Practices



The Profound Nying Thig Guru Yoga

Guru Yoga — the union of the mind of the dis­ci­ple with that of the Guru — is quin­tes­sen­tial to suc­cess on the path of Vajrayana. With­out the close super­vi­sion, advice and teach­ing of a qual­i­fied mas­ter, it is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to make progress, and very easy to sub­sti­tute one’s own pre­con­cep­tions, desires and igno­rance for the pure goals, phi­los­o­phy and insight need­ed to prac­tice prop­er­ly and achieve the high­est attain­ment. For prac­ti­tion­ers of the Nying­ma lin­eage, Pad­masamb­ha­va — the great mas­ter from Odd­iyana who brought Vajrayana Bud­dhism to Tibet, is the supreme root guru, and his real­iza­tion and enlight­ened ener­gy con­tin­ue to bless and empow­er this lin­eage up to the present day. He is the embod­i­ment of all the pure qual­i­ties of an enlight­ened being, and the focus and object of devo­tion of all Nying­ma Guru Yoga prac­tices.

In 1982, Ven. Pel­ing Rin­poche dic­tat­ed The Pro­found Nying Thig (Heart Essence) Guru Yoga, which had spon­ta­neous­ly arisen in his mind, to his heart son, Jigme. Rin­poche felt that this seem­ing­ly sim­ple prac­tice, con­tain­ing pro­found depth, sub­tle­ty and real­iza­tion, was so inher­ent­ly pow­er­ful that rit­u­al per­mis­sion or ini­ti­a­tion was not required to recite it, and that it would engen­der great spir­i­tu­al progress in any who prac­ticed it reg­u­lar­ly.

The Nying Thig Guru Yoga, in addi­tion to the one con­tained in the Nam Cho pre­lim­i­nary prac­tices, are the two prin­ci­ple Guru Yogas prac­ticed at Orgyan Dzong.

Riwo Sangchö

The Riwo Sang Cho (The Moun­tain Smoke Offer­ing Rit­u­al) is very pow­er­ful and has many ben­e­fits. While it is not required to con­tribute to the offer­ing sub­stances, it should be under­stood that this rit­u­al oper­ates on the prin­ci­ple of mak­ing offer­ings to four class­es of beings to accu­mu­late mer­it and repay one’s karmic debts, so mak­ing offer­ings is impor­tant to its effec­tive­ness. Gen­eros­i­ty in mak­ing offer­ings is con­sid­ered very mer­i­to­ri­ous, and offer­ing that which is of the best qual­i­ty essen­tial. Any amount, small or large, is cer­tain­ly wel­come.

All Of The Burnt (sang) Offer­ings Are Made To The Four Class­es Of Guests

First are the guests invit­ed out of respect: the Three Jew­els – the Bud­dhas, their teach­ings and the Arya Bod­hisattvas through­out the ten direc­tions and the three times, and the Three Roots – the infi­nite man­dala of Gurus, Yidams and Daki­nis and the Dharma­palas. Mak­ing offer­ings to this assem­bly of rare and pre­cious ones enables us to gath­er the two accu­mu­la­tions, puri­fy the two obscu­ra­tions, and attain the two kinds of sid­dhi.

Sec­ond­ly, to those invit­ed because of their qual­i­ties: the pro­tec­tors. This refers to the local deities of every place and con­ti­nent, the earth-lords, devas and nagas, the plan­e­tary and stel­lar forces, guardians of the direc­tions, the four great kings and the sev­en­ty-five glo­ri­ous pro­tec­tors of pure abodes togeth­er with their ret­inues. They help to paci­fy all ill­ness, destruc­tive influ­ences, adver­si­ty and obsta­cles and to bring about every kind of vir­tu­ous and pos­i­tive cir­cum­stance and favor­able con­di­tion, effort­less­ly and spon­ta­neous­ly, and to accom­plish our wish­es.

The third class of guests are invit­ed out of com­pas­sion. This refers to all sen­tient beings wan­der­ing through­out sam­sara and tor­ment­ed by suf­fer­ing: the realms of the gods, demigods, human beings, ani­mals, hun­gry ghosts and hell-beings. They are freed from their karmic delu­sions, suf­fer­ing and the habit­u­al ten­den­cies of their respec­tive realms. In the short term, they come to pos­sess all the rich­es and enjoy­ments of the devas and ulti­mate­ly become Bud­dhas, awak­en­ing spon­ta­neous­ly in the pure Bud­dha realm of Akan­ishtha.

