her as his yogic consort. Similarly Marpa, Milarepa's guru, had nine consorts but he helped them all, one by one, attain the wisdom-light body of Buddhahood. There are many such stories in the Tibetan Tripitaka.


Padmasambhava and his two dakinis were all perfectly Enlightened as a result of their practice. Moreover, the Guru is worshipped in many different forms as shown in thangkas. Here we show and venerate them in the highest form of heruka.


All the three objects of our homage are, in addition, to be found in Padmasambhava. Not only that, the guru may be shown in the forms of nirmanakaya, sambhogakaya, dharmakaya, svabhavikakaya, and mahasukhaprajnakaya; all these are him, from the lowest to the highest.


Why do we pay homage to the five great Vajra-herukas? Because perfect meditations are included in the doctrines associated with them. If we learn all their teachings, there is no more to be donewe have arrived at Perfect Enlightenment. All these teachings have been gathered by the new sect of Tibet (Gelugpa). The five Vajra-herukas are:


First, the Vajra-heruka of great pleasure (applies to external forms),

Second, the Vajra-heruka of great joy (applies to internal sensations) ,

Third, the Vajra-heruka of the accumulation of secret doctrines,

Fourth, the Vajra-heruka of great power, and

Fifth, the Vajra-heruka of mahamaya (great illusion).


By some these deities and their doctrines are practiced separately; others take them together. In taking them together, the pleasure Vajra is in the head-wheel, the second Vajra-heruka is in the throat-wheel, the third Vajra-heruka is found in the navel, while the secret wheel has the power-Vajra. Taken in this way, the yidam (Tibetan for "oath-bound") is the joy-Vajra visualized in the heart-wheel. All five have special Tantric sutras detailing their meditations, which are certainly very important. If one worships them, then all the highest meditations of the Tantra are worshipped. They correspond to the sambhogakayas of the five Tathagatas.


Third in our homage is the adi-buddha, corresponding to the dharmakaya. The Gelugpas never teach that the dharmakaya can have form. In the Nyingmapa teachings, however, the adi-buddha may or may not have form. When depicted, the image is white or blue in color (signifying the nature of dharmas), naked (indicating the nature of voidness) and in union with his consort (the union of compassion and wisdom). "Adi" is taken to mean "no beginning and no end" according to Nyingmapa tradition and, although symbolically represented by an image, is essentially formless. Such ideas are wonderful but not easily grasped by neophytes. (Some scholars have confused the adi-buddha with the conception of a unique creator-God.) The adi-buddha Samantabhadra should not, of course, be confounded with the bodhisattva of the same name.


All three objects of worship are identified in the Buddha of entity (adi-buddha), and in turn this produces the five Tathagatas. We should humbly revere this profound conception.


B. How Esoteric Meditations Excel Exoteric Doctrines


1. No Comparison


Fundamentally, esoteric doctrines and those of the exoteric schools should not be compared as they are not on the same level.


"One is higher, one lower," said Mr. Chen. He went on:


Comparing them is the same mistake people make about Hinayana and Mahayanaalthough they are both exoteric schools, still one is built upon the foundations of the other, and so they should not be compared as equals. This applies also to our present subject. How did this controversy of high and low arise in the first place? Believers in the exoteric schools have doubted that the esoteric traditions are higher than the exoteric. But in our system of three-yanas-in-one, the Tantras obviously stand highestof this there is no doubt. The Mahayana is their foundation, and all its excellent points are included in the Vajrayana. It is wrong to compare these yanas as though they were opposites; this I do not allow! As Mahayanists who lack good advice may not accept this explanation, so we should give another reason.


2. Position and Initiations


Tantric doctrine is a yana in the position of consequence, but the Great Vehicle is a yana of cause. As an example: A Tantrika is like a man born into the palace of a king, upon whose throne he will sit one day. The Mahayanist resembles more the soldier working his way up through the ranks, from private to sergeant, and from there up to commissioned rank, until by great effort he may even be able to gain the status of field marshal. But even this rank does not empower him to sit upon the king's throne.


"Of course," said Mr. Chen, "an example is not a reason and just as we can make up one supporting the Vajrayana, so the Mahayana follower can construct examples favoring the Great Way ."


Our reason is that Tantra includes the initiations, when one, so to speak, is born into the palace. One who obtains them is able to sit upon the throne: He is a Buddha.


3. Philosophy


The philosophy of causation in the universe is quite different in these two yanas, being in the Vajrayana complete and reduced to scientific principles. Why do we say this? In the causation of the six elements the mental side is not overly stressed, nor is this causation theory biased only toward material elements. These two are identified in the six elements practice and the explanation given is very sound. In the sunyata school (Madhyamika), more stress is laid on mind and there are no meditations for the five material elements. The Idealist school (Vijnanavada) is similarly one-sided and the tathata they expound is not a finished doctrine; and certainly the Hinayana Sunyata teachings are incomplete. Thus we see that philosophic background is very important to differentiate esoteric Tantra from the other yanas.


4. Direct Knowledge


The Tantras have expedient methods in the position of consequence (Buddhahood). The Buddha teaches them only from his experience of Full Enlightenment. Here we are not concerned with experience derived from the lower stages of the bodhisattva path. The knowledge direct from Buddhahood is found in the Tantras and in no other place. It is very rare, deep, and hard to recognize; thus it is called "esoteric." The exoteric doctrines are more obvious than the Tantras. The difference between exoteric and esoteric Dharmas is brought out in the following story:


I had a young friend studying the art of dyeing cloth in a technical college. For three years he studied hard and read many books, but even after that he did not become proficient. Fortunately, he contacted a teacher who, although a man of little book-knowledge, was very good in his practical work. My friend spent a few hours with him to see how the dyeing was done and as a result, became quite adept at the craft himself. To know by a few hours of experience is better than theoretical study for years.


Our Dharma-knowledge comes through purification in the Hinayana and sublimation in the Mahayana, but the Tantra contains the knowledge directing one to the essence of Buddhahood and has been imparted by the Enlightened One only to a few disciples having many merits.


5. Breathing Meditations


Exoteric meditation practices principally concern the mind, and though breathing meditations are taught, they are only used to calm a disturbed mind. Such practices do not use the five elements of materiality (although with the normal breathing process the elements are breathed in and out).


A higher value is placed upon the breath in the Tantra for by the time one is ready to practice the Vajrayana techniques, mental practice should have been already well established. Mentality and materiality are identified in Tantric practices, and then are very effective. In the lower Tantras one does find some visualization of the five elements but these do not correspond to the breath. By contrast, in anuttarayoga, the second and third initiations cannot be practiced without exercises using the deep-breathing of wisdom-energy.


6. Positions of Teacher and Audience


The Tantras are taught by the glorious sambhogakaya Buddhas, but the exoteric doctrines are preached by the flesh bodies of the nirmanakaya Buddhas. In the former, both teacher and audience occupy a higher position, for it is said that only bodhisattvas of the eighth stage can be present at such preaching. Those who are not upon this high level need not despair, for their guru will surely help them by way of initiation.


7. Salvation


The Vajrayana surpasses the exoteric teachings because in the Tantras we find the principles of the two lower yanas serve as foundations, to which are added the expedient methods of Buddhahood. With such practice, the mystic functions easily emerge, and these conquer the five poisons (see Chapter VIII) in this world of five heavy evils. This is a kind of ultimate salvation. Here I refer the readers once again to our definition of Buddhist meditation (Chapter III, F): " … and the functions of salvation are all attained." Now all parts of the definition have been covered.


C. How Anuttarayoga Excels the Lower Yogas


1. The Eastern Tradition


For us, anuttarayoga is without question the highest yana, but as we have said, Japanese Tantra is said to contain it and therefore in the Eastern tradition yogatantra is considered the highest. So for the sake of clarification we should make some comparisons.


2. Method


In the highest yoga there are the practices of the wisdom (prajna) energy, the wisdom channel and the wisdom essence, but in the lower Tantras derived from the two great sutras (see Appendix I, Part Two, B, 4) the theory is written but the method unknown.


3. The Elements


Yogatantra does have the theory of the six elements, but the five material ones are not used as they are in anuttarayoga, where the five are taken in from the surroundings and converted into wisdom. This is a Buddha's breathing.


4. Heavenly Union


In the Japanese Tantra, the male and female figures in union (Tibetan: yab-yum; Sanskrit: yuganaddha), are not known. They do have a few deities who embrace, but only in heavenly fashion (without contact of the reproductive organs) and with meditation bodies. In their case, while the bodies are higher (dhyana-bodies), the function is lower (not involving all the elements).


Anuttarayoga includes practices with the body of flesh and many deities are shown in a symbolic sexual union. Our emphasis is on the fact that the physical body and its energies must be utilized as a means to Full Enlightenment, and transformed in the process. Therefore, we practice love in the human fashion using the five elements of materiality and this flesh body composed of them, though only after the purification of Hinayana, the sublimation of Mahayana, and the resultant mystic functions of Vajrayana.


