Meditations To Transform the Mind

The following article is from the Summer, 1999 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.


translated, edited and introduced by Glenn H. Mullin

257 pp., METRMI $16.95

inspiringof immense importance to all the major Tibetan Buddhist sects.Prof. Janice D. Willis, Wesleyan University

The Seventh Dalai Lama is often considered to be one of the greatest of the early Dalai Lamas. He wrote extensive commentaries on the Tantras, and over a thousand mystical poems and prayers. His Meditations to Transform the Mind is a highly valued collection of spiritual advice for taming and developing the mind. These inspired writings are an outpouring of Himalayan spirituality, a unique presentation that appeals to the heart as well as head.

The Seventh Dalai Lama's rich spiritual writings are direct and arresting, giving clear advice on the essence of Buddhist practice. In this book, Glenn Mullin provides valuable and fascinating introductions to each piece, making them even more accessible. Also included is a biography of the Seventh Dalai Lama.

Glenn H. Mullin is a member of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives Research and Translation Bureau. He lived in the Himalayas from 1972 to 1984, where he studied tantric Buddhism under numerous Tibetan masters. A renowned author and Tibetologist, he has lectured and conducted workshops throughout the world, and has published over a dozen books on Tibetan Buddhism.

The following excerpt from the book is a song which the Seventh Dalai Lama wrote at the request of one of his disciples, Changkya Rinpochey, better known as the third incarnation of the Changkya Tulku. As author Glenn Mullin points out in the introduction to this section, the song is very tantric in nature, and therefore makes use of a specialized and esoteric language. I suspect that some of it will float over the heads of non-initiates. Nonetheless, as the Tibetan saying goes, If you don't have any teeth, at least you can work on it with your gums.' For those with a background in tantric literature it perhaps will be appreciated as one of the most profound and powerful pieces in the volume.

Song of the Tantric Path

Homage to Jey Rinpochey, a second Buddha,

Manifestation of Vajradhara, lord of all buddhas,

In whose body reside the awakened ones past, present, and future,

As well as their retinues and buddhafields.

Homage to the feet of my own root guru,

Who is in true nature inseparably one with Father-Mother Heruka,

The wheel composed of all objects of knowledge,

Whose essence is great bliss, clear as the autumn sky.

In the hands of one's spiritual master

Lie the roots of every mystical experience.

All happiness and suffering from now until enlightenment

Are his responsibility alone.

See the physical world as the guru's body;

Take sounds as the guru's teachings;

Mix thoughts and memories with his bliss and insight;

Rely on this practice, king of all paths.

Fortunate are they who meet with the doctrine

Of all-kind incomparable Tsongkhapa,

Who showed as precepts all sutras and tantras.

Fortunate indeedan opportunity obtained but once.

Yet breath, like mist, is delicate;

And life, seemingly strong, is ever near to passing.

Quickly pluck the essence of Dharma,

For definite it is you will die at the hands of the great enemy Death.

Have not the three doors stood open to negativity?

Then the inconceivable misery of the lower realms

Certainly will fall upon you,

And, if still weak, you will not be able to bear them.

Some look, and see; in the innermost way they turn

To a guru-deva, an embodiment of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

With attentive concentration they focus

On cultivating the white and dispersing the black.

Reveling in objects of greed and attachment

Is drinking poison mistaken for nectar.

The luxuries, securities, and comforts of the world

Are like dramas enjoyed in a dream.

No lasting happiness can be found

In any samsaric position,

And how foolish to sit complacent

In a hole filled with misery.

Turn the horse of the mind upward,

Rein him with the three higher trainings,

Strike him with the iron whip of fierce effort,

And cut unto the open road of liberation.

All beings, mothers who lovingly have nurtured us,

Are floundering in the seas of confusion.

The son who cares not for their anguish,

Are the waters of his heart not bitter?

Wholly discarding selfish thoughts,

Hold close the ways that better the world

And strive to live the six perfections

That yield buddhahood, ultimate benefit for all.

Sever the mind from chaotic wandering;

Fix it firmly on its object with mindfulness.

Without falling prey to agitation or dullness,

Train in meditation blissful and clear.

The manifold things we perceive

Are deceptive projections of deluded thought.

When we search for their ultimate essence,

Emptiness free of an essence appears.

The things that manifest also fade

And only footprints of names remain;

The other side of this is called dependent arising.

What else need be known?

The teachings of Nagarjuna and his disciples

Aryadeva, Buddhapalita, and Chandrakirti

Were thus by Jey Rinpochey understood

A most wondrous view free from extremes.

Having first trained in these foundation practices,

Seek out a tantric master, embodiment of Buddha Vajradhara,

Lord of the Paradise Beneath None;

Gain the four ripening initiations

And enter into the mystic circle.