Fourth are the guests to whom we owe karmic debts. By offer­ing to these obstruct­ing forces, all the debts that we and all beings have accu­mu­lat­ed through­out our infi­nite lives with­out begin­ning, even dur­ing our present life­time, are repaid. These include debts that short­en our lives because we have killed, debts that plague us with ill­ness because we have attacked and harmed oth­ers, debts that make us poor because we have stolen, debts from acci­den­tal­ly killing humans and ani­mals. Our debts are repaid; we are freed from our karmic oblig­a­tions and deliv­ered from the dead­ly vengeance of karmic cred­i­tors. The cred­i­tors them­selves are freed from their karmic obscu­ra­tions and all their suf­fer­ing, and in par­tic­u­lar, they are freed from their mali­cious inten­tions and ten­den­cies to harm oth­ers, and gain lov­ing kind­ness, com­pas­sion and pre­cious bod­hi­chit­ta.

The Offer­ings

It is very impor­tant for the sang offer­ings to be clean. The offer­ings can be quite small for an individual’s morn­ing prac­tice, a few tea­spoons of the “sangdze” (dze Tib. offer­ing sub­stance) is suf­fi­cient, though elab­o­rate ver­sions can con­sist of 10 or more large trays of heaped offer­ings along with beer and wine. We then infi­nite­ly expand the offer­ings by visu­al­iz­ing them as bil­low­ing clouds that fill the extent of space. Tra­di­tion­al­ly the offer­ing sub­stances con­sist of a mix­ture of “the three whites” (but­ter, yogurt and (pow­dered) milk) and “the three sweets” (sug­ar, molasses, and hon­ey) in a base of whole grain flour. Oth­er offer­ing sub­stances can be added such as incense and/or fra­grant herbs, flow­ers and plants (i. e. fresh juniper, cedar or pine branch­es), 5 col­ored silk cloth cut into small pieces, herbal med­i­cine, alco­hol, and small or pow­dered pre­cious stones or jew­els, gold and sil­ver leaf, etc. The main restric­tions are that what­ev­er is offered into the sang fire con­tains no onion, gar­lic, meat or eggs (unless it is a minor ingre­di­ent in some baked goods) and is not old, stale, impure or left overs. All kinds of grains such as wheat flour, oat­meal, barley/tsampa and rice can be used, and west­ern baked goods such as cakes and cook­ies, salty snacks and can­dy can also be offered. The fire itself is tra­di­tion­al­ly best made with wood from fruit trees or from fra­grant pine and cedar wood. The site of the fire should be clean and well laid out and it is impor­tant that all of the mate­ri­als used to cre­ate the fire are clean and were not pre­vi­ous­ly used for any oth­er pur­pose. It is impor­tant that the sang and sur fires be laid in sep­a­rate loca­tions giv­en their dif­fer­ent pur­pos­es.



Nam Chö Ngöndro

The Great Per­fec­tion: Bud­dha in the Palm of the Hand
The Recita­tion and Visu­al­iza­tion of the Pre­lim­i­nary Prac­tices

The Nam­chö (Space Trea­sure) Dzogchen pre­lim­i­nary prac­tice is called “Bud­dha in the Palm of the Hand.” The ter­ma (trea­sure rev­e­la­tions) were revealed to Ter­ton (trea­sure reveal­er) Migure Dor­je from Arya Aval­okitesh­vara and Guru Rin­poche, and have been passed down from mas­ter to stu­dent through the cen­turies. The bless­ings of the Palyul lin­eage are pure and unbro­ken. By accom­plish­ing this prac­tice one can real­ize the nature of mind — an impor­tant and nec­es­sary foun­da­tion for high­er Dzogchen prac­tice. The pre­lim­i­nary prac­tice con­sists of Refuge, Bod­hi­chit­ta, Offer­ing the Man­dala, Vajrasatt­va and Guru Yoga. Although the Nam­chö pre­lim­i­nary prac­tice is very deep and pro­found, it is clear and easy for all to prac­tice. -His Holi­ness Penor Rin­poche.



Vajrasattva

Vajrasatt­va is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the puri­ty of body, speech, and mind of all the Bud­dhas.

As a med­i­ta­tion­al deity Vajrasatt­va is visu­al­ized as an expres­sion of mind’s pure essence. In this way neg­a­tiv­i­ties and obscu­ra­tions are cleansed, allow­ing Bud­dha nature to man­i­fest. As a Bod­hisatt­va, Vajrasatt­va saw that all beings suf­fered because of their neg­a­tive kar­ma, so he made a vow to free all beings from this kar­ma.