Notably, there are only two gods shown in heavenly love embrace in Japanese Tantra. In the Tendai school, the god of wealth is shown thus, and in Koyasan (the mountain retreat of the Eastern Tantra tradition), Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, is so depicted.


5. Wisdom-Energy


The practice of wisdom-energy effectively rids one of the natural or innate defilements of self and of dharmas (see Chapter IX, I, 3). The obstacle of knowledge (Jneyavarana) is easily converted into wisdom in the anuttarayoga through the methods of the third initiation. In it, natural wisdom and natural bliss are identified and thus all subtle obstacles are conquered and Full Enlightenment gained.


In the Japanese Tantra, there is no such practice.


6. Other Methods


In the anuttarayoga doctrines there are some methods taught to get rid of birth, death, and the intermediate state (Bardo); however, in the lower Tantras there are no such methods.


7. Realization


Regarding realization, it is written in the yogatantra Mahavairocana Sutra that after sixteen lives, one will attain Full Enlightenment by practicing the third Tantra. In this life, at most, one will only attain the stage of joy (see Chapter XII, H). Anuttarayoga, however, promises the attainment of Full Enlightenment in this life.


In the Western Tantric tradition, the highest yoga is always divided into four stages according to the four initiations. Tonight we can only talk about the first two initiations; the third, being very elaborate, must be left until next week.


D. Meditations of the First Initiation


Before we discuss this, we should establish some definitions. The five small wangs imparted at the time of the first initiation in anuttarayoga and those given in the third yoga may seem quite similar to beginners. How are they to be distinguished?


1. Comparison of Initiations


a. The difference concerns the outer initiation. In anuttarayoga the guru who gives the wang ("initiation" in Tibetan) whether with or without a consort, must visualize himself in the heruka-form. From his union in this form, he obtains some vajra-love nectar for the initiation. In Japanese Tantra, this practice is unknown and only fragrant water is used.


b. In the inner initiation, the disciple also visualizes himself in the heruka-form regardless of whether he has or has not a yogic partner. In the first anuttarayoga initiation, which particularly concerns the body, the guru is visualized with light coming from his vajra (male organ). This light comes out in the form of a hook which is inserted into the disciple's heart. There it hooks onto the eighth consciousness visualized in the form of the yidam and this is then withdrawn into the median channel of the guru's body. From there it passes into the lotus (female organ) of the dakini. From the dakini's womb, the disciple's consciousness is reborn as a heruka son. Such a process is absent in the third yoga.


c. There is a complete classification of the bodhicitta into five sorts in the anuttarayoga while in yogatantra only four are known. They are as follows:


i. Citta of willcorresponds to the nirmanakaya

ii. Citta of conductcorresponds to the sambhogakaya

iii. Citta of victorious significancecorresponds to the Dharmakaya

(These three only are found in Mahayana texts.)

iv. Citta of samadhicorresponds to the svabhavikakaya (found in yogatantra)

v. Citta of the essence of the six elementscorresponds to the mahasukhaprajnakaya (found only in anuttarayoga)


The last is found only in the highest yoga and is unheard of in the Eastern tradition. In it the five elements and five wisdoms are well identified, just as the sperm and the ovum unite and interpenetrate.


"Even in Tibet ," said Mr. Chen, "all five bodhicittas are never mentioned all together, but I have collected them and find that they correspond to the five bodies of a Buddha."


2. Three Important Conditions


After one receives the anuttarayoga first initiation, one should practice the growing stage (utpannakrama) of the samaya body (see Appendix I, Part Two, C, 6). We should give some definition of this term.


There are, altogether, three kinds of body of which samaya is the gross one. A samayasattva (in Tibetan, literally "oath-bound" natural holiness), is that anthropomorphic form of a Buddha or bodhisattva on which the meditator regularly practices over a long period of time, until he realizes unity with that wisdom-form. A person has only one yidam, either selected by oneself or chosen by the guru, and to this yidam one is bound by an oath taken at the time of initiation. This requires one to practice regularly with the yidam form and mantra according to the guru's instructions.


One's practice must of course be based upon a secure realization of sunyatawithout this there may be serious consequences. On this point there is a good story.


Once there was a lama of the Yellow Sect who had taken for his yidam the god Jig-je (Vajrabhairava), a very wrathful deity with awesome faces and three eyes angrily glaring. From his mouth issue fierce flames. The lama maintained a great concentration upon his yidam until particularly the eyes of Jig-je and his own became identified. After this he found that everyone he met died from his wrathful glance, and anger seemed constantly burning within him. He became very distressed over this and did not dare to go out or to meet anyone. Finally, he told his guru what had happened: "I am very sorry about this," said the lama, "for I want to save others, not kill them." His guru told him to stop meditating on Jig-je's eyes and explained that his ability to kill indicated that his bodhicitta was not developed sufficiently.


However, I think it was not the lama's fault that he lacked bodhicitta. It was the fault of the guru who should not have given him an initiation unless the bodhicitta was already strong. This lama had already come to the practice of a Tantric yidam and therefore the time for meditation on the bodhicitta had passed. The guru was also at fault in that he should not only have given teachings on the form of the yidam, but also on the philosophy underlying the practice. The yidam is the reflection of sunyata and neither the void nor its reflections can work any harm when they are well-identified. The wrathful eyes of Jig-je do not show human wrath, but the latter, if not sublimated in the Mahayana, can do much evil if associated with wrathful deities in the Vajrayana. Thus, the lama's eyes killed from the power of untransmuted human anger in him and not by the Great Wrath of the divine Jig-je.


This story shows the importance of going step by step and is surely a good warning for those who might think of rushing headlong into the Vajrayana. Especially, it shows how important are the sunyata meditations and their thorough realization.


In Tantra, the body is like the outer practice and every point of it has to be visualized minutely and perfectly identified with sunyata. Even each little hair should be realized as void and in visualization be seen as though hollow. The inner practice means the recitation and visualization of the mantra. For the yidam practice, there are these three important conditions:


a. Clarity. This means that not only must the form and color of the deity be clearly seen, but every hair of the eyebrows, the eyelashes and all the hairs on the anthropomorphic body should be visualized clearly. As we do not speak of art, our subject being meditation, so besides form and color, there must also be clarity of philosophy. It is essential that a good understanding and a deep realization of sunyata accompany these meditations; otherwise, they will not be effective. Therefore, besides clearly seeing the deity's form as a reflection, or as a bubble, translucent and made of light, it is also most important to realize deeply sunyata philosophy. I have written a paper on this, as it seems to me that the venerable Tsong-khapa's otherwise excellent Ngag-rim (Great Stages of the Tantric Path), is deficient in its emphasis on the practical value of realization of the void.


b. Firmness. In common books on this subject, it is said that the visualized form must not move or change. Their instructions are that after the form is seen clearly, the practitioner should make the anthropomorphic body firm and unmoving, while his own flesh body is not perceived even for a momentnot even in a dream. For instance, if the practitioner visualizes himself as a great, holy, powerful vajra deity with two horns, then when one passes through a door, one should bow the head so that the horns do not catch in the doorway.


I should like to add that firmness not only of form, but also a steadfast samatha of samapatti on the entity of meditation is essential. If one just sees something with the sixth consciousness (mind-consciousness) and this is not accompanied by a deep samatha, then there can be no correspondence with the holy form. We must emphasize this: Firmness is really derived from the FORCE OF SAMATHA. Without this (using the sixth consciousness), one is only thinking about the deity, and this wrong method can, if persistently practiced, lead to all sorts of stresses and strains, even to disease and, worst, to madness.


c. The Holy Pride of Buddhahood (see Appendix I, Part Two, A, 4). Human pride is a sorrow of egotism, but the Pride of the anthropomorphic Buddha-body is a merit of voidness and mercy. All the holy characteristics of whatever holy being one visualizes must be acquired by the practitioner, and he should perform many actions for others, just as that holy being does.


I want to add what I mean by this term. This Holy Pride of Buddhahood comes from such factors as the function of saving others through merits and virtues. One often hears gurus say, "I am a Buddha."


Here Mr. Chen imitated such a guru, sitting up very straight upon his stool as though it were brocade throne, and assumed a rather comical but undeniably haughty expression. He continued, "These teachers sit in their finery and proudly proclaim their Buddhahood. 'Look, so many disciples follow me; look, so many lay-people worship me; look at all these books and holy treasures, and look at the wealth I possess!' In their pride, they may even say: 'Look at this or that mark of Buddhahood!'"