The body transforms into a great vajra-mandala,

And, in the inconceivable mansion of joyful repose,

The real deitythe subtle mind held between the

Kiss of the male and female drops

Manifests as the blood-swilling Father-Mother.

The dakas and dakinis dance a blissful dance

In the mystic channels and secret drops;

Mundane perception is severed from consciousness

And all emanations become ultimately pure.

Visualize yourself as Heruka with consort,

Luminous yet void, body empty,

Energy channels of three qualities vibrating within.

At your heart a Dharma wheel with eight petals

Bears the indestructible drop in the form of HUM

Between the sun of method and the moon of wisdom.

Mind firm on this, tremulous misconceptions are cut,

And the clear light, sheer as the autumn sky, arises.

The outer consort, in nature fire,

Melts the life-drops that course

Through the 72,000 channels,

Bringing them into the central channel,

Giving rise to the four ineffable joys.

Outside, all sensory movement of mind and energy ceases;

Inside, mundane views, ignorance, and darkness disperse.

Thus by yoga even sleep is transformed

Into the nature of Dharmakaya's clear light.

By cultivating these yogic methods,

We can in general see through all distorted appearances

And in particular know the body as dreamlike,

Thus building the dancing form of an endowed deity

And maintaining the according emanations.

By mentally reciting the secret mantras of the vajra dharmas

Of entering, resting, and dispersing energy at the heart

While controlling the life-drop made of five clear essences,

The knots of ignorance are easily untied.

The tip of the vajra is placed firmly in the lotus

And mind as the syllable HUM is brought into the central channel;

One drinks and drinks the essence of nectars

And goes mad with innate joy unmoving.

By thus settling the mind in the subtle vajra letter

And bringing the drop to the four chakras and sensory gates,

One directly sees all aesthetic objects

Found throughout the three worlds.

Thus one opens the windows of the six miraculous powers,

Sees the faces of innumerable deities,

Masters the meanings of the words of the teachings

And gains the delightful company of an immortal lover.

In the tip of the vajra between the eyebrows,

The light of the sun, moon, and stars swirls in the drop.

By bringing mind and energy to that point,

The white bodhimind is forever increased.

Then with the fine brush of samadhi paint

A masterpiece incorporating all beauties of life,

One gains the aid of a fully qualified consort

And one's experience of the blisses blazes higher and higher.

Mind fixed on the bliss and mudra of the consort,

A rain of innate joy pours down.

Again and again seducing the beautiful one,

Symbol of the mind embracing reality itself,

One melts into the sphere of spontaneous bliss.

From the center of the navel chakra where meet the three energy channels,

Shine lights from white and red pyramids.

Looking through the nucleus of five drops therein,

The mind's nature is seen as five buddhas.

White and yellow energies shape into a vase

And the all-destroying fire rages.

The letters AH and HAM flare, fall, and vibrate,

Transporting one to the end of the primordial path of great bliss and wisdom combined.

Lights from the mystic fire flash into the hundred directions,

Summoning the blessings of buddhas boundless as space.

Once again the five natures of mind arise as sounds,

Releasing a rain of ambrosial knowledge.

The apparitions of people and things

Dissolve into light, and the waves

Of misconception are stilled.

No longer is the radiance of clear light obscured.

Even post-meditation mind maintains immaculate view.

In the sphere of semblant and innate Mahamudra,

Empty images appear as rainbows.

Flawless method emanates phantom circles,

Erecting the perfect mandala of deities and abodes.

The illusory body merges with clear light

Like clouds dissolving into space.

The fires of innate wisdom arise

And consume the seed of grasping for self.

This great union of the radiant vajra body

With the vast clear light of mind

Is called the samadhi moving magnificently,

A stage not touched by the ordinary intellect.

This consciousness, purified of all transient stains,

Gazes clearly and directly at the sphere of truth.

Like a magic gem it manifests the Beatific Body

Of Heruka Chakrasamvara for the sake of others

And sends out countless emanations,

Each in accord with the needs of the world.

Thus in this age of short life span,

Buddhahood is swiftly and easily attained

By turning lust for sensual objects

Toward the friend who instills great bliss.

Think: By studying, contemplating, and meditating

Upon the flawless Vajrayana teachings,

The highest path, the esoteric way of all tantric adepts of the past,

May I in this very lifetime attain with ease

That point most peerless and supreme.

And if in this life ultimate power is not foimd,

At my death may the dakas and dakinis protect me

And lead to the rainbow palace of Vajrayogini

In the pure land Kajou Shing, there to enjoy clouds of transcendent offerings.

May I and all practitioners of this tantra

Soon complete the esoteric path of secrets

And, within ourselves ever perfecting the practices

Of the sutras and tantras taught by the Buddha,

May we master this mysterious way.

Until then, may the mighty dakas and dakinis

Who dwell in the twenty-four Heruka grounds

Care for us in every time and situation

As a mother watches over her only child. ä_æ

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