Vajrasatt­va is the ulti­mate embod­i­ment of all aspects of the Bud­dhas and rep­re­sents the Dia­mond-like Pri­mor­dial Puri­ty of the Bud­dha Nature with­in each indi­vid­ual. Satt­va trans­lates as ‘spir­i­tu­al hero or hero­ine’ and Vajra trans­lates as ‘dia­mond thun­der­bolt’ (inde­struc­tible and pure ener­gy). Vajrasatt­va embod­ies the 100 Peace­ful and Wrath­ful Deities con­sid­ered to be inher­ent in each sen­tient being, and also rep­re­sents the Union of Com­pas­sion and Skill­ful Means. The lin­eage of Dzogchen is traced from the dhar­makaya Samantab­hadra to the sambhogakaya—the five bud­dha fam­i­lies and Vajrasatt­va, who are Samantabhadra’s own self-reflec­tion. Vajrasatt­va is one of the four foun­da­tion­al pre­lim­i­nary prac­tices in the Ngön­dro.



Vajrakila

The wrath­ful Heru­ka Vajrak­i­laya is the Yidam deity who embod­ies the enlight­ened activ­i­ties of all Bud­dhas

The prac­tice of Vajrak­i­la is famous in the Tibetan Bud­dhists world as the most pow­er­ful for remov­ing obsta­cles, destroy­ing the forces hos­tile to com­pas­sion and puri­fy­ing the spir­i­tu­al pol­lu­tion so preva­lent in this age. The wrath­ful Heru­ka Vajrak­i­la is the Yidam deity (one of the three roots, the oth­er two being Lama and Khan­dro) who embod­ies the enlight­ened activ­i­ties of all Bud­dhas, man­i­fest­ing in an intense­ly wrath­ful yet com­pas­sion­ate form in order to sub­ju­gate the delu­sion and neg­a­tiv­i­ties that can arise as obsta­cle to the prac­tice of Dhar­ma. Vajrak­i­la can be prac­ticed on either the 9th, 19th or 29th day of the lunar month. Our sang­ha has been direct­ed to prac­tice Vajrak­i­la on the 29th day.


Ganachakra or Tsok

The Ganachakra or assem­bly of tantric prac­ti­tion­ers (lit­er­al­ly ‘cir­cle of beings’) is a sacra­men­tal feast cel­e­brat­ed by ini­ti­ates pri­mar­i­ly on the 10th and 25th days of each lunar month. This is prac­ticed with­in the larg­er con­text of the sad­hana of a Yidam (med­i­ta­tion­al deity): that of Pad­masamb­ha­va, Vajrak­i­la or oth­er male deity on the 10th, and Yeshe Tso­gyal, Vajrayo­gi­ni or anoth­er female Yidam on the 25th. These dates mark the gath­er­ing of prac­ti­tion­ers at sacred places on the Indi­an sub-con­ti­nent as well as the move­ment of inner essences and ener­gies to impor­tant cen­tres with­in one’s sub­tle body, mak­ing prac­tice espe­cial­ly pow­er­ful at this time. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Ganachakra (Tibetan: tsok) aligns one with the enlight­ened ener­gies and real­iza­tion of the Bud­dhas, Gurus and Yidams, strength­ens one’s prac­tice, puri­fies neg­a­tiv­i­ty, ill­ness and bro­ken samaya, and gen­er­ates tremen­dous mer­it from mak­ing abun­dant offer­ings to Enlight­ened Beings, Dharma­palas, local spir­its and oth­er beings made dur­ing the prac­tice.
Dur­ing a Ganachakra (tantric feast), food is blessed and offered to the Bud­dhas and med­i­ta­tion­al deities. Then, after being con­sumed by those par­tic­i­pat­ing in the feast, the left­overs are rit­u­al­ly offered to the local deities, hun­gry ghosts and oth­er beings caught in the low­er realms. Since ancient times, Ganachakra offer­ings have includ­ed five sub­stances begin­ning with the let­ter ‘M’ in San­skrit — the Pan­cha Makara. These were pri­mar­i­ly items that were cen­sured, dan­ger­ous or pub­licly frowned upon: mat­sya or fish; mam­sa or the flesh of ani­mals; maithu­na or union (sym­bol­ized by the union of the male and female Yidam); madya or alco­holic drinks; and mudra or parched grains. These sub­stances also cor­re­spond to the five nec­tars men­tioned in many rit­u­als.