"But then," said Mr. Chen, relaxing, "one may look at their way of life, the way they treat peoplethen it becomes obvious whether or not they are really Buddhas. Such teachers are neither Buddhas nor have they understood at all what is meant by a Buddha's Holy Pride. Such teachers have even rebuked me, telling me that I lack bodhicitta because I have remained a hermit so long. 'What are you doing for such a long time?' they say. 'You should come out and proudly show the Buddha-attainment.' All such talk," Mr. Chen said gravely, "is a sorrow for those teachers."


The Buddhas' Pride is not like this: Holy Pride causes progress and cannot lead to any sort of spiritual fall. It is not the same as human pride, for Buddhas have long since rid themselves of the defilements on which ordinary conceit depends. In this respect, it seems to me that this practice is correct: Whatever happens, we should immediately ask ourselves, "What would be a Buddha's action in this circumstance?" If all the meditations so far described here have been practiced and realized, then we should have a clear answer to this question. Our attainment of Buddhahood has to show in the ordinary situations of everyday lifeotherwise it is not perfect Buddhahood. If we have really attained to Full Enlightenment then we shall, in all places and at all times, always show a Buddha's actions and never follow human ways.


All these points are important for practical purposes and are lacking in even well-known Tibetan works. We should always hold to them for meditation on the yidam in the growing yoga.


3. Three Kinds of Samatha-Samapatti in the Growing Yoga


a. First is the growing yoga meditation of sunyata, which differs from the Mahayana, where there is no mantra-repetition or visualization practice. Here one should repeat the mantra and visualize the world and all the beings in it as sunyata. This must be done before visualizing the yidam.


b. From this sunyata meditation, visualize the yidam. This is a meditation on the reflection of sunyata (sunyata conditions, not sunyata nature).


These two points taken together are the first step.


The second step, when the yidam meditation is accomplished, is to visualize all the worship, offerings, etc. This is not the main meditation "trunk" but rather a samapatti "branch." Nevertheless, it has to be completed.


When all this is done, then one goes back to the main practice and, visualizing the mandala of the yidam, places this in one's own body. This melts into the heart, which in turn contracts into the mantra. This again disappears into the bija, which finally melts away into sunyata.


c. From the second sunyata of reduction the holy yidam appears again. It must come just as a fish jumps out of the surface of the ocean: The yidam must quickly appear from the voidness-ocean. In a flash, one sees that the nature of sunyata and its manifestation as the yidam are identified. When this stage has been experienced, this is the real Enlightenment of a Buddha.


By the above three kinds of samatha-samapatti, birth, death, and the intermediate state are abandoned one by one.


4. Visualization of the Surroundings (Mandala)


Mr. Chen produced a large photograph of a mandala acquired from a departing Chinese Buddhist. It was not one which he had practiced himself and he was not sure which meditation it represented, for, as he explained, there are many hundreds of these mystic diagrams. It was, however, quite a typical example and served to illustrate his explanation.


Now we have finished the meditations of the body and we may go on to discuss meditations relating to surroundings.


a. Explanation of the mandala


Pointing out various features of the mandala as it lay before him, we progressed from the outside elements to those in the center.


The outside circle shows the eight great cemetery grounds with bones and decayed bodies in abundance. The next ring represents the five elements and is colored appropriately in bands of colors, each one associated with one of these elements. Inside this, three walls are shown, one of vajras, one in the form of blooming lotuses, and the last composed of skulls.


One must remember that while the mandala picture is only in two dimensions, it is to be visualized as three-dimensional. For this reason, some features of the mandala are hidden under the surface of the two dimensional picture. For example, in the center of the mandala, under the palace, is a large crossed-vajra. Again above the surface of the picture and therefore above the palace and its surroundings is a vajra-net, visualized as being made up of linked vajras.


The palace itself is square and set within a precious world of trees and flowers inside the various walls already mentioned. The four gates leading from this world into the palace have beautiful roofs and carvings; all bedecked with Dharma-pennants. The interior of the palace has a precious floor of gems: The East side is white, the South is yellow, the West is red, and the North side is green.


On the floor of the palace, at its center, is the yidam, sitting upon an appropriate throne. The figure may be single, double, or manifesting many forms, depending upon the ritual instructions.


The simple visual meditations on the pagoda in Japanese Tantra are just preparations for these more complex practices.


b. Symbolic significance


"We should not only meditate on the forms; we must know their meanings." Mr. Chen then showed in some detail the symbolic significances of the mandala's parts.


The eight cemeteries: To begin with, these remind us of the two sorts of non-self (of pudgala and of the dharmas; the realization of impermanence also arises with this samapatti).


The five elements: In their treatment, we may see a continuous evolution from the Japanese Tantra. There, considered only on the mental side, they are symbolized very simply in the pagoda-form; here, they are built into the exact and complex structure of the mandala, and their material aspect is included. They constitute the Buddhas' surroundings in the Pure Land and are very exactly arranged: This differs again from the Amitayur Samapatti Sutra where such complete descriptions are not given. When one visualizes these different parts of the mandala, their meanings must be kept in mind.


The wall of vajras: This represents one's strict observance of the sila, and its purpose is to keep out demons and prevent them from disturbing the precious land within. If the moral precepts are maintained pure and unbroken, then this vajra-wall will be strong and will effectively protect against demons. Without pure morality, the vajra-wall will be weak.


The lotus-wall and the skull-wall: These symbolize respectively renunciation and sunyata.


Under the crossed-vajra, a thousand-petalled lotus symbolizes the lotus world, and is also a symbol of renunciation in the Hinayana. Why? The lotus grows up fair and pure from foul-smelling mud, unstained by the muck and filth. Similarly, renunciation must be pure and unstained by worldliness.


The other lotus on the precious palace floor: This is the actual seat of the yidam. This lotus has the meaning of renunciation even of dharmas, accomplished during the sublimation process in the Mahayana. If one's renunciation is not complete, one should still try to visualize these lotuses in their proper positions, after which, renunciation may become perfect. This is an example of a method in the position of consequence.


We repeatedly notice the close correspondence of all these details with the attainment of Buddhahood. For example, there are four gates of the palace and different books say that they mean the four Noble Truths, the four boundless minds, or the four mindfulnesses. We should make this point certain. When the yidam is a nirmanakaya form such as Sakyamuni, then the gates stand for the four Noble Truths. When Avalokitesvara is the yidam, then their meaning is the four boundless minds; and if the center of the mandala is occupied by a yidam of wisdom (as Manjusri), then the gates must correspond to the character of the yidam.


In the palace, the roof is held up by eight pillars: They stand for the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path.


"Even if we talk for a month," said the yogi, "we cannot finish explaining all the symbolic meanings of the parts of the various mandalas, for we must understand that nothing depicted there is just ornamental: It is all significant for meditation. To find out all this information," said Mr. Chen, "it is necessary to read one of the books describing yidams and their surroundings."


5. Degrees of Realization


There are three degrees of achievement regarding holy appearances (these are correlated with the section on realization in the chapter on definitions (see Ch. III, E, 4)).


a. Inferior degree: In a dream state, the practitioner achieves a vision of the yidam.


b. Middle degree: The second stage occurs during the state in which the meditator sees the vision while half-awake and not disturbed by dreams (this corresponds to "Ta").


c. Superior degree: Finally, in oneness of meditative concentration, the holy appearance is achieved. Within this highest experience, there are also three grades. The lowest is when, in unity of concentration and meditation, the deity's form can only be seen by the practitioner. The middle grade of achievement is where the holy one is seen by others also; while the ultimate grade is when the practitioner can maintain the holy manifestation even when he or she leaves the meditation seat and can perform deeds just as that holy being does. The holy body may be touched by others also (these three correspond to "Nyang").


E. Second Initiation Meditations


1. Practice


The main meditation of the second initiation is called tummo in Tibetan (Sanskrit: candali, meaning the wrathful fire of wisdom); there are also subsidiary practices concerning dreams, sleep, and phowa.


Evans-Wentz, in the work he edited, Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, treats equally all the six practices of this initiation. Although this is traditional in Tibetan practice, still I do not agree with this, for if one gains success in tummo, the main one, then all the others are accomplished.


Success in tummo depends upon the correct use of the deep breathing methods. There are four important stages:


a. Meditate on the sunyata of the bodyone has already practiced and realized this in the growing yoga. After that, visualize everything as hollow, with only the substance of a bubble. The flesh body is realized as completely empty inside, while outside it is like a colored shadow of the Buddha-form.


b. In the void body, visualize the three great yogic channels (to the left, the sasi; on the right, the mihira; and in the center, the susumna), all seen as void. The five or seven wheels (cakras) are also visualized and perceived as void. It is most important to practice with the median channel and realize its void nature. Sometimes it is contracted to the fineness of a fiery hair, and sometimes expanded to a torrent of fire engulfing the three worlds (see Evans-Wentz).


c. Practice the sunyata meditations of energy-breathing. During deep breathing, a breath should be held so that one can correspond its three stages of inhalation, holding, and exhalation with the three vajra wisdom syllables: OM AHHUM. This should be done very carefully and must, of course, be very finely accompanied by sunyata, so that the energy-breath becomes wisdom-energy. In most books this process is not given.


Mr. Chen then laughed, asserting, "This is my pride!"


d. Sunyata of essence. In the Tibetan Vajrayana there are two sorts of semen, the red (kun) and the white (tha), hence this practice is known as "kuntha." "Kun" refers to the five wisdoms and "tha" signifies the essence of the five elements. When the red one rises, the white goes down. Together they make Buddhahood, but they must correspond very exactly to the sunyata of wisdom (red) and the sunyata of pleasure (white). When they are well identified, the Buddha-wisdom arises.


In the five meditations of the Hinayana, there is one concerning breath. Now we see that its significance in Tantra is quite different, and is the highest stage among our breathing practices. Readers should see our second diagram in Chapter X (see also Ch. VIII, G) for the correspondences through the various yanas.


2. Realization


This depends on two factors: sunyata and breath. The realization of sunyata has already been given (see Ch. X, Part Two. H) and it only remains to list here the three degrees of breath-realization.


Mr. Chen then showed how the breath timing is calculated. Sitting up straight, with the left hand in dhyana position, he drew in a breath and thenrhythmically and unhurriedtapped with the fingers of his right hand first upon his right knee, then his left knee, then his forehead, and finally he snapped his fingers.


a. When one can hold a single breath for 36 of these cycles (about one minute), then this is the lowest achievement.


b. The middle rank is calculated in the same way but the breath is held for 72 cycles.


"I have arrived at this stage," added the yogi.


c. Repeating this process 108 times during one breath is considered the highest achievement.


Higher still, however, is the accomplishment of some Tantric sages, who, during their sitting practice, only take six breaths in twenty-four hours.


For the realization of form, the sign of success is when the median channel opens and all its knots untangle.


Mr. Chen explained with a grimace, that in most people their cakras are all blocked and their channels knotted.


Before the wheels are all open, five or ten signs are experienced, such as sparks, the moon, the sun, the light of stars, flashes of lightning, etc.


When the median channel is opened, the Dharmakaya is won, and when the five wheels are cleared, the sambhogakaya is attained, and at the time when the 72,000 channels are all purified and straightened, then many nirmanakaya forms may be projected by the yogi.


This concludes our section on the realization of meditations in the second initiation. We shall not have a real conclusion to this week's talk, as the chapter is to be continued next week with the meditations in the third and fourth initiations.


After saying this, Mr, Chen got up and gave to everyone present some of the offerings to the Buddha of Long Life, Amitayus. Cookies and oranges arranged as ritual offerings, together with a slice of birthday cake, were given out as a blessing that this existence may long continue for the sake of the Dharma.


Subsequently, Mr. Chen again spoke upon the Buddha Amitayus. He said:


He sits upon a lotus and, as you know, this is a sign of purity. If one takes Amitayus as one's yidam, then not only must one have purity, but also it is necessary to make one's renunciation early in life. Then with good practice and much time accomplish everything, one will receive long life. The renunciation of a bhiksu also includes the will to purification.


The moon-mat upon the center of the lotus, where Lord Amitayus sits, is a sign of the great bodhicitta which issues out of the sunyata meditations. After such practice, the mind is great, not narrow, and always kind, never cruel. Purity, compassion and sunyata-wisdom are the factors which prolong life. I must emphasize that not only should the form of this Buddha be kept in mind and meditated upon, but also that it is necessary to develop in oneself the great virtues of Amitayus which are signified by his form.


Confucius also said. "For the man who is always beneficent, life will be very long." In Buddhism, too, we recognize bodhicitta as the prime factor for long life.


Part Two




As Mr. Chen's usual two visitors neared his door, they heard the sound of the vajra-bell, and they arrived at the door just as Mr. Chen opened it to invite his visitors in.


The writer's attention was attracted by the rosary held by Mr. Chen. It was rather short and the beads were broad and flat so he asked out of curiosity, "What is it made from?" "Human skull," was the yogi's reply, as he handed it to the writer. It then became clear how the rosary was made, rings of skull-bone of slightly irregular thickness and diameter were threaded together to make up the usual 108. Bhante said that these were quite common, adding that there was a young Tibetan in the area who specialized in anything connected with death. "He's very ghoul-like in this respect but certainly of good character and very religious. He is well known as an expert at digging things up. As soon as he hears of a funeral, he rushes off to see what can be saved. His room is full of bits of human bones, skulls, and some special relics of holy lamas."


This topic turned into a discussion on stupa-symbolism and Vajrayana practice and from there we very soon came to our opening section of this part of the chapter.


A. Meditations in the Third Initiation


There are two kinds to be considered here. One is for monks and the other for laymen.


The male bhiksu is obviously not able, by the nature of his precepts (the Vinaya) to use a physical dakini. For his practice, he visualizes a mind-made dakini and her embrace brings about the great pleasure which must be identified with the great void. The meditation is, in any case, the same in essence for the bhiksu or the layman; only the conditions are different. The layman can, of course, use a physical yogic partner if he wishes.


It must be as Milarepa said: "On pleasure meditate with sunyata; on sunyata meditate with pleasure." Sometimes when this yoga is practiced, these two factors are not experienced together. At times there is more pleasure, and at others, more concentration upon sunyata. But a good yogi will try to perfectly identify the two with each other (see our table below).





Four Anandas

Four Sunyatas

Four Cakras

Four Moments of Feeling









(transcendental bliss)


(vast voidness)



(elaborated reflex)


(wonderful bliss)


(great voidness)



(final response)


(simultaneously-born bliss)


(all voidness simultaneously wisdom)



(after consummation with awareness of all potentialities)



1. Why is the Heruka-Form Used?


The reasons for this are written in detail in Professor Guenther's book, The Tantric View of Life. Here we shall confine ourselves to some simple reasons.


Principally, the answer to our question is that inwardly, the female energy is the expedient force, while the corresponding male energy is the wisdom-force. The outer bodies are the reverse of this: The female body is associated with wisdom while the male represents the aspect of skillful means and compassion.


Mr. Chen said, "Female breasts and hips are attractive. Whatever is beautiful represents wisdom, for beauty and wisdom are both attractive. Contrasting with this, the female's inner energy represents expedient force, because of this, even a single touch-sensation by a man can result for him in seminal discharge. Even fainting can come about from contact with a powerful dakini.


The male is complementary, and though his outside aspect represents skillful means, his inner energy is the wisdom-force. This we see since the outer body is usually not beautiful, only the male organ being attractive, while the inner energy is quickly excited and easily leads to a discharge. This is because the wisdom-force energy acts abruptly if the male lacks strong patience to hold in the semen during the love action. Only through the median channel will this energy become true wisdom, and the way for it to pass is through the reproductive organ, called the "lower gate." The upper gate is the nose, and these two gates must be balanced: This results in true wisdom. In the act of love with the lower gate, one takes advantage of the female expedient energy. At that time the median channel is easy to open.


All this constitutes the main reason why the heruka form is used.


We should also note that the yogini will receive wisdom-energy from the male and in this way, through vajra-love, both help each other toward Perfect Enlightenment.


Mr. Chen then produced three sheets giving answers to the question, "What are the reasons why the highest Buddha-position can be attained by the practice of vajra-love?" These are the answers he gave to an American Buddhist:


a. When we receive the third initiation (wang), we have the right to practice vajra-love, and the reason for this is as follows:


First of all, everythingwhether good or evil by natureis voidness. Hinayana affirms the voidness of self but not that of dharmas. In the Lesser Vehicle, the stress is very much upon the keeping of the precepts both by the monks and by lay people. Within the monastic discipline of this vehicle, a man neither touches nor even looks upon a woman.


In the Mahayana, it is known that all dharmas are void and a lay follower of the Great Way may have contact with the female sex in the holy service of the Dharma and to save sentient beings. He may even go to a woman and satisfy her desires (providing he is not also a bhiksu) as a skillful means to save her. The Lord Gautama, in one of his past lives as a bodhisattva, used this method (see Ch. X, Part One, B, 2, a). Then, finally, in the Vajrayana there is a canonical discourse called the "Great Pleasure Vajra Sutra." It says that as everything is empty, worldly love also possesses the nature of sunyata. Whatever is sunyata, that also is pure. Everything is therefore pure, and everything includes desire or love, so this is also quite pure.


This is the reason according to the doctrine of sunyata.


b. Enlightenment is attained by the highest wisdom, which penetrates the lowest lust and subdues it. Nothing should be left outside this wisdom. If there remains something which cannot be subdued by wisdom, then this wisdom is not the final, perfect one.


c. The negative method of destroying lust is by following the way of lust and using it to destroy itself. For instance, when we see a robber, we should follow after him to seize him. If we want to get a tiger-cub, we must go to the tiger's cave. When we are poisoned, there are medicines which are themselves poison but are used as effective antidotes. As another instance, when we fall down we should take advantage of the support offered by the same earth to get up.