In the west, any kind of edi­ble fin­ger foods such as fruit, cook­ies, cake, can­dy, crack­ers, cheese, nuts as well as fruit juice and high proof alco­hol can be offered as con­tri­bu­tions to this sacred meal.  Once con­se­crat­ed, what­ev­er is offered in the Ganachakra must be seen as sacred, beyond the pre­con­cep­tions of the dual­is­tic mind, and con­sumed with no judge­ments of puri­ty and impu­ri­ty or good and bad.



Medicine Buddha

This Mind Trea­sure, the Riv­er of Lapis Lazuli, the Prac­tice of the Med­i­cine Bud­dha, which is the Orna­ment of the Lumi­nous Expanse of Mind has been extract­ed and com­piled from the Nam Chö Nyid

This prayer pays homage to Med­i­cine Bud­dha whom is also known as the Heal­ing Mas­ter of Lapis Lazuli Radi­ance, with a dis­tinc­tive colour of Deep Blue body. Med­i­cine Bud­dha is also known as Bhaisajya Guru, the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the heal­ing ener­gy of all enlight­ened beings. The prac­tice is per­formed on the 8th lunar day of the month, and prayers are offered to request the bless­ing of Med­i­cine Bud­dha to heal dis­eases, as well as over­come obsta­cles, to achieve tem­po­rary and ulti­mate hap­pi­ness for all.



Twenty-One Taras

She who Lib­er­ates

Tara is a com­plete­ly enlight­ened bud­dha who had pre­vi­ous­ly promised to appear, after enlight­en­ment, in the form of a female bod­hisatt­va and god­dess for the ben­e­fit of all beings. Her pri­ma­ry activ­i­ty is to pro­tect from the eight fears. Prac­ticed in all Schools of Tibetan Bud­dhism her var­i­ous forms are found in all class­es of tantra.

Tara or Drol-ma in Tibetan, mean god­dess of pro­tec­tion and com­pas­sion. Tara is the bod­hisatt­va rep­re­sent­ing the mirac­u­lous activ­i­ties of all bud­dhas. There are innu­mer­able man­i­fes­ta­tions of Tara, man­i­fest­ing in so many ways as sen­tient beings may require, but her most famous are the peace­ful WHITE TARA, who brings pro­tec­tion, long life and peace; and the dynam­ic GREEN TARA, who over­comes obsta­cles and saves beings in dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions in the most imme­di­ate man­ner. Tara is also well know in 19 oth­er forms that togeth­er make up the total of 21 that are high­light­ed in each of the twen­ty-one vers­es of praise to Tara recit­ed in the prac­tice.



Heart Sutra

Pra­j­na-Parami­ta-Hrdaya-Sutra — The Heart Sutra — is a piv­otal Sutra of Mahayana Bud­dhism.

The Heart Sutra sum­ma­rizes the essence of the Pra­j­na Parami­ta (Per­fec­tion of Wis­dom) teach­ings of the Bud­dha into a short scrip­ture of around 250 words. It is a lumi­nous expres­sion of enlight­ened wis­dom real­iz­ing empti­ness. Many Bud­dhists around the world recite this dai­ly to plant the imprints towards achiev­ing the high­est wis­dom.



Narak Kong Shak

The Narak Kong Shak (Stir­ring the Depths of Hell) is a rit­u­al used to con­fess one’s unskill­ful actions, atone for them and rec­ol­lect the pri­mor­dial puri­ty and enlight­ened nature of all expe­ri­ence. It begins with an invo­ca­tion and homage to the assem­bly of Bud­dhas, Bod­hisattvas and Yidams (med­i­ta­tion­al deities) and their ret­inue. One then pro­ceeds to rec­ol­lect the var­i­ous vows of the Mahayana and Vajrayana and con­fess any break­age there­of. Fol­low­ing that, one goes on to litur­gi­cal­ly rec­ol­lect the high­est View, puri­fy­ing one’s ten­den­cy to fall back into sam­sar­ic states of mind. If done prop­er­ly, this is the high­est method of con­fes­sion and means of atone­ment pos­si­ble. This is fol­lowed by a Ganachakra (see above for what to bring), and ends with an offer­ing of lamps (tea lights are used for this) to the vast assem­bly of enlight­ened beings.