It is through lust that we acquire a human body. When we are in the intermediate state we see our future parents engaged in the love-action and, loving the mother, we find ourselves entering her womb, that is, if we are to become a man; a female will be jealous of the future mother and try to get the love of the human fatherand in the same way enter the mother's womb. Thus, we must understand that the cause of our unending transmigration is our own ignorance combined with the sorrow of desire.


Therefore, according to our examples, whether we want to continue as a human, become a heavenly person, or attain Buddhahood, we should in all cases take just this same way of lust.


To explain this apparent paradox, Mr. Chen spoke as follows:


Among non-Buddhists (in Taoism and Hinduism for instance), a divine love is emphasized, but this is not the vajra-love of Buddhism. If we follow precepts which forbid certain actions (as in the case of bhiksus and bhiksunis, who cannot have sexual intercourse), though this is good as far as it goes, still the seeds of lust lie in the eighth consciousness, and whenever they have a chance, they are sure to germinate. From the viewpoint of ultimate liberation, this way is not goodit is a way of repression. The Mahayana follower has a better way (but, we should note, it is founded upon initial practice of the Hinayana method). He is able to meditate upon lust and the love-action in sunyata. Thus, while he is engaged in this practice, no woman will be able to lure him. But when his sunyata concentration is disturbed, then the demon of lust may easily arise again. Thus we see that this too is not the way for its ultimate destruction. For this reason, there are in Vajrayana many mental and physical methods to actually enlarge the sorrow of lust and thus to finally destroy it. In practicing such methods, the more pleasure that the disciple experiences, the more he or she attains the meditation of the great voidness. According to the degree of pleasure derived from the practice of vajra-love, the more profound is one's knowledge of the void, and the better one's chance is to penetrate that lust and subdue it without any seeds remaining. That is why vajrayogini is so important. She is the mother who enables us to destroy the seeds of lustshe is truly called "Lust-destroying Mother."


Truly, we may say that when we escape from the attractions of a woman, it is only a temporary escape of lust. If we meet a woman in our own room when other persons are not present, a monk may still keep his precepts, but he does not enjoy the experience. In the case of an advanced yogi, would it not be better for him to enjoy the experience and use it, rather than escaping from it? When an advanced practitioner meets a woman with whom he may enjoy sexual intercourse, they can mutually help each other in union towards the highest goalBuddhahood. In this yogic enjoyment, neither can her love disturb our voidness meditation, nor can she take away our semen. Would this not be the best way for the destruction of lust?


Is there anything more distasteful or more full of affliction than sexual intercourse? The Vajrayana recognizes this fact and offers many methods in the position of consequence of Buddhahood. Everyone must take good note of this: Just as when one is sick then a doctor's advice is necessary, and as we are all sick with the poison of lust, the guru's instructions are not merely necessary, they are absolutely essential. A little poison taken without the advice of a physician may cause the patient to die; in the same way, trying out these methods without adequate preparation in the other yanas and the personal teaching direct from one's guru may cause one to die spirituallyit may cause one directly to know the meaning of the word "hell." But the poison administered by the wise doctor may cure our illness, and it is the same with the practices taught to us by our guru, who thus gives us the medicine to cure our sickness of lust. This is the way of the Buddha, the great Physician who cures us.


d. To untie the heart-knot and clear it of obstructions, the yogi must first practice vajra-breathing. For this practice he requires the help of a yogini.


The heart-cakra has many ties around it and the outside one is made by the all-pervading energy (Appendix I, Part One, A, 5, e). This all-pervading energy has its central point in the secret wheel. From this cakra the energy extends to the four limbs. It travels by way of the psychic channels and every additional channel-wave makes further accumulations around the heart-cakra. Thus, to open the heart-cakra, first untie the outside knot. The love-action, which opens the secret wheel and releases the all-pervading energy, can shake the heart-cakra and untie its outside knot until it has completely opened.


e. All the cakras must be opened by the wisdom-energy so that the median channel runs unobstructed through all the wheels. With the opening of each wheel, there is the attainment of a corresponding stage of the bodhisattvas' path to Buddhahood. If the lower gate is opened, the first and second stages are attained, while the opening of the second wheel corresponds to the third and fourth stages of the bodhisattva, and so on.


f. It is said by the Yellow Sect that the holy light of the Dharmadhatu will only appear upon the occasion of vajra-love but not also in the Great Perfection, as held by the Nyingmapas.


Mr. Chen afterwards gave a note on this matter. He said with a laugh, "It is very strange: The Gelugpas say that you must use a dakini for the holy light of the Dharmakaya to appear. But before one may practice in this way, they rightly stress that there are many, many preparations to make. Tsong-khapa stresses this very much but, we should note, he himself never practiced vajra-love, as he was a bhiksu. So really the Gelugpas never practice vajra-love at all; on the other hand, among the Nyingmapas (who allow two methods as we have related above), one finds many bad lay-lamas who pretend that their consorts are for this yoga, but actually they are just taking advantage of the teaching and enjoying their wives like ordinary men!"


g. Every good karma to save sentient beings is found upon the altar of the female reproductive organs. There is a very powerful and effective function of this altar. Why? Because every event is void in nature and is composed of the male-female function. All void things function by these principles: The yab (father) and the yum (mother).


In Tantric Buddhism:


Yab stands for the male, signifying great compassion and expedient means;


Yum stands for the female, symbolizing wisdom and the great voidness.


Concluding these reasons, Mr. Chen again warned all who might think of practicing these methods:


In this meditation, the most essential thing is the identification of pleasure and sunyata, and there is a most necessary warning which must indeed be heeded: If one has no attainment in the sunyata meditation, then one must not try to practice the third initiation methods.


Padmasambhava said: "My secret path is very dangerous; it is just like a snake in the bamboo, which, if it moves, must either go up or come down." There is no middle way here, either by this method one gains Full Enlightenment or else one falls straight into hell.


2. On Vajrayana Precepts:


"During the last few nights, said Mr. Chen, "I have had some special instructions in my dreams. My guru the Karmapa Rinpoche appeared, his room very full of fruits and flowers, some of which I offered him. Very clearly he said to me: 'You should present the Tantric precepts as they are explained in your book, not in the usual way of instruction in Tibet .'" (See Chenian Booklets Nos. 45-47.)


Mr. Chen produced a handsome silk-covered Chinese work, saying, "This is my bookthe one the Karmapa Rinpoche referred to. In it, all the precepts of the Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana on the subject of lust and love are collected and classified. This subject has never been discussed by the Tibetan writers but my Essays of Qu Gong Zhai (the book's title) have been very much praised by some Chinese. They described it as a very fragrant work since at the time of reading it they noticed a sweet perfume in the room. Also, when I was writing it I could smell this fragrance quite strongly." Said Mr. Chen, turning over its pages, "It is the beloved Manjusri Mahasattva who appears here on the frontispiece; the book is protected by Wei Tuo as wellhis picture guards the book's last pages."


"Alas! In the Tibetan anuttarayoga works which are translated into Chinese, such as some of the wang rituals, I have never seen anywhere mention of the fourteen Vajrayana precepts. This is strange," said Mr. Chen. "Only the Mahayana precepts have been emphasized and gurus instruct their disciples to learn and practice these, but do not advise them regarding the Vajrayana silas, although these are extremely important."


a. The fourteen Vajrayana precepts. In our homage, one of the five great vajra-herukas is called "Secret-Accumulation Vajra" and his ritual is one of the anuttarayoga practices now known by the Chinese. But in connection with this, the Vinaya (Hinayana) and the bodhisattva silas (Mahayana) are spoken of, but nothing is said about the fourteen silas of the Adamantine Vehicle. It is just the same in other Chinese worksthey are all silent about the esoteric precepts. Even in the Ngag-rim of the Yellow Sect, these are not discussed. I managed to read about the tradition of these silas and then afterwards got them as a special instruction from my Gelugpa guru. But at that time I had not yet obtained the third initiation so he only bestowed upon me the transmission of the precepts but not their real explanation.


"In China ," said the yogi, "the Tantric gurus mostly cannot get the anuttarayoga initiations, so they merely impart the silas without any comment on their meaning. I finally got the meanings explained to me, not upon the occasion of a wang, but specially by the Karmapa Rinpoche."


Why are these precepts neither written in Tsong-khapa's book nor explained upon the occasions of Tantric initiation? This is because the fourteen are mostly concerned with the identification of sunyata and pleasure; because it would be necessary to mention the details of vajra-love, these precepts are kept secret.


If a rinpoche is also a great scholar, he may be able to give other explanations, but it does happen that disciples are told the words of the precepts, but not their meanings. For instance, one sila, the fifth one, says: "You should not lose your bodhicitta." This, however, does not mean the common bodhicitta of the Mahayana. It is the fifth precept and this has a secret meaning; the proper explanation is: "You should not discharge your semen." Even if scholars are learned, they will seldom give the hidden meanings.


To take another example, the ninth precept states: "You should not doubt the purified Dharma." Purification in the Hinayana and sublimation in the Mahayana has long passed, so what does that precept mean? The sorrow of lust has been purified by the Lesser Vehicle practices, where the opposite sex is thought of as very dangerous and one's own physical body is analyzed to see the nature of the thirty-six corrupt parts (see Ch. IX, E, 1, a, i). Following this comes the attainment of a meditative body and its subsequent sublimation in sunyata, so it is no longer a flesh body. Further, the physical body (realized as sunyata in the Mahayana), becomes transmuted in the Tantra of the growing yoga (see Ch. XIII, Part One, D), when one attains a Buddha-body. This body, purified and with an opened median channel, is the body used in vajra-love. In this initiation even the name "penis" is not given to the reproductive organ; it is called a "vajra." The practices of yoga, therefore, do not resemble human love, one other important difference being that in Tantra the semen is retained.


Mr. Chen then recapitulated:


From the Hinayana meditations, we come to the Mahayana, when the human organ becomes sunyata. From sunyata meditations, one passes on to the five wisdoms and the five elements, forming the vajra. This vajra, which is not at all like the ordinary human organ, may then enter the lotus of the dakini, and at that time one's power of meditation must be maintained. If one cannot maintain the spiritual power during vajra-love, then whatever is done at that time is not this meditation.


These are the various reasons why this practice is called a holy and "purified Dharma," and this, according to the precept, we "should not doubt."


b. The eight precepts. This second group of Tantric silas also are not often discussed in Tibet , and for the same reason, as they concern vajra-love. To break these is not so serious that one will go straight to hell as a result, which is the case with the fourteen precepts. (The latter, if broken, send one to the vajra-hell, from which one can hardly ever return to more pleasant states).


Outwardly, the eight precepts may not seem connected with our subject, but their inner meaning relates to this third initiation. For instance, one of the precepts reads: "If a person with faith asks you a question about the Dharma and you refuse to reply or tell the questioner not to ask, then this is a great sin." In this precept, the request seems just to concern the Dharma and nothing particular is said about the Dharma of vajra-love. That the question in the precept really refers to this, is kept secret. Sometimes this is so great a secret that even certain gurus do not know the true meaning here.


c. When one may and may not practice.


"I am sorry to say," said Mr. Chen, "that I do not know Tibetan very well and that many Tibetan gurus were not proficient in Chinese. My translator for discussing these matters with my teachers was a young bhiksu, so for this reason alone they would not discuss third initiation. He replied, 'If you can practice this vajra-love yoga without any leak (discharge) occurring, you can go to any woman.' So in Tibet , I took some vajra-women, but after trying hard to practice this yoga with them, after some time I found I got no results from it."


"I came to the conclusion that first one should study and practice all the other yanas and yogas very deeply. Only after this would one be able to take up these methods with success."


"Furthermore, only after I had tried to practice vajra-love did I discover the twelve kinds of discharge, so that my guru's advice was quite correct, but unfortunately at first I did not realize that the word 'discharge' had so many meanings. In my book, I have collected together from many sources all the twelve meanings of this term. As far as I know," said Mr. Chen, "there is no other place where they are all found together."


The first four kinds of discharge pertain to the body, where energy leaks in these four ways: As discharge of semen through the seminal duct, as exhalations through the mouth, as perspiration through the pores of the skin, and as urine through the urethra. These are called the "four leaks of the body."


The four leaks of the mind. During vajra-love, if a mind arises dominated by human love, then this is the first mind-leak. Not only does a thought of human love constitute a leak, but also the slightest lustful craving (trsna). Third, if avidya (ignorance) rules the mind, this is a leak. Lastly, if false views condition one's ways of thinking, this is a serious leak of the mind.


How can one accomplish meditation so successfully that these four leaks cannot occur? It seems almost impossible! It means that first one must have attained success in sunyata meditations. If there is no sunyata attainment, then these four, in particular, very easily leak. A Kargyupa treatise discusses these a little, and on this subject it is better than the Ngag-rim, but it was not my fortune to see the former before I began the third initiation practices.


Four leaks remain and these concern energy and, therefore, speech. In Tantric philosophy, speech always corresponds to breath and inner energy mixed.


Mr. Chen now described the five kinds of inner energy (prana) and their four leakages:


Upward-moving energy: If one talks of love with a dakini during one's yogic love practice, then this energy is leaked away. It is not good to talk; the whole vajra-love process should be carried out in silence.


Downward-moving energy: This concerns the vajra-love action of penetration and withdrawal. The rhythm should be slow and the penetration sometimes deep and sometimes shallow, not always quick and deep like that of the common lustful person. If one practices only quick and deep action, then this is a leak of the downward-moving energy.


Energy of the navel: This energy abides in the lower half of the body. If one frequently changes the posture for vajra-loveand there are many different positions for its practicethen this energy is leaked away.


All-pervading energy of the body; in yogic love-practice, there are four events: The descent of the pleasure, retaining the semen, taking up the semen, and making the semen pervade everywhere in the body. If one practices too long and repeats some of these steps again and again, then a leak will occur of this all-pervading energy. One should only meditate on sunyata during the whole process, and there is no need to repeat its parts.


"These four leaks of energy-speech are my own opinion," said the yogi, "and although there is no basis for them in the works of the ancients, still they are quite reasonable."


This completes the twelve leaks, but there is yet another energy. The fifth energy never leaks away during yogic love; otherwise one would die from it, for this energy is the very life energy (jivitendriya) itself. If it were easily leaked, then it would also be easy for people to die, but, for most people, death is not so easy.


"Since my experiences in Tibet , I have not dared to practice vajra-love meditation, for two reasons: First, I fear that one or more of the leaks might still occur, and second, I have met no dakini. My sunyata meditation is still not perfect; I have tried but it is still not completely accomplished," said the yogi. He went on: "The mental leaks are very subtle and I am not yet able to control the process without lust arising. As it is very easy to fall because of that, I should not and do not practice these methods. To think of it! When I did practice, I knew only one out of these twelve."


d. Classification of precepts


"I have made a list here of all these various precepts," said Mr. Chen picking up his book."


There are eight precepts drawn from the Hinayana and fourteen from the Mahayana. In the Tantra, there are also fourteen plus eight. To these we add the twelve leaks, plus the precepts of the five Buddhas and their dakinisaltogether then more. Finally, there are four precepts of the Dharmakaya in Chan which are also found in the teaching of mahamudra. (See Chenian Booklet No. 47.) Altogether in this book, then, there are a grand total of 70 precepts from the different yanas.


"I have classified them according to yanas and then dealt with each precept under four different headings." Mr. Chen showed his book to the listener and writer. Along the top line were written the original precepts. The second row of characters contained, he said, accounts of those who had actually practiced. Then followed the real meanings of the preceptual words"We shall only talk about a few instances from this line," the yogi said. "The fourth line shows very clearly how the precept of the first line may be broken."


In this way, the contrast between actions in the different yanas is clearly brought out. There is no actual contradiction among them, for all the precepts emphasize right conduct, but the meaning of this differs on the various levels.


For example, a Hinayana precept states: "Even though you are a layman, you should not have sexual intercourse at the wrong time or in the wrong place." Now all the yogi's conduct in the Vajrayana is meditation, he or she never leaves it either by day or by night, practicing diligently in action. Thus, for the yogi practicing vajra-love, there is no wrong time and no wrong place. According to the eight Vajrayana precepts, meetings of yogis and yoginis for the purpose of worship and making offerings should be conducted decorously, with no squabbling between them. Such gatherings take place in a temple, and, according to the Hinayana precept, that would undoubtedly be a "wrong place." In the Vajrayana, however, it is quite in orderprovided that the union is carried out in the correct yogic manner. There seems to be a contradiction but really there is none; it is just an instance of the relativity of conduct: What is good sila in one yana may be quite the reverse in another.


Now we should examine more clearly the true meanings of these as for meditationfor this is our subject. If one has no doubt about this purified Dharma, then, as we have explained, one should diligently practice it. However, and this cannot be said too many times, one must accompany one's actions with sunyata meditation and completely identify this with whatever pleasure arises. A right dharma, which is not an act of lust, may be done at any time. One may therefore perform vajra-love at the holy Tantric altar.


This precept is broken if one makes love in a human way, lacking purification and skill in sunyata. It is also broken if the Holy Pride of Buddhahood is not present all the time. Even if the time and place are both auspicious, but the dharmas have not been purified and lust dominates one's practice, then still the precept is broken.


Let us take another example, this time from the Mahayana. In the bodhisattva silas, it says: "Neither hurt your enemies nor love your friends." But the yogi practicing the third initiation is bound to love his friends (the dakinis). How is it, then, that he does not break this Mahayana precept? In the yogi's meditation, love has already been identified with sunyata and is therefore not common, human love. As his love is not selfish or human, the precept is not broken.


On the other hand, common persons who try to practice vajra-love lack the absolutely essential basis of sunyata-realization. They have never tried practicing the three wheels of sunyata (see Ch. X, Part One, D, 3, b): Their application here would be to thoroughly understand the voidness of the yogi, the voidness of the dakini, and the void-nature of the whole vajra-love process. Because they have not understood these aspects of voidness, they are called "common persons." Because they are common persons, they are still full of lust. Because they are still full of lust, they break this precept by having selfish love for friends.


In my book every precept on the subject is examined thus. Having seen apparent contradictions between the Vajrayana spirit and the words of precepts in the two lower yanas, we now examine a case where two Tantric precepts appear to clash.


One, the thirteenth, says: "If you do not obey the command of your guru to practice the rites of the third initiation when he orders, then this precept is broken."


On the other hand, that precept seems to be contradicted by the fifth among the fourteen: "If you lose your bodhicitta then this precept is broken."


Suppose that one practices in accordance with the guru's instruction but is unable to prevent a dischargethen the fifth will be broken. When this meditation is practiced properly, a discharge will not occur, but if semen is lost, one should not go to the guru and say, "Oh, this is a very bad meditation!" One should speak to the teacher in this way: "First permit me to make very good foundations and when these are strong, then I shall practice. Please wait! I shall aim at attainment after the conditions for it are fulfilled." In this way neither of the precepts is broken; indeed, both may be perfectly observed.


Another group of precepts is found in the teaching of mahamudra, where there are four laws of nature which are not very widely known:


First, one should not hold on the truth too tightlythis corresponds to realization of sunyata, to non-reality.

Second, keep the mind always as vast as the Dharmakaya.

Third, be alonethis is the nature of the Dharmakaya.

Fourth, always maintain a natural mind; no force is needed.


These four are very hard to keep without a realization of the Dharmakaya. In mahamudra they are explained in this way, but their correspondences with vajra-love are never mentioned.


e. The act of vajra-love. These sections correspond with the four mahamudra precepts given above.


First, if the semen is lost during the act of vajra-love one should meditate upon its non-reality. If great pleasure results from the act, then this pleasure must be identified with non-reality.


"The meditations in this section are all within the third initiation, but this process belongs to the fourth, as we shall see. How can a meditator be expected to keep this precept? Retaining the semen during the sunyata meditation may lead on to the practice of the fourth initiation; if it is lost, the precept is not in this case broken, though the practice is not good."


Second, hold the semen in the organ. To do this, one must maintain a samapatti upon the vastness of the sky. If one can do this, the meditator will avoid seminal discharge and any of the reproductive organs. The samapatti under these conditions will cause the semen to dissolve.


Third, take the semen up, identifying pleasure and sunyata. This state of non-dualism fulfills the meaning of "alone" in the third mahamudra precept.


Fourth, the semen should then be made to pervade the whole body; this must be done naturally and without force so that the fourth precept is not broken.


"I have given only selections from the different precepts (together with their interpretations), for," said Mr. Chen, turning over many pages of his book, "there is no room to deal with them all here." He said humbly, "I have gathered them together and earnestly tried to practice them, but I tearfully confess that in most people's practice, breaches of the precepts are often committed."


"In Tibet , the books on meditation do not discuss, as we have pointed out, the fourteen Tantric precepts. In a dream last night, a protector deity came to me and asked, 'What are the fourteen precepts?' If even Tantric deities do not know these, then how dangerous can ignorance be in the West, where few books on the Tantra have been published. In these, passages from Tantric texts, such as the famous line condoning the use of any woman, whether mother, sister, or daughter, as a dakini are sometimes quoted. Without understanding the context in which such lines occur, or their hidden meaning, such publications can bring great danger to the Dharma. Hence, in this section on the Vajrayana, we have from the start very strongly emphasized the importance of the guru-disciple relationship, and also the neglected Vajrayana precepts."


"However, we repeat, if a person receives the third initiation from his guru and is well-prepared by his previous training in the other yogas and yanas, then there will be no danger for him."


"However," the yogi warned very seriously, "if one performs vajra-love without the necessary initiations and preparations, then one will fall straight into hell!"


There are many practical methods for the third initiation, but here we will only give the main principles, that is, the perfect identification of the four pleasures with the four wisdoms. The practical methods themselves must be obtained from a guru.


3. The Four Sunyatas in the Vajrayana


The meaning of sunyata in the Mahayana and that in the Vajrayana are quite different, though in "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines," they are listed by the editor as though the two were comparable. They differ just as the idea of sunyata in the Hinayana and the Mahayana differs. Evans-Wentz has stated (p.206) that the third degree of sunyata in the Vajrayana (all-voidness) is equivalent to the thirteenth voidness (the sunyata of phenomena) in the Mahayana list of eighteen. We should not be confused by their names, thinking that because those seem similar, that they actually represent the same reality. His equation is not correct, for Mahayana sunyata, as we have seen, lays more stress upon mentality, lacking a balancing emphasis on materiality. On the other hand, the four sunyatas of the Tantra concern the heavy sorrows of the five poisons and the material elements.


Mahayana samapatti of sunyata is done while sitting quietly engaged in mental practice; Vajrayana samapattis of sunyata may be practiced during the vajra-love act when excitation is of physical forces great. It is when the semen is actually being secreted that it is necessary to attain and hold these four sunyatas.


Summing this up, the yogi said:


In all three yanas there is the same sunyata, but Hinayana doctrine retains the notion of small particles, while the Mahayana concentrates on meditating with the mind. How these contrast with active Tantric meditation when mentality and materiality are blended!


4. Lines from the Ode, "Always Remember"


I wrote this long poem at the request of some friends. A person we knew had meditated for 100 days without any positive results and, disheartened, had gone away. The poem was requested as some good advice for him. After it had been printed in Hong Kong , many people read it, including my friend. He appreciated its whole message, though here we have space only for a few lines.


Mr. Chen then translated his poem, giving between the lines his own commentary, here placed in parentheses.


"Tantric Vinaya is like keeping precepts in the breaking of them."


(In Hinayana, the precepts are used as an escape from non-virtue; one "hides away" in sunyata in the Mahayana; but in the Vajrayana, one tries to keep the precepts while breaking them. This is very difficult, and can be done only after keeping the precepts pure in the other two yanas.)


"Tantric samatha is like getting life from death."


(The deeper one enters ordinary samatha, the more like death the state of the yogi becomes. But in Vajrayana, samatha is like the most vivid life, for one obtains some functional salvation from this highest samatha. In the concluding sections of the chapters on the yanas of cause, I have given a guide for the yogi's practice. However, I do not give one for the highest Tantra because here, one is always meditatingat every time, in every place. Wherever one happens to be is the mandala; whatever words one utters, these are the mantric syllables. As to the mind, bodhicitta is constantly present. In dream, sleep, work, or exercise, the meditation must be maintained. Therefore, there is no need to give a schedule because this meditation is in the position of consequence.)


"Tantric wisdom uses the position of consequence as the position of cause."


(Here one uses the wisdom of the final truth as one's instrument, and from this some functional salvation is reached. Tantric methods are always in the position of Buddhahood. It is quite different from Mahayana, in which sunyata seems to be the end of all things. In the Tantra, both the mental and material are integrated causes of salvation.)


The last line of the poem reads:


"If a little mistake is made, one will fall into hell. Always remember this."


5. Conclusion


If one has already passed through and accomplished the previous yanas' meditation, then there will be no danger in the practice of the third initiation. Here we have outlined the principles; it is necessary to get the actual details from a personal teacher.


B. Meditations of the Fourth Initiation


There are two sections here, the first dealing with the main meditation and the second with its subsidiary practices.


1. The main practice is called: "Meditation of the identification of the maya-body and the holy light."


When the third initiation meditation has been accomplished, both the median channel and the heart-wheel will have opened, as we have seen. In the heart wheel the body of wisdom is formed by identifying wisdom-energy with mind. This is called the maya-body and is the source of the sambhogakaya.


With the help of the dakini in the third initiation, the yogi forms this maya-body, which is certainly not a body of flesh but (as its name suggests), it is a magical body, capable of being expanded or contracted without limit. Now, this maya-body must be identified with the holy light of the Dharmakaya.


An accomplished guru will know when this holy light has become manifest to a third initiation disciple, and he will explain the significance of the experience. This is the initiation of the actual Dharmakaya of truth.


As to the ritual of this initiation, what occurs is that during the act of vajra-love, the holy light appears between the vajra and the lotus (the male and female reproductive organs). At that time it should be observed and explained. If the third initiation practice is not accomplished, then the experience of the Dharmakaya initiation, witnessing the holy light, cannot arise.


However, if this were the only way, then the fourth initiation could never be experienced by bhiksus, as they do not use a noble consort. For them there is another way: A bhiksu who has well practiced the first and second initiation and established his realization of sunyata, can skip over the third initiation with its dakini practice and directly meditate on the holy light. This view is held to by the Nyingmapa, Sakyapa, and Kagyupa schools, though the Gelugpa say that one must practice the third before the fourth initiation. We need a concentrated chapter to discuss the mahamudra special practices of the fourth initiation.


Here ends the account of the main meditations in all four initiations of the anuttarayoga Tantra. Now we add some material on the subsidiary practices.


2. Subsidiary Meditations


We do indeed thank Evans-Wentz for his very valuable works and the six meditations he describes in themthough we have only talked about one. Now we shall choose from those which remain and our readers will see why these have been selected.


a. Dream. Before going to sleep, one should practice the sunyata meditations (see Ch. X, Part One, D). From this practice will come the holy light, a state of meditation without thoughts or disturbance from dreams; a perfectly still sunyata experience.


Then one should try to receive a dream, and when one is obtained, it must be recognized as a dream while still dreaming. After this one should learn to transform one's dreams at will while dreaming, and finally to fly in the dream-state to the Pure Land .


Why have we taken the dream-doctrine first? We have already meditated before sleeping on the six similes of sunyata, in the last one of which, voidness is likened to a dream (see Ch. X, Part One, D, 2, a). With a basis of this practice, upon meeting with dreams, one can learn to recognize them as dreams.


Beyond the sunyata meditations, there are some Tantric methods. Visualize a red A in the throat-wheel. The redness of the bija causes blood to flow plentifully in that region, resulting in strong pulsations affecting the psychic channels, which at that point easily vibrate. A itself, as mentioned before, signifies sunyata. Further, the two arteries to the left and right of the windpipe may be pressed, resulting in the experience of many dreams.


Readers may see more on this method in Evans-Wentz's "Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines," where it is given in his Book III, Chapter III.


b. Bardo: The intermediate state. This has three stages of practice with light: White, black, and red.


The whole practice is detailed in a Nyingma book, the Bardo Thodol (also edited by Evans-Wentz as The Tibetan Book of the Dead). During life one should read this over and become familiar with its contents. There is no need to practice specially its mandalas, etc., provided that the main practices which we have detailed are carried out. Then, at the time of death, one should be quite prepared, and with the aid of a good lama to read the book aloud while one is dying (to give additional guidance) one will certainly attain liberation.


c. Phowa: Transference of consciousness. This may be practiced if the median channel is clear and the red and white bodhicitta practice accomplished. Simply meditate upon the essence of the five elements and the five wisdoms and gather these together in one point, in the heart-wheel. Then utter HI. This will cause the essence to be sent out through the Buddha-hole in the crown of the head to the wisdom-Buddha visualized on the head. This hole is to be carefully distinguished from the Brahma-randhra, used in Tantric Hinduism, which is four fingers' widths from the forehead back along the skull and is usually marked by a slight transverse depression. It is the intersection of two of the skull-bones.


Mr. Chen fetched his ritual silver-lined human skull cup to show us these positions.


The Buddha-hole lies four fingers further back and is, in many people, marked by a slight circular depression. If the consciousness leaves the Brahma-hole, one may go to heaven; whereas if it leaves from the Buddha-hole, one gains complete liberation.


On another occasion, Mr. Chen told a story about this meditation. He said, "When I was in China , I was working away from my house and wife as a college professor of classical Chinese. Then I received a summons from my guru to lecture at the newly established Chinese Buddhist Academy . As this work would also take me from home, though to a different place, I thought it only right to return to my wife and spend a short time with her. There were only seven days before the Academy opened, so I felt our time together should be used to the best possible advantage."


"Now, at that time, I had already practiced the phowa techniques and obtained success in them, but my wife had not yet practiced this meditation. It seemed to us that it would be a good thing if she could obtain realization of consciousness-transference, for then she might help our parents attain a good rebirth, in case they should die while I was away."


"Therefore, she began to meditate in seclusion in a room of our house. While this practice was going on, my wife did not engage in or talk about household matters. Indeed, the only time when she spoke at all was when we had gone to bed, and then only about the meditation she was performing."


"Upon the table in her meditation room we had constructed the mandala for phowa practice. As we had no real jewels, some imitation stones were used. On the fourth day, as she uttered the HI, one of these stones jumped up out of the mandala, rose a foot or so, and fell back into place. She told me that night of her experience. I said, 'Good, good. It means you will attain success in your practice!'"


"The next day, when she again uttered HI, she felt some pain in the top of the skull. When she showed this to me, I saw that the region of the Buddha-hole was swollen, and that some blood was issuing out. Knowing the extent of her practice and seeing these signs, I knew that in only five days she had achieved signs of proficiency in this method for the transference of consciousness."


"During the remainder of the time, she practiced the meditations to give long life, for this is the customary precaution after opening the Buddha-hole. Unless this is done, the yogi may die prematurely before many beings have been benefited by his functions of Buddhahood."


"Later, while I was in Tibet , my wife did indeed help my parents to a better rebirth at the time of their death. Although I was then thousands of miles away, my aged mother declared that she saw me quite clearly and refused to believe that I was not present. Thus calmly and collectedly repeating the mantra of Avalokitesvara, she passed away, with my wife helping in the process of consciousness-transference."


Some books have said that if there are only three signs then it is an undoubted sign of success in phowa practice. These signs are: Swelling of the area around the Buddha-hole, the opening of the bones at this point so that a blade of grass can be inserted, and the emission of a little blood from the same place. However, I do not agree, for these are but outward signs and we should certainly judge according to inward realization. For the latter, there are four conditions:


First, the visualization of the Buddha on the head must have been perfectly accomplished.


Second, the median channel must be open; otherwise there is no clear way out of the Buddha-hole. Only through a median channel free of obstacles can the departing continuity of consciousness realize the Dharmakaya and pass into the Pure Land .


Third, when the syllable HI is uttered, it must contain the gathered forces from the wisdom-energy. By the force of this wisdom-energy sound, one may go to the Pure Land . If the syllable is merely said as an ordinary word, unrelated to the wisdom-energy, then this will not be effective in taking a person there.


Fourth, all the elements and wisdom which are to be sent out must be gathered at the wisdom-point in the heart. After this, one may experience death, or have the feeling of death.


"I have had such an experience," related Mr. Chen. "I had this feeling and I immediately concentrated on the tips of my fingers, so as to disperse these gathered forces, and this restored me to life."


"I have written a long essay on this subject according to the three outward signs and, in addition, thoroughly expounding these four inward conditions. This work, too, has been published in Hong Kong , and after reading it, they assumed that all would be well with them according to their attainment of the outer signs; but now they know that it is foolishness to completely trust such things. Although many books do not mention the above four, still they are not my own ideas and are surely in accordance with the previous practice."


Finally, among the six doctrines, two have so far not been described. Why do we not talk more about the clear-light and maya-body? Outwardly, the maya-body is included in the first initiation growing yoga, while inwardly it is the wisdom-Buddha in the heart, practiced in the second and third initiation meditations. As for the light practices, we are concerned with it in all the other five doctrines. So we have no need to further discuss these two matters.


A little more discussion is necessary, however, to show how the four sorrows of the Hinayana meditations have developed in the Vajrayana:


In the third initiationGreat Lust (vajra-love) is developed.

In the sleeping-yogaGreat Ignorance is developed (ignorance and sleep are akin).

When the yidam is wrathfulGreat Wrath is developed.

In the growing-yoga of the first initiationGreat Pride is developed.


What remains? Great Doubt; this we shall treat in the chapter on Chan.


In the Tibetan Tantric practices, thus, we see that there are correspondences with the first four Hinayana poisons. In Chan (and in mahamudra, which is its equivalent), there is a correspondence with the Great Doubt as well, as we shall see. Readers should refer to our diagrams (see the one in Ch. IX and those two in Ch. X, Part Two).


"Finished!" said Mr. Chen.


Some readers may find themselves rather dizzy at these rarefied heights of attainment. To return us to this world, before we close Bhante told two anecdotes which, while they are related to our most serious subject, still made us all laugh. He said, "Do you know, Mr. Chen, a Nyingmapa friend once told me that he had received a wang in Lhasa which was so high that it was said to confer instant Enlightenment. But, sad to say, after taking it, he remained unenlightened!"


"And again, others tell stories that some Nyingmapa wangs are of such an exalted nature that one may transmit them to others, without practicing them oneself!"




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